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Grave Concerns Will Detective Suiter’s death bring Commissioner Davis down? By Baynard Woods

Lincoln Theatre • 1215 U Street, NW Washington, D.C. JUST ANNOUNCED! STORY DISTRICT’S

PostSecret: The Show

...... SAT MARCH 24

On Sale Friday, December 15 at 10am



The White Buffalo w/ Suzanne Santo .................................................. W DEC 13 Angel Olsen w/ White Magic .......................................................................... F 15 ALL GOOD PRESENTS

Victor Wooten Trio feat. Dennis Chambers & Bob Franceschini...... Sa 16 Municipal Waste w/ NAILS • Macabre • Shitfucker.................................... Su 17 Up and Vanished Live This is a seated show. ................................................ M 18 DECEMBER

JANUARY (cont.)


Ookay .........................................F 22




Echelon The Seeker • OG Lullabies • Fielder •

FootsXColes • Flash Frequency • Redline Graffiti • Dreamcast .Sa 23


Flosstradamus .....................Th 28 Can’t Feel My Face: 2010s Dance Party with DJs Will Eastman & Ozker with visuals by Kylos ...............F 29


MØ & Cashmere Cat

w/ Darius ....................................Tu 23

w/ Luther Dickinson ..................Th 25

Frankie Ballard.......................F 26 STEEZ PROMO PRESENTS

Manic Focus and Minnesota .....................Sa 27 Enter Shikari w/ Single Mothers & Milk Teeth..Su 28

w/ Night Beats .............................M 29

w/ Mindless Faith ...........................F 5

Boat Burning: Music for 100 Guitars

w/ Visuals by DC guerrilla projectionist Robin Bell .............Su 7

The Wombats

w/ Blaenavon & Courtship.............M 8 ! SOLD OUT! SECOND NIGHT ADDED

Passion Pit ................................Tu 9 Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven ....Th 11 RJD2 w/ Photay .........................Sa 13 Dorothy ....................................Su 14 ALL GOOD PRESENTS

Collie Buddz w/ Jo Mersa Marley

& The Holdup..............................M 15


Circles Around The Sun....Th 18


BoomBox ..................................F 19


The Infamous Stringdusters ......................Sa 20



White Ford Bronco: DC’s All 90s Band..................... DEC 31 Henry Rollins Travel Slideshow .......................... JAN 15


Top Shelf ...................................... JAN 20 Majid Jordan w/ Stwo................... JAN 23 ALL GOOD PRESENTS

The Wood Brothers w/ The Stray Birds ................... JAN 26 & 27 • •

Dixie Dregs (Complete Original Lineup with Steve Morse, Rod Morgenstein, Allen Sloan, Andy West, and Steve Davidowski) ..................MAR 7 AEG PRESENTS

Bianca Del Rio ........................... MAR 15

Rob Bell

w/ Peter Rollins ............. MAR 27

Max Raabe & Palast Orchester...................APR 11 Calexico w/ Ryley Walker ...............APR 27

U Street (Green/Yellow) stop across the street!

Tennis w/ Overcoats ..................W 24 Big Head Todd & The Monsters

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

The Dead Milkmen


Sucker For Love ........................ FEB 10

w/ Stevie Woodward ........................ DEC 13





Kip Moore, Randy Rogers, and Wade Bowen (Acoustic)

Kimbra w/ Arc Iris....................Tu 30 Typhoon w/ Bad Bad Hats .........W 31 FEBRUARY

9:30 CLUB PRESENTS AT U STREET MUSIC HALL Shamir w/ Partner .........................F DEC 15 Why? w/ Open Mike Eagle ........................F 9 herMajesty & Honest Haloway Anti-Flag & Stray From The Path .. Sa 10 w/ Greenland ................................Sa JAN 13 Wylder ................................................ Sa 17 Alex Aiono w/ Trinidad Cardona ........... Sa 20 MAGIC GIANT w/ The Brevet.............. Su 18 Cuco + Helado Negro w/ Lido Pimienta ................................... Tu 23 MAKO .................................................. Sa 24 Rostam w/ Joy Again ......................Th FEB 1 Gabrielle Aplin w/ John Splithoff ...... Su 25 Flint Eastwood w/ NYDGE .....................F 2 Missio w/ Welshly Arms...................F MAR 2 Anna Meredith ................................... Sa 3 Joywave ............................................... Sa 3 Mod Sun w/ Karizma .............................. M 5 Ella Vos ................................................. M 5 • Buy advance tickets at the 9:30 Club box office •


Greensky Bluegrass w/ Billy Strings

Ticket included with purchase of tickets to 2/3 Greensky Bluegrass @ The Anthem .F 2 STEEZ PROMO PRESENTS

Emancipator Ensemble ......Sa 3 J. Roddy Walston and The Business ...................................Th 8 COIN w/ The Aces ......................Sa 10 Múm ..........................................Su 11 Sleigh Bells w/ Sunflower Bean ......................W 14 U STREET MUSIC HALL PRESENTS


w/ Elephante & Youngr .............Th 15

ZZ Ward w/ Black Pistol Fire

& Billy Raffoul ..............................F 16

STRFKR w/ Reptaliens .............Sa 17

The best thing you could possibly put in your mouth Cupcakes by BUZZ... your neighborhood bakery in Alexandria, VA. |

TICKETS for 9:30 Club shows are available through, by phone at 1-877-4FLY-TIX, and at the 9:30 Club box office. 9:30 CLUB BOX OFFICE HOURS are 12-7pm on weekdays & until 11pm on show nights, 6-11pm on Sat, and 6-10:30pm on Sun on show nights.


PARKING: THE OFFICIAL 9:30 parking lot entrance is on 9th Street, directly behind the 9:30 Club. Buy your advance parking tickets at the same time as your concert tickets!




General & Cosmetic Services Kind & Cariing Staff • Oral Sedation Implants • “One Visit Crowns” • Invisalign Snoring & Sleep Disorders • Prosthodontist Convenient Parking • Evening Hours • Financing

D r. K . Mi c h a e l M ur p hy & Asso ciates , LLC D rs . Le vy, Mu r p h y & Welzel




After the Ceasefire

Joseph Kohl’s Baltimore

Lisa Snowden-McCray talks to Erricka Bridgeford

Scenes from the end of the century at the Maryland Historical Society

Photos by Devin Allen Stor y by Rebekah Kirkman • Photos by Reginald Thomas II





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Grave Concerns

Will Detective Suiter’s death bring Commissioner Davis down?

Jennifer Marsh ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Ext. 9463 Lisa Snowden-McCray EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Ext. 9461 Maura Callahan DEPUTY EDITOR Brandon Soderberg MANAGING EDITOR Ext. 9462 Jeff Stintz ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Ext. 9464 CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING 202-747-2077

Praised be Springfield/Homer 25:17 “The Simpsons” as scripture in “Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play”

Making Music, Making food Dylan Ubaldo’s food pop-up Calasag

WEEK IN REVIEW . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 BEAT NEWS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 REAL NEWS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 BLADE NEWS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 DEMOCRACY IN CRISIS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 GRAVE CONCERNS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 ART . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 MUSIC. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 BOOKS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 STAGE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 SCREENS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 FOOD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 WEED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 PUZZLE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36


The Creative Alliance screening of “Die Hard” is Dec. 22, at 8 p.m. not Dec. 2. Due to a reporting error, our review of Njideka Akunyili Crosby’s solo show “Counterparts,” contains descriptions of works that were not on display at the Baltimore Museum of Art. The Beat regrets the error. DECEMBER 13, 2017


Azer Creative DESIGN & PRODUCTION 202-540-8928 For distribution, contact Lynne Brown at 202-747-2077, Ext. 8075. Distributed by MediaPoint, LLC All material in the Baltimore Beat is protected by federal copyright law and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the Baltimore Beat. Although the Baltimore Beat is supported by many fine advertisers, we cannot accept responsibility for claims made by advertisers. Unsolicited editorial material is accepted by the Baltimore Beat, but the paper cannot take responsibility for its return. The editors reserve the right to accept, reject or edit any submission. A single copy of the Baltimore Beat is available from authorized distribution points, to any individual within Baltimore. Multiple copies are available from the Baltimore Beat office only. Call for rates. If you are unable to get to a convenient free distribution point, you may receive a 52-week mailed subscription for $195 per year or $5.00 per single issue. Checks or credit card orders can be sent to Postmaster: Send address changes to the Baltimore Beat, PO BOX 53352 Washington, DC 20009. The Baltimore Beat is published weekly, on Wednesday, by Brown Naff Pitts Omnimedia, Inc. Individual Subscriptions are $195 per year for 52 issues (only $3.75 per issue mailed to you USPS). Rates for businesses/institutions are $450 per year. Periodical postage paid at Washington, D.C., and additional mailing offices. Editorial positions of the Baltimore Beat are expressed in editorials and in editors’ notes as determined by the paper’s editors. Other opinions are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Baltimore Beat or its staff. To submit a letter or commentary: Letters should be fewer than 400 words; commentaries should be fewer than 750 words. Submissions may be edited for content and length, and must include a name, address and phone number for verification. Send submissions by e-mail to ©2017 BROWN NAFF PITTS OMNIMEDIA, INC.


Bring coats to donate to Youth EmpoweredSociety! Our goal is to donate at least 100 coats, so clean out your closets! FOOD & DRINK SPECIALS

Pen&Quill 1701 N. Charles St. in Station North

For more information about YOUTH EMPOWERED SOCIETY, check out

Week In Review The last week in news not covered elsewhere in this issue

Image Courtesy Facebook

Planned Parenthood of MD Volunteer Holiday/ Thank You Card Making Party D E C . 1 4

• A unanimous vote from Baltimore City Councilmembers last week means the city

is a little closer to getting the $12 million youth fund up and running. The goal of the youth fund is to make sure that smaller groups that work with youth in the city get access to money that will help them do their work more effectively. It still needs a vote from the Board of Estimates. Also, officials still need to figure out who will decide how the money is allocated. It has the potential to be a step in the right direction, especially as some city and state officials stubbornly cling to over-policing as a way to fix Baltimore’s problems. Governor Larry Hogan called for U.S. Marshals, state troopers, and more probation and parole officers to fix the city’s recent increase in crime. “I have absolutely no tolerance whatsoever for these repeat violent offenders and these criminal gangs causing lawlessness in our streets,” he said last Tuesday. He didn’t mention any plans to boost the city’s school, transportation, or jobs problems, though, and used the occasion to dismiss Mayor Catherine Pugh’s focus on city youth: “I didn’t consider that to be an immediate violent crime plan or strategy, and I still don’t.” He didn’t mention any plans to fix the city’s scandal-embroiled police force, either. Weird. Due to Alec MacGillis’ ProPublica piece “The Beleaguered Tenants of ‘Kushnerville” published in the New York Times, Jared Kusher’s properties in the Baltimore area are being investigated and some of its tenants are suing. But Kushner Companies, formerly run by the presidential son-in-law, doesn’t think the media needs to know the identities of its investors. A subsidiary of the company, Westminster Management, is being sued by tenants who accuse them of charging excessive and illegal rent. A document listing the names of those investors is part of court filings and the AP, along with The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, and WMAR-TV, filed a motion in federal court last Friday, looking to see those names. Kushner Companies, by the way, denies any wrongdoing in the tenant suit. Why so secretive, then? The Baltimore Sun reports that earlier this month Leo Joseph Green and James Green were awarded $147,100 by the city tied to a lawsuit involving false arrest, battery, and the violation of constitutional rights. The officers named in the suit are Officers Nicholas Chapman, Daraine Harris, Brian Loiero, Marcus Smothers, and Nathan Ulmer, and it alleges that the Greens were stopped without cause and searched, and that James Green was tased. One of the officers involved in this suit, Nicholas Chapman, should sound familiar to those following police brutality cases in Baltimore closely. Chapman was also involved in the 2013 in-custody death of Tyrone West (whose family was given $1 million earlier this year) and the alleged beating of Abdul Salaam (who was given $70,000 earlier this year). In total, the city has paid out $1.2 million over the past two years in cases connected to Chapman. The Roland Park Civic League has asked residents to take down signs posted in support of immigrants and the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s a bad look for the area since, as pointed out in a piece written about the flap by The Baltimore Sun’s Luke Broadwater, the area once “championed racially restrictive covenants a century ago.” In that same piece, City Solicitor Andre Davis pokes holes in the group’s assertion that the signs violate Baltimore City zoning code, saying those rules don’t apply to small signs in residential areas. To their credit, the people who have those signs posted refused to take them down. We ask you, Roland Park Civic League: What is more unsightly? Signs making black and brown people feel safe, or appearing to prefer staying holed up in your silo over acknowledging the problems of others? We got just enough snow Saturday to make the city look pretty and wintery, but not enough to make the roads slushy, impassable, and gross. We got nearly three inches—a not-bad first snowfall of the season. We’re not going to say that this winter miracle was the result of our first ever holiday guide hitting the streets, but it’s certainly an interesting coincidence. There were four homicides in Baltimore over the past week (Dec. 4-Dec. 10, the week before the Beat went press). John Gray’s death was declared a homicide on Dec. 4— he was shot on July 22, 1993 and died on August 3, 2017, and the Medical Examiner declared his death a homicide last week. His shooting was never solved. There were three other homicide victims, all not yet identified, who died on Dec. 6, Dec. 7, and Dec. 9. As of Dec. 10, Baltimore has had 326 homicides.

Planned Parenthood employees provide necessary healthcare for people who can’t afford it otherwise, and do so while under constant threat from the GOP and anti-choice activists. The failed Republican healthcare bill included language taking away PP’s federal funding, and then there are literal threats against the lives of abortion providers and the groups who make it their business to harass anyone entering a Planned Parenthood facility. Give them a little bit of holiday cheer by writing and decorating cards to be delivered to health center staff in seven Planned Parenthood of Maryland locations. Supplies will all be provided, so all you have to bring is your smiling, thankful self. 6-9 p.m., Ottobar, 2549 N. Howard St., (410) 662-0069,, free. (Lisa Snowden-McCray)

Community Events D E C . 1 3 - 2 0 West Wednesdays. Tawanda Jones, the sister of Tyrone West, a man killed in police custody in July 2013, has been gathering every Wednesday with other activists in the city to call attention to West’s death and police brutality in Baltimore. Dec. 13 and 20. Usually held at the intersection of 33rd and Greenmount Avenue, check for details. Trauma Convening. Leaders from various sectors meet to create a citywide strategy for addressing trauma in Baltimore. Dec. 15, 10 a.m.-noon, Baltimore Community Mediation Center, 3333 Greenmount Ave., Baltimore Youth Sexual Health and Leadership Conference. Music, panel discussions, workshops, and more aimed at people aged 14-24. Dec. 16, 10 a.m.– 5:15 p.m., Radisson Hotel at Cross Keys, 5100 Falls Road, FAFSA Forward. Financial aid officers and volunteers answer questions and help students and parents complete the FAFSA. Dec. 16, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., War Memorial Plaza, 100 Holiday St., Holiday Party for the Homeless. Guests will receive cold weather gear and toiletries, and win door prizes. Dec. 16, Pratt Hall, First Unitarian Church of Baltimore, 12 W. Franklin St., Substance Abuse Talk. Joseph McCray hosts the first in a series of information sessions about substance abuse disorders. Dec. 16, 1-2 p.m., Johns Hopkins Broadway Center for Addiction. 911 N. Broadway, (410) 955-5439, center_for_addiction.html. Protest Betsy DeVos. Organized by GLSEN Maryland, students and others protest U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos at the University of Baltimore’s graduation ceremony. Dec. 18, noon-3 p.m., The Modell Lyric, 140 W. Mount Royal Ave., SURJ Baltimore Legislative Team Meeting. Legislative team meeting for SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice). Dec. 18, 6:30-8:30 p.m., St. Johns United Methodist Church, Transportation and Infrastructure MBE Summit. Business leaders and policy experts discuss current and future large-scale infrastructure projects. Dec. 18, 6-8 p.m., Earl Graves Business School, Morgan State University, 4200 Hillen Road, contact Amy. or (410) 465-8259 for more information, register by Dec. 15.

