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Talking About The Impossible Ben Jealous wants to unite the Democrats and turn the governor’s seat back to blue By Lisa Snowden-McCray

Lincoln Theatre • 1215 U Street, NW Washington, D.C. NEW YEAR’S EVE! NEW YEAR’S EVE AT LINCOLN THEATRE!


White Ford Bronco: DC’s All 90s Band


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



Echelon The Seeker • OG Lullabies •

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

Henry Rollins -

Travel Slideshow .......................... JAN 15


JANUARY (cont.)



w/ Phantoms (DJ Set) ................Th 28

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


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

The Dead Milkmen

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

Hot in Herre: 2000s Dance Party

with DJs Will Eastman and Ozker ...................................Sa 6

Boat Burning: Music for 100 Guitars

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

The Wombats

w/ Blaenavon & Courtship.............M 8 D NIGHT ADDED!


The Wood Brothers

w/ The Stray Birds ................... JAN 26 & 27


Sucker For Love ................... FEB 10 Andy Borowitz ........................ FEB 24 • •


Bianca Del Rio ...................... MAR 15 PostSecret: The Show ...... MAR 24 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!

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

Kimbra w/ Arc Iris....................Tu 30 Typhoon w/ Bad Bad Hats .........W 31 ALL GOOD PRESENTS

Greensky Bluegrass w/ Billy Strings

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


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

Emancipator Ensemble ......Sa 3 J. Roddy Walston and The Business w/ Post Animal..........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 U STREET MUSIC HALL PRESENTS

Ganja White Night

w/ Dirt Monkey & Subtronics ....Su 18


MØ & Cashmere Cat

The Oh Hellos

Tennis w/ Overcoats ..................W 24


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



Top Shelf ................................... JAN 20 Majid Jordan w/ Stwo............... JAN 23

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


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


Big Head Todd & The Monsters


Dixie Dregs

w/ Lowland Hum .........................W 21

9:30 CLUB PRESENTS AT U STREET MUSIC HALL herMajesty & Honest Haloway

w/ Greenland ................................Sa JAN 13

Alex Aiono w/ Trinidad Cardona ........... Sa 20 Cuco + Helado Negro w/ Lido Pimienta ................................... Tu 23

Rostam w/ Joy Again ......................Th FEB 1 Flint Eastwood w/ NYDGE .....................F 2 Anna Meredith ................................... Sa 3 Mod Sun w/ Karizma .............................. M 5 Why? w/ Open Mike Eagle ........................F 9

Anti-Flag & Stray From The Path .. Sa 10 Wylder ................................................ Sa 17 MAGIC GIANT w/ The Brevet.............. Su 18 Higher Brothers ............................... M 19 MAKO .................................................. Sa 24 Gabrielle Aplin w/ John Splithoff ...... Su 25 Missio w/ Welshly Arms...................F MAR 2 Joywave ............................................... Sa 3 Ella Vos w/ Freya Ridings ....................... M 5 Amy Shark .......................................... M 12

• Buy advance tickets at the 9:30 Club box office •

Lane 8 ......................................Th 22

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!





COSTUMES | DRINK SPECIALS B R U C E W I L L I S I M P E R S O N AT I O N S | P R I Z E S Illustration by: Vic Yambao

The Real News Network produces independent, verifiable, fact-based journalism that engages ordinary people in solving critical problems in their communities. As legendary journalist Ida B. Wells said, “The people must know before they can act, and there is no educator to compare with the press.”

The Future Depends On Knowing. Find us online at

We examine the underlying causes of the chronic problems facing Baltimore, and investigate and report on effective solutions and models for change. We don’t just cover people in high office or limit news to the partisan horse race for power. People who fight for human rights and work for solutions are newsmakers. We believe that real change will be driven by the people who need it most. While we report and investigate on all important issues of social and economic concern, we consider the climate change crisis an existential threat. In all of our programming and journalism the impact of environmental degradation and the climate crisis, especially on marginalized people, and the urgency of finding solutions will be front and center.

VOL.1 | ISS.6 ADDRESS PO Box 53352 Washington DC 20009 PHONE 410-844-0755 EMAIL DIGITAL

A Dangerous Precedent Local defendants in the J20 Case talk to The Real News’ Eddie Conway

PUBLISHED BY BROWN NAFF PITTS OMNIMEDIA, INC. Kevin Naff PUBLISHER Ext. 8088 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 Azer Creative DESIGN & PRODUCTION 202-540-8928

Talking About The Impossible Ben Jealous wants to unite the Democrats and turn the governor’s seat back to blue

In Search Of….

A Baltimore pizza tour with Hersh’s Josh Hershkovitz

WEEK IN REVIEW . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 BEAT NEWS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 REAL NEWS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 BLADE NEWS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 DEMOCRACY IN CRISIS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 BEN JEALOUS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 SUGAR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 ART . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 MUSIC. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 POETRY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 STAGE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 SCREENS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 FOOD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 WEED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34

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.

