Who are you? We answer that question every day, in the things we say, the work we do, the people and places we surround ourselves with, and, yes, even the Instagram photos we post and the messages we tweet.
This November issue—“hanging ten” at the edge of 2012—speaks to identity. Through each person’s voice we’re reminded of the truisms that rule our lives, that inspire and challenge us.
For our column “20 Questions With...,” former New York Giant and now morning-talk-show talking head Michael Strahan quoted some advice from his dad, which he says shaped his own identity. It’s a take on “If it were easy, anyone could do it”—take a look and see if you agree.
Kate White, who recently left the helm of Cosmopolitan magazine, comments that a typical New Yorker’s complaint of “I’m so busy!” is, in the end, “a self-fulfilling prophecy.” And, she adds, “Don’t be a bitch to stress—you’ve got to be the one controlling it.” White, along with our esteemed contributor Holly Peterson, explores the challenges of being a woman in the workforce. “We have to create cultures that don’t make us feel like we can’t take care of our kids and still be successful,” she says.
Amen to that, thinks this mother of three.
Next up is my old friend of 20 years—and now big-shot Late Night With Jimmy Fallon comedian—Seth Herzog, who penned “Strange Bedfellows” for our back page. When I first met “Zog,” I’d heard about his small apartment (in what’s now the Ace hotel) from friends—and sometimes girls… I knew the space, which was the subject of the 2001 film Zog’s Place, was tiny. But it wasn’t until I read his piece that I really grasped how much his identity—and hilarity—are wrapped up in that tiny rhombus-shaped room he inhabited for more than a decade. “When it was evident that a sleepover was about to happen,” he writes, “I’d prep my guest by saying, ‘I live in a really small space. Really small. Whatever you’re thinking—halve it.’” Funnier still is that he now sometimes finds himself sitting on his sofa reaching for something that isn’t anywhere within range. In his old pad he could reach everything from his sofa. Now that’s small. And funny.
The best answer to the question, “Who are you?” in this issue was given by Alvin Ailey veteran Mo Asca, who, in Harry Hurt’s daring and funny “Tough Guys Do Dance,” says of his dance company: “We try to break stereotypes by being a mirror of society.” A lofty goal they reach every time they step out onto that stage.
In our Voyeur section you’ll find humorous quotes from Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and George Clooney, all of whom I spoke to at the dinner for Affleck’s film, Argo. I even met Sting, who happens to be my teen hero (“Roxanne” rules my playlist to this day) who, as a Brit, doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, even though he’s lived on Central Park West for 20 years. Instead, he explained, “We celebrate Ungrateful Day, where we complain about everything—the government, the weather...” He’s more of a New Yorker than he thinks.
What’s my point? That, ultimately, the biggest factor in determining who you are is simply who you think you are. After all, perception is often reality in this, our Manhattan culture. So please, enjoy reading about this month’s collection of characters who’ve certainly shaped themselves well. Read on.
P.S. We welcome submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org for our Fictionist section.