Age and occupation. How long have you lived here, where did you come from, and where do you live now?
I am 31 -- some would say I was never young -- and an editor of page one stories for The Wall Street Journal. Ive lived in Manhattan for almost five years and London before that, where I grew up. I still live in the first place I rented after moving to New York, which is a small loft or large studio (depending if youre buying or selling) above a lamp store on the corner of Bowery and Delancey.
Three from Chris Gage
1. On mediabistro.com, you said, "to be a fully, well-rounded human being in the modern world you really have to live in New York at some point, whether you like it or not." While the "whether you like it or not" bit is not so much a ringing endorsement of the city, how has this gone for you?
Sure its a ringing endorsement. Nothing can be truly of value if it isnt hated by at least a significant minority. I find Galsworthy unreadable and beetroot inedible but can think of people who would violently disagree. That probably bodes well for Edwardian fiction and purple vegetables. Of course, what I should have said was: To be a fully, well-rounded human being in the modern world you really have to leave New York, whether you like it or not. But thats a different conversation.
2. In writing the much-linked-to piece for the Wall Street Journal on Felix Dennis' recent foray into poetry, did you get the sense that having a helicopter would be a detriment to his acceptance, as Billy Collins states? Because it does seem about time someone with a 'copter dropped some science instead of bombs.
Is that last bit a cunning reference to popular culture thats whizzing over my head? Lets pretend that last sentence doesnt exist and Ill answer the first part: It depends whos doing the accepting. Tweedy, molly-coddled academics are never going to like anything Felix writes. Hes too tainted by all that grubby money. But Dennis isnt wrong when he says regular civilians love his stuff. I received reams of e-mail after that story ran, a lot of it in verse, and the praise outnumbered the brickbats 2:1.
3. Since the Wall Street Journal is a pay site, I can't read any of your previous articles. Is poetry of the rich and formerly debauched your regular beat? If so, who else of note is penning verse (free or otherwise); if not, what is your regular beat and how does Dennis' moonlighting fit in?
You should really buy a subscription. Only $79 a year if you dont subscribe to the paper. I used to cover media, which is a grandly empty euphemism for the magazine- and newspaper-publishing industries. Thats how I came up with the poetry piece, which ran as an a-hed, a berth on page one for offbeat and quirky articles that in passing say something significant(ish). Ive given all that up for the pleasure of butchering the copy of my former fellow reporters.
Time travel question: What era, day or event in New York's history would you like to re-live?
The Broadway/Cabaret scene of the 1950s, in a sort of Sinatra/J. J. Hunsecker combo. A great excuse to drink proper cocktails in dark clubs and wear suits all the time without anyone moaning that youre too stuffy and formal.
9pm, Wednesday - what are you doing?
Quite possibly playing Scrabble with Stefan, a good friend who lives in Stockholm. Its a nerd extravaganza and isnt helping much with the Sinatra/J. J. Hunsecker situation. We both sit around our Macs, linked via iChat, and play online. It involves him staying up really late but thats fine with me because it makes him easier to beat. Last time around, I topped 500, helped by DITZY on a triple with the Z on a double and couple of run-of-the-mill seven-letter words but now I will stop because this is becoming embarrassing.
What's the most expensive thing in your wardrobe?
I have a suit thats irreplaceable. It was handmade in 1940 for my beloved wifes long-dead great uncle. No one in her family wears suits, except under duress and rarely even then, and it was passed on to me. It fits beautifully and I worry every time I put it on that its going to disintegrate.
Where do you summer?
Anywhere but the Hamptons.
Who do you consider to be the greatest New Yorker of all-time? (Name up to three if you must.)
Lou Gehrig. I was considering plumping for one of those early mayors with streets named after them, such as William Dyre Avenue or Robert Van Wyck Expressway, but that would have been a bad lie in search of a lame joke.
What was your best dining experience in NYC?
In a power-hungry way I'm a little bit in love with the Grill Room at the Four Seasons, one of the most beautiful dining halls ever built. It doesnt earn a ranking on all-time culinary experiences but every time I walk up those stairs I get a tingle in all the right places.
Just how much do you really love New York?
What happened the last time you went to L.A.?
I decorated the front wing of my rental car with one of those ochre-colored adobe walls.
Medication: What and how much do you take?
Whiskey and Advil, in regular, alternating doses.
Of all the movies made about (or highly associated with) New York, what role would you have liked to be cast in?
Paul Hackett, the Griffin Dunne character in After Hours only a little less useless. Actually, theres no getting around that problem. If we loosen up the rules a little, I'd be C. K. Dexter Haven (the Cary Grant version) from The Philadelphia Story. If there was no New York, there would be no Spy magazine and no reporters attending the wedding and no play for Katherine Hepburn to buy to make the movie. You get the idea.
If you could change one thing about New York, what would it be?
Politely asking The Bravest and The Finest to quit pretending the Bowery is the Lower Manhattan International Raceway. I was always amazed, before I moved here, how many sirens you could hear in the background during phone calls. Now I understand. The other thing that comes to mind is more of a question: who leaves the fresh kitty food and water on the downtown Fulton St. J-M-Z platform? And where is the cat?
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?
If the Sox win the World Series, thats easy. I will strongly consider killing myself. That Pedro-Zimmer incident still makes me twitch around the edges of uncontrollable rage. If its any of the others, I'd stomp around in a foul temper. The world isnt supposed to end on my watch.