Originally I'm from southwestern Connecticut, a beach town on the Long Island Sound that Craigslist seems to consider a far-flung suburb of New York City. I moved to DC for college and have been here pretty much since then. While I often miss living near water and--most especially--having a lawn to mow, needing to drive most places and calling last call at 1:30 on the weekends are sort of dealbreakers. [Update: I now have a lawn to mow! This is a more exciting development for me than you might imagine.]
I am happiest in a pair of running shoes (or not--I have a pair of Five Fingers, although you shouldn't worry: I would never go so far as to wear them out socially). Currently living in Petworth and enjoying long, rambling jogs to everywhere and nowhere (especially along the Sligo Creek trail in Silver Spring, or exploring the upper reaches of Rock Creek Park).
I'm equally at peace in the kitchen; prepping a meal is meditative for me in the same way that running is: You just fall into a rhythm and let the zen flow through you. Cooking is also my primary creative outlet. I'm part of a weekly supper club in which one person prepares a themed meal for the group, while the rest of us bring booze and do the dishes, and so I find myself constantly trying to think of fun and innovative ways to feed my friends. Past themes of which I am especially proud include Sleater-Kinney ("Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl"); Silence of the Lambs ("I do wish we could chat longer, but...I'm having an old friend for dinner"); a five-course all-curry meal ("Currrrrrybody in the Club Gettin' Tipsy"); and anti-drug PSAs of the 1980s ("Drug Abuse Resistance Education").
When I'm not working, running, cooking, drinking, or mainlining Netflix, I like to read, or sit somewhere and work a crossword, ride my bike, go to a show, or just wander around aimlessly. There's always something to do around here.
- Picking out the least expensive chunk of parmigiano reggiano on my first pass through the fancy cheese bin at the grocery store.
- Recall. More stupid human trick than anything, but I have an insanely good memory for names on bar tabs throughout the course of a shift. I could have 100 tabs open simultaneously, but if you started one with me at any point in the night, I will remember your name every time you come back for a drink. A less useful application of this talent is my encyclopedic memory for Onion headlines. (All-time favorites include: "Friend Who Can Play 'Law & Order' Theme on the Bass Asked to Do So"; "Jacques Derrida 'Dies'"; "Man's Utter Failure in Life a Bit of a Sore Spot"; "Dead Teenager Remembered for Great Handjobs"; and--possibly my outright favorite--"Ghost of Anne Frank: 'Quit Reading my Diary.'")
- Giving police statements in drunken, halting Italian (It's a long story).
- Swearing. I'm shooting for Malcolm Tucker, but I'll settle for Jamie McDonald. Debra Morgan is the platonic ideal. (Jennifer Carpenter's delivery of the line "Shit a brick and fuck me with it!" almost redeems the entirety of Dexter's train wreck fifth season. Almost.)
I'd be remiss if I excluded this profile's namesake, Leonardo Sciascia. "Sicilian Uncles" is my favorite, although his existential detective novels, such as "Day of the Owl" and "Equal Danger," are top-shelf as well. Besides that, I largely prefer contemporary crime fiction to anything else: Stuff like Don Winslow, David Swinson, and George Pelecanos, or psychological suspense a la Tana French or Jo Nesbo. Other favorites (and by "favorites" I mean "authors whose publishing schedules I keep tabs on so I know when something new is coming out"--my day job is very helpful in this regard) include Jennifer Egan, Tom Franklin, Sam Lipsyte, Gillian Flynn, Jim Shepard, and Stacey Richter.
Other favorites by authors over whom I don't obsess: Ovenman (Jeff Parker); Under the Frog (Tibor Fischer); Three Dollars (Eliot Perlman); Spanking the Donkey (Matt Taibbi); Born to Run (Chris McDougal); What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (Haruki Murakami); Heat (Bill Buford); The Bad Guys Won! (Jeff Pearlman).
Serialized drama more than anything else, preferably sci-fi or cop-type stuff: X-Files (although there is a precipitous decline in quality after season 5, and arguably earlier); Fringe (it's like an occasionally melodramatic live-action version of Rick & Morty); Justified (I have serious man-crushes on Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins); Breaking Bad; The Wire; and of course, the Sopranos. My all-time favorite is probably The Shield--it has arguably the best final season and best series finale of any show, ever, and it definitely belongs in the same conversation as BB, Sopranos, and The Wire when discussing all-time best television dramas. Lest you mistake my penchant for gritty dramas for humorlessness, I can assure you I like to laugh sometimes, too--I love that South Park is relevant again after muddling through its largely forgettable middle seasons, and seeing Daria get a second life through streaming services makes me feel better about the world in general.
