Colleens and Resurrection
The unlikely tale of Baltimore’s oldest hipster
By Baynard Woods (Baltimore City Paper, 8/15/2012)
“Bowtie” Bob Nelson is seemingly ubiquitous, rivaled only by BMA Director and benevolent scene queen Doreen Bolger in attendance of the city’s hip events: He goes out between five and seven nights a week, to anything that sounds cool: a gallery opening in SoWeBo, a drag burlesque show at the Windup Space, a poetry reading at Liam Flynn’s. He dances in the parking lot of Mother’s, hangs out in Fells Point, watches nearly every outdoor movie, and goes to all the after-parties. It’s not uncommon to see him in one of the warehouse spaces around Station North at 3:00 A.M. “I used to say I’d go out all the time, have a couple drinks, and look for colleens, and people thought I was a lounge lizard,” Nelson says, sitting at the booth of a local bar. “Now I say I’m networking and they say, ‘you’re working so hard.’”
Colleen is Irish slang for a woman, and Nelson’s preferred beer is Resurrection. “I love the Resurrection,” he says. “One time, I went to Hoodscape in Hampden and it was 6 P.M. I bought a couple six-packs of Resurrection and sat down with some people, and I didn’t leave until 6 A.M.”
Yes, “Bowtie” Bob is a hipster, but he is Baltimore’s oldest and unlikeliest hipster. The 67-year-old conservative loves talk radio and Fox News; he is a practicing Catholic (perhaps inspiring the love of Resurrection) and a dedicated preppy.
Today, Nelson is wearing khaki shorts, a blue polo shirt, a seersucker jacket, orange boat shoes, and circular, tortoise shell glasses, on which the waitress compliments him. “People say, ‘I like your clothes,’ and it’s nice but I don’t really care,” he says. “But I love when they notice the glasses. It took me two fucking years to find these things.”
And, of course, the bow tie. His business card has a bow tie on it, and people often just call him “Bowtie.” “I’d never been to the Hustler Club before,” he says. “But I had a reason to go, and this dancer comes up and yells, ‘Hey Bowtie.’ I must have looked worried because she explained: ‘You’re on my friend’s Facebook and I’ve seen pictures of you.’ It was funny. But I don’t really like those places. I like my naked women like I like my food: alone, at home.
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