On Tuesday, I wrote about Supreme, the men’s clothing brand/skate shop, at The New Yorker. Actually, I wrote about a store in the basement of a mall in Chinatown whose proprietor pays teenagers to wait online outside of Supreme for up to five days at a time, go in, buy as much merchandise as they can, and bring it back to the store. The store then waits (or, occasionally, doesn’t even wait) until it sells out at Supreme and then puts the merchandise the kids have purchased up for sale at their own store for a lot more money. If you want to go, the address is 15 Elizabeth St. between Canal and Bayard. Down the escalator, make a right, go all the way to the end.
About two and a half years ago I stopped writing this blog regularly to write a movie about a summer job I had one time. I didn’t know if the script would actually ever be turned into a movie, but I was out of ideas to blog about and having the movie to write seemed like a sensible reason to sign off. Anyway, in August, the movie started shooting and the shoot lasts until the end of September. It’s being produced by some of the producers of The Kids Are All Right and stars Josh Brener (see photo below), Alexandra Daddario, rapper Kitty, Paul Iacono, novelist Tao Lin, and other actors who you would recognize if you’ve seen The Sopranos or House of Cards. It’s called “Unreachable by Conventional Means.” Here is “me”:
Anyway, on the night of Friday, September 6th (in two days), they’re shooting a party scene. It’s a pretty big scene in the movie. All of the actors listed above will be there. And I want you to be there (if you want).
It will be like an actual party, with standing around and music and stuff, except there will be like 30 people walking around and adjusting lighting and telling you that you look great. It will increase your confidence 80%. There will be free cigarettes (Camel Blue) at the craft services table, so you’ll have something to do with your hands. You will probably meet someone. And your face can be in this indie movie, and when people ask how you two met, you can literally be like, “Have you seen Unreachable by Conventional Means? If you look closely, during the party scene, our meeting is actually immortalized in it.” Or, if you already have met someone but you have some close friends who you want to remember your time with when you were young and hot in New York, hanging out with them at a party in a movie would be a great way to do it.
You have to be at 79 Lorimer Street in Brooklyn at 7:00 p.m., a block away from the Flushing G and a different block away from the Lorimer J/M and a 15-minute walk from the Montrose L. You have to be there on time for continuity reasons. You can’t wear clothing with big logos on it. You can bring as many of your friends as you want, and in the RSVP email you will send to firstname.lastname@example.org, you have to note how many friends you are bringing and what their email addresses are.
So email the second assistant director, email@example.com, with your name and phone number and the names of your unlimited number of guests. You have to RSVP. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. I hope to see you there.
UPDATE: Thanks everyone! We’re full now. Thank you for the RSVPs.
This month in Interview Magazine (pages 38 and 120 specifically) I interviewed novelist Tao Lin whose third novel, TAIPEI, comes out today. For the interview, we talked about using heroin, teaching at Sarah Lawrence, the book, and some other stuff. We went to Resorts World Casino, an enormous casino out by JFK airport in Queens, because people become extremely forthcoming when they’re playing a slot machine. We both lost some money and then had dinner at the steakhouse in the casino. Here is the interview.
TAIPEI is an incredible and confounding book and even if you are really busy at your summer internship and don’t have much time for reading, you should still order the book so people who see you carrying it around will know that you are the kind of person they would want to get to know. They might come up to you in the subway or at a bar and be like, “How do you like that book?” and even if you haven’t started reading it, you can be like, “I haven’t started it yet but did you read the interview with him in Interview?” And they would say, “I did! What a classic interview. And I have the picture of him looking like an action movie star hanging over my bed.” And then you can take it from there. Anyway, here are some of the parts I really liked from the interview:
SHAPIRO: What do your parents do?
LIN: It seems like they just hang out around the house.
LIN: They’re retired now, but my dad was a professor at a college in Orlando. A physics professor. He also started three different companies throughout the last 20 or 30 years, related to laser-eye surgery. He invented one of the techniques for using lasers to correct nearsightedness.
