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.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Beat City Beauties Hit The Liquid Lounge

Over the last year Liquid Lounge at the CT Science Center has quickly became one of the must attend events on the Hartford social calendar. Liquid Longe returns Friday, December 2, highlighted by the Beat City Beauties who are well on there way to establishing themselves as a must see event on the Hartford circuit. The Beauties are a burlesque dance troupe with six members: Maddy Hatter, Buns Anderson, Patty Cake, Victoria Van Layer, Glam Chop, Anna Tainment and Leena Colada. The group has been performing for about a year but came into the conscious of many in the area through this excellent Hartford Courant article by Bettina Hansen in late October. It's a great piece of work and we aren't going to pretend we can do any better. 

Reflection on The Wire

Illustration from the 19th Century novel that HBO's The Wire was based upon.
Last night, a friend mentioned that she had episode one of season one of The Wire ready and she was finally ready to take the plunge. She asked what to expect. I told her the following:

"You want to know what to expect? Here's a prediction of what will happen. You're going to watch the first two or three episodes and you're going to think to yourself, 'What the hell was all the hype about? I'm confused and I don't know what the hell is going on.' Then some friend will convince you to stick with it and by episode 6, you're totally hooked. Like Bubs on a bender, you spend all of your free time watching episode after episode, season after season, consuming the show. You become desperate when your Netflix discs don't re-up fast enough. Eventually you get to the end and of the show and you become 'one of those people.' You talk about it constantly at parties. You emphasize things like the 'Dickensian Aspect.' You can't watch Boardwalk Empire without whistling the 'Farmer in the Dell.' Eventually you come to recognize that, just like all of those cultural blow-hards often say, it truly is the ultimate dramatization of the death of the American City. Enjoy!"

That goes for all of you out there in Sad City Hartford land, too.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Do you remember Jai-Alai in Hartford?

Sad City Hartford favorite Gerry Brooks getting his Jai-Alai.
 Does anyone out there remember Jai-Alai in Hartford? Hakaan and I were both way too young to ever go before it shut down, but we grew up fascinated with the cool, legal gambling in Connecticut before the casinos. I'm currently working on an upcoming creative project that draws on our city's Jai-Alai past and I would love to talk to people who got experience the joys of Hartford Jai-Alai. For those of you who have no clue about what I'm talking about, here's a quick historical refresher.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Remember When It Snowed?

When talking about the great weather yesterday we realized "remember it snowed a foot four weeks ago?" The weather in this part of the world is really pretty amazing. That reminded us of the Sad Snowman that reader Eric C. sent to us from Bushnell Park a few weeks back. Eric C. sent us apologies for the blurriness from his Blackberry (C'mon people, just get an Android or iPhone) but it is still worth noting that this picture was taken on November 3. Wasn't it was something like 70 degrees out yesterday? And winter hasn't even started yet. One of the great and maddening things about living in New England.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Sad City Comic Strip: The Bus To New Britain

Sad City Hartford Comments on the proposed Connecticut Transit Busline from Hartford to New Britain

Thankful for Mattress Disposal

Sad City readers are no doubt familiar with the mattress problem that plagues the sidewalks of Hartford. While the Mayor has recently taken steps to combat the mattress problem, Sad City recently spotted a truck full of discarded mattresses making their way to their final resting spot off the Jennings Road exit. While we could not confirm whether or not these were Hartford mattresses, it is encouraging to see some going to meet their maker.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Face The State Looks at the XL Center Plan

Image courtesy of courant.com

Last week, to much fanfare, Howard Baldwin unveiled his plan to upgrade the XL Center in downtown with the long term of attracting an NHL team. While we all love the idea of an NHL team coming back to Hartford, many question the viability of the plan. Even without an assurance of the NHL returning, Sad City supports the plan.

