Margo’s Couch


LOCATION Chinatown

RENT $2,400 [market]

SQUARE FEET 1,080 [early-century walk-up]

OCCUPANTS Andrea Lindstrom [coordinator, harm reduction-needle exchange]; Chris Jordan [media artist]; Jamie Favaro [assistant director, George Washington Bridge Outreach Program, Urban Pathways Inc.]

I just found this crumpled-up mystery paper on the crooked stairway. [Chris] This is the first time I’ve ever seen graffiti in the halls. [Andrea] It said, “Lil’ Wang.”

Such a lovely breeze is coming through the window. Chris and Andrea, your room looks out at Wei Wei Fashion and Chinatown Lumber. [Andrea] I do all my shopping on East Broadway.

I concluded this morning that East Broadway is my favorite street in New York, well, maybe in the world. First, the old Forward building, all sandy-colored with the Doric columns. A DOB work permit said it’s being converted to “class A apartments.” [Chris] On both sides is a place for chickens and it smells awful.

The thought of living in the old Forward building is so exciting—Isaac Bashevis Singer coming through the brass doors with his manuscripts. The Bintel Brief—”Dear Bintel Brief: My husband is so terrible. Do you think it’s fair?” Seward Park is equally wonderful. I was thinking that when my friends are at their summer houses, I could come to the park. Then I’d go to the tidy East Side Café for a snack. [Andrea] We’ve been in the neighborhood six years, first at Orchard and Canal. We moved from Minneapolis. It is so different from Minneapolis.

Yes, it is. Shall I tell you about my journey here? OK. Usually I get so disturbed by the empty fabric stores with the words “cotton and wool” rubbed out where the clerks would flop down long, dusty bolts of jersey on the cutting tables and then I’d think about the man who probably owned it and then the son who worked there but never cared as much as the father and now everybody’s in Florida or something, but because of this beautiful day, it didn’t make me as sad as it might have. The garlic on the vegetable stand was brighter; the rhinestone turtle pillbox in the Souvenir Store was sparkling madly. The pirate ship made of beaded pearls looked proud. There was a big pineapple made out of gold coins. I don’t know if it was real money. If so, an expensive pineapple. Your semicircular white couch looks like half of Saturn’s ring. [Chris] It’s Margo’s couch. We read a stoop sale ad—”Everything must go in Tribeca.” We went to this woman’s house. [Andrea] A beautiful studio. [Chris] She was sitting there kind of sad and her friends were there. She said she had just gotten a divorce and couldn’t stand to look at anything from the marriage. We said, How much for the couch? She said she had it custom made—$300. I said, OK, pinch me. Her friends were saying, You can’t sell it for $300.

You can’t go back on what you say. She did. [Andrea] We got it for $400. Her ex was a lawyer. She was selling his books.

Anyway I hope Margo’s laughing it up on a new couch now. Where did Jamie come from? [Jamie] I was at Columbia. I got a master’s in social work in May and I found this on the Internet and I hit if off with Chris right away on e-mail.

Did you have other roommates before? [Chris] Andy and I moved in with a good friend, a first-year law school student. [Andrea] It was way too stressful. But we love her. [Chris] We had three other roommates, six to eight months each. [Andrea] There was Julie, then Donna, Caroline . . . [Jamie] I’ve been here since May. [Chris] A year! We’ll have to celebrate.

Do you all eat together? [Andrea] Rarely. Chris and I make our own food and Jamie has hers. [Jamie] Chris makes awesome breakfasts.

Jamie’s room is so beautiful—that rose coverlet, the pink roses, the sun coming in. [Chris] I love that room. It’s quiet. You get the southern light. It’s the warmest room in the house.

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