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Baltimore “Happy Place” Ad Misses the Mark

They’ve all seen “The Wire” now. We can stop pretending.

I was born in Baltimore in 1985. Since then, I’ve seen Baltimore market itself as “Charm City”, “The City That Reads” and “Believe”.

None of those ever made sense to me.

I don’t find anything about Baltimore charming at all. Now Catonsville, that used to be a very charming place indeed.

And “The City That Reads” slogan never caught on with me either, and it apparently never ever caught on with their school systems.

And don’t even get me started on the whole “Believe” thing. Believe what? That’s all we ever wanted to know. Believe the hell what? We never got that answer.

Baltimore newest attempt in the campaign to be the fakest city in the US is this whole “Find Your Happy Place” slogan. $500,000 was spent on this new campaign that will include a website called Bmorehappy.com (yes, I threw up in my mouth a little when I read it too.) The Baltimore Sun is also doing a call for people to submit their happy places in Baltimore photos.

My reaction: you have to be kidding me.

Dear white people in Baltimore,

Everyone has seen The Wire. They know that Baltimore is not a happy place. Please stop ignoring the fact that black people live here, and quite unhappily I may add. Kthxnbye.

Here’s their take on this:

“People are looking for joy. People are looking for happiness. People are looking for simpler pleasures in the climate we are living in. The idea is to get people to move around town and go see and do things they wouldn’t normally do.”

Just put the word [white] in front of “people” every time and re-read it, because really, that’s what this is all about.

Here’s an idea. Why not take that $500,000 and put it into the failing schools, or how about giving it to the police, or an after-school center, or the communities that need it – communities that are looking for joy, happiness and simpler pleasures, and have been for years, with no real help at all.

Tourism is great for any city. But really, being a tourist in Baltimore must be so awkward. Like, “Wow, dear on this corner there’s a lovely new hospital, and a harbor and some restaurants…and over there is total poverty. Oh my, is that a man clinging crack? Let me get a Polaroid!” Every time I see a white person without a Social Security badge in Lexington Market, I cringe as they huddle in fear and confusion.

Where is the happy place in Baltimore? I’d love to know. Is it Downtown? Probably. Is it in Charles Village? Maybe. I know where it’s not. It’s not in Edmonson Village. It’s not on North Avenue. It’s not over in Sandtown-Winchester. It’s not in Park Heights, or over by Lake Clifton.

You want people to move around the city and do things that they normally wouldn’t do? OK. So that means that I’mma start seeing these BmoreHappy signs on chicken box places on Edmonson Ave, right? And the website is going to promote that they have the best chicken in the city and everyone should come, right? And I’m going to see places downtown lower their prices so that everyone in the city can check it out, right?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.



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May 2010
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