Posts Tagged ‘Hampden’

Floating

December 6, 2017

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To be a judge in a very local parade, you’ve got to be in the spirit, in the moment, or both. Being a little tipsy probably helps too.

Well, Shop Boy was none of these as he stepped up onto a platform to take his place with Mary and pal Kimry of Milagro, a shop on 36th Street, for the 45th-annual Mayor’s Christmas Parade. Every year, the bands, floats, politicians, steppers and Shriners (and balloons!) march, roll, or fly past Kimry’s—gotta say it—really cool shop of Mexico and South America and around-the-world folk art-themed and sourced jewelry, clothing, art and knickknacks. Kimry’s a gifted jewelry maker herself, an artist, and … it’s all so well curated. She’s an appropriate parade judge.

blog_milagroNot necessarily the case for all of us who would rule from on high while the parade started, stopped, and started again as it inchwormed through the heart of Baltimore’s Hampden, a few blocks from Typecast Press headquarters. OK, there was just one judge who was way out of his comfort zone. Old Shop Boy doesn’t necessarily care for calling attention to himself. Heck, I’ll tell stories on myself all day long and we can laugh or cry together. But my first reaction was to recoil when Kimry raised the notion of me and Mary filling in when a regular parade judge had a conflict. Up on a stage? At the big-finish line of the parade route?

Mary? Yes, of course. Shop Boy was all for it.

“I’m not doing it without you,” she told me.

You know how you can tell if you miss out on something you’ll always regret it? And then you miss out anyway? And you regret it? Dang it. Shop Boy wasn’t going to let Mary experience that on this. She’s a parade freak. I cannot imagine what the neighbors think as she squeals, shouts and stomps her way through the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade on TV every year, hollering her snarky commentary or childlike thrills downstairs to the kitchen as Shop Boy makes coffee or breakfast.

I was in.

Not as in “in the spirit.” Just in. Grudgingly, grittingly, grindingly in. And when we mutually agree to skip carrying a boozy flask along, well …

And perhaps it was only those lowered expectations. Maybe it was just the sunshine and 55-degree day. Maybe it was having a very funny friend like Kimry along. Perhaps it was the magic that was written all over Mary’s face. But Shop Boy’s cold heart was no match. The whole stinking event was charming as heck, rough around the edges as it was.

Shop Boy was specifically tasked with helping present trophies to cheerleaders/dancers and equestrian events. Did I mention the Lone Ranger was there? (He didn’t win, but cool!) And oh my, Baltimore and Hampden’s (and my fellow lily white judges’) embrace of some of the more diverse, gender-fluid marching band/dance troops was a heart-warming respite from a truly awful parade of days in an America we love and lose sleep over.

But that wasn’t what I was thinking “in the moment,” a place where Shop Boy hadn’t been in a while. And that moment, the Christmas Parade and its aftermath, was unquestionably good. We stuck around to drink a little wine, eat a little pizza and wander down to 34th Street and the Milagro/Miracle.

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Mary poked Shop Boy in the ribs. “See?”

Grudgingly, grittingly, grindingly, Shop Boy did see.

Both that and the judging gig might be one-offs. Or maybe we’ve given an old grinch some holiday bedrock to re-build on. I do try.

Time will tell. Meanwhile, I suppose it’s a good reminder that sometimes the best gift is just saying yes when “no” is where you live.

Move out of there if you can.

Shop Boy has stuck one tentative foot out the door. March with me.

Turn Out the Lights

April 3, 2017

When you spend enough of your life in one physical space—an entire life chapter filled with so many highs and lows, laughs and tears—it’s hard to close the door on it. That realization is not exactly breaking news, but there you (and we) go.

We are talking about a building that frosted our very souls each winter with lousy heat control and spooked us with weird, late-night creaks and groans or the occasional freaky insects—as in when the furniture place next door was importing all those Indonesian chairs. Ooh. It also took thousands of Typecast Press dollars to paint and decorate just so and improve the lighting in three separate spaces so that, you know, we could see the bugs coming and arm ourselves.

The building’s given Shop Boy headaches and heartaches and, lord knows, muscle aches. Oh, and plenty to write about lo these 249 posts later.

Sure, but over more than a decade the space also produced unbreakable friendships and a (fairly unique) business model that we think can withstand the twists and turns of the economy as well as Mary’s infamous crusader tendencies.

It’s done, then. (Not the blog, sorry. Shop Boy’s just getting started … again.) Late Sunday afternoon, we toasted the Noxzema-Fox-Simpson Strong-tie Building with fellow former residents and hoarders. We took a few pictures and one last look around the place to make sure we didn’t leave anything behind, then locked the door to 3100 Falls Cliff Road, future home of the reimagined Fox Building and the residents of its planned 93 apartments. Nevermore will a frazzled man and a tired but still tweaky woman hunch over a Chandler & Price printing press in the middle of the night doing crazy things to meet a deadline. Gone are the days of running frantically around the building to find the owner of the car illegally parked in the loading dock so we can get our paper for a big job. At Fox, anyway. Never again will a member of the Mashburn family—including myself—trip and fall down those concrete steps. (Sniff! I’m having a moment.)

As Rolie Polie Olie welcomes his own uncertain future with a trademark “Howdy!” so will we welcome our next chapter (already in progress).

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We’re gone.

 

Suckers for Punishment

March 31, 2017

We were almost out of Dum-Dums, a very bad sign for how the move prep was progressing as well as our next dental checkups. These little lollipops had become dinner and dessert, as well as life preservers in the “just keep going” moments.

Mary has often teased Shop Boy about his love for Dum-Dums, which persists to this day even though the candy’s name is, well, D-U-M … dumb. And even though most often they come into one’s possession via a fish bowl at the check-out of a restaurant where 100 sets of germy hands have preceded yours. Or you pull one from the linty pocket of the jacket you put away last March … ah, fresh as the day sugar and artificial substances were magically mixed to create it.

Then there are the flavors. Mary’s got a problem with most of them, root beer and cherry being those she can best stand. Pineapple? Forget it. (Awesome to my tastes, by the way, as are grape, lemon-lime, orange, strawberry, raspberry, bubblegum and, yes, cherry too.) Hint: If there are two Dum-Dums left in the bowl and one of them has a “mystery flavor” wrapper, take the known quantity. In Shop Boy’s experience, the mystery wrapper exists only to sneak a few of the flavor mistakes into unsuspecting mouths.

Anyway, Mary had actually bought this batch of Dum-Dums as an enticement to shoppers at our two yard sales, events meant to limit what we’d need to carry away from the old Fox Building. We also had beer and wine, as well as birthday cake (for me!) at the first sale. The cake got hit pretty hard.

We sold some printing stuff we hadn’t touched in years as well as several printing presses. It was nice to see those machines go back into circulation, and operation. And as shoppers and friends of letterpress took their bargains, Mary and I kept busy organizing what—it was becoming clear—was sure to be left. All of it had to be out of the building by March 31. They were changing the locks. Whenever Shop Boy lagged (it happens), Dum-Dums were summoned.

Where would we be without those tasty little sugar bombs? Not here: