This article is part of the The Great American Reach Around series.



Our long and terrifying journey South begins today with our sixth installment of the Great American Reach Around. Some people may consider Baltimore, Maryland and Wilmington, Delaware to be part of the North, and that's fine. Look, I really don't feel like arguing, they're right on the edge of the South. Virginia is the South, right? Well, they share Washington, D.C. don't they?

Look, if you're going to be like that, then fuck you. Maryland and Delaware are the South and I don't give a shit what you say about that.

Ahem.


Today, we'll begin our journey through the South with Maryland and Delaware and then continue down very slightly to our nation's capital, Washington, D.C.

Our foreign representatives this time around hail from Australia and New Zealand and we will be making stops in Adelaide, Melbourne, and Auckland. Thanks to sloth love crunk, Mike Barnes, and Jedimastafez.

I would like to begin my portion of the journey this week in one of my favorite American cities: Balitmore, Maryland.

Baltimore, Maryland

On the rim of the South, tucked away in the quiet state of Maryland, is one of America's most famously dangerous cities. The city has become nearly synonymous with gun crime and homicide, a reputation responsible for and fed by two of America's best crime-related television shows. In Barry Levinson's Homicide: Life on the Streets Baltimoreans were portrayed as down-on-their-luck human beings in a down-on-its-luck sort of city. More recently, HBO's The Wire has realistically blended West Baltimore's drug, police, and political cultures into a modern-day Shakespearean drama of intrigue and brutality.

As great as The Wire can be, it perpetuates Baltimore's reputation as the worst big city in the United States. Unfortunately for Baltimoreans, Baltimore's murder statistics continue to perpetuate this image as well. Ranked 12th in the nation for homicides, Baltimore has the highest per-capita murder rate of any major city in America and almost six times the number of per-capita homicides of New York City. Poverty-related crime is responsible for the majority of this yearly bloodbath, but Baltimore's position as a major shipping center of the East Coast also attracts a great deal of unwanted attention from various organized crime groups.

Baltimore is probably best described by two very different words: historic and bleak. Its city center boasts a number of beautiful and historic buildings and even in places where these buildings have fallen into disrepair they retain a sort of stoic old-world grace. In West Baltimore you sense the bleakness of a city completely overwhelmed by poverty. Economic depression as well as government mismanagement and corruption have seen the city on hard times since at least the 1980s. Its attempts to claw its way out of the gutter have been stymied, often by the city's entrenched reputation as a dangerous and unpleasant place.

Did I mention that Baltimore is great? Oh, that must have slipped my mind somewhere between the murder statistics and Omar shooting up a crack house from a wheelchair. Yeah, by the way, Baltimore is a great city.

Think of California and all of its fucking wildfires. Every year half of Southern California burns down because it's a desert full of trees and people die and it's a huge tragedy. Does that mean you shouldn't go to California? Well, you shouldn't go to California, but the wildfires have nothing to do with that. Of course some silly fires don't keep you away, you just stay the fuck away from the huge fire burning everything down. Just stay away from the fires in Balitmore and you'll be fine!

Baltimore has one of the largest and most modern aquariums in the world. It has a football team named after a fucking poem by Edgar Allen Poe, how awesome is that shit? The Ravens may suck horribly, but they are goth as hell. On a nice spring day Baltimore's inner harbor coupled with the city's historic skyline will make you forget all about piles of dead bodies in condemned buildings.

If you go to Baltimore looking for culture and looking for a good time, you will find it. Just buy one of those GPS things for your car and set it to treat West Baltimore like a radiation cloud. Look, it's okay, Baltimoreans understand you're nervous. Wear a Kevlar vest when you visit, but just visit. If you get really scared talk to a police and he'll help you out.


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