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June 15th, 2024

Life In The Big City…

This was the view in my front yard just now.

There were two of them, munching away on the ground cover. Bon App├ętit! My lawn cutter doesn’t do the front because of the steep hillside. Would you like dressing with that salad? Some croutons maybe?

Life in the big city…who knew?

by Bruce | Link | React!

March 15th, 2023

Never Change Baltimore

Things I see whilst walking in my neighborhood…

Friend of mine says this place has Edgar Allan Poe’s autograph. I wouldn’t doubt you could hear the beating of a heart under its floorboards.

by Bruce | Link | React!

September 24th, 2022

The Dark Secrets Here Are Fun

Saw this the other day and had a laugh, then thought about it some more…

Maryland isn’t exactly northeast so it doesn’t really fit in the chart below. But I can invent a secret, but not so dark maybe.

Maryland was known as the “Free State” for its general defiance of prohibition (Maryland was the only state among the then-48 to decline to pass an enabling law to back up the federal Volstead Act). There were probably dozens of speakeasies in Baltimore city during the 1920s. So I’m thinking there’s a story here somewhere, involving a phantom speakeasy that randomly appears in some off the beaten path corner of the nightlife, patronized by young at heart jazz age spirits who just never wanted the party to end.

Modern day revelers chance upon a door down an alley they’d never noticed before and think, hey here’s a new spot, let’s check it out. But the door is locked and when they knock a peep hole slides open and a gravelly voice asks “who sent you?” and they laugh and someone pulls a name out of thin air that just happens to be the right one and the door opens and they’re led down some narrow stairs to a basement…and into an amazing jazz age space with flappers and a stage with a jazz band and singers and waiters all dressed formally and the Bourbon is they best they’ve ever had and so is the beer and there is Real Absinthe served here and genuine Cuban cigars and they think they’re in a cosplay of some sort but they go with it and have a wonderful time. The best night out they’ve ever had.

Next time they try to find it, the door is ajar and they look inside and the place is a vacant dusty wreak. It looks like it hasn’t been occupied in a hundred years. So they ask an old man who happened to be passing by what happened to that really cool nightclub that was here and he says oh…you mean the Winking Owl? Oh that was a speakeasy back in my granddad’s day. They say it was the best on the east coast, even better than the Stork Club. Fitzgerald came here, and Mencken was a regular. But it’s long gone. That basement’s been empty since I was a youngster.

And then the old man’s voice drops a bit, as if sharing a secret. But, he says, they say when the spirits on the other side really get the joint jumping it appears again, right where it was, and if you walk past a just the right moment, and if you’re lucky and Moe lets you in the door, you get the best night out ever.

Mid-Atlantic – In the old cities where the bright lights shine are ghosts from the jazz age, cutting the rug night after night in their phantom speakeasies. When the joint gets really jumping you might see a door appear in some dark alley where you didn’t notice one before. And if you happen to find yourself walking a strange lonely road deep in the rural zone you might pass a horse drawn wagon whose driver looks at you suspiciously. Give him a smile and pretend to tip a glass toward him and maybe he’ll give you a sample of his wares, and you’ll taste the best bourbon or beer you have ever had. These are the ghost wagons that bring the city’s phantom speakeasies rum, bourbon, beer and cigars, chased for all eternity by prohibition agents condemned to never catch them.


(Hat tip to Seanan McGuire, who educated me about the ghost roads…)

by Bruce | Link | React!

January 28th, 2022

“It’s a gift!”

I’m outside fixing up the bird feeders for the upcoming snowfall. The calico is outside too, sitting on the top of my nextdoor neighbors steps. I see an elderly lady walking up the sidewalk toss something at the calico and I look over at the cat alarmed. But the cat takes no notice.

The lady sees me and approaches smiling. She looks to be very old Asian lady, and her english is a tad broken, but she smiles earnestly at me and hands me something. “A gift” she says. From its size and shape I know instantly what it is: a Jack Chick tract. Oh great, thinks I, another questionnaire.

I take it and smile back gamely. She seems nice enough and I have a soft spot for old women…probably out of some regret that my own maternal grandmother was such a cold mean hearted so and so. And given this lady’s english I’m pretty sure I’m not getting an incoming proselytize. She’s going to let the tract do her talking for her. I notice she is carrying two small bricks of Chick tracts, all probably that same one. So it’ll do me no good to ask for another for my collection. But this is one I don’t have so it’s all good.

“It’s a gift!” she says brightly. “You are forgiven!” I refrain from asking For what? Being born? Accepting my sexual orientation? Using a Keurig machine?

And she walks on down the street. The tract she handed me was “The Word Became Flesh”, and it’s drawn by one of Chick’s skilled cartoonists, which disappoints me. I consider the authentic Chick drawn tracts to be the best collectibles. And this one doesn’t have the usual questionnaire at the end. It does give you Step By Step instructions on how to be saved, including the Specific words to pray. Chick was actually a very controlling personality, and his tracts are his way of manipulating people and excusing it as a religious duty.

The pulpit thumpers I grew up with would not approve. They believed acceptance of the Faith had to be wholehearted and entirely voluntary. No manipulating people into it. No such thing as blind faith. You walked down the aisle with your eyes wide open. That poor lady’s happy little utterly empty smile is going to haunt me all day long now.


by Bruce | Link | React!

December 24th, 2020

Happy Holidays Hon!

by Bruce | Link | React!

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