Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Yale Law School of Pizza

Est Est Est - 1 star
1176 Chapel St., New Haven, CT

Bella Haven - 0 stars
240 College St., New Haven, CT

Typical YLS organization meeting - 0 stars

New Haven is justly known for having some of the world's best pizza; of all the places I've been, including Boston, New York, and California, I would say that only Naples has generally better pizza. And when you go to Yale Law School, you end up eating a lot of pizza.

However, after three weeks, I have yet to go to Sally's or Pepe's, the two most famous New Haven pizzerias (although I've been to both in the past - I think Sally's is slightly better, but Pepe's is much more convenient in many ways). YLS is known for providing lots of free food to students, and most of that free food comes in the form of meetings held by organizations, student groups, reading groups, and so on, and they all provide pizza as an incentive to attend. For example, yesterday the Schell Center for Human Rights had a meeting, this evening there is a student organization fair and then a meeting of all of the journals, tomorrow I'm sure there's pizza but I'm going home to see my family, and Thursday there is a training session for the Temporary Restraining Order project that I may attend.

Unfortunately, and undoubtedly for cost reasons, the pizza at these events is not that good. Although it would probably get one star elsewhere in the country just for getting the basic formula right - a crust that is slightly blackened, flexible enough to fold, yet strong enough to hold the toppings; fruity, bright red tomato sauce; a reasonably high sauce-to-cheese ratio; and mozzarella cheese (believe it or not, in California some ordinary pizzerias have streaks of yellow cheddar cheese on their pizzas) - by New Haven standards YLS pizza counts as marginally passable. The downtown pizza-by-the-slice places not that much better. I tried Bella Haven because it has the unique advantage of being across the street from my apartment, but it seemed like I might have been anywhere in the Northeast; Est Est Est would probably count as one of the better pizza places in almost anywhere in the country, but is nothing special for these parts.

All the free pizza contributes to another feature of Yale Law School: the isolation. As a 1L, you spend basically your whole day shuttling around a single small building with largely the same people, going to 18 hours of classes per week and several hours more of lectures and meetings. In many ways it's a wonderful thing, and a huge advantage of going to a small school. At other times, it's easy to forget that the outside world exists. Yesterday, in perhaps the most tumultuous day in our financial system since 1929 (the markets fell more in 1987 and 2001, but neither time was there the structural turmoil we had yesterday), I didn't hear a single word about what was going on, except one professor's oblique reference to Merrill Lynch that half the class probably missed. Today, the markets just opened 2% down, the world's largest insurance company is about to go bankrupt unless it gets a $75 billion loan in the next few hours from a banking sector that has no capacity left to make loans (according to my torts professor, "insurance makes the world go round," which I also believe), and not a tremor troubles the calm of the Yale Law School.

1 comment:

Jonathon said...

Hey James, love reading your posts and living through a return to academia, even if only vicariously.

So, the isolation factor you mention - didn't you find the same thing true as an undergrad? I recall barely knowing or hearing anything about the wider world at the UofC - even as a PoliSci major. I think this is a natural tendancy of of such an inward-facing instituion. Unless your studies are actively seeking current data there is little reason to look beyond the borders of the quadrangle - and if one does, it is likely to communicate with other academic colleagues at another campus.

I'm not even sure this is an entirely bad thing. Instruction almost always relies on abstraction. It is difficult to have the necessary perspective on current events to be able to abstract them without giving undue influence to the events (due to their proximity).