Hampden Hawker: July 2007

Hampden Hawker

THE Hampden Gossip Blog

Hopefully Factual, Fueled by Speculation

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Lessons from Preambulation

A little stroll through the neighborhood last night revealed the following: a) The Duchess of Torque owns other items of clothing besides sweaty red-and-black minidresses, b) Dave C. looks downright respectable and is looking forward to a quiet August, and c) there is an instrument repair shop tucked away in the most unlikely of places.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Like folks in Hampden aren't already aware of the many brands of liquor available to them.

So this whole liquor billboard thing is ridiculous. (See Hawker's Midweek News Roundup for a link to the City Paper story.) If I got pulled over by a cop in Hampden, my "I didn't know the speed limit was 25!" excuse would not fly, and Clear Channel is claiming that what happened was simply a mistake. Aren't there still fines to be levied?

Mary Pat Clarke let a Hawker tipster know yesterday that "Violation notices will be issued tomorrow if all signs are not down. Julie Day is the Housing lawyer handling the violation notices."

So today is the day: if you see any liquor billboard still up around Hampden, take a picture and send it to:


and cc:


I have a feeling, however, that since Clear Channel knew there was a deadline, there won't be anything to see.

Must be nice to be the big guy and have somebody warn you before they issue you a violation!

Thursday Morning Rumor Mill: Now with some verification!

Potentially bad news about Artifact Coffee: They are apparently "taking a break" soon because they're "trying to get the restaurant (Woodberry Kitchen) open." The person I spoke to said they were trying to get a date hammered down for the "break taking," but early August was likely. There is a rumor that after said break, Artifact may open in another neighborhood. For the love of coffee, Hawker hopes it's not true!

EDITED & UPDATED 4:48 p.m.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Midweek News Roundup

(Photo swiped from MobtownGeorge.)

Well, it's been a busy week for Hampden.

First off, there's the biggies: CBS Sunday Morning w/John Waters and Baltimore Magazine (where Hampden was voted best shopping neighborhood and Hampden resident China Martens' The Future Generation won for best zine.) Atomic Books Blog sums up these items here.

Then, there's all this. . .
There's this: the story of a woman who's in love with her dog and who doesn't include Bella Roma in her definition of "people," but hey, I wish her well.

There's bad news about Finnerteas.

There's news about the spruced-up SPCA and your chance to see it from the comfort of wherever you access the Interwebs.

There were illegal liquor billboards, which you can still see here and here.

Finally, it's good to know that our neighborhood still has the power to disappoint. It's not as good as the movie! It's meaner!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Hampden's gone quiet.

It's quiet in Hampden. Too quiet.

There was this here, but making a case that it was Hampden news would be iffy at best, and I'm not ready to open up a mayoral race can of worms here on liberal-minded Hawker.

Last night at the Hon Bar, with the exception of two random single dudes who came in motivated by what appeared to the be the classic "mean thirst from a hard day of doing nothin' much at all," my girlfriends and I were just about the only patrons. There was the couple looking for coffee (El Rancho Grande, we need you!) and Johnny Zebra. That was it.

At one point, flashing lights (from the street outside) started bouncing off the walls. The bartenders and I ran out to see what was up. From the best we could gather, someone pulled an alarm at Royal Farms, but except for the fact that the place was crawling with cops and there was a giant fire truck outside on Roland, folks were still shopping for cigarettes, Gatorade, Listerine Breath Strips and trashy magazines.

I would like to nominate the Hon Bar bartenders as woefully underrated. I love them. They asked after my infamous "key loss freakout" and they made bottled beer taste like draft.

That is all.

Monday, July 23, 2007

El Rancho Grande: We need you!

This just in from a tipster:

There are water main issues on The Avenue, and Common Ground is closed today due to the problem. Common Ground isn't answering the phone, so I couldn't get any more info.

I think a walkabout this afternoon is in order.

Keep Hampden Tidy!

To: The man washing his car on Falls Road yesterday about 3:15 p.m. and
The dude who arrived via bike at the Superfresh yesterday at 6:10 p.m.

