Mr. Wrong By Joe MacLeod

Mr. Wrong: Pretty Vacants

Mr. Wrong: Do you remember that "Project 5000" thing with all the vacant properties?

Hey Baltimore, do you remember that "Project 5000" thing or whatever it was called, where The City bought a mess of Vacant Properties and they (and you know who They are) were gonna do something with 'em to make Baltimore better? To interest, entice, and otherwise impel lotsa the Populace to look to Baltimore and say they want to Repopulate it? Then the Increased Populace would stimulate Baltimore's Economy, and it would be good for the Tax Base, and the Infrastructures and stuff, right? Did anybody Get In On It? What happened with all those Vacants, eh? Are they still Vacant? I think this was erstwhile Mayor of Baltimore Martin O'Malley's Project, the 5000, which could be another name for one of his bands, eh, the Martin O'Malley Project? Isn't it weird to think he could one day have the Greatest Job in Government, Vice President?

I heard once that it's more like "Project 15,000" at this point? On account of all the Vacancies? Do you ever think about what you would do with five or 10 thousand parcels of Vacant? In my tiny but highly active brain I see thousands of Rowhouse-type houses, but I guess these Vacants can be whatever, house-type houses. What would you do with 'em? Knock 'em down? What if there's a block with 10 houses and nine of 'em are Vacants? Knock nine down and leave one house standing like that one over by the Dunkin' Donuts on Pulaski, past that frowzy showbar?

If you knock a buncha rowhouses down, doesn't that play hob with the walls of whatever's left standing, as in, they might go ahead and Collapse? I always picture a block of Vacants with one little old lady standing on her stoop wondering what the fuck is going on, you know? Do you tell that one person in that one house they need to leave? "Hey lady, you need to get with the program and like, die, or move someplace, so we can Project 5000 your house, OK?"

There was this Major Motion Picture called "Colossus: The Forbin Project" (1970), and this paragraph will be total spoilering of the movie, but the United States (of America) built a Supercomputer with a mind of its own, and it got into some hardcore Planetary Urban Renewal, and it wasn't pretty, man. It starred Eric Braeden (who currently portrays Victor Newman on "The Young and The Restless") as the titular Project guy, and he made this computer to Defend America, of course, but then shit got weird and Colossus was telling the People of Earth they needed to move everybody off the Greek island of Crete so it could build a better computer station for itself, and if the Cretans didn't move, the Supercomputer would just kill everybody and then go ahead and do what it wanted. The movie is kinda Vintage, and right now if anybody told Greece that a world-controlling sentient Supercomputer wanted to use the isle of Crete for an office, the reaction might be kinda positive, economy-wise, but also a bunch of Cretans might be like, "Hey, we live here, man, go build your world-controlling substation someplace else, this is our neighborhood and stuff," right? The idea back then in the movie, in 1970, was this is nuts, to displace all these people for Progress, just because a computer that's smarter than all the People of Earth combined thinks it's a good idea. I forget if there was a Happy Ending, I mean, it mighta been a Happy Ending for Supercomputers, you know?

Meanwhile, what did we do with all those Vacants? What are we gonna do with these Vacants? I know the city gave some guy 50 grand to paint enigmatic aphorisms on some of the ones that were gonna get torn down for Urban Renewal, but that couldn'ta been the whole 5000, could it?

Hey, maybe We The People of Baltimore could grow some medicinal pot—the City could get one of these permits to grow dope and turn Vacants into growhouses for Medical Mary Jane, huh? That's a pretty good idea, I think, I mean, you wanna talk Vacants to Value, we're talking Urban Agribusiness and a Municipal Revenue Enhancement, right? Plus there will be taxes on all that dope! Baltimore: The City That Weeds! Look, I'm one of the few people not running for mayor in this fucking town and I have all the good ideas, so I deputize the next mayor to get going on this initiative, let's grow cannabis in the Vacants.

OK, that could be like 5,000 out of the 15,000 of Project 5000, right? We got 10,000 to play with, and I could soak that up with one move. Syrians!

How many tens of thousands of Syrians are trying to get someplace where they won't shot or gassed or otherwise killed? It's like 4 Million people? We could get 10,000 overnight, man, I bet any of those Euro countries would totally cough up plane fare for 10,000 Syrians in a minute, and that would just be one house for one Syrian, man, so it could be double or triple or even fourple that many Syrians we could get over here to Repopulate Baltimore! Plus, there's gotta be a way we could get a check from Uncle Sam to help with expenses to fix up the thousands of houses, I mean, we're spending how much on missiles?

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