Archive for the ‘Dogs’ Category

Joe Squared pizza

This August marks my third anniversary of living in Baltimore. After five years in New York, the streets of Mount Vernon seemed positively pastoral. In place of modernist skyscrapers and mobile phone ads plastered to ever-present scaffolding, there were green parks, fountains and the muted melody of a flute being played by an open window. Instead of elbowing through crowds, I started strolling, looking at gorgeous antique houses that anybody, even me, could afford.  I would even say I found my Happy Place, although not using the Happy Detector the tourism department concocted.

If we made a Happy Map of our neighborhood for eating and drinking purposes, it could consist of:

1. Howard’s of Mount Vernon offers inexpensive, thoughtfully prepared salads, sandwiches and a few dynamite dinner plates like fish n’ chips. Even the salad dressings are made from scratch and served up with a friendly smile from people who know us by name (naturally, they live nearby and visit the same dog parks). We could eat here every day, and for a while, until we got a/c, we basically did. We sat with a bottle of white wine (BYOB until their liquor license comes through) with the blind Fox and ate grilled ham and cheese and the Howard’s Salad–strawberries, feta, walnuts and local veggies–for less than $15. (more…)


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Sno Ball image courtesy of Urban Wanderer

Sno Ball image courtesy of Urban Wanderer

It’s 4th of July weekend. America, our America, land of Stars and Stripes tees, anemic hot dogs in buns, pudgy dogs in red collars, porky men in too-tight shorts, yellow-haired children clutching glowing light sabers, whistling Chinese fireworks in the sky, and cold beer.

Top 10 ways you can tell you’re in Baltimore on Independence Day Weekend:

10)Cash-poor police department installs sobriety check on Interstate 395 to challenge all drivers entering Charm City.

9) Harbor water mysteriously turns color. Fishy-smelling grey is now fishy-smelling aquamarine.

8) Patriotic visitors strolling the harbor observe a 15-foot cell phone, supposedly the world’s largest, thanks to fireworks sponsor CricKet. Wild rock music plays, people are invited to make the “biggest call of their lives”

7) To witness the Harbor fireworks display, multilingual families camp out 10 hours before showtime on the lawn within ear blast by Poison from the Hard Rock Cafe loudspeakers. The saree-clad Desi camp settled in opposite the aquarium where bullhorns shepherded sunstroked parents and children through a multitude of lines.

6) African American Festival at M&T Bank Stadium features poetry slam, spelling bee, health education fair, and $5000 VIP cabana seats.

5) Fort McHenry revelers commemorate the day with fife and drum music, cannon-firing, poetry reading, musket salute for 18 states, period games, feasting and historic toasts… and hanging King George in effigy.

4) Crab permeates air, shards of claws appear in gutters, your neighbor’s fingernails are crusted with Old Bay.

3) Sno-Balls trump Bomb Pops. Souse that sucker in Blue Raspberry, Cherry and Vanilla.

2) The roofs in Fell’s fit together like jigsaw squares. From the ubiquitous wooden decks, roof hopping becomes a competitive sport (Ray Ray, the hahbor view’s better down here!).

1) It’s 3am and loud banging noises sound off in quick succession. POP POP POP POP!! Firecrackers, faulty wiring exploding, or semiautomatic weapons?

God bless America.

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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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Game over at Camden Yards

Game over at Camden Yards

Before big drops began falling on Camden’s manicured green fields, at or around the 7th inning of yesterday’s Blue Jays-Orioles game, we reveled in a hot sunny Memorial Day weekend. Random highlights of Activity:

Panting After the Dreaded Druid Hills — “at least 7 significant hills” –we collapsed gasping at the finish line by the reservoir’s Moorish Tower. Per the (late) Baltimore Examiner, the course designers turned the park’s “rolling hills… into something akin to racing up the Himalayas”. Luckily there was watermelon and water to avert dehydration in the strong morning sun.

Scratching and Sniffing At the annual Baltimore Herb Festival at Leakin’ Park we observed smelly leaves, some carnivorous plants (don’t get too close), and oodles of babies in strollers.

