Monthly Archives: October 2009

Someone’s In For A Scary Halloween.

You never can tell where the night will lead in Baltimore City. It can begin in one neighborhood with the best of intentions, and end someplace entirely different, and even unfamiliar. The Chop might well start out at some ritzy affair at the Engineers Club, and end the night swilling tequila and losing at pool to a Honduran in Upper Fells. Or we might not.

Last night was one such night.

The chop was enjoying our Bar Bacon when we received a text from one of our suburb-dwelling friends, who along with another friend had somehow found their way to the Taphouse in Canton. It was an odd choice, both for the Chop and the friends in question, but we felt it best to go down and have a pint, since the Chop has some upcoming travel plans which will be discussed in a future post. We won’t be around for a good little while.

The Taphouse is sort of odd. Its nothing more than a traditional East Baltimore corner bar, which has its roots in the old UK public houses. The strange part though is that almost every single patron in there was under thirty, but behaving like a much more mature crowd. It struck us how much the neighborhood has changed. It also made us a little grateful that places like Looney’s exist, because they filter out all of the sharts from the rest of the bars.

Although that’s not entirely true. As we came to know, our friends had come to the Taphouse and met up with two others… one of them was a super-chic chick rocking a little black dress with black leggings and natural grain cowboy boots and actually pulling it off. The other was the biggest shart in the place; a shitfaced hood-rat with Glen Burnie written all over him. An odd couple to say the least.

Sometimes its not all bad though. As we know from being personal friends with one town’s official town drunk, the following logic can often prevail in the drunken mind on a Friday night:

‘Fuck it. If I’m gonna have a sixty dollar tab, I might as well have a hundred and sixty dollar tab.’

This is definitely a warning sign that AA is somewhere in the future. Its also a sign that you’re going to get bought drinks if you can stand being in proximity to this shart.

And stand it we did for several rounds. Eventually though, the Chop’s mind wandered back to our brand new and luxuriously comfortable armchair-and-ottoman combination and the frozen pizza in our freezer, and we made our excuses. It was at this point that Cowboy Boots (who had contributed little to the general conversation before this point) came squarely up to the Chop and started chatting us up about fashion.

Now, its to be understood that the Chop dresses better than you. Last night we stepped out in an ultra-casual off-white sport jacket over a light gray argyle sweater.

Our outfit broke many fashion rules at the same time, and to be quite honest, with it being Halloween, we wondered if we might not be taken for wearing a Don Johnson costume.

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You can see why this is to be avoided at all costs. Anyway, it was nice to get a favorable opinion from someone as stylish as Cowboy Boots, and from there the conversation flowed quite naturally into ” Oh yeah, we should totally go out. Here’s my number.”

Now, the Chop does not approve of drunken driving. However, every Baltimorean worth his Old Bay knows that its well nigh impossible to get a DUI inside the city limits. You can even bend a fender and the cops can’t hardly be bothered to come to the scene. This shart from the Taphouse though… he managed to tear his entire bumper off on a guard rail, and as the chop found out via text message, was subsequently made to blow and hauled into Central Booking.

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View of Baltimore City jail from where I-83 is today.

Of course, if you go to Jail on Friday night, there’s no way in hell you’re coming out before Monday morning, and possibly even Tuesday. Our man is about to see if he can survive a weekend locked in the house of horrors with murderers, rapists, and the city’s living dead.

Happy Halloween, Shart.

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Filed under A Day in the Life of the Chop

This Is Why You Don’t Deserve A Raise.

As you’re beginning to figure out, The Baltimore Chop is always on top of its game. We do what the hell we say we’re going to do, and when we say we’ll do it. Of course, our timing is always impeccable, and our attention to detail unimpeachable.

So we’re very disappointed when others fail to meet their obligations. We’re not one to lose our cool, but we are highly vexed by those of you (and you know goddamn well who you are) who wait until Friday afternoon to contact the parties with whom you do business, and say in effect:

‘Oh, remember that thing you were depending on me for? Well, I didn’t get around to it, and I need something else from you, and by the way I’m already mentally checked out since I’m leaving the office early today and going away for the weekend and probably taking a ‘personal day’ on Monday.’

This is entirely unacceptable. Don’t do this.

It seems the Chop has been running into these sort of people Every Friday since about the beginning of the recession, when everyone basically stopped caring and was paralyzed by fear. This Friday in particular, its the sales staff at Value City Furniture in White Marsh, who failed to deliver the sofa we had ordered. Normally this would be a mere minor detail, except that the Chop had already arranged for the Louisville Slugger to come all the way from the New York City this weekend, and we had offered him a couch on which to sleep. We won’t have our friends laid out on hardwood floors.

In related news, the Chop had a second date tonight with a very charming young lady whose father had the ill-manners and poor timing to have himself a small heart attack or some such thing, and managed to land himself in a Pennsylvania hospital. Needless to say the date is canceled, and probably wouldn’t be much fun if it happened under those circumstances anyway. We wish our (very remotely possibly) future father in law a quick and comfortable convalescence.

So while we’re tempted to do the call-around, The Chop is going to take this as a good excuse for some quality ass-to-seat time in our new armchairs (which actually were delivered), and probably make our way into Hampden for Bar Bacon Comedy IX at the Golden West.

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Bar Bacon IX is at the Golden West tonight. 10pm. $7.

