Crabtown Observed #4

Hard times in the city, in a hard town by the sea
Ain’t nowhere to run to, there ain’t nothin’ here for free . . .”

Baltimore, Randy Newman

I was driving by Fattie’s Bar & Grill in Essex on a rainy night just before Halloween with a pretty young widow (spying a fake coffin at a fright night party on the street, she noted that the real ones are mighty expensive) when the subject of the “weird-ass shit” you only see in Baltimore came up.

[Actually, it was the only subject of the night, which was something of a scouting mission. We also debated where to get the best cup of rice pudding in Crabtown. Suggestions welcome.]

A good yardstick for the measure of how precious Baltimore is in its idiosyncracies is to compare it to Washington.

Said the widow Kriebel: “I lived on a pretty gnarly corner in DC for several years and saw some weird-ass shit. But somehow it always lacked the charm of the weird-ass shit you see in Baltimore.

“Like the two times I’ve watched women chasing their men folk with baseball bats . . .

“The chick in DC was homicidal. The chick in Baltimore honestly thought she was gonna teach him something . . . I think that’s what sets Crabtown apart: eternal optimism.”

Seen a good one lately? Send it along to

About the author

Rafael Alvarez has lived in Baltimore his entire life except for a brief and cautionary exile in Hollywood. A former City Desk rewrite man for the Baltimore Sun, his best-known works include "The Fountain of Highlandtown" and the on-going "Orlo & Leini" stories, each detailing life in Crabtown, USA. Alvarez also worked as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun prior to starting a career in television. He has worked as a writer and story editor on the Home Box Office drama series The Wire and a writer and producer on the crime dramas Life and The Black Donnellys. He has written several books including a guide to The Wire, a non-fiction guide to the archdiocese in Baltimore, a short-fiction anthology and two collections of his journalism.

One Comment

  1. Randy LSU says:



Leave a Comment