SHAPIRO: Do you speak to your dad?
LIN: We email, like, once every three to five months. Usually, he’ll email me something funny and aloof. He’ll talk about the dog they have. “The dog has been eating a lot. It bites me at night.”
DS: Tell me about teaching your class at Sarah Lawrence. Did you like teaching?
TL: No. The class was called The Contemporary Short Story. It was just really hard because I’m a shy, nervous person, and because I don’t like teaching with “terms.” I didn’t teach them, like, “This is first person, this is second person, this is foreshadowing,” or whatever, so no one probably felt like they were learning anything. But I feel like teaching in that way reduces the concept to a term.
SHAPIRO: How were your student evaluations?
LIN: Maybe half of them liked me.
SHAPIRO: And the other half?
LIN: Thought I was completely incompetent. There would be long silences during class that were my fault. Like, I’d be like, “All right…” and a long time would go by. And I’ll be like “This is my first time teaching,” and I just wouldn’t know what to say.
SHAPIRO: What would you estimate the cost of your drug use is monthly?
LIN: Right now? Let’s say the last year probably on average $300 a month. Wait, that doesn’t seem right, because for a year that would be… No, that seems right, $300 a month.
SHAPIRO: How often do you use heroin?
LIN: Let’s say… For the last two years I’ve probably used it 25 times. If I’m with a girlfriend and we want to, after using it, just sleep. That’s usually the situation. It feels good to sleep on it.
SHAPIRO: Have you had any unsettling experiences with it?
LIN: One time, three months ago maybe, someone else’s drug dealer came to my place, and he had a lot of different drugs. He said one was crystal meth, so we bought it. And it was just me and two other people, and we used it, and I was expecting to have more energy, but instead I couldn’t move and I was face down on my bed. I kept telling the other two people who seemed like they weren’t as affected that I thought I was going to die, but they didn’t believe me so I was just laying there while they did stuff, but I really felt like I was going to die. But then I was fine. I think it was ketamine. They thought I was being lazy, just laying there. And then just two times when I’ve taken too much heroin I’ve thrown for up a long time. That’s it I think.
SHAPIRO: Tell me more about your financial philosophy.
LIN: It seems like for the last ten years, I’ve just been investing in the future. Like, any time I get any amount of money, I take taxis and stuff. I just think, “If I take this taxi, I’ll save ten minutes.” And in 20 years from now, I’ll be able to make like $1,000 in ten minutes. Or $100. But now, it’s only going to cost me three more dollars to take a taxi than to take the subway. I just keep investing in the future, and I haven’t reached the point where I’m not doing that.
Two weeks ago, J. Cole, whose debut album was No. 1 and who just got off tour with Drake, came with me to the American Museum of Natural History to do an interview because his second album is coming out soon and he’s lecturing at Harvard. I chose the museum for the interview because it’s just an amazing place. In this picture, we’re in the Hall of Ornithischian Dinosaurs. Even though I’ve never gotten into J. Cole’s music, I love this interview. Read it at Interview Magazine.
At the end of the summer I left my job at the music television channel where I worked and started law school, which is where I am now (in the library). You may think that people who go to law school are the people who have completely failed professionally after college and who are suckers for paying for a worthless degree that equips you to join a profession that nobody respects with historically bad employment prospects, but I can live with that. Anyway, so last summer I wrote a short book, and over the winter it was edited, and then two weeks ago, I went to a meeting with a publisher.
My book agent met me outside the building. (Many small bloggers have agents because bloggers want to have agents so they feel legitimate, and also so they can tell their parents they just got off the phone with their agents when their parents ask them if they’ve finished sending in their law school applications. Agents want to sign new clients because it doesn’t cost anything to sign an agency agreement, so there’s not much downside.) We took the elevator upstairs. In the elevator, my agent encouraged me to just be myself, which I have tried many times, especially during meetings with publishers, and often it hasn’t worked to my advantage.
