Soledad O’Brien Admires the Stubbornness of Billy’s Topless

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Photo: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

Name: Soledad O’Brien
Age: 43
Neighborhood: Chelsea
Occupation: Anchor and special correspondent for CNN, U.S. investigative reporter for "In America" series, which has included influential documentaries Black in America I and II and Latino in America. Next up is Gary & Tony Have a Baby, premiering on June 24 at 8 p.m.

Who's your favorite New Yorker — living or dead, real or fictional?
My parents are my favorite New Yorkers. They've lived on the west side forever, but they still gaze up at the tall buildings and act like tourists!

What's the best meal you've eaten in New York?
The other day for lunch I had a sandwich at the Piccolo Café. It's buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes, and gaeta olives on amazing grilled Italian bread.

In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job?
My job is to travel around America, finding stories that often fall under the radar, and turn them into documentaries on CNN.

Would you live here on a $35,000 salary?
I've lived on $35k a year, so yes, I would. But not with a husband and four kids.

What's the last thing you saw on Broadway?
The last thing I saw on Broadway was Race a couple of weeks ago. It was amazing.

Do you give money to panhandlers?
Yup.

What's your drink?
I like fruity, sweet drinks that don't taste like alcohol. I'd rank a great Cosmo my first choice.

How often do you prepare your own meals?
I almost never prepare my own meals! Unless ordering in — then adding condiments — counts. My husband's a great cook. I don't enjoy it, so I stopped trying.

What's your favorite medication?
I've been taking Lipitor 20mg for a while now.

What's hanging above your sofa?
Above my sofa is great artwork by Dominican painter Rascal.

How much is too much to spend on a haircut?
I'd never spend $200 on a haircut — that's waaay too much. But I get my hair done at work, so maybe I'm a bad person to ask.

When's bedtime?
I aim for 10 p.m. to get to bed, every night.

Which do you prefer, the old Times Square or the new Times Square?
Since I like to schlep my kids to Toys "R" Us — I prefer the new Times Square. But a little south, Billy's Topless in my neighborhood was a long holdout. I admired their attempt.

What do you think of Donald Trump?
I'd like to run my fingers through the Donald's hair just to see what that's all about. Seriously.

What do you hate most about living in New York?
I hate almost nothing about living in New York. But when my kids were younger, it was annoying that it was impossible to get a double stroller (for the twins) over a curb in the snow.

Who is your mortal enemy?
I don't have a mortal enemy. Should I have one?

When's the last time you drove a car?
I drive a car every weekend to escape the city. I have a Suburban and a Prius.

Times, Post, or Daily News?
I read everything — the New York Times, the Post, and the Daily News. And the Washington Post, the FT, USA Today. Everything. It's pretty much my job.

Where do you go to be alone?
Where do I go to be alone? Are you kidding? Haha! That's hilarious! I have four children. I'm never alone.

How has the economic downturn affected your life?
The economic downturn has hit my neighborhood hard. I live on a street that was starting to make a real comeback. Now, many buildings sit empty, lots of businesses have gone out of business or are clearly struggling to stay afloat. My industry has been hit hard, too. I have tons of friends who've lost their jobs, taken buyouts, or just seen their jobs disappear. It's a tough time for jobs in the media.

What makes someone a New Yorker?
I grew up in Long Island, so I was from New York, but not a New Yorker. Once I moved to NYC I knew I was finally a New Yorker when I could yell at someone on the subway and not have it even slightly impact my day.

When mice and cockroaches in my first crappy Soho tenement apartment ceased to faze me, I knew I was a New Yorker.

If you can talk a taxi driver into waiting while you grab your kids from school, then you are a New Yorker.

And most important, if Mister Softee portends the start of spring (and not a flowering crocus!), then you are a New Yorker.