21 questions

Tom Brokaw Wants to Be Buried With a Bottle of Lemon Vodka

Name: Tom Brokaw
Age: 71
Neighborhood: Upper East Side
Occupation: Television journalist and author. Next Tuesday November 1 at 7 p.m. he’ll be discussing his new book The Time of Our Lives: A conversation about America with Paul Holdengraber at the New York Public Library.

Who’s your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional?
Jackie Robinson.

What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in New York?
When Jane Pauley and Garry Trudeau were to be married, Meredith and I took them to a celebratory dinner at Lutece. We told our friend André Soltner, the chef–owner, to go for it. And so he did. Fish, fowl, meat, and more wines than I could remember. We sat down at 7:30 and left after midnight. Jane and I had to be on Today the next morning. I have no idea how we got through the two hours.

In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job?
Cure cancer, mediate the Israeli–Palestinian stand-off, write Jon Stewart’s monologue, tend a falafel stand on 42nd Street, walk my dog, and take a nap.

What was your first job in New York?
I anchored the weekend Nightly News.

What’s the last thing you saw on Broadway?
Book of Mormon, and just before that, Anything Goes.

Do you give money to panhandlers?
Occasionally, but never to those in expensive down jackets, new boots, and designer jeans.

What’s your drink?
We have a Polish audio technician with whom I have worked all over the world for years. He makes a killer home-brew lemon vodka. We have shared shots with Gorbachev, and toasted the fall of the Berlin Wall, the visit of Pope John Paul to Warsaw, the release of Nelson Mandela, and most of the historic events of the last 30 years. I want to be buried with a milk bottle of Majik’s lemon vodka.

How often do you prepare your own meals?
Three or four times a month. I have the good fortune to be married to a fabulous cook.

What’s your favorite medication?
A half dose of Ambien.

What’s hanging above your sofa?
In my office, a large print of a Montana landscape by the peerless Western impressionist Russell Chatham.

How much is too much to spend on a haircut?
Anything over $50. That does not apply to my wife or daughters.

When’s bedtime?
After I surf Stewart, Colbert, and Letterman.

Which do you prefer, the old Times Square or the new Times Square?
I have an affection for the old, dating to my first visit to NYC when I was 17.

What do you think of Donald Trump?
If we didn’t have The Donald, we’d have to invent him as a reminder of what frugality, a really cool haircut, and an aversion to publicity can get you in life.

What do you hate most about living in New York?
Traffic during the U.N. General Assembly or presidential visits.

Who is your mortal enemy?
Don’t think I have one.

When’s the last time you drove a car?
Last weekend.

How has the Wall Street crash affected you?
Some, but nothing to complain about. Meredith and I started our married life with all of our worldly possessions in the back seat of a Chevy II. Everything since has been a bonus.

Times, Post, or Daily News?
All of the above plus The Wall Street Journal and Financial Times.

Where do you go to be alone?
In the city, to the Frick, Met, or Museum of Natural History. In Montana, to a trout stream.

What makes someone a New Yorker?
An appetite for adventure and an anticipation every day that appetite will be fulfilled.

Tom Brokaw Wants to Be Buried With a Bottle of Lemon Vodka