Tuesday, April 29, 2008


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 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.