Monday, September 12, 2011

B'more Sports

Baseball season is over in Baltimore, as the Ravens are back in action. Don't get me wrong, I yearn for the day when we have two sports keeping us interested into October, but that day has not yet arrived.

Yesterday's complete domination by the Ravens over the Steelers was worth the wait. It was that good. The Ravens won 35 - 7, and it wasn't even that close. The Ravens created many turnovers, Ed Reed caught two interceptions and very nearly had three. Joe Flacco was composed as he always is. He threaded that first pass for a TD to Anquan Boldin, the coverage was actually pretty good. It is fantastic that he has enough confidence in his ability to do that.

The crowd noise was also a factor causing a delay of game penalty at one point. At one point I could clearly hear a "Steelers suck" chant, which might not be the the classiest thing that Ravens fans could do, but that's football in Baltimore and I am not about to apologize for it. We are who we are.

After the game when Joe Flacco was asked how it felt to finally beat Ben Rothlisberger, he replied, "I don't play Ben Rothlisberger." That is true, he doesn't, they are not on the field at the same time, this is a team sport and one man does not make or break any team (with the exception of the Colts, apparently).

Terrell Suggs became the all time leader in sacks for the Baltimore Ravens. He got three sacks on Big Ben yesterday. That is amazing, most teams have a very hard time bringing him down, he is a big, strong guy. Click on his name to see his classic sideline interview after the game.

Last but not least and never forgotten by any true Baltimore football fan, yesterday was the 9th anniversary of the death of Johnny Unitas. I would like to think he was also enjoying the show, on the big screen.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Places to go, People to see

The Babe Ruth Museum is located at 216 Emory Street in Baltimore, just blocks away from Camden Yards. The museum is located on a quiet residential street. It looks like your typical Baltimore row house. We were fortunate enough to be able to park right on the street. We walked in and didn't see anyone else except the two people working there. There is a small gift shop that you walk in to. When we were there, the Oriole game was on the TV. The woman working behind the counter told us that wherever we saw the hardwood floors we were in the original part of the house. The museum is a nice blend of the old, preserved part of the house and the more modern parts which house more modern displays.

The upstairs bedroom is nicely preserved. It is the bedroom where he was born. Apparently Babe Ruth's mother lived above a bar with her husband but did not want to give birth above the noisy bar, so when the time was near, she went to her parents' home to give birth with the help of a midwife.

There are some wonderful items on display including the Babe's rookie card. Cooperstown wishes they had that, but they don't. You have to come to Emory Street to see that.

This museum is quiet, and it is the kind of place where you can take your time and read every plaque and view every video and not feel like you are holding up a line of people behind you. You can also bring the kids and be in and out in 30 minutes.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Blue Moon Cafe

My daughter and I ate breakfast at the Blue Moon Cafe after reading some favorable reviews online. The Blue Moon is located in Fells Point at 1621 Aliceanna St. It is a tiny place. We walked in through the open door and were greeted promptly by a young man toward the back of the restaurant who motioned toward an available table right at the window.

The decor is...well, blue. The walls are blue, there really isn't much in the way of decor, it is simple, tiny, you're not there for the funky interior decorating, face it, you are there for the Cap'n Crunch French Toast. I did notice the fresh Stargazer lilies on the tables, a nice touch. Country music was piped in and there was a 70's movie trivia question on a white board.

Our drink orders were taken right away and the menus were delivered and water was brought without having to ask for it. After "checking in" on our cell phones, we had barely had enough time to review the menus when our waitress, and I am supposing the proprietor, came over to let us know about the specials and signature dishes. She let us know about something she calls "Sweet Baby Jesus", it sounded like you might need to swing by Hopkins for an EKG afterwards just to make sure. Anyway, I knew what I was there for but my daughter chose the Caramel Apple Pancakes and a side of hash browns and a cup of coffee. I selected the Cap'n Crunch French Toast and a side of bacon.

I was brought a piping hot cup of hot water with a mug full of assorted tea bags. Nice. There was cream on the table, sugar and various sugar substitutes also. My daughter really enjoyed the coffee and she never saw the bottom of her cup. The place seemed busy but the waitress never seemed overwhelmed and really seemed to enjoy her work.

