Dozens of readers responded with solutions for the marketing dilemmas in Baltimore ("Imagining a better Baltimore," Arts & Society, Jan. 12). Some were facetious, some sentimental, but most sounded the earnest belief that if Baltimore is not the "Greatest City in America," as the mayor proclaims, it's at least distinctive enough to deserve a better slogan.
Linda Fox of Baltimore suggested this: "Baltimore: City on the Edge," leaving it open to interpretation which "edge" that might be -- "the edge of greatness ... the cutting edge of medical research ... cutting edge of the New Politics ... the edge of the harbor." Of course, she noted, "Some people will think 'on the edge of a nervous breakdown,' " but she did not think that would be a problem.
Dan Kryder argued that his beloved Baltimore is "a place that entices with its toughness, offers slightly ominous possibilities, but all the time (does so) with an amazing generosity and sense of humor." His new slogan: "Baltimore for Real," or, he wrote, "the alt form: 'B-more 4 Real.' "
Dean Krimmel of Baltimore complained that most slogans for the city sound like "wishful mayoral taglines," and offered his own replacement with "Keepin' It Real in Baltimore." Like some others, though, he was wistful for the old Natty Bo' slogan, which still seemed to fit his idea of 21st-century city life. "Can we hope to match the incomparable 'Land of Pleasant Living' slogan coined by a local ad man for Baltimore National Brewery?" he asked. "Probably not."
Some people, such as Anne McCall of Baltimore, delivered slogans that signaled the city's rhythmic pulse as a hip backbeat: "Baltimore: What You Want, Baby, We've Got It." (Naturally, the theme music, she wrote, would be by Aretha Franklin.)
The city's history came to mind for some. Debbie Brown of Timonium said her slogan, "Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow. Baltimore" would help educate the city's own residents about the value of Baltimore's past. "Once residents understand Yesterday," she wrote, "they will respect Today and believe in Tomorrow."
Others, like Abby Sattell of Baltimore, thought a great slogan should refer to one of the city's great historical events, the writing of the national anthem: "Baltimore: The Star-Spangled City."
Plays on the word Baltimore resulted in slogans such as "B-more: Baltimore" and even an advertising campaign from native son Daniel Houck, who imagines marketing the city by playing with word MORE: "BaltiMORE -- More of what life has to offer ... More History ... More Flavor ... More Dreams."
Beyond the sloganeering, Dan Harvey, president of the Hampden Village Merchants Association, suggested the city open a John Waters Museum. "We could be the national epicenter for 'good bad taste,' " he wrote, noting that the museum must be located in Hampden, and, by the way, he knows two "perfect buildings are currently available."
A few insisted that Baltimore has so many unresolved problems that image-building is a misguided effort. E.P. Husok of Crofton groused that "slogans don't clear drug corners." He wrote: "Baltimore and Maryland have played this feel-good game for years. The truth is, it is a dirty and violent city." He added that as a former detective in the Baltimore Police Department, he spoke from experience. Mary Parr of Fells Point made a strong case for promoting one of the less favorable aspects of city life when she suggested the slogan "Rat City," complete with a logo of "Mrs. Rat ... in a chef's hat and apron, a mixing bowl in her little rat hands." Rather than fish sculpture, she wrote, artists could design rat sculptures to place around town. "Imagine Inner Harbor tourists posing with a giant rainbow-colored rat. Now that is Charm City with an attitude."
Try these on for size
"Explore Baltimore - Charm City U.S.A."
"Hey, We Don't Need the Eiffel Tower"
"Bal'mer, Ya Gotta Love It."
"Baltimore, Chesapeake Country"
"Baltimore -- Original Funkytown"
"Baltimore: It's Home!"
"Baltimore: Historical / Hysterical"
"Baltimore: That's Life!"
"Baltimore: Believe, Behave or Begone!"
"Baltimore -- Discover the Charm!"
"I Adore, Baltimore"
"Find Yourself in Baltimore"