Age and occupation. How long have you lived here, where did you come from, and where do you live now?
Im 29 and Im an author. I grew up in south Jersey, on the shore near Long Beach Island. Ive lived in NYC for a little over four years. I was in Boston for five years or so prior to that, until I came to my senses and moved here. Man, it sucks up there. I live in the East Village, which rules, obviously. My roommate is an accountant with Pfizer and makes a lot of money, so I get to have an elevator and laundry and even a little balcony. Soon hes getting married and so Ill be living on my sisters couch on 60th Street.
Three for You
1. You wrote A Field Guide to the Urban Hipster which reads like an award-winning entomologist's dissertation - that is, if entomologists studied the behavior of urban 20-30somethings and not insects. Since publication of your book, have any of the Hipster species become extinct or currently run the risk?
Yeah, I wanted it to read like an academic text. Glad you picked up on that. My original concept for the book was like a real scientific textbook, 500 pages with all sorts of appendices (including a Hair Color Wheel, which it still pains me wasnt included) and color illustrations and foldouts and etc. I modeled the book after a 1940s bird watching guide that I found on my mothers bookshelf. When my editor purchased it, she basically told me I was crazy, and so it became the nice little paperback humor book it is today. In retrospect, I really wish Id called it Urban Safari, but thats another story. At any rate, after spending two years researching the book, Ive sort of lost touch with most of the species...however, I will speculate that ultimately all Hipsters should meld into one Master Hipster Race. And I still wont have cool enough hair to be a part of it.
2. Your latest book, 60 People to Avoid at the Water Cooler, won't be published until this summer. Please provide a sneak peek: Besides my boss and overweight outer-borough co-workers, who else should I be avoiding at the water cooler?
The real question is who shouldnt you avoid at the water cooler? This book is based largely on my experiences as an administrative slave, or temp, and so Ive spent years in abject misery, surrounded by many of the worst people in the entire world. The Pompous General Partner, the Micromanager, the Condescending IT Guy, the Potential Serial Killer, and the Sappy Matron, however, might be the ones youd most like to avoid. Working in an office is the worst thing I can imagine, actually. Either that, or sitting through My Big Fat Greek Wedding again.
3. Besides having a famous Italian actor's last name, what's your involvement in the film industry?
My involvement in the film industry is largely theoretical, Im afraid. After graduating from film school, I spent eight years writing screenplays to no avail until I found out it was much easier to sell a book. Now Im novelizing all my old scripts since at this point I can probably sell a novel (hopefully), but still have no concept of how to even begin selling a screenplay. So, the plan is that the novels published, its well-received, then optioned by a film production company. At which point I tell them I need eight months or so to produce the first draft of a screenplay even though the final draft is sitting on my hard drive. Anyway, thats the idea. Ill probably wind up temping again instead. But if anyone out there is looking for a funny, youngish writer, please get in touch. Is this the first time somebody has used their Gothamist interview to troll for work? I hope so.
Im also one of those people who thought they could just make their own independent feature with a few friends after college. Needless to say, this was a disaster. As for Danny Aiello, whenever Im invariably asked whether or not were related, I usually respond, unfortunately for my film career, no.
Time travel question: What era, day or event in New York's history would you like to re-live?
Has somebody already said Truman Capotes Black and White Ball? If not, then that. If yes, then...hmm, perhaps the duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. I think this actually happened across the river in Jersey. But itd still be cool to see, wouldnt it? Lets let it count.
9pm, Wednesday - what are you doing?
Obsessing over either my fantasy baseball team or my Netflix queue. That goddamn queue is like a race against my own mortality.
What's your New York motto?
What the fuck are the upstairs neighbors doing up there, bowling?
Best celebrity sighting in New York, or personal experience with one if you're that type.
Im not that type at all, unfortunately, but I once spent an evening drinking with Patricia Clarkson, Brian De Palma, Edward Norton, Julie Taymor, and Elliot Goldenthal. This was at the first Tribeca Film Festival and my contribution to the conversation (over the course of about three hours) was limited to Do you need anything from the bar? directed at De Palma. He said no, he didnt. Ms. Clarkson is a friend, and was nice enough to invite me. The others seemed utterly puzzled by my presence at the table, with the exception of Mr. Goldenthal, who was quite friendly. After, I made about 15 phone calls to my friends from film school because Im pathetic.
Describe that low, low moment when you thought you just might have to leave NYC for good.
I once made the wise decision to quit a normal office job to work on an independent film that subsequently shut down in anticipation of a rumored actors strike or something. Were it not for unemployment, Id be living in some horrifying place like Philadelphia right now.
Just after midnight on a Saturday - what are you doing?
Perusing my extensive collection of take-out menus.
What's the most expensive thing in your wardrobe?
Kenneth Cole (the company, not the person) gave me an entire outfit to wear at a book signing I did with them. Suckers. Other than that, I possess what may be the least expensive wardrobe in greater New York City. Thank God for Old Navy.
Where do you summer?
I split my summers between the New Jersey seashore and 5 inches in front of my air conditioner in Manhattan.
Who do you consider to be the greatest New Yorker of all-time?
Can the term New Yorker be stretched far enough to include Lenny Dykstra? If not, then Wallace Shawn.
What was your best dining experience in NYC?
Im obsessed with food, so this is tough. I also dont have much money, so I eat a lot of crap. Lets see...we recently did my Moms birthday at LaVagna over on 5th Street, and that was really great. Perfect, actually. And theres this little Italian joint Im presently obsessed with, called La Foccaceria [spelling?]. I lose sleep thinking about the chicken parm over there. But Ive got terrible insomnia, so I lose sleep over lots of stuff. Oh, and I suppose this answer is boring and predictable, but man if that bread basket over at Balthazar isnt delectable.
Just how much do you really love New York?
Enough that I now find it practically impossible to enjoy being anywhere else, much to the annoyance of my traveling companions.
What happened the last time you went to L.A.?
I wound up in this amazing Thai karaoke bar / whorehouse. At first I was flattered because I thought the cute Asian hostess was hitting on me. Then I realized she was a prostitute. Anyway, these people took their karaoke very, very seriously. My friend Michelle sang a Carpenters tune, but I cant remember which one. Im really not doing the bar justice, nor is this story all that interesting. Anyway, it was fascinating, and I recently saw the bar in the opening montage of Barfly, which made me feel legit, which actually Im not.
Medication: What and how much do you take?
Tylenol PM and Melatonin, both to no avail.
Of all the movies made about (or highly associated with) New York, what role would you have liked to be cast in?
Roy Hobbs in The Natural.
If you could change one thing about New York, what would it be?
All Philadelphia Phillies games would be broadcast here as part of the basic cable package. Other than that, its perfect as far as I can tell.
The End of The World is finally happening. What are you going to do with your last 24 hours in NYC?
Knowing me, Id probably sleep in, then eat some Mexican food. Maybe make a few phone calls.