DECEMBER 20, 2017




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


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

February 26th


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

Community Voices Op-Ed: It Takes A Village By Jennifer Lee Lee Palmer, a 22-year-old barista at Starbucks, has worked for the company for over a year. This is not his first job; he has worked for Steam Team, a car wash in Owings Mills, and Flying Fruits Fantasy Café, a coffee shop located in the University of Baltimore Law Center. Last year, Palmer attended a hiring fair at the urging of Nick Brooks, workforce development coordinator at the Youth Empowered Society (YES), a drop-in center for homeless youth in Baltimore City, and Starbucks hired him on the spot. Palmer’s accomplishments are especially impressive given the obstacles he has had to overcome. At 18, Palmer became homeless. He has had stable housing for over a year, but he has struggled to meet his basic needs to a degree that more privileged youth could never imagine. Steady employment is key to ending poverty, but getting and keeping a job is difficult. Many youth suffer from toxic levels of stress brought on by the challenges of housing, transportation, childcare, and traumatic experiences. Young people from stable homes struggle to become independent adults; the challenge is much greater for youth who must do it all on their own with the cards stacked against them. Many Baltimore youth face the challenges Palmer has faced. Like him, they must be resourceful to achieve their goals. Fortunately, there is a wealth of individuals, agencies, and institutions in Baltimore working on behalf of the city’s youth. Lee’s success is entirely to his credit, but there were many helping hands along the way. Palmer makes the most of the resources available. At 19 he connected with YES, and through the organization entered a Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) workforce development program. At 20 he worked with Choice, a job readiness program under the Shriver Center at UMBC. Choice helped him secure employment at the Flying Fruit Fantasy Café, where he began to hone his barista skills. His current job at Starbucks is also an example of many hands working together to build a network of support. Starbucks became a partner in Baltimore City workforce development in response to the deaths of Freddie Gray and other black men at the hands of police and the consequent unrest in cities across America. Starbucks sought a new model for community engagement and the corporation’s national 100,000 Opportunities Initiative led to the opening of an Opportunity Café near Johns Hopkins hospital and the hiring of scores of city youth. Effective employers must be willing to listen to the youth, learn who they are, what they need, and what aspirations they have. They must be willing to build a relationship, and this Starbucks has been able to do so with the help of the many organizations in Baltimore that support disadvantaged youth. It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes many agencies to ensure that Baltimore City youth have access to opportunity. The Mayor’s Office of Employment Development (MOED) works hard to develop programs that prepare young people for employment. The MOED and dozens of smaller organizations like YES and Choice are doing much to connect young people with prospective employers. It is an uphill battle, but the services are out there, and creative, passionate people are striving to connect programs, employers, and youth so that the citizens of Baltimore can reach their potential. Palmer says additional drop-in centers are a key component to supporting young people experiencing homelessness. “There should be multiple drop-in centers around Baltimore,” he says, It’s just not fair.” Palmer is proud of his accomplishments. His five-year goal is to get into college. Starbucks will cover tuition for online courses at Arizona State University, and Lee plans to take advantage of this benefit. He wants to study sociology, and thinks he may become a social worker. It takes many hands to lift a person up, and Palmer, having received the help of others, plans on giving back. Jennifer Lee is a teacher and writer in Baltimore. She sits on the board of the Youth Empowered Society. Editor’s Note: The Baltimore Beat is collecting outerwear for Youth Empowered Society (YES) at our holiday happy hour on Thursday, Dec. 21 from 5-8 p.m. at Pen & Quill.

DECEMBER 20, 2017



20 Questions with


Earlier this month, Denise Shanté hosted a workshop at the North Avenue Knowledge Exchange, “Design for the Wellbeing of Black Women” that addressed “health concerns in the personal lives and communities of black women in create a support system and compassionate environment where women feel empowered to communicate their need for support.” We asked the recent Maryland Institute College of Art graduate to talk a little about her work, and what it means for Baltimore by way of 20 questions. 1. What do you do? As a holistic design strategist and mental health advocate, I utilize the practice of design to develop meaningful tools and strategies that unapologetically prioritize the wellbeing of Black women. It’s a collaborative process that is always evolving but as the work grows, I’m discovering new ways to facilitate the healing journey with other Black women in culturally relevant ways. It looks like making space for us to be honest about our lived experiences and the impact it has on our health, identifying ways that we need to be supported, and using our collective creativity and imagination to design for our wellbeing. I see problems as design challenges and continue to be wholeheartedly invested in realizing the wellbeing of Black women, creatively and holistically. 2. Why do you do it? Because Black women matter even though societal systems try to make us believe that we don’t. Because as Black women we continue to be natural caregivers, supporting the wellbeing of everyone else around us—in our families, workplaces, communities— and are worthy of that same care. Because at least 60 percent of Black women are experiencing symptoms of depression but remain one of the most undertreated and under supported groups. It’s a health inequity and a design challenge because oppressive structures that impact our wellbeing and the quality of our healthcare are strategically designed. I do this because I know what it’s like to feel weighed down, depressed and anxious, needing a way to self-actualize. I do this for love. For recovery. For justice. 3. What Baltimore stereotype annoys you the most? That Baltimore is a boring city and there’s nothing to do here. Maybe this is me being an introvert but when I do leave the house or pause from the studio workflow, I can always find something to do and somewhere to go. It may be visiting


a nature site or garden (yes, Baltimore has a lot of nature spots throughout the city) bookstore, or one of many arts and community-based events that I’m into. The options are endless, really. 4. Favorite Baltimorean? Jess Solomon. I met Jess last year when beginning my master’s thesis work around Black women and mental health. She welcomed me to Baltimore, as one of my first connections, with so much love and support. We’d meet at Dovecote Cafe to talk about real factors Black women are facing and navigating every single day. Dreaming and visioning about what healing could look like for us. Her energy and creativity continue to inspire me. She’s definitely one of the reasons why I’m still in Baltimore. 5. Favorite restaurant/eatery? On Tuesdays, you’ll usually find me at Tapas Teatro for their $10 Sangria pitcher nights enjoying my favorite food selections, like the lamb meatballs and papas bravas which are divine. I love meeting my girlfriends there to catch up and reconnect. 6. Last thing you bought? A 90-minute reiki energy healing session with Ana Rodney. It was a new health experience for me outside from my bi-weekly therapy appointments and occasional massage treatments but a worthy investment. We hold so much in our bodies. Clearing toxicity and negative energy to make room for healing are so necessary. 7. Last thing you read? I’m currently reading two books because I can never read just one: “Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds” by Adrienne Maree Brown; and “Transforming Depression: Healing the Soul Through Creativity” by David H. Rosen, M.D. 8. Last Facebook post or tweet? A weekly horoscope share and mantra by the astrologer, Naimonu James: “i am blessed and highly favored. every particle in the universe vibrates towards my joy. it is going to be okay. i am going to be just fine. this i believe, and this i repeat.” 9. What do you believe in? Compassion. Self-leadership. Human and spiritual connection. Intuition. I believe in the power of collective wisdom and creativity and that we have the capacity to live and love with meaning.

Denise Shanté Brown Courtesy Denise Shanté Brown

10. What do you wish you’d known when you were younger? That everything that I was planning for me and my future life would not go exactly how I imagined but I’d still be able to find pockets of joy along the way. So, try not to worry so much and take care of you. 11. “The Wire”—Yea or Nay? Yea. But I don’t really want to talk about it. I’m still upset over Omar’s death. 12. What are you tired of? I’m tired of personally experiencing and witnessing other women being harmed by toxic masculinity, psychological terrorism, and gaslighting. We are being made to feel like we can’t trust our memory or intuition sensing untruths and often find ourselves in intimate relationships where we are straight up disrespected, emotionally abused, and lied to. Heartbreak is also a traumatic experience and I touch on that in my work as well because I’m tired of seeing the hearts of women broken and in pain. 13. What are you grateful for? The unwavering connections and strong, unbreakable threads of friendships that I have. I’m grateful for knowing that I’m not alone because I have people in my life who show up and remind me that love and intimacy transcend romantic relationships. 14. Favorite quote? “A woman in harmony with her spirit is like a river flowing. She goes where she will without pretense and arrives at her destination prepared to be herself and only herself.”-Maya Angelou 15. Best gift you ever received? My father’s poetry book from his prison cell after he passed away from a brain aneurysm when I was 16 years old. It was just a small selection of the number of


poems I know that he wrote but having his poetic reflections and art with me in my home is an invaluable gift in and of itself. 16. Favorite local nightspot? If I want to dance (and I really love to dance) hear some good karaoke or live music — The Crown all the way. It’s always a memorable night at The Crown. 17. If your life were a book, what would the title be? I asked one of my best friends, Lana, to answer this for me. Her response: “Shanti Ase. Shanti in Sanskrit means peace. Ase is a Yoruba word that means the power to make things happen. In your life, you’ve strived to create peace within yourself, people, events, and spaces. You’ve utilized your creativity and passion to bring incredible things to life.” 18. What do you want the most? To embody the depth and breadth of my true self, in whatever form that needs to manifest and to know freedom in the process. 19. What do you look for in a significant other? That’s a question that I’m currently reevaluating as I move through my own healing process from heartbreak. I still believe in true love though and one of the definitions of love that I hold close is by M. Scott Peck: “the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.” 20. Why Baltimore? Why not Baltimore? I’m still getting to know the people and rhythm of the city but the more conversations that I have, neighborhoods that I spend time in and relationships that I build, the more Baltimore feels like home. With the history and all that it carries, all of the radical work so many people are doing here, I choose to stay.

