Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Canton






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.

Monday, September 15, 2008

New York, New York

OK, I am back from the Big Apple and had a fabulous time. My mind is still there. Hmmm, where to begin...

We planned this trip because NJG scored tickets to Yankee Stadium to see the Yankees battle the first place Tampa Rays. We had tickets to both the Friday evening and Saturday afternoon games.

We took off on Friday morning for the three hour trip from Baltimore. We checked in to the Red Roof Inn in Seacaucus, NJ. This is located on the "Mighty Hackensack" River. It is a quick trip through the Lincoln Tunnel and NJG doesn't mind battling the traffic. Actually, we didn't have any trouble parking, not once did we pay, we parked on the street everywhere. So, we checked in at about 1 in the afternoon.

The Yankee game started at 7:05, so we headed into town and went to the Museum of Natural History for a while. I had never been, we saw all the dinosaur bones and all the other tourists. I don't know which was more interesting. There were times that we were the only English speaking people around. It seemed to be a popular place to duck out of the rain for the stroller crowd that had been in Central Park. There is a planetarium, we didn't go inside, but the exhibit set up around the huge sphere was interesting and informative. The human origins exhibit was also fascinating to me. The exhibits are so life-like.

We left the museum and it was raining. We were ready to go straight to the game which is what we did. I had my Orioles t-shirt on, although the Yankees were not hosting the O's, I wanted to see if I would get hassled by Yankee fans, like I do when I wear my gear to see an Oriole/Yankee game in my own fair city. Of course, it was raining so I had my rain jacket on over my shirt. We parked on the street near the new Yankee Stadium, which is right beside the current stadium. For those of you who don't already know, this is the last year for the old stadium. This was the whole reason for our trip, NJG thought I just must see old Yankee stadium. The new stadium looks like a real beauty, the words "Yankee Stadium" are engraved prominently in gold lettering, no worry of a corporate name on it. The current stadium is a real hole. If ever there was a stadium in need of being torn down, it is this one. It is hard to believe that any professional sports team plays in a place like this. If you get at all claustrophobic, you would never want to try to come to a game, the passageways are so narrow and there is little headroom as well. The place smells pretty bad in spots. There are signs of deterioration everywhere. The place has no charm to it. It has been remodeled and updated so many times that it is easy to see why it is not eligible for a spot on the National Historic Preservation list. Apparently, they cantilevered the place years ago to remove the poles that once supported the upper levels. They removed the old decorative facade and now have a cheap looking replication in the outfield only. We grabbed a beer and sought shelter in seats that were not ours, under cover. This area was so dismal, the ceiling covered in some sort of unappealing, dented, siding. The aisles are very narrow. The service however, is excellent. The people working the concessions are friendly, taking the time to talk to children and make the experience as pleasant as possible. I was impressed. The concession people at Oriole Park are some of the most surly people on earth. We did get to see Freddy, in the very next section. He bangs a pot and holds up a sign, all over the stadium to keep the spirits up. We waited until they officially called off the game. Then we headed out into the drizzle, across the street to Stan's.

Stan's Sports Bar is a must see if you are going to the Yankee game at night and don't have children with you. We walked it and it was packed, but there was no wait for a beer. We managed to find a spot to stand at the bar and I got to see the photos under the glass. There are photos of baseball heroes from every team. There are no names, which makes it fun to guess who they are since most are old and on some you can't even see the jersey number. The guy standing beside me pointed out that I was right near Jim Palmer. I also spotted Brooks Robinson. It was cool, the music was loud and fitting for a sports bar. The beer selection was really good. There are very few places to sit, but the absence of bar stools makes it so much easier to fit more people around the bar and standing there, you don't miss the stool at all.

Since the game was cancelled and the night was young, NJG was happy that we would not miss the Heath Brothers at Birdland. We called and made a reservation for the 11 pm show. We headed over to 44th street and found free street parking just about three blocks away. I had wisely brought a more appropriate shirt and shoes to replace the bright orange Orioles shirt and sneakers. I changed right there on 44th street, in the car. I still don't know if NJG was impressed or appalled. We were greeted and escorted to our white table clothed seats in the section towards the back that is reserved for the no admission crowd. We were pretty hungry, so we ordered a late dinner and relaxed while we waited for the show. The club reminds me of a place that you might see Ricky Ricardo perform. It is classy and the service is great. The Heath Brothers were wonderful. Jimmy Heath plays tenor sax and his brother Tootie is on the drums. They obviously enjoy what they do. They both engage the crowd and joke and have fun. I have never heard anyone play the tambourine as well as Tootie, I guess I never considered the tambourine to be a "real instrument", just an accessory of sorts. Tootie joked that you have to look real serious while doing this or people would laugh at you. No one was laughing at his performance. I especially loved their rendition of Round Midnight. We headed back to the motel, tired and fully satisfied.

On Saturday, we had tickets for the 1 o'clock game. We slept in and took our time getting ready for the game. We had the same good luck finding a close, free parking spot. We made our way to a concession for a Diet Coke, there was no ice, I took it anyway. NJG got is beer at a Beers of the World concession. We found our seats along the first base side in the upper reserved section. It was warm and muggy. I was glad I wore shorts. The trip up to our seats was fairly steep and narrow. The game was not a pleasant one for the local fans. The Yankees were being soundly defeated for most of the game. This made it great for me, not because I cared about the outcome, but because it was so entertaining to listen to the things that New Yorkers say when things are not going there way. One guy asked another what A-Rod had in common with an automatic transmission. The answer was "no clutch". The fans were really irritated with Jason Giambi, who seemed unable to make the most basic of plays. NJG left to get me a hot dog so that he didn't have to witness the whole YMCA thing that the grounds crew does. He hates that. He also missed the stirring rendition of God Bless America by Kate Smith. I heard the guy behind me say "no, not Kate Smith" as we were asked to stand. It was funny. Oh, also before the game started, they had a moment of silence for the people lost on 9/11/2001. You really could have heard a pin drop in that place. So, the Yankees lost and the fans were bummed out about it.

We went back to the motel and showered and changed for a nice dinner. NJG took me to the Park and Orchard in East Rutherford. I love this place. From the white and black tile floors to the olive green and grape purple walls to the menu offering the new and the familiar, it is wonderful. The owner comes out of the kitchen and mingles with the diners. The service is perfect. The menu has something for everyone. I wasn't feeling adventurous and my stomach had not been feeling right all day. I ordered the pot roast, choosing to be safe. NJG had something called ants on a tree. It was some kind of pasta. I let him order the appetizers. He is so good at this. We had a salmon appetizer and humus. It was really good, as was everything. It was the most tender pot roast ever and the mashed squash dish was really excellent.

