Note: This is a guest article written by Tim Storck to try to convince you to nerd out with him about Twitter. I let Tim write it cause I am an Extremely Nice Fellow, and this counts as my One Nice Deed of 2021. Back to mean!
What Am I Talking About?
Twitter Developer Community is run by Twitter (you’ve heard of them, right?), and consists of resources for software developers who work with the Twitter APIs. Local chapters are organized by volunteers, with TDC’s assistance.
Who Is This For?
Probably not you.
Well, unless you’re a technology geek/programmer, like me. In which case, it’s for you! If you want.
What Is It?
I am starting a New Haven chapter for the Twitter Developer Community. We will be scheduling both online and in-person events. Events may include informal networking meetups, technical talks, Q&As with Twitter engineers, hack sessions and hackathons (which is like a hack session except you also lose your weekend).
Tell Me More…
Twitter offers a large set of capabilities through its APIs. You know. Tweets, analytics, the amount of sadness each Tweet generates (a lot).
The main API, called the Twitter API, has numerous endpoints for getting and posting data. Twitter recently launched v2 of the AP, which is much easier to work with and offers new features.
The three broad categories of people who tend to interact with the Twitter API are: professionals, academic researchers, and hobbyists (that’s us!).
Professionally, many developers and agencies are focused on the marketing opportunities provided by Twitter. In fact, some are focused exclusively on trying to generate viral marketing from this exact data.
Remember how much we all laughed at Wendy’s throwing shade at Burger King? Those were the days. Now it’s all very lame. We’re cooler now. But for a second we were all pretty psyched about Wendy’s Twitter account.
In the modern information ecosystem, viral marketing is essential. And it’s cheaper than traditional advertising, while also providing more exponential exposure. If utilized effectively, it can grow your online reach enormously. Professional firms know this and focus on it using systems like the Twitter API.
Social media integrations also work symbiotically with other forms of marketing. When you go viral with your adorable tweet about puppies or whatever, now people are coming to your Facebook page and learning about your business! Which has nothing to do with puppies! Suckers!
On an academic level, Twitter has become central to the public conversation. Journalism, current events and society at large all take place in the Twitter-verse. Hell, we had a President who basically half-existed on Twitter.
In the modern world, information is the greatest currency, and its exchange is online. Online influence is more relevant than ever, and the dynamics of how this plays out is a subject of interest among strategists, analysts, and researchers. Twitter offers an academic research track for universities interested in this kind of leading-edge social research. Many studies by major academic institutions are providing valuable insight into modern channels of influence.
The Twitter API is also fun for hobbyists who enjoy creative software design. The API rules allow for many forms of innovative applications. Software can be a medium of creativity and many developers enjoy using their engineering skills for personal projects, and produce great work. Sometimes, a side project becomes a main project. Sometimes a side project becomes nothing (usually when Josh does it). Because Twitter is a social platform, creative tools can be tailored for social impact and even tools for activism.
So, developing Twitter apps can be fun and beneficial, fellow kids. These local Twitter Developer Community events can be a way to meet other technologists, learn about social media integrations, and discuss projects.
I spent a month living in Bushwick, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York.
It was an experiment. I’ve lived in Connecticut my whole life. A feeling of stagnation was growing inside of me. I craved change in my life. New beginnings. New locations?
But before I upended my entire life, and dealt with all of the associated consequences (like my house), I figured I’d try it out for a month. See if I enjoyed it. If it was worth the cost, both financially, emotionally, and logistically.
What I found surprised me.
New York City is Amazing
First, let me say it: New York City rules. I get why people love it. There really is no place like it.
The amount of culture, food, things to do, tourist attractions, public transportation, weird art spaces, performances, book stores, vintage shops, and everything else is truly something to behold.
For an aspiring comic, there are open mics all over the city happening seven days a week. If you hustle, you can get on stage several times a day, every day.
For a gamer, you can find an awesome eSports Bar in Bushwick where they serve frozen Cokes and let you play League of Legends with your friends on sick PC’s.
For a dancer, the Brooklyn Mirage hosts tons of great electronic artists and features an amazing outdoor dance party where I am probably the only sober person within a full square mile.
The magic in New York is in its massive population: With so many people pursuing so many things, it opens up so many niche possibilities. It doesn’t matter if only 0.1% of the population enjoys something: there are enough New Yorkers to warrant its existence.
