Broke-Ass of the Week – Author Michelle Tea
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 Michelle Tea quite a few years ago. I was slanging Italian food at the now defunct North Beach location of Pasta Pomodoro, and one of my coworkers said, “Hey I think that’s the writer Michelle Tea”. At the time I had just put out either my first or second zine, so I thought, “Hey I’m a writer too! I should go introduce myself.” I did, and Michelle and I have been friendly ever since. She was even nice enough to give me a blurb for the back of my San Francisco book, as long as I made sure to instruct people to tip well if they end up at a Tenderloin rub-n-tug. Seemed like a fair exchange to me.
Michelle is one of San Francisco’s literary heros. She’s been living and writing (and writing about living) in San Francisco for over a decade and she’s damn good at all of it. Her book Valencia has become part of the cannon of art that describes what it mean to be a San Franciscan, and her excellent Radar Reading Series has more art grants than a convention for dudes names Art Grant. Plus she can read your horoscope. Let’s see what Michelle has to say about being a broke-ass:
Name: Michelle Tea
What neighborhood do you live in?: Mission
What are you listening to these days?: The xx, Patti Smith, Fever Ray, La Roux, Velvet Underground
Best money saving tip: Don’t buy shit
What do you refuse to spend money on?: God, I’ll spend money on anything. Its so dumb. I should probably have a category of things I only shoplift or make people buy me, right?
Most expensive thing you’ve ever bought: A Balenciaga purse
How’d that feel?: Fucking scary. The second I left the store I lit a cigarette and called a friend who has bought expensive purses before and could talk me down from my panic attack slash endorphin high.
Favorite cheap eat: Chili verde chicken tacos at Pancho Villa, with avocado.
Favorite dive bar: Specs in North Beach
Best deal you’ve ever gotten: I have gotten crazy discounted designer shoes at DSW downtown. Like a pair of $400 shoes for $50. It made me feel like I was stealing, I got really sweaty.
Favorite free thing to do: Walk down Valencia Street. I feel like I am both in a movie and watching a movie. It’s also nice to watch the fish at 826 Valencia.
If you woke up a millionaire, what’s the first thing you’d buy?: Realistically like the first thing I’d buy would probably be a super decadent dinner for all my friends. Then I would get right to buying a building with commercial space on the ground floor for a performance venue, and then the two flats upstairs would be for me and my besties.
Despite not having money, do you still love your life?: Of course! I actually have some money now. But it always feels like it’ll go away, you know? I think having an actually poor family and then being an artist and having your money come from your creative output, it always feels really unstable. But you know, it’s your job to love your life whatever your financial situation is. I loved my life when I was broke, even though being that broke was really stressful, too.
Do you own my book?: Didn’t I blurb it? Give me a copy!
Best hangover cure: Not drinking.
Are you a hipster?: Yes. People say hipster like it’s a bad thing. I think: cute hair, good music.