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Home is what you make it, I guess. Whether you choose to live in a five-bedroom house with a bunch of people you barely know to save on rent, or if you drop $2,000 a month for a little piece of mind and solitude, escalating rents in growing areas is something that plagues millennials. Some, though, are trying to find ways around it. Living in closets in San Francisco, thirty-plus person communes in New York City, or in this case, this dude living in a 40-square foot apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn as written by The New York Times.
I could describe this guy, but it would be much more enjoyable if we just ran through The New York Times piece paragraph by paragraph.
So You Think Your Place Is Small?
The first thing that people want to know about Jack Leahy’s home, a 40-square-foot cubbyhole tucked into the ceiling of a performance space a few blocks from the waterfront in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is whether it’s legal. The second question is how much he pays.
You truly couldn’t come up with a better opening paragraph to set the scene than this. You have it all – the 40-square-foot apartment that exists in a “performance space” in Williamsburg. Be more of a stereotype, Jack.
He doesn’t know the answer to the first. As for his rent? Tell a New Yorker you pay $450 a month, and he or she becomes very, very jealous.
Just going to say it – saving $500 a month to live in such a small space just isn’t worth it. Sack up, find an equally shitty apartment and a roommate, and just be a normal fucking dude, Jack. I know $1,000 won’t get you much in Brooklyn, but you’re essentially living in a box which is just an awful look no matter how you dice it.
“But they don’t have any idea,” Mr. Leahy said. “It’s like ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ — how much did that guy pay?”
Are you really comparing yourself to the Phantom of the fucking Opera, Jack? Really?
On a recent evening, Mr. Leahy, a 25-year-old musician who moved to New York from Austin, Tex., late last September, pulled up in front of his home address on a skateboard, a Narragansett tall boy in one hand. The sun was setting over the East River, so he suggested a stop in his “living room” — a rock outcropping on the banks — before climbing the ladder to his quarters. Yes, a ladder.
“Musician.” Yeah, my ass. Let me see your W2s, bro. There’s no way your music is paying your bills no matter how miniscule they are. Also, a skateboard and a tall boy? Take it easy Lords of Dogtown. Not sure how you plan on climbing the ladder with that shit.
While real estate agents and promoters often describe local hot spots as extensions of one’s living space, utilizing the amenities of greater Williamsburg is a necessity for Mr. Leahy. His windowless den measures roughly 9 feet long and 4.5 feet wide. You can stand at the entry, but once inside you mostly stoop — it’s only about 5 feet high. A twin-size futon mattress takes up most of the space.
I just had a claustrophobic-induced panic attack just thinking about that. 9 feet by 4.5 feet? That’s like… a Ford Focus. I also like how they’re using words to act like this apartment is larger than it is – “entry” and “living room”? Are we really doing this? That’s like me calling my shower a “spa” and my garage a “hanger.”
Mr. Leahy, who works at Best Pizza in Williamsburg, spends a lot of time watching soccer at a nearby bar, or in his $220-a-month music studio in East Williamsburg, which he says is about the same size as his crawl space, except that the ceiling is of normal height. It also lacks a window, but he can at least unfurl his 6-foot frame — a nice change from stooping. He also likes to browse the record shops in Greenpoint, which is also the home of Captured Tracks, the independent record label that he hopes will sign him someday.
Ah, alright. Now it comes out. He’s a pizza guy. Knew he couldn’t keep it under wraps for too long. I don’t know what it is about this box-hopping hipster that makes me hate him, but it’s probably just everything about him. His lack of self-respect and dream of being signed by some shitty independent record label is just off-putting on all levels. He probably frequents that one record store from the hipster couple that got married a couple weeks ago.
“That label was the reason I moved to New York,” said Mr. Leahy, a pop/minimalist composer who goes by the name Socrates. Mr. Leahy is proficient on keyboards, synthesizers, drum machines and sequencers. “I mix and record everything on an old reel-to-reel tape machine,” he said.
“That goes by the name Socrates.” If you didn’t spit out your coffee at that, it’s time to move on. You’re not getting signed anywhere soon if you’re doing this on an old tape machine, dude. You need to stop treating your “career” like you’re making a mixtape for a girl in 1994.