Please, start wearing a shirt.

Thank you.

Hampden Hawker

P.S. A backpack doesn't count.

A more personal look at crime in Hampden

Ok. So I seem to offended the left (of which Hawker is unapologetically part of) in my last post. I meant no disrespect.

Hawker brings news about Hampden, and Last Reporter purports to have it. Plus irony is a hard thing to communicate via text, and Hawker thought his bio would speak for itself (though in the interest of full disclosure: my bio was once Tiny Tim's bio cribbed from Wikipedia.) Oh, and please note that I said this guy "apparently" puts together crime statistics. I apologize if my language was confusing and if by linking to him, I implied endorsement. See, this guy writes about Hampden too, and hope that by simply linking to him, you don't get the impression that I'm endorsing him in any way. (His thoughts, for the record, are highly disturbing, not to mention offensive to my awesome next-door neighbor who was born and raised in Hampden.) I'll be more careful about being clearer about my point of view in the future.

So if you go here, although the Baltimore City Police Department takes pains to let you know that it "cannot give any guarantees as to the accuracy, completeness, timeliness, or correct sequencing of the information," you can query their database of reported crime.

For Hampden, from June 23 -July 7 (a similar period to the one broken down by Last Reporter,) you get 26 incidents:

6 stolen auto
2 home burgulary
10 larceny (from various places)
3 aggravated assault (knife and "other")
and 2 "Robb Highway"

You could write a song.

Still disturbing, but perhaps more accurate--depending on who you trust.

Truth is, crime is something that's part of big city life, but Baltimore seems to be having a tough time getting a handle on it, and it's disturbing to talk about. A discussion of crime taps into our worst fears about our personal safety and challenges our optimism and faith in our fellow man. At the end of the day, I guess the impact of crime in Baltimore comes down to two things a) your personal experience and b) your perceptions.

Seeing as when I was living in Chicago in the mid-to-late-90's, I was the victim of a) a break-in, b) an attempted robbery of my bike and c) a mugging at gun point, not to mention the times my boyfriend was held up by gun point at his job and I was assaulted/grabbed on the street in the Loop, Hampden feels pretty damn safe to me.

So, how safe do YOU feel in Hampden?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

How safe is Hampden?

Last Reporter apparently puts together bi-weekly crime statistics for Baltimore's "gentrified' neighborhoods. Here's his bio: "I am a working journalist, who in my spare time writes unfiltered thoughts that some might find interesting. My goal is simply to share what I perceive to be the truth in a country filled with self-serving shills, knaves and political prostitutes spouting a thousand different threads of contemptuous, damnable lies and propaganda. I've named this blog, "Last Reporter" because sometimes when I awaken in the dark of night, I feel as though I am the last of a dying breed."

Well, I like LR already. He put knaves, shills and prostitutes in the same sentence.

Here's LR's Hampden crime stats from June 27 to July 7:

10 reports of items being stolen from vehicles
6 stolen vehicles
2 burglaries
3 aggravated assaults
2 robberies

Oh, and for 2007, Hampden has contributed one murder to the city's astronomical death toll.

I'll bring you LR's Hampden highlights as they arise.

Friday, July 20, 2007

New Hampden Business Alert (NHBA): Earth Alley

Earth Alley, an "eco-friendly, fair-trade 'original' items" store, will open soon on Elm.

I'm going to run out later today and see if I can snap a pic of the store's progress.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Will the real Hampden please stand up?

Speaking of new businesses in Hampden, Hawker is all for them and it certainly comes as no surprise that new independent businesses in the Rotunda (as opposed to the crushing presence of say, an Outback Steakhouse) would please me .

So, there's Gallery G at The Beveled Edge that opened recently in the Rotunda.

It offers framing services, yes, but it's also a gallery. (There was a nice, brief write-up on the current exhibitions in yesterday's Sun.) Plus, Gallery G's website announces that a cafe (Ground Control) is coming soon. Looks like a nice place, and in the interest of full disclosure, I'll freely admit that I haven't been there.

