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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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Height With FriendsThis video will be screened at Height’s record release party, which is today at the Hexagon in Baltimore’s rip-roaring arts district.

Height With Friends special mega-set featuring Mickey Free, Emily Slaughter, Gavin Riley, Travis Allen, Brendan Richmond, Liz Aeby, Pam Kurowski and Rob Dowler of Nuclear Power Pants.

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HFStival rises from the deadNow that we’ve entered our third decade, the culture lords of my generation have gotten nostalgic for the good old days. We worshiped Kurt Cobain, entered radio contests on WHFS 94.7 and made wicked cassette mix tapes. I remember a time when we taped the radio — BT on Transmissions, anyone? We loved the Nineties. I mean, we totally loathed the nineties, but in an ironic way we relished those days, cognizant of the dissonance… Ahem.

It seems others are feeling similarly wistful for the Clinton years when we unknowingly trashed the planet and beat icebergs back driving SUVs and rocking out to alternative schlock like Live.  Here, just 5 signs we are totally in charge of the culture ship and steering it back into time.

5. The artistic directors of Urban Outfitters has outfitted the Millennials in grunge-era plaid, imitation thrift store t-shirts and Rolling Stones-inspired t-shirts because we still haven’t gotten over seeing Mick Jagger sing Brown Sugar at RFK in 1994. Actually, no one has gotten over seeing Mick Jagger sing Brown Sugar, and that’s how they are selling a Super Deluxe edition of Exile on Main Street for upwards of $100. (more…)

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Matt Roth for The New York TimesThe Baltimore Chop reported this morning that the New York Times “dump[ed]” on Baltimore yet again. The Gray Lady had the audacity to point out that adding a third arts district in the boarded-up Howard Street corridor is fiscally risky and may not yield immediate results–measurable by, at the very least, fewer vacant buildings.

We perked up (being a bit foggy-brained this Friday morning) at this bit of the Chop’s post:

… the New York Times is looking down its nose at us again. They seem to see Baltimore as little more than a source for so-so regional cuisine, a great inspiration for campy Broadway musicals, and a crummy baseball team for the sweeping.

This time around they’re making us out to be a bungling, artless money-pit who is stuck in the Schmoke era and wants to copy Manhattan. We really, really wish the Times would mind their own fucking business a little more, and publish these cheap, quickie drive-by stories about Baltimore a little less.

And they include links to said (sad) articles which do tend to be reported via a helicopter ride in and out of Baltimore (would a Times reporter deign to take Bolt?). However, I would argue that the Times review of that Eastern Shore-inspired Greenwich village restaurant made it sounds pretentious, bland and overpriced, which is reason for a poor review: Maryland, especially in context of Manhattan’s West Village, is none of those things. (more…)

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We didn’t get in to Putty Hill, but we did stalk director Matt Porterfield from Friday night openings at the Charles, to Saturday’s Creative Alliance kegger in the Film Fest parking lot/green room, and up to the Beach House orgy of skinny pants and character spectacles (figuratively, and the coke bottle kind) in Charles Village. It was not that we intentionally shadowed the chronicler of North East Baltimore (naturally, he was clad in uber-tight jeans and philosophic glasses). It was that we were obsessed this weekend with scouring the streets of Baltimore for festivals, filmic and verdant alike. (more…)

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Martin versus Martin

Freewheeling, 100% tea party, corporate lobbyist, rainmaker, DJ — erstwhile Maryland governor Robert Ehrlich has lots of labels thrown around. What he is not: A throwaway competitor for our sometimes-soft current governor O’Malley. Now that O’Malley has a veritable challenger, he’s got to get his back up and tell his core party why they shouldn’t run someone against him on the Dem’s ticket. If I saw Mr. O’Malley today at the Downtown Athletic Club, I would not let him placidly run on the treadmill.  Here are some questions I would ask.

1. Does he really care about improving Maryland’s sagging and outdated public transportation system? Why is the Intercounty Connector is getting built (without a bike lane) while the Purple and Red Line are still faint plans on the horizon?

2. Is Maryland ever going to get tough with Eastern Shore poultry polluters whose run-off is ruining the Bay? Or is a band of law students the only group brave enough to take on this powerful state lobby?

3. Why don’t you create green jobs for Baltimore kids — build a giant city farm, like 100 Real Food Farms, train them to grow organic tomatoes for rich people– so they don’t have to become corner boys to get by?

3. Is your band still touring or what?

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Footloose

Baltimore Sun's Breaking News picWhile this blog was sleeping, the thermometer rattled up from wintry lows to a sweltering 90 degree high, matching a mark set in 1929.

It’s drinking weather. Jesus has risen. It’s almost the end of the week. Take a cue from the dude in bare feet and cut loose already.

“Wristbanding” for the Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival begins tomorrow at 5:45 at the Timonium Fair Grounds. “Pitmasters” from Texas and North Carolina, bluegrass, cigar smoking, and whiskey drinking awaits revelers for tickets priced from $35 to 55. 40 bourbons will be on offer, from old standards like Jim Beam to 23-year old Pappy Van Winkle and 10 year-old Eagle Rare. You can drink your way through 60 beers (Although organizers include some suspect characters on the beer list, including Smirnoff Cranberry & Lime, Buffalo Bills Blueberry Oatmeal Stout, and 4 kinds of Woodchuck cider.)

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