Best Of

Joel Tudor


Part-Time New Yorker Since 1998

So, you’re a part-time New Yorker. Where do you live when you’re here?

In the West Village. It was a friend’s place, and when she left she just handed it over to us. It’s pretty sweet, especially knowing what it’s like to go through the hell of looking for a place in New York. People in California have no idea. There, you can find a place in a day. Here, you could spend two weeks and find shit.

How else do they compare?

Being in New York just makes me realize how plain and segregated California is. In New York, it’s like bam! Everyone’s together. Also, it’s really cool to see how much my son picks up during the time in the city. He loves to walk around and talk to people. Everything moves so fast here, he’s gotta keep up. In California nobody walks around. Even a bike is like crazy. You’re just in cars all the time.

How long have you been a New Yorker?

I made my first jump here when I was 17 or 18. I worked for Diesel for seven years.

Doing what?

Surfing. The owner has two kids, and I was basically their private project. He gave them a division to develop, so they would learn how to do everything themselves.

What division was it?

55 Diesel. Their sportswear stuff. I was an endorsed athlete. I did ads and designed a few T-shirts and stuff. We did all kinds of crazy things.

Ah. Gotcha. Was it fun?

Yeah, it was crazy—are you kidding me? Any excuse to spend more time in the city. I mean, I’ve traveled all over the world to surf. I’ve been to all these exotic locations and done all this stuff, but the city is just right there with it. It’s just a different kind of beauty.

How do you like surfing in New York?

Surfing in New York is great. The first time I came, I didn’t even go into the city. I went straight to Long Island. It tripped me out! Everything in California is so new. Long Island was like the real deal, with stuff that’s like 100 years old. Rockaway’s awesome. There’s all types out there. Puerto Rican flags flying, kids on Boogie boards. The waves are a little better in Montauk, though.

Do you ever surf here during the winter?

Actually, I got an incredible swell this winter, in January, I think. It was about 40 degrees air temperature and 30 in the water. That’s another level of cold, man. Those guys are hardcore. I take my hat off to them. You’re fighting the misery, but it’s worth it. What’s really interesting is how much the beach culture has changed here. I’ve really seen it transformed over the years. When I first went out, it was dead.

What are some of your favorite places in the city?

New York’s got the lockdown on the best food. I’ve been everywhere, and New York craps on everything. I’ve been a vegetarian forever, and it’s the best. My favorite is Kate’s on 4th and B. It’s like a dirty rocker grungy vegetarian spot. I eat at Zen Palate a lot too. I’m boycotting Magnolia Bakery, though. I’m sick of the lines. There’s always like $50,000 worth of handbags coming down my block to eat cupcakes. All it took was one episode of Sex and the City, and now they have a bouncer at the door.

Describe a perfect day in New York.

The thing with the city is that it’s just what happens. Like, you can’t plan a fantasy day because the great thing is how random it is. You’ll be with your friends, just walking down the street. You had a beautiful lunch and you’re just hanging out, and then you stumble across a free Lionel Richie concert.

Did that happen to you?

Yeah. Not that I’m a huge Lionel Richie fan, but we just heard that song [sings “All Night Long.”] And we were like, is someone playing Lionel Richie? But it was Lionel Richie. It’s not a perfect day, but it just goes to show how much shit is going on every day that you can just stumble on.