Thursday, December 27, 2007

Be There or Be Square, Hon

From NJG:

Be There or B2

Ports America New Year’s Eve Spectacular: Largest fireworks show at the Inner Harbor this Millennium, with music by the Players Band starting at 9 pm - FREE

Mars Observation Nights: Mars in now closer to the earth and brighter than it’s gonna be until 2020. Get a front row view (weather permitting) at the Crosby Ramsey Memorial Observatory at the Maryland Science Center, Thursday-Saturday nights, 5:30 – 9:30 pm; 601 Light Street – FREE

For Jazz in Charm City:

3081: Trumpet, reeds, double bass and drums at An Die Musik, 409 Charles St., Saturday 8 pm, $12
Todd Marcus Quartet at New Haven Lounge, 1552 Havenwood Rd., Friday, 9-ish
Phil Cunneff Trio, every Monday night at the Cats Eye, in Fells Point
Paul Wingo Trio, great guitar, every Tuesday night, and this week for a jazzy New Year’s Eve at Bertha’s, also in Fells Point.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Be There or Be Square

OK, so where else will you all be this weekend besides ...the mall I guess.

Apparently the Lafayette Gilchrist concert that I said was at the New Haven Lounge last weekend is this weekend. I blame Kyle for this error. If I can get my shopping done and just skip the whole wrapping idea, maybe I can make it.

Don't forget our local shops in Baltimore. We may not have the big department stores anymore but we have some wonderful local shops in our neighborhoods and we must support these ventures before they all disappear too. Harbor East looks like it has an interesting selection of shops as does Hampden and don't forget to stop by the local diner while you are out and have a nice shopping lunch at someplace that does not have a drive up window for a change.

This just in from NJG:

Hey, need ideas for today's blog?

Lafayette Gilchrist at the Haven (for real this time)

Eddie Palmieri Trio and An Die Musik

Celtic Concert and Cake Auction at Govans Presbyterian Church, 7:30

Saturday Christmas at the Jewish Museum of Maryland

The Holiday Display at the Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory and Botanic Garden of Baltimore

......and my favorite: Unsilent Night....this is a thing they do in NYC...didn't know it made it to Balmer: "Written by downtown NYC composer Phil Kline, Unsilent Night is an outdoor ambient music piece for an infinite number of boom boxes. Participants should meet at the south side of the Washington Monument near the Peabody Conservatory of music an 7:45 pm. All music is distributed for free. The more boom boxes there are, the more :voices: in the piece. If you do not have a boom box, you are still an important part of the procession, because the more the merrier, including children. 8 pm, Dec 21."

What would I do without NJG?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

swimmin pools? movie stars?

Yup, that's right it's Beverly Hills. I had no idea there was a Beverly Hill neighborhood in Charm City until I saw it on my neighborhood list.

Apparently, it is located on the east side, not far from Herring Run Park. The neighborhood was established in 1929. it is a quiet residential neighborhood. There is an active neighborhood association. There are approximately 275-300 homes, mostly single family homes in the English cottage or bungalow style.
The average sale price of a home in this neighborhood in 2006 was $188,830.
Next up, Biddle Street.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Baltimore Holiday Memories

I usually do not get personal on this blog but today I feel much more like sharing a holiday memory than talking about the Ravens woes or the steroid in baseball issue. Hey, it's my blog, I can do what I want.

So my maternal grandmother would take us three grandchildren downtown just before Christmas every year. She never got a driver's license, so this meant a long, chilly walk for her down to the bus stop on Patapsco Ave, and a transfer downtown to get to our house. We thought it was a treat to ride the MTA bus with Grandma because we never used the bus. This was back in the mid seventies. There was a cord that had to be pulled when our bus stop was coming up to let the driver know we wanted to get off. We all wanted our turn ringing that bell and making the bus stop.

We would head for Howard Street. This used to be the place to shop. We used to have local department stores in Baltimore. We now have none since Hecht Co. sold out to Macy's last year. We would hurry with anticipation to see the displays in the huge plate glass windows of these stores. There was Hutzler's, Hecht's, Hochschild Kohn and Stewarts. These huge departments stores were all on Howard Street at or near Lexington Street.

They were huge, my favorite being Hutzler's. Hutzler's had the Neo-Classical designed "Palace" building and the Art-Deco tower building. This store was established in 1858 and remained the last local department store in downtown Baltimore, finally closing its doors in February of 1989. This local retail giant once occupied 325,000 square feet of space in downtown. My aunt worked for them in the engineering room starting during World War II when the men who once did that kind of work were off to war. She continued in that position even after the men returned, right up until she retired.

Hochschild Kohn was a remarkably beautiful building too. It occupied the northwest corner of Howard and Lexington Streets.

We would anxiously wait our turn to press our faces up to the huge plate glass windows to see the Christmas displays. I remember little animated monkeys who played musical instruments and other Christmas scenes meant to appeal to kids. Imagine, a big plate glass window, usually displaying the latest fashions on mannequins, being used just to entertain kids. If there was anything in those windows that were displayed for the purpose of holiday advertising, I sure don't remember it. The scenes were all magical and greatly anticipated each year. I only wish I had something like this to share with my own children.

We would shop in the grand stores for presents for our parents. We would stop and see Santa and perhaps see the train garden too, although I can't remember where that was.

We would always stop in at Read's Drugstore for a treat, maybe an ice cream sundae. Then Grandma would take us back to the burbs with our treasures on the number 20 bus.

