Baltimore Be Bullish

The Best of Baltimore from the people who live here.

Bullish: "Being confident or optimistic about something." We're Bullish on Baltimore. 

Guest Author! Joan Kanner of Karmic Messenger on the Bullishness of Saying "No"

A few weeks ago, our friends Joan and Michelle, of Bottoms Up Bagels, let us spend a morning with them in their new kitchen space. We're big fans of the couple thanks to the passion, enthusiasm and authenticity they bring to Bottoms Up - and everything they do. We asked (pressured) Joan, into writing something for Be Bullish to offer more insight into this journey. Here, Joan, who is also the President and Messenger in Chief of Karmic Messenger, explains the benefit of learning to say 'no' and betting on herself...

Fail Fast! Learning the Art of Quitting

A tutorial for the stuck, by Joan Kanner

“A quitter never wins and a winner never quits.” Are you sure about that?

Picture it. Irvington, NJ. It’s 1988. In a basement lunchroom of a Catholic elementary school, a couple dozen 10-year-olds restlessly await the start of a D.A.R.Eclass; each distracted by the thunder snow outside. (Could you blame us? That shit’s rare.)

The teachers settle the kids down and the D.A.R.E. instructor begins.

"There’s some people out there. They have a problem with their…" [points to his nose]

Ten-year-old me had the age-appropriate version of a what-the-fuck moment.

Problem with their nose? Wasn’t this supposed to be a class about DRUGS? My mind quickly switched to word association mode to make sense of it all. “Nose. Noses get hurt through sports. Wait, our school teams suck. What else happens to noses? They run. But that’s usually a drip, not an actual run like on two legs run. And a runny nose isn’t really a “problem,” unless it gets chapped. Wait, could he mean ugly noses? [gasp] Like go get a nose job?!”

Then there it was.

NO, I can’t stay and do drugs. I have homework to do. NO, I can’t meet you behind the gym to get high. My mom will ground me if I come home late.”

What?! This guy was willing to lose my attention because he wanted to have fun with homonyms?! Pfft…

But he did have a point. People do have a problem with their “noes.” This isn’t surprising. After all, persistence is seen as a virtue in our culture. How often does our advice giving include one of the following gems? “You don’t fail until you stop trying.” “Keep on truckin’!” “You can do iiiit!” I challenge you to ask – is this always the best advice?

And, we’re also told that you shouldn’t be wasteful, and isn’t that what quitting is? You already put so many resources into this one thing! on’t waste what you’ve already said/done/ begun to ingest (or imbibe)/ spent/thought.

There are A LOT of reasons why people don’t give up sooner than they should. We’ll focus on two – cognitive dissonance and the sunk-cost fallacy.

Cognitive dissonance. Cognition = thought. Dissonance = conflict. Thoughts that don’t follow one another: I enjoy eating ballpark food. I am trying to lose weight. What’s the problem with these two thoughts? Well, if I’m trying to lose weight, eating ballpark food isn’t the best idea. If I eat ballpark food, I may, in fact, gain weight. So if I really want to lose weight, I shouldn’t eat ballpark food. Now we’re got ourselves a conflict, or dissonance.

You’re presented with conflicting thoughts, and want to make that conflict go bye-bye. This means you’ll keep at something even when it doesn’t make sense to keep at it anymore. Ballpark food isn’t as bad as it once was + losing weight isn’t that important + I work out four times a week. Ta-dah! You can – no, should – have that Triple Crown Sandwich.

Now what about sunk costs? Per Stephen Dubner (Freakonomics):

'Sunk cost’ is about the past — it’s the time, or money, or sweat equity that you’ve put into something, which makes it hard to abandon.

So it’s what you already put into something, whether it’s time, muscle, treasure, social capital or a combo of those things.

In case you were wondering, quitting wasn’t always my thing. I kept showing up for meetings and committees that clearly were going nowhere. Sunk costs.

I worked in a field where day after day my talents and drive were wasted; even mistaken for treason. Raises and promotions gave the illusion of forward progress and safety. Cognitive dissonance.

