Wednesday, July 18, 2012


There are few things I support more than the plight of the artist.  I think art, in all of its forms, is a crucial component of a civilized society, and I regularly make a point of exposing myself to it in Baltimore.  (Look for posts on museums, theaters, local venues and bands, etc on another yet-to-be-determined date)

I don't know if you know this, but Artscape is kind of a big deal.  Back in 2009, I made the drive up from DC suburbia with some friends because I desperately wanted to see Cake.  I knew nothing about Baltimore, I knew nothing about Artscape, I just knew I wanted to see Cake.  We were an odd group, and while seeing Cake was fantastic and I remember thinking Baltimore was quirkier than I had given it props for in the past, what I most recall from that day were high temperatures and short tempers.  When house hunting with my sister last September, two weeks before I was to start my job, I remember walking down Charles Street and it all hitting me like I'd just walked into a wall - I'd been here before.  I'd seen this hideous statue before, I'd seen this theater.  Fate would have it that I'd move into this area, and I would come to love it.

I love Club Charles, I love that heinous statue, I love the sound of Amtrak as I go to bed, I love Brewer's Art, I love Single Carrot, I love everything that made me reconsider Baltimore three years ago.

But this is not about my love for midtown and Station North.  No.  This is about Artscape.

Artscape is massive.  As their website brags, "3 Days, 350,000 people."  It's the largest free arts festival in the United States.  This is fantastic.  No, honestly, it is.  One of the things I love so much about Baltimore is how well it treats its artists.  We give them nice spaces like this (and this!) at affordable(ish) prices, and sometimes they even let us come over and see what they're up to.  Artscape allows local artists the opportunity to showcase their work to a massive audience, whereas otherwise they may not have gotten so much publicity.  This is all fantastic - honestly.  As someone who loves and appreciates both art and artists, I think Artscape is commendable and I am personally looking forward to attending it.

Now, here is my beef.

I live in the surrounding regions of where Artscape is held.  I have plans Saturday night in the 'burbs.  (I can't miss Wine Club AGAIN!  Who will do the dramatic readings of the descriptions on the bottle??)   Between Artscape, my dog, parking, street closures, water main breaks downtown, and Netflix filming "House of Cards" in the city this week, I'm pretty much trapped.  Those 350,000 Artscape attendees?  They'll be in my neighborhood.  They'll be drunk on my front stoop at godforsaken hours of the morning.  They'll be stealing my prime parking spaces.  They'll be wanting to talk to me about my dog when I just want him to take a dump and keep moving.  They'll move into my bars (stay away from Dionysus!) and clog my bus

This weekend, as a result, is going to take impressive maneuvering on behalf of myself and my dear, dear, patient, friends.  The dog is being shuttled out of the city before Artscape begins.  I am evacuating on the Light Rail, to return in time, god willing, for the Farmers Market.  I do want to see Artscape, and  again, I'm excited and proud that it's in Baltimore.  All I'm saying is you never see them shut down the streets  and make a huge deal out of showcasing what I do for a living.  Do you know what neighborhoods I inconvenience with my livelihood?  NONE.  

That being said, if you're new to Bmore, get yourself to Artscape!  Go see what awesome talent lies in this city.  Go take my parking spaces.  Go innundate my bartenders with your questions like, "What's Natty Boh?"  Go enjoy yourself!  (but seriously, don't you dare drive in)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Baltimore Farmer's Market

Almost every Sunday, a dear friend of mine picks my lazy self up from my apartment and we head to the Farmer's Market under JFX.  This has become my happy place in this city.  For the brief, shameful, three weeks I tried my hand at online dating in Baltimore, the market was front and center on my profile.  "What do you do?"  Answer: I spend time at the market.  "Where are you on a typical Friday night?"  Answer: Thinking about the market.  

Perhaps it wasn't quite that bad, but nearly.  I mentioned it quite a bit and got many, "What do you like to cook??" messages.  Rolling in a little later than usual this morning, my kale guy was fresh out.  Devastated, he promised me he'd set a pound aside for me next week.  Still, I was able to walk out this week with zucchini, lesser kale from a different farmer, green beans, an eggplant, peaches, tomatoes, bell peppers, blueberries, my usual bag of kettle korn and a bouquet of flowers for under $25.  All fresh, all local.

To the right is a photo of Baltimore's most handsome basset hound mutt with my fresh flowers.  As you can tell, he just adores the forced glamor shots.

I can't give the market enough praise.  I love the omelet guy and the goodness you can buy from him for $7, I love that $3 will get me a bag of fresh kettle korn, I love the ginger cardamon lemonade when I'm sweating through my clothes, I love the man who plays his trashcan-turned-guitar, I love the children hula-hooping, the bike smoothie guy, the smoke from the pit beef, the man who's been giving me free samples of corn the past few trips, and just the energy of this city that pulsates throughout the bottom of the expressway between 8am and noon every Sunday.  

After the market today, I caught up with a friend at Charmington's,  hit up Wyman Park with little guy (little guy pictured above, and parks will be another post for another day) and then went to the BMA to check out the Sondheim exhibit for the finalists (and winner!) for this year's prize.  I ended my afternoon at the Whole Foods in Mt. Washington, where I realized that not only was my ten year-old Corolla to sketchy for the area, so was I.  I picked up another loaf of gluten-free bread, some goat's cheese, tofu, tamari for my asian kicks, and returned to downtown where my car and I fit in just fine.

For the first time in a long while, I was overwhelmed at my options come dinner time.  I settled on this frittata, regretting my lack of dill, and adding slices of my amazing tomatoes, plus an on-hand lemon to it.  Paired with a glass of sauvignon blanc and a cuddly dog, it was a lovely way to toast a relaxing weekend.  I'd say I'll eat my blueberries for dessert, but I've been snacking on them all day.

So, if you're new to Bmore, get yourself to the market!  Sundays 8am-noon, April through November.  I realize I have now made myself a resuable-bag-using, kale-purchasing, Whole Foods-patronizing, NYTimes Recipes For Health-making cliche, but I'm alright with that.  I also compost now, so I may as well just embrace my inner hippie and start making my own kombucha.  It's only a matter of time. (Sarcasm!  ...sort of)