This being my last full Yale Daily News column, I’m going to take the opportunity to be old and crotchety, and to complain about the young ‘uns. Specifically, I am constantly reading and hearing statements like the following, taken from the front page of the April 4 issue of the News: “I really do like [the changes to Broadway] and a lot of people I talk to do as well. If people walked around here, they might have an idea that New Haven might be a fun place.”
Excuse me? The fact that national chains are moving in left and right just might dupe people into thinking New Haven is cool? You don’t say.
Now, I know the person who said that was only a freshman, but it still kind of upsets me when I hear things like that.
It’s the same attitude that led people at my high school to taunt me about “having to spend four years in New Haven.” It’s the same attitude that leads high school seniors to refuse to apply here because it’s, well, here. It’s the same attitude that threw a close friend’s mom into a bewildered panic when my friend announced she was coming to visit me.
And it’s a totally misguided attitude. New Haven is a wonderful city and not because it has an Au Bon Pain, an Urban Outfitters, a Barnes and Noble or an Origins.
New Haven is a wonderful city because of the things an awful lot of students never take the time to do. We’ll start with the easy ones. How many of you have never been to Wooster Square? Hopefully, there aren’t too many hands up yet. For those of you who haven’t, you’re not just missing the best pizza in the world at Sally’s and Pepe’s; you’re also missing the best cannolis at Libby’s and a beautiful neighborhood with a really cool park.
How many of you have never been to East Rock? It’s only just over two miles away (for those of you still under some bizarre impression that New Haven is dangerous, I should add that it’s a very safe walk). It’s a beautiful park, and the view from the top — especially at dusk or dawn — is breathtaking.
How many of you non-vegetarians have ever eaten at Louis’ Lunch? It’s been around since 1895 (the only hamburger joint I’ve ever seen listed on the National Register of Historic Places), and it claims to have invented the hamburger. Whether that’s true or not, it certainly has the best burgers I’ve ever tasted.
Now we get a bit more obscure. How many of you have never been to Edgerton Park? It’s a gorgeous place, just past East Rock, and its annual Shakespeare in the Park (usually during the last few days of Camp Yale in the fall) is a lot of fun. For that matter, how many of you have never even spent an afternoon at an event on the New Haven Green?
Even those of you who have never been to the Yale Repertory Theater probably know it exists, but how many of you know that New Haven has another nationally acclaimed theater, the Long Wharf? How many of you know that absolutely amazing Yale Drama School students put up a show every weekend at the Yale Cabaret?
How many of you know that New Haven has a vibrant jazz scene? How many have ever been to a City-Wide Open Studios, where local artists display their work in unused downtown storefronts for a weekend?
For that matter, how many have never been to the Yale University Art Gallery or the British Art Center?
And now, the most obscure or distant stuff. Who’s never been to West Rock? It’s quite a walk, but well worth it — another fun place with an amazing view. Who’s never ventured far enough to eat the amazing soul food at Sandra’s Place? Who’s too afraid to have ever walked through Dixwell, a really wonderful and vibrant neighborhood?
Who’s never been to Lighthouse Point, a cool little beach? (Okay, be honest — who didn’t know New Haven was a port city?) What about Edgewood Park, another wonderful place to go hang out or toss a frisbee?
Who’s never been to the gorgeous and stunning Compline service every Sunday night at Christ Church?
I know. I’ve just listed a lot. And I’ve barely begun to mention all the amazing places and activities New Haven has to offer. It’s hard to do it all, isn’t it? I’ve been fortunate enough to spend two wonderful summers here. (How many of you have ever heard of the New Haven Festival of Arts and Ideas, the most impressive performing arts festival I’ve ever seen? How many of you have never heard of the New Haven Jazz Festival? How many of you know that the New Haven Symphony Orchestra plays concerts on the Green over the summer?)
But if you care enough to make time, cool stuff is there all year round. If people bothered to move a few feet away from campus and do some of this stuff, then, to borrow a line, “they might have an idea that New Haven might be a fun place.”
Josh Chafetz is a senior in Berkeley College. He has enjoyed writing for you for the past two years.