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Archive for July, 2008

Charming City T-shirts

The man on the t-shirt seems to be punching me...

Your t-shirt is punching me

This blue Sharp Shirter t-shirt was, er, a hit at a weekend luau we attended in Bethesda… I was dressed appropriately in a faux lei and flowery shirt (albeit in gloomy black-and-white) but for others, this new acquisition from a booth at Artscape was too tempting to leave in a drawer. Sharp Shirter owner/designer Dan Lachman, a Wesleyan grad living in Bethesda (spiritually of Charm City), also sold us this Sucker shirt featuring a mosquito (Radhar, I thought of you).

We all like to sport a bit o’ Baltimore when we get the chance (aside from the ubiquitous Nattie Boh ‘stache)… Me, I’m going to spend the weekend hitching up some rather tight lilac trousers by Dittos (they zip at the bottom), also purchased at Artscape from the owner of Love Allie Boutique, a new Federal Hill boutique. Maybe I’ll wear them with my sweet veggie-themed Squidfire tee snagged at a their holiday gift fair at Lyric Opera House.

Sidebar: I was going to end the post with a shout out to oddball design squad at Daydream Silkscreen–check out Eliza Hartley’s Horney Knitters T-shirt–but as it turns out, although they are always selling at Baltimore events, they evidentially reside in Brooklyn. Talk about suckers–dudes, your rent would be like 200% cheaper here.

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Converting to Canuck

Greetings, ladies of the Block, perpetual students, and others longing to dig into a dissertation.

Get out your passports.

Get out your passports.

As if universal health care, free college and great Asian food weren’t temptation enough to justify a move to Canada, a new report by the Boston College Center for International Higher Education (CIHE) shows academics make more money up there.

“The CIHE study found that overall average monthly salaries ranged from $1,182 in China to $6,038 in Canada. These findings produced an international average of $4,856 per month, with Canadian academics earning on average 5.1 times more on a monthly basis than their Chinese counterparts.”

Ryan Hahn, writing on the Private Sector Development (PSD) Blog speculated that this should be creating brain drain from China to Canada.

But in general, in developed countries, academia doesn’t pay well. In India, the report found that average faculty salaries are “a whopping 8.7 times greater than that country’s average World Bank GDP monthly per capita estimate… In contrast, more developed countries—like the United States, Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada, and New Zealand—present faculty incomes that are only 1.4 to 2.2 times above their country’s GDP per capita—per month figures.”

Sounds like there may be yet more brain draining from Calvert Street, to Canada, India, or even Colombia, where scholars make 5.4 times their civilian counterparts.

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Maximizing MARC

Our friend MARC may visit us on the weekends soon.
Our friend MARC may visit on the weekends soon.

Getting back and forth from Washington to Baltimore is improbably difficult on weekends.

For instance, this weekend, I had to convince my sister that an elderly family friend might not be around too much longer and that she, therefore, should cart me from Dupont Circle to Hunt’s Valley to see her this Sunday afternoon. This means I get to try out Bar Pilar on Friday night without committing to a Friday-through-Monday morning stint in Washington–while avoiding soul-killing I-95 and yet more miles on Cricket, my green Toyota Corolla (it’s clocked +160,000 miles already). God willing, our lovely older friend will live to see 100 and maybe even the day when the Maryland Transit Authority runs commuter MARC trains on the weekends.

Thousands of commuters take MARC between Washington and Baltimore each day. For the $7 one-way fare or $175 unlimited monthly pass, they get to snooze for 50 minutes more than their automobile-bound peers, read, knit or gossip, and perhaps most importantly, avoid the cardiac arrest-inducing road rage resulting from hundreds of thousands of gridlocked traffic in the DC-Baltimore area. Rail commuters also avoid sticker shock from skyrocketing gas prices.

But weekend day-trippers to our nation’s capitol, or north to this charming harborside city, are forced to contend with $30 Amtrak fare or only slightly-lessened gridlock and those afore-mentioned petrol prices.

Until now? I recently complained about the situation to MTA Administrator, Paul Widefeld, imploring them to begin running Penn Line MARC trains on weekends, in the name of boosting Baltimore tourism. Lo and behold, the head of customer service replied with this encouraging message:

“Thank you for your excellent suggestions to the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) regarding extension of MARC Train Service hours. We have put this request into the State budget, and as soon as the financing and contractual agreements can be worked out, we plan to begin weekend service between Baltimore and Washington, with stops including BWI Marshall Airport.”

MARC, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

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Artscape is Baltimore’s time to show off what we do well, and we’ve darn near perfected this giant performance art piece in its 27th incarnation. 

We excel at drinking excessively in the streets, sporting odd clothing, making cool t-shirts, walking on our hands (see photo below), being creative (read: weird), and partying till the break-a-break-a-dawn–or at least till 10:30, when the raging Diplo set slid to a sweaty, glorious close by Penn Station.

The bohemian fringes of Artscape stretched north to the Charles Theatre

The bohemian fringes of Artscape stretched north to the Charles Theatre

Some other highlights of the festival:

1. Toothfairy pillows (craft goddesses will find any excuse to crochet)

2. Linda Johnson’s sweet etchings on hand-fired pottery

3. Shaking a monkey’s hand for 25 cents.

4. Translucent insta-studios for photography by Kroiz architects. Festival goers were being photographed for a gallery of Artscape’s widely diverse visitors.

 

 

 

 

 

5. The Wailers, closing out the weekend with a hill of swaying semi-stoned (on the dully-oppressive heat at the very least) adoration…

6. The unofficial after-party at MICA’s favorite dive bar, the Mount Royal Tavern (MRT, ya heard?). Dogs napped, dreadlocks flew on the dance floor, couples swapped spit, Yuengling flowed from the beer van, the pink sun set and parched festival goers raised $3 plastic cups to Baltimore.

This was the beer garden at MRT. Think plastic seats on cracked concrete.

Beer garden at MRT: think plastic seats on cracked concrete.

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Poutine = Canadian pheromones

Poutine = Canadian pheromones

Forget oysters, pomegranates, and your other pansy aphrodisiacs. Want to get asked out by that cute barista sporting stubble and a soulful gaze? If you’re in Canada, try poutine.

Poutine, sold in Canadian eateries from McDonald’s to popular restaurant chain Dic Ann’s, appears to be a steaming pile of cheese curds, fries and BBQ chicken gravy. This concoction apparently stirs up that lovin’ feeling in cute Canucks. Our Block Ambassador to Canada (a.k.a. Jess) had sampled some of Canada’s finest cuisine and, eminating aromas of gravy and potato, was immediately chatted up by a hottie in a top-shelf coffee bar.

Now, we’ll have to hunt down some bonne poutine to see if this stuff works in Charm City.

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I Vote for Fuzzy T-shirts

Anna and I made these rocking t-shirts in honor of our voter registration drive at Artscape this weekend. We are on the lookout for youngsters not registered, and oldsters with changed names and addresses–and any sleepy-eyed people just waking up to the need to rock the vote big time in 2008. (If you match any of the descriptions above, click here to read up on how to register in Maryland.)

Now our voter registration coordinator says we have to wear white t-shirts instead to match the team. Is this the land of the free, and home of the brave?

How could you refuse this tee?

How could you refuse this tee?

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Maryland's energy-cool quotient may soon rival Denmark's

Maryland's energy-cool quotient may soon rival Denmark's

Rejecting President Bush’s call to greenlight offshore oil drilling, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley endorsed wind farms 12 miles off the coast of Delaware and Maryland, the Baltimore Sun reports today. Ocean City and Rehobeth beachgoers would barely see the 40 foot-high turbines–especially during our smoggy summers, noted John Hughes, Delaware’s secretary of natural resources and environmental control. 150 turbines would generate enough electricity to power 600,000 homes–that’s nearly all of Baltimore City–with zero emissions and minimal impact on marine life, according to Malcolm Woolf, director of the Maryland Energy Administration.

Yay for Maryland! Baltimore City is also getting more hybrid buses which means (in addition to less carbon output and particular emissions) our streets will be quieter.

Soon we may be as energy-cool as Denmark’s Samso island. As Elizabeth Kolbert reported in the New Yorker the other week, turbines on and offshore here generate so much energy the residents  sell it to the mainland. It’s worth noting their offshore turbines are giant–195 feet tall with spinning blades 120 feet long.

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