We had tickets to the 11 pm show at the Village Vanguard. We got there just before the show, which was Paul Motian, Joe Lovano and Bill Frissel. I was glad NJG had purchased the ticket online and we got to stand in the line of people who were going to the show, not the line that was hoping to go. We got a seat along the wall where the musicians walk by on their way to the stage. The walls are red. The tables are tiny. You are underground so it is dark and cozy. It has that cave-like feel and you can feel the history in the room. When our waitress heads our way, NJG says, "Here's my girl, I thought they fired her years ago." She had this clueless look about her as if it were her first day on the job. She was wearing a red shawl draped over one shoulder. She carried drinks in her hand instead of using a tray. She often had an empty glass or bottle of Pellegrino tucked in the crook of her arm. She looked around, trying hard to remember who ordered all these drinks. NJG caught her attention right away by offering to take them off her hands. She delivered them and then came right back to us to get our order even though we were not the next who should have been served. I loved the way she walked. I told NJG that watching her was worth the price of admission. Paul Motian and Joe Lovano walked right past us. The more reclusive Bill Frissel seemed to be on stage out of no where. They did not introduce themselves, after 25 years of playing together at the Vanguard they don't have to, they are home. They are so wonderful. I don't even know what to say about them. I am already a huge Frissel fan, I had never seen Joe Lovano or Paul Motian. They obviously know each other well, they play their riffs and move seamlessly through the evening. The lights come up and they leave the stage way too soon.

We headed over to Fat Cat at about 1 am. If NJG could live in Fat Cat he would. He just loves it. I understand the appeal to a point, but not as much as NJG. He must have been the kind of kid who wanted to live at the circus, I am happy to visit once in a while, but couldn't make it a regular part of my existence. The music is very good. They have an endless number of musicians waiting their turn to jump in with the others. It would seem to be disorganized and unplanned, but in reality, only standards are played there, so anyone can jump in and not be thrown off. The place has lots of small couches to sit on and enjoy the music. The rest of this, huge underground space is full of games. You can play ping pong, shot some pool, sit down to a game of chess or Scrabble, play Foosball or shuffleboard. It is pretty wild. It is a very young crowd and it is good to see the younger people digging and playing jazz.

We left after 2:30 am.

Check out was at noon and we needed every minute to prepare to leave. We decided to head to Brooklyn to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. It was hot and humid. It was not a good idea for us to take the Subaru, with the broken air conditioning. We made it after a few detours. I got to see Chinatown on the way to the Manhattan Bridge, from the car. It was pretty amazing. It seemed funny to find the street name of Delancey Street. We also drove down the Bowery, it was great to see more and more of NYC than I had ever seen before. Anyway, the garden is spectacular. We will have to go back in June to better see the roses, but I enjoyed them anyway. We had a wonderful lunch there too. We reluctantly left the Big Apple and took our time getting home, not arriving home until midnight.

I really could use a day off just to decompress.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Off to New York

I am off to the Big Apple for a long weekend.

I am going to take in a Yankee game or two at Yankee stadium. I figure I have to go see it before it is retired for some shiny new stadium. I am thinking about having my picture taken in front of the Lou Gerig memorial that claims that his record will never be broken, wearing my Ripken jersey of course. I don't know, we'll see.

We are going to see the Paul Motian Trio at the Village Vanguard. I have never been to the Vanguard, but have seen Bill Frisell and am a huge fan of his. We will probably hit a few other jazz clubs like Smalls and/or Fat Cat.

We are staying until Sunday. Perhaps we will make it to the botanical gardens or something else. I will let you know all about it.

Black Box

I just learned about the black box and added it to my blog. I have tried it a few, OK several times, and so far it has been a blast to read the interesting blogs I would have never otherwise found. You just click on decide and make your selections and are led to a mystery blog that answered the same as you. Cool. Cool.

Please let me know if you found me this way. I am interested to learn how well this really works and what kind of people would answer the same way I do.

You must all be very disturbed.

Anniversary

I don't know what I can say about it. It was seven years ago that our collective peace was so horribly disturbed. Before this day, seven years ago, I don't think most Americans would have believed such a thing could ever happen here. Perhaps that seems arrogant to the rest of the world, I don't know.

Now, it is easy to forget about it. I wasn't even thinking about it. NJG and I had planned to go to NYC to see the Yankee game tomorrow night because it is our last opportunity to see Yankee Stadium. Next year the Yankees will be playing in their new home. So, we weren't even thinking that it will be the weekend closest to the September 11th date. A co-worker asked me if we were going to the World Trade Center site as part of our weekend. It didn't even dawn on me why she would ask this for a few minutes. How stupid, what a short memory we have sometimes.

This morning I looked forward to seeing the guy who stands on the bridge over 695 just before the exit for I95. He has been there with an American flag every month, on the 11th since the terrorist attacks. I guess I leave for work too early in the morning, he wasn't there. I know he was there in July because we were leaving town to head to VA to get married in July when I saw him that day. I can't even imagine the kind of dedication it takes to get out there every month for seven years and stand there with an American flag.

Lest we forget...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

How 'bout the Ravens?

OK, I must admit that I set out to watch the Ravens game on TV on Sunday with much fear and trembling. I was very afraid that we would be soundly defeated on Sunday. I have never been more happy to be wrong.

The team looked really good. I am officially on the Flacco bandwagon. He impressed me with his calm demeanor. It was good to not see "happy feet". He kept his head. True, he did not get sacked. Some fellow fans are saying that they want to see how he does when he is hit. Personally, I would be happy to see him so well protected by the offensive line, that he never gets hit. I realize this is a dream.

I am also a fan of Cam Cameron. It was refreshing to not be able to predict what we were about to see next. It was so good not to see a 2 yard completed pass when we were 3rd down and 8. The double reverse TD was a thing of beauty.

It was also good to see no stupid penalties. There were no false starts, something that used to be standard. The clock was properly managed.

The defense was near perfect and they should be very well rested for next week. I can't even imagine how good it is for them.

Todd Heap was the only disappointment. He dropped and fumbled all afternoon. He can't seem to stay healthy.

The running backs will wear their opponents out.

I am looking forward to seeing more from the wide receivers.

Football is back in Baltimore, hon.

Monday, September 8, 2008

shameless plug

OK, I have a confession to make. I have been watching America's Got Talent. I don't usually go in for this sort of thing, but...my daughter's boyfriend's siblings are performing on this show and are doing quite well. The Wright Kids is a bluegrass band from Virginia. I ordered their latest CD and it is fantastic, really. They sing traditional bluegrass tunes and they play the instruments as well. Mason is the fiddle player in the band, but he is not on the show since he is in college, so he is unavailable. Their audition was never shown, so the first time I saw them on the show they were performing Daydream Believer in the Top 40, hoping to make it through to the Top 20. They made it, although I must say I would like to see them perform bluegrass because their harmonies are awesome.