These grand stores started closing their downtown locations in the late 70's, favoring the suburban shopping mall. Eventually they all went out of business and now there are no local giant department stores and no Read's Drugstore either.

I realize as I write this, I am starting to sound like an old person.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Be There or Be Square, Hon

This weekend seems full of interesting opportunities.

Tonight at Floristree, 405 W. Frnaklin St. - Sublime Frequencies Movie Night with Hisham Mayet. OK, I admit I really do not know what this is about and have never heard of this Floristree venue either. I don't even know what time it starts, but if I were looking for something different on a Thursday evening, this is where I would be.

Friday and Saturday night at the New Haven Lounge, Baltimore native, Lafayette Gilchrist will be performing. I have been wanting to go see him for months now but it is always one thing or another preventing me.

Saturday afternoon from 11-3 you can make your own sock monkey at AVAM. Just bring your own clean sock and the museum will provide the other materials. What could be better than that? It could be that perfect gift for that person on your list that has everything.

Sunday at noon, head down to the Walters Art Museum for a free concert by the Baltimore Choral Arts Society Chamber Chorus. You can even sing along.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Berea is located in the eastern part of the city. It includes Baltimore Cemetery to the north, and is bordered by Edison Highway on the east, E. Oliver Street on the south and N. Montford Ave on the west. Most of the homes have front and rear yards. Seems this interesting masonry on the front steps is common. It is a quiet residential neighborhood for the most part.

Baltimore Cemetery was voted Best Cemetery in 2003 by City Paper. It's not so much that there are great monuments or famous people laid to rest here, but more the dramatic entrance from North Avenue. If you are riding a bus on North Avenue and you look out the front window, you see the imposing gates which seem to open right up the the sky. Once inside, it is just a sea of graves. I remember riding that bus for a few years in the early 80's when I lived on that side of town and wondering if the cemetery was designed that way or was it just the way it turned out. It is the final resting place of actor Norman Chaney who played "Chubby" in the early episodes of the "Our Gang" series.

There is not much information about this residential neighborhood. There seems to be no neighborhood association. The homes are two story, brick row homes. There has been some investing/renovating efforts.

The average sale price for a home in Berea in 2006 was $74,659.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Born in Baltimore

Bessie Wallis Warfield was born in Baltimore on June 19, 1896. her life seemed to be scandalous from the start as she was born only seven months after her parents were married. This caused quite a stir in Baltimore high society where her father was a successful business man.
She stopped using her first name because she thought there were too many cows named Bessie. She was married the first time in 1916 to a sadistic alcoholic. She was divorced from him in 1927.
She wasn't single for long. She met and married a British-American man named Ernest Simpson. That is when she became known as Wallis Simpson, the name we remember her as. After the marriage, she became part of English society and met Edward, Prince of Wales, at a house party which was given by his mistress.
He was charming and the world's most eligible bachelor. She was 34 years old, married, and not considered beautiful but rather seductive. I think she was the original Charm City Girl!! By 1934 the prince was a regular guest in the Simpson home and is said to have told her aunt, "It requires tact to manage both men. I shall try to keep them both." But, soon the affair took its toll on the Simpson marriage.
Although Edward was known to have had many mistresses, he was obsessed with Wallis. He was even characterized as her "lapdog" by some. In 1936, Prince Edward became King Edward VIII. The king's affair with Mrs. Simpson was widely known and not approved of by the church and other governmental officials who warned the King that he could not be married to a twice divorced woman.
Although Wallis was often portrayed as a woman who wanted to marry the King, there was a paper written by her in which she states she is no longer interested in marrying him. She often felt his dependence upon her was a burden and made her feel claustrophobic. She wrote in a letter to her uncle,"How can a woman be a whole empire to a man?"
On December 11, 1936, the king abdicated his throne saying, " I could not discharge the duties of King as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love." They were married on June 3, 1937 at Chateau de Cande in France, after Mrs. Simpson's divorce was final. The former king was then given the title Duke of Windsor although his wife, the Duchess, was not allowed the title of "Royal Highness".
The couple traveled through Europe extensively, apparently befriending Adolph Hitler. It was said to have been planned for Edward to be made a puppet king of the UK if Hitler had succeeded in winning World War II. When Churchill got wind of that plan, he wisely made Edward the governor of the Bahamas, to get him out of Europe.
In 1956 Wallis' autobiography, The Heart has its Reasons, was published. Her husband died in Paris on may 28, 1972. Wallis died on April 24, 1986 and she was laid to rest at the royal burial ground at Windsor, right beside her husband.

Monday, December 10, 2007

B'more Sports

I went to the Ravens/Colts game last night. I go to a game with my brother every year and this was my game. We got there in time to tailgate. We saw people we hadn't seen in a year or so. That, unfortunately was the highlight of CCG's evening.

There was only one "pat down" line for females where we entered the stadium so he had a lengthy wait for me. I guess they think women are too delicate to come out into the elements to see a football game.

We made our way to our seats and didn't even had a chance to get a sip of beer before we were in trouble. 21 -0 in the first quarter is pretty tough to take. Of course we were once again without either of our starting cornerbacks for whatever reason. The Colts knew how to take advantage. It started raining. It was just awful.

We did get to witness Troy Smith's first NFL touchdown as he rushed for one late in the game to at least get our score up to 20. 44-20, wet, cold, miserable.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Places to go, People to see

Gotta go to Hampden, Hon.

