A daring Times reporter infiltrated the bedbug-ridden, crime-infested, lame-party-throwing McKibbin lofts in Bushwick. Was it dirty and gross like you might expect? Oh yes, very very much so. Also, saddest thing ever, there was a 61-year-old living there, with his wife. Unironically. Because it's the cheapest place in town. Where to begin? With the urine, I guess:
One of the residents... says it is like "living in a public bathroom."
...Sometimes they literally become bathrooms. They are known for their giant, raucous parties; revelers occasionally urinate in the halls.
But it's totally worth it because this is The Place To Be! "This could have been Greenwich Village 60 years ago, or SoHo 30 years ago, or the East Village in the 1990s," wrote the Times' Cara Buckley.
Cara is very familiar with the dorm, and injected a bit of a hipster tone into the Times metro section:
The McKibbin is a revolving door, with each weekend bringing wide-eyed newcomers, usually in skinny jeans and chunky eyewear. Vacancies, announced on Craigslist or spread by word of mouth, are quickly filled. The typical tenure at the McKibbin is one year, and residents often go through distinct phases.
After the honeymoon stage comes denial when, say, one gets woken up by someone's band at 3 a.m. or mugged on one of the tough surrounding streets. Next comes anger, usually after someone hurls a 40-ounce beer bottle from the roof and then urinates outside your door. Then comes acceptance and, finally, departure.
She also found this tragic old couple:
The oldest residents are believed to be Mel Smothers and his wife, Lizzie Hansen, who are both 61 and live at 248. Mr. Smothers moved from California three years ago to pursue a lifelong dream of becoming an artist in New York, and Ms. Hansen later followed, reluctantly. The McKibbin had the only loft space that Mr. Smothers could afford. The previous tenants were skateboarders, so he had to disassemble the ramp they had built and the four doghouse-like structures they had slept in. He has since lined his and Ms. Hansen's tiny bedroom with insulating foam.
"Here's why I stay. It's still the cheapest lofts around because it's so badly managed," Mr. Smothers said. "Once I make enough money, I'm moving out of here."
Oh that's horrible. I'm not sure I can sleep. Isn't there a social service agency to help these poor souls? An old "surrounded by hippies" rescue agency from the 1960s that could be re-activated? Where is the Times editorial page on this? I smell Pulitzer.