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Strummer Hoffston, Writer

"Gentrification destroys the possibility of being bohemian in New York City."

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What kind of name is Strummer?
I was named after Joe Strummer, of the Clash. My dad owns a record store in Philly.

Do you like the Clash?
I love the Clash. But I love the Stones more.

What do you do?
I’m a writer. I write poetry and essays. I criticize pop culture.

What have you been criticizing lately?
The most recent thing I wrote was an essay on gentrification and how it destroys the possibility of being bohemian in New York City.

Does bohemia exist anywhere now?
I don’t know. I certainly don’t have the authority to say that. I’m guilty of staying in the bubble of Manhattan.

Where do you live?
On the Lower East Side. I loved it until I got mugged at gunpoint. And I had just come home from D.J.-ing, so now 300 CDs are gone. The guys had a sawed-off shotgun. But the rent’s cheap.

What do you do to make money?
I do bookkeeping for a woman in the West Village who cuts hair, I work the coat check at Movida on the West Side, and I babysit.

How would you describe your style?
Cheap! I got the scarf and shoes at a flea market on Avenue A and 11th Street, I got the blazer at a stoop sale, and I got the slip from my grandmother. The pin is my great-grandmother’s.

Whose style do you admire?
Marianne Faithfull. She wasn’t just like every other mod girl.

What kind of poetry do you write?
I write about my mother a lot. She was a hippie in New York in the sixties, and she led this really free existence. She didn’t just wear tasselly jackets and smoke hash—she was arrested more than a dozen times for protesting. She was a true hippie.

In what way?
She’s definitely a feminist. Our last name is half of my dad’s and half of my mom’s. My name is half Hoffman and half Johnston, and my siblings are Dellston—half Mendell and half Johnston.

Are you political?
I vote. I don’t follow politics. I just vote Democratic.


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