57 Things We (and Our Favorite Celebs) Love About the Granite State

Oh, Granite State, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways …

We asked people a simple question: "What do you most love about New Hampshire?" Many mentioned big-time celebrities and local stars who call themselves Granite Staters, so we turned right around and asked the stars the same question. Here are the answers we got, and we've really only scratched the ever-loving surface.

1. Dean Kamen. Inventor and Founder of FIRST. "Intellectually, New Hampshire is the perfect size. It's small enough you can have access to the people that make decisions and you can help affect those decisions, but it's big enough that it has significant resources, people and property that you can accomplish big things. There's great intellectual property here – people, schools, industries. So, to me, it's perfect."

2. "I love New Hampshire. I love the scenery. I wake up and I look out at Mt. Monadnock every morning. I love the White Mountains, I love the seacoast. It's probably the most 'New England' of the six states. It's very frugal. And there is a certain Live Free or Die sensibility. People are kind of proud of that. There used to be a time about 30-40 years ago when people made fun of New Hampshire but now it's kind of looked to as a model of how things ought to be. And I like that." – Judson Hale, publisher of Yankee Magazine.

3. Fritz Wetherbee. Writer, historian and WMUR-TV personality. "It's the people. The fact that no one cares what you do, no one gets in your way and no one "helps" you. I love that we are so taciturn. We don't mess with each other's pride. If I'm going to starve to death, don't embarrass me about it. This is the Granite State because it's so flinty. The weather has something to do with it. There are people who would rather starve to death or freeze to death than lose their dignity. So it's that flintiness that we have in this state that I love a lot."

4. Our lack of fashion sense. Where else can you wear down and fleece to semi-formal events?

5. The fact that some people think New Hampshire is in Massachusetts. It's like we have a cloaking device against idiots.

6. The spirit of Mel Thomson that hovers over NH politics and rattles his chains every time someone says the word "tax."

7. Our state motto, which says to all the other state mottos, "Live Free or Die, suckahs!"

8. StoryLand and the other North Country theme parks that are like handmade, homespun versions of Disney World but so much better at engaging the imagination.

9. Contra Dance stars like Ralph Page and Dudley Laufman who are (and were) simultaneously obscure and world renowned.

10. Old hippies like Bode Miller's parents who settled in the North Country during the 1970s' back-to-the-land movement and never left.

11. Olympic wild man Bode Miller.

12. "I love that we have liquor stores located on the highway. And that when we give directions, it usually involves a turn near a Dunkin' Donuts." – Courtney Hoppe

13. Elm Street in Manchester (which, according to disgraced Boston Globe columnist Mike Barnicle, makes us the only major city in any state that has a main street with a dead end).

14. Our homogeneity. Let's face it, the state looks pretty lily white to outsiders, but it means that cultural distinctions, where they do exist, stand out and can be celebrated.

15. Our heterogeneity. "I love driving around and noticing how every house is different from every other house and you can see people's personalities in their yards (outbuildings, cars, mailboxes, junk piles, woodpiles, landscaping and lack of, type of stone walls, tree houses, bird feeders, etc. etc. etc.)." – Sid Hall

16. Eliza Coupe. Actress on ABC's "Happy Endings." "That my entire family is there…or one state over in Maine. Side note: we always take Rte. 4 to get there and you can do some wicked good antiquing on that frickin' road.

My aunt and uncle's restaurant, The Bob House, in Moultonborough.

That growing up…and up until about three years ago I legitimately thought that the word 'spatula' was pronounced 'spatuler.'

That the whole state is 603!

Playing hockey on Squam Lake … in the winter. When it's frozen. Obviously."

17. P.J. O'Rourke. Political satirist, journalist, writer and author. "First are the bugs. Particularly the black flies, although the mosquitos and the horse flies and the deer flies are important too, because they keep the flatlanders out. It's like the Free Staters who come up here to take over the state and create a libertarian paradise and where are they now? Scratching themselves.

Also, I love how close we are to Vermont, 'cause any time we get a bad idea in terms of state or local government, all we have to do is look across the Connecticut River and see what it leads to. It's also pretty over there. Vermont's a beautiful state and the best place to get a view of it is from New Hampshire.

The presidential candidates. I like having them right where I can see them. They need adult supervision and we in New Hampshire can provide that for them, and to paraphrase the Godfather, "Keep your friends close but keep your presidential candidates even closer." They bear watching and we're in a position to do that.

The last thing I love about New Hampshire – well, not the last thing, there are many things I love about NH, but the last thing I have on my list – is Franklin Pierce, our native president. He is a valuable reminder that presidents aren't always so important."

18. Cinnamon Rainbows and Blink's Fry Doe on a cloudy afternoon at Hampton Beach.

19. Alpine glow on the Presidential Range from the summit of Mt. Pierce.

20. Doris Haddock/Granny D. (R.I.P.) Her new book "Granny D's American Century" comes out in March.

21. Velcro: Headquartered in Manchester. Keeping it all together for more than 50 years.

22. The Portsmouth Music Scene, which has long been a huge influence on the regional and national scenes with little fanfare.

23. The movie "In Danger of Being Discovered," which finally tells the story of the influential Portsmouth Music Scene.

24. Dan Brown. Author, "The Da Vinci Code." "It was a perfect autumn weekend that helped me lure my wife here from Southern California. For that reason, I will always have a soft spot for Kancamagus foliage, mulled cider and bonfires on crisp October nights."

25. Mary Ann Esposito. Cookbook author, star of PBS's "Ciao Italia." "At the top of my list are the farmers markets because when my own garden goes down for the season it's just nice to know that there is local produce that's still going to be available to get me through these lean months. I'm a big fan. That's one thing I love. You are seeing a lot more of these and of the great products these farmers can grow.

I love just driving in New Hampshire. Just get in the car and go. No traffic jams. So much nicer than New York City. One of my destination places to go for a ride, if I have nothing to do, is Exeter because I think The Chocolatier has some of the best chocolate around. I know there are other people making chocolate around, but it's just tough to beat those chocolate malt balls they make there. They do a very nice job.

26. Sarah Silverman. Comic, actress raised in Bedford. "Autumn. The branches on the big maple trees touch and intertwine to make a tunnel over our little country road. It's like a rainbow wormhole into another time where everything is beautiful and warm and safe.

The water. Straight from the well to our faucet. It's the best.

Ice Cream at The Puritan.

Plays by The New Thalian Players. Oh, and the Red Arrow Diner."

27. Tan Vampires! Featured in our last There From Here music compilation and recently a favorite band of National Public Radio and other arbiters of good taste.

28. Our fascination with rock formations. Not just the Old Man, but all of them (the Old Lady, the Sleeping Astronomer, etc.) and my favorite, the image of an elephant profile embedded in the granite as you come off Exit 8 on Rte. 93 in Manchester. – Josh Auger

29. The Old Man. (Rest in Pieces)

30. "I love that the choral singing tradition is alive and well in New Hampshire – the Concord Chorale, Manchester Choral Society, NH Master Chorale, Monadnock Chorus, Profile Chorus, Nashua Choral Society, Great Waters Music Festival, NH Music Festival Chorus, Portsmouth Men's Chorus, Songweavers, Portsmouth Pro Musica, Pemigewasset Choral Society, Handel Society of Dartmouth College, and I'm sure there are many others I've missed. We love to sing and there's a tremendous amount of social capital generated in these groups." -Deborah Watrous

31. Two Supreme Court Justices live here. Stephen Breyer is a summer resident and you can bump into David Souter at the Concord Farmers Market or Shaw's on a regular basis wearing a very out-of-fashion sports coat (see Lack of Fashion Sense).

32. Three U.S. Poets Laureate live here. Three! Maxine Kumin, Donald Hall, and Charles Simic.

33. "I love running in New Hampshire. Running through the Millyard in Manchester on a summer night, to the trails of the northland, running marathons, half marathons and epic relays like Reach the Beach all year round from city to seacoast to the peaks of the White Mountains. From the variety of amazing terrain packed into such an accessible area to the great camaraderie and amazing community statewide, to the toughness necessarily imbued by running through the Granite State's seasons, how could a runner not love New Hampshire?" – Ernesto Burden

