“Travel writing, like pop music, abhors a vacuum,” Michael Meyer, author of several books on travel and associate professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh, wrote in an email to City Paper. “There always has to be The Next Place to Go, or the Best City You’ve Never Heard Of. If it’s not Baltimore or Greenpoint or St. Paul, then it’s Pittsburgh.”
Subject matter can be almost self-consciously esoteric. The latest issue of Ernest includes a piece by Queen guitarist Brian May on diableries (19th-century stereoscopic photographs of clay model demons). Cereal has 10 pages on Anglepoise lamps; Avaunt has a feature headlined “Politics of map projections”. The new magazines also move away from the traditional “colonial” […]
Then there is the intriguing way airways are navigated, using radio beacons and “waypoints”, spots defined by geographic co-ordinates or their bearing and distance from a beacon. These waypoints are typically given five-letter capitalised names that are supposed to be simple enough for any controller or pilot to recognise them, regardless of their first language. […]
The legendary Ellen Willis (first-ever pop critic for The New Yorker, feminist role model extraordinaire, etc.) passed away in 2006, but her work is enjoying a second renaissance thanks to The Essential Ellen Willis, a 2014 collection edited by her daughter Nona Willis Aronowitz. Earlier this month the National Book Critics Circle posthumously awarded Willis their top prize in criticism […]
The long-distance train is one of America’s greatest and least heralded public spaces. Perhaps without intending to, the train encapsulates many qualities of public spaces that planners and designers try so hard to create. It is democratic in that it serves people across many different communities, geographies and interest groups. It is diverse in that it appeals to a broad spectrum of people across ages, ethnicities, races, nationalities and genders, and critically, it facilitates connections between these different people. (While traveling from New Orleans to Los Angeles, I met a gay couple going to Houston, a Latino family headed to Albuquerque, an indie rock-loving pizza-maker from Austin, a minister going to Tucson and an L.A.-bound retired merchant marine who taught me how to play dominoes.) Unlike planes, trains foster a sense of appreciation and curiosity about the landscapes through which they pass, which in turn help passengers develop a deeper connection to place.
Peter deemed my proposed plan — driving 12 hours back east to Maine to glimpse my dreamed-of American landscape — completely unrealistic, and rightly so, as I realized with a sudden sense of shame. At the same time, I had the feeling that he really wanted me to see Detroit. And why not? It was […]