Oh dear. I don't mean to get away from the whole entertainment thing so quickly again, but I have to vent just a wee bit. As I've mentioned (over-and-over-and-over), my apartment search and move was somewhat horrific. Now, I've been in my new apartment nearly a month, and I'm still not completely settled. My room is coming together ... slowly. The rest of the apartment is coming together ... about as slowly. As usual, certain annoyances (some minor, some major) started to make themselves apparent shortly after I moved in. Such as, you ask? Well, let's see. My closet, for example, which was added in a renovation a couple years ago, had a shelf and hanging rod that were about to collapse out of the drywall because virtually no anchors were used to secure it. Plus, the closet was given a sunken fake ceiling for apparently no reason -- about two feet lower than the rest of the apartment ceiling. Plus, a new building entry system was installed that mimics those of banks' ATM vestibules. You use a ket instead of a card, but it's a magnetized lock and there's an annoying beep that sounds not just when you buzz someone in but when you turn your key or press the interior button to get out. Oh yeah, and my room is directly over that door on the second floor. (I've actually almost stopped noticing.) Whenever I get the mail, the entire mailbox door comes off with the key and I have to replace it on the hinge when I lock it up. Plus, the apartment has Direct TV right now instead of cable which ... well, that's actually the subject of another post.
And besides, I don't want to vent about the apartment. I want to vent about Tillie's. I love Tillie's. It's located on DeKalb and Vanderbilt. It's one of the reasons I focused so much of my search on Ft. Greene and Clinton Hill. It's an relatively plain, simple, independent cafe that reminds me of places I grew-up with in San Francisco. It's obviously NOT Starbucks. And it also has free WiFi.
I spent about 15 minutes arguing about WiFi in cafes with a friend of mine over IM earlier today. She isn't in favor of it because she thinks laptop users dominate the space too much and then nobody else can ever find a seat. I, on the other hand, think WiFi in cafes (even Starbucks and Barnes & Noble) is the greatest development of the 21st Century because I find I work much better in them. But I understand her issue, and I don't even completely disagree. I hate people who go and take up a huge table with papers or maybe even two tables, who aren't willing to share their table if the place is crowded or who go some place and sit for five hours while nursing one small coffee. I'm completely in favor of a business enforcing a minimum purchase per hour or two hours limit. Whenever I go anywhere, I'll always get at least a drink every 90 minutes to two hours if not more frequently, and I'll also often buy food too. If a place offers free WiFi (which Starbucks and Barnes & Noble don't, unless you can find the occasional one near someone's non-password protected wireless router apartment -- I thank you anonymous benefactor!), they have even more of a right to demand purchases.
All this once again leads me back to Tillie's which seems to require a singular purchase (no problem) to use their FREE WiFi. I discovered Tillie's because of my friend who lived in Ft. Greene. I asked him one day if there were any good cafes in the 'hood, and he told me about Tillie's. I basically fell in love the first time I was there. (In fact, I've already found more cool non-Starbucks, free WiFi places in Brooklyn than I ever have in Manhattan -- specifically Gorilla Coffee on 5th Ave and Tea Lounge on Union in Park Slope. Yes, I know neither are new, but they're new to me, relative Kings County virgin that I am.) It's exactly the kind of environment I love. Their coffee was good. (Their chai, not as much.) It wasn't too big; wasn't too small. It had a neighborhood feel to it with a bulletin board for events or whatever somebody wanted to post. Bright and light ... and again, free WiFi. I didn't see too many outlets, but I did see people with their computers plugged in, and that's a huge issue for me. When I sit somewhere, I like to sit and get lost in whatever I'm doing. I may stay somewhere for three, four, five, six hours ... sometimes more. I'll keep buying stuff, but my laptop battery doesn't do so well without power. I have a spare, but it runs out of steam even quicker. Basically, at this point, my batteries will last around two hours on a good day, especially if I'm writing, accessing WiFi and listening to music ... all constant drains.
So today, for the first time since I had moved to Clinton Hill, I decided I was going to spend a chunk of my day at Tillie's. They have food; they have drink; they have WiFi ... I needed to send a bunch of emails and write ... what better place could I go. Except when I arrived, I discovered something incredibly sad ... Oh you think you know where I'm going, huh? That they've started charging for their WiFi or that they don't have it anymore. No no ... that's not it. WiFi still works, but Tillie's will no longer allow customers to use any of their already limited number of electrical outlets. They claim (and I'm not going to dispute it) that the number of people drawing off their electricity apparently costs them too much. It's not that I think that's a bad argument. It's an independently owned cafe, and I'm sure they're expenses aren't cheap. I have no clue how much, say, 10 laptops plugged in all day would add to their electric bill. Maybe it's significant.
The only thing I do know is that there is no way I can frequent Tillie's (and therefore spend money on food and drink) as much as I had anticipated because, quite simply, I need power. Today I sat there for just over an hour before my computer went to sleep on its own (and I didn't have my spare battery). I was in the middle of something and even though I would have much preferred staying, I had to go and find some place where I could plug in.
I hope this isn't a permanent development, but I'm guessing it is. I'm also guessing that most people either have better batteries, don't sit places as long, or just don't care like I do. But who knows. I'm sure I'll still go there from time-to-time, but the ability to get our of my apartment and become a bit more productive has simply become that much more difficult. I guess I'll have to figure out how long it really takes to walk to Gorilla Coffee. Oh well. And as for my friend? I guess she knows where she can go without being multi-hour laptop inundated. Maybe.