Mr. Leahy must keep quiet during rehearsals in the performance space below him, which can be any time between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m., seven days a week. Fortunately, the Wi-Fi is great, so he can always watch soccer matches if he doesn’t feel like reading. He’s also required to maintain a ghostly profile in the kitchen and office in the back of the building, which is where the bathroom is. It has a shower, in case you were wondering.
Oh, good, his place has a shower. That’s great considering he actually looks like he doesn’t shower. I figured he hopped in the East River and washed his hair with soap he’d cup in his hands after stealing it from the pizza joint’s bathroom where he works. And the chances he pays for said wi-fi? Zero percent. I bet he had to butter up someone for the password which was “chalupabatman3000” or something.
Despite the restrictions, Mr. Leahy faced fierce competition and had to woo his way into his cubbyhole. His ex-girlfriend, an artist, told him about the unorthodox residence and referred him to the landlords, who were swayed, he said, by his “very long, thoughtful, funny, charming email” that described, in detail, his minimal grocery storage needs.
He took the space sight unseen and insists that he had no misgivings when he arrived.
Any time your life story features “wooing” yourself into a “cubbyhole,” you really need to take a step back and think about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. I also don’t fundamentally understand why his minimal grocery store needs have anything to do with it, but I’m sure we’ll find out some shit reason for them sooner than later.
“I think I was happy to be in New York and that I actually had a place,” Mr. Leahy said. “It was just kind of comical. It is comical. Whenever I show people where I live, they always laugh.”
Well, yeah, Socrates. They laugh because your life is a joke.
He awakens many mornings to the sounds of experimental theater: strange clanging, performers speaking in gibberish, chants. The space is ovenlike in the summer, cozy in winter.
And you thought the bird outside your window was annoying in the morning. This dude has experimental theater waking him up. Just pots and pans clambering beneath his futon mattress that sits on the floor. I have anxiety just thinking about it.
And though he doesn’t see much of them, he likes his quasi-roommates: seven other artists and creative types who live in the warren of more traditional rooms at the back of the building. “Though I’m always jealous when I see them sitting on chairs in their rooms,” he admits.
Okay, now we’ve officially entered “Is this real?” range. Imagine him delivering this line to the reporter from The New York Times – “I’m always jealous when I see them sitting on chairs in their rooms.” Hey, Socrates, just get a normal place and you won’t have to be jealous of people sitting in chairs. Imagine that.
Occasionally, there are parties in the building — and not just any parties, really good ones — “the kind of thing you’d imagine happening in Bushwick or Ridgewood,” he says.
Wait, the kind of things that happen in Bushwick or Ridgewood?! Sign. Me. Up.
There are some serious drawbacks, of course. The door behind his bed opens onto a sheer drop into the performance space, which gave him a scare a few months back when he leaned against it and felt it moving. Nor does he recommend nights of heavy drinking or hosting visitors, especially if romance is in the cards.
Oh, you wouldn’t recommend bringing a girl back to your place only for her to see that you live in an actual box? Hooking up in Socrates’s apartment would be like one step above hooking up in a public restroom. And honestly, I say that with zero confidence. Could easily be worse.
“Things get intimate really fast. You basically can’t do anything but lie down,” Mr. Leahy warned. “At the same time, too much moving around up here doesn’t feel safe.”
Go back and re-read that. That’s how a grown man just described where he lives. Where he pays to live.
Nonetheless, he recently decided to stay for another year. Romantic rendezvous chez Leahy are not a concern at the moment. He got back together with his girlfriend, the one who told him about the crawl space, and she lives in a nearby studio — a proper one, with windows and more than enough clearance to walk upright.
Earth to Socrates – move in with your girlfriend, bro. Or don’t, because any girl willing to date someone that lives in your current state is the mayor of Red Flag City.
And while some people might find even a good-size studio cramped for two, Mr. Leahy is not one of them.
“Are you kidding me?” he asked. “It feels like a great hall.”
I hate you, Socrates.
There was even some bonus content from The New York Times that’s equally as unintentionally hilarious as this dude’s life.
“Occasionally I will bring home a jalapeño.” What a wild man. .
[via The New York Times]