You can't properly celebrate Christmas in Baltimore without a visit to Hampden's own West 34th St. It is Miracle on 34th Street, Baltimore style. This block has been decked out in a major way for many years. This whole block gets together and coordinates the decorating. They string lights across the street. They have everything from the traditional to the bizarre.

I read a story in the newspaper a few years ago about a homeowner on the block who received the decorations that went with his house at the mortgage closing.

Not only are the streets decorated, some of these homeowners invite the public into their homes for more. You never know what you might see. There may be caroling, Santa may make an appearance.

It is wonderful, it is a grassroots effort, and it is a must see.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Be There or Be Square, Hon

Happening this weekend:

The Baltimore School for the Arts will be performing their newly choreographed version of The Nutcracker at the Myerhoff on December 8th at 11 am. I am sure it will be very good and when you see it you will be amazed that these are high school students performing, high school students from a Baltimore City Public School.

December 9th is the annual cookie tour in historic Union Square. If I can manage it, I will be there. The tour starts at noon. the tickets are $15.00 and for that you get some homemade holiday cookies and a tour of some beautiful historic homes that are all decked out for the holidays. This tour even includes H.L.Mencken's Baltimore home. He was a famous Baltimore journalist in his time. His home is not usually open to the public. Should be a real treat.

Finally, the Indianapolis Colts come to Baltimore for Sunday night football. I will be there. It will be hard for me to see those Colt uniforms on the field in Baltimore but I am going with my brother who takes me to a game every year. It was either the Colts or the Steelers and with the way my Ravens are playing I don't think I have the stomach for Pittsburgh fans in my city. So I will brave the elements.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


They say a picture can say a thousand words. In the case of Bellona-Gittings that will just have to suffice. There isn't much out there on the internet about Bellona-Gittings. It is a quiet, residential community located in the northern section of Baltimore City. Nothing about this neighborhood says "urban" for sure. There are 265 homes most are single family, colonial style or perhaps Tudor style. It is a predominantly white neighborhood. I think it is beautiful in that safe, clean, Beaver Cleaver kind of way.

The average sale price of a home sold in this neighborhood for the year 2006 was $577,842.

Monday, December 3, 2007

B'More Sports

Ah yes, another reprieve, the Ravens play tonight.

Anyway, in other news, there was an exciting football game in town on Saturday. It was the 108th Army-Navy football game. The stadium was full and there was much excitement as both teams march over into the stadium. It looked like a good time. It is almost like a Navy home game, being so close to the Naval Academy.

Navy won 38 - 3. They have won the last six years in a row and 52 of the 108 contests. Army has won 49 and there have been 7 ties.

Now tonight the Patriots are favored by 19. If I were a betting girl, I'd take those points. I'd say there is no way the Pats beat the Ravens that bad, at home, in this wind. They won't be able to do it with the passing game alone unless the wind completely ides down before the game. It is seriously windy. Also, let me go on record as saying that it would not surprise me in the least if the Ravens win this game. It would be just like them to kick the Patriots butt and then lose the remainder of the season.

I'm just saying is all.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


This lovely neighborhood is located on the east side of Herring Run Park in the northeast section of Baltimore City. On the map, it almost looks like a little appendage to the Belair-Edison neighborhood, but there are many single family homes.

It is a residential neighborhood comprised of single family or duplex homes. It's tree lined, quiet streets look like an inviting place to call home.

There is a variety of architecture to be found, some brick duplexes, some bungalows and cape cods. Some are in immaculate condition and others are in need of attention.

There are fewer than 200 homes here, mostly owner occupied.

The average sale price for a home in 2006 was $103,000 and only two homes were sold in Belair-Parkside in that year.

Monday, November 26, 2007

B"more sports

OK, I'm dying here. I have nothing. I can't even bear to write the score here so just don't make me do it. My Ravens are losing. They are beating themselves. I don't think they could win if they played no one.

I just can't write about it.

Forgive me.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Places to go, people to see

Paper Moon Diner is not to be missed. Located on 29th Street in Baltimore, the Paper Moon Diner is open 24 hours a day. It's a popular spot to go late at night, which is the only time I have been there. I can't really imagine being there during the day. Anyway, don't worry about missing it as you drive by. If you have been drinking and you drive past without noticing it, that is a big clue that you have had way too much to drink. Pull over and call a cab. You will be greeted by mannequins in the shrubbery and maybe a bathroom fixture or two.
Inside the decor is more of the same. There are doll heads wathcing you eat from the ceiling, and other toys and brightly colored, seen better days, items. Your menu will be in a story book. Your waiter or waitress will not be your waiter or waitress. Everyone working there serves everyone eating there and it looks like they just wear whatever they want to work.
The food, oh yeah, the food, they do serve food here. And it's good. I ordered scrambled eggs, bacon, has browns and toast. I ordered tea and was pleasntly surpirsed that they offer a variety of teas. The waitstaff seems very casual about what they are doing but actually is very knowledgeable and helpful. NJG ordered something other than breakfast, it may have been something in a tortilla, not sure, but he liked it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A take on Belair-Edison

Belair -Edison is located in the northeast section of Baltimore City. Established in the 1940's, the neighborhood was once home to Brehm's Brewery, which occupied 624 acres around Erdman Avenue and Brehm's Lane. Breweries were common industries in northeast Baltimore in the 1800's. Eventually the neighborhood became known as the Village of Georgetown and then Belair-Edison. There are approximately 7,500 mostly red brick row homes in this neighborhood with two blocks of semi-detached and single family homes. The homes found west of Brehm's Lane are the oldest in the neighborhood, dating back to the early 30's, to the east of Brehm's lane the homes were built mostly in the 50's. The last homes built here were in the northeast section which had been land where residents had once planted victory gardens.

