Mark Ronson: The Great White Hype

A sky the color of bruised eggplant fades to black as Mark Ronson and I return to his apartment in Manhattan’s West Village. We’ve just finished a dinner of kale and gnocchi at Miranda in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and as we pass Bar Pitti, an Italian restaurant with a sizeable street-fronting patio, one of the waiters hollers, “Marco! Ooh wee—la-la-la-la,” the lyrics to a song from Ronson’s debut album, Here Comes the Fuzz. Another waiter walks out and, making pistols out of his two hands, yells in a soupy Spanish accent, “Bang, bang, bang!” the title of his latest single. Ronson smiles affectionately and, once out of earshot, says, “Can you believe those guys?” He seems pleased by the exchange.

A black border collie named Maude, after Ruth Gordon’s character in Harold and Maude, is waiting impatiently at the front door. Ronson’s high-ceilinged, one-bedroom apartment is not as lavish as one might expect, given his considerable achievements as a producer and musician. Suitcases clutter the hardwood floor of his dining room, its table littered with unopened envelopes that suggest Ronson might be too busy preparing for the release of his new album, Record Collection, to concern himself with electricity bills. In his den, a framed poster for Woody Allen’s Zelig hangs above the couch next to an antique jukebox. Chuck Palahniuk novels and Hip Hotels share shelf space in his vast library. François Truffaut’s French New Wave classic, The 400 Blows, tops a towering pile of DVDs. It’s not all that different from most apartments in Greenwich Village except for a crowded fireplace mantle overrun with awards: a Brit Award, an MTV Music Video award, a GQ Men of the Year award, a Glamour Man of the Year award, and three miniature golden gramophones—the Grammy awards he received for Version, his 2007 album of covers, and his production work on Back to Black, Amy Winehouse’s career-making record. A sober black-and-white photograph of his storied family sits next to them.

Ronson is the son of real estate entrepreneur Laurence Ronson and gregarious society dame Ann Dexter-Jones. (Dexter-Jones later married Foreigner founding member and guitarist Mick Jones, from whom she split in 2007.) At 35, he is two years older than his twin sisters, Charlotte, a New York fashion designer, and Samantha, a DJ based in Los Angeles. Anecdotes from his charmed childhood abound, most of them about decadent parties in London, where he was born and still keeps an apartment, with a rotating cast of boldface names from The Thin White Duke to The Boss. Sean Lennon, son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, was his best friend growing up, and together they had sleepovers with Michael Jackson and carpools with Roberta Flack.

Ronson’s silver-spoon upbringing has always been an easy target for critics, who are quick to attribute his success to his family’s Rolodex. His reaction to these charges alternates between incredulous and wounded. “I’m so tired of defending where I came from—I’ve spent my entire career trying to be taken seriously,” he says. “If you’re out for blood, it’s easy to discredit me by focusing on my family, but I certainly never asked my mom, ‘Hey, could you please call up DJ Premier and find out if I can play Gang Starr’s party next weekend?’”

When he was a senior at Collegiate, an elite high school on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Ronson started manning the turntables at trendy Lower East Side dives acrid with the stench of stale beer, giving equal play to the Smiths and Run-DMC. It wasn’t long before he became a regular on the downtown nightlife scene, where he was branded with the double-edged title of “celebrity DJ.” While acknowledging that there is some truth to the label—he was, after all, flown to Italy to provide the music for Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ wedding reception—he’s also loathe to embrace it. “I might have even been the person for whom that term was invented, but to me it conjures the image of an it-girl at a party with two iPods,” he says. Unlike, say, Jessica Stam or Alexa Chung, Ronson earned his title, playing music for party-goers long before it meant having his picture taken.

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The stigma against Ronson only worsened when Samantha earned her own loyal following on the dancefloor, which initially rubbed him the wrong way. “I was so irate when she decided to use the family name instead of Li’l Red [the stage moniker she used earlier in her career],” he says. “I was worried we’d put out CDs at the same time, they’d sit next to each other in music stores, and we’d look like the fucking Osmonds.” But during the height of her much-dissected, turbulent relationship with actor Lindsay Lohan in 2008, when Samantha was tarred and feathered on Hollywood gossip websites—blogger Perez Hilton, for example, still cattily refers to her as “SaMANtha”—the negative press brought out Ronson’s protective side. “Life in L.A. really is one big episode of Entourage,” he says, skirting a question about his sister’s love life. “If she’s happy in her relationships, then I’m psyched for her. When she’s not, I’m not.” Pausing for a minute, he adds, “It’s weird, because in England I’m Mark Ronson, record producer. But in America, I’m Mark Ronson, Samantha’s brother.”

On both sides of the Atlantic, 2007 was a huge year for Samantha’s brother. The records he produced for Winehouse and Lily Allen dominated international charts, and Version went double platinum in the U.K. He recorded that album on a tiny budget before signing with Columbia Records, and invited his friends—Winehouse, Allen, Daniel Merriweather, Santigold—to lend their vocals, which certainly didn’t do much to discourage his reputation as the most connected man in music. “I was almost embarrassed by Version’s success,” he says. “I wasn’t immune to its backlash, either. I have thin skin, as do most artists, and so it wasn’t easy—so immediately after the embrace of the album—being written off as the trumpet-y covers guy.”

This month’s Record Collection, Ronson’s followup to Version, will only exacerbate his reputation as pop music’s answer to Kevin Bacon—Duran Duran’s Simon Le Bon and Nick Rhodes, Boy George, Spank Rock, Q-Tip, and Ghostface Killah all make appearances on the album—but its overall sound couldn’t be further from his earlier work. Ronson was desperate to reinvent himself, and instead of Version’s horn-heavy neo-soul, Record Collection sounds like cosmic synth-disco. “I knew in my heart and in my head that I needed to record original material,” he says. “But I was so afraid that these 12 new songs would then be judged against the songs of Morrissey, Thom Yorke, and Paul Weller that appeared on Version.” It was perhaps because of this fear, and because of the overwhelming number of musicians who “spent days in my sweaty studio in Brooklyn” contributing to the album, that Ronson decided to attribute Record Collection to Mark Ronson and the Business Intl. “To do otherwise would have been disingenuous.”

