Broke-Ass of the Week – Jesse Thorn from The Sound of Young America
I first met Jesse Thorn almost ten years ago (I can’t believe it’s been that long!) in Porter College at UC Santa Cruz (yes our mascot was the fighting banana slug). Back then Jesse was the goofy looking kid who rocked the mint condition, vintage Nike’s, and always walked through the quad with songs from the golden age of hip-hop bumping from his boom box. Looking back I was probably an even goofier looking kid in my bright orange Converse, tie-dye shirts, and mammoth hemp necklaces (I can’t believe I admitted that to you cruel bastards).
Since our salad days in Santa Cruz, Jesse (aka America’s Radio Sweetheart) has become a very popular public radio host and his show, The Sound of Young America, has been featured in Time Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and Salon.com. Yup, while Jesse gets to interview modern luminaries like Pharoahe Monch, Ira Glass, and Chuck Klosterman, I’m still struggling to wrangle an interview out of fucking Paul. At least Jesse was nice enough to have me on his show (which you should totally listen to). But considering that his show is funded by public radio, he’s just as much of a broke-ass as the rest of us. Check out what he has to say below and donate to his show if you’re ever feeling flush.
Also, for those of you who follow this site, you’ll notice this is the first Broke-Ass of the Week from Los Angeles. We hope to be expanding our coverage to LA after the summer so please holler at us here if you are interested in contributing to the site.
Name: Jesse Thorn
What neighborhood do you live in?: Koreatown in Los Angeles
Best money saving tip: Buy things that hold their value. You can sell them later.
What do you refuse to spend money on?: Cable TV. I miss live sports a little, but there’s plenty of video entertainment for me between DVDs and streaming from Netflix and the internet.
Most expensive thing you’ve ever bought: My car – a 92 Infiniti M30 Convertible. It was five or six thousand dollars. Only car I’ve ever bought from a dealership.
How’d that feel?: I was driving an El Camino, which was great in the Bay Area, but kind of unpleasant in LA. Lousy AC, handled like a boat. The convertible was a concession to the Hollywood Lifestyle.
Favorite cheap eat: The HMS Bounty on Wilshire in Koreatown. Good food, friendly people, and no bullshit. Unlike most of LA, there’s always all kinds of folks in the Bounty.
Favorite dive bar: I don’t drink, but if I did, it’d be at the Bounty.
Best deal you’ve ever gotten: I’m a big thrifter and estate sale shopper, so I basically live deal-to-deal. I recently bought about half a dozen Oxxford suits, a few sportcoats and some odd trousers at a thrift store. They cost about three or four grand each new, and I spent about a hundred bucks on the lot. I resold them and used the profit to buy myself a pair of Alden boots on Ebay.
Favorite free thing to do: I love to walk in the city with my wife and dog. I grew up on foot in the Mission in San Francisco, and even here in LA, I’m always invigorated by walking in public and seeing what’s going on in the neighborhood.
If you woke up a millionaire, what’s the first thing you’d buy?: A trip to London for my wife and myself. I’d order some bespoke clothes while I was there. Maybe Norton & Sons?
Despite not having money, do you still love your life?: I’m so proud that being frugal, and being comfortable living without to much money, has allowed me to follow my dreams. I make more now than I ever thought I would, and I feel rich every day, because my values were in the right place to begin with.
Do you own my book?: Of course! I contributed to that shit! Musee Mechanique, baby.
Best hangover cure: As I mentioned, I don’t drink… so I’m gonna say contribute to your favorite public radio show.
Are you a hipster?: Yeah, probably. A pretty odd one, though.