Guy takes the pulse of Frederick

What's happening? Where to dine? Check out his blog online


The swiftly expanding city of Frederick has four Starbucks, two Home Depots, a couple of organic markets, a rash of new condominiums selling for big-city prices, several new shopping centers in the works and, to the endless delight of some residents, a Wegmans supermarket on the way.

So, really, it was only a matter of time before the ambitious city with the small-town heart had its very own blog that was lovingly devoted to all things Fredericky.

After all, the large media outlets tend to serve the interests of people closer to Washington and Baltimore, residents say. And while the daily Frederick News-Post is must-read for local goings-on, some Frederick enthusiasts, as it happens, were yearning for a more elastic, interactive, 21st-century sort of publication. They wanted a virtual hangout where they could rave about ice-cream shops or rant about traffic.

In other words, they wanted a Frederick blog and they got one almost precisely two years ago when Guy Schmidt wrote a post about a new Spanish and Mexican restaurant and Frednet, "a guide to living, working, and playing in Frederick" was born.

"I wanted to share my experiences, almost create a community. Also, selfishly, I wanted to find out what was going on," said Schmidt, 33, who works by day as a Web editor, keeping several federal Web sites running smoothly.

A self-described "big goofball Web geek kind of guy," Schmidt spent some childhood and post-college years in Frederick before settling there with his wife in 1998 because of the town's affordability. He is a parent of a 1-year-old, a food-lover and a smiley hometown booster, whose other, more personal Web site is called "The Short Fat Kid."

Lively changes

Frederick is so eminently bloggable partly because it is undergoing so much change, Schmidt said. When he was a kid, the lot where he lives was a field, and "there were, like, three restaurants," he said.

The blog (which can be found at was largely a response to the city's transformation. "The whole city was blowing up," he said. "So much was happening all the time. I'd be driving by someplace under construction and would want to know, what's that? Or what's that new restaurant? Is it good?"

Schmidt stays away from politics because "people get too heated." Also, despite all the growth, Frederick is still small-timey enough that local politicos and residents routinely mix, and he wouldn't want to risk crossing paths with the mayor after a nasty post, he said.

Instead, what Frednet offers is a place to pick up useful tips, comment, argue, whine and read tidbits of local news culled from a variety of publications. Readers can get information about where to buy spices or find recreational soccer games. They can have an electronic snicker about the smell at Carroll Creek, publicize a local play or unload their feelings about commuting.

There are also links to other Frederick-related Web sites and to other Frederick bloggers, like the firefighter who loves to knit and the newcomer blogging about "moving from big city dwelling to the medium sized, upcoming city of Frederick."

A year ago, Schmidt was counting around 50 page-views a day; now he's up to 300.

"I didn't expect it to be as popular as it is," he said. "People are just as curious or nosy as me and want to know what's going on in their community."

It's just a blip in the blog universe, but it's a meaningful blip to the people who read it every day - and plenty do. Some regulars are so regular that Schmidt tapped them to become official contributors after he became a father and he found his out-on-the-town nights and after-work blogging hours curtailed.

Galen Mayfield, 31, moved to Frederick five years ago because it was relatively inexpensive, family-friendly and a city in its own right - rather than just another city's sprawl. (Residents are quick to remind urban snobs that Frederick is the second-largest city in Maryland.) He checks Frednet every morning and sometimes contributes his own posts and comments.

"We've got a lot of people" - like Frederick's gobs of commuters - "who like to look online for information about living here," Mayfield said. But without a "huge media player" based in town, they have to look to more out of the way, homegrown operations, he said.

`Unfiltered' talk

Jim Hardy, another Frednet devotee who has lived in the city or county for 17 years, sends in posts with his wife, Liz, under the handle "Lizfrog." "People are just interested in hearing the unfiltered version of what's going on," he said.

Frednet wouldn't be a proper blog without a healthy dose of cranks, and it has its fair share. But not Schmidt. He has some pet peeves, sure - like the town's worsening traffic situation and increasingly long lines in restaurants - but mostly he's sunny about everything from the chicken wings at Toppings Pizza Co. to walks in Baker Park and beers at Brewer's Alley. And he's sunny, of course, about his small but proud online endeavor.

"I definitely wouldn't call it journalism, but it gives people a voice," he said. "You get a feel for what Frederick is like and what people are thinking about Frederick just from this goofy blog. Maybe that's important."

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