With the exodus of the bohemian out of Manhattan (that is frankly a laughable option these days unless you have a sponsor, consistent sales and a rent regulated building which affords you tenure ) – most bohemians are forced to live in Brooklyn- which ironically has created a little pricing bubble as a consequence of everyone flocking there. What does that mean? It means the following: You can now respond to advertisements promising a stellar grunge existence, with wide open floor to ceiling space and great views. In reality, when I turned up, time and time, these hard to believe and find venues where anything but romantic vestiges (at least within my budget).
One building I entered at first offered hope, large sweeping views, wide space and a reconverted textile factory off the Morgan stop. Offered hope until the individual showing me the space kept explaining to me how immaculate the 3 bathrooms were. Yes- 3 bathrooms, side by side next to the entrance. What a compelling and wonderful idea I thought. From there we moved into the communal kitchen, it looked decent, well sufficiently run down, until I saw the littered dishes (but who doesn’t have those lying around?), the crusty stains on the kitchen stove ( I was assured that they would be cleaned later that afternoon) and the plied plastic floor which I was promised would get a new hardwood floor in the not too distant future. From there we started moving down the hallway.
‘Why all these rooms? I innocently ask.
‘For the tenants.’
‘Of course- but out of curiosity – how many people live here?’
‘With you it would be 13.’
At that moment, images of me being in a cramped youth hostel room in Paris circa 1990 start running through my mind, and all I can do is keep looking at the individual in front of me- smiling politely, but wanting desperately to strangle him, and wondering why he kept this important piece of information out of the craigslist ad- but then again, on further reflection I could see why.
He continued to the best of his ability to try and sell the communal experience, (for your information- the room he was advertising, admittedly on the large side but without a window was located directly adjacent to the common room which sent nightmares of 4am post college art students foolishly falling apart in front of my door with their empty Jack Beam bottles) – the artist lifestyle (did anyone tell him that being an artist or writer requires plenty of solitude to get the actual work done?) and all the wonderful camaraderie. Camaraderie I thought until when we re entered the kitchen and I noticed the giant notice tacked on the refrigerator- ‘Stop eating my food bitches!’ which by now, my host was pretending wasn’t there and standing conspicuously in front of.
I could see how on some level a young person new to the city looking to bathe themselves in bohemian nostalgia and live the dream/nightmare could be seduced by all of this, but as a cranky writer in his early 40’s who’ d already gotten his share of nostalgia a previous life ago, the idea of living it once again (never mind that it is a constant state of being) with 12 other individuals was too much for me to bear.