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Archive for June, 2009

Foxy "stinkums" Brown was a stray in the Bronx

Foxy "stinkums" Brown was a stray in the Bronx

The dumpster divers on our alley have been appearing, of late, toting small stray pooches. I’m wondering, is it just Mount Vernon or is this a city-wide trend? Canine companions to the men sorting through the garbage are sort of middling height, with bushy fur and either furious barks or nervous pacing. The dogs are unleashed. It’s a good thing Baltimore has wisely reduced the off-leash fee from $1000 for first time offenders to $200.

Speaking of trash, can someone tell our neighbor to quit putting her old mail in our yellow City of Baltimore bin? It’s, like, begging these guys to sift through for forgotten checks and bank statements. Her stuff ends up all over the ground, strewn like snow in front of our door. Bills, class notes, practice tests, Kleenex. Our own middling stray, the Stinkums of the Block, wades like molasses sniffing through every morsel.

PS: You can feed a homeless person’s dog at this site.

PPS: Dogs can probably live on the chicken bones and rice scattered around this city especially at bus stops.

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Red Line Debate at Enoch Pratt

Illustration from Maryland Daily Record

Illustration from Maryland Daily Record

If like us you missed out on celebrating Drop the Pump Day last week, you still have a chance to speak up for petrol-free transit options in Baltimore.

Get thee to the Pratt library on Cathedral street next Wednesday, July 8. From 5:30-7pm in Wheeler Auditorium, Baltimore City, MTA, and Central Maryland Transportation Alliance (CMTA) are hosting a screening and panel discussion on the  documentary short, Transit Around the Nation. Clips on the CMTA site give residents a sense for what the Red Line would offer: a reliable, quick link between Woodline and Greektown including Bayview hospital and Fell’s Point (Avon Barksdale shudders to think, Westside and Eastside united??).

The film title refers to a city tour sponsored by CMTA et al. They invited activists, developers and city officials to learn about how transit projects impact communities and businesses. The group spoke with residents in Seattle, Portland, and … Los Angeles. Yes, even car-crazy Angelenos utilize more light rail than us east coasters–especially shameful here in Baltimore where about 32% of people or more than 200,000 people don’t have access to cars, according to the Abell foundation (which unfortunately concluded that we should give more people cars rather than fix our inefficient and outdated transit system). (more…)

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101 Secrets of Baltimore

At 100 Dairy Lane

At 100 Dairy Lane

Not especially known for its adventurous spirit, Baltimore magazine’s “Secrets of the City” issue raised a few eyebrows. The whimsically illustrated June issue boasted 101 Things to Eat, See & Do Before YOU Die!”

Aside from the title’s morbid undertone–especially for those of us who actually live in Baltimore City (the magazine’s advertising heavily targets suburbanites)–the “secrets” promised were too tantalizing to leave on the Whole Foods magazine rack. And actually some of the writers unearthed, er, found some cool stuff we didn’t know about.

1. Nak Won — ok, most of the “cheap ethnic foods” sighted by the editors are neither secrets nor cheap, but apparently this Korean joint at 12 W. 20th street offers “Frisbee-sized seafood pancakes, tabletop barbecue, and bibimbap” with a total tab ringing in under $15 each. Sounds like it’s a highlight of Baltimore’s own Ktown (also known for late night karaoke at Rainbow Music Studies and even later night Nam Kang, upstairs, per Places to Go at 3am).

2. Great oldskool Old Bay spice-encrusted crabs at Obrycki‘s on East Pratt street, open since 1944. Finally, something to tell people who ask, where oh where should we go for crabs.

3. Maryland Sunrise Farm used to be the US Naval Academy’s dairy farm. You can tour an 11 acre corn maze, and they produce oodles of organic staples–eggs, beef, hay and soybeans–yet the magazine gives no hint of where readers can buy this stuff. According to the farm’s site, the food from 100 Dairy Lane is sold at the Anne Arundel county’s farmer’s market and via their CSA.

4. Tangier Island, VA — while clearly not in Baltimore, it’s a Daytrip You Never Heard of that sounds worth the 3 hour trip: “Robert Plant and Jimmy Page have been known to visit this idyllic spot, where bikes are the primary mode of transportation.” The “rustic” island is known for seafood and striking sunsets.

5. “Places to People Watch”–otherwise known as places to Keep an Eye Out for Authenticity amidst rapid gentrification–readers are urged to check out Santoni’s Super Market for jarred pig knuckles, Mount Royal Tavern for hipsters and stone drunks, Union Baptist Church for hats, and bikers in Hampden.

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Mr. Yogato's hot chocolate concoction

Mr. Yogato's hot chocolate concoction

Maybe it was the blistering weather of summer 2008 that made us cuckoo for all things smooth and frozen: Tangy Sweet fro-yo, Pitango gelato (now enjoyed in DC), Rita’s ice, and the perennial Wendy’s Frosty. The nonstop monsoon-like rain we’ve been getting in Baltimore had put my craving on ice (so to speak). But with late June’s unleashed summer sun, the urge to indulge in frozen delights has reared its head again.

