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Cult Coffee and Krack Kroger
In praise of my adopted hometown.
Having spent the last half year abroad, I think it’s only fair to take a little time to talk about my newish hometown of Savannah, GA. We moved to Savannah about three years ago when the pandemic had the twin effect of destroying my employment opportunities and jacking up the real estate market in the wilds of Connecticut, where we had made our home for the last twenty years. Unable to work and faced with the possibility of soon being unable to pay my mortgage, we decided to take advantage of the hot market and get the hell out. The question: where to go?
Our first instinct was Los Angeles. Show biz is there. Most of our friends are there. They have In-N-Out Burger. But there were a couple drawbacks to living in LA. The first is that we hate it; that’s a pretty significant drawback when considering a place to live. The second was that the real estate market in LA had exploded beyond even what was happening in the NYC region so we were priced out even if we did want to live there. After spending a few weeks telling everybody we were moving to LA, we changed our minds.
That left an entire country to consider. In my act, I have a joke about discussing where to move in which I say, “We could move anywhere. I mean, obviously we’re going to stay in the US because the gun laws keep us safe…”
To narrow it down, we talked about what we wanted. Personally, I felt like I would be fine pretty much anywhere (even though that is a lie I tell myself to convince myself that I am a chill and easygoing person when I am not). My wife, Martha, said she wanted “a small, walkable city.” A small, walkable city sounded good to me, too. So I Googled “What are the best small walkable cities in the US?” I got a whole list, which was mostly cities in which I would not live because they were located in Texas and Florida. I am not going to live in Texas or Florida because those are hell places for hell people.
Also on the list was Savannah, GA. Our son happened to be attending school in Savannah so we already kind of knew the city. During our couple visits there, we’d found it to be exactly the kind of small, walkable city for which we were searching. I went on Zillow to see what was for sale there, found an old house very different from the modern house in which we’d been living. Martha liked the listing. A week later, we flew down to Savannah and put on offer on the house.
And here we are.
Within the first ten days of arriving, I was already looking to move. Turns out the house we bought was infested with cockroaches, the air conditioning was fritzy (in August), and the city’s humidity made it feel like every time I left the house I was walking through a can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup. Even if you like Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup, that’s a bad feeling. I thought we had made a tremendous mistake.
Eventually, though, we sorted out the cockroaches, fixed the AC, and the weather cooled. When all of that happened and I started to actually look around, I realized Savannah is lovely, maybe the prettiest city in the US – or, I should say, the historic section of Savannah, where I live, is among the prettiest cities in the US. When people think of Savannah, they think of gracious old homes and sweeping live oak trees shading cobblestone streets. They think of the city’s 22 public squares that give Savannah its character and charm. They probably also think of lax open container laws that make it a favorite destination for bachelorette parties, weddings, family reunions, and one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the country. If you like being drunk in public but you’re not yet ready to enter the Major League Public Intoxication of New Orleans, you might want to consider Savannah.
The food scene here is great and continues to grow, with new places popping up “on the reg” (cool talk). Some of my favorites are Common Thread, Cotton & Rye, Bull St. Taco, The Wyld, Husk, Flying Monk, Wiley’s Championship BBQ, and the bread from “Cult Coffee,” which is just down the street from “Krack Kroger.” We call it Cult Coffee because it’s a coffee shop around the corner from our home that is also run by members of a cult called The Twelve Tribes, which is sort of like Jews for Jesus except it’s the opposite so it’s kind of like Christians for Jews, if that makes sense. Regardless, they seem like very nice people in modest clothing and they make incredible bread. We call it Krack Kroger because it’s got a vaguely crackhouse vibe. (But they also sell pretty good chicken-in-a-bag.)
The school my son attends, the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is sort of the South’s answer to the Rhode Island School of Design. Started in the late 70’s with a single building SCAD has grown to become a major regional institution. They’ve restored dozens of old Savannah buildings and attracted students from around the world. Any big-spending institution is going to cause controversy and SCAD is no different. Yes, they’ve revitalized much of the historic city center but along with large investments come concerns about gentrification, etc. To my carpetbagger eyes, the good they are doing for the city outweighs the heavy-handed way they make their imprint felt, and I’m grateful for everything they’ve done to revitalize what had been a rundown city center.
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Another side benefit of having a major arts college in town is that the entire city takes on an artsy cast. Savannah is filled with art and artists. Savannah has yet to create a nationally-recognized and cohesive art scene, but the town’s vibe is “Southern Bohemian Chic,” which features a lot of chunky jewelry and calf tattoos. Predictably, the politics lean liberal although I find most people tend to avoid talking politics altogether; I haven’t heard a single person mention Trump’s Georgia case for election interference, for example. Maybe the decorum here is predicated on gracious Southern manners, but I suspect may also have something to do with Southern firearm habits. I don’t believe an armed society is a polite society but it certainly is a cautious one.
I don’t know how long we’ll be here. Maybe a few years, maybe the rest of our lives. Hard to say at the moment. Walking through the Chippewa Square sippin’ on a sweet tea on a balmy February day is preferable to shoveling Connecticut snow. At the same time, I’m not sure I’ll ever feel entirely at home in The South. The men here simply own too many salmon-colored shorts. The languid pace is, at times, a touch too languid. The pizza, while serviceable, is not quite up to snuff. Also, the closest place to play poker is in Jacksonville, two hours away, which is an important consideration when your primary hobby is playing poker. For us, for now, Savannah is a good choice. But if you want to buy my house, feel free to make an offer. I hear St. Paul, Minnesota is too cold for cockroaches.