Interesting Sights From Northeast Baltimore(Spoiler Alert! There Will Be Wall Art)

I had lunch today at the Broadway Market and I always drive North on Broadway when I make my way home because it is just so interesting to see how Baltimore is developing in some areas and how there is still a lot of work to be done to improve our city in others. I love this city so much and I just can’t stop discovering it.

Well here is the awesome lunch I discovered; Bibimbop at Lucia Joanns in Broadway Market.  They serve normal diner fare AND Korean food.  AWESOME! Photo, please!

ImageStir fried veggies, beef, rice topped off with egg and srihacha sauce. Yum. You can get it without meat and egg for a vegan treat.

Afterwards, traveling North on Broadway, I took time to take a photo of one of my favorite pieces of urban art that I have been meaning to document here in this blog.  Finally, here it is.  Image

You may notice that in the left of the shot is a huge Scan thingy with the address of the vacant property.  I wonder if this is part of the Wall Hunters film project/social movement, ‘ya know as a way to ID the buildings.  I’ve seen these on other buildings with art on them so who knows?

As I headed farther up on Broadway I found this out of the way bar near Hoffman and Gay streets.      Image

It’s padlocked, I guess because it’s the middle of the day.  Maybe it is just closed for good, but admittedly, if it is shut for good, the immediate area around it is oddly clean.  The sign says, ‘Connie Torain’s Hideaway-Your Home Away From Home’.  Oh that Connie!

Now I only found Connie’s because I was turning around to take a photo of this Amtrak mural that oddly enough is visible from the Amtrak train tracks that run through Northeast Baltimore on their way to Penn Station.  I love the art but I wonder what the thinking was on that commissioning; “Hey, we need a mural of an Amtrak train to remind the people on Amtrak trains that they are on an Amtrak train!”  Here’s the mural.Image

Till next time, hons!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

“As Long as Frank Sinatra Says it’s Okay”

Amazing Spiral has this wonderful Spinal Tap reference on it’s shelves. Enjoy, geeks!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Greatest Piece of Graveyard Trash Literature!

I cannot believe it has taken me so long to post this incredible photo.  If you read this blog, you know that I have become an unofficial caretaker of the grounds around the Patterson Family Cemetery plot.  I’ve never been inside it’s stone and wrought iron walls but I do pick up around it.

Last fall, I was cleaning the property and quite literally was collecting a few bags worth of trash.  While doing so, I found this soggy, damaged book;Image

Isn’t this great?!  Why do Kenyan Farmers need to be introduced to Ostriches?  What about Estonian Farmers?!  How do the Ostriches feel about it?  And how in the world does this book end up on the ground around an unloved urban graveyard for kinda famous people??

Writing this blog entry has inspired two new fun things.  1st, Introducing Ostriches is a great name for a band.  2nd, I’ve created a new literary genre. ‘Graveyard Trash Literature’

More reasons to love Baltimore.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Semiotics Fail in Baltimore Church Bathroom

I don’t understand why the ‘hand swipe’ symbol AND the words, “Motion Activated”, weren’t enough.  I guess, that there is a silver lining here.  While symbol-meaning may not have had the intended effect, at least, people CAN read.  I’ll take it, Baltimore!Image

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Goodbye, My Beloved Video Americain

It is no secret that the greatest movie rental business in the world has had to shutter its’ doors.  A few years ago, I wrote of my love of Video Americain and the dying of the movie rental business.  It was inevitable.  Me, you and everyone else had a role in its’ demise.  Ain’t technology a bitch?

Anyway, I was able to stop by and buy some films from the Cold Spring Lane store.  That was fun, because it was just like it always; a beehive of movie mega-geekdom!  I was able to pick up two of my FAV-O-RITES! The Criterion Collection edition of James Whale’s classic ‘Frankenstein’. It also includes the amazing and campy, ‘Bride of Frankenstein’, and of course a whole bunch of egghead commentary.Image

And this Godard classic that recently played the Charles’ revival series.  So happy to own a copy!Image

Anyway, here’s the money shot.  The thing that really inspired this blog.  My Video Americain Membership card.


It’s been in my wallet forever..and I’ve changed wallets 3 times!  I should take it out and secret it away as a keepsake of a time when it was a pleasure to rent movies and not something done from a box outside of Royal Farms or downloaded or netflixed or whatever. Farewell My Concubine…I mean, goodbye Video Americain.  You are already, sorely missed.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

My Absolute FAVORITE Piece of Baltimore Wall Art!!

