Time to live outside the box, SF bros

April 15, 2016 Originally published on SFGate

Maybe this could actually work?

Maybe we should let all of SF’s sweet, meek 20-somethings live inside tiny plywood boxes inside other, larger apartments occupied by actual adults, and still overpay for the privilege, as they stack their two pair of pants, four T-shirts and six hoodies alongside the twin-sized IKEA mattress upon which they have zero sex with absolutely no self-respecting female whatsoever. Romanticize it all you like, but your bed is inside a tiny plywood box, honey, and it doesn’t matter how much you’re saving on rent, you are essentially regressing, by choice, to that little fort you built out of a refrigerator shipping carton when you were 11, into which you’d sneak off and eat your PB&J and masturbate five times a day and pretend you’re a pirate.

What, too harsh? Probably. Perhaps the charming, now-viral tale of 25-year-old Peter Berkowitz and his tiny homemade $400/month closet out in the Sunset really is an inspiring story of moderation, minimalism and extreme frugality, just another absurd micro-tale in a sea of horror stories about SF’s brutal rental economy, little different than how various VC gangs are encouraging smart high-school kids to drop-out and head to the the Bay Area, where they stack them four, five six to a room, in bunk beds and sleeping bags, all over the City, and pay them to code hundreds of new and mostly terrible ideas. Only difference here is $1500 in plywood and a dedicated refusal to, you know, grow up a little.

Also great for reading comic books and never having sex.

Also great for reading comic books and never having sex.

“I’ve made something beautiful that’s a pleasant and serene space to live in,” Berkowitz said, with a straight face, adding that he’s happy inside his homemade “pod” – which is at least moderately questionable given how, soon after the SFGate piece about his awkward nesting choices went viral, he tried to market “custom living pods” as an actual thing, before SF’s housing authority pointed out that adult versions of childhood forts are not only silly, but they run afoul of nearly every housing safety code on the books.

But it does invite, once again, the larger question: Is this really worth it? When does SF’s warped, overpriced tech Disneyland reach critical mass, a point where the fantasy of making easy millions working for a startup gives way to the grossly inelegant reality that living in a 32-square-foot plywood coffin that smells like computer games and dirty socks and bad porn isn’t, all told, the most thoughtful way to spend your burgeoning adulthood? What about the tech industry’s responsibility to help house their own young, teeming coder throngs?

Or perhaps it’s a chance to ponder the other question, the one about how much do you need, really, to be happy? Tiny houses, selling all your belongings, stripping it all away to the bare essentials – all have tremendous appeal in times of abject gluttony and excess (i.e., here and now). Happiness is not about stuff, and stuff never equals true happiness. Don’t tell the VCs.

Then again, what is money for if not to make life slightly more enjoyable, more beautiful, more comfortable and vibrant and interesting? Saving it for some future time means you miss its abject pleasures now. Hell, I need 32 square feet just for my leather jackets and bourbon. Life is gorgeous and dangerous teeming with possibility, and could end any second. We’re gonna need a bigger pod.

Read more here:: Time to live outside the box, SF bros

Mark Morford

About Mark Morford