Peter is being bashful about it, but his wonderful memoir-essay, "Postcards to Myself," is the first piece in Only Child: Writers on the Singular Joys and Solitary Sorrows of Growing Up Solo, edited by Deborah Siegel and Daphne Uviller, and coming out from Crown in late December. An excerpt of his essay is available on the Random House website: Peter Terzian, "Postcards to Myself". (To read the denouement, however, you have to pre-order a copy and wait for Christmas.)
My favorite song about punctuation is currently Oxford Comma, by Vampire Weekend, a group that I know about because the lead singer, Ezra Koenig, took a Melville seminar I taught a couple of years ago and sent out an all-points bulletin this summer about his band’s shows in Brooklyn. Anyway, it’s very catchy, and in the past few months it’s migrated into my high-frequency playlist. According to the band’s website, it’ll be on an EP that comes out next month.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the Lazaretto, an 18th-century quarantine house in Tinicum, a small township just outside of Philadelphia, which was in danger of being eclipsed by a new fire-station/conference center complex. News about it seemed to have dried up, and I wondered if the story was over.
It wasn’t, as it turns out.
Ground was broken on the site sometime after September 11, and in late October, two historic preservation groups asked a Delaware County judge to stop the construction. Yesterday, November 9, the preservationists and Tinicum officials reached an out-of-court settlement. The township will continue to build its firehouse on the site, but the two sides will appoint nine members to a board that will manage a new nonprofit in charge of the five acres that the Lazaretto sits on. In addition, part of the firestation’s parking lot will be turned into a buffer zone.
As with most compromises, this sounds less than ideal. It doesn’t sound as if the long vista in front of the Lazaretto will be preserved, and it’s the sort of 18th-century building that insists on being approached down a long lane. In fact, since the firehouse is to stand between the Lazaretto and the access road, it’s not clear how the public would reach the Lazaretto at all, unless they’re arriving by boat; presumably they will come through the firehouse’s parking lot, not the most inspiring entry. For that matter, if you look at the blueprint for the firehouse, and mentally amend it by making half the parking lot into a buffer zone, it’s not clear that the preservationists have won much. If it’s to be built at anything like its originally projected size, the firehouse will
still dwarf and obscure the Lazaretto.
A couple more echoes of Mass-Observation. New Yorkers have a chance to see Rebecca Baron’s documentary on the movement, How Little We Know of Our Neighbours, this Sunday, November 12, at 4pm, at the American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street.
I’m going to be AWOL from the Internet for a week or so, and there won’t be any new posts here for a little while.