Sunday, May 23, 2010

Brush your teeth with a bottle of Jack: Downtown at the Taft

With the rites of Spring come caps and gowns. For many students across New Haven a four year journey of growth is ending and a looming future of student loans hang like black clouds. New Haven is known as the home for Yale, one of the world's most well known and respected schools, along with a handful of local universities without billion dollar endowments. Many world leaders have sprung from the loins of Yale after gestating in secret societies and rituals of paddle gauntlets to the keg.

Like Moses and his swarm of locusts, Yale students call upon families to descend upon New Haven and strip bear the land of restaurants. Non-Yalies, hungry after spending hours trying to find parking, are turned away to make space for Lords, Dukes, Duchesses, and crazy Uncle Morty who retired early after invesetments in Enron and drinks silently during family functions. Hans and Mendez were invited to spend some "qt" (quality time) with a "bf" (best freind), Dick Pierson, a lovable Yalie grad whose impressions of Borat and Dave Chapelle bits defy both relevancy and expectations. Hans and Mendez spent many wonderful times with Dick and had to say goodbye.

Hans and Mendez were to meet Dick Pierson at Downtown at the Taft, formerly known as Hot Tomatoes. Hans, being politcally minded, wore an anti-Harvard t-shirt hoping to catch the ire of a wayward "Crimson" student still lost in New Haven months after November's football game. Mendez, trying his best to get an "in" with Uncle Morty, wore his, "I'm with stupid," t-shirt.

Upon entering one is greeted by four foot cursive letters written on the wall facing the doorway. The letters read, "Artisan Pizza," which is common short hand for as close to microwavable as you can get without gamma rays. Down Town at the Taft's dinning room evokes "Cries and Whispers" through its red decorative motif. There was a decent crowd of thirty to forty people this Saturday night but somehow, either due to arcitechtrual design or a CD playing crowd noise, sounded like a hundred people. The design of the building is to be noted; its like a grandball room of yesteryear marketed and turned into a chic bar/ lounge. Are we to think of Italy when we see the walls with ornate scenes and chipping paint? Or America with the baseball game and chalkboard of specials? This identity issue is like King Kong wearing a woman's bathing suit to Dennis Rodman's wedding, The Taft decor works, but leaves one wondering what a little focus could do.

There were jaw dropping women wearing fancy dresses mingling with backward baseball cap bros, a left over scene from Hot Tomatoes. Hans could see several discarded matchbooks on the floor with his telephone number written on them, another left over from the former establishment. There was a fake fireplace flickering by the back wall. The staircase leads to an exquisite dining room where a high school sports team was enjoying a spaghetti buffet. Instrumental music played softly but not uptempo enough to bounce your head or butt to. Most important to the atmosphere; there was no Dick Pierson. We tried calling his cell phone but no answer. Mendez started to pick up the discarded matchbooks. "Hey Hans, do these belong to you? They have your name and number written on them." Hans grimaced, "Let's order some food."

Hans and Mendez studied the menu and noticed that several items were "Yale Staples." For a restaurant that has been open for a year or so, it might be too soon to label your dishes as "Yale Staples."The bloggers searched the menu looking for the artisan pizza selection. To their surprise, they only found three dishes listed as such. Staying with the theme of the night and hoping that Dick would pop up soon, they chose the "Bulldog" pie. A pizza, of mashed potato, bacon, and mozzerella. The pizza is served on a wooden slat and is adequete for the hunger they had. Think of their pizza as better than an appetizer but not an entree. The pizza is dough-y, had bacon bits and not enough potato, but satisfies on the level of junk food. This new Yale staple is potato skins without the Super Bowl halftime show; nothing to write in your diary about nor something to stab yourself over.

"Let's see if we can't find Dick in the men's room." Mendez suggested. The hallway to the bathroom is as quiet as an art gallery but with less art. Hans and Mendez pushed open the door and were surprised that it pulled open. On the floor was a duffel bag and on the sink a pack of Newports and various cologne. A bleary eyed gentlement stood behind the door. "You guys named Stanley?" he asked. The bloggers shook their heads. "Nevermind man."

"Say," Mendez began, "have you seen our friend, Dick? I'm looking for a Dick Pierson?" The man behind the door grabbed Mendez by the shirt. "Listen up....Stupid. Your momma didn't raise you to be no fool, right? Either use some cologne or beat it. Hey you," he called to Hans, "you didn't wash your hands you... Harvard hipster creep."

Ashamed, Hans and Mendez left the Men's room in disgrace. They walked outside to catch some air and collect themselves. Dick Pierson! He was leaning against the Schubert Theatre like a James Dean chatting with a young blonde. Dick leaned forwards her as she lit his cigarette with one of Hans' matches. After Dick exhaled she threw the matches to the ground. Dick waved to Hans and Mendez, threw his blazer back over his shoulder, kissed the girl and took her by the hand leading her to another New Haven hot spot. "Man, what a Dick" Mendez said in disbelief, "what a Dick."

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