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(Editor’s note: This is the first post by Cultural Capitol writer J. D. Oxblood.)

On Dining with Strangers

By J.D. Oxblood

I live on a small island off the coast of the United States of America. That may be technically untrue, but it’s more true than the truth. I live on the Island of Long, in a small corner that is vastly different from the rest of the island and—like the neighboring island of Manhattan—the rest of America.

This is a story, like all New York stories, about what makes us different, if not exactly special. We live in tiny, tiny apartments and pay anywhere between a third to half of our income on rent. This is alarmingly obvious to New Yorkers, but if anyone’s reading this out in flyover country (that’s right, I said it) read that sentence again. It’s insane if you really chew it over, and yet we do it, year after year. And as I was recently reminded whilst dining with out of town guests, it’s always all about the rent. As my visitors were wondering why we were paying $15 for a cocktail, I noted the address: we’re half a block from Rockefeller Center. Guess what—while the cocktails are weak, the service is crap, the décor is overdone and like something some rube from the suburbs would call “so New Yorky”—these people have to pay the RENT.

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