“Ghost” sign Advertising in West Baltimore

I took a few moments today to drive around West Baltimore after I picked up a Vitamin C Blast Smoothie from my friend Andre’s excellent juice stall in the Avenue Market on Pennsylvania Avenue in Upton. It’s called Just Juice It and you should stop by and grab a juice or smoothie.

During my drive, I came across a corner rowhouse at the intersection of Riggs & McKean Avenues that had some of that wonderful old-school painted advertising on it. I’m guessing that the house had been a store of some sort because it said, A. Heim Groceries & Provisions. This alone would be cool but below that…and I almost didn’t see it at first was…well look at it yourself:bulldurhamI looked at it for a minute or two and then it dawned on me that it might say ‘Bull Durham’. I vaguely recalled that ‘Bull Durham’ wasn’t just one of the better Baseball/Soft-Porn/Poetry movies, but that ‘Bull Durham’ was a tobacco company.

I did a little google image searching to help verify my hypothesis and while there was a lot of ‘Bull Durham’ tobacco signs painted on the sides of many buildings throughout the country, none of them completely matched this sign. I’m sure that it was probably very normal to have local sign painters execute a national companies’ advertisements with an essential guideline on how to do it without corporate oversight. I guess, right?

Something also of note is that the words are partly painted over. Above the A.Heim lettering, it’s natural brick. Between the A. Heim lettering and the supposed ‘Bull Durham’ ad there is a bit of lighter paint and then the “Bull” sign is a pale yellow. That pale yellow appears in other ‘Bull Durham’ painted advertising. Here’s a look at a sign that is kind of similar to this one: BulldurhamghostsignThis sign isn’t in Baltimore but it is reminiscent of the sign at Riggs & McKean.

As I discovered in my look through google images, many of the advertising posters for ‘Bull Durham’ tobacco utilized  very offensive racist images of African-Americans. I’m wondering if maybe some of those images were included in the ad on Riggs & McKean and that is why the lower half was painted over. I’m speculating, of course, but could you imagine how troubling it would be to be Black and have to pass by an offensive depiction of African-Americans. Again, to be fair, I’m merely speculating as to why it was covered over.

Baltimore is full of these ‘Ghost’ signs and I hope to find every last one.


Posted in Advertising, art, art history, baltimore, baltimore history, Baltimore Neighborhoods, Blogging, Just Juice it, Maryland, movies, painting, Public Art, Uncategorized, Urban Art, West Baltimore | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Paying it Forward Baltimore Style


You see that? That’s 30 bucks. I received that 30 bucks from a gentleman as thanks for finding his cell phone on the street.

About a month ago I was running errands on Saint Paul street and as I stepped out of my car, I saw a Samsung cell phone lying on the street just inside the curb. It was fairly obvious that someone had let it fall out of their pocket.

I gave it the once over and decided to send the last person that had sent the owner a text, a text back. I was hoping that maybe they would have a way of letting the owner know that I had found it. In that text, I let them know that I was going to turn the phone into the Eddie’s supermarket that is on that block.  I drop it off there and just continue on with my day.  A couple of days later, I’m in the Eddie’s doing a little shopping and the manager, Jason(of Jason and the Moon Mites, fame) tracked me down and let me know that the owner of the phone had indeed picked it up and left me a cash reward as thanks. Yup, it’s that 30 bucks you see up top.

The cash was nice but I figured that it would be far better to have that money serve a greater purpose. So I have donated that cash to my favorite charitable organization in West Baltimore, Jubilee Arts. Here is the link to their website http://arts.jubileeartsbaltimore.org/

Check out their website and maybe consider sending them a few dollars so that they can continue doing the awesome work they do.

