Baltimore, Family


t’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve had time/energy/willpower to sit down and write something. The pace of life being what it is, I’ve spent my free moments centering myself rather than documenting the blur.

I turned 40 on September 10. I had made some noise a while back about some sort of party to mark the milestone, but as the date approached the idea seemed less and less attractive. The angst that had surrounded 39 has long since passed, as have many things over the past year–miles, people, means of employment. But when 16 ten-year-old soccer players sang happy birthday over a plastic tray of candle-lit cupcakes, it was just right.

My mother said, “You’ll like the 40s–you don’t need to prove anything to anyone anymore.” And she’s right. My early-thirties obsession with ladder-climbing has long past; if anything, the professional trevails of the past year have taught me to sieze back my life from work in any way I can.


Rasta in control at Lithuanian Hall

I'm noting this so I'll come back to expand on it later…on Friday, my cousin from California called to tell me he was going to be in Baltimore that night with his band to play a gig, and he invited Paula and I down to see him. Balboa is a trombonist by trade, and a good one; he has played gigs with Super Diamond (a Neil Diamond cover band), salsa and funk bands…you name it. So we caught a late dinner and headed down to Lithuanian Hall in Sowebo to catch his act.

Bo is touring with Mikey Dread, who, as Paula noted, we probably would not have gone to Lithuanian Hall to see play under any other circumstances. Paula is not normally the reggae type, and, well, Lithuanian Hall is in what we would refer to as a “sketchy” neighborhood. And it seems a lot of people felt that way, because only 80 or so people showed up.

The promoter came up to us when he heard we had said we were on the guest list. “And I know you…how?” he asked over the blare of the opening act, which played to a room of about 15 people.

I explained that my cousin was in Mikey Dread's band. I think maybe he didn't believe me, but as we had hand stamps for beer, he left it at that.

It was somewhat surreal, sitting in a stackable chair along the wall of Lithuanian Hall, watching a rasta band playing on a stage with crossed American and Lithuanian flags above it. This is the same hall that hosts “Night of 1000 Elvises”.

Another wrinkle–while we were at dinner, Bo called me on my cell to tell me they wouldn't be going on until at least 11, which we translated as midnight. But they could only play a single, hour set because Lithuanian Hall is (1)not soundproofed, and (2)in a residential neighborhood, so it has to close at 1 am.

But we had a couple of Red Stripes to help prevent the promoter from taking a bath. And then the band came on, and they were great–and I'm not just saying that because the trombonist is my cousin. And I'm not saying it because I had a contact high from the guy blow-torching the blunt nearby, either.