Electro-pop musician Amanda “MNDR” Warner is the Business Intl.’s breakout act. On “Bang Bang Bang,” she turned a line from a French-Canadian children’s song—“Je te plumerai la tête”—into the anthem of the summer, and, like many of the artists featured on the album, she is effusive with praise for Ronson. “He’s an excellent keyboardist, a great drummer, and an amazing guitarist,” she says. “You can’t fake that kind of talent.”

Rapper Spank Rock, who lends his voice to “The Bike Song,” is slightly less reverent about his friend. “Mark’s kind of dorky, definitely not the coolest guy in the world,” he says. “It was in the studio where, for the first time, I saw a bit of insecurity in him, because he was working through his project and second-guessing himself. Whenever someone opens themselves up, they can either be complete douchebags—‘Listen to this, this is so good!’—or they can be like Mark, and you can watch them cringe.”

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For the better part of July, Manhattan was crippled by heat. But earlier on the day of our meeting, a magnificent and furious storm brought with it a reprieve from the record-breaking highs. It’s a nice night for a walk, and Maude needs some exercise, so we relocate to Washington Square Park, which is thick with jazz musicians and the smell of cheap incense. Ronson, who left his polka-dot–patterned black blazer at home, is now wearing a red T-shirt, tight black jeans, and white loafers.

We run into Ronson’s girlfriend, French actor-musician Josephine de la Baume, with whom Ronson currently co-stars in a Zadig & Voltaire ad campaign. She is on her way to a Korean barbecue restaurant and has little patience for Ronson’s insistence that he’d like to stay in tonight. Small and fiery, she is like a character in a Godard film. When Ronson tells her that he’d rather not sit through Inception—“I just can’t do a three-hour Chris Nolan mind-fuck, baby”—she sighs dramatically, and, pouting, says, “You are so boring!” Rolling her eyes and her r’s, she storms off playfully into the night.

As we continue down the street, I remind Ronson of our first meeting a few years ago, when he was asked to interview the late Malcolm McLaren, a legendary producer-musician who once managed the Sex Pistols, for Thompson Hotels’ in-house magazine, Room 100. Their conversation was scheduled during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, for the morning after Charlotte’s first showing of her eponymous ready-to-wear collection under the Bryant Park tents. Ronson slept through his alarm, missing the whole thing. He managed to get on the phone with McLaren later that day, but the photographer, who was meant to take their portrait together, was forced to artfully combine their images in post-production. I stood in for Ronson in McLaren’s photo. “I really did miss that shoot because I overslept,” he says, revealing some lingering embarrassment at the memory. “But I can’t help thinking that if I hadn’t been out all night getting fucked up I wouldn’t have missed my chance to sit next to Malcolm.”

Ronson and his siblings—there are nine in total, when one factors in step-siblings and half-siblings—were introduced to excess at a young age, despite his insistence that his mother’s approach to child-rearing was almost draconian. When he was 6, Ronson was tucked into bed by actor Robin Williams, who was high on cocaine. One morning, he woke up early to find his father, still awake from the night before, playing chess with Hall & Oates’ Daryl Hall. “When we got to the age that partying became an issue for our parents, it was like, You can’t really talk because you’re getting 10 times as fucked up as I am. Knowing my dad’s struggles with addiction, though, my emotional hangover was often too much to enjoy the drunk.”

Despite glimpses into the rock-star lifestyle growing up, it wasn’t until the release of Version, when Ronson was expected to perform his songs live in front of huge audiences, that alcohol became a real crutch. “I remember my very first gig with Lily in 2006. Before we went on, I was sitting in a corner, shaking so badly that she was like, ‘What is wrong with you?’ I’d have a drink to ease the nerves and then my guitar tech would keep refilling my glass throughout the show. Before I knew it, I’d be asking for more whiskey and he’d be like, ‘You just finished the bottle.’” Although he has since tempered his alcohol consumption, Ronson says, “I’m not going to pretend I don’t enjoy going out. Now that I’m singing I just can’t do much beyond a bit of drinking or smoking the occasional touch of weed.”

Whereas he admits to “not being all there” while producing Kaiser Chiefs’ 2008 album, Off With Their Heads, he says his upcoming work on the new Duran Duran record has helped create some of the band’s best songs to date. “They have a lot to prove this time out,” says Ronson, alluding to the band’s tepidly received 12th album, Red Carpet Massacre, which was produced by Timbaland. “I think Timbaland pulled a bit of a Timbaland, where he shows up for a little bit and somebody else does all the work,” says Ronson. If the band is to be believed, Ronson’s contributions to the as-yet-untitled album are profound. “There was instant chemistry,” says keyboardist Nick Rhodes. “When we started playing, it was like there was electricity in the room. We’ve worked with some remarkable people, but Mark just gets it. Anyone who was foolish enough to question his talent was sorely mistaken.”

It’s late now, and Ronson is tired. He still has to pack for a week-long vacation starting tomorrow night, when he’ll travel to the house he recently purchased in Amagansett, next to East Hampton. But before he leaves, he’ll spend the better part of the day at the photo shoot for this story. Uninspired by his look that morning, the man who went from being a DJ and producer to a legitimate singer will make another drastic change: Mark Ronson will bleach his dark chestnut hair white.

A few days later, I randomly spot Ronson and his blanched pompadour on First Avenue, where he’s stationed behind a glass wall inside the headquarters of East Village Radio, a popular internet radio station. Back from the Hamptons, he looks rested as he introduces “The Bike Song,” which he’ll premiere in just a few minutes on Authentic Sh*t, his weekly show. A crowd has gathered on the sidewalk, dancing to the music while watching him work. Reminded of what Spank Rock told me earlier that week, I just stand there, watching him cringe.

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Photography by Kai Z Feng. Styling by Christopher Campbell.

Nightlife Try Outs: Intern Alice’s Wide Eyed NYC Itinerary

Name: Alice Urmey Professional Resume: BlackBook intern and NYC newbie.
 One Word to Describe Nightlife in New York City: Fascinating.

City Loves: 
 • Favorite lunch spot: Hampton Chutney Co. in Soho. Cheap, delicious, and a nice alternative to Whole Foods. 
• Favorite dinner spot: DBGB. Fight for a table up front and enjoy upscale burgers and beer with the crowd.


• Favorite nightlife trend: Bars becoming more than just places to drink: Union Hall, Culturefix, Pimps and Pinups, The Blind Barber. • Drink of choice: Sangria is always a summer favorite. And a Belve and Soda. • Meal of choice: John’s of Bleeker: classic New York pizza. 
• Favorite group of people to bump into: Anyone I haven’t seen in a long time and keep forgetting to call.

image Union Hall, Culturefix, Pimps and Pinups, The Blind Barber

City Gripes: 
 • Nightlife trend you loathe: When a good trend goes out of style too quickly. 
 • Drink: Martini, who knew it was just a fancy name for gin?
 • Meal: Raw oysters. Briny and slippery goop. • Group of people to bump into: Crowds on The High Line, tourists in Soho.

image Alice, Left

Her Hotspots: Monday: Fresh pasta at Scarpetta, Little Branch. Tuesday: B.E.S., Avenue. Beautiful art and beautiful people in Chelsea. Wednesday: Bar Pitti, Wilfie & Nell. A low key night with close friends. 
 Thursday: Schiller’s Liquor Bar, free entrance to New Museum after 7pm–great incentive to get my boyfriend to a museum. 
 Friday: Start with a bite in Brooklyn at The Vanderbilt. Hit the East Village for Death & Co. and Mayahuel, where tequila is not only the drink of choice, it’s the only drink. 
 Saturday: Union Square Greenmarket for a loaf of bread and Long Island wine. Light dinner at The Standard Grill, followed by a night of rooftop bars. Sunday: Aroma Espresso Bar, Balthazar. Recover from the weekend with strong coffee and steak frites.

image Smith & Mills

Every night: Smith & Mills. Perfect place to end any night. 
 Wouldn’t be caught dead here: Fratty bars like Wicked Willy’s. If I wanted to play beer pong, I would’ve stayed in the suburbs. 
For special occasions: Celebrate with drinks at The Modern while munching on truffle popcorn. 
Brunch is usually: Pastis. Or Bubby’s if I didn’t eat there in the early hours of the night before.

Where Celebs Go Out: Mena Suvari, Selma Blair, Olivia Palermo

Mena Suvari at the Zac Posen for Target shopping party: “Sushi at Nobu.” ● Ginnifer Goodwin:Candle 79 here. Madeleine Bistro in L.A.” ● Selma Blair: “I love the Savoy and I love Minetta Tavern.” ● Zac Posen: “My favorite restaurant Kai, just closed in New York. And I’m very saddened about Takashimaya. I love Casa Lever has the best steak and great pasta. It’s really good Italian.”

Patricia Field:Il Buco, around the corner from my house. Agnanti is a Greek restaurant out in Astoria. There are some very good Japanese restaurants that I love on East 43rd Street, between 2nd and 3rd. There’s a great saki bar there called Sakagura. Next door, there’s a really good Japanese barbecue, and across the street, one of the best sushi restaurants in the city.” ● Joe Zee: “Minetta Tavern. But my old standby restaurant for the last 15 years is Bar Pitti. ● Olivia Palermo:Indochine.” ● Theodora Richards: “At the moment, it’s Sant Ambroeus, down on the west side. The mille-feuilles—I don’t know how to pronounce the French word for a thousand leaves—but the dessert, this pastry thing, is phenomenal, my new favorite.” ● Alek Wek: “Let’s say like Nobu downtown in Tribeca or Schillers, on the Lower East Side.” ● Kate Gosselin: @ the Discovery Channel’s 2010-11 Upfront reception. “I’m afraid if I tell because it’ll ruin my spots, and then I can’t go there anymore because the paparazzi will get me! I’m just kidding. You caught me off guard. In New York, I love Le Colonial

Where Celebs Go Out: Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Ben Stiller, Alan Cumming

At the Date Night premiere: 1. Steve Carell – “Boy! You know what? On the way in, we drove by Shun Lee. My wife and I, when we lived here, we ate there all the time. John’s Pizza was one of our favorite pizza places. Any one, but, certainly, the one in the Village, and I think they opened one up off Times Square. That’s just always good.” 2. Tina Fey – “My favorite restaurant in the world is a restaurant in Chicago, called the Athenaeum Room. Favorite dish? Chicken on french fries.” 3. Taraji P. Henson – “The Little Owl. I went there the other night!” 4. Jimmi Simpson – “Providence, on Melrose, in Los Angeles. Any special dish? The five-course tasting menu.” 5. Carol Alt – “Actually, I like Pure Food and Wine because it’s a raw restaurant. What do you like there? Well, just about everything, but their ice cream is killer! Raw ice cream — unbelievable, unbelievable. I eat at a lot of Japanese places, so I can have raw fish. I’m a raw foodist, so it, kind of, limits.”

6. Common – “I love Café Habana. It’s located on Prince and Elizabeth. I’ve been, consistently, going there. It’s not anything new. I’ve been going there for, like, 10, 11 years. Cuban food; great music. You got to eat the corn. The corn is the best. I like the camarones, too — the shrimp; they’re incredible. I also enjoy a place called Stan’s, in Brooklyn. It’s like Cajun, but new food. It’s like New Orleans, but slash some other feel to it. It’s a great restaurant. I’m a restaurant guy more than a club guy. I like going to the movies different places, like, what’s the one on Houston? The Angelica. I love that.” 7. Serena Williams – “I don’t go to restaurants here, so–.” 8. Jane Krakowski – “Can’t think of any. Sorry!” 9. Shawn Levy – “Well, I’ll go with New York. I like– I ate there last night– Scalinatella, at like 61st and Third, that place underground. I like Nobu. That’s really not surprising. I like Cafe des Artistes, with that great antipasto cafe. Does that give you enough? All right.” 10. Ben Stiller – “Bar Pitti.” 11: Keith Powell – “I live in Brooklyn, and I live in Fort Greene. And in Fort Greene, there’s a restaurant called No. 7. And No. 7 is the most amazing restaurant. The head chef is a guy named Tyler Kord. And he used to be the sous chef for Jean-Georges. And the menu changes every month, and he comes up with the most amazing concoctions, both in terms of drinks and food. It’s wonderful. Anything that man makes is, kind-of, a work of art.”

At the YourSingapore launch in Times Square: 12. Matt Harding – “Oh, my gosh, I’m totally blanking on– I love garlic, so I love The Stinking Rose restaurant in L.A. and San Francisco. They just drench everything in garlic. You’re sick the next day, but it’s fantastic! My favorite restaurant in Seattle– I love Tom Douglas. He’s a Seattle chef. He’s at the Dahlia Lounge. New York, there’s just so many fantastic restaurants, I couldn’t think of one. And Singapore, actually, my favorite place to eat is out on the street. The Hawker markets are fantastic! Where’s your next stop? I’m going home to Seattle, and then maybe to Afghanistan.”