• •

DECEMBER 13, 2017



TO CLEAR MY NAME Keith Davis Jr. granted a new trial in a case that keeps getting more complicated By Brandon Soderberg

Bearded, big, and in a prison jumpsuit on the stand, Itisham Butt testifies at a Dec. 1 motions hearing in Baltimore’s Circuit Court. Keith Davis Jr. is demanding a new trial, and Butt hopes, in the process, that he can “clear [his] name.” “I need to clear my name,” he says, “it’s important to me to clear my name.” His Muslim brothers and all the boys on his tier at Jessup Correctional Institution were talking about Butt. Some lawyer he hadn’t met before came and told him, too: That during Davis’ October trial, David Gutierrez, Butt’s former cellmate and the State’s star witness, told the court that Davis bought alcohol from Butt and that during one of these illegal booze exchanges, Davis told Gutierrez he murdered Kevin Jones, another Baltimore man. “I can’t take the smell of alcohol,” Butt, a practicing Sunni Muslim who is therefore forbidden to consume or sell alcohol, tells Judge Lynn Stewart Mays, State Prosecutor Andrea Mason, Davis’ attorney Latoya Francis-Williams, Davis, and a packed courtroom. “Never. I don’t know anything about alcohol.” Davis looks toward Butt up on the stand, then to his left at his lawyer and her notes, and then back to Butt again. He does this all afternoon. This case isn’t just about whether Davis killed Kevin Jones anymore, it didn’t even begin that way, it began in June of 2015 as a police shooting. Now, the Keith Davis Jr. trial is a high-profile activist cause—part of a saga that includes alleged misconduct in the State’s Attorney’s Office, a jailhouse snitch, and beef between lawyers. “If they found some people saying I’m making wine, that’s not good, on my stuff, and in front of my God,” says Butt, who teaches Islam while he’s inside Jessup. “Because I’m preaching to others to change their lives.” Butt knew Gutierrez as “Da’ud,” not David, though he says Gutierrez “didn’t have that much knowledge of Islam,” but Butt isn’t there to judge, just

to instruct. Butt is serving 30 years he says, because he was “found guilty,” of “child abuse, sexual assault, and false imprisonment,” among other charges. A 2012 SAO press release says Butt sexual assaulted a 14-year-old girl. Mason points out that nowhere in the murder trial where Gutierrez testified did Butt’s name come up; it’s something of a “gotcha” save for the fact that prison talk is real if you’re doing 30 years and your name is all you got and you’re teaching Islam and you’re a locked-up sex offender ostensibly making a change—even murmurs matter a great deal. “When you say certain stuff [in prison] they know who you’re talking about,” Butt says. There was “rumor everywhere” in Jessup, he says. Plus, “Mr. Jeremy,” came to visit him. Mr. Jeremy is Jeremy Eldridge, a criminal defense attorney and former State prosecutor who Butt says came to Jessup and told Butt what Gutierrez said about him in court. He’d never met Eldridge before, Butt says. He starts to stammer and Judge Mays interjects. “Stop shaking your head,” Judge Mays says to Francis-Williams. After a bench conference, Judge Mays announces to the court that there cannot even be the “appearance of either attorney coaching,” and that coaching is “not allowed, inappropriate, unethical.” Davis’ hearing for a motion for a new trial, which began on Dec. 1 and continued into Dec. 4, was full of moments like this, cinematic courtroom drama. This whole hearing for a new trial hinges on an informant with a dark, drug-cartel-tied past. Gutierrez’s criminal record wasn’t fully revealed in the last trial, Francis-Williams argues. He was not only a drug dealer tied to a Texas drug cartel, but a “hitman,” she says, who, among other things, helped dispose of a dead body by lighting it on fire. A cynic might say that this hearing hinges on whether to believe the word of a cartel enforcer who helped set a dead body on fire or the word of a convicted


Kelly Davis, Keith Davis Jr.’s wife. Photo by Tedd Henn

sex offender. According to the police officers who shot Keith Davis Jr. early in the morning on June 7, 2015, he had used a gun to hold up a hack. When the hack pulled up beside a police car, the gunman fled and the pursuing officers, Lane Eskins, Alfredo Santiago, and Catherine Filippou, chased Davis into a dark garage. They started firing. In total, 44 shots were fired and Davis was struck three times. Police charged Davis with 16 crimes, including firing his weapon. The problem was almost none of it held up. Davis claimed he had been walking down the street on the phone with his then-girlfriend, nowwife Kelly, when he saw officers running. This was only two months after the incustody death of Freddie Gray. Davis says when he saw the police he was scared and ran. In court in 2016 for the robbery charges, Charles Holden, the hack driver, was asked to identify Davis and could not. “If I go closer I can tell you that’s him or not,” Holden said. When he got up close to Davis, the prosecutor asked him if he recognized the man who held him up. “To my recollection that don’t look like him much to me,” Holden said. Davis’ gun had not been fired during the June 6, 2015 shooting by police, but it did have Davis’ palm print


on it. His lawyer argued that the gun had been planted and his prints wiped on it. On March 3, 2016, Davis was acquitted on the charges that led to the shooting (robbing a hack cab driver, assaulting police officers, among them) except for possessing a gun. That then became the foundation for Davis being charged with Jones’ murder. According to charging documents, investigators “determined that cartridge cases recovered from the scene of the murder” of Jones, “were fired from the gun recovered by the defendant.” Davis’ first trial for the murder ended in a hung jury, but he was swiftly convicted in October. The State disingenuously alleged the circumstances of the robbery, of which Davis was cleared, as evidence in the murder and Davis’ acquittal for the robbery was not allowed to be mentioned in court. “Keith was still referred to as ‘a robber.’ In the prosecutor’s closing arguments, she actually said, ‘He robbed a hack,’” Kelly Davis told the Real News last month. “He was acquitted of all these charges and even though the prosecutor was able to allude to those charges he had already stood trial for, as well as this gun, he’s already been found not to have possessed this gun . . . she


DECEMBER 13, 2017

Police Rising Detective Dawnyell Taylor and the missing center of HBO’s “Baltimore RIsing” By Baynard Woods

In a scene from the HBO documentary “Baltimore Rising,” Detective Dawnyell Taylor, who led the investigation into Freddie Gray’s in-custody death in 2015, stands in the elevator and stares nervously at her phone. “I been trying to pull it up on my phone, I can’t get the thing, it’s not coming up,” she says, her voice higher and less in control than it has been throughout the

Det. Dawnyell Taylor in “Baltimore Rising” Screencap Courtesy YouTube

rest of the film, which chronicles protesters and police during the trials of the six officers following Gray’s death. When the doors open and she walks out, another woman in an office screams with joy. “Oh God, I’mma miss it,” Taylor says, running through the halls of the Baltimore Police Department headquarters, the cameras trailing. She tries to go in one door but can’t get in. “Damn it,” she says. “Not guilty on all,” someone says as Taylor bursts into a Homicide office. Everyone is smiling. She stands in front of a TV. When a newscaster says “Caesar Goodson was just acquitted on seven charges,” she pumps her fist and says, “Yes!” Then, she smiles, says “thank God,” and bows her head. It is an astounding moment. “Baltimore Rising” director Sonja Sohn, who played Detective Kima Greggs on “The Wire,” lets us into Taylor’s inner life, as she tells the camera about growing up in a drug house and going to sleep around guns and drugs. It is a moving story. “I used to play with the guns. I’d pick it up and look at it,” and think about suicide, she said. “I was 15 years old.” So when we see her again, in her house, getting dressed to go testify and telling her son not to worry about what anyone says, the case appears like a personal, not a professional matter. The cameras follow her as she walks to the courthouse door. She waves at the camera and walks in. In open court that day, in what was the most

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important moment of any of the trials, the prosecution alleged that Taylor sabotaged the entire investigation— an allegation that casts her cheering of the verdict in a different light and is not mentioned in “Baltimore Rising.” “You’re aware you were removed from the investigation at my request when I accused you of sabotaging the investigation?” Schatzow said in court. “I’m aware you made the request, but you don’t have the authority to remove me,” Taylor answered. The questioning revealed a serious rift between Taylor and Janice Bledsoe, one of the other chief prosecutors. “My problems with Ms. Bledsoe were about her integrity,” Taylor said. “She made some allegations about your integrity,” Schatzow rejoined. This short exchange could be the window into an entirely different movie—a thriller that is an anti-“Law & Order” where the “two separate but equally important” agencies are racing against one another in competing investigations, as the city teetered on the edge of a full-blown revolution. It was gobsmacking, bombshell testimony, but because of the way court proceedings go, it never became entirely clear what prosecutors thought she did to throw the case. But in a series of notes and text messages, leaked first to the Baltimore Sun and then other outlets, it becomes evident that Taylor actively kept prosecutors from obtaining a search warrant for the private phones of the officers. Taylor deployed her police powers to help suspects in a way that would never have happened had they not been fellow officers and union members—Taylor, remember, belongs to the same union that paid for the defense of the officers. “I clearly stated my position and or opposition to getting any such warrants,” she wrote in her notes. “I explained to her that the officers lived in the county and we could not use a circuit court judge to serve a warrant in the county. She stated that I could have brought them into IA [Internal Affairs], but again I explained to her that they are suspended and could not be ordered anywhere.” It would be remarkable if an ordinary defendant saw such deference. Private citizens cannot be ordered anywhere either—but that doesn’t stop police officers from employing subterfuge in order to obtain evidence. According to the notes, it was the next day, June 5, when Schatzow requested that she be removed from the case. In the next entry, dated June 8, Taylor tried to get into the phones of Freddie Gray and Donta Allen, the other man in the back of the van that day. On June 25, she prepared a warrant for Freddie Gray’s cell phone. Clearly, there would be nothing in Gray’s phone relating to what the police had allegedly done to him. And yet she was interested in his phone and not the phones of the officers, as if she were looking for a way to exonerate the officers and cast blame on Gray himself. We don’t see any of this in “Baltimore Rising.” But with


this knowledge, Taylor’s celebratory fist pump seems almost a confession that she did sabotage the case—or at least clear evidence that she was strongly in favor of the defendants. The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3 tweeted a meme of Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Great Gatsby” toasting along with the words, “Here’s to the Baltimore 6 Defense Team, The FOP and Detective Taylor.” As the verdict was announced, Persistent Surveillance, a private company working with the police department, flew a small plane over the city. Its hightech surveillance technology allowed the department to record 30 square miles of the city. This footage was saved and could be rewinded and fast-forwarded in order to track the movements of individuals or vehicles, even though it did not have enough resolution to reveal the identifying features of individuals. Neither the mayor’s office nor City Council knew of the program until a Bloomberg Businessweek story broke the news. But one of the two cases they touted to show how it worked involved Taylor, who was assaulted after she ran over one of the city’s many illegal dirt bike riders. The department said the strike was “inadvertent” but riders have long complained that police try to make them crash. A number of riders assaulted Taylor. The plane followed the rider who was hit for over an hour, coordinating its surveillance with the on-the-ground CCTV cameras that could show faces and identifying features. Police arrested him. They never released any footage to show how the accident occurred and Taylor was not charged for striking the bike. Early the next year, however, she was arrested for domestic violence and temporarily relieved of police powers. The dirt-bike incident follows the same narrative that Sohn allows Taylor to present in “Baltimore Rising”: The police are the real victims. “It’s discouraging when you watch people put races against each other, the community against the police,” Taylor says early in the film as she drives a squad car through the city. It is clear that by “people” she doesn’t mean Lt. Brian Rice, who called in the foot chase on Freddie Gray, or officers Edward Nero or Garrett Miller who threw him down, leg-locked him, and arrested him. The cellphone footage is clear: The community was already against the police as Gray was arrested, because the police were already against the community. “When you got young black men like this who are just walking around the street aimlessly, they are doing one of two things, they are up to no good or they are selling drugs,” Taylor says a moment later. Whatever else she may have done during the investigation, in this moment Taylor clearly displays the attitude that ultimately led to the death of Freddie Gray. This piece runs courtesy of the Real News Network.


contin u e D from page 7 was able to allude to these allegations as if he had never been tried.” The second trial also had a new witness, Gutierrez, a federal prisoner being housed at Jessup. Gutierrez testified that Davis told him he shot Jones over a “neighborhood beef” and that he thought he would get away with it because a do-rag made witnesses think he had long hair, explaining both motive and why the hack couldn’t identify him in court in 2016. Additionally, FrancesWilliams argued, Gutierrez’s involvement in a past RICO case was misrepresented to the jury and judge because Gutierrez was circumspect with admitting the full extent of his involvement and charges tied to the RICO case. Later on, at Davis’ hearing for a new trial, Mays slows the proceedings down amid a debate about what Gutierrez should have disclosed and asks the State what RICO even means. “I’m a fan of old movies,” Mays says. “When I hear ‘RICO,’ I think Chicago mobsters and G-Men.” This is the first of two golden age of cinema references during the hearing. Mason doesn’t seem to know what it stands for and Francis-Williams doesn’t answer. “Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations,” Mays answers after looking it up. Mason wonders aloud why any of this matters. Nobody here claims Gutierrez is a good guy, he’s here because he knows something about a crime and he gets “time off his sentence” for testifying, simple as that. Francis-Williams characterizes Gutierrez as essentially a jailhouse snitch who has been “parading around the country testifying in homicide cases in order to gain leniency for his gruesome crimes.” Butt meanwhile, well, he gets nothing and plenty of people here buy his “clear my name” stance—except for Mays, who later in the day blurts out an angry aside that mentions Butts’ “child abuse” charges with disdain and mocks Butt’s “clear my name” shtick. It is a bad sign for Davis’ defense. Butt also claims that until recently, when Davis came up to him in Jessup to discuss Gutierrez talking about him, he’d never even seen “Mr. Keith.” All three certainly weren’t drinking in his cell and shooting the shit earlier this year. Butt’s claims are in part supported by the second witness at the hearing, Chief Joseph Harris, head of security at Jessup Correctional Institute, who confirms documents showing when Davis was moved to Butt’s building. Harris, a bemused bureaucrat who explains his role at Jessup as “supervisor to the supervisors of the staff” confirms that there was never a point where Davis would’ve been on the same tier as Butt and Gutierrez when they were cellmates, which makes the three



meeting, especially in a cell like Gutierrez explained, nearly impossible. He did admit that “it’s possible” someone could move undetected, though at great risk. The State’s witness, David Greene, chief of case management for the Department of Correctional Services, confirms that Gutierrez was transferred from Jessup to somewhere else because of his testimony in the October Davis trial. Greene also confirms that it was a “protective order”—though one Gutierrez requested—and says it invokes the fact that “BGF has a kill-on-sight order,” to those who testify against others in cases. If this was supposed to link Davis to BGF, it falls flat. Mays, who seems exasperated by the nearly day-long hearing, quotes the 1942 Bette Davis vehicle “Now, Voyager” (“Oh, Jerry, don’t let’s ask for the moon, We have the stars”) to Frances-Williams, as she argues out a new supplement to the motion: something or other about the DNA expert from the second trial. As in both murder trials for Davis, the State’s argument mostly focuses on circumstantial evidence: that it was possible Davis could have gone to another inmate’s cell despite not being permitted (SAO’s Andrea Mason invoked recent news that a guard at Jessup is also a Crip) and that Davis also could have spoken to Gutierrez “during chow,” even though Gutierrez specifically testified that the conversation happened in his cell. Very little of this, it seems, ultimately matters. It’s all about Gutierrez and those RICO charges and the State’s apparent obfuscation, which Judge Mays refers to as a “sanitized” version of its star witness’ criminal history. The jury did not get a full sense of Gutierrez and because of that granting a new trial makes sense. Davis will return to court in April to be tried for the murder of Kevin Jones— for the third time. “We respect the judge’s decision,” Melba Saunders, director of communications for the SAO, said in a statement, “and look forward to presenting the facts of this case again in the pursuit of justice for the family of Mr. Jones.” “It doesn’t open the door to let him out, but I feel he’s been at least partially vindicated,” Kelly Davis says right after the new trial announcement. “No matter what you believe, no matter what you thought, he did not do this. He should not have been convicted behind the dirty antics of the State’s Attorney’s Office. This is just one step closer to getting him home where he belongs.” Later in the day, at a press conference in front of the SAO’s office, Davis describes her husband’s reaction to the news. “He dropped his body down, he came back up, punched his fists,” Davis says. “And his lawyers patted him on his back.”

A casualty, several times over over sexual harassment By Joelle Babula I was an 18-year-old college freshman the first time I was groped by a man. It’s now more than 20 years later and I can still recall his hands roughly squeezing my behind, his fingers sharp and poking. I can still recall my fear. Followed by absolute incredulity that a strange man, one whom I was simply passing on the sidewalk, thought I was his to grab. That was my teenage naivete, which evaporated that night as this college boy clutched and pawed at me, liberally touching me as if I was part of his science project, there to poke and prod at will. What made him think that was allowed? How does a little boy morph into a bullish man who thinks a woman’s body is his prerogative to grope? After that first unwanted grab, I stupidly concluded that this man’s creepy behavior was an isolated event brought on perhaps by alcohol or college idiocy. I made excuses for this stranger when I should have yelled. I should have slammed my heel into his kneecap. I should have clawed at his face, his eyes. I am still angry at myself for letting this man get away with mauling me that evening. But I was young. And I thought his behavior was an enigma. But then, over the years, it’s happened again. And again. And again. I can recall each and every incident in detail. I was wearing a bell-bottomed, yellow polyester ‘70s Halloween costume. I was in the middle of a peaceful morning jog. I was walking through a crowd with a group of girlfriends, eating soft-serve ice cream. I was even once holding my date’s hand when a stranger walked by and grabbed my buttocks. I am way beyond my days of teenage innocence and no longer think this type of aggression is rare. I am, however, astounded by the notion that some men think my body, any woman’s body, is their birthright. Is theirs to fondle and grab at will. I don’t know what triggers this inflated sense of entitlement, but I do know this; it isn’t simply an affliction of powerful men like film producers, politicians, CEOs and Hollywood stars. It isn’t just the influential and the commanding. It’s a well-liked college boy, a professional, an athlete, a fellow gym rat, a man cruising by on a bicycle. The men are as varied as the women they grab and pinch and fondle. I am a casualty. Several times over. Most of the women I know have also been on the receiving end of unwanted sexual attention or physical contact at some point in their lives. These incidents often haunt us. Did I do something to bring it on? Will it happen again? Why didn’t I scream or punch or kick? I don’t have a good answer. But it’s been 25 years since that first man decided I was his to grab and I am still angry at myself for not causing a ruckus. For not rightfully declaring my body my territory. For not making him think twice before doing this to somebody else. I wish I had left a scar on him. Because we are irrevocably changed that first time we realize that, in the eyes of some men, our bodies are not our own. Our legs, our breasts, our hips are theirs to grab. And often, there is little we can do about it. That is horrifying and it must stop. We all must be part of the solution. We women cannot be weak or timid or self-blaming in the face of sexual aggression. We must speak out. Our little girls need to learn there is a time to be loud and strong and to cause a scene. And we need our men involved in this too. We need them to take a stand. To speak up and take action when a brother or buddy or co-worker displays repulsive behavior—even if it’s just so-called, filthy “locker-room” talk. We cannot wait and watch the vulgar attitude escalate into physical manhandling. By then, it’s too late. He now feels entitled and powerful and omnipotent. She feels angry and afraid and powerless. We need to change that. Sometimes I wonder if that man who first groped me decades ago now has a daughter of his own. Even in my darkest, most vindictive moments, I do not hope for her to become a victim. It’s heartbreaking to know that even if I wanted to, I don’t have to wish for his daughter to become prey. She likely already has.

