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.
I am happiest in a pair of running shoes (or not--I have a pair of Five Fingers, although I would never go so far as to wear them out socially). Currently living in the Manor Park neighborhood of NW DC and enjoying long, rambling jogs to everywhere and nowhere (especially along the Sligo Creek trail, 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 and clever 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"). Up again in two weeks; currently paging through my cookbooks and favorite food websites in search of inspiration.
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, 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"; "Actually, Suicide not the Easy Way Out for Area Quadriplegic"; "Nabisco Discontinues Wheat Thicks"; "Jacques Derrida 'Dies'"; "Man's Utter Failure in Life a Bit of a Sore Spot"; "Cute Eight-Year-Old Starting to Realize How Much Better She Is Than Ugly Girls"; "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 fifth season. Almost.)
I'd be remiss if I excluded this profile's namesake, Leonardo Sciascia. "Sicilian Uncles" is my favorite, although his quote-unquote 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 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; Justified (I have man-crushes on Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins); Breaking Bad; The Wire; Sopranos; The Shield (best final season and best series finale of any show, ever; belongs in the same conversation as BB, Sopranos, and The Wire when discussing all-time best television dramas). I like to laugh sometimes, too. I have every season of South Park, and knowing the complete Daria series is available 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: Adventure Time; Shin Chan; Wonder Showzen; The Thick of It; and anything with Timothy Olyphant, Jeremy Davies, or William Fichtner. I'm also a sucker for those National Geographic or Discovery Channel shows of a theological or outer-space nature--when I had cable with DVR, 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.
I've worked in and around live music venues for most of the last 15 years, and there was a period in the middle in which I became really cynical and dismissive, which is pretty easy to do when you don't get to pick and choose which shows you see. Pretty soon you realize that a lot of bands, even really popular and established ones, just aren't that good! But I had some sort of a renaissance a few years back (I credit a friend, whose interest in music and seeing it performed in live settings frankly borders on the fanatical; the idea of *not* going to all three nights of Spoon at the Lincoln would never have occurred to him), and now I see more shows than I did even in college. Don't get me wrong, I'm still of the opinion that many bands are terrible, but that just makes it that much better when one comes along out of nowhere and blows your hair back. (PINS at DC9 comes to mind.)
Anyway, my taste runs the gamut, and picking "favorites" is pretty academic, but if the Most Played on my iTunes is a reliable metric, then right now I'm really into Beach House, Radiohead, Animal Collective, Courtney Barnett, Cate LeBon, Roadkill Ghost Choir, Sleater-Kinney, St. Vincent, Quilt, PINS, Kurt Vile, and Air. I can't leave Neil Young off this list, either; 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 this past February finally gave me the opportunity to deep-dive into the Fleetwood Mac "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.
Pretty much anything, but favorites include pastas and soups. If we're talking specific cuisines, again, I'll eat anything, but I'm particularly partial to Italian, Hungarian, and Thai. But 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 I just call in an order to Toki Underground, watch TV for 20 minutes, then go around the corner to pick up my food and laugh at everybody waiting two hours to get a seat. [Update: since I no longer live in that neighborhood, this is no longer true. I once again number among the unwashed masses sadly waiting to be seated. Although I find myself lately more drawn to Daikaya for my ramen fixes, anyway.]
- My bike. Bethany gets me where I need to go. She's the anti-Red Line.
- 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 on holidays, I can never 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.
- Monday evening long-distance run. It gets my head straight and sets the tone for the week ahead. I honestly look forward to it all day at work like 8-year-old me anticipated Christmas.
- 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.