Day #145: Imperial Teen – “Hanging About”
I’ve fallen flat in my attempt to work my way through the marathon of great shows schedule around town this month. I hate to admit out loud that being a working stiff has robbed me of the stamina necessary for long drives and late night shows on a school night. I mean, don’t these people know I gotta get up early in the morning?!
Wednesday night was going to be reserved for Philly-based Man Man’s performance at the beloved Ottobar as part of the summer tour to promote their new album. I suspect they have regained their vigor as the headliner in a smaller club (which was how we first saw them, and they won our hearts) as opposed to openers in a larger venue (which was how we last saw them). But, Baltimore was still in sight, as I wound up fulfilling BFF duties required in the form of a girl’s night with AG who’s been pretty miserable since starting up residency at a top teaching hospital where preservation of reputation dictates teaching methods. Some transferred out of the program early on, and she’s settled on doing the same. I hate t see my best friend so defeated; she’s busted her ass for years. But, there may be a silver lining, though one that will take a while to reach.
The road to guidance was paved with ever more reasons to spend more time in Baltimore. At AG’s suggestion, we hauled over to Johnny Rad’s, which is fairly new to the neighborhood. I suppose it only appropriate that after spending the past week immersed in skate and surf documentaries, I should wind up in a bar with a skateboard motif. Though borrowing its label from hardcore legends, Black Flag (does tribute to a band with DC roots make it scandalous?), the former dive had been cleaned up and transformed into a comfortable bar and pizzeria. Founded by two (dare I say it?) former skaters, the motif is subtle, with boards over the bar and familiar tributes on the menu to guys like Ed Templeton, Hosoi, and of course, the Dogtown crew. I wonder if there was any moral dilemma in displaying Gator’s Vision board. Drink discounts were top, with the happy hour going to eight, and while pesto whatever pizza was fairly bland, AG’s half of the prize – a caprese with a lattice of balsamic vinegar we all first mistook for chocolate – was fantastic. We even gave a girl by the pier a slice.
A mental note: Johnny Rad’s is just across the street from a duckpin bowling alley. And more importantly, a duckpin bowling alley which may or may not contain skeeball machines! Local league rivals had, for some reason, all decided to come by the same bar last night.
Next stop: Eat Bertha’s Mussels. I’ve seen the green and white sticker on passing bumpers for years, and never knew what it was. It’s actually a seafood restaurant with an attached bar that was founded by a musician couple from DC who basically saved the building from getting razed. So the Mussels part is obvious. But, Bertha refers to the mysterious Berth E. Bartholomew (Bert Bart for short) who was memorialized in a stained glass window found by the owner in a junk shop. The place is a study in survival of the fittest, sticking it out for several decades while the neighborhood went from bust to boom. We stumbled into the bar, expecting AG’s friends to gain the will power to actually leave their apartment and come join us, and took a seat at the back. A dixieland jazz trio entertained the guests. Regular performers at the bar, but even though the bartender twice the name of the band in response to an excited customer who typed into his phone for future reference, I can’t remember it. We didn’t actually eat any seafood, although the walks through the restaurant during the potty breaks made me certain I ought to go back some time and try the scallops… sweet, buttery scallops. We left when AG’s friends became too preoccupied with watching cats duke it out to bother making it over, but not before a drunk asked us, just like out of a movie, “Can I buy you ladies a drink?” probably to the incredible embarrassment of the woman he showed up with, and who apologized for him.
Side note: thank you Droid phone for losing my pictures. Now I can never send Phil the photo of “Tease Russ’s Snatch” to show brother Russ this week. A laugh a terrible thing to waste.
And a mental note for Philippe, who’s list of places to try will grow by one: we have found the goods, my friend. Mac n’ cheese hot dogs.
The final stop: the unnamed bakery near Thames that sells the goods from the back door at night. That probably sounds shady, but actually, the restaurant and bakery itself are both popular daytime fare. They work their magic at night, and AG read, that if you really want to get it while it’s fresh, just knock on the door and ask. I was skeptical. AG had once said something similar about the Krispy Kreme in town giving away free donuts when they turned the red light on. This did not turn out to be so, but though she thought we may be too early for the sales to have begun, we were successful. A guy came to the door, took our order for chocolate croissants (blowing my girlish figure for the day), and returned with the goods, right out of the oven. There are no signs in the window. You just have to know. That was a fine end to the evening – sitting on AG’s rooftop with the dogs, eating chocolate croissant.