Eleanor and Matt Friedberger (2008)

Arts & Entertainment

New Yorkers Since 2000

Where do you currently live?
Eleanor: Greenpoint.
Matt: Prospect—Lefferts Garden, just south of the (Brooklyn) Botanic Garden.

When you're not on tour, how do you like to unwind in the city?
Eleanor: I spend a lot of time at home, actually. Or I'll go over to a friend's house or ride a bike. My bike was actually stolen—but some friends found a bike in the garbage and fixed it up for me. I like to ride up along Vernon Boulevard, go to Socrates Sculpture Park. They have this thing in the summer: always a different film from each country, and they have music and food corresponding to the country as well. Unlike those other places [that show outdoor movies] like Bryant Park, it's not too packed. People who don't live nearby don't usually go, and that's fine with me.
Matt: I like to go hang out in Chinatown and go to the statue of Commissioner Lin. It's on Bowery, in that little square thing. Chatham Square, I think it's called? Commissioner Lin was a South Chinese official in the Opium War against the British. He impounded opium—a losing cause, obviously, 'cause the British and their opium won. But there's a statue of him, and it says, "Pioneer in the War on Drugs." [So] I like to visit, have a conversation with him: "How's it going? Can you teach me any Cantonese swear words?" That kind of thing.

Describe a perfect New York day. What would you do?
Eleanor: I would maybe go to the Garden, this grocery store in Greenpoint that is the best thing about Greenpoint. I would go get some bread, have some coffee, ride my bike over the Williamsburg Bridge, and go to a flea market. If the weather's nice, ride along the Hudson River Park.
Matt: Go see Commissioner Lin. Drive over to the beautiful parks in Staten Island, maybe. Take a look at how the garbage dump is proceeding.

What would make New York a better place?
Eleanor: Cheaper rent. I'd love to be able to afford a really nice apartment. More trees than in Greenpoint, where I live.
Matt: A big statue of Roger Toussaint to go next to the statue of Commissioner Lin. Randi Weingarten, the teachers' union head—she could be mayor.

You're having dinner in the city—who would you like to sit down with and where would you eat?
Matt : Commissioner Lin, Alexander Hamilton, and Teddy Roosevelt, at one of the two Goodfellas pizza places in Staten Island. It's as good as Grimaldi's.

Who are some of your favorite New York bands?
Eleanor: The Ramones. More recently, a band called White Magic. There are so many new bands, it's hard to catch up when you're never around.

What's the best thing about playing in New York?
Eleanor: Getting to sleep in my own bed after the show. It's harder [to play in New York], actually, 'cause it's harder to park.
Matt: Besides getting to go home at night? The knowledgeable and beautiful people who come to the show. No, all the NYU students.

Where would you love to play?
Eleanor: I would love to do a Central Park SummerStage show. We've only played once outdoors, and that was Siren fest. Or it would be fun to play in Red Hook—they have all that outdoor space on the water.
Matt: Stuyvesant Cove. It's at maybe 20th and the East River. There's a little beach, and you're not supposed to go in, but you can, depending on the tide. There's sand. A couple of pigeons. You get the noise from the police helicopters—the helipad is not far from there. If only the Beast would come up. That would be perfect.

Who would play at your fantasy New York concert?
Matt: King Kong doing karaoke at the top of the Empire State Building, singing to Bloomberg. He'd sing "Stardust" first, maybe do a little Madonna—do "Like a Virgin." Maybe some Sinatra, "It Was a Very Good Year," you know, a sad one?

What's the best thing about living in New York?
Eleanor: People, really. Every day I see something great, surprising—a funny, outrageous character on the street.
Matt: The best thing about living in New York is . . . New York. You couldn't make it up. It's an amazing, wonderful, one-of-a-kind, soon-to-be-extinct animal. Soon to develop into something that everyone who likes it now can complain that it's not as good as it was.


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