#190: Ezra Marcus
Ezra Marcus on Listening to the Yankees on the Radio, Kid Nation, His 3 Cup Challenge, and more.
Cool people like cool things, which is why we asked Ezra Marcus to share a taste of his taste on Perfectly Imperfect.
Ezra Marcus is a writer based in New York City who you might know as a downtown party DJ or the guy who broke the story about the sex cult at Sarah Lawrence College which eventually led to its leader Larry Ray getting convicted for sex trafficking, extortion, conspiracy, and more. Before he went freelance he covered music at Vice and was an editor at Interview Magazine. These days he’s writing great pieces like the The ‘E-Pimps’ of OnlyFans for The New York Times. Ezra is one of my favorite writers to follow and lucky for us, he’s here to tell us what he’s been into.
Without further ado
There’s two kinds of people: those who think the guy in this video who drives past a burning car while blasting Faye Wong’s cover of the Cranberries’ “Dreams” is saying “BADASS.” Or those who know he’s screaming “PISSSSSSS.”
🎥 Southland Tales
This 2007 cult classic from Richard Kelly has it all: An insane ensemble cast including The Rock, Justin Timberlake, Mandy Moore, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Janeane Garofalo, and Wallace Shawn. An original score from Moby. Nonstop schizzed-out nonsense about the end of the world, quantum entanglement, psychic porn stars, exploding blimps, and, as Timberlake helpfully informs his drug dealer, “angels under a sea of black umbrellas, angels who can see through time.” Then he pours a can of Bud on his head and lip-syncs a Killers song to an arcade full of strippers.
What else is there to do, really?
🚰 3 Cup Challenge
There’s no such thing as a hangover cure, only prevention. So I came up with the Three Cup Challenge: When you get home after a big night out, chug three cups of water before bed. It’s unpleasant but it works, if you commit; my girlfriend sometimes stops at two and it doesn’t hit right. There’s also the minor inconvenience that you will wake up at 5 AM needing to pee in a truly psychedelic way. Worth it, though.
🥚 🍜 Chef Guo’s Restaurant
The best meal in New York under ten dollars, or at any other price point, is the silken tofu topped with diced century egg at this hole-in-the-wall Chinese spot in Elmhurst, Queens. Get the “oil spill noodles” too.
⚾ 📻 Yankees on the radio
Although I grew up an Oakland A’s fan, I started listening to the Yankees on the radio after I got a car two years ago. I get it; the Yankees are capitalism, blah blah blah. But it’s worth it for their play-by-play guy, John Sterling, the Voice Of The Yankees. He has a gorgeous baritone and does these unbelievable home run calls: “All rise, here comes the Judge! Aaron Judge homers to center field, a two-run Judgian blast!” He’s 84 year years old and 33 seasons into his career, so catch him while you still can, every night on WFAN 101.9.
🇮🇪 TJ Byrnes
It’s an Irish pub somehow located in the interior plaza of a FiDi housing complex. The blinds are down; the red vinyl booths are empty. There’s an octagonal painting of the Twin Towers; Tiffany lampshades; a dim back room with stained glass windows; an ancient waiter who wears a suit; a horrific porcelain leprechaun. The wings are pretty good.
One of the few bars in the vicinity to predate 9/11, Byrnes is a holdout against the mass extinction of normal places for normal people to get a drink in the city. For every haunt like Forlini’s that closes we’re treated to half a dozen new TikTok-bait establishments called, like, Ghosted & Fried that serve TUNA POKE WONTON TACOS and MEXICAN STREET CORN RAVIOLI (real menu items at Beauty & Essex) to Syracuse marketing majors in Allbirds. And don’t get me started on the neon signs…Even more insidious are the places like Bernie’s that mimic suburban taverns in order to sell homesick creative directors a plate of five mozzarella sticks for $17. Skip all that, go to Byrnes.
📺 Kid Nation
The year is 2007; reality TV is an unstoppable cultural juggernaut. So they went for it: Survivor with kids. 40 of them, ages 8 to 15, sent to a Nevada ranch (coincidentally the same one where Alec Baldwin would later shoot two people) and left alone to create their own “society.” Split into four teams, they compete in challenges; the losers have to cook and clean for the winners. Each episode the kids vote for one among them to win a $20,000 prize. It went about as well as you’d expect: the show was canceled after a season, one participant was severely injured, and CBS was investigated for child labor law violations. It’s all on Youtube.
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