Broke-Ass of the Week: Comedian & Labor Organizer Nato Green
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.
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photo by Kimberly Sandie
Name: Nato Green.
Occupation: Semi-functional hybrid of comedian/writer/union negotiator.
What neighborhood do you live in?: Bernal Heights.
Best money saving tip: Pack a lunch.
What do you refuse to spend money on?: Parking garages. I will walk several blocks out of my way to not pay to park in a lot or garage. Also, interest on a credit card. Late fees at the video store. (When that was still a thing. Go to Lost Weekend Video!) I hate paying for nothing.
Most expensive thing you’ve ever bought: My house. It is the most expensive thing I ever bought, but did not buy it with my own money. Mostly, I paid for it with the kind of sketchy mortgage that crashed the economy.
How’d that feel?: Dizzying. When you buy a house, one of the papers you sign is one that projects how much you will have paid, including interest, by the time you pay off the moneylenders in the temple 30 years hence. That is how I became a millionaire of debt. Also, when you own a home in San Francisco, it’s automatically like being a feudal lord. You start getting lots of free stuff and deals that I never got as a renter.
Favorite cheap eat: Taqueria Vallarta. The burritos are fantastic, and the taco stand reminds me of Mexico City without the kidnappings. They appear to have questionable hygiene practices, but I think that’s what makes it so tasty.
Favorite dive bar: My weekly standup show The Business moved to the Hemlock Tavern. The good and virtuous people of the Hemlock may take umbrage at being called a dive bar, but it scratches that itch for me.
In the 90s, my fellow comedy-businessman Bucky Sinister worked at The Chameleon on Valencia, where Amnesia is now. In the 90s, I was involved in unionizing bike and car messengers into the longshoremen’s union. “Unionizing” involved a lot of hanging out in bike messenger bars. With all due respect to Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, the dream of the nineties isn’t alive in Portland. It’s at the Hemlock Tavern.
Best deal you’ve ever gotten: Favorite free thing to do? Sit on top of Bernal hill, and point out San Francisco General Hospital to people, and tell them that back in the nineteenth century, “Chinese patients were shunted off to a smallpox (or ‘pest’) hospital, originally operated exclusively for the Chinese and later designated as the Lazaretto or Lepers’ Quarters.” San Francisco values!
If you woke up a millionaire, what’s the first thing you’d buy?: Dinner at French Laundry and my own house.
Despite not having money, do you still love your life?: As much as any Jew can. I’ve known rich people and their lives look miserable to me. No, thank you. I’m sticking with the 99%.
Do you own my book?: No, but I think I still have one of the original pre-book zines sitting around.
Best hangover cure: Masturbating in the shower.
Are you a hipster?: No. It looks exhausting.
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