Friday, May 16, 2008

Get Your Preak On

The Preakness has a bit of an identity problem. It has long been called the middle child of the Triple Crown family, without the pomp, revelry, and sophistication of the Derby, and missing the historical significance and affluence of the Belmont. The Preakness’s contribution to the Triple Crown is: do not fuck this up. Its race track, Pimlico, is not only illustrative of Maryland racing, but a microcosm of its host city.

Pimlico’s crumbling infrastructure and lack of investment in its facilities and its neighborhood have become more obvious with each passing spring. Dilapidated homes and closed store fronts are the face of an area that prosperity has passed by. Perhaps the most telling comment on our society and its growing wealth gap is not the failure of such neighborhoods, but the refusal to confront or even acknowledge the problem. For evidence of this count how many different ways the announcers refer to the neighborhood tomorrow during raceday. Be sure to look out for: working-class, traditional, or up-and-coming (my favorite). Make no mistake: it is a ghetto and we ignore it. The solution is not easy and for some reason I don’t think it involves million dollar investment into games of chance whose expected value are negative (but that’s a whole other post). Oh, and while we’re on the topic, kudos to ESPN’s Travel department for finding inventive ways to describe the neglect.

“Pimlico is nestled in an older, non-touristy neighborhood and the races serve as a stand-alone event for visitors, who come and go while enjoying other sections of the city.”

“Pimlico is not built for sightseeing and mingling.”

“You'll find a fair amount of on-site parking at Pimlico, but it's truly best to avoid the congestion with a light rail trip/shuttle bus ride or metro subway/shuttle bus ride.” (read: don’t stay anywhere near here)

“Many Preakness-goers stay 6 miles south of Pimlico in the downtown Inner Harbor hotels.” (staying near Pimlico is like mooning God)

"Located 15 miles north of Pimlico, Hunt Valley offers several hotels out of the hustle-and-bustle of downtown." (sure it’s halfway to Pennsylvania and offers little to do, but it’s a not a terrible option for those that would like to live to see Monday.)

"Hotels on nearby Reisterstown Road also are an option." (Reisterstown Road: a slightly safer ghetto)

The rest of the article lists the nightlife options, other attractions, and restaurants, NONE of which are located anywhere near the track.

Preakness is a spectacle. It has a unique and storied tradition and should be a showcase of Maryland, like the Derby is to Kentucky. But every spring, we miss our chance. And each year, the writing on the wall becomes bigger and bolder. Will I be attending this year? Absolutely. Will I have mixed feelings? No question. What can be done? It’s not an easy answer, but something must be done. We risk losing the race and, more importantly, we risk losing yet another generation of impoverished Baltimore youth.

(PS, gambling is fun.)


Zadecky said...

Dude. I live in an "up and coming" neighborhood!!!! Sweet!!!!

And from what you wrote, I wouldn't say the area around Pimlico is up n coming. Apparently it up and went.

Wilson said...


Verley said...

the city that reads!!! the one time i went to the preakness, i blacked out before the actual race (probably had something to do with the bag of wine i was chugging) and vaguely remember hanging out with one of the "residents" on the hills outside of the track. i also remember that i didn't have my cell phone and didn't know how to get back to my friends so i decided that getting the traffic cop to arrest me for underage drunkenness was my best option but he wouldn't budge, he told me to get lost. eventually a hot dog stand lady "found" my cell phone that i had "lost" and called my friends (well after the race) to come and pick me up. good times.