The Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Long Island’

The Coltrane Home in Dix Hills

September 23, 2015 | by

The deceptively ordinary house where Coltrane composed A Love Supreme.

Coltrane’s unassuming house in Dix Hills.

In an empty corner of a modest home in suburban New York, hiding beneath a construction zone’s deposits of dirt and dust on the floor, is a patch of bright, bold, almost electrically colorful vintage purple carpet. It couldn’t be more out of place; the rest of the surroundings are just exposed old wall beams and tattered bits of plaster coming down. But it seems right at home, somehow calm and calming, in the midst of it all.

The carpet dates back to the 1960s, when John and Alice Coltrane used to live here and make their way back to the same corner room to go to sleep at night. Close by the master bedroom was the kitchen, the heart of the home in a way, and from there the hallways led out to the kids’ rooms, the den with the fireplace, and the garage out to the side. Over that was the ashram. In the basement was a recording studio. Then, up a now tenuous set of stairs, was the chamber that made this modest suburban home most famous: the room where John Coltrane composed his stirring, searching masterwork A Love SupremeRead More »

Freddy Plimpton

February 26, 2015 | by

image2The artist and designer Freddy Medora Espy Plimpton passed away peacefully in her sleep at the Vermont Respite House on February 22, a beautiful Sunday morning. She was seventy-three.

The daughter of Willard R. Espy and Hilda Cole Espy, both writers, Freddy was born in New York City and grew up in Mt. Kisco, New York, alongside her twin sister, Mona Schreiber; her younger sisters, Joanna Espy and Cassy Espy; and her younger brother, Jefferson Espy. She graduated from Fox Lane High School in 1959, and then attended Parsons School of Design. She moved to New York in the early sixties, where she worked at Random House writing book-jacket copy and later became a photographer’s assistant. Considered one of the great beauties of the times, she married the author and editor George Ames Plimpton in 1968, with whom she later had two children, Medora Ames Plimpton and Taylor Ames Plimpton. Freddy traveled with George on the campaign trail as an integral part of Robert F. Kennedy’s 1968 run for the presidency and was present to witness the great tragedy at the Ambassador Hotel when Kennedy was shot and killed. Read More »

Politics as Usual

January 23, 2015 | by


Al Smith in 1913.

At a certain point in the late nineties, my family’s living room needed to be rewired. It seemed the wiring had not been replaced since the house was first built. The hardware store sent up a very old man to tackle the job. I know because I was hanging around; it was summer vacation.

“I remember this house,” he said. It seemed he had worked on it as an apprentice electrician. 

“In 1919?” my dad asked.

“Yup,” said the man, getting to work. Read More »

Jane Freilicher, 1924–2014

December 15, 2014 | by


Jane Freilicher, Untitled, 1965.

Jane Freilicher died last week at ninety; the New York Times’s obituary called her “a stubbornly independent painter whose brushy, light-saturated still lifes and luminous landscapes set in the marshes of eastern Long Island made her one of the more anomalous figures to emerge from the second generation of Abstract Expressionists.”

In 1965, Freilicher designed the print above for The Paris Review—it was made in an edition of 150 that has long since sold out, unfortunately. The next year, for our Spring 1966 issue, she contributed a portfolio of recent drawings, three of which we’ve reproduced below. (Pardon the absence of details—none of these were published with titles or any kind of metadata. Different times, different production values.)

“Although the complex temperament of her painting prevent its being assigned to a single movement or group, she has been associated the so-called New York School,” the editors wrote then, “particularly with the ‘second generation’ of abstract expressionists”:

It should be pointed out that while abstractionism has entered her work to varying degrees and influenced many aspects of it, she has never at any point abandoned subject matter entirely. The subjects she most frequently chooses are the traditional ones of nude, still life and landscape. Their treatment in these drawings is especially interesting in its illumination of the graphic quality of her art, something from which, in her paintings, attention is apt to be distracted by their sumptuous and subtle deployment of color.

Read More »



November 10, 2014 | by


The crowd at Peter Matthiessen’s estate sale.

In early April, Peter Matthiessen, the beloved cofounder of The Paris Review, died at eighty-six. Last week, I received an e-mail from my mother, containing a link to the following announcement:


A treasure trove of artifacts and mementos. Both indigenous and from the 4 corners of the Earth.

Artisanal pottery, vintage typewriters, vast assortment of books, many annotated paintings, prints, photography and posters. Vintage LP collections in original portfolios, Early 20th century American piano table, 19th century French country dining table, additional chairs, tables, chests, beds, headboards, bedding, cookware, tableware, table linens, vintage luggage, toys and games, Vermont casting grill, teak picnic table, and much more!

Children under 10 must be closely attended by an adult. Please be respectful of neighbors when parking.

The subject line of the e-mail read, “Of course, we’ll be there!” (My parents live just down the road.) Read More »

The Flanders Duck

October 4, 2012 | by

Perhaps you’ve seen it: that building out on Route 24, in Flanders, Long Island, that looks like a duck. Thirty feet long and twenty feet tall, it weighs a little over eight tons. It is called the Big Duck, and its white cement body sits in a permanent squat. At the center of its breast is a door that opens into a one-room museum and gift shop. There, three or four days a week, throughout most of the year, Barbara Bixby sits alertly behind the counter. Babs, as she prefers to be called, is a trim sixty-six-year-old with long auburn hair and bangs that fall over her eyes. Her accent is difficult to place. Not Long Island. Not New England. She draws out her words like an old film actress and speaks with great enthusiasm. She is infectiously friendly.

On a Saturday last winter, I trekked out to Flanders to spend an afternoon in the Duck with Babs. I traveled by train and by taxi, and when I arrived just past one P.M., Babs was entertaining a large, dark haired man and his young daughter. The shop smelled of potpourri. The Little Rascals played in black and white on a television set built into the wall. Babs wore a rose-colored sweater (a little threadbare at one elbow), a floral scarf, and a ring on nearly every finger. After the man and girl had gone, she turned to me and said, “What a sweet little lady!”

Babs is one of two duck sitters, and though she insists there is no hierarchy, she is more or less the head duck lady. Read More »