DECEMBER 20, 2017

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

Earlier this month, Mayor Catherine Pugh announced that the city’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade wouldn’t be happening this year. The parade, which features local kids’ dance troupes and bands from around Baltimore, draws a big crowd despite January’s frigid temperatures. We’d be having a cleanup day instead, she said, as a way of honoring MLK’s spirit. The decision caused a bit of an uproar, with over a thousand people signing an online petition asking for the event to be reinstated. Critics asked, why couldn’t we do both? Well, we can, and as Pugh announced a few days later, we will. “We heard from the people. We’ll do the parade and the day of service,” Pugh said. We think that’s the right decision. City Council President Jack Young put his whole foot in his mouth at a community meeting last Wednesday, when, according to The Baltimore Brew, he remarked, “The more we keep the news media out of our business, the better we can run this city.” Lester Davis, Young’s deputy chief of staff, later told the outlet that the statements were aimed at reporting that is meant to “draw eyeballs and not meant to inform citizens.” We’d buy that if Davis didn’t hop on Twitter later on and accuse the Brew of inaccurately quoting him. Between Donald “Fake News” Trump in the White House, and the scandal-plagued, journalist-averse Baltimore City Police Department dominating the news here, we muckrakers are kinda on edge here, OK? Our job is to make sure the business of the city is being carried out properly. It’s something we’re kinda committed to. It feels like mass shooting events are becoming commonplace now, a heartbreaking reality of being alive in 2017. Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler thinks the solution is . . . more guns? The Parishioner Protection Act of 2018 would allow gun owners to bring their weapons to church. As the Sun’s Alison Knezevich and Erin Cox noted, the move goes against the general mood in Maryland, with many politicians pushing for stricter gun legislation. Folks here in Maryland got an extra week to sign up for Obamacare, when officials pushed the deadline to Dec. 22, instead of Dec. 15. Members of the Trump administration have been consistent in their efforts to dissuade citizens for signing up for the federal healthcare program, setting a shortened 45-day enrollment period and slashing the program’s advertising budget by more than 90 percent. What happened to people over politics? Alicia Evans and her two daughters Layla Mullen and Amani Mullen died in a house fire the morning of Wednesday Dec. 13 in Richnor Springs near Cold Spring Lane. And on Dec. 16, a vacant right next to the Rose Street Community Center—long celebrated for providing a respite from street violence—caught on fire, though fortunately the community center was not harmed. Baltimore’s Creek Boyz continue to gain more acclaim and fans for their song, ‘With My Team,’ and this week, an official remix featuring Lil Yachty was released. It’s a nice fit. Yachty’s yelping, sing-song style is similar to Creek Boyz and Yachty has publicly praised the song for quite some time. We’ve been tough on Creek Boyz after they reissued ‘With My Team’ with the maudlin references to Baltimore’s homicide rate edited out, but this is a song of the year contender and Yachty teaming up with Baltimore’s Bone-Thugs surely raises the song’s profile even more. Early Friday afternoon, Baltimoreans were glued to their computer screens and iPhones watching an intense 30-minute police chase through West Baltimore. It began when police attempted to pull over a vehicle connected to two shootings. The driver, later identified as Mausean Vittorio Quran Carter, at some point took off and fired at officers, who fired back. During the chase, Carter continued firing, striking two civilians. The chase ended after Carter’s car endured damage and, as the Sun’s Justin Fenton pointed out, Carter’s girlfriend pulled him out of the car. There were five homicides in Baltimore over the past week (Dec. 10-18, the week before the Beat went press). Markel Gray on Dec. 10, and then four other homicide victims, all not yet identified, who died on Dec. 12, Dec. 14, Dec. 15, and Dec. 16. As of Dec. 18, Baltimore has had 331 homicides.

Image Courtesy Facebook

Activist, Community, and Government Events: D E C . 2 0 - 2 7

Board of Estimates Meeting. City Council President Jack Young will chair the weekly meeting of the Board of Estimates. Dec. 20, 9 a.m., Baltimore City Hall, Hyman A. Pressman Board Room, 100 N. Holliday St., (410) 396-4804, Food System Lab Open House. Drop-in in sessions for individuals who would like to learn more about the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future Aquaponics Project. Dec. 20, 10 a.m.-noon, Cylburn Arboretum, 4915 Greenspring Ave., 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. 20 and 27. Usually held at the intersection of 33rd and Greenmount Avenue, check for details. Civilian Review Board Meeting. Meeting of the Civilian Review Board of Baltimore City, an independent agency through which members of the public can issue complaints against officers of various law enforcement units. Dec. 21, 6 p.m., City Office of Civil Rights, 7 E. Redwood St., 9th floor, (410) 396-8857, Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day Service 2017. A day of remembrance for people experiencing homelessness who died this year. Dec. 21, 5-6:30 p.m., McKeldin Square, 101 E. Pratt St., Black Girls Mentoring. Part of the group Not Without Black Women’s efforts to mentor Black girls and teens. Dec. 23, 6:30-9:30 p.m., Crispus Attucks Recreation Center, 1624 Eutaw Place, Jingle Jam. Hollins Creative Placemaking brings a holiday party to Southwest Baltimore, where children ages 5-12 can roam the various businesses around Hollins Market to pick up treats and gifts. Youth will also receive free pictures with Santa and participate in crafts and games. Dec. 23, 11 a.m., 1200 W. Baltimore St., (443) 939-2043,, free. Community Mitzvah Day. Participate in various volunteer projects. Dec. 2425, check website for specific times and locations:

