Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everything is a weekly podcast whose eponymous host tries to connect people and events together, around a certain topic. For the past three weeks, Walker has focused his show on life in New York City. The series, New York After Rent is made up of three parts, and its a mixture of recorded interviews, live performances and readings from people living in NYC before, during and after the final performance of the Broadway musical Rent. It’s not only just about life in NYC post-Rent, the three part series is also a look into the ever changing identity of NYC and the use of it’s space.
The series is mostly Walker talking to various people who show how much the city has changed since the last performance of Rent on September 7th 2008. Those people include, Murray Cox, a housing activist who runs the website Inside Airbnb, which he shows every Airbnb listing in NYC. Richard Ocejo, a sociologist, has written a book on the commercialization of Delancey, Houston, Allen and Orchard Streets a.k.a “Hell’s Square.” And then there’s David X, a playwright who gets the opportunity of a lifetime, for he gets offered a chance to rewrite a new version of Rent, taking place in the present and in Bushwick.
The most interesting out of all these interviews is of Kathy Kirkpatrick. Walker tracked down the former owner of the Life Cafe in the East Village. The cafe is famous for being featured in Rent and was the place where the cast and a few fans celebrated the last performance; going so far as to re-enact the famous “Life Cafe” scene in the establishment that inspired it. Kirkpatrick, now living in Spain, tells Walker why she shut down the cafe she ran for 30 years and moved out of NYC. It’s a story that anyone living here, or reading Jeremiah’s Moss blog will know all too well.
These three podcasts are also filled with colorful characters and interesting takes on the ever changing identity of NYC. Because this series touches on many controversial aspects of NYC life, it’s those aspects that many of us who live here are dealing with and have witnessed. Podcasting is on a surge, mostly because they offer those who listen on the train, at the gym or at work, the chance to stay connected to the goings on of the world, in this case NYC. You can listen to the first episode of the series below and the other two episodes on Benjamen Walker’s Soundcloud.
He learned to tango “with the French Ambassador’s daughter in her dorm room at Miss Porter’s.” If you want to learn, contact the author @ChrisLInoa