I remember after a night dancing with some new Romanian friends at the Mirage, I got home and thought, “This could only happen here, in New York.”
But the question remains: Is it worth it?
The Cost of New York
New York City, as everyone knows, is prohibitively expensive. People complain about New Haven rents, but you can live like royalty here for the price of a shitty studio in a bad neighborhood in NYC.
Rents for decent one bedroom apartments in New York? You’re looking at $3,000 at the very minimum. Probably significantly higher.
Also, everything costs more. Jar of peanut butter? Six bucks. Pint of Halo Top ice cream? NINE BUCKS?! Come on did someone have to escape Squid Game to get this thing to me?!
Yet the greatest costs, to me, were not really the money (though it matters).
The greatest cost is in space.
You don’t realize how much space matters until suddenly you don’t have any. When you’re squeezing into tiny bathrooms and have nowhere to put your stuff in your bedroom. When you’re standing shoulder to shoulder on the subway. When every single park you go to is swarming with walkers, talkers, sunbathers, runners, people blasting music of every variety under the sun.
There is no escape. The only solace is in your own apartment, which is in a building with another 500 people squeezed in it. Every cough, every sneeze, every orgy is yours to hear.
What New Haven Has
One of the things I love most about New Haven is its strange combination of city and nature. It has its downtown, and its popular neighborhoods. But it also has suburbs and public parks of an enormous variety. If you want to see a ton of people, go to East Rock. If you’re looking for something more quiet, go to Edgewood Park or West Rock.
The beach? It’s not an hour and a half subway ride to Coney Island. It’s a 15 minute ride to Lighthouse Point. Or West Haven. Or East Haven. Or Branford.
You can go out downtown, play some arcade games at Barcade, get some food at Pacifico, some ice cream at Arethusa, and ride your bike back to East Rock and suddenly it’s quiet again. You can hear the crickets. You can hear yourself think.
Also, you can park a car. Listen. I know. I don’t love cars. But let’s face it: If you’re buying furniture at Ikea, you don’t want to bring that shit on the subway. You probably don’t even want to put it on your scooter. You want to bring a car, and you don’t want to spend two hours parking it. Which, you’re in luck! Not a problem at all.
Plus, we have comedy. I host a monthly show at Trinity Bar! You should come to that. Please come. I’m so lonely.
What New Haven Needs
Oh boy can I fill a book about this. And I will, in a future article. I have ideas. And I am ready to yell at whatever government official I need to in order to get this done in 5-10 years.
And as a reward to myself for acquiring a new job, I did what any red-blooded American would do: I spent the money I didn’t even have yet with a shiny credit card.
I bought a moped.
Or a scooter. I don’t know.
See, mopeds are actually bikes with motors. Which are not e-bikes. So technically, most “mopeds” are scooters. But scooters are also those little things you stand on and stop you from dating.
So I bought a moped.
Here it is:
And you know what? It’s awesome. I thought it would be fun, and I was right. It is super fun.
You should get one, too.
You don’t even need a motorcycle license if you get a 49cc model, which is the most comical workaround.
“Okay, we are going to build an engine that is so, so close to being technically not a bicycle but don’t worry it’ll be 1 CC short” you goddamn geniuses.
New Haven is a Perfect Moped City
New Haven has everything you want in a moped-friendly city:
Not too big
Plenty of signs and bike racks to lock up to
Totally insane drivers who don’t respect anything
Ok that part isn’t good but at least they’re used to cyclists
I love bicycles as much as the next blogger. Maybe moreso.
But a ride to Lighthouse Point Park is almost a full hour from my house. And that’s a sweaty ride. Using my legs like some kind of caveman.
Yet on a moped it’s something like 20 minutes and I don’t have to sweat unless I think really hard about something like climate change or which pizza I like the most.
Plus, you look extremely cool. Especially if you wear a helmet. Girls and guys and others will be like “Damn who is that mysterious stranger on that lil 49cc moped I wonder if they’re single.”
More Than Enough Power
When I purchased the moped (through New Haven Power Sports on Whalley Avenue), the salesman told me a lot of folks get a scooter/moped and then immediately want to get a motorcycle because they enjoy it so much.
