As many of my friends can attest, for years I’ve referred to Adam Levine of Maroon 5 as “the most annoying Jew ever.” I’ve recently had to revise that stance – not because I finally heard a song of his that I liked – but because I learned only his father is Jewish. Technically this makes him a non-Jew, though at least now he doesn’t have to worry about his tattoos keeping him out of a Jewish cemetery. Whenever his whiny high-pitched voice comes on the radio the thought that goes through my head is “god I hate this song.”
Let me be clear. Baltimore is a shithole.
But it is my shithole. I spent two large chunks of my life there. My daughter was born there. My father died there. I finished high school by going to Night School on North Avenue. My first apartment was in a shithole of a building near the intersection of Fayette and Greene where I had to step over winos and puddles of piss when heading up to the Lexington Market for a breakfast sandwich. My daughter still lives there with her husband. My Orioles play there, although I guess this week in front of an empty stadium thanks to the riots and unrest.
I have long been a fan of pondering. In fact I was just sitting for a moment and pondering what to write in this essay. The idea for the essay itself was a result of some pondering about what to write about next when I had some free time. Pondering is a solitary act and requires some measure of time to contemplate ponderous matters to their fullest degree. If not a solitary act it becomes not pondering but pontificating. While I am prone to pontificate about all the matters I have been pondering, especially after a few glasses of a subtle yet bold Pinot Noir, the act of pondering is far preferable.
Whatever God, Goddess or collective panel of such actually exist apparently has one hell of a sense of humor. There is all this great stuff to enjoy but if you use it you will die a horrible painful death. Smoking cigarettes, cigars, or pipe? Dead. Drink alcohol? Horribly dead, in a gutter puking blood while your children are carted off to the orphanage. Think steak and cheeseburgers are perfect foods? You will have a sudden painful heart attack while in the middle of a presentation that would have made you millions, leaving your family penniless and alone. Like sex? We have some special shit for you, you fucking pervert. Your genitals will turn colors, get lumpy, ooze primordial slime and then kill your depraved, deviant ass.
You need look no further than the grimy streets of old Baltimore to find the underpinnings of the NFC philosophy. I have long been a self-taught student of one of Baltimore’s finest sons and one of the literary greats of all time in my humble opinion. Although I confess to having smoked the occasional joint and knocked back a few bottles of sweet cheap wine while sitting on Edgar Allan Poe’s grave upon a few late evenings of my youth, it is not this literary genius of which I speak. I refer of course to none other than Baltimore’s own Henry Louis Mencken. HL Mencken was a journalist when the word meant something more than it does today. He attacked politicians of all stripes and had little use for so called codes of morality or religion and once pointing out that “It was morality that burned the books of the ancient sages, and morality that halted the free inquiry of the Golden Age and substituted for it the credulous imbecility of the Age of Faith. It was a fixed moral code and a fixed theology which robbed the human race of a thousand years by wasting them upon alchemy, heretic-burning, witchcraft and sacerdotalism.