Princeton is a weird college town. We were there just before their Spring Break, so things were pretty quiet, but even so, I got the impression that things were always pretty quiet around there. The “strip” near campus wasn’t like similar locations near other colleges I’ve been to. You would expect Princeton to be swimming in book stores, but there were only one or two, and only one was really any good. Most campuses have several record shops; Princeton has one (albeit a really nice one). And no comics. No idea where you buy your comics from if you go to Princeton. Maybe they’re too brainy for such things. You can buy plenty of food, expensive clothing, and jewelry right on campus, however.
Princeton is about three and a half hours south of us, making New York City about two and a half hours south, much closer than we thought. It’s not a bad drive either, bringing us through Hartford, New Haven, Stamford, and NYC. Even the NYC parts weren’t too bad for driving (the New York state motto is, “I want to be in that lane”.)
We arrived in jug-handle land on Thursday and got back yesterday evening. Becky’s paper at the ACLA conference went well, and she heard some interesting presentations.
On Friday while she was at the conference, I wandered around the area. There are photos in the scrapbook section of my wanderings. I hit the few shops that didn’t feature food, clothes, or jewels, and at Micawber Books I picked up Wobblies!: A Graphic History of the Industrial Workers of the World, a graphic work I’ve had my eye on for some time. I then headed over to the Princeton Record Exchange and picked up (new, not used), We Shall All be Healed by the Mountain Goats, I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One by Yo La Tengo, and Dusk at Cubist Castle by Olivia Tremor Control. I also found a used copy of the PS2 game Shadow of the Colossus there and I grabbed that as well.
My shopping done, I saw the Einstein statue and then just sort of wandered around campus. That night we hooked up with old Champaign friends Jay and Zina, who were also there for the conference.
The next day we hit the art museum at the college, which had a lot of nice pieces, especially their Asian and Pre-Columbian stuff. They had a special exhibit of a Chinese fine-line scroll that was just breathtaking. We also visited the Princeton Public Library and were just amazed at how a library looks if your city happens to have money. Not only were the actual library facilities quite nice, but there was a library gift shop and a coffee shop on the premises. There was also an artwork where an artist and people of the community contributed a variety of decorated tiles to a huge wall.
That night we saw two more Champaign veterans, Jen and Wayne, who are now living in the area with their daughter, Libby. Last time we saw them, Libby was just starting to crawl; now she’s six! We had dinner with them and then hung out a bit at their lovely house.
Sunday was a pancake breakfast with Jay and Zina, and then, after Becky’s final session, we headed back. This time, for variety, we went on the top level of the George Washington Bridge (on which it’s illegal to take photographs) but it was too overcast to see much of NYC, and we never did get a confirmed sight of the Statue of Liberty from the interstate. Seeing the city from a distance helped me overcome a little my desire to never set foot in NYC if I can help it.
I don’t know who’s smarter than who or which school has produced more worthies or whatever, but I’m now pretty sure that Harvard’s campus area kicks way more ass than Princeton’s does. You Princeton folks need to spend a little less time on producing important scholarship and a little more time getting yourselves a decent comics shop.