Nobody asked me, but reports of Baltimore’s moribund state appear to have been exaggerated. There’s suddenly all kinds of stuff happening here: A $150 million redevelopment of the Royal Farms Arena; the $1 billion Perkins-Somerset-Old Town transformation underway in East Baltimore; financing finally in place for a big redevelopment of the Westport waterfront on the south side; the new Lexington Market rolling out its vendor list. Now, if we can just get guys to stop killing each other.
Nobody asked me, but I’m offering this idea again: Let’s get a stop-the-killing campaign going on social media, television and radio. I see NBA star Kevin Durant involved in the company that plans to overhaul the arena. Great. Where’s Melo? Can we get NBA star Carmelo Anthony, who played at Towson Catholic and has strong Baltimore ties, to make some powerful, visually arresting commercials imploring an end to the shooting? You say no one will listen? I say it’s never been tried. Baltimore needs a consistent, high-profile anti-violence message from an influential figure. “This community is what made me who I am today,” Anthony said when he visited Baltimore a few years ago. Can we do something here, please?
Of course, I remain pessimistic.
Nobody asked me, but all solutions for curtailing violent crime in Baltimore and across the country are undercut by the number of guns: Credible surveys estimate about 393 million guns and about 72 million gun owners in a country with a population of about 330 million. That’s an overdose of weaponry. While the police focus needs to be on repeat violent offenders, what about everyone else? What about all the angry, ignorant, impulsive people who have access to guns? How do we stop them from settling conflicts with bullets?
Nobody asked me, but it’s pretty hard to imagine a sustainable, civilized democracy when one of the nation’s two major political parties wants to make it harder to vote and easier to have guns.
And it was nauseating to see Josh Hawley, the Republican senator from Missouri, who fist-pumped the insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. Capitol, getting all tough-on-crime and calling for hiring 100,000 more police officers. Next thing you know, Maryland Rep. Andy Harris, the 1st District Republican who voted against honoring the Capitol police for their bravery on Jan. 6, will be getting behind Hawley’s bill.
Nobody asked me, but if Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby wants to be a “progressive prosecutor,” she should get behind revival of the Community Court concept. I’ve suggested this a few times over the years, but it seems most relevant now that Mosby says her staff won’t prosecute certain minor offenses, including drug possession, public urination and prostitution. Instead of not prosecuting — and not having police make arrests and Baltimoreans get irate about it — send minor offenders to Community Court. The court would be a one-stop shop, where swift justice combines with social services to help low-level repeat offenders break their cycle of bad behavior.
Speaking of public urination, seeing the old public bathhouse in Pigtown the other day — developer Ernst Valery turned it into a seven-unit apartment building — brings up something else nobody asked me about: Why not have public bathrooms again? Build a few around the city and staff them. A reader named Steve Lauer mentioned this in a letter, though his preferred solution was this: Have the city pay businesses a fee (or give them a tax break) to put a sticker on their windows stating that the public can use their restrooms. This system has been successful in several cities in Germany, according to CityLab.
Nobody asked me, but I don’t believe the amazin’ Raven kicker Justin Tucker eats much Royal Farm fried chicken. I know he’s the RoFo pitchman, but have you seen this guy? My mother, the late and former Rose Popolo Rodricks, had a term for guys like that: “Skinnymalink.” (Where the daughter of Mary Mangino and Vito Popolo came up with this Scottish term for a slender fellow remains a mystery.)
Nobody asked me — and you can call this wishful thinking — but I think the death of brick-and-mortar retail has been exaggerated. Contrary to conventional wisdom, I suspect that, coming out of the pandemic, people who like to go shopping will get back to it. Some might never step into a store again, but I doubt that’s the majority. Also, the pandemic made shop owners who never established an online presence get one, and that’s bound to get more consumers — the ones who think about where they spend their money as well as how — to recommit to support local businesses.
Nobody asked me, but if you’re going to make popcorn the old fashioned way — on top of the stove — you must be selective about the brand you put in the pot. Jolly Time American’s Best does not live up to its name. Orville Redenbacher’s does.
One last thing you didn’t ask for: My Crab Corn Coddie recipe. Nancy Longo, the talented chef at Pierpoint Restaurant in Fells Point, perfected it. If you want to make crab cakes at home, but find the price of crabmeat too high this summer, buy half as much as you normally would and add some more affordable codfish and fresh corn. It’s a winner, I tell you, a winner. Email me if you want the recipe.