After a lifetime of couch-surfing, squatting in abandoned tenements, and even sleeping in overflowing trash bins when he couldn't find some sympathetic soul to put him up, New York City cockroach Chuck Felsin has finally gotten his own apartment.
"It's a dream come true," says Chuck, shaking his head incredulously. "This is something I've been chasing for a long time. Long time."
Chuck's new apartment is a one-room studio, located in a rather rough-and-tumble section of Manhattan's Lower East Side, on the Chinatown border.
"Not the greatest area," admits Chuck. "But when you come from the 'hood, like me, you don't need fancy-schmancy Upper East Side. In fact, that would be way too much. I like to keep it real."
His new place isn't exactly spacious, either, acknowledges Chuck. "'Cozy,' as the real estate brokers would say," he explains with a wry smile. "But then again, I really don't need much space. One room is totally fine for me. I'm mainly just psyched to have a roof over my head."
And while Chuck's new abode doesn't even have a full kitchen, only a kitchenette, Chuck doesn't expect that to be a problem, either, as he doesn't do much cooking. In fact, Chuck describes himself as a "freegan," one who rejects consumerism and seeks to help the environment by reducing waste, especially by retrieving and using discarded food and other goods.
"We live in such a wasteful society," rants Chuck; freeganism is clearly an issue extremely close to his heart. "And the Big Smelly Apple, as I like to call it, is the worst of all! I do all I can to make productive use of what others discard as garbage. It makes me feel I'm doing my part for the environment - and standing up against the creeping consumerism that's infected our system to the core."
His north-facing studio also doesn't get a whole lot of light - which is fine by him, says Chuck.
"I have a dark sense of humor," he jokes. "I actually prefer living on the dark side."
His own place, after all this time...I can't resist asking Chuck, "Hey man, when's the housewarming party?"
Chuck grins at the question. "It pretty much started the second I moved in, and it's ongoing," he confesses. "A lot of people don't realize it, but we cockroaches are really social creatures. There's always someone - usually a whole bunch of folks - crashing at my new pad."
Laughing to himself, he adds, "Yeah, it's essentially a - free - roach motel. And honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way."