Leather-clad rooster with Jesus head alights on West Baltimore rowhouse

Religious-gallinaceous graffiti later flies the coop

March 09, 2011|By Laura Vozzella, The Baltimore Sun

Anybody besides me wondering about that giant rooster in West Baltimore?

If you live in the area of West Franklin Street and North Franklintown Road, or drive through it, as many commuters do on their way to and from downtown, you know the one.

A huge, sketchlike image of the bird appeared a few weeks ago on the side of a boarded-up rowhouse at 406 N. Franklintown, across from the Hess station. Unusual graffiti to say the least, even if the rooster hadn't been wearing a leather jacket and cradling what appeared to be the head of the crucified Jesus.

Perhaps owing to the charcoal-drawing style, or the bumpy canvas provided by the weathered rowhouse, the picture had the appearance of something that had been there for years.

When I first spotted it, on my way into work after a bout with the flu, I wondered if my fever was back, or if my NyQuil hadn't quite worn off. Then came an even more disturbing thought: Maybe the rooster had been there for the near-decade I'd been commuting into downtown, but somehow I'd failed to notice it until now.

Before I could decide whether I was hallucinating or just oblivious, the bird disappeared. Someone had covered it with gray paint.

And no, I never got a picture of it, which I'll blame not on my rush to get to work and back but on my ancient cell phone, which, believe it or not, doesn't take photographs.

I do have witnesses, who can testify that the splash of gray on the side of the building is hiding a leather-clad, Jesus-cradling rooster. The co-owner of the Stars of Tomorrow Child Care Center is one of them, though, understandably, she didn't want her full name associated with the thing.

"It was really weird," said the co-owner, who identified herself as Miss Williams. "It looked demonic to me."

Derek Harris, a barber at Creative Cutz by Cidney, a few doors down from the departed bird, saw it, too.

"I glanced at it the other day," he said. "I couldn't understand what it was."

I also asked the lady at a nearby liquor store if she'd seen the biker bird and Jesus. She just looked at me like I was crazy.

I'd love to know who created the picture, what in the world the artist meant by it, and who painted over it.

I checked in with the city's anti-graffiti forces at the Department of Public Works on Wednesday to see whether they were the ones who covered the bird. Someone said he'd look into it, but I never heard back. Maybe he thought I was crazy, too.

Sheila's back, sort of

Last week I reported that City Council President Jack Young was planning to participate in a "Meet & Tweet" hosted by Sheila Dixon, and I questioned whether Young's appearing with the disgraced ex-mayor was such a good idea.

The next day, Young bowed out of the event, to the great annoyance of blogger and political consultant Hassan Giordano, whose Independent Movement Political Action Committee had organized it.

"Jack Young timidly backed out of Saturday night's Meet & Tweet, due to outside influences (Baltimore Sun??)" Giordano fumed on Facebook.

While I can understand Giordano's ire as the stiffed host, I took Young's move as a positive sign, an indication that Baltimore politicians have to think twice about cozying up to the gift-card grabber.

That is, until I reached Keith Timmons, a Baltimore lawyer who is Young's campaign treasurer. Timmons told me Young dropped out for reasons having nothing to do with Dixon. Young has just started organizing his campaign committee, Timmons said, and has decided to hold off on political events until that is squared away.

"We want to do it the right way," Timmons said. "We just felt that event was a little premature."

So there's no concern about seeming too buddy-buddy with Dixon (who, it must be said, wasn't officially endorsing Young at the event)?

"Jack served on the City Council with the former mayor, and he has developed a great working relationship with her and other colleagues," Timmons said. "He's glad to have her respect and … he would welcome her support."

When Young bowed out on Friday, Giordano scrambled to turn the Saturday gathering at Eden's Lounge into a mayoral forum. He was able to get two candidates, Circuit Court Clerk Frank Conaway, who is running as a Democrat, and independent candidate Catalina Byrd. Dixon made an appearance but did not serve as host.

Giordano, who is planning a larger mayoral forum next month, said he doesn't expect Dixon to host that event either. He thinks that could be awkward — but not because of any lasting sense of shame surrounding Dixon.

"She may run for mayor four years from now," Giordano said. "It's hard to endorse somebody and come out and run against them in four years."

How about Johnson Hopkinson?

Dennis O'Shea, spokesman for the Johns Hopkins University, e-mailed me to report "a new defeat in the eternal battle to get people to say our name correctly." He directed me to a website for Christopher Newport University athletics, which had announced game times for NCAA first- and second-round games.

"Richard Stockton College will face Johnson Hopkins University in the first game, followed by host Christopher Newport University taking on York College (Pa.)," it said.

Hopkins is used to people dropping the "s" in "Johns." But "Johnson Hopkins"?

"Apparently, they played Johnson & Wales in baseball the day this was originally posted," O'Shea explained, "and the names got conflated somehow."

laura.vozzella@baltsun.com


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