The Interrogator with Import News

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With the internet continuing to fray our collective attention span with its access to Too Much All of the Time, the practical and nostalgic appeal of printed matter has begun to mount. Not long ago, the distribution of information–from global politics to where to find the best dive bar in Flatbush–was relegated to the anointed few. Journalists were the de facto tastemakers, for better and worse. If that time felt more like a blissfully concise order at In-N-Out, today feels more like perusing the daunting laminate bible that is a Cheesecake Factory menu. Everyone has their recommendations, their opinions, their grammatically incorrect blog posts. The Information Age has set us free in many ways; in others, it has weighed us down with its inordinate bulk.

Ken Miller and Sasha Laing’s Import News, located in the recently opened Oliver Coffee in the lower stretches of Manhattan’s Chinatown, appeals to those looking to sate their curiosity the old fashioned way: through the pages of magazines. It’s about discovery sans Google, reading without the nagging compulsion to toggle through browser tabs. Miller and Laing have done the digging for you themselves, scouring the globe for indie publications packed with just enough interesting and artfully written information. Fantastic Man, AnOther, BOMB, Pop, LOVE, Dazed: Import News has it all. Or, perhaps more accurately, they don’t have it all; they have all that you need. And that’s precisely the point.

Below, we talk to Miller and Laing about shelving the foreign language section of the New York Public Library, a personal phone call from Gary Shteyngart, and never making second mistakes.

Import News NYC

Place of residence:

Ken: NY, NY with Sasha Laing, my cohort at Import and There.

Sasha: New York.

Current occupation:

Ken:  Curator/editor/brand strategy/cultural programming.

Sasha: Writer.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Ken: Pretty much what I’m doing now!

Quote to live by:

Ken:  “Hey, what’s that over there?” (Can be used for both good and bad discoveries.)

Sasha: “Don’t make the second mistake.”

Import news NYC

First job you ever had:

Ken: Working at the New York Public Library. Since I spoke Spanish, they put me in the foreign language section… shelving Hungarian, Japanese and Chinese.

Sasha: Working as a cashier at the LCBO (the government run liquor store in Ontario).

Least favorite part of your day:

Ken: 4 p.m.

Sasha: Laundry.

Windows down, the song you’re playing is:

Sasha: Koudlam.

Three guilty pleasures:

Ken: Reading, snacks and traveling.

Sasha: Self-help books, mochi, and staying in.

Sasha Laing Import News

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

Ken: I don’t know if this was exactly a choice, but I was once on a 14-hour flight with only one movie to watch repeatedly and it was the second Bourne movie. And I’ve seen Zoolander… a lot.

Sasha: Moonstruck.

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

Ken: I’ve actually had to think about this, since I curate exhibitions and program art events for a living. Do I wish I’d bought a lot of the art that I’ve helped exhibit? Of course! I’m lucky in that I’ve gotten to exhibit artists I love (and that many of them have become quite successful). Still, if I had a million dollars to spend on art, I would buy dinners for all of my artist friends and pay for exhibitions and books of their art, all around the world. So basically what I’ve already done, but with a better budget!

Sasha: Ray Johnson.

Plane, train or automobile for a trip?

Ken: Yes, in that order.

Sasha: Train.

What IS your favorite trip?

Ken: All time–it’s probably a trip I took along the Silk Road a few years back. People never believe me, but Uzbekistan was really nice!

Sasha: I like going somewhere and settling down for a month or two. Long enough to form some habits and routines.

Ken Miller Import News

Personal travel ethos:

Ken: Travel. There’s always something there.

Sasha: Pack light and don’t over-plan.

Magazine you’ll likely bring in the carry-on:

Ken: I plead the fifth! Well, since it’s not around anymore, I’ll say List magazine.

Sasha: Apartamento, Real Review, Vestoj, Bad Day. 

How you take your coffee:

Ken: Black with a little sugar.

Sasha: Black.

Oliver Coffee NYC

Beach house or tree house:

Ken: Tree house by the beach–best breezes that way.

Sasha: Beach house.

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

Ken: Calçotada with my family in Spain.

Sasha: There’s a Salvadoran spot in my neighborhood where you can get pupusas—they could not be more delicious and only cost $2.00. It’s my favorite place to go back to again and again.

What is the best news you ever received?

Sasha: When I got into the writing program at Columbia, Gary Shteyngart called to tell me the news—that was a pretty great phone call to get.

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

Ken: Calçotada with my family in Spain.

Sasha: There’s a Salvadoran spot in my neighborhood where you can get pupusas—they could not be more delicious and only cost $2.00. It’s my favorite place to go back to again and again.

Ken Miller Import News

What is the best news you ever received?

Sasha: When I got into the writing program at Columbia, Gary Shteyngart called to tell me the news—that was a pretty great phone call to get.

Who or what is largely overrated? Explain.

Sasha: Cars. If we didn’t have them, there would never be traffic.

Briefly describe the best concert you have ever gone to.

Ken: Some friends’ bands playing in the woods in Big Sur–the combination of the music, the place, and being with good people.

Where do you go for inspiration, peace of mind?

Ken: Home, believe it or not!

Sasha:  To the bookshelf.

Photos by Atisha Paulson for SIXTY Hotels

Jenny Bahn

Jenny Bahn

Jenny Bahn is a writer and editor based in Brooklyn, specializing in music, fashion, the arts, and culture, both high and low. Her work has been featured in V Magazine, CR, Office, and TIME. She is the Managing Editor of Alpha SIXTY.

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