Nick “New School” Ray-Keeffe was my college roommate. From his myriad epithets (New School, Nerd School, Fag School, NS, GQ, NRK, NGQRK, NNSGQRK) to his infamous salutation (HEY!), Nick has proven himself to be an individual of singular character and persistent endearing. Observing his Sisyphean conflicts with the world was one of the most pleasant and entertaining endeavors of my college years. NS v. His mom’s phone calls. NS v. Greg. NS v. his infantry of flaking friends. NS v. NS’ resolve to build a boat with his bare hands. NS v. his demented, deformed romantic interests. NS v. doing the dishes. NS v. Frankie the Fruit Fly. Rarely was he victorious over these malicious forces. Never did he surrender to their onslaught. No individual has had as profound an impact on my iTunes library as Nick has. A huge portion of my indelible musical taste is indebted to him. A great man once said that taste was half the battle. A greater man later said that taste was the whole war, and, in that war, Nick has been my greatest compatriot.
Interview Series Day 21: Nick “New School” Ray-Keeffe
CP: Where and when were you born? Where do you currently reside?
NS: I was born in Mineola, New York on October 22nd, 1988. I currently live in Brooklyn, New York.
CP: What is your first memory?
NS: The first memory I can think of is playing in the leaves in my backyard with my brother. Though I’m not sure if this is something I actually remembered or something I constructed from a photo my parents have on their fridge.
CP: What is your animus or power animal?
NS: At a creepy “soul retrieval workshop” two years ago, I landed on an orca whale being my power animal. I think this is because I really liked Free Willy.
NS: I was taking this class called “Discovering Manhattan: Drawing and Painting New York” taught by this crazy, excitable, burned-out professor who also happened to be a shaman (he held a PhD in Shamanism).
CP: I believe we can fill in the rest from there.
CP: What is was the best gift you ever received?
NS: The best gift I’ve ever received was my second cousin’s help funding my college tuition. I’m not sure where I would be without that gift. I would have never met you!
Note: I cannot imagine not knowing me.
CP: What is the last song you listened to and how did it affect you emotionally?
NS: “Heat and Hot Water” by ARMS, which was just posted as a live session on Daytrotter. It made me feel excited for the small amount of local music that is actually good. I don’t know if I ever recommended that song to you but, consider this my recommendation.
Note: Duly noted.
The Sentence Completion Portion of the Interview
CP: My name is Nick “New School” Ray-Keeffe, whilst preparing my signature hummus roast, Keanu Reeves breaks down the door to my apartment in full Matrix regalia, and says I have five minutes to get to the Franklin Street subway stop, or else. I immediately _______.
NS: follow Keanu. Though I’d probably be the one leading him to the subway because I’m not so sure he’d know where he was going. Would it be Keanu or Neo?
NS: Then I’d probably tell him that he should make Point Break 2.
CP: My name is Nick “New School” Ray-Keeffe, my greatest marching band triumph was _______.
NS: teaching myself how to play the mellophone. It was definitely one of my proudest achievements, teaching myself a new instrument, and a brass one after playing clarinet for years, in just a couple months. Brass is just so much more powerful than woodwind.
CP: Trick question! There’s no such thing as a marching band achievement.
CP: My name is Nick “New School” Ray-Keeffe, in my previous life I was _________.
NS: a film critic. I say that because when I was little I really wanted to be a film critic for some reason. I mean, that makes no sense because I didn’t like In Bruges? Right?
Note: That is about as right as right gets.
CP: My name is Nick “New School” Ray-Keeffe and I just won a billion Canadian dollars, I’m totally going to _______.
NS: exchange the money for US dollars, pay my parents back, pay off my loans, buy an apartment in the East Village, a boat (in which case I wouldn’t have to build one), a new guitar, an amp, some recording equipment, and then I’d probably invest some, donate some, maybe open up some sort of food establishment.
CP: My name is Nick “New School” Ray-Keeffe, and if I could transmogrify into any object, that object would be _______.
NS: A brick, so I could still get laid (boom).
The Basically Personal Questions Portion of the Interview
CP: What three Final Fantasy summons best describe you and why?
NS: Chocobo, Shiva, and Phoenix. Self-explanatory.
CP: Do you believe in God? Why not?
NS: I don’t believe in God because of how intangible the concept of Him seems to me. Also, that events like 9/11 or the Holocaust could have happened in the face of God only amplify my disbelief.
CP: What article of clothing do you hate the most?
NS: I hate socks because I just bought some a few months ago and a couple had holes in the toes after like 2 weeks! What gives!
CP: What is your dream job (This excludes ukulele player for The Hold Steady)?
NS: My dream job would probably be to own some sort of record store/music venue/cafe combination somewhere. Something like Cake Shop.
Note: Something like Cake Shop.
CP: What aspect of blindness do you most envy and why?
NS: I envy the heightened senses. Having a heightened sense of smell would be amazing, or horrible, depending if I was walking near Chinatown or not.
CP: You have been elected The President of the United States in a landslide win over Justin Ray-Keeffe in the 2016 election. What policies would you enact? Which would you discontinue?
NS: I would enact greater education subsidies and would probably change drinking age to 19.
CP: What piece of construction equipment best describes you and why?
NS: I think a crane best describes me. I’d rather be up in the air than on the ground scooping dirt or breaking concrete.
CP: Would you ever trade lives with anyone else? If so, who?
NS: I wouldn’t trade lives with anyone else. I like mine.
CP: Three dinner guests, living or dead, who would they be?
NS: Martin Scorcese, Elliott Smith, Woody Allen. That would be a weird dinner.
Note: Sausage Fest.
CP: Redo one moment in your life?
NS: Nah, I don’t believe in redoing. I believe in screwing up, learning, and moving forward.
The Word Association Portion of the Interview
The Favorite Anythings Portion of the Interview
CP: What’s your favorite part of your morning routine?
NS: Shower. It’s the only part of my routine that actually makes me feel awake.
Note: Jing-it definitely.
CP: What is your favorite song lyric of all time?
NS: I’m going to answer with a few, if that’s alright. “Is this how men mark time?” from Ex-Girl Collection by The Wrens.
Note: Spectacular lyric.
NS(cont.): “We kid ourselves that there’s future in the fucking, but there is no fucking future.” From “We are Beautiful, We are Doomed” by Los Campesinos.
Note: Spectacular lyric.
NS(cont.): And in Pedro the Lion’s “The Poison,” “My old man always swore that hell would have no flame, just a front row seat to watch your true love pack her things and drive away.”
Note: Pretty good lyric.
NS(cont.): I was trying to round this out with some Elliott Smith, but I can’t think of a particular line I like more than others.
Note: Hours of contemplation allowed me to narrow down to two: “It’s a comedy of errors you see, it’s about taking a fall. To vanish into oblivion, it’s easy to do. And I try to be, but you know me. I come back when you want me to.” Or “Drink up baby, look at the stars, I’ll kiss you again, between the bars, where I’m seeing you there, with your hands in the air, waiting to finally be caught.”
Secondary Note: Spectacular lyrics.
CP: Who is your favorite method actor?
NS: Jack Nicholson.
CP: What is your favorite accidental celebrity death?
NS: Heath Ledger.
Nick’s Question for Carmen’s End of the Month Self-Interview
Q21: What is your favorite song lyric of all time and why?