Archive for November, 2008

It being a holiday weekend I wanted to share this fabulous Baltimore dance video. It’s Baltimore rapper Rye Rye and DJ Blaqstarr. Rye Rye, friends, neighbors, bros and sistas, Shake it to the Ground through the Inner Harbor, Baltimore blocks, living rooms and da Baltimore club. Represent!


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Windup Getaway


The Windup Space is a new Baltimore discovery just north of Mount Vernon. All week, the rotating drug dealers on the corner hovered oppressively, so on Friday we retreated up to scenic North Avenue to visit Baltimore’s newest gallery/music club. For those who don’t live on any Baltimore Block, when I describe North Ave as scenic, I’m speaking in a post-irony, filmatic sense. It is scenic, like you are walking along a gorgeous wide angle camera pan on The Wire. What does that look like? Per City Paper:

“Maybe you’ve noticed the giant effing burned-out building at the corner or North Avenue and Charles Street, and maybe you’ve noticed the giant concrete shell of a building that houses Family Dollar on the adjacent corner at North and Maryland avenues. Making the ballsiest stab into Station North development since Joe Squared, the Windup Space occupies the slight building sandwiched in between the two.”

[Kudos, my new neighbors. The alternative journos live one block west of my new block, Cathedral–beloved by junkies and church goers alike.]

Windup Space, at 10-12 West North Avenue, was host to the record release party of sexy “grown up” band Lo Moda and openers The Miracles, featuring a spastic girl drummer. The Critters exhibit had just opened and the bug and rabbit-themed sketches, paintings and photos set the stage for off-kilter rock and roll. May Wilson’s dead deer sculpture made the place a rec room-hunting lodge and $3 whiskeys helped us forget we were bundled in parkas, since the space heaters didn’t penetrate the bone-chilling draft seeping in from the tundra of North Avenue.

After another whiskey, we put our gloves back on, blew out hot air, and scurred out to the car. Back south a few blocks, the drug dealer had gone home–it was too cold outside.

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The Art of the Party

Speaking of great Baltimore art, or Baltimore-based art in the case of Mr. Franz West’s BMA exhibit, my favorite new artist… is not responsible for the Christmas tree hued snapshot below taken at Sonar last week (that’s all me). I’m giving it up for another shutterbug visibly wowed at the Diplo show.

Flashing Lights at the Diplo show

Flashing Lights at the Diplo show

Local photographer Josh Sisk took some sick shots of the manic Taxlo/Mad Decent party starring wonder boy DJ Diplo, a towhead grown-Dennis the Mennis lookalike who gets crowds from Houston burbs to Zulu townships bouncing. Local rapper Blaqstarr introduced Baltimore’s own mini club diva Rye Rye–“Mini” because not old enough to drink, she had black Xs slashed across her hands and a huge grin across her face. MIA has apparently adopted her (+signed her to Interscope) after discovering her “making popcorn” in Blaqstarr’s house. They have remixed Tic Toc by Busy Signal.

Josh Sisk’s photos are swirly-ecstastic slices of time–the crowd’s fervor spills into the hot, wet air, wildly tinged pink, green and blue. I think he leaves the shutter open to get the movement (and the vibe, ya heard?), then snaps a flash to freeze the frame. It’s pretty-dreamy.

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The venerable Baltimore Museum of Art

The venerable Baltimore Museum of Art

The November 3 issue of The New Yorker features a two-page review on a Baltimore art event remarkable for the omissions of adjectives that, in critics’ vocabulary, sit predictably, cloyingly close in paragraphs to “Baltimore”: gritty, murderous, and quirky–the latter, loathsome for its ubiquity in paragraphs by sneering travel writers.*

New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl writes about Franz West’s first retrospective, now on view at the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) on Charles Street. Not only is the exhibit “timely… energetic and affable”, it features what he calls West’s strongest painted-aluminum sculpture, “The Ego and the Id.” The stroke of genius? Each candy colored piece of the alien-like structure features stools. Because isn’t the absolute worst thing about museum art the aching arch and chafing heel that make standing silently in front of paintings unbearable after 15 minutes?

The article is called “Just for Fun.” Yeah, take that, cheesy Baltimore Area Convention and Visitor Association (panned affectionately as “boosterism” in the New Yorker’s April 28 Talk of the Town) busy promoting John Waters’ gross-out watering holes.

