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Playing the Cards We're Dealt

City Paper's 2006 Best of Baltimore

Alex Fine

Posted 9/20/2006

Baltimore has been showing an uncommon amount of spruce and suspiciously boomlike behavior of late, at least in certain parts of town---streets repaired and parks gussied up, townhomes starting from the low small-fortunes all over the place, creative energy crackling in the streets, neighborhood-transforming projects afoot. Of course, the public schools still suck, and drugs and crime and lack of opportunity still have a foot on the throat of too many of our neighborhoods. And then there's the go-go housing market slowing down, spiking energy and fuel costs, the ongoing battle for the control of our government and culture, and the distant rumble of war. In short, Baltimore as a going concern isn't looking much like the sucker bet it did not so long ago, but there's no reason to get too smug about our prospects.

Still, we can't help feeling somewhat optimistic, and more than a little justified in feeling that way. Compiling our 22nd annual Best of Baltimore issue always reminds us of the good things about our hometown, many of which have shared the worst times with us and helped us get through them to these turbulent but hopeful days we find ourselves living in now. Over the course of the next couple of hundred pages, we laud some of these good things (and some of the more annoying ones, too), and despite all the hard work and late nights involved in getting it all together, we were happy to do it. Call us crazy, but we've got a good feeling about this.

City Paper's 2006 Best of Baltimore issue was written by Rebecca Alvania, Cary Anderson, John Barry, J. Bowers, Jim Breihan, Tom Chalkley, Charles Cohen, Auriane de Rudder, Anna Ditkoff, Edward Ericson Jr., Michael Fila, R. Darryl Foxworth, Lee Gardner, Michelle Gienow, Violet Glaze, Richard Gorelick, Daniel Haggerty, Jess Harvell, Eric Allen Hatch, Tim Hill, Jaye Hunnie, Chris Landers, Laura Laing, Kate Leventhal, Laura Lewis Brown, Bret McCabe, David Morley, Ruth Reader, Christina Royster-Hemby, Al Shipley, Christopher Skokna, Van Smith, Jefferson Jackson Steele, Erin Sullivan, Jason Torres, Wendy Ward, and Josephine Yun. Research assistants Auriane de Rudder, Tamara Neff, Ruth Reader, and Jeanette Weinberg compiled, tallied, and, uh, researched, while interns Jessica Blumberg, Elizabeth Eldridge, Thomas Koenigs, Rebekah Lin, and Kat Ward did likewise, for free. Photographs by Ben Cricchi, John Ellsberry, Michelle Gienow, Frank Hamilton, Sam Holden, Frank Klein, Uli Loskot, Jim Lucio, Christopher Myers, Michael Northrup, Carly Ptak, Rarah, Jefferson Jackson Steele, and the City Paper Digi-Camô. Cover and section-opener illustrations by Alex Fine, with apologies to E.A. Poe, "Get in on it," the Baltimore Orioles, Mr. Bohs, and rats.

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