Posted in Baltimore, Carberry, Giving Tuesday, Jubilee Arts, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Baltimore-Land of Misfit Shoes Part III

Well maybe this is part 4 or 5…I forget.  Anyway, I was walking through Hampden today and while crossing the intersection of 36th street and Roland avenue, I looked up and noticed this.

bootmisfitYes, that’s a cowboy boot about 15 feet in the air on a cross walk sign. Hipster “art” installation or it’s raining Western footwear in Baltimore? You decide! #Shoegaze? #ShoeCity4real

Posted in Alternative Lifestyles, art, Baltimore, Baltimore Neighborhoods, baltimore neighborhoods, Blogging, Carberry, fashion, Hampden, Humor, life, md, Public Art, Shoegaze, Uncategorized, Urban Art, weird Baltimore | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Baltimore Ridiculous

It is no secret that I adore Baltimore for all of it’s weird, wild and wacky elements.  But even an unapologetic Baltimore booster like me gets peeved, now and again, at some of the dumber things that my fellow citizens do. One of the more irritating and idiotic things that rubs me the wrong way is the fact that it seems that almost everyone thinks that it is perfectly okay and normal to leave used tires by the side of the road. For the life of me I can’t figure out how this became a thing, but it’s been a thing for many years.

When I find a discarded tire that I can get to, I pull over, put it in my hatch and take it to Firestone or Pep Boys so they can recycle it. AND you can do that too!

Yesterday, while driving up the Alameda, I saw a tire. But it wasn’t just any old tire…it was THIS!


How!? What??!! Why!!  I mean it wasn’t dropped in a vacant lot, it’s at the intersection of Woodbourne and The Alameda!!?

In what scenario does this happen? Who is just driving around with a crapped out MONSTER TRUCK tire?!

So I will call 311 to have the city come pick it up, but what if they don’t have truck big enough?

Posted in baltimore, Baltimore, baltimore neighborhoods, Blogging, Carberry, Maryland, recycling, Uncategorized, weird Baltimore | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Baltimore Mayoral Race Random#LizEmbry

Heading home this afternoon, I was driving up Greenmount Avenue and happened upon Baltimore Mayoral Candidate, Elizabeth Embry behind a podium and being interviewed by WYPR’s Fraser Smith.

She was also being filmed but it didn’t seem to be from a news organization. Nothing big to report other than there weren’t any spectators??  Here’s my lame, non-criminal stalking cellphone photo.

EmbryOnly thing to note is that she was speaking in front of a closed Bank of America location, near some trash bags that were set out to be picked up and wall mural depicting, Ghandi, Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Baltimore Native, Eubie Blake.  Like I said, random.  Maybe someone from her campaign will read this and provide a little context.

Posted in Baltimore City Council, Baltimore Mayoral Race 2016, Baltimore Neighborhoods, Baltimore Politics, Maryland, md, NPR, politics, Public Art, Uncategorized, Urban Art, voting, WYPR | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Kindness, Food&Fun@Dovecote Cafe

0I have stopped by Dovecote Cafe twice and here is what I know: The owners and staff are so gracious and kind and fun-loving that you just know that opening Dovecote is a dream come true for them. They make the most PERFECT Kale salad I have ever had and they will brew you a great pretension-free cup of coffee…and they make that fun, too. Apparently, when it comes to coffee, I’m a “Smidge”. Who knew?!

When I was there today, they had a Pixilated Photobooth contraption and one of the owners, Aisha, wanted me to get in on that. So she and I did a little vogueing for the camera. It’s so wonderful to have this charming spot in Reservoir Hill.  Do yourself a favor and stop by and say, Hi!


Posted in #Fueledbydovecote, baltimore, baltimore neighborhoods, Coffee, Reservoir Hill, Restaurants in Baltimore, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Collectors’ item?


Since the Orioles have disallowed Adam Jones from smashing Dangerously Delicious pies in teammates faces after a clutch, game-winning performance,  it seems that this Dangerously Delicious T-shirt might stop being printed. In fact, my lovely wife,  Anna said that this was the last one in the beloved Hampden pie shop when she bought this for me. Might be the last of its’ kind.

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Baltimore’s Barclay Street Beauty

For the first time in a quite a while, I had the opportunity to just relax on an actual day off.  While running errands and trying to track down a small piece of architecture that is supposedly a standing remnant of the International League Baltimore Orioles’s home, the original Oriole Park in Northeast Baltimore, I found some more of Baltimore’s amazing public art pieces that I am so fond of and write about so often.