My daughter's pancakes covered her rather large plate. Her hash browns covered most of another smaller plate. My french toast was a sight to behold. This place wants you to know that their fruit is fresh, they leave the tops on the strawberries to prove it. My french toast was was topped with lots of fresh fruit, blueberries, banana, strawberries and even kiwi, whipped cream too. The bacon was perfectly crisp.

We soon realized we were very fortunate to just walk in and get a table. That was a fluke. We watched many people walk in, sign in, and then walk back out into the drizzle to happily wait for their table. Not one person decided to go elsewhere.

The bathroom is co-ed, just like at home. It was satisfactorily clean and smelled fresh too. There were plenty of supplies.

My daughter needed a box, I somehow managed to finish mine.

This was a wonderful breakfast.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Canton is a very popular, trendy neighborhood in Baltimore. It is centered around O'Donnell Square which is home to several bars and restaurants as well as the very first branch of the Enoch Pratt Library which was opened in 1886 and has been in continual operation ever since.

Located in southeast Baltimore, bordered by the harbor on the south and Patterson Park on the North makes Canton an extremely attractive place to live. The neighborhood was created on the plantation of John O'Donnell by his son, Columbus and William Patterson. It was transformed into an industrial area with housing for the workers. This area became home to many Welsh, Irish, German and Polish immigrants in the 1900's.

There are so many great things to say about this neighborhood that I don't even know where to begin. First, there is the waterpark. There is the Canton Kayak Club at the waterpark. There is space there to just enjoy the views and the water. This is also where the water leg of the infamous Kinetic Sculpture Race takes place every spring. The waterfront is a funky mix of industrial and recreational areas. There are a few restaurants/bars on the water and there are rehabbed warehouses that have been turned into condos right on the water.

There is a dog park across the street where you can bring your pooch and let him off his leash.

There is also the Du Burns Arena where adults can join indoor winter sports league and which is also home to the Charm City Roller Girls roller derby team.

There is a mix of old and new in this neighborhood with new condos being built on empty lots, old warehouses turned into new livings spaces, and old rowhomes lovingly restored or renovated and modernized. This is also the neighborhood with rooftop decks, popular because of the harbor views and lack of usable outdoor space for barbecues and such. Canton was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. The neighborhood has become home to many young professionals but is still home to many people who have lived here all their lives. It is a very interesting mix and seems to work very well. You can still find painted screens which are unique to east Baltimore. They were originally intended to offer more privacy to the homeowner, especially before air conditioning, when we used to leave our windows open in hopes of a breeze in the sweltering summer months.

O'Donnell Square is the center of nightlife in Canton. My favorite restaurant here is the Claddagh Pub. It is an Irish Pub with a nice, white table clothed, quiet dining room attached. The food here is really good, I like the Chesapeake Chicken. There are other fine restaurants including Nacho Mamas which is festive, popular and serves Mexican food. O'Donnell Square is an actual park, there are statues, park benches and trees, but most people think of nightlife when they think of this place.

To the north is Patterson Park. This is actually a separate neighborhood so you will have to wait for the p's to learn more about it, but is a very large park and is just another advantage to living in Canton. Also on Eastern Avenue is Matthew's Pizza which has the very best pizza in Baltimore.

This is the neighborhood where NJG lived when I first met him. I have many fond memories of time spent here.
The average price of a home sold in Canton in 2007 was $311,078.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Ravens vs. Steelers

It will be a good game. I hope Big Ben remembers this:

Bart Scott Sacks Ben Roethlisberger Video

I thought I would post that little reminder, just in case he is one of my readers....

Anyway, it will not be a blowout even though we have the rookie quarterback. He is well protected and well coached. He has been able to gain confidence and has two wins against division rivals under his belt already. I don't think any team wants to beat the Ravens more than the Browns do, because of the history. All that want didn't help them last week.

I think the Steelers will miss their injured players more than the Ravens will miss theirs. We have been muddling through without Kelly Gregg, my favorite Raven, so far this year. I miss the guy though. Landry and Rolle will be missed for sure, but hopefully the rush will be on and Big Ben won't have a whole lot of options for throwing the ball down field.

It will be important for the Ravens to keep their cool. If I see Bart Scott or anyone else acting like a spoiled brat not getting his way in the schoolyard, I will not be a happy fan.