Additional reporting by Baynard Woods.

Joelle Babula is a former journalist and currently a nurse practitioner living in Baltimore City.


DECEMBER 13, 2017

A roundup of LGBTQ news from the region and around the world courtesy the Washington Blade McCain, Cardin: Trump ‘largely silent’ on human rights abroad

State Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) on Dec. 8 announced he would accept public financing for his gubernatorial campaign. Photo by Michael Key / Courtesy of Washington Blade

Madaleno to accept public financing in Md. guv race Maryland state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) last week announced he will accept public financing for his gubernatorial campaign. “I am honored to accept public financing for the Democratic nomination because I believe it is time that we stand together and say enough is enough,” said Madaleno in a press release that announced his decision. “As Democrats, we should no longer  accept  unlimited dark money pouring into our elections.  We will fight for everyday families and not the interests of the big donor class. We will enact policies that help everyone and not just those at the very top.” The Baltimore Sun reported Madaleno will now be able to raise up to $2.8 million, with roughly $1.4 million of it in public funds. Former NAACP President Benjamin Jealous, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings and former State Department officials Alec Ross and Krishanti Vignarajah are among the Democrats who are running to succeed Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. Hogan and then-state Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) accepted public funding for their 2014 gubernatorial campaigns. “The Republican Party, including Larry Hogan, has already sold out to its billionaire backers,” said Madaleno in his press release. “Democrats must set an example and give average voters an equal voice in the electoral process.” Madaleno in 2002 became the first openly gay person elected to the Maryland State Assembly. He has represented the 18th Senate District in the state Senate since 2007. Madaleno could become the first openly gay man elected governor in the U.S. if he were to win in 2018. (MICHAEL K. LAVERS)

Raunchy fun with John Waters at Birchmere John Waters brings his annual holiday show “A John Waters Christmas” to the Birchmere (3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria, Va.) on Thursday, Dec. 21 at 7:30 p.m. The one-man show tackles humorous Christmas questions like “Has Santa ever been nude?” and “Is Prancer the only gay reindeer?” Waters has performed the annual stand-up show for 13 years and adds new material each year. Tickets are $55. For more information, visit (MARIAH COOPER)

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U.S. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) last week said the U.S. has been “largely silent” on human rights abroad since President Trump took office. “For much of the past year, our national voice on international human rights issues has been largely silent,” said McCain and Cardin in a letter they sent to Trump. McCain and Cardin said this silence “was strikingly apparent during” his trip to Asia last month “where our delegation failed to raise major human rights concerns or name dissidents who languish in dark prisons across the region for no other reason than their brave defense of democracy and human rights.” “The administration’s silence combined with confusing statements from Secretary (of State Rex) Tillerson, who has suggested that our country’s fundamental values can be separated from the foreign policies we pursue, sows confusion both at home and abroad,” wrote McCain and Cardin. “At this time of increasing uncertainty and growing security challenges, it is imperative that we reassert the United States’ commitment to our human rights obligations, and ask other countries to join us in reaffirming the centrality of human rights as the cornerstone of peace and security.” The letter, among other things, notes LGBTI people “are deprived of their basic human rights in dozens of countries.” McCain and Cardin also highlight “countless repressive governments around the world” are shutting down organizations that promote human rights. “Protecting human rights at home and abroad is important not only to our national character, but also to our security interests as countries that respect their citizens are less likely to breed terrorism and are better able to focus on political and developmental problems that otherwise undermine stability,” they wrote. “Governments who respect human rights also serve as more capable and reliable partners when facing common security threats, and they help provide business climates in which bilateral trade and investment interests grow.” McCain and Cardin wrote their letter on the eve of International Human Rights Day, which commemorates the ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the U.N. General Assembly on Dec. 10, 1948. Activists from Egypt and other countries around the world attended OutRight Action International’s annual conference in New York that coincides with the International Human Rights Day. Tamara Adrián, a transgender woman who was elected to the Venezuelan National Assembly in 2015, gay Irish Sen. Jerry Buttimer and Guatemalan Congresswoman Sandra Morán are among the hundreds of people who attended the Victory Institute’s International LGBTQ Leaders Conference that took place in D.C. from Dec. 6-9. (MICHAEL K. LAVERS)

Bermuda poised to rescind marriage equality Members of the Bermuda House of Representatives have approved a bill that would repeal marriage rights for same-sex couples in the British island territory. The Royal Gazette newspaper reported lawmakers approved the Domestic Partnership Act — which would allow same-sex couples to enter into domestic partnerships as opposed to get married — by a 24-10 vote margin. Lawmakers debated the measure for five hours on Friday before they voted on it. “As it stands now, they can have the name marriage but without the benefits,” said MP Lawrence Scott, according to the Royal Gazette. “But after this bill passes, they have the benefits and just not the name marriage. The benefits are what they really want.” LGBT rights advocates in Bermuda have sharply criticized the bill. More than 60 percent of Bermuda voters in 2016 rejected marriage and civil unions for same-sex couples in a non-binding referendum. Same-sex couples have nevertheless been able to marry in Bermuda since Charles-Etta Simmons, a judge on the territory’s Supreme Court, ruled in favor of the issue. The Bermuda Senate will now consider the Domestic Partnership Act, which will become law if Gov. John Rankin signs it. His government would become the first in the world to rescind marriage rights for same-sex couples if the measure takes effect. (MICHAEL K. LAVERS)



America’s Most Reactionary President Visits Its Most Radical City Chokwe Antar Lumumba talks about Trump’s visit to Jackson’s Civil Rights Museum By Baynard Woods Noted racist and president Donald Trump had the audacity to attend the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson last Saturday. “I knew a little before everybody else, but I’ll simply say this without even referencing Trump himself,” Jackson’s mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba told me when the visit was announced. “The opening of the Civil Rights Museum is an important moment of a recognition of struggle and out of that struggle we’ve seen people historically rescue themselves in a state that has been known for some of the most negativity that the world has ever seen.” Lumumba took Trump’s election last year with a certain level of equanimity, saying that on the day after the election, “I woke up in Mississippi, which means whether it is Obama, Clinton, or Bush, Mississippi is still at the bottom.” But Trump’s refusal to condemn the white supremacists in Charlottesville caused many civil rights leaders, including John Lewis, to threaten to boycott the opening if the president attended. But it wasn’t just Charlottesville. White supremacy may be the only consistent ideology of the Trump administration. “We have to observe this corrosion of integrity and this erosion of people’s human and civil rights and identify what role or what steps we’re willing to take,” Lumumba said. “It’s important that we


recognize that struggle. But any celebration of struggle, any recognition of struggle, must consider what the next step forward is.” Trump, being Trump, made the controversy worse by seeming to support a justification of slavery. Days before the presidential visit to the first state-sponsored civil rights museum, Roy Moore, the Alabama senatorial candidate who is supported by the president despite allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior with minors, went viral saying that America “was great at the time when families were united—even though we had slavery, they cared for one another.” Just in case there was any question about what Trump thought of this definition of his catch phrase, the very next day he tweeted: “LAST thing the Make America Great Again Agenda needs is a Liberal Democrat in Senate where we have so little margin for victory already. The Pelosi/Schumer Puppet Jones would vote against us 100% of the time. He’s bad on Crime, Life, Border, Vets, Guns & Military. VOTE ROY MOORE!” When he finally got to Jackson, Trump, who was invited by the state’s white Republican governor, spoke to a small crowd, primarily reading from a script, and not at the main event. “The fight to end slavery, to break down Jim Crow, to end segregation, to gain the right to vote, and to achieve the sacred


birthright of equality—that’s big stuff,” Trump said. “Those are very big phrases, very big words.” Lumumba has some more big words for Trump. He wants Jackson, a city in deeply red Mississippi, with a long history of racism and white supremacy, to be the “most radical city” in the world. Bigly. “Ultimately what I mean by being the most radical city on the planet is giving people more access,” he told my colleague Jaisal Noor. “We do this through the . . . movement of people’s assemblies that allow people to speak to their conditions, and so that is very important to us.” People’s Assemblies are “vehicles of Black self-determination and autonomous political authority of the oppressed peoples’ and communities in Jackson,” according to the Jackson-Kush Plan, a document produced by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) and the Jackson People’s Assembly. “The Assemblies are organized as expressions of participatory or direct democracy, wherein there is guided facilitation and agenda setting provided by the committees that compose the People’s Task Force, but no preordained hierarchy.” The movement grew out of a collaboration of Black activist groups forming in the Mississippi River Delta in the wake of Hurricane Katrina’s destruction and quickly managed to take over the city of Jackson, when Lumumba’s father won

the mayorship in 2012. “Free the land” was a common refrain in the elder Lumumba’s first campaign. It came from his trip to Mississippi in 1971 to start an autonomous black nation in that state with the “Provisional Government of the Republic of New Afrika.” To get to their land, Lumumba and his comrades had to face down the Klan. This weekend, with the president’s visit, his son, who succeeded him as mayor, had to take a similar stand. The younger Lumumba had resisted repeated calls to run for office. But when his father died in 2014, he decided to run. He won a decisive victory last year, giving some hope as to what a city can do, outside of larger national trends. Lumumba and the People’s Assemblies offer a serious alternative to Trumpian authoritarianism. “A radical is a person who seeks change,” he said. “A radical is a person who does not accept the conditions as they see them. But we look at the conditions of our community and we see a need for change. Then the reality is we need to be as radical as the circumstances dictate we should be.” Baynard Woods is a reporter for the Real News Network and the founder of Democracy in Crisis. Email: Twitter: @baynardwoods.

DECEMBER 13, 2017

GRAVE CONCERNS Will Detective Suiter’s death bring Commissioner Davis down? By Baynard Woods

Harlem Park during lockdown.

Harlem Park during lockdown.

Photo by Tedd Henn

Photo by Tedd Henn

Like the propaganda campaign surrounding his death, Detective Sean Suiter’s grave was empty. There was nothing there. The massive procession that carried Suiter’s body from the Mount Pleasant Church in East Baltimore to Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens cemetery in Timonium on Nov. 29 was a powerful display of support and unity for the troubled Baltimore Police Department. “Suiter gave, and the Baltimore Police Department gives each and every day,” Commissioner Kevin Davis said to the crowd in the 3,000 square foot sanctuary at Mount Pleasant. “It’s time for the local and national narrative to start reflecting that reality.” For the current BPD, the narrative is all-important. “In America, in this free society, our democracy, police—and I don’t mean to sound like I’m teaching a civics class here—but policing in America is special,” Davis said the week before the memorial at a press conference justifying a lock-down of Baltimore’s Harlem Park neighborhood where Suiter was shot. “Any loss of life is unacceptable, but society says in particular a murder of a police officer is unacceptable.” “As homicide detectives, we go through the valley, we stay in the valley, and we bring those out of the valley who are sometimes lost,” Jonathan Jones, Suiter’s partner, who was not with him on the day he was shot, said at Mount Pleasant Church, extrapolating on the Psalm that proclaims, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” This idea that police enter into the valley voluntarily— with the ever-present chance of not returning—for the sake of the public, is part of what caused people to pull over on the side of the road and salute the passing procession; it

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was a phenomenon highlighted by videos tweeted by the BPD’s Director of Communications T.J. Smith. “Drivers were urged to avoid northbound I-95 and I-895, as well as southbound I-95 approaching I-695 on the northeast corner. There were major delays on the outer loop of I-695 between I-95 and I-83 and I-83 between I-695 and Padonia Road between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.,” ABC2 News dutifully reported to its audience. Even though I missed the procession there—I was in D.C. covering the trials of some of the people arrested en masse on Inauguration Day—a source from the department said I should go and see the grave. As I drove through the bright late-autumn Saturday afternoon along the procession route, I thought about the difference between the road closures there and those in Harlem Park. Both possessed a military affect: The highway funeral with salutes and flapping flags was a parade; Harlem Park, with its crime scene tape, ID checks, battering rams, and expanded perimeter was an occupation. Various contradictory and improbably coincidental facts surround Suiter’s death. He wasn’t with his regular partner that day. That partner called 911 instead of using his police radio. The police car that took him to Shock Trauma crashed. Suiter was shot with his own gun. He was connected with federally indicted members of Gun Trace Task Force and was supposed to testify against them. No one has come forward, despite a $215,000 reward. It is the longest the city has ever gone without solving the murder of a cop. There have been no leads. All of this created an atmosphere of conspiracy and a flurry of rumors that swirled like dead leaves through the department and the streets. And the cop rumors and street rumors overlapped. It was another cop, half


the people said. It was a suicide, contended others. As I pulled into the 75-acre cemetery, the shadows were long and heavy in the late afternoon. According to its website, Dulaney Valley’s Fallen Heroes garden has more than 300 spaces that they provide, along with mortuary services, to the families of fallen cops, firefighters, correctional officers, and paramedics, free of charge. The graves seemed endless, stretching out on rolling hill after rolling hill, splashing fountains catching the falling autumn light. But I could not find a grave for Suiter. I called the cemetery’s office on the phone. When I told the woman on the phone that I was looking for Det. Suiter’s grave, she paused and told me to hold on. When she came back on the line, her voice was harried. “It was too late to make the burial,” she said. “It was dark.” Three days had passed since Det. Suiter’s funeral on Nov. 29. On Dec. 1, in a press conference announcing that he wanted the FBI to take over the case, Commissioner Davis claimed that he had waited to make the FBI request until “after the funeral, after we buried Sean.” I was confused. I wrote to the police department’s public information officer, T.J. Smith. “We don’t handle the burial or anything after the fact,” Smith wrote in response to questions about where Det. Suiter was buried. “They are family decisions. Period.” The Department—and news coverage—had certainly made it seem that he had already been buried. So it didn’t seem like it would be a big deal. I’d ask a question and they would clarify.



CO N T I N U E D F R O M PAG E 1 2 But Smith’s response to my questions wasn’t straightforward. “I certainly hope and pray for your dear sole [sic] that you were truthfully there to pay your respects,” Smith wrote. It was not the first time Smith had chastised me and other members of the press for asking questions. When I asked if Davis was aware that Suiter had not been buried—at least not at Dulaney Valley, Smith condemned the questions outright. “I refuse to entertain these baseless conspiracy questions,” Smith wrote. “It’s a memorial there and the family can make other decisions after a police Officer’s interment is performed.” Interment means burial, so it is unclear what Smith was trying to say—and he refused to clarify. Certainly he didn’t mean that he had been buried and then they made other arrangements, so it is likely that he meant after the memorial service the family could make other decisions about where an officer’s interment is performed. The lack of clarification in this, as throughout this case, has not stopped “conspiracy questions”; rather, it has created them. What if someone drove down from some other state to pay respects and found that Suiter wasn’t buried there? On Dec. 4, two days after my visit, Dulaney Valley said that Suiter still had not been buried there yet, but they assured me that he would be. Finally, on Tuesday, Dec. 5 Mary Auld, who does PR for the cemetery and had been in direct contact with the family, said that they were waiting for the family before securing Suiter’s remains in the Fallen Heroes garden. “It was their wish that he be cremated,” she said. It was that simple. He had been cremated. Just admitting that the family made other arrangements following the ceremony would have prevented any confusion. Why had Smith been so evasive? Some of the reasons may not be specific to Davis or Smith, but part of the culture of policing as it has developed along with technology over the last decades. “I think this is a cultural thing that has developed over the decades, over the years and where you’ve been somewhat closed lipped and secretive about investigations, about personnel issues, about complaints filed against police officers, about a number of things, that tends to carry over into just about every aspect of policing when it shouldn’t,” said Neill Franklin, a retired Baltimore and Maryland State police officer and executive director of Law Enforcement Action Partnership. A source close to the department, who did not want to be named so he could speak freely, was more direct—and more specific. He said that Davis pushed for the high-profile funeral. “He did it to gain sympathy for the department,” the source said, adding that it is “out of the Batts playbook,” referring to Davis’ predecessor Anthony Batts, who was fired after a Fraternal Order of Police after-action report on the Baltimore Uprising was released. It may have been Batts’ playbook, but Davis owns it now. And like Batts, he may be obsessed with PR because he has had to learn how to deal with scandals. On Sept. 4, 1999, Davis and other Prince George’s County officers pulled up beside a man, Brian Romjue, driving a car outside of their jurisdiction and told him that they wanted to talk to him. A deputy commissioner, it was later determined, had ordered them to make the young man tell them where the niece of a commander was. During the five hours in which they detained him, one of the officers, Sergeant Joseph McCann, threatened to break Romjue’s kneecaps, according to court


testimony, and Davis, Romjue said, banged his head. A jury awarded Romjue $90,000, while rejecting the idea that the officers used excessive force. “If Kevin Davis is going to do stuff like that, what the fuck you think he is going to do at the top?” asked former deputy commissioner and interim commissioner Tony Barksdale. “He played this ‘I learned my lesson, I didn’t know it was an unlawful order.’ One of the earliest things you learn is you don’t follow an unlawful order in policing.” Davis has often repeated the idea that he learned his lesson from the incident. But the lesson may have been in managing the message. Even before he officially took over as commissioner, Davis hired T.J. Smith, who had worked with Davis in Anne Arundel County, where Davis had served as chief before coming into the Batts administration as deputy commissioner in Jan. 2015. Smith was offered $160,000 to take over as the department’s spokesperson. City Council President Bernard “Jack” Young, who made $110,000, took issue with Smith’s salary, saying maybe he should quit his job and apply for Smith’s. But, as the Sun reported at the time, City Solicitor George Nilson told Young that “Smith comes highly recommended, and the communications job is crucial following April’s unrest.” “April’s unrest” made propaganda even more important than it had been. On Twitter, after he was tapped for the job, Smith pledged transparency. “My goal is simple: Be transparent, Highlight the phenomenal work that goes on everyday in the city, gain the trust and respect of the citizens of Baltimore and the BPD through effective and honest communication,” he wrote. As he posted this tweet, the department was already engaging in a plan to secretly spy on the entire city. Just days before Davis was confirmed, the department made an agreement to work with a private company that would fly a small surveillance plane over the city, out of sight, and record 32 square miles at a time, according to emails obtained through a Maryland Public Information Act request. And although BPD began using the Persistent Surveillance technology in Jan. 2016, no one knew about it, including the mayor or the City Council. Ross McNutt, who runs Persistent Surveillance, had argued that the program only really worked if the public knew about it. It was not only investigative but preventative. City government along with the public discovered the program when the publication of a Bloomberg Businessweek story, “Secret Cameras Record Baltimore’s Every Move From Above” in August 2016 forced their hand. Smith insisted that it was not really a secret program. It was just that no one knew about it. “This isn’t some nefarious intrusion on someone’s privacy, it’s anything but that,” Davis said on Oct. 7 2016 at a press conference pertaining to Fleet Week—the last time the spy plane would be used by BPD. “Something being a secret versus something not yet being disclosed or vetted with the community, I think those are different things. I never intended to surprise anyone by this.” In 2016, Davis also hired Joe McCann, who was involved in the P.G. County case, and appointed him to head up a new “quality control” division. Earlier this year, when body-worn cameras appeared to capture BPD officers planting drugs, Davis claimed they were “re-creating” a legitimate discovery of drugs, and accused the public and the press of acting irresponsibly. “I think it’s irresponsible to jump to the conclusion that these officers were engaged in criminal conduct,” Davis said. “Their credibility is in question because of a moment of time that is either captured or not captured on body-worn camera.” Somehow, Davis survived these scandals, even as the murder rate continued to rise. Nearly 1,000 people have been murdered since he took office. But he could afford to gamble. Along with his own $200,000 a year


