With its low self-esteem and high urban blight, Hartford is the ultimate underdog city. Sad City Hartford documents the joys, sorrows and eccentricities of New England's Rising Star.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Scariest Mattress Colony

While we have long featured mattress colonies on Sad City, this one seems more suited to Halloween rather than the Christmas season. Since it's the final mattress of 2011 you could also consider this monstrosity the "boss" mattress colony. Found after dark on Babcock Street, this partially shredded mattress colony looks like it is eating itself. Perhaps the mattress colony is trying to fortify itself as Mayor Segarra gets ready to introduce a plan to rid the city of its mattress problem

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sad City Hartford Comic: The Reverse Flasher

We're pleased to present a new comic strip here on Sad City Hartford, The Ongoing Mundane Adventures of Martin Martinczk. The comic strip is a bout the boring happenings of an insurance claims manager living in Hartford. This week's episode is about a "reverse flasher." What's a reverse flasher? You'll just have read the comic to find out, won't you?

Future episodes may or may not appear sporadically. Enjoy! (The full comic is after the jump.)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Great Hartford Christmas Gift

Unless you're watching a Lexus commercial, a good Christmas gift is a gift that has utility, nostalgia, surprise, or any combo of the above. Unless this is your first time to this blog you also know that Hartford was once home to the NHL and that Sad City are Hartford hockey boosters. What you might not know is that our little gem of a city once hosted an NHL All-Star Game. To be fair, we aren't fans of All-Star games in any sport, and tend to think of them to be wastes of time.

But way back in 1986, an era before every game, every highlight, every night, everything was readily available on television, the internet, and your phone; way, way back then, All-Star games did mean a  good deal more.

Pay Phone #37 - Grocery Store Edition

We haven't featured a pay phone in our great Pay Phone Search in quite awhile and what would the Sad City holidays be without one? Pay Phone #37 is located outside the Stop & Shop on New Park Avenue. One thing you'll notice about living in Hartford is that grocery stores, or the lack thereof in downtown, is a topic of continuous hand-wringing in our fine city.

At this point we all realize the short lived, poorly executed, Market at Hartford 21 is not going to return. Yet we still don't think that Hartford is all that lacking in grocery stores. There's hardly anywhere you can live in Hartford and not be 10 minutes away from at least a grocery store.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Weekly Whale

Just as it's a slow week at the office for many last week, it was a slow week on the ice for the Whale who only skated once, taking the ice in Hartford against Adirondack on Wednesday night. With only one game during the week, the Whale made the most of it and once again gave the Hartford fans an exciting show en route to a 3-2 victory at the XL Center on a great goal by Pavel Valentenko with 16 seconds to play that thrilled the crowd and sent everyone home happy.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Return of the Sad City Hartford Yule Log

Since it's December 24 today, we've gone up to the attic (the place where we store our old Wolf Pack merch and Hannukah decorations) and dusted off the Sad City Hartford Yule Log. Throw it up on your flatscreen, set it to loop and be mesmerized. Happy holidays, everyone.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sad City Artford, Part 2

Demon Perez, finger on iPadDemon Perez, finger on iPad

There's good news and bad news about our proposed art exhibit. The good news is that apparently the aye's have it. An overwhelming 95% of readers surveyed are in favor of some sort of exhibition that documents the sad city experience in an artistic, most-likely post-modern fashion. That's the good news. 

Billy's Neon At Night

One of the best things about the Christmas season is the many displays of bright lights. Almost makes you wonder why we all just don't display colorful lights all year round. While Bushnell and Goodwin Park have excellent Christmas displays this year, Billy's Package Store is still the undisputed champion of Hartford lights.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sad City's Guide To Holiday Shopping

Wait until the last minute to do your holiday shopping? Racking your brain to find the perfect gift for that person on your list who has everything? Well here comes Sad City to the rescue with our one stop shopping, one size fits all holiday gift guide. When you find the perfect gift you know it and that's why Sad City's Guide To Holiday Shopping starts and ends with one item.