The XL Center is there, it is also old. As we see it there are three options: upgrade it, build a new stadium, or let it rot and die. Option three would leave Hartford without a downtown venue for events and a whole block in downtown empty and rotting. For us option three isn't an option. Here Sad City friend Dennis House interviews an economist that worked on the plan to upgrade the XL Center about the viability of the plan. Video analysis after the jump.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Coliseum Club

There is no place in Hartford that evokes as many memories for Sad City as the Hartford Civic XL Center. The long time home to the Hartford Whalers, Hartford Wolfpack, and now the CT Whale, there is no place in Hartford that we have visited as many times over as many years. For over a quarter century, just a few years before we started this blog, we have been enjoying ice hockey at the arena. Not a lot has changed inside the arena since Ron Francis, Mike Liut, and Kevin Dineen patrolled the ice for the Whalers. Sure patrons can't suck down cigarettes in the concourse between periods, but even the Whalers old banners and retired numbers still hang from the rafters.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Mezmerizing Carlos Food Dancers

From time to time, we love to feature great dancing on Sad City Hartford. Earlier this week, we stumbled upon quite possibly the greatest dancing the city has ever seen…and it is all available on YouTube. And it's not just the dancing that's amazing. The video productions themselves are pretty mind blowing in their stripped down,authentic aesthetic. Sad City Hartford is pleased to introduce pielcanela75. She's like the D.A. Pennebaker of YouTube clips shot in off-brand grocery stores.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Lohman Map

We've had our eye on this cartoon style map of Hartford by Phil Lohman for quite some time. We first saw it in the basement of one of our friends and was very happy to have the opportunity to acquire one a couple weeks ago. (Incidentally, this same map hangs in the Pan De Oro chip factory) It seems that the map was distributed by The Hartford Courant to celebrate 225 years in print. Since the map states that The Courant started "on a hard-operated press" in 1764, we did some hardcore number crunching and DNA analysis to date this map at 1989. It's a very cool and unique map and a glimpse at how Hartford was a generation ago. Huge thanks to Sad City friend Chion Wolf for taking the photo of this map for us. If you would like the full size jpeg, email us here.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

What is Hartford's Vibe Score?

MapQuest, best known for supplying hundreds of directions print outs that sat crumpled up in the back of my 1998 Saturn, recently released a new service called MapQuest Vibe. According to the press release:

"MapQuest Vibe (mqVibe) uses its patented search blended with social algorithms to generate real-time rankings of neighborhoods, hotspots and points-of-interest."

Roughly translated, this means a bunch of interns sit around a conference room, drink Natty Ice and throw darts at a map to determine the scores. The info is then distributed on their web site and iPhone app. The scale is 0-10. And yes, the North Meadows pulled a 0.9. They are not the city's lowest scoring neighborhood.

So how does Hartford stack up overall?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Using Our Illusion

The Gunners circa 1987. Image courtesy of www.100xr.com

Guns N Roses returns to Hartford for the first time since 2002 tonight to play the Comcast Theatre. While today all that remains of the legendary lineup is Axl Rose, Sad City is just old enough to remember GNR as the seminal group that blew the doors off the hair band genre with Appetite for Destruction and then followed that effort up with the awesome and over the top Use Your Illusion I & II. 

That got us to thinking, what if Use Your Illusion had just been one single album? What songs would have made the cut? Since the pair of discs produced a lot of memorable songs, cutting it down to one disc would be quite a task, but that's what we are here for. Presenting the Sad City Use Your Illusion album.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Welcome To The Jungle

As an urban area Hartford isn't known for an abundance of wildlife. Yet this weekend Sad City went exploring in search of some Hartford wildlife and was able to spot and photograph the rare Hartford Urban Lion. Even more shocking is Sad City has evidence that this particular lion is gainfully employed by Clemens Place. During the time we observed the Hartford Urban Lion, the lion seemed not only docile, but friendly. While he gave this appearance outwardly, it could be a ploy to lure passing motorists into his lair. Sad City was sure to keep a safe distance from this rare and majestic creature during this very stunning photo shoot. More photos after the jump.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Austin is Weird, Hartford is an Underdog

(EDITOR'S NOTE: We're pleased to introduce "Travels in Other Sad Cities, new series on Sad City Hartford. Hakaan and Jumper have been on the road a lot lately so they are documenting their comings and goings. Don't worry...it will all still tie back to the homeland. Our first city will be the rather happy city of Austin, Texas.)

