The Interrogator with Nathaniel Sandler

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Boobleggers, Dogleggers, Swampleggers: these are some of the aliases of Bookleggers, a mobile community library in Miami that’s contributed to far more than just a vibrant literary culture. They’ve also contributed to important causes such as breast cancer, dog rescue, and Everglades restoration.

Bookleggers started in 2012 as a small outfit—in the words of its founder, the result of a “weirdo with too many books in his car”—but has grown to include events and pop-ups around the city, praised for smart sourcing and selection, from classics to oddball volumes.

The weirdo behind Bookleggers is a literary figure in his own right. Nathaniel Sandler is a writer of sharp prose with a keen sense of place and a cutting sense of humor. When he’s not lugging tons of books around to disperse amongst Miamians, he’s writing brilliant profiles of zoo employees and manifestos on what to do when Miami finally submits to rising waters.

As Sandler’s sworn writerly arch-nemesis, this writer can vouch for his supreme grasp of language. As such, I must also warn you: he is a smarmy bastard.

It is with a distinct mix of pleasure and loathing that I present to you the Sandler version of The Interrogator.

Place of residence:

Miami Beach, FL in one of those buildings that still houses old people and looks like it still houses old people.

Current occupation:

Writer and director of an indie library called Bookleggers Library.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Writer and director of an indie library called Bookleggers Library.

Quote to live by:

“Pride is an abomination. One must forego the self to obtain total spiritual creaminess, and avoid the chewy chunks of degradation.” – Ace Ventura 2: When Nature Calls

First job you ever had:

Bagging groceries at Publix on 127th and Biscayne. I learned a lot about capitalism from Publix, man. One time I watched this dude Ronald from the deli buy a car for $35 in the parking lot and he was convinced he could fix it by removing some garbage from the heating unit of the air conditioning. That car sat there for about six months after I left. Ronald was a good guy. I hope he’s doing well.

My oldest friend in the world Danny and I worked that job together. Once his 16-year-old dumb ass got caught by the big boss checking his vitals in the blood pressure machine while on the clock. I still laugh about that regularly.

Least favorite part of your day:

The morning. Pretty much everyone knows I don’t exist before lunch. My only feeling when I wake up and see the world at 8 a.m. is “why is everyone moving so fast.” No question mark.

Windows down, the song you’re playing is:

Anything by Pillar Point.

Three guilty pleasures:

I don’t feel guilty about pleasurable things, but if the mood is right I will murder McDonalds and not look back. Plus I like bad movies—action or anything where an animal eats people is good.

If you had to watch one movie on repeat for eternity, what would it be?

This is such a hard question because I didn’t know there was even another movie ever made besides Ace Ventura 2: When Nature Calls.

You have a million dollars to spend on art, you buy:

I would invest in artists from Miami. Then they’d get rich, I’d get cool art. Even though I don’t surf, I’d buy a Bhakti Baxter board and coco loco to call friend.

Plane, train or automobile for a trip?

Train. I took the Tran-Siberian once and drank a bunch of Putinka, the state-owned vodka named after Putin. You can really see the world and simultaneously get things done on a train.

What IS your favorite trip?

Key West to fill up the Free Library at the Green Parrot and visit my main dude Kenji. It’s a life dream of mine to buy a motel somewhere on the Overseas Highway and just watch the fucker slowly rot. You’re all invited.

Personal travel ethos:

Best travel tip I’ve got: If you’re outside of America, I’ve found that telling people you are from Miami instead of the U.S. makes you friends a lot easier.

Drink of choice:

Miller Lite and a shot of Jameson. Specifically at Sweet Liberty.

Beach house or tree house:

Is this even a question? C’mon. Even people with tree houses want a beach house.

Where was the best meal you ever had and what was it?

I miss Gushers. Do they still have those?

What is the best news you ever received?

When Knight Foundation gave Bookleggers Library a grant. I would have kissed just about anyone but I was home alone when I got the phone call.

Who or what is largely overrated?

Rob Goyanes.

Briefly describe the best concert you have ever gone to.

I got to see Phife Dawg at the Rec Room right before he died, which felt special. Tribe was also my first concert out in Pompano Beach. I was in 8th grade and had no idea what to do with my hands. Still don’t.

Where do you go for inspiration, peace of mind?

I have a couple of answers to this. The most inspiring place in Miami to me is the University of Miami Special Collections.

I also like to walk. There’s a funny mindset around the cultural/lib types in Miami that eschews Miami Beach entirely as somehow fake or annoying, but also wants a more walkable city. Don’t tell them you can walk everywhere over on this side of the Bay. I like it better over here where the only pretension is from rich people.

Photo by Carla Barraez for SIXTY Hotels

 

Rob Goyanes

Rob Goyanes

Rob Goyanes is a writer from Miami, Florida, now living in New York City. He has work forthcoming in the Paris Review Daily and Interview Mag.

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