Wednesday, January 28, 2009

(Special) Wednesday Afternoon Profile - Save the Senator!

(*courtesy flickr member fitzy441)
There is truly nothing in Baltimore like it; a last remnant of a bygone era. There once was a time when movie going was more in line with seeing live performance. The exteriors were brazen, the advertisements were glitzy and bright, the interiors were fashionable, and the seats were deep and cushy. Men wore hats, and women dress. The term Saturday Matinee didn’t just mean an early showing, but a full afternoon where one could spend a few cents and be lost for hours in Hollywood magic. That is something rarely seen today, but there is still one place in Baltimore where one can get just a small taste of it, but might not too if things go as they may.

When the Senator Theatre opened on October 5th 1939 it wasn’t really unique. There were thousands of small movie houses across the country that looked similar. Its Art Deco design was fashionable, its neon signs typical, and its interior glamour expected of a movie theatre. People took the Senator for granted, because every other movie house in Baltimore was just like it.

Not so today, because you see, it’s one of the last. All the other neon lights went out, plush seats torn out, and movie projectors shut off, but not the Senator. The Charles Theatre opened the same year, but that building originally was a streetcar barn, and so didn’t (nor does it now) have the brilliance like the Senator, which from the ground up, is all movie house.

Like our very own Mann’s Chinese Theatre, celebrities have left their mark on the sidewalk out front. Movies have premiered here, stars have come, and the red carpet is still frequently seen on York Road, but it might be gone if enough money isn’t raised to support it. The city offered $320,000 to save it, if it turns over to a Non-Profit, which would mean the theatre would turn into an educational tool as well. What better place to tell the story of the movie and movie-goer.

Sure it only plays one movie at a time, and it doesn’t have stadium seating, but there is nothing like stepping back in time for a glimpse of what going to the movies used to be. To lose the Senator would be to lose a major community feature, a piece of history, and ¼ of the movie theatres in Baltimore City. In other words, save the Senator!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Finally Measurable Snow!

I was excited yesterday because was forecasting 2-4 inches of snow today, but then I got all bummed out because they changed the forecast to 60% chance of snow but accumulations less than an inch. So you can understand my joy when I awoke this morning to see the beginnings of a nice blanket of the white stuff out my window.

It looks like that's about it for the snow. Don't expect it to be around too long, we're supposed to get a wintry mix/rain tomorrow, so it will all be slush and ice before you know it

If you're around town today and you see anything interesting let us know, or you take some good pictures send them on over!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Budget Bust

The slashing of costs to the Maryland budget is going to hurt transportation projects even more so than they already are. MDOT released its final version of its 2009-2014 capital budget and the cuts are now closer to $2.1 billion.

There is an article in The Sun that brings up two major points:

"The cuts, most of them actually deferrals of planned
projects into future years, affect virtually every phase of transportation
spending in Maryland."
"The Maryland Transit Administration will have to
defer planned improvements to its bus, light rail, MARC and subway

This is what happens when the State relies on Gas Tax revenue to support most transportation projects. If you want revenue to go to dedicated projects the State should really consider a referendum to increase the sales tax to do directly to transportation projects. How much can they really expect from the soon-to-be express toll lanes on I-95?

In related news, the Maryland school systems are losing $69 million in funding...oh great.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Not a Good Football Day

(*courtesy The Baltimore Sun)

Eagles Lost, Ravens Lost, all in all a horrible day for football. That leaves Pittsburgh and Arizona going to the Super Bowl in Tampa.

Pittsburgh - the mortal enemies of the Ravens, and probably the only thing that could be considered a redeeming quality for the Steel City, aka Shittsburgh, aka the city Pennsylvaniansare ashamed to admit is apart of their commonwealth, aka cut your hair Polamalu! So you have a lot of bridges whoopty-freakin-do. (Pirates don't even get me started). And you injured Willis bastards!

Arizona - the team that usually comes up in the category of "worst excuses for a team in the NFL", aka the team that has only had 2 winning seasons in the last 32, aka the team whose fans can all be considered "bandwagons" after this season (even Arizona fans know they weren't Arizona fans before this year).

Kudos to the Ravens for this season. Who would've thunk it that a team that was 5-11 last season, would go 11-5 this year with a rookie quarterback. Way to go Purple 'n Black

Kudos to the Eagles as well for turning a throw-away season into a run for the playoffs, knocked off the Cowgirls and Giants, and made an NFC championship appearance. I don't feel too bad, we still had the Phillies winning the World Series!

So, Pittsburgh-Arizona Super Bowl...I'm disappointed. Only 24 days till Spring Training!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Obama Event Sure to Snarl Traffic

(*courtesy of The Baltimore Sun)

MTA posted this press release on their website about the Obama Event tomorrow, letting people know that taking transit will be the best way to get to War Memorial Plaza since a lot of streets will be shut down starting at 4am.

