Thursday, August 24, 2006

Connecticut

Back from five weeks in East Haddam, Ct. and nearby Chester, Ct. where the musical I’ve co-written, THE 60’s PROJECT is in production. My eternal gratitude to Michael Price and the super folks at the Goodspeed Theatre for their hospitality. support, and bug balm. I’ve never worked with a classier, more professional bunch.

If you love Americana (which I do more than just about anything other than money), the “Nutmeg State” is for you. And Sourtheastern Connecticut was particularly beautiful and affectionately goofy.

Stayed at a lovely apartment. Very tastefully furnished. Naked drawings and statues throughout. Even the drinking glasses featured topless women. It’s like I was in my own house.

A local pet store sells reptiles and “critters”. And if you buy a cage they’ll give you two free “long haired dwarf mice.”

Roadside sign spotted: SCENIC ROUTE, NEXT 0.3 MILES.

A fork in the road -- one sign points to Camp Beth El, the other to Christian camps.

There are few Cajun places in the south as good as the New Orleans restaurant in Old Saybrook. Their noontime special is a FAT ASS LUNCH. I qualified.

“Casual” is another name for “fried” when it comes to funky fun seafood restaurants. Lenny & Joe’s is the best.

People could not be nicer.

Keep a can of OFF with you at all times.

If there’s a ten minute thunderstorm anywhere in Connecticut, power and cable goes off for the entire state. Usually for 24-30 hours. The state symbol should be a flashlight.

As green and lush and gorgeous as this place is in the summer I bet the fall is even better. With all the salt in the Connecticut River the red and gold colors of autumn must be extra striking and vivid.

If you go to Killingworth, take a drive down Roast Meat Hill Road. I’m not kidding. There’s really a Roast Meat Hill Road.

The Merchant House on US 154 sells Vera Bradley apparel (e.g. purses) and fireworks. Ideal for milady terrorist.

The local East Haddam liquor store closes at 8. And all day Sunday. Blue laws are still in effect. You don’t see a lot of Yale students here.

My 60’s PROJECT writing partner, Janet, got a manicure where the top coat was hoof veneer. Beware any beauty parlor where their celebrity clientele includes Secretariat.

Take I-84 to New York. The highway is smooth as glass. The second you cross into New York state you hit potholes.

Boy, they love Nathan Hale. One good quote (“I regret that I have but one life to give for my country”) and the guy is a God. Attractions include his house, his school house, his barbershop, the Dairy Queen where he used to make Blizzards.

Connecticut is also the birthplace of Anika Noni Rose who will become a big star after DREAMGIRLS is released.

The Tylerville convenience store sells worms in the freezer section between Ben & Jerry ice cream and tater tots. There’s something terribly wrong when worms are more expensive than long haired dwarf mice.

Towns have colorful names like Moodus and Old Lyme (the actual home of Lyme Disease).

I felt like I was in Twin Peaks. And come to think of it, after the first week, I never saw Laura Palmer. Hmmmm?

At the local Bank of America drive-thru ATM I waited in line behind a motorcycle gang. Guess they needed some extra cash for new chains.

Good morning! The menu at a Middletown diner leads off with “Breakfast Cocktails.” If you go out for pancakes, better have a designated driver.

Do not pass a market without stocking up on bug spray.

Most restaurants close on Monday nights. Every one that is open sells pizza.

Big tourist attraction in East Haddam is the Gillette castle. I can just picture their knights, all using swords with the patented four blades for a smoother, closer kill.

There is not yet a Starbucks in every small town. This might not be true by the time you read this.

Sign in Centerbrook: CALIMARI RECYCLING. From what TO what???

The ambience is very New England. By that I mean a Dunkin’ Donuts on every corner. And their coffee is FAR better than Starbucks.

All you see are people on motorcycles. What you never see are motorcycle helmets. They should rename one of the more treacherous streets Motorcycle Meat Hill Road.

If you bought a house here in 1792 you could sell it today for at least double what you paid for it.

There is better cellphone service in Antarctica than Southeastern Connecticut.

Had lunch at the Griswold Inn in Essex, which claims to be the oldest Inn in America – serving since 1776. There must be a hundred old Inns on the East Coast making that same claim. This one had the very first hand blower in their bathroom. But at the time it was just a guy who blew onto your hands.

If you’re hungry, haven’t eaten in four days and only have one dollar, spend it on mosquito netting.

