Long and winding road to Baltimore

This Just In...

October 08, 1997|By DAN RODRICKS

Washingtonians still find a trip into Baltimore an exotic expedition. They can get to Camden Yards, they know where the Inner Harbor is. But ask them to go anywhere else in the Queen City of the Patapsco Drainage Basin and they start to panic, especially if they're on a strict schedule, which goes for just about everyone I know from there - especially your Washington media types.

So that might explain the overkill in a set of directions posted last Wednesday for all reporters, photographers, videographers and federal and state government and law enforcement officials who planned to attend a news conference in East Baltimore. It was the one-year anniversary of Baltimore's first-in-the-nation 311 nonemergency phone number. Justice Department big shots and national media were expected. A public relations group in the district, Edelman Publications, faxed out these directions to the site of the news conference:

"Start out going east on K ST NW towards 20th ST NW. Turn right onto 19th ST NW. Turn left onto H St NW. Turn right onto 3RD ST NW. Take the I-395 ramp. Merge onto I-395 S. Take the I-295 exit on LEFT towards ANACOSTIA. Take the I-295 SOUTH exit on LEFT. Merge onto I-295 S. Merge onto SOUTHEAST FWY. Take the UNNAMED RD exit. Merge onto PENNSYLVANIA AVE SE. Turn SLIGHT LEFT into FAIRLAWN AVE SE. Turn LEFT onto the UNNAMED RD. Merge onto ANACOSTIA FWY. ANACOSTIA FWY becomes KENILWORTH AVE NE. KENILWORTH AVE NE becomes MD-295 N. MD-295 N becomes RUSSELL ST. RUSSELL ST becomes S. PACA ST. Turn RIGHT onto W. PRATT ST. TURN RIGHT onto S PRESIDENT ST. Turn LEFT onto EASTERN AVE. Turn LEFT onto S BROADWAY. Turn right onto E BALTIMORE ST."

Whew!

No wonder the president always takes a chopper!

I suppose such detail would have been understandable - even appreciated - had the fax sheet not given the wrong address for the news conference.

Oy!

Edelman gave 2516 E. Baltimore St. as the address. That's actually the rowhouse of Rita De'Antoniis, a lovely woman with an exquisite Italian accent. The news conference was held at a city recreation center across the street.

Good thing cops were there to direct traffic.

Promises, promises

Best T-shirt spotted at Camden Yards over the weekend: "My wife thinks I'm at Promise Keepers." . . . Eastbound drivers come upon an interesting juxtaposition of billboards on the south side PTC of the Orleans Street viaduct: First one says, "Talk to your kids about sex before they make you a grandparent," next one advertises "DNA parental testing." . . . Production starts in - where else? - Baltimore in a couple of weeks on John Waters' next film, "Pecker." John Boy has been scouting locations in Fells Point and Hampden, and we hear the film will be heavy on the latter. "Pecker" tells the story of a guy whose idiosyncratic photographs of working-class Baltimore life take the New York art world by storm.

Bring your bongo

After next week, designers of Baltimore street guides will have to add another name to city landmarks - Bongo Square. You like? I do.

Actually, Bongo Square is a rectangle, about 60 feet by 40 feet, a new park in Sowebo for animals and people, a-rabs and their ponies.

Bongo Square is a project of the Arabber Preservation Society, community activists and small businesses in Hollins Square, and the city. The new park is located near one of the last a-rab stables, on Carlton Street between Lombard and Pratt. It's called Bongo Square because that's where artist and a-rab preservationist Dan Van Allen and friends used to hang out and beat the drums. They've planted trees and grass, and there's a new board fence. It's going to be a nice little park, and a turnout for the a-rab ponies. The city should have provided such a space for them years ago.

The dedication of Bongo Square is Tuesday afternoon. "It's going to be a party," says Van Allen. "Bring a drum. We have 40 pounds of chicken wings donated by Maryland Poultry, a keg of beer, Sowebo Brew, from Oliver's Brewery and [Mencken's] Cultured Pearl is donating something like 50 gallons of black beans."

I'm there.

Natural wonders

I love to hear people, especially fellow urbanites, get excited about stunning sights in nature.

On Friday, a friend called to say: "I saw a white egret in Baltimore! An American egret, I believe. It was roosting at what I think used to be called the city dock at Lancaster and Thames. Most amazing thing I've seen so far this fall."

A woman who goes by the nickname Diva got a charge from something she spotted through the window of a light rail car. "Just before the Cold Spring stop," she says, "I glanced over at the Jones Falls. There was a lot of graffiti on the bridge supports, trash strewn in the water. Yet gracefully standing in the midst of all this urban squalor was a great blue heron, so beautiful and so elegant! I've seen plenty of herons around the bay, but not the city."

Then an architect I know got all gushy about having seen a whale along Rehoboth Beach last week. "He was just offshore, moving along and feeding. I had him for 45 minutes, pretty much all to myself," he said, pretty much breathlessly.

Pub Date: 10/08/97

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