A fatter paycheck didn’t equate with greater freedom. Instead it was more like hush money. Reality.

But after 15 years in grants and contracts administration, after pouring countless resources into the climb to an Assistant Director position (in title, mind you; not role), I decided to leave it all.

Let’s add that quitting will give you more time, space, energy and OPPORTUNITY. Yes, opportunity. For every hour or dollar you spend on one thing, you’re giving up the opportunity to spend that hour or dollar on something else — something that might make your life better.

For me, the opportunities kept calling. And I knew that they were calling me away from – not toward – the rocks. I needed to answer them before they were gone: a mobile app set to FINALLY hit the App Store, a business changing the bagel game in Baltimore, other projects carefully sketched out waiting for their moment. A tank full of propane. Eggs. Bacon. Can’t start a fire… I was the spark.

And you? Ever daydream during a meeting or while waiting in line, thinking about what you COULD be doing? What opportunities you were missing out on?

Plus, while it may cause anxiety now, quitting has A TON of health benefits!

People who are better able to let go when they experience unattainable goals, they… experience, for example, less depressive symptoms, less negative affect over time. They also have lower Cortisol levels, and they have lower levels of systemic inflammation which is a marker of immune functioning. And they develop fewer physical health problems over time. - Dr. Carsten Wrosch, Psychology professor, Concordia University in Montreal

Simply put, a few years ago I finally understood that I was asking myself the wrong question:

“Why am I doing this?” Better: “Why am I still doing this?”

My answer? I chose to leave a career during my “prime earning years.” I chose to turn my attention and energy to growing Karmic Messenger and its products, especially Fugue. In sum, I chose to bet on myself.

If I should stay
I would only be in your way
So I’ll go but I know
I’ll think of you every step of the way…

As inspiration – and for your amusement – check out my “Conscious Uncoupling” speech that I read at my JHU going away gathering. (Then the lyrics below will make so much more sense...)

Your pal,


P.S. Challah at ya’ girl. E-mail me at

Bullish on Bottoms Up Bagels

Joan Kanner and Michelle Bond, co-founders of Bottoms Up Bagels, work to create the bagel memories they grew up with as kids in New Jersey. For Joan, that’s Saturday night visits with her grandparents to Watson Bagels in Irvington, New Jersey to get bagels before going home to watch The Golden Girls. For Michelle, Joan’s wife and Bottoms Up owner, it’s the memory of the steam-covered windows and countertops at the shops she used to visit daily in high school.

About exactly a year ago, we shared our own bagel memory with Bottoms Up, when we micro-casted with Michelle from a freezing cold park bench at 7am while discussing her favorite bagel pairings. We've clearly come a long way since then; this time we met Michelle and Joan - inside - at their new space in B-More Kitchen on a Sunday afternoon. When we spoke last year, Michelle and Joan were ramping up for their pop-up bagel takeover at the Pixilated space in Federal Hill (and they then proceeded to sell-out everyday for eight days…).

Disclaimer: we're huge fans of Michelle, Joan and their bagels (handmade, the best in Baltimore no argument - especially a black russian with their green onion cream cheese and lox...or the sesame with sriracha cream cheese...) and they are our friends. Some might say we're biased, but we just think that's called being bullish on their bagel game.

So we wanted to know what this journey of “creating a bagel memory” looks like, especially in Baltimore - and what it means to Joan and Michelle.

Bottoms Up grew, literally, from the bottom up as Michelle and Joan hustled out of their kitchen, making bagels for friends and special events. Fueled by a desire to turn this side-project into a “wonderful playground for getting things done our way,” they decided to go for it and sell their bagels to the public at the Waverly Main Street Holiday Pop Up Market in December 2015. While they were new to the scene, they sold out within hours. We told you, they are excellent (shout out to the everything bagel with kimchi and’s messy, just try it). Since then, Joan and Michelle have focused on creating and growing a food business that genuinely emphasizes the value they provide to their customers. This is why each Saturday, all winter long, you can find them outside cooking up breakfast sandwiches at the 32nd Street Farmers Market.

