There are times – despite what you may believe – that my dog is not at my side. One of them was Saturday night.
Once or twice a year, a select group of friends and I make it a point to visit all the old-time bars – those among the dwindling few in South Baltimore that haven’t been upscaled yet.
I’m talking about the sort of neighborhood places that are named after a guy as opposed to a concept, the kind where you’re still called “hon,” and where the food — if they have anything beyond bags of chips and a giant jar of pickled eggs atop the bar — is never “encrusted,” just flat out fried.
As Ace and I prepare to hit the road, it seemed a good time to do it again – to say goodbye not just to friends, but to a few old, not yet gentrified bars that might not be here when I get back, including one that I’d just found out will be the next to go.
Popular with old-timers and newcomers alike, the Lighthouse serves up huge portions of food, at affordable prices. When its owner Bill Wedemeyer died last year, his wife, Adele, kept it going, drawing in a steady crowd with its famous crabs, and impressive buffets on Ravens game days.
According to the sign posted in the window, Bill’s Lighthouse has been sold to new owners from California, who plan to transform it into “Café Velocity” and add outdoor dining. Currently, the only al fresco dining that takes place is done by the stray cats (like my former houseguest Miley) who are drawn by handouts from the kitchen staff.
After paying our respects at the Lighthouse, we moved on – first, right across the street, to Leon’s, home base of the Attaboy Club, whose members were holding a meeting in the back room, probably to plot their next bull/oyster/pig roast. The Attaboy Club is always roasting something.
Leon’s is unusual in that it has no outside sign. It’s a nondescript white building that caters mostly to a stalwart crowd of regulars. Yet it has always been warm and inviting when our old school bar crawl crowd shows up. My connection to it, as well as the Lighthouse, began when Ace poked his head through the door.
From Leon’s we moved on to Schaefer’s, whose bar is one of oldest in the city – a carryover from the days that male customers didn’t walk to the bathroom to relieve themselves, instead utilizing the trough-like drain that ran the length of the bar. (Not everything about the good old days was good.)
The sidewalks leading to Schaefer’s are emblazoned with the painted-on jerseys of Raven’s players, and in the back room, you can find a purple pool table.
Moving on to Rayzer’s just up the street, we got a bucket of pony-sized beers and blew a few dollars playing the video horse race game, learning, among other things, the difference between quinella and trifecta.
The last old school bar stop was Muir’s Tavern, whose glowing orange neon sign and upstairs turret give it the look of a medieval whorehouse, and I mean that in a good way.
As we arrived, Natasha, the bartender, stood outside. One customer, Mary, had run home across the street for a moment, and Natasha was worried that – Mary being small and the winds being fierce that night – she might blow away when she tried to return.
Alas, Mary made it back, and reassumed her position at the video slot machine. Our group kept itself entertained with the low-tech bowling game and Muir’s sophisticated Internet jukebox, which lets you download any song, it seems, in the world.
As you can see, though I didn’t have my dog, I had my camera along, and thanks to it and Iris Dement, we were able to throw together this tribute before we depart — a musical slide show about a slowly fading side of South Baltimore.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 22nd, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: america, animals, baltimore, bar crawl, bars, bills lighthouse, change, dogs, federal hill, gentrification, iris dement, leon's, lighthouse, muirs, neighborhood bars, neighborhoods, nostalgia, old school, our town, pets, progress, rayzers, riverside, road trip, schaefers, south baltimore, taverns, travels with ace, tribute, video
Say you forked over $650 to spend the month in a trailer in the desert – actually one of those big pull-it-yourself RV campers with popouts – and when you arrived the next day to move in, a little earlier than expected, you saw that not only were the pop-outs popped in, but the trailer was hitched to a truck, appearing as if it was ready to hit the highway.
(A) Immediately assume you’d been scammed?
(B) Shoot first and ask questions later?
(C) Politely inquire as to what might be going on?
Fortunately I chose (C) when Ace and I pulled into Petite Acres last week to move into what, after six months on the road, we’d arranged to be our home – we presumed, a stationary one – for a month in Cave Creek, Arizona.
As it turned out, my landlady wasn’t hauling the trailer away, only moving it a few feet over so that I might enjoy my entire concrete slab patio, as opposed to just the half of it that the trailer wasn’t resting on.