The homes vary in width from 17 to 22 feet wide and you can find 2 to 4 bedrooms. The architecture varies block by block, as is common in the city. Some of the homes have garages.

Today the neighborhood is a culturally diverse mix of white and blue collar workers from all walks of life. It is common to find neighbors chatting on their covered front porches or over the back yard fence. All the homes in this neighborhood have front lawns and back yards.

Belair-Edison is one of the greenest neighborhoods in the city with the 300 acre Herring Run Park to the north and Clifton Park to the south and Lake Montebello just a short walk away.

Herring Run Park is a popular place to bring the kids to the playground. It was also voted the best place in the city to take a run in City Paper's annual "Best of" edition of 2007.

Clifton Park has tennis courts and an 18 hole golf course. There are also community garden plots, and the Clifton Park Mansion.

There is a popular track around Lake Montebello that is 1.25 miles and is used by runners, walkers, bikers and roller bladers alike.
The community association is active and there are incentive programs for home buyers who are interested in investing in the community.
The average sale price of a home in this neighborhood for the year 2006 was $106,044.
Next week we visit Belair-Parkside.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Born in Baltimore

George Herman Ruth, Jr. was born in Baltimore on February 6, 1895. He was the son of German immigrants who worked long hours and had little time for child rearing. When he was seven years old they sent him to the St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys, a reform school and orphanage, and signed custody over to the Catholic missionaries who ran the school. Ruth spent the next twelve years at that school, rarely visited by his family.

It was at the school that he learned to play baseball. Brother Mathias took young Ruth under his wing and taught him the game, coaching him in fielding, batting and even pitching. It is to be noted that while Ruth wrote with his right hand, he batted and threw left handed.

In 1914 Jack Dunn, of the Baltimore Orioles, then a minor league team, discovered Ruth and signed him to a contract. Because Ruth was only 19 at the time, Dunn had to have custody of Ruth so he could enter into the contract. The other players called him "Jack's newest babe" and that nickname stuck with him for the rest of his life.

Ruth eventually landed with the Boston Red Sox as a starting pitcher with a winning record. He eventually moved to the outfield position and first base in order to be able to bat every day. In 1919 he was sold to the New York Yankees. The Red Sox were said to have been cursed by the sale of Babe Ruth to the Yankees, "The Curse of the Bambino" that was not lifted until they finally won the World Series in 2004.

Babe Ruth became the first American sports celebrity and is credited with the great rise of the popularity of baseball in the 1920's. He was well known for his charity off the field but also his reckless and hedonistic behavior. Ruth set several baseball records, including the home run record of 714 which was long considered unbreakable. He is still regarded by most as the best player ever.

Babe Ruth died of cancer on August 16, 1948. His body lied in state at Yankee Stadium as the entire country mourned the loss. His boyhood home on Emory Street in Baltimore is now the Babe Ruth Museum and is located quite close to Camden Yards.

Monday, November 19, 2007

B'More Sports

What can I say? I guess all I can say is, it is good for my mental health that I had already written off this season for the Ravens, so it's not like I was still clinging to hope for a playoff spot at yesterday's game. Yes, yesterday I was actually at the game.

It was NJG's first regular season Ravens game and I wanted to give him the full experience. Well, be careful what you wish for because he sure got that. First up was tailgating. We parked far away because I don't like to pay $22.oo to park a car. But I think he would have preferred to pay since he was carrying the beer. As luck had it though, it was perfect. It was great to walk and see the trickle of purple jerseys heading in the same direction. I enjoy walking past Camden Yards and seeing the baseball diamond and remembering the games I got to go to over the summer. We could hear the Raven's Marching Band as we were walking and it was getting us excited for the game. The sound was getting closer and closer and it turns out they were marching right towards us, playing some Christmas music. We walked down the Raven's Walk toward the football stadium, crossed over the bridge and headed toward Sharp St., made a left at Ostend and found my brother's tailgate spot. Once we hit the Ravens walk we cracked open our breakfast beer (Youngs Double Chocolate Stout) and got in the proper mindset.

The game was interesting to say the least. I have never seen a ref use the excuse that there was an equipment malfunction and the play could not be reviewed. We had already seen the replay on the big screen, what was the problem? Anyway, that was nothing compared to the field goal that wasn't and then was after review, never mind that a field goal is not a reviewable play.... We had left the stadium and paused at a big screen outside to learn that the field goal was now suddenly good. We hustled back to the stadium for overtime and watched the Ravens lose it from the 50 yard line.

The highlight of the game for me was seeing Ray Lewis make a defensive touchdown, one of his many but perhaps it will be one of his last too, you never know these things.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Places to go, People to see

The Baltimore Museum of Art is a worthwhile trip. The museum is open Wednesdays through Sundays and general admission is free. They do have some special exhibits for which there is a fee.

The museum began in 1914 with a single object at a temporary location. It quickly grew and became a popular attraction. Architect, John Russell Pope was hired to design the current museum which is located between the neighborhoods of Remington and Charles Village. The current building opened to the public in 1929.

