“Serene handcrafted loft space in the heart of East Williamsburg” is enough to persuade me. Picturing myself lazing in the effortlessly cool Humphrey loft from Gossip Girl, I click book and close my silver MacBook, hot from the hour of searching.
It’s my first day in New York. Six hours since I left Los Angeles, I hail a bright yellow cab straight to Brooklyn. Bypassing the obligatory tourist spots that come to mind when you think of Manhattan – much eager to see the edgy street fashion, the smorgasbord of arty cafes and flea markets of its neighbouring boroughs.
Weaving our way through thin streets splashed in street art, we follow the black street sign that points us down Henry Street. The cab driver stops next to a four-storey rustic maroon building with small windows, points towards what looks like a café. “That’s number 5 girl,” he yells over his left shoulder.
The front of the building has seen its share of graffiti, but of the artistic kind. I marvel at a large mural of a dear and a wolf connecting paws in a warm embrace. There’s a glass table in front of the wall. Unsure of its purpose, I question why it needs a purpose. Indifference is celebrated here. Things don’t have to make sense. Up on the top left of the wall is a website, I’m guessing the artists. That’s the thing about street art in Brooklyn; it’s just that – art, not graffiti.
I knock on the black steel door covered in old Pokémon stickers. “Hey Aussie, I’m Tag!” the man says as he greets me with open arms, literally. “Welcome to Brooklyn. The only rule I have is to keep the art and sculptures where they are – everything else is fine by me,” he beams. He’s wearing an unbranded teal tee, black jeans and torn khaki coloured converse. His hair is short but his beard is long, and he’s got the kind of white blue eyes that would have got him places in his 40 something year life.
His loft is everything I’d imagined – exposed brick walls, a fireplace, the utensils out on the kitchen wall for display, dark brown guitar hanging from his lounge room wall, and prints filling most of the spaces. But the best thing about the place can’t sell the space in a picture – Tag.
“So I know why you chose my loft – the roof deck,” Tag laughs cheekily – the kind of laugh from his eyes. “Grab a beer from the fridge and let’s go up.” A Brooklyn Lager cold in hand, I run up the swivel staircase to catch up to Tag. I find him lazing out on the first of the mismatched couches, logistically positioned for the best views of the city. A view of a closer building with “punks never die” in red paint reminds me I’m in Brooklyn.