What is Going on in Hartford’s West End? No Really, Please Tell Us

If you’re my aunt, you probably think every visit to Hartford amounts to taking your life in your hands. This is, of course, not remotely true (the recent rash of shootings not withstanding). Every time I go to Hartford, I’m participating in some sort of Yuppie festival or event where I am the most dangerous person around. (Don’t mess with the East Beat!) Hartford is changing. Don’t believe me? Look at these posts from the West End Living Facebook group (it’s a private group, so all us non-West Enders aren’t allowed to see what they’re up to), and telephone poles:

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Front porch poetry slams and country bear jamoborees are not exactly what most people think about when they think about Hartford. And rightly so, because there are plenty of people living in Hartford with much harsher realities than this, but just think about what it would be like to live next door to the porch string band (which may or may not be any good)… Seriously, think about that for a moment… (more…)

Put Your Zip Code to the Test

You know we love maps and what they can tell us about ourselves. We have now found the ultimate in map-related personality tools. If you head over to Esri.com you can put in your zip code and find out a bunch of, probably accurate, stuff about yourself–or at least the majority of people in your neighborhood. For instance, if you live in Hartford’s West End your hood is made up of 25% “Social Security Set”, 22% “Set to Impress”, and 18% “Fresh Ambitions.” What does any of that mean? Have a look:

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Connecticut Got Real Weird Yesterday: Disembodied Legs and Bear Burial Grounds

Yesterday morning I got up at 5:45 a.m. so I could catch a 7:28 a.m. train to NYC in New Haven. Normally this is not news worthy, except that New Haven police found a pair of disembodied legs near the train station yesterday. Somehow, I managed to get to and from the station without seeing any leg-related activities, or experiencing train delays (which is a miracle on a day when no body parts have been found). It wasn’t until I got home and checked Facebook that I learned of the disembodied legs that I’d been so close to.

(On a side note, I’d like to add that any time you find unexplained body parts, I think you have to ask, “Is Bob Durst involved?” Durst, however, is in prison so finding a way to link him to these particular legs will be difficult.)

Finding a pair of legs near a major commuter train station would be weird enough, but a woman also found a bear body dumping grounds hidden in the woods of Burlington. Apparently, the state composts bears that it has to euthanize and some poor woman/trespasser found the pile of bear carcasses yesterday.

Gross, right? Well, if you think there isn’t a dumping ground for carcasses in your town, you’re mistaken. I used to walk shelter dogs in Newtown, and at the time the pound was located next to the town dump. So I walked the dogs around the landfill, which was actually quite pretty. There were lots of tall grasses, wildflowers, and birds. There was also something I like to call a “carcass hole.” It was a giant pit where roadkill goes to decompose. I avoided it in the summer, because of the smell, but in the winter I’d often pass by. As long as the frozen animals were in the hole, it wasn’t so bad, but still living wildlife would often pull the bodies back out. (Legend has it that a Mountain Lion was once spotted sitting near the carcass hole, and walking along the nearby train tracks.)

If you visit the bulky waste site in Glastonbury–or just about any town–you’ll find similar carcass holes, composting piles, and other versions of places where animals go to return to the earth.

None the less, I think we can all agree that yesterday was a weird day in the Nutmeg State.

Dognapping Drama in Hartford

Nothing strikes fear into my heart like the term “dognapping”! So when WNPR’s breakout star, Chion Wolf, posted on Facebook about someone dognapping Hartford-area resident Stretch, my blood ran cold.

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Stretch was allegedly stolen by the dogsitter of all people. I should take a moment to point out that I am currently dogsitting a dog that looks a lot like Stretch (but who is not Stretch) and I will return her to her rightful owner (against the dog’s wishes…she totes loves me) on Saturday. That is what good dogsitters do. (more…)

Fist Fight: Hartford vs. East Hartford

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On Saturday I found myself at an amateur boxing match in a Springfield hotel. I could explain how I got there, but that would take too long. Suffice it to say, I was cheering on one of the Farmer’s old friends. You should also know that I kind of love sanctioned physical violence. We live in a world where you so often find yourself just wanting to punch someone, and having to restrain yourself because it isn’t polite. So whenever a couple of hockey players decide to throw off the gloves and start pounding each other, I cheer. And when I get to watch regular joes don some headgear and punch each other repeatedly, I LOVE IT!

Still, I didn’t know what to expect… I’ve never been to an amateur boxing match before. There were scantily clad ring girls courtesy of the local “gentlemen’s” club as well as badass chicks who can give and take a punch. After several IMG_0379close bouts and split decisions, I had resigned myself to thinking that there wasn’t going to be too much action on the amateur circuit. Then the super heavy weights came out and one got knocked flat on his tushie–and eventually lost when the ref called a TKO. A couple more TKOs came through the ring, mostly at the hands of the fighters from Lewiston, Maine who clearly box bears in their spare time because they weren’t even tired after wiping the floors with their opponents.

But the important part is that there were lots of Connecticut boxers–mostly from Hartford, Bridgeport, and the East Beat’s Bare Bones Boxing. I found myself conflicted when a woman from Hartford and a woman from East Hartford (pictured) found themselves beating the bejesus out of each other to finally the answer the question, “Which city is more badass?”

IMG_0380Well, as it turns out, Hartford is… though it was a split decision, so the East Beat still has a chance to establish its dominance. On a side note: Don’t ever pick a fight with anyone from Bridgeport. They are almost as terrifying as the guys from Maine.

There was booze and food available. I was mostly just interested in blood sport so I can’t really say much about the amenities–though the Farmer bought some fries and they were surprisingly good. Tickets cost $20 ($25 at the door) and there were about 15 fights. We left before the night was over, because we are old and my eyes start shutting down at 11 p.m. and if I’m not in bed by the time they close up shop, I just have to lay down where ever I am and go to sleep. But if an amateur boxing event comes through your town, I highly suggest attending. It’s good, clean, bloody fun.

Stuff We “Learned” About Connecticut from Maps

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but data is taking over the world. You can learn a lot from these maps. You may also find yourself scratching your head and wondering how they got this information. Nonetheless, it’s clear that you can make a map out of anything. As evidence, I offer this list of maps powered by the internet’s love of data and infographics.

People Don’t Want to Live Here Anymore

For instance, according to data gotten from a moving company, CT is undergoing a mass exodus. This doesn’t quite answer the question “What if all the people moving to CT use U-haul or that weird Christian moving company with the pro-life propaganda on the side?” but whatevs, it’s the internet…Who cares about accuracy?

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