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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

On Tenement Life and Cable TV

Lower East Side, NYC
Photo by myself on the Lower East Side, somewhere along Stanton Street.

An older woman peeked her head out during my walk in the neighborhood on Sunday.

The cable running from the roof in through the window is for cable television. In older buildings, it's easiest to locate the cable connection on the roof, then run wires straight down from the outside to each apartment, rather than along the stairs.


I'm reminded of an episode of Friends, which involved cable tv. (Disclaimer: I watched perhaps 2 episodes of this sitcom, and this was one of them. The other involved Pheobe and a cat and a song about the cat).

Joey and Chandler were watching tv, when suddenly they started getting the adult channel. Fearing the channel would disappear just as quickly, the tv was left on all the time. The guys wind up watching hour after hour of x-rated programming.

This is roughly a true depiction of New York life. Well, sort of.

In the older walk-up buildings, the cable hook-up is a complete mystery, this cable coming in from the window. Often when you first move in, you get free tv. Gradually the free tv disappears, and you're faced with making the dreaded phone call to the cable guy.

Perhaps I'm generalizing here, but it happened to me (not the adult channel, but the free cable), and I've heard the same story told over and over.

Note: A 'tenement' is another name for a walk-up building, a four or five (and sometimes six) floor residential building without an elevator. When originally conceived, the word 'tenement' did not have the class stigma it has today.

Related posts: Rent, The Low Down on Walk Ups and The Community Garden - An Urban Oasis.


Olivier said...

on a l'impression de se retrouver dans une autre époque. Ta photo raconte une histoire, et j'adore ça.

one has the impression of being in another era. Your photo tells a story, and I love it

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of the several photos showing cats hanging out of the windows looking at the photographer. Were you loud and noisy or did you yell something? She doesn't look to be too happy to me.

Brookville Ohio

Virginia said...

What a great photo. I would have guessed Europe not NYC>

dianasfaria.com said...

Oh Kitty! I forgot about the free cable! First in our sixth floor walk up tenement in Greenwich Village and then later in our moe "posh" (not really!) Gramercy Park apartment. We eventually had to pay for cable in the walk up but I don't remember ever having to pay at the GP address.
Funny, I forgot all about that.
Is there still public access on cable in the city? that was always the most interesting TV. Marianne Williamson used to broadcast on it before she started advising the rich and famous.

Anonymous said...

I like your blog and the great idea of "daily writing and photographs from New York". This January, I visited Manhattan for one week with the idée fixe in mind of daily photo-blogging but I was just overwhelmed - and so I'm still reflecting the vast amount of im-pressions I took back home. If you want to, please feel free to check out my little photoblog, especially the section "New York: Street Level". Have a good day! Andy

Fredrik said...

I remember that episode of Friends. Very funny. Great picture by the way!

fishwithoutbicycle said...

The free cable thing happened to me too. It lasted a few years and I even got HBO2 for a while, but after about 3years it all went fuzzy and I had to succumb to the $70+ per month cable bill. Now I couldn't live without my DVR ;-)

Anonymous said...

So funny re the free cable.

I hadn't realised that is what tenements were. I am learning smething new every day in blogworld.

I had free internet here for a while as there was one that wasn't passworded but that disappeared as well!!! Presumably the fact that I listen to downloaded UK radio most the evening was eating into their quota!!!

valeria said...

Very good photo, Kitty! I remember well the episode with Phoebe singing about the cat...exhilarating...

Ken Mac said...

fantastic. One of your best!

Armil@cable tv said...

Nice photo! It also reminds me how people lived their the life before new technologies is already popular at this time and most especially it is very useful to mankind in many ways.

Affordable Cable said...

In Florida, cable is 'borrowed' by either being a cable installer or knowing one that can flip the switch in the main cable node to your house or unit. No loose cables or tenements over here.

Andrea said...

I just can't believe you've never seen Friends ... :-)

Kitty said...

Thanks everyone!

ha, Andrea...yes, I lived a very sheltered life for a while!