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DECEMBER 20, 2017



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Building A Case Sinclair Broadcasting’s Project Baltimore offers right-wing news coverage of city schools By Jaisal Noor

Project Baltimore Screencap courtesy YouTube

The Trump administration’s FCC recently changed local media ownership rules, paving the way for Sinclair Broadcasting to buy Tribune Media for $3.9 billion dollars. When the deal goes through, Sinclair has access to 72 percent of households nationwide. The Hunt Valley-based Sinclair is the largest distributor of local news in the country, and forces its stations to run commentary from pundits such as former Trump aide Boris Epshteyn and frequently offers up news with an unabashed, pro-administration spin (“Did the FBI have a personal vendetta in pursuing the Russia investigation of President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn?”). While Sinclair consolidates its grip on the nation’s local TV market, in Baltimore, Sinclair is ramping up its local coverage with Project Baltimore on local affiliate Fox45, which aims to “save” Baltimore schools by bashing them. Project Baltimore’s propaganda is subtler than Sinclair’s employing click-bait headlines, skewed statistics, and half-truths to push a narrative that portrays Baltimore schools as beyond redemption and casts Project Baltimore as coming to the rescue. Its austere logo, in red, white, and blue offers up the tagline, “Save Our Schools.” Although Project Baltimore launched in March, recent stories have gone viral raising its profile and influence. A Nov. 8 report from Chris Papst titled “13 Baltimore City High Schools, zero students proficient in math” reported that over a dozen Baltimore City High Schools had zero students proficient in the math PARCC test—a test that’s part of the Common Core curriculum, aimed at evaluating students and teachers. Project Baltimore’s story was picked up by national right-wing outlets such as Breitbart and Fox News. While Papst’s reporting is technically accurate—13 city schools do indeed have no students that are math proficient—the story does not mention that in 2016 some of the highest performing schools in other parts of the state (including Montgomery County’s elite Walt Whitman High School) also have few if any students who scored proficient. Also not mentioned is that the PARCC test is not aimed at measuring achievement, rather measuring proficiency with Common Core curriculum. More than half the states administering the PARCC test have stopped using it

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due to concerns over the effectiveness of the test in measuring academic achievement and the burden it places on students. The test is also usually given on computers, which many Baltimore students lack access to at home or in their classrooms. “[Project Baltimore] are building a case to privatize schools,” Diamonte Brown, a Baltimore school teacher and an advocate for reforming the school system told The Real News. Brown added that she noticed “a pattern” that Project Baltimore “would expose any negative information” without discussing “solutions or the the root cause of the problem.” “The general narrative is that public education is broken,” said Loyola University’s Associate Dean of Education Rob Helfenbein. He argues that Project Baltimore’s narrative helps pave the way for charter schools, for-profit schools and vouchers. As a whole, such schools do not perform any better than public schools, but Helfenbein added, lax oversight opens the door to “financial fraud, negligence, violation of civil rights and equity problems.” Lawrence Grandpre, Policy Director of Leaders of Beautiful Struggle, noted that Project Baltimore glosses over decades of racism in schools. He sees their coverage as part of a “larger societal issue about how we see what’s happening in public schools as a reflection of the inability for us to take a larger systemic view about how we got here.” That perspective presupposes the need for “a white savior to save black kids” rather than seeing the “agency in the black community that’s let the black community educate itself and save itself,” Grandpre said. The claim that Baltimore City Schools has the fourth highest per-pupil funding in the country is often parroted. According to Eighth District Councilman Kristerfer Burnett, his constituents frequently call him and say, “We’re spending too much money on school system.” He pushes back with, “We’re not spending enough.” In a Nov. 13 follow-up story to the Nov. 8 piece titled “‘That’s outrageous’: Gov. Hogan on 13 High Schools, Zero Math Proficiency,” Project Baltimore reporter Chris Pabst quotes Larry Hogan who, in addition to calling the zero proficiency, “outrageous,” said, “We spend more money in Baltimore City than any other jurisdiction in Maryland – two or three times more. And if we get zero proficiency, the taxpayers are not getting their money’s worth and we’ve got to hold them more accountable.” Courts have found the state has underfunded Baltimore’s schools by hundreds of millions of dollars. By the state’s own calculations, Baltimore schools are inadequately funded by almost 20 percent. A 2016 study by National Bureau of Economic Research found conclusive evidence that increasing funding “is highly productive in low-income school districts”. This is not mentioned by Papst, who also quotes, in addition to Hogan, Facebook user “Victor” and somebody on Twitter named “ScrappyBigBird.” Rather than offer context, Project Baltimore