My idea of fun? Walking up Charles to sit a spell with the BMA this weekend. Then I’ll visit my own gross-out watering holes.

[*Full disclosure, I wrote of Baltimore’s “quirky charm” in a 2003 profile on Hampden for the now-defunct lifestyle magazine Budget Living. Seriously, how much lazier can you get than to describe a block where fem-mullets are both sported on diner waitresses and spoofed on indie rockers… as quirky?]

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Hammer Time in Baltimore

Maybe it’s pent-up election fervor–or my inner Fly Girl.

See, recently, I had to break it down a little bit for some peeps who didn’t grow up in MoCo. Key Middle School and Springbrook, you didn’t gradu-ma-cate without memorizing the hopping and skipping and jabbing of early 90s rap moves.

What brought this on? At an otherwise classy affair this past weekend, someone cranked up the M.C. Hammer classic Can’t Touch This on the iPod dock. Son, when I started to break it down, they sure enough could not touch this.

My new re-obsession (quarter life crisis much)? Perfecting the Roger Rabbit and the floor slide. Cause I seem to have busted my shoulder attemping as much.

The Running Man? I got that.

My new party attire: spandex bike shorts, wrist bands, gold chains. And I’m bringing the TUDE.

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Lovely SJP loves Baltimore

Lovely SJP loves Baltimore

Utterly obsessed with election news, I missed the teeny headlines in Baltimore papers of late about the HBO pilot produced by Sarah Jessica Parker, filming here for six days. Like producers for My One and Only, which filmed here in July, SJP apparently finds location fees here irresistibly low. 

The Washingtonienne, based on the blog-cum-book about a capital hill aid living in a buttoned-up city that er, she unbuttons by night. Anyway, the point is that SJP was looking for extras for the new show! Ladies of Calvert Street, it seems that we missed our chance! According to the Baltimore Sun,

“Filming is expected to require the use of between 700 and 900 extras, in both speaking and nonspeaking roles. Anyone interested should send a recent photo, along with their name, phone number and any union affiliation”

Way to advertise on behalf of the filmmakers, Balt-Sun! I sure hope they found their sea of shining faces to stand in the rain for 12 hours in our charming city, a proxy for un-charming Washington(ienne). 

The point is, of course, to catch a glimpse of the pint-sized fashion icon in her huge sunglasses and tell her how much you love Carrie from SITC.

But get this? She loves us too.

“Baltimore is a great city … It’s beautiful, and it has some terrific architecture … [and] all that kind of Eastern Seaboard food”, she told the Baltimore Sun. Even better? She knows a value when she sees it. “It’s a city that’s affordable,” she said. I guess compared to the West Village, where she lives with hubby Ferris Bueller Matthew Broderick, Baltimore is friggin’ Guatemala-cheap. And just as dangerous (maybe I mean El Salvador… ?)

Anyway, my point is that if I got to hang with SJP in our fab, uber-cheap city we’d go vintage dress shopping on the Avenue in Hampden, get hipster tees at Squidfire, then scout the scruffy tattooed passersby on the water in Fell’s for fashion inspiration. Then maybe we’d wash down the scrumptious scallops at Johns Stevens with hearty local Clipper City ale. [Cosmos? Banish the thought.] OMG, we’d totally be BFFs.

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Rabble-rousing in Washington Place after Obama's resounding victory

Election night rabble-rousing in Washington Place

We all heard about celebrations, rain mixing with tears, in front of the White House and on historically black U Street. Yet while Washington, Harlem and Times Square rocked with joy, many of Baltimore’s inhabitants apparently slept through the night. Needless to say, the rabble rousers above didn’t sleep much. After four cable news channels proclaimed BARACK OBAMA ELECTED PRESIDENT, we blinked, rubbed our eyes and started to shout, hysterically. After celebratory drinks at the weirdly sedate Midtown Yacht Club, we joined a herd of 20-somethings gathered around the Washington Monument jumping and shrieking at any car spotted (there weren’t many at 1:30am) until they slapped us five and honked good and loud. Any and all passersby shouted and raised fists. I spotted my trusted OBAMA t-shirt from MoveOn.org on a couple other people. BARACK ON! we enthused. Yes, we can– Yes, we did! 

I voted

I voted

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