The site of Det. Sean Suiter’s shooting. Photo by Tedd Henn

The site of Det. Sean Suiter’s shooting. Photo by Tedd Henn

salary, his contract had a provision that would give him $150,000 severance. Now, in the wake of the Gun Trace Task Force and the lockdown of Harlem Park, it seems inevitable that the city will soon write that check. Det. Suiter was shot sometime around 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 15 on the 900 block of Bennett Place in an alley. A few hours later, Davis stood in front of Shock Trauma with Mayor Catherine Pugh and State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. He did not say that Suiter was scheduled to testify against indicted members of the Gun Trace Task Force and he did not tell the public that the police car


DECEMBER 13, 2017

Baltimore Youth Arts director Gianna Rodriquez talks to Kendrick Woodson

TJ Smith and Commissioner Kevin Davis at a press conference on Nov. 22

Trash and a Civilian Review Board flier in the alley where Suiter was shot

Photo by Baynard Woods

Photo by Baynard Woods

CO N T I N U E D F R O M PAG E 1 3 driving Suiter to Shock Trauma crashed on its way there from Harlem Park. He did not name Suiter, whom he said had two children. Later reports indicate that Suiter had five children. But he did squarely place the blame on a member of the community. “He observed a man engaged in suspicious behaviors,” Davis said of Suiter. “Our 18-year homicide veteran approached this man to engage him in conversation. Our detective was shot in the head.” “Davis clearly said that he was in a brief violent struggle with an unknown black suspect with a black and white jacket. You’ve locked down Harlem Park, man, you’ve locked them down and you have not released a sketch,” Tony Barksdale said. “Just show me a fucking sketch of the black and white jacket. If there’s a black and white jacket, don’t you think there’d be somebody in that neighborhood who’d say ‘Oh yeah such and such wears that jacket,’ even after being treated that way. Somebody might talk.” Instead, officers and cadets occupied the neighborhood, checking IDs and knocking on doors, especially of vacants. One woman who lived in the neighborhood said that when she first walked outside she saw a line of men on their knees on the street, hands on their heads. “I think that’s the expectation of the community,” Smith said. “Vacant homes are blocked and obstructed where they need to be open. That’s what we have to do. I think the community wants to know that a killer of a police officer is not holed up in a vacant home.” The people in the community had a vastly different view of their expectations. At a community meeting with the court-ordered team set up to monitor the consent decree between the BPD and the Department of Justice at Frederick Douglass High School, a 21-year

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teaching veteran implored the team to take action before another community is “held hostage.” “We are asking for legal protection from our police department,” she said. Two days later, at a Civilian Review Board meeting in Harlem Park, people placed the blame squarely on the commissioner. “We got to go after the people who gave the orders, because the police officers on the front line just don’t decide to cordon off a city and be assigned to one area,” one woman said. “They don’t make those decisions. This came from the police commissioner and that’s where we have to start it.” “If the commissioner’s responsible, that he’s making the final call, then maybe the laws will be changed later, that somehow we would have to go over his head, because he’s defending the criminal violations,” another said. “I think overall, there’s a policy issue about whether or not this was constitutional behavior,” Jill Carter, who runs the city’s Office of Civil Rights, told the Real News, calling the cordoning off of the neighborhood an “extremely radical act.” The ACLU demanded “a clear explanation from the City as to why this unprecedented action has been taken, what rules are being enforced, and why it is lawful.” Instead of explaining why the lockdown was lawful—it would be easy to cite a specific law—Davis turned the death of an officer and the feelings of his family into a rationale, a state of exception that superseded the rights of the citizens and vilified those who questioned him. “I would much rather endure some predictive criticism from the ACLU and others about that decision, than endure a conversation with Detective Suiter’s wife about why we didn’t do everything we possibly could do to recover evidence and identify the person who murdered her husband,” Davis said.


Then, in a news dump at 5 p.m. on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Davis said that Suiter was scheduled to testify against fellow cops from the Gun Trace Task Force who had been indicted on federal racketeering and other charges. It was a week after Suiter’s death and Davis said he had “just” been informed of the testimony. “Whenever he was scheduled, a summons would be generated,” said Barksdale, who doubted Davis’ account. “When I had federal grand jury I was called by the chief of legal to come sign for my fucking summons. At some point the summons reached Suiter. They schedule you for this shit.” Acting U.S. Attorney Steve Schenning later confirmed that Davis was informed of the testimony on Nov. 16, the day after Suiter’s shooting, on the day he died. On Dec. 2, Davis asked FBI Director Christopher Wray to take over the case, all but accusing them of not sharing information with the department. “Suiter had something to say and I get a feeling it was something advantageous to the Feds for making a bigger case,” Barksdale said. “I think the FBI was smart to get a little distance, if they didn’t want BPD to know.” Now, nearly a month after Suiter’s death and more than a week since Davis’ request, the FBI still had not responded and Baltimore still had no answers as to why Davis shut down Harlem Park if he knew about the testimony. The attempt to cordon off the neighborhood never made sense. But it was even more puzzling when I saw the actual crime scene after the barricade was lifted. I rode over there with my colleague Eze Jackson. Eze grew up a few blocks away and we walked around at the corner of Bennett Place and Schroeder Street. There were two striking things about the alley: There



Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens Photo by Tedd Henn

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were no windows facing into the alley from the three buildings immediately around it, and there were numerous cuts leading out of it. If the assailant went to the right, toward Franklin Street and through the next cut, he would have gone in three different directions and easily escaped the neighborhood. “If you know those alleys you can get away from the police easily,” Eze said. “That’s what we did growing up, cut through all those alleys to get away from the cops.” We walked down to the end of the block where there was a corner store with a camera. I asked the man behind the thick glass inside if the camera captured all the way up to the entrance to the alley where Suiter was shot. He said it did but that he didn’t see the tape before BPD came and got it. “ATF has it now,” he said. “We have the tape,” wrote Smith when I asked. But if the camera showed the other man with Suiter, as police have claimed, it should also have shown Suiter enter the alley. And perhaps the man in black and white. There should be some answers about the need to shut down the community, even if there are none about what happened to Suiter. But other than the discomfort of talking to Suiter’s widow, Davis has still failed to give a reason for the closure of the neighborhood. Davis has condemned the kind of corner-clearing drug enforcement that led to mass incarceration. But his critics say his desire to get guns off the streets has led to the same abuses. The Gun Trace Task Force began as an elite team designed to trace guns used in violent


crimes and ended as a violent criminal organization within the police department. Feds indicted seven members of Baltimore’s Gun Trace Task Force on March 1, 2017, but new charges brought on Nov. 30 show that in 2010, Suiter was working with Det. Wayne Jenkins and Officer Ryan Guinn. In the 2010 statement of charges, Jenkins wrote that he saw a man named Brent Matthews approaching a car with “an unknown amount of currency.” Jenkins and Suiter blocked the car in. Jenkins and Det. Ryan Guinn approached the car. According to Jenkins, the man in the car, Umar Burley, drove away and the officers followed him. Burley crashed into another car. “Detective Suiter . . . recovered a total of 32 grams of suspected heroin laying on the passenger side of the floorboard,” the statement of probable cause reads. “There were no drugs in the car driven by U.B. prior to the crash,” the federal indictment reads. Jenkins called a sergeant who had the drugs in his car to come and give Jenkins and another officer about an ounce of heroin to plant in the car, according to the charging documents. The sergeant has not been identified. Suiter, who found the drugs in the 2010 case, has been painted as “clueless,” maybe even innocent. “What Jenkins did was set up officer number one to find the drugs and recover the drugs that Jenkins himself had planted,” Davis said at a press conference. “Det. Suiter was used; he was Officer Suiter at the time. He was used and put in a position where he unwittingly recovered drugs that had been planted by another police officer.” But many people think that it is Davis who is using Suiter, constantly making his sacrifice the sacrifice of the department. “Davis is NOT doing this for the family, the investigation


or the Department..he is doing it for himself...and trust me.. it is going to explode in his face,” Mark Tomlin, a former homicide detective, wrote on Twitter. Even if it does not explode in his face, the commissioner could learn from this uproar. The attitude that Neill Franklin talked about—how police are secretive about everything—can translate itself into the PR machine of Davis and Smith, but it can also manifest itself as planting drugs in someone’s car to cover up the fact that you chased them and caused a wreck in which someone lost a life. According to Barksdale, a crisis like that presented by Gun Trace Task Force isn’t the time to try to hide the department’s dirt. “You can’t let incidents like GTTF go and just go on. You have to slow down and say, ‘I am going to be pushing so hard looking for more individuals like this,’” he said. “Get with the FBI and say, ‘Let’s wire up houses, let’s wire up cars, let’s test these squads that are out there. Let’s boost our integrity stings 100 percent.’” Barksdale says that the department should bring in somebody who would test the department like this and straighten it up, a “a hard-hitting, don’t-you-fuck-aroundor-I’m gonna-be-sure-that-you’re-jailed commissioner.” “Instead they hold on to this guy, and it’s deadly for Baltimore City,” he said. But no one can imagine that Davis has long. A week after my first visit, I returned to the Fallen Heroes monument at Dulaney Valley. My boots crunched the season’s first snow as I walked around looking at the graves of police officers who have died in the line of duty. There was still no grave for Suiter, still nothing there.

DECEMBER 13, 2017

The warm weather is holding Three painters at St. Charles Projects consider what comes before words By Rebekah Kirkman

‘Marie Antoinette’s Headdress’ by Grace Hartigan (left) and ‘Hit it from the Side’ by Joshua Bienko Courtesy St. Charles Projects

“We must be massive and ugly to find something new,” the late Abstract Expressionist painter Grace Hartigan wrote in a journal in 1951. I let that swim around my mind as I squint at a reproduction on my phone of her 2004 lithograph titled ‘Marie Antoinette’s Headdress,’ its prominent, marker-like, smeary black lines bending and dawdling atop a warm yellow background. The print was on view for the opening of “Pre-Verse,” a show at St. Charles Projects, curated by Dominic Terlizzi, featuring three contemporary artists—Joshua Bienko, June Culp, and Delphine Hennelly—whose work is “in conversation with” Hartigan. The print was a gift to Terlizzi from Hartigan for helping her teach at MICA’s LeRoy E. Hoffberger School of Painting, where she was the director from 1965 until her death in 2008. (Visitors can also ask Terlizzi to view the print; I was not able to see it due to scheduling conflicts, which is why I’m viewing it on a screen right now. Full disclosure, I once took a class taught by Terlizzi at MICA.) In the piece, four or five large, bulbous shapes splatter and linger on the paper; a train of curls emerges from below the bulbs, and leafy, feathery shapes crowd near the top of the composition. The shapes make it look at once like some bourgeois wig and a few abstracted assholes. Thinking about Hartigan’s storied boldness and volatility, and looking at the rest of the work in this show,

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that reading doesn’t feel too crude. Each of the three artists in “Pre-Verse” all paint the figure, sometimes provocatively—and in different modes, they abstract it, obfuscate it, and make caricatures of it. The show’s title is a play on the word “perverse,” though it also alludes to links between poetry and painting and intuition, and how Bienko, Culp, and Hennelly may be driven to paint before they have literal words to describe their intentions (that is, the curatorial statement notes, they paint “pre-verse”). Make a painting and learn from it, and then make another, and another, and another. In addition to providing paintings for the show, the artists were asked to provide “external forms of influence,” which are displayed as relatively anonymous xeroxes on a table: scans of sketchbook pages, Japanese idioms and their English translations, a photo of houseplants and children in kimonos, mysterious textures, poetry, and so on—these pieces of information and influence, it would seem, are also part of that intuitive process. We are left with a lot to chew on. Many of Baltimore-based artist Culp’s small-ish paintings in the show share a common subject: a naked, wrinkly, squat red or blue dragon/demon figure whose breasts and genitals are often on exaggerated display, like some combination of a Venus of Willendorf and a Sheela na Gig—the former often considered a fertility


symbol, the latter a way to ward off evil. Culp often paints the creature’s horned face with a fanged and whiskered red mouth grinning and open and eyes glaring. Though this often-central creature herself is somewhat frightening, the tension in Culp’s paintings often lies in the periphery. Hanging in a short dark hallway near the back of the space, ‘Bruised Green Girl’ stands out—instead of a demon figure we find a stony, gray and mint-colored girl, whose stump-like legs seem to be set in motion. Yet, disembodied red claws—another demon/ dragon’s, maybe—hold her in place, grabbing her side, arm, and thigh. She stares blankly away to the right and she holds her hands up, as if in defense from the veiny, fire-engine-red dick in the painting’s upper left corner. Nearby, in ‘Small Lightening,’ a blue creature, accented with highlighter pinks and greens, seems to be contained by a web of bright green lightning. In these paintings it becomes unclear who is the menace: whether it’s the creature or the background actors, or both. Compared to the sexualized/demonized, vulnerable/scary creatures in Culp’s paintings, Bienko’s and Hennelly’s paintings feel more subdued. But there is drama in each of the works—and the tensions are heightened and stretched, moving in the gallery from a pair of Culp’s small paintings to a wall-sized Hennelly painting to a pair of small Bienko works. Like the idea of


‘Run Through the Fiesta’ by Delphine Hennelly (left) and ‘Small Lightening’ and ‘Lightening’ by June Culp Courtesy St. Charles Projects

CO N T I N U E D F R O M PAG E 1 6

the “pre-verse” and the multitude of artists’ influences, the display highlights how we see the work in relation to one another, and the meanings we make of them diverge from there. Bienko’s untitled painting and its neighbor, ‘Table Cloth,’ both use a color palette of pinks and warm and cool grays, and vague bodies, and patterns that feel delicate but also, well, just laid down there. In the untitled one, a pink fleshy daub of paint in the shape of what looks like a curvy body emerges from the right edge of the canvas against a swath of forest green. An orange and blue pattern reads like a Persian rug hanging over the left side of the painting, and between these, in the middle of the canvas, is a snow white, dappled, jagged shape—like snow falling over spindly mountains, and then along the bottom edge is possibly a cityscape, suggested by what look like silhouetted architectural domes and peaks. It is unclear, but I fall in anyway, trying to pick up the logic. ‘Table Cloth,’ meanwhile, has what I can only see as two peachy, pinky nude bodies tenderly boning in front of a background that also feels snowy. Painted wispily and thin, the pink body, which is spread atop the more orange-peach one, causes me to search for some mental association other than the one that stays stuck in my head (Matisse’s ‘Large Reclining Nude’). On an opposite wall are two paintings from Bienko’s series “Hit it from the Side,” an experimentation in visual


rhythms. The one on the left, a matte black swerving tangle of brushwork on top of a glowing green, all crowded in by ultramarine blue—colors that meld so that I can’t even really see what is happening here. And then my eyes travel to the painting next to it, featuring a noodle-like Gumby-colored worried-looking guy, his spindly fingers awkwardly grasping something as he marches. Elsewhere, in another piece from this series, Bienko uses black oil paint that bleeds into its ground so that it appears more like ink, and that mysterious object the figure awkwardly holds looks more like a marching bass drum. The motion of marching crops up in Hennelly’s paintings too, though the action stays somewhat shrouded by her technique. In one large painting, ‘Walk on Mars,’ two flat, cartoony bundles of pink and blue flowers frame the painting’s top edge. The main “scene” here is covered with horizontal stripes of high-key pink and yellow shades, among orange and mud-colored shades. It’s only with some optical exercises like squinting, blurring, and stepping closer or away, that I start to be able to discern what I’m looking at. Two similarly postured figures seem to be marching, and carrying what look like small children on their backs. Those Looney Toon flowers crowd over both figures’ heads. Across from that is another large painting, ‘Run Through the Fiesta,’ with a similar approach: pastel colored cartoon flowers and two figures in blue moving in step, carrying small children on their backs, obfuscated by a system of horizontal lines. Those lines could seem like a glitched-out screen, like a VHS tape causing static,


the way screens appear to vibrate when you’re looking at them on another screen, captured by a camera. In the middle of the gallery—right between more bawdy Bienko and Culp paintings—is ‘Blue Storm,’ an idyllic oasis in another piece by Hennelly. It feels so saccharine in comparison to its neighbors, a piece of sentimental antique-shop-kitsch: a blue-gray bonneted woman sits arm-in-arm with a gray, ponytailed girl on some grassy bank near perfectly blue water. With scarce visual drama in a show full of it, I search. Where her other two paintings with the figures’ identities obscured seem mostly formalistic, in this one I read into what looks like a mother/daughter relationship. And then I go back and read into the others, wondering what they’re trying to tell me. There are things to care for, to carry or console, things to run towards or from. And that blue is so calm, and some of these thoughts feel too facile or convoluted, and that is the pit I keep falling into here. Perhaps that is by design; art is hard to make and hard to un-knot through writing, the writing after the painting adds another layer. Terlizzi has also invited poets to see the show and respond to it, and all of this theater adds to these tangled chains of inquiry and intuition that go into “a work,” whatever that is (a painting, a poem, a show, a review). My review is finished and I haven’t even mentioned Hartigan’s best friend Frank O’Hara yet. “Pre-Verse” is up at St. Charles through midJanuary. For more info, visit

DECEMBER 13, 2017

Elliot Doughtie’s installation “Lost Earring” at School 33 Art Center Courtesy Elliot Doughtie

ART American Visionary Art Museum, 800 Key Highway. (410) 244-1900, “The Great Mystery Show,” A group exhibition of self-taught artists exploring the unknown and human imagination. Through Sept. 2, 2018. “Reverend Albert Lee Wagner: Miracle At Midnight,” Art by the late visionary artist who experienced a spiritual epiphany at age 50. Ongoing. Area 405, 405 E. Oliver St., “Retreat,” In a dual exhibition, Baltimorebased artist Lu Zhang presents an in-flux, experimental installation ‘Headspace’ alongside New York-based artist William Lamson’s video installation ‘Untitled’ (Infinity Camera).’ Through Jan. 13, 2018. Baltimore Museum of Art, 10 Art Museum Drive, (443) 573-1700, “Njideka Akunyili Crosby: Counterparts,” A suite of new paintings by 2017 MacArthur fellow Njideka Akunyili Crosby drawing from her experience as a Nigerian immigrant. Through March 18, 2018. “Phaan Howng: The Succession of Nature,” in collaboration with Blue Water Baltimore, local artist Phaan Howng highlights local environmental issues through a toxic-toned immersive installation. Through Aug. 31, 2018. “Spiral Play: Loving in the ‘80s,” Three dimensional collages in intense colors and spiral shapes by the late African-American abstract expressionist Al Loving. Through April 15, 2018. “Annet Couwenberg: From Digital to Damask,” Maryland-based artist Annet Couwenberg investigates the intersections of science, art, history, and technology through 11 textile works. Through Feb. 18, 2018. “Tomás Saraceno: Entangled Orbits,” Web-like clusters of iridescent-paneled modules are suspended in the museum’s East Lobby. Through June 10, 2018. “Black Box: Kara Walker & Hank Willis Thomas,” ‘Salvation’ by Kara Walker and ‘And I Can’t Run’ by Hank Willis Thomas are paired as explorations of the legacy of slavery. Through March 18, 2018. “Crossing Borders: Mexican Modernist Prints,” 30 prints and drawings by artists including Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and Elizabeth Catlett. Through March 11, 2018. “Beyond Flight: Birds in African Art,” Approximately 20 works demonstrate the symbolic roles birds serve within African cultures. Dec. 20-June 10. Cardinal, 1758 Park Ave., “The Post Contemporary Record Store,” Works by Seth Scriver, Neil Feather, Margaret Noble, Rutherford Chang, the Vinyl Vagabonds, and Vaunita Goodman examine the relationship between visual art and vinyl music culture. Opening reception Dec. 15, 6-10 p.m.; artist talks and performances

DECEMBER 13, 2017

Jan 19; on view through Jan. 27. Creative Alliance, 3134 Eastern Ave., (410) 276-1651, “James Hennessey: Enduring Concerns,” A career-spanning retrospective showcases large work produced by the former longtime MICA professor over the course of more than 50 years. Through Jan. 13. “Joshua Highter: Intimately Unfamiliar,” Process-driven, abstract paintings by the Maryland-based artist. Through Dec. 30. Goya Contemporary, 3000 Chestnut Ave., Mill Centre #214, (410) 366-2001, “Wilhelm Mundt: Trashstones,” Prints and sculptures from the “Trashstone” series by German artist Wilhelm Mundt. Through Jan. 3. “Josef Albers: Variants,” Work by the influential artist-education and Bauhaus member, best known for his experimentations in color. Through Jan. 3. Guest Spot At The Reinstitute, 1715 N. Calvert St., (718) 541-9672, “Not on View: Re/Activating the Archive and its A/Effects,” Work from Conrad Bakker, Eric Doeringer, Noah Fischer, Kang Seung Lee, Antoine Lefebvre, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, and Paul Soulellis; with selected ephemera, texts, and archival materials from John Cage, Juan Caloca, Sylvia Federici, Coco Fusco, the Guerrilla Girls, Martin Herbert, David Horvitz, the Journal of Aesthetics & Protest, Miranda July, Sister Corita Kent, Zoe Leonard, Mess Hall, Occupy Museums, John O’Connor, Press Press, Public Collectors, The Reinstitute Press, Gregory Sholette, Temporary Services, W.A.G.E. (Working Artists and the Greater Economy), Kara Walker, and Caroline Woolard. Through Jan. 6, 2018. Maryland Historical Society, 201 W. Monument St., (410) 685-3750, “Unscripted Moments: The Life & Photography of Joseph Kohl,” Photographs from c.1980 through 2002 by the late Baltimore photojournalist Joseph Kohl. Ongoing. Metro Gallery, 1700 N. Charles St., (410) 244-0899, “Complicated World Views,” Works by Ryan Travis Christian, Lauren Genovese, Kat Kennedy, Matt Leines, and Anna Silina. Through Dec. 31. Motor House, 120 W. North Ave., (410) 637-8300, “Censored,” Art by Baltimore-based artists Paul Rucker and Stephen Towns, both of whom have previously had work closed to the public or removed in response to complaints or fears of protest. Also on view are images of performances by local performance artist Lynn Hunter and photographs of Baltimore’s Confederate and Columbus monuments before and after removal. Through Dec. 31. Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture, 830 E. Pratt St., (443) 263-1800, “Maryland Collects: Jacob Lawrence,” Over 50 prints by Jacob Lawrence from personal collections in and around Maryland. Through Jan. 7, 2018. School 33 Art Center, 1427 Light St., (410) 396-4641, “Slow Form,” A juried exhibition featuring the work of Mary Baum, Mollye Bendell, Kei Ito, Elizabeth Mead, Lake Newton, Nick Primo, Margaret Rorison, Matthew Sepielli, and Doohyun Yoon. Through Jan. 6, 2018. “Decompositions,” A solo exhibition by Chris Zickefoose employing common construction materials and negative space. Through Jan. 6, 2018. “Lost Earring,” A multi-media installation by Elliot Doughtie considers the shift of cultural touchstones and the evolution of the artist’s own queer sexuality and transgender body. Artist presentation of the film “Wildness” by Wu Tsang Dec. 16, 1 p.m.; on view through Jan. 6, 2018. St. Charles Projects, 2701 N. Charles St., “Pre-Verse,” Paintings by June Culp, Joshua Bienko, and Delphine Hennelly in conversation with Grace Hartigan. Through mid-January. The Walters Art Museum, 600 N. Charles St., (410)547-9000, “Fabergé and the Russian Crafts Tradition: An Empire’s Legacy,” 70 works including the Walters’ two famed Fabergé Easter eggs alongside gold and silver vessels, enamels, jewelry, carved stones, and icons from Russia. Through June 24, 2018. “After Fabergé,” Five digital prints of surreal, digitally-rendered Fabergé eggs by artist Jonathan Monaghan complement the exhibition “Fabergé and the Russian Crafts Tradition.” Through June 24, 2018. Y:ART, 3402 Gough St., (443) 928-2272, “The Miniature Holiday Exhibition,” Small artworks that serve well as gifts by Craig Haupt, Diana Sanlorenzo Campbell, Edmond Praybe, Justin Wiest, Ken Karlic, Lois Borgenicht, Mary Bickford, Nieves Saah, Ricardo Hoegg, Roland Phillips, Sally Hopkins, and Susan McCurdy Yonkers. Through Jan. 13, 2018.



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LOCAL SINGLES, REVIEWED Glitching R&B from Amy Reid, coke-rap solidarity from YG Teck, and more By Brandon Soderberg


YG Teck freestyling on Downtown Locker Room Radio Screencap courtesy YouTube

Amy Reid, ‘Only Tonight’ Let’s work backwards here and begin with the last unexpected minute or so of this wounded, doomed hook-up song wherein its slow jammy-ness dissipates and all you’re left with is a roomy, maybe kinda womb-y, under-the-covers electronic glow, part Vangelis-y lift and part My Bloody Valentinian smear. What leads up to this epilogue-as-exhale, though, is R&B that is unabashed and fearless in its vulnerability. “If we only have tonight now, what’s your move?” Reid asks over clicks and glitches. Where Aaliyah and Autechre become one.

Axebreaker, ‘Live Assault II’ This single calloused track from Terence Hannum’s antifascist noise project formed following Trump’s election. “I tolerated a lot of garbage because I was into transgressive music,” Hannum recently told me, referencing noise and metal’s longstanding flirtation and sometimes endorsement of fascism. Axebreaker began as “something that was more abrasive and more direct I was doing in my basement,” Hannum adds, as “just a way to vent as I saw all these old specters rise.” “Live Assault II,” which is full live performance from May at the Red Room, allows us all to vent with him.

Bobbi Rush, ‘Island’ Not so much a broken-hearted song as a frustratedhearted song, ‘Island’ is about being ghosted or just being ignored for the moment (which can feel like forever, yes), full of romantic half-stepping (“I love you, but I’ve been drinking it too”) and love/hate/loathe tension (“turning me down, turning me on,” goes the helium-voiced halfa-hook). Bonus: An Atlantean beat you could imagine Gucci Mane dancing all over that conjures up the image of Minnie Ripperton making a guest appearance at a club in Lando Calrissian’s Cloud City.

Bobby Woody, ‘Phoebe’ Like A Tribe Called Quest or early Kanye West—or OK, if


that’s too generous, how about Chi Ali at least—Bobby Woody’s chatty rhymes and lithe Soulquarians-like instrumentation have thoroughly legit everyman sort of appeal. ‘Phoebe’ is a kicking game sort of rap song with Woody taking the charming, scenic route to asking her out: “I could be Egyptian king and you be Nefertiti/ Psyche—we too broke to go back to Africa/ A Marcus Garvey reincarnate hoping that he black enough.” Spoiler alert: She says yes.

Invincible Summer, ‘Toreadornado’ Joy Division’s ‘Atmosphere’ as covered by muzak Ministry with Fred Schneider of the B-52’s reading some sort of Zappa-esque spoken-word thing. More sounds pile up, the story becomes more immersive, the spoken-word more rappity (in a Travis Morrison from The Dismemberment Plan sort of way) and then Douglas Sirk-like as the narrator’s aunt praises her washing machine and says she never actually loved her husband. Slint for dweebs maybe? That is totally a compliment, by the way.

Little Gunpowder, ‘Happieness’ Little Gunpowder’s work is adjacent to some of the other really haunting, quotidian singer-songwriter stuff happening in Baltimore (see: slugqueen, Mothpuppy) and sounds well, from somewhere else: aged, wise, but not retro (she sings with all the wooly ache of Dock Boggs), just something raw and real and archly sincere. “Happiness doesn’t exist it’s not yours to keep/ It comes and it goes everytime you sleep/ So I guess I’ll just stay awake.” Karen Dalton gone noir? Mazzy Star meets Michael Mann?

Movakween, ‘Listen Up’ A soup of Three Six Mafia sounds—pieces of ‘Stay Fly’ (and its swirling Willie Hutch sample) and chunks of ‘Sippin’ On Some Syrup’—with Movakween declaring, “I’m tryna build a whole damn team of creators who want the same damn thing.” And I’m reminded of the anthology


“Octavia’s Brood” and its editors Walidah Imarisha and Adrienne Maree Brown’s declaration that “all organizing is science fiction.” Well, here is organizing’s spacey soundtrack. Of a piece with bbymutha’s ‘Rules,’ if you ask me.

Queen Wolf, ‘Where The Wasps Are’ Man, remember “The Woods,” that Sleater-Kinney record that rock critic dorks dubbed “hard rock” record because it was ostensibly heavy and well, rock critics are dorks so going Grand Funk Railroad is some kind of shocking, blasphemous seachange novelty instead of well, just a thing to go and do? Well, ‘Where The Wasps Are’ recalls “The Woods” with Queen Wolf kinda going Grand Funk (and Blue Cheer and Thin Lizzy). Why does the song gotta fade out though?

YG Teck, ‘DTLR Freestyle’ This West Baltimore favorite’s four-and-half-minute freestyle from Downtown Locker Room Radio turned into something of a local hit, especially because of one line that really resonates (“We been fucked up so long we don’t even know if getting rich real”). Now with an official video, it hinges on an artfully timed moment where the beat drops out and YG Teck lays out the utopian qualities of hustling in plainspoken poetry: “If my dog had some ‘caine, that was my ‘caine too/ And if my dog felt some pain, then that was my pain too.”

Young Moose, ‘1st Day Out’ Moose runs through a whole lot of loss and occasionally some stability but never really victory, and that’s all before the beat—jacked from Tee Grizzley’s melodramatic confessional ‘1st Day Out’—even drops. Listen for what sounds like a sly dig at BalCo Bone-Thugs Creek Boyz (“We in the jungle, y’all niggas in the creek, boy”), though it feels a bit justified given Creek Boyz sell out the city on the new version of ‘With My Team’, where shouts to Baltimore’s victims of homicide are replaced with, well, basic “don’t stop my shine” platitudes.

DECEMBER 13, 2017

VENUES An Die Musik, 409 N. Charles St., (410) 385-2638, Anthem, 901 Wharf St. SW, Washington, D.C., (202) 888-0020, Baltimore Soundstage, 124 Market Place, (410) 244-0057, Bertha’s, 734 S. Broadway, (410) 3275795, The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria, VA, (703) 549-7500, The Black Cat, 1811 14th St. NW, Washington, D.C., (202) 667-4490, Cat’s Eye Pub, 1730 Thames St., (410) 276-9866, Creative Alliance, 3134 Eastern Ave., (410) 276-1651, The Crown, 1910 N. Charles St., (410) 625-4848, The 8x10, 10 E. Cross St., (410) 625-2000, E.M.P. Collective, 307 W. Baltimore St., (410) 244-0785, Echostage, 2135 Queens Chapel Road NE, Washington, D.C., (202) 503-2330, The Fillmore Silver Spring, 8656 Colesville Road, (301) 960-9999, Germano’s Piattini, 300 S. High St., (410) 752-4515, Joe Squared, 33 W. North Ave., (410) 5450444, Lyric Opera House, 140 W. Mount Royal Ave., (410) 685-5086, Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy., Columbia, (410) 7155550, Metro Gallery, 1700 N. Charles St., (410) 244-0899, Motor House, 120 W. North Ave., (410) 637-8300, 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW, Washington, D.C., (202) 265-0930, The Ottobar, 2549 N. Howard St., (410) 662-0069, Pier Six Pavillion, 731 Eastern Ave., (410) 547-7200, pier-six-pavilion Rams Head Live, 20 Market Place, (410) 244-1131, Rams Head On Stage, 33 West St., Annapolis, (410) 268-4545, Red Room, 425 E. 31st St., Reverb, 2112 N. Charles St., (443) 4474325, Royal Farms Arena, 201 W. Baltimore St., (410) 347-2020, The Sidebar, 218 E. Lexington St., (410) 659-4130, Tin Roof, 32 Market Place, (443) 873-8137, U Street Music Hall, 1115A U St. NW, Washington, D.C., (202) 588-1889, The Windup Space, 12 W. North Ave., (410) 244-8855,

D E C E M B ER 1 3 , 2 0 1 7


An Die Musik. Emmanuel Garnier. Bertha’s. Whale Show. The Birchmere. Over The Rhine acoustic Christmas. The Black Cat. Bad Moves, Still a Great Night, Park Snakes. Cat’s Eye Pub. Muleman Band. The Crown. Height Keech, Ami Dang, Frenemies. Germano’s Piattini. Mark Nadler. 9:30 Club. The White Buffalo, Suzanne Santo. Rams Head Live. Lee Brice. Rams Head On Stage. Night Ranger. The Windup Space. MICA Soundbox.

T h U . 1 4

An Die Musik. Seth Kibel and Friends. Baltimore Soundstage. Eighteen Visions, Knocked Loose, Old Wounds, Tourniquet. Bertha’s. Jeff Reed Trio. The Birchmere. Carbon Leaf, Sawyer. The Black Cat. Chris Fleming. Cat’s Eye Pub. Skyla Burrell Blues Band. The 8x10. DEADcember, Steal Your Peach. Germano’s Piattini. Qing Li, Richard Dowling. Joe Squared. Liberata, Jeanette Lynne. Metro Gallery. Black Marble, YOU., The Holy Circle. 9:30 Club. Angel Olsen, White Magic. The Ottobar. The Number 12 Looks Like You, Rolo Tomassi, Cryptodira; Queer Qrush Dance Party with DJ Pancakes. The Sidebar. Dark Thoughts, Glue Traps, Cold Feet. The Windup Space. Party Pack ICE, Chris Pumphrey’s Mondawmen.