The museum is home to 90,000 works of art including the largest holding of Henri Matisse in the world. The collection also includes works by Picasso, Cezanne and van Gogh. The museum is known for its collection of contemporary art and includes several pop art works of Andy Warhol.

The Cone Sister's collection was donated to the museum in the 50's. That is one of my favorite rooms of the museum and includes a virtual tour of what the Cone sister's apartment looked like with all that art in it. Cool and interactive, but also a hot spot for unruly kids in need parental supervision last time I was there.

There is also a sculpture garden on the grounds covering nearly 3 acres.

Gertrude's is the restaurant on site and in the summer time I understand there are Jazz events there, but I haven't made it yet.

There is also an auditorium hosting special events such as movies, concerts, etc.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Be There or Be Square

On the surface, it may look like there is just not much going on around Charm City this weekend. Being the weekend before what seems to be a very early Thanksgiving this year, perhaps people like myself should take this opportunity to do the grocery shopping and rest up for the days of cooking ahead. But noooo, I don't wanna miss what is going on this weekend.

Take another look, The Oranges Band and Karmella's Game are performing at Charm City Art Space 7:30 pm. OK, so I have never heard of Karmella's Game and have never been to Charm City Art Space, and the last time I heard The Oranges Band, they were missing a couple of key elements, but I still love them. I have read a little bit about about Charm City Art Space, sounds pretty cool, all ages are welcome, no smoking is allowed. So if you are into that sort of vibe, enjoy, if you are more like me then...

Head on over to the Recher Theater in Towson for the much anticipated return of Landis in The Almighty Senators. Landis had a successful kidney transplant over the summer and is now ready to perform once again. The Senators play rock/blues. Check it out. Joining the Senators is Kelly Bell Band. Always entertaining and playing what they call "Phat Blues", no white people, that is not a spelling error. Finally, also joining the party is JAH Works, reggae, mon. Well, their own special brand of reggae anyway. Doors open at 7.

Finally, on Sunday there is a Ravens game. "Ravens?" you ask, "But Charm City Girl, I thought you said they were done." You are right, they are done, but I'm not. I haven't been to a regular season game yet this season and I am not going to let a little thing like losing stop me from having a good time. The tailgating at a Ravens game is the best in the nation. Spirits might be low, but the beer bottles will be raised high as we all gab about what should and should not be done to fix this team and start dreaming about the spring draft. So, Ravens vs. Browns, be there or be square.

Suggestions from NJG:

It has been suggested that this would be a wonderful weekend to visit the farmer's market. The 32nd Street Farmers' Market is open all year, every Saturday from 7 am til noon. The Baltimore Farmers' Market is open on Sundays from 8 am til noon on Saratoga Street between Gay and Holliday (under the JFX). This market runs through December 23rd. These markets are in full swing and could be a place to find fresh fruits and veggies for a perfect Thanksgiving or even a gift for a hard to buy for person on your holiday shopping list.

Also, Automatic Slim plays Kooper's Tavern in Fells Point on Friday at 6pm for Happy Hour. They are a well known, well loved Blues band. How could I have missed it?

Thanks, NJG

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


The neighborhood of Beechfield is located in the southwestern part of the city. The western acreage was once the estate known as Cloud Capped in the 18th century owned by Charles Carroll. Legend has it that residents were able to see the British fleet heading towards Fort McHenry in 1814 and sent a messenger to warn the city.

In the 30's Loudon Park National Cemetery was reaching its limit. It was decided that the city would take possession of Cloud Capped and turn it into the 72.2 acre Baltimore National Cemetery. The mansion was demolished in 1937 and a Federal Revival style Superintendent's Lodge was erected using salvaged materials from the mansion. A Tudor Revival style Assistant Superintendent's Lodge was also built about the same time. The cemetery was dedicated on Memorial Day of 1941.

The rest of the neighborhood is a quiet residential neighborhood.

Average sale price of a home in Beechfield in 2006 was $146,413.

Next week - Belair-Edison

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Born In Baltimore

Barry Levinson was born in Baltimore on April 6, 1942. He graduated from Forest Park Senior High and attended American University in Washington DC.

He started out as a writer on such shows as The Marty Feldman Comedy Machine, The Tim Conway Show and The Carol Burnett Show.

He moved on to screenwriting movies in the seventies with Silent Movie (1976), High Anxiety (1977), And Justice For All (1979). He made a cameo appearance in High Anxiety as a bellboy. And Justice For All was one of Al Pacino's first movies and was set in Baltimore.

He is well known for a series of films set in Baltimore beginning with Diner(1982), Tim Men (1987) starring Danny DiVito and Richard Dreyfuss (I got to see some of the filming of this one), Avalon (1990), and Liberty Heights(1999). He wrote and directed these films and also produced the last two. His biggest hit was undoubtedly Rain Man, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Director. He also directed The Natural and Good Morning Vietnam. He produced a film in 1996, Sleepers, which was a haunting film.

As if he hasn't done enough in film, he has also produced some pretty fantastic TV. Homicide: Life on the Street, a gritty crime drama based in Baltimore. This series ran from 1993 - 1999 and was filmed differently from any TV show I had ever seen. It was critically acclaimed, it's not just me. Also, HBO's series, OZ, which I have never seen.

I can see my life in his films and I can see my city there too.