One of the coolest places to visit in the U.S. is Austin. While the majority of Texas can be a godawful place that's almost as bad as Arizona, within Austin city limits is pretty great. The country's best music, great food, a crazy bar scene that really only has one rule, it's hard to argue that Austin isn't one of the Top 5 cities in America.

One of the things that Hartford could stand to learn about from Austin is that Austin embraces who they are. Austin has an incredible amount of authenticity. They embrace their roots. They embrace the massive college that was dropped in the middle of town. They embrace their weirdness. Hell, their slogan is, "Keep Austin Weird." Austin is comfortable just being itself. One of my biggest issues with Hartford's efforts to brand itself is that it is trying too hard.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Inside The Pan De Oro Factory

Visiting the Pan De Oro chip factory on Main Street was something that had been on the Sad City agenda for quite a while but for whatever reason took a a while to get around to. When we finally visited last week, it was a what took so long moment. We made our way to the factory thinking we'd grab a bag of tortillas, chomp some down and write about the chips.

The factory is located in an industrial area of North Main Street. We weren't even sure if we were walking in the right door. When we first saw Rick Stevens he asked if he could help us. "We are looking for some chips."

We were pleasantly surprised to find out that not only were we in the right place, but when buying chips out of the factory they cost only $1 a bag. Can't beat that deal. Rick then asked how we found out about Pan De Oro. When we replied Twitter, he asked "great, did I follow you back, i always try to do that?"

 "Ummm, not sure, the account is Sad City Hartford."

"Oh ok! Would you like a tour of the factory?"

A tour of the factory? Yes, I think we would enjoy that very much.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Craig and Sad City Discuss October Snow

Well it seems like everyone finally has their power back from the crazy October snowstorm. Sad City friend Craig timed the storm perfectly and was out of town for the duration. Sad City called into WCCC to update Craig on the fun he missed.

Click here to see Sad City's October snow photos at CT New Junkie.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Twain House for Free Tomorrow!

Who doesn't love Mark Twain and who doesn't love free stuff? Well tomorrow Hartford residents combine these two awesome things as the Mark Twain House is free to all Hartford residents thanks to a grant from The Hartford Financial Services. The Twain House will be open 9:30 to 5:30 and guests can check out a short film be Ken Burns and see the Steampunk exhibit that Sad City visited a couple weeks ago. Click here to check out other Sad City adventures with our friends and neighbors over at The Twain House.

Click here to read Sad City's amazing Mark Twain revelations!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sad City Visits A Russian Bazaar

Who doesn't need some nicely decorated wooden eggs?
Anytime we hear the word "bazaar" we are in. It just seems to add an aura of mystery and excitement that "swap meet" or "flea market" just don't convey. Bazaar just seems so exotic, even more so when it's a Russian Bazaar. So when we saw signs for the Russian Bazaar at a church on Scarborough Street, we knew it was a no-brainer Sad City visit.

Extra Winter Coats? Do some good

Time to dig deep into the closet and drag out those old Raiders and LA Kings starter jackets and donate them to a good cause. Agave is downtown on 100 Allyn Street. Reward yourself with a nice margarita after your good deed. Check out this causes Facebook page here. Check out Sad City's Facebook page here and our Twitter page here.

Face The State Flashback: The Hartford Rams

Pic courtesy of The Hartfordite

Face The State is an excellent local news program on Sundays at 11 AM on Channel 3. It is hosted by Sad City friend Dennis House. Heck, Hakaan even appeared on the show this summer. While Face The State is usually dedicated to current events, occasionally Dennis will use a segment to revisit a news topic of days past. A couple weeks ago he aired this great flashback (video after the jump) a news event that somehow, we at Sad City totally forgot about.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Tree On A Wire

The weather has been so good lately, the October snowstorm seems like a distant memory. Well except for those that unbelievably remain without power. We ourselves were stunned when on Sunday we found this whole tree lying across South Whitney over some power lines. Now from the complete lack of snow in the pictures, you can tell we mean this most recent Sunday and not the day after the storm. Eight full days after the storm and with almost perfect weather since, that tree is still lying on the road on top of power lines. Just think of all the poor people who can't access Sad City because of those downed power lines. Amazing. More pics after the jump.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Even Hitler is Unhappy with CL&P

While these Hitler parody videos aren't exactly original, they remain, for the most part, pretty funny. Sad City friend and fellow guest on Colin McEnroe's nom de plume show, Gideon's Trumpet from A Public Defender blog put together this parody of Hitler showing his frustration with CL&P and their estimates on power restoration.

