All posts by CajunTomato

I am a 29-year-old New Yorker from the bayou. I write about the city that never sleeps, live music, and other kinds of mischief.

How To Avoid Going Broke in NYC

Viewing a Jackson Pollack original, surprisingly, is one of the ways not to go broke in NYC.

Viewing a Jackson Pollack original, surprisingly, is one of the ways not to go broke in NYC.

Cajun Tomato’s NYC 100 is a periodic series chronicling my experiences and observations as a New Yorker. Post No. 52 titled “How To Avoid Going Broke In NYC” explains how to rough it on a budget in NYC.

Months ago while “working” on my roommate’s short film one of the female production assistants inquired about my role. Producer, I replied with a grin that suggested the title suited me. When she pressed for more details I fed her legit-sounding bullshit about coordinating the project’s Kickstarter fund and even provided her a fictional web site address for myself. She hung on my words, convinced she was talking to “somebody”. When I tired of the deception and revealed I didn’t produce the short film she fled, presumably to find the real producer.

I experienced a similar situation earlier this month with a high school teacher I had not seen in over a decade. He asked me where I lived, and when I answered New York City, his heavily moisturized, wrinkle-free jaw dropped. My esteem in his eyes rose like a skyscraper. He sat up straight, devouring details of Big Apple life. Would he have done the same had I revealed I never left the bayou after high school? Of course not.

Thing is, anyone can live in NYC if they’re crazy, adventurous, and/or determined. Sure, rent is almost as high as One World Trade, people here give no fucks about courtesy and everyone thinks they will be the next big star. How does one survive then in this concrete jungle of chaos and material excess? For starters, you have to know how to avoid going broke or have a trust fund. Full disclosure: I do not have a trust fund.

Here are tips on how to avoid going broke in NYC that I have cobbled together over 2+ years living here.

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Sufjan Stevens: “No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross”

Sufjan Stevens's new album, Carrie and Lowell, releases March 31.

Sufjan Stevens’s new album, Carrie and Lowell, releases March 31.

A song as painful as it is beautiful, “No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross” finds the artist best known for portraits of other places and people turning his lens inward on his own grief following his mother’s death. For longtime Sufjan Stevens fans hearing the 39-year-old Michigan-born storyteller whisper-sing the words “Fuck me, I’m falling apart”, as he describes trying and failing to use vice to fill his void, will damn near rip your heart out. No one is spared grief in this life but few capture it in song in as haunting a manner as Stevens does here with just his shaky voice, finger-picked acoustic guitar and window a/c unit.

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Things I Would Rather Do Than Go Outside

A heat wave is coming!

A heat wave is coming!

Cajun Tomato’s NYC 100 is a periodic series chronicling my experiences and observations as a New Yorker. Post No. 51 titled “Things I Would Rather Do Than Go Outside” is fairly self-explanatory. :)

New York City is in the midst of a heat wave. AccuWeather predicts temps in the city will hit 12 degrees when the clock strikes noon. That may sound dreadful, and believe me it is, but it marks a 10-degree upswing since overnight. So yeah, NYC heat wave 2015!

Here’s a list off the top of my head of things I would rather do than go outside:

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My Grammys Crystal Ball Is Cracked

Queen Bey, the Album of the Year winner?

Queen Bey, the Album of the Year winner?

Beyonce will win four Grammys Sunday night. Book it. If she doesn’t Brit old/new soul Sam Smith will win four. Again, book it. Or Taylor Swift will win three. Maybe don’t book it. Ya know, maybe they will split the awards among themselves or someone else like Iggy Azalea, Ed Sheeran, or Meghan Trainor. Yeah, that could happen. All I know is Grammys will be awarded.

On Friday I made Grammy predictions on Mixology‘s web site. One day later, my Grammys crystal ball is cracked. I dropped it on the slick NYC pavement. Beyonce, Sam Smith, and Taylor Swift each sold millions of records that launched inescapable singles. Beyonce and Sam Smith are performing at the Grammys. It would seem a two-horse race. Except, in every category, it’s a five-horse race so I am back to square one.

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My Life Off The Rails

The train does not stop for light snow nor does it stop for light sleepers.

The train does not stop for light snow nor does it stop for light sleepers.