(As far as unintentional comedy goes, I'll cop to having hate-watched the shit out of Dexter and the last two seasons of Sons of Anarchy.) Also, too: Arrested Development; Adventure Time; Shin Chan; Wonder Showzen; The Thick of It; Rick & Morty; and anything with Timothy Olyphant, Jeremy Davies, Walton Goggins, or William Fichtner. I'm also a sucker for those National Geographic or Discovery Channel shows of a theological or outer-space nature--when cable with DVR was a thing people actually paid for, I used to like to record space stuff so I'd always have something to watch when stoned. Munchies for the eyes, if you will.
Moon; Go; Heat; In Bruges; In the Loop; Ghostbusters; Donnie Darko; Die Hards 1 & 3; Alien; Aliens; South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut (more movies should have exchanges like, "Well, Philip, I hope you learned something through this whole experience." "I did, Terrance. I learned that you are a boner-biting, dick-fart fuckface."). And while I really really REALLY don't like Forrest Gump, AT ALL, I do find the part where he takes off running, just for the hell of it, with no destination or goal in mind, and just does that for several years, incredibly appealing, and I wouldn't rule it out as a potential future endeavor.
Beach House, Radiohead, Cat Power, Beck, Elliott Smith, Animal Collective, Courtney Barnett, Cate LeBon, Sleater-Kinney, St. Vincent, PINS, Kurt Vile, War on Drugs, Caveman, Air, Fiona Apple, LCD Soundsystem, and Tame Impala, to name a few. I also can't leave Neil Young off this list; his 1970s output (especially On the Beach, Tonight's the Night, and Zuma) represents one of the greatest decade-long creative runs in rock history, and I come back to those albums over and over again. I also must note that the blizzard of 2016 finally gave me the opportunity to deep-dive into Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk" reissue, and it forced me to seriously reconsider my reflexive opinion that "Rumours" is their undisputed masterpiece. Still not sure where I ultimately come down on this question--it's pretty hard to argue with "Storms" or "Sara." Unless, of course, your counterargument is "Dreams."
I can't stand Sleigh Bells. There, I said it. It's Jock Jams for Hipsters.
What I'm most interested in these days is food that is innovative, fairly vegetable-forward, and which, most importantly, makes me wonder, "How did they make that?" So in that sense, as far as my own cooking goes, I like projects--trying to recreate a favorite dish from the Red Hen, for instance, or using the template of Mike Isabella's pepperoni sauce to create something similar, but also entirely different and my own. Recently, I made smoked carrot "lox" to use in one of my Supper Club dishes, which was a fun (and frankly, kind of mind-blowing) way to work with carrots. Mostly, my tendencies run low and slow--think gulyas, bolognese, roasts, etc.--when time permits. When it does not, I gravitate toward things I could cook in my sleep, like puttanesca. Or sometimes I just get really lucky (thrice so far, as it turns out), wander into Bad Saint on a whim, and get myself a seat in the window without having to wait.
- My bike. Bethany gets me where I need to go. She's the anti-WMATA.
- The pork cheek ramen add-on at Toki Underground. SWOON. The road to my heart is paved with pork products of all kinds, but it's the cheek that is truly the apple of my eye. I could go on indefinitely like this, waxing rhapsodic about the most delectable bits of porcine anatomy, but I'll stop here, before I mix my metaphors to the extent that I've inadvertently written a Thomas Friedman column.
- Ice cream. While the way to my heart is very often through my stomach (see above), I don't really have much of a sweet tooth. I cannot be swayed by pie or cupcakes or by baked goods generally, unless they've got weed in them. But I will never turn down ice cream. When I visit home in the summer, I can't ever tell if I'm happier to see my parents or to see a Dairy Queen. OK, that's not true--I actually can tell. It's the Dairy Queen.
- Books. Half the reason I've stayed put in my day job as long as I have is continuous access to a steady stream of new, and more importantly, free reading material. In physical form. I have a Kindle, but I'm not ready to abandon print just yet.
- Long-distance runs. I've seen more of this city on foot than any other means of transit.
- You can teach me something about Hungarian language or cooking. (Or better yet, both.)
- Your favorite Christmas movie is "Die Hard."
- You think "The Greatest Story Ever Told" refers not to the life of Jesus Christ as depicted by George Stevens, but to the story of the 1986 New York Mets as chronicled by Jeff Pearlman (but you aren't a Mets fan).
- Just kidding. It's OK if you're a Mets fan.
- You are Sigourney Weaver circa 1979-1986 and have time-traveled to the present.
- You are present-day Sigourney Weaver.
- All or none of the above apply. Surprise me.
- You've tried the best, and now you're ready to try the rest.