Hampden Hawker: January 2008

Hampden Hawker

THE Hampden Gossip Blog

Hopefully Factual, Fueled by Speculation

Email the tip line: hampdenhawker@gmail.com

Thursday, January 31, 2008

What happens when you keep hand grenades around and rob houses?

Once again, Hawker's out of town when something big goes down. (This time, Hawker was visiting a relative in the hospital, so there will be no snarky comments about her lack of timely coverage.)

Serving an arrest warrant in Hampden, Baltimore police found a house full of "chemicals" and "weapons." The house was on the 3400 block of Roland Ave., and apparently, a couple of blocks surrounding the area were closed for hours. Plus, the five houses on either side of the chemical filled home were evacuated for a while.

Items found inside included a machine gun, an inert hand grenade, chemicals used for gold finishing and material that may have been an inert explosive. Cops are denying the meth lab rumors, but not emphatically so.

The homeowner was identified as Jonathan S. Hollands, 39. Police had originally gone to the home to serve Hollands with an arrest warrant for stolen household items.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Another Super-Mini Blog Round-Up

Enjoy some random blogs to tide you over until Hawker's got news!

1. Some great photos from the Plunging Hons happy hour at Cafe Hon last week!

2. Philly's Best secret ingredient is salt!

3. Once again, R2V's fried pickles win over another diner.

4. Oh, and did you know that R2V has "an old soul, exotica vibe?" Well, it does!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Random Food (& Drink!) News Round-Up

Argh! Hawker is behind on updating. Blame it on an out-of-town job over the weekend.

So, let's talk food as a way of apology, shall we?

1. Soup's On has wireless.

2. New System Bakery is now open on Sunday's from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Their doughnuts are still made with crack, and they still serve breakfast sandwiches all day long.

3. The Wine Source now carries Dangerously Delicious Pies--both sweet and savory! Only problem is that the case designed to hold them (and to keep the pies cold) is having all kinds of issues, so: no pies today. However, help is on the way, and I was assured that the plan is to fix the case ASAP and to have pies everyday. Oh, and you can try FREE pie and meet DDP's founder and owner Rodney "The Pie Man" Henry at The Wine Source's winter beer tasting this weekend: Friday January 25, 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. and Saturday January 26, 1:30 to 5:30 p.m.

4. El Rancho Grande (Hampden's newest coffee shop located on Falls Road right at 36th Street) is apparently open! It seems to be open 2-9 p.m. on Sundays and 2 or 3 p.m.-2 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Hawker promises a visit and report soon!

5. Ground Control (Hampden's 2nd newest coffee shop located in the Rotunda) is open, and they're hiring. There's wireless and pastries from local bakeries. They're open Monday through Friday 7 a.m.–5 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Check out Ground Control before a matinee at the Rotunda!

6. Even with all of Hampden's ever-expanding beverage options, some people still can't get a decent chai. Someone, help her!

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Gridlock to and from Hampden

The weather is causing gridlock, people!

It just took Hawker 50 minutes to drive from the Evergreen (Coldspring and Keswick) back to Hampden! 50 MINUTES!

Roads to and from Hampden are totally jammed, so if you're in, stay in!


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Report from the Front

Hawker couldn't make it to the conversation tonight at Poly with the mayor re: property taxes, but a texting tipster provided Hawker with deets!

"Lame turnout! Maybe 100? But compelling public comments re: inequalities and burden on long (retirees) and individual homeowners vs. business and large developers. Adam Meister in evidence along with other more private citizens. Comments still open via email and letter.

Also, some good citizen math & alternative revenue ideas, i.e., higher taxes on the many vacant & underassessed multi-family & commercial buildings."

(And yes, this tipster texted "i.e." This is why Hawker loves her.)

Anyone else there tonight? Or send a comment via email or letter that they're willing to share?


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

This Just In!


Look out your windows!

It's snowing!

UPDATE at 2:05 p.m.: And now it's not.


The Plunging Hons

The strangest question ever asked that assumes many folks will stand up and shout, "My god! YES!"

"Have you ever wished you could dress up like a classy-trashy bawlmer hon and jump in the chesapeake bay to raise money for the special olympics?"

Well, if you have, Denise Whiting, a Timonium realtor, a couple of DC-based photographers and a Baltimore videographer have the answer for you.

"The Plunging Hons" are a team organized to participate in the MSP Polar Bear Plunge on January 26, 2008 at Sandy Point State Park. Proceeds from the event benefit Special Olympics Maryland.

Oh, and why is this Hawker worthy?

Well, there's a way to participate right here in Hampden without plunging. On January 24th from 5-8 pm, there's a Plunging Hons happy hour and live auction at Cafe Hon.


Monday, January 14, 2008

Talk to Da Mayuh!