Anyway, click on this link to see the performance. They are cute as hell.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Open Minded

I hear from liberals all the time that conservatives are not open minded. My experience has been so opposite of that.

I was kind of excited about Hillary running for President. She has the experience. I believe that she cares deeply about this country. I like her ideas for the health care system and admired her for sticking with that cause even though she failed to move that idea forward and could have abandoned that when she did fail to reform health care early in her husband's presidency. I thought it would be interesting to see how a woman would run the country, even if she is a democrat, even if the sound of her voice really grates on my last nerve. My point is, I didn't have to agree with her views on every issue, maybe not even most of the issues, in order to seriously consider her for the office of President. I was disappointed when Obama won out over her.

Around the office, some of us will talk politics and some won't. In my discussions up until last Friday, I said that I really had to see who McCain chose as a running mate before I would really form an opinion on who to vote for.

I consider myself to be fairly moderate. I am a registered Republican but have voted for Democrats. I am not keen on abortion but I also do not believe in the death penalty. I believe we were wrong to invade Iraq but that doesn't mean we just pull out and leave the mess behind. I think we should have concentrated on Afghanistan and it makes me sick that we still haven't caught Bin Laden. I wonder who will landscape our lawns and clean our offices if we deport everyone, but we need to make the immigration process easier and sneaking across the border harder. I believe everyone has a right to own a firearm. If you misuse it, you should be shot with it. I think we need universal health. Social Security was never intended to be the sole support of retired people. If it were up to me, I would let all the banks fail and even prosecute the greedy people who made a killing in the mortgage industry by putting poor people into homes they couldn't afford so they got a bigger commission.

Anyway, I think you get the point.

I have been talking to a woman at work about politics and I think she somehow assumed that I was a Democrat. She too, considers herself to be "middle of the road". I listened to her talk about how great the speeches were at the DNC last week. I don't watch alot of TV, but I followed the DNC carefully on my radio all week, listening to WNYC for commentary and excerpts from speeches, reading blog entries from Marc Steiner and listening to him on air when I could.

I heard Sarah Palin's speech on Friday when she was chosen as McCain's VP. She sounds like she could be my neighbor. She can't possibly be this normal, can she? I admire the way she has stood against corruption in her own party in Alaska. I admire the way she stands up for what she believes. She is a mother of five, married to her high school sweetheart AND she is successful in her career. I can't wait to learn more.

My coworker asked me this morning how I felt about her. When I shared my enthusiasm, she said she thought that Palin was too inexperienced to be VP, and she was too much a right wing, conservative, religious fanatic. She said that all she talks about is outlawing abortion. Funny, I have not yet heard her mention the topic. I also have not heard anything about her personal religious beliefs. When I said that I hadn't heard Palin mention abortion at all, my coworker assured me that it was coming. So, apparently, this woman hates Palin for what she might say in the future.

Is this open minded?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

the questions I want asked

I am not much of a political blogger. I registered to vote when I was 18 because my grandmother said that if you didn't vote, you had no right to complain. The year was 1982. My parents were divorced and I lived at home with my mother who is a very conservative person. I also attended church every week and had attended an ultra-conservative Baptist school, although I graduated from public school because I changed in my senior year. With the popularity of Ronald Reagan, it is easy to guess that I registered as a Republican.

Dad is a "yellow dog" Democrat, which means he would vote for a yellow dog over a Republican any day. I never really got the chance to let his opinions influence me when I was young. We really never discussed politics at all until I was in my thirties, I would say.

I voted for Gore when he ran against Bush. I thought that anyone who made unflattering comments around a live mike, when he didn't know it was live, was too stupid to run a country. Remember that? In New Hampshire, I think. Anyway, I think he called a reported an asshole. My father had actually met Al Gore and assured me that he was a very intelligent man who knew government.

I couldn't vote for Kerry, mostly because I couldn't see his wife as first lady. I thought she was way too brash of a person. She seemed to always want to "tell it like it is". She made me nervous. Perhaps that wasn't fair, but it is the truth. I am sure if I thought more about it, I could make up a much better reason for not supporting Kerry, but it is what it is.

I like the idea of a smaller government and local control. However, it doesn't seem to be what the Republicans are about anymore. Spending is out of control. Anyway, this is what I want to know:

1. Have you ever ridden on public transportation. If so, what do you remember about it?

I recently had the occasion to ride the MTA bus #20 from downtown Baltimore to Catonsville, in Baltimore County. It was late at night, about 10 pm. I saw a woman with an infant in a carrier. The way she held her sleeping baby gave me the impression that she treasured that child. She also looked very tired. I wondered about what her life was like, as she got off the bus with her sleeping baby and all the gear a little one requires. I wonder how often she rides the bus with this little infant. She got off the bus in a very run down part of West Baltimore. I saw a woman who had a staff shirt on from the Baltimore Orioles. She probably worked at the concession. She looked exhausted and I figure she probably makes this trip after every home game. There were many more tired looking, hard working people on the bus, but these two stuck out in my mind.

2. Have you considered how someone is supposed to live on minimum wage? Have you sat down with a pencil and a piece of paper and figured out a budget for a family or even an individual earning minimum wage?

3. When was the last time you toured a public school in an urban environment? Would you feel like your country served you well if you had to attend a school like this every day? Take a look at the bathroom there, would you like to use it?

4. If you had to choose between prescription medication or food, which would you choose?

These are a few questions I would like to see answered.

What's are the chances that it will happen?

What questions would you like to be asked?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Yankee fans in Baltimore

I really wanted to go to all three Yankee/Oriole games this past weekend with my husband, a Yankee fan. He buys tickets to all the Yankee games in Baltimore because he is a Yankee fan and doesn't always get to watch them on TV, so I get that. I wanted to wear my Cal Ripken jersey every game because it was a gift from my husband and I really love it and I should be able to wear an Oriole jersey at Camden Yards without any hassle from anyone.

