They’re an attractive, symbiotic duo with intellect, flair and panache. He’s a pundit, sage and a scholar — a prestigious, notable, nationally recognized radio talk show host and tenured professor at S.F. State. She’s a trenchant beauty, with advanced degrees in cellular and molecular biology who practices law, specializing in food safety and labeling — dealing with E-coli and pesticides, among other hazards.
Together, they have a thriving marriage that’s bloomed for three decades, two stylish daughters, Lauren and Alexis, and a love of things erudite, profound, effulgent and coruscating. Their personalities — “we have a lot of compatible interests” — complement and engender a rare kind of ease, a camaraderie with each other that extends to others around them. They’re thoughtful, interesting and fun. Over the 15 years I’ve known them, I swear they’re winning the race over time.
Michael Krasny, acclaimed talk-show host of KQED’s long-running (14 years) “Forum with Michael Krasny,” met his match in Leslie, a partner at Keller and Heckerman, when the two (then 23 and 20) attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
“I just saw this raven-haired beauty reading an organic chemistry book,” Michael said. She was a bohemian and he, according to Leslie, “looked like a frat boy,” so Michael “jumped on a learning curve to show her I’m a good guy.”
Upon graduation, Michael accepted an academic position at San Francisco State. The couple relocated here, leaving their midwest (Michael) and New York (Leslie) roots, amid trepidations at the time about “earthquake fault lines and having to go to great lengths to find a good delicatessen.”
Settling in Marin, Leslie enrolled at S.F. State, earning a Master’s, then working at UC Medical Center and Stanford beforeentering law school (Hastings), and utilizing her scientific expertise in her practice of law.
Meanwhile, Michael was gaining prominence as a professor of American literature. His first media opportunity arrived in the form of a public TV interview with Gore Vidal. Michael found he had “a taste for difficult interviews.”
He’s interviewed virtually everyone. Presidents and prime ministers, authors, politicians, philosophers, artists, seminal leaders, builders, world leaders. He relishes it. His eyes light up: “I like to voice this, play the role of interloculator, navigate the baton like a symphony conductor.”
He’s also adept at intermixing live, interactive communication — “civility in discourse” — rather than opinionated proselytizing. Although, Michael admits, “I’ve been called a Palestinian puppet and a Zionist stooge in the same hour.”
The couple’s residence, high on a hummock with views of mesmeric Marin, reflects their harmony, ease and Leslie’s natural élan and elegance. Rooms face outward and connect with broad passageways. Books are rife, with floor-to-ceiling shelves housing important tomes lining a wall in the living room.
One can’t help but smile, sitting with them. Intellect, reverence, politesse, kinetic enthrallment with myriad subjects of discourse and interest in a panoptic range of people. It’s a full life.
Keys to Michael & Leslie Krasny’s style
SECRET OF A LONG, HAPPY MARRIAGE: We know each other well enough that if we want to we can push each other’s buttons. We don’t.
Leslie: I move in so many worlds. Eclectic. It depends on the occasion.
Michael: Casual at heart.
Leslie: We try for balance.
Michael: Only one thing. We probably don’t carve out enough personal time for ourselves. We work too hard. I love my work.
Leslie: Ease. I don’t fuss with anything. I’m deciding an hour before going out what I’m wearing.
Leslie on Michael: Anything black tie and he’s complaining.
Michael: I’m an academic and scholar at heart, not a vision of sartorial splendor.
GOT STYLE FROM:
Leslie: My mother. She always had a great fashion sense even at 70.
Michael: I’m bookish. I’m a reader and thinker.
COMFORT VS. STYLE:
Leslie: Comfort — except for shoes.
Michael: I like a lot of different colors.
Leslie: Close contact with immediate family, friends, books
Michael: I would add good companionship, good food, good movies.
SECRET CACHE OF:
Leslie: I have a collection of gems and stones.
Michael: Books and photographs
WHAT PEOPLE WOULDN’T KNOW ABOUT ME:
Michael: Sometimes I have a temper.
Leslie: I have a reclusive side.
Michael: I was asked to go up with the Blue Angels, but I said no.
MOST UNUSUAL THING ABOUT ME:
Leslie: Endlessly fascinated by animal behavior. Sociobiology. “March of the Penguins”
Michael: A memory for rock ’n’ roll trivia.
Leslie: Find a balance between work, family and personal interests. I think it’s important for people to be socially responsible.
Michael:I think the best advice I can give is to find out what life passions we have — get a sense about our selves — pursue them the best we can and make it work. Be a good person.