Mike Daisey Resents Conforming to the Culture’s Insane Whims

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Photo: Ursa Waz

Name: Mike Daisey
Age: 36
Neighborhood: Carroll Gardens

Occupation: Monologuist. The New York premiere of his show The Last Cargo Cult begins previews tomorrow at the Public Theater.

Who's your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional?
A toss-up between Nikola Tesla and Peter Parker.

What's the best meal you've eaten in New York?
My wife's Christmas Eve feast of red borscht, fresh pierogi, and wild salmon.

In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job?
I tell stories.

Would you still live here on a $35,000 salary?
I will do everything in my power to never have a salary.

What's the last thing you saw on Broadway?
The American Theater vomiting up narcissism and obsessive self-regard.

Do you give money to panhandlers?
If they have a really good story.

What's your drink?
Gin and tonic, the drink of empire.

How often do you prepare your own meals?
Never.

What's your favorite medication?
A double gin and tonic.

What's hanging above your sofa?
The shrunken heads of my enemies strung on a gilded chain.

How much is too much to spend on a haircut?
No more than 15 percent of the amortized cost of the hair itself.

When's bedtime?
If at my leisure, 5 a.m. Sadly, I am often required to conform to our culture's insane whims.

Which do you prefer, the old Times Square or the new Times Square?
I prefer New New Times Square, after the Robot Wars, once the supercharged monkey-virus bombs used north of 34th Street made Times Square a wasteland filled only with decaying Disney signage and broken dreams.

What do you think of Donald Trump?
I think the fact that he is being talked about here is part of the triumph of his ubiquitousness.

What do you hate most about living in New York?
New York isn't really my problem — I often just hate being alive. But New York does fetishize inconvenience, which makes it almost impossible to live here ... though that's also its subtle narcotic.

Who is your mortal enemy?
There are so, so many, and life is short. The important thing is that, for now, I am winning.

When's the last time you drove a car?
On the West Coast, where they have customs that require such things.

How has the Wall Street crash affected you?
It caused me to move to an island in the South Pacific where the value of money is not universally accepted, and then come back to my culture and tell a story about that place and our own relationship with money.

Times, Post, or Daily News?
Times for actual news and real work, and only online. The Post when I'm at my favorite diner for the vile delight of its antics, and only in print. I have never heard of this "Daily News" you speak of.

Where do you go to be alone?
I perform. From the stage I can get an enormous amount of thinking done.

What makes someone a New Yorker?
Like all the best titles, it is self-evident and reflexive: You'll know you're a New Yorker when you know it.