I was born in Baltimore. By the time I was five years old, my family moved to Ohio and I was raised there partially because of how badly my family wanted to take me and my siblings away from the crime that Baltimore is so notoriously known for. Cities are cities and I can’t blame any parent of three children for wanting to transplant their children into a small, beautiful mid-western town instead of the city. So we packed our bags into our Toyota and we moved to Marietta, Ohio before I’d even begun my formal education. We visited Baltimore often and throughout my youth, it was a beacon of cultural light I looked forward to experiencing a few times a year. There were black people in Baltimore. There were asian people in Baltimore, too. There were street dancers, street musicians, street food, and street people I was told to stay away from.
The biggest problem in Marietta, Ohio was the tractors on the road slowing down all of the traffic and the skateboarding hooligans who refused to stop doing their skate tricks on the fountain downtown. One of them even put bubble bath in the fountain one summer and the town was on fire. Well, the front street of the town did literally catch on fire once. It burned down the only record shop we had. There was also a flood that swallowed our town whole once and a hurricane. I missed the hurricane because I was in Baltimore and I think that was the only time in my youth that I had wished I was in Marietta instead of Baltimore. (I was always a bit of an adrenaline-junkie).
When I moved to New York City at age 18, I slowly developed a distaste for Baltimore that I couldn’t shake. New York City was the real city in my eyes. Baltimore was a god forsaken ghetto land wherein I was born and I rarely disclosed that information to anyone; citing Ohio as my only home.
So you’re probably wondering why I just told you all of this crap about me and my relationship with Baltimore. It’s simple really. With the exception of starry-eyed country children from the woods, Baltimore is a city that is easy to hate. That’s why my parents left it and that’s why I never returned as an adult. (With the exception of one embarrassingly horrible show Devola had once in 2005 at a place I think was called Brass Monkey where the owner made us give him a check on deposit just to play incase we didn’t bring enough people to the show. And if my memory serves me correctly, he wouldn’t so much as give us a free beer).
I never returned to Baltimore until recently. Not only did I just have a great show in Columbia, Maryland this past weekend, but the time I spent down the street from the bus stop in Baltimore gave me something to look forward to the next time I’m in town.
On the 1700 block of N. Charles Street, Baltimore has got something to offer. Three places, in particular, are quaintly packed in next to each other and could fill an evening with fun alone, without any Baltimore street activity.
Here’s my recommendation:
1. Go to Tapas Teatro for top of the line tapas and sangria. The decor is amazing, the crowd is great, the staff are friendly, and the food and sangria are mouth-watering.
2. Catch a flick at the Charles Theatre next door. It’s a gaping avant-guarde spot with holiday lights streaming across the ceiling, an old school snack stand, and quirky decorations throughout. They play some new release mainstream movies, but old, foreign, and indie movies are their specialty.
3. Get dessert crepes at Sofi’s Crepes on the other side of the theater. This cute little crepe joint offers entree and dessert crepes. The best part? They have coffee ice cubse in their iced coffee and an occasional in-house dog who will lick your hand and ask you nicely to share the grapes and pretzels from your purse with him. You know…if you have grapes and pretzels in your purse.
I don’t love Baltimore. There are many cities I adore and Baltimore is not one of them and may never be. Maybe too much of my past is painted darkly all over the town. Maybe I have too many bad memories of trying to fall asleep as a little girl in bed with my sister, singing so we wouldn’t have to hear the fighting next door or outside. But if my predisposition toward Baltimore was icy my entire adult life, we can safely consider it slushy now.
By: Elizabeth Seward