Old Town Mall From the Parking Lot at Orleans & Forrest

Today’s ride took me over to Hampden for brunch and some time reading about the history of Hampden–trippy. It was a mill town, set apart from the rest of the city, populated by native-born rural whites who moved there to work in the mills, live in company housing, and shop at the company store. And then there was a strike, and they lost, because the mill owners just flat out refused to bargain. There’s more, about how public space is controlled as a way to control labor, for example, but then it was time to get back on the bike and ride on streets I’m not used to, hoping to end up vaguely downtown. Continue reading

Painted Train at Hollins & Lipps

It has suddenly turned cold in Baltimore, so I bundled up a little extra as I took my bike out to ride to campus for an afternoon “party” with the Dean and some new colleagues. The fancy fleece jacket kept me warm, but the headwind was strong enough to keep me pedaling, even on the big downhills. Sigh. Fortunately, I was in a chipper mood, so pedal, pedal, pedal I did, and it felt good. I wonder if I’ll ever get over the pleasure of the rhythmic round-and-round of the bicycle–let’s hope not. The commute now feels like it comes in four parts: down the hill, taking a right/going west, the uphilly part, and Arbutus. I snapped this picture as I took the soft left onto Lipps from Hollins. I’m guessing that used to be a brick wall, and now it’s just the remnants of one, but the leftover bits do look like a train, which is what I think is painted on here. There are so many scenes like this all over town, helped along by the seemingly endless remainders that make up Baltimore City and its canvases. But this is a pretty face to paint on the block after block after block of crumbled, abandoned, blighted, burned, and decaying homes and businesses that make up that 9.2 miles ride. But really, sometimes, what are you going to do? Gotta put some beauty in here.

Blighted House Over a Fence at Chartres & Marais

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I was so worn out yesterday that I went to sleep far in advance of my summer bedtime, and still I woke up exhausted. I spent most of my day waiting to go to sleep, except for an interview with J. for his documentary project (I committed to film my strong opinion that democracy rules, and if you really read our Constitution and Bill of Rights, it’ll blow you away). I fully expected to stay off the bike, but once I got out on it, it was just good to pedal. I can’t believe that after riding a bike every day for years, it still never fails to lift my mood. I did a spin around the Bywater–man, I love some bike infrastructure–and stopped to visit L. and S., two dogs, and a passel of mosquitoes in L.’s backyard. I snapped this picture, dark as it is, of a blighted building over the fence. That’s New Orleans–there are signs of decay and blight over the fences, but on the other side is somebody’s backyard with dogs and projects and picnic tables. Yep, you’ve got to keep your eyes peeled.

Houses on Delachaise between Magazine and Camp

Uptown and the Garden District are probably the two ritziest neighborhoods in Orleans Parish. When biking around, you can absolutely tell when you’ve crossed from Uptown in to Central City. There aren’t nearly as many trees, whole blocks are blighted, some streets feel empty. And the Garden District? Hell, Sandra Bullock lives here! Continue reading

House on Delachaise and S. Liberty, Redux

House at Delachaise and S. LibertyI ride very similar routes around this town, every single day. Up and down St. Charles, down Simon Bolivar, up Baronne, up and down St. Claude. One thing I love about biking, though, is that there’s always something new to see, to notice, as long as you pay attention. Continue reading

Abandoned School at N. Miro and St. Ann

Abandoned School, Maybe, At N. Miro and St. AnnAfter spending a couple of hours cleaning the Surly, including cleaning between each individual link in the chain and scrubbing the derailleur, all of which was incredibly pleasurable, I took the bike out for a ride. I headed to Mid-City for coffee and a cookie and some writing. Continue reading

New and Decaying Houses at 2nd and S. Rocheblave

New and Decaying Houses at Second and S. RocheblaveI woke up a little sore from last night’s dance party, so I knew it would be a lazy biking day. After a ride down to the Lower Garden District for lunch with N. and a stop at the office supply store for a new set of markers, I rode out Martin Luther King, continuing in my efforts to map the city by bike. Continue reading