LOCATION East Twenties
RENT $2,450 [market]
SQUARE FEET 1,000 [one floor of four-story brownstone]
OCCUPANTS Michael Mahle [national manager, media relations, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation]; Danna Marino [director of accessories-fashion designer, Aeropostale]
It’s so civilized here, except for the lizards. [Michael]: I have two anoles, the basic Florida pest. [Danna] We have pests as pets. [Michael] Two newts. Two fire-belly toads. Oh, the pleco. [Danna] It’s one of those sucker things. It’s gross. I don’t get too close to the tank. [Michael] I’ve had the one toad since college.
It must be very dear to you. You just moved here two months ago after a life in New Jersey! [Danna] Hawthorne, New Jersey. It was close to our parents. [Michael] Close enough but far enough away. We were both still living at home when we met [in 2000].
Do you love the Indian stores here? Lime chutney, gold almonds. My most recent purchase was cardamom. I used it as a rub for tuna. Danna was out of town. [Danna] Who did you cook for? [Michael] Myself. [Danna] Michael’s a fabulous cook. [Michael] I like using wild game. [Danna] Clams casino. [Michael] If the ingredients are right, it always comes out good. That’s why I wanted to live near the Greenmarket in Union Square. This time of year, they have great multi-colored carrots. Carrots are originally not orange. [Danna] How do you know this? [Michael] Oh, I read a magazine story.
You have a bust of Frank Lloyd Wright. I’m very big into architecture. I’ve been designing houses since third grade. I took a test. My guidance counselor said, The good news is you can go into public speaking. The bad news is you can’t be an architect. I stuck to my strengths. Eventually I’ll build my home. I’ll have the last laugh then.
Could I see the drawings of your dream designs? Oh boy. Just ’cause we talked about it, I’ll bring it out. [Michael opens a large brown paper portfolio.] I designed a town. I don’t have any real set style. I’m not so good at using a ruler.
You wouldn’t take on a skyscraper. You have all these spaces called Mystic Meadow, Eagle Chase, Divided Sky, Winding Hollow. A lot of names came from a sub-development in Georgia. You’re not going to see an Industrial Way in my town. The purpose of this town is to keep it untouched land. [Danna] It’s a utopia.
It’s like a New Urbanist development. They believe people shouldn’t drive cars and should go on trolleys—so unempowering. You’re supposed to say, “Hello, neighbor.” [Danna] Everyone in this town owns a Ferrari. [We go out on their tiny back porch.]
It smells like Indian food out here. Sometimes the smell is from Le Petit Auberge.
I looked in—so old-fashioned French. My grandfather used to take my grandmother there. It was their restaurant. They didn’t even live in Manhattan. The dry cleaner’s over there. [We look at the Chiller-Diller machine, a water recirculating system.] [Michael] We had to go through this interview process to get the apartment. [Danna] The landlord was very proud of his tenants—lawyers, doctors. Our landlord’s a doctor. His office is downstairs.
Is it an old-fashioned office—cabinets with swabs and syringes? [Michael] There are hundreds of apothecary jars, an old eye machine.
What kind of doctor is he? General and ah, acupuncture. He’s Italian. The apothecary jars looked like they were all empty. [Danna] Evenly spaced. [We think about this as we’re drinking Jean Pabiot Pouilly Fumé 1999.] [Michael] My dream in life is to own a cheese-and-wine store. [We say goodbye. I walk out and look in the window of the doctor’s office. I call them immediately.]
At the reception desk, there was a man with brown hair talking on the phone and he was nude. Go look. [Michael calls back.] No one was at the desk.