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Flash! This just in, from our friends...


Flash! This just in, from our friends in the New York Times travel section:

"H.L. Mencken, that old charmer, dubbed his hometown 'Charm City.' And in this, at least, he was right. Baltimore is lousy with history and nice views of the Chesapeake, of course. But if you are a fan of diners, John Waters movies, Edgar Allan Poe and Elvis (who's inexplicably big here) you might think this is the hippest city in America. And surely the only one with a nine-foot bronze statue of Billie Holiday.

"Baltimore definitely does not inspire that just-got-off-the-Interstate-and-could-be-anywhere state of mind. French fries drenched in gravy are a local speciality, as is calling people 'hon,' as in 'More fries, hon?' Last year, a hon enthusiast who came to be known as Hon Man repeatedly spray-painted the sign at the edge of the city, which said 'Welcome to Baltimore, Hon' after he got through with it. He was invited to meet the mayor.

"The Ouija board was invented here, and downtown landmarks include a knockoff of Florence's Palazzo Vecchio, known locally as the Bromo Seltzer tower because its builder made the stuff. A point of enormous, if perverse, civic pride is the 19th-century marriage of a local girl named Betsy Patterson to Napoleon's younger brother, Jerome. (After a honeymoon trip to Niagara Falls, the junior Mr. Bonaparte abandoned his bride in favor of a European princess and the crown of Westphalia, a kingdom created to give him a job.)

"But Baltimore is not only quirky; it's also complicated, both blue collar and blue blood. And while many visitors make a beeline for the Inner Harbor and Harborplace, a perfectly pleasant shopping and eating center, the city's real charm is in its less exposed corners -- neighborhoods like Stone Hill, an enclave of low-built stone cottages that once housed workers in the cotton mills, or upscale Homeland, where the writer Anne Tyler lives, and nearby Roland Park, where many of her odd and old-moneyed characters reside."

The article also claims that dinner for one -- without drinks -- will cost you $26.50 in Baltimore.

Sounds like the Times writer was living high off the expense account, don't ya think, hon?

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