Power Transmission Lines on Chase Just Before Iris

Fenced off green space with No Trespassing signs. Electrical transmission lines are on tall routers set against a blue sky and trees.

I haven’t been on a bike ride with no particular destination in a minute, so with free time on Wednesday and legs that needed a break from running I took advantage of the sunny fall afternoon to tool around. I headed south, a quick stop to drop a book with a friend, and then I turned east at the Station North Tool Library, across Greenmount, and east on Hoffman. I usually head south shortly after, but I decided to take a left on Holbrook Street to ride the length of it.

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Buildings Slated for Demolition at Ashland & Castle

This is not exactly breaking news, but it is incredibly hot and humid in Baltimore right now. It has been this way forever, it feels like, but for at least the past six weeks. There’s just no break in it, and I hate it. Being outside is what keeps me from utter despair, and sometimes the weather is just so despairingly hot. Alas.

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Church Parking Lot at Chester & Gay

I took my bicycle to DC last weekend. I used public transportation to get there and back, and while riding around DC, I ate lunch at a restaurant, sitting outside, pulling my mask down just for bites. It felt like being a tourist at the end of the world. The place was empty, except for the gloriously alive Black Lives Matter Plaza by the White House and the streams of local runners making their pretty much everywhere. I don’t know how they do it in the middle of the day, but there you go.

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Construction at Franklin & N. Stricker Street

img_20161020_143115 I haven’t blogged in awhile, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been biking. It’s absolutely biking season in Baltimore–cooler temps, still light out after six, and besides, biking is the best way to get around. Most of my rides have been to and from work or to and from the place where I get my haircut, but at least once a week I’ve managed to take the long way and get just lost enough.

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Storefronts at West Pratt & Ackworth

Storefronts at West Pratt & Ackworth It’s summertime, summer school is over, and this is the time when I tend to get restless and glum. I work best when I’ve got stuff to do, so if I’m not careful, unscheduled time can get the best of me, stealing from me this valuable time to let my mind range freely, read new things, and make new connections. I’ve learned this over the past zillion summers, so I make sure to schedule things work, writing, and relaxing-related. Today’s schedule featured a bike ride over to the Be Free Floating┬áin West Baltimore for my second trip in their sensory deprivation tank.

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Cadillac Body Drop at the Detroit Historical Society at 5401 Woodward

Cadillac Body Drop at the Detroit Historical Society at 5401 Woodward On Saturday morning I packed the Brompton into its suitcase, headed to the airport (thanks for the ride, ladyfriend!), and flew to Detroit for a few days of bicycling and learning about how another postindustrial city is doing its public memory. It’s pretty much a dream vacation for me–bikes, cities, history, bikes, waterfronts, history, beer in the afternoon–magic. I spent my Sunday getting my bearings. I first walked around in circles for almost a full half hour before finding my way to the coffee shop and bakery that was two blocks away. Then I went a couple miles out of my way trying to find my first stop: the Detroit Historical Society. Eventually I found it, and I locked up Brompty to a well-designed bike rack, and headed inside.

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Drug Free School Zone at West Lanvale & Fremont

Drug Free School Zone at West Lanvale & FremontFriday was a hard day. Alton Sterling was shot and killed by police while selling CDs outside a convenience store. Philando Castile was shot at a traffic stop, his girlfriend filming as her 4 year old child sat in the back seat. These were the latest two in a year that has already seen over 500 people shot and killed by police officers. And then shots rang out in Dallas, more people dead, more lives plunged into the heavy ocean waves of despair. Layers upon layers of loss, each one all about politics, and also about the individuals with lives cut short, the people who loved them left, after the cameras turn off, with the void of death. It’s so very permanent, and the grief will never ever fully subside. It is so, so sad, and angering, and it makes me want to melt down all the guns and freeze time until we can figure out how to uproot what Judith Butler calls schematic racism: the settled notion that all Black people are a threat and all white people need constant police protection from them. There’s a lot of other stuff we need to do, too, but that’s what was on my mind as I headed out on a bike ride on Friday.

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Decaying Homes at Ashland & Castle

Decaying Homes at Ashland & CastleSchool’s out for summer–or until summer school, anyway. I’ve still got plenty of grading and summer course planning to do, but I started the week jubilant with the feeling that yes, I made it through that tough semester, the students survived and learned some things even if I wasn’t at my best, and I’ll never have to do the first semester after my dad was killed ever again. That part is both happy and sad–happy because days are so much better than they were at the start of the term, and sad because as time passes, he’s still gone. It’s nuts to me that he’s dead and doesn’t even know it. But I digress.

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Vacant Homes at Lanvale & N. Patterson Park

Blight at Lanvale & N. Patterson ParkIt was another spring-like fall day in Baltimore on Tuesday, and I had a few spare hours in the afternoon for a bike ride. I left the house with vague plans for ice cream, but I took a left instead of a right at the intersection of the grocery store and hardware store, and ended up heading south and east on streets I’m not used to–the very best. Continue reading

Advertising on S. Fremont & Vine

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Thursday’s ride took me all over town, up to the Arcadia neighborhood in the other side of Lake Montebello to talk about what the city might look like of we prioritized the quality of the soil and worked out way up from there and then down to Southwest Baltimore for a ride around that neighborhood and a reminder of the power of MLK Avenue to slice a city in two, and then up to Charles Village for coffee with a filmmaker and a chat about what, if anything, has changed since theorist. My answer: I don’t know. It was the perfect day for a ride, all sunshine and blue skies, and I was grateful to have so many places to be and a bike to ride to get between them. West Baltimore was so unlike the other places I rode to and through on this day– so many vacant properties, so few throughways to the city on the other side of the street, so many different scars from urban renewal and subsequent attempts to renew again. I snapped this picture of advertising on the side of one of the many crumbling buildings over here. Steve Jobs changed everything, I think that movie argues. Lots of things changed everything, I thought, depending on who and where you are and what you’re looking at. What do people see when they see this place, and what change it’s visible to whom? I capped off the day with a drink before riding back home, best Thursday in awhile.