You would think it would be enough for any Yankee fan to be able to come to a beautiful stadium and watch their team take all three games. You would think you could find it in your heart to have a little sympathy for the loyal fans that do still show up for a team that has not finished a season above the 500 mark in more than 10 years. But no. It's not enough. It is hard to see that we are the minority in our own stadium. It is difficult to realize that when we go out to get a hot dog, we can't tell by the cheers if the Orioles made a good play or the Yankees, because there are so many Yankee fans there. It is hard to hear "Let's Go Yankees", constantly. It is hard to hear a rendition of "New York, New York" at the end of a home Oriole game. It is disappointing to hear the Yankee fan beside me laugh to his girlfriend about the Oriole fans who still do something as passe as "the wave". After all of this, I can't even leave the stadium in peace. As I was leaving the game early on Saturday night, some Yankee fan noticing my jersey, had to ask me if that "Ripken guy" was any good. I couldn't believe it, two Yankee fans in their 30's, two guys, picking on a middle aged woman for daring to wear an Oriole jersey to a game in Baltimore.

I just couldn't bring myself to go to the Sunday game. I just couldn't take any more of the poor winners.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Callaway-Garrison



Callaway-Garrison is a neighborhood found in the Northwest part of Baltimore. The northern boundary is West Cold Spring Lane, southern boundary is Liberty Heights Ave and it is framed on the east and west by Callaway Ave and Garrison Blvd.




It is a residential neighborhood consisting of single family homes built in the 20s and 30s. There are many bungalow style homes found here.




A home in this neighborhood was selected by Fritz Haeg, a California architect, and author of Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn. He has created edible front lawns across the country.




The average sale price of a home in this neighborhood in 2007 was $133,553.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

One month

On the 12th of August NJG and I had been married for one month. So far, so good. I usually don't write much of a personal nature here, but it is the only thing I truly feel like writing about, so forgive me.

People keep telling me I seem happy and calm. I am, this is true. Funny thing though, there are stresses to this relationship. There is the stress of combining households. We still aren't completely moved in. There is the difficulty of not being used to each other's habits. I know I disturbed him when I emptied the dishwasher without bothering to close the bedroom door early one morning. There is the stress of a good friend staying with us for a little bit. There is the stress of a certain family member making decisions we do not agree with and feel helpless to change. There is the stress of being accountable to each other for how we spend our time. It is even stressful in a way to let him help me with the kids. I have been a single parent forever, even when I was involved or married to my children's father(s). I have the opportunity to make this different, but change is not easy, even for the better.

I am getting used to who I am and where I live. Yes, I did change my last name to his. It is not natural yet. Yes, I did wait until we were married before I moved in. It will take a while to decide where everything goes in the kitchen but it is fun. I am somewhat obsessed with keeping the house clean because it is so new and beautiful and I want my husband to know that I truly appreciate this wonderful place that I get to call home.

He is a wonderful, considerate husband.

So far, so good.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Outside of the Onion

Early this morning my great aunt Madeline passed away. She was in her mid nineties and had lived in a nursing home for the last couple years. I was not close to her and never visited her, but my mother visited every Sunday and would sometime take my youngest one with her. She was the last of my grandmother's siblings. She was the last living relative of that generation on either side of my family.

As the eldest member of my generation in my family, I think about how life is like the layers of an onion. The inside of the onion is tender, juicy, small and protected by so many outer layers. I am so much closer to that outer, protective layer. Then there are the final layers of the onion that are thin and paper-like and could easily be flaked away.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Butcher's Hill



This neighborhood is located in east Baltimore, on the northwest corner of Patterson Park. It is beautiful and the homes are well maintained. Many of the homes have been creatively restored yet modernized in a way that does not interfere with the architectural details of the homes. It is a residential neighborhood with its own park, Duncan Street Park. It also borders on Patterson Park, which is the largest park in downtown Baltimore and was designed by the designer of Central Park in New York. There are many cultural and social events in Patterson Park as well as athletic fields, tennis courts, an ice skating rink and a public pool.




There are 300 restaurants within a 2 mile radius of this neighborhood, but you don't have to leave the neighborhood at all to find one of the hippest restaurants in Charm City. Salt is located on the corner of E. Pratt St and S Collington St. It is stylish and the food is wonderful. The duck fat fries are worth the extra time you will need to spend at the gym to work off the calories. The service is also wonderful.




This neighborhood was named for the prosperous butchers that once lived there. The neighborhood was established in the mid 1800's with most of the homes being built between 1850 and 1920. The neighborhood consists mainly of row homes with a few single family homes. There are homes with rooftop decks and some with flower gardens. There is an active community association and there is also an annual house tour the 2nd Sunday in October.




The average sale price of a home in this neighborhood in 2007 was $302,988.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Burleith-Leighton

This neighborhood is in the Northwest part of the city of Baltimore. It is a residential neighborhood bordered on the north by Liberty Heights on the south by Gwynns Falls Parkway, on the east by Tioga Parkway, and on the west by the railroad tracks. I was unsuccessful in finding one image of this neighborhood on the web. It appears to be a tiny neighborhood consisting of just a few streets. I can't even find a single real estate listing for this neighborhood. It is located just to the west of Mondawmin Mall and to the east of Hanlon Park.

The average sale of a home in this neighborhood for 2007 was $126,550.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Brooklyn


Brooklyn is a neighborhood on the southernmost part of the city, bordered on the south by Anne Arundel County. Back in the day, if you moved to Brooklyn, you were moving to the suburbs. That is what my grandparents did when my mother was a little girl. They moved to a rowhome on 8th Street. That house still holds many dear childhood memories. It would be easy for me to fill a very large space in my blog about my personal memories, but that would not reflect this neighborhood accurately.


Brooklyn is bordered on the north by the Patapsco River, on the east by West Bay Avenue, on the south by Church Street and on the west by Potee Street and Anne Arundel County. There are two parks in this neighborhood, Farring Bay Brook Park and Garrett Park. From the latter you can get a good view of the downtown Baltimore skyline. There is a branch of the Enoch Pratt library and some other businesses along Patapsco Avenue. My grandmother, who never had a driver's license, would walk to the IGA all the time.


One of my favorite restaurants was in this neighborhood, the 4100 Club. This restaurant was a favorite hangout for Johnny Unitas and some of the other old Baltimore Colts. Johnny's hand print can still be seen on the sidewalk outside. The establishment recently changed hands though, and it just isn't the same. That is the way with the entire neighborhood. It's not the same. It was a nice little community with thriving businesses and a small town feel, it has changed hands.
The average sale price for a home in this neighborhood in 2007 was $106,695.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Visitor

I took my daughters to see The Visitor at The Charles Theater on Saturday night. Of course we had to be creative in getting past all the Artscape traffic and find parking, so we did miss the first few minutes of the film. I am just so glad that we didn't decide to skip it because we were late.

Richard Jenkins plays the main character here. I am not at all familiar with him or any other actor in the film. He was great at playing the ordinary man, the one you would walk past on the street and never think of again.

