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Jamie Stiehm
Past and Present
22 Aug 2014
Black and White in Ferguson and Journalism

When you don't know if the violent scenes on the evening news are in Iraq or in Ferguson, Missouri, then … Read More.

15 Aug 2014
The Way the Game Is (Not) Played, Hillary

WASHINGTON — They are the best of frenemies who wish each other — well, not so well. Now it's out … Read More.

8 Aug 2014
Nixon's Lessons Learned by Nation's Schoolchildren

As a Wisconsin girl, I knew Richard M. Nixon would be served for dinner with the tuna fish casserole. My … Read More.

San Francisco and Baltimore: Closer Than You Think

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The Baltimore Ravens playing the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl on Sunday is a win-win.

Sports fans, it's a tale of two cities, long-lost sisters. Each has preserved her offbeat, even eccentric, charm. Just ask John Waters of "Hairspray" fame.

Clearly, San Francisco is the younger beauty. But Baltimore handed down a major asset to San Francisco. Nancy Pelosi learned her political lessons well in Baltimore's Little Italy. Her father was mayor of Baltimore. Now her place in the House is a source of pride for San Francisco and Baltimore alike.

The sister cities share oval symphony halls, designed by the same architect. Classical concertgoers say the buildings are "twins," though the acoustics are better in Baltimore.

Deja vu misted over me the first time I heard the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. The sensation happened often as I spent several years there as a reporter, seeing things that seemed to point back to beloved San Francisco.

To state the obvious, the two coastal cities thrived as waterfront ports built on scenic bodies of water. San Francisco Bay is like a vision, but the majestic Chesapeake Bay has its moments. The Golden Gate Bridge is a stirring sight to write about, but the soaring silver Bay Bridge, 35 miles south of Baltimore, goes unsung. The span connects to Maryland's rural Eastern Shore, where famed abolitionists Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman were born into slavery miles apart in Talbot County.

San Francisco is larger by the census count, but both are medium-sized cities with visual character in their residential streets. By its Victorian-vintage "painted ladies," you could only be in one place, San Francisco. Baltimore is well-known for row houses with marble steps, which welcomed immigrant families a century ago. Another point in common: their close-knit neighborhoods.

Noe Valley and Hampden are closer than you think, hon (a frequent nickname in Baltimore for just about anybody).

History buffs, note both cities were ravaged by "Great Fires" only two years apart, 1904 and 1906. The blazes remain part of collective memory.

Recently, both cities elected young mayors who became rising political stars. Gavin Newsom and Martin O'Malley, two blue-eyed Democrats, look like West and East twins, with parallel paths. O'Malley gave newcomer Newsom some pointers at Baltimore's City Hall. O'Malley's the governor of Maryland now; but Newsom may not be far behind in California.

San Francisco is a promised land for free spirits, writers and dreamers to dwell. Inspiration is in the air there. That's why I adored it.

But the fact is Baltimore has produced more than its share of writers. The long-gone Sage of Baltimore, H.L. Mencken, wrote cantankerous political columns still quoted, yet he never celebrated his native city like the late, great Herb Caen of San Francisco fame.

F. Scott Fitzgerald lived in Baltimore's elegant Bolton Hill in the 1930s while his wife Zelda received psychiatric treatment. He tapped out a novel or two there, conscious that his ancestor and namesake, Francis Scott Key, composed "The Star-Spangled Banner" lyrics after witnessing the Battle of Baltimore in 1814. Douglass wrote one of the classic American autobiographies, which tells of working on the same waterfront as an enslaved young man. The actress and playwright Anna Deavere Smith grew up in Baltimore, and says she misses its "packed away kindness."

And, I ask you, how many NFL teams have names with such class? The 49ers are named for 1849, the year gold miners filled with hope crossed over the land and converged on them thar hills in the beautiful distance. And the Ravens are named for the haunting melodic poem of Edgar Allan Poe, who spent some of his life in Baltimore — where you can still see his tiny ramshackle row house. Poe died young in Baltimore in, yes, 1849.

