That’s Our Motto

Posted on 20. Apr, 2010 by in Endnotes

It’s the stuff of legends: “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” This slogan invokes a city of unadulterated debauchery where strippers are outnumbered only by slot machines and mistakes don’t count. This promise of impunity has successfully seduced countless middle-aged men into squandering their savings and shattering their marriages in the city of sin. Yet as some know all too well, not everything stays in Vegas. Its only after waking up with a spouse, a lawsuit, and/or Chlamydia that we realize the sobering truth: we’ve been duped.

Most would agree that New York is truly the “City that Never Sleeps.” But the motto of Houston, TX, formerly “space city: a space of infinite possibilities” – was a little too…out there. So the city learned a thing or two from shampoo commercials and adopted a new unofficial catch-phrase:

“Houston: It’s worth it!”

And apparently the L’Oreal knockoff has been working. The Houston tourism website has generated tens of thousands more hits and sold almost as many tee-shirts, and it may soon become the city’s official tagline. (It’s unclear what the outcome would have been had they taken the Herbal Essences route: “I’ve got the urge…for Houston!”)

How does New Haven’s motto measure up? As the host town of six colleges with transient four year residents, what happens here, leaves here. And many of those same residents would argue they never get enough sleep. But those mottos were taken. What did the city decide?

“New Haven: It all happens here!”

Well, surely it doesn’t all happen here (the STDs happened in Vegas). And even if we dismiss the “all” as hyperbole, the “it” remains ambiguous: exactly what happens in New Haven?

According to the city Visitors Bureau, what’s happened here already may be quite enough! We boast the first lollipop and the very first hamburger. Yale students invented the first Frisbee when they started tossing around Pie tins manufactured by Frisbee Pie Company. The first game of football was played in New Haven. Sulfur matches, electric trains, elevators and steamboats – all of them first happened here. We can also stake claim to the very first erector set, the very first public tree planting program and the very first pair of rubber overshoes!

One claim TNJ finds contestable is that Vitamin A (described as “The first fat soluble substance!) was first discovered and produced in New Haven. Carrots of the world beg to differ.

New Haven never alerted TNJ to any sort of motto contest, and never asked us to be on their motto planning board. We would have enjoyed such a position, and since we’ve got a way with words, we thought we’d give it a try, just in case the city ever wants to change:

New Haven…
- Where Yale is (for the particularly myopic)
- The city that never sleeps soundly (for New Haven’s Red Bull devotees)
- Just an “E” away from New Heaven (Add twenty dollars for three kiwis from the buffet and a #2 and we’ll make it gourmet!)
- Toad’sally Awesome (for the party hoppers among us.)

Our motto may not be perfect, but at least New Haven has bettered Connecticut’s current catch phrase (yes, CT also has one): “Closer than you think.” This indirect admission that not much happens in Connecticut is commendable, and their insistence that we should still come visit because it’s close to where stuff does happen is endearing. “We’re not that far from New York City! Honest!” And we definitely have Stamford, “The City that Works,” beat in the motto department. Maybe the city works, but that slogan just doesn’t.

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