By Araceli Cruz
By Tessa Stuart
By Anna Merlan
By Keegan Hamilton
By Albert Samaha
By Village Voice staff
By Tessa Stuart
By Albert Samaha
SQUARE FEET735 [live-work loft in former sweater factory]
OCCUPANTSJoel Rapp [interior designer]; Brian Blessinger [writer, flavorpill.net]; Peter Pintso Ongi Azuba Lauenstein Denjongpa [tour director]
You sleep in space pods![Joel] Yes. I moved in two years ago. I answered an ad from two models who used to be Miller Lite girls together.
Miller Lite girls.One was staying with Josh across the hall, who's also a model and has a skateboard halfpipe in his house. The Miller Lite girls found this loft which was completely raw and of course they're models, not carpenters. They advertised for a man who is handy. They really wanted a roommate capable of building rooms but were afraid to say so. I walked in. I said, Perfect! I drafted them three separate ground plans. I called this one "The In Out." Everybody's space is divided twice. The opaque ones are their bedrooms. The office spaces are made of corrugated fiberglass, like roofs of backyard sheds of houses in Connecticut. When I stay here . . .
Where else do you stay?My best friend works for the State Department, vice counsel to the Bahamas, so I was just there for six weeks. [Joel calls Brian, who's at brunch.] Find Azuba, hurry. Azuba's a monk.
Does he wear monk clothes?Occasionally. His parents met because his father was a favored monk of the queen of Sikkim and she sent a sect to Brown. She's American, kind of like Princess Grace but in Asia. We had a party once that had five Buddhist monks and a queen.
Your neighbor pays $2,200. He said a lot of rich kids are here.There is a new trust fund contingent since the mini-wave of micro-gentrification. Next door, they're eight people. If you go in when they're sleeping, it's like Gettysburg, bodies on the floor. They're all 20 years oldmanagers of Abercrombie & Fitch stores. Wait, one's a busboy at Coffee Shop. [Azuba never arrives. Brian comes in and the conversation drifts.] [Brian] My ex-girlfriend is dating a Mr. Buttinger and we have the same birthday.
Did you meet him?Oh, I met him on Monday. [Later I call Azuba.]
Do you wear a monk robe?[Azuba] No, my dad'sthe monk. My dad's not celibate, obviously. He has long hair down to his butt. My grandfather was a death astrologer and my grandmother was a poisoner. It was a little village. When everyone knows who the poisoner is, it's not as effective. The women have many husbands. This woman married a band of brothers.
She must have been exhausted. What's it like in a pod?Each of us thinks he has the best pod. I do. I don't have a mattress. I sleep on a sheepskin and a kangaroo skin. I love science fiction. I'm a future retro man. I found this when Joel wrote an ad. I was one of 75 who responded. Instead of having personal interviews, he had a party on the roof. I knew from the description"no straight lines"that it was something cool. I wanted it. I didn't get a call for four days and I was in total agony. Also because I had such a good time at the party. I knew my life had to start with this thing. My mother and dad happened to be stateside. I went home to Massachusetts. I e-mailed Joel twice and left messages. I made this little card, a tenant profile. It gave the invisible perks of living with me. When he didn't call me, I thought, He thought I was a freak! Why did I do that? I get home and my dad pulls out this tiny bag of yellow rice. He said, Put this wherever you want to live. I said, Dad, first of all, you're crazy. Second of all, you're too late. I'm totally torn up about it, totally depressed. Joel is such a cool guy. He worked for Club Med. On the night of the third day, I have a dream where I'm in the apartment, kind of floating around and throwing this yellow rice all over the place and then a day later, Joel finally calls. I don't know what took him four days.