F r i . 1 5

An Die Musik. Carl Filipiak Jazz Quartet. Anthem. Lil Uzi Vert. Baltimore Soundstage. Da Kid Emm, DJ Havok, Donnie Breeze, King Forrest. Bertha’s. The Juke Drivers. The Birchmere. Carbon Leaf, Sawyer. The Black Cat. Harry & The Potters, The Moaning Myrtles, Lauren Fairweather, Potter Puppet Pals, Draco & The Malfoys, Kwikspell. Cat’s Eye Pub. Billy Thomson & Jeb Baynum; Nothin’ But Trouble. Creative Alliance. Dori Freeman, Letitia VanSant. The Crown. Dai Burger, Kotic Couture, Black Salem. The 8x10. Going Hard. E.M.P. Collective. Infinity Knives, Tigerlily Jones, Blueberry, Albert Bagman.

The Fillmore Silver Spring. PnB Rock, YBS Skola. Germano’s Piattini. Jennifer Blades. Joe Squared. VO/ID, Impersona, Sweethearts, Anon Martyr. Metro Gallery. Quattracenta, Snakes, Margins. 9:30 Club. Angel Olsen, White Magic. Rams Head Live. The Legwarmers. Rams Head On Stage. Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes. Reverb. Mark Rizzo, Lovey, Carl Kavorkian, Sledgehouse. The Sidebar. The Mostly Dead, The Disassociated. Tin Roof. Most Savage Gentlemen. U Street Music Hall. Shamir. The Windup Space. 4 Hours Of Funk.

S a T . 1 6

An Die Musik. Ensemble 4-33; Warren Wolf meets Sean Jones. Anthem. O.A.R. Baltimore Soundstage. Point Break Live. Bertha’s. June Star. The Birchmere. Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes. Cat’s Eye Pub. Nothin’ But Trouble, Ruben Montoya Band. Creative Alliance. Navasha Daya tribute to Jimi Hendrix. The 8x10. Telesma, J Pope and the HearNow, Conor Brendan and the Wild Hunt. Echostage. Thomas Jack. The Fillmore Silver Spring. Badfish, Pat Shine, MSH. Germano’s Piattini. Kings Of Crownsville. Lyric Opera House. The United States Army Field Band. Metro Gallery. Old Eastern, Goodbye July, Workingman’s Dilemma, Taller Tales. 9:30 Club. Victor Wooten featuring Dennis Chambers, Bob Franceschini. The Ottobar. Arbourteum, Television Hill, Stephen Strohmeier; The Flying Faders, The Bali Llamas. Rams Head Live. Highly Suspect. Rams Head On Stage. Jon Mclaughlin; Aaron Neville Quintet. The Sidebar. The Forwards, The Steady Ratchers, DJ Bobby Babylon. Tin Roof. Stages Music Arts Winter Frost Fest. The Windup Space. Flash Gordon Night! with Queen Wolf.

S u N . 1 7

An Die Musik. Warren Wolf meets Christian McBride. Anthem. Pentatonix Christmas Tour. Baltimore Soundstage. Plantface, A Year Too Late, Rhett Repko, The Ale-


ments, Aeoxis, more Save X-Mas. Bertha’s. June Star. The Birchmere. Norman Brown’s Joyous Christmas featuring Marlon Meadows, Bobby Caldwell. Cat’s Eye Pub. Steve Kraemer & The Bluesicians; Pete Kanaras & The Hi-Fliers. Creative Alliance. Charm City Klezmer Holiday Dance Party. The Fillmore Silver Spring. The Tree House School of Music. Germano’s Piattini. Amahl and the Night Visitors; David Deboy and the Hons. Joe Squared. Cyber Twin, Little Lungs, Grem Smiley, Middle Kid. Lyric Opera House. The United States Army Field Band. 9:30 Club. Municipal Waste, NAILS, Macabre, Shitfucker. Rams Head On Stage. Bob Sima; Bettye Lavette. The Windup Space. Expert Of Nothing.

M o N . 1 8

An Die Musik. Monday Jazz Jam hosted by Alex Meadow and Joshua Espinoza. The Birchmere. The Wailin’ Jennys. Cat’s Eye Pub. Phil Cunneff New Trio. 9:30 Club. Up and Vanished. Rams Head Live. Shell Tour, Snails, Funtcase, Boogie T. Rams Head On Stage. Bryce & Bethany Merritt. Red Room. Baltimore Technology Overdrive Presents An Introduction to Eurorack Synthesizers.

T u e . 1 9

An Die Musik. Teodora Adzharova. Bertha’s. The Wailin’ Jennys. Cat’s Eye Pub. Baltimore Rockabilly featuring Jay Cleaver. Creative Alliance. LaFayette Gilchrist, Eric Kennedy. The 8x10. Eat Yer Meat. Rams Head On Stage. Street Corner Symphony, Gabe Dixon. The Sidebar. August Winters, Ariadne and the Threads, At This Point, Little Doctor, Somniatis.

W e D . 2 0

Bertha’s. Baltimore Songwriters Association Songwriters Showcase. The Birchmere. Robert Glasper Experiment. Cat’s Eye Pub. Rachel & Chick Hall. The Ottobar. The Pink Spiders, Carousel Kings, The Great Heights Band, Front Royal. Rams Head On Stage. Petula Clark. Tin Roof. Nate McCormick.


See us for Toys, Books, and More! 1001 W 36th St., Hampden Baltimore, MD


Dori Freeman Photo by Kate Horton / Courtesy

Dori Freeman, Letitia VanSant D E C . 1 5 Traditions are fraught, especially those of the folk, country, Americana sort given the current Jim Crow Sequel we’re sort of kind of living in or at least headed toward, and although you’d be wise to realize a lot of music with Appalachian and hillbilly roots doesn’t have much to do with all of that, I can’t blame you for being, well, skeptical. But that’s why you should check out Virginia’s Dori Freeman, who focuses on craft, adds a little edge, and a whole lot of kindness on her recent record, “Letters Never Read.” The opening track is a laconic highlight with a dash of boozy waltzing: “I would weather the wind and the rain/ I would shoulder your trouble and pain/ I would give you the blood from my veins,” she sings. Also on this bill is Baltimore’s Letitia VanSant, who has a new record coming early next year—and so I imagine she’ll play some songs from it—and whose 2015 record, “Parts & Labor,” with its commentary on what it means to make and create and not make a whole lot of money off it anymore, remains very relevant; a country lament for the era of the gig economy. 8 p.m., Creative Alliance, 3134 Eastern Ave., (410) 276-1651,, $15-$18. (Brandon Soderberg)

THE STORY OF O with Bianca | $25

January 10th at 6:30pm


January 17th at 6:30pm


January 25th at 6:30pm

G-SPOTS, SQUIRTING & FUN with Jacq Jones | $25 Black Girl Glitter 2 D E C . 1 6 CaShawn Thompson, who coined the hashtag #blackgirlsaremagic (and also sells t-shirts and hoodies with the slogan) a few years ago, told the Los Angeles Times that she did so because there’s something about black women that other people can’t understand. “Sometimes our accomplishments might seem to come out of thin air, because a lot of times, the only people supporting us are other black women,” she said. In that same vein, get all sparkly and prepare to shop at this event hosted by Amorous Ebony and designed to highlight black women and femme artists and makers. With performances by Cierralione, Kira-Lynae, Gardens_n_Ghettos, Randi Roberts, Ashley-U; a set from DJ Black Lady, and a selection of vendors, it will be much-needed time to celebrate the magic of black women. Organizers say glitter and other shiny things are encouraged, and the flier notes POC only. 9 p.m.-1:30 a.m., Tightfisted Fashion: Resale & Consignment Store, 2114 N. Charles St. #100,, $10. (Lisa Snowden-McCray)



DECEMBER 13, 2017

February 26th


Purchase tickets in person at the store, over the phone with a credit card or online at

LITHIUM AND DOGS Two discursive memoirs, Jaime Lowe’s “Mental” and Eileen Myles’ “Afterglow,” reviewed By Brandon Soderberg

Hannah Sawyerr Photo Courtesy of Sawyerr

“Mental: Lithium, Love, and Losing My Mind” by Jaime Lowe Early on in Jaime Lowe’s “Mental: Lithium, Love, and Losing My Mind,” the author of 2008’s “Digging For Dirt: The Life and Death of ODB” lists the books that helped her understand her first fateful episode (a manic moment in 1993 at age 16, not long after she was sexually assaulted at knife point) and make her feel less well, insane: Elizabeth Wurtzel’s “Prozac Nation,” and “An Unquiet Mind” and “Touched By Fire,” both by Kaye Redfield Jamison. It’s not only a moving mini-syllabus, but a good way to understand “Mental”—it’s pretty much a cross between those three books. Part lacerating confessional, part ruminative and occasionally clinical memoir, and part contemplative historical document of depression throughout the ages, as written by someone who has a profound and empathetic grasp of Wu Tang Clan’s possibly undiagnosed schizophrenic wisp, Ol’ Dirty Bastard. What you also get in “Mental” is a celebration of and semi-eyeroll at THA ‘90Z (ska! skateboarding! altweeklies! Maxim!) and then, a devastating, discursive, journalistic journey through lithium. In this final third, Lowe travels, trying out lithium soaks while struggling with Depakote, the anticonvulsant she’s offered when it is revealed she has kidney damage from years of lithium usage and through that, comprehends firsthand the inherent absurdity of medicine-as-industry (basically, you can’t copyright and therefore big time profit off lithium so research on it is stagnant). Another thread: How doctors throughout time— almost entirely empirically-minded asshole men— misdiagnose or just plain damage women (during the 1700s for example, women were essentially masturbated to prevent manic depressive-like symptoms then understood as “hysteria”). Lowe quotes extensively from the notes from her doctor, Dr. Schwartz, to show that in some ways, medicine and science are a bit better these

DECEMBER 13, 2017

days though just as gendered. Schwartz frequently refers to Lowe as “aggressive,” praises her for “generally making herself more attractive,” and writes, “is she a lesbian,” after she details dating and commitment problems. Lowe’s prose perks up and gets daring when she describes an episode—explosive, jazzy lists of everything and nothing—so you witness, even in her sentences, the visionary, touched insight manic depression provides along with the endlessly complicated emotional clusterfuck of it all too (one scene: Lowe dressed like a hippie He-Man rapping Eminem-inspired freestyles exclusively about um, poop). That laughing-but-very-serious kind of comedy in “Mental” slips away in the health scare/lithium deep dive end of the book where a trip to the restorative hot springs in Bad Kissingen, Germany finds Lowe reflecting on family members from this area who fled this gorgeous Bavarian town to avoid the Holocaust and continues on to a conclusion that is the very definition of tragically optimistic. “No episodes yet!” the epilogue reads in full. Think “Eat, Pray, Love”—another book Lowe celebrates in “Mental”—as written by well, again, someone who totally got where ODB was coming from.

Eileen Myles’ “Afterglow (a dog memoir)” A disclosure: I am not only an overly dedicated dog owner but also one who has tried, and probably mostly failed, to explore my weird relationship with my pet through confessional, experimental non-fiction prose and so hey, Eileen Myles’ latest, “Afterglow (a dog memoir),” a memoir about their dog and their dad and the Bush administration and gender and power and grief is something that’s tough for me to review reasonably or “objectively,” whatever that even means. Another disclosure: One time when I was on a whole lot of mushrooms, my dog ran into the room


real fast—”Comin’ in a little hot,” I declared—so I lifted my hand up, pointed my fingers down, indicating he should sit, and sit he did. He was well-trained. I was shattered and thought, “What have I done to this thing?” as he waited obediently for the next command. You get a far more terrifying if less stoned version of this in a gnarled chapter of “Afterglow,” in which Myles describes the time they had their beloved dog, Rosie, a pit bull that lived from 1990 to 2006 (essentially through Bush I and Bush II’s entire presidencies along with Clinton’s and through Myles’ performance art presidential run in 1992), mate with another pitbull and what follows is a tortured, ugly, embarrassing description of the violent fucking Myles and the other dog owner casually observed in a New York apartment. What have I done to this thing, Myles wonders, and still wonders, like me on shrooms overanalyzing pet obedience and OMG WHAT DOES IT ALL MEANNNNNNNNN. Another, another disclosure: There is an absolutely devastating poem just tossed onto a page of “Afterglow” and it made me laugh and cry a whole lot. It is titled “ZIZEK/LOVE/CUB” (though Myles prefaces it with, “Here’s a sad poem I found in the box. I don’t think this is really the title but I enjoy it”) and the poem reads in full: “The inevitability/ that God/ would be a/ man the absence/ adding up/ to something/ and my plants/ brownly/ scrunching/ up to something/ cause they/ never die/ & neither/ does my/ dog/ & neither/ do I.” If it sounds like I’m filibustering or eliding getting into this book, well that’s because I am—or OK, look, discussing “Afterglow” demands thinking and writing differently and doubling back on one’s own thoughts and accepting that there are so many things that we’ll never get to the center of, such as grief and love. At the core of the book, an amalgamation: Rosie and Myles’ father (who died when Myles was 11) become the same and both are kind of sort of God and well, we’re all dogs, dumbly dedicated to something or other for reasons we’ll never quite comprehend.


Normal’s new facade design. Courtesy Facebook

BOOKS Normal’s Books and Records New Facade Celebration, Sale, and Concert D E C . 1 7 Have you seen Normal’s lately? Yeah, after about three months of gray plastic covering the front and a little more than seven months total of messing about, Normal’s has a whole new facade that’s brightly-colored and just like, immediately iconic. That’s not to say the area around Normal’s isn’t a bit of a mess because the city has been digging up the streets in Waverly for nearly a year. But hey, there’s nothing Normal’s can do about that. Nonetheless, celebrate the store’s new look, buy some shit, and shake your fist angrily at ripped up roads and big load machinery clanging all around. All used books, records, CDs, DVDs, and so on in the store are 20 percent off and it’s a whole day of live music, performance, and poetry featuring Smoke Bellow, Infinity Knives & Randi, Linda Franklin & Liz Downing, Elliot Swain, Wheatie Mattiasich accompanied by Steve Santillian, Justin Sanders, Peter Redgrave & Khristian Weeks, Mole Suit Choir, Blood On The Mercy Seat, and DJ Hummingbird Feeder. The place is an institution and, unlike a certain institutions, it isn’t resting on its rep or anything— it keeps delivering the goods (they also have one of the best and most useful and entertaining Instagrams @normals_books_records, where the stuff about to hit the shelves is helpfully previewed). 3 p.m., Normal’s Books and Records, 425 E. 31st St., (410) 243-6888,, free. (Brandon Soderberg) Baltimore County Public Library Pikesville Branch, 1301 Reisterstown Road, (410) 887-1234, Matthew A. Crenson, professor emeritus of political science at Johns Hopkins University and author of “Baltimore: A Political History.” Dec. 13, 2:30 p.m. Enoch Pratt Free Library Central, 400 Cathedral St., Former Federal prosecutor Paul Butler discusses his book, “Chokehold: Policing Black Men,” as part of the Brown Lecture Series. Dec. 13, 7 p.m. Enoch Pratt Free Library Cherry Hill Branch, 606 Cherry Hill Road, (410) 3961168, Mental health and emotional wellness advocate Maxine Bigby Cunningham discusses her book “Power Walking: A Journey to Wholeness.” Dec. 16, 1 p.m. Red Emma’s, 30 W. North Ave., (443) 602-7585, Two books from Baltimore artists: Photographer Kyle Pompey’s “Perspective: Baltimore” and Aaron Maybin’s “Art-Activism: The Revolutionary Art, Poetry, & Reflections of Aaron Maybin.” Dec. 13, 7:30 p.m. Kristen Jeffers of the website the Black Urbanist. Dec. 14, 7:30 p.m.



DECEMBER 13, 2017

presented by

Praised be Springfield / Homer 25:17 “The Simpsons” as Scripture in “Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play” By Brandon Block


Christine Wells (left), Hannah Fogler, Jonathan Jacobs, and Meghan Stanton in “Mr. Burns” at Cohesion Theatre Company Photo by Glenn Ricci, courtesy Cohesion Theatre Company

The first act of Anne Washburn’s “Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play” sounds a lot like conversations I had in high school in my friend Dan’s backyard over a few joints, half a dozen or so of us with nowhere to go because it’s the suburbs, inevitably rehashing our favorite moments from TV shows with varying degrees of theatrical panache. At the core of human mythmaking, argues “Mr. Burns”—a self-consciously post-modern grab bag of a play currently being staged by Cohesion Theatre Company under the direction of Lance Bankerd—is collective nostalgia for popular culture. When we meet our survivors of some vague apocalyptic disaster (played by Jonathan Jacobs, Meghan Stanton, Hannah Fogler, Christine Wells, and Matthew Casella) we’re to assume that they’ve moved passed shock, trauma, horror, depravity, or any other plausible emotional response to the widespread destruction of planet Earth. We skip right to the part where they sit around a campfire with some beers going “oh and doesn’t he, doesn’t Sideshow Bob have ‘die Bart die’ tattooed on his chest?” (“Cape Feare” is the episode they’re describing). Occasionally a stray noise in the forest snaps them back into survivor mode, and they each tense up and grab their weapons. The understated, downright banal writing and performances in this act are a reminder that life or death situations still unfold in real time—unlike on television or often, on the stage—with plenty of waiting, watching, and milling about. At one point, the collaborative re-telling of an episode where Springfield Nuclear Power Plant goes haywire blurs hazily into a description of the actual apocalypse event itself, merging Simpsons with real life

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and juxtaposing the two styles of conversation: “What was it that Mr. Burns said to Smithers?” quickly becomes “Didn’t the power lines go down before the fire?” I think then about the way “The Simpsons” (the actual show) deftly caricatures the borderline apocalyptic potential lurking under the surface of everyday American life, even in boom times. A perfect satire of the Reagan administration, the old “Simpsons” episodes manage to take on new life under Trump, when it feels like everything is perpetually on the edge of total destruction; Homer is every Trump appointee, sitting with his finger on the nuclear button and accountable only to an even more maliciously uninformed force (one imagines the president telling Jared to “release the hounds”). In act two of “Mr. Burns,” seven years later, the same people have managed to survive and an informal society has rebuilt itself on the ruins of America. More importantly, though, our heroes have gathered their meager resources to stage a touring theatrical production of Simpsons episodes. The scripts are cobbled together around lines that the group buys from people who solicit them with pitches in a competitive marketplace with other theatre troupes. From what was once informal fandom, now a whole “Simpsons” economy has arisen. Why their main concern is the quality of the show when lawless roving militias are robbing people at gunpoint and basic goods are in scarce supply (a long and granular back-and-forth about the nationwide supply of Diet Coke feels like off-brand Tarantino dialogue) is unclear. Digressions abound, and the rehearsal that takes up all of act two soon descends into a referential flurry of brand names, hot takes on wine, and other random factoids of life.


