Thursday’s ride was a lazy one, up to Druid Hill Park for a few laps around the reservoir. Sometimes I just need a break from the constant car battle to just pedal and pedal, around and around, without all that thinking about how not to get hit by cars. I did a few laps and then headed up the trail toward the zoo and the rest of the trail. This park sits right between Hampden and Mondawmin, and those two neighborhoods are so, so different. Hampden is predominantly white, and has been since its mill days when the hiring rules were native-born whites only. Mondawmin, on the other hand, is predominantly African American, home to Douglass High School, which turned out graduates like Thurgood Marshall back when it was the segregated high school for Black students on the west side. Now it’s got its share of struggles, thanks in part to the way when white folks are asked to share, they just take all the balls and go home. Continue reading
Gray Skies Over Hampden at 36th & Chestnut
Monday’s ride took me up to Hampden. I only moved a mile and a half away, but the way to Hampden is entirely different. The neighborhood is tucked away behind Wyman Park and Johns Hopkins makes it kind of hard to get to. This was awesome for the mill owners who set up shop there and only hired native-born white people and wanted to remain separate from the African Americans and white immigrants in the rest of the city, and for the white folks who want to remain segregated today, but for those of us just trying to get a straight shot to the acupuncturist’s, it’s really a hassle. Continue reading
Long Wharf Park at Water & Vue De Leau in Cambridge, MD
I got up early, hitched a ride to the train station to the airport to a bus and another bus and then finally I picked up a rental car for his week’s summer trip along the Harriet Tubman Byway along the Eastern Shore. And of course I brought my bike with me. Today’s ride started from the Dorchester County Visitor Center. I eschewed the one or so mile path that goes between the center and the one giant golf spa resort hotel in town and went for a ride through town instead. The woman gave me excellent directions and three different maps, but I got so caught up in her use of the highlighter to show me where I should go, and where I shouldn’t go, no matter what, that I failed to pay attention to the first direction. I took a left instead of a right and got myself lost–I take after my dad that way. Continue reading
The YMCA at 33rd & Ellerslie Against Blue Skies
First, I have to say something about the weather. It is so hot and humid out. This is obvious to anyone in the are, but wow, it makes a difference in how riding feels. I’m sleeping like a rock, like I’ll need a crane to peel me off the bed in the morning, because riding in this humidity sucks the life force from me. I mean, I still love it, but it takes some acclimatizing is all. I got some of that out of the way with my long ride on Tuesday and commuting on Wednesday, but on Thursday the best I could do was the mile to and from the YMCA. N. and I just joined for pool access so N. can use it to heal this back spasm that’s gripped her for the past three weeks, and I’m using it to get back to weight training and maybe a group class or two. Thursday’s was Urban Line Dancing, which as far as I could tell meant Black folks, not white country folks. I rode to the gym, sweaty after just ten minutes, locked up to the rack, took a minute to judge the blue fixie rider for locking their impracticable bike horizontally on the U-rack, and headed in to join the twenty or so other dancers. I was close to the youngest, and the only white person, and it struck me how rarely that ever happens in my life. Our social spaces are so segregated by age and race, generally, that rarely do I find myself in the minority, other than sometimes in the classroom–a privilege, but also a cost of whiteness. It’s only Smalltimore because we live such segregated lives, you know. Everyone was friendly enough, and I gamed my way through the six or so dances (though Bmore Nights is going to take some out-of-class work if I’m going to get it), and had a really good time. The steps were complicated, so all I could do was focus on them, and that was a treat. I said my goodbyes on the way out, happy to have found another place to play, this one in ac. Thanks, this YMCA, for being welcoming to so many kinds of folks. I snapped this picture on my way out. All blue skies, no sign of the humidity.
Looking Back Toward Oliver Street From Brentwood Ave.