These are all on Barclay street in the neighborhood of Greenmount West. 1800 block and below to be precise. These pieces are just so great and I wanted to share them.Barclayart2

This little one is fun! BarclayYawningSee! It’s an awning that’s yawning! Some nifty photo-realism going on here.

This next one is great. Malcolm X, Nina Simone and James Baldwin. That rendering of Baldwin is spot on. BarclayArtBaldwinI’m off again tomorrow so stay tuned!

Posted in art, art history, baltimore, Baltimore Neighborhoods, baltimore tourism, baseball memorabilia, Blogging, Carberry, celebrities, grafitti, Humor, James Baldwin, life, Maryland, painting, photography, Public Art, statues and monuments, Uncategorized, Urban Art | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Frederick Douglass, Devin Allen & The Language of Image

The Baltimore Sun of December 21st, contained an excellent Op-Ed piece written by Harvard University’s, John Stauffer. In it, he dispenses two amazing facts.  The first being that Frederick Douglass sat to have his picture taken no fewer than 160 times and that, in fact, he was the most photographed American in the 19th Century.

I have included the link to the piece but I wanted to highlight one paragraph in particular because it plucked a string within me that I feel I don’t illuminate well enough when I find myself ruminating upon the weight and far-reach of racism in our country. In this paragraph, Stauffer notes that even though photography was becoming an incredibly popular and powerful medium, slave states were less accepting of it.

“Defensive about slavery, white Southerners seemed to tacitly agree that there was much about their society best left un-illustrated.  Photographic portraits bore witness to blacks’ essential humanity, countering the racist caricatures evident in lithographs and engravings based on drawings.”

It causes me to wonder, if Southerners of that time were indeed, “defensive” about slavery, wouldn’t that be ample evidence, coming from their own consciences, that slavery was cruel, inhumane and frankly a seriously flawed business model.

Here are two of my favorite portraits of Frederick Douglass:Frederick_Douglass_c1860s


I like these two the most because he is looking almost directly at the camera as opposed to the semi-profile angle that was so prevalent in portraiture of the time. I believe these photos are from the 1860’s.

It would be awesome, if by some trickery of the time-space continuum, that Baltimore’s Devin Allen could photograph Frederick Douglass. Mr. Allen’s almost-exclusive use of black&white photography in our instagramfiltered world would yield something magical; not to say that the 160 photographs of this most powerful man of ideas, morals and letters, done by different photographers over 100 years ago, aren’t.

Devin Allen has been thrust into the international spotlight because TIME Magazine used one of his photos for the cover of their issue that covered the unrest in the City of Baltimore. He has used this new-found “celebrity” to further document the struggles and triumphs of Baltimore’s African-American community, not only through his own photography  but through  his work with Baltimore’s youth, getting cameras into their hands and teaching them how to find their art and give voice to their experience.

You can follow his work at @byDVNLLN on Twitter.


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Old, Beat Down Baltimore Bus, Beautiful in Its’ Degradation

I’ve always enjoyed driving down Falls Rd between Hampden and the area now known as Station North. I enjoy any swath of land in the City that is devoid of the typical urban features.  Part of this stretch of road is the Baltimore Streetcar Museum. I have to admit that I’ve never visited the museum, but I have to admit that, more interesting to me is an open air version of the museum that is completely dilapidated.  For the longest time, there has been a huge tarp over something.  I now know what that something is. Dig this!busGLongview It’s definitely a bus from the 60’s or 70’s, at least that’s what my memory thinks, I have nothing to back that up. Here are some more photos of it.BusSideviewBusSOSHAvefunthat’s right, SOS Have Fun! BusCASHObviously, the artist is a BIG Johnny Cash fan!

BusWindowWhat’s really amazing about this photo is that this only shows half of the side doors.  They have this interesting patina that is highly reflective as evidenced by this horrible selfie.BUSreflectionIsn’t that zany!!  I wonder if any of ya’ll old school Baltimorons can verify if City busses had these almost mirror-like windows in their doors.

Posted in art, baltimore, baltimore history, Baltimore Neighborhoods, baltimore tourism, grafitti, photography, Public Art | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment