Dear Artist or What Have You,
We are pleased to inform you that you are among the select group of creative type people invited to join us at the Brownsville Colony for the Arts and What Have You in 2013. Our selection process is extremely competitive so go ahead and start bragging to all your little bicycle-riding friends about getting picked for this residency.
The Colony’s review of the applicants involved me running credit/background checks and income verifications on like every single applicant. I must have reviewed a dozen applications off the Craigslist ad alone (granted, this was the only ad). My decisions were based solely on the existence of each applicant’s work and artist or what have you statement, but also whether or not they could conceivably pay the $1200 residency fee. A lot of reliable-seeming young folk competed for these residencies, but some of them had bad credit or no proof of income so I had to tell them to bounce. Near as I can tell, you look “freelance” up in the dictionary, the dictionary should just redirect you to the U’s for “unemployed.”
Now that you’re comin’, let me tell you a little about the Brownsville Colony for the Arts and What Have You, located in historic
ally dangerous Brownsville, Brooklyn, hometown of notable artists and what have you such as: the RZA, the GZA, Larry King, and Mike Tyson. Brownsville may not seem as isolated as Vermont or some such place, but trust, it’s worlds away from Williamsburg and I can almost guarantee you won’t want to leave the colony to venture into the city. If you do, you’ll learn the meaning of the word retreat. You stay in your studio, the only distractions you’ll encounter will be the sirens.
More about the location: the Brownsville Colony comprises a 17th floor apartment in a high-rise that will remain unnamed at this time to prevent Google streetviews. The one-bedroom, half-bath, 300 square-foot apartment holds six artists and what have you at a time. The sleeping situation is a unique challenge, but if all you creative types put your big heads together, I’m sure you’ll come up with something, and probably smoosh your glasses against each other and smudge and maybe break them. Hey, nobody said being an artist or what have you would be easy.
About the studios: the studios are 3’ x 2’ sections of the main—hell, the only—room that I’ve outlined in some chalk I found out front of the building. Are these big glamorous studios such as the kind you might find in Vermont or some such place? No. But let me tell you something a creative type person once told me: “Limitations breed creativity.”
The Brownsville Colony is all about limitations. No Wi-Fi or working electrical outlets, for example. (I placed the Craigslist ad for the Colony from a particularly hot corner of the Brownsville Library.) And the building is kind of a dead zone, cell-wise and otherwise. Imagine the productivity.
You stay in your studio, don’t disturb or sexually harass any of the other residents, we don’t have a problem. If you’re a musician, your studio is out in the building hallway as to not disturb or sexually harass the other residents. Still: try and keep it down, and DO NOT MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH ANY OF THE BUILDING’S REGULAR TENANTS. I cannot stress this enough. There’s nobody they’d rather stick up than some white kid playing the violin.
You decide the apartment is too cozy for workshops and whatnot, you can use the boiler room down in the basement. Just take the stairs, keep your heads and voices down, and don’t try and be a hero.
There’s a window unit in the main/only room for temperature control purposes. It is a little finicky, by which I mean broken, but then again so is the carbon monoxide detector. Don’t worry: I’ve pulled the batteries from the CO alarm so as to not disturb you.
There’s also some rat poison under the kitchen
ette sink on account of Sandy driving a lot of the rats inland. If you’re one of these people who’s too squeamish for poison, you need to get over it, because the rats are a real problem.
The colony car is an MTA bus. If you can make it to the stop in one piece, you’ve earned an excursion.
You get three square meals a day, by which I mean rectangular meals, by which I mean Hot Pockets. I can’t afford to feed the whole colony on account of all those credit and background checks I ran, so that’s three total, once a day. I fling a trio of frozen Pockets against the apartment door—BAM! BAM! BAM! Don’t be alarmed—sometime between noon and four am, and it’s first come first serve. Let’s see who’s hungry. That same creative type dude from before once described himself as a “starving artist,” and I’m a very literal person. So this is what’s happening, meal-wise.
If and when something breaks, contact the super, which is me. I live in the apartment directly below the Colony, so if you hear a series of thumps from downstairs, that’s Old Broomy tellin’ you all to not write or draw so loud, as Broomy and I are trying to watch our stories. Be forewarned: Old Broomy doesn’t like to raise her voice or repeat herself.
Congratulations again, and please make all checks payable to CASH.
Super Landlord Residency Director
The Brownsville Colony for the Arts and What Have You
“Teaching you the meaning of the word retreat”
Evan Allgood's work has appeared in McSweeney's, The Millions, LA Review of Books, The Toast, and The Billfold. He lives in Brooklyn and contributes regularly to Paste. Follow and maybe later unfollow him on Twitter @evoooooooooooo.