Samuel "Cohen" Garcia, 18

Broadway between 114th and 115th Sts

"I'm from El Paso, Texas. A lot of New Yorkers are pretty sure it's in Mexico."

Photograph: Jay Muhlin

That hairdo's got to have a name.
[Laughs] My old cut was called the Shadow, because it left half of my face in shadow. I guess this one kind of does too.

And speaking of names, who's the inspiration behind your nickname? Leonard? Sacha Baron?
In middle school, this girl asked me my name and I said Sam. She said, "I like Cohen better." She told all her friends, and teachers started thinking it was my real name, so everyone started calling me that.

Middle-school flirtation gone awry! Are you in school now?
Yeah, at Columbia. I'm a history and philosophy major.

Good practical topics for a post-college job.
Actually, I'm a writer. I just turned in my final manuscript to the publisher yesterday. It's called The Trouble with Dreams.

Congrats! What's the trouble with 'em?
The final trouble is that they're not all gonna come true...and you're just gonna have to deal with it.

That's uplifting.
[Laughs] Yeah. It's a really sad story. A lot of people back home have lost dreams, and I have too.

Like what?
When I was in high school I was in a car crash. I missed half of my senior football season.

That's sad. But what possessed you to write a book about it while you were in college?
Well, I started as an econ--poli-sci major—very mainstream. And I decided that I wouldn't leave an impact on the world that way. I wanted to touch people the way great books have affected me.

Did you miss a lot of parties in the process?
[Laughs] Nah. I'm in a frat so it all works out.

—Kate Lowenstein