Age and occupation. How long have you lived here, where did you come from, and where do you live now?
Eight years now in Gotham, born and bred thirty-one years ago in Illinois cow country. Living with my fabulous girlfriend Michele at an undisclosed location in the West Village. I'm a software guy for an investment adviser (aka hedge fund) called Two Sigma Investments; we use math, statistics and computers to do super-automated trading.
Three for You
1. You were a President & Co-Founder of Vindigo, the first wireless city guide for PDA's and phones. The company grew to 50 people and then you laid eveyone off, eventually yourself too. Now you're back to doing tech work for a hedge fund and playing in a band, Levi K and the Robotics. Sounds like a complex route to take. Break it down and make it easy for me.
Vindigo didn't lay everyone off! They hunkered down to 25 people, I left, and they're doing well - in fact, they recently became profitable. My pal and former business partner Jason is still running the place.
Before Vindigo I was a finance techie and math dilettante; after Vindigo I went to Two Sigma, which was just getting started in August 2001. After nine intense months we were up and trading. We're a secretive place so they won't let me tell you much, except that it's really cool and if you're a programmer, a tech manager, or a math and statistics person then you should be working here. It's an uber-geek's dream, using computers and math to beat the markets. DeLillo would get off on it.
Levi K is my friend Eve's alter-ego. She wrote the songs, plays guitar and sings; I play keys and operate some gadgets. Tough to admit, but I went from music fan to musician by way of a karaoke addiction. And then I got a keyboard, took lessons, practiced every day, and now...I'm hooked.
2. Is there anything that really excites you about wireless opportunities these days?
Not really! Wireless used to be very exciting and unprofitable; now it's the opposite. If wireless technology could get rid of all the cables in my apartment, now that would be something.
These days my interests are art and politics. Technology's cool, but it's just plain scary in modern-day hands. If the human race doesn't quickly evolve to a higher level of responsibility and cooperation we'll wipe ourselves out in a few generations. In the fullness of time, in decades or centuries, the chances seem pretty good that some country's angry leader will unleash a killer bacterium, virus, bomb that wipes out most of the population. On the top of the human race's global to-do list would have to be averting this catastrophe, and alleviating the suffering of our billion least-fortunate. I think the VHEMT people are wrong, but it's worth giving their arguments a reasoned rebuttal.
So for me it's technology for sustenance, art for entertainment, and politics for salvation.
3. With songs like "Springtime in Manhattan" and "Chinatown Bus" it sounds like Levi K and the Robotics wear their provincial hearts on their guitar straps. I'm assuming the city is a big influence on the band?
Those are great songs, you should come to the show and check 'em out! The most New York thing about Levi K is the total lack of interest in embracing a genre. New York's a funny music scene; everybody's in a band, new bands are everywhere, fifty shows a night. So guess what? Nobody gives a sh*t about your band. That's liberating. Nobody cares, so you might as well play the music that appeals to you. That's a potent recipe for good stuff (not to mention a lot of cr*p).
On that point: I was in 2A, and a passerby heard me say, "Well I love the Beastie Boys but..." He stopped dead in his tracks and berated me with "oh man, that is -so- safe." Well, I'm sorry, but I -do- love the Beastie Boys and I'm not going to stop loving them just because that's a safe opinion. No can do. I'm too busy to keep track of who's in and who's out this week.
Cause you know, it's all about the music. And the kids.
What's your New York motto?
"Read news or make news." You gotta choose how you're gonna spend your time. In front of the boob tube or in front of the camera? Anyway, that's how I console myself when I realize that I have no idea what's happening in the world.
Where do you summer?
Fire Island. This is my third summer organizing a summer share house out in Kismet, the westernmost town on Fire Island. Accessible to public transportation, no cars allowed on the island, just beach, the stars, my pals, and some tick-infested deer. How can you beat that?
Medication: What and how much do you take?
None, I have an irrational aversion to medication. I just started going back on the Rogaine though. I hope it works.
Describe that low, low moment when you thought you just might have to leave NYC for good.
On September 11th I realized that the "rational" thing would be to leave the island, since it's so likely to be a target again. It's just a matter of time before the poison gas attack on the subway. Or worse. And then, a second later, I realized that there was no f*cking way I was leaving. I'm going down with the ship. It's not just civic pride; I'm having the time of my life here. I feel very lucky to be leading this life, and I have NYC to thank for it. So I'm going to take my chances (and work for peace and security).
The End of The World is finally happening. What are you going to do with your last 24 hours in NYC?
I'd call Mom. I owe her that much. On September 11th, instead of my usual commute through the WTC I'm at the psychiatrist on East 86th. When I leave the session it's happened and everyone's in the street and my Mom in Illinois is trying to find me. She calls Vindigo and they tell her, "Mrs Joerg, its OK, we found Dave and he's OK, he was at the doctor." And she says, "The doctor! What's wrong with him?"