In the meeting with the publishers, they asked me some questions about the content of the book, which is very personal. Some questions I thought I answered well, others made me wish I could get a do-over. After the meeting, in the elevator downstairs, my agent said he thought I did a good job, and I told him I thought he did a good job as an agent. On the street outside, I said, “I really liked those people, I hope they offer to buy the book.”
And then on Wednesday morning, I was running through my pretrial adjudication flashcards in the student lounge and my agent emailed me and told me that publishers had made offers on the book, and the publisher we’d just met with had made the best offer. I was very excited, so I called my parents and told them. My mom said she hoped the excitement wouldn’t take my focus off my finals, and my dad said having a book deal would look good on my resume, and then I called my grandma but I got the machine because I think she was in water aerobics class. I texted and called some friends, told three kids in my study group and one of them hugged me, and then got back to my flashcards because I’m in finals right now. But I also wanted to tell you, and say thank you for reading this blog.
So it comes out in 2014. The publishers called it an autobiographical novel. Right now, the title is You’re Not Much Use to Anyone. I think you are going to like it.
I need one of these.
Hey I got these three tickets from work for free to the Warped Tour tomorrow at Nassau Coliseum and I wanted to know if anybody wants them? If you can pick them up at a super secret location in Brooklyn (my apartment) they’re all yours.
On Tuesday I spent the day riding around in a press convoy with Chief Keef, the 17-year-old Chicago rapper who’s brilliantly explained here. He told me about his daughter and had me take the above picture of him. We had a nice day. I wrote about it here:
Exclusive picture of Riff Raff with his pet python Shelly Kapowski and Diplo, in Diplo’s yellow Lamborghini, on their way to a party to celebrate Riff Raff signing to Diplo’s label.
I wrote a very long story about Riff Raff, a rapper who I really admire, for the website Gawker, and you can read it here. Last week he came to my apartment (you can read about in the story) and we went up to my roof and I took pictures of his tattoos for a gallery that’s included with the story. This is a WorldStarHipHop.com tattoo on his left shoulder, which I’d seen before in his videos, but I’d never noticed that little “WORLD RIFF RAFF” tattoo above it. I hope you like the story.
Hey, I mentioned this but a few weeks ago I interviewed Waka Flocka Flame and then after the interview he went outside to meet someone he termed “the homie with the smoke” and this man had unexpectedly set up a microphone in the back seat of his car so Waka freestyled into it, with the guy using Pro Tools on a laptop in the seat next to him. The photographer I was with managed to get a photo of Waka rapping in the back of the car and he just sent it to me and I thought it was too good not to share.
Hey I interviewed Waka Flocka Flame:
Here’s a picture of Waka Flocka looking wide-eyed right before he intentionally startled me by jumping at me and then called me “The Scarecrow” for the duration of our time together because I got startled.
In the back room of a basement club in Chelsea, past the bouncer who mercifully let me in, through the front door and down the stairs, past the coat check and across the dancefloor and down a narrow hallway, I am standing and staring at Lil Wayne through a very thin, almost transparent curtain. There are models and reporters and bottles of liquor and champagne all around me, and smoke in the air and Lil Wayne music playing over the club’s PA. Lil Wayne is the most popular rapper in America and also my personal hero, and right now he’s standing in the encurtained VIP area of this club because he’s here to promote a new line of skateboarding clothes that he either founded or is endorsing. Lil Wayne is wearing all-white Moon Boots that go up to his knees, which he cutely tucks his pants into, and I am watching him as he raps along to a Drake song and extends his arms and dances, like when someone on the new York Jets scores a touchdown and they run around the field impersonating a plane. I am nearly in heaven.