Not me. I’m like, “Wow this thing is fast enough… I… don’t think it’s a good idea to drive something that goes like 10 times faster than this.”
Granted, going up a hill reminds you that you are a tiny spec of dust in an ever-expanding universe, but you already knew that. On flat land you can get that baby up to 40 mph which is more than enough speed for any New Haven street. (More, really.)
Plus, if you hit a pedestrian, they probably won’t die! (Except of embarrassment.)
Every time I’ve traveled to Europe (which is a lot due to being Extremely Cultured), I’ve always marveled at how many mopeds there are on the roads. Due to the high population density, mopeds are a great way to get around Europe. They’re efficient, they’re easy to drive, they can get in between cars which is both fun and dangerous.
I always wondered why we don’t have more mopeds in America. Probably because we’re so obsessed with being cool. I’m not saying it’s all James Dean’s fault, but he certainly didn’t help.
So when someone is like “wow nice moped geek” just be like “I am extremely European” as they are already walking away high-fiving their friends.
Save the Earth
Lastly, driving a scooter is totally environmentally friendly. My moped gets 84 mpg. Eighty-four!!! Like that book everyone compares everything to.
Just wait until you go to fill it with gas and the things takes $3.00 worth of gas. It’s not even easy to fill you gotta go real slow cause it takes about 10 seconds to fill the thing. Think what you can do with that time! Learn Japanese! Play the piano!
The only thing stopping you from being a Japanese-speaking piano virtuoso is your car and how long it takes to fill the gas tank, plus the enormous cost as gas prices rise.
While everyone else is bitching and moaning about gas prices, you can just laugh on your way to the bank (via moped).
Isn’t it Dangerous?
But life is short, so you might as well enjoy it a little bit. Is it more dangerous than, say, sky diving or bungee jumping? I don’t know and I refuse to look it up, but probably.
But I am still alive as the time of this publication, so it’s probably fine! (And if I die afterwards, think how funny this will be!).
We Can Start a Moped Gang
Let me know when you get your moped so we can start a gang where we travel around and harass business owners by telling them how much we enjoy their delicious products.
Picture this scene: It is a warm summer day. The crowded terrace of a café is overflowing and coffee drinkers are slowly fusing with the lunch eaters of the next door restaurant terrace. The waiters zigzag through the densely packed tables to provide all sorts or summer treats while keeping an eye on the terrace entrance because they know they can definitely fit one more table if they put it astride the gutter, between the trash and the kitchen entrance.
People are enjoying the warm summer breeze, having a great lunch with a detestable lunch guest, smoking a cigarette with their coffee, people watching in the passing crowd, or getting bothered by the cigarette smoke of the table next to them.
Now, if I give you a map, where do you place this scene? A Parisian café? A Berliner Gaststätte? A Venetian Ristorante?
Well, this melting pot scene is happening not in Europe but New Haven right now!
(Are you really that surprised? You are reading a blog about New Haven. This is not Between Two Cheeses, my French bootleg version of Josh’s blog — Editor’s note: wtf)
One surprising effect of the pandemic is the response of the New Haven City Hall to the cry for survival of restaurants, bars, breweries: Give them terraces!
Not unlike some child giving away breakfast-in-bed coupons for Father’s Day knowing well they will never be honored, the zoning department was handing out everything-is-a-terrace coupons.
“Oh you have a sidewalk? Sure, you can put a table and some chairs!”
“Oh you have a small part of a sidewalk? Sure, you can put a table and some chairs!”
“Oh you have a creepy back alley that smells like decaying corpses? Sure, you can put a table and some chairs!”
I am beginning to suspect the lumber shortage is not due to the shutting down of sawmills related to COVID contaminations as the experts claim, but because every restaurant in America built a shitty terrace with 2×4’s on a parking spot!
Do you wonder why Europe has so many terraces? It’s because there is genius in chaos. Try anything and everything, and see what sticks.
In Marseille, my former French hometown, terraces are a constant battle field and city hall election campaigns have been lost because of them. My favourite example was this bar which took over the newly built bike lane (paid with public funds!) with tables and chairs to the point the city had to paint a black square over the bike sign on the pavement and add a barrier to fortify the private terrace (with some more public funds…).
