On the Death of Connecticut’s Alt-Weeklies
I read the Hartford Advocate mostly in the mid-90s, when I was a twenty-something UConn Law student living in West Hartford. It published some great work back then. There was “Connecticut Etiquette,” a piece that captured the time and place of my early adulthood better than anything I have ever read. And a hilarious April Fool’s Day parody of a Hartford Courant front page: The weather section skewered The Courant’s overuse of “blustery” to describe a windy day, the dispatch from The Courant’s Washington, DC correspondent painted the picture of a lonely soul (“Why won’t The Courant send me a bus ticket to Connecticut so I can see my family? When can I come home?”).
This author’s “salad days” occurred ten years later, at which point The Advocate papers were the enemy. Even so, they were a more sophisticated enemy than the mainstream media. Family Institute of Connecticut engaged the Hartford Courant columnist Susan Campbell because of the paper Susan was writing for. But we engaged the New Haven Advocate’s Carole Bass because Carole was smart, logical, and matching wits with her meant upping your game.
It is not the role of a Connecticut conservative, still less a social conservative, to lament the passing of The Advocate weeklies. But I do lament the death of forums for long pieces of local writing. The Simsbury Borders clerk who penned wickedly funny reflections on his Farmington Valley customers in The Courant’s (now-defunct) Sunday magazine, Vinnie Penn’s long goodbye to KC 101 in the Advocate…where would these essays be published today? Something has been lost.