Revolutionizing Connecticut may start with slogan
Many of the Connecticut problems are intractable. On the other hand, we can always make up new names.
If you listen carefully, you can hear people plotting to do away with both the state’s tourism slogan and the name of its major airport. There’s also a disgraced ex-politician from Farmington who’s changing his name from Landry to Paczynski, but that feels like a slightly different thing, somehow.
Flash back to the Sunday before Gov. Ned Lamont’s inauguration. He appeared on WFSB’s “Face the State” where host Dennis House asked Lamont if he had any kind overarching theme or slogan. He sort of ... didn’t. But “I certainly think we can do better than ‘Still Revolutionary,’” he exclaimed.
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“Still Revolutionary” is Connecticut’s tourism slogan. It wasn’t what House was asking about, but it was an early indication of a blinking light on the tourism dashboard.
The slogan dates back to a $27-million Malloy administration 2012 branding campaign, led by an out-of-state firm and featuring a really terrible two minute and nine second song that did not contain the word “Connecticut.”
I will admit to thinking the slogan was dopey at the time, especially when Malloy tried to argue that “revolutionary” could include that “the sexual revolution was fought and won here in Connecticut.” My first reaction was, “How could he possibly know about my friends Sam and Audrey and that night at the Motel Hi Ho?” But, no, he meant Griswold v. Connecticut, the famous birth control case.
The problem there is that Connecticut was actually the oppressor, due to a law sponsored by P.T. Barnum while he was (I’m not kidding) a state legislator. In striking down the Connecticut anti-contraception law, the U.S. Supreme Court was mainly eliminating one of the two good reasons to go to Rhode Island, the other being ocean waves.
But so what? “Still Revolutionary” has grown on me, and, let’s face it, the American Revolution got way sexier when it became a big Broadway hit. In fact, why does Lamont so persistently quote from “Hamilton” if he hates “Still Revolutionary?”
There have been reports that one of Lamont’s roughly 7,239 transition policy committees — the one on pancakes, favorite colors and tourism, I believe — reported back that “Still Revolutionary” doesn’t work.
Proof should be required. In 2015, tourism revenues went up, and administration officials said surveys proved the slogan was part of the reason.
Also, complaining about state tourism slogans is a reflexive behavior bordering on a national pastime. In 2016, the aforementioned Rhode Island erupted during the rollout of the “Cooler & Warmer” campaign which would have been a great Thermos slogan but which so enraged the populace that I believe several tourism officials were executed by firing squad on the State Capitol grounds. (That branding fiasco cost only $3 million, a bargain by our standards.)
Now the Rhode Island slogan is “Fun-Size,” a variant on my suggestion “Visit Rhode Island. It Won’t Take Long.”
Anyway, don’t be so quick to ditch “Still Revolutionary,” even though Benedict Arnold is by far our most famous participant in that war. Sometimes you learn to live with imperfection. Our state hero, Nathan Hale, was captured on his first spying mission and Lt. Eugene Bradley of Antlers, Oklahoma, crashed and died during dogfight training in 1941 up in Windsor Locks.
Hence the name Bradley International Airport. I have no problem with a name based on heroic sacrifice, but members of the Connecticut Airport Authority are apparently bored with her old toys and have floated the idea of a new name, partly because “Bradley” doesn’t point to a specific location. (On the other hand, Boston’s airport is named after Wolverine. What’s up with that?)
Again, I invoke Steady Habits. “Bradley” feels like being on a first-name basis with an airport. And, even as we want it to grow and add more routes, it’s so darn, well, fun-sized! Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin tweeted Jan. 25: “Why I love @Bradley_Airport — Have to go to DC for the day, left home in #Hartford at 8:18am, sitting on the plane at 8:49am. This really is one of the best, easiest airports around.”
On the one hand, Sara Bronin must have been really punching it to get the minivan up I-91 to the Departures curb that fast, but we do know what he means (those of us with TSA pre-check).
While I’m at it, let me say a nice word about Tweed-New Haven Airport, even though I’m fairly certain I’ve never been there. Jack Tweed, its namesake, was a daredevil pilot in the early years of the aviation revolution, you might say.
For the ground-breaking in 1929, the mayor and governor used a gold and silver spade delivered to them by a parachutist who jumped out of an open cockpit Viking Kitty Hawk plane, manufactured in New Haven and piloted by Tweed himself.
We gotta get back to doing that kind of thing.
Colin McEnroe’s column appears every Sunday, his newsletter comes out every Thursday and you can hear his radio show every weekday on WNPR 90.5. Email him at email@example.com. Sign up for his newsletter at http://bit.ly/colinmcenroe.