Last night I was thinking about the title of this movie. I remember when we used to visit people. When I lived or vacationed in upstate New York, it wasn't uncommon or impolite to drop in on people for a visit. Does no one do this anymore? Perhaps not, in a day when we pre-arrange "play dates" for our children instead of just sending them out in the neighborhood to play. I hope to be shot in the head before I ever hear myself making arrangements for a "play date", but I digress. Anyway, my point is that a visit is a short experience in someone else's life. That is what this movie is all about.

Walter is pretty much forced out of his comfort zone when his boss "asks" him to go to New York to present a paper. He goes very reluctantly. It seems like Walter is a basically good, normal guy with nothing to really look forward to but also nothing to complain about. He enters his Manhattan apartment only to find a young couple is renting it and has been for two months. The young couple have no place to go and Walter lets them stay while they find a place to go.

The young man, Tarek, plays an African drum and teaches Walter to play. They are becoming friends and you can see the older man waking from a long, self-induced coma. He is tapping out drumbeats without even thinking about it. He is relaxed and engaged.

I won't tell the rest, but it is wonderful. There are no special effects, no big star names, no standout score, this is just great acting. Everyone in this film is ordinary and beautiful. I loved it and both my daughters did too.

Go see it.

Baltimore Neighborhood


Broening Manor is the next stop on my alphabetical list of neighborhoods in Baltimore. Unfortunately, I can't really find anything interesting to write about this neighborhood. It seems there ar mostly residential rental units here. The neighborhood is located in east Baltimore between Broening Highway and Dundalk Ave. The average sale price of a home here in 2007 was $117,014.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts




That's right, Joan Jett. I took my daughter to Artscape on Friday to see Joan Jett. I didn't tell her who we were going to see until we were parking the car. She was very excited, she had just discovered 80's music a few months ago and Joan Jett was her favorite because she had attitude. She was so excited, I found myself hoping that Joan Jett would still be good. I mean, you see these old rockers still hanging around and it is not always a pretty picture. Would she be fat? Could she still rock it? Would she have attitude.

NO! YES! YES!

I couldn't believe my eyes or my ears. I still have her music running through my mind. She ran out on stage wearing very low cut leather pants and the tiniest string bikini top possible. Her hair was still jet black and cut in her signature style. She strapped on her guitar and she started off with Bad Reputation. It was awesome. She is so impossibly thin. She sings every bit as well as she ever has. Her newer music was really good too. I loved her song called Riddles, which has alot to say about politicians and the way they talk to us. Her band, The Blackhearts, is really good. The lead guitarist was excellent. She went on for an hour and a half without slowing down one bit. The crowd was a mix of young and old and everyone was into the music, singing along pumping fists and even holding up a few lighters.

Artscape has been expended. You almost need the three days to really see everything. Next year, I think I will plan to spend alot more time there. They have greatly expanded the area for the DJ Culture stage, taking up an entire parking lot instead of jamming up the middle of the street. They now run the tents up part of North Charles Street too, including the Charles Theater.

Oh, and after seeing Joan, I am keeping my black hair. If Joan can rock it at almost 50, so can I.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Artscape 2008

If you have never been to Artscape, and you live in the Baltimore area, I don't even want to know you. Artscape is the largest free arts festival in the country. That's right, in the country. There is something for everyone. I mean everyone. Seriously.

If you like to eat, they have got you covered.

You want a beer? Got it. Only drink micro-brews? Got that too.

You want live music? Hell yeah.
Rock? Yes
Indie Rock? Yes, yes
Jazz? yes
orchestra? yes
Billie Holliday singing contest? Annual event.
DJ? You will find me at the DJ Culture stage.
Belly Dancing? Even got that

There are art cars. I can't explain it, you have to see it.

There are arts and crafts booths for kids.

There is art for sale.

There is a fashion show.

It is wonderful.

The only problem is, it is always one of the hottest weekends of the summer and this year will be no exception from what I saw of the forecast this morning. But the heat is a small price to pay.

I will be there tomorrow evening with my daughter. I am taking the day off tomorrow and going to get her from college so she doesn't have to miss it. We will be at the Saturn Stage tomorrow at 5 pm for The Oranges Band and will be back at that same stage at 8:30 for Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.

What more could you want for free?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Missing in Action

OK, so I owe you an explanation.


I have been pre-occupied.


I ran away and got married over the weekend!


I haven't been as motivated to write because of everything going on in my "real life". I am hoping things will settle down into somewhat of a routine and I will find my time and motivation to write.


Anyway, I am unsure just how much of my personal life I want to include here. I will tell you this, if you have never been to Chincoteague and/or Assateague Islands, you need to go.


We stayed at the Watson House. I don't even know where to begin in telling you that this place is so fabulous. The owners, Bob and Carol, make you feel instantly welcome. They go out of their way to make sure you are aware of everything there is to do and see on the island. They feed you so much that you will not need lunch even after a full day of paddling a canoe or trekking to the top of the Assateague lighthouse.
If you are at all interested in eloping to a quiet, romantic place like we did, contact Captain Spider. He has many suggestions on his website for locations. We found it easy and hassle-free to get a marriage license. There is no waiting period in Virginia, you can get the license and get married the same day. There is also no requirement for witnesses.
So now the task of blending families begins. I will be very busy painting bedrooms and moving furniture.
Hang in there, I won't be gone forever.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Anticipation

Just 24 hours to go.

The Marc Steiner Show will be back on the air in 24 hours. I can hardly wait. This long running radio show was abruptly cancelled back in February, much like the beloved Colts leaving in the night years ago. I don't like losing my favorite things.

This show is important to the community because Marc covers a variety of topics that are of local interest. He interviews people who would otherwise never have their voices heard. He is willing to ask the tough questions in a way that never insults his guests or his listeners. He covers a wide variety of topics. Politics are always prominently featured and during local election campaigns, he will not only interview the candidates who are front runners, he will interview the candidate without a snowball's chance as well. He regularly has guests with ideas as to how we can fix the drug or crime problems in our city and what to do about our schools.

The show has found a new home on WEAA "The Voice of the Community". This is the radio station of Morgan State University, a top notch HBC in our city. I cannot think of a better place for Marc to land as his show has long been the voice of the community. It is a perfect match. For the summertime the show will air every Wednesday, beginning tomorrow, from 9 am to 10 am. In September the show will have a daily slot. You can find WEAA at 88.9 on the FM dial. You can also listen via the web which is what I will be doing since I will be listening from work. I hope tomorrow is a quiet morning at the office!

