On the heals of recent musings about Baltimore's status as a "minor-league city" because it does not have an NBA or NHL franchise:
Check out this strange, strange travel piece about the city in today's New York Times. At first, it seems that the writer is quite pleased with Charm City's... Renaissance.
BALTIMORE is sometimes the forgotten middle child among attention-getting Eastern cities like Washington and New York. But a civic revival, which began with the harbor's makeover 27 years ago, has given out-of-towners reason to visit.
Yes, yes. Nothing marks success like a city's ability to please people who do not live there. But forget that. We're talking Renaissance! And dammit, Baltimore had one! So what does this writer think of the Inner Harbor, long pitched as the centerpiece of that revival?
Get your bearings at the city's center, the Inner Harbor, and stroll along the edge of what was, 50 years ago, a working commercial port. Belying that workaday tradition is Harborplace & the Gallery, a pair of waterside malls that are good for little more than souvenirs and paddleboats in the shape of Chessie, the Chesapeake Bay's version of the Loch Ness monster.
So, in other words, it sucks. Well, thank goodness it's not a working port anymore. But here is my favorite part, one that I think deserves some attention:
The city's night life has outgrown its working-class, corner-bar roots. In its place are stylish new places like the art- and hops-friendly Brewer's Art (1106 North Charles Street, 410-547-6925; www.thebrewersart.com). The Belgian-inspired microbrews include the divine Resurrection brown ale ($4). For cocktails, head around the corner to the high ceilings and stained-glass windows of the Owl Bar at the Belvedere Hotel (1 East Chase Street, 410-347-0888; www.theowlbar.com). A young, stylish crowd can be found mingling along the mahogany bar.
Ummm... Outgrown? Is drinking costly microbrews while looking at "art" on the walls really somehow more "mature" than drinking Rolling Rock while watching sports on television with your friends? I guess it is, in the same way that riding around in a dragon-shaped paddle-boat is more mature than working at a port.
Look, dude. A lot of people think that the young, stylish people mingling along the mahogany bar are a bunch of dickheads. So a heads-up to all young, stylish people: To the extent that you sit there and look at art while congratulating yourself for having "outgrown" the corner bar, the dickhead assessment is pretty much right on.
Besides, aren't we living in the age of irony? Or post-irony? Aren't the people who are ACTUALLY stylish the ones drinking the Rolling Rock and Pabst? No, I don't mean the hipsters who aspire to Blue Collar "authenticity." I mean the people who are just that way. That is... many, many cool people in New York are desperately struggling to capture some kind of "real-ness." The kind of real-ness that can be found, at least for now, in many of Baltimore's corner bars. That is, maybe it's not the working-class, corner bar people who need to "grow."
Listen, chump: I got yer Belgian-inspired microbrew right here.
Seriously. If you live in NYC, why go to Baltimore to see a little "style." Go to Baltimore to see Baltimore. Get yourself a cold beer. Maybe get a shot of bourbon, preferably one that was not "inspired" by anything whatsoever. And get over yourself.