Reveling Not that we didn’t shake it like a Polaroid picture, but the guys at The Drinkery on Read Street had gotten a head start and were in the tank when we passed by on Saturday before noon. Metromix calls the bar “Cheers for Queers”. These early birds were cavorting and hooting and threatening to moon each other. A couple arabbers on Tyson street looked on behind bushels of watermelon. This is missing from the Urban Discoveries roundup of the macho man city tour. (just kidding — this is a helpful roundup with props to our local, Dougherty’s, which chicks dig too)

Dancing Reveling into the wee hours, Holy F*ck of Toronto played a great live electronic set at Ottobar that elicited much head banging, strangly, but not too much full-on dancing. The crowd for this keyboard-heavy act (we counted 8 on stage) was sparse but enthusiastic. Upstairs, a DJ (possibly Wednesday’s Gonzo or Emily Rabbit) played hip hop, some old school tunes that the flannel shirt and skinny jeans set went crazy for. Actually the crowd was strangly uniformed as if  styled by an MTV video wardrobe person: Boys wore skinny grey jeans and flannel shirts, girls wore hot pants, flannel shirts and knee high black Jesus sandels; alternatively other girls sported 1960s patterned shift dresses, like they had come from hanging up laundry.

Pinata bashing Also on offer at Ottobar on Sunday — We’ve been organizing nostalgia-infused birthday parties as of late (see: grilled cheese, tater tots, JELL-O Jigglers, paper birthday hats, and cupcakes) but the pinata was a nice party trick we had forgotten about. A girl in one of those shift dresses was blindfolded and swung widely but managed to smack the candy out of the striped pink and blue donkey. Then she rejoined the flannel on the dance floor.

Drugging Blind Dog Not a joy but necessity to prevent home wrecking during thunderstorms. There was a nasty one on Memorial Day.

budSpitting Lime Budweiser: Refreshing sip, nauseating drink, especially while watching rain fall from within the stadium bar after you waited on a 45 minute queue to come in.

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Monsoon in Mayo

Frank Roylance: More rain, more clouds, forever

Frank Roylance: More rain, more clouds, forever

The weather is forever-rain, reminding me of a horrible dystopian movie they showed in grade school, All Summer in a Day. Like, I’ll tell my grandkids, I remember the afternoon when the sun came out: We were walking dogs around a lake… Then it started to rain again.

Anyway, we put on galoshes and met on Charles street, crouched like mole people under umbrellas, to celebrate a damp Cinco de Mayo eve. El Patron was closed, again–it’s a bad sign when a Mexican restaurant is shut for Cinco de Mayo. Past closures of this eatery have been explained by postings about health code violations; we are unsure if it will reopen.

A block north, a warm Red Maple beckoned. Tuesday’s weekly flamenco party was in full swing and while diners lounged on the low seats by $14 tapas dinners, we found ourselves edging ever closer to the mesmorizing dancing. (more…)

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InstaWeather Omits FoxWatch

Channel 11 InstaWeather Plus

Channel 11 InstaWeather Plus

When did our local NBC affiliate get so high tech?

At the Channel 11 InstaWeather Plus+ page you can watch live radar, futurecast for rain totals, and subscribe to wind current and infrared satellite feeds.

All on a cool widget-rearrangeable home page.

A box is missing, however, for FoxWatch. Is she sleeping on my bed, drooling and carpeting  pillows with orange hairs? Is she sitting under the air conditioner, dispersing her hairs and dog dandruff across the room? Or protesting a thunderstorm by chewing through our apartment door? Leaving bloody paw prints from the door’s ragged wood scraps across the kitchen floor? Smearing the walls, gnawing a metal window frame, whining ear shattering squeaks?

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March for Mutts

My mutt, not quite top dog in a mongrel contest

My mutt, top dog in a mongrel contest

The blind Fox on the block smiled broadly at last Sunday’s March of the Animals, a blockbuster fundraising festival that benefits the Maryland Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA)

The 14th annual March, a 1.5 mile strut that a motley crew of canines and owners take around the reservoir of Druid Hill Park, raised an eye-popping $353,000 for the nonprofit animal rescue group. (more…)

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