All of the JFX will be shut from North Ave to Fayette Street, and from Orleans to Lombard between President and Light will be closed. The Orleans Street Viaduct will be shut 2pm-9pm. Parking will be affected along Charles and St. Paul between downtown and Penn Station, so move your cars (to where? who the hell knows)!

As for Mass Transit. All of the parking lots will be open as usual, and all of the stations with the exception of Shot Tower/Market Place on the Metro will be open. Don't try to drive, you have been warned!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Obama's Whistle Stop Tour to Draw Thousands...Woah, Not You Philadelphia

(The New York Times)
When Barack Obama makes his whistle-stop train ride from Philadelphia to Washington D.C. many people will be able to watch him speak along the way. A program is expected at 1pm on Saturday in Wilmington, and then here in town, Obama will be speaking at the War Memorial Plaza at 4:15pm (or later, we all know Amtrak). What about Philadelphia you ask? Well there won't be anything. No grand send off, no speechifying, no...anything...except if you were a "super supporter" of the Obama Campaign. The Philadelphia Daily News reported that the send off at 30th Street Station will be limited to about 250 people and most will be inconvenienced because of " interruptions or delays because of the hoopla".

No stop at Independence Hall, or the Liberty Bell, or the steps of the Art Museum? If this is supposed to be a grand send off, where is the grand? where is the send off? The inauguration committee has been touting this as a retracing of Lincoln's 1861 trip to D.C. When honest Abe came to Philly he toured and spoke at Independence Hall in front of a crowed of 30,000 people. Not this time. A missed opportunity.

Here in Charm City the Obama Express will stop at the War Memorial, and the city is expecting crowds in upwards of 150,000. A far cry from Lincoln's visit in 1861 when he was secretly skirted between the the President Street and Camden Stations, because of an assassination plot (and general rabble rousing) and then onto DC with no fan fare. When the Baltimore crowds showed up to see the train Lincoln was supposed to be on, he was already in Washington.

Don't get me wrong, I love the nostalgia of it, bringing back memories of Presidential arrivals from years past. But this isn't your normal Teddy Roosevelt kind of whistle-stop. The Obama Express will be blowing down the Northeast Corridor at 125 MPH on a charter Acela. Don't expect to stand to close to the track at the stations along the way to to wave because local police will be along the whole route. I'm sure people will still line the right-of-way as he's passing through, just like they have had for every other president who has taken a train anywhere.

If you're in town on Saturday, head on down to War Memorial Plaza and check it out, should be interesting.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Festivus Poem...Take that Clement Clarke Moore!

This has been circulating around Baltimore since right after Christmas. My coworker forwarded it to me the other day, and I got to admit it's GENIUS! Not being a huge Ravens fan, I'm still psyched about their performance this year and look forward to Sunday. Any idea who wrote this?

Without further ado here is T'was the Night Before Festivus

'Twas the night before Festivus, when all through Charm City Ravens fans were stirring and even felt giddy.
The jerseys were hung by the chimney with flare, In hopes that Joe Flacco soon would be there.

The fans were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of the playoffs danced in their heads.
And when we awoke and December 28 was the date, We just settled down for a winter's tailgate, When out in the end zone there arose such a clatter, The opponent looked over to see what was the matter.
In a huddle of players that looked like a flash, The Ravens looked ready for a hard-hitting clash.
The season had boiled down to one single game As the players were looking for more than just fame, And what to my wondering eyes looked intense, For it was Ray Lewis...and the Baltimore defense.
A terrifying unit, so lively and quick,
They'll hit you, they'll haunt you, or even grab the pick.
More rapid than wolves these hunters they came, And Ray whistled, and shouted, and called them by name; "T-Sizzle! now, JJ! now, Bannan, Haloti!
On, Trevor! on Leonhard! on, Reed and Samari!
To the top of the mountain! to the top of the hill!
Knock them out! Get the ball! Now in for the kill!"
And then, the offense, led by a menacing line, Came onto the field and was ready to fly.
A three-headed monster was at running back, Led by McClain, a big rumbling mack.
And Mason the veteran, with his shoulder so sore, Kept reining in passes, one, two, three, more!

And finally, a sight so perfect, so new; A quarterback to be proud of, a little like Johnny U.
Joe Flacco was ready to take the city by storm, His cannon for an arm much better than norm, He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, And led them downfield, the fans going berserk.

The Ravens were ready to give such a gift to the fans of Baltimore who needed the lift.
Coach Harbaugh exclaimed, while his team looked so sleek, "Happy Festivus to all, and we'll see you next week."

