COM­MON MORTALS

A starv­ing artist may be hun­gry and hard up, but not hope­less. Magic doesn’t cost any money!

DNA Magazine - - CONTENT - More: Find the au­thor on Twit­ter @KhrisWarhol.

Cheap eats and meets.

THE CON­CEPT OF A starv­ing artist is, in fact, lit­eral. No mat­ter your craft: act­ing, mu­sic, writ­ing, paint­ing; there is always go­ing to be a pe­riod of your life (all of it) where you will work your god­damned ass off and still lack the nec­es­sary funds to buy food and drinks. New York City is one of the only cities where work­ing a 60+ hour work week leaves you stand­ing in a Wal­greens de­cid­ing whether to splurge on din­ner sup­plies or think prac­ti­cally and pur­chase that roll of toi­let pa­per so you can fi­nally stop wip­ing your butt with the in­dus­trial grade nap­kins you craftily swiped from the last eatery you vis­ited.

“It’s pos­si­ble to live well,” mused Mathe­son as we sat in his shoe­box apart­ment in Green­wich Vil­lage. “Liv­ing the life that you’ve dreamed of just means you have to be cun­ning in your ap­proach.” Like learn­ing Ger­man or see­ing women get along rather than pay­ing each other back­handed compliments; ini­tially it’s for­eign, but with prac­tice and im­mer­sion, fel­low Com­mon Mortals can teach you where to find the il­lus­tri­ous cheap eats and cheap meets.

CHEAP EATS

In or­der to main­tain any form of friend­ship in this city, you must be avail­able to meet and eat with friends when­ever they call you to join them. Af­ter mov­ing from her po­si­tion at the Ve­gan café into HR at a no­to­ri­ous fash­ion house in Manhattan, Klara texted while I was at work to share the news and de­manded that we cel­e­brate over din­ner and a bot­tle of wine. Like the idea of vol­un­tar­ily log­ging on to check your on­line bank­ing bal­ance, the sheer con­cept of her text mes­sage made me panic. I wanted to help her revel in all of her pro­fes­sional achieve­ments, but I had $22.30 to last me the fol­low­ing two days. “I’d love to my beauty, but I’m dirt poor” I wrote to her, guilty as a mother leav­ing her child in day care to re­turn to work. Al­most in­stantly she replied, stat­ing to meet her at the DeKalb Ave L-line stop and that din­ner wouldn’t at all be a prob­lem.

I greeted her with a Euro­pean dou­ble kiss and we be­gan walk­ing the de­serted streets to­wards a liquor store where the at­ten­dant was serv­ing pa­trons from be­hind bul­let­proof glass thicker than those af­forded to the win­dows on a 747. She greeted the clerk with a wink and they ban­tered as if they had grown up to­gether. “Just a 5-litre please, mama” to which the clerk, with two hands and much ef­fort, placed a 5-litre bot­tle (drum?) of red wine on the counter and said it would be $10. Be­wil­dered, I handed Klara a crum­pled five-dol­lar note. As I did the chival­rous thing and car­ried it down the street I couldn’t help but state my mix­ture of con­cerns: in­gest­ing this vol­ume of RED WINE as the la­bel so del­i­cately stated and my ex­cite­ment that some­thing so po­tent, so end­less, only cost us five dol­lars a piece.

As we walked, Klara told me a story. “When I went to Le Bain the other week I met an in­vest­ment banker who was half my size but a great fuck. He took me to this restau­rant we’re go­ing to now and on the way stopped off at the liquor store and bought this be­he­moth bot­tle of wine. I was a lit­tle pissed off be­cause I was ex­pect­ing a more lav­ish even­ing, but se­cretly I loved ev­ery minute be­cause I kept telling my­self that this was some­thing that you and I needed to do. With­out fuck­ing each other at the end of course.”

“We’ll see how we go,” I ban­tered as we stepped in­side what looked to be an aban­doned build­ing. “What ex­actly are we do­ing here?” I asked, look­ing around the di­lap­i­dated es­tab­lish­ment with dis­carded fur­ni­ture scat­tered about. In the main din­ing hall, what ap­peared to be an over­worked fam­ily was fever­ishly sort­ing soft tor­tillas into two non­de­script piles. “Just shut the fuck up and write your or­der on this scrap of pa­per. The lime chicken soft shells are in­cred­i­ble.”

It takes a strong man to look around at an eat­ing es­tab­lish­ment dec­o­rated with what seemed to be a huge haul on hard rub­bish col­lec­tion day and think: Hmm, let’s eat here! DIY Taco (no assem­bly nec­es­sary) had vast pa­tron­age with a lax BYO al­co­hol pol­icy and no cork­age fee. We sat down next to a group of peo­ple who had evolved past the point of hip­ster and opened our 5L. We both lit a cig­a­rette and set­tled into the de­cay­ing fur­ni­ture, mak­ing our­selves com­fort­able as we planned to oc­cupy our lit­tle derelict hovel for the next few hours.

