Thursday, March 31, 2011

i am trying to connect

What Weekly's write-up of this month's WORMS reading, in which I participated, is up on their website. Huzzah! I included a very nice thing they said about me in the Praise section of this blog, but do read the whole thing. Rupert, Chris, and Buck are very good writers and readers and people. What Weekly runs a professional ship too, it seems, so hats off to them as well.

I think I promised to talk about why I love Baltimore so much, despite its inescapable numerous glaring flaws, and WORMS gives body to part of what I like about this place - the very real and artistic weirdness that grips the entire city. Baltimore is not a place of false neuroses, so pretense is really obvious here. Artists here seem very keen to start things - readings, showings, galleries, unorthodox living room music spaces, etc. - and give themselves and others an opportunity to display their craft. Which is impressive in a city whose lines between good and bad areas are notoriously abrupt, whose resources in general are scarce, and whose reputation doesn't provide much incentive for other people to take us seriously. There's a lot of art and literature here, folks, and the community behind it is the first anything I've actually wanted to join in years.

So there, that's one reason I love it here. And I think it's a pretty good one.

Monday, March 28, 2011

the definition of ugly

So it seems that Baltimore is a depressed, ugly, angry city. That is to say, it ranks highly on lists measuring these qualities within cities - we usually lose to Detroit, but once that poor 'burg rejungles itself into marshland, Baltimore will officially be a miserable place to live. Joy.

While I do love this place, I admit that we're not a sterling example of community spirit. Many people who live here are crazy, or scared of the crazies, and there's no shortage of asshole DC commuters who only live here because it's cheap. Many city residents hate the taxes, and I guess I'm with them, but only because we don't see much for all the nickel-and-diming we have to endure. In fact, the only real evidence that our money isn't just being shoveled into a giant hole is road construction that takes forever and screws up traffic patterns for months on end.

A lot of this anger gets channeled into our driving - Maryland has some of the worst drivers in the country, which I again credit to DC commuters who overestimate their own importance and drive like they're chasing the Duke boys across county lines. Lots of aggressive merges, lane changes without signaling, tailgating, coasting in the middle lanes of three-lane highways, etc. It's awful. I've gotten to the point where I slow down in highway merge areas because I'm expecting at least one car to spit out in front of me as soon as the lines breaks apart. This has not made me a popular motorist in states like Pennsylvania, where people generally observe the social contract of driving and don't understand why I'm so paranoid.

None of this has anything to do with writing or literature or design, but I do live here and I do like it most of the time, so I felt like I had the right to throw in my two cents. Perhaps in my next post, I'll explain why I like living in this godforsaken post-industrial carcass. But for now, I have opera to tech.