Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Where no Starbucks has gone before

Middletown is one of those quaint New England towns (pop. according to a local: 43,000) in which you have to press the button to get a walk light at an intersection. Then it proceeds to hold up traffic in all four directions rather than giving you a walk first across one street then the other. Exasperating, slow, leads to jaywalking and general irritation.

Quaintness includes independent businesses of all kinds, a historical house or two, their own heritage trail, and the Inn at Middletown, in which I currently reside. NO STARBUCKS. Can you beat it? Have no fear, Javapalooza provides all the flavored mochas you can suck down, with walls papered in reproductions of concert posters ranging from NIN to the announcement of John Lennon's death (not really a poster, I know) to the Moody Blues. The most recent thing I saw on there was No Doubt, and the funniest was a Cher concert "featuring Palm Springs mayor Sonny Bono!" For those who didn't know who he was.

Food's not bad so far. I was thwarted in my attempt tonight to eat at the really authentic-looking diner, O'Rourke's, with its flimsy metal walls. We shall see what another day brings. I had an ice cream at a CT chain, Praline's, where the friendly server, charmed by my seeming friendliness, suddenly started spouting hatred and class warfare against the Wesleyan students. Quote: "At least I'm doing something I LIKE, not going to school to do something I'm probably going to hate. I don't think anybody actually LIKES doing... Better Business." She may have a point, but seeing as the only students I met today were studying film, well...

The Wesleyan campus is very nice, with a strange mix of old and new architecture. Lots of brown stone, lots of red brick, and plenty of small wooden houses. The student worker at the archives informed me that Wesleyan owns plenty of houses and lets seniors, grad students, and professors live in them -- appropriately segregated, he hastened to assure me. But I have never seen a campus that took its old houses so seriously that they actually grew their new buildings out of them:

This is part of the massive quantity of film buildings. My archives are in the house section. Reminds me a little of the Princeton student center, but for that they grew a new brick building out of... an old one.


Anonymous said...

Anonymous Ben here again, just to say--very nicely done! I've gone down to Middletown for two New England American Studies Association Council meetings in the last few months (our current Pres teaches there), but learned a ton about the place and can look at it anew thanks to your post.

Heidi said...

Hey Ben! Didn't know you came here so often. I hope you drive down... easier than consulting the six thousand bus maps to get here as I did.