I put my face up against the curtain, staring at Lil Wayne, waiting until the woman guarding the VIP area deigns to let me in to interview him. Lil Twist sits on a couch behind Lil Wayne, laconically drinking out of either a bottle of clear liquor or an exotic-looking brand of bottled water that I’ve never seen before. I incidentally make eye contact with Lil Twist, and he looks at me suspiciously, so I immediately look away because I don’t want him to think I’m being too lurky and have me kicked out of the club. I wish I could assure him that, although I like his raps, I’m not lurking around the VIP because he’s in it, but that might insult his pride more than it would put him at ease, and he’d have me kicked out. From now on, I’ll just try to avoid looking in Lil Twist’s direction.
Anyway, ten minutes ago when I got here, I knew that telling the woman who is guarding the VIP area that I write a semi-active Tumblr, formerly about an indie music website, probably wouldn’t be the kind of professional credential that would make her want to let me into VIP area to interview the most popular rapper in America, so one of the reporters here, who writes for a famous magazine, volunteered to let me interview Lil Wayne for that magazine. And so now I am temporarily in the unpaid employ of a magazine that would never hire me. When the VIP area guard turns away from me, I comb my hair with my hand to try to get my appearance more closely aligned with my impressive fake credential.
Now Lil Wayne is talking to a man who is probably his lawyer but who I prefer to think of as the 60-year-old, mostly bald, loose-suit-wearing newest member of the Young Money family. Lil Wayne stops rapping along to Drake and leans in to hear what this man is saying because he speaks softly. Obviously I can’t hear what they’re saying from ten feet and a curtain away, but when they’re done talking, Lil Wayne smiles and laughs. This guy is probably Lil Wayne’s new lawyer because on Tha Carter IV’s Nightmares of the Bottom, Wayne says, “If I knew I was going to jail, I would have fucked my attorney.” I think, if Lil Wayne’s new lawyer did his due diligence and listened to the new Lil Wayne album, he must know he’s on thin ice.
Now Lil Wayne has stopped talking to the lawyer and is pogoing in his all-white Moon Boots. He pogoes around the VIP area for a while until, I guess, he gets tired out. Then he drinks some water.
A man comes out from behind the VIP curtain and walks up to me and looks me over and goes, “Is it really that serious, son?” I try to understand what he means, like if it’s an existential question or I have a really serious look on my face that I didn’t realize, but I can’t, so I say, “What do you mean?” He says, “Leanin’ up against the curtain like that? Is it really that serious that you gotta do that?” I show him my Lil Wayne tattoo, my only tattoo, and he looks shocked, and then laughs, and then gives me a high-five that turns into a handshake, and says, “Aight, you aight, I got you,” and then he walks back into the VIP area. I am watching Lil Wayne as he adjusts his fitted cap, which is a whopping size 8 (to accommodate his dreads) and says “Sorry I’m Fresh” in big gold embroidered letters on the front, and “And You’re Not” on the back. A model bumps into me and I mumble an apology, and then she wanders into the VIP area.
Fifteen minutes later it looks like my chance of interviewing Lil Wayne is starting to dwindle. The woman guarding the VIP says that Lil Wayne is taking a break from doing interviews and then I realize the party ends in like twenty minutes. I wonder, “Is Lil Wayne running down the clock on this promotional appearance?” My heart sinks a little and I think about texting my Mom about this near-miss because I’ve spent a lot of plane and car rides trying to get her into Lil Wayne (she likes M.I.A. and one Young Jeezy song), but there’s no service down in this basement so I can’t.
Suddenly, a man emerges from the VIP area and whispers something to the woman guarding it. She looks at me and touches my arm and goes, “Okay, I need you,” and then looks at some reporters from Teen Vogue behind me and says, “And you and you and you,” and then she pulls us all inside the VIP area! I have passed through the pearly gates!!