At the NY International Auto Show benefit preview for the East Side House Settlement: 13. Fe Fendi – “I like Le Cirque. It’s like going to a family restaurant for me. For lunch, always Cipriani! Cipriani for lunch — dinner at Le Cirque.

At Dressed to Kilt: 14. Alan Cumming – “Gnocco in the East Village.” 15. Shani Davis – “I live in Chicago. My favorite restaurant — fast food — is Harold’s or, maybe, Portillo’s. I love Giordano’s a lot.” 16. Eric Daman – “I’m a huge fan of the Mercer Kitchen. I love their mac and cheese and their carpaccio sea bass.” 17. Kelly Killoren Bensimon – “My ultimate favorite restaurant is Le Bernardin–Eric Ripert– he catered my wedding. It’s, probably, the most incredible restaurant, actually, in the world. But one of my favorite restaurants is Brinkley’s, which is right around the corner from me. It’s a really, really, cool, fun bar, and one of my friends that went to Trinity — ’cause I went to Trinity — went there, so I go there a lot. Any favorite dish anywhere? Wherever– whatever– I like to explore and have fun with the menu. I really, really like and what they’re making is more exciting than just for me to sit there and be like, ‘Yeah, I’ll have rice and vegetables. This is really fun.’ I’d rather have someone make something and be creative.” 18. Al Roker – “Oh, golly! That’s like asking, ‘What’s your favorite kid?’! If it’s Italian, it would be Girasole or Fresco. If it’s a steak place, it would, probably, be Ben Benson’s or across the river, Peter Luger’s.” 19. Nigel Barker – “Del Posto. I love that place. I used to go there on dates all the time. My favorite pub is Dublin 6 in the West Village. It’s my old, local Irish place — D6. And Barbuto is another favorite of mine. It’s not as upscale. It’s, kind of, in between the two. It’s on Washington.” 20. Donald Trump Jr. – “Wow, that’s a — in New York, there’s really no shortage of great restaurants, but, I guess it depends what food we’re going for. If we’re going formal, Jean-Georges is good; Le Cirque is good. If we’re going low-key, there’s a lot of great ones lying around. We’re opening up a great one on Friday — Quattro — in our hotel down in SoHo that’s going to be opening, so a little bit of a Miami, downtown flair.”

Promoting Burlesque to Broadway: 21. Quinn Lemley – One of my favorites is Maloney & Porcelli. They have a great wine dinner that’s all inclusive, and wonderful steaks and oysters. There’s a new Academia del Vino that’s up on Broadway and 89th. It’s where Docks used to be. They have a great wine bar and wonderful food. It’s the same people that have Cesca— it’s that restaurant group. And it’s very happening. It’s so exciting to see something on the Upper West Side above 86th Street.

At Our Family Wedding: 22. Mark Indelicato – “I like to go to places that aren’t mainstream chain restaurants. Sometimes, I’m just walking down the street with friends, and we see like this small, little cafe, and we just go in. Don’t even know the name of it, don’t know what it’s about, but I just like the small, boutique restaurants, like Alice’s Teacup here on the Upper West Side. It’s small and not a lot of people know about it, but it’s still really cool.”

Where Celebs Go Out: Richard Gere, Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke, Wesley Snipes

1. Richard Gere, at the premiere of Brooklyn’s Finest: My favorite restaurant has to be the Bedford Post. 2. Don Cheadle: BOA, in L.A. 3. Ethan Hawke: Manganaro’s, on 9th Avenue. 4. Wesley Snipes: That’s gotta be home. My wife is an excellent cook! Where do I like to go? Oh, La Dinastia, the Cuban-Chinese restaurant on 72nd, near Broadway. 5. Hoda Kobt: I love 21 Club. I love Tabla. I love Shake Shack, just their burgers. ‘Cause the first time I saw a line, I thought, ‘Who would wait in a line this long for a burger?’ And then I realized, ‘I would.’ There’s something about the size, the texture; they’re moist, they’re delicious. And I like Kefi — on Columbus — the best, best Greek food ever, delicious.

