To the People

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Wire Update

The Wire sure does seem to like my neighborhood. I have a few guesses as to why, but in all truthfulness, most are probably wrong. **What I do know is that Season three's plot focused a great deal on the tearing down of crime ridden, high-rise housing projects and the subsequent building (on the same land) of low-cost individual housing units, which happenes to be literally right next door to me. "Hamsterdam" -- please correct me if I'm wrong -- was based on a section of W. Hamburg St which also happens to not be too far away from my own borderline area of West Baltimore.

The trend seems to be continuing as both me and friends have run into numerous on-location shootings in the last week or so. I came close yesterday on the way back from work, to driving through one closed road and onto the set. Would have been a fun way to make the local news.

I had a point with all this though. Kinda falls in the Things are Always Getting Better category. The Wire is a television drama, I understand that. But from talking to friends not familiar with Baltimore (and some who are) I have come to understand that the reputation of Baltimore is somewhere between Haiti and Detroit. As one friend in DC calls the city, the "chic Detroit". I'm always stuck saying, "It's really not that bad. Some really bad areas like all cities, but it's got character and cheap property."

Sometimes it is important to keep in mind that in spite of the tough odds that our politicians and policies have given Baltimore, a lot of sections are improving. My neighborhood has become a much more hospitable place in the last few years. Even in just the last year, we have had restaurants and a bookstore move in, taking up previously uninhabited storefronts. I see a lot more people just like me in the mornings, getting in their cars and driving to a shitty job. The obvious disclaimer is that I don't live in the heart of West Baltimore where it really does look like a 3rd world war-zone. There are still lots of areas like that in this city, and the fact is that our political men-in-charge have done a lot to put them in that condition, and there's a lot we could do (like say, re-examine our drug policy) to vastly improve the situation for those who live in those dilapidated communities. That being said, I don't live in the nicest section of the city either, and it's nice to see it getting..well, getting nicer. Believe me, it becomes awfully tiring to be so pessimistic about the future of a city(-ies) that it is refreshing to have a moment when you look around and say, "Hey, it's actually getting better on this corner."

Slow day, good one to get a rant in, but I promise to be back to my curmudgeon self tomorrow.

**[Ironically, what they did build there follows a similar thread throughout the city in areas undergoing -- or in areas that they hope to stimulate -- gentrification. They build these massive garage town-homes and sell them for 2-4 times the average price of a row-home in that particular neighborhood. Sometimes the real-estate effort works, sometimes it doesn't. It seems to be a quickie way to re-brand a neighborhood with negligiable long-term effects. Just my opinion.]

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