I drive past this mural on Greenmount Avenue all the time and have meant to post it forever.  I don’t know the artist or artists but there is a lot of art all around it and I have blogged before about all that other art but this one takes the cake!Image

I call it Greenmount Android Ronald McDonald.  This wall art is on the side of the house that Jazz singer Tamm E. Hunt lives in, here’s Tammy’Image

Also, right around here is the ‘Art Brickhaus’ and there is also a gulfstream trailer that’s in pretty good shape behind a fence right next to this mural.  Greenmount &26th is where you’ll find all this stuff, but you gotta love, Android Ronald McDonald!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Patterson Family Graveyard Defiled, Maybe Betsy’s Ghost Did it!

I hadn’t stopped by the Patterson Family Graveyard in a while so on a recent stamp purchasing trek to the Waverly Post Office, I ambled over.  You may recall some blogs I posted last year, after I stumbled upon the Patterson family’s hidden-in-plain-view cemetery. Those posts were all about finding out if it actually was a graveyard, whose was it and why did it seem so unloved, particularly after I learned that it was indeed the plot of one Baltimore’s most powerful families.

I do stop by on occasion to clean up around it, but of course, I still haven’t been able to gain access to it.  My contacting of different departments in Baltimore City Government has resulted in some nice emails from the assistants of officials but I don’t actually know which department has the key to the big steel door.  In due time, I guess.

So, like I said, I ambled over and noted that the area around the graveyard was cleaner than it normally is, which made me glad.  I then walked to the front and saw that someone had tagged it.  This bummed me out a bit.  I actually like graffiti in some situations, but it does have it’s place, I guess.  It’s kind of like John Waters notion of “good, bad taste”.  And I’m not sure if that truly applies here.  But in my mind, Graves are off limits to graffiti.  I took a couple of pics and I noted that it looks like it’s been tagged before and covered up.  Proof that Baltimore City does try to look after it to some extent.

I know that you know that I will continue to inquire as to the upkeep of this historical site and that I will keep you posted as to any developments.  I mean, the Pattersons are an iconic Baltimore family. ImageGo check out the current exhibit about Betsy Patterson at the MD Historical Society, if you need convincing. 




Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Scenes From a Run Around Baltimore’s Lake Montebello

Lake Montebello, even though man-made, is a true gem in Northeast Baltimore.  Today a light, fresh snow had fallen and on the portion of the lake that was still frozen, it lay like a sharply pressed white linen sheet.  I also love that Baltimore seems to be a home to big, beautiful geese.  Druid Lake and Lake Montebello are favorite places of these incredible birds. In one of the three photos that I will post, the Gothic intensity of City College can be seen in the distance.  Just wonderful.Image


ImageI Love this shot.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My Night With Philip Seymour Hoffman

For almost 5 years, I lived in New York City.  I went there, just like so many others, to pursue a dream, to scratch an itch, to give flight to the fantasy that I could make a living being a performer.  This means, of course, that I was a waiter and a bartender full-time and stand-up comedian and actor, part-time.  Very part time.

I didn’t have a head shot or an agent.  I, for the most part, stumbled into gigs.  Doing stand-up is easy.  There is no shortage of open mic nights.  Any prospective comedian can just scour the pages of Backstage magazine and show up.  If you are funny enough, eventually you will get asked to play slightly bigger gigs with other up and coming comedians.  If you hang around long enough and are just open to the possibility of working toward bigger shows-sometimes you can actually make something of yourself.  For some reason, the allure of being a hard-working comedian, waned.

But the great thing about being in NYC and living within that world of creative people is that you may actually get a a chance to do some other, more substantive things.  By more substantive, I mean actual, here’s a script, be at rehearsal at this time and place and let’s get this thing on the stage or on film or whatever.  This actually happened a few times and it happened by sheer luck, to be quite honest.  I guess my personality, voice and presence were strong enough to make producers and writers take notice through randomness of place, namely, bars I worked in and bars I hung out in.

I worked at an Italian restaurant on the Upper West Side called, Trattoria Sambuca. Of course, almost everyone I worked with was an artist of some sort and for a brief time, a guy named TK McManus tended bar there.  I was never close to TK but he was a nice enough guy and he had written a screenplay titled, “Existential Vacuum”. He was working hard to get this script turned into an actual movie and one way to make that happen is something called a ‘Read Through’.  this ‘Read Through’ was done in front of a number of potential financial investors.  If they like what they hear and see, they might invest some money so they can tell their friends that they are now, movie producers.  I don’t really know how these things get set up, but they do.

TK, knowing that I was an actor, asked me if I could participate in this thing and I was more than happy to involve myself.  He gave me the script, told me that I might have to voice a couple of different characters due to a shortage of actors and, you know, just be ready to do whatever is needed.  One of the interesting elements of these ‘Read Throughs’ is that there is no previous rehearsal.  At least there was no rehearsal for this one.  It is a very bare bones thing.