6. Antoine Fuqua: Carmine’s. They have Carmine’s in New York and L.A. 7. Richard Belzer: I hang out in bed with my dog! West Branch is one of my favorites. It’s up here on the west side on 77th and Broadway. And all of Drew Nieporent’s restaurants. Yeah, I get around. 8. Wade Allain-Marcus: I go to a spot like Legion in Williamsburg. It’s a bar. It’s a beautiful thing. 9. Nicoye Banks: I like the Hudson. The Hudson’s always good. The Mandarin has a nice lounge on the 35th floor, if you really want to relax, look at Central Park, be smooth. Good restaurant — Parlor Steakhouse on 90th and 3rd. 10. Grizz Chapman: Actually, I work. I don’t really hang out too much. Favorite restaurant is The Palm, the one on the east side. Being that my diet has changed, my favorite dish would, probably, just be vegetables and chicken. 11. Kevin “Dot Com” Brown: I don’t get a chance to hang out, like I used to. I come to these events, and I never remember the name — I just follow the flyer; whatever address is there; I just follow the address. But I never remember the names of the venues. And when you’re not at an event? City Island. I go to Sammy’s — I go to Sammy’s seafood in City Island, and I overeat! 12. Andre Brown: I hang out at the Rose Bar, the GoldBar, Juliet — that’s about it. 13. Daymond John: Restaurants: I always go to Nobu, Blue Ribbon. Bars, I go to Tenjune. Clubs — well, Tenjune’s like a bar and a club — I go to the Greenhouse and I go to M2. 14. Shannon Kane: Wow! I don’t really hang out at a lot of clubs or anything like that, but I have some really great restaurants in L.A. One of them is El Cholo, a Mexican restaurant. Any favorite dish? The vegetarian burrito, and the fresh guacomole — they make right in front of you. 15. Michael Martin: I used to love Bar Code. It’s, actually, gone now. I love club Amnesia, great place. The Tunnel is gone now. Tammany Hall — that’s a great one. 16. Wendy Williams: Victor’s — Cuban food. 17. Sherri Shepherd: There’s a restaurant on 56th, between 8th and 9th called Bricco’s. And it’s just a nice, little family restaurant, and I go there with everybody because they got fresh Italian food, and the owner — oh, my gosh — he kisses you like you’re the most amazing woman in the world! 18. John D’Leo: John’s Pizzeria in the village has, probably, the best pizza in New York. 19. Carrie Lowell: Bedford Post — the restaurant we own. 20. Lili Taylor: I love Bar Pitti. I like the Cuban restaurant in Harlem on 125th. Sylvia’s Soulfood in Harlem. 21. Bethenny Frankel: I like Kraft. I like the Strip House. I like Abe and Arthur’s. I like steakhouses. I need meat on the bone. I need to feed the baby! 22. D’brickashaw Ferguson: Probably, Junior’s. In Brooklyn? Yeah, gotta represent! Other than the cheesecake, I’m a big fan of their barbecued chicken. 23. Ellen Barkin: I don’t have [a favorite restaurant]. 24. Lena Olin @ “Remember Me” premiere: My favorite restaurant in the city is Nobu! 25. Gregory Jbara: The Standard Grill right now is open now till four o’clock in the morning, and they have a phenomenal menu. They have great waitstaff and you can always get a great meal, after the rest of the town is shut down. I’d recommend the oysters. They have a phenomenal selection of east-coast oysters. Also, they serve an appetizer of dried-crust cheese with English radishes. And you look at it on the table and you go, ‘What am I supposed to do with that — plant a garden?!’ And then you taste it, and you go, ‘This is a brilliant, original way to start a meal.’ Corner Bistro has the best burgers, but, if you want the best glass of wine and want to sample wines, you go to Dell’anima, which is down just south of 14th on 8th Avenue. 26. Peyton List: I love going to Dylan’s Candy Bar. I always go there and get treats or chocolates. I, actually, love the bakery called “Baked.” They have the best Chocolate Cloud cookies. What’s that? It’s a chocolate cookie, and it’s really thick and I love it, ’cause it’s so chocolatey, and I love chocolate! 27. Greg Bello: Oh, Jesus! Oh, I can’t give away all those secrets; then everyone’s gonna find out and they’re not going to be hot anymore. I don’t know what to tell you! Actually, probably, the Boom Boom Room is the hottest room in the city right now. 28. Allen Coulter: Del Posto, Peasants, Ouest –said with a French accent, but I can’t do it, Barney Greengrass. 29. Tate Ellington: ‘Cause I live in the Williamsburg area, one of my favorite places is DuMont. DuMac and Cheese is one of the greatest meals I’ve had in New York. There’s a place called Barcade which is pretty wonderful, as far as a bar, but it’s gettin’ a little packed, nowadays, but it’s a good place and the bartenders are nice. Huckleberry Bar is a nice, little cocktail lounge. 30. Peggy Siegal: Oh, I like the Monkey Bar. I like the new Jean-Georges restaurant at The Mark Hotel. I like 21, the Four Seasons, Michael’s, the Waverly Inn, the Standard Hotel. What else have I missed? I don’t know. Any favorite dishes? No, I’m always on a diet!

Industry Insiders: Jim Lahey, Bread Master

Jim Lahey is a bread man. After a trip to Italy while he was in art school studying to be a sculptor, Lahey realized that baking was his true calling. In 1994, he opened Sullivan Street Bakery, which now provides bread for over 250 of the city’s best restaurants including Jean Georges, Babbo and Gramercy Tavern. In 2008, Lahey opened his first restaurant, Co., where he turned his signature bread into artisanal pizzas. Famous for his no-knead method, Lahey is trying to spread the word with his recently published book, My Bread, as well a more personal approach: baking lessons at Sullivan Street Bakery. Over lunch at Co., the loquacious baker with “major A.D.D.” spoke with me about the importance of good reviews, culinary influences, and his idea of the most bitter, foul taste in food: effort.

Point of Origin: I ended up going to art school (School of Visual Arts) and developed a fascination with Europe. A really great teacher at the time said, “Dude you’re too smart to be a dumb fucking painter and your interests are too varied for you to be in this school. You also need to get laid. Go to college.” So basically that’s what I did. I went to college to interact with normal people as opposed to art students who tend to be trust fund kids and shit. I went to Stony Brook in Long Island. Probably not the best place for me to go. I dropped out, when back to SVA. Then I got kicked out of SVA.

On the difference between running a bakery versus a restaurant: One is moving parts. In a wholesale operation there are many moving parts, many more people involved in getting the thing to the customer. The other thing is it’s more glamorous to work in a restaurant than a wholesale operation. Restaurant have a fantastic cast of characters, but there’s a bit more glamor especially right now with the celebrification of chefs and renewed interest in cooking. Restaurants are very similar in a way because I find that as a chef I’m constantly battling with the ideas of what the worker has, of what the part is, even if it’s explained to them.

Favorite pizza: Right now, it’s the honshimeji and guanciale. As an eater, all we care about is the results, we don’t care about the effort because we don’t see the effort and hopefully we don’t taste the effort. There is no flavor more bitter or foul than effort. If I taste effort in food wherever I eat, I rarely ever return.

Where the meat and potatoes come from: The meats we get from Pat Lefrieda, phenomenal supplier. Very high quality, high standards. We try to buy as much of our vegetables from the Union Square farmers market or local farms if possible. Right now it’s obviously really difficult because it’s so cold and we get our nuts and bolts from very small wholesale suppliers.

On the importance of reviews: The most important review is watching the plates go back empty. Seeing that there is a local, loyal clientele that own the restaurant and embrace the culture of the restaurant.

On being called the David Chang of carbs: That’s flattering. I don’t know if I’ll be able to undo the damage that Atkins did to the world with bread and this phobia, this misguided phobia, that Americans have about carbs. Really at the end of the day, if you’re physically active, eat as you want. I’m flattered; it’s a really nice thing to say. David’s a phenomenal chef. I wish I was allowed to curse more in my book, but my editor killed my voice. I think we’d be compared more. I haven’t read the Momofuku book but I heard there’s a lot of fuck and shit in it.

On the haters: Because of the way the pizza industry is set up and also because of our culture about it and how we’ve been introduced to it, what our expectations are, there are a lot of people who have become “Company haters,” “Co. haters.” I wasn’t trying to dumb it down for them. I wasn’t trying to put tons of cheese and tons of sauce on. I want out product to have its own signature, its own pedigree.