It will be important for Ed Reed to choose wisely when he has to decide whether to go for the big showboat play or stay in his assigned coverage position. Sometimes it pays off big for Ed to do what he does, sometimes....not so much.

I hope Cam Cameron has a few new plays up his sleeve especially for our first away game. I like what I have seen from him so far and I have to believe we have not yet seen it all yet.

It is crucial that Joe Flacco gets the protection he has so far enjoyed. I cannot believe the improvement in the offensive line this year. Flacco has proved to be a very cool customer and has made all the right decisions when his first choice doesn't pan out for him. I know we haven't seen a passing touchdown from him yet. I know he threw a couple of picks last week against the Browns, but he kept his head and his confidence and that is something new to the Ravens.

I think we will be able to run against the Steelers, but I don't know about wearing them down as easily as the Browns and Bengals seemed to get tired. It will be different playing in the ketchup field, the crowd will play a part and I wonder how Flacco will deal with that.

I hope that if Joe's family attends the game, they are wearing some serious Ravens gear. They have shown the family in the first two games and they all look like they are just in town to see the inner harbor or something. If my son played for the Ravens, I would wear purple every day, but especially AT THE GAME I would invest in a jersey.

Anyway, I am too chicken to predict a score. I think the game will be won by three points or less in either direction...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Kenneth Harris

OK, here's the thing. You know that the wonderful place I write about here has more than its share of problems. Perhaps you have seen the old program, Homicide: Life on the Streets, you have seen The Wire. You know what a crime ridden, drug infested city this place is and I am committed to sharing only the positive, or mostly the positive, I guess.

Kenneth Harris was a former Baltimore City Councilman. He was a father of two and a committed family man. He was 45 years old. He was born in the Park Heights neighborhood to a young, single mother. He attended local schools, receiving a degree from Morgan State University. He was dedicated to improving Baltimore. By all accounts he was the kind of person who said what he thought, even if it wasn't popular. He was committed to improving life for the residents of the city, but he never let his obligations to the city interfere with his obligations to his family. He went to watch his kids play sports. If there was a choice to be made, he chose his family.

Kenneth was gunned down senselessly, needlessly early Saturday morning. This is the kind of crime that happens all the time here, but there is just something about this one that really gets me. He stopped by the New Haven Lounge at around 1:30 am Saturday morning. The owner, Keith Covington, was a friend of his. Apparently, he was only there for about 15 minutes. The two friends were outside the bar, the owner walking his friend back to his car. They were surprised by three or four armed robbers wearing masks or bandannas. Ken tried to escape to his car. Mr. Covington heard a "pop" but didn't turn his head to see if his friend had been hit because there was a gun to his own head. He was shot once in the chest, through his car window. He managed to drive a short way and crashed his car in a grassy area. He was pronounced dead at Johns Hopkins. Keith Covington was robbed of about $1,200. The robbers escaped through the back door of the club. The owner managed to fire three shots at them from his own gun, but it appears he was not able to hit any of them. He checked out front to see if his friend had managed to get away and was relieved to see his car was gone.

The police have made no arrests. It is thought that the perpetrators are known to the area. It is also suspected that these men have robbed the popular jazz club before, in July.

NJG and I have been to this jazz club many times. It is a good little club in a strip shopping center that clearly has seen better days. The music is really good. We witnessed a charming marriage proposal there over the winter. The patrons and staff are friendly and welcoming. I have never felt unsafe, but then again, I just refuse to feel unsafe in my city. This is my city. This is my city. I won't be scared away. If decent people leave the city or stay shut up in their homes, then the few, and believe me they are few, indecent thugs get to rule, it just can't happen.

I don't know what the answer is. There will be a vigil. There will be a wake. There will be a huge funeral, I am sure. There is outrage. But what happens next? These thugs are staying somewhere and the "don't snitch" mentality that keeps our streets mean is working once again. Whoever is hiding these guys needs to just finally have enough. Ken Harris did nothing to deserve this end. He tried to be part of the solution. He was killed by the very same young men that he tried to help all his life.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Baltimore City neighborhood

This week we have Cameron Village. Cameron Village is a residential neighborhood in the northern part of the city. I really couldn't find much on it. My guess would be that it is completely residential, that there are rowhomes dating from the 40's.

The average sale price for a home in this neighborhood in 2007 was $125,146.