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Thursday, September 28, 2006
92YQ: Michelle Goldberg

Michelle GoldbergTraveling a hyperbolic trajectory from Buffalo to Brooklyn (and many points outside of it), Michelle Goldberg has made a name for herself as a senior writer for covering everything from pop culture to politics. Her first book, Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, will be the focus of her October 5 discussion at the 92nd Street Y with Abe Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai Brith. You can read an excerpt here and she offers more of its insight with this Gothamist interview that you should definitely read. Here’s her take on being a New Yorker.

Michelle Goldberg, Writer

How many years, apartments and what neighborhoods have you lived in NYC?
I lived in a horrible share in Park Slope for a year when I was 18. Then I left the city to finish college (SUNY at Buffalo) and graduate school (Berkeley). I stayed in San Francisco for a while and then spent a year traveling around Asia. Five years ago I returned to Brooklyn and moved into my current apartment in Cobble Hill, a neighborhood I hope I never have to leave.

What’s your best (or worst) NYC taxi story?
It might be a stretch, but it’s the best I can do:

In May of 2003, I was in Amman, Jordan and planning to go to Baghdad. At the time, there were no flights, so you had to drive there. I’d met up with some other journalists, and one of them was supposed to find us drivers, but somehow he never ended up doing it. None of us had a fixer to arrange the trip for us, and we were trying to figure out what to do. The journey, if I remember correctly, was around nine hours through the Sunni triangle, and even though it was much, much safer then, you still wanted to be with someone trustworthy. Luckily, my friend Adam remembered that the Jordanian owners of Ziad’s deli on Smith Street had told him to look up their brother if he needed anything in Amman. The brother ended up taking care of everything, and our drivers delivered us to Baghdad safe and sound.

What era, day or event in New York’s history would you like to re-live?
This is going to sound morbid, but I’ve always regretted not being in New York in the days after September 11. I was in India, and it didn’t make sense for me to rush back, but I wish I could have experienced the disaster-heightened solidarity of that time for myself.

Describe that low, low moment when you thought you just might have to leave NYC for good.
I was an 18-year-old intern at Spin Magazine and I was taking a big bag full of unwanted records to sell to Bleecker Bob’s—at the time, a crucial source of income for me. It was winter, and it was a dark, freezing evening. I was standing on a downtown corner, waiting for the light to change. Out of nowhere, a laughing homeless man with a long grey beard came up and punched me in the face. I fell to the ground, the light turned green, and most of the people around me crossed the street. My attacker walked away, cackling. Two kind women picked me up and gave me the number of their self-defense instructor.

Who do you consider to be the greatest New Yorker of all-time?
Susan Sontag.

What was your best dining experience in NYC?
My first time at Jewel Bako.

With a nod to Milton Glaser, how much do you really love New York?
Less than I love my husband, but more than I love just about anything else.

Of all the movies made about or highly associated with New York, what role would you have liked to be cast in?
That’s hard, because the best parts are rarely written for women. The first thing that comes to mind is the Clive Owen character in Spike Lee’s Inside Man.

What happened the last time you went to L.A.?
I’ve been to LAX, but I’ve never been to L.A. That should probably embarrass me more than it does.

If you could change one thing about New York, what would it be?
Housing prices, of course.

The End of The World is finally happening. What are you going to do with your last 24 hours in NYC?
I’d buy or steal as many white truffles as possible, and I’d serve them to my friends with pasta and lots of butter. I’d gorge on Laboratorio del Gelato ice cream, then I’d take a box of chocolates and a few bottles of champagne and find a place on the Brooklyn promenade to watch everything happen. I’d hold on to my husband. And I’d probably start smoking again.

[The Rise of Christian Nationalism in America with Michelle Goldberg and Abraham Foxman: 10/5/06]

Next Week at the Y: Lynn Sherr with Lesley Stahl: 10/3/06

Previous 92YQs: Arianna Huffington, Francis Morrone and Sydney Pollack

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