Hey Baltimore Patrons of The Arts, it’s almost time for Artscape! What? OK, I know, half of you are going like “Artscape? You mean that stupid thing where the traffic and parking gets all screwed up and there are goofballs walking around drinking booze out of hollowed-out pineapples, and there are long lines, not to view any Art, but to buy chicken quesadillas and funnel cakes? More like Foodscape, ha!” And the other half of you are going all like “‘Artscape?’ Snif! [Pauses to wipe pince-nez spectacles and replace on bridge of nose] Where is this Art you speak of? All I have seen are kiosks for the Army Reserve where they attempt  to recruit cannon fodder and other kiosks handing out samples of Oscar Mayer whatever, nothing but crass commercialism, people slurping ridiculous alcoholic concoctions served in hollowed-out pineapples, and a dearth of Art,” and then another-other half of you (it’s Artscape, not Mathscape) are like “Yeah! Sure, there’s a booth for the Military Industrial Complex, but then there’s a kiosk where you can buy a kickass drink served in a hollowed-out pineapple, and you get a discount on the refill if you use the same pineapple, so I’m’a do that and then go check out Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings or whoever at the music thing, hey do you remember the time they had Ray Charles, and that other time they had Teena Marie, and then that other time they had Joan Jett? Yeah, and it was all free, can you believe that shit?” Artscape!

I am totally in the tank for Artscape, and I don’t look down my monocle at anybody serving fried dough or whatever, and I do care deeply about scoring one of those hollowed-out pineapple drinks, for the Vitamins, but there’s lotsa art! Yeah, sure, there could be more, but there’s more every time, and yeah-yeah, there’s a total Carnival Atmosphere, but that is called Fun! I say big ups to The City of Baltimore for pulling this thing off, seriously, have you ever stopped to think about how much people have to Care to make this thing happen?

Yeah man, Care! Sure, people are getting paid Our Tax Dollars to set stuff up and then knock stuff down, but ultimately, people involved with this thing Care about this gigantor sprawling, constantly growing, slowly evolving, and always happening (rain or shine) Festival of mutations featuring Art-with-a-capital-”A,” and Music, and wackiness, and people, and more people, and fuck yeah, food, and so many way-more people, and me, and you! You better be there! If you decide to go, you are part of It, you are part of the thing that makes Artscape huge and a Great Success, and c’mon, Baltimore, let’s recognize Artscape as something in Baltimore that is a Success, OK?

Artscape is one of the few times of year when Your City, My City, the Whole Fucking City, converges on one space to hang out in an enormous peaceful agglomeration of the populace! We can all get along! We do it every year at Artscape!

I dunno, man, maybe because we have so much Bad News in this town we, the People of Baltimore and “The Counties,” kinda take Artscape for granted? It seems like we either ignore it and don’t go, or we go, and carp about how some specific aspect of it is crappy, or we are dimly aware of its existence because we see some TV news person yammering about it as they are standing near some Artscape-looking thing early in the morning during some early-morning TV news thing, or—and I think this is the most of us who go to Artscape—we go and it’s no big deal, and we don’t really talk about how great it is.

Seriously, we go to this thing with at least 300,000 other people over three days! That’s Three Hundred Thousand beings in a grid from Mt. Royal Avenue to North Charles Street, and from Preston Street to North Avenue, not to mention all the spillover stuff that goes on at the same time, all over the place, “official” and unofficial. A third of a Million people! That’s a crazy-successful thing! We do this every year, Baltimore! We rule! Rain or shine!

If you have not gone to Artscape, I can’t believe it, but I say to you, this year, make an effort, consult the info at artscape.org if you are weirded out about going, and then you can figure out a plan to get there and park or get there on Public Transportation, or a cab or ride a bike or whatever, and think about it as a chance to be a stone-cold Tourist in your own neck of the woods, and walk around and look at stuff and people, because Artscape has the most amazing people (on account of Artscape has pretty much All the people), and go into buildings you never went into before and look at some Art, and also, check out all the stuff for sale out on the street, and all the crazy other stuff that’s just Out There for you to interact with and experience, wander around, get a little bit lost, eat something weird, find those semisecret places that have cheap drinks, it’s a Cultural Experience, man, and there is no incorrect way to do it, because You are Culture, you being in a place makes it Valid and stuff, Culturally.

Personally, I like to kick my Artscape off early Friday with a shot at one of the food stands, usually for something novel and possibly fried, yeah, I ain’t gonna lie, and then I go over to the Mount Royal Tavern and loosen up my Art muscles before I walk over to some of the buildings on the MICA campus to look at some cool Art, and sometimes the art makes me laugh, or it makes me angry, or it makes me scratch my head, but whatever, that’s what Art is supposed to do, then I go looking for (another) Hollowed-Out Pineapple Drink Stand (or a Coconut) and head over to the big music stage at the bottom of the hill over by the Ye Old train station, which I guess they are calling the “MEA Energy Stage,” because MEA Energy paid money for that, but that’s where the big acts play, and it’s all free, for We, the People!

I wanna keep it positive, but I gotta say I do miss the ferris wheel.

What are you doing on your summer vacation? Tweet: @mrwrongcolumn, email: wrongcolumn@gmail.com