Strange but true. Who knew?

To find out more about Jamie Stiehm, and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com

COPYRIGHT 2013 CREATORS.COM



Comments

17 Comments | Post Comment
Never mind the fact that San Fransiscos high taxes and property prices are driving people away in droves. California has a low job growth rate and a huge deficet caused by catering to unions. Nice fluff piece. Have fun in lala land while reality continues on without you.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Thu Jan 31, 2013 9:25 AM
Nice column.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Paul M. Petkovsek
Thu Jan 31, 2013 10:00 AM
Re: Chris McCoy
The righteous right once again love to hate and blame everything on the unions when the blame should be on their capitalistic greedy selfs.
McCoy does not have a clue to what it means to be in organized labor.
I'm a proud member of the IBEW and received 5 years of apprenticeship training and working under and with a licensed journeyman who also went through the same training years before.
Most craft unions do the same for young new members.
We are a brotherhood. Unions brought capitalistic jerks as yourself weekends, pensions,medical, 40 hr weeks, safe working conditions, and numerous other benefits to union and non union American workers.
Our members sacrificed and gave for all workers in our country and now jerks like you and your pompous rich selfs want to take it all away for a feel goody attitude.
Corporations,small businesses, and the rich would like nothing more than to go back to poverty wages and a caste system that would class all Americans as rich or poor. No middleclass at all.
McCoy you are dead wrong about unions.
My suggestion to any American that works and pulls a paycheck to organize or join a union or better yet to make it a law to be under a organized work agreement and to be represented.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Mike Stein
Thu Jan 31, 2013 7:25 PM
Re: Chris McCoy
The righteous right once again love to hate and blame everything on the unions when the blame should be on their capitalistic greedy selfs.
McCoy does not have a clue to what it means to be in organized labor.
I'm a proud member of the IBEW and received 5 years of apprenticeship training and working under and with a licensed journeyman who also went through the same training years before.
Most craft unions do the same for young new members.
We are a brotherhood. Unions brought capitalistic jerks as yourself weekends, pensions,medical, 40 hr weeks, safe working conditions, and numerous other benefits to union and non union American workers.
Our members sacrificed and gave for all workers in our country and now jerks like you and your pompous rich selfs want to take it all away for a feel goody attitude.
Corporations,small businesses, and the rich would like nothing more than to go back to poverty wages and a caste system that would class all Americans as rich or poor. No middleclass at all.
McCoy you are dead wrong about unions.
My suggestion to any American that works and pulls a paycheck to organize or join a union or better yet to make it a law to be under a organized work agreement and to be represented.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Mike Stein
Thu Jan 31, 2013 7:25 PM
Actually Mike, you are dead wrong about me. I am in a union. I am a part of AFSCME. They do nothing for me but mail me propaganda. I am forced to be part of this union, forced to support a political party I do not agree with. Unions did do a gread deal of good in the past. They were needed and absolutly gave us our current work structure. But like every organization, with time and power comes corruption. You now have union boss' making as much as corperate CEOs. They lobby government for more benifets, then fork over money for their campaigns. Since there is no profit and government will always exist, there are no limit to these benifets. With private unions, like you are talking about, the union has a limit to how much they can bargain for. If they ask for too much, the company becomes unprofitable and everyone losses. I am only talking about private unions, which even FDR said were bad news.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Fri Feb 1, 2013 5:54 AM
Re: Chris McCoy Like I said before if an american is working for a wage for someone else whether it is private or public each person should be organized with unions. Being under a working agreement or represented is far better than being unrepresented. Non union non dues paying workers gather the bargained for benefits of the union worker.
yes tyhere are limits and unjust bargaining items but thats the beauty of the bargaining agreements in that both sides at least talk and dicuss for the benefit of both.
Why shouldn't an american have a pension,medical,401,work rules, safety, etc if each and other american can have the same. Its a win win situation for americans and our country.