Even so, here's the thing: Their website says,

"Gallery G at The Beveled Edge is NOW OPEN in The Rotunda in Baltimore's Roland Park neighborhood."

The Rotunda is in Roland Park?

Not according to Live Baltimore's map of Hampden.

The city's Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation, however, backs up Gallery G with their map.

Hampden Happenings agrees with Live Baltimore.

So, the question remains: IS the Rotunda part of Hampden?

After-5 Coffeeshop Needs Soon to be Fulfilled!

Here's a common discussion: What new business does Hampden need?

This topic comes up every few months, and a year or so ago, the answer was pretty much the same: one more restaurant, bar or coffee shop. It wasn't that we didn't like what we had, we just wanted more choices. Enter: Rocket to Venus. Enter: Dogwood Deli. Enter. . .

El Rancho Grande!

(Which must be said slowiy, in a deep voice, with a rising inflection if you dare speak its name.)

A Hawker tipster advises that it looks to be "an afternoon-late in the evening type of hangout."

Pluses include backyard sitting and its proximity to Hawker's crib.

Oh, and it's on MySpace (where I swiped the photo), so it's down with the kids.

El Rancho Grande loves Good and Plenty, and he would like to meet the Clash.

Considering Common Ground is only open until 5 p.m. everyday, El Rancho Grande could be a hit.

Welcome to the neighborhood!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I guess "Keep Hampden Tidy" no longer applies.

Last night, a resident of Falls Road between 36th & 37th Street had his car tagged. The alley parallel to Falls (Cairnes Lane) is where lots of folks in the area park their cars. His white van was treated to two different artistic, but relatively incomprehensible, tags.

This is a crime that makes me crazy. It's akin to walking down the street opening candy from the 7-11 and just letting the wrappers fall where they may (something that happens everyday in Hampden.)

You might as well just go ahead and actually piss on your community.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Say it isn't so!

Yuri has left Common Ground?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Hawker needs you!

Reverse angle parking spreads from Chestnut to The Avenue.

Soon-to-open coffee shop on Falls Road gets spruced up.

Soup's On packs 'em in after dry days during the heat wave.

Wake up Hampden! Give Hawker some real gossip to start spreading!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Form is Lucky

Filpping through magazines this morning at the salon, I stumbled upon Hampden's own Form featured in the July 2007 issue of Lucky. The short paragraph and photo bemoaned the previous dearth of upscale clothing boutiques in Baltimore and heralded the arrival of Form as a good sign of things to come. (I guess we all just lived in our own filth until the gentrification finally shot pixie dust through Hampden's soul.)

Then there's this about Form from the Savvy Shopper in the July/August issue of Style: "As Aimee wrapped Savvy’s purchases, a darlingly dressed thirty-ish gal who had just found the perfect thing to wear to an upcoming wedding uttered something that almost had Savvy in tears, 'I came down from New York to shop here.'"

This is hilarious to me because so many of my New York friends come to Hampden every year PRECISELY to shop. I guess Sav isn't talking about my friends. I think she means New Yorkers with REAL money, and I've always been a little bit scared of Form. I just have a feeling that I'm not the right kind of clientele for such a place.

Then, there's this guy's experience at the shop.

You may want to buy a $350 dress or you may just want to watch Gladiator or you may just want a "womb of comfort." You can do it all at Form! (Then, you walk home and have to call 911 on your neighbors.)

That won me over. Seriously. Go upscale boutique, go!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Hawker missed it!

Ok. This will learn me.

I spent the day in DC, and some kind of mini-cyclone hit Hampden!


Power was out all afternoon across the neighborhood. The roof of Finnerteas blew off into the street, Woodberry light rail disrupted and downed trees everywhere.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Hampden is to Gilligan as the Maryland Science Center is to. . .

Here's a good one:

From the invitation for the Maryland Science Center's annual solstice party (a couple weeks back):

"Think Hamptons not Hampden.
Think Linen not Lycra.
Think Gatsby not Gilligan."

You know: Classy. NICE. Not like Hampden!

Well played, Maryland Science Center. Well played.

Weekend Highlight

If you're at a party in Roland Park, and there's a fire dancer, and you ask her where she lives, do I need to even tell you the answer?

