Do you know what today is, Dear Reader? Of course you do! It’s my Birthday! Which I don’t have to cancel this year because America is dumb.
So I’ve decided I’m actually going to enjoy myself this year and celebrate a little, and you know what I really want to celebrate?
How much I love New Haven.
Like most loves, it’s a little complicated, and comes with some goods and bads. That beautiful UConn flag in front of my house? Stolen, probably by ruffians or Syracuse fans.
But I still think the good outweighs the bad. So I’m going to take this time and celebrate the first city that ever really felt like the home I chose.
New Haven is For Everyone
If you missed this excellent 538 piece, New Haven is the most representative city of America. Based on age, educational attainment, and race and ethnicity, we pretty much are America.
The next time some jerk from Iowa is like “we’re real Americans,” tell him to go eat hay. Or whatever they eat. I don’t know.
New Haven has Yalies and townies and lifelong Connecticut residents (guilty) and transient students and people who came here for work and stayed and people who are getting their PhD and leaving and people who grew up in New Haven and people who grew up in rural towns in northeast CT (also guilty).
But we all belong here. This is our city, together. A place where everyone belongs.
It isn’t just a Sanctuary City for future Americans. It’s a Sanctuary for people like me, who never felt like they belonged anywhere.
New Haven is the first place I’ve ever lived where it felt like I was a part of the community. Where I was surrounded by people who got me. They don’t necessarily look like me or come from the same background as me or believe the same things as me.
But we all want to build the community together. New Haven welcomed us with open arms and we all embraced that.
Sure, we have the greatest pizza in the world. And it is the greatest in the world.
Every time someone visits from across America, I’m all, “you gotta try this mashed potato and bacon pizza” and they’re all, “Why are you so gross,” but then five minutes later they’re like “dear god what is this lovely thing.”
Never mind the glories of Pepe’s, Sally’s, and Modern. Or DaLegna or Kitchen Zinc.
Beyond pizza, there is the avant garde sushi of Miya’s, and the glorious beef burgers of Prime 16, and the unbelievable sea bass at Adriana’s.
I could go on and on.
Oh, you want me to?
How about the duck nachos at Zinc, or the duck quesadilla at Pacifico? Or really anything at Barcelona or Olea? Or the scallops at Union League?
Plus, we now have not one, not two, but THREE places you can get Poke (Pokelicious, Pokemoto, and Anaya!).
All the Culture
New Haven has been called the “cultural center of Connecticut.” I can’t speak to that, as I know Manchester has a Dave and Buster’s, so we’re really all competing for second place.
Nonetheless, the presence of several universities in and around New Haven makes it a burgeoning cultural attraction.
The glorious Yale University Art Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art are both brilliant and totally free.
Yale Cabaret is another hidden gem. After all, what’s better than weird and often controversial theater with your dinner and wine? Nothing, that’s what.
The Shubert regularly gets awesome performances like Book of Mormon, and College Street Music Hall has everyone from Iron and Wine to Demetri Martin. (BTW not bragging but I know the guy who opened for him. So. Yeah.)
Plus, JP Dempsey’s has been letting me to comedy open mics there. And if hearing shitty comics yell dumb jokes at you isn’t culture, I don’t know what is.
New Haven is a small enough city that every voice matters. Don’t like something going on? Attend a Community Meeting. You will be heard.
You can easily email or call your local Alders and get immediate responses. You can open issues in SeeClickFix and have the City laugh at you and say yeah sure we’ll fix that pothole.
In larger cities, it’s hard to see how your voice counts, but in New Haven, we all matter. We can all have a voice.
In fact, it turns out any idiot can just buy a domain and start a blog and after a couple of years, you too, can be yelled at for gentrifying New Haven.
What a time to be alive.
It’s The People, Stupid.
It’s always the people. A city is as vibrant as its people. And the people here are the best. (No offense to everywhere else full of trash people.)
Home is where the heart is. And I’ve had the privilege of meeting some of the most wonderful people here. People who make it a home.
People who understand the joys of tailgating a minor league soccer game or the glories of the all-night 116 Crown Happy Hour or having a picnic at East Rock park or going to Lighthouse Park to ride the carousel or checking out the farmer’s market at Edgewood Park.
Or want to be more involved by participating in Democracy School or reporting results for the fabulous New Haven Independent.
And most importantly, people like you, Reader. Cause without you, I’d just be another guy shouting from the corner.
(I got another 10 years until I hit that point, I think.)
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