2004_09_steveniweiss.jpgVitals
Name: Steven I. Weiss
Age: 23
Occupation: Journalist/Blogger.
From where: Lived in six states.
Reside in: Just moved to the Lower East Side. "Welcome to the
neighborhood" casseroles are much appreciated.
If applicable, how long have you lived in New York: Since August '98.

The Questions
At 23, you're a seasoned journalist, former staff writer at the Forward and published in New York and Village Voice among other pubs. You founded Protocols and are launching three others: Kosher Bachelor, Canonist and The Metro Section. You've got a leg up over the average post-college bright-eyed and bushy-tailed would be writer youngsters. Any words of advice for your Brenda Starr and Clark Kent wannabe peers?
Maybe I've got a leg up because I'm not truly "post-college"? I'm actually not published in the Village Voice (except for my "Additional Reporting" credits on Wayne Barrett stories), but feel free to continue telling people that; while you're at it, mention any other prestigious publication that comes to mind. Is Brenda Starr a cartoon? Clark Kent is an example of precisely what's wrong with so many mainstream journalists today: no transparency. His writing about Superman is just a shonda.

My main advice is to be persistent and to start a blog. I was pitching the Boston Globe's "Ideas" section for a year by e-mailing ideas@globe.com, never getting a response. Finally, one day I just knew I had an idea that they'd bite on, so I called their main desk, asked to speak to Alex Star, told him I'd been pitching him and not getting a reply, and he said, "Oh, yeah, we get so many e-mails at that address that we don't keep track of it. Why don't you send it to my personal e-mail?" I did, and within five minutes I had a guaranteed paycheck.

That was a pretty simple life lession: Be as persistent and creative in tracking down editors as you are with tracking down sources, and you'll have little problem getting in with the publications you're right for. A blog is an instant resume; even if you didn't mention your blog in your application/pitch, you can be sure that if the place you're trying to get into is worth your effort, they'll have figured it out before all is said and done.

So you might as well make it worth it. I guess I'm among the first generation of journalists that's getting gigs with/because of a blog. While those might be slow right now, in a couple years, our first generation will be the ones hiring, or at least making important recommendations for hiring. So start a blog, pick a beat and run with it.

Oh, and another thing is to always contact someone who you think is headed in the same general direction you'd like to, and is a couple steps ahead and can help you out. If that's me for you, I'm here. Lastly, be a bit wary of those ahead of you in the media biz; they might help you out, but they also might try to keep you down. Know the difference.

You're known as a bit of a political rabble-rouser -- activist and former city council candidate, controversial ex-Yeshiva University student. In our conversations during the RNC, you looked on most of the proceedings with critical disdain. What’s your informed forecast for the road leading up to the November elections and the January turnover?
Every indication is that Bush is going to clean Kerry's clock, and I can't say I'm all that upset by it. The operatives running the Democratic house have been screwing up in grand fashion, and Kerry's just a disaster. It seemed like they might be able to get some mileage out of this new focus on the economy, but they've been flubbing that, too. I just saw Roger Altman on television, and he was stumbling all over himself. They're not inspiring confidence. Kerry's only the nominee because he's been around so long, and I think that says everything to the younger generation of Democrats that we need to know.

In your blog collection is the Kosher Bachelor, your sporadic guide to osher life and living. The color scheme brings to mind that a kosher bachelor's life would rival that of a Playboy. How does the K.B. about town get down?
KB is actually supposed to be more about cooking than anything about life and
living...except insofar as there is nothing more important in Jewish life than food. Except God...maybe. I don't really get down. First I was too poor and now
I'm too busy. I like going to blogging/media events, or whatever's on the press release pile on a given day. As to all the other Orthodox Jewish men of my age,
well, they're either married or that guy at the club you go to with too little rhythm and too much hair grease. For sketchy Y.U. guys, go to AmCaf or the West End near Columbia; for sketchy recent graduates, go to Mod; for sketchy
older graduates, head to a singles event held by any organization that focuses on bringing Jews back to the fold -- all the guys who grew up religious think returnees to the faith are easy.

A Quick Ten
Please share a personal (and hopefully interesting) NYC taxi story.
Taxis are for rich people, much like beer in quantities less than 40 ounces, agnosticism, and Gothamist.

