I’m psyched about some upcoming developments.
One actually has already happened: All the newspapers in the country have said “the Barbenheimer is here!” I probably won’t be seeing the Barbie movie, because I don’t really relate to Barbies. But I relate a lot to the Bhagavad Gita-quoting, A-bomb-designing Robert Oppenheimer. I also relate to Albert Einstein, Kurt Gödel and Richard Feynman, who supposedly show up in the film somehow or other.
Albert Einstein is a special case. I’ll be talking more about why in a later column, after I’ve figured out what I’m going to say about him. Though it will involve his first wife.
From the trailers of “Oppenheimer,” I’m pleased to see that all the men in the film wear hats. I’ve always been fascinated by how up until JFK ran for president, hats were practically required male fashion. Because of JFK I didn’t wear a hat until I was 35, when a friend gave me a Stetson. I wore it as an experiment to see if it would make me bald. Seattle’s downtown winds switched me to a beret. Neither the Stetson nor the beret made me bald. Thanks to the “Oppenheimer” trailers, it’s come to my attention that hat-wearing didn’t make Einstein bald either. So that’s one of the ways I relate to Einstein.
Also we have both had two wives, a first wife and a second wife. So the parallels are enormous.
The movie touches on the fact that Oppenheimer had a shot at marrying a communist. I never came close to marrying a communist, unless you think Anitra “knows how to use a bullhorn” Freeman is one.
Meanwhile I’m excited that the new Coleman Dock ferry terminal building is set to open up sometime this week. It’s said it will have great views of the bay and Puget Sound. I’m also hoping there will be a burger joint on the premises. Buildings shouldn’t just be buildings. They need hamburgers.
Another thing I’m excited about is the possible passage of a city rent control trigger law. The idea is that if the state legislature ever allows rent control anywhere in the state, Seattle will have rent control.
I’ve previously mentioned a negative experience I had with rent control. I’ll get to that soon. First I want to talk about an aunt I had. She was in the civil service in Washington, DC, up to the 1960s, when she retired on a pension. She decided to move to Flushing, Queens, and rented an apartment for about $110 per month. The rent never went up. When her Social Security kicked in, it was enough to pay her rent by itself. By the time she died at age 99, she was probably getting enough Social Security to pay her rent at least six times over. When I think of rent control, I think of my aunt’s one-bedroom apartment in Flushing. Her experience was what I think rent control should look like.
My experience was not so good. When I became a graduate student, I found a single room with a shared bath off campus in Ithaca, New York’s college town. The rent was $60 per month. When I found out Ithaca had rent control, I thought I was set my entire stay as a student there.
It didn’t work out like that. Ithaca’s rent control law had a loophole. A landlord could get around it by evicting every renter from a property in order to make improvements. Then they could raise the rent before inviting the evicted tenants back.
But Ithaca’s law didn’t specify what sorts of improvements were allowed. In my case, the landlord’s improvements to the property consisted of changing the locks to the rooms and adding a lock to the entrance of the basement so tenants couldn’t get to the thermostat inside the building. On the basis of that, he doubled the rent before allowing his old tenants back. Oh, and he demanded six months rent be paid in advance.
That was how I became homeless for the first time ever. I couldn’t pay the $720. I spent the next year being a homeless graduate student, saving up my money to rent another apartment.
The good news is I had a little money saved up that I could squander on getting good at Asteroids and Pong.
Read more of the Aug. 2-8, 2023 issue.