I didn’t get to do a whole lot of biking today, unfortunately, a bit of a bummer on this wildly beautiful spring afternoon in Baltimore. I had a longstanding appointment to bring my bike into the shop for some fancification, which meant enforced time sitting still. I didn’t like it, but I have needed it, and afternoon spent trying to concentrate again. And then I got the call from the bike shop–the Surly was ready for pick up–and off I headed to get the bike for a quick pedal. Continue reading
Today started with some trepidation, I have to be honest. When I got home from my bike ride yesterday I turned on the TV news. It’s hard not to do that when there’s a sense of urgency in the air, and it’s hard to stay vigilant against the sway of the news, its steady insistence that your city is going up in flames, that your neighbors aren’t your neighbors but your enemies, that suddenly it is the apocalypse, even when you know the apocalypse has been here for decades upon decades in the guises of deindustrialization, urban renewal, the drug war, the meteoric rise of mass incarceration–the list goes on and on and on. The problem with The Event, though, is that it collapses time, and those histories, and even the present moment, the murder of Freddie Gray, disappear, replaced with fears about a faceless mob on the attack. Continue reading
Here’s what I saw on my bike today. I saw my dentist in Waverly, people waiting for the bus at 33rd, the quick shift of neighborhoods from Greenmount to Barclay to Guilford, Calvert, and St. Paul. I saw the last round of flower trees by the art museum and Hopkins, and the bright greens of Gwynns Falls. I saw some guys playing basketball in Druid Hill Park, and three joggers making their way around the reservoir. I followed the sound of the police helicopter around the park, past the conservatory, and up to Liberty Heights Avenue where I took a left.
Saturday was a most excellent day to be on a bicycle. That’s hardly the point, but it’s just true: when there are multiple protests and rallies going on around the city, plus the rest of things to do on a weekend, a bike is the best way to move quickly and easily, especially as cops and cars start blocking entrances and exits. I thought about this, about how car culture makes protest culture that much harder because we become so easily immobilized, as I inhaled a stack of blueberry pancakes at the diner on the corner before biking over to Sandtown-Winchester for the first gathering of the day to remember Freddie Gray, killed by Baltimore City cops almost two weeks prior.
The weather was a trip yesterday, all gray skies and wind in between giant sunbeams and blue skies. The place cannot make up its mind, I swear. I stayed home early to catch up on work and work and more work before heading down the hill to an appointment. The skies looked ok, but the wind was whipping around more than I prefer when I’m making the weather choices. Afterward, I scarfed down a quick lunch and then grabbed the bike to head west and see how people are organizing spaces over there since the murder of Freddie Gray. Continue reading
Tuesday saw me back on the commute, riding down the hill and right and down and right and right again to the bike racks at the University of Maryland Medical Center. It’s all car dodging until the left onto Eutaw when I hit what my head calls “the ped zone.” The Westside is bustling at this time of the morning, and the pedestrians are the least predictable of us all. I respect the refusal to honor the supposed god-given rights of cars, even though it can be frustrating to have to dodge everybody when I have the right of way. And every morning I think to myself, can we stop pretending like this part of West Baltimore is dying on the vine. It’s the busiest part of the city bar the Inner Harbor, at least in my experience.
But anyway, I locked up my bike next the rack that has a lock locked onto it–is some bicyclist saving that rack with his lock, and why do I never lock up to that rack even though it’s public and you can’t “save” it–and got on the shuttle to campus for a long day of busywork until the shuttle ride back to the city. I had to pee the second I got off the shuttle, and since we’ve built a world in which even though we all have to pee, we can only pee if we’re in our own home, workplace, or in a place where we’ve purchased something, I popped into a coffee shop on Pratt Street, bought an 85 cent bag of cheese curls, and peed in their upstairs bathroom before walking back to my bike, stuffing said cheese curls in my mouth at a truly astonishing rate. I snapped this picture on my walk when I noticed the words “Indian Pavilion” running down what appears to be an empty building next to a parking lot. First thought: Worst Indian pavilion ever. Second thought: What’s an Indian pavilion, and why would there be one on Pratt Street? Turns out this used to be a restaurant, back in the 1990s. I’m not sure when it closed, or if it has been/is/will be something else, but it was a good reminder, again (Baltimore has no shortage of this particular reminder), how close busy and vibrant always is to the scars of failed capitalism. And then I licked the cheese dust off my fingers, got back on my bike, and rode up the hill to home.
The weather report promised a day of rain and wind and storms on Monday, much to my bike-loving chagrin. I spent the morning locked up at home, dealing with hundreds of emails that could no longer be ignored, and slowly but surely the sun came out. I decided to go with the skies instead of the weather report and head out on the bike to complete some errands like the daredevil I am. Continue reading