A brisk pace, my body tense to the chill, feet shuffling through leaf piles—I relish all of the banal pleasures of the fall season while walking through Old Goucher and Charles North. Especially after such a shit year. I go back and forth lately between worrying big picture and worrying about local things. It’s hard for the moment to believe that the world is not crumbling around us, after our country elected an openly hateful, racist, fascist rapist for president. Just a couple months ago, our current city council and mayor quickly approved $660 million in TIF financing for a wealthy white man to build an expensive utopia in South Baltimore. With a new mayor and eight new city council members, though, I wonder how things will change (or not) for the better (or not) here in Baltimore.
For now, mostly everything is closed around here because it's Sunday. Small things distract me momentarily: big windows full of dying plants on St. Paul Street; that one house with the stoop that got destroyed when an MTA bus crashed into it two years ago, when my friend Melanie lived a few houses down, finally got a new cement stoop. A few folks kinda walk with me for a few blocks, we exchange brusque "how ya doin"s, then they walk past me.
Safeway is selling those enormous, adult-human-sized stuffed animals, a silly thing that appeals to my inner child's yearning to be surrounded by comfortable objects during hard times. I make mental notes on places to drop into a few days later, if I decide to go the buying-gifts-for-people route this holiday season. If you shopped only in the Old Goucher and Charles North neighborhoods, you could probably find something for everyone on your list: There are health stores, beauty shops, boutiques, a music shop, a bookstore, an art supply store, a sex shop, and more. And you'll be supporting mostly local businesses—which feels even more urgent now.
Red Emma's (30 W. North Ave., (443) 602-7585, redemmas.org) is a favorite source for radical books and radical snacks—both essential when trying to build resistance. Across the street, Artist and Craftsman (135 W. North Ave.,  528-0003, artistcraftsman.com) sells art supplies. Swinging around back up Charles Street, there's a bevy of independent local shops: a headshop called Headspace (2116 N. Charles St.,  885-9980, facebook.com/headspacebaltimore); sex toy store PERVfect Playground (2011 N. Charles St.,  814-8972, pervfectplayground.com); RAD Boutique (2117 N. Charles St., facebook.com/radbmore); the consignment shop Too Good to Be Thru (2123 N. Charles St.,  400-3223, 2good2bethru.com); lovely, natural, handmade products for hair and skin at Oyin Handmade (2103 N. Charles St.,  601-3198, oyinhandmade.com); and Brothers Music (2112 N. Charles St.,  212-5328, brothersmusicbaltimore.com). There's also a few not-for-profit organizations in this area who could probably use donations, such as Project PLASE, Turn Around, Baltimore Child Abuse Center, the Family League of Baltimore, and the Youth Empowered Society (see page 65 for our Do Gooders List).
There are plenty of spots to dip into around here for a quick drink or snack: a soul food fix at Taste This (102 E. 25th St.,  563-2845); a sandwich at Terra Cafe (101 E. 25th St.,  777-5277, terracafebmore.com)—they also have art for sale on their walls; any of the several Korean restaurants/shops between North Avenue and 25th Street (Crown Seoul, Seoul Rice Cake, Brown Rice, Nam Kang, Nak Won, Jong Kak, Be-One); insanely good and cheap pupusas and tacos at Mi Comalito. Club Charles, The Crown, The Windup Space, and Liam Flynn's can each give you a good beer jacket when you're done shopping, before you head home. (Rebekah Kirkman)