New Haven, Connecticut
I don't have a place for New Haven while in New York. I send a last minute request to a dozen different people for the next day. Soon after I get a bunch of texts back from potential hosts offering their place. I get a call and the phone talks to me with a Russian accent I can't entirely understand. It says I can stay and gives me an unintelligible name that I have to cross reference with my requests to make out.
I make it to the New Haven train station where there is a chaotic, comical amount of honking between cars trying to enter. I call my host to get directions and have to ask her to repeat herself frequently. I don't want to keep asking and have to identify the streets by the few syllables I recognize from our conversation. I meet my host who's easier to understand in person. I'm naturally inattentive so I only pay attention to every other word, but with her accent I only understand every fourth. She has a massage chair I use for an hour and turn my back to a sore jelly. I spend too much money on some shit Irish American food at a bright, loud "pub." There's a bartender with a large scar across his right eye. I wait to hear him speak so I feel justified in believing him to be an IRA bomb maker. He speaks with an American accent and I feel my dinner has been a waste.
The next day an American, Italian, and Russian walk into a bakery. I eat a canoli and eclair for breakfast. As I'm leaving I ride past a freemason's lodge. They're having an open house and offering free food. Obviously I take advantage of the opportunity and eat three donuts and some turkey. I get a tour of the building in my "Church Burners" jersey and regret not bringing in my camera. I'm lead by a fat, middle-aged white guy who takes me into an Egyptian themed room. There are two sets of seats along the walls facing each other, an alter in the center, and an organ and throne opposite each other on the far walls. The walls are painted with fake hieroglyphics and a plaster sculpture of a sphinx is embedded above the throne. The guide takes great pains to emphasize that it's a real organ. I ask about the reason for the vague conspiracies people attribute to the masons. The guide explains that their meetings aren't open to the public and they've been around for a long time, which leads people to think they have more influence than they do. If these guys really did control everything we would have the most boring, unassuming rulers ever. They're all balding white guys with beer bellies, so I guess not terribly different than the ruling class.