Monday, November 12, 2007

B'More Sports

Ravens lost to the last place team in the division, the Cincinati Bengals. This was the second loss to this team this year and makes the Ravens 0 - 4 in the division. Can it get any worse? Well, tune in next week and we will see. I just don't have the heart to write about any other sports news today.

Sorry for the short post.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Places to Go, People to See

The Hippodrome Theater is a treasure and a must see. Designed by Thomas Lamb, a prominent theatre architect, the theater opened for business on November 23, 1914 as a movie house which also hosted vaudeville performances. The theater seated 3,000 and had a weekly attendance of 30,000. Sound for the performances was provided by piano, an organ, and an orchestra.

In 1931 a huge marquee was added and new seats. At the time the theater had three price levels, 25 cents before noon, 35 cents from noon til 6, and 50 cents after 6pm. It was the period between 1931 and the 50's that the theater was most successful, becoming one of the most popular vaudeville houses in the country. Performers such as Bobe Hope, Jack Benny and Red Skelton perfomred at this theater. It is the place where Frank Sinatra first appeared with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. The theater maintained a house orchestra into the 50's. The last stage show was performed in 1959.

The theater underwent a major renovation in 1963 in preparation for the regional premiere of Cleopatra. In 1969 it hosted the world premiere of Slaves.

During the 70's and 80's the Hippodrome was the last theater showing movies in downtown Baltimore and attendance declined severely. The theater closed it's doors in 1990.

The theater has been lovingly restored to it's former beauty. I went not long after it reopened to see an off Broadway production of The Producers. It is just a majestic theater. They have done a wonderful job with the restoration.

The theater is currently showing My Fair Lady.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Be There or Be Square, Hon

The Opera Maria Stuarda (Mary Stuart) opens this weekend on the 10th at 8:15 pm. There are also performances on November 14th at 7:30 pm, November 16th at 8:15 pm and November 18th at 3pm. I don't think I have ever been to the Lyric Opera House, at least I cannot remember a time. I have always wanted to see an opera just so I can know if I like it or not. One of my favorite movies is Moonstruck and I just love how Cher's character is so moved by her opera experience, so I imagine having a similar reaction myself. Who knows. The opera is about the cousin feud (British version of Hatfields & McCoys?) between Mary Queen of Scots and Queen Elizabeth I. From what I can gather, Lizzy I wins this one as Mary loses her head in the end. It is an Italian opera with English surtitles. I love the way the Italian language sounds. I remember watching Life is Beautiful with the subtitles and when it came on TV and it was dubbed in English, it just lost all appeal for me.

Ani DiFranco is performing at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall on Saturday the 10th. I must admit to not knowing who this is, but I know someone who loves her and that is good enough of a recommendation to me on a slow weekend.

The Athenian Agora Greek Festival takes place Friday, November 9th and Saturday November 1oth at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral on Preston Street (can't miss it, it's round with a big dome). There will be traditional Greek dancing and Greek martinis. What more could you want on a blustery November weekend?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Barre Circle

This is a gem of a neighborhood located on the west side of the city, quite near the stadium complex and not far from the inner harbor area. It is a tiny neighborhood consisting of less than 120 homes. This neighborhood is a historic district and was homesteaded in the 1980's. The houses were built between 1840 - 1890, during a time when industry was booming and houses were being quickly built to serve as homes for the laborers who were moving here. They are modest, unadorned, brick rowhomes that are 12-15 feet wide, two to three stories high.

This neighborhood is sometimes referred to as "Little Georgetown". There are interesting renovations and gardens. Some of these homes have big backyards. There are two large common areas where there are daffodils planted by the residents and where annual croquet tournaments are held.

There are many professionals who work right at University Center and live in this neighborhood. There is an active community association and it is a racially and culturally diverse area.
The average sale price of a home in this neighborhood for the year 2006 was $231,000 and there were only five sales.
Next week we will be going to Beechfield.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Born in Baltimore

A.A. Bodine was born in Baltimore on July 21, 1906. He attended St. Paul's Bays' School until the 8th grade when he left the school because he felt it was too expensive for his parents yet he loved the school so much that he didn't want to go anywhere else.

So at the age of 14 he became a messenger for the Sunpapers, earning $8.00 a week. He took an interest in art and started helping the artists complete the detail work that they didn't have the time to do. Eventually he started going out with the photographers to help them carry their equipment. One of the photographers was not all that interested in it and let Aubrey actually shoot the pictures. When one of the photographers was injured by an explosion of the flash powder, Aubrey was able to step right into his place while he was in the hospital recovering. In the fall of 1923 he submitted two pictures of the Thomas Viaduct and they were published in the Sunday Sun. He was only 17 years old. This was the beginning of his long career as a photographer.

He didn't like to talk about his early years and his humble beginnings with the Sunpapers as a messenger. He wanted people to believe that he started his career as a commercial photographer with the Sun.

He was a very well known photographer and published several books including My Maryland and Chesapeake Bay & Tidewater. You can see most of his photos and even purchase note cards online.

Monday, November 5, 2007


Just in from the Ravens game. OK, so I left early. I think this is the first time I ever left before the game was over. It's that bad folks. I don't even care if, by some miracle, the Ravens pulled off a victory after I left. They played so poorly tonight that I truly don't care if they did. Tonight's game was more disgusting than I could have imagined. To see Ray Lewis even trying to get pumped up after some routine play he is paid dearly to make, well, it just makes me sick.

