2014 Review

Rear View

Daily Nutmeg’s covered a lot of ground since January 1, 2014.

On January 2, writer Cara McDonough put the city’s tucked-away U.S. Coast Guard outpost onto New Haveners’ collective SONAR. Rescuing distressed boaters, inspecting cargo and responding to pollution reports, “We have a job to do every single day,” Lt. Jeff Janaro told her, giving us the feeling he and his colleagues take that job as seriously as you’d predict. (“Coast is Clear,” 1/2/14)

Seriousness and predictability were besides the point in Jake Goldman’s write-up on young improv comedy troupe Tiny Dictator, whose loosely structured Whose Line Is It Anyway?-style sketches can leave the impression of “a one-act play… unfolding spontaneously before the audience’s eyes.” (“Sketchers,” 2/21/14)

Janelle Finch revealed the “indelibly quirky and feisty” nature of a much older institution: Contois Tavern, which has been “buffing mugs since the Prohibition era” yet didn’t have a sign until 2013. Rumored as “a cop bar, or a fireman bar, or an Irish bar, or an old man bar, or a Yalie bar,” at Contois, “the customer isn’t always right,” and there are unwritten rules: “be silly, but not stupid; be opinionated, but not combative; and be chatty, but not a gossip—at least, not outside these walls.” (“Speak Easy,” 3/18/14)

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Forever at Long Wharf Theatre
Lauren Langford roamed through walls made of furniture inside the Yale Furniture Study, “a subterranean warehouse filled with about a thousand precious, ornate pieces of Americana: clocks, cupboards, desks, tables, chairs and other means of achieving decorous utility spanning the 17th to 21st centuries.” Walking around the Study, accessible to the public most of the year via weekly tours, is “like exploring the ultimate estate sale of ‘the good stuff.’” (“Fully Furnished,” 4/2/14)

It was good stuff when Will Gardner untangled New Haven’s inscrutable-seeming bus lines, which travel along routes pioneered by the city’s old trolleys, and which can save you money and trouble if you know how to use them. Put another way, “it makes sense (and cents) to make sense of CTTRANSIT’s New Haven bus system.” (“Inside the Lines,” 4/9/14)

Yours truly untangled the tale of the infamous but complicated New Havener Benedict Arnold, who inspired Daily Nutmeg’s first multi-part story. A single planned article on the hero-turned-traitor turned into a six-part serial, chronicling Arnold’s journey from respectable local patriot to ruined expatriate. (“Paper Trail,” 5/2/14, and others)

Bonnie Goldberg dug into an organization with several parts: New Haven Farms, a network of seven “itty-bitty farms” that are “nestled into unlikely street corners and commercial land fragments around the eastern half of the city.” Engaging 60+ lower-income families to help plant and harvest, who receive the resulting healthy food along with nutritional education, the farms produce many thousand pounds of veggies each year, and can be very pretty to look at. (“Patch Work,” 8/6/14)

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Celebration of American Crafts at Creative Arts Workshop

Colin Caplan also dug in—to some cheesy, saucy, history-laden thin-crust goodness at Sally’s Apizza. A piece of New Haven for some 76 years now, it’s been a cultural touchstone since at least the 1970s, when both long lines out the door and the pizza-preference question “Pepe’s or Sally’s?,” referring to the restaurant’s forebear and neighbor down the street, became commonplace. (“Slices of History,” 8/8/14)

Speaking of neighbors, Cara Rosner tuned us in to the Neighborhood Music School, “one of the 10 largest community arts organizations” in the country according to staffers. Originally founded to help the city’s immigrants “jumpstart their lives here” through “the universal language of music,” it’s now for people of all stripes, with an incredible 3,000 students enrolled each year. (“In Tune,” 9/16/14)

The wondrous, bewitching stripes of a marsh, filled by “countless tufts of thin feathery strands shimmering and billowing in windswept light,” prompted a spooky Halloweentime tale I could really sink my teeth into, and my boots. It’s got what you want in a scary story—strange sights, freaky sounds and a protagonist who ventures forward despite the obvious warning signs. (“Supernatural,” 10/31/14)

You could say writer Jared Emerling highlighted a similar sort of protagonist when he wrote up Replay Records, which has been selling music pressed into vinyl for the past 25 years despite the rise of other, dominant formats. But Replay’s stuck around long enough to see vinyl’s resurgence in the past few years, which co-owner Doug Snyder chalks up to “the great quality of sound of a needle in a groove, and the unique atmosphere it creates.” (“House of Wax,” 11/28/14)

A unique atmosphere is also what Patricia Grandjean recently found at The Animal Haven, a no-kill shelter in North Haven where discarded, sometimes stray, cats and dogs get a shot at finding permanent homes and families. One resident there, Spartacus, is a one-eyed cat, yet still manages to go on adventures. (“Close to Home,” 12/16/14)

He’s a bit like Daily Nutmeg on the precipice of a new year—an eye towards the future, wondering what adventures await. See you in 2015, New Haven.

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