Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Mod's shopping guide to Baltimore

In part I, you heard all about my first impressions of Baltimore and the wonderful night I had the pleasure of DJing. Although I only had a few hours before my departure for Washington, I packed has much browsing and shopping I could muster. But that was cut short because of an unexpected surprise.

The few hours of rest I had wasn't going to stop me from exploring the hip neighbourhood of Hampden  before hitting the road to go to DC. Rob, my DJ partner the previous night, was kind enough to let me use his spare bedroom. The great thing about staying with a Baltimore native is that he knows the best spots. Rob and his lovely girlfriend Sommer brought me to the Golden West Cafe, only a few blocks away from Rob's pad. 

Nothing prepares you to take on the day like a hearty and spicy Mexican brunch. The picante Bloody Mary has the reputation to be the perfect hangover cure.

On the way there we passed in front of the Cafe Hon.  A couple of years ago it was featured in Gordon Ramsey's television show, Kitchen Nightmares. Inside, I saw a table full of ladies dressed in late 50s, early 60s garments with big bouffants that would make Marge Simpson jealous. I was later schooled on Baltimore's unique Hon culture. Hon, from the abbreviation "honey", is a term of endearment often used by women dressed in brightly coloured dresses, impressive beehives and vintages glasses. 

After a copious meal, Rob brought me to Avenue Antiques where an impressive 60 dealers are spread over 3 stories. 

I managed to find a nice golden vintage tie for 8$. As I was going to pay, I cross paths with the Hons. Bobbie Jo approached me and struck up a conversation: "Hey hon, I love what you wear! Very sixties!" After some friendly banter, I learned that these lovely ladies were there to shoot a reality TV show that should air next season on Bravo. It made sense as I had seen some equipment and lighting spread across the first floor.

Bobbie Jo struttin' around
I eventually chatted with the director and he asked me if I wanted to be part of the next scene. What? Me? In front of a camera? Since when do I crave that type of attention? In all seriousness, the timing couldn't have been more perfect. They needed someone that was there to buy records. Again, am I ever wanting to buy records?

So here I am signing a contract and getting ready to shoot my scene. Reality TV is real to an extent. You don't follow a script but the story has a direction and you need to follow certain guidelines. I'm not going to reveal any secrets but I can tell you that you might see me play myself, a Mod DJ from out-of-town looking for some rare Soul 45s.

Surrounded by Hons!
As fun as that was and as charming as the Hons were, that cut a bit in my shopping time. So dear readers, you'll have to excuse me for not reviewing as many records shops as I would have liked. The rest of The Avenue is worth exploring. You'll find plenty of antique shops that sell everything under the sun, from kitsch salt & pepper shakers to mid-century furniture.

Collectibles o' plenty at Hampden Junque.

For larger items, stop in at David's On The Avenue.

So the only record shop I could squeeze in before heading over to DC was El Suprimo Records. It was suggested to me that it was one of the top places to go digging. Like many record shops across the nation, the owners are sometimes hard to approach. This time, I seemed to be interrupting him while he was working on an old radio receiver. Once I used my French Canadian charm on him, he seemed to warm up a little.

I went through all of the "rare" stuff behind the counter and unfortunately didn't strike gold. I managed to put my hands on a 45 record box (always need those!) and this little instrumental number. Not bad for 1$.

Like all record shops, it pays to go on a regular basis and I'm sure El Suprimo is no exception. You win some, you lose some. Luckily, my girl DJ Amanda Otto had brought a bin full of 45s the previous night and I bought a small stack of records I picked without listening to them. I was happy when I got to listen to this incredible screamer by Youngblood Smith. Thanks Amanda!

Next stop, Washington, DC for the TNT night. I have a feeling this is going to be a bang!

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