I have a new Shouts and Murmurs piece in The New Yorker this week. I’m having trouble getting the link to work, but if you go to The New Yorker’s website, you’ll find it.
Because this Shouts is about my home state of New Jersey, I’d like to say some nice things about the Garden State:
1. In Menlo Park, there’s a monument to Thomas Edison’s invention of the lightbulb. It’s a very approachable three-story cement column with a huge lightbulb on top. It’s one of the few national monuments which looks like it needs a lampshade.
2. I attended Piscataway High School, where I had an algebra teacher with the perfect algebra teacher name: Eugene C. Schnure.
3. There were at least fifteen girls named Debbie in my high school. That’s why, in Addams Family Values, I named the black widow killer, played by Joan Cusack, Debbie Jellinsky.
4. The bits of colored glass, polished by the sea, which wash up on the beaches at Cape May, are called Cape May diamonds. The medical waste, including crack vials and used syringes, which washes up on the beaches of Sandy Hook is called something else.
5. Svetlana Alliluyeva, the daughter of the Soviet tyrant Josef Stalin, lived for a while in Princeton. When my Mom and I would eat lunch at a pancake house in Princeton, we thought it was hilarious to look around for Svetlana and then declare, “No Svet!” Svetlana later changed her name to Lana Peters. I don’t know if these events are related.
6. Basia Piescka Johnson, a Polish chambermaid, married her employer John Seward Johnson, an impossibly wealthy heir to the Johnson&Johnson empire. After her husband died, Basia lived in great splendor in Princeton, where she was worth 2.7 billion dollars. This is a true Cinderella story, because it involves an impressive art collection.
7. The picture below features the bridge into Trenton, with the motto, “Trenton Makes, The World Takes.”