It feels like part of my brain has been in hibernation, I am looking forward to waking it up.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Jim McKay



Jim McKay passed away on Saturday, June 7th. How ironic that he should leave this world on the day of the Belmont Stakes, on the day there was a possibility of a triple crown winner. Jim McKay was known for covering horse racing, well, every sport really. He was the host of ABC's Wide World of Sports from 1961-1998. I grew up with this program because my brothers and father loved to watch sports, any sports. Surely you remember "The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat". This was a fantastic program for introducing people to sports other than football, baseball and basketball. You might see swimming or skiing or gymnastics.




He was the sportscaster who covered the tragedy at the 1972 Munich Olympics. He was by the pool when he learned of the hostage situation and he was on the air within an hour, wet bathing suit still under his clothing. He was on the air covering the situation for 16 hours straight without a break. At the tragic end he simply stated, "They're all gone."




He was born in Philadelphia as James Kennth McManus on September 24, 1921. His father was transferred to Baltimore when he was fifteen years old. He attended Loyola High School and then Loyola College and then served in the Navy during WWII. He returned to Baltimore to work as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun. They recruited him to work at the new TV station, WMAR because he was involved in the drama club in college. His voice was the first ever heard on television in Baltimore.




He changed his last name to McKay when he moved to New York to host a show they wanted to call "The Real McKay". He didn't argue with anyone about it, he accepted it as part of the job. He had a talent for making it seem like he was talking directly to you over the air. He won several awards for his broadcasting and is in the sports broadcaster's hall of fame. He was known as being a very modest person. He died at his home in Monkton, MD of natural causes.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Broadway East




This neighborhood breaks my heart. I have only driven through it a few times, when NJG lived in Canton and we would drive through Broadway East on our way to the Haven Lounge to listen to live jazz. I would always study this neighborhood and marvel at it. I know I have roots near this neighborhood because my mother's people were of German ancestry and this was a heavily German area. Mom was born on Biddle Street, which is the southern boundary of Broadway East. A good deal of the homes appear to be abandoned, but what struck me hardest was the homes that are not abandoned. I found signs of pride among the boarded up neighborhoods. I saw houses that refuse to be identified by their humble surroundings. I saw homes cheerfully and tastefully decorated at Christmastime. I really would love to know what motivates people to stay in neighborhoods like this.








Anyway, if you watch The Wire, which I don't, you will recognize the neighborhood. Apparently, the show makes good use of the nearly abandoned neighborhood. The neighborhood boundaries are North Ave to the north, Biddle St to the south, Milton Ave to the east and Broadway to the west.






It is home to the American Brewery Building. Built in 1887 by John F Wiessner, the brewery employed many German immigrants. Although there were already 21 breweries in and around Baltimore City, American Brewery became one of the most prominent. Mr. Wiessner was forced to sell his business during prohibition. The last brewery to operate there was Allegheny Beverage Company, which brewed American Beer there until 1973.






The average sale price of a home in this neighborhood in 2007 was $53,634.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bridgeview Greenlawn


This neighborhood is in West Baltimore, south of the railroad tracks and north of Calverton Heights Ave.
It is a residential neighborhood of modest row homes built around 1920. There appears to be no community homeowners association. It is hard to find any information about this neighborhood.
The average sales price of a home in this neighborhood in 2007 was $95,839.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mudder's Day

Please excuse the personal nature of this post. Sometimes a mother just can't help herself. Skip this if you are not up for some maternal boasting.

Yesterday was one of the very best Mother's Days of my life. My three and a half year old daughter was so excited that the day was finally here. She came down the stairs with a gift bag in her hand and a big grin on her face.

"Happy Mudder's Day, Mommy!"

What could be better than that? I know next year when she is four, she will likely be pronouncing the word correctly, so I want to remember this one. It's the last Mudder's Day I'll ever have.

We went to church where I was treated to a pancake breakfast by the Royal Rangers. It was a mother/son event. I had been looking forward to it for so long. They have so many father/son events, camping trips and such that my son has to go to alone. This was special. He wore his uniform. What woman can resist a man in uniform? The tables were set. There were fresh flower centerpieces on all the tables. It was very nice. My son cleared my dishes away when I was done eating. He presented me with a silk flower corsage which he had made himself. I got to take one of the centerpieces home.

We went upstairs to the second service and my three year old was scheduled to sing during the offering. I didn't know what to expect. Would she be too shy? Would I be able to hear her sing? Well, I think I have yet another performer child. She really stole the show. She was looking for me and waved to me and her brother very excitedly once she found our faces in the crowd. There were only six children up there, six little voices to fill the sanctuary. They did a wonderful job. They had little hand motions that went with the songs. My girl took a bow after every song, she was the only child doing that. It was priceless. She was singing loud and proud, the easiest voice to hear, thank God she can sing.

After that the pastor began bragging about how well our Royal Rangers Outpost did last week at the annual Pow Wow. They placed second over all out of thirteen outposts. He then went on to talk about my son's individual accomplishments, having him stand while he spoke about how he came in third place for the Bible quiz, first place for the fire building contest, and second place overall in the Discovery Ranger category, out of one hundred and ninety two boys.

It was a proud moment for this single mother of four. Children from single parent homes are not supposed to be so successful and well adjusted. All four of my children are shining examples that it is possible. It is work, to be sure. It is an investment of time, energy, money, love.

It is worthwhile.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

2008 Kinetic Sculpture Race








I know, I know, I should have told you that it was last weekend. I will get my act together now that the weather is warm and lots of things will be happening around town. Saturday, May 2, was the 10th annual kinetic sculpture race in Baltimore. I had never been before last year. My daughter is involved. She attends Carver Center for Arts and Technology. She is a Literary Arts student but also a member of the engineering club. They build a sculpture every year and enter it into the race. It is alot of fun for her and this is her senior year, so it was an important event. Not that her participation is the only reason I go. I already plan to watch again next year.












This race is the most non-competitive competition I have ever witnessed. Everyone cheers for everyone. The race begins at the American Visionary Arts Museum in Federal Hill. It winds its way through city streets and city traffic all the way to the Canton Water Park. There the sculptures are launched into the water where they must navigate a short distance from the shore and back. From the water park it is an uphill climb to Patterson Park. After winding its way uphill the sculpture must try to make it through a sand pit and then uphill through a mud pit. You can hear the cheering a mile away. From there they race their way back to AVAM for the exciting finish.












The sculptures vary in size, shape and theme. Some are powered by a single person and some have many peddlers and paddlers. There are the yearly favorite crowdpleasers like Fifi and the huge elephant. There are some that are slightly modified every year, like the wombat who was on a skateboard last year and had a jazz band on it this year. My daughter's school decided on a cobra this year. They constructed it largely from recycled soda bottles. It had a miniature Fifi dangling from it's tongue. There was a fire truck, with the most colorful contestants. There was the Running with Scissors entry. It was awesome.












