Oh, man, that was so close! Saturday night at Artscape, on the United Way stage in front of MICA, G. Love and Special Sauce performed their bluesy hip hop for a damp crowd that had endured a heavy rain shower just before the performance. G. Love threw his topper, a shiny black fedora-lookin' thang -- we think it was a Totes product -- into the crowd, and Sonny Boy came within inches of grabbing it. A very tall guy with a very long reach beat him to it. Sonny Boy was bummed, but still thrilled to be there. (I know the feeling, came that close to an Eddie Murray home run ball myself.)

What a great scene -- with so many young people discovering it and enjoying it. What a treasure Artscape is. Every time I hear some grouch go on about the city -- some sour talk-radio conversation about how awful Baltimore is -- I think the fools don't know what they're missing. (And when they live in the suburbs and never bother to visit the city, no wonder.)

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So many perceptions of the city are narrow and out of date, informed almost exclusively by bleeds-it-leads local television news. (Seven out of 10 Americans use TV as their prime source of information about their community, so go figure.)

Sure, the city has big and daunting and festering problems. We know. We hear about them all the time. But that's not all there is. On Rodricks For Breakfast, 1994-1999, WMAR-TV, we used to get calls every Sunday from people who had never heard of some of the places we highlighted -- the Pratt Library, for instance, or the Cross Street Market -- and were suddenly eager to get there. (Since RFB's cancellation, no Baltimore affiliate has offered local programming like it, skipping arts, culture, the local scene and, for the most part, human interest stories, so go figure.)

Artscape proves, year after year, that there's more to Baltimore than what appears on the 11 o'clock news. If more and more young people discover the city the city will be saved. It's going to happen. It has to happen.

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