Rent Boy

26 thoughts on “Rent Boy”

  1. As an ex software developer, love the reference to Logan’s Run. Still a timely movie.

    Josh’s situation nicely reflects the gigifying economy, having no predictable income streams. I’ve heard estimates up to a third of workers have been forced into this so-called precariat class. Corporate jobs sure have drawbacks, but at least provide temporary stability (can’t believe I just said that!). And yep, what seems fun in your 20’s gets old in later decades. I suspect the former youngsters are disappearing into other parts of the country where despite lower wages, also have a correspondingly lower cost of living.

    And from what I’ve seen, much of the so-called sharing economy is just another way to exploit the serfs. How else to explain the insane valuations for outfits like Uber, that take 20% of the fare for providing little more than a scheduling service?

  2. I wasn’t as “vibrant” in my youth, but I worked hard and saved my money. I traveled, dined well and made lots of friends. I bought homes and I finally married and retired in my early fifties. Every tiny choice piles on top of the next, and countless decisions result in a destination. Whether one is pleased with that destination, I cannot say, but they were not forced there at gunpoint.

    I am not sure what it is I should feel for Rent Boy. I’m sure that makes me terribly unhip.

  3. Why am I thinking of Becky Sharp? I’ve known many people who managed to string together interesting lives and careers, but so many of them were precarious. So much of it is subject to fashion, and fashion changes in just about every area of endeavor.

    Still, I think it is worse for younger people nowadays. We baby boomers were given so much and made a point of giving back so little.

  4. Heh. I can remember deciding I’d had it with roommates and moving into a very small ground level apartment in an old converted farmhouse in Glen Park around 1981. Near the BART. That was handy. Easy to get down the peninsula. Dive bar in the Glen Park village. All for about $400 per month. Some of my friends wondered how I could afford that on my own. I shudder to think what that tiny place might rent for now.

    1. Well… I’ll give you a hint as to what rental prices are like these days. For years one of the guys in the building next to us in the Mission District – a skinny white guy – was a junkie. He was actually a tolerable neighbor while he was still using. But then he got clean and his regular personality re-emerged and he became unbearable. We realized why he started taking heroin in the first place. Anyway, his landlord paid him $30,000 to move out and our new neighbors are now Swiss biochemists. That same one bedroom apartment now rents for $5,400 a month. That doesn’t seem like a lot of money if you’re from Geneva…

      1. Thirty plus years ago SF was pricey but still ultimately affordable to young people. Since then we’ve had population growth and a severe clampdown on new construction, and that old law of supply and demand kicked in with a vengeance. I sometimes think about selling my place and buying Montana.

  5. If he’s living in a rent controlled apartment… shouldn’t he extend that to AirBnB? He’s got a lot of chutzpah, making money by renting out an apartment that’s not his, probably for more than the rightful owner is allowed to charge…

    1. You have a valid point. Rent control definitely deforms the market and forces property owners to carry the freight of social equity goals. 70% of the people who live in San Francisco rent and they vote in favor of their own interests. The 30% who own property hire lawyers and apply a different kind of pressure to achieve their own goals by other means. Most new leases that are signed these days specifically prohibit short term rentals like Airbnb – on pain of eviction. And more than a few rent controlled tenants are squeezed out of their accommodations in spite of legal protections. It’s always the tenant’s lawyer against the landlord’s lawyer – and who has deeper pockets.

      FYI, Josh does what he does with the full knowledge and cooperation of his landlord who’s a nice guy. The landlord (now well past retirement age) inherited the building from his parents decades ago and has been collecting rent from a dozen units all along. The building hasn’t received a huge amount of upgrades during that time other than the usual replacement of old water heaters and such. When the building eventually changes hands there will be enormous financial pressure to restructure the cash flow situation and Josh may either have to buy in to those changes or move.

    1. Agreed, though I would rather share my toothbrush that share my car in such a manner. Having roommates (another form of sharing), was great when I was in my 20’s. I would not wish to do it now in my 40’s. This concept that everyone has to have their own living unit is a rather newfangled ones as well.

  6. I laughed aloud at the Logan’s Run picture (love that movie)! Sadly, I think society is moving in a very dangerous direction when it comes to aging. “Sustainable” is not really what we’re built for anymore and “change” is generally only allowed as long as the powers-that-be profit from it. Good friendships are worth holding on to.