Current obsession: Mr. Yogato. Sure, it’s been open since March but the uber-colorful space–filled with board games, Nintendo, and a white board for suggestions–was nearly hidden in curtains of rain falling almost nonstop in the past few months. I posted last summer about Dupont Circle’s store but it was only this weekend that I finally got to sample with childlike glee Mr. Yogato’s 4-flavor yogurt glory. It’s addictively citrusy and refreshingly light and goes with, well, any of the 40 toppings they offer. There are perpetual favorites like sliced strawberry, crushed Butterfingers, and deconstructed Oreo’s. There are the dark horses of topping glory: cinnamon toast crunch, mini toasted Eggo’s, honeydew, and mochi, a rice-based sweet (Aside: some friends raised eyebrows, but I found the mochi’s gummy texture and almost healthy constitution strangely appealing. Perhaps the mochi offers a nod to the South Korean origins of the tangy yogurt trend?) Then there are oddball, or as we say in Baltimore, quirky selections– Balsamic vinegar, wheat germ, olive oil, red bean paste. Horrible? Brilliant? One wishes one had time to try all–the sum total of flavor permutations are… a lot (Radhar, can you put on your statistical reasoning hat and give us an estimate?!).

I’ve visited the Yogurt Mecca on Broadway two days in a row and the craving is unabated. Next up: The Hot Chocolato. Ummmm.

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POC 09Celebrate… And Have a Good Time. No, really, take a hint from Kool and the Gang, and enjoy this weekend. It’s for all the ladies and gents taking a breather from the back-to-back nuptials of wedding season.

DON’T get tipsy before noon, wear spike heels in grass, smear cake on your face, or freaky dance with your friend’s parents.

DO boogie down with music, outdoor movies and piles and piles of crafts for … free (mostly).

Black Lips: Kick this s**t off with a dance party at Sonar, complete with Spank Rock and Mad Decent’s Popo ($16).

Juneteenth, A Celebration of Freedom: At Fort McHenry, salute the Emancipation Declaration, read in celebration of the Civil War’s defining moment, when Union Soldiers landing in Galveston, Texas were told that slaves were free. Bring your own flag, and umbrella.

Pile of Craft 2009: Forgot to browse the registries before all the good stuff (read: under $150) got took? Eschew Crate n’ Barrel and flock to Red Emma’s church to purchase locally produced functional art, like ceramics, fine art or irrepresible stuffed yarn creatures. If they’re a youngish urban couple they are MUCH better off with stuffed yarn than crystal. (more…)

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Street Showers by Ken Royster, at the Lewis museum

Street Showers by Ken Royster, at the Lewis museum

Everyone’s talking about East Enders. Not the Brit soap set in a pub, although I’ll chat you up about that one, but Charm City’s revitalizing/reactivating/rehabbing and rehousing, the so-called Middle East. City Paper reviews a new photography exhibit at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture (East Side Stories), a mixture of contemporary and historical images borrowed from Afro American and Baltimore Sun archives. The exhibit which goes through July 26, with a talk by photographer Ellis Marsalis III on June 25, depicts the ethnically diverse neighborhoods with a 19th century rush of Italians, Bohemians, Irish, Slavs, Poles, Jews, followed by an early 20th century explosion of Lithuanians, Russians, Greeks, Hungarians, and Ukrainians came on in. African Americans have always lived here, and Latinos are some of the newest inhabitants (Michela Caudill photographs men and women in a Dominican beauty salon).

(more…)

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Fixing the JFX

View on JFX near historic Penn Station

JFX near historic Penn Station

On the Baltimore Brew, the new alternative e-paper that is becoming a hot spot for urban planning discourse, Gerald Neilly makes a good case for the city to “bend but don’t break” the Jones Fall Expressway (otherwise known as the JFX). The hidious neighborhood barrier that becomes I-83 is elevated on cement for its last mile between Northeast Baltimore and Mount Vernon, allowing traffic to speed through Baltimore’s Cultural Center, give drivers a peek at the Eager Street jail, and covering the Downtown Farmer’s Market with shadow and soot.

However we loathe the 1970s-era elevated expressway, Neilly’s point is well taken:

“If the City is going to spend a billion dollars to tear down the last mile of the Jones Falls Expressway (JFX) and replace it with a boulevard, they had better give us a lot more than just a glorified median strip with vast streams of traffic whooshing (or crawling) by on either side…The JFX already becomes President Street south of Fayette Street toward Harbor East, and it’s a traffic hell that pedestrians invade at their peril.”

For real though — President’s Street feels creepy in that Southern California way, like cars are more important than people and if you get hit, it’s your bad. I second the notion to utilize the undesirable prison environs to channel traffic, and to make something of the wasted space near downtown where the JFX currently looms on the horizon. Nightlife venues have settled in here, like Sonar, The Talking Head and One, the farmer’s market persists despite the ultra depressing highway ceiling, and businesses would jump at the chance to open just above the Cheese Whiz adult playground Power Plant Live.

Check out Neilly’s drawings of what this retooled JFX could look like. Shading in yellow is ripe for development.

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