Welcome to where the seeds of dreams are planted--where one can sip from the charmed chalice of life & meet interesting folk through (hopefully) intelligent conversation.

One never knows nor can expect who will sail into the fray--what we do know is that no soul here is perfect no matter how we try. So let us celebrate & raise our mugs to the idiosyncratic nature of life--to the Kramer's & Norm's of the world, the Roseanne's & Allan Poe's. Some old, some lost, some tortured, some blessed, all souls sharing a drink at the same time in the same place. The ensuing tales are authentic with names trending towards monikers. The flag waving on our doorstep means we're open, so come perk your curiosity in Le Harbor Bungalow Cafe.

Bonjour! Mesherfin! Hasta la vista! Your barista.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

City Cries Po'

An unsuspecting tourist finds herself lost when looking for one of Baltimore’s museums. With a friend she approaches a man walking along the streets made famous by the popular television crime drama The Wire.

“Which one of these is the Poe House?”
“Look around lady, every one of these is a po’ house!”

Claudette relates the story to the barista as he prepares a couple of lattes for her co-workers at the Fleet Street Market. Discretely in the back of the cafe, a painting leaned crooked on the wall.

Oil Painting by cafe patron & Baltimore native Frank King 

The barista has been preparing a follow-up to his 2011 story Poe-etic Licensing. Since that time, what decisions have been made regarding one of the City of Baltimore’s literary museums—the Edgar Allan Poe House? Research led the barista to the following stories:

Los Angeles Times 08/08/11

Baltimore Post-Examiner 09/14/12

The Baltimore Sun 09/25/12

The Huffington Post 11/26/12

Winnipeg Free Press 01/26/13

Salon 02/03/13

The City of Baltimore made international news by refusing to continue to fund the museum. It seems Poe carries as devout a following as the Raven football squad named after his poem, just more geographically diverse. Yet the city government is distancing itself from Poe’s legacy? The barista is confused. He realizes money greases the wheels of government, but he also thought tourism accounted for a sizable fraction of the city’s coffers. According the Salon story, Baltimore City claimed it could not afford the $85,000 a year it cost to run the museum. Yet our elected officials afforded an $180,000 commission fee to do its job—restructuring the operation.
The commission recommended the nearby B&O Museum operate and renovate the Poe House, according to the Huffington Post story. So the city afforded another $180,000 to make that happen. Let’s do the math: $180,000 for a commission, $180,000 to a city funded museum, Poe House operational cost $85,000. That amount of funding could have kept the museum open for over four more years.
According to the Baltimore Post-Examiner, the non-profit Poe Baltimore will take over the operations this year, with guidance from the B&O Railroad Museum during its first year. But the city-led transition began on a sloppy note. From the November Huffington Post story:

The (wooden) stairs disappeared days after the (Poe) museum was closed, said Steve Sharkey, acting director of the Baltimore Department of General Services. The graffiti (on the front door) occurred more recently, and was painted over within a week.

A gap in funding left the Poe house vacant and vulnerable—like many of its neighbors. But the city is not the only local entity with a stake in Poe’s legacy—and with the resources available to preserve it during the museum’s time of need.

The barista remembered that not only could he e-mail Poe, but he also could bring Poe to school and even download Poe’s coloring page! From the Salon story:

The Baltimore Ravens have yet to step in and help support the Poe House, in its past or future incarnation, despite many, many calls and newspaper Op-Eds asking them to do so (including the barista’s). The problem? According to a spokesperson for the Ravens, the city hasn’t asked (italics mine).

The Baltimore Post-Examiner elaborated:

Chad Steele, director of media relations of the Baltimore Ravens told the Baltimore Post-Examiner, “We are not aware of anyone approaching (the team) on this. This is an important project, but we can’t do them all. We’re very involved in a number of community projects right now.”

            The barista’s initial stance—offering the Ravens operational duties—changed after reading the Ravens’ lame excuse. “Screw them! I bet their fans don’t even realize why they drape themselves in purple every Friday.”

            “Because it’s the team color,” an unsuspecting patron quips.

            “Because it’s the color of the curtains in the poem,” the barista snarls. “The house is probably better under a nonprofit’s watch anyway—people who actually appreciate the spirit of ‘The Raven’, rather than just the licensing-free marketing appeal. ”