The great thing about living so close to my very favorite bike shop is that it was just a quick twenty minute walk down the hill to collect my tuned-up bicycle to take it for a ride on this unseasonably hot autumn day. I headed back up the hill, taking Falls Road to a right on Chestnut–I should have gotten into a much easier gear before taking that turn. I pumped my way slowly up to Hampden for lunch and a much-needed session of acupuncture. Continue reading
Fan at the Top of the Stairs Crossing President at Fayette
It was another surprisingly cool and totally perfect late summer day (I can’t say “fall” yet–too real), so after a lazy morning I hopped on the bike and headed down the hill to Little Italy to take in a second day of fried dough–I mean the Feast of St. Gabriel. I’d been down the day before with N. and R. in a car, if you can believe that. Guess what? Way easier on the bike, though having those two to share the fried dough was a wise move. I locked up to a street sign next to the heavy police presence called for at events like this, apparently. I got my fried dough, ate it too quickly over Bingo, and slugged down their specialty cocktail, my blood finally running at full-sugar. That didn’t stop me from eating some of N.’s candy at the movie, however. Continue reading
White Picket Fence and Houses at Orville & Chase
I am still under the weather with a pesky cold probably picked up from my germy students, but I’m leaving town without my bicycles for much of the next two weeks, so I had to get a decent ride in today to stave off the fussiness that takes over when I can’t pedal about. I headed down the hill and took a left on Biddle to see where it would dead end. I finally ran into Edison Highway, took my right, and then a quick left and past stacks and stacks and stacks of something-I think roofing material-and one of Baltimore City’s storage and repair facilities for city vehicles. The snowplows are out on the street, but I’m assuming that’s for show, because I’m not ready for snow. I followed the dead end signs to the dead end, got off my bike, and walked us around the barrier. A couple guys were working an a car. They popped their heads up, and one said, “If you’ve made it this far, you’re almost home.” It took me a few minutes of riding around the neighborhood to figure out what he meant: I had survived black neighborhoods and was home in the white neighborhood. Shudder. The lawn signs were all No on 6 (our same-sex marriage act), and though I’m certainly no fan of aligning life chances with the arbitrary achievement of grabbing a supposedly permanent monogamous romantic relationship (that we do that is so weird, if you think about it), those signs are really just voting no on queers existing. Nothing but bigotry, really, and this white picket fence is just putting lipstick on that pig. This was Armistead Homes, formerly public housing turned into co ops after war housing was no longer needed. They can vote on who is allowed to live there, and surprise, surprise, the neighborhood is over 87% white. I rode around but quickly found my way out and snakes through Northeast Baltimore until I was back in the segregated neighborhoods that have become familiar to me in my regular rides. And then I was on Gough, Lombard, Pratt and Fait~though not in that order~and I was back in Fells Point, a quick stop at the gym, and up the hill to home. It was a good ride that left me thinking about the difference between the fates of public housing complexes~much to learn there. Good thing I get to teach about it next semester. I wonder how long I’d have to live here before finding this little northeast neighborhood if I didn’t ride my bike around aimlessly.
Memorial to Druid Hill Park’s Segregated Public Pools
I knew it was a beautiful day today just from the cool breezes coming through my bedroom window, but it still took me some time to pry myself out from under books and cats and onto my bicycle. I decided to head over to Druid Hill Park, where I hadn’t ridden in weeks and weeks and weeks, kinda weird since the park’s just right over there. I pedaled west and up the hill and around the circle. A turn around the reservoir shows you so much of Baltimore–the JFX just underfoot, abandoned factories, Hampden’s American flags, rows upon rows of rowhouses, cranes in the air in Mt. Vernon, the Inner Harbor’s all-business skyline, blighted blocks, abandoned mansions, and the park, which is its own little Baltimore. I biked around looking for the Memorial Pool memorial up past the holy place that is Safety City. Continue reading
Memorial to Segregated Pool 2 in Druid Hill Park
Oh, the sun is out today, so I hopped on the bike with my computer and headed to Hampden to get some work done. I am still new in town, so I couldn’t manage to find a coffee shop with wifi and ended up back in my neighborhood after a loop around Roland Park’s mansions. Afterward I headed to the start of the Jones Falls Trail to practice going between my first and second chain rings on the switchbacks up to Druid Hill Park. I did a lap around the reservoir before following the signs to Baltimore’s Model Safety City. It’s a miniature downtown with lots of complicated intersections and blind driveways to help kids learn safe pedestrian and bicycling techniques. Be still my heart! I continued up the hill to some tennis courts and this pool filled with dirt and grass. The park has built a memorial to the history of segregation at Druid Hill. Back in 1918 the Young Progressive of Maryland and the Baltimore Tennis Club put on an integrated match. When city officials stopped it, the players sat down on the court in protest. They took the city to court, but the courts threw the case out. In 1918. How do I not know that history? it matters. I snapped this picture of Pool 2, which B. told me about. I am used to cities covering over their segregationist pasts, but here we remember. But let’s not pretend segregation’s over, because it’s not. Take a bike ride around your town. The ride home was downhill, and I flew–what goes up, must come down.
Crowd Control at the Southern Decadence Parade
I had planned to stay Uptown today to get some work done, especially since it looked like it would pour again. But after a quick ride around my neighborhood and some lunch, the sun was out and it seemed like a most excellent day for a ride down to the Quarter for some festival–it’s Southern Decadence and Black Men of Labor time! Continue reading