I had to.
To all my fans and followers, the blog came under new management and they’re making some changes. But I will personally assure the quality of the content is still top notch.
The title of the blog was originally “Unadulterated” which i felt put forth the idea that i would be unhinged and unforgiving with my writing. Little did i know at the time, you can’t really fly off the handle with blog posts about textbook readings and old-timey magazines. The Great Name Change of 2017 (as my followers will soon begin to call it) came at just the right time. “The Tonight Show Starring An Overworked Student” really hits the nail on the head. As a writer, i always put forth my best foot forward, and truly put on a show- a spectacle, even- for my readers. Anything to keep you on the hook for my entire piece. I aim to deliver message a strong message to take home through humor and witty writing, which many late night shows do. And considering my writing is almost exclusively done when the night crawls around, the writing has a late-night-esque feel to it. Almost every night, I’m staring down the barrel that is several assignments due the next day after a fairly long day of school, work, and loafing around. My blog should be sponsored by Red Bull, but due to the title i have chosen, i may get a cease and desist order from Jimmy Fallon. I am an overworked student and sometimes my writing makes that very clear. But that will never stop me from giving a great effort and writing tonight’s grand spectacle of a paper. I will rep out my best piece of work i possibly can because everything i write is an extension of me, and i always put my best foot forward.
Josie is embattled. She’s fighting the notion that she needs house to have a home. Every fiber of Josie wants home for her children to be with her in the Chateau. But in reality, Josie is afraid she has become a quitter, by taking her children to Alaska. She tangos with the idea when saying, “After her parents and their atomization, she had always identified with the stayers, the homesteaders. But she knew no one who stayed anywhere. Even in Panama, most of the locals she met would just as soon live somewhere else, and most of them asked her casually or directly about getting visas to come to the U.S. So who stayed? Were you crazy to stay anywhere? The stayers were either of the salt of the earth, the reason there are families and communities and continuity of culture and country, or they were plain idiots. We change! We change! And virtue is not only for the changeless. You can change your mind, or your setting, and still possess integrity. You can move away without becoming a quitter, a ghost (154).” This choice of words isn’t by coincidence. But that comes later. Josie wants to believe the Chateau can be home for Paul and Ana because she actively takes part in their lives. She’s a caring, loving parent. So going rogue with her kids is acceptable. Carl went ghost several months prior to Josie’s excursion. He scored a new job in Florida with a sweet new visor. “A few months after their split he’d gotten a job in Florida and was gone. His employment out of state, it seemed, gave him license to become a ghost (175).” The difference between the two is that Carl ran away from his kids. He wasn’t involved with his children and partaking in Josie’s idea of home. The other main talking point between these two is “integrity”. Carl abandons home completely and therefore has no integrity and no virtue. Josie simply needed a breathe of fresh air and new life in her. Home had lost its meaning so she set out to reinvent it by going to Alaska. It is here Josie hopes to find some “salt of the earth” individuals with bountiful homes and cultures to share with her children. Alaska would align her family the right way.
In pages 101-150, Josie continues to wrestle with life in Alaska but has yet to wrestle a bear, which i was really hoping for. Josie is getting a taste of home from Sam and is really beginning to ponder her decision. Was the chateau a good idea? Was it hurting her kids? “Paul came downstairs and something in his eyes echoes Josie’s own thoughts about this home: it was warm and solid and made Josie’s family existence in the Chateau seem utterly irresponsible and cheapened their humanity (142).” After being a true home, their mobile home excursion wasn’t looking so good. The solid home was a symbol of traditional family values, and stability. The solid home is inviting and comfortable and picturesque. And more importantly, the solid home overshadows and shames the mobile home. The mobile, home embodied in the Chateau, was uncomfortable. The mobile home, much like the Chateau itself isn’t very clean or traditionally pretty. The mobile home, due to its mobility, isn’t stable and in order to be small, lacks many amenities that homes usually has. Plus in a movable home, you are rarely interconnected to the community. Josie laments about being able to walk to the grocery store. The mobile home isn’t much a home, especially for children.