Now my palms are clammy and my heart is almost racing because Lil Wayne is standing four feet from me as the reporters from Teen Vogue interview him. I turn to my left and Lil Wayne’s manager Cortez Bryant (and co-star of the documentary about Lil Wayne) is standing there, looking me over. He’s wearing small tortoiseshell glasses and we smile at each other and I go, “Hey Cortez! I’m David!” Cortez Bryant smiles and shakes my hand and asks me how I am doing, and I say, “Dude, I don’t even know how to tell you how excited I feel right now.” I want to tell him that it feels like my whole life is building to the moment when I get to interview Lil Wayne, but that seems needlessly dramatic, so I just finish by saying, “I’m pretty nervous.” He understands.
A waiter carrying a tray of pieces of tuna tartare on little toasts comes up to us and a guy standing next to Cortez says to him, “Yo, you gotta try this.” Cortez shakes his head and his friend insists and Cortez jokingly says, “This? Are you settin’ me up?” by which I think he means setting him up to be killed in a poisoned food assassination, so that maybe the other guy could usurp the throne of being Lil Wayne’s manager/confidant, or just setting Cortez up to eat something that tastes weird as a prank. But Cortez acquiesces and eats the tuna. He likes it, and he looks at me expectantly, as if to ask, “Do you want to try one of these tiny tuna steaks too?” but I shake my head. I could never eat a piece of tuna tartare on a little toast at a time like this, lest my breath smell like cat food when I talk to Lil Wayne.
The Teen Vogue reporters finish interviewing him and then it’s my turn. I turn the recorder (that the person from the magazine lent me) on and take two steps towards Lil Wayne. He reaches out and shakes my hand and introduces himself, and I can’t stop smiling, standing there looking down into the face of the greatest rapper to ever do it. His diamond grill is shimmering, he’s covered in tattoos (I wonder if he has any Lil Wayne tattoos? Like how Bukowski used to wear that shirt with a big picture of his own face on it), and his face has even more of that uniquely lizardly quality in person.
I ask, haltingly, “Are you working on Tha Carter V?” Lil Wayne starts saying something and then Cortez Bryant leans in and goes, “Only questions about [the skate clothing brand Lil Wayne is here to promote].” I nod vigorously but Lil Wayne shakes his head, and then Lil Wayne reaches up and puts his arm around me and turns us both around, so we’re not facing Cortez Bryant, and leans towards me and tells me that he’s not working Tha Carter V yet, but that he’s working on something else. Lil Wayne is in open defiance of Cortez Bryant, and on my behalf! I hope this isn’t the straw that breaks the camel’s back of their troubled relationship…
For a second I can’t remember my next question, and Lil Wayne stands there looking expectant, and then thankfully I remember it: “What will you do after rap?” Lil Wayne doesn’t even think about it: “I’m gonna focus on being the best father I can be.” That was an easy one — obviously these aren’t the questions I would personally ask, but I’m here on assignment from a prestigious magazine, so I’m trying to keep it broad.
Then Lil Wayne releases me from the fraternal shoulder hold and I am again facing Cortez Bryant, who I don’t wanna cross twice, so I ask my final, two-part question: “What skate clothes do you wear? Do you wear Supreme?” Supreme is the skate clothing brand popularized nationally by Odd Future last summer, but it was locally very popular for like 15 years before that, including when I was in college and coveted it most. Lil Wayne tells me about how he skated in the big skating bowl inside the Supreme store in LA. I think about showing him this sick polar fleece Supreme hat I have, and maybe seeing if he wants to trade his “Sorry I’m Fresh” hat for my Supreme hat, but I remember I checked my bag and my hat’s in my bag. Crud.
Then I am out of questions! And almost out of time, according to how Cortez Bryant is looking at me. Light glints off of Lil Wayne’s eyebrow ring, and he looks at me and smiles as a Lil Wayne song plays over the club’s PA. I put the recorder down and look at Lil Wayne and say, “I also just wanted to tell you that you really inspire me,” and Lil Wayne smiles, and then I show Lil Wayne my Lil Wayne tattoo, and his eyes widen and he starts grinning and then starts laughing. He reaches out his hand and starts shaking my hand, which I suspect concludes our interview, but then he pulls me in for a hug and hugs me for maybe five seconds, which doesn’t sound like that long but, to put it in perspective, light travels 931,411 miles in five seconds.
