Thursday, August 6, 2015

New York City Has Lost Its Mind

Did you that know you can rent a place in one of New York's most pompous neighborhoods for just $22 a night? You can! I'll get to that in a moment.

airbnb is revolutionizing the way we vacation. Despite startup hiccups similar to those plaguing Uber - questionable legality, proprietary market regulations, general service uncertainty - it's doing one helluva job finding customers...and capital.

A few months ago, two friends relocating to Portland, OR used airbnb to find a cozy bungalow priced well below a modest hotel room for an entire week, and they made some new friends in the process. With their relocation confirmed, they'll be spending several months with their amateur hoteliers learning the tricks of the new trade, and this time they're only paying for groceries. 

As in the early days of car-sharing and house-swapping programs, airbnb uses technology as a resource, but still retains a relatively casual vibe. It makes sense, especially when you're opening your home to strangers. Basically, even if you participate in airbnb, you don't want these strangers to be strangers. You might want to get to know who will be sleeping in your bed.

But reason has a threshold, and like many of the most absurd ventures, it comes straight from New York City's cash strapped renters and homeowners and the city's desperate attempt to be unique and kitschy. 

So what about that $22 bed amongst Manhattan's upper crust? Well it popped up on airbnb. For less than $100 a night, you can have sweeping views of the New York City skyline, find a place to sleep near the hottest clubs, in fact you can literally have a bed anywhere in Manhattan you'd like to be. That's because you're renting a mattress in the back of a "van down by the river."

Yes, you read that right. New Yorkers are renting out vans as hotel rooms. Where do you S, S, and S? Well, most claim to be parked near public restrooms. Those that don't "offer" facilities, I guess Burger King is always an option. Shower? Why soil such a bohemian experience with cleanliness. This is a Dickensian bedroom for the 21st Century. 

It's also a case of life imitating art, as American Dad!'s Stan Smith tried to prove to his slacker daughter that he could live on $900 a month. To do so, he bathed in public fountains, survived on free samples of pizza bagels, and slept in the back of a Pontiac Aztec.

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