The Chop feels like we might well be behind the curve having let eight of these things go by, especially since we’ve heard nothing but good things. Jimmy “Valentine” Meyer even won a Best of Baltimore award for best comedy night, although the competition probably wasn’t all that stiff. Still and all, that’s even more reason to respect and support something like Bar Bacon. Any asshole can pick up a guitar and form a band, but there are far too few people willing to try their hand at comedy, and to give it the treatment deserved by the serious art form that it is. So the Chop is excited to finally hear the Bacon for ourselves, and we hope Meyer will keep cracking wise for a good long time, inspiring others to do likewise.

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Authors and Poets and Actors, Oh My!

The Lettering and Type book launch was a smashing success.

Well, as smashing a success as an event can be with no open bar. Tsk Tsk boys. The Chop was also glad for a chance to bump into Justin Sirois, who presented the letter Y, and from whom you can pre-order Adam Robinson’s Adam Robinson and Other Poems from Baltimore’s own Narrow House Press .

It being a weeknight, the chop decided to skip the quasi-official afterparty at Dionysis and duck in instead to our local for a couple of Dogfishheads and a peek at the World Series. We were pleasantly surprised to take a seat at the bar next to Baltimore’s own thespian, professor, and man about town John Astin, along with his wife Valerie just in time for Halloween.

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Astin as Gomez Addams

Astin is best known as Gomez Addams , but is also very well regarded in town for his interpretation of Edgar Allan Poe, which the Chop has seen and for which we can vouch. The Chop is also delighted to report that we met Astin as very much a gentleman and a very knowledgeable baseball fan whose memory stretches back to the arrival of the Orioles and the original Washington Senators. All in all, a swell guy to have in the neighborhood, and a pretty eventful Thursday Night.

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This Post Brought to You by the Letter D.

If you want to find the Chop on the town tonight, then get thee down to Falvey Hall in MICA’s Brown center at 6:30 for the launch party of Lettering and Type, the new book on typographic design by Baltimore’s own Bruce Willen and Nolen Strals. the event kicks off with a reception (Free Booze) at six thirty, which will be followed by a presentation called Fan Letter, in which 26 artists and designers give presentations on their favorite typographic character.

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Lettering and Type by Bruce Willen and Nolen Strals

Some of you out there in town may already know Bruce and Nolen not as book authors but in their other incarnations both as Post Typography and as two thirds of Baltimore powerhouse Double Dagger, which has received much, and much deserved acclaim in its own right. But whether you’re familiar with these two or not, you may be asking yourself “Why should I make a point of going to the art school for some boring-ass lecture on typewriters? I saw ten minutes of Helvetica once and that shit put me straight to sleep.”

Well, aside from the free booze, here’s why you need to be there: this is a historic event, both for the world of design and for the city of Baltimore. The book making its debut here is absolutely going to become the new standard text in this field. Years from now your kids are going to be made to buy this as a textbook when they get into college. And many, many years hence when Nolen and Bruce are a-moulderin’ in their graves, the New York Times is going to publish their obits, with this as one of their signal accomplishments.

(Incidentally, if you want to know what typeface is carved into headstones, you can probably find it in the book.)

Its long been a dilemma that all this city is known for is Hons and Murder and John Waters. Well, these guys are to their field what John Waters is to film, and something else they have in common with Uncle John is that Nolen and Bruce both realize what a good thing they’ve got going in Baltimore. They deserve the admiration of all of us, because here are two people not chasing some flight of fancy to NYC or LA, but making their dreams a reality right here in Baltimore. This book will help to put Balto on the map, not only as a place where fonts are designed, but as a place where passionate people can follow their ambitions and make their dreams a reality.

See you there.

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Filed under Baltimore Events, Books and Literature

Let Them Eat Cake

The Baltimore Chop was very disappointed in his city last night when just about all of it failed to turn out to the Sidebar for what was probably the best show of 2009.

We (for once) arrived right on time at about 9:30, though thought we were quite early judging by the size of the crowd. It being a rainy Tuesday, the show went off in yeoman-like fashion, with J Robbins’ new outfit The Office of Future Plans taking the stage around 9:45. It was the band’s first show, and after a rusty first song they picked up right where Burning Airlines had left off.

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Sleeper Agent is another relatively new band from the DC area fronted by another former member of Government Issue, vocalist John Stabb. Stabb still appears to be heavily influenced by people even older than himself, straddling a line between Johnny Rotten and Richard Hell (in a good way).

AS for the Bomb, Naked Raygun singer Jeff Pezzati has teamed up with the rhythm section of the Methadones on a project that is at least as consistent as the other bands on the bill. The Baltimore Chop has always had limited exposure to Naked Raygun, and for our money, we preferred last night’s show far above and beyond the recent Raygun reunion at the Ottobar.

All in all, the show had a strange vibe to it though. We had the impression that everyone there was there very much on purpose. which is to say, the 50 (reduced to 20 after the OFP played) people in the crowd were all there to listen very specifically because they were invited or some way connected to someone else there. Even the Baltimore Chop was in a subdued humor, more excited to have elbow room at the bar than anything, and in a way, it almost felt like a roomful of co-workers saying “Why can’t we do this on a conference call so we can get back to bed.”

Incidentally, there was a much larger and more excited crowd in Hampden earlier in the evening for the Ace of Cakes book signing at Atomic Books. The Chop had wanted to stop by and score some free cake before going downtown, but when we say the line of umbrellas curving down the block and around the pizza shop, we did a prompt about face.

We’re also just going to go ahead and say it… Its cool that Ace of Cakes is here and successful, but its just not that great. Certainly not worth waiting untold hours in the rain. We’ll stick with Hoehn’s, thanks.

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