34. Laura Silverman. Comic, actress and Sarah Silverman's sister. "It's beautiful, of course, and I never thought I'd say this, but I really do miss the snow. I grew up with some wonderful people there. I spent my formative years in the suburbs of the "big" city of Manchester, on a lively, lovely street, in a '60s-style ranch house with a swimming pool, nestled in amongst the birth of our country – the massive, Victorian homes, stained in deep jewel tones, spooky and romantic with their endless peaks and gables and enchanting wrap-around porches; and, of course, hmm, it's hard to put into words, but I guess what I love most about NH is that it's my home and always will be. We grew up very much aware of the specialness of New Hampshire – the villages of world-class craftspeople, the nationally reputed Peterborough theater, the mountains people came to ski on in the winter and the lakes and coastlines they retreated to in the summer, the sophistication and the untouched countrysides, the fact that we could buy just-picked sweet corn from the farmer on the corner and that evening be exploring the streets of Boston. The fact that we were an important political state and that, despite a conservative reputation, we could still vote Democratic. But most of all, like I said, it's home, and it always will be. There's Momma and the wood stove, and safety and peace. And it's never lost on me for long that there's nothing better than that."

35. Quirky museums like the Telephone Museum in Warner and the Woodman Institute in Dover. They set expectations low and then exceed them, like a good candidate in the NH Primary.

36. The NH Primary. It's the First in the Nation and has its own Twitter hashtag #FITN. It turns the streets of Manchester and Concord into the closest thing to Mardi Gras that the Northeast will ever know.

37. The Free State Project. Gradually turning downtown Keene into the closest thing to the New Orleans French Quarter that the Northeast will ever know.

38. Maple sugar cotton candy at the NH Farm and Forest Expo (known as the state's greatest winter fair!).

39. Super Secret Project. Their rap-infused viral videos are like hip-hop loves songs to their Granite muse.

40. The fact that 603 has its own gang sign.

41. Secret high-tech projects. Well, maybe not secret outside of the electronic compound of Dean Kamen's DEKA Research, but much of what goes on in labs at Dartmouth and UNH has world-shaking significance rarely discussed except by leaders in science and technology.

42. The Segway. It may still be the butt of jokes on sitcoms and in film, but seeing those little two-wheel marvels scoot around the city does make you feel like we're living in the future.

43. Mine Falls in Nashua, which provides a complete escape from the bustle of the state's second-largest city for everyone from joggers to snowshoers to bird watchers.

44. The 4,000-Footer-Club, which has absolutely no relationship to the mile-high club. Although, then again …

45. The Red Spotted Newt, in our opinion the perfect symbol of New Hampshire. Humble but colorful, small but significant, adaptable but environmentally sensitive, taciturn but always willing to make a statement. (Full disclosure, the Newt is New Hampshire Magazine's mascot.)

46. The Connecticut River. First of all, because we own the whole thing, from our shore to the normal high-water mark on Vermont's side (as part of an ancient boundary agreement). Secondly, because it separates us from Vermont and will make an excellent defense line should war ever break out between our two states.

47. Bethlehem, NH's multifaceted reputation as an haven for Hassidic Jews, an escape from spring pollen, a spot to mail Christmas cards and an enclave of gay and lesbian bed and breakfast resorts.

48. Juston McKinney. Comedian and actor. "I love that we can have a white Xmas, a white Easter and a white Halloween. I love having to shovel before the trick or treaters show up.

I love how my wife and I get to go camping every year. We don't mean to but we live in NH and the power goes out every year.

I love how you can see a car going down the road in NH with a Christmas tree and a deer tied to the roof. "Hey kids, we got a Christmas tree … and Rudolph."

49. Ken Burns. Director and producer of documentary films. "I love our extraordinary system of roads and the fact that you can't get there from here. I love our progressive conservatism. I love how relatively small our state is, how knowable, and how immeasurably large and incomprehensible it is. I love our spectacular views and how private things are here. I love to know the comfort that things will stay the same and that everything is changing. I especially love swimming in Lake Sunapee and walking on the ice."

50. Unknown twists of American history like the Powder Raid at Ft. William and Mary, the very first act of aggression against British forces in the Revolution (take that, Boston and Michelle Bachmann).

51. Famous twists in UFO history. Between Betty and Barney Hill and the Incident at Exeter we ought to have an annual festival devoted just to flying saucers. Wait, we do. The Exeter UFO Festival.

52. Our wacky and bloated 424-member state Legislature, which finds time (in the current session) to argue whether or not every new piece of legislation should cite the 800-year-old Magna Carta as a foundational document.

53. The fact that, when that same Legislature argued that New Hampshire should have an official state gun, they picked a really cool looking gun.

