Monday, July 2, 2007

Know your nation: Rudy's Restaurant, New Haven, CT. (GAME SEVENTY NINE.)

Rudy's Restaurant only recently became a restaurant; recently being more than five years ago, yes, but in the history of a place as established as Rudy's, the day they started serving Belgian frittes was like the day the Old Gray Lady went color, or the day noxious/obnoxious stores for trust fund artists started appearing in Greenpoint. It was hard not to assume the worst. But all was good.

Things have changed in New Haven since I stumbled away from school, and then five months later, was sent packing in the most literal way, as a girlfriend kicked me out. Right now, New Haven is very very different, because you are literally walking through a movie set. A functional movie set. The Starbucks on Chapel is made to look like a bar, the greasy spoon has become the Bedford Coffee Shop, a bunch of old milk delivery trucks are out, and assuredly several makeup artists are turning back the clock in the most difficult sense, making Harrison Ford look again like Indiana Jones. But from my cursory view, and it is definitely cursory, the city looks nicer than I've ever seen it. I don't miss the Coliseum, even, or the New Haven Ninjas. At least not as much as I miss the New Haven Ravens.

It's also more a Red Sox town than it used to be. New Haven is the the Mason-Dixon line of Sox/Yanks territory, and I essentially played both sides when I visited yesterday, smoking a couple nice brown cigarettes at the bar of the Owl Shop and watching Jack Cust pummel the Yankees awhile, then strolling into Rudy's to watch the Red Sox flail away at Eric Gagne's offerings. Rudy's had a Sox pennant up where it did not before, although most of the familiar stuff was on the walls and the men's bathroom had a fresh coat of profane shit written there. I carved out my name there too, just because I felt obligated.

I enjoyed Rudy's offerings more. I always do. I've never loved a bar the way I love Rudy's, and I never will. When I was just an idiot 20-year-old with a fake New Jersey state ID (apparently one of the easiest to fake, all the more so when the director of a shitty play you're acting in has a friend in the DMV), Rudy's was my "real" bar. Now I don't think in such absurd categorizations if I can help it, am six years older and at least three years wiser, and Rudy's actually feels more comfortable to me as a proper grown-up. The afternoon crowd watched the baseball game, but it also just enjoyed itself, chatting and eating big cones of fries with Samurai sauce (kind of a spicy Teriyaki mayo thing; I recommend it) between calling for more pitchers of "STELLLLLA!" And the result sucked, as did the series all things considered, but I was half-drunk on rye and Blue Moon and just felt really delighted to be in a place where no one was too hip and people banged their feet on the floor to the beat of "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" while carrying on a conversation at the same time. I made a lot of instant friends in New York bars during the 2004 ALCS and WS, especially Mugs, but I would have liked to be at Rudy's for game 7 of the ALCS. I would have felt better losing here, because sometimes, I just feel better being here anyway.

If anyone knows a place in Providence that makes them feel this way or something like it, post a comment; I'm swinging through the island that isn't an island soon.

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