In pages 51-100, if it was possible the book got more depressing. Josie laments in even more of her failure. Her disappointment reaches a peak at the magic show she attends in Seward, Alaska. As she is having the time of her life, downing Pinot Noir like there’s no tomorrow, the magic stops (figuratively and literally). Suddenly the weight of the world crashes down on Josie as all her disappointment and grief come to the forefront. Eggers brings the audience into this state of disappointment through his contrast of light and darkness. “She was being pulled back from the light, like an almost-angel now being led back to the mundanity of earthly existence. The light was shrinking to a pinhole and the world around her was darkening to an everywhere burgundy.” This imagery shows the audience how crushing the disappointment was to Josie. The light was the optimism and hope of the trip and the darkness was her past and the failures of her life swallowing her. The magicians use illusions and wonder to perform, which Josie felt wasn’t getting the love it deserved. The magicians were the bright spectacular light. The man able to pinpoint postal codes was a symbol of her calculated, disappointing life. The darkness consumed her as her mind turned to Jeremy and her disappointment in her decisions. The trip wasn’t going well.
Heroes of the Frontier implies extraordinary people in an untapped, new land. The frontier is generally a new area full of potential, as well as great danger.This frontier needs a special kind of person to brave and conquer it, and that person needs to be a hero, of sorts. Often heroes spring from unlikely sources and are not always a saint but they act “heroic” in several key moments. Heroes of the Frontier has a very action-packed connotation but the heroes could become so their relationships with each other, not through action.
As I’m delving into the book Heroes of the Frontier, I’ve never been more grateful to not I decided to not be a dentist. Josie, the main protagonist, has never known a comfortable home. Josie emancipated herself from her parents as soon as she could. Josie shacked up with a guy and boy, does she know how to pick ’em. The guy is a total deadbeat and refused to marry her. But he’ll get her pregnant twice (makes sense if you don’t think about it). Then the deadbeat gets his life together with another woman and Josie splits with the kids in an RV i imagined is held together by strategic pieces of duct tape.
Dave Eggers wants to ruin home for you. He takes every picture of you and your family in matching Christmas sweaters and throws them in the incinerator. Every home Josie has ever known was horrid. And this surrogate home in the Chateau is the prime example of Eggers grueling picture of home. Chateau is French for castle and France has, like, a thousand castles. So they are the gold standard for what a castle should be. The Chateau is an RV, and right now the most permanent home Josie has right now. This RV has survived thirty years of history, and is as dingy as the guy she bought it from. The Chateau is a certified heap of garbage, but it is the best Josie has as to signify that home for her is not pretty, or inviting, or comfortable. Home is something to be escaped, but if i know a good story, and i think i do, home will turn around for her.
Home is Where the Heart Is
In the 1950’s and 1960’s, the small community of Levittown published a quarterly magazine called Thousand Lanes. The magazine acts as a memento of home long ago. With the turning of each thick page lies a thick chunk of history. The off-white tint boldly displays each Levitt home with pride. The magazine contains an assortment of advertisements, advice, additions, and accolades all in the binding between the crudely colored covers. The advertisements pushed local businesses that could aid in improving the household. The magazine offers tips on good housekeeping and showcases exceptional houses in the neighborhood with an array of pictures and illustrations. This was home life embodied in that time embodied in one small magazine.
Thousand Lanes evoked me due to its very home-like feel but its contrast to what i consider home today, but that will come later. The magazine was the Home and Gardening channel before there was HGTV. Home for the people of Levittown was in this magazine, and the standard for their house’s appearance was set every season. Consistent renovation and decorating was expected of the homemakers, which i would imagine would be very costly. This magazine makes me really think about what home means and if it is a social construct instead of a given feeling and that home in this time was the antithesis of my idea of home. If the idea of home was manufactured in this magazine then is home just a facade put on for our friends, family, or neighbors?
