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Archive for August, 2008

Lord Hanuman, the monkey God

 Apparently, a group of devout Hindus in India have become fervant supporters of Barack Obama after hearing that the presidential candidate who was married by Rev. Jeremiah Wright carries a good luck “monkey god” charm. The popular Lord Hanuman  is revered in Hinduism for leading a monkey army against the demon King Ravena. Obama’s following among these Hindus, according to Melinda Brouwer, writing on the Forieign Policy Association Web site, underlines his “mystical” international appeal–and, I would add, his cross-cutting following stateside, as was evident at February’s gathering in the Mariner’s Arena in downtown Baltimore. Girls in hijabs beamed next to b-boys, standing up straight to see their man Barack. Graying white couples held hands.

Let’s hope our man comes back to Baltimore soon–with his yet to be identified running mate–to tell us about the fight he’s leading against a proxy for our cloven-footed president. Lord Barack, may the Hanuman force be with you!

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Foxy Brown, chilling out in upstate New York
Foxy Brown, chilling out in upstate New York

She looks innocent enough, but this photo was taken last week, in the halcyon days before Foxy’s drug-fueled rampage through Bethesda.

Does my dog smoke crack? By all recent appearences, yes, although she’s given nary a nasty nip in our year on Calvert Street. It’s only in the last few months that she’s been implicated in a string of apartment-wreckings (mine).

Foxy is terrified by thunder, so each time it storms–like, every day in soggy Maryland summer–she attacks my door with her teeth and claws in a panic to get out. I come home from work to an array of styrofoam insulation bits, wood chips, and metal rods blanketing the foyer floor, and bloody paw prints up the wall.

What to do? Doc Side Vets said Xanax might help, so, feeling a bit foolish, I picked up a bottle of Alprazolam prescribed to “Foxy (dog)” at the Mount Vernon Pharmacy. (sidebar: I never thought I’d be one of those people who prescribe their pets Prozac, but here I am, one step away.)

That evening, at a dinner party in Bethesda, Foxy whined and paced, so I thought I’d try the Alprazolam to monitor its effects before leaving her alone drugged in my house. I gave her 2 mg, and when that didn’t calm her, I gave her another 2.

Fast forward to dessert–berries and Haagen Dazs–and Foxy was freaking. Let loose in the yard, she raced in circles, bumping into people and trees, yelping and whining. Bumping into things is not new for my darling mutt, since she’s blind, but she normally mellows out at my heel, waiting for her seeing eye person to show her around.

Later that night, after walks, food, petting and pleading, she paced back and forth whining and slurping every drop of water she could find and sending us, in an equal panic, to the wikipedia page where “hyperactivity” “restlessness” and “sleeplessness” were, ironically, listed under “side effects” for this medicine used to treat anxiety attacks.

Around midnight, on a rampage through the house, she found time to puke on the carpet–rawhide bone particles, grass and crud. That would have been the carpet in my boyfriend’s parents’ bedroom.

Long story short, Baltimore will be less one misbehaving crackhead because I am flushing Xanax and tabling other anxiety pills for her thunder troubles. Unfortunately, this means I’m back to the drawing board. Crates? Obedience class, for a 6-year old mutt? Summercamp in Alaska? Let me know if anyone reading this has ideas. I’m all out.

UPDATE:

Sarah brought this excellent lead to my attention: a “Calming Collar” made with herbs, with a sedative effect that supposedly lasts longer than medication. Plus, they are super cute. Check out the “bones on red” fabric.

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We know Washington, DC loves to call itself a “world city” (U Street does have a lot of ethnic food joints) but today was a globally-cool day for our nation’s capital. Today, the innovative SmartBike program kicked off. As the Washington Post crowed, “Today the city will join the ranks of Paris and Barcelona with the launch of the first high-tech public bike-sharing program in the United States, forcing such cities as San Francisco and Chicago to look here to see chic alternative transportation in action in America.

The city-wide biking coop, owned by Clear Channel, is a great alternative to DC’s notoriously expensive cabs and snarled gridlock. For $40 a year, you can rent bikes any time at 10 self-service locations by swiping your membership card. 120 cars off the streets (or more likely, off the lately-horrendous Red Line) may not ease traffic but it’s a promising start for a city historically suspicious of mass and alternative transit.

Capital Bikeways features a mash-up map showing SmartBike pick up locations and bike routes through DC.

Now it’s time for Baltimore’s murky city planners to step up to the plate. A bike share program would be a great way to shuttle ourself between our Calvert street block and parking-scarce Federal Hill, avert ever-present traffic snarls down St. Paul. An eco-friendly program like BikeSmart could also help hungover Hampden hipsters (a worthy cause, no?) sweat out last night’s Golden West margarita by pumping over to take in a film at the oldster Senator in Belvedere Square… Sheila Dixon may not be too interested in that last idea.

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Dakar

She's leaving on a jet plane

She's leaving on a jet plane

Jess, our spunky Canuck-in-Residence, will be departing Newark airport for Senegal shortly. At liftoff, she will join the renowned international diaspora of the Baltimore Block. Other members of said community reside in Lusaka, Buenos Aires and Washington, DC. Yes, it’s a sad day for her neighbors still on Calvert street, but a happy day if you live on her future block in Dakar. So in tribute to her new neighborhood, here is a top-ten list of cool things about Senegal’s capital city of 1 million.

10. They have a city coat of arms in pretty primary colors

9. Ils parlent francaises la bas

8. Beautiful beaches are shared by sheep 

7. According to Lollapalooza 2008 veterans Amadou & Mariam, Dakar has great fast food

 6. The blind couple that rock also like the cinema Le Paris

5. As at Addis Ababa in Silver Spring, Maryland, those hungry for Injera in Dakar can get Ethiopian food on a rooftop restaurant. Try Lalibela.

4. Fete de la Musique is an essential cultural highlight of June, plein de rapping and breakdancing

3. Gazelle bier is to Dakar as Natty Boh is to Baltimore

2. Dakar is home to renowned singer Youssou N’Dour

1. Most importantly, Dakar is now home to our renowned transplanted Torontonian-cum-scooter afficiendo, berry baker, and welcomer of new babies.

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Vote for A Baltimore Block

The City Paper’s annual reader poll offers you the chance to decide what is Best of Baltimore in 2008. Like we said, Rock the Vote (don’t forget to choose A Baltimore Block for best local blog!).

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From Our Stoop to Yours

Sending a big shout out from our Block to yours.

We love Little Jackie, whose new album “The Stoop” rocks. A punk rock doppelganger for Tina Turner called Imani Francesca Coppola shook her stuff in red leggings at the Giant Step show at New York’s Summer Stage yesterday.

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Baltimore will represent at Summer Stage

Baltimore Block to represent at NYC's Summer Stage

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