After a week of trailer life, Ace and I (though I shouldn’t speak for him) couldn’t be happier.
I can sit at the dinette (across from the kitchenette — midway between the bedroomette and the living roomette) and blog while looking out my windowette and enjoying a view of the mountains, strutting quail and rabbits everywhere. At night, I hear whinnying horses and howling coyotes and a few other sounds, and soundettes, I haven’t identified yet.
He has learned, somewhat, not to wander off to visit other trailers, though twice I’ve caught him at the homes of my two closest neighbors, where he tends to venture when they are cooking or eating.
One of them, who introduced himself as Romero, informed me that he didn’t mind Ace dropping by, but asked that I pick up any poop he might leave there, which, unknown to me, he had done yesterday. I apologized, and Romero, who was slow cooking some pork on an outside stovetop, was very nice about it.
Romero’s dinner smelled so good that I couldn’t be too hard on Ace for the transgression. Besides, it had happened hours before.
We’ve yet to encounter any javelina, those wild pig-like creatures who roam in the desert nearby, but I thought one morning I heard some snorting outside the trailer. We have a woodpecker friend who hangs out on the telephone pole in my dusty yard, and other birds — since I generally keep the trailer door open — have wandered inside to look around.
Yesterday, I went outside to absorb some sun — not to tan, just to bake out the morning chill. I’d just about dozed off on my lounge chair when a bird landed on me. Feeling little webbed feet on my thigh, I jerked awake, scaring him off before I could see what kind it was.
I found my temporary home on Craigslist, and, though it’s a trailer, it’s actually wider than my former rowhome in Baltimore — at least when the pop-outs, in the living room and bedroom, are popped out. I worried a little bit about hitting the wrong switch while in bed and getting compacted — hydraulically turned into a John-ette — but it turns out keys need to be inserted for the pop outs to move.
My landlady, Tami, has been wonderful, jumping on any problems that arise, showing me the ropes of RV life, and intent on making sure — though I’m only here for three more weeks — that I feel at home.
She took me to the library to get a library card, introduced me to some of her dog-loving friends and left me stocked up with movies on DVD, since there’s no TV reception. She invited me to join her and some friends at the American Legion Hall last night.
Ace and I have checked out the biker bar next door, The Hideaway Grill, enjoying some nice time there before being informed that, because of a recent incident involving a customer tripping over a leash, dogs are no longer invited to sit on the patio, at least not on busy nights. Last night, I visited the next closest bar, The Buffalo Chip, where Wednesday nights feature bull riding. Not mechanical bulls. Real ones. Dogs are welcome there, but not on bull riding night, or Friday nights, so Ace stayed home. I didn’t ride a bull. Maybe next week.
In addition to not getting TV reception – maybe a good thing — we don’t get mail delivery, and I have to walk my trailer trash down to the Dumpster next to the biker bar.
We’ve had some minor plumbing issues — the trailer, not me — but they were quickly resolved. (Oh, and that missing dental crown? I found it on the car floor while unpacking, and have reinstalled it in my mouth.)
I couldn’t imagine pulling this trailer — it’s a late 90′s Sea Breeze — down the highway, getting it leveled and hooked up at every stop, but, sitting still, it makes for a cozy little home that sways only slightly when Ace jumps on or off the bed or the couch.
I’ve thought I should give it a name, like John Steinbeck did with his camper, Rocinante. (Feel free to submit nominations.) There’s one I like — it’s both modest and Spanish-sounding — but it isn’t original. I saw it etched into a sign at a gift shop:
Posted by John Woestendiek December 9th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, almosta ranch, america, animals, arizona, bars, buffalo chips, bull riding, camper, campers, cave creek, desert, dogs, english bulldogs, hideaway, javelina, john steinbeck, mobile, monthly, name, neighbors, petite acres, pets, pop=outs, quail, rabbits, rental, restaurants, road trip, rv, steinbeck, trailer, trailer life, trash, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, travels with charley, wildlife, woodpecker
A Thai restaurant in Australia that refused a blind man entry because it thought his guide dog was “gay” has been ordered to pay the man $1,500.
Ian Jolly, 57, was barred from dining at the Thai Spice restaurant, in the Sydney suburb of Adelaide, in May 2009 after a staff member mistook his guide dog Nudge for a “gay dog,” according to testimony before an Equal Opportunity Tribunal last week.
