A primer for city's sports visitors

The Baltimore Sun

Tell me this isn't a big weekend in Crabtown, with the Army-Navy game at M&T; Bank Stadium on Saturday and the Ravens poised to deliver their sixth straight underwhelming performance against the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football.

With thousands of out-of-town visitors descending on our city and a national TV audience tuning in for both games, we answer some Frequently Asked Questions about Baltimore, including the big one.

Let's get the big one out of the way first. How's the homicide rate?

Steady. As of last night, we're at 266 homicides this year. At this time last year, we were at 245. So our murderers are working hard to beat last year's total of 276.

They have a lot of pride.

A lot more than the murderers in most cities.

What's that hideous sculpture in front of the train station all about?

It's called Male/Female. It's 51 feet tall. It weighs 14 tons. It cost the city $750,000.

And before you ask: Yes, the official who approved it was insane.

I'm confused about the name of your airport. Is it BWI or Thurgood Marshall International or what?

It's called Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

We chose it because it rolls off the tongue.

So what's there to do for entertainment in Baltimore?

We have great restaurants, a decent club scene ... oh, and guess what? We're getting slot machines! It's up for a statewide referendum, but polls indicate that the voters will pass it.

So pretty soon, you'll be able to sit in front of a noisy, brightly lit machine and mindlessly feed coins into it for hours while losing your shirt.

Hey, do we know how to have a good time, or what?

What about entertainment of a more, um, adult nature?

For that, we suggest you visit The Block, Baltimore's seedy red-light district, which seems to shrink every year. In fact, it's gotten so small and insignificant, it's like the Chevy Cavalier of red-light districts.

But if you like shelling out 20 bucks for a drink and sitting on sticky red banquettes while watching sad-eyed women take off their clothes, this is the place to be.

Did we mention we're getting slots?

Is it too late in the season to eat your famous steamed crabs?

Not at all. But be prepared to take out a bank loan. They're pricey. And they're probably not from the Chesapeake Bay.

They're probably from the Gulf states, where the rapacious plundering of the sea goes on year-round, instead of for seven or eight months as is done here. But this jacks the price up even more.

By the time you order a couple of dozen in a downtown restaurant, it'll be cheaper to buy a Cadillac Escalade.

What about celebrity sightings? Isn't there a movie being filmed in town now?

You're thinking of He's Just Not That Into You, a romantic comedy starring Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Connolly, Jennifer Aniston and possibly several other Jennifers as well. But shooting here just wrapped up.

If you're looking for celebrity sightings, visit a Mr. Tire store and watch Joe Tomarchio do a meltdown shooting a commercial.

What's the weather forecast? I hear Baltimoreans freak out when snow is on the way.

You hear right. We used to run to the supermarket for bread, milk and toilet paper. Now we run to Blockbuster, Starbucks and Domino's Pizza.

Then we cower at home watching the local TV stations launch into their usual Defcon 4 coverage.

But Saturday's forecast is sunny and seasonable.

Monday, for the nationally televised slaughter of the Ravens, it might rain.

So you probably won't see us in total Snow Panic Mode.

Come back in January.

It's definitely worth the price of a plane ticket.


Kevin Cowherd's column in yesterday's Today section incorrectly identified the buyer of the Male/Female sculpture at Penn Station. A private group bought the sculpture and donated it to the city.The Sun regrets the error.
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