lord knows i’ve had my issues with this city. LORD KNOWS. I HAVE HAD. MY ISSUES. WITH THIS CITY.
- a rat was living in our dryer vent, hoarding chicken bones and crab shells. after holly cleaned it out, she thought she had “rat fever” from breathing…rat dust? then i had to convince her she didn’t have rat fever. that was really something.
- fighting parking tickets here is nearly impossible. as if that isn’t enough, everyone in the courthouse has the type of body odor that literally makes you feel like you might drop dead.
- if you rent a dumpster for some kind of big home renovation project, everyone and their mom–literally everyone and their mom–will come to your dumpster, morning, noon, and in the middle of the night to drop off refrigerators, carpeting, and cribs. it will be a community event and you will get no rest.
- then other people will come to your dumpster to dig through it and haul off everyone’s junk. they will always do this in the middle of the night. and they’ll break a lot of glass in the process. cause why bother being careful when you’re already in a dumpster?
- if it snows one inch, everyone puts, like, orange cones and chairs in their parking spots. and if you move a cone or chair, you will get stabbed. (note: please don’t move the cones and chairs. your life is worth more than a parking spot.)
- these ancient little row homes have tiny ancient holes in the wall–invisible to the naked eye–that let in bad odors, like, for example, the smell of dead body next door. the smell will seep into every crevice of your home and your belongings. then you will have a breakdown. then you will spend months trying to get rid of the smell, which will only completely go away when the home is gutted two years later.
- oh yeah. and a rat could get in your house, from like, a bigger hole you never saw behind your stairs. from your late neighbor’s house. right after your basement floods and it will jump in and out of boxes like a sick carnival game. and then you will really lose your mind.
- there’s more but i’ll stop.
yeah. it’s kind of a party here. not like a good party either. no, the type of party where you wake up the next day somewhere missing a heel, your phone screen is cracked like a car windshield that’s been in a horrific accident, and you have raccoon eyes from makeup your best friend did for you the night before that you thought was ok, but now, in the light of day, you actually see was alarmingly sloppy and you immediately decide you will kick her ass the next time you see her.
so it’s a hot mess here. there’s random puffs of weaves on our curb and our alley looks like a thrift shop and a helicopter once temporarily blinded me with its searchlight.
BUT DAMMIT THIS PLACE HAS GROWN ON ME. like a mushroom. or…a wart. at first you don’t even know it’s there. then you see it, hate it, and want to rid yourself of it immediately. and then, as you contemplate wart creams at rite-aid, something strange and miraculous starts happening: you get used to it. and…start liking it a little? because dammit it’s your wart and it’s become part of you. and you could go to the dermatologist to get it removed but why bother?
folks, that’s baltimore for me. over the past seven years, i have cursed this place. i have screamed and shouted and chased cats, rats, and run from our neighbor’s beautiful german shepherd that continues to get loose. i have looked up at the sky, shaken my fist, and shouted WHHHYYYYYY. (really? geez, i’m dramatic.)
i honestly didn’t even know i kind of liked it here until i read this obnoxious dc response to the recent (and newest iteration of the) longtime baltimore vs. dc debate. (for background, first read this, then this.) since then, i have felt oddly protective of this hellhole of a city and i have come up with a list of my own.
mind you, it’s not a baltimore vs. dc list. as baltimore’s city paper points out, the dc vs. baltimore thing is lame. i have lived in both places and they are two distinct, very different animals, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.
my list, aptly named F*CK YEAH BALTIMORE, is a list of reasons how this weirdass city has quietly and successfully wormed its way into my friggin heart. so here we go:
- we may have some sketchyass people walking through our hood, but our neighbors are friggin awesome and we look out for each other and help each other out all the time. i have never experienced anything like it in my life.
- we have a bread factory right splat in the middle of the city. the smell fills your whole damn car up for like three or four blocks. it’s pretty awesome.
- old folks sit out on their stoops in the summer and can tell you what the neighborhood looked like 50 years ago. (you can read about one such old timer here. it’s an article i wrote on the late “mr. john” pente of little italy, who lived in the same one-block radius for 100 years–his entire life.)
- carolers on your front stoop. really? yes, really!
- big boyz bail bonds pens. they’re everywhere. and surprisingly good pens! gotta laugh or you’ll cry your eyes out.
- formstone. also everywhere.
- corner bars. yes, everywhere. go twice and you’re a regular.
- playing bingo at the sons of italy lodge in little italy. 25 cents a card. i’ll take four, thanks!
- speaking of italian, this place right here. dipasquale’s italian marketplace. best tiramisu (and everything else) you’ve ever had in your life. if that’s not enough, the owner, joe, is a huge madonna fan. and adorable ladies like this might be lunching there. come to our neighborhood, we’ll take you there.
- speaking of food, this is best damn greek food you’ll ever have in your life. cash only, no reservations. get there early, and whatever you do, you must try the dressing.
- sure, there’s blight here. but it’s beautiful in its own way.
- and our little old ladies have some serious spunk.
- you can take a free boat to the office and get a photo like this on the way home.
- you can go out in your pajamas and no one looks at you like you’re crazy. and you know what? even in your pajamas, you’re still hotter than about 85% of the people here.
- we are not cooler than you. baltimore is not one of those places with a reputation for being hip or cool. in fact, it’s kind of uncool. and you know what? that makes it kind of cool.
so there’s my working F*CK YEAH BALTIMORE list. have your own f*ck yeah baltimore? please share!
see, this place is MY WART. it’s my hot mess of a party. and if you’re gonna be dissin it, get ‘cho ass down here to southeast (SOUF-EAST) and tell it to my FACE. yeah that’s what i thought. PEACE OUT YO.
(p.s. i’ve never had a wart.)
(but i’m probably going to get one now because i wrote this. and i’ll tell you what: screw the wart cream at rite-aid, i am going straight to the dermatologist to burn that sh*t off.)
I love your list. You almost make me want to visit Baltimore. *Almost*
This is your best post yet. I felt the same way about Baltimore when I moved here for school and couldn’t wait to get out. But it does grow on you and I’m still here, 31 years later.
Love! Love! Love!
31 years?! christmas. aw, EB, c’mon now! you need to come visit. we can try on weave puffs together. we’ll put some purrell on ’em. it’ll be fine.
I love this, I truly do. If ever you move (SF?! Just kidding. Kinda.) you may actually miss Baltimore, though that seems impossible to imagine! Well, you know I like it. And EB — you should visit! Lots of fun things to do, including taking the water taxi, having affogatos as the great gelato place by the waterfront (and then maybe having a fancy hot dog across the way), drinking in cool corner pubs … I could go on.
Real Good Post, sorry…GREAT POST!!! one of the best yet about living and loving Baltimore. I like to tell people this little tidbit. Baltimore will NEVER let you get to big for your britches. Nothing proves this more than when you realize where the houses are that Wallis Simpson and Gertrude Stein lived are. You can see the city jail from their front stoop. How many other cities have their jail in the middle of the city??