When selecting the perfect holiday gift you want something that says "thoughtful" and speaks to the recipients individualism. These days it is a popular idea to get holiday gifts locally to support local products and businesses. Here again Sad City has found the sweet spot.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sad City Travels: New Haven

While we are on the topic of pizza, we would be remiss not to mention New Haven, our neighbor to the south. Those of us that are diehard Hartfordites probably find it tempting to hate New Haven. After all, New Haven gets the benefit of some advantages that Hartford doesn't, and some of those seem a little unfair. New Haven is the home to Yale University. While Hartford has it's share of excellent schools, none are Yale. When your city is home to a university that has a $19.4 billion endowment and has educated five U.S. Presidents, well, that's going to help out quite a bit.

Sad City's Guide To West End Pizza

If there is one food in America that appeals to almost everyone across all ages, it's pizza. You'd be hard pressed to find a town, no matter how small, that didn't have at least one pizza place. Pizza also comes in a massive array of types, quality levels, sizes, and, often most importantly, toppings. While Hartford certainly doesn't have the pizza heritage of its sister city New Haven, it can certainly boast of its share of quality pizza joints. Seeing as how trying all of them, or anywhere even close to that would take forever, (not to mention drastic weight gain and the onset of diabetes) Sad City has decided to break down Hartford's pizza options by neighborhood.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Weekly Whale

The Whale had a decent week with one win, one loss, and one overtime loss, and extended their division lead to 4 points. The week started on Sunday with 3-2 a loss in the second half of a home and home series at Providence. The Whale returned home to face I-95 rivals Bridgeport Friday and scored a spirited 6-3 victory. It was a tough game and featured fisticuffs a mere 28 seconds  into the game and 8 goals in the first two periods. Saturday night saw the rival Bruins return to the XL Center.

In front of a very healthy crowd the Whale managed to have a 1-0 lead despite being outplayed until goalie Chad Johnson shot himself in the foot by misplaying a puck and handing Providence the tying goal. The overtime period was very exciting and even featured a penalty shot by Jordan Owens for the win with 15 seconds to play. The Providence goalie was able to stop Owens and some other good Whale attempts in the overtime to send the game to a shootout. Providence then prevailed 2-0 in the shootout sending the crowd home a bit disappointed despite the exciting game.

With the Christmas holiday next weekend it's a slow week for the Whale with the only game on Wednesday night against the Phantoms at the XL Center.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Legend of Doc Ellis

In all the excitement of last week, we neglected to mention that we reached our 500th post. To commemorate this milestone we present you with this awesome rendering of the legend of Doc Ellis and the LSD no-hitter by No Mas. What is fact is that Doc Ellis did pitch a no-hitter on June 12, 1970. Ellis, who died in 2008, always maintained that he was high on LSD during the game.

Ellis said about the game;

Friday, December 16, 2011

That's Quite A Sleigh

We have to give this car owner credit for the Christmas spirit. We have to admit, it would be pretty cool if everyone drove around with a massive wreath on their grill and a candy cane on their antenna Christmas week. Not only would it be festive but it would have to cut down on road rage incidents right?

We could totally see 2006 Santa rocking this Excursion as his sleigh. Of course in today's post everything collapse, energy conscious society, 2011 Santa would have to rock a Prius as his sleigh. Sadly, that means smaller presents for everyone. It's a recession you know.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sad City Artford

Here's the idea...an art exhibit that features nothing but paintings, drawings, sculptures and installations that focus on Hartford mattresses and pay phones. The work would be created by either based in the city or with roots in the city. Our blog readers would serve as the jurors and curators of the show. Over the next few months we would run polls where you could vote on whether or not a piece was show-worthy.

Vote now.  (NOTE: We couldn't figure out how to embed the stupid survey into the post. Sorry.)

Voting closes at 9 pm on Sunday. Expect to be spammed over Twitter as we whore for votes.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Wall Street Journal?

