I don’t want to come off like an egoist, but the place I live is kind of famous: the McKibbin Lofts. Located on the very western edge of Bushwick, these otherwise unimpressive buildings (one on each side of the street) have been the subject of their very own New York Times profile and have a hilariously unnecessary Wikipedia page. They’re known more for their parties and permissive attitudes of the residents than interesting architecture, and they’re wrongly maligned as a bedbug haven. But there’s a good trade-off for the grief. For a place with 12-foot ceilings, modern-ish kitchens and laundry rooms, a 10-minute walk to Williamsburg, a 10-minute bike ride to the waterfront and a two-minute walk to Roberta’s, the rent is stupid cheap. How cheap? I share a four-bedroom apartment for $2,500 a month. Want in? There are some things you should know first.
1. YOU CAN BE A BAD NEIGHBOR
There are plenty of opportunities to be a ludicrously awful neighbor. If the only time for your folk band to practice is at 11:45 at night on Wednesday, go for it. Need to blast garage rock while you make yourself breakfast in the morning? God knows I have to, and I do it.
2. SO CAN YOUR NEIGHBORS
To be fair, not all the people that live around you will be awful. I’m still friendly with my old neighbors. That doesn’t change the fact that people who are wonderful musicians in their own minds will surround you. Thin walls mean you will hear every tone-deaf voice, mishit piano key and repetitive techno beat that you can stand. One time I heard three girls a floor below me practice “Christmas Don’t Be Late” for three straight hours, and they never got better at it.
3. LOCK YOUR DOOR, JESUS
Every now and again, there’s a rash of home invasions, because people don’t lock their doors at night. It’s fun and all to think you live in an extension of a college dorm, but you live in Brooklyn, there’s some things you just don’t do. Like, y’know, leaving your door unlocked in the middle of the night.
Come on, you don’t need an actual window to the outside world. How about a window to a room that has the windows? You still get light. Kind of.
5. YOU WILL NOT BE SWARMED WITH BEDBUGS
The single most common reaction to the news that you will be living in the McKibbin Lofts will be along the lines of “Hope you like bedbugs.” I had bedbugs once. It was awful. However, I got them when I lived in a normal apartment on St. Nicholas Ave. No one who has ever visited my apartment has come away with bedbugs, at least to my knowledge. If one of your friends insists on scaring you this way, find some bedbugs (on the subway or at a movie theater maybe) and leave them on your friend’s couch. That’ll learn them.
6. THE WIKIPEDIA PAGE IS JUST FOR LAUGHS
I’m convinced whoever created the 248 McKibbin page was just having a laugh at everyone else’s expense. The “Notable Residents” section contains a list of people you’ve never heard of, and in the two years I’ve lived here, I’ve never heard it referred to as the “Art Dorm.”
7. STAY OFF OF THE ROOF
One Friday, I had a party that made its way up to the roof. In the middle of all the fun, some M-Fing chad in mesh shorts and rubber flip-flops burst on the scene cursing and waving his arms, telling us to get off his section of the roof. The “Party All The Time” reputation feels more like a myth every day. There’s a hell of a view from the roof, a panorama of Manhattan, Queens and Bushwick. But we can’t even go on the roof anymore without setting off an alarm.
8. SOMETIMES GENUINELY AWESOME THINGS WILL HAPPEN
One morning, coming home from a long night of drinking, I pulled up to my apartment at the same time that a bunch of guys with badges attached to their belt buckles and huge guns were milling around. I thought they were there to bust me for drunk biking, but it turns out the FBI was in town to arrest some members of Anonymous, the hacking collective. You won’t get that living in Boerum Hill.
9. YOU’RE NOT GUARANTEED TO GET LAID HERE
The “dorm” designation for McKibbin refers only to the loudness of the din around you. Unlike a real college dorm, no one is stumbling around from floor to floor and from room to room making drunk friends they’ll forget about the next morning. My experience has been that my neighbors are either uninterested in being social, not worth knowing or aloof despite looking like rockabillies covered in garbage. Don’t move there thinking you’ll make oodles of friends–and you’ll avoid some crushing disappointment.
Follow Dave (but don’t follow him home): @HerbertHaper.