I wasn’t in much of a mood for a bicycle ride, but N. gave me a task to be completed at the new Target, so I followed her instructions and hopped on the bike for a ride to that suburb-in-the-city, Canton Crossing. As soon as I was on my bike I was glad I was there, riding on the slightly foggy streets on a much warmer day, feeling that speed that comes from freshly-pumped up tires. I decided to take an early left, before Mount Royal, to see if I could get myself lost. I found myself zig zagging around Greenmount Cemetery, past new-ish housing developments with their brightly-colored doors that never quite hide the signs of capital’s abandonment, but they look pretty, and then going up and down the streets of northeast Baltimore, past row after row of abandoned row houses and other houses decked out with balloons and signs–two new baby girls and a baby boy came home to East Baltimore this weekend. There was the empty shoe without its partner in the middle of the road, the patchy-patch asphalt of side streets, the dusty digger waiting for another work order in a vacant lot, the sweet smell that suggest somebody’s enjoying a lazy smoke on a Saturday afternoon with friends, and all the rest of this city in its fall-time best. And then I was in the East Baltimore of Johns Hopkins, the one with heavily policed community gardens and brightly-painted wood panels over vacant doors, lipstick on a pig, if you ask me. I took this picture while waiting at the light at Ashland and N. Wolfe, of the new student apartments in the fancy concierge-serviced high rise. Two blocks before and after is that desolate Baltimore–I’m not sure if JHU is waiting to raze them, or if they’re like so much of the rest of here, ghostly reminders of way-past lives. It reminded me of the reading I went to on Friday night at the new bookstore. We were talking about gentrification, and what to do when we are both its harbingers and its critics. There was much of the usual hand-wringing about how these are abstract, structural processes, that we can hardly see them coming even when we know all the signs. And then there’s this block, where 929 is across from a new restaurant called Cuban Revolution (nope, not making this up; they have extreme nachos on the menu, revolutionary), a private security officer at each corner. Gentrification by force–nothing subtle going on here. And then I pedaled left and right and left and right and left and right and was having a beer at a chain casual dining establishment and then shopping for $10 t-shirts at a chain department store before taking the old way home, through Fells Point, Jonestown, past all the prisons, and north as the neighborhood blended from Black to white to home. Oh, Baltimore, thank you for the ride.