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Buck Up, Already

City Paper's 2009 Best of Baltimore

Frank Hamilton

Posted 9/16/2009

OK, enough of this the-economy-sucks whining. We're sick of it. Sure, it's awful but moping isn't going to help. Instead, let's take a moment--or 240 pages--to think about the good. True, that might sound awfully Pollyanna-ish for Baltimore's Most Disgruntled Alternative Weekly, but what's more alternative than optimism these days?

Sure, some of our favorite restaurants have gone belly up, but a little Vietnamese restaurant managed to open downtown that fills our hearts and our bellies for cheap. We continue to have interesting and affordable shops to frequent and more places to drown our sorrows than is probably advisable. Yes, our mayor is being charged with perjury and theft, but her Cleaner Greener thing seems to be rubbing off on the city with a new appreciation for its outdoor spaces, a renewed interest in public transportation and cycling, and even more recycling. The Baltimore Sun may be fading away before our very eyes, Marty McFly-style, but journalists at web sites like the Baltimore Brew and Investigative Voice are finding new ways to keep people informed. And while our cultural institutions have struggled with less funding and some have even passed on--RIP Baltimore Opera Company--the arts scene in Baltimore continues to be one of, if not the, most vibrant in the country. Just look at all the new theater companies popping up around town and think about the whirl of fresh ideas that was the Artscape Midway.

So, yes, the economy sucks. And we're feeling it just as much as you are, but we're not going to cry about it. We're going to lift our glasses and pens to everyone out there who is thriving or even just surviving in these hard times. We're going to hold our heads high and say, to borrow a phrase from the Baltimore Opera Company--hey, they're not using it anymore--Baltimore, it's better than you think . . . it has to be. ?

City Paper's 2009 Best of Baltimore issue was written by John Barry, Michael Byrne, Anna Ditkoff, Alex Ebstein, Edward Ericson Jr., Michael Fila, Lee Gardner, Michelle Gienow, Frank Hamilton, Tim Hill, Geoffrey Himes, Anny Hoge, Henry Hong, Martin L. Johnson, Daniel Krall, Chris Landers, Judith Leitch, Joe MacLeod, Bret McCabe, Christopher Myers, Tamara R. Neff, Al Shipley, Van Smith, Brandon Soderberg, Jefferson Jackson Steele, Erin Sullivan, Joe Tropea, Wendy Ward, and Mary K. Zajac. Research assistants Alexandra Watson and Max Robinson along with interns Nicholas Harsh, Rebecca Hunter, Rachel Krakauer, Mara Pellittieri, Christian Quezada, Farrah Skeiky, JinA Song, Kendall Spera, Erich Wagner, Mikkel Wallech, and Christina Warner checked all the facts and wrangled the Readers Poll.

Photographs by Jim Burger (Retired), John Ellsberry, Michelle Gienow, Mel Guapo, Frank Hamilton, Sam Holden, Frank Klein, Christopher Myers, Michael Northrup, Rarah, Josh Sisk, Van Smith, and Jefferson Jackson Steele. Cover illustration by Daniel Krall.

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