54. Boston. It's our city (just an hour or so away), lots of fun to visit or hear about on the evening news and yet we don't have to pay for its upkeep.

55. According to a Michigan State University study, New Hampshire has 10 percent more organ donors as a result of having no law requiring helmets be worn on motorcycles.

56. The Moose hunt – nine days in October when a fortunate few get to test their wits, resolve and reflexes by tracking and shooting the biggest, goofiest and most clueless creatures in the forest.

57. Finally, We Love Steven Tyler (…And He Loves Us Back!)

Editor Rick Broussard was given a special gift on Christmas Eve when premier American Rocker Steven Tyler called from his home on Lake Sunapee for a chat. For a half hour they talked about everything from the early years of Aerosmith to his new autobiography to his next creative challenges. (He's about to appear as character in an animated film produced by the Academy Award-winning makers of "Ice Age.") We could only fit a little bit of the conversation in the print magazine, but we have the interview in its entirety below. (P.S. The day after this interview, Tyler surprised his girlfriend, Erin Brady, with an engagement ring wrapped up as a Christmas present.)

I really love your book. It's like a window on the past for me and a lot of people who lived back then. And it's very revealing.

Think I gave too much away?

How much did you hold back?

I held back enough to not really hurt people. I didn't want to hurt anybody, I'm not like Simon … well, I'm not gonna go there. I cut it short of hurting people. I'm sure I hurt some people but I tried to be thoughtful in that respect.

Do you have a personal definition of love?

The first thing that comes to mind is love is love reflected. I don't think you'd know what love was unless someone told you they loved you first. It would be lovely to say we were born with this enlightenment from God, but it don't happen like that. Cause and response, it's a learned thing. But love is love reflected and the more I think I've learned it's easy to rip sh*t apart. It's easy to be angry. How many actors play an angry role? Arrrr! It's f**king easy. Downtime at the OK Corral. Anyone can be angry, but not anyone can love

We just started doing this year's Idol and so many kids got so scared and started forgetting their words that a lot more did than ever before. It's infectious. Then kids started fainting and then more kids started fainting. A lot of things around people are infectious. If more people would love it could be infectious. Don't you think? Certainly there was no love in the Ku Klux Klan. You know, who went home and loved their kids that night?

Idol seems to be a more loving show since you got on it.

You know what, when you tell a kid, you didn't do good today, but I'm gonna let you through anyway, but I want you to do something about it, that's different than telling a kid "I don't think you can sing. Who told you you could sing? Get out of here and don't ever come back." I'm telling you, that poor kid. It's like I told Oprah, I'm afraid that kid is never going to sing for her children because Randy told them they suck, or because I told them they suck. They're gonna take that sh*t to heart. I've seen that you attract more flies with honey than with vinegar and you want to see character? You want to see real character? Tell some kid that you thinks sucks that you're going to give them one more chance. That you were better than this last time. That's massaging whatever it was that got them in there to begin with.

You probably remember things like that. Things that people said to you.

Yeah, I learned to hate and be angry from people who were angry and hated me. I wasn't born, I wasn't some 6-year-old kid who hated. I may have hated my mom when she washed my mouth out with soap for something but that was just for a minute. It wasn't like the hot heaping helpings of hate that some people laid across my path or tripped me on purpose and then lied to me and told me they didn't. But I knew what was going on. When these kids come in and we're looking for someone who can sing, I think, I wonder what Janis Joplin was like when she first opened her mouth. I can tell you what I was like. It sucked.

What are some things you really love about NH?

Well the woods were so thick up in Sunapee there was no one else around and it was a small town. Everyone knows your name. You say hello to people and they stop mowing their lawns to come over to your car and say hello. I got that country wisdom from walking through the woods and it was so quiet in the pine forest, I got my spirituality. I was told to go to church and all, but I heard it in the woods. I heard it in the choir when I was singing songs, but I really heard it in the silence and it took my fear away.

I love the beaches in the warm summer and winters in the snow. Remember when we'd get five feet of snow and they'd plow the roads and it was 12 feet on the sides? It's not like that anymore. You couldn't even see your house. That experience and the difference between the seasons gave you a love. You don't have light without darkness, you don't have sound without silence. You wouldn't know what sound is without silence.

It's life on life's terms up here. It's a beautiful thing.

