I have a confession to make: for my first two articles I was merely masquerading as a New Havenite. The shame. My beard? My thick-rimmed hipster glasses? A fraud. A fashionable ruse. The shame. I have brought dishonor upon my family for generations to come.
To be fair, I lived in West Haven, which was definitely a bit different than the dense backwoods and Banana Republic downtown of Guilford in which I called home previously. West Haven was the “city” in comparison to Guilford. In ‘Staven (it applies to West Haven as well) I was close to many accommodations; the Milford/Orange strip mall strip, the bus line, the ghetto, the Forest Road/Campbell Avenue “intersection”. Most importantly, I was close-ish to downtown New Haven and close-ish to work…..but not nearly close-ish enough.
So far I’m loving where I live. I can walk to work, to the gym, to the market and to any bar or restaurant I can think of. Dreamy, right? There are caveats of course. Tit (teehee) for tat. The move was only about five miles but I might as well live on a different planet. So what changed? Funny you should ask…
1. Walking to Work
Ready to hate me? Here we go. I have an eleven minute commute to work. It’s a goddamn revelation. No parking to worry about. No gas tank to fill up. No traffic to stress me out. Sure, I have to deal with the suggestion of order on New Haven roads. Do I have to play real-life Frogger sometimes? Yes, but popping my headphones in while I exit the front door makes risking getting “Kaitlyn Jennered” entirely bearable. Just me, the pavement and the best-selling musical duo of all time.
2. Grocery Shopping
Up until the move I was shopping at Trader Joe’s just like any good hipster or hipstress. There may have been what seemed like every asshole in the county traversing Route 1 every time I tried to go but it was relatively convenient. Healthy choices, a condensed store and competitive prices kept the actual shopping experience tolerable.
When I started thinking about the move downtown I fantasized that I’d be able to walk to the Elm City Market, fill a couple bags, walk home and add said bags to the collection of bags that I’ll use for something. A fevered dream, surely. So when I finally moved on up to the deluxe apartment in the sky it was inevitable that my food shopping experience would improve vastly.
Well….it did….and….it didn’t. Allow me to explain. I can WALK TO THE GROCERY STORE (can you guess how much I like walking now?). That is definitely an improvement. The staff is helpful. They’ve got a great selection of meats, nuts, vegetables, prepared meals, breads, beer and every manner of non-soy, no GMO, animal safe, paleo-centric, vegan deodorant you could think of. Seems like paradise.
Shopping bill at Trader Joe’s
Shopping bill at Elm City Market
Holy gentrification, Batman! Listen, I don’t go to Yale so I don’t have a parachute made of money strapped to my back in the form of loans or parents. Nor am I a big city lawyer who’s name is Rick and dresses like late 80’s David Bowie (more on him later). I do ok but not THAT ok. Christ! Who can afford to shop here? If you don’t have a car and may be the bread-winner of a lower income household where do you go shopping? Definitely. Not. Here.
The saddest part is I feel like I got nothing. Maybe a few chicken breasts, some bananas and a burrito. Guess I must have bought that $36 bottle of Tiger Nut Oil instead of that tiny $9 bottle of olive oil which was the cheapest choice. No wonder they almost closed down not long ago.
Elm City Market, its not you – it’s me. You’re just too expensive. I’ll pay for your convenience but I’ll always go back to Trader Joe’s for my real shopping.
And man buns.
Man buns as far as the eye can see.
I have never lived in a city proper so I knew this would be a bit of a shock. Frequenting downtown when you live outside of New Haven usually means paying the $10 so the girls in your car don’t break their ankles or get frost bite on their completely exposed, post vaginal, legs.
Living here is different. You don’t need your car all the time but if you want to hold on to your 2000 Nissan Maxima (true story, bro) then it needs to be put somewhere. The driveway? Great idea. However, I don’t own a Land Rover nor do I have children that attend Foote or Hopkins schools named Skylar and Sage. A garage is always a viable choice if you want to pay for monthly parking but if there’s anything Millennials don’t like doing it’s paying for things. So that leaves me with street parking.
As anyone who’s visited downtown will know there is metered parking – two hours at a time. Once you start creeping just outside downtown you’ll find something called “zone parking”. Zone parking means you’re special because you live in that zone and you get a shiny permit that tells everyone that. What it’s supposed to mean is that only people with said permit are allowed to park in that zone but you wouldn’t know that by the way everyone parks on Wooster Street.
Yup, that’s where I moved. Pizza Heaven; where the streets run red with the marinara sauce of generations. If you’ve been there you how daunting finding a parking spot can be.
I have a Jimmy Stewart’s eye view of Sally’s. It’s perfect for watching the huge queue that inevitably springs up every weekend. It’s also great for inciting me with rage. You see, zone parking means nothing on Wooster Street. Not a fucking thing. The savages just think they can park anywhere! “Look here, Hunny! A spot right out front! What luck!” It never occurs to visitors that there is a reason that there magically happens to be parking right outside one of the most popular pizza joints in America.
The cruelest joke? Sally’s is one of the few places on Wooster Street that ACTUALLY HAS A PARKING LOT. Speaking of pizza….
(or, “appiza” if you like to pretend to be Italian)
The only reason you’re reading this is that more than likely you are a New Haveneer or have visited the Elm City more than once in your life. As such, the following opinion won’t rattle any windows:
I’m not going to lie to you and say that I’ve jet-setted to every corner of the globe. I have not tasted every pizza but as far as general consensus goes New Haven is tops. The pies are what every out-of-towner seeks out when in the vicinity and with good cause.
Oh, right. This is a “what did I learn” piece. So what DID I learn? I learned that your friends that live in Boston, New York or Chicago are more wrong than anyone, ever. Elm City “apizza” is one of the few things I am patriotic about. If only they could make politics more like pizza.
5. The New Haven Green is full of skeletons
Some of you may already know this. There was quite a story just after Hurricane Sandy about the “Lincoln Oak” toppling over due to raging winds. A homeless woman stumbled upon the uprooted stump and found a funny looking rock with teeth. She called the New Haven police department who confirmed, by looking in their large leather-bound books, that rocks do not have teeth. Once identified as a human skull, the ribcage nearby made a lot more sense.
It turns out a large portion of what is now the green used to be a cemetery dating back to the witch-burning times. Around 1820 the gravestones of dearly departed were moved to the new Grove Street Cemetery but, due to all the inconvenience associated with exhuming all those good, Christian bodies, New Haven town officials invoked their motto as they have time and memoriam:
“Fuck it. Someone else will finish it in like ten years”. Or, you know, never.
That’s right! There are human remains right under our very Arts & Ideas Festivals! Let’s be realistic though. There’s probably human remains buried everywhere – like dinosaur fossils, right? Unfortunately, we aren’t talking about a few souls, a family plot or even just the executed convicts. Pretty much everyone was buried there.
Let’s lighten the mood a bit, shall we? How about some “Price-Is-Right”-style fun? How many bodies do you think are still there? A few hundred? A few hundred…..and one?? Cue sliding trombone. The actual retail price iiiiiiiiiiiis….
…at least one thousand. Some reports see that number go as high as ten thousand! That’s a veritable army of skeletons.