How to get the perfect recipe: I like, for myself, to develop recipes with two approaches. One approach is to make an absolutely mistake just to eliminate that from the realm of possibilities. The other thing I like doing is relying on the sort of vast, kind of technical, acquired sense about what things weigh and what ratios you can get away with to make things work and just make things on the fly. I love cooking without recipes. But I have to say when you make something good and you don’t record it you have to go back and scramble to find that harmony. Sometimes you can nail things so perfectly it’s funny.

Favorite chefs: Obviously I mentioned David Chang. Of course I love Jean George. He’s very inspirational. I love his restraint, executing very complicating things but holding back. I don’t taste effort at that restaurant.

Go-to restaurants: I like Bar Pitti, though they don’t buy my bread anymore. I really like Grand Sichuan. I really like Five Points. Any restaurant that Michael White has cheffed in. I think he’s a leader in that pack. I love I Sodi on Christopher Street. I haven’t been in a long time but I did have a religious lasagna experience there. I haven’t been to Eleven Madison Park, but I hear it’s amazing. And Txikito.

Best slice in the city? I have a very hard time answering that question. You know, I respect what everyone does. My favorite pizza restaurant in the United States besides my own is Pizzaria Bianco in Phoenix. It’s the only one.

Daily routine, breakfast: An egg white sandwich. Or egg white over oatmeal. Or egg white sandwich on whole wheat toast. No butter, no cheese.

Secrets he left out of My Bread: Here’s the thing. There are other books that recount the no-knead process. The publishing industry saw an opportunity to make money for this not based on their interest to change culture, but their own personal profit and gain. This is the American way. This is the land of Madoff. This is our society. I don’t really think any of those books do justice to the process. I think, again, there’s this tendency to dumb things down. I had to fight for the content that the book has.

Where Celebs Go Out: Wes Anderson, Emmy Rossum, Charlotte Ronson, & More

At Lucky magazine’s Lucky Shops:

● KATRINA BOWDEN – “I love Café Mogador in the East Village. It’s Moroccan, and they have these great fish and chicken kebabs and really cool dishes and olives and bread. It’s really good. And they have this fish soup that’s amazing, on special sometimes.”

● ANA ORTIZ – “I’m a very local person right now because I don’t have a lot of time away. So there’s this really groovy little place across the street from me called the Speak Low bar and it’s in Dumbo in Brooklyn, and it’s just underneath Rice. It’s a really funky, hip little bar. And they have the most delicious cocktails. As soon as I was able to drink after giving birth, I went down there. They have the best martini I ever had!”

At The Fantastic Mr. Fox press day:

● WES ANDERSON – “There’s a place in Los Angeles called Nishimura that’s a sushi place. That’s a great place. I would recommend that one.”

At launch party for Yoga Wii by Dreamcatcher Interactive Inc.:

● ANJA RUBIK – “Right now — it changes, of course — right now, I’m addicted to Matsuri. It’s a Japanese restaurant in the Maritime Hotel. I just love the food there. It’s incredible and the atmosphere they create there is so beautiful. I love it there. I love the Cipriani’s uptown. I love it. The food is so great. And it also has an incredible atmosphere. Da Silvano is great. Bar Pitti is amazing. It has Italian food, which is fantastic. I love Gobo. It’s all this organic food, vegetarian. It’s on Sixth Avenue near Eighth Street or Seventh Street.”

At Fashion Group International’s Night of Stars:

● SIMON DOONAN – “I love Il Cantinori. It’s around the corner from my house. The risotto primavera is killer!”

● EMMY ROSSUM – “I really like David Burke Townhouse. I love that lollypop tree that comes out at the end. There’s like a cheesecake lollypop tree. It looks like a lollypop, but it’s a ball of cheesecake on the end of stick and it’s in this holder that makes it look like a tree. I really like eating sushi at Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, at like 4am.”

● TOMMY HILFIGER – “Rebecca’s in Greenwich, Connecticut. Incredibly delicious. It’s simple, but it’s really, really high-quality food and always well done — consistent. It’s prepared very well.”

● MARK RONSON – “My favorite restaurant in New York is, probably, Gino’s uptown on 60th and Lex. The angel hair with the secret sauce. They call it that. ‘Cause when you’re a kid, and anyone tells you something’s secret, of course, you like think it’s amazing. In the whole word, I don’t know. I wish — I’m really good at answering these questions, but not on the spot.”

● DITA VON TEESE – “I love going to London to eat. I love China Tang at the Dorchester because I love the Art Deco Chinese interior. I love the Wolseley in London. And I’m not familiar with New York restaurants. It seems like they’re ever changing, so …”

At Purgatorio pop-up club:

● JOSH LUCAS – “Oh, the old school — Raoul’s is one of my all-time favorites. And there’s a place right down in my neighborhood, called Broadway East, which is a really interesting new kind of organic, sexy restaurant I like a lot. Also, down by my place, Les Enfants Terribles, you know that place? A good, little fun one. Those are my three that come to mind immediately.”

● SIMON HAMMERSTEIN – “That’s a hard question. I kind of like the 18th floor of the Standard — the bar on the 18th floor. I think he’s done a really good job with that.”

● CHRISTIAN SIRIANO – “In New York, I love the Cooper Square Hotel. We have dinner there a lot, hang out there — really, really fun. But, like hang out, hang out spots — where do we go? Oh, Bagatelle, very fabulous. I’m pretty low key, so I feel like — my couch, that’s where we go to hang out and have a party.”

At Motorola’s party for Droid phone with Verizon service:

● PATRICK HEUSINGER – “I just went to Delicatessen for the first time. I really enjoyed that. We watch Sunday and Monday football at Brother Jimmy’s on the Upper West Side. Yeah, it’s great. We’ve been going there since I was in college because I went to college here in New York, too. And then, I go to the bar, Niagara, on the Lower East Side a lot. That’s one of my haunts. I probably go there once a week. One of my best friends works there, so — it’s on 7th and Avenue A.

