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Archive for January, 2010

Going Electric?

(Baltimore Sun photo by Lloyd Fox / January 26, 2010)

Governor O'Malley Touring GM Plant

This week brought news of a further boost in the jobs outlook for the Baltimore region, and  especially the beleaguered manufacturing sector: General (Govment) Motors will soon manufacture electric motors at its White Marsh plant for use in battery-electric and fuel-cell vehicles.  This move is expected to generate close to 200 jobs by the year 2013 and the plant will be the first of its kind in the United States.  What’s more, the company is investing some $246 million in the facility, including state funds and federal stimulus money.  For all the criticism which has been levelled at Barack Obama in the wake of his State of the Union speech earlier this week, this news presents an example of something he has done right in the past year: force the automobile companies into a paradigm shift.  If only he had been so tough with the bankers and weapons manufacturers, but that is a topic for another post.  For now, we have this to keep us warm: new figures show that US GDP grew at a rate of 5.7% in the final 2009 quarter.  Alas, the jobs outlook continues to be as bleak as the wintry scene on Park Avenue on this snowy weekend afternoon: here is a fascinating map of unemployment rates throughout the US.  For all of Baltimore’s problems, living in Maryland looks like a good deal after taking a look at that map, no?

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Hat or Mullet? You be the judge

Mullet or Hat?

Protective goggles on, Obama stomped around in a Highlandtown factory yesterday before announcing a $5000 payroll tax credit for businesses that hire new workers. He made his pitch for this plan at Chesapeake Machine, a factory that produces steel containers, machinery for steel plants in Sparrow’s Point.  According to rising Mayor Blake, the factory also makes equipment for solar panel construction and high speed rails.

Highlandtown, a working class neighborhood known for high rates of home ownership, Greek food, and crack cocaine, has historically been home to thriving breweries, butchers and shipping. Many factories have been abandoned; a few struggle on.

In this article, Baltimore Sun interviews the operations manager Joseph Sedlak, who explains that the company has been surviving on Department of Defense contracts. “We’re forced to follow the money,” said Sedlak. Sedlak then revealed to the Sun that Chesapeake was hiring. (more…)

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Warm it up, Chris

It’s 22 degrees outside. The Weather Channel says tomorrow’s high will be 27. Need a remedy?

1. Cafe Mocha at Zachi’s on Read Street. Proprietor Hoda’s meticulously-prepared coffee drinks–sprinkled with shavings of dark chocolate–are worth the wait, during which you could check your email with their free wi-fi. Her creamy, cinnamon-speckled rice pudding makes an excellent accompaniment.

2. Gingerbread latte at Metropolitan Coffeehouse and Wine Bar.  Spiked with Hiram Walker liqueur, this frothy beverage will make you forget a certain ubiquitous coffee chain proffers a simulacrum of this beverage. (Thanks to Baltimore Sun nightlife writer Sam Sessa for this tip).

3. Irish Coffee at Jay’s on Read Street. This old fashioned piano bar is a rare treat for the ladies, as silver-haired gay couples give you a gentlemanly nod, then leave you alone.

4. Rum Toddy at Woodberry Kitchen. When the honeyed, orange-clove spiced rum hits your belly you won’t care that it costs $10. This comfort drink may also take the edge off your $170 bill.

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Beach House, the Baltimore art house rockers signed to Sub Pop, got even more high profile this weekend when they played their hit Zebra on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

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Lazer Moustache Party

Be there or be square

Libby Picken from LazerBitch will be performing at Ottobar’s Moustache party tomorrow evening. To get sufficiently pumped up, check out this video of Libby stealing from people all over Baltimore. After depositing the Corvette in an alley near the Copycat building, she storms the stage at The Windup space, which looks like freaking Twilo in this video.

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Coffee from cat poopThe fabulous Fern Shen of the Baltimore Brew news-blog dug up a treasure of a story today to answer the question on everyone’s lips about what Baltimore need now after all the drama. The Brew crew point to the new coffee brewed at Zeke‘s which apparently has been through the digestive system of a wild Indonesian weasel. Per Shen,

“You know, being dragged through the dreadful details of Mayor Sheila Dixon’s corruption scandal is maybe analogous to being a coffee bean and working your way through an animal’s gut.

…having gone through all that slime, our city, like the Kopi Luwak bean, will come out better on the other end?”

We offer a maybe more conservative solution: taking a page from Mary J. Blige’s well-weathered book and just stopping the drama already, without resorting to slimy coffee brew.

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Mill Time

Yesterday we again traced the footsteps of Baltimore’s forebears, heading north from the mouth of the Patapsco River. 

Patapsco State Park

Fritz Geller-Grimm

The industry of choice around the southern entrance of Patapsco State Park, a massive 14,000 acre park with five separate areas that is adjacent to 32 miles of the river, was milling.  The more famous mills were located farther north at Ellicott City, the county seat for Howard County which is named after three Quaker brothers who came down from Bucks County, Pennsylvania to establish a flour mill in what was then rugged wilderness.  The Ellicotts essentially transformed the agricultural industry in the area, convincing inhabitants in the valley to plant wheat instead of tobacco as their cash crop. (more…)

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