My favorite things Connecticut

by on March 9, 2007 at 6:21 am in The Arts | Permalink

Being from New Jersey, this is a tough post for me to write, but I recognize many virtues in our mirror enemy to the north:

Composer: Charles Ives, most of all Central Park in the Dark and The Unanswered Question, plus some of the piano music.  The Concord Sonata is wonderful to hear live, but he often loses his bearings in the longer pieces.  Bernstein or Michael Tilson Thomas are the best conductors for his music.

Popular music: There is Moby (the early stuff), Liz Phair (more consistent than her reputation), and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth ("Daydream Nation" is amazing, but most of their CDs leave me cold), and that’s not counting the rich rock stars who have moved in, like Keith Richards or Diana Ross.

Poet: Wallace Stevens worked for an insurance company in Hartford for many years, but the people in his office did not know he was a poet.  "He was an imaginative claims man," later opined one colleague.

Artist: Chuck Close (here is the portrait of Philip Glass), honorary mention to Maya Lin.

Writer: I enjoyed Philip Roth when I read him, but it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.  Mark Twain lived in Hartford a while, but that answer doesn’t feel right.  Harriet Beecher Stowe I could not finish.

Food: CT has the best pizza in the USA, most of all in New Haven but not only.

Movie, set in: I hated Mystic Pizza, nor can I imagine Christmas in Connecticut could have been any good.  Help!

The bottom line: The state is close to having a Grand Slam.

While I am here, I hope to see the new Howard Hodgkin exhibit, there is an excellent slide show within the link.

Trieu Truong March 9, 2007 at 7:15 am

Movie: I really liked The Ice Storm. People tell me that the book is good too, but I haven’t read it.

ElamBend March 9, 2007 at 7:46 am

The Ice Storm came to my mind also.

josh March 9, 2007 at 8:43 am

I’ve never seen either, but the Original Stepford Wives, and Holiday Inn are both in Connecticut as well.

Jacob T. Levy March 9, 2007 at 8:52 am

Of course Tyler’s right about the pizza. No
place else even comes close.

dnw March 9, 2007 at 8:53 am

You forgot to mention your favorite Connecticut-born President of the USA … :)

Ted Craig March 9, 2007 at 9:25 am

Maybe this would be a good future topic: What’s the criteria for being from somewhere? A friend of mine says she’s a New Yorker, even though she’s lived in metro Detroit since she was 10. Tim Allen says he’s a Detroiter, even though he spent his childhood in Denver. Alice Cooper also claims to be a Detroiter, even though he moved to Arizona before high school.

blech March 9, 2007 at 9:53 am

What in the heck are you talking about with this Phillip Roth Meshugas, Tyler Cowen? PR is most definitely a creature of New Jersey. Moreover, he’s from Essex County, the flower of the Garden State.

Retract your calumny at once or the verisimilitude of The Sopranos will be demonstrated to you in short order. ;)

Also, why am I not suprised that Phair, Moore, and Moby come from CT? The talk show host Ron Kuby talks about “Whitelandia;” Connecticut is my 50th favorite state and other territorial holdings are preferred to that wretched plot.

Peter March 9, 2007 at 10:27 am

William Styron would be a candidate for the writer category. While he’s often thought of as a Southern writer, he lived in Connecticut for most of his life and wrote his most famous works (Confessions of Nat Turner, Sophie’s Choice) there.

perturbed March 9, 2007 at 10:35 am

The jug-handle is pinnacle of human civilization.

I beat-down clowns who deny this central truth of the universe.

A Cassel March 9, 2007 at 10:41 am

Movies? How about “Bringing Up Baby”, most of which is set in a semi-mythical Westport of yore. Or “The Swimmer” with Bert Lancaster? Actually there’s a whole sub-genre of 50s-60s sophisto fliks with Ct playing the suburban jungle, either actual or implied. And damn right on the pizza, from someone who’s eaten plenty of it in Chicago (sooo overrated). But it’s not limited to New Haven. I’m “from” Stamford (tho I left in 1968) and two of the best from my teenage years — John The Baker and Pellicci’s — are still in business. Some things do last.

jp March 9, 2007 at 12:13 pm

Tyler — You should give Harriet Beecher Stowe another chance. The most interesting parts of Uncle Tom’s Cabin are toward the end, when Tom is in Louisiana.

martin March 9, 2007 at 12:40 pm

Eugene O’Neill.

steveintheknow March 9, 2007 at 1:21 pm

Evol was way way better then Daydream Nation, IMO.

tucker March 9, 2007 at 1:48 pm

Noah Webster: “Father of American Scholarship and Education”

Katharine Hepburn: Of Old Saybrook, died in Hartford Hospital

David Tufte March 9, 2007 at 1:59 pm

I’ll second on “The Ref” and the best movie line ever for dysfunctional families:

“What this family really needs is a mute!”

Mr. Fastidious March 9, 2007 at 3:04 pm

The term is “honorable” mention.

Peter March 9, 2007 at 4:51 pm

Is it a coincidence that Charles Ives and Wallace Stevens both worked insurance? Are there a lot of insurance companies in Connecticut?

It’s a big industry, especially around Hartford.

DWG March 9, 2007 at 6:05 pm

Tyler, for my money the best Charles Ives works are the two string quartets, the piano trio, and the fourth symphony. If you are not already familiar with them, give them a try.

Xmas March 9, 2007 at 8:23 pm

Worst things about Connecticut:

Left-side highway exits and off-ramps and the type of “going slow in the left lane” driving that encourages.

Jug-handles got nothing on left-hand exits.

Robert Gable March 10, 2007 at 12:02 am

The political slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too” may be appropriate here…

J. Goard March 10, 2007 at 4:12 am

Mark van Doren lived in Connecticut while he was teaching at Columbia. Although I really like some of his work, especially “Axle Song”, I’m not eccentric enough to claim he’s greater than Stevens. It just reminded me that much of the excellent “Quiz Show” must have been set there.

vanya March 12, 2007 at 12:59 pm

Best popular music from CT – probably Miracle Legion, a jangly REM like band from the mid 1980s. Most succesful CT musician – probably that ass clown Michael Bolton.

I haven’t had Di Fara’s but Sally and Pepe’s are good enough that there is no reason anyone in NYC should automatically think their pizza is superior. Also New Haven has what it probably the greatest remaining old style lunch counter place – the Yankee Doodle Sandwich Shop. Best pigs in a blanket anywhere.

John March 12, 2007 at 11:09 pm

Born and raised in NJ, went to college at Fairfield U in CT and then worked there for another 4 years – enjoyed my time very much in both states.

You may have cleaner air in the rural areas of Connecticut than northern NJ, but that’s like comparing the Pine Barrens of southern Jersey (clean air) to Bridgeport, CT (toxic).

The biggest thing that Connecticut is missing is the ocean. Go to the beaches of the Jersey Shore in the summer and you’ll look at the “beaches” on the Long Island Sound as nothing more than a wet slice of bread.

fred lapides March 27, 2007 at 8:37 am

One of the interesting things about New haven, Ct, and surrounding areas: halfway between Boston and New York. So you find 50% people love Redsox; the others, Yankees.
And the huge huge Indian cansino that dwarfs the little things in Atlantic city?

requiem lant December 31, 2008 at 2:12 am

Please come to cheap requiem lant, we will give you a great surprise.

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