Pre-pandemic, terraces were a foreign concept for many Americans. However, every Thursday night, a handful of Spanish postdocs established a standing hangout on the steps of P&M and Enoteca Cassanova. The chairs and mini tables were merged into a banquet table where all the Europeans were recreating a late Spanish night with food, drinks, chats, laughs, and great memories. I often wondered why this concept was not popular with more people and when I asked my American friends, they told me they rather go indoors with their climate-destroying air conditioning.
Since COVID turned indoor spaces with A/C into poisonous death trap, New Haven has blossomed into a lovely ecosystem of outdoor spaces making the city so much more walkable and enjoyable. Last summer, outdoor spaces were a necessity for the survival of many businesses.
I was worried this wouldn’t last and people would go back indoors. But here we are a year later, in a much better place in Connecticut in terms of active cases, vaccination levels, and New Yorkers buying up all our houses. The terraces remain, the city repainted the colourful promenades. I think the terraces are here to stay!
Come out and enjoy the summer. And if you need help feeling more like you’re in Europe on your New Haven Terrace, just call me up, I’ll come play the role of the rude French waiter!
Former New Haven guy Joe Tyman joins us to talk about what it was like being known as the guy who got hit by a car, what it’s like booking music gigs, and what he misses most about New Haven. We also have video now, so click on the YouTube link below and subscribe, right? Don’t you love subscribing to things?
We’re doing something a little different his week! Rather than write an article, I’ve decided to create a fun little New Haven-themed crossword puzzle! And no, this isn’t at all because I am too lazy to write or experiencing writer’s block due to a self-inflicted poor sleep schedule, that is an absolutely ridiculous accusation.
If this is something you enjoy, please let me know and perhaps it can be a recurring feature here!
I love New Haven with all of my heart and a little bit of yours. But during the dead heat of summer, I can forgive people for looking outward to Greater New England and beyond to search for that perfect weekend getaway. Especially in the sorta-post-COVID era, where we desperately want to get out of the house, but maybe aren’t ready to spend a month in Portugal or Egypt.
Sometimes you just gotta get outta town. While I’ve covered beaches in the past, I wanted to take a moment to offer some more significant getaways. These are all doable as a weekend getaway, though if you wanted to spend 3-4 days, that wouldn’t hurt, either.
I’d never been to Block Island before I was 30 years old, but it’s now turned into an annual trip with my friends. Each year we rent a house and spend anywhere from a weekend to a full week on the Island. You can take a ferry from New London or Point Judith, Rhode Island.
Block Island, like Cape Cod, perfectly captures that kind of old timey New England aesthetic, with white-and-gray buildings, seafood shacks and ice cream shops, souvenir shops and bars and restaurants. Also, Ballard’s, which is a huge beach bar, is the only place I’ve ever seen a couple have intercourse in broad daylight on a beach. So that’s something.
(Note: 4th of July Weekend is a hot mess on Ballard’s.)
Still, Block Island has a lot of natural beauty and is a great place to bicycle or moped around or enjoy the Bluffs. (Note: I swear Block Island has the highest per-capita first-time moped users on the planet.)
Plus, they have some of the best mudslides, which makes day drinking feel like a fun dessert.
Appalachian Trail Backpacking
In the Northwestern corner of Connecticut is the quaint town of Salisbury, population: 3598.
In this town is the Lion’s Head Trail, which actually connects to a lil’ old trail you might have heard of called the Appalachian Trail. The AT, as the cool kids call it, runs over 2,000 miles from Georgia to Maine, and crosses, very briefly, into our fair state in the Northwestern Corner.
While the idea of a full week of backpacking can be daunting, an overnight trip up to the Appalachian Trail is the perfect way to escape the city and just try it out for a night. And if you play your cards (and food) right, you might not even have to poop in the woods.
Once you hit the AT, there are several camping sites nearby you can stay overnight, including a couple of shelters (wooded/rooved structures above the ground). Beautiful views of Connecticut and New York, as well as the gorgeous night sky and total silence of the absence of civilization are truly sights and sounds to behold.
There is something absolutely visceral about carrying everything you need to survive in this world on your back. Everyone who is able should try it at least once. Plus, it’s free! Just clean up after yourself!
Newport, Rhode Island
People often view Connecticut as a fancy-pants state where everyone wears boat shoes and salmon shorts and has a collar and whatnot.
