Friday, December 29, 2006

Celebrating the New Year in New York and London

I spent very few New Year’s Eves in London. Most of the times, I was traveling home to be with my family. I stayed in London for the millennium (2000). I went out with the millions to celebrate the beginning of a new era. With fireworks over London’s sky and drunk people. It was fun but crowed, difficult to move, see and speak. And even more difficult to return home. From my years in London, I don’t remember people being frustrated about New Year’s Eve and what they will do about it and I hardly remember long party lists in local free newspapers. I guess most people were invited to family organized parties or small gatherings at friends’ places. And they all were ok with it.

New York is another story. Since before Christmas, everybody talks about New Year’s celebrations in Times Squares (included CNN's Anderson Cooper who will be working at Times Square that night), there are numerous lists in all local free newspapers about club/bar organized parties that cost a fortune and even longer lists with pre-New Year celebration dinners (open or cash bars included) in various restaurants. Not to mention the ezines I am getting on how to get dressed the stellar night. I have to say, I haven’t seen cities, people or the media so well prepared and organized for the coming of the New Year. Is it frustration or just party mood, I wonder.

Don’t get me wrong. I still like to entertain myself when the New Year comes into life. It’s like the birth of a new baby, the beginning of a new project, the first day in school or college, the very first job. And I like to be with people I love, have fun, drink champagne, laugh. I want to laugh. But I never planned it well in advance or got frustrated about it.It’s an important event but it doesn’t require special planning. I just go with the flow and an invitation or two usually follow.

Happy New Year everybody!


New York: Celebrate New Year’s at Brooklyn Bridge. Check for more information

London: A World Civilisation or a Clash of Civilisations conference, 20 January 2007, Time: 10am-5pm. Location: The Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, London SW1

Friday, December 22, 2006

Pre-Christmas NYLON

I never really liked pre-Christmas London. Actually, to be honest, I never liked pre-Christmas Britain. Brits have a very close, peculiar and rather commercial relationship with Christmas. Nothing to do with God, Jesus Christ or the Holly Spirit. It is more of a party-going out-shopping experience. The shopping starts in October and continues aggressively to early December. By that time, you should have bought and sent hundreds of cards (event to the people you don’t really know very well), bought presents for your family, friends, not so close friends, third cousins and so on and, of course, bought something for yourself too. The party season starts early December and if you really respect yourself, you have to: go to at least two parties a week until the 23rd of the month, to drink a few bottles of wine, to eat numerous mince pies and Christmas cakes and to gain a few pounds just before the big Christmas dinner (I don't count the long lines you have to stand in the post office, it's not fun). Therefore, by the time is 26th of December, your weight goes north by five pounds, your bank account is much thinner but your credit card is so fat that has no more space for New Year’s purchases.

Pre-Christmas New York is slightly different. There is a lot of shopping, that’s for sure, but definitely less partying. New Yorkers don’t feel the need for Christmas parties that much. I don’t know why. The shopping spirit is high but less dramatic and intense compared to the Londoners'. Reason being: there is also Thanksgiving so partying, eating, drinking and shopping has started at an earlier date. They don’t have to wait for Christmas to top-up their credit cards or gain weight. This mission has been accomplished already.

Both cities are well decorated, with masses of tourists visiting every year, taking pictures with the crowds, and holding the holiday season red cup gingerbread latte from Starbucks.

Ah, those red cups from Starbucks. That’s the first indication that Christmas is here again this year. For a few days at least.

Have a happy holiday!
I won't add any events for both cities. More next year!

Friday, December 15, 2006

New York and Space

I was talking about subletting in New York and how it really works out. Coincidentally, I listened to a radio show yesterday morning talking about rent control in NY. Because NY is SO popular and in order to protect tenants from vicious apartment owners the NYC councils and local government voted legislation to control rent for a limited time. That does not mean that there will be more free and ready to rent apartments but the existing ones won’t raise rent continuously at high rates.

But today I want to talk about space in NYC. NYC is tiny. Space as I said before is a long, hot topic, or even a theme of a PhD, and is limited. Therefore, “intelligent” New Yorkers rent storage to put their favorite “stuff”. So, they rent or sublet an apartment and because apartments are so tiny and small, they also rent storage. So they have to pay two rents, one for the apartment, the second for the storage space. Isn’t that crazy? Every time they want to “access” their favorite stuff, they can go to their storage closet or room, open it with their locker/key, then get some or put extra. I like that. New York is an interesting place, definitely. The only place from all countries I lived that you can have two places simultaneously and pay for both. But the funniest thing that you can actually “sublet” your storage space too! That is CRAZY! There are a few people who get storage and because they have extra “space”, they can give you some to put your stuff too – you only pay a percentage of the monthly fee. Ah! That I didn’t know.

