Age and occupation. How long have you lived here, where did you come from, and where do you live now?
38 years old, novelist. I've lived here fifteen years, and like everybody else in New York, I was born in New Jersey. My wife and I live in East Hampton during the week. On weekends, like a prisoner on minimum security furlough, I'm allowed visiting rights to the studio apartment we keep in midtown where I get to run around with my buddies for a night or two.
1. The Kyle Clayton character in your new book, Gotham Tragic, seems like the kind of debaucherous "Young Manhattanite" that has weathered many literary iterations by Jay McInerney, Bret Easton Ellis, etc. How much of your Sayreville, NJ childhood, State college education, and European fast-food tour is in Kyle Clayton?
A lot, but he's cooler than me. Better looking, more girls, more talented - and he can drink more. Don't forget, though, that Sayreville is the Liverpool of the United States. I was high school classmates with the guys from the late, great metal band Skid Row, and Bon Jovi was two grades ahead of me. It's an intimidating legacy to live up to.
2. I want to ask the tough questions like "How much money do you make? How many girls have you had bathroom-stall sex with (celebrity names preferred)? How many drugs did you do?" but I'll take the easy way out. Please describe what you mean by "Going Clapton."
Going Clapton is when you're Kyle Clayton at 30, and by 40 you're doing a lite-FM version of Layla and playing in VH1's All Star Jams. I hate to seem so snarky, because I've never written anything as good as 'Bell Bottom Blues' and probably never will, but the corporatization of the world is most perfectly personified in Eric Clapton.
3. In this passage I feel like you described my apartment: "On a white L-shaped sectional favored by drug dealers and porn stars, Semper sat ear-to-phone, his feet up on a coffee table hand-carved in the Maldives. Strewn across this cleaved surface were the remnants of Semper's past few nights: barren take-out sushi tins, Time Out magazine folded back to the Nightlife section, phone numbers with no adjoining names, a platinum cigar cutter, Facial Cumshots #17 in a Kim's Video box, half-empty bottle of Rolling Rock stinking to high heaven (lipstick marks atop), Jets ticket stubs, a rectangle of Tupperware containing the residue of what might have been cocaine, heroin, or merely Sweet'n Low, a kitchen towel with crusty daubs, and The Collected Poems of Phillip Larkin." My question to you: Did you marry a Radcliffe Jewess too?
Actually, that description is pretty close to what my place looked like when I was single and rooming with one of New York's most legendary partiers. But no, my wife is a Muslim Turk by way of FIT, and if she ever came home to see all that stuff laid out she'd get Ottoman on my ass. (So I've learned to put shit away.)
Please share a personal (and hopefully interesting) NYC taxi story.
Okay, a guy cuts off the cab I'm in, so my driver pulls up next to him at a stop light and begins screaming. Next thing you know they're both out of their cars and rolling around in the middle of Sixth Avenue duking it out. I walked the rest of the way.
Time travel question: What era, day or event in New York's history would you like to re-live?
The 1970's. I am yet another fool who believes that New York was better when it was filthy, bankrupt, and dangerous. This is a sympton of listening to the Stones' Some Girls album one too many times.
What's your New York motto?
Go Red Sox! (I'm a big-time Yankee hater.)
Finish one of the four following sentences:
3) "I hate computers for replacing the card catalog in the New York Public Library and I hate the way...
these digital billboards are popping up outside subway stations downtown - it's Orwellian, man."
Where do you summer?
East Hampton, where I live. Though I pay for it in February, which the locals call "Fuck Your Sister Month."
Who do you consider to be the greatest New Yorker of all-time? (Name up to three if you must.)
F. Scott Fitzgerald and Johnny Thunders.
What was your best dining experience in NYC?
Ethnic food, anywhere. I hate the sterile celebrity-chef museums of midtown - and not just because I can't afford them.
Just how much do you really love New York?
Put it this way: I lived for 9 years on the corner of Spring and Mulberry. Three years ago I sold my rent-controlled lease to my landlord, and to this day I regard it as the single worst mistake of my life. I still stalk that apartment like an old girlfriend.
If you could change one thing about New York, what would it be?
Mayor Bloomberg, who's a dull bean counter and everything New York is not. I served him back when I was a waiter and he wasn't pretending to be a "friend of the working man" to get elected. Total and complete prick.