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Thursday, August 07, 2008


Penn Station in Baltimore

It is impossible to catch Baltimore in a formula. It is definitely American, in some strong and good sense; only you cannot say what that sense actually is. It has a charm; this charm is in the air, floating freely among buildings. What kind of charm? Some Romantic perfume, kind of Romantic. It is strange. A ghost could appear anytime, I wouldn't be surprised.

The city of Poe. The city of the Raven.

And some decrepitude, of bon gout.

And one of the most dangerous places in US. Everything, past, present, craziness, danger, decrepitude, American air, charm, Poe, all these mixed in a weird way.

That's Baltimore. I love Baltimore.

I'm going sometimes there. I'm taking the train, in about forty minutes I'm there,

My friend Dan (the splendid chronicler of jazz, and movies, and contemporary art) has an uncle and an aunt living in Baltimore. I haven't met Dan in person yet (hopefully we'' ll meet this coming October in New York), I met with his uncle and aunt several times. Great guys. He taught at Johns Hopkins. Now they are in their early eighties, enjoying life in a splendid way.

The first time I came to Baltimore, I did not know anyone. I went out of the railroad station and asked a black lady directions to get to the harbor. She explained me thoroughly and then asked suddenly, where are you from?

I knew that she had caught my strange accent but I answered with kind of a joke, from Fairfax County.

She insisted, what country?

Romania, I said.

And what city from Romania?

From Bucharest.

What street
, she went on.

I was surprised. Anyway, it was difficult to give her the answer - I had lived in Bucharest at one address for more than twenty years, I had moved to another address just three months prior to my coming here.

I said, Calea Mosilor.

She said, I have lived for seven years on Aleea Alexandru.

Then why did you come here, I asked her somehow teasingly.

My work visa expired, was her answer.

I concluded, we could have met in Romania; then it should have been no more need to come here.

She started to laugh: she was used with Romanian humor.


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