How many times I used the word space so far? It’s humorous, the more I use it, the less space NY does have!

I will find out more tomorrow when, me, also, getting some storage too. I have three extra boxes I don’t need for the time being and because I am subletting, I think putting them in storage is not a bad idea. It’s cheap, special winter offer they told me on the phone. That is nice!

I don’t know. Everything is definitely a new experience for me in NYC. This is another one too. But how come I dream of nice, lengthy beaches, with white sand, blue water, huge houses with gardens and swimming pools? Is it wishful thinking or just a strong desire that comes from my heart? I miss space, nature, the sky.

I want to be able to see the sky.

Space: mentioned 8 times. Only. Title not included.

No events today. There are plenty of events in both NYC and in the very popular pre-Christmas London (many Christmas parties...). I am sure you know where to go.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Sublets in New York

Sublets. Sublet. Subletting. This word is a trend in New York City. Everybody talks about it, writes about or lives in it! Subletting in NYC is both a social phenomenon and financial issue, becomes a cell phone conversation, an intimate relationship with New York and its people. Subletting inspired even theatrical writers: it’s now playing The Sublet Experiment, which is set entirely in a New York City apartment, different each weekend. As I am turning into a serial sublettor, I booked my ticket already!

Subletting in NYC is the outcome of various factors. One is the real estate situation of NYC. The relationship of New Yorkers with the loved city . And their financial situation.

New York City has plenty of apartments but also plenty of people who want to travel, relocate, live or temporarily stay in the Big Apple. With hotel prices going north at a minimum $70 a night (the cheapest), Local New Yorkers found out about it and take advantage. So, they can sublet their room in their apartment for one week, two weeks, six months or even two years, well, probably twice the price of their actual rent. So they actually make money. Isn’t that nice? They help and they make some cash, under the table (or even better under the bed). On top of that, there is something else you don’t know unless you come here: rental control. Although I am not 100% familiar with the history of it, if you keep the same apartment for numerous years, you control the rent and you avoid the increases. Needless to say that getting a proper lease it’s time consuming, expensive and a hassle: you go through credit checks, need referrals from previous rental properties, letters from your employer, your previous year tax forms, savings account and you have to pay the broker’s fee of about 15% of your annual rent. Ah, now SUBLETTING seems really attractive. As far as I know, in the rest of the world, estate agents get paid by the landlord not by poor tenants. I’d rather stay quiet, I might put ideas in various people’s mind…

And then you have New Yorkers and how they deal with money. Or rather how they want to make the most out of you. New Yorkers, from my experience so far, are the stingiest people I have ever met. I might sound mean or not particularly generous with them but they are not! They can rent their pillow case to make money! They rent their couch in their living room for $900 a month in Manhattan and if you don’t mind you can take it. It’s a bargain! I am now subletting at an amazing apartment from a girl who is actually subletting from someone else who lives in California! Isn’t that crazy? I am telling you, subletting is the word in the Big Apple. If you don’t know how to spell it, you have to find out.

But nothing would happen if New Yorkers were not in love with their city. No matter where they go, no matter what they do, they want to come back, here. And in order to come back, they keep their rental-controlled apartment by subletting it.

And as the girl whose apartment I am going to sublet soon said: if you stay in New York for such a long time, where else can you go?

That’s exactly what I am asking myself: where else in the USA I can go? How can I find a place where I won’t sublet, won’t pay broker’s fees, won't have to show tax forms or being X-rayed by real estate agents or renters who are ready to go and sublet?

In civilized countries or cities, people actually buy property. They don’t sublet. But again, those people have a different relationship with money. And also, are not in love with New York.

Events in NYC

Peter Hamlin "Energy" opens Sat. 12/9
The halcyon galleryinvites you to celebrate the opening of PETER HAMLIN"ENERGY" with music by DJ ENSTEREO
Visit his website at to get a clue of what that means.

The Sublet Experiment
Visit the website for dates, locations and ticket prices.

Events in London

NetProZ Third Thursday Held each month in Central London, usually from 5.30pm to 8.30pm. Open to all on registration. To add your name to the mailing list, send a blank email to the list These events are a great opportunity to get to know the members better in an informal working gathering. It's also where we often innovate new formats. Visit