Herman Schwartzman, 85

E 42nd St at Lexington Ave.

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Photograph: Jay Muhlin

What are you up to? I'm coming from the office. I'm a lawyer. Also, I've just had a hip replacement.

You're half bionic! Yes, that's true. It feels good.

So you're still working? You could have been retired for 20 years by now. Well, I don't think that's a great thing to do. I think as long as you are mentally mobile you should be using your mental facilities.

Don't you ever wish you could kick back and relax a little? [Laughs] I do relax. A few years ago, Smithsonian had an issue in which they listed 26 or 28 places you ought to visit before you die. My late wife calculated that we'd been to at least 22 of them.

That's impressive. What's it like to have lived through the invention of the TV, the computer, Internet, cell phones? People are doing business at a lightninglike pace these days. Sometimes too precipitously. You're better off thinking about something for a day or two if it's an important decision.

What kind of law do you do? Mainly taxation.

Defending white-collar criminals? Well, there are conflicts, but mainly we do planning.

Sounds mind-numbing. I don't find it mind-numbing at all. Some people are geared to play pro soccer, others are geared to perform surgery, and others are suited for the law.

Though with that new hip you might want to consider soccer. [Laughs] Maybe later on.

More from Herman

"My birthday is coming up. To celebrate, my children and I and a couple friends will have dinner at Colicchio & Sons, which I understand is very good."

"We took a trip to East Africa when there was peace there: Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. They were a confederation at the time. Everything was beautiful; no one was killing anyone to speak of."

"I was involved as the attorney pro bono for the New Museum of Contemporary Art from the time of its creation until a short while ago when I retired from the board and from service as its counsel. I am an art lover. I do own some art, though I haven't bought anything in the last four or five years. What's the last thing I bought? Probably a commemorative piece by an artist named William Kentridge. It's kind of like a pictogram thing, or what they used to call a mutoscope: You turn a wheel and get some flashing activity before you."

 

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