  7. Unfortunately, Rent Boy – and the rest of those who live on the fringe, without saving or providing for the future – will become dependent on the others, who worked ‘dull’ jobs, did without that ‘vibrant’ community life, and sacrificed their opportunity to experience that exciting lifestyle.

    But, hey, throw another potato in the pot. And listen to Rent Boy ask if we could add his favorite wine to the grocery list next week, along with a more nuanced and subtle cheese (unlike the cheap stuff we’ve been eating).

    All the while watching his nostrils quiver in disdain at our dull and mundane lives, truly AWFUL politics, and soul-destroying family arrangements.

    1. Sounds like you might be bringing a little personal baggage with you on this trip…

      I see people who have evolved with the Sharing Economy as being no different from people who once worked at a shoe factory in St. Louis, a suburban office secretary at IBM, or an adjunct university professor who never made tenure and is now an aging part time instructor at a community college. Some people had a Plan B and adapted ahead of the curve. Others just… declined. It’s up to all of us as individuals to navigate these waters. And for the record, Josh is by far the most industrious and successful person in his family.

    2. I agree to a point.

      The truth is that there are MANY species of charming young things (and also charming older folks who have a different and often somewhat “Useful” charm (like the anthropology professor that makes college fun, but doesn’t really do more than sell anecdotes that confirm what people want to believe).

      They aren’t ALL peter-pan left-wingers with champagne tastes and businesses that basically always find people to subsidize them.

      This article of Jonny’s speaks to what Marx spoke about regarding ownership of the Means of Production. In places like silicon valley, the “means” is often “creativity”, and ownership is often by individuals, but not always.

      In the Depression (and certainly everytime since) even owning a farm was not a surefire way to ensure independence and not being an eventual burden to society — since markets change like they did in the early 20th century and are still doing now.

      This not-so-young man MAY, as Johnny predicts, figure out a way to pivot — especially if he is like Johnny and can bear the thought of not living in San Fransisco or even the Colorado Front Range — I don’t know what his actual “talent stack” is, but he might do well in a place like Pittsburgh. I spoke recently to a man who I knew in High School that lives near Boston; he lamented the cost of living even though he is an Engineer who works on car radar developments. I brought up Pittsburgh, but he has one of the big handicaps to mobility: strong family ties to the Northeast, in his case.

      Some people have big fears of being out of a megalopolis, especially one where most people do not trade in “information” (or at least “cool” information) — probably too many Trump voters, yes.

      But stereotypes run rampant on ALL sides — that is actually INTELLIGENT behavior when organisms are receiving more data than they have time to process — we look for patterns, imperfectly. For instance — Pittsburgh famously did not vote for Trump — why get into why or whether that was right or wrong — people just rarely get the story right.

      1. speaking of getting stories straight………Pittsburgh did not vote for Trump any more than Dallas did. Now if you consider metro Pittsburgh and metro Dallas……………..

    3. While there is baggage, I do feel much the same way. All too often the disdain for the nice comfortable and convenient life of the suburbs, the love and enjoyment of cars, believing in the American Dream… Like lfox, I have made a good life by doing the normal “right” things, and now get snooted and considered wrong for doing them.

  8. “Rent Boy” and Logan’s Run? A harsh metaphor for this moment in California history… at 40-something yet having failed the test to be VP of X I certainly feel the heat to turn myself in or move to Texas already..

    At the same time any moment now I expect SF to revert to the funky yet mildly impoverished city I knew growing up. But it keeps on getting more ridiculous. At some point what is not sustainable will not be sustained. The big gangsters survive (e.g. Wells Fargo, etc.) but most will perish. Life goes on. At the end of the day, it’s a damn nice harbor and that’s always worth something. Right?

    1. Yep. If you read the early 19th century book “Two Years Before the Mast” — the Yale college student turned sailor describes San Francisco bay as where the big economic development will be due to the inherent awesomeness there, much as New York Harbor was regarded as the most beautiful spot on the East Coast in the 16 and 17 hundreds. — though much of that beauty there is covered up and you have to go to the fringes to now find them.

      1. The Bay Area is pretty covered up already, and it’s still beautiful. It would be really hard to make those hills and mountains look bad. This is true for all the West Coast megalopoli, but IMO the Bay Area most of all.

  9. I saw a good joke but I can’t remember where – maybe Naked Capitalism? The idea was for Uber to finally become profitable by using AirBnB to charge the “owners” of the cars Uber financed whenever the car owners have to sleep in them.

    At least I think it was a joke.

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