HOT L BALTIMORE was the symbol of a city in trouble

HOT L BALTIMORE was the symbol of a city in trouble

The TV sitcom, Hot L Baltimore only ran for one season in 1975, but it may well have been the most accurate glimpse into the future of the American inner city.

Based on a play by Lanford Wilson, producer Norman Lear (All In The Family, The Jeffersons) used a broken down hotel as backdrop for his vision.  Lear broached subjects previously forbidden on TV, from hookers to homosexuals.  As in all his shows, he used comedy to shine a light on the human condition.

The marquis of the show was the marquis of the hotel.  HOT L BALTIMORE was what was left of the name of the hotel after the “e” on the neon sign blew out.  As with so many things, the sign was never fixed, just one more sign post on the road to decay.

At the time of the show, Baltimore’s population was near its peak, about 900,000.  Today there are just over 600,000 people in Baltimore, most of that exodus having been from the West Baltimore area, now infamously anchored by that burned out CVS.

Watching the unfolding events in Baltimore, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer said that he never imagined seeing National Guard troops fighting rioters in an American city.  His words mimicked exactly what he said, however in 2014, reporting on events in Ferguson, Missouri.

I don’t know which is worse, Blitzer not remembering saying the same thing just a few months ago or that he doesn’t think that we remember it.  Hello, Wolf, have you heard of video recordings?

From the FOX crowd, the real irony is their shock over civil unrest.  After all, it was civil unrest over perceived oppression that lead to the original Tea Party , namesake of everyone’s (FOX’s) favorite party.

Fort Sheridan, on the shoes of Lake Michigan, just north of Chicago was built specifically to house troops who would be ready to defend Chicago’s titans of industry from worker uprisings.  The land for Ft. Sheridan was donated to the government by the Commercial Club of Chicago .

The fort was started in 1887 after the Haymarket Affair and its troops were called out to quell the Pullman Strike  in 1894.  And those rioters were all white.

Why is it that we keep acting like we’re surprised when anger and frustration lead to violence?

On his show, Hardball, Chris Matthews kept referring to the sturdy row houses, once home to Baltimore’s working class, now empty and dilapidated.  “Those houses were built for people who worked,” he declared.  “Where are those jobs now?”

Those jobs, Chris are gone.  Some have gone overseas, some simply don’t exist anymore.  The white people who once inhabited those houses and worked in nearby factories are gone, as well.  Like the jobs, they won’t be coming back.

Historically, the only remedy for oppression is for the oppressed to throw off their shackles.  That never occurs peacefully.

People like Blitzer and other talking heads say that they don’t understand the violence, that it has nothing to do with the death of Freddie Gray .

Let’s put this in simple terms.  We’ll say, for example that your significant other did something that really pissed you off last month.  Or maybe he or she is continually doing something that really pisses you off, but you keep it to yourself because you know stirring the pot will get you nowhere.

Then one day that significant other of yours does something annoying-big or small-and the whole thing comes spewing out like a volcano.  Or a pressure cooker.  Maybe he or she left the cap off the toothpaste or forgot to put the toilet seat up/down-whichever way you need it to be-and you just exploded.

Whatever it is, it’s the straw that broke the camel’s back .  A man dying mysteriously while in police custody is certainly a good sized straw.

Back to you and your significant other, pretty soon you’re talking smack about his or her mother and packing your bags.  It wasn’t what you planned to do, but one thing led to another.  It happens, you know it does.

“So’, you ask, ‘what’s the fix?”  I dunno.

I do know that it’s not positive mental attitude or any of a thousand platitudes and cliches we like to throw at these kinds of problems.  It’s not Jesus, the Crips, the Bloods or the National Guard.

I also know that nature hates a void and nothing creates a void like removing hope.  And hope, my friends is missing from Baltimore city.

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