The Wall Street Journal?  If you has suggested to us, even two days ago (never mind at our birth) that Sad City might even be read, never mind mentioned by a Wall Street Journal reporter...well, you would probably own a solid, albeit old, gas guzzling pickup truck. When we noticed someone named Shelly Banjo, labeled a Wall Street Journal reporter was following us in Twitter, our first reaction was "that name sounds made up." Then again you are reading someone who in the second week of Contracts class was asked what they thought of a case and replied "I thought the name Judge Learned Hand sounded made up." Academia was never exactly our forte.

More Of Hartford By Phil Lohman

Without question the coolest thing about doing Sad City is the people we've met through the blog. When we featured a simply awesome cartoon map of Hartford by Phil Lohman the Courant put out in 1989, we got an email from our good friend Steve Goode from the Courant, who told us that Mr. Lohman had done some other Hartford maps over the years. Well we then got to digging up Mr. Lohman's email address. The next day we had a response with an invitation to call. After a few minutes on the phone we were on our way over to Mr. Lohman's house.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Another El Mercado Gem

Last week when we wrote about our travels to Philly and the awesomeness of the Reading Terminal Market, we opined that every city should be so lucky to have such an incredible market. While it has been well documented that Sad City is a huge fan of El Mercado on Park Street, we aren't going to get all Hartford cheerleader silly and claim that El Mercado is anywhere on par with the Reading Terminal Market, but it's adding more great restaurants and is really a great place to get Latino food.

While most of our dining at El Mercado has been at the Mexican restaurant with the occasional stop at the Dominican restaurant, we had noticed that El Mercado has added a Peruvian and Columbian restaurant. This weekend we tried out the fairly new Peruvian restaurant Autentico Sabor Peruano (Authentic Peruvian Flavor). It's an impressive and varied menu but one item in particular made our decision a no-brainer; ceviche.

Book Review: Finding Fernanda

Erin Siegal went to high school with Hakaan in the sleepy Connecticut suburbs just outside Hartford. While Hakaan went onto be fascinated by the modern American urban experience and write a silly, albeit somewhat successful blog about Hartford, Erin has gone onto become a proper journalist and author a book on child trafficking in Guatemala. These days she is working in Tijuana and probably seeing things that would make even the most hardened Hartfordite's eyes pop out.

We received Finding Fernanda about a month ago. It's kind of surreal to see the name of someone you grew up with on the cover of a real and proper book, but there it was. Very cool. We continued to get more impressed as we turned the pages.

The Weekly Whale

The Connecticut Whale are almost midway through the season and reside in first place in the Northeast Division with a three point lead over Adirondack. It wasn't a great week in the standings for the Whale as they went 1-2 losing to Binghamton Sunday, followed by a loss to Hershey Friday in a rematch of the Bourque Bowl. Saturday was a huge night for the Whale and Hartford hockey as the game against Providence was the first televised Hartford hockey game in years. A healthy and energetic crowd turned out to see the Whale prevail 3-0 over the rival Bruins in a chippy, physical game that was tied 0-0 going into the third period. While we didn't see any brawls in the stands that were guaranteed at Whalers-Bruins games in the old days, we did see a lot of the fans sporting Bruins gear getting lustily booed by the home crowd. It also was "teddy toss" night, a promotion in which fans bring teddy bears and toss them onto the ice when the Whale score their first goal. It's pretty surreal seeing hundreds of teddy bears flying through the air. A great night of hockey at the XL Center.

This week the Whale travel to Providence today to finish up the home and home series with the Bruins and then return home for the weekend with two more rivalry games as Bridgeport comes into town Friday and the Bruins return on Saturday. It should be another great weekend of hockey in Hartford.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Travelers Tower

The Travelers Tower is the most iconic building in the Hartford skyline. Even the Hindenburg flew by the tower to check it out. Built in 1919, the tower was the seventh tallest building in the world when it was constructed. The Travelers Tower was the first building outside of New York City to be over 500 feet tall and was for many years the tallest building in New England. At 527 feet tall, it is currently the second tallest building in Hartford, only City Place I at 535 feet is taller.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Sad Anniversary

Today marks 31 years since John Lennon was murdered. His death was one of the greatest wastes of talent ever. While we aren't quite sure the message Yoko was sending by knitting blindfolded through this performance, John was really, really, really into her so we'll cut her some slack. Shine on John, shine on.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What Do We Think Of This?

Last month Forbes put out this interesting migration map. The map measure not only the inbound and outbound migration of an area, but the inbound and outbound per capita income. A quick glance at the Hartford County map shows that the population has increased slightly since 2005. The stats also show that the outbound income is $2,500 higher per capita than the inbound income. What does that tell us? Well you can draw your own conclusions and read the analysis of four "experts" here. All we can tell is that, predictably, a lot of people go down to Florida, and it doesn't appear any Hartford County residents caught Palin Fever and relocated to Alaska.

Open House Today At Greater Hartford Welcome Center

Can it be that bad if there's money for this billboard?

For those of us who don't wait for the last minute and simply order gifts off the internet, here's an idea that triples as a gift, support for the arts in our fine city, and a tax deduction! That's really a trifecta not found in many places. Today the Greater Hartford Arts Council will host a day-long festive  holiday party to celebrate the Greater Hartford Welcome Center and the Let*s GO Arts! Holiday Promotion. During the open house morning visitors can dine on cookies and other snacks while afternoon visitors can enjoy some free wine and cheese. Seriously, how does anyone turn down free wine and cheese? We plan to be all over the havarati and brie so be sure to get there before we devour it all.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Beyond Thunderdome: A Pro's View

Over the last year and a half or so we have explored the Hartford I-91 overpass a couple of times. First there was a solo journey on a hot summer day which ended with us being spooked by some sort of feral beast as we started to explore the underbelly of the overpass. The next time we visited the overpass we made a thorough investigation and ended up with some really cool pictures. That investigation lead to the a post about a Hartford Overpass Love Story, a post many have stated is the funniest post in the history of Sad City. Those posts piqued the interest of Robb Cyr, a professional photographer whose family had owned a house on McLean Street and he emailed us and asked about the location.

Sad City Travels: Philly; Helen Ubinas Edition

Yes please!
A few weeks ago we visited Philadelphia. Just a few days later Sad City friend and former Hartford Courant  columnist Helen Ubinas announced that she had relocated and was working in Philadelphia. Over the weekend Helen announced that she was making her first visit to our favorite part of Philly, the Reading Street Terminal Market. In our experience this is hands down, the best food market we have ever visited.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

How Loud Is Too Loud?

Except for the extraordinarily wealthy, living in an urban environment means living in close proximity to others. It also means you have to tolerate others and at times curb your own behavior for the benefit of your neighbors. One thing that can be tricky in the urban environment is determining the appropriate volume level at which to play music. While we all love playing our favorite music at a healthy volume, we have to remember that our favorite music isn't necessarily our neighbors favorite music and even if it happened to be, our neighbors might not be in the mood to hear it at the moment.

It can be a tricky dichotomy especially when alcohol is involved. Our crack research staff has determined that as the amount of alcohol consumed increases, so does the volume level that one judges to be appropriate. The type of music also effects the volume level. In the example above the band Motley Crue is being played. It's hard to play a band like Motley Crue at a low level. So city dwellers what do you think? How do you determine how loud to play your music? Is the music above at an appropriate level? Sad City yearns for your knowledge.

Friday, December 2, 2011

On Bended Tree

The October snowstorm gaves us many headaches and some unbelievable sights. Now, over a month removed from the storm, there are still remnants of the damage around town. One of the more interesting things we've seen as a result of the storm are trees bent in seemingly impossible positions. This tree is bent over Sad City's favorite, the Park River.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hartford Business: Del Norte Grocer

When we were going into the Pan De Oro chip factory a couple weeks ago, we noticed what appeared to be a Mexican Grocer at the end of the industrial park Pan De Oro is located in. Being in an industrial park, we first guessed it was a restaurant supply type store, selling products in bulk. After all, an industrial park next to train tracks didn't seem like the place where one would find a small grocer.