Age and occupation. How long have you lived here, where did you come from, and where do you live now?
28. Reporting assistant at the Wall Street Journal. The arrival is hazy: Three and a half years ago, I rolled up in a U-Haul and parked outside of a 6th-floor walk-up. I had mono, I had heavy things, it was exhausting. Before that, I lived in Taipei for a year, and was tethered to a dot-com desk for a year in western Massachusetts. I just moved to a leafy brownstone block in Brooklyn.
Three from Chris Gage
1. I'm curious what your daily beat at the paper is. I hope it's not all about covering blogs; I would feel really bad for you. What do you actually cover?
I actually spend most of my day digging up tiny pieces of data that make up the charts, graphs and information graphics on the "Marketplace" page, writing catchy two-word headlines, and shepharding the tiny flock from editor to editor. But then, I'm free to pitch whatever's on my mind. Blogs: no. Sorry.
2. Your piece for the Wall Street Journal, "Redesiging the PDB" is the type of writing called journalism -- that is, just the facts (something I clearly cannot do). Here's your chance to let out your own inner-Tufte. Was that kid's redesign any good?
Watch this subtle dodge: I'm actually most interested in a few of the more academic issues that came up in interviews. Is it really too much to expect an intelligent audience to read and understand a piece of paper? Are the people briefing the president aware of the responsibility that goes along with deciding the 'lede'? And, to channel Mitch Stephens, a professor at NYU's journalism school, I am not sure we're putting the tools we have to their best possible use yet. There must be a better way to take advantage of our ability to read images. There must be a better way to harness our fancy computers to dynamically search the universe of information and compile an elegant and thorough brief. I want a set-up like they had in "Minority Report."
3. They say that writers "see the world differently," and by using that little "-ly" I can only assume they mean they see the world with something other than their eyes. As a writer, can you tell me about this magical, wonderful sixth sense you possess?
I think it's more like a translator chip that helps take data from the existing five and turn them into words. And there's this mantra that every editor in the world tries to drill into writers, "show don't tell." Show don't tell, show don't tell. The translation of smell and sound has to show. Not tell. I am young. I am just learning what this means. Harder than one might imagine. Then try to show (not tell) a mood, an aura, a look.
Please share a personal (and hopefully interesting) NYC taxi story.
I am convinced he was from the Galapagos, a real rare bird. 2 a.m. and he was pleased as punch to be driving his taxi, his mobile office. He never stresses. He never has a negative feeling. And everyone, from his doctors to his lovers, are perpetually amazed by how slow ("like a turtle") he is. And he carries a suitcase at all times (tap tap tap) because he leaves his wives the second they start making rules. But no worry, there's always another in the wings, more beautiful than the last. "Love love love love love love love," he said. Someday, he hopes that all of his former wives will come together in happiness. And love. Love.
Time travel question: What era, day or event in New York's history would you like to re-live?
I interviewed a research librarian last year who spends time poring over old NYC newspapers. He talked about longing for the day when the New York Harbor was clean and full of boats with towering sails. Put me on that pier.
What's your New York motto?
"I'm sick of shlepping all this stuff around."
Describe that low, low moment when you thought you just might have to leave NYC for good.
The fourth time they dug up Madison Ave. at 96th St. in three years. Last spring, not only was I living with the traffic of five bus routes and Mt. Sinai ambulances, but daytime drilling and nighttime thunking over heavy metal plates pushed me over the edge. I started wearing earplugs. All the time. On the street. And then I moved.
What happened the last time you went to L.A.?
I was trapped in the Biltmore Hotel with all of the members of a large Jewish women's nonprofit, and had my picture taken with a life-sized cardboard cut-out of Elvis.
If you could change one thing about New York, what would it be?
Traffic. I'd create bicycle-only lanes all over the city (have you ever tried to cross the street in Beijing?). Then I'd instate a free bike program. In the newer parks in Taipei, they have hundreds of identical green cruiser bikes. You can unlock them using a dollar coin, ride them to the other end of the park, and lock them back up again (and get the dollar back). If enough of them existed, bike theft would go way down and riding like a granny (or a Dutch person) to work and back would be a viable option. And I'd make everyone wear a helmet.
The End of The World is finally happening. Be it the Rapture, War of Armageddon, reversal of the Sun's magnetic field, or the Red Sox win the World Series. What are you going to do with your last 24 hours in NYC?
Put on my Red Sox cap (not my helmet) and stretch out on the Great Lawn for a vast picnic with friends, trashy detective novels, a professional outdoor volleyball set-up, a Brazillian band, a wading pool, elaborate candelabra and very, very expensive wines, cheeses and charcuterie. And real furniture.