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.