On the night of the ‘Read Through’, I showed up at the theater, a former church off of Columbus Avenue, and I don’t know anyone there.  I find a place to sit and all of us actor types start making a little small talk.  After a few minutes I did recognize the two guys sitting behind me and to my right.  One gent was Stephen Mailer.  He is the son of author, Norman Mailer. He was wearing a Yankees cap and I was wearing my Orioles cap and the reason I knew who he was is because we were both in John Water’s “CryBaby”.  We didn’t actually work together in that film but it was our common ground which was a pretty cool.  For the record, in “Crybaby” I worked with Johnny Depp and Willem Defoe, so YAY me!

The fellow to Stephen’s right was familiar to me but I couldn’t place him at first.  Then it dawned on me, it was Philip Seymour Hoffman.  He was fresh off of “Boogie Nights” and I was impressed.  I remember thinking, “this guy is good!”  I couldn’t figure out how he ended up here, with US?!  He obviously didn’t need to do this. I think Stephen said something like, “This is Phil.”. Friendly waves were exchanged and then it was time to do this thing.  Turns out that I had to do two different parts and one of them gets to say, “Fuck you” to one of Phils’ characters.  That was a rush!

Afterwards, I couldn’t have been more jazzed to let all my other drinking-buddy-actor friends at Malachy’s pub on the Upper West Side know that I had just done this thing with Philip Seymour Hoffman. 

Even then, at that early part of his career in the late 90′s, aspiring actors knew just how good he was. I can’t explain it.  It’s weird.

“Capote” is one of the handful of movies I own on DVD.  His performance is staggering.  Equally as powerful is his performance in “Before the Devil Knows Your Dead”. ,

Let’s just say that ever since that night we delivered dialogue to each other, I’ve thought of him often.  And now that his battle with addiction has been exposed, I feel a deeper connection with him due to my own difficulties with alcohol that caused me to get sober 12 years ago.  Heroin and booze are different but addiction is addiction. 

I cherish the years that I spent in New York.  I’ve kept mementos of those days and of projects and performances that I’d been a part of and tonight, I pulled out this, the script for “Existential Vacuum”.ImageI’ve kept it all these years because this is the reminder of the night that I spent with the great Philip Seymour Hoffman.




Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Charmington’s Coffee House-The BEST Place to Find Cat Books..and Good Coffee

Go to Charmington’s for the coffee, stay for the cat books.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Hey Hollywood..You Need a Haunted House for a Horror Movie? Come To Baltimore!!!

If you read this blog with any regularity, you know that I’m not just obsessed with Baltimore, I am obsessed with Old Baltimore.  Soon, I will write an entry about the book, “The York Road”, by under-appreciated Baltimore author, Lizette Woodworth Reese.  I am currently reading that book and it documents life in Waverly and Govans in the early 1900′s.

She describes a Baltimore that is quite frankly, pastoral. Her descriptions make me venture around trying to place and envision the locations she writes about.  Of course, this means that I get lost in looking at other buildings.  While doing this today, I drove up Old York Rd. and made a left on 42nd Street and came across this old, columned structure that I’ve seen before a million times while driving up the NEW York Rd. I always wanted to get out and take a closer look…well today was the day.!

I walked up to the arched, iron gate and looked up the creepy stairs and saw that above the boarded up door on the transom the following words were painted, Moran Funeral Home.  Damn, that’s perfect!  It is a perfect haunted house!

Here’s the look up the stairs.Image

I tried to walk around it a bit but it’s on a hill and when I found the rear steps, I saw the obligatory, no trespassing signs.  Also, the motion light on the house behind it came on so I hightailed it out of there.  By the way, that house is pretty weird, too-maybe a blog for another time.  Here’s a shot of the ruined columns on the side of the funeral home.Image And here is a classic shot of a classic wrought iron fence.ImageIt also has the prerequisite, stone wall with a ball.

What I find even more fascinating is that I can’t find any mention of this funeral home on the internet.  No old photos, no newspaper references, no, “It’s closing” notices.  It’s a mystery.  And even though it’s all boarded up, the way the back of the building looked, it seems that someone could possibly be living in there.  It’s creepy.

So I think I will email Jacques Kelly at the Baltimore Sun to see if he knows anything about this place.  He seems to not only know things about old Baltimore buildings, he seems to have a story about them.  I’m wondering if he had an aunt that was laid out there or something.  That would be weird and fantastic!

Anyway…scary movie location scouts…come and check it out!


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments