felix_big.jpgThe Basics
Age and occupation. How long have you lived here, where did you come from, and where do you live now?
32, journalist and writer. I've been a New Yorker for 7 years, but a Londoner for 31.

Three for flinching
1. After I saw your mention of the 151 bar on Rivington in a best of Lower East Side 2003 round-up I tended to take your answers more seriously than the others. So tell me, what side do you fall on in the Schiller's Liquor Bar debate?
The existence of a nice daytime meeting place is all well and good, but it in no way compensates for the crowds, the arseholes, and the double-parked Porsches at night. And it certainly doesn't compensate for the fact that my neck of the LES (east of Essex) is now so popular that no one at all will ever again feel uncomfortable moving here. My apartment is already costing $550 a month more than it did when I moved in -- I can't afford this place getting trendier!

2. You're an expert on Latin American fiscal matters. I was in Buenos Aires at the beginning of December 2001, right when all hell broke loose and I understood the situation as much as a second day of learning Spanish allowed me to through a fog of tear gas. What exactly happened? (Please try to dress it up in sexy language.)
You want the one-sentence version? Prostitution and bondage, then the workers united and threw off their chains. You want a bit more detail? Well, for most of the 1990s Argentina was run by a corrupt pimp called Charlie who slapped the country around a bit, acted like a big shot, and had the population eating out of the palm of his hand, largely oblivious to the fact that they were being utterly fucked. The fucker-in-chief was a bald chap called Mingo who started off nice (taming inflation) but soon started borrowing money like there was no tomorrow, at the same time as tying the economy up in extremely restrictive ropes. Then tomorrow came, the debts started coming due, and Argentines, tied up and fucked over, paid an enormous price. The riots were basically the point at which they woke up and realised they'd been governed by a bunch of incompetents, and decided to kick the fuckers out. Not that it did them any real good, of course.

3. While we think this NY winter sucks I would imagine your sister is experiencing more extremes in Antarctica. What do you think the business end of the Brunt Ice Shelf feels like?
As the Swedes like to say, there's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes. That said, I really can't imagine wanting to go down to Halley for a winter and spend my 30th birthday in the middle of a six-month long night, skiing to a lab a mile away in temperatures around the -40 level every day, no matter how nice my gloves were. (Antarctica factoid for the nerdier Gothamist readers: -40 is the point at which it doesn't matter if you're in Celsius or Fahrenheit.) Right now, though, Antarctica is roughly the same temperature as New York. Only without the grass. Or the skyscrapers.

Proust-Krucoff Questionnaire
Please share a personal (and hopefully interesting) NYC taxi story.
Just after I moved to New York, I was working down on Wall Street, in the Equitable Building at 120 Broadway. (NYC factoid for the nerdier Gothamist readers: that building has its own zip code, 10271.) I'd managed to blag myself free tickets to see the great Blossom Dearie up at Danny's Skylight Room on 46th Street, but was running late and knew I'd never get there on time if I took the subway. On the other hand, anybody who's ever found themselves in Lower Manhattan of an evening knows how difficult it is to get a cab down there. Eventually, I found one on the corner of Church and Cortlandt, but its lights were off. I pleaded with the driver -- one of that rare breed of cabbie, a white born-and-bred American in his early 40s, I'd say -- to take me up to 46th: "I'm in a terrible rush, and I'll give you a big tip!" He asked how big, and I promised him at least $5. "You don't mind how fast I drive?" he asked. No, the faster the better, I said. Next thing I know, I'm being thrust back into my seat and we're barreling up West Street and 10th Avenue faster than I've ever driven in a city before or since. I would guess we hit at least 70 at points, swerving in and out of lanes like something out of the car chase in the Matrix Reloaded. By about 23rd Street, I could *smell* that something was amiss, and when we finally screeched (literally) to a halt on Restaurant Row, the cab stank of burning rubber. The cabbie didn't seem to mind, though, and even told me that I'd given him more money than the $5 I'd promised, and did I want some back. Blossom was amazing, by the way. And went on late: I'd been worried about nothing.

Time travel question: What era, day or event in New York's history would you like to re-live?
I think the opening day of the Brooklyn Bridge, that astonishing feat of engineering which -- unlike, say, most of the skyscrapers which succeeded it -- was completely open to the public. When it was built, it was not only the tallest structure in New York, I believe it was also the tallest structure in the world. When you stood on the promenade looking out over Manhattan, you were higher up than everybody else in the city. It was probably the first time that people ever looked down at the Statue of Liberty. (Excuse any egregious historical inaccuracies: this is all more of a personal dream than a well-researched piece of historical imagining.)

Describe that low, low moment when you thought you just might have to leave NYC for good.
December 18, 2000, about 5pm. Walking slowly through the Austin J Tobin Plaza of the World Trade Center, tears in my eyes, after having been unceremoniously fired from the late, unlamented Bridge News. I was happy to be rid of that place, but they were sponsoring my visa, and as of that date I was officially out of status. Luckily, I managed to get myself a new visa pretty quickly.

Just after midnight on a Saturday - what are you doing?
Probably getting started on a 3,000 word article which needs to be handed in by Monday morning. The great thing about the freelance lifestyle is that you don't need to do the overcrowded Saturday night thing: I can go out any day of the week, happy in the knowledge that I don't have an office to schlep to in the morning. Plus, I always work better at night.

What's the most expensive thing in your wardrobe?
By retail price, probably my white silk Prada suit. By price I paid, probably my magenta-pinstripe Boateng suit. Excluding suits, I'd guess my snakeskin shirt.

Finish one of the four following sentences:
2) "She took him to the Whitney Museum where Vladimir admired a row of..."
historic proportions between the museum director and one of his largest donors. They were arguing about a Donald Judd wall-hung box that the donor had just given to the museum, but now he was having second thoughts: apparently the Whitney and its philistsine curators had hung it upside-down! "But that's the whole POINT," the donor was screaming, to Vladimir's astonished delight. "The very FACT that you can't SEE the difference makes it CRUCIAL that the other side is up!" It was at that precise moment that Vladimir resolved to become a multi-millionaire, for the sole purpose of subsequently reinventing himself as an insane philanthropist.

Who do you consider to be the greatest New Yorker of all-time?
You know that's impossible. I'll give you the two greatest New Yorkers born in 1928: Stanley Kubrick (born in the Bronx, did all his best work in England) and Andy Warhol (born in Pittsburgh, did all his best work in New York). Still have no idea which was the truer New Yorker.

What was your best dining experience in NYC?
Bouley Bakery, tasting menu, way back in the 20th Century some time. Incredible.

Just how much do you really love New York?
So much that I'm willing to live in the USA just in order to be here.

What happened the last time you went to L.A.?
It was last summer, and I was staying with friends who decided that we'd go to a nice Chinese place for dinner. So we hop into their enormous vintage convertible, get on the freeway, and immediately start freezing to death the minute the speedometer goes over 40. Then we realise that since this is LA, the restaurant is a good hour's drive away. We were blocks of ice by the time we got there, and only some hardcore retail therapy (I wound up buying a painting) got us back to anything resembling normalcy. Of course, the trip back was worse.

Of all the movies made about (or highly associated with) New York, what role would you have liked to be cast in?
Cheech (Chazz Palminteri) in Bullets Over Broadway. Although if I'm being honest I'm a lot closer to the John Cusack character.

If you could change one thing about New York, what would it be?
The summers. Everybody's moaning about the winter right now, but the summer is worse: unbearably hot, nothing going on, and everybody competing with each other to see who can sit on some congested highway for the longest amount of time before reaching their chosen enclave of Manhattanites-in-weekend-exile.

The End of The World is finally happening. What are you going to do with your last 24 hours in NYC?
Well, first of all I'd be really angry and upset that the world was going to end in 24 hours. Then I'd go out and have some fun, have sex with various people, and commit various crimes. Then I'd try to kill myself in numerous inventive ways. Then I'd get bored with that and learn to play the piano. Then, finally, I'd fall in love with Andie MacDowell. Actually, scratch that last one.


More of Felix's writings can be found here and here.