He enjoyed our sketchy neighborhouds, and our local colour. To him, we looked “unpretentious,” and full of “heart and soul.” He can’t stop talking about The Wire. Yes, you guessed it: the British came to Baltimore, and deemed it worth visiting.
However, if you actually live in Baltimore, you won’t find much new in this moderately clueless travel article in London’s Daily Mail. The tone skews more condescending than curious: “Baltimore’s sports teams — like its architecture, its city politics, and its transport system are a bit of a flop”; “The exhibits at the American Visionary Art Museum are a bit crummy”; the Orioles are “lacklustre but loved.” What really wowed writer Chris Beanland were the glimpses of the city he’d seen on The Wire — the boarded up houses, “the speakeasies of Fell’s Point” (um, we think he means bars?), and signs of “grinding poverty.” Cue the collective eye roll.
Now, this is tricky, because I adore The Wire as much as anyone else in my demographic category. When I first moved to Baltimore, I couldn’t stop seeing signs of urban collapse and exclaiming, “This is just like–” well, you know how that sentence ends. So, yes, I’ve been guilty of this, too. But I have to admit, I’m sick of journalists whipping through town, seeking out boarded up buildings and conflating that with the true (or complete) Baltimore. If you come looking for “gangsters, crooked cops, dodgy councillors, lying journalists and poor folks on the take,” as the Daily Mail writer did, well then you’ll probably find them. But that also means you weren’t looking all that hard.