Broke-Ass of the Week – Ethan Wolff

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.

I first met Ethan at the release party for my NYC book back in December.  Seeing that he wrote Frommer’s NYC Free and Dirt Cheap, he must’ve come by to sniff me out and see what all my bullshit was about.  Of course we ended up bonding about all the amazing FREE and cheap stuff that abounds in New York, as well as the dismal, fruitless, and sorrow filled lives that we’ve both unfortunately chosen as writers.  All I gotta say is that this guy knows his shit and that you better read below to get some good insight on how to be a Broke-Ass.  Also, make sure to check his new Blackbook column about entertaining at home.  It’ll learn you some stuff.

Name: Ethan Wolff

Age: 30-something (I have to enjoy writing that while I still can)

Occupation: Writer. I cover bar and restaurant listings for BlackBook, and write a cheap New York book for Frommer’s. (My book is the Spock to Stuart’s Kirk.)

What neighborhood do you live in: The Lower East Side, in the heart of the Bargain District, just steps from the myriad attractions of the East Village and Chinatown.

Best money saving tip: Make it at home. Like coffee. Café Du Monde runs $5 a can, and the coffee is dense so the can lasts forever. I am getting a crash course in home entertaining via a new blog I’ll be editing for BlackBook (“House Special”). Right now I’m sipping delicious fresh-squeezed lemonade, a byproduct of the DIY lemoncello I’ve got infusing under the liquor cabinet.

What do you refuse to spend money on?: Cabs. Which is a lot of fun to explain to the girlfriend at 2am. “Really, baby, it’s about the environment…”

Most expensive thing you’ve ever bought: A third-hand Toyota, which I managed to squeeze another 100,000 miles out of.

How’d that feel?: Pretty good while it was running.

Favorite cheap eat: I want to say bánh mì, but that’s so early-2009. Phở is really fucking good. As is anything from Grand Sichuan St. Marks.

Favorite dive bar: It used to be Joe’s, but in my dotage that’s too far to travel. Fortunately, The Magician is well within stumbling range.

Best deal you’ve ever gotten: I bought a very nice blue button-down shirt from the Salvation Army around the corner that’s now an obscenely expensive restaurant. The shirt was 99¢ (I think it had a green ticket on a green ticket discount day.) I have worn this shirt probably 500 times, which works out to about one-fifth of a cent per wearing. And the collar hasn’t even gone all raggedy yet. Huzzah, late-90s-era quality control staff at Pierre Cardin!

Favorite free thing to do: The Met.

If you woke up a millionaire, what’s the first thing you’d buy?: I’d buy happiness, of course. You can’t get that with a million bucks? Oh. How about a decent one-bedroom with natural light in lower Manhattan? Not that either? Hmm. Maybe I’d just take my girlfriend on a bunch of cab rides.

Despite not having money, do you still love your life?: Yes. I am fortunate to live in a place that cranks out more free entertainment (art, music, pathology) than a person could possibly assimilate, all going on twenty-four hours a day seven days a week three hundred and sixty five and a quarter days a year. The subway alone is such an adventure, they could charge $4.50 for just a roundtrip ride. Oh, wait…

Do you own my book?: My Frommer’s editor bought it at your signing and we’re sharing it. Did I mention I’m cheap?

Best hangover cure: Egg foo young. Do not skimp on the gravy.

Are you a hipster?: I am an oldster.

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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".

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