What's your New York motto?
"The greatest experiment in human history."
Also: "Jews, Jews, Jews."

Describe that low, low moment when you thought you just might have to leave NYC for good.
If you're really doing that poorly, you can't afford to leave.

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?
I'd head across the bridge to hang out with my niece. She's 20 months old, a
darling of a child, and gives me hope. Of course, I'd get an exclusive interview with God and blog it at Canonist.

Who, in your opinion, is the quintessential New Yorker?
Is Jesus an option? Maybe Forward Arts Editor Alana Newhouse; she's got this town wrapped around her finger. Or maybe my mother, who grew up in the Lower East Side projects, and just returned some 30+ years later. Or Teddy Roosevelt, which is an answer that makes me look smart without much justification.

Favorite subway line:
2/3. Zoom, zoom, zoom.

Best celebrity sighting in New York, or personal experience with one if you’re that type.

This was an e-mail I sent to Peter Rojas, then of Gizmodo, and Choire Sicha, then of Gawker, last winter. I was just gonna link to it from when it got put in Gawker Stalker, but it seems they don't have archives going that far back. I guess when, like Choire, you have interns loading you up with vodka tonics all day, everything beyond a few months ago is just a bit hazy.

Peter & Choire -

Walking to the subway from the Arab-American Comedy Festival last night, around 11:00 or so, I passed by the Bottom Line, where Steven Tyler + ladyfriend were singing "Those Were The Days" (not the Bunker family version) loudly with another couple, the guy of which was probably some old rocker I don't recall. A bunch of huddled NYU kids gawk at the grouping, basking in the afterglow of said Aerosmith man.

One obnoxious NYU kid walks up and asks them if they want to go get a drink, to which the rainbow-goateed companion responds, "We don't drink anymore," and the kid goes "Yeah, right," and marches off.

I'm about to pass by when Steven Tyler pulls out a digital camera and starts taking pictures, then video, of their sing-along. He's asking his friends to speak into the microphone and showing them samples of the pictures he's taken.

So I figure I've just gotta find out what kind of camera it is for Peter. It looks like a Casio Exilim, but it's in a black leather case, so it's hard to tell. I'm hesitant about walking up to him and asking about it, because all these fans of his are hanging around just gawking, and I'm afraid I might get crucified on the awning for having nothing better to ask their mighty rock god than what camera he's using. But I gather up the courage to wade through, creep up behind him and say "What kind of camera is that?"

"It's called a Casio," he replies, as he begins showing me its functions. He's now pulled it out of the case, and I can see the printing in the top-left of the back says "Ex-M2," which I guess means Exilim M2? It touts "2.0 Megapixels." So I'm like, great, thanks. "I've got this friend who runs a technology site, and I'll be sure to tell him," I say as I begin to walk away (when I finally did walk away, I kicked myself because I realize I never actually mentioned the word "Gizmodo"). But as I'm heading off, he goes, "Oh, you've gotta get one," and then starts mouthing geek-speak, pronouncing that his camera is "16 bit," that it utilizes "2 million pixels," but the piece de resistance, he tells me, is "the 512 card," with which "You can go on vacation for a week, then still be sitting in
bed going [mimics taking useless pictures]."

The idea of Steven Tyler in bed on vacation snapping away with his digital camera while pronouncing on its technological superiority was just too funny for me, and I started giggling and walked away. In the future, of course, I'll be sure to mention Gizmodo, and ask substantive questions like where he bought it, how long he's had it, and what other gadgets he has around. Overall, though, I think it's a pretty good job of celebrity and technology reporting for a guy who walks the religion beat.

What’s the most expensive thing in your wardrobe?
Seeing as I'm not really eligible to give Elizabeth's famous answer...my bar mitzvah suit might still fit.

Best bargain to be found in the city?
Other than the 30-day unlimited Metrocard, the $3.50 calzone that definitely used to be available at Time Out Pizza in Washington Heights. But I don't know if that's still around, so then the $4.00 falafel at Murray's.

Most overrated trend/movement sweeping the city
The renewed belief in the relevance of Gen X.

- Interview by Candice Holmes