Who's your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional?
Living: a tie between Katherine Waterston and Woody Allen. Dead: Kurt Vonnegut. Real: Stephen Adly Guirgis. Fictional: a tie between Lily Bart and Holden Caulfield.
What's the best meal you've eaten in New York?
Hari Kunzru’s fish stew, although a close second would be the chili at Great Jones Cafe.
In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job?
I chase around all these people in my head.
What was your first job in New York?
Sales assistant at Penguin Books.
What's the last thing you saw on Broadway?
Exit the King. Geoffrey Rush is perhaps the most flexible, bizarrely coordinated nearing-60 actor on the planet.
Do you give money to panhandlers?
There’s this old black man who hangs out in front of the bodega on the northwest corner of Avenue A and 10th Street. Sometimes I give him change. There’s something solemn and respectful about him. He seems to just stand there and ponder important things. I think I give him money because he elevates the level of grace in my neighborhood. Plus he’s nice to my dog.
What's your drink?
How often do you prepare your own meals?
Only when I’m not in New York. And that’s limited to pasta and canned goods.
What's your favorite medication?
What's hanging above your sofa?
A thin book tower containing some beloved titles, and a greenish-brown painting of a woman with a black wolf’s head, nude, and lying on her side (by Ross Brodar).
How much is too much to spend on a haircut?
Between 2 and 3 a.m.
Which do you prefer, the old Times Square or the new Times Square?
The old Times Square. I got here in ’91 so there was still this scary pimps/hustlers/superfreaks/lost souls feel on 42nd Street as you approached 9th Avenue, which was kind of exciting for a semi-naïve kid from a small town in Illinois. It felt like the people who hang out in the lower-level waiting area of the Port Authority Greyhound terminal were everywhere. And sometimes they would come at you. Now they’re just in the lower-level waiting area of the Port Authority Greyhound Terminal and the tourists come at you, but it’s more accidental.
What do you think of Donald Trump?
Everyone talks about his hair, but I have this strong association with his power suit. I mean, I find his hair infinitely interesting in the same way that a giraffe’s eyelashes are, but his suit I wonder what would happen if he took it off? There might be some amazing secret narrative on his body. Like instead of nipples he would have leopard eyes or a tiny black obelisk protruding from his navel. Even the idea of him taking his tie off freaks me out.
What do you hate most about living in New York?
Trying to get to the Upper West Side in under 40 minutes. And the bike theft.
Who is your mortal enemy?
John Simon. He’s written so many awful things about theater artists (including me), and I think it’s sad because he’s such a fine writer. Someone I know once challenged him to a duel, but Simon never showed up ... In fact, I’d like to do that right now. John Simon, I challenge you to a duel!
When's the last time you drove a car?
December 23, 2010.
How has the Wall Street crash affected you?
Hardly at all. Then again, I’m terrible with money, and I feel as if I’ve been weathering my own little personal recession since I was 16.
Times, Post, or Daily News?
Where do you go to be alone?
What makes someone a New Yorker?
You have to have lived here for at least fifteen years. And you also have to have been mugged, flashed, or urinated on while riding the subway, had your heart smashed into a million pieces, and been privy to at least two David Blaine performances. I think you also have to die here. Dying here seals the deal.