seems intent on blaming students and the schools, Grandpre says, and ignoring systemic problems that put city schools at a significant disadvantage: “All [Project Baltimore has] really said is that poor black kids in Baltimore city don’t really score as well as middle class white kids, to which I say, ‘Duh, right?’” The best predictor of test scores is family wealth, and government-sanctioned segregation, redlining, and mass incarceration have concentrated lowincome families in Baltimore. Project Baltimore’s Papst declined to comment for this story, but Sinclair’s Vice President of News Scott Livingston denied that Sinclair has influence over Project Baltimore, saying their stories “come from our viewers.” “We have the responsibility to discover the truth and empower students [and] parents,” Livingston said. He also denied Project Baltimore favors privatization. Although the word “privatization” is never uttered, Project Baltimore consistently feature voices that support deregulation of charter schools, and union busting, such as Ben Carson, Trump’s HUD secretary, who doesn’t believe in evolution, but does believe the government should support privately-run voucher schools. “Some of the hardest-hitting reports we have produced have been on charter schools,” Livingston said. “We will look at every aspect of these enormous government entities and report on their successes and failures.” Project Baltimore has run stories critical of charters but Maryland charters are unique. They are commissioned by, and held accountable to their local school board, and faculty members are represented by a union and therefore,far more regulated than those Project Baltimore claims could save Baltimore. Case in point: pop-rapper Pitbull’s charter school chain SLAM Academy. Papst heralded the school’s selfreported 96% graduation rate, which excludes students who dropped out, and fails to mention SLAM earned a ‘C’ rating from the state of Florida for the past three years. The Miami Herald series “Cashing in on Kids” detailed how Academica, the company that helps operates SLAM makes $9 million dollar a year profit while owning over $100 million in tax-exempt real estate that it rents out to its schools for $19 million a year, all on the Florida taxpayers’ dime. Such examples are shown by Project Baltimore as models Baltimore to emulate, while homegrown success stories, as Grandpre notes, are ignored by Project Baltimore. “Over the past 10 years, there have been 10 black national [high school debate] champions and six of them are from Baltimore, all public school graduates,” Grandpre says. Visit for companion videos to this story and more independent local, national, and international journalism that examines the underlying causes of chronic problems and searches for effective solutions.


A Dangerous Precedent Local defendants in the J20 Case speak out Interview by Eddie Conway

On the day of President Trump’s inauguration, about 230 people were quartered off by the police and arrested for allegedly rioting. Others like Dylan Petrohilos weren’t arrested that day but charged later with conspiracy charges surrounding the allegations that they had planned the protest where a couple of windows were broken. This case has become known as the J20 case. As of press time, a jury is deliberating on the first group of defendants. Baltimore resident and organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World Isaac Dalto and graphic designer and activist Dylan Petrohilos, who prosecutors say were involved in planning the protest sat down with The Real News Network’s Eddie Conway last month to discuss the case. The Real News: Okay, this is massive legal case involving over 200 defendants. Can you tell me who’s involved? Isaac Dalto: There were about 230 people arrested initially, and about 13 medical personnel and journalist, and legal observers had their charges dropped pretty soon after we were indicted. About three months after the initial charges of felony riot were levied against 214 of us, the prosecutor amended the indictment and charged everyone with seven additional felony charges, including inciting a riot, conspiracy to riot and several counts of property destruction. Some people have since taken plea bargains but the vast majority of defendants have chosen to go ahead to trial and I think there are 191 of us still awaiting trial. RNN: This group is a large group. It consists of people that have been allegedly charged with rioting, conspiring, etc., but Dylan, you weren’t arrested until several weeks later. Why are you included in this? Dylan Petrohilos: I was indicted at the end of April when the superseding indictment came out, along with two other people who were also indicted that day. The reason why, people like me got indicted was because of alleged planning and the beliefs I was behind the protest that day. On Inauguration, that march was kettled off, police were incredibly violent that day. The Real News Network actually came out with much of the actual data that we have around how actually violent they were. And this was in response to some minor acts of vandalism and stuff like that. RNN: I understand they invaded your house and took material? What materials did they take from your house? DP: So, the first thing that they took was an anti-fascist flag that had been flying outside my front door since the election of Donald Trump. That flag represented, to me, it is a show of resistance to this idea that fascism could get normalized in the United States. Apparently having antifascist politics has become in 2017, a fairly controversial political stance to have. There have been as many articles condemning Antifa as there has been praising anti-fascism and the belief that fascism should be opposed. Along with that, there was numerous political magazines that were taken from my house, as well. These aren’t things that ended up in my actual discovery but cell phones were taken, a copy


Dylan Petrohilos and Isaac Dalto with Eddie Conway Screenshot courtesy the Real News Network

of In These Times was taken, a copy of Nation magazine was taken. A banner that says “Kiss Capitalism Goodbye” and stencils and different personal artwork also were taken. RNN: Like you say, a month later they invade your house, they look at materials that you have a right to have. Political material. Do you think this is a political persecution? DP: 100%. You can hear on the audio, for example, them talking, MPD [Metropolitan Police] specifically talking about, on the radio talking about the anarchist raid. And then setting up a trap. This is definitely them setting up political persecution in the era of Trump. And this prosecution comes down, the D.C. DOJ, the Department of Justice, the District Attorney’s office, specifically, is a branch of the Federal Government. So, Trump is actually overseeing this in some capacity. So, this is literally Trump turning, criminalizing activists and protesters. RNN: So, with these cases what does it look like going forward into the future? DP: The actual conspiracy it’s alleging, is that the conspiracy began when [two people] named Dee and Mads went on a podcast on It’s Going Down, which is an anarchist publication, right? And talked about the protests that were happening after, in the wave after Ferguson. That was the beginning of the conspiracy to riot in the United States capital, which there was no conspiracy to riot, right? People planned to protest that day. Specifically Trump, who came to power prophesizing more policing, more police militarization, promising to deport every undocumented immigrant so it came to an ethnic cleansing, and so on and so forth. The basis of the conspiracy is standard things that every protest has, like legal observers, like street medics, like a legal line was evidence of planning that people were going to do illegal things. And get arrested, right? That’s the reality that these are things that are standard in protests, every protest. ID: And I think that’s really the real danger here.


The danger is not just to ourselves or our freedom. The danger is to the future of civil resistance in this country. The government here is trying to set a precedent, a very literal, legal precedent, that would allow them to charge any protestor, or any dissident with a felony. RNN: You’re saying right now they’re in the process of trying several people in the next week or so, they’re going to try several more. How long is this gonna stretch out and how long will they have people under the gun, so to speak? ID: I was arrested on January 20th, and my trial is not scheduled until May. This entire ordeal will take more than 16 months for me, and more than 20 months for some of us. I think the last trial on the docket right now is in October 2018. DP: The reality of the case is not about what a couple people did, it’s about turning resistance into felonies. It’s specifically trying to criminalize people for participating into protests. When what Trump was promising as he came into power, was a dystopic vision of the future and the people that were standing up to him, and resisting him were going to face the harshest consequences possible. The United States has a history of authoritarian crackdowns across the world, and this is us realizing that we need to, resist us. ID: I’d just like to say as a member of the Industrial Workers of the World, that this is not the first time in American history that our union has encountered this kind of oppression. During the Palmer Raids, World War I, there was a moment in time when every single member of our Executive Board was either murdered or in prison and we’re still here and we’ve weathered these kinds of storms before and we will again. Visit for independent local, national, and international journalism that examines the underlying causes of chronic problems and searches for effective solutions.

DECEMBER 20, 2017

Dionne Bussey-Reeder has raised more than $36,000 in her bid for City Council.

A roundup of LGBTQ news from the region and around the world courtesy the Washington Blade

Photo courtesy of Twitter

Lesbian D.C. Council candidate leads in fundraising Restaurant owner Dionne Bussey-Reeder, who is running for one of two at-large D.C. Council seats up for election in 2018 and who would become the Council’s first out lesbian member if she wins her race, has raised $36,100 for her campaign in the eight weeks since she entered the race. According to candidate finance reports released on Monday by the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance, Bussey-Reeder is far ahead of the two incumbent at-large Council members she’s running against – Independent Elissa Silverman, who has yet to officially file papers to run for re-election; and Democrat Anita Bonds, whose report says she had raised just $150 as of the Dec. 10. Both Silverman and Bonds are expected to raise a significant sum for their re-election campaigns once they officially launch their fundraising efforts. But political observers consider the $36,100 that Bussey-Reeder raised from 230 individual small and moderate size donors to be a respectable showing for a political newcomer in the early stages of her campaign. “I’m humbled and blessed to get so many supporters and volunteers – all in less than eight weeks,” Bussey-Reeder told the Washington Blade. So far she is the only other independent to enter the race against independent Silverman in a contest that D.C.’s election law requires one of the two at-large seats to be held by a non-majority party member – meaning a non-Democrat. Although independents and members of other parties are eligible for both of the at-large seats, a Democrat is only eligible for one of the seats. So far, four Democratic candidates have entered the race to challenge Bonds for the Democratic Party nomination in the city’s June 19, 2018 Democratic primary. Some political observers believe Bussey-Reeder has a shot at winning more votes than Silverman in the November 2018 general election in a two-candidate race for the non-Democratic seat. Silverman, a strong supporter of LGBT rights, came under fire from many of the city’s small business owners in her role as the lead sponsor of a controversial family leave bill approved by the Council that imposes a tax on employers to pay for part of the leave program. As the owner of Cheers at the Big Chair Restaurant in Anacostia, Bussey-Reeder has been among the small business owners expressing opposition to the paid leave bill. “I’m definitely in favor of some type of family leave for D.C. employees,” BusseyReeder said. “But the funding shouldn’t come on the backs of small businesses like mine that are already struggling.” Silverman has disputed claims that the leave legislation is unfair to businesses, saying it helps businesses provide needed leave for their employees. Meanwhile, two gay men running as Democrats for the Ward 1 Council seat against incumbent Democrat Brianne Nadeau say they are confident they too have a shot at winning the seat in an upset victory. Ward 1 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner and law librarian Kent Boese raised what observers also say is a respectable $33,503 as of the Dec. 10 campaign finance reporting period for his campaign. Boese announced his candidacy for the Ward 1 seat in July. Ward 1 gay civic activist and American Sign Language interpreter Jamie Sycamore, who filed papers for his candidacy in October, raised $681 for his campaign as of the Dec. 10 filing deadline. He said he has raised several hundred dollars more since the Dec. 10 filing as he formally launched the fundraising phase of his campaign. (Lou Chibbaro Jr.)

