5.0880 Re: ALLC-ACH Report 2: Ode to Baltimore (1/42)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Mon, 4 May 1992 19:05:55 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 5, No. 0880. Monday, 4 May 1992.

Date: Fri, 1 May 92 13:13:52 BST
From: Richard Giordano <rich@cs.man.ac.uk>
Subject: Baltimore

I agree with Allen Renear's sentiments that the ACH/ALLC conference in
Oxford was a great success, though I wouldn't go so far as to describe my
colleagues there as 'nice'. Where I went to graduate school, Columbia,
'nice' is a code word for 'idiot' (for instance, "He's a nice guy" really
means, "Hey, the guy doesn't have a theoretical bone in his body, but at
least he's not a schmuck").

My objection, if you can call it that, to Allen's posting is his insinuation
that Oxford is a better place to be than... Baltimore. I've lived in a
number of cities (grew up in New York, was an undergraduate in Boston and a
graduate student in New York, worked at Princeton, lived in Washington,
lived and worked in Baltimore, and now am currently teaching at,
of all places, Manchester in England), and now that I live in England I go
to Oxford every chance I get. I, too, love the ancient pubs, the gardens
where you can be alone with your thoughts, the spires, the punters, and the
American and Japanese tourists, not to mention the drive there from the
Nortwest along the brand-new M40. Yes, Oxford is a, well, *nice* place, some
might even say it's a *very nice* place.

But it's not Baltimore. Baltimore is one of those cities that you
get to know over time, but to know it is to love it. Unlike Oxford,
Baltimore has an indigenous local accent, ("Hiya hon" means "hello"),
it has indigenous food (steamed crabs in bay seasoning which you eat with
your hands and create a glorious mess), indigenous architecture (the row
house with the fake stone exterior or the simple red-brick Federal Style row
with white marble steps), an indigenous dance (The Madison) and what I
considered to be the best race relations in any city I have lived in,
including Manchester. It's an authentic working city with no pretensions.
The difference between Baltimore and Oxford is the difference between a
well-manicured French poodle and a mutt. Sure, the poodle might be smart
and pretty and know how to impress, but can one love a poodle? On the other
hand, the mutt... Let's face it, you love the mutt.

On the day we moved to Baltimore, my wife and I stopped at a bookstore to
buy a roadmap, and the cashier, sensing that we were newcomers, just out of
the blue said, "You're new here, 'arncha? Don't worry, you're gonna love
it here, hon." She was right.

Rich Giordano
Computer Science
University of Manchester