Posts Tagged ‘weird’

Baltimore Sun photo by Barbara Haddock Taylor / May 10, 2010Well, yesterday was a good news and bad news day.

We are now running a $500,000 ad campaign that implores tourists to come, “Find Your Happy Place in Baltimore.” It features a logo design that only a 5th grade teacher just discovering clip art could love. And within 24 hours, Happy has become synonymous with “trigger-happy” or high-as-a-kite-happy–as in just the place for a “thrill-seeking junkie,” as one person posted on the Baltimore Sun web site. The crime columnist Peter Hermann gathered a slew of spot-on comments about the new slogan, including from the former police commander Buz Busnuk:

[Buz] mentioned… The drug dealer named Don Papa who boasted three years ago that he made $180,000 in one night selling drugs on Pennsylvania Avenue. He called the street “a freaking gold mine,” and according to a transcript in a federal court file, told detectives: “This is the heroin capital of America, ain’t no more dope sold nowhere than right there on Pennsylvania Avenue.”

“He thought this place was Nirvana,” Busnuk said. “Wasn’t he in a happy place?” (more…)


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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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Kinetic Mud Bath

Amorphous pink rabbit? Pic from the New Glitterati.

Amorphous pink cat? Pic from the New Glitterati.

I was going to post about the god-awful rain streak we’ve been slogging through during this lemon of a weekend (natch, from the weather report it will rain through Saturday). But as we’ll see, some people take crap weather and make mud lemonade.

The New Glitterati posts photos of a brave young gal who struggled through muddy Patterson Park in the annual Kinetic Sculpture Race’s finale.

What is the Kinetic Sculpture Race? From the official Bmore site, “Kinetic Sculptures are amphibious, human powered works of art custom built for the race. Each May, the American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM) hosts the East Coast Kinetic Sculpture Race Championship on the shore of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor in central Maryland. The eight-hour race covers 15 miles—mostly on pavement, but also including a trip into the Chesapeake Bay and through mud and sand.” This year’s vehicular themes included were golf carts, covered wagons and pink tutus.

While stepping on each other’s ballet flats and throwing courderoy-patched-elbows to vie for the hippest get-up, onlookers cheered the brave contestents in their struggle with the mud trap that had become Patterson Park. Then the party escaped out of the drizzle to eat mussels and drink Boh at Bertha‘s, a Fell’s Point landmark that we’ve been meaning to try for a year and a half.

Thanks to the Urban Discoveries Blog for pointing out the weekend’s highlights.

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Transfixed with Transmodern

Human Foosball, documented by Ada from the block

Human Foosball, documented by Ada from the block

We are still wrapping our minds around what we saw during our odyssey through the H&H building, tricked out for the Transmodern festival. From the outre–giant teeth-like installations jutting up from the ground–to terrifically engaging exhibits like human Foosball, foot baths, and a DIY tamale stand, the festival pretty much had us at hello.

Truthfully, our greeting was delayed over three hours because we had not purchased advanced tickets. We would approach to find skinny jean-outfitted girls and boys retreating east (H&H is at the brave western frontier of Central Baltimore) and shaking their heads mournfully. We nearly gave up to see MSTRKRFT at Sonar. But upon the third try, we were permitted entry. Scurrying up the wide, graffitied stairways, we received “My Name Is” tags and heartfelt greetings from ambassadors of transmodernity. More photos after the jump and in Flickr group.


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flamingoWe love it when the rest of America discovers the weird, addicting charms of our city.  So the Washington Post’s Weekend story about day-tripping to trippy Baltimore was a delight to behold, on the weekly section’s front page.

A few highlights unearthed by reporter Michael Sullivan:

1. We are too idiosyncratic for chain stores a la Gallery Place, DC (witness: Hampden’s Atomic Books, Fell’s Point’s Mustang Alley bowling). Even ubiquitous shopping staple Starbucks shys away, apart from a couple exceptional storefronts lodged in commercial centers of Canton and Charles Village.

2. Blockbuster art lives here, chez the Baltimore Museum of Art. Curators have culled from the Cone Collection’s 3000 art works to produce A Circus Family, with 80 circus-themed pieces are now on view by the likes of Picasso, Marc Chagall and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec. The show-stopping works, some grim, twisted and vulgar–like Baltimore–hang under 42-foot circus tenting.

3. Religion is a spectacle itself in this city of lapsed Catholics. At the Walters museum, per writer Sullivan, “44 contemporary illuminated manuscript pages from a projected seven-volume Bible are displayed alongside historical examples of illuminated sacred texts from the museum’s collection of rare books and manuscripts.” Vatican-oriented bibliophiles could also gander at the various expressions of godliness on view in the Mount Vernon environs. See: the imperial-grandeur of the Baltimore Basilica on Cathedral Street, and the psychedelic colors inside St Alphonsus Church on Saratoga Street.

