Rat Czar versus Rat CatcherAt Home Paramount, we spend a lot of time on the road, delivering our services to customers. In the Baltimore metro area, it’s helpful to understand the hidden lingo of the bumper sticker to figure out folks’ affiliations (and to pass the time while stuck in traffic on 695 or 83). Baltimore bumper stickers fall into two main categories – declarations of independent school affiliations or the infamous rat sticker.
The independent school affiliations are fairly straightforward. The classic cardinal profile denotes a Calvert Hall College devotee, one of the more popular and respected Catholic high schools educating Baltimore’s boys. A golden L in a cobalt oval declares its driver to affiliate with Loyola Blakefield, an elite Jesuit prep school and Baltimore’s City on the Hill. Spot an orange circle with the mysterious letters McD and you’ve tagged a McDonogh family from the west side of the beltway. But perhaps our favorite is the Gilman shield sporting three bees (our favorite beneficial insect) which embody the ideal of industry.
And then there are the kitschy stickers. Our current favorite is the Rat Czar’s ode to the urban pest. Outsiders might be slightly perplexed when they spot a rat silhouette surrounding the bold letters BALT. Charm City, USA confirms that it is, in fact, a Baltimore reference. But why a rat?
The rat sticker is the artistic expression of Matt Fouse, also known as the Rat Czar. Legend has it that he came up with the idea while sitting on a backyard deck in Charles Village, enjoying the antics of the local rat population. And so the sticker was born as a way to celebrate uniquely gritty Baltimore, which embraces its foibles and recasts its ubiquitous rats as charming accoutrements to the urban lifestyle.
The rat population is not actually a new issue for Baltimore, though perhaps it has not always been viewed as such a charming part of city life. Beloved Mayor Thomas D’Alesandro, presented our founder with an “Honorary Rat Catcher” certificate on October 10, 1950 for his work ridding the city of these large-ish rodents. Mayor Catherine Pugh repeated the award in 2017 and we were delighted to receive the accolade.
And so, we will continue to search for ways to lessen the impact of rodents on humans even while we enjoy a stick that symbolizes Baltimore’s unique sense of affection for their hometown. To get your own, visit www.ratczar.com.