The Daily

Posts Tagged ‘New Hampshire’

Behold the Zenith Z-19

October 5, 2016 | by

Revisited is a series in which writers look back on a work of art they first encountered long ago.

The Zenith Z-19.

The Zenith Z-19.

The Zenith Z-19 is not a computer. It’s an end point of memory and desire, a vanishing horizon, a terminus, a terminal. It is also certainly not a monitor.

In 1979 my family’s Zenith Z-19 sat dull-eyed on a whitewashed, built-in desk in my parents’ L-shaped bedroom in New Hampshire. That year I was ten, and I was never not at that terminal. I beheld my Zenith Z-19 as I never had, and never will, not even close, observe a great painting or statue at Angkor Wat or the Vatican. I will never gaze at the aurora borealis that way—something as wordless, undying and not mine as the night sky? Frankly I find it hard to believe stars hold more than the polite interest of other people.

Was it flat? It was, to the touch. You could jab in, past the hard, battleship-hued casing, touching a rectangular screen with pleasing dimensions that drew on the golden mean. Whatever static my fingers lifted, I remember it as minor, but I distinctly remember the uppermost layer of that machine’s complexion to be petal-soft and cool—poreless, scaleless, hairless, but vibrating with life like a mammal. I can see it now, in a cramped image, on my tarty MacBook pixmap, where the old terminal’s recessive palate seems despairingly out of place. On Wikipedia, the screen plays as olive drab—but drab it was not. Read More »

Staff Picks: Menace, Music, Melrose Place

September 30, 2016 | by

What’s Jean-Francois Lyotard's Libidinal Economy doing in an episode of Melrose Place? You can thank the GALA Committee for that...

I know Patrick Hoffman as a real-life detective. So when I picked up his novel Every Man a Menace, I expected to find a bunch of believable lowlifes killing each other, believably, over a large shipment of drugs. I was not expecting—wasn’t demanding—subtle characterization, tricky narrative switchbacks, or vivid, moody prose. I also wasn't expecting the action to begin with a long acid trip. “In his mind’s eye, Raymond saw emeralds cut into shapes that couldn’t be described in human language … He saw the insides of stars like rooms in a house.” When Hoffman takes off his detecting hat, he’s closer to Denis Johnson than to Elmore Leonard. —Lorin Stein 

I’ve never watched much Melrose Place, but I’m always looking for reasons to start. I found the best one at Red Bull Studios, where Mel Chin and his team of artists, the GALA Committee, are displaying all the art they designed for the show. In an inspired marriage of fine art and pop culture, GALA convinced Aaron Spelling to let them pepper his sets with sly, subliminal artworks that most viewers never even noticed. (And how could they, with such melodrama unfolding around them?) A box of Chinese takeout with ideograms for “Human Rights” made a cameo in a post-Tiananmen Square episode; a dartboard with a silhouette of a woman who represents the show’s “target demographic” hung in the bar; and a blanket embroidered with the chemical structure of the morning-after pill found its way to one character’s bed just as she learned she was pregnant. The irony—such pointed social commentary in such hidden art—never got old; I wandered the premises long after most had left. It helped that a number of Melrose Place’s sets have been lovingly resurrected onsite. Yes, the pool is there. —Dan Piepenbring Read More »

Dead Authors’ Homes

August 20, 2014 | by


Salinger’s old house. Photo: Jim Mauchly / Mountain Graphics Photography

The literary real-estate market is booming. In May, Ray Bradbury’s house was for sale (Los Angeles, California; 2,500 square feet; $1.495 million). Then, in July, John Cheever’s house was for sale (Ossining, New York; 2,688 square feet; $525,000). At the time, you may have kicked yourself for failing to act on those—maybe you couldn’t scrape together the funds in time, or maybe you thought, Well, surely some other Dead Author’s Home will come along soon enough, and that will be the Dead Author’s Home for me.

You’re in luck: as reported by the Los Angeles Times, the Guardian, Page Six, and others, J. D. Salinger’s house is for sale, and it’s the most capacious authorial domicile yet (Cornish, New Hampshire; 2,900 square feet; $679,000).

The home’s current owner, Joan Littlefield, told the Valley News, a New Hampshire paper, that “she had been considering advertising the house, which she bought in the 1980s, in The New Yorker, in the hopes of attracting literary types.” To go by the coverage the property’s received, she has the right idea. But what does it mean to want to live in a dead writer’s house? When does fandom devolve into idolatry? 

You might suppose that an ardent admirer of Salinger’s would have much to gain by inhabiting his private space—writerly inspiration, maybe, or a deeper connection to the work, or even just a constant, salubrious mental patter. (It’s another fine morning in J. D.’s kitchen, the satisfied homeowner thought.) Read More »


On Homesickness

November 2, 2011 | by

'The Soldier's Dream of Home,' a Currier & Ives lithograph produced during the Civil War, was one sign of the great attention that soldiers' homesickness received. Courtesy of Library of Congress.

A few weeks ago I found myself accidentally enacting the drama of a book I was reading. The book was Homesickness: An American History, and I was reading it on the subway, somewhat embarrassed by the title, which, held up right in front of my face, was like a sign saying: Here in New York, I can’t cut it. I comforted myself with the idea that I was only a few stops from home, where I could read safe from potential pity. But when I got to my door, I discovered that I’d locked myself out.

I looked up at my windows. I wished I could use the bathroom, foreign bathrooms costing at least a coffee. But it struck me that I didn’t long to be in my apartment. My place, with its card table in the kitchen and mattress on the floor, is unsettled—I would feel as dislocated inside of it as out. I can’t imagine what feeling settled here would look like; the only settled place I’m familiar with is the home where I grew up.

How long does it take to cultivate the feeling of home? I’ve been in New York for three years, on the East Coast for eight, and I’ve never suffered from acute homesickness. But still, when I’m called to define “home,” I think of El Granada, a town of 5,436 that staked itself twenty-six miles south of San Francisco down the coast. I mean staked quite literally: between 1906 and 1909, Ocean Shore Railway, which was building tracks from Santa Cruz to San Francisco along what is now Highway 1, planted thousands of fast-growing, blue gum eucalyptuses with the hopes of flipping El Granada into a seaside resort for train-traveling San Franciscans. The railroad company also commissioned the eminent architect and city planner Daniel Burnham (famous for the Flatiron building) to plan the streets. They go in two directions, up the hills and around them, so that it looks from above as if a four-square-mile spider web has been draped over the thousands of trees. But the dream of El Granada was not to be. Two years later the railway company collapsed. The tracks were abandoned. Some speculators bought land, but the place never really caught on until computers did in the late eighties and nineties, and intrepid commuters from Silicon Valley bought BMWs and began building houses. Read More »