I had dinner with a friend in Hampden (Baltimore 21211) tonight. Just a regular Wednesday night. Went to a comfortable, slightly hipster, slightly edgy, slightly down-home kind of restaurant/bar that has great drink specials ($3 shots) and terrific homemade soups (among other things). It is called Rocket to Venus. Who walked in, but our very own John Waters looking very dapper in his bright red pants, black and white sweater/jacket and a beret, who quietly walked in and went discreetly towards the back.
There is no place on earth like Hampden. Hampden exemplifies "quirkiness". It was once a mill town area and very much blue collar. In the past 20 years or so it has been developing more into a yuppie area, but it is definitely more quirky and blue collar than yuppie. It is known for its "hon" culture, as in "how you doin', hon?", (There's a Honfest every June which gets bigger and bigger every year where there are beehive hairdo contests). There are kitchy shops and a big pink flamingo in front of Cafe Hon but they are starting to have more upscale boutiques as well.
My father owned a movie theater, The Ideal Theater, for many decades after his own father who originally owned it died suddenly on his way to a boxing match in the late 40s. My father kept it until 1963. I have very vague memories of it. My sister and cousins have more vivid memories. I just wish I had some of those old movie posters! My friend, Amy Davis is writing about the old movie theaters in Baltimore. I'm so excited, that when it comes out I'll blog about it. (Amy Davis and her book Flickering Treasures) I will tell you that my father and his father did very well during the Great Depression. People could afford to spend a nickel to forget their troubles all day long.
I digress--Hampden. Great shops, Great bars, Old Shops...
And great restaurants!! Some are very trendy (i.e. Food Market, Corner BYOB, Alchemy) all on 36th Street, the main drag also known as "The Avenue". And there are some great older neighborhood restaurants, such as Grano, Little Grano, and Daniela's which all make their own pasta.
Here's the Hampden flavor, some color:
Jack Barr, above right was 79 when he died last month, October 2013. The whole community felt his loss, as he was their unofficial "town crier". He was the original Facebook. RIP, Jack.
There is too much too blog for one session on Hampden. Stay tuned there will be more. I'll want to share with you houses on the market and how some are old and in need of repair, and some are turnkey. We'll save that for next time.