Baltimore can't sell itself to uncharmed newcomer


October 29, 1997|By DAN RODRICKS

You've heard of road rage. How about mall rage? Local Girl, a Baltimore native and soul mate of Cereal Mom, Joey Amalfitano and other contributors to This Just In, ran into it the other day. She had an unpleasant encounter with a businessman, a newcomer to the area, who, during an incidental conversation, went into an animated tirade about the quality of life here. He scoffed at Baltimore's nickname, Charm City, and declared the entire metropolitan area "Scranton with a bay."

The thing is, it's hard to say what set the guy off. He hadn't been robbed. He hadn't been recently to an emissions inspection station. He hadn't eaten bad oysters. He hadn't been stuck on the road to Raljon.

But he was definitely in a bad mood about something in particular - you'll see what in a moment - and he decided to dump his bile all over Local Girl.

Local Girl never got a word in edgewise. She turned to TJI for an opportunity to respond to this guy. So, you go to it, girl.

"I didn't get the guy's name. He was too busy telling me how much he hated Baltimore after living here for four months. He kept telling me that he came here to make a lot of money, and that he lived in an expensive house near Owings Mills, and that he came here to make a lot of money, and that he sends his daughters to Garrison Forest, and that he came here to make a lot of money - $400,000, he said, in case I had missed the point.

"Not everyone likes Baltimore. It's why in this case that's strange.

"You know why? Because all the shopping is in malls and shopping centers. That's it. That's what the guy said. He hates malls. It's a big drag for him, he said, because he used to live in the New York suburbs, where the Gap and Banana Republic are in quaint 'village greens.' And he misses the 'village greens' and being able to drop his daughters off there. That's his complaint! I mean, after all, the aesthetics of consumption are absolutely key quality of life.

"I'm sure people haven't been too friendly toward this guy. It's not a good idea to walk into a place where other people live and, four months later, berate them for living this way. Baltimoreans are funny. They don't like boors or bores or bullies, and this guy hit the Big B trifecta.

"One other thing I'd like to say: Sir, if you're reading this - though you probably 'only take the Times' - wherever you live, talking about how much money you make is really tacky. Even in the suburbs of New York, where, as I understand it, $400,000 is chump change."

Nice shot, that last one, Local. Now, if you ever run into that guy again, remember: no eye contact.

Rules of rat removal

Remember the recent story of the dead rat near the light rail stop on Howard Street, the one a certain University of Maryland official asked the city to remove? It was an amusing tale, though it occurred to me that someone with a blue plastic trash bag - our favorite kind - could have picked the thing up and dropped it in a trash can. Of course, I didn't say that in TJI. You know why? Because of the Rodricks Rule of Rats: If you're not willing to deal with them yourself, then don't expect someone else to. If someone wants to call the city for rat carcass removal, hey, that's what we pay taxes for, right?

"I smell a rat," disagrees TJI reader James Lorber, who believes we must take rat removal into our own hands. "Why didn't this person just get a plastic bag and nudge the dead rat into the bag with a stick? This is just another case of someone who is too lazy to do it themselves or feels it's beneath them. I This comment is for that University of Maryland official: 'Try getting off your butt and take care of it yourself.' If more people thought this way, what a nice city we would have."

So, Jimbo - may I call you that? - what you sayin'? You sayin' you volunteerin' for rat removal, or whaaaaaaaa?

Somebodies, nobodies, treats

Pal Joey called me from work the other day. "Hey, Danny boy," he says, "here's my take on all people who get fancy new titles around here: 'When everyone is somebody, then no one's anybody.'" ... Yesterday morning, a beautiful discovery: a place where a guy can buy salty bacalao and sweet baklava in the same place (Greek Village Bakery and Delicatessen, 4711 Eastern Ave.). Another omen that the great schism of 1054 is finally narrowing.

Big-ticket cookie

"It's hand-decorated," explained the bakery clerk when Cereal Mom expressed sticker shock at a large cookie retailing for $10.99 at Eddie's on North Charles Street. Said Mom to another customer: "You'd have to have your head examined to pay $10.99 for a cookie!"

Autumnal artwork

Because of gaps in the chemistry needed to make autumn foliage truly brilliant, we're not seeing the usually stunning tones of red, yellow and orange in the trees. That's what the experts say, and they appear to be correct. "Foliage flop" is what the autumn of 1997 was declared the other day.

Now, for the minority report, may I present an epistle from a

short-haired art instructor known to his long-haired friends as Cranque: "Count me among the tiny minority of Baltimorons who prefer this year's muted fall colors to the usual display of autumnal bombast. Sunny days put this old dauber in mind of Claude Lorrain's gold-tinged landscapes of the Roman Campagna. The weekend overcast reminds me of Daubigny at Barbizon or Corot in the forests of Fontainebleau." So there.

Pub Date: 10/29/97

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