September/October 1998, p.17

Commuter of the month: Vincent Gallo

Age: 36
Occupation: I'm really a hustler. I don't know how else you'd describe it. I do a few things for money. People recognize me most for my film career, and right now for Buffalo 66. I buy and sell antique and collectible sound equipment and musical instruments.
Neighborhood: Little Italy. New York is one big shopping mall with no roof. I'm in the former Italian section of the mall.
Have you heard of T.A.? Are you a member? No. Because you guys don't put anyone interesting on the cover. I promise you if you put me on the cover and put the magazine around the city, you'll get 10,000 new members. The magazine has no sex appeal, no impact. That's the problem with you left-wing commies - you need to come out with a little charisma.
Philosophy: I am an extreme right-wing conservative. I'm doing this interview because I like bicycles. I wouldn't want people to think I'm a socialist.
How long riding: I got my first bike when I was four years old, and I've used bicycles for transportation ever since. I've never not used a bike as my main form of transport.
Commute: I always ride to the place where my mail is received - about one mile from home. And for at least one meal, I ride to a restaurant. But I tend to ride 100 blocks a day on average and am pretty focused downtown.
Advantages to bicycling: The good thing about bicycling is that, since I'm a public figure, I don't have to interact with people. If I walk from here to West Broadway, 50 people will stop me. On my bike, I can just wave. More public figures should ride bikes. It's a good way to deal with people.
Know other public figures who ride? Francesco Climenti, the artist.
JFK Jr. rides.: He's an asshole, so it doesn't even count. I can name a bunch of assholes who ride bikes.
Downside to bicycling: I get very depressed when I don't have my bike. Especially if it's stolen or broken. It's as severe as living in L.A. without a car.
What about cars? Loving bicycles isn't part of disliking automobiles for me. I love automobiles and automobile racing, car engines and design. All those things are part of what's exciting about the twentieth century. I don't like mining, petroleum, emissions in the air or car crashes, but cars aren't evil.
T.A. does not have an anti-car agenda. We suggest that in New York, where the quality of urban life can be dramatically improved by less traffic, automobile use should be discouraged: The way always to do that with anything is to make one thing - bicycling - attractive and the other thing - automobiles in the city - unattractive. Not by putting labels on everything - good, bad, evil.
Bike: 1949 Schwinn Spitfire. I've had it for 15 years. I had another one, a black Schwinn. That was the one I was hit by a taxi with. It was crushed. In L.A. I have a mountain bike.
Equipment: None. No racks, no gears. It has a kick break. I'm interested in the aerobics of the bike. I'm not interested in making it more efficient. I get more packages than anyone I know. No one can carry more boxes on a bike than me. It's incredible to see.
Theft: I used to have an Italian track bike, a Masi handmade in Milan in '71. I used to love riding a fixed gear around the city. It was stolen. Then I got a Colnago, and it was stolen. Now I have the least attractive bike possible. I'm not buying a nice bike ever again in New York City. If someone wants to steal my $40 bike, good for them.
Lock: NYC Kryptonite U-Lock.
Riding style: I always ride at an even speed, slightly aggressive, but not to the point of making people uncomfortable or making it dangerous for anyone else. I ride for the long term.
Crashes: I've been hit a few times. Two taxis were nearly in a brutal crash once, and one taxi, to avoid the crash, hit me instead. I was dragged for a block and a half and had a broken foot and 40 stitches for various cuts all over my leg. My bike was destroyed and so were the beautiful brand-new Missoni pants that Missoni gave me. I was traumatized. Bike accidents are brutal, but I used to race motorcycles, so it doesn't shake me up as much.
Biking highlights: I have some heavy mountain bike and BMX friends in NYC. Riding girls on my bike is also great.
Reactions: I always think people will think I'm square, but it's such an unpretentious way of living that it's become its own cool. I have a way of pulling it off. Bike geeks are not cool.
Cycling feats: I've gone far fast and surprised myself. Like when I have 10 minutes to get somewhere - there are some shocking tales of speed. But that's when you're reckless. I was doing this thing for a while when you grab onto a truck. For about a year I was into that heavy. Once you get a pull like that, it's hard to let go.
Repairs: I fix my own bike. If you can't fix a bike, you're pretty lame. Bike repair is simple and straightforward. The mechanics are logical. I like painting bikes and doing custom paint jobs. I once painted a friend's bike with glow-in-the-dark paint and a handpainted logo. He owns Brooklyn Machine Works. It was his first bike he built. It was beautiful.
Advice: I can't even imagine how people live without a bike. Walking - it's really nice, too. But if you're taking a lot of cabs in New York City, what's the point?

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