yesterday when ralph came over, he remarked that in the vacant newly renovated apartment up the street, there's a microwave attached to stainless steel kitchen fixtures and such. like i said before, my landlord owns all the buildings on my side of the street. they've got on a construction rampage for the past two years or so, evicting long-time non-english speaking tenants and hooking up the empty apartments until they looked like something out of a pottery barn catalog.
yeah, i heard myself say, they're fixing them for all the downtown white people that are moving into the neighborhood -- because the black folk who live in the ghetto already can't afford them. and then my friend laughed and said, you know they have a laundromat in the basement. but you have to have a special key to use it -- and all the new tenants get one.
as ralph balked, my mind bounced back to little debbie's place in the ATL -- dunwoody, to be exact. when it was time for her to relocate to the south a few years ago because of work, she drove in from teaneck, new jersey with her two kids and rented her apartment sight unseen. it's a gated community that has 24 hour security, with a swimming pool, gym facilities, and whatnot. the apartment is spacious with a terrace and a washer/dryer and central air, and the kitchen is extra-special fancy, with brushed steel wonderment, a built-in microwave and all that jazz. her master bedroom has its own large well-appointed bathroom. all of this stuff isn't extra, by the way. it's standard issue. it comes with every apartment in her little community -- but i don't know of anyone in ATL who isn't living like this. it's the kind of stuff that almost everyone i know sort of takes for granted when they move into a new place.
and that's apartment living down there. that's rental. if you own your own house -- and if you're young, black, professional, female and in ATL, it's a good chance that you probably do -- you get that and way, way more. i grew up in a house in ATL that sits on 3 or 4 acres, with fruit trees in the backyard and a swimming pool and a sandbox. and woods to get lost in, woods that are filled with critters and berries and spiders and adventure.
i just read this article that said the $60K you make annually in new york city is worth $26K in the ATL. anyone that's been here for more than a week knows that you can't live on $60K. not if you don't want to live hand to mouth, with roommates no less, with zip amenities in a crummy neighborhood. no. if you want to live well in this town, you'll need to make at least 100K a year -- and if/when you do, you won't come anywhere near what little debbie and her kids have. not by a long shot.
no wonder new york yankees go down south, see how beautiful everything is and lose their damn minds. people who are from up here can't seem to fathom how good everyone has it elsewhere. and those of us who are not from up here have constant amnesia about what a decent quality of life is really supposed to be.
i can't forget because i have family down south who constantly remind me that in spite of the fact that i have a nice two bedroom apartment in west harlem and my name is on the lease, it's a stinkhole and something of a joke, compared to what i could have in the ATL for the same price. sometimes i wonder how much of a millionaire i'm going to have to be to have a middle class existence in the city, or if its something i'll even want if i ever get that far.
my new york city doesn't exist anymore. it's not just gentrification, per se. and yes, sex and the city ruined this city. but it's bigger than that. the city is in transition. it's dying. what we are hearing and seeing, from dire predictions about the economy and auctioning condos to the newly minted rentals up the block, is one long slow death rattle. soon enough, new york city will be very much like paris, france -- a place where only the very rich could possibly afford to live. people who service the city will come in from the outer boroughs. and after rush hour, the heart of the city will emptier than downtown houston at twilight.