by Patricia Grandjean
May 1, 2013
11:09 AM
Box Office

Front Row Q&A: John Hodgman


(page 5 of 6)

Being from Connecticut Magazine I should ask you this: Did you have any favorite places when you lived in New Haven?

Yeah, but some of them don't exist anymore—like The Daily Caffé and Filmfest Video, where I worked and learned about movies. Claire's Cornercopia is another place that I worked that still exists, but I won't say a thing more.

We all love Claire's . . . sort of.

Yes, I understand that everyone is required to say that. I will assent—Claire's is great.

The Anchor Bar remains one of my favorite places in the world. I also frequented a little nondescript diner called Patricia's Restaurant with wooden tables, eggs and sausage and corned beef hash. It's lovely, very homey and friendly. I recently had that experience of going back and realizing that the grown man who was now running the place was the child who played in the kitchen when I was in college.

Did you ever go to the Yankee Doodle?

Of course. That's long gone, isn't it? That had to have closed in the '90s, right? I don't understand how that could have gone away, they only had about six seats in there. They could only do so much business.

I suppose the rise of Starbucks might have had an impact . . .

Yeah, but the town is still full of ravenous, monstrous young adults who want to destroy their bodies.

True. Unfortunately, now we have the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute, which is aiding the rise of healthy restaurants, salad bars and such . . .

That's not the tradition of Yale at all. 

Louis' Lunch is part of gut-bomb culinary history, with their dubious claim to have invented the hamburger. You almost believe it due to the sheer ridiculousness of their archaic set-up, cooking burgers on their side and such. It does sort of seem like their technological approach is so counter-intuitive that you almost believe they were the first people who experimented with frying meat.

Did you do Pepe's or Sally's Apizza at all?

I am utterly neutral on that subject, and honestly ashamed to admit—I get a lot of dirty looks—that I've certainly had pies from those places and love that thin-crust style, but I never went to either of them. I was just kind of a homebody; I lived on Edgewood Avenue, so to get in a car and go down there and wait in line when you're not a 40-year-old foodie hipster . . . [laughs]

The last time I got in to Pepe's was 1996, when there was an ice storm and no one else was out.

There you go. But at the same time, I was a bit of a foodie hipster because I used to go to a place called DeRosa's, does that still exist?

I haven't heard anything about it lately.

Of course, there's no way we could ever find out. I liked that place; it had its charm. Those were the places I would go. But I was between the ages of 18 and 22, and mostly going over to friends' apartments, drinking and hanging out. Or hanging out in the cross-campus library buying food out of machines. Or riding those tiny elevators up and down the stacks in Sterling Library. That was my good time.

I did some research in the School of Law library one time, and was actually struck by what a good set it would be for a horror movie.

Totally. It's one of the sadnesses of my life that you can't go in there without a Yale ID. Although, I don't know—maybe if I showed up and started flapping my dilapidated "Daily Show" windbreaker, I might convince someone I was a minor TV show personality and they'd let me in. I don't know.

Try it! They let me in forage in the stacks as a magazine editor. I was doing a piece on Patty Hearst and was reading her trial transcripts from the '70s.

Well, in a moment, unfortunately, I'm going to have to say goodbye and start working on forging some Connecticut Magazine credentials.

Front Row Q&A: John Hodgman

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Box Office is your guide to entertainment across Connecticut, courtesy of senior editor Pat Grandjean. If it's a chat with an actor or actress, previewing a new play at a regional theater, the latest on a state celebrity's new movie, or recommendations for seeing and doing, let Box Office be one of your hubs.

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