I used to love the fact that I grew up in the Bronx and I was a country boy every summer and winter. I love the fact that I grew up country and city, that I had the two sides of life. Nobody knows about my country side. They will when they read the book. They think I'm this rocked out guy. They think I lived in LA forever. That's what I love about it.

And you're still here.

Oh, Yeah. I love it. I have a deck that's right on the lake. I have a house in the Hawaiian Islands somewhere too, but that's on the ocean. This is a clear lake with the stars and breezes and when you're out in the cold and it bites your nose you don't ever forget it. It's 10 degrees out right now. That's pretty severe. I love the severeness. It gets you ready for what life has to offer. It's a blessing in disguise.

What's next for you. Have you been everywhere? Done everything?

Yeah, I've been to Maine, Spain, Spokane. I've seen goats f**k in the marketplace but I've never had an interview like this one. Ha, ha. No I haven't done everything, but I think I have. I'm looking forward to swimming with whales calving like I have a couple of times in Hawaii. I love that. There's a few things I haven't done. I've always wanted to be weightless, to see what that's like. I'm looking forward to that. But you know, I think the best part of my life, if I was to die tomorrow, I would write my epitaph that the best time I had was with my children. Watching them being born and slowing down my life to have them and being with their different moms. Going to Disneyworld. It's just slows me down from my insanely sped-up world.

I know you are a busy guy.

I can't begin to tell you. We did a month in South America, a week off in Maui and then we did Japan for a month. I flew back from Japan at 6 o'clock at night and I arrived in LA at 11:45 Sunday and I got to my house at 1 o'clock. Did hair and makeup for Idol and I did some clothing changes. Six hours. Seven o'clock I was over at J.Lo's for four hours and I didn't get back home until two in the morning and then Monday morning I started Idol Hollywood week. I didn't get done until last Tuesday at which time I got off stage in Hollywood week at 8 o'clock at night, flew to the airport, at 10 took a private plane back to Boston. Got back to Boston at 7 in the morning. Was in the dentist chair at 8 until 5 that night to get my two front teeth – all I want for Christmas is my two front teeth – I actually got three cause I knocked them out in Mexico, as you know. I got them put in – three days of dentistry. I just got back up here yesterday at 6 o'clock. Enough time to have pizza with [assistant] Rick Mastun: my best friend. Oh, I forgot, on the 22nd in was [daughter] Mia's birthday, so I got to Boston on the 2oth. On the 21st went Christmas shopping. The 22nd was Mia's birthday. The 23rd we came up here. Sunday's the 26 and Monday I'm flying back to LA to start on a whole new project. You know Opie? Ron Howard. Ron Howard bought the book that you love so much.

For a movie?

Movie or a television show, so I'm looking forward to that. I got an animated movie coming out in 2012 or 13. It's with the producers who did Ice Age. I always wanted to be a voice in something animated. [speaking off phone to is friend, Rick "Did you take that out or is it still in there to cook. It's out? Did you stick your finger in it to see if it's hot?"]

We're cooking Christmas dinner here.

What are you having?

We're having chicken parm that we got from Lou Marzelli who catered for Oprah when she was up here. She loved it. She said "You eat like this all the time? How come you're not fatter?" Oprah was here a week after my dad passed, three months ago and will be aired first of this year [2012]. New Year's Day, so watch that. She loved it so much up here, she's doing two one-hour shows for her new program.

Maybe she'll buy a lake house.

Wouldn't that be something? She's already got a huge place on the Island somewhere.

Channel 9 news came up when they found out Oprah was here and they found out that Lou catered it. They came up and stuck a mic in his face and said "What did you feed them?" and he said, "I ain't saying nothing." He's so Italian. I love him so much. Lou's in Newbury and Sunapee. Marzelli's Deli. The best. You should go there and do something with them because, I'm telling you, I'm from the Bronx. He literally goes to NY and brings stuff back. His meatballs are like this [makes sound effect like whistling wind].

Good sound effects.

Oh yeah. I got sound effects up the waz. The book was this good [makes Model T car horn sound]. No I take it back, it was this good [makes train whistle sound]. It's on the bestseller list and it's just getting out in France, Russia. Holy sh*t. Life's been good, man. I'm blessed.

It's a good month to remember that.

It is, man. It really is. For better or worse we could be in Biafra or Russia or any of these places. We're all down around the ankles with the money and stuff but you know it's good to be an American. I'll tell you what.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Categories: Features