Paris, 31 March

I can’t walk two blocks in this city without stumbling into someone’s photo- op.

Place des Vosges

Paris hasn’t changed very much. Armed soldiers on guard at major monuments but no one seems to be paying much attention to them. Parisians go about their daily business and populate the cafes after work as they always have. The crowds seem younger but that’s probably just my aging perspective.

Déjeuner au Seine

I’ve been looking at the ads in the windows of realty offices and while it’s hard to tell much about what’s really available, it appears that rents are just a little more than half as much as San Francisco apartments. I saw what looked like a lovely large studio on the Rue Jacob in the 6th for €1250 per month. If such places truly exist, I’ll seriously look at moving here. Always loved it, always felt at home here. Carried that a little too far yesterday when I gave some tourists very iffy directions to the Pompidou Center in my best French accent. They may have found it by now.

A few noticeable changes: there seems to be an alarming proliferation of bagel shops, and it appears Prius taxis now outnumber Mercedes. I haven’t found a connection yet, my investigation hindered by a preference for baguettes and the Metro, but I will continue independent observation and check in with David Lebovitz on the matter.

I take this picture every time I come to Paris. From the same spot on the Pont des Arts, different hours of the day, different times of the year. It always pleases me but always seems to lack a special quality of light that define the best images of Paris. Henri Cartier-Bresson has a version that’s really special. I’ll keep trying.

Ile de la Cité
Ile de la Cité


In yet another example of my spectacular gift for good timing, I’ve returned to San Francisco at the peak of an apartment shortage: highest average rents ever and fierce competition for what’s available. Rental ads list proximity to Google and Apple shuttles and warn you to come armed with all three credit scores, bank statements, pay stubs rental history, references and the name of the surgeon who will remove your right arm for use as a security deposit.

This is truly a nightmare. Think for a moment about 300 square foot studios in dodgy neighborhoods for $2000 per month. There, you didn’t need to think for very long, did you? But if you’re looking to live here, you have to consider it.

iPhone-0372I went to look at a place the other day that was a steal at $1900. I’ve seen prison cells that were larger. What was called the bedroom was a windowless cube that could accommodate a queen-size bed, but absolutely nothing else, so I’d have to crawl into the room from the bottom of the bed because there was no space on the sides. Then, I’d need to fit living room, office, dining room and clothes storage into the other room, which didn’t leave any space for me. And I put in an application and didn’t get the place.

iPhone-0362Then we have the guy who wanted to break his lease but didn’t want to tell his landlord yet because he might change his mind, so he puts an ad in Craig’s list offering to rent an apartment that he had no right to rent and wastes half a precious day of searching.

Scams are plentiful and sometimes clever: there are many excuses for not being available to actually let you see the apartment before forking over the “holding deposit.” Some are unavoidably detained on business in Zurich, others have been called to do the Lord’s work in Alabama, in some cases the photos shown are not of the actual unit available, and then there’s Stacy for whom I always seem to be second choice: The good news is that the rental is still available! We had a tentative agreement from the first person we showed it to, but now it seems that they changed their mind, so we need to lease it as soon as possible. You were the second one to email me about it, so its only fair to give you the first shot.” And to rise to the top of Stacy’s list all I need do is click on the mystery link below.

The search goes on but there are few open houses today because the local boys are in the Super Bowl. I can use a breather.


A nice place, but difficult to heat and the line's already forming. ©2013 Ron Scherl
A nice place, but difficult to heat and the line’s already forming. ©2013 Ron Scherl