4. Recovering drug addicts make fascinating artwork. Gerald Hawkes makes sculpture out of matchsticks and glue, and you can see it and its oddball visual ilk at the American Visionary Art Museum.

5. There are funky shops in Hampden! Better than calling them quirky. Shoutouts to Squidfire, Earth Alley and upscale local foods eatery, the Woodberry Kitchen.

6. Best of all–a fantastic tip to those of us still exploring our own neighborhoods, passports or no– Sullivan discovered that Berger cookies are sold in Lexington Market by the pound. We normally buy the icing-slathered cake morsels plastic-wrapped at Eddies, but apparently you can get ’em fresh, and probably cheaper.

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Baltimore Round Robin

Baltimore Round Robin

Baltimore Round Robin

The Round Robin tour of Baltimore’s wildest musicians had a happy homecoming last week at the Sonar music club,  just behind city hall, after cris-crossing the country to spread the gospel of Charm City talent. The veggie oil-powered tour bus motored from NYC’s Le Poisson Rouge through sold out shows in cities including Detroit, Boston and Quebec, and puttered home to roost on Saratoga street in front of Sonar on December 18.

What is a Round Robin, you ask? Well, originally, it went something like this. 18th century sailors petitioned the Royal Navy using “round robin” signatories to protest against authority by putting their names on a document in a non-hierarchical circle or ribbon pattern (and so disguising the order in which they have signed) in order that none may be identified as a ringleader.

Our Round Robin was an assemblage of some of the best performers in Baltimore, divided up roughly in terms of artsy bands people stand around and look at, and dance-friendly electronic music–i.e., December 18 was the Eyes night, the following evening was Feet night. No one band was a headliner–all had the spotlight and all rocked it accordingly. Then there were the designated “Weird” acts which I will attempt to describe below.

Unlike British petitioners, this group’s ringleader is well documented, in domestic and international press.  The Wham City arts collective’s lead sorcerer Dan Deacon hob nobbedon Thursday with the “Eyes” performers and enacted his typical dancefloor mayham on Saturday. Beards, giant ‘staches, zebra jumpers, and He and she mullets were the stylistic templates.

Beach House and Teeth Mountain rocked, Dan Deacon launched feet onto the dancefloor and sweat into the air, and the “Weird” and “Eyes” acts blurred into a stream of oddball delights: Blue Leader shouted in a face mask; Santa Dads featureda boy in a plain-Jane 60s dress playing an electronic ukulele, flanked by a girl pumping the air with an inflatable catfish (this might have been classified as a musician act, who can say where the line is); a couple squirmed to the center of the crowd to propose a shampooing competition; a quartet of women called the Lexie Mountain Boys, heads bound with tall headdresses topped by baby doll heads, bobbed up and down, chanting and wailing like an African tribe by a pig spit.

And so Baltimore’s unflinchingly innovative music scene continues to give Detroit a complex.

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An unusually icy wind greeted the Mayor’s Annual Christmas Parade, which kicked off under frosty 2pm sun on Falls Road in Hampden. Children piled with blankets sat on folding chairs next to boozy football fans in maroon or purple, facing off across the street (the Redskins are getting a walloping by the Ravens as I write).

In response to the chilly temps, the parade gritted its teeth, marched in long johns and twirled batons in gloves. Mayor Sheila Dixon waved in the season atop a cream-colored Beetle and a motley crew demonstrating a varying level of performance skills followed.

Innumerable high school marching bands descended on the rowhouse corridor to toot tubas, smash symbols, an pound on drums. A straggling group of dancers, clothed in colorful sweat bands, feather hats and bells, mimed Peruvian dance; the rest of their crew, apparently late, appeared 10 minutes later running down the sidewalk to catch up. Miss Fire Prevention 2008 rode before a couple red engines, which we hope were not missed elsewhere in our beloved firetrap city. Roller derby girls waved brightly to cheering onlookers.

Less predictable were the dogs riding on butt-sized, motorized magic carpets driven in circles by an oddball Shriner sect called the Boumi, a posse of old men who prior to the carpet show had made a lot of noise tooling around in all terrain vehicles decorated with stuffed camels (we didn’t get it either). Evangelical churches drove trucks displaying scenes of morners surrounding a giant cross. A large flatbed truck covered in Astroturf was strewn with people clutching blankets, including Santa, who also showed up in a purple Ravens’ fanatic bus. The lone ranger trotted by on a well-dressed horse and a Revolutionary War brigade preceded the Jedi warriers.

It was enough to make us forget the steaming urns of Maryland Crab soup and hot cider inside the house, but not for too long.

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