How old are you, what do you do, where are you from, where do you live?
28, screenwriter/permanent temp. I’m from Howard Beach, Queens. I live in Kew Gardens.
A few for you:
What makes a failed inventor?
I own trademarks and have several patents pending. Many of my ideas eventually come to fruition but, because I don’t have the money or capability to do anything with them, somebody else beats me to it. But I’ve got the ideas.
What have you invented?
Many years ago I collaborated on an idea to develop headphones for cell phones. This was about two years before hands-free accessories came out. If I’d worked that right, I would’ve been rich! I’ve got an adult baby-wipe product with the working name Bidet Wipes. I’m hoping to get them into every office restroom. Paper-cut resistant file folders, and anyone who’s ever been cut by a Redweld knows. I trademarked a board game called Zonk, which some of the larger toy companies have scoffed at, but I think I can take it to the casinos in Vegas. I have actuaries currently devising odds for the game’s dice-rolling probabilities. Also, a line of not-so-Kosher foods, combining things that don’t generally go together. It’s aimed at secular, God-fearing Jews with a hankering for trayf. Like knishes stuffed with many meats and cheeses. I’m still perfecting the recipes.
If somebody’s got a crazy idea, what should they do with it?
Go to a shyster trademark lawyer, give him your idea and upwards of three grand, and then you get to own a word or phrase. Patents work the same but cost a lot more money. If you go through that inventor’s company they’re advertising on TV, for 800 dollars they print up a book about your idea and for thousands more they patent it for you. But you can’t just acquire them and let them sit there; you’ve got to prove that you’re doing something with it. So I have a canceled check from my Aunt Gayle which effectively keeps my ideas active. The guy at the inventors’ company can’t handle that I’m not renewing the headphones. “You’re just going to let it die?” he asks…
Have you gotten rich quick from any of your get-rich-quick schemes?
I’ve certainly spent more money in legal fees than I’ve reaped from any invention. I've also not gotten rich from writing several self-help manuals, under a pen name which I won’t say because I’m too embarrassed to be associated with them. The title of one was How to Get the Unattainable Woman. Let’s just say not too many copies were sold. But I think you got a coupon for hair restoration that came along with it. The company eventually went under, taking Gear magazine along with it, but I got to go to a couple of Knick games out of it.
I wrote a few screenplays, one of which was optioned, and the pittance I got for it was spent in a couple of good weekends. Plus a meal at Smith & Wollensnky’s with my producer who looks like the villain from Raiders of the Lost Ark before he melts. The script is foul-mouthed funny and cheap to make. If any producers out there want to usurp this project from my bonehead producer, please contact me via Gothamist. All you have to do is take me to a Knick game and dinner and I’m sold.
I’m currently writing a novel about terrorism, kind of a romantic comedy.
Let’s hear your wacky résumé.
Starting from when? Shilling insurance for Prudential—am I allowed to name names? This isn’t in order, but post-college I served hot dogs at Shea Stadium at the barbeque behind the bleachers. I waited tables at the Barking Dog and some Mexican place whose name I don’t remember because they fired me right quick. Apparently, Mexicans have an aversion to cork in their wine. I taught grammar and history at a Yeshiva and served as official quarterback during recess. Truck driver for a construction company. (Big up to Curtis and Al.) Door-to-door carpet cleaner. If someone comes to your door, don’t do it. It’s a scam. Paralegal temp. Long hours, sushi deluxe, car ride home. Oh, also I was a financial consultant for a capital-management firm. I had two clients: my friend Wolfe, who I did good by, and myself.
When I was working at Prudential, we had to make 75 to 100 cold calls a day, and I just wound up calling my buddies and meeting them to play hackey sack. I just wasn’t cut out for it. I honestly once received a sales call at work and wound up subscribing to half a dozen magazines for three years. This guy was real good. I wasn’t fired, but when I quit, I had a buddy call them up and say I ran to Vegas to stop a wedding so they wouldn’t cancel my direct deposit. They gave me a laptop, and that’s when I got started writing.
What’s the next big idea?
I’m currently working on bringing a radio station that plays good music to the New York area that would play both Biggie and the Smiths. There’s only so much User and Kelly Clarkson you can hear. But I do like that one song of hers. Check out the Ted Leo cover.
What advice would you suggest to Mayor Bloomberg?
He should paint all the nonworking fire hydrants yellow, and we should be able to park there for free. Parking’s awful. I don’t even have a car, and I manage to get two tickets a month. (Sorry, Joey D.)
Favorite bar or restaurant?
I don’t want to say Tin Lizzy’s just because you can get laid there 30% of the time, so the Five Burro Café on Austin Street in Queens. They have great food, Doves and Interpol in the Wurlitzer, and they have a great buy-back policy. Good lookin’ out, Manny.
What place or thing would you declare a landmark?
New Park Pizza in Howard Beach. It’s a shame they’ve got that whole racist smear on it, because they make great pizza. Brick oven, salt and sugar on the bottom, well done, thin crust.
Best celebrity sighting or encounter on the streets of the city?
Clyde Frasier, twice. I served him a hot dog. No maybe he’s a vegetarian, what am I saying? I saw him at Shea Stadium while I was serving hot dogs in the picnic area. I don’t think he ate one. The other time, I was apartment hunting on the Upper East Side and saw him crossing the street. The apartment had a three-foot high crawlspace hallway to get to one of the bedrooms. And still we couldn’t afford it. And fuck the Dolans and Time Warner for taking my Knicks away.
Best bargain to be found?
By far, the $1.69 whopper at Burger King on Rector street. After 4, everyone downtown clears out and they lower the price.
If the world were ending tomorrow, how would you spend your last 24 hours in NYC?
Hopefully I wouldn’t be the cause of it.