Books: I read a lot of nonfiction (natural history, gardening,
books about language, social sciences -- and anything else that
captures my imagination). Favorite authors of nonfiction include
David Quammen (whose "Song of the Dodo" is amazing) and Michael
Pollan. Loved "Guns, Germs, and Steel," but thought "Collapse"
should have been edited ruthlessly. Fiction -- I read virtually no
genre fiction anymore, and not all that much other fiction. Prefer
novels to short stories, and long novels to short ones.
Vargas-Llosa's "Way to Paradise" blew me away; David Mitchell's
"Cloud Atlas" and Matthew Kneale's "English Passengers" also on the
Movies: I like to be entertained when I see a movie, so I prefer
musicals and comedies, though since most of the movies I see are at
the Ritz, I see more than my share of grim and depressing flicks.
As an information junkie, I also like documentaries. I usually see
a lot of movies in the theater, but so far 2012 ain't doing it for
me. Will see a couple of popcorn flicks this summer -- Batman and
Bourne -- but mostly looking forward to "good movie season" this
Recently seen on DVD recently and liked: "Lars and the Real Girl,"
"He Loves Me ... He Loves Me Not," "The Duchess." Recently been
obsessing on the meaning of "Saturday Night Fever." My Christmas
present to myself last year: a six-disc Busby Berkeley set.
All-time favorite musical: Tie between "Top Hat" and "All That
Jazz," with "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" getting an honorable
mention. All-time favorite comedy: "The Producers" (original, not
Watch very little TV any more (don't have cable), but am a sucker
for a good reality show, especially "Amazing Race"; also
(surprise!) love "Glee." I do catch up with the good stuff on cable
once it comes out on DVD. Most recent enthusiasm: "Jekyll," written
by Steven Moffatt (the guy who wrote the "Sherlock" update that ran
on PBS). Haven't tackled "The Sopranos" or "The Wire" yet.
Music: Have a thing about people who listen to nothing but "oldies"
(classic rock). I'm not the same person I was 30 years ago, why on
earth would I still be listening to the same music? I listen to a
lot of African music, more jazz (esp. Cuban) with every passing
year. Stan Getz's "Night and Day" with Kenny Barron is the most
perfect imaginable version of my all-time favorite song.
Most recent discovery: Andrew Bird. I prefer his recent "love child
of David Byrne and Laurie Anderson" stuff to the older "wishes he
could sit in with Django" stuff, though the latter is completely
listenable (and has some very clever lyrics).
See a fair number of concerts at the Keswick, including (in the
last year or so): David Bromberg/Jorma Kaukonen, Bela Fleck/Zakir
Hussain/Edgar Meyer, John McLaughlin, Jeff Beck, Lindsay
Buckingham. Tedeschi/Trucks was at the Tower. (Yes, I do love me
some guitar god guitar.) Andrew Bird at the Grand; Habib Koite at
In in general I listen to more stuff sung in languages I don't
speak than in English. I'd list some favorite artists, but
(**snobbery alert**) the names probably wouldn't mean much to you.
Okay -- you want specifics? Habib Koite, Orchestra Baobab, and
Frank Emilio Flynn are all pretty well known -- but my favorite sax
player is Momo Wandel Soumah, and I recently found the Bembeya Jazz
National CDs I'd thought I'd lost -- yay!
Of course, as Oscar Wilde observed, consistency is the last refuge
of the unimaginative -- so the soundtrack to "Once" spent almost a
year in the CD player after I saw (and loved) the movie.
The only kind of music I really, really don't want to listen to is
smooth jazz. It's not only uninteresting, it's aggressively,
Food: Favorite is Mexican, but also like Italian food, seafood;
don't eat too much red meat any more, but there's something very
satisfying about a nice rare steak. Not a big fan of Chinese, Thai,
etc., and can't conceptually deal with the whole "raw fish" thing
so eschew sushi (though I will eat a California roll should the
need arise). Competent cook but get no pleasure from it; I'm a
pretty good baker, though.
Artists: It's all about color, so Gauguin, Matisse, Hockney. Of
current artists, I like Walton Ford.