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9.28.2014

My Elderly Friend's Inadvertent Revenge to the Late Susan Sontag

Over late lunch, my elderly friend, who is a native New Yorker and whom I met again after a few years of not seeing him, shared me again details of what happened between him and the late Susan Sontag, the writer. They're neighbors in one of those buildings in a complex built pre-war time (and whose original owner committed suicide during the financial crash in the early 20th century) somewhere along 9th Avenue and 23rd Street, with my friend living on the 9th floor and Susan Sontag on the 19th floor (which is actually the 20th floor because the building doesn't have a 13th floor). I heard the story from him many years ago but I made him repeat the story to me; I thought it's a good way to see Susan Sontag in a different light as a highly accomplished writer who was very much a human being like all of us reading this material. I have to say right now that I admire Ms Sontag's works; I read so many of her movie reviews and even an article on photography, the specific title of which I fail to recall now. My classmates and I read this article in high school, and were required to write and talk about the work in school.

My elderly friend, who's also a retired English teacher of at least 50 years, and whose real name won't be mentioned here, one day was walking with his partner and crossing 9th Avenue, and they saw a huge luggage right on the corner of the streets. Being someone who turns into cash stuff that he finds on the streets of New York City (NYC) as well as those his neighbors have refused (he noted in wonderment how these people could afford to just toss away valuable stuff easily), he was wondering what was inside the heavy luggage. He was soon opening it, and thought there could be valuables inside that he can turn into cash by selling them outright to interested customers all over NYC. They immediately went back inside the condominium to check the contents of the heavy luggage more closely.

As soon as he and his partner were  standing before the elevator of the building where they live, Susan Sontag and a heavy set man were coming out of the elevator. He was immediately being asked by both why he has that heavy luggage with him. He told them he picked it up from the corner of the street and thought someone must have left it there as thrash. Such a situation is really common anywhere in NYC; you'll see all kinds of stuff on the streets of the city such that you can furnish your whole apartment with finds from the streets where you walk about in your daily life here. It's a matter of fact of living in NYC, which some residents may refuse to openly admitting. The streets of NYC are literally laden with valuables; you just have to open your eyes and have the courage to do something most would like to deny doing. And it soon became an embarrassment somehow as it looked like to me this unexpected encounter with Ms Sontag but my friend decided to right away to hand over the heavy luggage to the heavy set male companion of Ms Sontag.

And on one occasion, he saw Ms Sontag crossing the street, and said 'Hello, Susan', which to me sounded like my elderly friend was just being normal when you're with neighbors. And Ms Sontag was pissed and told my friend something to the effect of "How dare you talk to me?", to which my friend replied something I forgot now, but which led to Ms Sontag screaming at him right there on the street.

My elderly friend who's been a freelance individual who makes the most of what NYC has to offer him to lead a happy life didn't really take such behavior from Ms Sontag personally. And one evening, as what is usual with my elderly friend, he went about checking the fire escape stairs inside his building. He found a huge dark bag that he brought back to his apartment. In it, he saw many pieces of Ms Sontag's panties.

I asked "How do you know they're Ms Sontag's panties?"

"They're with several boxes of personal stationery of her. I heard she just died, and her son must have thrown them all away. I still have her stationery. I actually thought of selling her panties on Craigslist but eventually thought against it."

He also told me how Ms Sontag's apartment, which she bought for $1million was sold by her son for $3million soon. And renovation works were soon taking place in the apartment but they stopped right after the trials of the Ponzi artist Madoff started. The unit was sold again for $8million unfinished. And again sold at $11million to a family who my elderly friend says seldom stays in the apartment.


8.02.2014

Some Interesting Info From My Client About A Certain Pastor

While watching TV news about Eric Garner's death, I mentioned about the fact that I live close to where that death took place in Staten Island. The images on screen were then focusing on what a pastor was telling us the audience on what he plans to do so that justice would be served on Garner's death as soon as possible. My client, who is a retired real estate lawyer, shared how bothered he is watching at the face of that very prominent pastor (I won't name him here as I'm not a journalist. I know I have to verify first from other sources the veracity of what my client has shared me, which I'm now sharing here to put issues in a better perspective). My client recalls and went out of his way to describe me circumstances how he met and dealt with this pastor over 40 years ago. 

According to my client, this pastor would go about harassing business owners in communities where black families live around then. He would bring people in front of these stores, and demonstrate against the owners' questionable practices in doing business. Of course, that would mean losing business for the owners. And the pastor would do it primarily to make owners shell out money for his projects. My client had a client who got so scared after having been approached by the pastor, and had no option but to contact my client for his lawyering help. He met up with this pastor, and offered to give him cash in exchange for quitting the premises of the business owner where he's doing business. Or else, he would provide for the money for the cops to come over, do their work, and deal with him accordingly. This pastor won't budge so quickly. He wanted to make sure if my client's serious with his word. My client told him he's serious, and he's ready to call the cops to deal with him. The pastor would budge eventually and accede to my client's request. 