Mayor Sheila Dixon's
Blue Ribbon Committee
On Property Tax Reform

Public Comment Meeting:
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
7:00 – 9:00 PM
Baltimore Polytechnic Auditorium
Falls Rd. & Cold Spring Lane

Register to speak at 6:30 PM

Share your ideas with the Blue Ribbon Property Tax Committee

To post your comments via email and to download a copy of the Committee's Report, please visit:


Rotunda Update

There's another Rotunda Task Force meeting tomorrow. The Task Force is now asking for a representative from each neighborhood group (someone that can participate in conversations through 2010.) The impact of such voices is unclear, however. Hopefully, Hawker will have details after the meeting.

Also, in Saturday's Sun, there was an editorial about the Rotunda development. It was definitively pro-development, but it did note that "The developers should stick with boutiques, specialty or service stores and funky restaurants as tenants. A giant-sized Giant, a tenant since 1971, is enough big-name, big store for this renovation."


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Random News Round-Up

1. Elizabeth Large reviews Woodberry Kitchen, and she likes it--mostly. But you can tell that Clipper Mill still feels like Hampden because she does it! She calls it quirky! (Ok, quirky isn't eclectic , but it's close.)

2. Mamie's new place takes Hampden to Aberdeen.

3. The Baltimore Messenger's best photos of 2007 feature a number of Hampden shots. Burlesque performer with a snake? The wild fervor of Hampden Idol? Little girls dressed as hons snacking on Utz? It's all so quirky!

4. There will be another day scheduled to buy one of those hot new yellow recycling bins, but it hasn't been scheduled yet. You know, news! (The good news is to remember that you don't need an official new yellow bin. Boxes will work (and can be recycled themselves,) or you can use any reusable bin--"they could be purple with pink polka dots" according to Baltimore Department of Public Works Kurt Kocher. (Insert "purple with pink polka dots is perfect for quirky Hampden comment here.)

Remember Hampdenites, Baltimore Messenger links don't last forever!

Today's Traffic Tie-Up on The Avenue

Holy Crap!

Hawker was going to the post office today about 12 noon and saw the remnants of a doozy of an accident at Roland and Falls Road. There was no time to snap a photo, but a mini-van pointed northeast was on its side! It was laying on the southeast side of the intersection (and there was a large impact dent on the side of car facing the sky), so can one assume that someone was going fast enough from Falls on The Avenue to tip the minivan over, right? How the hell did this happen?


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Hampen Embraces Summer in January

Today, Hampenites are talking walks in T-shirts, sitting on their porches reading, painting front doors, working on roofs, drinking Slurpees, riding motorcycles without gloves and driving convertibles with the tops down.


This is indeed a disturbing universe.

Sandy's is back on The Avenue.

Sandy's reopened today back on The Avenue, right next to the pawn shop. I'm sure the store will appreciate the increased foot traffic that probably wasn't happening on Hickory.


Monday, January 07, 2008

More News from Hickory

A new look for Hickory in the new year:

3446 Hickory is in the midst of a total tear down. (3446 is across the street from the recent exploded house. That house on the east side of the 3400 block of Hickory is gone, as is a house next door to it. There are piles of foundation bricks and scattered gloves and scaffolding. One assumes work is progressing on building new homes here too.)

Hampdenites! Tell Your Stories!

Did you know that there's an oral history project going on in Hampden? Well now you do!

Here's the press release regarding an upcoming Community History Workshop on January 24th:
(The links have some great information about Hampden history, current archeological projects and oral histories of Hampdenites from the 70's.)

"The Hampden Community Archaeology Project, in conjunction with the Hampden Community Council and the Center for Heritage Resource Studies of the University of Maryland, announces a community history workshop to discuss our oral history project in Hampden. This workshop will consist of a short presentation by Jolene Smith, coordinator of oral history for HCAP, followed by an open discussion of what these kinds of stories mean for the Hampden community. HCAP Co-director, David Gadsby will also be available to discuss June and July excavations on Falls Road and Hampden’s heritage.

The workshop will be held at the Roosevelt Recreation Center, 1221 W. 36th Street in Baltimore, from 7:00 to 8:30 pm on Thursday, January 24. Light refreshments will be provided. Join us if you’ve got stories to tell, or are just interested in the history of the neighborhood. All are welcome.

After the successful excavation of six sites over the past three summers, we have got a lot of amazing information to share. You can see what we’ve done and get regular updates on our progress from our website, located at http://www.heritage.umd.edu/CHRSWeb/AssociatedProjects/Hampden.htm, and our weblog, at http://hampdenheritage.blogspot.com.

The Hampden Community Archaeology Project is sponsored by the Hampden Community Council and the Center for Heritage Resource Studies at the University of Maryland-College Park. Additional funding for 2007 has been provided by the Sociological Initiatives Foundation, the firm of Struever Brothers, Eccles and Rouse, and the Rackham Graduate School of the University of Michigan."

Hickory Road: Deathtrap?