The tacos came and went, the lime chicken juice sting­ing my mouth’s in­te­rior and af­ter work­ing on our bot­tle of RED WINE (Arial font, no fur­ther in­for­ma­tion pro­vided) we de­cided on a sec­ond help­ing. Af­ter bat­tling through three-quar­ters of the bot­tle, two serv­ings of tacos and a pack of Lucky Strikes, we were full and merry. The bill came to a to­tal of $11.50, which I cov­ered be­cause we were cel­e­brat­ing her achieve­ments (and I was ine­bri­ated), and we stum­bled back to the sta­tion. “My place or yours?” I en­quired with a smile. “You wish,” she said with a play­ful push on the sub­way plat­form.

CHEAP MEETS

On a Wed­nes­day night drink­ing with a few Aussie soul­mates and Com­mon Mor­tal com­padres at my Bush­wick apart­ment, our legs re­fused to re­main sta­tion­ary. The mu­sic was a siren song de­mand­ing that we go out and dance. I de­cided to text a DJ who had come into my work and only of­fered me his stage name to pro­mote his mys­te­ri­ous air, de­spite the shock of blue hair art­fully plaited into corn­rows. Half an hour later I re­ceived a text mes­sage re­ply that sim­ply stated, “14 En­ders St”.

I drunk­enly texted back to note the place needed to be cheap and didn’t re­ceive a re­sponse for the re­main­der of the night. With no other sug­ges­tions in the mix, I of­fered that we catch a cab to the ad­dress, eval­u­ate the lo­ca­tion and if the party looked like fun (and ex­isted), we’d stay. Seconds later, we were hail­ing two cabs on Bush­wick Ave.

As we pulled into En­ders Street, a no­table ware­house district, there wasn’t a sin­gle soul around. I had been sent on a wild goose chase by the blue-haired devil. We ar­rived at num­ber 14 and I told ev­ery­body to re­main in the cabs and I would en­quire to see whether there was, in fact, a party hap­pen­ing in the mid­dle of nowhere. As I closed the cab door, I could hear the faint al­lure of in­cred­i­ble Bal­ti­more Dance Hall mu­sic seem­ingly muf­fled by the con­straints of ware­house walls. I ap­proached the mini en­trance, a door half my size. A bouncer opened the mi­cro pas­sage­way and I ex­plained that Mazur­bate had told me there was a party here that my friends and I were in­vited to at­tend. I mo­tioned to the gang and, one by one, we ducked un­der the door, out of ob­scu­rity and into night­club nir­vana.

It was al­most too much to bear. It was ev­ery­thing that you could ever want in a NYC un­der­ground, un­spo­ken ware­house party. The peo­ple at the door in­sisted there was no en­try cost to the Steel Drums party and only that we must buy a few rounds of drinks. So that’s where they get you, I thought to my­self as I ap­proached the hole in the wall bar. To my sur­prise, the sign noted only two types of beer be­ing sold, tall boys for $1.50 a piece.

I spot­ted Mazur­bate and he told me that the Steel Drums par­ties are elu­sive. They’re always trav­el­ling to dif­fer­ent lo­cals to avoid an inf lux of “the wrong kind of peo­ple” and mes­sages sent out are always min­i­mal with­out ex­pla­na­tion to avoid the above­men­tioned. We all danced, drank and tried to con­tain our ex­cite­ment and awe of ev­ery im­pec­ca­bly dressed in­di­vid­ual. NY celebri­ties like Le1f and Cunt Mafia were cir­cu­lat­ing, gracing peo­ple with their pres­ence. At 6am, we left the con­fines of the ware­house and a plethora of party kids pop­u­lated the streets. Having only spent $25 each, we de­cided to gift our­selves a shitty break­fast and then walk home to sleep off the night’s shenani­gans and ready our­selves for the po­ten­tial to do it all over again.

In this boil­ing pot of cul­ture, to be a starv­ing artist isn’t a curse but a bless­ing be­cause this is the com­mon­al­ity among us all. The over­worked, un­der­paid, nil ap­pre­ci­ated com­plex. If one sticks their head down and puts in hun­dreds of thank­less hours into their jobs with no re­ward, they will go in­sane. So it is up to us Com­mon Mortals to find places where we can score cheap eats, cheap meets and, if we’re lucky, a text mes­sage key to the ware­house un­der­ground of in­cred­i­ble nights.

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