How to live like a local

I love Airbnb, Uber, and Seamless, Postmates.  I love trying new digital services from my phone.  Some of you out there hate them. Here are some ideas for you:

  1. Get real
  2. No, really. Get real.

These are legit, innovative businesses, and they are here to stay.  Yes, they are massively disruptive, and will redefine life as you (used to) know it…just like the robots that replaced workers in Detroit.  Just like the cars that replaced horse-drawn carriages.  Just like the

what Detroit looks like now

self-driving cars that will be replacing Uber drivers before too long.  You can try to pass laws that keep everything like it used to be, but it won’t work.  Change is inevitable and you’ll need to prepare for it.

Does that mean you should just curl up and die if you work as a driver, a car assemblyman, or an hostler?  Of course not.  You may have to reinvent yourself, though.  You may have to move to find a job.  You may have to learn new skills.  My personal view is that the job of the state and federal governments is to provide people with unemployment payments for as long as needed to get back on their feet, adequate training for new industries and skills, and first-world

An hostler at work

health care for all.  But that’s just me.  If you’d like to turn back the clock, go right ahead.

If not, then please help fight for Airbnb in New York State.  You can read this whole rant, or you can scroll down to the bottom to see how.

First, a quick history lesson.  If all the scoundrels were in one political party, life would be easy.  We could paint a scarlet “J” for jerk on their large orange foreheads and move on.

NY corruption then…,

Unfortunately, political affiliation is not a good indicator of high ethics.  Republicans currently have cornered the market on Crazy, but Democrats, at least in New York,  have a long, shining history of back-room deals, opaque processes, palm-greasing and general all-around corruption.  Jersey’s got nothing on us.  Check out Tammany Hall  as a history lesson, then take a look at the latest convictions.

and now.  Why do they always wear hats?  Is that where they put the payola?

Given the current climate, I’ll spend the rest of this blog spewing out opinions as though they are facts, and then yell “such lies!” when anyone tries to correct me.  So here goes.

The NY state legislature, having been persuaded by hotel owners and Mafiosos who have infiltrated the unions, is trying to slip in an “anti-home sharing” bill to Governor Cuomo.  This would make it illegal for people to list their homes on Airbnb, and they’d be fined thousands of dollars.  The hotels win!  But, the rest of us lose.

Here are people who need Airbnb:

People who can no longer meet their rent or mortgage

There are a lot of people who use occasional guests from Airbnb to supplement their outrageous rents and mortgages here in New York.  Renting rooms, whether it’s with Airbnb or “taking in gentleman boarders” as one did in days past, helps make the rent.  Airbnb has even been credited with saving some people from defaulting on their mortgages, avoiding foreclosure.

People who want to visit NYC but can’t pay 400 clams a night

People all over the world want to come to New York.  God knows why. It seems they want to see Times Square because it was in some movies.  They want to stand in long lines to get

copyright New Yorker Magazine

food at mediocre delis.  They want to wait a whole day to see an actor in person that they could see more easily from their television sets, and they want to see rare and exotic species of humans from a bus while stuck in traffic.  Young folks want to see if they could live here.  In my day, we just sponged off friends when we were traveling…but what if you don’t know anyone in New York?  Or worse, you have a conscience and can’t condone sponging?  Airbnb to the rescue!  Unless those jerks in Albany pull the plug

People who want to try living like a local

Part of the attraction of Airbnb is that you’re going to see how the locals live.  Why go to Hong Kong, New York, or Montana if your room looks exactly the same in each place?  Some people want to see something different for a change, and hotels don’t give you that.  Airbnb will give you that – and maybe more than you can handle.

People who are cheap

That’s me.  I call it practical.  Remember that story about the expensive Nasa space-pen?  How the Soviets just used a pencil?  I like pencils.  And, I like a nice vacation that doesn’t

Sorry Vladimir, Snopes got your number.

break the bank.  This summer, I got an Airbnb duplex in Far Rockaway for my staycation.  It was roomy, homey, and not too posh.  It was within walking distance of the beach, but only because everywhere in Far Rockaway is walking distance to a beach.  It was right under the flight path of JFK, so we could sit on the veranda in the evening and spray ourselves with bug spray while counting nose hairs on the pilots as they passed overhead.  Foolishly, I assumed air conditioning is a must in all of NYC, but in the words of the adage, when you ASSume, you make an ASS out of trying to sleep at night because you’re sweating like a polar bear visiting the Amazon rain forest.

Still, the price was right.  This was an Airbnb and not a fine hotel.  True, there were a few bumps in the road.  We’re not the best houseguests (water in the garage, sand in the kitchen, gum on the floor), but our hostess was lovely and the weather cleared up enough that I was able to sleep for a few nights.  The beach was fun, the kids had a great time, and we were right on the “A” train.  No driving – if someone started to get on my nerves, I could say “there’s the subway.  You know how to get home.”  We had a blast.

But now, Cuomo wants to take it all away.  Why?  Does he wants me to go back to Nags Head, NC, for a beach vacation like we did last year?  The beach was nice, but the dog got fleas and I spent the whole week driving people around and trying to obtain food for the family.  It was exactly as described in this well-researched article from The Onion.

In Far Rockaway, food is delivered .  Stores are nearby.  There are – gasp – buses!  Subways!  It’s not overpriced!  In fact, it was fun.  I want to try a houseboat in Queens next summer, but I won’t be able to if those bastards in Albany have their way.

So, can all of you who live in NY State please go here to call Albany and leave a well-worded message?  Feel free to mention my name.

If you don’t live in NY state, please take the time to yank their chain anyway and email or tweet.

Go here.

Thank you.



  1. Despite your heart warming examples, there’s the ugly side: landlords who use AirBnB to rent out their rent controlled/stabilised apartments. Here in Hells Kitchen (which is right next to Times Square, the Theatre District, etc.) this is an exploding phenomenon. How would you like to live in a building with the buzzers ringing constantly, since these mild mannered tourists can’t read/find the apartment numbers? A permanent parade of strangers in your building? Front door locks which are either always broken or change weekly? Guests who think that fire escapes are party venues – at 3:00 a.m. Fortunately my landlord hasn’t had the nerve. Yet. But two buildings down, it’s a mad house. I’ll pause for a breather to my rant. AirBnB for single family home owners – sounds fine. But that’s not everyone who’s using the service.

  2. I’ve rented apartments for family vacations for years, so I feel you. But there’s this housing shortage thing, If Air B&B-type rentals take a significant number of units off the long-term rental market, that makes the problem worse. I wouldn’t ban all short-term rentals, but I think that it’s reasonable to restrict them to reduce the incentive to devote apartments solely to long-term use. If somebody wants to rent a room in their place, or their whole place for a few weeks a year, that should be ok.

    • I agree. Housing shortage is a whole different topic, and one that goes to zoning, supply and demand, etc. In my neighborhood, we could probably support several 50-story condos. That would relieve the housing shortage, but no one wants them built here, including me.

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