Broke-Ass of the Week: Miss Heather from New York Shitty

Every week we feature a different person from the community shedding a little light on their life of brokeitude.  Who knows, maybe you’ll learn something about the human spirit…probably not.

Wanna be a Broke-Ass of the Week?  Holler at us here and we’ll send you the questionnaire.

From Miss Heather: it’s not a portrait [of myself], but I felt it to be the most appropriate given your site.  When I walked down to where this was located today (South 5th by the BQE) I discovered a developer had jackhammered it up and laid pristine cement. Philistines.

Miss Heather is a winner.  Not in the gold star kindergarten way, but in the sense that she actually WON something.  Her blog New York Shitty was named the Best Local Blog by the Village Voice!  Which says a lot considering there’s probably eleventy-million of them in New York.  Started in 2006 after she began noticing the inordinate amount of dog shit in her neighborhood, New York Shitty is Miss Heather’s ode to the simultaneously strange and brilliant world of Greenpoint, Brooklyn.  She writes about everything from street art to real estate to random shit nailed on telephone poles.  And she even writes about dogs in Halloween Costumes.  New York Shitty was “hyper-local” before the term was even used for blogs, so if you like things like Mission Mission, you’ll love New York Shitty.

Name: Miss Heather

Age: It is not polite to ask a woman her age, Stuart. Didn’t your mother teach you anything?!?

Occupation: Editrix of New York Shitty, Junkwoman in training, Housewife, Crazy Cat Lady, Jackass of All Trades

What neighborhood do you live in?: Greenpoint, Brooklyn U.S.A. also known as the Garden Spot of the Universe.

Best money saving tip: Work retail. After a busy day at the junk shop (and dealing with people who haggle over the asking price of 25 cents for a nudie girl playing card) the last thing I want to do is go shopping.

What do you refuse to spend money on?: Jeans. You may or may not be aware that the word “denim” is derived from “de Nimes” as in Nimes, France. This is where “denim” (as we know it) was born. Denim was originally used for laborers’ gear because it was a tough material: it resisted wear and tear. Now a pair of jeans (which are often “distressed”) can go anywhere upwards of $100, $200. This is asinine— and the reason I cannot, will not bring myself to outlay much money on them. I pick ‘em up at my place of employment or buy them at the Salvation Army, Peachtree, Beacon’s Closet or Buffalo Exchange. $10.00 or less is my budget.

Most expensive thing you’ve ever bought: My M.F.A.

How’d that feel?: Not good for the simple reason I’m still paying for it.

Favorite cheap eat: Acapulco Deli & Restaurant, hands down. This largely unsung establishment serves up THE best nachos in the neighborhood. Their grilled cheese on challah bread is delicious, filling and will only set you back $3.50. My advice: try the salsa. You will not regret it. I’ve been trying to crack their recipe for YEARS.

Gems like these are found all over Greenpoint

Gems like these are found all over Greenpoint

Favorite dive bar: My criteria for bars (or “dives” as you call them) is as follows:

• No excessive noise. A dull roar I can understand, but drunk affluenzics screaming into cell phones (usually about their love life) turns me OFF.

• No “Mommy Happy Hours” and/or unattended children at large. CASE IN POINT: a couple years ago the Mister and I were having dinner at Taco Chulo. Taco Chulo makes damned good margaritas and we decided to pair them with dinner. As we were eating a toddler was running amok; his “keeper” didn’t think anything of it until he ran up to our table and spouted incoherent gibberish. Then she took it upon herself to “translate” his question:

What did you dress up as for Halloween?

she asked. I assured her my costume was of a nature that was not suitable for young children (because it wasn’t) and she ushered her pride and joy back to her table. Interrupting a total stranger while he (or she) is eating— much less— drinking is rude. I suspect Amy Vanderbilt, if she were alive, would back me up on this.

• No attitude.

There are a number of great bars in Greenpoint. “Blackout” is the Mister’s and my current fave, although the Black Rabbit is nice provided you go before it gets packed. That said, my watering hole of choice is not a bar, it is located at a restaurant: Casanova’s Ristorante. Not only has this establishment been doing business for over 30 years on the Champs-Elysées of Greenpoint (READ: McGuinness Boulevard) but you’ll get a Manhattan made right and no bullshit. The service is super-friendly and the pasta puttanesca is nothing to sniff at. What else would you expect from a place called Casanova?

Best deal you’ve ever gotten: My husband. Not only is he a wonderful person who humors and facilitates my manifold obsessions and overall weirdness, but I get health insurance to boot. What a deal!

Favorite free thing to do: Walk. Not only is it cheaper than a gym membership, it is entertaining. I cannot for the life of me understand why people choose to seclude themselves with technology. They should turn off their i-Pods and tune into North Brooklyn. Trust me: real time/offline life here is much more interesting than anything to be found online!

If you woke up a millionaire, what’s the first thing you’d buy?: The office of Mayor in our fair city. If Mike can do it, why can’t I?

Despite not having money, do you still love your life?: Let’s be honest; I am for all intents and purposes VERY well off. For this I feel very fortunate. The previous having been written, I have been incredibly, painfully broke in the past. I worked in the tourism industry and shortly after 9/11 I was laid off. With no long-term career prospects in sight I scraped by on unemployment and doing temp work. It was very unpleasant and at times extremely humiliating.

But this experience imparted to me a very valuable gift: empathy. I know a number of people who are out of work and struggling to make ends meet. I am also seeing more and more homeless people in my neighborhood. This breaks my heart. I feel for those who have been caught up in/ground down by this “recession”. It’s not their fault.

Loving one’s life cannot happen in a vacuum. This can only be attained by engaging with others, e.g.; becoming part of a community. In the clarity that is 20/20 hindsight I was lucky to be broke in Greenpoint. You will be hard-pressed to find a kinder and more generous group of people. They picked me up when I felt down. In this respect not having money has reaped me far more than I could have ever imagined or hoped for: friends for life. I try to pay the favor forward.

Do you own my book?: No, I don’t. Nothing personal. I get my books from the junk shop. It is my lending library and as such my reading is approximately 2-3 years behind the New York Times best seller list (not that I read that stuff). Then again— and taking into account that I have never seen your book at my place of employment— may very well be a testament to the quality of your publication: it means no one has seen fit to get rid of it! If my theory is true, the Bible is in deep, DEEP trouble.

Best hangover cure: Stay drunk. I have seen this method practiced with a great deal of success here.

Are you a hipster?: Not as far as I know. And truth be told, I do not give the matter much thought. I have better things to do.

Share This Page

About the author

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

I've been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle , "an SF cult hero": SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York, but to those familiar with my work, I'm just "that douchebag who writes books about cheap stuff and drinks a lot".

3 Comments

  1. Kate Black says:

    What a great interview! I’m a fan of both of you. Miss Heather’s blog is indeed the bomb.

    I miss the shit out of living in North Brooklyn.

  2. Nice! Thanks for the love Kate. Please make sure to tell all your North BK homies to dig on the site too :)

Trackbacks for this post

  1. QUICKLINK: Broke A$$ Stuart | newyorkshitty.com

Leave a Comment