He releases me from the hug and I go, “I’m Jewish, so if my Dad knew I had this tattoo, he would kill me!” Lil Wayne laughs again and then says these magical words:
"Yo, we gotta hang out! Why don’t you give my secretary your phone number?"
I nod and Lil Wayne beckons a woman in her mid-twenties, who stands up from the couch she was on, near Lil Twist, and comes over to us and Lil Wayne tells her to put my name and phone number into a Blackberry Bold 9900 that’s maybe Lil Wayne’s phone, which she does.
And then Lil Wayne and I shake hands and say goodbye, and he starts doing another interview as I float through the VIP section, out of the curtains, and over to the bar, where I find K, get myself a glass of champagne and sit down with her on a leather bench in the back of this basement club. I tell her that Lil Wayne asked me for my phone number, and it was like being knighted, finding $20 in the wash, and momentarily reaching that ecstatic peace that monks reach when they meditate for a really long time, all in one.
We reflect on the likelihood of Lil Wayne actually calling me to hang out, and we agree that it’s likelier than The Notorious B.I.G. calling me to hang out, for sure, but probably not by much. I think I am okay with this because, as they say, “It’s an honor just to be nominated (to be an acquaintance of Lil Wayne, possibly as a circuitous way for him to end an interview).” Half an hour later we leave the club and I float down the street in Chelsea, really happy to be in New York for, I guess, and not to end it on too mellow a note, maybe the first time in a long time.
Sent via Blackberry
Update 1/27/12: Still no call, patiently waiting by the phone.
Update 2/2/12: No call, giving up hope.
Update 2/28/12: Got a missed call from an unknown number, assuming it was him. Waiting for call back.
I’m putting out a zine! It’s called The World’s First Perfect Zine, costs $12, and was printed in a run of 500 copies. The contributors are as follows:
Dylan Baldi is the sole songwriter and recording member in the band Cloud Nothings.
Rostam Batmanglij is a musician and songwriter in the bands Vampire Weekend and Discovery.
Pete Berkman is the lead songwriter in the band Anamanaguchi.
Joe Coscarelli is an assistant editor at New York Magazine’s Daily Intel blog.
Lena Dunham is a filmmaker.
jj is a Swedish pop group.
Tao Lin is a novelist.
Ryan O’Connell is an editor at Thought Catalog.
Maureen O’Connor is a staff writer at Gawker.
Choire Sicha is the editor of The Awl.
Himanshu Suri is a rapper in the band Das Racist.
Bucky Turco is the editor of Animal New York.
Victor Vazquez is a rapper in the band Das Racist.
Mike Vilensky is a staff writer at The Wall Street Journal.
Jenna Wortham is a staff writer at The New York Times.
You can order it online here. It’s now sold out. If you ordered a zine and you still haven’t received it, email email@example.com. If you live in/visit New York, you can still get a copy at Strand Bookstore, but they have one a handful of copies, so I’d call ahead to see if they have any left.
Tumblr threw a release party for the zine, with an open bar (god bless them), on November 16th from 7:00 to 9:00 at Other Music in Manhattan.
The zine also has a small, private, password-protected Tumblr of supplemental content (photos, interviews, stories) which you can get the password to by ordering the zine online (I’ll email it to you), emailing firstname.lastname@example.org if you bought it in person, or finding the answer to this riddle, which is the password:
What is the first name of the girlfriend of the director in the only 9-minute official music video (presently unavailable in the United States due to copyright issues) by the band whose original guitarist’s older brother was previously in a band whose two other members went on to form a band whose most recent album’s first single prominently features a sample from a song by a now-defunct band whose percussionist is named John Braddock, nicknamed “Dutch”?
Okay, that’s it, see you later!