The Good ‘Ol Days
After World War II, William Levitt saw a business opportunity in building houses. He created a model for a home that could be mass-produced, and hence were cheap to make and fast to build. Thus, in 1947 the community of Levittown was born as houses sold like hot cakes, but only to white people. Levitt targeted military families especially. Some even credit Levitt with the creation of modern suburbia. The boon of having a Levitt home was they were highly customizable and able to be expanded. As a result, not many original Levitt homes exist today. The community was thriving so some enterprising folks decided to run a local magazine.
The first Thousand Lanes was ran in November of 1951. The magazine took off very quickly, but originated as a serious magazine, airing issues facing the Levittowners alongside home improvement aspects. But in keeping with that era, the serious topics were swiftly dropped like a sack of potatoes in favor of more home themed topics. The people of the community didn’t like to face their realities, such as the discrimination of black people and Jewish people attempting to buy property there. The magazine was run until 1963 when demand dropped sharply as the sixties began to roar.
The Nuclear Home
The Thousand Lanes is a small magazine, with very shallow content that ranges from “your home” to “what to put in your home.” The magazine isn’t very thick and can be carried around in a purse or bag. Just like many publications at the time, mobility was an important selling point. Also, you can roll up the magazine and swat away all the blacks and the Jews in the neighborhood, just like William Levitt always wanted. The magazine was fairly popular throughout the community so it probably wasn’t uncommon to see it sitting on a coffee table or at a salon. But the content is what really defined the community and for many, home.
Home in the 1950’s was wonderful, but only skin deep. The wife was at home taking care of the children and cleaning. The man was out at work winning bread (or something). Thousand Lanes pandered to the housewife. The magazine really pushed the idea of home being a showcase for “individual creation.” The articles gave the reader the tools to decorate or expand with helpful tips, advertisements for businesses and examples around the community. The pictures breathed inspiration into the reader, showing him/her exactly what his/her house should look like. The words dance around the page in mocking fashion, to tell the reader their home wasn’t perfect, yet. Home in this time was a mask put on by the family in order to give off the fantastic nuclear family vibe. Each home had to in keeping with the others (as seen in Thousand Lanes) so that the community could be nuclear as well. Maintaining the home was a great deal of work and money.
Thousand Lanes vs the World
The Thousand Lanes was very much like more popular magazines of its time. The magazines all feature a great deal of advertisements, especially in localized publications. Magazines of that time did push the idea of the nuclear home and a picturesque American dream. This was just post-war/ Cold War patriotism, as to be expected of its time. Magazines like Time did focus on serious news topics but a magazine like that was very rare. Instead many did as Thousand Lanes and pandered to an audience that would much rather read and see pleasantries, such as the home. Thousand Lanes was set apart by the fact that it was very community oriented and showcased the Levitt homes and the possibilities and potential of the houses. It was also unique in its extensive guides on decorating that was very specific to compliment the Levitt home.
Levitt Homes to Loving Homes
Life back in the 1950’s isn’t that different from life now. The 1950’s was rampant with consumerism and blind patriotism. Racism is still alive and well and so is sexism. But home, then and now are very different. Obviously home had all the amenities back then: a bed, bathroom, kitchen, etc. The idea of home has also shifted radically. Home in the 50’s was a spotless display. Homes had guests very frequently and were a more prevalent reflection on the family. If guests saw magazines fanned out on the coffee table, they would assume those were the interests of the family. Nowadays, if magazines are fanned out on a coffee table, I feel like I’m in a doctor’s office because magazines are so rare. Today, homes are sanctuaries to escape life; plop on the couch; and shame eat a whole carton of ice cream. People host the occasional guest but not nearly as often. This is due to the fact that some concepts of home still ring home today. One of those concepts, one that my mother was very adamant about, is that when having a guest over, the house must show no sign of living. Seriously, your house better look like no one has ever sat foot in it before tonight or the guest will be bombarded with a thousand apologies about the “mess.”
