John Lee and Vernon Chatman (2008)

Arts & Entertainment

New Yorkers for Over 10 Years

Where do you live?

Vernon: [Gives his address in the East Village.]
John: Hey, doesn't your buzzer say 5C on it?
Vernon: Yeah, you might have to wiggle your finger to get the buzzer to work.
John: I wiggle my whole body when I come over.
Vernon: Also, I keep my door unlocked, and I don't trust banks, so I keep my money in coffee cans. I keep my coffee in my wallet.

John, where do you live?
John:The shit-hole part of Williamsburg.
Vernon: You live on the corner of Not the Cool Part of Williamsburg and Help Me.

What are some of your favorite places in New York?
John: Vernon's favorite place is Kim's Video. He's always rushing toward it in fear of late fees.
Vernon: Cake Shop is a good place. It's the megalopolis of coffee, cupcakes, indie rock, and music venues. If they served Chinese food and showed movies all night . . .
John: What would you do? What would you shit?
Vernon: I'd shit a golden egg.
John: I have some favorite treat places. I spend all of my time at the Shake Shack and Jacques Torres. Too much time, I think. The secret of the Shake Shack is that they put a slice of pie in a shake. You have to ask them and they'll do it. It's like a speakeasy. You have to know the secret knock. They should start putting a slice of cake in a shake. I'm going to give them that.
Vernon: They should put a shake inside a slice of cake.
John: But the Shake Shack is so nice. They smile and hand you napkins and stuff. It's really refreshing to be treated like a yuppie—or a human being, I guess.
Vernon:Nothing is more refreshing than waiting 90 minutes for french fries with cheese sauce on them.
John: Blue Smoke is really good too. Everything there is incredible. It's Danny Meyer. And they have cheese fries there too. That's his hook. They have handmade ribs there. Hand-stroked.
Vernon: I like Tsampa. The Tibetans know about "the more salt, the better it is." They know that secret.
John: Also, Vernon loves the Bowery Poetry Club. He was the poet laureate of the Internet.
Vernon: I think I shut it down with a pretty scathing sonnet. You should go there at like 3 a.m. and knock on the door. Eventually someone opens it. And that's when it really gets good.
John: Augenblick Studios in Brooklyn—they're the best animators in the city.
Vernon: They're so good, it's annoying. Other places are like, "people will know that's a dog" and you're like, "but that looks like an eagle."
John: At Augenblick they care. There are actual tears in the animation.

Which one of you has a dog?
John:I do. How'd you know that?

I heard him barking. So what are some good places to take a dog?
John: My dog has vestibular old dog's disease. One day he couldn't walk all of a sudden, and we freaked out. We brought him to the Animal Medical Center all the way on the Upper East Side, and he saw a dog orthopedist. That's impressive. I mean, that's a pretty specific thing to want to become.

And now he can skip and jump and everything?
John: Yeah, now Mr. Little Jeans is amazing. He has five legs.
Vernon: Five delicious legs.
John: Most dog parks are disgusting. And they're a good place to meet assholes. It's like, your dog is attacking a human, but hey, we're at the dog park! It's also a fantastic place to pick up a new disease.
Vernon: It's like a gay bathhouse for dogs.
John: We take all our meetings at the café in the American Girl store.
Vernon: Yeah, like when we have to meet with some people so they can tell us our show is canceled or whatever, we bring them there and have afternoon tea.
John: Then you feel perfectly like a lady.
Vernon: What else? What about some local bands we like?
John: There's Lumber Rob—he's the best band around.
Vernon: He's like Aphex Twin meets Bobby McFerrin.
John: He's like a one-man party in your mouth. In the mouth of your ear.
Vernon: We like Japanther. When you're riding your bike around, smashing Hummers with a baseball bat, there's nothing like listening to Japanther.
John: I think Philip Seymour Hoffman is a really good actor.
Vernon: Gordon Lish. You have to put him in. He's our favorite New Yorker. He was the fiction editor at Esquire.
John: He's the best thing about New York. And the peanut butter cookies at City Bakery.

What would a perfect day in the city be like?
Vernon: Floating along Second Avenue and turning into a fine mist, which then goes up to the sun and turns into a hologram, which reflects back an eagle, which shoots back to Stomp, which has three shows on Saturdays.
John: And maybe a cookie also.


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