Age and occupation. How long have you lived here, where did you come from, and where do you live now?
I'm 24 and teach high school social studies and economics. Born and raised in Shaolin, NY (that's Staten Island for the hip-hop illiterate.) I moved around the city and Brooklyn for a while, but now I'm back on the Rock. I live in a semi-renovated 5000 sq. ft. furniture warehouse near the ferry with my sweetie and two big dogs. We make a lot of art, music and food at my place, which is nice. I figure after living in closet sized sublets, it's ok for me to gloat a little about my sweet abode. Stapleton is the best kept secret in New York City.
Three for Three
1. You emerged from the Staten Island punk/hardcore scene and now you're a NYC public school teacher. Can you describe how the former affected the latter?
The real question here is whether or not I can describe the connection without boring the hell out of whoever reads this. I've given two stories below, you decide which is the truth and which is a bunch of hooey:
a. Well, this old friend of mine Chris Jensen (I say old because he was probably like 6 years older than me back when I ruled the scene, I guess he would still be 6 years older than me...) was a teacher and activist and always took time during his sets to explain that if we ever really wanted to change the pesky system, that we actually had to get proactively involved in reforming it. He probably inspired me. Also, I used to like to mosh up front, so I'm used to asserting myself among people the general population might have reservations about. Most people are nice and just want to be respected. Except Skins, there was never any hope for them...
Mostly though, my decision to teach came about in college where I was inspired by great teachers and became aware of how good it feels to take control of one's own education. I had really good teachers and wanted to pass that along. It's a career that enables you to be an activist, an artist and a student until you retire. Summers off, too. I can't imagine doing much else.
b. Teaching high school is an easy way to hang out with cute boys all day and never grow up.
2. As a life-long citizen of the forgotten borough, please give me your real quick-take on the following.
Manhattan: Overrated. I hate midtown enough to dismiss the entire borough.
Brooklyn: Like the mom of Staten Island, with more diversity and culture. Where it's at, but Williamsburg and Park Slope get the Manhattan rating. DUMBO is on the fence...
Queens: The bus system in Queens is sub par. But Queens gave us LL and Jerry Springer, so it's all good. Plus, I work there.
Bronx: Home of the Bombers and I like the Mets.
Jersey: Wants to be Staten Island, but smells too bad to pull it off. For real.
3. You went to Eugene Lang College of the New School in the Village some time ago but do you have any advice for the Olsen Twins who'll be attending NYU in the fall?
Don't let anyone videotape you partaking in morally questionable activities, girls. That could ruin your political career! Also, if you order items separately at Burrittoville, the two of you can eat well for $5.40.
Please share a personal (and hopefully interesting) NYC taxi story.
One time I had a taxi driver tell me he used to train exotic animals. He swears he had a tiger as a pet. He also claimed to have been an animal handler on the set of The Birds. Apparently the way they got the crows to stand still was by lacing their seed with whiskey. The moral of the story is crows make belligerent drunks and taxi drivers have discovered the fountain of youth. (This guy was roughly 45-50.)
Time travel question: What era, day or event in New York's history would you like to re-live?
The heyday of Studio 54. That must have been something else.
9pm, Wednesday night - what are you doing?
Grading papers and watching the O.C.
What's the most expensive thing in your wardrobe?
Probably the big hoop earrings with my name in the middle. They were a gift.
Finish one of the four following sentences:
She took him to the Whitney Museum where Vladimir admired a row of...
orange traffic cones.
"They look like stupid hat!"
"Hats, Vlad, Hats! When you talk about more than one hat, it's hats!"
Where do you summer?
Nosara, Costa Rica.
What was your best dining experience in NYC?
I'm vegan so my choices are somewhat limited. But one time, when I was a waitress at McHales in Hell's Kitchen, Luke Perry's friend told me that he (Luke) thought I was cute. Then Dylan McKay blushed and took a sip of his Budweiser to disguise his "guilty as charged" smile. Beat that.
Just how much do you really love New York?
(arms wide stretched) This much!
Of all the movies made about (or highly associated with) New York, what role would you have liked to be cast in?
Holly Golightly, of course. Or Nancy.
If you could change one thing about New York, what would it be?
Lowering the cost of living would be nice, but only for people who need help. I guess my answer is to increase affordable housing for the working class and poor. Eat the rich.
The End of The World is finally happening. What are you going to do with your last 24 hours in NYC?
Have a great big party and tell everyone how much I love them. Celebrate our existence as the worlds greatest mysteries are revealed to us in awesome poetry.