Why Homes Sucked Back Then
If I were to make any hypothesis as to how home then and now was related, i could best sum it up as: home then was the anti-home of today. I believe home was a prison-a cage- for many in the 1950’s. And in this prison, the housewife had to continually decorate and cook and clean and please the husband and smile while doing it because god forbid a woman show any emotion. Thousand Lanes was a construct to keep the neighborhood in line. The magazine told the reader what the home had to look like in order to fit in around Levittown. The house had to be continually renovated and kept spotless. And I am sure children were just as messy back then as they are now. And I am pretty my hypothesis is supported by the fact that in the late 60’s and 70’s women mobilized and demanded freedom and wanted to get jobs. This is because they were trapped in their Barbie Dream House of a home. Home is now a real expression of one’s self and there isn’t constant scrutiny to stay in line with those in the community. Home isn’t to be held under a magnifying glass but rather a sanctuary from the world. Home has become a home for a lot more people.
I would like to do some more research about how the people of Levittown lived during the 1950’s. I would like to know how religiously the people of Levittown followed the Thousand Lanes magazine. I want to see an original Levitt house and compare it to one that has been renovated and added to. I would find someone who lived in Levittown around its inception and find out the real influence around the town. I would like to know how they felt under the pressure of having their house constantly under scrutiny. It would also be beneficial to understand how they felt about the exclusion of non-Catholics or minorities. Basically, I would like to research life in the very first modern suburbia, and how it felt to be a part of it.
Levittown and its Thousand Lanes magazine helped usher in an era of a suburban American Dream. The magazine set a real standard for what the home should be in that time and community. It gave tips and tricks to revolutionize and “personalize” the Levitt home, which were mass produced. Thousand Lanes didn’t stack up to more popular national magazines but were a staple in the community for over ten years. It did carry a great deal of weight in the town, however. So much weight that it caused a lot of pressure on the homemaker (i.e. the wife), as did most aspects of life then. The Thousand Lanes magazine was an important part of history and window into life in the 1950’s but let’s keep the past in the past. Enjoy home, don’t let it trap you.
Ferrer, Margaret Lundrigan, and Tova Navarra. Levittown: Volume II. Charleston, SC, Arcadia Pub., 1999.
“Levittown, New York.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 6 Mar. 2017, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levittown,_New_York. Accessed 5 Mar. 2017.
Solomon, Geri. “Special Collections Interview.” 17 Feb. 2017.
1. I selected the Levittown Thousand Lanes magazine because of my fascination with history and the idea of home in the latter part of the nineteen hundreds. This magazine showcased the literal ideal home and how to run it. It had decorating tips and which companies to use in order to frequently renovate.
2. The object is a magazine printed especially for the people of Levittown and how to best accessorize and update their home.
3. I want to analyze how this object dictates to the people of Levittown about how to keep up their homes in a suitable fashion, and how the magazine shaped the outward look of the community.
4. The magazine is fairly thick compared to current magazines and slightly weathered. The pages are also thicker and an off-white color, perhaps due to age. The magazine is littered with pictures, illustrations and advertisements in black and white. Only the cover is colored in. The rest of the pages are filled in with descriptions of decorating the home and captions to the pictures.
5. The magazine comes from Long Island in the 1950s and 1960s. The first issue was published in November of 1951. The issues came out every season from 1951-1963, each with vivid details and pictures of how to decorate the Levitt home to best accentuate the season. The subject in these magazines are the homes and people of Levittown, who are constantly on display. The magazine highlighted specific houses and exceptional people in the community every issues.
6. This object was meant to be public and even shared beyond the borders of Levittown, I believe, in order to create a picturesque portrait of Levittown.
7. The magazine suggest home was not as we know it now. Home in Levittown, in the 1950s and 1960s, was dictated and pre-selected for the townspeople. The home was constantly under scrutiny and judgement from the neighborhood. Every house had to be a showcase for the “perfect” lifestyle and home. The people of Levittown were trapped in the perfect suburbia and their cookie-cutter homes that was anything but personal. Home now is considered a sanctuary and privacy. The magazines prove that Levittown residents had little respite from the outside world as now the homes were under constant display. The residents of Levittown had to fit into the model of a white nuclear family.
8. These magazines are truly fascinating, by just immortalizing people’s homes in the neighborhood by publishing pictures and articles. The magazine pushed a certain agenda of renovation onto the reader, by “suggesting” decorating patterns like this family or displaying add-ons built by that family. Whatever the magazine had in its pages was the new standard for living in Levittown which is such a strange concept. Now, every home is completely different, but at the same time television networks like Home and Gardening TV do much of the same things.
