Magic Is In the Air
As I'm going on my fourteenth year in the city, it's easy to forget the things that stood out as a newcomer (and part of the reason why I fantasize about living somewhere new to start from unjaded scratch). Things that I've since discovered aren't even NYC-specific…like Boar's Head. I mean, it's just deli meat, right? The name sounded totally foreign and vaguely exotic when I first arrived in Brooklyn. Clearly the artisanal movement has made a lot of strides since 1998.
I've also always assumed (until this evening, as a matter of fact) that Magic Chef stoves were a deeply ingrained part of the rental fabric of the city. I'd never heard of the brand until I was haunted by it in my last "garden" i.e. illegal basement apartment for its inability to actually roast anything. The one Thanksgiving my mom visited, the turkey wouldn't get to serving temperature after practically an entire day in the oven. I just chalked it up to being one of many consequences of the cheapo shortcuts taken in this Sunset Park apartment. Sadly, it didn't occur to me to take a photo at the time since this was pre-digital camera-crazed days.
So, I was surprised to see the exact same Magic Chef (with the exact same heating problems) in the Carroll Gardens duplex I moved into in 2004 at 3.5 times the rent (it was at least 3.5 times better, so no complaints there). I've since come to accept that Magic Chefs are a part of NYC rental life, and I'll never be able to escape until I own, which will be like never.
That doesn't stop me from going to open houses, though. And it doesn't stop the Magic Chefs either. Last year, I saw a house that I still like and that's still for sale ah, it's in contract, but so far away in Ditmas Park. It's enormous, like five bedrooms and a driveway and a garage enormous. It was asking just shy of $1.5 million at the time. And it had a Magic Chef. Possibly the world's oldest Magic Chef. I would've dated it late '70s, maybe early '80s. You can sort of gauge it from the photo used in the ad.
Last weekend I encountered another $1.5 million Magic Chef in a Clinton Hill brownstone and the oven was even older! The house was such a dump for the price that it made me feel violent, then depressed, then try to mentally justify that Ditmas Park isn't that far, after all. (I'm not linking because I'm weird about not wanting to insult people even when they try selling things for insulting prices) This time I took a photo. I thought maybe this was a group home or half-way house so I didn't want to be too judgmental, but the note to visitors on the equally decrepit fridge made a reference to the bnb, so what?! Travelers from somewhere are willing paying to pay for the privilege of using this Magic Chef while on vacation.
While futiley searching for a possible Magic Chef Flickr pool, I discovered that the brand isn't NYC-centric in the least.
Magic Chef ad via The Atom Mom