Newport, Rhode Island is that imaginary place.
Home to a bevy of enormous, historic mansions, eateries, beaches, and various shops and restaurants, Newport is a destination for people all over New England. Especially if you’re looking to party.
The Cliff Walk is an especially popular destination, and I myself have vomited in some of the classiest bathrooms Newport has to offer. Another fun activity is driving around and checking out the mansions and trying to figure out how rich the people are and which part of their body you would eat first.
The Catskills are an underrated gem of the tri-state area. While not technically New England, you can get to many of the popular towns like Woodstock and Phoenecia in two or two-and-a-half hours.
The Catskills are kind of a catch-all for mid-state New York, with the Catskills Mountains and lots of adorable and beautiful hotels and AirBnB options. Plus fantastic hiking, wide-open skies, and small-town folks who you will desperately avoid discussing politics with.
You don’t realize how much light pollution affects your life until you stare up at the stars from the Catskills and take in the majesty of the night sky and think about how small you are and how little time you have on this Earth to tip your local blogger.
“Hey, you should check out New London,” said nobody since the 19th century.
Yet nestled in the New London area is Old Mystic, with its quaint downtown full of restaurants and ice cream shoppes and adorable AirBnB’s and hotels. Did I mention the ice cream? (Seriously, there’s an ice cream shop downtown that people wait in line for Pepe’s-style.)
Also, Mystic Pizza is inexplicably still open? You might think it’s insane that a pizza restaurant could ride the high of a 1988 Julia Roberts film into permanent cult status but here we are. Remember when Mystic Pizza had frozen pizzas you could buy at a grocery store? Man, the 90’s were nuts.
Anyway, Mystic is a great little mini-getaway only an hour from New Haven. You can walk around the downtown and riverfront area, or check out the old-timey boats in Historic Mystic Village.
Also, there’s Mystic Aquarium! Is it ethical to watch massive sharks live their entire lives in captivity? I don’t know! And at this point I really don’t want to try to figure it out.
I considered whether or not to include Burlington, Vermont, since it’s not exactly an easy weekend getaway. The drive from New Haven to Burlington is a full five hours. It’s practically Canada.
Yet Burlington remains one of my absolute favorite places to visit. It’s got great bars, restaurants, cafes, outdoor stores, breweries, gorgeous nature, kitschy shops, way too many places selliing “Keep Vermont Weird” t-shits which is like hey just keep smoking weed I guess.
One of my favorite stores in the world is the Outdoor Gear Exchange, which has both new and used camping and hiking and all kind of outdoor equipment. Downtown Burlington is absolutely perfect, with its pedestrian-only access and huge outdoor spaces for all the nearby restaurants and bars.
Plus, if you’re sober like me, plenty of coffee and book and chocolate shops. Chocolate!!! Hell yeah. It’s the drugs of the drug-free world.
If you’re looking for a challenging hike, check out Camel’s Hump, about an hour south of Burlington. Take the Long Trail up and the Barrows Trail down. It’s challenging but absolutely perfect and a stunning view from the top of Vermont’s majestic Green Mountains.
North Beach Campground is a great place to stay right on the lake, though be forewarned, there’s a lot of families and kids and they really pack those sites in there so if you’re trying to party be prepared to get yelled at.
Or listen to your buddy Dave get yelled at and feel shame-by-association.
Well that’s it for this week! I hope y’all are out there having a great summer and we’ll see you back in the city soon enough. I’ll see you at Barcade, where I am absolutely destroying the Frogger machine.
What motivates someone to start a blog? The fame? The power? The women?
No. For me, it was the desire to carve out a niche outside of the New Haven Independent where we could complain loudly about the fact that the year is 2021 and I still don’t have my bike lane, Doug. Where’s my bike lane, Doug?!
The power, influence, and lucrative advertising contracts which come along with running New Haven’s most dangerous and powerful blog cartel is merely a happy coincidence.
Yet with great power comes great responsibility. The power to wield incredible influence must be handled delicately. And of course, I must remain humble.
While I’m still working on Netflix rights for Lifestyles of the Low-Income Bloggers, I will use this post to give you a glimpse into the life of a New Haven Influencer.
(It’s me, I’m talking about me.)