I want to read all this as a dig at the hyperfetishization of pop culture, but “Mr. Burns” doesn’t quite achieve the critical distance or humor to feel like sly satire. Washburn’s commentary is just a bit obvious. It’s now 75 years later and the “Cape Feare” episode has become the basis for a religious cult ritual—replete with robes, masks, beating drums, chanting, singing, and reverent lines like “if only we could return to Springfield, night glittered as bright as day” and “Cowabunga!” Amidst a manic and dissonant arrangement of the “Itchy and Scratchy” theme song, a masked Mr. Burns, aboard a yacht and festooned in a tattered green goblin suit, sings “we’ve got to rouse love, wake love up!” and any concern I had about not ‘getting it’ yielded to the frustrating fear that there was nothing to ‘get.’ Each character says their most recognizable thing in a stream of consciousness procession. “I’m Troy McClure, you may know me from . . .” and other stray catch phrases trail off into slam poetryinflected references both biblical and pop-cultural, but all low-hanging (“Jacob!”, “Lot’s Wife!”, “The Kardashians!”) Cohesion does everything humanly possible to enliven Washburn’s text, and the elaborate, hypersaturated choreography that features everything from devotional dances to light saber battles is a real accomplishment. But “Mr. Burns” suffers from a script whose novel idea becomes absurd and incomprensible— though that very well may be the point. “Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play” runs through Dec. 17 at The Fallout Shelter at United Evangelical Church. For more information, visit


Courtesy Moscow Ballet

Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker D E C . 1 5 & D E C . 1 6

“A Christmas Carol” at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company Photo Courtesy of Chesapeake Shakespeare Company


“A Christmas Carol.” Chesapeake Shakespeare Company brings back its annual Baltimore-set adaption of Charles Dickens’ holiday morality tale. Through Dec. 23, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, 7 S. Calvert St., (410) 244-8570,, $19-$65. Expert 0f 2017 Year in Review. Contestants present and debate on the year 2017 in a monthly comedy game show. Dec. 17, 8 p.m., The Windup Space, 12 W. North Ave., (410) 244-8855,, free. Heavy Hors D’oeuvres 3: Interrobang’s Holiday Dinner. Interrobang Theater Company Theatre Company stages short, new plays by local playwrights Laura Fuentes, Richard Espey, and Natalie Piegari written around the theme of holiday dinner. Dec. 13-17, Strand Theater, 5426 Harford Road,, $10-$25. “H.T. Darling’s Incredible Musaeum Presents: The Treasures of New Galapagos, Astonishing Aquisitions from the Perisphere.” Submersive Productions remounts their immersive, devised play wherein the Peale Museum is transformed into a sci-fi cabinet of wonders. Through Dec. 17, The Peale Center, 225 Holliday St.,, $20-$75. “A Hunger Artist.” Baltimore native Josh Luxenberg presents a one-man performance based on the Franz Kafka short story of the same name. Dec. 14-17, Baltimore Theatre Project, 45 W. Preston St., (410) 752-8558,, $15-$25. “Lookingglass Alice.” A contemporary retelling of Lewis Carroll’s trippy tale. Through Dec. 31, Baltimore Center Stage, 700 N. Charles St., (410) 332-0033,, $19.50-$74. “Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play.” Following a radioactive catastrophe caused by the nationwide failure of nuclear power plants, a group of survivors seeks refuge in the woods and entertains themselves by recounting an episode of “The Simpsons.” Through Dec. 17, Cohesion Theatre at The Fallout Shelter, 923 S. East Ave.,, $20-$15. The Mother Load: Performance Anxiety. The cabaret-style puppet showcase hosted by Mother Goose returns with original music by Trucker Talk, a new story from Bigfoot’s memoirs, and drink specials. Dec. 20, 8 p.m., The Windup Space, 12 W. North Ave., (410) 244-8855, “The Revolutionists.” Former queen Marie Antoinette, feminist playwright Olympe de Gouges, assassin Charlotte Corday, and Caribbean spy Marianne Angelle get together and talk revolution and duty. Through Jan. 7, Everyman Theatre, 315 W. Fayette St., (410) 752-2208,, $25-$65. “Sister Act: The Musical.” Based on the 1992 film with original music by awardwinning composer Alan Menken, the Tony Award-winning musical finds a disco diva in protective custody sent to a convent after witnessing a murder. Through Dec. 24, Motor House, 120 W. North Ave., (410) 637-8300,, $26.


Get super Christmassy and fancy by taking in the Moscow Ballet’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” as they stop in Baltimore on their 25th Anniversary Tour. You’re sure to see graceful ballerinas, gorgeous stage sets, puppets, giant nesting dolls, and of course, lots of tutus (the only reason I committed to one season of ballet classes back in the late ‘80s). It’s the kind of holiday event that’s fun with or without kids. Dec. 15, 7 p.m.; Dec. 16, 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.; Hippodrome Theater, 12 N. Eutaw St., (410) 8377400,, $47-$140. (Lisa Snowden-McCray)

Photo Courtesy of Admire Entertainment

A John Waters Christmas D E C . 1 9 Some might be surprised that the so-called Pope of Trash gets so hyped about Christmas, a day so sacred that some find self-important gratification in pretending it’s the target of a cultural war. At the very least, Christmas is supposedly a holiday for sugary-sweet family wholesomeness, and a filmmaker whose greatest achievements include directing scenes wherein rosary beads become anal beads or a drag queen eats dookie doesn’t exactly embody Traditional Family Values™. But come on; capitalism made the birth of our lord a feast for kitsch-mongers like Waters long ago. Look no further than, well, everywhere, because monstrous lawn inflatables at varying degrees of erectness and other emblems of “bad taste” are all over. Hear Waters revel in such joys while also pondering the sexuality of Santa’s reindeer and whether or not to bring politics into holiday festivities, among other quandaries common this time of year. 8 p.m., Baltimore Soundstage, 124 Market Place, (410) 244-0057, baltimoresoundstage. com, $44-$49.50. (Maura Callahan)


DECEMBER 13, 2017

WOOOOOOOOOO! “Nature Boy” paints Ric Flair as the poster boy for masculine achievement, for better and for worse By Dominic Griffin


Ric Flair in “Nature Boy Screencap courtesy

In a recent bit of Twitter discourse, famed pro wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer sparked a minor debate over whether Ric Flair was as big a pop cultural icon as Hulk Hogan. Flair, the platinum blonde, leather skinned, one percenter cosplayer who holds the record for world championship titles, inarguably reigns in the fictional sport. If you’ve ever seen a man old enough to be your grandfather shouting “woo!” surrounded by women young enough to understand Snapchat, you’re familiar with Ric Flair. And so, the Twitter back and forth hinged on a matter of scale. Hogan is the most famous professional wrestler of all time and his ascension to the national stage with Vince McMahon Jr.’s World Wrestling Federation in the early ‘80s was nothing less than sports entertainment monomyth. Flair, then the face of the National Wrestling Alliance’s less expansive Jim Crockett Promotions, was by contrast a regional player, a performer known the world over who primarily catered to the south. As two heads of the pro wrestling Mount Rushmore, the philosophical battle of who was bigger and better will rage in perpetuity, but “Nature Boy,” the ESPN’s recent “30 For 30” documentary from filmmaker Rory Karpf, certainly tips the icon scales away from Hogan’s favor. It’s a matter of legacy. Hulk Hogan,

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by design, was a figure aimed at young children. It was the joint brainchild of McMahon and Hogan himself, recasting the ultra tan, muscled up lunk as a patriotic Venice Beach Superman. He was a colorful, cartoon branding machine designed to sell t-shirts and lunchboxes. But Ric Flair wasn’t aimed at children. In his tailored suits and alligator shoes, Ric Flair was meant to be a villain, to engender jealousy and hatred in the common man viewers of his promotion’s product. But he became a hero nonetheless, because Flair was every straight male’s fantasy self made flesh. He was rich, feared by men, and desired by women. Kids who grew up loving Hulk Hogan still know his name, but Flair is who they wish they could be as adults. His influence is readily apparent in any major athlete’s locker room or in the verses of many lauded rapper’s swaggering rhymes. When Karpf’s documentary isn’t outlining the simple throughline of Flair’s history, it’s busy making space in the film’s tight runtime to show scene upon scene of men from the worlds of sports and rap music as disciples of Flair’s singular strand of self belief and peacocking style. Flair was a man who began as a bland collegiate athlete, became a decent professional wrestler, then came back from a near life-ending injury in a plane crash to become the greatest pro wrestler of all

time. The way the documentary shows it, this was largely through sheer force of will and a monomaniacal focus on wrestling and wrestling only, much to the detriment of his personal life, wives, and children. The “real” Richard Fliehr (his government name) was such an unremarkable person that Flair has lived decades inside his gimmick. He was adopted by upper middle class parents who sent him to boarding school, scoffed at his athletic achievements, and, despite their love of the theater, never understood or admired what Flair did in front of a crowd. It’s not shocking, then, that in the absence of that real affirmation, he chose to live not as their son, but as his own creation. As the film gleefully portrays, both from the horse’s mouth itself and charming animated interludes, Flair wasn’t just getting on a microphone and making up clever shit to sell a character. He literally became that character. For wrestling fans, “Nature Boy” is a fun if slight portrait of a man whose life story is too stuffed with show-stopping anecdotes to ever fit neatly into a televisable runtime. Karpf shot tons of interviews with his subject and other industry types, but whittled the tale into a digestible feature that lets Flair’s penchant for embellishment lead the way. Imagine Tim Burton’s “Big Fish” if Billy Crudup’s dad really was a giant fucking fish. “Nature Boy” seems to completely sidestep viewing some of Flair’s actions with anything resembling a critical eye. In particular, an animated recreation of a story that’s repeated itself several times throughout Flair’s career stands out, wherein he walks up and down the aisles of an airplane in nothing but a robe, flailing his dick around. It’s a signature parlor trick Flair has performed many times, to the dismay of decades of flight attendants, no doubt. These sequences, as told by Flair, are meant to be hilarious. He’s basically bragging about being a self destructive mess, and much of what people love and admire about the Ric Flair persona is inexorably entwined with questionable behavior we’re having a renewed conversation about. What value is a film like this in today’s climate if it shies away from the difficult questions? But the film hides from those


questions because Flair does too. He’s no stranger to blatantly acknowledging the damage he’s done in life, to all his spouses and his family and friends and acquaintances. He just refuses to truly face certain hard truths. While Karpf’s film doesn’t take a confrontational tack in the way it engages Flair, it doesn’t have to do so to make a point about the inherent toxicity on the flipside of his fantasy life coin. All it has to do is hinge its third act around the 2013 death of Flair’s professional wrestler son, Reid, by overdose. While Hulk Hogan was telling kids to say their prayers and eat their vitamins, Flair was largely absent from the lives of his actual children. If Hogan, like most superheroes, was an adolescent power fantasy of being impervious to pain and being able to “hulk” up to defeat life’s ills, then Flair was a post-adolescent one, a gifted man whose talent made it possible to have whatever he wanted without ever having to deal with the consequences. Without having to say much, the film draws a direct line from the Flair who saw the opportunity to unpack his emotional detritus with a trained professional as an excuse to brag about drunk driving to his young son’s hard partying ways. When Flair recalls putting his son to bed after a night of debauchery and questioning why he was living this way, all that’s missing is the refrain, “I learned it from watching you, Dad.” As an aging man with no shortage of health issues and a mountain of debt, it’s no surprise that “Nature Boy” ends with Flair finding redemption in the superstardom of his daughter Charlotte, herself a big champion in McMahon’s WWE. Charlotte, like Reid, were the two of his four children he was actually half around for in life, so of course they would follow in his footsteps to the ring. But unlike Reid, Charlotte didn’t have Ric’s IMAX sized masculine ideal to inhabit. Her father’s legacy cast a shadow, sure, but she’s been able to walk in her own shoes. The film doesn’t outwardly criticize Flair; it just lets his tall tales reach their own inevitable, tragic conclusion. “Nature Boy,” directed by Rory Karpf, is currently airing on ESPN and streaming on,, and elsewhere.


“The Disaster Artist,” now playing at The Charles Theatre Screencap courtesy YouTube

SCREENS The Charles Theater 1711 N. Charles St., (410) 727-3464, “The Disaster Artist” (James Franco, U.S., 2017), now playing. “Jane” (Brett Morgen, U.S., 2017), now playing. “Lady Bird” (Greta Gerwig, U.S., 2017), now playing. “Loving Vincent” (Dorota Kobiela & Hugh Welchma, Poland, 2017), now playing “The Man Who Invented Christmas” (Bharat Nalluri, U.S., 2017), now playing. “Spirited Away” (Hayao Miyazaki, Japan, 2001), Dec. 13, Dec. 16. “Design For Living” (Ernst Lubitsch, U.S., 1933), Dec. 14. “The Shape Of Water” (Guillermo del Toro, U.S., 2017), opens Dec. 15. “Wonder Wheel” (Woody Allen who by the way has been accused of sexual assault and even a judge said his behavior toward Dylan Farrow was “grossly inappropriate,” U.S., 2017), opens Dec. 15. “Beat The Devil” (John Huston, U.S.,1953) Dec. 16, 18, 21. “Akira” (Katsuhiro Otomo, U.S., 1989), Dec. 20.

The Creative Alliance 3134 Eastern Ave., (410) 276-1651, “Something Funny About Rape” (Hannah Brancato, U.S., 2010). Short film by the co-founder and co-director of FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture with a panel about accountability and sexual assault after the screening. Dec. 20, 7 p.m.

The Parkway Theatre 5 W. North Ave., (410) 752-8083, “Bill Nye: Science Guy” (David Alvarado & Jason Sussberg, U.S., 2017), through Dec. 14


“Félicité” (Alain Gomis, France/Belgium/Senegal/Germany/Lebanon, 2017), through Dec. 14. “My Friend Dahmer” (Marc Meyers, U.S., 2017), through Dec. 14. “Tom of Finland” (Dome Karukoski, Finland/Denmark/Sweden/Germany, 2017), through Dec. 14. “Shadowman” (Oren Jacoby, U.S., 2017), opens Dec. 15. “Thelma” (Joachim Von Trier, Norway, 2017), opens Dec. 15. “Die Hard” (John McTiernan, U.S., 1988), Dec. 16 “Home Alone” (Chris Columbis, U.S., 1990), Dec. 16 Double Feature: “Die Hard” and “Home Alone,” Dec. 18.

The Senator Theatre 5904 York Road, (410) 323-4424, “Coco” (Lee Unkrich & Adrian Molina, U.S., 2017), now playing. “Murder On The Orient Express” (Kenneth Branagh, U.S., 2017), now playing. “Justice League” (Zack Snyder, U.S., 2017), now playing. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (Martin McDonagh, U.S., 2017), now playing. “Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi” (Rian Johnson, U.S., 2017), opens Dec. 14. “The Greatest Showman” (Michael Gracey, U.S., 2017), opens Dec. 20.

The Windup Space 12 W. North Ave., (410) 244-8855, “Flash Gordon” (Mike Hodges, U.S., 1980). A screening of the movie with Queen Wolf performing a set of Queen songs, the “Flash Gordon” soundtrack live, and then an ‘80s glam dance party with DJ Chris Ferris. Dec. 16, 8 p.m.


DECEMBER 13, 2017

Making Music, Making Food A quick chat with musician and the mind behind food pop-up Calasag, Dylan Ubaldo By Brandon Soderberg

Dylan Ubaldo chef and musician Photos by Diamond Dixon

Music and politics have a particularly strong relationship in Baltimore, and food and politics are equally intertwined, or often one in the same. It has something to do with the city’s ability to mix joy and pain, I think. But given the way food is tends to be covered locally— as some kind of aesthetic activity allegedly separate or worse, “above” race, class, and all the rest—those who understand the profound ties between what’s on your plate and what’s in your politics deserve special attention. Musician and cook Dylan Ubaldo (who, full disclosure, works at and underwrote the construction of Ida B’s Table, of which he is majority shareholder and which makes its home at The Real News Network, a Beat affiliate) is one of those people. He employs the same activist-oriented, DIY spirit to his music and his cooking, all the while building community, formerly as part of the Llamadon Collective, and with Calasag, a Filipino food pop-up that has made an appearances at the Compound and, this Saturday, at the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Baltimore Beat: So what exactly are you doing at the BMA this week?

