Unpretentiousness is in the city's air

THIS JUST IN ...

December 14, 1998|By DAN RODRICKS

ONE OF THE GUYS in Love Riot, the terrific, Baltimore-based rock band whose third album, "Heaven Can Wait," goes into release this week, heard a woman trip over her own tongue a while back at Cafe Tattoo on Belair Road. It was a malapropism, to be sure. But in slipping up verbally -- happens to the best of us, right? -- the woman stumbled over an enduring truth about intimate, unpretentious Baltimore, Queen City of the Patapsco Drainage Basin.

"It's not the heat," she was heard to say, "it's the humility."

You got that right, hon. Humility is not merely an admirable quality or state of mind. Around here, it's a climatic condition, and we're better for it. God bless us, every one.

Native knowledge

You know you're from Baltimore area if ...

You can describe the exact locations of three monuments to Christopher Columbus within the city limits. ... You remember how the owner of Alonso's could work high-end culinary magic with low-end bluefish. ... You knew the nice man -- Nick Chagouris -- for whom Nick's Inner Harbor Seafood is named. ... You come to expect, like chill and frost, a new set of Charlie Newton's Fells Point oil paintings every year at this time, between Thanksgiving and Christmas. ... You look nostalgically at the Stieff Silver sign, red and green for the holiday season, because you know this might be the last year it appears. ... You know where to find the biggest cinnamon roll in town -- Truly Scratch Bakery, West Baltimore Street. ... You know where to find the biggest slice of pizza in town -- at Angelo's, Hampden. ... And you know what constitutes a great fall-winter outing in East Baltimore: ice skating in Patterson Park, followed by a hot pizza pie at Matthew's on Eastern Avenue. ... You remember how easy it was to get a foul ball at Memorial Stadium, back when the teams were consistently great and a lot of the seats were empty. ... You remember when Dead Freddie's bar was just Freddie's. ... You remember Arnold Zwy, and still miss his column in the City Paper.

Wait, there's more -- from TJI readers.

You know you're from Baltimore if ...

Tony Hall: "You ever attended a Christmas party hosted by the Empty Stocking Club at the 5th Regiment Armory."

Cos48 (by e-mail): "You remember the Penn Fruit store on Erdman Avenue, and Saturday streetcar rides with mom to shop Hutzler's, Stewart's, Hochschild-Kohn and then to lunch on the second floor of Read's."

Japark (by e-mail): "You bought sporting goods from Simon Harris, and furniture from Levenson & Klein."

Jo-Ann Orlinsky: "You remember Harley Brinsfield, his jazz show late at night, his hamburger (a Harley Burger) and you remember that he was chairman of the state roads commission."

Thomas Oswald: "You remember eating barbecue sandwiches, with cole slaw on top, from Orie's Drive-in, 25th and Kirk. ... You remember riding on the open top deck of the double-decker buses on Charles Street, or you remember riding the elevated street car line on Guilford Avenue."

John Mirabile: "You remember long Sunday rides out to get a fresh-made ice cream cone from Berg's Dairy, and then out back to see the cows."

Ken Fish: "You remember Westport stock car races, the May Co. Christmas displays, and Black Aggie."

Cookie Boyd: "You can remember getting your automobile tires caught in the trolley tracks on York Road. ... You remember taking the trolley to Cochran's Pond to go skating in the winter. ... You snuck into the Timonium Drive-in in the trunk of your friend's car."

Jeff Thorsell: "You remember watching the Memorial Stadium fireworks from the grass median strip of Loch Raven Boulevard, south of Cold Spring Lane."

Mcsicotte (by e-mail, from Providence, R.I.): "You bring Berger's cookies to social functions where you're expected to bring dessert. ... You refer to your old neighborhood as 'the place where they film 'Homicide.' "

Brud322 (e-mail): "You remember watching the monkeys in the window while getting a haircut and a new pair of shoes at the Hess store in Edmondson Village Shopping Center."

Volunteer remembered

At the memorial service in Glyndon the other day for Nancy Abrams Mullen, a bright and spirited woman with an impressive record of volunteerism, these words, printed on a handout, were offered to relatives and friends who filled Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church: "It doesn't matter who you love or how you love, but (ITAL)that(ENDITAL) you love. For in the end, the act of loving any man is the act of loving God. The good in men is all the good there is and loving is a contribution to that good and to that only God."

TJIDAol.com is the e-mail address for columnist Dan Rodricks. Letters should be addressed to The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278.

Pub Date: 12/14/98

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