Before I go out for some much-deserved ice cream on this beautiful spring day, just a quick note to let you know that the new Central Queens community site I’ve been working on, Queens Central, is officially up. Go and enjoy!
I’ve been spending more or less all my free time working on Queens Central, the kickin’ new Central Queens community site that’s going to make Time Out New York sorry they called us hillbillies this week. It’s taking a while because building a new blog theme from the ground up and integrating it with a message-board system turns out to be kind of a big job. But I still think it might — might — be ready to go at some point this weekend. Don’t quote me on that.
In any event, this is shaping up to be fairly big. I think — I hope — you’ll like it. I seriously can’t wait to launch it. I expect a user base ready and willing to contribute no fewer than the 750 or so forum posts Astorians.com gets on any given day. Maybe I should open a hipster coffee house to promote it. The community site comes first, then the cafe, right?
I’m hard at work at the new Central Queens community site, which I can now officially tell the world will be located at queenscentral.com (get it?), but I’ve got a little problem. I want a banner up top cycling through a few Central Queens photos, but it’s tough to find copyright-free pictures. In the past, I would have just stolen something, but though non-commercial, this is a little too big an undertaking for that. Plus what if I want to stick up a couple of Google text ads at some point?
I’ve taken a bunch of photos of Forest Hills myself, but I’m not a good photographer and I have nothing of Kew Gardens, Rego Park or Briarwood. So I’m turning to you, the Internet. Do you have any good photos of these neighborhoods, and will you grant me unconditional permission to use them in any way I see fit? Take one for the team, if you will? I can promise you will get attribution on the homepage whenever your photo appears, along with a link to whatever you want.
In related news, don’t buy web hosting without first googling for coupons. Seriously, at $48, that was easily the most valuable Google search I ever made.
I am in dire need of a raison d’etre, and I’m increasingly thinking I’d like to start a community website covering Forest Hills. I’m talking blog, message boards, that sort of thing. Frankly, we’ve got nothing. I’ve been poring over sites like the excellent Astorians and QueensWest.com and seething with insane jealousy. I really, really think this neighborhood is worthy of something like that. Forest Hills NY is confusing and had its last post in January, and the Forest Hills Forum is mostly real-estate flames. Meanwhile, we have some excellent local bloggers, like Sarah of Avenue Food, but I don’t know of anyone who’s blogging about Forest Hills on a regular basis.
New York Magazine’s Neighborhood Watch archives have exactly zero entries on Forest Hills. That’s shameful, and we need to fix it. Basically, I’d like to try to build a sense of community around here among people who do more than just complain.
I’m pretty sure I’m going to do this, and I think I can already envision it. My only question: How wide-ranging should this be? I feel like anything covering just Forest Hills would die on the vine — not enough people would be interested in visiting and contributing. But how far do we go? I’m thinking “Central Queens” — but what is Central Queens? The Queens Chronicle, sadly the most authoritative source I could find, defines it as Forest Hills, Rego Park, Kew Gardens and Briarwood. But should we cast an even wider net? How about southeast to Richmond Hill and Jamaica? West to Elmhurst and even Jackson Heights?
Would anybody be interested in this? Would you like to contribute? What areas would you like to see covered? Is anybody there? (I would be so pleasantly surprised if I got any answers.)
I’ve now noticed this enough while perusing real-estate listings that it qualifies as a trend.
Let’s say an apartment is located on A Street and 1st Avenue. (All street names purely fictional.) There’s a subway stop called “B Street,” but it’s located on B Street and 10th. So in order to get there from your A and 1st apartment, you would have to walk one block down to B, then turn and walk nine blocks to 10th. Inevitably, dishonest real-estate agents will advertise this apartment as one block from the subway, because it’s one block from the same street where the subway is, at some other point, located.
On a related note, my favorite Craigslist trick is sneaking the name of a more-desirable neighborhood into a listing so it shows up in the search results. You’ll be searching for apartments in Chelsea, and you’ll find an ad for a studio in the South Bronx that says, “We also have apartments in Chelsea!”
Is it just me, or do all these hot new Web 2.0 firms seem really, well, boring? I don't want to use any of these sites. I've barely heard of any of them, either, and I'm generally pretty up on this stuff. Most of them are also nearly identical to sites or products that already exist. An unspectacular new feature or two does not a revolution make. Even in the case of something like Digg, our paths might — and do — cross here and there, but I'm not exactly rushing out to make it a daily visit.
I think "Web 2.0" can do better than this. Using my (nonexistent) local phone line to make cheap long-distance calls? C'mon.
I’m back here in New York after quite the cruise. Now that the wedlog is reaching the end of its usefulness — I continue to stall on the epic honeymoon post I promise I’ll write eventually, but after that, we’ll be pretty much done — I’m thinking about what I’m going to be doing blogwise from here on in. I figure I’ll probably revamp the old tiszenkel.com, start a new blog there. This wedding did a nice job of getting me back in a blogging mood, as has the ‘Burner and WordPress.com. I could make this my primary blog, but then it wouldn’t be the Backburner, now, would it? Besides, I’m going to need lots more customization than this allows. Stay tuned.