First Nominee for Hampden Resident Job of the Year: Kate Guntermann, fire dancer.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Is there anything better than new love and a European vacation?

Sad Hampden!

Up-and-coming theatre pro Ian B. is off to Greece with his lady friend for eight days. One wonders if he will return. Plus, Hampden will glow just a little bit dimmer with his departure.

Friday, July 06, 2007

If you stay in tonight, you are dead in your heart.

Lisa Harbin knows how to rock it, are you Hampden enough to join her?

Tonight is First Friday in Hampden!

Highlights include:

The Wine Source has a free wheat beer tasting until 7:30 p.m., and Kimry Perrone of Milagro and CCRG veteran Jules Burn of Kiss N' Make-up have both been known to mix up some mean speciality cocktails for First Friday's.

Hands down, best food tonight will be at doubledutch.

Secret Crush Society frontwoman Lisa Harbin hosts a Guitar Hero competition at Atomic Pop. There are prizes and a lurking ringer who only can't compete because she's co-owner of the store!

Get out and buy some stuff, people!

Reverse Angle Parking Frightens Locals

If you live in Hampden or you like to frequent our Williamsburg (R2V,) you know about the reverse angle parking on Chestnut. The change from parallel parking to reverse angle parking vastly improved the number of spots available on the street, and it required a simple repainting of guidelines and a few signs. Who could be against this? There's already street parking--reverse angle parking just maximizes the space available. The new "pay box" system on the Avenue is another great example of maximizing space without resorting to major construction. Removing meters means that cars fit as they are able, rather than having to adhere to readymade spots that may offer more room than needed for let's say. . . a new Beetle.

These improvements to the parking situation in Hampden (which, if you look at other similar neighborhoods in other cities, is frankly not horrific) make good sense. They maximize existing space without having to build anything. Everybody hates parking garages and lots, and this is a solution that helps avoid (or least postpone) those options.

So can someone please explain the reason (and veracity, if any) behind this rumor: that the residents of Roland Avenue are joining together to stop reverse angle parking on their street because a certain business won't let residents use its lot for free? (This business, FYI, fills its lot almost daily and already shares its parking with other businesses.)


Thursday, July 05, 2007

Hampden: Planning for a Drama-Free Apocalypse since 2007

There are many distinguishing features that can be described as uniquely Hampden (the neighborhood's inexplicable hatred for adding parking without building anything comes to mind,) but the rooftop deck doesn't usually come to mind. I've been on rooftop decks in other neighborhoods. In Patterson Park, for example, I felt as if I was floating on a raft in an empty city, but in Hampden, a strategically placed rooftop deck offers something you can't get from those lowland neighborhoods down south: a view from on high. There's 1-83, there's the Key Bridge, there's TV Hill, and so on. Plus, on the Fourth of July, Hampden sets off illegal fireworks like it's a job, and Hampden, she's working overtime trying to earn money for the fam.

Such views inspired one partygoer's observation that although the fireworks and explosions all around inspired a sense of what the apocalypse might be like, he was hoping for a "more mellow, low-stress apocalypse--you know, drama-free."

First Nomination for Hampden home of the year: Filmmaker and Baltimore's Elvis Mitchell Josh Slates.

(Rooftop deck vista courtesy of Sugarfreak .)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Welcome to Hawker

Ah, Hampden. You are beautiful. You are nauseating. You are my home. I love you.

You are fickle, oh Hampden, and that is what enchants me so.

Some mornings, I may be treated to a chat with my neighbors as I take a morning stroll, and some mornings, I may be tempted to pluck out my eyes after seeing a man use the alley next to the Avenue 7-11 as his own personal lavatory.

Some afternoons, the drug car may leave its customers stranded for hours in front of the library, and sometimes I may see the mayor enter and exit that pillared house of knowledge.

Some evenings, I may walk to see a play by William Shakespeare, and some evenings, I call 911 after seeing a catfight.

You hold such treasures, oh Hampden, such unexpected horrors and delights.

Here is where I celebrate you.