9. This magazine was a way to control the neighborhood and keep the town in-line with societal norms. The magazine came into many people’s homes and decided what was or wasn’t worth publishing. The magazine set the style for the whole neighborhood and pleasantly urged the people of Levittown to keep up. But the magazine did this behind the ruse of “individual creation” and helpful tips. The magazine created a fixed cage in which the people had to live in, which is closely related to how I always thought of my home, as an anti-home of sorts. My home was very constricting which pushed me away, like I would assume many were turned off by the harsh social contract in which they were entering.
10. Encountering this magazine only bolstered my disdain for the idea of home. This magazine shows that the home can be very impersonal and an unreal fixture. I’m sure many families made great memories in these houses but the “feeling of home” from all the creative details and decorations was all manufactured from this magazine. Home can be a fantastic place but for me, home was much like the homes of Levittown.
Sherry Turkle, world renowned doctor and sociologist, came to play everyone’s mother for an hour. Turkle did raise some important questions about serious social development; however, she has some serious flaws in her argument, which just felt outdated. With a society tuned into our devices we are taking great strides in the medical field, in business and in communications. Turkle suggests that technology is causing the nuclear family to go atomic. If the family seems to have fractured because of technology, then the family was broken way before that. Our devices are just another form of entertainment but I’m sure sociologists, if they even existed earlier than this century, would say the same about books, newspapers, magazines, non-secular music, radio, movies, television, and the list goes on. But it’s the job of the previous generation to stagnate at some point and the latter generation to carry on and keep innovating.
As technology advances so do we as a society. In the medical field we are making amazing devices and medicines that are revolutionizing health care. Many ideas stemmed from the smartphone and virtual reality. A patient, paralyzed from the waist down, was strapped into an exoskeleton and put into a virtual reality headset where it was projected that he was walking. Over seventy percent of patients were able to move their legs again, slightly, after several sessions. But virtual reality is just another escape from being social, right? When good ‘ol Sherry Turkle was asked what her response was to the internet’s role in helping my generation be the most understanding and accepting to the LGBTQ community, she side stepped the question. Her response went something to effect of, and I paraphrase: “Yeah that’s great and all, technology isn’t all bad, but you’re all apathetic little psychopaths.” Turkle still believes we are apathetic, and more attached to our devices then real people. Turkle cites a study about caregiver’s interaction with children and babies in her book Family by stating, “Raedsky did a study of fifty-five adults who were watching over children as they ate meals together in fast food restaurants. The results: Across the board, the adults paid more attention to their phones than to the children” (108). There are several problems with this study, being that the study took place in a fast food restaurant where, as the name implies, you east fast so quality time, by design, doesn’t happen there. Plus they’re being watched while they eat. That makes most people uncomfortable. And unless Raedsky was sitting across the street in a bush wearing a full safari outfit, looking through some comically-oversized binoculars, then the people knew they were being watched. Turkle cites flawed arguments. In another segment, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turkle taps into a 13 year old by stating, “During meals, Alli eats silently, watching television, while her parents retreat to their phones. Alli misses her parents. When she needs advice, when she has questions about boy trouble, school trouble, friend trouble, she goes to her anonymous Instagram account, on which she has over two thousand followers” (112). Sometimes I wish I was a sociologist, so I could just push half-baked, sensationalist garbage to people for money. Any rational person can read those sentences and realize it’s not the phones. Alli’s parents suck. If she can’t communicate with her parents and needs to go online just for some company and advice then her parents aren’t doing their jobs as parents. Turkle even wrote that she and her daughter were able to bond and dialogue while watching television. But the fact of the matter is that many families seem to be experiencing communications problems and the truth is that the issues lie in the parents and their ability to parent. Technology is a scapegoat as is common in today’s society where everyone looks for a patsy instead of taking personal responsibility. Simply put, parents are responsible for ignoring their children, not the technology. It’s just a tool, use it wisely.