By Blaz Gallegos
Co wrote and edited by Alan Nalasco
Baltimore - Drunk Log - Day 1
I know a lot of you have exotic places you would go to if you ever became a digital nomad. As I’ve mentioned before I’m a city rat, and one place I’ve always wanted to plant my feet is Baltimore. No, not for the blue crab, not for the Orioles, not for the plethora of statues and monuments. The Wire. Yes, the Wire tour is on the top of my list.
I was in Pittsburgh before heading to Baltimore and I mentioned this to a fellow denizen of dive bars. He looked at me with a smile, “No really, why are you going to Baltimore?” I repeated myself, “The Wire Tour, for real.” Without missing a beat, he sang Isiah Whitlock Jr.’s greatest hit “Well sheeeeeeeeet! I’m gonna buy you a drink”.
All great stories, it can be said, begin with an ending. My journey to Baltimore began with ending my trip to Pittsburgh. While awaiting my flight at the PIT, I struck up a conversation with another passenger and told him of my destination. He leaned in and with a fatherly stern gaze said “Don’t go out at night”. I chuckled. He repeated himself, this time with a pointed finger. He was serious. His warning only peaked my interest in Charm City further. The turboprop pulled up to the gate, and my flight was called. I thanked the man for the conversation and the advice. “Just be careful, son. All I’m gonna say.”
If you want to know a city, you have to talk to its citizens. No, don’t rely on Yelp reviews written by those who are trying to get their friend’s restaurant to succeed, or a rival’s to fail, you have to do the leg work. Talk to people, it’s the only way to travel. When I landed in Baltimore, I grabbed an Uber and asked for tips and local places off the beaten path. Unfortunately he only had tails of woe and mentioned that I should not go out at night. What the hell is going on here… All this talk of “not going out at night” what do Balitmoreons do then. Crochet memorial quilts of a safer time frolicking in parks and public gardens, when one could walk the wharf without fear of being seduced be a prostitute in a back alley only to be bludgeoned with a cudgel and find oneself in a dumpster naked, broke and missing a kidney? I have to say, this started playing with my head. I usually look forward to getting lost in a city I don’t know and discovering her magical, clandestine member’s only secrets. Maybe it was the dramamine I took on the turbulent rollercoaster that got me here, but all this stay inside bullshit made me lose my city rat mojo. I checked into the hotel, lay on the bed and turned on the tube. I looked out at the shimmering harbor “Not today old bird”. Then, as if a bugle call from beyond, I remembered sage advice from the teachings of St. Anthony Bourdrean “get away from the hotel as quick as you can.” Fuck all that fear-filled bullshit. I put on my big-boy tighty whities and headed down to find some drink and eats.
I walked down to the harbor, a tourist trap with boats, restaurants and hotels. I wanted to take a pic of what Charm city looked like to me, but among the crowded bramble of corporate eateries and selfie-obsessed tourists proving they were somewhere instead of being there, I couldn’t find that moment. I thought that surely this desert of greed couldn’t last, that around the next corner I would find Baltimore! And in that exact spot where an oasis, a dive bar I could call home for the night, projecting right out on what could only have been a beautiful old waterfront warehouse, is a donkey dick of corporate America’s yes kids, a 300 foot-high Hard Rock Cafe sign defiling what could have been a picturesque view of the harbor.
I looked off into the bay lamenting a city I never knew, and may never know. Until, through the clamor of jabbering lookiloos, I heard the whisper of some good Bmore Club music. Like a magnet to metal I was drawn to the beat, getting stronger, fuller. A roar from the distance cut in, and out of nowhere a convoy of 50 dirt bikes, three wheelers and quads came speeding between cars doing wheelies, engines screaming. Baltimore was indeed here.
My thirst for adventure was renewed. I turned onto a small street with three bars right next to each other in the heart of downtown. I had serendipitously found Water Street, home of The Water Street Tavern & Key West Patio Bar, Supano’s Prime Steakhouse Seafood & Pasta, and Peter’s Pour House. I opted for Peter’s Pour House, a classic Irish pub. The bartender severed up a decent pour of Jack and ginger, but I had a thirst and after the first sip I knew I needed more. I ordered a shot on the side, and the bartender obliged, glady sliding one my way. I dropped the shot into my glass bringing the fizzy, golden nectar to the rim. I took a sip and ah yes this is what I need.
An hour and four shots later I walked out of Pete’s, the city rat renewed and fortified. Now charm me, you glorious beast.