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.