We became bullish on Bottoms Up thanks to the time Joan and Michelle spent chatting with us at their different events this year. They will take the time to get to know you and your feedback - so much to the point that you won’t realize, while you’re trying to politely crush your bagel sandwich at 9am, that they have been at it for five hours already. Just don’t suggest, for example, that they “pre-prepare” eggs to improve speed/efficiency. Those eggs will be cracked on the spot. Always. Period.

Creating a valuable customer experience is at the core of Bottoms Up, and according to Joan, the people of Baltimore reward value. We agree. Like most people here, we enjoy traveling for experiences - especially food - when we have a connection to the people behind it. In any city where you can easily spend $5 on a latte, we appreciate that Michelle and Joan are intentional in offering a handmade product for $2, while emphasizing the importance of their customers. True facts: We have been told several times that if we can’t find a bagel at one of their many retailers throughout the city (The Room, Handlebar Cafe, Modern Cook Shop, Dovecote Cafe, Chuck’s Trading Post…), we can just text them. We'd like to think we're exceptional, but it's not's them. #customerservice.

In just under a year, we watched as Bottom’s Up grew from preparing, baking and boiling bagels and curing lox in their own kitchen (thanks to Maryland’s cottage food business law*) to signing on as the second member of the new B-More Kitchen incubator space. In between, they found creative ways to increase their production capacity by working out of community churches and community centers in order to meet the continuous demand, while also navigating the complex permitting and licensing procedures. Michelle also cites the City Seeds School of Food Program as useful in terms of outlining the different steps involved to obtain all necessary permits and networking with other small food businesses.

Like many young food entrepreneurs, Joan and Michelle started and ran the ‘Bottoms Up’ operation in parallel to their ‘day’ jobs. It wasn’t until September that Joan was able to walk away from her 15-year career in grants and research administration in order to pursue Bottoms Up full time. Michelle still continues providing marketing and consulting services to non-profits.

But still, we wanted to know how you get to this place where you can really start to throw everything into the risky food industry. For Bottoms Up, the timing of completion of B-More Kitchen in September 2016, aligned well with their own growth, which Joan says they have planned for since day one. This planning has been essential to their success, and made it feasible to secure the kitchen membership (starting with nights and weekends only, and working their way up to full-time). The kitchen, a 10,000-square foot space, is “committed to providing the city’s food entrepreneurs with the space and the resources they need to grow their businesses”.

We toured the space, learning just how labor intensive this process is; it takes time to make the dough and ensure it rises just right before boiling and baking these bagels to perfection. Thanks to the additional equipment and space, Michelle says they are now able to do in 15 minutes what used to take two 8-10 hour days. A win as well for bagel fans, as they continue to increase their list of retailers throughout the city.

We’re stoked to watch our friends continuously ramp up their bagel game and we’ll be following along on this journey. As we see spaces like Mount Vernon Marketplace and R House join the scene, boasting opportunities for small food businesses, we’re curious to see if and how this translates into accessibility and value for both owners and patrons. We have lots of questions...

Before a massive bagel lunch session (sesame bagel with lox and green onion cream cheese...), we wrapped it up with some quick life tips and hard hitting questions about Baltimore celebrities and chef collaborations:

Lox Lifehack tip: Pricing a relatively “ordinary” product at slightly “premium” price due to its handmade, labor-intensive nature can be difficult in terms of finding a balance. However, on a recent trip to Giant, Michelle learned that their lox, which they cure themselves and is insanely delicious and not too salty, is slightly cheaper than the supermarket brand. So hunt them down and get your lox….!

If you had to chose one Baltimore celebrity (not John Waters) to eat your bagel, who would it be and what bagel would you give them?

Joan: I would give Divine the She-Ra sandwich: double eggs, double cheese, bacon and pork roll on a bagel of her choice.

Michelle: I’d go for Sonja Sohn, and give her the Loxed Up: lox, green onion cream cheese and capers on an everything bagel.

Who is your dream celebrity chef bagel collaboration?

Joan: Jose Andres. A lox gel and caper foam with a bagel mist. And also The Charmery. Everything bagel ice cream, anyone?

