When Is A House More Than A House?

Dan’ s Papers has moved into its new home. But I have to confess, I will miss the rickety converted old house that served as the office and hub of the Hamptons, aka, Dan’s Papers, for so many years.

I will miss the way the huge poster of Dan’s face next to the commode, watched your every move. I’ll miss how the toilet paper supply was on open shelves across the bathroom—just close enough that every once in a while you’d check to see if you had developed the ability to move TP with your mind. The walls were paper-thin and it amazed me how many people thought the nook by the bathroom was a secure place to chat.

I’ll miss looking into the rooms where the Ad people were chained to their desks by the ankles, not unlike the galley scenes in Ben Hur. It was safe to walk up to the edge of the room and throw food and canned goods in, but it was best to stay out of their reach, lest they grab your car keys and make a break for freedom.

I’ll miss the late night Tuesdays (when the paper was being assembled for printing) when the layout staff would put electrified razor wire up around their desks to discourage any last-minute changes. Even so, late changes would get through and you’d hear the wails of the exhausted and frustrated staff. One of them would always come out to make coffee for the group. Whenever I was there, if I had the extra, I’d slip some Xanax into the coffee to help calm the group down.

Then there was the Senior Editor, the one on whose shoulders, all things fall. When I began writing for Dan’s, it was with Bill Scurry at the helm. Many have passed through that job since then, yes, they come and they go, but the aggravation remains the same. Whenever I was in the office on Tuesdays, the Editors were alert, cogent, and highly intelligent. I never saw them the next day, but I’d bet a paycheck that on Wednesdays, they’d have to pull out their Driver’s License to remember their names.

I will really miss what I called Telegraph Hill. The old place, in addition to thin walls, had this steep, narrow, rickety, very squeaky staircase that led to Dan’s perch upstairs. Anything heavier than a cat would make these stairs creak. It wasn’t long before you could identify who was coming or going by the heaviness and speed of their footfalls. The really senior staff could tell you if it was Dan in a good or bad mood, if he was carrying anything, or how much he had for lunch. It was fun to be able to tell who forgot something based on the partial descent, then cursing, then ascent, then a complete fast descent with more cursing. This staircase was so fragile, it actually would shake the whole house depending on the forcefulness of the footfalls. Of course, I never went on it. I knew the steps would never handle the pressure, plus there wasn’t enough WD-40 in the building for me to adequately coat my hips. If I needed to see Dan, I could just take a position at the bottom of the steps and wait. I always admired the fact that even though he could have easily slung a fire ladder out the window and escaped to the parking lot unnoticed, he never did.

Yes, I’ll miss the old house and all the hiding places it had. But the new place will be even better for brilliant people to fester, I mean, foster their talents in this new millennia of Dan’s Papers. I have been a Dan Fan since he had a two-page flier when I was a teen growing up on the Island. It was Dan’s writing, and later that of Mary Lowry of The Pacific Sun in California, that gave me inspiration to write—but don’t let it get out, Dan doesn’t need any ego boosting.

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