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Baltimore Ramble

Over near West Baltimore Street, there is what looks to be an old burned out building that nonetheless sits proudly in remembrance of what it once was. It was a moviehouse, I think; mostly faded letters that were once loud and red, painted on the side of the building, read "The Hippodrome; 10 cent matinees." The windows are bashed in, leading to darkness, but you can still see clearly the intricate carvings on the corners of the pinky-yellow brick building. It's a pretty–no, gorgeous piece of early 20th century architecture, gone to rot with the rest of that particular block.

There is construction next to the Hippodrome; actually, I can't tell if they're tearing something down or putting it up. It could be something by the University of Maryland–go a block or two west and you leave old edifices struggling to survive the postmodern era to find swank buildings belonging to the Law School and the Hospital. If this construction is the going up kind of construction, the faded sign will disappear. Some people will remember; newcomers newer than me won't. "Hippodrome" might only make them think of "The Hippo," the city's snazz gay bar.

Not that thinking of the gay bar is bad, but this old theatre just looks really cool, at least in the brief moments I got to look at it. I wonder if someone might fix it up. Or if something awful happens and they tear itdown. It's been known to happen, although many Baltimoreans are happy to keep their old buildings around if they can.

Some hoity-toity retired judge actually hauled his butt into action just to save some old houses in my current (temporary) neighborhood. You see, most of the houses in the neighborhood date back to the big railroad era; many of them belonged to immigrant workers. These houses were saved and restored as a "shrine" to Irish immigrant workers specifically, which is kind of cool. Baltimore's weird like that; someone gets up and says, "Hey, let's save these old Irish houses" and then they do.

Of course, I'm not sure if the locals appreciate the "Irish shrine," as most of them are black. They'd probably prefer a shrine to their ancestors that toiled on the railways (not to mention everywhere else).

I like my neighborhood for no real logical reason. It's not exactly a swank part of town. It's not even necessarily a good part of town, but it's okay. It's sort of homey working class-ish, and people are pretty friendly. Kids play outside on the playground in the park nearby pretty much all the time, since it's summer, so it usually sounds like happiness outside. Yes, you do have to be careful about which direction you walk in, yes, you have to use common sense, but for the most part it's an okay place.

I got pissed off at a couple of my friends who were lecturing me that I'm living in a "bad neighborhood"– "bad" as in if I'm not careful I'm going to get raped as I walk out of my house. Okay, they really didn't say that, but it's the sound of their voices, it annoyed me. I don't like being nagged, and I don't like being told what my situation is by people who've never even lived in a city before. I've survived worse neighborhoods than this. I don't assume any neighborhood is safe, first of all, and I learn the ins and outs of a place as well as I can, as soon as I can, so I know where I can go and where not to go.

These are good friends, and I'm glad someone is concerned for me, but... they don't know what they're talking about... *sigh* and admittedly they hurt my pride. I suppose I should be grateful that people worry about me. Probably a lot of people with problems have them because no one worries about them. They're like the old Hippodrome, maybe impressive for their beauteous dilapidation, but all hollow on the inside. There, that was a deep thought for you.

It rained yesterday, and dropped about 15 degrees, but it doesn't feel much like it, except that there's just sort of a bit of relief in the air. A less humid wind; the trees are happier. I saw a man today walking down the street wearing a loud shirt and playing the harmonica.

Perhaps more people should walk down the street in loud shirt and play harmonicas. There was something very carefree about that man. He wasn't worried that the Hippodrome would fall, or that I wouldn't make it home safely. He knew I would.


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All original materials © 2003 R. Pickard