Baltimore, city of little pretense and lousy baseball, had occasion to look down its nose at Philadelphia just a day after the Phillies won the World Series.
The reason: Elvira.
The buxom Mistress of the Dark will help celebrate Halloween at Philly's Edgar Allan Poe National Historical Site tonight, when she participates in a reading of "The Raven."
Baltimore officials, loath to trumpet any out-of-town Poe goings-on, couldn't help themselves yesterday, when they'd gathered in the ornate Poe Room of the Enoch Pratt Free Library to announce Nevermore 2009, a yearlong celebration of the writer's 200th birthday.
"They have Elvira," sniffed Sam Rogers, chief marketing officer for the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association. "It's a different approach."
Added Jeff Jerome, curator of Charm City's Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum: "The only thing I can say to that is we can't beat her cleavage."
Never mind that Baltimore and Philadelphia have been battling over Poe's body. With the writer's big birthday next year, they're fighting now for Poe tourists. Which accounts for Charm City's anti-Elvira snobbery. And the timing of yesterday's announcement, scheduled to beat Philly's event by one day.
"We wanted to make sure we were out there early enough that Baltimore is going to be a focal point," Rogers said.
Baltimore boosters weren't alone in their anti-Elvira-ism.
"Most of us rangers here are kind of rolling our eyes," said a National Park Service ranger at Philadelphia's Poe house who wasn't giving his name. He noted that the reading is not a Park Service event, but merely "something the Park Service is allowing to occur on their property."
But Eric Cortes, a spokesman for the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp., was confident his city would do a better job celebrating Poe, even if he kept referring to the writer as "she" because a woman will impersonate Poe at the Elvira event.
"Everybody's been trying to claim Poe, but it was in Philly where he - I was going to say 'she' - got inspiration for his famous poem 'Nevermore.' "
Um, I think he meant "The Raven."
Anyway, it's beside the point, he said. "The Phillies won. All eyes are on Philly, not on Baltimore."
Local sites make good
At least two locals have landed parts in The Washingtonienne: Pazo and the Baltimore Museum of Art.
The restaurant/lounge and museum will stand in for Washington locations on the HBO pilot, which sounds a whole lot like Sex and a Different City. It will be produced by Sarah Jessica Parker and star Rachel Taylor, Amanda Walsh and Bitsie Tulloch.
"They were looking for something that would be bar/lounge space that was very hip," said Allison Parker-Abromitis, marketing director for the restaurant group that includes Pazo. "They looked in Washington and Baltimore. It's nice that Baltimore sort of won out over D.C. for that ultra-chic, cool space."
Pazo will close for filming one day early next month. Several servers, bartenders and kitchen staff will serve as extras, Executive Chef Michael Costa among them. Pazo food and drink could get cameos, too.
"Their prop guy has not told me which entrees he wants," Parker-Abromitis said. "I sent them our menu. We just launched a bunch of new cocktails, so we're hoping we'll get some cocktails featured."
As for the museum, it will stand in for some government building playing host to a party, said BMA spokeswoman Anne Mannix. Only exterior shots will be used.
"I think it's supposed to be kind of a swanky party, and there will be a long line of people trying to get in," Mannix said.
Mannix said she understood that the swanky party itself will be shot inside the Peabody Library. No one there, or with HBO, returned calls seeking comment.
We're still in this thing
And you thought nobody paid attention to blue, blue Maryland in the final days of the presidential campaign. The wonky electoral Web site FiveThirtyEight.com reported not one but two Baltimore-area references from a Barack Obama rally in Raleigh, N.C.
There was Sonja Sohn from The Wire, assuring the crowd that Obama would help people failed by all those Baltimore institutions they saw on the HBO series.
And there was former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, warning Obama supporters not to get too confident.
"Who was the most miserable person in the Olympics this year?" Kirk said. "It's the guy who thought he had the race won, and he lost by one one-hundredths of a second to Michael Phelps! We gotta be Michael Phelps!"