Larry, Darryl, & Darryl are alive and work at every gas station in the state.

There are wonderful hiking trails. You can see nature at its finest and discover Laura Palmer’s body.

A lot of these small towns look like movie sets. If you like bed & breakfasts, Laura Ashley-like dress shops, tchochkes, and cemeteries this is your heaven.

Some big Indian casinos nearby. For you history buffs, Tony Orlando is appearing frequently.

Based on the number of sightings, I’m beginning to think Connecticut is an Indian word for road kill.

There is a Goodspeed airport in East Haddam. One Cessna, a red shack that says 42B on the roof (no running through long terminals trying to make connections.) and a burned out Quonset hut (the “Admirals Club”). It still takes two hours to get through security. Only airport employee is Grizzly Adams on a tractor demanding $5 landing fees.

In Deep River the ice cream parlor is next door to the tattoo parlor. Perfect for the motorcycle gang that has a sweet tooth.

Only passed through New Haven. Wanted to stop by that venerable jewel of the Ivy League, Yale and tell the students to stop trying to be comedy writers. Go into law or politics for Christsakes! You’re at Yale!

And never got to Hartford. Didn’t want to fight all the tourists stampeding to the Insurance Capital of the World.

But in five lovely weeks I’m sure I saw all the major attractions of the Nutmeg State…except, now that I think about it, nutmeg.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Having worked at Goodspeed myself many times-I can't tell you how much I enjoyed your blog and your insights about the area. Hilarious. Thanks for the laugh...and yes, aren't the goodspeed opera folks the best? I love them dearly. Great theatre!

Tara said...

Thank you for giving Chester its 15 minutes of fame and for providing the rest of the world with a glimpse into this small Connecticut town. Your insights were humorous and true and we certainly appreciate the time and effort you spent acquiring all of your observations! As a Goodspeed employee, I just want to tell you personally that I absolutely loved "The 60's Project" and I hope it continues on to a larger venue. Thanks for letting us take care of it for a few months!

Tara

Zach said...

Ken,

I really enjoy your blog and find it very engaging and insightful every day. I was rewatching "Grizzly Man" the other day and realized that one of the main points that his father makes is that he changed when he was not offered the part on "Cheers" that was given to Woody Harrelson. His father claims that he was very close to receiving the role. I don't know if this is something that you can address in a future post but think it would be very interesting for those who have seen the film.

Anonymous said...

Ah Roast Meat Hill...My favorite road in Killingworth. My friend who grew up there told me why it was named as such. If I remmeber correctly, the short version of the story is that there was a barn at the top of the hill which burned while the livestock was locked inside. I'm sure when she reads this she'll correct me.

I get to laugh at that street because she laughs at one near my hometown (also in CT) called Nimrod Farm rd in Weston.

ZAK

Jeff said...

In Waterford, CT there's a Spithead Road. Apparently this is a legitmate geographical term. To my ten-year-old self it was a gelatinous head-shaped bag of saliva... on a road...

You know, I could give you a history as to why we're called the Nutmeg State, and the Constitution State, and the "Land of Steady Habits." But I'd rather read the speculation as to why on here instead.

By the way, I also loved The 60's Project. Can't wait to sell my soul for tickets on opening night in New York someday.

Thanks for coming to Connecticut! And really, the bugs aren't that bad... but the biker gangs are!
Twain's Angels, mount up!

branfordbob said...

Loved your CT insights.

Here in Branford, along with the restaurants, even most pizza places are closed Mondays.

Never understood the lack of motorcycle helmets myself. I always chalked it up to "thinning the herd".

One correction: Lyme is the home of Lyme disease. Otherwise it would be Old Lyme disease, n'est pas?

Next time you're in CT, Mike & I will take you to one of the three birthplaces of pizza in New Haven (Sally's, Pepe's or Modern Pizza). I prefer Modern. Mike tells me they now even has a Pepe's in Fairfield!

Planning to see The 60's Project on Sunday (closing night).

BOB

doggans said...

The rest of the state has Nathan Hale, but my little town sticks to its three local heroes: Eli Whitney, Thornton Wilder, and Ernest Borgnine.

Anonymous said...

Ken, somehow you left out a mention of Pat's Country Kitchen in Old Saybrook. It's the home of Clam Hash, which, believe it or not, is very good -- especially if you like clams. And hash.

Almost relieved the tortures of the show I was doing at Chester.

Steve