The season is done. It ended tonight,


B'More Sports

Well, the Ravens didn't play this weekend, they are on Monday Night Football tonight. I expect them to be completely humiliated on national TV. They never seem to do well in these situations. I hope Kelly Greg sacks Big Ben two or three times, but I expect the Ravens to lose. They just don't seem to have it this year, for whatever reason. I hope perhaps, Brian Billick will add a few more plays to the play book, or just learn when to pass (not when it's 3rd down and one). If the Ravens can pull off a win tonight in Pittsburgh, I will be hopeful that they can go to the playoffs. If not, I don't think they stand a chance. They need to win in their division. The have lost to the Bengals, who aren't even that good, and the Browns. They really need this in my humble opinion.

In other football news, the Patriots beat the Colts. Way to go. I hate the Colts and always will and that is just the way it is.

The Baltimore Blasts are now a 3-0 team after defeating the Orlando Sharks on Saturday. Go Blasts.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Places to Go, People to See

I really didn't know what I was going to recommend until I sat down to write this piece just now. Then it came to me, often overlooked in today's world of Internet and other media, the library. Baltimore has one of the oldest library systems in the country, the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

Established in 1882, the library was opened to the public in 1886. The founder of the library, Enoch Pratt, stated "My library shall be for all, rich and poor without distinction of race or color, who, when properly accredited, can take out the books if they will handle them carefully and return them."

The library opened to the public in 1886. The first location of the central library was on Mulberry Street. Also that same year, the first ever branch library was built in Canton and is still in operation in it's original location to this day.

On October 15, 1886 the library issued a borrowers card to Harry S. Cummings, the first African American to receive an Enoch Pratt Library card.

In the 1940's the library started a horse drawn book wagon that traveled throughout the city getting free books to people who may otherwise never get to the library. This eventually evolved into the bookmobile which is still in operation this day.

Today the central library is located at 400 Cathedral Street. The current building was erected in the 1930's with an expansion done just a few years ago. It boasts an H.L. Mencken collection which contains many of his personal correspondence. Unfortunately, that room is only open to the public one day a year, the Saturday in September which falls closest to his birthday on the 12th. The library is fantastic, it makes you want to read again. I feel my IQ increase just by walking through the enormous doors.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Be There or Be Square, Hon

OK, gotta admit, it's slim pickins this weekend...

The evevt of the week: Guy Falks Day Celebration,
Nov 3, 4 pm, 402 Nancy Ave, Linthicum.

Featuring bonfires, fireworks, and artcars (World Artcar Day).

A celebration of a night in 1605 when a group of Brits tried to blow up the Parlaiment with gunpowder....and failed.

Hosted by the Center for Fawksian Pursuits.

Admission is Free

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Barclay is located in the eastern part of Baltimore City. It is bordered on the west by Barclay St and on the east by Greenmount Ave. It is a small neighborhood consisting mostly of 22nd St as far as I can tell. There wasn't a much information to be found, unfortunately.

22nd Street is primarily a historic district. The homes here are three story, swell front rowhomes. They were built in the late 19th century. They feature three full stories and full basements. Every third house has a decorative, Victorian style, third floor porch.

St. Ann's Roman Catholic Church was built of Jones Falls blue
stone in 1874. It was built in the Gothic Revival style and designed
by two nationally renowned architects, Francis Baldwin and Bruce Price. Baldwin designed 150 buildings for the B&O Railroad and Price designed many of the Stick & Shingle style houses in Tuxedo Park, New York.

The neighborhood is blighted by boarded up houses and others falling into disrepair. It is easy to see how grand these homes once were and what they still could be if they were properly rehabilitated.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Born in Baltimore

Bill Frisell was born in Baltimore on March 18, 1951, but he was raised in Denver, Colorado. He attended the University of Northern Colorado where he studied music and then went to Berklee School of Music in Boston to study with Jim Hall.

He got his big break when Pat Metheny couldn't make a session with Paul Motian and recommended Bill Frisell. He has regularly played with Paul Motian ever since, even recording a few albums together. Bill was active in the New York City music scene in the 80's.

In 2005 he won a Grammy Award for best contemporary jazz album for Unspeakable. My favorite albums so far, not having heard them all, are Have a Little Faith and Nashville. Have a Little Faith features Gershwin and others. It has the complete Billy the Kid.
Nashville is, well,
like what I think wonderful
country music could be.

The best way to enjoy Bill though is live and in person. He is a man of few words. When NJG and I saw him in Annapolis over the summer, NJG bet me that he wouldn't say more than 20 words the whole night. I think the count was 13. He does all his talking with the guitar. He looks like he just loves to play and I really enjoy watching someone who enjoys performing. You have your chance to join me tonight and see him at An Die Musik he is playing at 8 pm and again at 9:30 pm. Yes, we will be at both. He is that good. He is also performing at the same venue tomorrow. An Die Musik is a very small, intimate venue, you will be lucky if it isn't sold out already.

Monday, October 29, 2007

B'more Sports

Ok, so the Ravens had a bye week and not even they can screw that up. Unfortunately, the Browns and the Steelers both won, so the pressure is on for next week. I don't expect the Ravens to really do anything for the rest of the season. I think they are done.

The Orioles fired Andy Etchebarren who was the 3 year coach of the Aberdeen Ironbirds and had spent most of his 45 year career with the Orioles organization. Way to go. Why don't you just throw Boog Powell and his BBQ stand out of Oriole Park while you're at it.