● JUDAH FRIEDLANDER – “I don’t drink or anything. I’m a role model for children. But I do eat. The place I really crave is called Sarajevo. It’s in Astoria — Bosnian owners. It’s basically Yugoslavian food. Awesome. That’s the place I crave more than any place. Cevapcici is the main thing. It’s kind of like ground beef and lamb on skewers, and you serve it in this fresh, homemade bread. And there’s this spread called Kajmak. It’s kind of like a sour-cream spread, except a million times better. And then you put ajvar on it, also, which is a like a tomato, red pepper, eggplant spread. And then you put raw onions on it, and you’re in heaven, baby! And you got power! And you’re ready to kick ass! It’s good stuff. The other thing they have is stuffed cabbage with tomato sauce, which they call sarma. It’s in Astoria. It’s on 34th Avenue and 38th Street. It’s so good. That’s my favorite food. I like all the ethnic, little take-out type places. Those are my favorite places.”

At launch of fashion game Style Savvy for the Nintendo DS and DSi:

● CHARLOTTE RONSON – “I love Bar Pitti on 6th Avenue. It’s nice and easy. You can sit outside when the weather is nice. You always run into someone you know. For movies, the Anjelika is nice. It’s clean. I’m drawn to movies that play there. In London, I love Holland Park, Kensington High Street — great area with lots of good shops and walking distance from my parents’ home. La Famiglia is a great restaurant.”

At launch party for Scupltz shapewear and legwear:

● ROBERT VERDI –Le Singe Vert on 7th Avenue. It means the Green Monkey. I was born in ’68, the year of the monkey. I love it. Novita, on 22nd Street, off of Park Avenue. It feels very insider; the food is fabulous. There’s a scene, but it’s not sceney. Da Silvano, because I feel like a big schmaltz when I go there ’cause I’m treated better than I really am. He’s really sweet. I’m very good friends with his wife, Marisa, who treats me like family. Since I grew up in a restaurant family, it’s a feeling I like to have when I go out to eat.

Where Celebs Go Out: Penelope Cruz, Katie Couric, Gabrielle Union

At the New York Film Festival premiere of Broken Embraces:

● PENELOPE CRUZ – Favorite restaurant in New York? “Oh, I have many because I love food so much!” And in Madrid? “I go to many that are out in the countryside, but whoever goes there for the first time should go to Botin. It’s the oldest restaurant in the world.” What did you like about it? “Everything!”

● PEDRO ALMODOVAR – Favorite restaurant in New York? “Mr. Chow’s — we had dinner there the other day, and it was really very impressive.” And in Madrid? “In Madrid, there are many. Casa Lucio is one of my favorites.”

● LAUREN BACALL – Favorite restaurant in New York? “Oh, please, don’t ask me about that! I’m going to see a movie!”

● ANDREA ILLY – Favorite restaurant in New York? “Here we have many good restaurants: Le Bernardin, Le Cirque, these kind.” And in Rome? “In Rome, we also have many restaurants, like Lapergola — these kind of beautiful restaurants — or the Hotel de Russie, a beautiful place as well.”

At the Library of American Broadcasting’s Giants of Broadcasting Awards:

● KATIE COURIC – “I don’t really spend a lot of time hanging out in bars [laughs], which I think is a good thing. But I like BLT Steak because I’m a big carnivore. I like this really, beautiful restaurant outside Washington called L’auberge Chez Francois, where I took my parents on their anniversary. I love Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami. Those are three good ones.”

● KEN BURNS – “Well, I like Burdick’s Restaurant in Walpole, New Hampshire. It’s been around since 2001. It is a small, little village in New Hampshire, but people quite often drive from New York or Boston. That’s four or three hours to have a meal there. The fact that I am a silent partner in it is part of full disclosure. I live in Walpole, New Hampshire; I travel a great deal, and I basically don’t cook anymore. I’ll eat every meal I can in this restaurant. It’s a broad mix of Continental cuisine done in a very informal and really charming atmosphere, and I don’t know anybody who has been there that hasn’t just fallen in love with it. The proprietor, the man whose genius it is, is Larry Burdick, the well-known chocolatier with a boutique chocolate business. He used to work here, as a dessert chef for many fine restaurants, and moved to our little village 15 years ago to manufacture his chocolates, which are second to none. But he and I had always complained that what we needed was a good restaurant, and we were able to do that.” What about in New York? “I like Bar Pitti on 6th Avenue between Bleecker and Houston. It’s next to Da Silvano, which gets a lot of attention. Bar Pitti is just quite simply the best Tuscan cuisine in the United States. It’s simple. Everyone who goes there knows about it. You can’t get a better side dish of spinach. The tagliata is amazing. Every dish — I’ve never had a bum dish there. And it’s sort of our go-to place. We bring the kids; we go late; we go early. I’ve been doing it for 20 years.

At the New York Film Festival premiere of Capitalism: A Love Story:

● MICHAEL MOORE – What are some of your favorite restaurants or bars? “[Laughs] I don’t do commercials!”

● MORGAN SPURLOCK – “I love La Esquina ’cause it’s right next to my office. It’s this incredible restaurant, right on Kenmare and Centre Street and Lafayette. Amazing food, fantastic. I love Balthazar. I probably have lunch there once a week because my office is also very close to there. Puck Fair is probably my favorite bar in New York City — Irish bar. I love Puck Fair. I love just the energy. It’s probably the best pint in New York City. Yeah, it’s a great energy, great vibe.”

At the Quicken Online launch party for Bank of Mom and Dad:

● FARNOOSH TORABI – “Cafe Frida on Columbus Avenue & 77th Street for Mexican food.”

Spotted on Columbus Avenue, in town for Clinton Global Initiative:

● LISA LING – “My favorite place these days in L.A., which is where I live, is a place called Baby Blues Barbecue. It’s Southern-style barbecue, and it is comfort food. And over the last few months, I had been needing a lot of comfort, so it was a perfect kind of place to feed that desire and that craving.”

At the Sophie’s Voice benefit for spina bifida research:

● COUNTESS LUANN DE LESSEPS – “I was just at Jean Georges on Central Park West, which I haven’t been to in a long time, and it was so nice ’cause we got to sit outside and the weather’s still nice … so that’s one of my favorite places in New York. In Milan, Sant Ambroeus. They come from Milan, and they have a place in New York and Southampton.”

● GABRIELLE UNION – “Let’s start with Miami! They have this new place called Eight Ounce Burger that I love; love Il Gabbiano on the water, off of Biscayne; love the spa at the Mandarin. In L.A., there’s this place called Happy Foot on Ventura that gives, like, the most amazing foot and body rubs, but you’re fully clothed. It’s kind of awesome.”

