Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of the state of Connecticut?
Unfavorable .................................................... 22%
Not sure .......................................................... 52%
Then I read this.
The state's director of tourism said today that eastern Connecticut's diverse attractions, from the beaches to the casinos to Mystic Seaport and Mystic Aquarium, will be uppermost in the minds of officials when they unveil a new branding initiative and marketing plan in the next few weeks.I was glad to see that Governor Malloy has an "initiative to develop a brand for Connecticut" and that Eastern CT will be a (large, hopefully) part of it, but I was annoyed. Partly because the article included lines like this, which always annoy me:
People called Connecticut a drive-through state, making comments such as "I have no idea what I would do there" and "nice place if you're rich." Weber said there also was a perception that Connecticut wasn't really part of New England.But also because the whole essence of Eastern Connecticut, to me, the revelation of how different it is from the Western half of the state and why I love it and why against my better judgement I still live here, is not freaking casinos! It's not Mystic Seaport! (Though I used to love Mystic Seaport, and probably still would if I had an extra $9 million or whatever it costs to get in there now.)
And then I thought of my drive the other day along the Post Road. (I was avoiding the highway.) And I realized that what we have here, what people, even who are not rich, can find if they don't just "drive through," is not the kind of attraction you put on a tourism poster. Except you could, if you trusted that people might want to see a random old corn-crib-turned-store on Route 1 in Clinton. (Yes, corn cribs again.)
Or if you understood that people will turn their heads and turn their cars around for something at once familiar and unusual, like this building that says Antiques and is itself an antique - of the "so old it's falling apart" variety - that peeks out slightly from behind another building and catches their eye.
Because what you can find on the back roads (I don't know if Route 1 can be called a back road, but it's not the highway, anyway) is often even cooler than it looks. A little yellow house with a sign saying "East River Reading Room" is good enough, but it turns out this was one of Madison's early libraries, built in 1874. (The first library in the area opened in 1737.)
And there's this, in Guilford. (I had to round out this post with another take on corn crib nostalgia.) This is, as best as I can tell, the home of a hair-salon-slash-art-gallery. I don't know where the name of the building comes from, since this doesn't look much like a corn crib. And it's not like visitors would come from far and wide to see this, specifically. But there's something I love about it, how typical it is of this area and how you don't really see stuff like this much elsewhere. And how in a ten or twenty block radius around this place, pretty much every other building and every other sight is equally noteworthy in some way or other, equally Connecticut. This is quite close, for instance, as is this. And the same goes for the other three buildings above.
The other day my friend and I were mocking a girl we overheard on the street saying self-importantly, "Where's my sense of outrage?!" And that may be why I was annoyed by the state impressions study and the Day article. With all the tragedy, all the stupidity, all the unmitigated horror going on in the world right now, for the moment I had found my sense of outrage. In Guilford.