Election Day

Image courtesy of blogs.houstonpress.com

Election Day 2011 is upon us and voting for Mayor and City Council is currently underway. We will leave endorsing candidates to proper newspapers, a function traditionally done by papers for over a hundred years. While we also wouldn't go as far as to call ourselves journalists, we have been running verbatim interviews with Hartford politicians, including all relevant Mayoral candidates, for almost a year. Today being election day we thought we would revisit those interviews so readers can take a last look at the candidates before heading out to vote.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Veterans Day Parade

West Hartford bike police greet children.
While many still seethed about the lack of power and CL&P missing deadlines, a respite was found in the Veterans Day Parade on a beautiful Sunday in downtown. The weather was so great, if not for the fact so many remained without power, it would be hard to believe a snowstorm hit the area just over a week ago. The parade was a great event featuring marching bands, old cars, police, appearances by Senator Blumenthal and Governor Malloy, and of course the veterans. Pics and video from a gorgeous Sunday in downtown after the jump.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Mattress Colonies: A Solution Coming?

Discarded mattresses are quite a scourge on our fine city and Sad City has been covering the mattress problem for well over a year. In fact the fifth ever Sad City post was about mattresses on the sidewalks. Well in yet another stunning coincidence of City action following Sad City observations, Mayor Segarra released a statement yesterday stating Hartford collects 18,000 mattresses a year and further discussing the mattress problem in Hartford. The Mayor's statement courtesy of the City:

Friday, November 4, 2011

Beer One-Upsmanship

Oh, you like the dark notes and the woody aroma, eh?

The craft beer movement of the last decade has been nothing short of great for American beer. It wasn't so long ago that for American beer the selection was basically; Bud, Miller, or Coors. Today walk into any package store and there are dozens of different American brewers whipping out all sorts of different types of beers. Our local brewer, Hooker, is whipping up a Watermelon Ale and a Nor'Easter winter brew to go along with their regular selections. The American brewing revolution has been awesome.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Grapevine

This grapevine canopy made us think of the warmer days left behind just a few weeks ago and sadly not to return for about six months. Most of the grapevine canopies we find in Hartford are in the South End primarily at Italian residences. Grapevine canopies are awesome in that they serve handful of purposes. First, they look cool and what could be more important than that? There are some mighty impressive ones throughout the South End, sadly our favorite one, on Adelaide Street looks like it might not be returning.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

After The Storm: The North End

Sad City continues our look at damage after the crazy winter fall storm that hit Saturday. With full trees lying across road, the North End was the worst hit area we saw. The amount of damage is amazing considering that these pictures were taken Tuesday afternoon; a day and a half after the storm subsided. We saw workers working on almost every area of major damage we saw in the North End.

After The Storm: The West End

After hiding out for two days following the stunning October snowstorm, Sad City decided to venture out and survey what damage still remained. What we found was that there is still a stunning amount of damage and that there are lots of people out working to clear downed trees from the road. For the most part Hartford residents are luckier than others; while some residents are without power, Hartford and its legendary power grid fared well, many surrounding towns are 100% in the dark, facing potentially a second week without power after losing power for a week from Irene only two months ago.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Adolf's Meat & Sausage

Adolf's is located on New Britain Ave in Hartford's South End. It's across the street from the empty Mega Foods market. The first thing almost everyone will notice about Adolf's is the name. Going with Adolf is quite a move given that the name has been out of fashion for oh.....let's say about 70 years or so. Nonetheless, Adolf's it is.

Once inside Adolf's the first thing you will notice is the meat case and the impressive collection of brauts, kielbasa, and other tubed meats. There has to be at least three dozen different types of tubed meats on display. Also for sale are many smoked meats, and other deli meats and cheeses to be sliced up for cold cuts. Adolf's also sells a full complement of beef and veal cuts.