Strangely, my client would still remember such things. He's told me many things about how he was involved with politics and politicians a long time ago. One story he told me once was that he was being asked to shell out something so he'd be nominated for a vacancy to a judge-ship post here in New York, but the idea appalled him.  It's a tit-for-tat situation, just like most situations in regular life we all face as we grow up as social beings in this part of the big city. In process, I'm learning a lot from him, admittedly. I once remarked to him my wonder why beggars love to approach me and ask money from me. He told me, in reply, that I looked like someone who could be fooled by the show being put up by such street characters. That got me into thinking. I've since then stopped shelling out money to beggars and the like. I'm now giving out whatever I can afford to share in some other means (just as to assuage my guilt over seeing disturbing signs of poverty here in New York City).

7.21.2014

Selling a 1958-Released 'Lady Sings The Blues' Book Online


I continue to get surprised every time a book buyer buys a book from among my listings in my online storefronts, which I myself would have second thoughts of buying for myself. This refers to the recent sale I made through my Amazon.com storefront, which has made me happy, as well. Only someone who knows what (s)he wants would buy books like this one, which I said and described to be really in a 'delicate copy' and in a foxed condition at that. I had to tape the spine together as the pages are getting detached from one another. I wonder if this copy would still manage additional handling from more readers. Oh, well, I'm taking chances that the buyer would decide to keep, read the book, preserve it, or even share it with someone when (s)he's done with it. I'm sure I won't feel bad if (s)he decides to return it and get refunded with the payment (which would affect my rating as an online seller with Amazon.com, I suppose)....But I do hope (s)he won't think like I took advantage of the sale online...I was upfront and honest with my description when I listed the book in my Amazon.com storefront in early 2011. I originally got the book from one of my walks in the streets of Brooklyn. The book stayed listed until this sale came through. And I'm grateful for that.

6.21.2014

Of Knowing A Filipino Who Has Really Made It Rich Here In NYC

I've been here in New York City (NYC) for over 8 years now and I am happy to share that I've met and known some Filipinos who have made it rich in this city. Additionally, I've met and known so many other rich people here, some of whom I've worked for as I've done part-time gigs with them to eke out a living in this very expensive city to live in. I've met some who are actually billionaires but they behave very ordinarily like normal individuals. I realize that NYC's set of structure and regulatory environment allows such lives to thrive here, and the narrative I'm sharing here is repeated regularly in many other individual lives in this city. He will remain nameless here to protect his privacy as I've not asked his permission to write about my thoughts on the friendship he and I have. We normally see each other with some other common friends, and I'm grateful to have known him better each time I see him.

He's someone who has owned and managed at least 11 units of condominium units located right in Manhattan, if I recall the number right. Do your research and you'll see he's easily a millionaire. I understand that most of these properties are 1 or 2 bedroom units in walk-up apartment buildings. He's a very hardworking fellow, single, and happy with what he's been doing with his assets. In fact, he and I would talk about our respective businesses, and I see that he's got an empathetic heart as well as a really good pair of hearing ears. He really listens to you, even if you get a sense that he's always busy --- he's got 3 cellphones that he uses for different purposes. During our talks, he would excuse himself, take calls, and do texting. And he would come back to me and just go about talking with me as if there were no earlier interruptions that had come and go. 

Of course, he's also a tightwad, which trait is nothing extraordinary among really rich people. I see that as a common trait among these people, and it's something that I have to practice all the time myself. He would do his food shopping for really cheap food items at the right locations in Manhattan at times when these food items are sold at really bargain prices, i.e., when they're already been the leftovers from those most buyers have chosen from early in the day. 

He would still be doing part-time jobs even when he has already owned and been renting out at least 11 condominium units in Manhattan (I know they're mostly in the east side of the island). I think it's mainly for cashflow reasons, as you know very well that ups and downs in business can be a challenge to manage. He would hire specialists and helpers so that his condominium units would be cleaned, maintained, and in their spick-and-span state for renters. He tells me that he has to get them rented out all the time so he would have cash flow from them---it's a very serious and complicated business to own and run real estate properties here in Manhattan where you'll see some of the most expensive properties in the whole world. In fact, a lot of owners would hire the services of real estate firms to manage their properties for them. Such is not the case with my friend, who is always up and running in managing his properties. 

He's also one of the few guys I met who knows and understands that real and hard cash in NYC are in the hands of a few well connected individuals, some of whom live in Staten Island. He's dealt with some of them when he needed to borrow some cash to help him bridge some of his monthly financial obligations---such loans are normally not available through banks, and would just be loaned out to those who have the assets to back up such amounts of money. I know he's paid off the the lender, and has since then been focusing in growing the size of his portfolio.

He would tell me in one of our conversations that a lot of people here in NYC are not used to dealing with landlords of these Manhattan-based apartments whose looks look like him and who are from the Philippines. He has to assert his interests and take action so people would take him seriously and would do what he wants. He's got his share of problems, which are common in situations in life that are worth pursuing for long term gains and benefits. He continues to deal with court cases that he has to attend to personally so his side would be heard clearly and right by the judge and the members of the juries for each of these cases. I have to know more about the details of these cases some other time.

He gives encouragement to me mainly in the form of his presence and his friendship. He tells me that he used to do several full time jobs many years ago. He's got his heart where his personal interests lie -- in his very intelligent and practical mind honed by experience in NYC, which asset I seldom see these days from most people I meet here.

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