While chatting with some Hampdenites at a party this weekend, Hawker learned that Hickory Road is the preferred path for Speedy McSpeedersons. Apparently, folks whip out of Superfresh and use Hickory as a short cut to The Avenue. One resident put out traffic cones while he was working on his car because he feared for his life. The consensus is that residents there want speed bumps. Anyone else want to weigh in?

Friday, January 04, 2008

First Friday of 2008

It's a bit quiet in Hampden post-New Year's Eve, but tonight is indeed another First Friday for Hampden merchants. Many shops are open late (until 9:00 p.m. or so,) and many feature special sales and free food & drink. Tonight's First Friday follows hard upon the holidays, so things are sure to be a little quiet. There isn't even a free tasting at The Wine Source! However, Doubledutch features 10% off everything and an additional 20% off sale merchandise from 6-9 p.m. tonight, and Ma Petite Shoe might very well offer some chocolate samples. Any other special First Friday events folks know about tonight, Hawker'd like to hear about 'em!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Pissed about Property Taxes: Complain Straight to the Mayor!

Straight from Baltimore City's website:

(But here are the highlights: 1) There will be a public meeting on the subject of city taxes and fees on January 16th from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Poly-Western auditorium. Hawker will be there. 2) You can read the city's report on options for lowering the city's property tax rate online. Again, go to the city's website--link above.)

Baltimore, MD (January 3, 2008) – State and local officials joined members of the Blue Ribbon Committee on Taxes and Fees today to announce the release of the Committee’s report for a period of public comment.

The Blue Ribbon Committee is co-chaired by City Comptroller Joan Pratt and Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors Executive Vice President Jody Landers and is comprised of 26 civic leaders appointed by Mayor Dixon in the spring of 2007 to provide options for lowering the city’s property tax rate.

The report will be posted on Baltimore City’s home page at www.baltimorecity.gov and will be available in hard copy at all branches of the Baltimore City Public Library beginning today. Citizens are also encouraged to participate in a public meeting on January 16, 2008 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Poly-Western auditorium.

Citizens can submit comments via mail to: The Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Committee on Property Tax Reform, 250 City Hall, Baltimore, MD, 21202. Citizens can also e-mail comments to taxpanel@baltimorecity.gov through January 31, 2008.

More on the Bus Beating

The Sun reported today that the charges against the bus beating victim have been dropped. There was no evidence to support the alleged assailant's claim that the victim had spit at her (thus provoking the incident.)

Hawker would like to reiterate that it is NEVER ok to beat someone into shock-trauma. I don't care who spits on who. Got it?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

UPDATED: Baltimore City Welcomes the New Year by Sticking it to You!

I know, I know. . . THREE Hawker posts in one day? Is Hampden burning?

No, it's just that the new property tax assessments have come out!

Hawker's assessment increased by $114,150! Granted, Hawker won't have to pay taxes on the full new amount until 2010, but something is wrong. There's no way Hawker could sell her house for the newly assessed value. A quick poll of a few Hampdenites reveals that everyone's suffering.

What gives Baltimore?

Just FYI, City Council Members for Hampden are:
Belinda Conaway (phone: 410-396-4810 & email: bconaway@baltimorecitycouncil.com) and
Mary Pat Clarke (phone: 410-396-4814 & email: mclarke@baltimorecitycouncil.com)

Oh, and can you explain why my next door neighbor's places assessed at $71,380 and $58,480 LESS than mine? And we all live in the same freaking row houses! (You too can find out what your neighbor's houses assessed for! Just go here. It's all public record.)

UPDATED 1/3/08: You can bitch to your city council members, but property taxes are a state thing. Your new assessment notice should include information about how to appeal an assessment (which Hawker plans to do after researching the assessed value of her neighbor's homes.) However you feel about your new assessment, you can earn a Homestead Tax Credit on your primary residence--this will limit the amount of assessment increase allowed each year (so you won't have to pay the new assessment amount in 2008.) HOWEVER, this year, you MUST submit an application for eligibility, which should also be included with this year's assessment.

Snacker Recaps 2007: Hampden Press Not So Good

Baltimore Blog News:

Baltimore Snacker disses on the Golden West (Hawker just might start including an "I hate The Golden West blog post o' the week") and Grill Art. Hawker gets The Golden West complaints, but GW still fits the bill on many a night & you gotta just go with the right expectations. Grill Art? Hawker asks you readers again: If there is a Grill Art fan in Hampden, I have yet to hear from them, so speak up!

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"Bike Lanes"

So. . . there are "bike lanes" now on Chestnut (going south) and Keswick (going north--this according to a tipster; Hawker's been too full of Christmas cheer to check it out herself.)

Thing about these "bike lanes" is that they're not bike lanes! They are big pictures of bikes with arrows indicating direction (north or south) painted on the street. . . in the car lanes. Hawker is not sure how this makes things safer. Does this mean you can only ride your bike where there are pictures of a bike on the street? Cyclists: please explain!