Smile, Hon, You're in Baltimore! #2
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GHOSTS OF PROHIBITION
This city is filled with things that arent here anymore.
Sure, other cities have things that are gone buildings, places, people, ideas but in most cases, the job is complete. You wont see them around there again.
But its different in Charm City. Temperance, for example, doesnt hold the same sway it did a hundred years ago, but the fading reversed-out letters painted on the side of one Fells Point building still urge the public to vote against Prohibition.
The recent razing of one downtown building revealed a sign painted on the Hippodrome next door, advertising popular 10-cent matinees. Theyre putting up a new building where the old one once stood; when its done, the popular ten-cent matinee will vanish once again, for another 50 or 60 years.
But it will wait.
The Baltimore area supports two functioning drive-in theaters. The heat lamps at the concession keep the greasy food warm. One night, my girlfriend and I sat on the hood of my car, watching a horror double-feature with two-hundred other people, all watching from the hoods of their own cars. We ducked when something fluttered past our heads during the trailer for Daughters of Dracula.
He might have lived in White Marsh, once, not far away, before the yuppies moved in and the traffic became intolerable. It never really gets dark there, anyway. When the weather turns cold, he might look forward to the Mayfair or one of the other old theaters and movie houses that still pepper Baltimores neighborhoods. These days, the stages are empty, the screens dark and silent except for the Senator, and the Apex, for porn. But they still sit there, each year. Dark. Quiet. Knowing.
Not everything here is unknown to other cities, other towns, other people. The words sometimes change, but the musics the same. And the dance goes on, much as it always has.
Like the little girl on the Light Rail. Downtown. Three or four years-old at the most. Northbound, with her mother, a rough-looking thirty that could easily pass for ten or twenty years older. She sat there burnt-out, jaded, watching her little girl watch the world going by with freshly-tapped fascination.
The Light Rail slowed. At the stop, the little girl stared at the police van parked across the street.
Mommy, she said, pointing out the window.
Is that the paddy wagon?
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