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Three places in Baltimore

(1) Two days ago, heading north to campus on St. Paul, just outside Eddie’s, two bodybuilders in tank tops and sweat, drinking hot coffee on a summer morning. One to the other: "See, that’s what makes it different from witchcraft."

(2) Last night, at TASTER at 2640, hearing experimental music put on by the Normals/Red Room/High Zero folks. It was a sampler: each act played for only ten minutes, and there were five or six of them.

The MC of the evening, one of the Normals organizers, claimed in his introduction that Baltimore artist / musicians are uniquely Baltimorean in three things, which I think–can’t quite remember–were quirkiness, collaborativeness, and sophistication. In other words, pretty out there, working with one another, and not really caring about money.

There was a quadrangle of my favorite shades-of-AVW folding chairs in the middle of a huge church, and the acts were arranged all around the outskirts. In between each act, the audience was asked to pick up their chairs and rotate them. The music was varied: it contained acts of profound emotional intensity, from pedal steel guitar to cello, and other acts that were more difficult to interpret. But that difficulty was part of the experience. I loved the evening, but I was almost as much in love with the chair rotation business.

(3) This morning, on 29th, a stand full of free newspapers has blown open, and the pages are all over the street. Two men in T-shirts, standing on the open pages while talking, with one foot on each page, as if they were in the middle of a game of hopscotch. When I walk by, they look a little embarrassed, but don’t move.

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