Tagged :: 8 things you might not know about Matt

As I mentioned at the end of the last post, my friend Rachel LaCour in Atlanta "tagged" me with this internet chain. In the past, I've been accused of being exceedingly grumpy about these kind of reindeer games, but I've turned over a new leaf. As of this moment, I promise to be only marginally grumpy about these things. I will happily divulge eight things you probably don't know about me, though some have been cryptically listed on this very blog for a year now. But for the record, anyone who sends me an internet chain letter, an urban myth that has not been Snopes-tested, or a request to deposit money into a bank account in Congo on behalf of "my relatives, the Mendelsohns of Congo, who died tragically in a car accident outside the petroleum factory they owned" will be ignored as usual.

So here goes, 8 things you didn't know about me:

1) I have never, ever, ever had a cup of coffee in my life. Don't ask. I hated the taste when I was a kid and it never changed. In fact, I can remember my Nanny Kaye, in her little apartment in Miami Beach, circa 1970, giving me a cup of coffee ice cream and me desperately trying to get my brother Eric to eat it. Eric would end up with this duty more often than he probably bargained for-- the time in Shelburne Falls, Mass., when I dumped an entire plate of moussaka into his napkin at a dinner party comes to mind. (And that was long before I would end up marrying a Greek woman.)

2) I am not the world's greatest flyer (an ample understatement), but in in my life have done the following:

a) Twice jumped out of a perfectly good airplane. One was a static line jump from 3,000 feet in college. The whole floor of my dorm did it. I wasn't really thinking; The second time was a tandem free-fall from 10,000 feet above the Mojave Desert. A colleague from work asked me if I wanted to go. I wasn't really thinking.

b) Lay flat on my stomach in the refueling pod of a KC135 tanker looking straight down 27,000 feet. See the "21 in 21" section of the new website for more details.

c) Done loop-d-loops in an open-cockpit biplane piloted by bestselling military thriller author Stephen Coonts (Flight of the Intruder). I was shooting him for USA Today and he asked me if I wanted to go for a ride. I remember having this headset on, through which all I could hear was the sound of static mixed in with a lot of wind. At one point I heard the following:

"Kercrrr kerrrrc chrrrr chrrr-upside-krchr chhrrrr kkrrrttssks?"

I didn't have a chance to decipher any of it before we were completely inverted. Good time, actually.

3) Having grown up on Long Island, and having been properly groomed by my grandfather, I still have a soft spot for egg creams (curiously, there's no egg involved), Mallomars (greatest Nabisco product of all time) and black and white cookies. (Remember, it's a cake cookie; if it's hard as a rock it can't be called a black and white cookie.) I know never to get a shake when one can have a malt instead. And after every wedding, even at 2:00 a.m., I drink a YooHoo, stemming from some perverse good luck ritual.

4) The most embarrassing detail of my childhood--one that still gives me goose bumps--is that in Miss Grywin's 5th grade class at Central Park Road School in Plainview, New York, when all the kids dressed up for the day as their favorite great American (Honest Abe, astronauts, Mickey Mantle), I chose Walt Disney. So there I was with a suit and tie and a fake mustache that looked more der Führer than Uncle Walt. Here come the goose bumps.

5) My favorite movies are:

•Local Hero
•The Red/White/Blue trilogy of Krzysztof Kieslowski
•Breaking Away
•Love and Death
•The Great Escape
•Waiting for Guffman and/or Best in Show.

6) I went to see Star Wars with David Fischer at the Hicksville movie theater the week it came out in 1977. I thought it was okay, I guess, but I've never had a desire to see any of the 97 sequels and prequels since. In fact, each time I catch even a snippet of Natalie Portman walking with Hayden Christensen, both uttering some of the most awful movie dialog of all time, I'm convinced that George Lucas is actually a non-human life form.

7) Every year when July rolls around I turn into a Tour de France junkie, watching each day's telecast at least three times. First comes the live broadcast, followed by the re-broadcast, followed by the evening wrap-up show and re-broadcast. This year, with so many terrible doping scandals, I was convinced that I wouldn't care as much. I didn't miss a day.

8) My uncle Allan gave me my first camera, an Olympus OM-1. I was 13 or so at the time and the fuse was lit. The photograph that put me on the path to where I am now is this one: A man is arrested in the parking lot of a Binghamton, New York supermarket, moments after spray painting anti-war graffiti all over a decommissioned F-15 fighter jet. (The plane was being used as a recruiting tool for the Air Force.) No one from the Binghamton Press was there and I sold my very first image.

Okay, done. Let's see if my old friend Paul Gero will play next. You're it, Paul.

Matt

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