Location Williamsburg, Brooklyn (east)
Square feet 1620
Occupants Suzanne Price (accordionist; trademark research, Scholastic Inc.); Tom Price (singer/guitar player, Ff [Fat Fuck]; fire sprinkler mechanic)
Your new house has lovely fig trees in back. Is this where your band Fat Fuck rehearses? [Tom] We got a rehearsal studio on Union Avenue.
Here you are in exploding, hip Williamsburg. Williamsburg is getting like Marilyn Monroe. No one can say enough about it. Such a phenomenon—with possibly the highest per capita number of artists of any New York neighborhood. Rents doubling since 1995. You are not in the Hasidic and Spanish part in the south, or in the Polish in the north, or near the throbbing café society on Bedford Avenue. You are in Italian East Williamsburg, where, I believe, there are more small houses with vinyl siding than anywhere in the United States. This is the very neighborhood where a woman moved from the Midwest seven years ago and everybody said, Oh you’ll love it, so charming, so old-world, so, ah, connected—and thus so safe. Well, her street was more like a retirement village for hit men. Everyone was 90 years old and all their children had moved to Long Island and on the woman’s first exciting day in New York, her neighbor asked her to keep her company until the nurse came to give her a blood test and when the woman asked her neighbor what her late husband did, the neighbor gave her a dirty look. Then up the street there was this smelly bar and on spring mornings a man stood in the door and stared and his wig was crooked. Williamsburg is not for everybody, but you’re thrilled. [Tom] We’d been living in Williamsburg five years before we bought. We wanted an artistic neighborhood, not fucking suburbia.
Did you always dream of owning a house? Yeah, why not. I got some money from a lawsuit. I got hurt in a building. So, instead of blowing it . . .
Suzanne, you said you got the last great deal in Williamsburg—$196,000. The woman at MCR Realty said two-families are on the rise—$235,000 to $275,000. You grew up in a big old house in Waltham, Massachusetts, Waltham watches. And Tom? Irish Catholic family, Borough Park, then Jersey, East Brunswick. We lived right by the highway. My mother hated Jersey, thought they were all weird. If a baseball went through a neighbor’s window, you couldn’t get it back. Then my mother’s sister moves from Jersey to Staten Island. My mother says, Fuck this, I’m outta here.
You met Suzanne through your drummer. I started telling her a story about how I get arrested for assault. I just pursued her. [Suzanne] We got married in ’98, in Las Vegas, Graceland chapel. “Suspicious Minds” was our wedding song.
Did you have to do a lot of renovation before you unpacked the Lava lamp sitting on top of a ceramic devil’s head? [Tom] I busted my ass. [Suzanne] We’d pull up linoleum and the roaches would run. [Tom] I said, Come on Suzanne, it’s your fucking house, too. Even my father busted his ass. He’s got a heart problem. I remember when the tile guys came at 6 p.m. They said, We’re not doing anything till you rip up the whole bathroom and kitchen floors and rebuild them, and we’ll come back tomorrow night and you better be ready. We had 24 hours. My drummer and me go to Home Depot 11 at night. We’re loading plywood. It’s 100 degrees. [Suzanne] Oh, awful. [Tom] We’re nailing down plywood. At 2:30 a.m. my drummer says, I want to start fucking smashing some stuff. Back to Home Depot to get a sledgehammer. He starts smashing the bathroom floor. [Suzanne] That garbage weighed a ton. I felt so bad for you that night. [Tom] We died. We got the plywood nailed down. I was mostly crashed. About 5:30 these tile guys come back. They said, You fucking did it, you psycho. [Suzanne] It was the worst summer ever.