I was lucky enough to be asked to be part of the Twitter Twenty, a revolving group of tweeters that take part in conversations as part of Cleveland.com’s and The Plain Dealer’s initiative to use social media more effectively. Each group is asked to be active in the topics that Cleveland.com chooses for a month, with a new topic starting every Tuesday. All we have to do is tag our tweets with #CLE20 so people can see our opinions and join in on the conversation. Our tweets are featured on page A2 each Friday. It’s a win/win for us and for the paper and website, the Plain Dealer and Cleveland.com get to showcase their efforts of embracing social media and we get our twitter names and bios in the paper, which helps to build followers and traffic for our blogs, sites, businesses. From the Indians’ efforts with the Tribe Social Deck (See @Tribetalk for a chance to spend a great day at Progressive Field), to Cleveland.com’s and The PD’s reaching out to twitter users, to the way that great restaurants around town have used to twitter and facebook to build customer bases, Cleveland has been on the forefront of social media for a couple years now.
A few days ago, Alana Munro (or @dawgpndgirl, as I had always known her), who works for Cleveland.com and helped put together the Twitter Twenty idea, invited the people who were part of the group to a St. Patrick’s Day parade watch party at the Plain Dealer building in downtown Cleveland. Well… let me think… Yes. I thought it would be a great idea to invite a friend, so after talking to a couple of people, I ended up making plans with a co-worker of mine, Tom. Tom and I decided to meet at Nick’s on Prospect at 10am. The party started at noon, so meeting at ten would leave us plenty of time to hang out for a few and make it to PD building.
I walked into Nick’s, and as I was shaking Tom’s hand and sitting down, the bartender walked over and started pouring shots of Jameson. (Sonofabitch, Tom) I’m pretty sure they had this whiskey ambush planned. So, we drank. I saw some friends there, and as I was standing by them doing the “Hey, how ya doin?” thing, the bartender handed me more Jameson. (Sonofabitch, Tom) I looked down the bar and saw Tom waving his empty glass. Tom can’t be left alone in a crowded bar, he’ll just start doing shots with strangers, all willy nilly. I would have been OK, but then my friend brought over Jell-O shots (Sorry, Nick’s, I know they weren’t officially sanctioned Jell-O shots, but there was no way I could say no.) The Jell-O shots turned into more beer, and then it was time to go.
At this point, Tom looked at me and said, “Josh, I’m drunk. I have no idea what happened.” What happened was Tom. That’s all I can say. The guy is a big, stable and professional looking bad influence. That’s why I invited him.
We needed the walk from Prospect and E 4th to Superior and E 18th and the stop for lunch at Subway to clear our heads a little bit. I was pretty much back to normal when we went walking around CSU looking for a bathroom. (That was a harrowing 10 minutes. I was to the point where Tom was rationalizing just sneaking over to that stand of trees over there. He almost had me convinced that a citation for public intoxication on St. Patrick’s Day is a rite of passage. (Sonofabitch, Tom))
We made it to the Plain Dealer building 88% sober, and walked into the coolest place I’ve ever watched a parade from. Up on the second floor balcony I met @ClevelandChick, @KaseyCrabtree and @crookdriverwmn from the Twitter Twenty and @JanetCho , @MargBern and @GloriaJMillner from the PD. Did you catch that? From the Plain Dealer. That’s straight awesomesauce for me. I’m like a column groupie.
Here’s the thing, though, no matter how much cool conversation is going on (and there was, everywhere), I see that many people and want to go play. Luckily, @ClevelandChick (Tracy), @KaseyCrabtree (Kasey) and Tom are good sports and let me talk them into going down to the Cleveland Indians van and walk some of the parade route with them. We took some pictures, made nice with the group behind the Indians who were walking their Irish Wolfhounds in the parade, and waited to start walking. Mustard, Onion and Slider were pretty much OK with anything, but after the first block, Ketchup was giving us the stink eye. Tracy and I peeled off, but Kasey and Tom ignored Ketchup’s cold shoulder and disappeared down the parade route. Kasey showed back up at the PD about a half hour later, she said they made it four more blocks before they split off from the parade themselves. I didn’t see Tom again for a while.
Soon after the parade crashing, the party began breaking up. Tracy and I decided that one more beer was in order. We began our trek back to the Gateway district along the parade route, and got a text from Tom on the way. So, we met back at Nick’s for one last beer. I probably broke a bottle of Corona, and I think Tom may have dropped my empty Coors Light and sent it to its disastrous demise, but these things are unsubstantiated rumors.
At the beginning of the day I tweeted, “First time downtown on a weekday in a long time. This is the year I find out if I truly am too old for this.” Well, I am and I’m not. I drank like a fish, walked off a whiskey drunk at 11:30 in the morning, managed to act like an adult at noon and still somehow ended up sitting at home by 4:30. I may even stay up until 10:00 tonight, too.
Ain’t youth grand?
On a more serious note, a million “Thank you”s to Alana, Cleveland.com, The Plain Dealer, and to everyone that was there and treated us all like friends. If we met and I didn’t mention you here, believe that it’s not because I don’t remember our encounter, I was just preoccupied by being my own nerdy version of starstruck. (And the Jameson. Don’t forget that. Sonofabitch, Tom)