As a Messenger columnist, this time of year can be rough to write about. The post-New Years lull, as many of us are recovering from our Christmas and New Year's Eve festivities, can, traditionally, leave a gap in the calendar.
But instead of taking some down time, I think we should keep the ball rolling in 2014. After all, I'm sure there's a calendar somewhere that will be misinterpreted to say that 2014 will be the final year of life on Earth as we know it. (Whatever happened to that Mayan calendar 2012 prediction anyway?)
The first First Friday of 2014 is Jan. 3. This is a day when participating local businesses traditionally stay open late, plan events and sales, and offer snacks.
The sex toy shop Sugar, 927 W. 36th St., will be offering up some tasty bubbly beverages and 10% percent of the day's sales will be donated to support Planned Parenthood of Maryland.
On the same night, photographer Patrick Joust will have an opening reception for his exhibit, "We've Seen How Strange Things Can Get At Night," at Atomic Books' Eightbar, 3620 Falls Road. The opening is from 7-9 p.m., but the show runs through January.
The following Friday, Jan. 10, local writer Raphael Alvarez will be hosting a live podcast and recording session at Atomic Books, featuring the literary pop band The Caribbean from 7-9 p.m. Alvarez will also be signing copies of his new book, "Tales From The Holy Land."
If you have some art that you're curious as to the value of, antique art appraiser Craig Flinner, of Craig Flinner Gallery, will be at Fleckenstein Gallery, 3316 Keswick Road, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11. Appraisals cost $5 and proceeds will benefit the Hampden SPCA. Also, Stuart Stein's "Dog Eat Dog" exhibit will still be on view.
Speaking of art, be sure you make time to stop by Minás Gallery, 815 W. 36th St., sometime before February 23 to check out Minás Konsolas's new exhibit of paintings, "Dream City."
And finally, the January issue of Baltimore Magazine has hit newsstands with its "101 Reasons To Love Baltimore Right Now," and Hampden comprises a number of those reasons, including:
Reason 27: "We Use Our Parks." Roosevelt Park is one of the parks mentioned.
Reason 46: "We Put Old Bay In Our Ice Cream And Berger Cookies In Our Beer." The Charmery's delicious Old Bay Caramel ice cream is celebrated.
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Reason 48: "You Won't Find A Gap On The Avenue." Instead. you will find a strong group of independent-minded, successful, small business owners."
Reason 61: "You Can Blow An Entire Day's Calories On The PB&J Delight At Rocket To Venus (And It's Totally Worth It)." It is!
Reason 73: "Atomic Books Is Your Portal To Weirdness." Thank you!
Reason 84: "Toilet Bowl Racing Is A Thing." Never underestimate the potential of a group folks rolling downhill on wheeled toilets to attract a crowd of thousands.
Reason 99: "The Gov't Mule Exists" Woodberry Kitchen's cocktail is now officially a point of city pride.
Reason 100: "Every Year 34th Street Has Us Believing In Miracles." Despite some concerns over increased crime in the area, The Miracle on 34th Street still managed to pull in thousands of visitors to Hampden this holiday season.
So 101 reasons to love Baltimore, and Hampden is part of at least 8 of them. Not bad. Not bad at all!