There's this Starbucks at Astor Place, near the subway; I stop there after arriving downtown on the 5 and 6 trains to have a cigarette before work. This morning, there was chalk-written graffiti all along the sidewalk, from Broadway-and-8th to the Starbucks entrance, graffiti along the lines of "BOYCOTT STARBUCKS", "$tarbucks OWNS you", and "STOP BUYING, START LIVING", perhaps scrawls in sympathy with the first anniversary of the Seattle protests. There is, unbelievably, a second Starbucks here, on the other side of Astor Place (about a block away); I didn't have time this morning to look for chalk etchings near there.

I've found an apartment; I wanted a place somewhere south of downtown Manhattan's 14th Street, and, after several grueling weeks, I found one -- in Brooklyn. I saw the place last night, after killing a half-hour walking around the neighborhood; unlike the North Bronx (my hometown and current temporary HQ) and Manhattan (where my job searches were, and where I work), my trips (two) to Queens and Brooklyn for apartment-hunting were like stepping out of my mental picture of what NYC is; it was more like, in the case of Astoria, Queens, like visiting part of Brookline, Massachusetts, while the part of Fort Greene I saw last night reminded me, at various times, of visits and residences in Richmond, Virginia, Pittsburgh, and other cities.

Getting this apartment was a cinch. In contrast to the madness of apartment-hunting in downtown Manhattan -- having often to see a studio with a crowd of other wannabe tenants (one of the last places I saw, I squoze into a teeny-tiny elevator with three other people to get to a third-floor apartment; the other ten hopefuls took the stairs), then jump through various hoops (at my last trip to a realty office, they made copies of my last three paycheck stubs, my employer's offer letter, my last bank statement, and the dental X-rays of my first born, plus the obligatory running of the credit check, at my expense, of course). My trip to Brooklyn was more like the laid-back atmosphere down South; in the owner's absence and the broker's tardiness, a friend of the owner let me in. I took a look around for a few minutes, said I liked the place. The broker arrived; she spoke a little with the owner's friend, in French (I caught little of it, but he was confirming that I would be the sole tenant). The broker pulls out a lease, and I would have gone ahead and signed it, but we decided to wait until this morning; the owner won't be around until Saturday anyway, so, for now, I'm locked out of my new swinging bachelor pad (/me ducks from the flying Swiss Army Knife).

Utilities and such (DSL!), I'll worry about later; I still have to go to North Carolina, to finish packing up pingouin World HQ, which wouldn't fit in the car when we drove up here in May.

I was thinking about the ridiculous rents and rituals one has to endure downtown, and figured that the likes of Debbie Harry, Tom Verlaine, Bob Dylan, and Lydia Lunch, et mucho al, probably enjoyed dirt-cheap rents back in the day when they emigrated there from small-town Middle America. Chelsea Girl probably would experience sticker shock at current rents, and don't get me started on my visits to Soho, where the first thing I saw upon exiting the subway was some Armani boo-teek, and similar wastes of space. Makes you long for a recession that clears out the yuppies. In place of La Lydia and Zimmy, we have people like the guy I saw traipsing down First Avenue the other day, jabbering into a cell phone about his band's next gig and their impending deal with TVT, exuding all the "charm" of a cross between "Baby Huey" (my old manager and radio colleague) and some frat-boy business-administration major. Rock on, ya wuss!

So I've got a pad. I'll eventually have my crap set up, and begin various projex in earnest, like finishing the Java version of my website, building up a new sound library for my (real and virtual) synthesizers, and somehow integrating open source tools like Csound and jMax with Pro Tools (or a similar audio platform). Once the aforementioned crap is in place up here, I'll begin to have some degree of normalcy in my life again, at least as much as one can have when one would much rather be living in a Fijian tree house, playing a bamboo flute all day.

But that will have to wait until after the IPO.

/me takes a look at the YTD for various tech stocks...