Stolen moments and Twitter doubles

Damn it… I’ve been really neglectful of this space. Turns out that my infant child– whose life in weeks is still in the single digits–is able to command my complete attention whenever she is within earshot. Yes, it is a visceral, addicting thrill to make faces at her and coax a smile in my direction. It is an awful pain when she cries and I cannot tell why. And it is a dispiriting, hopeless frustration when I am ready to fall asleep and she will not.

Inbetween all of this—and my day job—I’ve found little time to continue this project the way I had intended. If there is any chance to take the blog off of life support, I need to force myself to be enterprising about stealing moments to write, in snack-sized bits.

But where to begin? There is little I can say about the life of my neighborhood, because my life is here, inside my family if not inside my apartment. There are things I notice—a new wine shop for wine geeks on Franklin Avenue between Eastern Parkway and Lincoln Place, nestled among the bodegas, the hair salon, and the Caribbean juice bar on the west side of the block. Across the street, Bob and Betty’s (the grocery formerly known as Fisher’s) seems to be thriving, even if it feels wrong and out of place. It’s a glass-walled cathedral to upward mobility, with organic cereal, fresh produce, and craft beer. The proprietors run a curious Twitter feed (@bobandbettys) that mixes information about the store specials with amusingly caustic observations about its aspiring clientele. For instance:

a scary looking #hipster just took one look at the beer section today and started doing cart wheels down the isles!!??? #hipsters #vintage

One other Twitter note from this extended hurricane weekend… one of the most enjoyable parts of the Mayor’s numerous Irene press conferences—or any presser—are the updates he offers in Spanish. The deck is stacked against this mayor, really. Any white guy cursed with an unshakeable Massachusetts accent is going to sound ridiculous speaking any language but Boston English. It was actually surprising that someone hadn’t stepped up on Twitter to parody the Mayor’s Spanish sooner. So enter @ElBloombito, which appeared as the outreach ramped up on Saturday, and thanks to a Sunday plug on the Huffington Post quickly reached upwards of 12,000 followers. An example:

Los some of the trains y most of el busses resumiento servico slowly tomorrow. Get las commuteradors to trabajo muy late.

Dumb white guy Spanglish. Obvious, but the Mayor’s Spanglish doppelganger stayed active throughout the weekend, providing Spanglish speakers with all the latest information about the hurricane and the city’s efforts to protect its citizens from the weather.

After the storm passed, there was a remarkable moment on Monday, as the Mayor’s official feed engaged @ElBloombito, asking Are you listening? as it linked to a YouTube video of the Mayor answering a press conference question about his fake translator:

Me escuchas, @ElBloombito?

I am not one to judge the man’s Spanish, but I do give him (and the folks around him) credit for having a good sense of humor. It’s not often that elected officials are quite secure enough to tweak the folks who are tweaking them. (Of course, it’s helped that the mayor seems to have had a good week.) The city actually has a pretty lengthy social media policy, but the norms for effective engagement on Twitter are really still emerging. In February in Chicago, candidate Rahm Emanuel went on the radio to offer a charity bounty for the identity of his Twitter double @MayorEmanuel. Bloomberg—now mayor for almost 10 years—used the official Twitter presence of his office to gently tweak his. From now to then, it feels like some line has been crossed, in a strange and interesting way. If parody can interact with reality, and vice versa… that might actually make paying attention to government a little more interesting. Which is not a bad thing, considering how few New Yorkers take the time to vote in local elections… which is a subject for another night…

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