A Day in the Life
The other day, I walked into a local coffee shop I won’t name (it rhymes with Bussy Bloffee). Just to get a coffee, like your normal, everyday New Havener.
Cashier: Oh my god do you run the Between Two Rocks blog? Me: I do! Cashier: Wow I love it! It’s so funny! Me: Thanks! I really appreciate that. It makes it all worth it. Cashier: It’s like meeting a celebrity. You’re like a hotter Rick Moranis. Me: Wow, thanks, I won’t tell him you said that. Cause we definitely hang.
Now, you might think this entire interaction was only spurred because I was wearing a Between Two Rocks t-shirt, and not because someone actually recognized me. You might also think that large parts of this conversation happened only in my mind.
To which I would reply, really, thank you, I also think I am very handsome.
Now, a lot of you have been asking about my skin care routine. The next section of this blog is brought to you by Modern Pizza, who do not sponsor me, but this is kind of an aspirational blog. Maybe they’ll find this and sue me. No such thing as bad press.
So first, I’ll let you know I wash my face most days. What I do is I use the grease from the Modern Pizza Italian Bomb. And let me tell you, my skin does not look great.
The Responsibilities of an Influencer
Now, obviously, being an influencer isn’t all fun and games. There is a strict regiment of work, which I do not do.
I need to take photos in front of famous New Haven landmarks. Which I do not do. And I also need to give shoutouts to awesome local brands. Which I also do not do. In fact I think local brands are starting to catch on and just work with people who actually use social media effectively or even post regularly.
But I do ocassionally get emails from random restaurant brands who are opening in New Haven. They usually go something like this:
We’re opening a Fast Casual Mexican/Indian/Sushi Fusion restaurant and we were hoping we could not pay you to provide us free advertising about our restaurant! We would be willing to perhaps offer you a 20% off coupon? Hope to hear back from you! Love the blog, [blog_name], btw!
As you can see, the blog is really starting to take off.
Actually, don’t. Just take my word for it. Definitely do not walk by on a beautiful day and see them thriving without me, totally having moved on, starting a new life with a better, handsomer blog. Probably one who posts more than once or twice per pandemic.
But seriously. I am so happy for them. Before them, so many places came and went and they make absolutely awesome food and they probably figured out the service and even if they didn’t it doesn’t matter cause this is New Haven and we’ll take what we can get.
Just like Otaru Sushi. Another Cursed Spot under the Temple Street Garage.
On the other hand, RIP Canditopia. You are too beautiful for this world, and I had to condemn you. (Also, I kind of nailed it on that one).
The Dark Side of Being Known
Of course, like anything, there’s positive and negative. Sometimes, being a recognizable micro-celebrity can be troublesome.
For instance, if you ordered a sandwich from Haven Hot Chicken and the owner recognizes you when you go to pick up the sandwich on your bike and comes out and says hi but you couldn’t figure out how to leave a tip using the mobile site so you look like an absolutely cheapskate and I only have a $20 on me and what am I supposed to tip 20 bucks come on.
And that’s why I can never go back to Haven Hot Chicken.
A Little Too Personal
One of the things I’ve always strived to do both on the blog and the podcast is to be emotionally honest with myself and my audience. I try not to pretend that everything is perfect if it isn’t. (Which, like most humans, it usually isn’t).
I like to give a glimpse into the ups and downs of my own life. I think that’s what makes it work. It isn’t just a place where you read about restaurants. It’s a glimpse into someone’s inner life.
But the thing is, sometimes I forget that, and suddenly I am having a conversation with a near stranger, and they’re like, “Wow so you have pretty bad depression, huh, and tough news about that breakup last year” and I’m like wait how do you know everything about me.
Because I put it out there. And I think it’s great. It’s important to connect with people.
But it’s also weird as hell to suddenly being having an intimate conversation with a stranger. Yet I enjoy weird as hell.
At the end of the day, I really enjoy it. Every once in a while, I hear from a nice person who says they love the blog and it really helped them find the best happy hours and develop their alcohol addiction into a deep personal spiral. And in those moments, I could not be more proud of the work I’ve done.
Or someone else tells me they were new in town and it helped them find cool new places to hang out and be a part of the community and it makes me feel warmth for a fleeting few moments before the inescapable dread slowly surrounds me, suffocating my every breath.
So go ahead and smash that like and subscribe button.