Age and occupation. How long have you lived here, where did you come from, and where do you live now?
31 years old, and I'm a filmmaker. I've lived here for about 2 years. The "where are you from" stuff can be confusing cause I'm moved a lot, so it went like this: Born in Manhattan - moved to rural Michigan - moved to California after college, and then moved back to Manhattan a couple of years ago. Now I live in the East Village.
Three from Chris Gage
1. Because you were born in NYC in '72, were you all "street" while a teen living in Washington Heights in the '80s, right when crack hit and dudes were buying the rock at that OTB Port Authority Bus Terminal on 178th Street?
To know me now, you'd never know I was there at the one of the early epicenters of breakdancing, crack, and rap. I can't break dance, I never tried crack, and one look at me says I definitely can't rap. I do remember the transition from pimp daddy's in the purple hats rolling in a Lincoln with a gold wheel in the trunk to the twitchy drug dealer kids bumping the base out of the phat Mercedes or Lincoln. In all scenarios I was generally the little white kid trying to look tough, getting my ass kicked (although mostly giving as good as I got), and challenging all comers at a handball game called "slugs" that doesn't seem to have been played anywhere else in the city. I was great at slugs. I do remember coming home from school I had to walk past the bus terminal you mentioned, and I had this little kids fear that I was going to accidentally trip and fall on a used needle and die. The way I see it, a good childhood. All positive neurosis building experiences I wouldn't trade for anything.
2. How many bad haikus did you have to endure from well-meaning but misintentioned friends after your movie "Haiku Tunnel" came out? (Okay, that's an obvious question, so maybe, is there a particularly bad one that springs to mind?)
They were generally pretty entertaining, which you have to admire, because Haiku's ain't the most flexible art form in the world. At least they're short. The film doesn't have anything to do with Haiku's, though - or Tunnels for that matter, which I know is weird since its called "Haiku Tunnel." It's actually a film about being a Temp (temporary secretary) who starts to fuck up uncontrollably when he goes "perm" at his job as a secretary. We could have named it "Temp" or "Office Space," I know, but then people would have known what it was and gone to see it. Plus, then I wouldn't be able to answer the question for the rest of my life about why in the hell we named it "Haiku Tunnel."
3. Who were your harp influences, because according to IMDB.com you played harmonica in a punk/blues band for "several years"?
Yea, well... I think that came from trying to fluff a bio for a screenplay competition or something when I was about 21. I had never written anything or gone to film school, and the only thing I'd ever done in the arts was playing in this punk / blues band that was rockin' small house parties in East Lansing, MI, for a couple of years. In the hearts of the fans, though, The Back Alley Blues Symphony will live forever.
My biggest harp influence was Sonny Boy Williamson. I'll take someone who makes the instrument talk and sound human over the John Popper's (Blue's Traveler) of the world. I like to feel the eccentric humanity of the musician, and the harp gives you that in a way only matched by the kazoo.
Time travel question: What era, day or event in New York's history would you like to re-live?
The Clash playing something like 32 shows in 32 days around 1980. I would have loved to hear them when they came to NYC and decided they weren't leaving until they blew the place up.
What's your New York motto?
Manhattan's the new Brooklyn. All the cool kids are moving to Manhattan.
Describe that low, low moment when you thought you just might have to leave NYC for good.
4 am, drunk, on a deserted subway platform. I'm alone, the place reeks like stale piss, and I have to urinate so bad it hurts. Crossing my legs trying to hold it, plus I have a pre-hangover headache. The only sound are these little squeaks from the rats running around on the tracks. I hate rats, but I can't help but look and their disgusting silhouettes are going to make me throw up. I know the train isn't going to come for a million years. I briefly fantasize about taking a leak on the tracks, and then think, "what am I doing here? I gotta get out of here before I lose my mind."
Just after midnight on a Saturday - what are you doing?
The news part of "Saturday Night Live" is just about to come on. I'm hoping the skits don't make me turn it off and that I make it to the news.
Where do you summer?
In my apartment, I guess. I got AC in the bedroom.
What was your best dining experience in NYC?
John's Pizza. In my humble opinion, the best example of the quintessential NY food. So simple, and yet so profound. The ingredients at John's live together in sublime harmony.
What happened the last time you went to L.A.?
Stage 1: How bad could it be? The weather is nice, and I could have barbecue's in my backyard all the time and just chill. Stage 2: I wish I had a big SUV, then life would be good. Or a Lexus. And cool sunglasses. stage 3: I'm worthless. I'm going to kill myself. The emptiness of the strip mall is the emptiness of my soul. I miss New York.