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 spiritâ€¦probably not.
Wanna be a Broke-Ass of the Week? Holler at us here and we’ll send you the questionnaire.
Richard Grayson is an OG Broke-Ass. The dude is originally from Brooklyn, was a hippie 40 years ago, and has never had a drink of booze in his life. He’s also a writer who’s books include the short story collections With Hitler in New York, I Brake for Delmore Schwartz, The Silicon Valley Diet and Highly Irregular Stories. He has also published four books of diary entries from the 1970s, Summer in Brooklyn, Autumn in Brooklyn, Winter in Brooklyn, and Spring in Brooklyn, with the last four available at Amazon’s Kindle Store. To learn more about his books check out Richard’s Website.
Name: Richard Grayson
Occupation: Retired writer and lawyer; teach college part-time (seven different colleges since I came back to Brooklyn in 2006).
What neighborhood do you live in?: Williamsburg (Lorimer Street stop).
What are you listening to these days?: Tinnitus, mostly, so I need screamo music to drown out the ringing in my ears, though anything from reggaeton to Dirty Projectors played loud enough will do it.
Best money saving tip: Eat lunch at home or brown-bag it; never, ever take a cab unless you are ill. When you walk in the street or subway, instead of furshlugginer texting or phoning, look down and you will see coins there for the taking. Pennies add up!
What do you refuse to spend money on?: New York City first-run movies. In Arizona, where I also have a house, my brother is a manager of a multiplex so I wait till I go there to see films. I may start to attend NYC movies in a year and a half, when I can get a senior discount. Now I just go to free movies at the School of Visual Arts, where I teach, or summers at East River State Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Central Park, Bryant Park, Prospect Park, Socrates Sculpture Park, and other outdoor places.
Most expensive thing you’ve ever bought: A used car, I guess. Maybe $3500.
How’d that feel?: OK, I lived in Florida and I couldn’t survive without a car. Now I have no car in NYC and keep my 2000 Chevy Cavalier in Arizona.
Favorite cheap eat: A whole-wheat bagel. I eat them like a donut, without slicing them and without putting anything on them. Today’s gigantic bagels, unlike the ones of my Brooklyn youth, are too much to eat at one time. So I save half for later or, if I’m trying to cut down on calories, give half to a homeless person. Sometimes I simply throw half away, and it’s still a good deal.
Favorite dive bar: I don’t drink and so I don’t go to bars except for events like readings and those bars tend not to be dives. There are a lot of older neighborhood guys who hang out at the bar on the corner of Lorimer and Metropolitan, around the corner from me, but I don’t know its name. I have saved a lot of money, time and trouble by never having an alcoholic beverage in my life. Bottled water seems very pricey at bars, and then you have to give the bartender a dollar tip, too. Tap water is good, at least in NYC.
Best deal you’ve ever gotten: My apartment in Williamsburg. My landlady is a close friend whom I met freshman year at Brooklyn College in 1969. I cannot say any more.
Favorite free thing to do: Go to summer events in the parks all over Brooklyn and Queens, especially the JellyNYC concerts where I am one of the only elderly persons in attendance and the Celebrate Brooklyn! events in Prospect Park. I also like to take trips to different neighborhoods and walk around and look and people and stores. Or just sit in a park. In winter, I go to free bookstore readings or exciting events like the recent McCarren Pool dedication and the lighting of Brooklyn’s official Chanukah menorah. The fun never stops! And when it does, naps are usually free.
If you woke up a millionaire, what’s the first thing you’d buy?: A session with a certified financial planner.
Despite not having money, do you still love your life?: Yes, more so with each passing day considering I don’t have that much of it left and early Alzheimer’s runs in my family.
Do you own my book?: No, I don’t buy books. I don’t even own many of my own books, which started getting published in 1979 (With Hitler in New York). The books I publish with Dumbo Books and other publishers I upload free to Scribd for anyone with an internet connection (I still have dial-up) to read. I get my other books from the public library or sometimes free copies from publishers. Books should be free and increasingly they should be digital and not dead trees. I make dead-tree books as artifacts and souvenirs, but I would tell people not to buy them.
Best hangover cure: I have never had this problem, so I’d be the last person to know. Aspirin? If that doesn’t work, at least it will help your heart.
Are you a hipster?: Are you kidding? I’ll be 60 years old soon! A hippie, maybe, but that was forty years ago when there were love beads and bad acid. I do like hipsters, though. They will grow out of it.