The weather was perfect, warm, not hot. It was overcast, but no rain fell. I tried to catch my daughter at the water park since she was piloting the sculpture through that part, but I missed it as they were one of the first to go through that part. But it was wonderful to see the other competitors give it a try. It is wonderful to hear all the cheers. It is also a prime people watching event. I don't know why so many observers show up in costume, but they do.












There are awards given each year for the Grand Mediocre sculpture, which finishes in the exact middle of the pack and the People's Choice Award, the crowd gets to have a say. Unfortunately, the Carver Center Cobra, was forced to drop out after the water park due to a chain malfunction. But there's always next year.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Radio Suicide

So last Thursday evening I was in Bertha's enjoying the piano jazz they offer every Thursday evening. I couldn't help but overhear the conversation just a few feet away. I heard the name "Marc Steiner" mentioned and I had to listen further. They were talking about what a shame it was that Marc was let go from the show for no good reason. They were talking about how the reasons offered were obviously not the real reason for his departure because the new shoe doesn't attempt to do the things they had said they wanted to do. I couldn't tell you myself, I listened to the show twice and couldn't get past the Boston accent. They called what the station was doing radio suicide. I couldn't agree more. So for those of you who are truly interested in what Marc is doing now, you can check out his new website Center for Emerging Media. I will also be providing a permanent link over in my cyber hangouts.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Natty Boh




Brewer's Hill is a small neighborhood in east Baltimore. It is the home of Natty Boh. If you have ever spent time in the trendy Canton neighborhood, you have seen him. He sits atop the old National Brewery building and winks at you from time to time. The National Brewery was where National Bohemian beer was once produced. Production of the beer began at the brewery in 1934. with Natty Boh as their spokesman. The now famous slogan "Oh Boy, What a Beer" began in 1952. The beer was most popular in the 50's and 60's with popularity declining somewhat in the 70's, when the younger crowd sought out the national brands. You know how that goes, everything old is new again. Natty Boh is seen everywhere in Baltimore. It is cool and trendy to drink the beer your grandfather used to drink.




Anyway, the old brewery has been converted into a mixed use space. It actually has a 12,000 square foot green roof too. How cool is that?




There are also traditional brick and formstone two story homes in this neighborhood. The homes were built from 1915 - 1920. Some have marble steps and a few even have front porches. It is within walking distance of O'Donnell Square, the Canton waterfront, and Patterson Park, making it an ideal location for many. The neighborhood is bordered by N. Fleet St to the north and Dillon St to the south, W. Conkling St to the west and Haven St on the east.




The average sale price of a home here in 2007 was $242,695.




Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Booth-Boyd



The neighborhood of Booth-Boyd is located in Southwest Baltimore. It is a small, residential area consisting of just a few blocks south of W. Baltimore Street, north of Frederick Avenue and hemmed in on the east and west by S. Calverton Road and S. Monroe Street. The homes were built around the turn of the century and are modest, brick row homes. This neighborhood isn't really that far from Union Square, but it seems far removed.




The average sale price for a home in this neighborhood in 2007 was $66,175.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Bolton Hill






Bolton Hill is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Baltimore. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Located just a mile and a half northwest of the Inner Harbor and right on the edge of the cultural district, it is an ideal location. If I could afford to buy there and afford to send my kids to private school, I'd move there in a heartbeat. I would rarely have to drive anywhere as all the theaters are within walking distance and a good number of restaurants too.






Most of the homes in the neighborhood date back to the mid 19th century. Eighty five percent of the homes are still single family and owner occupied. There are bistros, a flower shop, and decent public transportation. You could easily walk to the Meyerhoff to enjoy a night of the symphony or to the Lyric Theater for a night at the opera. The architecture is lovely, there are stone sills, marble, brownstone, graystone. There are wrought iron gates, fences, and decorative window grills. There are single family homes and elegant, three story row homes. There are some newer built homes that fit right in and even condos. The streets are tree lined, stately and quiet.






Artscape, the nation's largest free public art festival, is hosted by this neighborhood every summer. You will see everything at artscape. There are three stages of live music, there are booths of local photography, pottery, duct tape art, you name it. There is a fashion show. There are belly dancers and break dancers. There is performance art and just plain old people watching. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference.






The average sale price for a home in Bolton Hill was $423,909 in 2007.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Blythewood



Blythewood is a neighborhood that begs to be left alone. It is exclusive. The homes date back to the 1920's and sit on 2 acre lots. There are a variety of styles, custom built. I could find no data on homes sold in this neighborhood, but I did find this house for sale, so I included it here. It is probably not technically Blythewood, but I thought it would give you a general idea.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Biddle Street




The neighborhood of Biddle Street is in East Baltimore. It is bordered by Biddle Street on the North, Patterson Park Ave on the West, Eager Street on the South and the Orangeville Industrial Area on the East.

Biddle Street was named after Major Biddle who was from a prominent Philadelphia family and served in the Union Army.

A Negro League baseball team once played ball at Bugle Field at the corner of Biddle Street and Edison Highway. It seems this would have been where the Orangeville Industrial Area is now, which is why I mention it as part of this neighborhood. They were known as the Baltimore Elite Giants. They won two championships while they played in Baltimore in 1939 and 1949.

There seems to be no neighborhood association in Biddle Street. There are very few houses for sale, but in the photo above, it is easy to imagine a summer afternoon on a front porch, drinking iced tea and chatting with the neighbors. The average sale price of a home in this neighborhood was $83,945 in 2007.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Pope

OK, I never thought I would be inspired to write anything about the Pope. But I find I can't help myself. He is here. It seems to be rather big news. I heard that in DC they were selling all kinds of trinkets in honor of his visit, items such as Pope bobble heads and Pope on a rope soap. I thought it amusing. I have never understood the whole Pope thing. He is a man. He is no more a representation of Christ than any other man. I don't get it. He is a man with peculiar fashion sense and a knack for showing up to the baseball stadium when there is no game scheduled. I don't know how anyone can take him seriously in that pope mobile thing.

That being said, he did something yesterday that surprised me. He met with some of the victims of the sexual abuse scandal face to face. It wasn't publicized. It was very private. They interviewed three of them this morning on one of those morning news shows I can't remember the name of. All three seemed very certain of his sincerity. When asked what he said to them the one guy said that he listened. He let them do the talking. He told them he was sorry. That is cool. he came to them with no explanations or excuses, no platitudes, no Bible verses, he came seeking forgiveness from them.

Now that is Christlike. That is humility, like when Jesus washed the feet of His disciples.

So, I have to let up on the guy. I have to admit, I didn't think he had the courage to face these people. I didn't think he cared enough. I was wrong, very happily wrong. It seemed to really help them and it was touching.

No Pope soap on a rope for me.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Places to eat

I have been to several fine places to eat in the last couple of months. I thought I should share my thoughts on them.

Last Thursday evening we decided to drop by the Iron Bridge Wine Co. I have heard plenty of wonderful things about this wine bar with great food. Everything I have heard has been good and everything I have heard has been true. The parking lot was pretty much packed, as I hear it always is. We had no trouble getting a table however.

The place is small. If you would be uncomfortable sitting six inches away from the strangers at the next table, you would be uncomfortable here. We were inches away from a know it all guy trying to impress his date. It was quite obvious that he was into her way more than she was into him, which was sad but entertaining.

The walls are lined with wine bottles, just in case you can't tell by the name that this is a wine bar. There are no Budweiser taps visible at the bar. I don't know if they offer beer at all. They pour water from wine bottles and a server visits your table with a basket of bread. It is all quite charming and you can tell that customer service is very important to them.

We ordered a variety of appetizers as we weren't all that hungry. The server did an excellent job deciding what to serve, when. The food was very good and well presented on the plate. We each ordered a flight of wine, NJG chose Spanish wines and I went for Burgundy. We had a great time testing and sharing. We had a wonderful time and never felt rushed. Of course, it was late on a Thursday evening, it wasn't like there was a line of people waiting for our spot.

The bathroom was spotless. The paper towels were the most luxurious paper towels I have ever used.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Little Night Music

OK, so I promised to be back and here I am. I am not keeping with the old program as I am just trying to get back in the swing of things. I went to see the Sondheim musical, A Little Night Music at Center Stage last night. I had never been to this venue before and was looking forward to it. Center Stage is located on the fringe of Mt. Vernon, down the hill from the Washington Monument. We had dinner in the neighborhood so it was a pleasant walk and we only had to park once.

Center Stage is an interesting space. There was a strange vibe there and I can't really put my finger on what I mean about it. I guess it may have something to do with the many old people who go there. One of the old guys actually fell forward, tripping on the top step, during intermission. This happened right in front of me and left me quite startled, and also thankful that he had fallen forward and not back, onto me. He needed assistance getting back on his feet but otherwise seemed fine.

The bathroom was very smelly. The layout seems off to me. There was a bar jammed into a closed in space that made me not want to approach it, although I sensed that NJG would have liked that. There are some mod looking seats by the front entrance. I guess I would like a more open floor plan as I am accustomed to at the other venues around town. The theater is small, I liked it. They sure to fit a lot of instruments and musicians in a tiny orchestra pit. The seating was very good with plenty of leg room and personal space.

The performers wore tiny headsets, barely noticeable, even from the first row. The sound system was very good. They got the balance between the live orchestra and the performers just right. The performance was so good. I love this kind of thing. I thought it was top rate. The acting and singing was wonderful, the costumes were pretty good and the scenery was good too. I always marvel at how they can rearrange furniture and other props while continuing the action and it is in no way distracting. They did a great job of that.

I really liked the actress who portrayed Charlotte, the cynical, long-suffering wife of a philandering, hot-tempered husband. I thought she played it just right, but all of them did.

I had never seen this musical before, never even heard of it. Now I know where that "Send in the Clowns" song comes from. The performance is at Center Stage through the 13th, but I believe all performances are sold out.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Happy New Year

Yes today is my birthday. I know, I haven't kept up with my blog. No one comes here anymore. I only have myself to blame. Birthdays are like New Year's to me. It is the first day of my new year. It is my chance to make more resolutions. I'm going to come back. I'm going to re-commit to writing. I miss it. I am not the same when I don't blog.

I am busier than I have ever been. Things have picked up at work so I don't have quite as much time as I did to write here. I will have to be more organized and more dedicated.

April seems to be a month of hope in Charm City. First, let me mention the Orioles. That's right, first place in the American League. April is when I pay the most attention to baseball because it seems to be the month the O's do best. We are always somewhat near the top, if not in first in our division, in April. But, they say that this year is the best start in 10 years. I guess that is something to celebrate. We need to grab hold of these things when we can. Never mind that the home crowd average has been somewhere around 10,000 people from what I understand. It is just too cold for people to be out at Camden Yards.

We also have the NFL draft in April. That is always reason to be hopeful in Baltimore since we have such talent at picking the winners. We sure have many gaps to fill.

The weather has been absolutely dismal. Yesterday I wore a turtleneck sweater to work. I am officially tired of sweaters. So today I am wearing something new and it definitely screams spring. So what if I freeze, I am in denial. If it is warmer, it is also raining. The grass in the backyard is desperate for a mowing but I just can't bring myself to do it in a turtleneck sweater and winter coat. I will need a machete to cut it when I get to it.

Tonight NJG and I are going to see a musical at Center Stage. I have never been to this venue before. We are seeing Music Late at Night. You know I will let you know all about it. We are also eating at George's in Mt. Vernon. I will let you know about that too.

I have much to tell you, we have been to the opera and have been to a few restaurants that I would love to review here. I think I will need to change my format a little, add some new, ditch what is irrelevant.

I have stopped listening to WYPR but NJG hasn't. They do play jazz in the evening and are truly our only source for such music on the radio in Baltimore. Some smart person will figure out that this would work in Baltimore, jazz, real jazz, not that smooth jazz crapola. During the day at work I am listening to either WDNA, www.seriousjazz.org, or WNYC, www.wnyc.org. WDNA is out of Miami. Frank Consola has a wonderful program in the morning. He is very interesting, obviously loves jazz. WNYC is based in the Big Apple of course. They have great talk shows and at 2 pm Soundcheck comes on. This guy knows something about every genre of music you could possibly think of. You never know what you are going to hear on this show.

Well, that is all I have for now.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Marc Steiner replaced by columnist

WYPR has announced their replacement for Marc Steiner.

Oddly enough, it sounds like the format, will remain essentially unchanged. Is this the format that was getting poor ratings?

WYPR has decided to replace the local, homegrown Marc Steiner with a newspaper columnist who moved to Baltimore in 1976. He was born in East Bridgewater, Mass. He is not from this area at all. He didn't grow up here. It won't be the same. I don't know him so I won't comment about his motives, but no one ever had to wonder about Marc's motives.

I am getting old and having to cope with these changes. Yes, Camden Yards and Raven's Stadium are nice, but they aren't the "world's largest outdoor insane assylum", Macy's has some nice things, but it can't hold a candle to Hutzler's. I am sure Port Discovery is enjoyed by lots of kids, but I miss the fish market. The Arabs seem few and far between now.

Dan, you seem like a nice enough guy, but you ain't no Marc Steiner.