Mr. Fisher goes to Baltimore

Recently the Washington Post staff writer, Marc Fisher, penned an article about Baltimore that stirred up a lot of hurt feelings.

My reaction to the article was less passionate than some of my friends but I did react. I groaned when he mentioned the Inner Harbor, National Aquarium, and Fells Point.

Not because I don’t believe those are awesome places to meander and enjoy a day but because I remember living in the DC area.

Baltimore has more to offer than just the Inner Harbor and typical tourist attractions. (Larry Luxner)
Baltimore is more than just the Inner Harbor and typical tourist attractions. (Larry Luxner)

When I lived there and anyone mentioned going to Baltimore those were the only places they had in mind.

It was as if we believed the whole of Baltimore consisted of those three locations. We didn’t dream of venturing out of that parameter. I laugh about that now.

I shook my head when Mr. Fisher talked of coming to see the Yankees.  And I winced when he mentioned how “The Wire” didn’t do much to make him want to visit.

It’s just plain rude to come to your neighbor’s house for dinner and start boasting about how much you love their adversary or bringing up the worst of their family history.

If the idea is to get to know each other then it is best to search for common ground.

Unfortunately, not everyone has gracious social skills and so Mr. Fisher inadvertently stumbled upon every thorn in Baltimore’s side.

Hence, the public outcry in response to his article.

Station North is composed of portions of three Baltimore neighborhoods: Charles North, Greenmount West, and Barclay. (Wikipedia Commons)
Station North consists of portions of three Baltimore neighborhoods: Charles North, Greenmount West, and Barclay. (Wikipedia Commons)

To his credit – he did try to step out of his box of preconceptions.

He took a peek at Stations North where a redevelopment project is underway to revitalize the area with theater and the arts.

I would have loved to have guided the rest of his tour around Baltimore’s thriving theater and arts community which spans far beyond Stations North and is well known for producing accomplished authors, playwrights, poets and performers.

His visit to The Bohemian Coffee house and his experience with Ian Hesford of Telesma was so close to a true Baltimore experience that I held my breath with the hope that he might get a glimmer at what I see.

But how could he? How could he know that Ian literally died on stage a few months back but was revived by a community so filled with love and determination that the folks in the hospital lifted all of their rules about visitors and enjoyed the sound of music wafting through their once sterile hallways?

How could he know that Baltimore’s music scene is so much more than the Jazz of An Die Musik unless he sat in on the authentic Irish sessions at J Patrick’s or witnessed the mind blowing talent that shows up at the New Haven Lounge.

Come north and listen to some mind-blowing talent.
Come north and listen to some mind-blowing talent. (Publicity photo)

Were he to travel to Ireland or New Orleans and mention our city he would be met with excited nods of appreciation for our reputation as a place where the music scene is vibrant and trend setting.

He pointed out the sign, “The best place to take awkward dates.” and I wondered – does he appreciate Baltimore’s sense of humor? Does he understand that even the hippest of hipsters here are not really taking themselves that seriously?

That, alone, could be the reason behind the outrageous success of John Waters- though I love some of his straighter stuff, too, like Serial Mom.

I want to invite him back to Mobtown for the upcoming Small Foods  event or to anything Fluid Movement does.

Not to watch – he wouldn’t understand unless he participated- unless he loosened that DC tie of his and got his feet wet.

Camp might be empty Sir, but it’s also great fun.

Baltimore is a rare place where grown-ups are still encouraged to play and to imagine and to create and, yes – to believe.

Even our team is named after a poem.
Even our team is named after a poem.

There is a literary community here that I challenge any city to match. Even our football team is named after a 19th century poem.

He says we are “self-conscious” and “too precious” and he implies that we are trying to be something we are not.

I would correct him by saying that Baltimore is trying to hold on to something that it is. It is trying not to let corporate/political influence take away our original thinking or our sense of wonder.

Many of our businesses are still family run – our restaurants attempt to be locally supplied.

Our politics are grass rooted because our thinking is community based.

So before you publicly judge us make a little more effort to get to know us. Not just the part of us that you see on TV or the part that looks like you – but the part of us that makes Baltimore deserve the moniker Charm City.

And PLEASE tell me your secret about finding parking!