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21 questions

Dick Cavett Listens to Rush Limbaugh When He Needs to Fall Asleep

Name: Dick Cavett
Age: 73
Neighborhood: Upper West Side
Occupation: Writer. His new book TALK SHOW: Confrontations, Pointed Commentary, and Off-Screen Secrets is out this week, and he'll be discussing it and his illustrious on-screen career November 15 at the 92nd Street Y.

Who's your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional?
Groucho Marx.

What's the best meal you've eaten in New York?
I find all "most" and "greatest" and "favorite" questions exasperating and idiotic. Who really can say or bothers to keep track of the winning meal above all others? (Don’t take this personally.)

In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job?
The only thing you could call my "job" is writing my blog for the New York Times online. Try [Googling] "Dick Cavett New York Times." (If you got to "Opinionator" you will need help finding me.)

What was your first job in New York?
I was a counter spy. I posed as a shopper for an evaluating agency and reported on the salespeople. Ten bucks a day and the fun of praising the good salespeople and panning the wretched ones. A warm sense of customer's revenge.

What's the last thing you saw on Broadway?
A guy spitting. But seriously, folks ... A Little Night Music with Stritch and Bernadette … and I hope it wasn’t the last.

Do you give money to panhandlers?
I do, but I ask for change.

What's your drink?
Campari and orange juice, thanks (if you force me to say), to Marlon Brando. The famous actor.

How often do you prepare your own meals?
What I prepare for myself are hardly meals.

What's your favorite medication?
Rush Limbaugh, when I need to fall asleep.

What's hanging above your sofa?
Nothing, I hope.

How much is too much to spend on a haircut?
The answer is too obvious to bother with.

When's bedtime?
It’s about 10 p.m. because sunrise is the best time of day. As in Robert Frost’s, "Then dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay."

Which do you prefer, the old Times Square or the new Times Square?
I loved the old Times Square and wish I could find a certain postcard from back then, showing the Astor Hotel and all. I long for the pornographic old 42nd Street before the self-anointed St. Joan of 9/11, Giuliani, cleansed it. The current T. S. is gaudy, garish, ugly, and shriekingly hideous. In other words, I have mixed feelings about it.

What do you think of Donald Trump?
Imagining us on a talk show, my hand creeping toward his head, saying, "Donald, I’ve just got to know … "

What do you hate most about living in New York ?
Never, ever seeing a cop arrest the bastards on speeding bikes on sidewalks who cause quadriplegia a few times a year.

Who is your mortal enemy?
Can't tell you because he doesn't know I know. So let's just say Dick Cheney.

When's the last time you drove a car?
Ten minutes ago. (Really, what fun can the reader derive from knowing this?)

How has the Wall Street crash affected you?
Guiltily I say very little, considering the ruined lives of others. Those who knowingly caused it should be smeared with molasses and left up to their necks in one of those huge African red ant hills.

Times, Post, or Daily News?
All three. Can’t make choices.

Where do you go to be alone?
The Nebraska Sandhills country. Lonely and sublime beyond belief.

What makes someone a New Yorker?
I suppose residency helps. Is there a hidden meaning to this question? Could the answer be the ability to survive experiencing, daily: ecstasy, thrills, and brain-grinding shocks, discomforts, and irritations? And pitying those who don't live here.

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Photo: Barbara Friedman