Porter Fox has published two essays in the Believer: “The Long Good-Bye Man,” on the “abstract-expressionist fiction writer” Fielding Dawson, and “The Last Stand of Free Town,” a dispatch from the tiny sovereign community of Christiania, in Copenhagen, which was included in Best American Travel Writing 2011. Fox is the editor of Nowhere, a digital arts and travel magazine that’s recently undergone a significant revamping. We wrote to Porter for more details on his project.
Who are you?
I am the great great great great grandson of General George Meade, who lead the Army of the Potomac at the Battle of Gettysburg. I am also the man who picked up a perfectly good loaf of bread from the top of a trashcan outside a bakery in Brooklyn last night and brought it home.
What is Nowhere?
It is an imagined depot for stories from the road. Which is to say it is a digital magazine of literary travel writing, photography and art. We publish journals, sketches, fiction, creative nonfiction, audio, video and visual art in addition to traditional travel stories. We illustrate stories with found objects, knickknacks and bric-a-brac brought home from the trip. We were a web site for the last three years. In November we relaunched as a tablet magazine for e-readers and computers with all the multi-media bells and whistles that come with that.
Where is Nowhere?
nowheremag.com. And in an 1869 warehouse built by William Beard in Red Hook - or “Roode Hoek” as the Dutch named it - Brooklyn, overlooking New York Harbor, the Gowanus Canal and the New York Ferry terminal… Our office building is the brick one that CNN showed a million times submerged under six feet of East River water during Hurricane Sandy. (We’re on the fourth floor; we were spared.)
What’s new with Nowhere?
New writers, designers, editors, video and audio engineers, programmers, photographers, artists, musicians, bookkeepers and creators of all kinds who are interested in making something different from what is out there. Digital publishing has leveled the playing field for startup magazines. We can make and distribute a great read for little to no overhead. All it takes is an incredible amount of work.
Why are you making Nowhere?
Because we got tired of everything else. And we travel quite a bit and wanted a place to read and tell stories about how places actually are. Not how fancy travelers wish they would be. (More like home.) We also missed the old tradition of travel writing in magazines like Holiday, Collier’s and The Saturday Evening Post, by novelists, poets and creative long-form writers. There are stories like this out there, just not in most travel magazines. We wanted to bring authentic, long-form travel writing under one roof.
What’s the best piece in Nowhere right now?
Frank Bures’s story in Issue 6 on traveling to Djibouti on the Red Sea, where humans first crossed from Africa to everywhere else. It’s a fantastic essay on a little known corner of the world, the politics of borderlands and the reasons why we travel.
What’s the most-read piece in Nowhere?
A series authored by a copilot for a major American airline, who writes about getting drunk with stewardesses in airport hotels, jet engines spewing oil and the complexities of going to the bathroom while flying a fifty-ton airplane six hundred miles per hour.
What’s your favorite piece of travel writing that was published before 1900?
Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World (1899, just got in there!). It’s a masterpiece written by a longtime sea captain and first-time author. Slocum was the first man to circumnavigate the globe solo (in 1898) and told it like he saw it. Including clinging to the mast while a rogue wave submerged the ship and setting tacks on the deck to ward off Tierra del Fuego natives. We’re republishing it as an ebook this winter.