On this episode of Five Things, I reached back into my own past to talk with someone who used to be part of my daily life. When I lived in New York City, I had the good fortune to spend four years living in a beautiful building in Washington Heights, a neighborhood in northern Manhattan. One of the doormen there was a really nice guy named Mario Landa who was always happy to chat. Since we moved to Louisville in 2009, we love to visit our old neighborhood when we’re in New York, and we always stop by to see Mario, who still works at our old building.
It occurred to me that Mario would be a great guest for Five Things — you’ll hear that he’s quite a talker. He’s originally from Honduras, he grew up in and around New York City, and he absolutely loves Washington Heights. He also loves “Star Wars,” tattoos, and expensive shoes.
On what the “Star Wars” movies mean to him:
“Every time I see a ‘Star Wars’ movie, it just takes me back to when I was a kid, and the happy times when I was with my cousins, and we were all together. And every time I see a movie now, it just relaxes me. I don’t think about work, girlfriends, anything else, I just drift away into a different galaxy.”
On the start of his self-described tattoo addiction:
“When I got [my first] tattoo, tattoos were illegal in New York. It was illegal to give somebody a tattoo and illegal to have a shop, so everything was underground. I got it done through a tattoo artist named Darren Rosa, he’s from Washington Heights also. Very talented guy, and I got to go to his mother’s house, where he was tattooing. He was young at the time — I was young at the time, too, when I said, I gotta get one of these.”
On his two tattoos inspired by the artist Keith Haring:
“I worked down in the Village, selling shoes in a few different stores. We’re talking about the mid-80s to mid-90s, and I got to meet a lot of celebrities, and Keith Haring was one of them, before he passed. I used to sell thigh-high boots to him, pumps and everything. Very cool guy, very down-to-earth. It was sad the way he had to go.”