Michelle: Anything with Cat Cora (raised eyebrow). We also were in Poland this fall and met Nava of Bagel Mama in Krakow. He’s a New Yorker running one of three bagel shops in the country. Poland is birthplace of the bagel! We plan to do something with him in the future.

Stay up to date with Bottoms Up on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We promised we’d keep our mouths shut but they have some cool things coming up on 2017. All we’ll say is they have been playing around with a smoker and there’s some chatter about a pop-up/history lesson in bagelry at Nava’s Bagel Mama in Krakow, with Bottom’s Up bringing some high-gluten flour into the bagel motherland.

*The Maryland Cottage Food Law “allows citizens to operate from a home-based kitchen or on-farm food processing kitchen to produce "cottage foods". A “cottage food" product is a non-hazardous food sold at a farmer's market or public events.”

On Community: A Love Dovecote

 Fresh beet juice, custom mugs and Baltimore-roasted beans. We're fans, Dovecote. 

Fresh beet juice, custom mugs and Baltimore-roasted beans. We're fans, Dovecote. 


We often talk about striving to engage and build community. This is a perfect aspiration to put at the core of what you do, especially if you're all about being bullish. While it's one thing to aspire to, it's another to genuinely devote your time to ensure this is happening in the best way possible and on multiple levels. And it's definitely another thing when you achieve this after recently making a new city your home.

Yes, this is my love letter to the crew at Dovecote Cafe. These ladies exemplify the meaning of community and bullishness.

Apparently, yesterday was treat yourself Thursday, because I succeeded to make Dovecote my "office" for most of the day. I aim for this every week, and never manage to make it happen. If you follow them on Instagram (oh hey @dovecotecafe!), you completely understand. Their IG game is strong (and how I found out about this magic in the first place!)  But it's all about that "in real life" action. Five minutes into your first visit you quickly realize Dovecote embodies everything you'd ever want if you opened not only a neighborhood coffee shop, but a community-focused and driven business. And this is no accident. Their name, Dovecote "is meant to evoke a sense of communal nesting". So clearly, what they do is very on point, in my very expert opinion.

Let's start with owners Aiesha and Cole and the team working there. When you go in for the first time, they will introduce themselves. They will remember you the next time you come in. They will give you a hug. If you're like me, and you stalk them on Instagram before you make your first visit, tell them your IG "handle". Don't be awkward, again like me, and wait until they figure it out from someone else. They pay attention to everyone because they are genuinely interested in making this place feel communal and among friends.  

At 10:30am on a Thursday, Dovecote was packed. Again, in my expert opinion, this is not the norm for most coffee shops mid-day, anywhere in the city. Every time I've been there it's packed. And for those of you who are still getting to know the place, Dovecote isn't located in the heart of Fed Hill, Fells Point or Mt. Vernon. It's on Madison Ave, a residential street lined with row houses, just south of Druid Hill park and north of North Ave, in the heart of  Reservoir Hill.


People come to Dovecote because they want to be at Dovecote. Everything Dovecote does is deliberate. Let's start with the coffee. The insanely good Cafe Los Suenos isn't roasted in Baltimore by coincidence. There's a story behind every piece of art on the wall. I just need to go back to hear them all. Same with the books, CDs and mugs they sell. All the baked goods are made in house, fresh. And when they run out they run out. Mmmmm date bread and corn bread muffins with melted butter on top. Yes please. (Refer to their inst-food-porn for more details). And now their girl @naturallychefcat is doing lunch. (Note: chicken chili, chicken
ciabatta and mac and cheese...ok I'll continue). Oh, and the locally made juice.

So yes, Dovecote offers a delicious product with excellent service in
a perfect setting. This is now beyond obvious. What stands out most, however, is how well the Dovecote team has engaged and built community. I've seen them at Start Up Soiree, the Innovation Village kickoff, the Baltimore Impact Hub, and thanks to Instagram, I know they are all over this city, generating ideas and making moves. And they know everyone. (This wasn't verified with our resident fact
checker, but I think it's true). And, again not verified with the fact checker, I'm pretty sure they have been been in Baltimore for less than a year, demonstrating that we don't need to be longtime residents to be bullish about this city, we need to be motivated and committed. 