It levels the rights and benefits of all.
There may be a few bosses making at or near what corporate CEO's make but very few. Corporate exempt employees or upper management for years now have been way out range than the american laborers. Why do they feel that their salaries and worth value are so much more than the lowest paid employee under their rule.
We are all in this together in this small space of time and each american deserves to be treated all the same.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Mike Stein
Fri Feb 1, 2013 6:26 AM
I don't really have a problem with private unions, but I do have a problem with right to work laws. States that have passed right to work laws have seen increased employment. And wages haven't fallen in those state. Workplaces suddenly aren't disaster zones riddeled with danger. Companies have a vested interest in promoting safety. Just the concept of forcing people into something is un-American. And if unions have to earn your memebership instead of being handed it, then they have extra incentive to try to provide a better service to their members. My original comment was only that public unions are bankrupting states where cronyism between government and union shadowboss' is high. And when you look at the numbers, its hard to deny. It was not an attack on all union activity.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Sat Feb 2, 2013 5:35 AM
Re: Chris McCoy Haven't been to Texas, have you?
Comment: #8
Posted by: Paul M. Petkovsek
Sat Feb 2, 2013 11:16 AM
Paul I have been to Texas, but do not live there. If you have a point, then make it.
Comment: #9
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Sat Feb 2, 2013 2:24 PM
McCoy, he's tactfully saying you don't have a clue what you're talking about. But maybe like the rest of us doesn't have time or energy to give you stats available to anyone with internet access and interest.
Comment: #10
Posted by: morgan
Sun Feb 3, 2013 11:28 AM
Jamie, Well done! I did not know the similarties between Baltimore and San Francisco until I read this piece.
Comment: #11
Posted by: Victoria NYC
Sun Feb 3, 2013 3:49 PM
Once again, GREAT piece Jamie! Having lived in SF and near Baltimore, I can confirm that (not surprisingly) you've hit the (foot)ball out of the park! Terrific!
Comment: #12
Posted by: Steve Raikin
Sun Feb 3, 2013 8:55 PM
Morgan, tactful as always. Again, why am I wrong. I see no arguments, just angry insults.
Comment: #13
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Mon Feb 4, 2013 6:23 AM
McCoy, what angry..what insults? You're wrong. It's your argument saying wages haven't fallen in the states with right to work laws. That's bullshit and Texas is a prime example.
Comment: #14
Posted by: morgan
Mon Feb 4, 2013 8:21 AM
I tried to find some statistics about empoyment and wages in right to work states vs. non, and they were all over the place. I guess it just goes to show how easily stats can be manipulated. But what the stats don't account for is the amount of union dues that people are being forced to pay in non-right to work states. Again, it boils down to freedom. Someone should have the choice on what groups to join and where their money goes to.
Comment: #15
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Tue Feb 5, 2013 6:37 AM
Re: McCoy. Are you saying you had no choice, you were forced you to take a union job? Or are you saying that you couldn't find a non union job that paid good wages and had good benefits and would take a chance on you? You're a government worker, right? Civil Service job? People get into government jobs and union jobs for the same reasons. You reap all the benefits of what the unions have done over the years and appreciate nothing. as Mike Stein says, you moan because you're expected to give some back. Sounds like the pissing and moaning done when Americans who take advantage of everything this country has to offer piss and moan when they're asked to pay their fair share in taxes to support the country and keep the economy rolling.
Comment: #16
Posted by: morgan
Tue Feb 5, 2013 7:01 AM
Again, I am not saying that unions haven't been a positive force in the past, but they are becoming increasingly corrupt and just money-making tools for the democratic party. Unions who get members no matter what have no incentive to actually work for them. If unions had to work to get members, they would have an incentive to provide a better service. In the state that just passed a right-to-work law, about 63% of members left the union. 63% forced to give up part of their paychecks just to be funneled into democratic coffers. Steal from the middle class, give to the rich.
Comment: #17
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Tue Feb 5, 2013 7:57 AM
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