A-Rod is a free agent. I don't think anyone dares to dream that he would come here to play, but I sure would love to see it. I think he would like playing in Baltimore and enjoy being appreciated. But he will most likely move on to the Red Sox, who just won the World Series in a four game sweep (yawn) of the Colorado Rockies. Who didn't see that coming?

The Baltimore Blasts defeated the Milwaukee Wave (do they surf there?) 13-8 in Baltimore on Saturday. This makes them 2-0 for the season so far. Way to go Blasts.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Places to go, People to see

The National Aquarium in Baltimore is a must see if you are coming to town. Baltimore has been the home of the national aquarium for more than 20 years. The design of the aquarium is interesting and inviting. I took my son there last year when he was 9. We spent hours there and he was interested enough to read every sign at every exhibit.

They will let you know when the dolphin shows are when you arrive. It is up to you to decide whether you want to see the exhibits first or go to the dolphin show first. I must admit, I have never been to Sea World or anything, so I don't know how the dolphin show in Baltimore compares to others, but it looks to me like everyone is having a good time. I really like the way the auarium is laid out. You walk up in a spiral, stopping at informative exhibits along the way.

At the top is a rain forest area with exotic birds and a nice view of the inner harbor area.

You get a whole new experience on the way down. It is as if you are going under the sea in a cage because you are surrounded on all sides by the glass walls of the aquarium. The big fish, the various sharks, are swimming right by. Sometimes you can see the workers in their wetsuits feeding the fish. There is a children's area where the kids can actually touch some of the exhibits and then there is an Australia exhibit which was not quite open when I was last there.
The aquarium was a vital part of the revitalization of the inner harbor area. It has been expanded several times and there have been many other attractions added nearby such as the ESPN Zone and the Hard Rock Cafe.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Be There or Be Square, Hon

Creative Alliance is hosting the annual Great Halloween Lantern Parade on Saturday October 27th at 7:30 pm. This is a parade featuring handmade lanterns, floats, bands, stilt walkers, etc. Sounds like alot of fun. I have never been and will not be able to make it this year either. It conflicts with my brother's annual Halloween party which is a can't miss event on my calendar. I guess there's always next year... or a rain date, which is the very next evening.

There is an Urban Pumpkin Patch at the First and Franklin Street Presbyterian Church on Madison St. There is a large selection of pumpkins, indian corn and gourds for you fall decorating needs. There are also baked goods available. They have daily hours through the season.

The real can't miss event of the week will be Bill Frisell Trio at An Die Musik. Bill Frisell is a wonderful guitarist. He quietly and magically plays on the stage as if he is playing solely for himself and is delighted that eveyone else seems to like it too. He will hardly say a word but he will speak volumes with his guitar. It's a real treat and I will be there for the Tuesday evening show. Go to the An Die website now and buy your tickets. It is a small, intimate venue and this event will sell out.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Baltimore Highlands

Baltimore Highlands is located in southeast Baltimore, just north of Canton, Fells Point, and Patterson Park. The homes were constructed from 1926-1938. They are mostly two or three story brick or formstone row homes with marble steps. Some homes do have front porches and front and rear lawns. Some feature stained glass transoms and windows and second floor bay windows.

The neighborhood was where Eskay originated. It was started by an German immigrant and at one time was the largest meat packing plant on the east coast. The neighborhood is home to Santoni's Supermarket which is open 24 hours a day and will deliver to your door. Also, home to Pasquale's grocery and deli which is owned and operated by a third generation Italian family.

Average sales for a home in this neighborhood was $113,851 in 2006.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Born in Baltimore

There is some controversy as to his true birth date but it looks as though Eubie Blake was born James Hubert Blake on February 7, 1887 to former slaves on Forrest Street in Baltimore. He was the only surviving child of 8. The other children never made it out of infancy. His father worked as a stevedore on the Baltimore docks for $9.00 a week. It was very important to him that his son learned how to read. Eubie's mother was a God fearing woman who subsidized the family income by taking in wash.

Eubie's musical talent was discovered when he was 4 or 5 years old. He was shopping with his mother when he wandered away into a music store. He sat down at the organ and started just playing around on it. The store manager recognized the young boy's talent and encouraged his mother to nurture it. The family managed to buy a $75.00 pump organ for Eubie, paying .25 a week for it. He started receiving lessons from a church organist when he was 7 years old.

He was always attracted to ragtime music. His mother heard him practicing one day and yelled," Get that ragtime music out of my house!" She wanted him to only play sacred music. He was drawn to the music which they played in bordellos and funeral marches. He was soon following funeral marches so he could study the music. His mother tried to put an end to that.

By the time he was 15 he was secretly playing the piano at Aggie Shelton's bordello. He claimed he actually wrote the Charlestown Rag in 1899 but had to wait to put it on paper until he learned how to write musical notation in 1915. He became the best known ragtime paino player ever. His most popular tune was Shuffle Along in 1921.

He came along way from the bordello in Baltimore, he played with the Boston Pops and Dr. Arthur Fiedler, he performed at the White House. He was a modest man and was always surprised when people knew him and his music. In 1979 there was a musical made about his life, Eubie.

Eubie Blake passed away shortly after celebrating his 100th birhtday in 1983. Some official records list his birthday as February 12, 1883. He is buried at Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn.