All Together Now


LOCATION Ditmas Park

PRICE $145,000 in 2005 [$620 common charges]

SQUARE FEET 820 [one bedroom co-op in 1962 building]

OCCUPANT Peggy Leggat [book club editor, Scholastic]

It’s very airy. What’s that! Something crashed. I don’t know. It was in the other room. [We look, no trace.] It gets really hot in here. It’s on the top floor—the heat rises. It faces east. I don’t have any curtains.

You and your former roommate each bought apartments in this building. Why didn’t you buy together? A long time ago, we were going to buy a house together, OK, but that seemed unreasonable for our budget. It’s nice to have her downstairs. We’re trying to grow up a little.

I stopped in at Vox Pop, the new neighborhood café—coffee, books, democracy! Our realtor actually used Vox Pop as a selling point. She said she was a vegetarian. She even put a stash of Vox Pop flyers in the lobby.

L’Chaim, Legalize Freedom, Reform the Patriot Act, No More Domestic Violence. A friend who moved from Park Slope goes on Tuesday afternoons to the new-mommies gathering at Vox Pop. She said that almost everybody she knows who moved here moved from Park Slope.

You did too. You lived over a bagel shop for eight years. On Seventh Avenue. When I woke up, it always smelled like roasted chicken, but it was bagels, and then it was taken over by La Bagel Delight. It was a little sad to see the original bagel store pushed out even though it was not as clean or as good. But the people were really friendly at the old place. When I first moved to New York in 1997, my roommate and I lived in Williamsburg in an apartment in total squalor. There was a rat in the wall. Lisa kept a jar of change to throw at it to keep it from scratching. It was Todd Haynes’s apartment. He was making Velvet Goldmine in London.

Are you in the historic part of Ditmas Park? That’s more along Dorchester, with those incredibly huge houses. They look like they’re in Atlanta, Georgia.

I was reading about the diversity in Ditmas, how its population is one of the city’s most polyglot, polychrome, and how all the Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Mexicans, Chinese, Jews, Tibetans—the list goes on—are all geographically mixed up, instead of living in contained areas. Oh, that’s from the Times‘ “Technicolor Dream Quilt” article. When I bought this, my cousin said, You live in that Technicolor dream quilt neighborhood! But I don’t know . . .

People are fascinated with diversity. It’s as if the neighborhood is one person wearing an apron from Puebla, doing a yak dance, and holding a cannoli. It’s a liberal thing: Yeah, we’ll be loving each other and living together but I think through all that celebration, there’s still the possibility that there’s a lot of racial tension. There’re a lot of people with money now from the Slope. I’m not so patting-myself-on-the-back for living in diversity. The reality is that it’s an affordable apartment and the neighborhood is really lovely. I wonder if, as time goes on, it will be able to maintain the diversity because of gentrification. People get pushed out. This building was 60 percent owned at the end of March. Now it’s a lot more.

When I got out at Cortelyou Road, I thought there would be this bustle. It’s quiet. You begin to feel the diversity thing is a big marketing ploy.

That restaurant with the pictures of children and the complimentary dog bowl with water. Everybody writes about it. Last night I went to George’s, an old-school diner on Coney Island Avenue. Four of us had beers. No pretenses. Coney Island Avenue, that’s where you see more, women in headscarves. When we were looking for apartments, we went in this office run by Pakistanis. They were so surprised to see two white girls come in the office. This man said, Why would you come to us? He offered to make me lunch, take me back to his house. He was older. He did end up showing me some apartments.