Please state your full name.
Nicholas Sebastiano Lecchi.
Where are you from?
Rockville, Maryland in the United States.
And where is your family from?
My father is from Milan, Italy. And I think my mother is from Seveso in Italy, but I can’t be sure.
Do you speak Italian?
Very little. Enough to swear in it, maybe get slapped.
Can you say something in Italian?
Ciao come va? Mi chiamo Nicholas.
Okay, I’ll try to get that into the interview. I don’t know Italian, I might need your help.
I don’t know how to write English, don’t worry.
How has it been to encounter the diverse culture at both Bard and Bard College Berlin? Have you noticed a difference between the two?
More people know who I’m talking about when I mention the name Stan Brakhage.
You mean here at Bard College Berlin?
Yes. I think it’s smaller here, so more people know one another. I think, somewhat, we are forced to interact. While Bard has a small student body, it’s pretty nebulous. You can go everywhere. Here you get to know each other better even if you don’t hang out… I mean I think there’s some good and bad. I think Annandale has more things to explore. If I want to be alone I can go take a walk.
That’s a good point.
But I think I have more freedom to do stuff here. My workload is less in light of the courses I’m taking. I don’t know about the students because I am not the most social person, far from it.
So why did you decide to come to Bard College Berlin, or specifically Berlin, for a semester abroad?
Well, it was a process of elimination. If there is anything wrong that would come up, I have relatives in Italy. It’s not too far away, it’s what, two, three hours away. I was told the Berlin program is very good for poly-sci, which is my major. And I needed to get away from Bard for one semester, preferably [the] semester before I [have to] start the senior project.
Can you explain why you chose poly-sci?
Because I didn’t know I wanted to do film… Why did I choose to do it? Really I think I was always saying ‘I like this major, I like this major.’ And it wasn’t until the moderation board. Most people dread it, but I think it was really great. And I realized there [were] a lot of great people in [the] department, at least the faculty. One of the best people I’ve met is my advisor Simon Gilhooley. And I think he has actually really helped foster that interest. But I guess it’s fascinating— I always liked how negotiations work. I always like seeing how people work. I always liked these debates on how the world should be. And it’s less scary than philosophy. Vastly less so. I mean, I can look cool and name Millard Fillmore, I can’t look cool and name, I don’t know… Jacques Derrida.
You just did.
I just did, but everyone knows who that is. I can’t get any hipster brownie points for Jacques Derrida. I can do that by naming Millard Fillmore and claiming he was the best president you never heard of.
[Laugh] That’s true, very true. So is politics something you’d want to do after?
No. Do I want to be a terrible person for a living? Absolutely not. Would I like to study it? Yes. But would I like to run for office? I’d have to go find Mephistopheles and be like ‘yo my soul’s right here.’
Do you have any idea what you do want to do after college? Or where your other interests lie that you may want to pursue further?
I’d just like to collect a lot of knowledge. If I had the ability to do anything ever I’d just collect all the knowledge. Learn a little bit of everything. Never stop reading, never stop watching films, never stop listening to music.
What are some of your favorite [books]?
Unfortunately I have not read enough, and that’s one of my biggest regrets in life. Favorite books though: The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, and this final one is one more people should read, its William Styron’s Darkness Visible. It’s a super short book, and I’m really dismayed more people haven’t read it.
I do love In Cold Blood. What are some of your favorite movies?
Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker, Ingmar Bergman’s Winter Light, Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights, Godfather Part 2, Michael Snow’s Wavelength, Stan Brakhage’s Dog Star Man, Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Blue, Abbas Kiarostami’s Through the Olive Trees.
I remember you telling me about Dog Star Man, what about it do you find so compelling?
I think it’s a great explanation of one man’s conscious and subconscious. I can’t understand it, I don’t think anyone but Brakhage himself can understand it. I just have to feel it, you know what I mean?
Do you like a thing that you just have to feel, give up and surrender?
Yes, and we all want that sometimes. Some giant thing we can’t totally… explain.
What are some of your favorite [bands/albums]?
At the moment, Trouble Will Find Me by The National. The National got me through college.
It’s the perfect band for a sad, white person who is upper middle class and can’t talk to people. The Red House Painters, which was great when Mark Kozelek wasn’t hyped, and blown up to the moon by Pitchfork. I really like things – “before it was cool” I liked it.
Would you say you’re a hipster?
Absolutely. To a disgusting degree. I want to out-hipster other hipsters. But At The Drive In as far as punk bands. The Wonder Years, it’s like pop-punk taken to the best extreme. The Afghan Wigs, who my roommate, Douglas Gordon, cruelly dismisses. Spiritualized. What other bands? You know there’s The Cure, The Smiths, Jeff Buckley – he’s my favorite singer. It’s a shame he’s dead, too good for this earth kind of. Joy Division. Singer/songwriter Sharon Van Etten, Tom Waits. Another short-lived band that I like is Carissa’s Wierd. I could go on.
You have a vast wealth of culture in you.
I should listen to more jazz and classical. And I should probably listen to more Fela Kuti.
Jazz is always good. Listen to jazz. Have you found that going abroad has expanded your horizons at all?
No matter where I’m going my horizons are going to expand, I think maybe I’m less scared to approach stuff. But in some ways I’m more scared of stuff. I think people here are super smart, and super passionate, and in some ways that does scare me. I’m afraid to screw it up and not get what they’re getting. But at the same time I feel like ‘Okay, fine, try doing it. See what’s up.’
Anything else you would like to [talk about]?
Yes, there needs to be more purple Christmas lights.
You know we go to buy it, and there’s red, blue, green, yellow. Here’s the thing with color: I see someone wearing a shirt, it’s red, blue, and green. Fine. I see someone wearing a shirt it’s red, blue, green, yellow; I say god ‘where’s orange and purple? Why haven’t you thought of putting in orange or purple? What kind of a person are you?!’ One, two, three colors – that’s fine. The dark shades, light shades. Using four colors, that’s a half measure. At some point, there’s a bar. And if you pass over that acceptable threshold you have to go all the way. So I see Christmas lights – there’s not enough purple Christmas lights! There’s not enough pink Christmas lights! Do you know how pretty purple Christmas lights are? They are absolutely beautiful.
You are very right, they are gorgeous. Anything else? That was beautiful.
Not as beautiful as purple Christmas lights.
What’s your favorite holiday?
Memorial day because I don’t have to go to school. St Patrick’s day is cool.
What’s your favorite season?
The weather fluctuates between the 50’s and 70’s (Fahrenheit) – the ideal weather. The leaves come out, I’m usually happiest during spring. I think I have more opportunities to do stuff. There is a lull between the intensity of midterms and finals where you can just do whatever. More time to hang out.
I definitely agree with that… What is something you think you are passionate about that other people aren’t?
Hmm, that’s a difficult question. The sky. The sky is cool. I’ve been taking a lot of photos of the sky. It’s this grand thing, it’s always going to be there. I wish it was more colors. Anytime it’s yellow or purple – I’ve only seen those colors two times.
It seems like you really like those colors?
It’s because we do not see enough of them. My dream is to see a green sky. That would be great, that would be one of the happiest days of my life. I’ve never seen one.
Does that exist outside of the aurora borealis?
I was told there is a lot of pollution, people will mess the sky up. My friend told me that in Bangladesh he has seen green skies.
Well thank you so much for this interview, it is probably the best interview that will ever exist.