Moises de la Renta: Fashion Scion Gone Solo

Moises de la Renta could very well be a reality television icon by now. With Fashion God Oscar de la Renta as his father and a velvet rope lifestyle, he certainly fits the I-wish-I-was-him credentials. But Moises opted for a real (and respected) career in design/photography. And if his recently launched, painfully hip website for his bad ass womenswear fashion line MDLR is any indication, his career choice was wise. We met up to chit-chat for what I thought was drinks at the Thompson Hotel, but to my surprise, I was greeted by the man about town in a room full of models getting ready for their close-ups in an MDLR photo shoot featured on Whatswear.com. It was all lights, cameras, and action, mixed with plenty of cigarettes, blaring background noise of the sub-par performances of MJ’s classics from the previously aired BET Awards, sexy leather biker jackets complete with gilded MDLR zippers — and, in true rock star form, an Iggy Pop vs. David Bowie debate.

Let’s cut right to the chase. Why should people care about MDLR? I want to bring something a little different to the table. My aspiration is to show people almost a beautiful and glorious gloom — that it’s OK to be melancholy. I want to speak for the lady in the corner of the club, you know what I mean? She’s just chilling, doing her thing.

I’m going to need you to specify on the type of club girl though — not a Marquee girl, I hope. You’ve ever been to the Roxy in 1985? That type of girl.

What inspired you to start the line? The situation here is that, you know, it’s about having fun … creating. That’s all it is for me. What got me into this was really advertising, looking at old Jil Sander ads and stuff, and just looking through the magazines — that’s kind of what got me into photography. Inadvertently what made me get into fashion was that it was a way I could do photography. But it’s cool for me … it’s just a way I can create a world.

The newly launched MDLR website has a music section. What does music have to do with your collection? Music is definitely my inspiration — rock ‘n’ roll. The reason I came here to New York was listening to all that old time jazz — Iggy Pop and Patti Smith and all of that. It was good stuff when I thought that was how New York was gonna be … and it’s not. It’s a bunch of posers.

So is that why you chose DJ/model/musician/all things It-Girl Lissy Trullie to model for your look book? You know, Lissy Trullie to me — especially with her album, Self-Taught Learner, check that out, that’s good stuff. It’s exactly that — self-taught learner. That’s our generation. It’s just about doing your thing, going out there, not being scared, bringing something to the table. And just being you. That’s it, man.

MDLR captures the vibe from the youth of old downtown New York. Is New York an inspiration for you? New York is a young city. It’s always about the youth. This is where it all began. This is the city of liberation and freedom — creative freedom. I want to represent the independent woman — she’s cool, she’s chilling, doing her own thing, having a good time. She may go out on her own. She doesn’t need her girlfriends, she doesn’t need her guy to pay for the bill. She’s just an independent, modern woman just doing her thing.

But more geared to the pretty faces rocking vintage concert tees in the smokey basement of Lit than Sex and the City, right? Rock ‘n’ roll is a big part of my life. I just woke up and listening to Green Day’s Dookie, just a side note … But anyhow, it’s definitely for the girl who likes to have fun, for the girl who feels like a rock star even though she may not be. My clothes are just about having fun and being comfortable with oneself.

Speaking of a pre-Giuliani New York, what do you miss about it? New York used to be about coming together. It didn’t matter about how much money you had. I think there’s a little more of a commercialism. Obviously we do live in a time that is somewhat dictated by money, but at the end of the day, I think on the flip side of the recession is that it brought people together — it brought creative people together, and a lot more people are willing to collaborate. It’s more about just creating good things, man. It’s not really about the commercial appeal of making money, because there’s not really any money out there. So people just wanna have fun and have a good time, so I think that’s great.

So where do you party nowadays? I miss Beatrice … we want it to come back, but I don’t think it will. Jane’s cool … I’ve been hanging out a lot there. Chloe’s alright. Avenue is a cool little bar.

I’ve seen you prep it up and get all vintage rock star. How would you describe your personal style? Lots of black and jeans. I don’t know … comfortable American I suppose. I just like to be comfortable, so for me that means a nice pair of 511 skinny worn-in black jeans — it doesn’t really depend on my mood. Most of the time I’m wearing the same thing. I have five black jeans and who knows how many black tees.

Where do you shop? I like vintage stores. I like Tokio7, Barneys. I like What Goes Around Comes Around. And I like Jeffrey’s.

What Goes Around Comes Around and Jeffrey’s? That’s like saying you like Jessica Simpson and the Rolling Stones (which is totes cool in my book, by the way). (Laughing) No, Jeffrey’s is where I get my candles and all that Diptyque shit. Not clothing, but sometimes shoes.

Describe your perfect date. A bottle of red, St. Marks, some sushi. Maybe a film at the Angelika.

Favorite restaurant? Westville’s pretty cool. But I like to go to Cipriani’s. (laughing) Just joking. But I do like Da Silvano. I love it there … actually, I like Bar Pitti better — it’s lighter.

I’ve seen the Polaroids scattered all over your studio, and I know you enjoy shooting your interesting friends. What inspires your photography? Life and death. My favorite photographers are Annie Leibovitz, Bill Brandt and Irving Penn.

MDLR is a far cry from your father’s sophisticated feminine gowns. What does it take to be considered a rebel? I don’t really consider myself to be a rebel. But Stephen Hawking’s a rebel. Anyone who’s willing to challenge the current state of being is a rebel to me … anyone who stands up for change, stands up for others, for what’s right is a rebel.

So you’re a rebel in the making. Is there a fine line between making bold choices and trying too hard (a.k.a. a poser)? I hope one day I can change certain things about the fashion industry and maybe be a rebel myself. I don’t know, I just try and do my thing … that’s all. And hopefully, by staying true to myself, some changes will be made. And yes, there is always a fine line. If something’s not you, don’t rock it because the clothes pick the person, ya dig? So if you’re rocking an outfit that you don’t feel, you’re probably trying too hard and should throw on some jeans and a button down. Less is more anyway — simple is chic.

It’s your Fashion Week show. What music will you be playing, and who do you want front row center? I’d like Iggy Pop to be playing. They’re both great but Bowie bit a lot from Iggy when he first came to America and was trying to be all “raw” and “rock ‘n’ roll.” Iggy Pop is fucking raw power man, and Zombie Birdhouse is one of the best and most underrated albums ever, but so was Bowie’s Low. But Iggy still tops it in my book. It’d be cool and kind of a diss to be playing Iggy but have Bowie in the front row.