Top Floor of 1919 House


Location Kensington (Brooklyn)

Rent $1200 (market)

Square feet 900

Occupants Nora McCarthy (editor, Foster Care Youth United); Stuart Weiner (VP of production, Hunter Gatherer)

The Beverley Q train station looks like a miniature. The platform is only five feet wide. Your street in the early summer evening, it’s a hundred years ago. He asks her, “Do you want to go to the picture show?” and she says, “I don’t know,” and then they walk a bit and sit down on the porch swing and then they get married. She’ll wear a blue cambric going-away costume. There are a lot of small Victorian houses with porches here. But there are also California sort of bungalows, with those squat columns. Did you ever hear the song from 1929: “Where it does not take much mon-ey/To own a lit-tle bun-ga-low”? Of course it’s about California, but anyway. Before I came out here, I didn’t know where I was going. I had to call so many people to figure out if you’re in Flatbush or Prospect Park or greater Ditmas Park—so confusing. Danny Siony, at the realty place—he was born in Israel, grew up in Iran, and his family has had Kensington Realty for 20-some years—he said the area is all those things, but Kensington is the word he uses. Then Ron Schweiger, the Brooklyn borough historian—he’s the last word here—said it’s all part of old Flatbush, which has 11 neighborhoods. Someone in a daily paper was quoted as saying, “The area has some rough edges, but it is so obviously on the upswing that it’s exhilarating.” Ah, the excitement of money! [Nora] That, of course, is why we’re here.

Yes, it’s written all over you—the socks, the sweatshirt. Your house has bowers of pink and lavender paper flowers on the porch, like a bed and breakfast in Kalamazoo, Michigan. That’s our landlord’s wife’s decorations. She always dresses so well when she goes to work. She’s from Peru. He’s from Ecuador.

Your dog looks like she’s made of licorice—so squirmy, like a piglet. She flies down the stairs every time someone comes to the door. Our landlord found her in the park and brought her to us. She had more health problems than we could afford to deal with. He gave her to this woman. She completely rehabilitated her. Then we took her back in. [Stuart] I think I have an extra photo of her. [Nora] Stuart and I met when he was at MTV. I had friends there. We went bowling. He was on my team, three years ago.

You have all these funny things in your medicine cabinet, Yap Tip Toe corn-removing plaster and Nu Nile Hair Slick dressing pomade, and what’s this machine called the Microtherm? [Nora] I found it in Gramercy Park outside of a doctor’s office.

It looks like it’s for shock treatments. [Nora] I think it was for heat treatments. [Stuart] We came to this neighborhood because a friend of a friend lived here. We were sort of dreaming of living here. [Nora] But when we first moved in, I was working at home and I felt like I was in a tower. I had to stay in the house all day and wait for phone calls and it was so far from the city. It was like I was in my parents’ house in Connecticut. [Stuart] That’s why I loved it. [Nora] He wants to not live in the city, being from Dallas, where there’s a lot of space. I like the sound of kids playing outside, like in Prospect Heights, where I used to live. Here it’s so quiet. Stuart is so pissed there are school buses and they sound like sea lions in the morning. The best Afghan restaurant in the city is four blocks away. [Stuart] Whatever the Voice recommends! [Nora] They have pumpkin doughnuts. [We discuss their landlord some more.] His dog is named Jackie O. His other dog was Eva, after Eva Gabor.

This is one of those mysterious neighborhoods of men who walk dogs at night, and then I wonder, what else do they do? The people next door to us sit on their porch and watch television. To me it feels I’m down South somewhere, even though I’ve never been down South.