In addition to running around and taking care of the usual operations, Aiesha and Cole spend their time getting to really know everyone who comes in. As a result they attract the most bullish individuals in our city...I'm pretty fairly certain this is where ideas comes from that make good things happen.

This crew has way more going on than I even know about (I'm talking to you, @brioxy), and hopefully we'll have more about Dovtecote in the future. I'll end this love letter here and just say thank you.

Stay bullish.


PS  When you make it to Dovecote, let us know about your visit. 

What's with the Bagels?: Bottoms Up Bagels

Today Be Bullish finally got itself down to the "Bottoms Up Bagels popup. If you recall, on Monday we aired the first of our 5 minute series, this one taking place on a park bench with Michelle Bond, one of the founders of Bottoms Up. If you didn't listen to that 5 minute piece, go back and learn up on what kind of apple juice is best paired with an everything bagel. Bottoms Up Bagels has been camped out at the Pixilated Federal Hill art gallery all week  and has been distributing high quality bagels to the masses. You've got one more day to get down there, so get to it!

Keep an eye on Bottoms up Bagels  in the coming months in order to track them down at more locations. They'll be popping up around the city to give you delicious bagels whenever possible. Please, go support them. They're Bullish on this city. Baltimore could use some damn good bagels. 

What's with the shirts?

The idea for Baltimore Be Bullish came from a number of places, one of those places being this article. We had been hunting for a clear, concise way of summing up our feelings about Baltimore and when that article rolled our way we decided we had found it. After doing some more research on the phrase and its usage we decided that, if anything, we were without a doubt "Bullish on Baltimore."

Pretty soon, that simple idea spread to other things, namely these t-shirts. The idea for the podcast came first but shortly after we decided that if we were going to urge others to Be Bullish on Baltimore that we aught to literally wear it on our chest. The first shirts were ordered and we casually started wearing and posting about them. One thing lead to another and now, thanks to some help from volunteers and good friends, these shirts are available to Baltimore's most bullish individuals. Just send us an email @ You can tell us a story too.

Simply put, these shirts are about spreading a mindset in our city and someday hopefully across the country and the world. The crew behind Baltimore Be Bullish knows that our city needs help in many ways. So, while we seek to contribute to the betterment of our city in a variety ways during our daily lives, Baltimore Be Bullish itself is focused on pride of place and dedication to our city. Our hope is that the individuals who decide to wear a shirt are the individuals who see Baltimore as their home and want to invest themselves in its betterment. 

 Baltimore Be Bullish will always be about the people in this town who make a difference, whether that's a friendly bartender, a community center director or the founder of a local theater. These shirts are about loving what we've got and ultimately moving away from the perpetuation of a bleak image of our city. We believe that by encouraging city residents to take time from their day to learn about each other, we can truly instill some change as a united citizenry. 

We wear shirts because we like it here. We try to talk our friends into moving here,  into buying houses here, into supporting our local communities and businesses. We don't like big box stores, we don't like burger chains. We like the people that live here and what they represent. We wear shirts because we want to share that.

Ultimately, the shirts are just a small gesture but they're a small gesture we'll stand behind. So whether or not you ever wear a shirt or have any interest in wearing one, we need you on the team. It's our home and we're pretty damn bullish about it.




  Baltimore, the greatest corners in America.

Baltimore, the greatest corners in America.

We have big plans here at the Baltimore Be Bullish headquarters. We're two individuals, obsessed with this city, fueled by ADHD and coffee and beef sticks from Grace's Acre. This means each day we pump out a steady stream of texts, gchats, Instagram tags, emails, handwritten notes, Tinder swipes, LinkedIn connections and Craigslist missed connections about things we want to check out as part of our journey into exploring the best of Baltimore from the people who live here. Yes, that's our tag line, we hope you remember it. Because this endeavor also relies on bullish people like you to help us out. Where should we go? What should we order? Who is your favorite person in this city we need to interrogate? 

