I’m passing through Baltimore on the train today (a talk at U. Penn and chatting with Ashok Rao), so I have license to do this. Here goes:
1. Author: There is plenty to choose from here, including Poe, James Cain, Dashiell Hammett, Frank O’Hara, and H.L. Mencken. I do not love F. Scott Fitzgerald as many do, same with Upton Sinclair, but they deserve mention. I’ll opt for Poe, with Gold-Bug as my favorite story. Hammett’s Red Harvest I also enjoy and have taught a few times, delicious incoherence. Anne Tyler has a few good books, but stop reading after one or two of them.
2. Philosopher: John Rawls, though since we’re talking about Baltimore I feel I should call him Jack.
3. Painter: Morris Louis or Grace Hartigan? I feel I can do better, help out people.
4. Popular music: Tori Amos grew up in Baltimore, I like her Little Earthquakes and various singles, live cuts, and cover versions, available only in scattered form as far as I know. Is Dan Deacon popular? Frank Zappa is a remarkable musical talent, but I don’t actually enjoy listening to him.
5. Jazz: Eubie Blake, there is also Bill Frisell and Billie Holiday.
6. Classical music: Philip Glass was born there, though I associate him with NYC.
7. Baseball: I still remember that old Orioles rotation with Cuellar, McNally, Palmer, and Dobson, all twenty-game winners in the same year.
8. Soviet spy: Alger Hiss.
9. Movie, set in: I don’t love Diner or Avalon, how about The Accidental Tourist, or Twelve Monkeys? The first half of Silence of the Lambs is excellent.
For good measure toss in Thurgood Marshall, Tim Page, Babe Ruth, The Wire, Walters Art Museum, the underrated BSO, and Brooks Robinson. Who or what else am I forgetting?
The bottom line: Lots for one city! Let’s hope it gets better soon.