We here at The L Magazine make no real claims to virtue. We are indolent, obsessive, gluttonous, self-indulgent, and altogether expert in corrupted living. This is why we sought out virtuous New Yorkers and asked them what vices they indulge in, mainly to feel better about ourselves. And we do. Feel better. (And we were this close to getting a rabbi to go on record about his love of vodka.)
The Virtuous: Father Gilbert Martinez, of Church of Saint Paul the Apostle on 59th Street.
The Vice: Enjoys fine tequila
"I love tequila! To be sure, I drink tequila in a manner very differently than I did when I was in college and on the job before I went into seminary to become a priest.
While an undergrad student at Berkeley and then as a National Park Ranger at Grand Canyon, me and my buddies drank shots of tequila while clutching a slice of lime and using our hands as salt licks. Someone assured us that the salt-lime ritual was the only authentic Mexican way of drinking tequila. By numbing the strong, gasoline-like flavor, the ritual enabled us to drink multiple shots of tequila. We thought drinking tequila — well, drinking just about anything — was pretty cool.
Today, with some wisdom (I hope!) and experience, I sip and actually taste tequila and appreciate its flavor — it's possible to tell the difference between tequilas! Also, I don't feel the need to drink an entire bottle in one evening. Some vices are only vices when they take over our lives and control us. So, I enjoy a shot or two of tequila as a drink among friends capping off a long, relaxed dinner. I count tequila as a gift from God, something not to be consumed, but to be enjoyed in the company of friends.
The Virtuous: Kristy, nanny to two and volunteer for various projects helping children.
The Vice: Public drunkenness and urination
"By day I am basically raising my boss's two-year-old twins. I spend most of my day singing 'The Itsy Bitsy Spider' and saying things like 'Don't put that in your nose' or 'You guys are doing such a good job sharing.' However, after the long day is over, I like to drink really cheap vodka mixed with Crystal Light and every other word I say is a fucking swear word. The worst part is that I have a really bad habit of getting drunk and peeing in public because I can never hold it and there are no fucking bathrooms New York!"
The Virtuous: Kevin Kash, "Big Brother" since 2003, erstwhile homework helper at the library, a martial arts and theater teacher to kids, and a bodyguard for Ralph Nader.
The Vice: Cigarettes
In my experience, as a person who sometimes acts in words and deeds before thinking it through, the length of time it takes to smoke a cigarette has more than once stood between me saying or doing something I might regret; many's the wiseass of our fair metropolis who has been saved a painful punch in the teeth by my having taken the time (out) to have a cig. Conversely, it has probably saved me from a beating or visit to Central Booking more than once.
The key, my aforementioned friend has told me, is to smoke the cigarette that will save you but not the one that will kill you... put that in your pipe and smoke it. "
The Virtuous: Carolyn McCrory, community gardener in
Coney Island and the East Village
The Vice: Crappy television
The Virtuous: Howard Wu, volunteer at
BARC Animal Shelter.
The Vice: Sweets
"My worst vice is that I am a glutton when it comes to sweets. I work at an animal shelter in an area with various types of cultures, so I end up taking the dogs for long walks in search of new treats at the diverse establishments I find all over.
Recently, I took one of our dogs for a walk all the way out to Bushwick and found myself enamored of some tri-color cookies at a Dominican bakery. They weren't like the Italian kind. These were blue, green and yellow, and huge. I tied my dog to a post outside the bakery — which is against the rules for my shelter, but don't worry, I could see her through the window the whole time — and I bought half a dozen. They were soaked in syrup and absolutely delicious. I thought about offering my faithful companion one, but I reasoned that this wasn't healthy for dogs, so I greedily ate the last one, before we got back to the shelter. Bloated and happy! "
The Virtuous: Hannah is a pre-school teacher, molding
the great minds of tomorrow.
The Vice(s): There are many...
New York City has always been a capital of greed, excess and world-historical indulgence.
May 13, 2009