In our first podcast, Bobby talked about Baltimore's amazing sense of community. We couldn't agree more. There are so many stories behind the corner stores, old buildings, former Chinese restaurants (did Baltimore have its own Chinatown before?), railroad tracks, murals, farmers market stands, fried lake trout spots, roller skating rinks, factories and social clubs. We're excited about this project because this is the Baltimore we want to explore. And we can, thanks to the abundance of people who have been bullish on Baltimore long before we made it the phrase of the century. Yeah, watch out US Office of Patents and Trademarks, we're coming for you. 

  Yo, CHI.A DOLL, what's your story?

Yo, CHI.A DOLL, what's your story?

Everyday, we hear about new ideas, initiatives and people who are putting everything they have into making this city better and working to engage more of the community. Last night, we attended the MVBA Mayoral Candidate Forum in Mount Vernon. More #bebullish-ness on the Mayoral election to come. We're pumped there are more of these packed events all over the city than we can keep track of. But we'll be all over, and using the social medias to post our whereabouts ahead of time. Find us, tell us about all the cool stuff we don't know about yet. You get your hair cut from an 85 year old dude whose family used to own a distillery during prohibition? That's awesome, please take us there, we'd love to meet him and his whole family. Or at the very least, share something with us to save us from making up stories about distillery-owning barbers who don't actually exist. Finally, if you don't already know about the campaign to end Be Bullish from our first podcast, well check it out. We're looking at you John Waters. 


Bobby Coleman is a Baltimore based artist and self proclaimed "stuff maker." Bobby was formally featured on our previous podcast, "The Meatless Monday," which was an international success before being bought out by the Tribute Company. Bobby is about as Bullish as they come and is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the city. His dedication to Baltimore didn't come without its bumps, however. As he discusses in this interview, it took a while for the city to become home. This episode with Bobby is a mix of legitimate Baltimore information, Bobby's favorite places to eat and drink, musings on the Baltimore art scene, all punctuated by an absurd story about packing up art in John Water's apartment. 

This particular episode was recorded at Bobby's studio in the "Crown Cork and Seal Building" off of Fait Avenue in Greek Town. We at Bullish have had the privilege of visiting the Crown building several times and we're always astounded by how busy it is.   While the place has the appearance of an abandoned old factory ( it has this appearance because that's kind of what it is) the building houses a number of artists, musicians, craftsmen and guys and gals we presume we'd enjoy drinking beer with. The old warehouse seems like the type of place you might need a password to get into, or in the very least a briefcase full of cash.  

The Crown Cork and Seal building was the home of, you guessed it, The Crown Cork and Seal company until the late 1950's.  Founded in Baltimore in 1892, the Crown company made its money packaging soft drinks and beer (until a little thing called prohibition hit the the U.S of A, then it was primarily soft drinks) and later developing innovative methods of can production. 


While in Baltimore the Crown company diversified its product line,  producing gas mask canisters during war time and later developing some of the first widely used aerosol cans. These products seem to have had snappy titles like the "spray-tainer," a tradition Crown seems to have carried through to this day. Although Crown left Baltimore in 1958, they have continued to market products with names like the "Global Vent" a "a dual aperture beverage end that offers a smoother pour and an enhanced experience for consumers." I have a feeling this item can be found on a Coor's can somewhere. Regardless, Crown left us a gem of a building.

What remains of the Crown company in Baltimore is the massive old warehouse where Bobby makes his art and art stuffs. The inside is a labyrinth of elevators, dark stairwells and fire escapes, punctuated by foggy window panes and the occasional leaky duct work.  If you have the opportunity to check out the building or any of its residents (particularly Bobby's unreal artwork) we at Be Bullish highly suggest it. The building has a ton of character and, as far as we can tell, is home to a variety of characters. 

Now Listen to Bobby's Podcast. First one to e-mail Baltimore.BeBullish@gmail with the correct answer to the podcast question ( located with Bobby's podcast here )  gets a free Baltimore Be Bullish t-shirt.