The Vices of the Virtuous

by |
05/13/2009 4:00 AM |

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

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

Smoking has been a part of my life off and on for 20 years. When I’m smoking, I’m a pack-a-day smoker, or thereabouts; I usually have a four-to-eight month window to smoke like that before I can’t
stand it anymore and get disgusted with it enough to quit. This is (or,
has been so far) relatively easy for me, when I consider the hell
some of my friends who still smoke, or have quit, talk about. A
friend of mine attributes my ease with this to profound self-hatred and
some form of martyromasochistic impulse, but what does he know? He’s
not a doctor after all. 

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

“Definitely my TV consumption varies — I think I’m
probably happiest when I’m watching just a little, though once in a
while I just seem to need to totally “veg” and watch way too much. That
can be fun too, but only to a point! Last week, for example, I went off
the Channel 13 and onto reality shows: America’s Next Top Model
and Survivor — both of which I had been avoiding getting
hooked into this season. It was pretty fun for me to watch them,
though! I never miss new episodes of Gossip Girl — that is
a guilty pleasure! When I can, I watch Dancing with the Stars.
Also if I’m home sometimes I’ll watch Jeopardy and once in a
while Wheel of Fortune! On 13, I’ll watch movies and specials
like the current We Shall Remain, about Native Americans.
Growing up, we watched a fair amount — The Brady Bunch and
The Partridge Family and cartoons on Saturday mornings…”

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
. 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…

…Valium is one of them, which combines nicely with pork
buns (obviously). I also think I take too many naps, but maybe that’s
not really a vice. Also, cigarettes help me to deal with the kids. I
also really enjoy drinking whiskey out of the bottle; I think it makes
me look tough.”