Cajun Tomato’s NYC 100 is a periodic series chronicling my experiences and observations as a New Yorker. Post No. 50 details what it’s like to live a stone’s throw from NYC subway tracks. Short answer: Loud.

When I was seven, the nightmare known as Hurricane Andrew woke south Louisiana in the dark, cutting power for hundreds of thousands, ripping off roofs and downing trees with impunity. I slept through it. My first three months in Northwest Portland I lived in a dilapidated three-story house next to the kind of karaoke bar whose real entertainment was the shoving matches that happened outside at closing time. I slept through it. Today, an above-ground subway line passes 30 feet from my window 24 hours per day. It’s a damn good thing I can sleep through anything. If not, my life off the rails would be hell.

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The Dodos: Individ

The Dodos' new album, Individ, is out now on Polyvinyl Records.

The Dodos’ new album, Individ, is out now on Polyvinyl Records.

Am I becoming a grumpy, old bastard incapable of writing anything positive? This question, in all its negative glory, lodged in my brain a few weeks back after I submitted my second album review for Spectrum Culture, a Portland-based arts site. I didn’t exactly pan the first two albums I reviewed – Ty Segall’s Mr. Face ep and The Sidekicks’ Runners in the Nerved World – but I didn’t have much good to say about them either.

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BIG NEWS IN CAJUN TOMATO LAND !!!

New menus equals more Cajun Tomato to love.

New menus equals more Cajun Tomato to love.

OK, about that broken caps lock treatment …

This weekend I created drop-down menus on this site with help from my pal, Lloyd “I Hate Seattle” Nelson. You can find them in the top right-hand corner of the home page. That means an easier, more streamlined experience for Cajun Tomato readers.

Some highlights:

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Bobby Jindal, Still Not Presidential Material

I swear I will not embarrass the great state of Louisiana on a national stage.

I swear I will not embarrass the great state of Louisiana on a national stage.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal ruffled feathers abroad and at home last month with his anti-Muslim rhetoric and proposed higher education cuts. Turns out all those ruffled feathers did little to nothing to rouse voters. It appears the 43-year-old Republican might be closing tent on his 2016 presidential aspirations before the big circus begins. Color me shocked.

Jindal is a man who, first and foremost, believes his own bullshit. On No-Go Zones, the need for more cuts and less taxes, you name it. Bobby Jindal believes Bobby Jindal is the man the Bible God has ordained to lead our troubled nation. The problem: his two “part-time” tours of gubernatorial duty have equated to one large dumpster fire.

Why should Jindal stay on the sidelines of the 2016 presidential race? Glad you asked. Here is my Storify document counting the ways.

Will Joey Bada$$ Usher In New Golden Age?

Joey Bada$$, the Golden Era ambassador of NYC hip-hop.

Joey Bada$$, the Golden Era ambassador of NYC hip-hop.

Brooklyn rapper Joey Bada$$’s debut album B4.DA.$$ cracked the Billboard Top 10 this week with minimal radio play and no major label backing. His is not an out of left field success story though.

Over the past three years, the 20-year-old Bed Stuy native built a devoted fanbase with two solo mixtapes, guest appearances on numerous mixtapes and albums, and his role as creative director for Ecko. B4.DA.$$ is the kind of record that will make loyalists believe Bada$$ is the MC to usher in a new golden age, I wrote today on Mixologi.

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The Blizzard Of 2015 That Wasn’t

The scene outside my apartment this morning.

The scene outside my apartment this morning.

Cajun Tomato’s NYC 100 is a periodic series chronicling my experiences and observations as a New Yorker. Post No. 49 looks back on The Blizzard of 2015 That Wasn’t. It’s worth noting the blizzard delivered as advertised across the Northeast, just not in NYC.

The Blizzard of 2015 That Wasn’t came and went, it seemed, in a New York City minute. One day after professional weather guessers and election winners warned this could be The Big One snow, not SNOW!, sat meekly on curbs across the city. Just one day earlier Mayor Bill de Blasio cited meterologists in declaring this storm had the potential to rival, or even eclipse, the worst snowfalls in city history, with up to three feet of snow accumulating over two days. The blizzard delivered its predicted brunt instead to Long Island and areas of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire – aka areas the NYC-based national media does not shit bricks over. In all, cities in six states recorded over a foot of snow, according to the National Weather Service. A blizzard everywhere but NYC, it turned out.

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