Craig " Radioman" Schwartz is one of the city's most eminent professional kooks. Radioman's a celebrity hawker: He bikes around New York looking for who is who, and what is what, in the film and tv worlds; he follows celebrities; shows up on the scene at whatever hotel happens to be housing a movie star. He used to wear a radio around his neck, and I guess that's how he got his nickname. But every time I've seen him recently, there's been no radio anywhere near him.
I've run into Radioman everywhere. He's about 5-foot-9; he resembles a homeless man on a bicycle, a broken and unshaven Robin Williams on a bender. Get past his superficial bonhomie and you'll see the evil little gleam in his eye. There's a maniacal lilt to his voice, as if he were the leprechaun who, instead of finding a pot of gold under the rainbow, found a pot of poteen. I once asked Radioman if he was Irish, and his face balled up like a fist. That's when I found out his name was Schwartz.
I first met him outside Paul Simon's apartment building on Central Park W. Radioman slipped me his (own) phone number and informed me that Simon was a nasty little prick who wouldn't give anyone the time of day. Simon walked by and Radioman started yelling at him. Simon got away safely, and Radioman told me he was laying on Nicole Kidman, and wanted her to sign some movie stills for him. He appears to be some kind of autograph collector, but who knows? Straight answers aren't on Radioman's playlist.
I called Radioman a few times and listened to his outgoing message. It was a screaming litany of what hotels every two-bit movie star was staying in, and of what movie and tv shows were shooting around the city and where. It was an extensive list, though; Radioman does stay on top of this game of his. I guess people who want to be extras call his number and then show up. Again, who knows? I left a few messages, but never got a call back. A friend of mine ran into Radioman not long after that and, just to mess with him, asked him why he hadn't called me back. Radioman got flustered and walked away from my friend, cursing.
Last week I was walking down by the Brooklyn waterfront in DUMBO, on Plymouth St, carefully navigating the potentially ankle-twisting scape of cobblestones and old trolley tracks. The last person I expected to see standing on the weedy sidewalk was a shirtless Radioman, leaning on his bicycle. When I said hello he looked at me with a flinty eye and crowed, "Do I know you?"
I reintroduced myself; Radioman squinted in the direction of a brick building. I asked him what brought him to Plymouth St. Radioman sighed like he was talking to a retarded younger brother.
"One of the directors of The Blair Witch Project is giving an interview over there," he said. Some young guy came out on the sidewalk and, in his best singsong voice, sweeter now than molasses, Radioman cooed, "Oh, hello!" Then he started ignoring me.
I walked into the nearby Empire State Ferry Park and hung with the mentally challenged adults who invade the park at lunch and go around wanting to shake everyone's hand. None of them are professional kooks.