The last time the New York Times travel section covered Baltimore, they portrayed the city as a Hon-tastic place full of “beehive hairdos and wacky museums.” Well, better than the Wire-retreads that the European travel sections tend to prefer, at least. But that was three years ago, which means our fair city is due for another travel treatment from the Gray Lady — and, hey, the one they just published this week isn’t half bad!
Journalist Charly Wilder starts her travel treatment off right, with a John Waters quote that we’ve always been fond of: “You can look far and wide, but you’ll never discover a stranger city with such extreme style.” (Aww, shucks.) From there, Wilder goes on to dis the “trumpeted glass-and-steel Inner Harbor development” and instead trumpet Baltimore’s “grandly decrepit neighborhoods,” thus winning her points in our book. Some questions Wilder’s review raised for us:
+Does the Club Charles really count as a dive bar? We’ll admit, it has a killer jukebox. But we like to think a true dive needs to be way, way creepier than this Charles Street mainstay.
+Is there really any better place to take out-of-town visitors than Pete’s Grille on Greenmount Avenue? Wilder nails it: “a grits-and-grease diner in a rundown neighborhood dotted with liquor stores, Chinese takeout joints and the occasional boarded-up row house. At the counter, cops, dockworkers, students and professionals sidle up, while career waitresses trade barbs with regulars (the Olympian Michael Phelps sometimes among them) and sling plates of fried eggs, home fries and blueberry pancakes touted as the best in town.”
+Is it possible to write about Baltimore without using the word “Hon”? And when was the last time that you actually saw a woman in a (non-ironic) beehive hairdo? Props to Wilder for making it 75 percent of the way through her piece before she drops these Baltimore cliches.
+Will any 1000-word travel piece ever be good enough to capture the heart and soul of our city? Or are we doomed to spend our lives forever griping at the close-but-not-quite views of New York journalists?