New Yorker. Newshound. Sneakerhead. Grab a Manhattan Special with Complex Mag’s culture curator, Joe La Puma.
“All the time I spend at home in the morning is usually on the computer in my office.”
Joe La Puma answers the door at 7:30 like he’s been up for hours. “I’m a light sleeper and my phone is right next to my bed.” He smiles. Then shrugs. “Drake occasionally drops songs at 3:00am, man!”
As Director of Content Strategy at Complex Magazine, it’s Joe’s job to be up on everything that happens in the related universes of sneakers, hip-hop, pop culture, limited edition clothing releases, and more. And with the Complex.com averaging 200 posts or more a day, he’s got to be on his game. “For me, it is really about being on top of everything that happens on the Internet,” he says. “I get yelled at a lot for being on my phone,” he says. “But that’s my livelihood; that’s what I like to do. When I’m on the subway for 45 minutes in the morning, I worry about what I’m going to miss.”
Joe’s morning plays into his near obsessive approach to work. “I shower at night, so I can wake up, splash a little water on my face and go,” he says as he pours Poland Spring Water into a mug, and takes a long swig. “And I’m not a breakfast guy. All the time I spend at home in the morning is usually on the computer in my office.” He smiles. La Puma is practically a personification of New York City itself – restless and full of spirit. He wears an AC Milan soccer jersey with the collar popped. He seems to remember something, walks into the bathroom and returns holding a cream colored bottle. “This is the only grooming product I use right here!” He exclaims. “Cetaphil – because Pharrell came out and said this is what keeps him looking young… I mean c’mon!”
He tosses on heavily distressed jeans, a leather jacket (“Every time I think I have enough leather jackets, I buy another one”) and Nike Presto’s trainers (“These were just re-released a few weeks ago”) and we walk downstairs to the street. Joe’s neighborhood is in a quiet section of Brooklyn called Windsor Terrace. It feels more like a suburb and reminds him of where he grew up, in Brightwaters, Long Island. “I used to joke that I lived on the most boring block in the world,” he laughs. Five steps from Joe’s apartment is his first stop every morning – Brancaccio’s Food Shop, an Italian grocer and deli, (“It’s the kind of place where they have fresh bread in the morning, and when they’re out, they’re out”).
Joe’s order is the same each day: Manhattan Special – a bottled, espresso soda that’s been in production since 1895. “The caffeine gets me going every morning, plus it’s kind of a nod to my dad being young, Italian and growing up in Brooklyn, he loved this drink.” The owner of the shop, also named Joe, won’t let La Puma pay. “Get out of here,” he kids. “If this street was ever to pop off,” Joe says as we leave, “it’d be because of this place. It’s the best.”
“If this street was ever to pop off, it’d be because of this place. It’s the best.”
We walk the several, sunny blocks towards the subway. Joe leads the way, continuing to wax fondly about his ‘hood. “I love the fact that I’m not so accessible out here on the weekends; there are no six person brunches or industry shit happening – it’s low key,” he says. Then the Long Island kid takes a swig of his Manhattan Special that reminds him of his Brooklyn dad, and goes right back to tapping away at his iPhone.