Memoirist’s Annual Manhattan Pit Stop


By Neal Comment

david-gross-headshot.jpgI thought I was being clever, inviting David Gross to an Italian place off Union Square the day after he arrived in New York from Bologna, where he’s the creative director for the Ducati motorcycle company. Turns out that when he makes the annual trip back—”all of Bologna is closed in August,” he quips—he’s more apt to revisit quintessential Manhattan venues like Katz’s for the cuisines he’s missed for the last year. “The food in Italian restaurants in the city is really great,” he adds, “but it’s not Italian food.” Even beyond the culinary, he continues, Italy is one of the nations in Europe that has put up the greatest resistance to American cultural influence; “they’re still doing things their own way,” he explains, “and the regionalism is so strong that the Bolognese are highly resistance to influence from the rest of Italy.”(Although, honest to God, he liked the place I took him. Really.)

While he’s back in the States, Gross is doing a few promotional events for Fast Company, a memoir in which he tells the story of how he went from a corporate law career in New York to overseeing ad campaigns for a motorcycle manufacturer—and though he never mentions Ducati or his coworkers by their real names, he says that was a purely creative decision with no legal considerations. “I was trying to capture the excitement of this rush of activity without getting too bogged down in the details,” he explains; citing literary influences like Christopher Isherwood and F.T. Marinetti. “Now it’s become a little bit of a game for readers, figuring out who’s who.” But for the article he’s working on now, an account for The Believer of the current motorcycle racing season, in which Team Ducati’s Casey Stoner is getting close to securing the MotoGP championship (he just won the Czech Republic Grand Prix Sunday). “If we win,” Gross predicts, “all hell will break loose.” Until then, he’s enjoying himself in the States, and as we finish our pizzas, he tells me he’s looking forward to an upcoming trip to Los Angeles. “It’s everything that Europe isn’t,” he says, smiling. “It’s like detox from Europe.”