Dylan Ubaldo chef and musician Photos by Diamond Dixon

Dylan Ubaldo: I’m going to be giving an artist talk at BMA regarding my work as a musician, organizer, and culinary artist. The talk will be a part of their Open Hours series and the theme is “Imagining Home.” What better reference point to imagining home for me than the traditional Filipino game of “Bahay-Bahayan.” In this game, children use things like cardboard boxes and grates to “play house” and create a family. A lot of the work I’ve done musically and culinarily is rooted in DIY ethics and making the best product you can with the least resources. I will be discussing the intersections of these practices and how we can create communities by joining food and music. It has been an up and down adventure developing as a creative person and I’m honored to be able to share my experiences at BMA.

BB: Can you talk about your food project Calasag? DU: Calasag is the name of the barangay (village) that my family is from on the island of Luzon in the Philippines. It’s a few hours north of Manila. It is one letter away from “Kalasag,” the name for the wooden shields Datu-Lapu and indigenous tribes used to protect themselves from colonizers. Calasag is a way for me to express my heritage and share my culture with Baltimore. I’m trying to fill a gap for people are interested in Filipino food and culture. I don’t want people to receive a whitewashed, inaccurate idea of what that is. I want productive discourse surrounding the Filipino-American experience and white supremacy. Baltimore has done so much for me and it felt like a good way to celebrate my culture the way Baltimoreans have shared theirs with me and my family. At this point we’re a collective interested in culinary art, Filipino culture, and food politics. Pop-ups and events are our way of showcasing what we’re about. But, I see that as something that will grow and expand into different media platforms.

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BB: How does making music and making food intersect for you? DU: The way that I approach music production and the creation of a recipe is very similar. Usually I know there is an end goal. For me, it’s probably making a beat for someone to sing on or making a Filipino food dish. A lot of us have similar ideas surrounding what it should end up like, but what makes an artist unique is their relationship to the process. I start with the ingredients, these are my samples—with these I control sound and flavor. I am able to combine influences from the past and techniques of the present. There is an emotional and political history behind each dish you eat and each song you listen to.

BB: I know you’ve been travelling lately, in part to explore and research food. Can you talk about that? DU: My travels to South Africa, Swaziland, Philippines, and China were partially to visit family and partially to research food culture. I was intrigued by the diversity of food in different regions of the world. Being able to to see the similarities between so many different regional cuisines brought things full circle for me. In Africa, I was eating so much pap and oxtail stew. In China, I was binging on convenience store sushi. It’s really wild to be halfway across the world eating chicken intestines off a street cart and asking yourself, “Would this work in Baltimore?” I didn’t really have a focus, just have fun and experience new tastes. As culture and cuisine is traveling at a faster rate I think it’s important to get the full on experience if you’re capable. And for me, when I haven’t been able to find my culture around, I create it. That trip changed the way I perceive food, music, and resources.

BB: What else do you have going on? DU: I make music and food almost everyday, that’s literally been my life for longer than I’ve been an adult. As far as music I’ve got “Unholy Infringements” Vol 4., it’s a remix tape dropping Dec. 24. My ever elusive band Everything has a finished record, we’re deciding how it will be released. Still working a lot with Sneaks—she’s finishing up a new record and we’re hoping to venture on another tour in Spring 2018. I recently joined Ida B’s Table as a line cook and that place is just amazing; I feel so grateful to be part of such a great team working to change the restaurant industry in Baltimore. We will be having a Calasag x Ida B’s Table pop-up happening in January. Expect a few private Calasag popups in the winter leading up to our first public pop-up in Baltimore Spring 2018. I’ve also been sending beats to JPEGMAFIA, Nomad The Native, Ub3rgrl, Sir E.U., and Nappy Nappy. I’m excited to see what pops up on the internet as a result of that. Dylan Ubaldo speaks at the Baltimore Museum Of Art on Dec. 16 at 2 p.m.


A Kamayan A report from Calasag’s pop-up event in June By Leandro Lagera

Growing up, Filipino food has always been best served by your family. There were a smattering of small take outs and bodegas that served Filipino food but none were too memorable and none of them certainly were better than my family’s food. Yes, there is obvious bias but that’s what Filipino food is all about. It is, much like other cultural cuisine I would suspect, one of those memories and cynosures of life that is very much intertwined with your heritage and upbringing. So, to me, eating Filipino cuisine outside of our family gatherings has always been a little bit of a disappointment. It’s not that the food isn’t good, it was just that it was never as good (which, admittedly, is a pretty tall task). However, it seems like Filipino food is finally taking hold as a restaurant concept. I know, I know, this has been predicted for years and years now, but there is Bad Saint, a quaint little 24-seat restaurant in Columbia Heights that was even named the #2 best new restaurant of 2016 by Bon Appetit. D.C. is getting a new one in Kaliwa, Filipino Kitchen in Chicago is getting rave reviews, it’s hard to get a seat at Perla in Philly, and we can’t forget Maharlika and Talde in NYC. There’s even a traveling chef, Yana Gilbuena, who’s made it her mission to travel the country under the name, Salo Series, and spread the gospel about Filipino cuisine. Despite all these developments, I didn’t think the Filipino food movement would ever reach Baltimore for a variety of reasons—from it’s proximity to D.C. to Baltimore’s reputation for being slow to accept new cuisines (this is changing though!). I mean, Filipino food may have not yet arrived at the shores of Baltimore, but you can certainly see it on the horizon. There was a Kamayan by Chef Gilbuena at R. House and a Calasag pop-up at the Compound, which I attended back in June. Calasag is a collective of friends, artists, and cooks headed by Chef Dylan Ubaldo. The name comes from a small village in the province of Bulacan where Dylan’s family hails from. It’s about three hours north of Manila and about two hours north of Quezon City, where I was born. A Kamayan, by definition, is a feast that you eat with your hands. It’s usually served on a communal table covered with banana leaves. In Calasag’s pretty handout—which also included the menu, a history of the Philippines, and their bio—they write “A Kamayan gathering is [a] celebration of indigenous heritage in the Pilipinas. It is a reminder that during Spanish and U.S. colonization, eating with your hands was considered savagery and Pilipinos were forced to adapt to eating with utensils.” While the importance of this is true, most Filipinos these days just think of it as the best kind of backyard communal feast. The lineup for this Kamayan included coconut ube rice (white rice steamed with coconut milk and ube extract), bagoong greenery (baby bok


choy and Chinese broccoli sauteed in shrimp paste with cracker nuts and crispy garlic), blue crab lumpia (Filipino egg rolls with Maryland lump crab, ginger, cabbage, and cilantro), chicken adobo (chicken legs and thighs braised in soy sauce and coconut vinegar seasoned with lemongrass, whole peppercorn, and bay leaves), and pinoy BBQ skewers (grilled pork belly and shoulder marinated in banana catsup, calamansi, and soy sauce with bird’s eye chilies). The food was laid down carefully and intricately: Rice went down first, followed by careful placement of the other dishes. They also served colorful papaya and individual pieces of calamondin (small, tart citrus fruit, kind of like a cross between a tangerine and a kumquat). The food and flavors were spot-on to this balikbayan; I especially enjoyed the ube rice and adobo. The rice was creamy and provided a good base for all the food I was shoveling in my mouth. I’m used to larger lumpia, but having crab as the sole filling was a great change up. The BBQ skewers evoked some great childhood memories, especially since we could see them cooking it on an open makeshift barbecue drum. The greenery was a welcome addition of vegetables, but I couldn’t find the bagoong (shrimp paste) flavor in the dish and wished that it came through more since it may be one of my favorite things ever. The meal took almost four hours, but barely felt like it was 30 minutes. At the end of the night, Chef Dylan turned into singer Dylan and the amphitheater became a karaoke soundstage. I was only able to stay for a rousing rendition of Enrique Iglesias’ (half pinoy) ‘Hero,’ an inspiring cover of the Backstreet Boys’ ‘I Want it That Way,’ and a booming ‘Roxanne’ from the Police. Each song brought down the house and created a sea of smiles. If my whole evening consisted of those three karaoke performances, it would’ve been a great night but it wasn’t even the best part. Overall, I’m not sure I am ready to cede Calasag’s food and flavors over my mother’s but Chef Ubaldo and the rest of Calasag never lost sight of the meaning of Kamayan. They essentially welcomed us into their home and brought a small community together. Filipinos surge with pride at the advent of our food across the country (as I’m sure how people of other cultures have felt when their food became mainstream) because it also introduces Filipino culture as a whole to widespread consciousness with a community of mindful Filipino chefs and their friends leading the way. Calasag’s food was a good representation of Filipino food, but the vibe was much more important. Filipino food and Kamayan aren’t just cuisine—there’s a whole experience to bring to the table. A version of this review first ran on Leandro’s blog, Food Nomad (


From the Calasag Pop-Up at the Compound Photo by Leandro Lagera

From the Calasag Pop-Up at the Compound Photo by Leandro Lagera

DECEMBER 13, 2017

EAT THIS CITY Photos from foodies around the city. Submit your own by emailing

Old Man and the Sea (Papas Pilar Rum, Pineapple shrub, Baltimore bitters) at Minnow (2 E. Wells St., Suite 116, [443] 759-6537, Photo by Erica Choi. Instagram: @choisauceboss

Ida B’s Chopped (greens, radish, tomato, roasted red peppers, buttbeans, tossed in buttermilk herb dressing and topped with pork belly) at Ida B’s Table (235 Holliday St., [410] 844-0444, Photo by @bcharmer

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Wedding Cake Photo by Brandon Soderberg / Courtesy Democracy In Crisis

Wedding Cake Wedding Cake is an especially urgent strain with some mystery. To understand it, you should be up on Durban Poison, a loyal sativa that gets you going like an energy drink. Allegedly, Wedding Cake is a mix of Girl Scout Cookies (itself a quite sweet OG Kush and Durban Poison hybrid) and Cherry Pie (a giddy mix of Granddaddy Purple and Durban Poison), so it’s got a whole lot of Durban Poison in it. A noted budsman I know, however, says that’s all wrong and that Wedding Cake (a strain also sometimes called Pink Cookies) isn’t Girl Scout Cookies and Cherry Pie but a combination of Triangle Kush and Animal Mints. For what it’s worth, I obtained some Cherry Pie too to see what’s up and it did echo Wedding Cake—a high that comes on fast and pleasant and a little trippy and sticks around and has a kind of cheap-sherbert-from-the-grocery-store-that’s-in-those-big-tubs taste. Whatever Wedding Cake may be, it is essentially a meandering maze of wonky weed hybrids, sweet cookie crosses, and word of mouth. Its appeal is its slipperiness. The high is gently psychedelic—so are the buds themselves, which are an explosive light green, almost fluorescent—and after smoking some, it looked like everything I was seeing was viewed through 1/1000 shutter speed, that high-definition swirl of porous detail you see when you watch action shots of a basketball game, a stuttering glossy hyper-reality, which would’ve been terrifying if Wedding Cake didn’t really squash anxiety and calm you down. You feel more like you’re a viewer than a participant in whatever it is that’s going on in front of you. There is also a kind of rough-hewn sweetness to it, a touch of that expected cookie taste, some taut pine and mint too. A friend of mine swears by Wedding Cake. They say it helped them weather a recent shift from one depression medication to another amid the always tender jump from summer into fall into winter (and these days the emotionally devastating back-and-forths between the three because global warming). Plain and simple, it made them feel happy— which is rare for them, but more than that, it made them feel stable, sturdy. Meanwhile, the “professional” medications coursing around in their body added chaos and confusion; their mental and physical well-being felt up in the air, on the whims of some doctors trying some shit out to see what works. This is not to say medicine of the Big Pharma-pimped, heavily researched, and put into a pill sort is bad, just that well, it sometimes feels like it’s not enough. Wedding Cake sustained them and guided them through some rough patches and put a smile on their face. I can really only imagine. (Brandon Soderberg) Strength: 8 Nose: Used-up vanilla ice cream-scented air freshener Euphoria: 8 Existential dread: 5 Freaking out when a crazy person approaches you: 5 Drink pairing: Jeppson’s Malört Music pairing: Iglooghost, “Neo Wax Bloom” Rating: 8

DECEMBER 13, 2017




Three Kings Photo by Baynard Woods / Courtesy Democracy In Crisis

Three Kings Three Kings is supposed to be some sort of super-strain that combines the genetics of Headband, OG Kush and Sour Diesel. But Headband is already a combination of OG Kush and Sour Diesel. So you combine them and then combine them again with their offspring? It could be an interesting breeding strategy, I guess, if you want to keep pulling out certain traits. But in this case, inbreeding weed strains had the same downside as pure royal lineages were known to — it produced an idiotic dud. I like this weed far less than any of its forebears — except I don’t care too much for Headband either. My friend smoked a bunch of Headband one time and asked me, “Doesn’t it kind of make you feel like you are wearing a headband?” “That’s an expensive-ass headband,” I responded. It’s not that Three Kings — or Headband — doesn’t get you high. But its highness really isn’t that much better than just wearing a headband. Things are a little different, not better or worse, more awake or more relaxed. It doesn’t have the lift of an energetic get-some-shit-done buzz, but it also lacks the lull of a relaxing muscle loosener. Though Sativa-dominant, the hybrid Three Kings kinda cuts it down the middle in all the wrong ways. Or not even the wrong ways — it’s not a bad experience. It’s just like the most generic high ever: a plain white can with “high” printed on it. Or maybe it’s one of those gold-rush craft beers that thinks it can make a great IPA just by adding a bunch of hops. Which is a shame because the packaging of this high, the plant, is indeed regal. The bright green kush-y buds have an autumnal hint to them, the way the reddish fibers creep toward brown and gold at the same time. And the smell has an intoxicating freshness — lemon and pine and hops and sex all compacted down into a dense floral punch. When you light it, it almost seems to want to combust and dissolve into your lungs. It is really the prettiest weed I’ve smoked in a while. But like people who are too pretty, it is boring in the end. Perfectly lovely for a date, but not something you want to spend a lot of time with. So come on, down with the fucking monarchy already. Just because some strain had good parents doesn’t mean it’s gonna be good. (Baynard Woods) Strength: 5 Nose: lemon and pine and hops and sex with a hint of nostalgia and butter Euphoria: 5 Existential dread: 5 Freaking out when a crazy person approaches you: 5 Drink pairing: Sam Adams Music pairing: Coldplay Rating: 5



DECEMBER 13, 2017

There’s No Place Like Baltimore: A Crossword Puzzle By Evan Serpick

58. LA’s premier modern art venue, for short 59. Weird Al banger 60. It’s on more keys than anything else 61. Middle East’s “Gulf of ___” 62. There are 33 on the Lightrail line 63. They can be hard


Across 1. First name in Baltimore illustration (see 41-across), cocreator of City Paper’s Power Rankings 5. Pleasurable location that may or may exist 10. “Mine” 14. Pleasant vocal effect 15. Feeling the effects of an allergy 16. Castle 17. Rod Lee club classic, Baltimore’s unofficial theme song 20. Nevermind album cut, “__ Plain” 21. UK pop music mag, for short 22. In the dark 23. Leave 25. 1973 Stones single 26. Medical condition famously suffered by Cam’Ron, who wrote a song about it 27. Nephew of Abraham, according to the Islamic tradition

DECEMBER 13, 2017

28. Where people in Paris or Dakar go for a massage 32. Mass 34. Presented itself 36. Trade group for Baltimore Beat and the like, for short 37. A good way to serve kale or mushrooms 38. Frasier’s producer 39. One way to make a bang in the boudoir 41. Last name in Baltimore illustration (see 1-Across) 42. It’s unlimited at Olive Garden 43. Single from Baltimore’s Lil’ Mo, “___ Boyz” 44. “I’ll stir-fry you in my ___” –MCA 45. Pedophile Republican who could represent Alabama in the Senate 46. Activist David Hartsough memoir, “___ Peace” 50. Classic line from Hawaii 5-O, “Book ___” 53. Torture porn film series 54. Dear White People and Empire actress Long 55. Its opening was supposed to be a game changer, its recent closing launched a shitstorm


1. Little Italy mainstay 2. Moriarty who wrote the novel that HBO’s Big Little Lies was based on 3. Venezuela’s largest newspaper 4. Band behind atheist manifesto “Dear God” 5. Opening track on Let It Bleed, “___ Shelter” 6. Eyelid nuisance 7. Angeldust 8. Line that comes just before, “there’s no place like home” 9. Finishing, with “up” 10. Takers 11. State that gets absurd attention from politicians, thanks to electoral schedule 12. Wild pig 13. Ad Rock’s wife of seven years, Ione 18. Machiavelli says they justify the means 19. Got precisely right 24. Recede 25. Andy Griffith Show mainstay 27. Sudsville on Greenmount, for example 29. In a noticeable manner 30. Someone low on the totem pole 31. Something to cut with 32. Tool of Sid Vicious or Sting 33. Singer Del Ray 34. Island cocktail, “___ Tai” 35. Gave a sandwich 37. Mystical Arizona locale 40. Month when Muslims commemorate the revelation of the Koran to Mohammed 41. Mel Torme, aka, “The Velvet ___” 44. Midatlantic retail staple 46. Title of Jason Schwatzmann’s hypothetical biography on his favorite director 47. The focal point of LA’s 1965 urban rebellion 48. Blue Ivy Carter to Solange Knowles 49. Silicon Valley enclave, “Los ___” 50. Jane Austen novel 51. Vibe 52. The people responsible for “Cake by the Ocean” 53. Trim 56. OJ trial judge Lance 57. The Bible says God took one from Adam to make Eve Check back in next week’s issue of the Beat for answers.


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