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The New York Times is an institution that attracts careerists, who are drawn to power and access. This gave me a kind of a free hand. The kind of work that I wanted to do, most of the other reporters didn’t want to do. I was not doing lunch. I was not sucking up to officials. I was writing from the street.
Well I’ve made no secret of my life long love of MAD Magazine, it’s probably my first and greatest influence in terms of my comic sensibilities. I’ve known John [Ficarra] for many years, and we’ve been friends. About four or five months ago, at a dinner in New York, John made the very nice offer of my being guest editor for an issue of MAD and I thought about it for about half a nanosecond and decided that was a pretty good idea.
Music is real; it’s something you can touch and feel. It moves you – the bass literally shakes you and rocks you from the inside. Music makes your soul feel amazing while you’re performing it. It’s not air, it’s not wind, it’s not anything like that. It’s solid. It’s thick. It’s like summertime in New York.
The fact that the infrastructure is falling apart is not necessarily because it’s built poorly. The New York City subways were built in 1903. The fact that they’re still running at all is an enormous success. The fact that New York City’s bridges have held up as long as they have is extraordinary, and the engineers didn’t have computers to tell them about tolerance. They overbuilt these things – traffic on them is like an ant on an elephant.
It’s not enough to celebrate the ideals that we’re built on, liberty and justice and equality for all. Those just can’t be words on paper, the work of every generation is to make those words mean something, concrete in the lives of our children. And we won’t get there as long as kids in Baltimore or Ferguson or New York or Appalachia or the Mississippi delta or the Pine Ridge reservation believe that their lives are somehow worthless.
It was also incredibly serendipitous that I would later learn I shared a birthday with Whoop [Goldberg ]. I went on to be inspired by many other artists and forms of art, and was soon directed to a place that would help harness my experiences and develop my voice within the craft, LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts in New York City.