Monday, January 12, 2009

Hounds Bark Worse Than Bite

I'll admit, I'm still a Loyola Greyhound fan, although I still haven't figured out 1.) why they compete in the MAAC (all the other schools are NY/NJ/CT based) and 2.) why there are Division 1. In any case they are what they are, and have to deal with it as best we can. But after 2 consecutive years of winning seasons, after a long stretch of mediocrity, it looks as if the 'Hounds are going to finish below .500 this year.

What does Coach Jimmy Patsos have to say about it? They're a young team. Most of their veteran starters are gone, and the team is back to square one with a lot of younger players. Loyola only has 1 senior and 1 junior starter, and the rest of the team is made up of sophomores and freshmen. Understandably they wouldn't do so well this season. Yet they still play high profile games to gain National exposure, which is the only good way to gain support and prospectives. If you don't put yourself out there, you won't get anything. Two years ago they played UVA and Providence, last year Kansas, this year Duke and Davidson, sure all losses, but good exposure.

But what about the students? Talk about a school with absolutely no school spirit when it comes to basketball, and for a D-1 team! I'm not hacking them as an outside, I went there, I know. The games are free, the arena is at the center of campus, and they still cant get more than 500 people to go on average. Home team support is so important to a team. There is nothing like the cheers and chatter of a crowd to motivate a team. Where the Greyhounds lack the most is in fan support. It's never a good sign when there are more General Admission fans (families, alumni, administrators, neighbors) than students, which routinely happens.

One questionable move, which baffles me, is the recent downsize of the seating capacity of Reitz Arena. Officially it held 3,000, in mostly old school wooden bleachers (which had great acoustics when smacked) but after a recent renovations they DROPPED the capacity to somewhere around 2,100. WHAT! Why would you make it less? Is this a grand scheme to make it look the stadium is fuller than it actually is? Bad move on Loyola's part. You have 3,700 students there, plus general admission (and fancy court side seats), they should get crowds of 1,500, or more easily, but they don't. I guess the students just don't care.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What Does This Mean for Dixon?

(*flickr Michael 323)

The news this weekend has been dominated by two major stories, one great for the city of Baltimore, one not so much. On the positive, the Ravens beat the Titans and have a date next week with the Steelers in Pittsburgh. On the negative, Sheila Dixon was indicted in a State investigation the lasted the past 3 years. The charges include theft, perjury, and misappropriation of funds. Now, which charges will be brought to court, and what this means in the long run is still in the air.

For now, though, what does this mean? Dixon is a popular mayor. She is a dedicated official who has started many initiatives - cleaner greener, fit baltimore, increased police patrols, funding for affordable housing, funding for cleaner streets, repaving, and updating streetscapes, and helped pass the smoking ban. She's helped to strengthen neighborhoods, and build community support for the Red Line.

Dixon insists on continuing her job 100% in spite of the accusations, and why shouldn't she? Until a conviction or acquittal is made she should still do her job. The last thing this city needs right now is no one steering the ship from City Hall.

On the positive side, the Ravens are moving onto the AFC Championship game next weekend against the Steelers. Taking on our mortal enemies in Steel City. Festivus Fever is catching across the city, the purple is all over, the morale is high. Let's take it back to the Super Bowl (unless they happen to be playing the Eagles, where I will be rooting for them instead, sorry roots taking over).

Friday, January 9, 2009

What is Going On?

(* courtesy of The Baltimore Sun)

Switching gears here for just a moment, I don't want to comment on new construction, or proposals, or transit, or sports, but rather what is going on in this city!?!? Nine days into 2009 and there already more homicides than days...twelve. When will people learn that you cannot go shooting people in the streets in Baltimore? Unfortunately...never.

What solves the problem? We put more police on the streets, we add cameras in crime spots, we put out adds, we plead, we pray, but the results are the same.

A quote in The Baltimore Sun today, in reference to the most recent shooting, put it in perspective:

"The biggest joke is those ... cameras," said one resident, pointing to a blinking blue light police camera on the corner. He would not give his name. "They need to put cops on the streets instead of cameras," he said. "Things are getting worse by the day."

Just hoping this will all get better...thoughts?

Oh yeah and Boss Dixon got indicted today.

In better news...let's go Ravens!...nothing like football for bringing a city together

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Hey 2009, You're Looking Very Fine

Welcome to a new year! A blank slate on which to put down all the hopes and dreams of the next 12 months. There are a lot of things on the board in Baltimore for this year, but I'll start off with something relevant, because I just got a notice in the mail about it....Baltimore CarShare.

Finally getting serious about this, the Parking Authority sent out brochures to people who signed up for information about the initiative. There's a lot of talk about how it works, how to sign up, who can use the program (generally anyone over 18 with a valid ID, and relatively clean driving record), and the advantages.

Unfortunately there isn't any clear timeline of implementation. I posted a while back that the hope is for January and February to be a testing phase and then the program going live to all people in March. I was just hoping there would have been more info on the brochure. Don't keep us in the dark!

If you got one, get excited! This is definitely a start.