Restaurant owners Hong Hoa Thi To and Anh Hoang Le said one of the restaurant’s waiters said that Jolly’s partner, Chris Lawrence, stated “she wanted to bring a gay dog into the restaurant.”
According to the Herald Sun in Australia, Jolly and Lawrence were refused entry to the restaurant, which displays a “guide dogs welcome” sign.
At a hearing on Friday, the restaurant agreed to provide Jolly with a written apology, attend an Equal Opportunity education course and pay him $1,500.
“The staff genuinely believed that Nudge was an ordinary pet dog which had been desexed to become a gay dog,” a statement from the hearing said.
That makes it sound like the misunderstandings run deeper than matters of accents and language. For one thing, neutered dogs — if that’s what they mean by “desexed” — don’t become gay. It seems like maybe the restaurant owners may be in more need of guiding than Ian Jolly.
Jolly said he was happy with the result, but added, ”I just want to be like everybody else and be able to go out for dinner, to be left alone and just enjoy a meal.”
Posted by John Woestendiek April 26th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adelaide, animals, australia, bars, denies, dog, dogs, entry, equal opportunity, gay, gay dog, guide, guide dog, ian jolly, mistake, misunderstanding, news, ohmidog!, pets, restaurant, rules, sydney, thai spice, tribunal
Turns out the cat I took in off the streets of South Baltimore — just to watch over until you (and I do mean you) adopt it — isn’t a boy after all.
Miles, from nowhere, is now officially Miley.
I first noticed Miley about two weeks ago, when I stepped out of Bill’s Lighthouse Inn for a cigarette. She was living on, and under, the wooden stairs of the empty house next door. I walked over and said hello, and she was happy for the company, making me think that she probably wasn’t one of the feral felines that roam the corner.
I gave her a spare dog biscuit that was in my coat pocket, which she ignored until I broke it up into little pieces. At that point, she scarfed it down and began nuzzling up against me.
After that, my dog Ace and I began stopping by on our way to Riverside Park to check on her, dropping her off some cat food from time to time — as others were doing as well, including Brooke, a neighbor who lives around the corner.
The cat spent most of her time in a well beneath the stairs, filled with wooden planks, which were full of nails she had to navigate past on her way in and out.
Four nights ago, Brooke and I happened to check on the cat at the same time. She’d been feeding her everyday, and even brought her home, only to learn that Miley, while she didn’t have any problem with Caesar the Rottweiller, didn’t get along with her two cats.
We’d both done some checking around to see if anyone knew the cat. Nobody did, but I found out she had squeezed her way into both the Lighthouse and Leon’s Bar, across the street, only to get ejected. There were some reports as well that some street corner lowlifes had been kicking her.
With a big snow on the way, we decided to take the cat, who I was calling Miles by then, to my house, TEMPORARILY, make sure she and Ace got along, and schedule an appointment with a vet to see if her limp, her scratches and her hair loss were signs of bigger problems.
Yesterday, Jill Shook, the veterinarian at City Pets on Charles Street, offered a complimentary check-up and pronounced Miles to be a 12-pound, three-to-four year old tabby, missing some teeth, but otherwise in good health. She also pronounced him to be a her.
Miley is spayed, has no microchip and tolerates dogs well. Her limp went away after a couple of days. Her hair, probably scraped off by the nails, is growing back in and her cuts are healing.
While I had my doubts at first — Miley apparently did not relieve herself during her first 24 hours in my home — she does know how to use a litter box. Fearing she might not, Brooke brought over some cat poop from her house (the gift that keeps on giving) to put in the litter box in hopes Miley would get the message. She did.
She’s a tough, independent and affectionate cat and all she needs now is a human. (Miley Cyrus fans are welcome to apply, as is Miley Cyrus). If you’re interested, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, I’d like to say a big thank you to Brooke DiRusso, for caring, and to Dr. Jill Shook at City Pets for the check-up.
In case you missed the original video on Miley, back when she was Miles, here it is again:
(Photos: John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 3rd, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abandoned, abused, baltimore, bar cat, bars, cat, cats, city pets, dr. jill shook, female, jill shook, light street, lighthouse, male, miles, miles from nowhere, miley, rescue, rescued, south baltimore, stairway, stairwell, stray, veterinarian