Monday, May 31, 2010

Dear Baltimore...

Today we visited you, Baltimore. I have some suggestions and criticisms. First and foremost? Your aquarium, the crown jewel of your Inner Harbor, is second rate thanks to the Camden Aquarium. Yes, you have a LOT of sharks and rays but so does every other aquarium; Camden has hippos for Christ's sake, not to mention the coolest jellyfish exhibit ever. You guys need a new "money shot" - the rainforest is an impressive structure but it has about four birds and some crickets. Woo hoo. Most aquariums are letting you touch shit now, sharks, mantas and starfish can be "pet" at any self respecting aquarium. Lastly, you have too many big brown and grey fish, they come in crazy colors you know...

Where to begin with the rest of the day? I'll start with the overpriced seafood restaurant. I won't say which restaurant because they're all a little overpriced for the average food you get. This one charged too much and had no AC on a 90º day, so that by the time your waiter got there with your food he was drenched in sweat. Tasty.

Then we get to the "Historic Ships in Baltimore," which has a very cool submarine tour. I love a good sub tour. I have to say that it was pretty awesome to sit on a torpedo like Slim Pickins in Dr. Strangelove. Even if I wasn't really supposed to. My only criticisms are these: In this day and age you can air condition any enclosed structure, even a submarine. Your sub smells like old people and wet dogs.

Well, after a super fun day we wanted ice cream. Our first try was the Historic Ships snack bar, we waited in line only to learn that they were out of EVERYTHING. So across to the markets we go to find ice cream and are pleased to find a Ben and Jerry's. We wait in line for some smoothies and ice cream. When we order we're told that there's no ice (really Baltimore? No ice in your ICE cream stores?) so they can't make smoothies. Ok, fine. When we order our various ice cream treats we're told there is no ice cream. Why the fuck was the guy in the stupid hat even standing there? Why Baltimore? Why? So off we go to a convenience store where we get some Jack n Jill shit from a cooler and eat it outside watching smooth jazz musicians wilt in the blazing heat. Surreal.

Parking was no better. We entered on Gay street and exited on Lombard to make our way to the aquarium. When we went to get our car we tried to enter on Gay Street. NO. We went to Lombard with confidence high. NO. Turns out we needed to go to Market street to re-enter the garage and get our car. What the fuck Baltimore?

We parked on the "Manatee" level and when we got in the elevator there were buttons for every fucking fish and sea mammal ever. But not the manatee. Twilight fucking zone. We flag down a friendly garage employee patrolling in his golf cart (really, Baltimore?) who tells us there is NO manatee level. But then he pauses to think, "......oh you mean the M level? That's one flight down" Every goddamn button in the elevator had a stupid picture of a stupid fish. The manatee? A letter M.

So Baltimore, next time I think I'll try Hartford or maybe Dover, home of tax free shopping.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


This winter had it's way with my roof, hard. My insurance company couldn't come out for two weeks and I thought that was outrageous. I had no idea. Roofers: holy shit. I had several roofers come and look at my roof and none of them sent me an estimate. My bedroom was becoming a rainforest and my concerns about our frame rotting were keeping me up at night.

Three and a half very high stories and a 90º pitch were part of the problem. When you're drowning in jobs why would you take a tough one?

So up I went. My ladder would get me up to the first floor so I had to figure something out. That meant building a cantilever out from my bedroom window, and by cantilever I mean an old cabinet door with 100 pounds of iron weight plates on one end with a bookshelf to hold it up to the window. Safety first... My bedroom window has some fancy woodwork around the top that looked pretty sturdy so I hung on to that while I tried to throw my rope over the roof. I imagined that the rope itself, rolled up, would give me the heft I needed to get it over the roof. Stupid. I ended up tying a rubber mallet to the rope and throwing it over. Note - if you plan on doing this, tie it tight. By the time I got back upstairs with the mallet that had sailed over the roof I had figured that out. Having gotten the rope over the roof, I pulled it in through my opposing bedroom window. I couldn't find anything to tie it to so I remembered some Three Stooges physics and tied it to my doorknob.

Go time. I dragged my safety belt out of the basement , filled one pocket with tacks and another with a brush and a putty knife. With some carabiners I hooked up my roof cement and a sack of shingles. I now weighed 75 more and worried about my cantilever holding me. I didn't adjust it, I just worried. Safety first. I began my ascent of mount Holy Shit These Shingles Are Hot by using the rope to climb up until I sat on the peak of my roof. It was really fucking high.

I descended the other side of the roof where the shingles were gone and got to work. The first thing I did was watch my gallon of cement roll down the roof because I didn't check the carabiner. By the time I got back up it was a thousand degrees hotter. The actual work was tedious and difficult and I only had to make two trips to get shit that I dropped, but let me tell you about roof cement.

Roof cement is a malignant substance that multiplies and spreads exponentially over your body and through the simple act of moving your door and window frames, walls, pillow case and floor. My arms were black, my jeans ruined and my work gloves were stuck to the roof. Four showers later there's still patches of black on my arms and ankles. My son asked if a dab of it on the glass panel of the front door was poop, I said no it's roof cement. He asked why it was on the door if it was roof cement.

So now we wait. It's supposed to storm tonight and I'm on pins and needles. Wish me luck.

Monday, May 17, 2010


I have returned from Nashville with a sense of pride. I'm proud of myself for not buying cowboy boots. For some uncanny reason being in Nashville made me want to buy a pair of boots that I'd never wear, not even if I was on a horse which is unlikely because I fucking hate horses. It almost seemed as though buying boots was an integral part of the whole Nashville experience, like dressing like one of the Village People would somehow make me a little bit honky tonk.

Honkey tonk is one of those things you might say out loud but boy does it look stupid written down, and it's written all over the place in Nashville. There are cool things to do in Nashville, there's Hatch Show Prints, a very unique print shop with a very distinct artistic style. Nashville also has one of the finest vintage guitar shops I've ever seen and the Ernest Tubbs record shop is like a shrine and gift shop all rolled up with a pretty good record shop. The bars on Broadway all have live music pouring out of them and the smell of BBQ is fantastic.

All of this conspired to drive me into a boot shop where the smell of leather is fantastic and earthy. To be honest though, cowboy boots just look retarded on the shelf, making one imagine how horrible they'd look on. I wear sneakers, maybe a dress shoe when I need to or hiking boots in the winter but 97% of the time it's sneakers. I would look and feel like a douchtard wearing big boots with a big heel. I left the shops on Broadway with nothing but a nice t-shirt, really proud of myself.

Happy to be up north now, away from chicken n' dumplings, Waffle Houses and overt friendliness that kind of gives me the heebie jeebies.