DECEMBER 20, 2017

Trump not done fighting trans military enlistments No fewer than three courts have ruled against President Trump’s transgender military ban, but the Trump administration isn’t done fighting potential transgender enlistments, which are set to begin Jan. 1 as the result of the rulings. Last week, the U.S. Justice Department filed a request before the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals seeking a stay on a ruling issued by U.S. District Judge Marvin Garbis against the transgender ban. The request is limited to the order requiring the U.S. military to allow qualified transgender people to enlist starting Jan. 1. “Absent further relief from this court...the military will be forced to implement a significant change to its accession standards before it decides how to resolve this issue,” the request says. “As military leadership has explained, this timetable will place extraordinary burdens on our armed forces and may harm military readiness.” The Garbis ruling, as well as the two other court decisions against the transgender ban, made Jan. 1 the target date for transgender accessions. That was the date Defense Secretary James Mattis selected in a June 30 memo before Trump announced in July via Twitter he would ban transgender people from the military and followed that up with a directive in August. The Justice Department proposes several ways the Fourth Circuit could stay Garbis’ ruling. The first option is staying the ruling as it pertains to constraining Mattis’ own ability to extend the delay on transgender military service. Also proposed is scaling back the nationwide scope of the injunction, which could mean staying transgender accessions except the one transgender plaintiff who was a potential enlistee and found to have standing in the case. Finally, the Justice Department suggests staying accessions in their entirety on the basis the Garbis order “rests on legal errors concerning jurisdiction, the equities, and the merits.” “Without a stay, the military will, at the risk of harming its readiness posture, have to rush to provide the requisite training to the tens of thousands of service members across the country responsible for implementing accession standards,” the brief says. (Chris Johnson)

Bermuda Senate approves marriage repeal bill The Bermuda Senate last week approved a bill that would rescind marriage rights for same-sex couples in the British island territory. The 8-3 vote took place less than a week after the Bermuda House of Representatives approved the measure, which would allow same-sex couples to enter into domestic partnerships as opposed to get married. The bill will become law unless Gov. John Rankin refuses to sign it. LGBT rights advocates urged lawmakers to oppose the measure, which is known as the Domestic Partnership Bill. The Bermuda Tourism Authority in a letter it sent to senators on Tuesday noted North Carolina’s economy lost $3.76 billion after then-Gov. Pat McCrory in 2016 signed a bill that banned transgender people from using public bathrooms consistent with their gender identity and banned municipalities from enacting LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination measures. The letter also noted Indiana’s religious freedom bill that then-Gov. Mike Pence signed in 2015 had a similar impact on his state’s economy. “We are convinced it will result in lost tourism business for Bermuda,” said the Bermuda Tourism Authority. “While we cannot responsibly estimate what the scale of those losses will be, we can point to contemporary examples that tell a cautionary tale.” 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. (Michael K. Lavers)



Law & Order—Dumb-Dumb Jeff Sessions comes to Baltimore, goes after the wrong gang By Baynard Woods Jefferson Beauregard Sessions came to Baltimore on the day that Democrat Doug Jones took the attorney general’s former Alabama Senate seat in a special election victory over accused pedophile and hardcore theocratic anti-constitutionalist Roy Moore. Much of the country felt relief that Alabama did not elect a man who had been banned from an Alabama shopping mall back in the ‘80s to the U.S. Senate. Still, more than 60% of white people in Alabama did vote for Moore, again proving that if you are racist enough in some parts of America almost nothing else matters. Trump tried to cast Moore’s defeat as a personal vindication; he had endorsed Luther Strange during the primary. But Sessions must have been more uncomfortable than normal—and not only because he was in a majority black city. When asked if he had voted, Sessions flashing his elfin grin and said he had but he would respect the “sanctity” of the secret ballot. Steve Bannon, who brought Sessions into the Trump orbit, had used all his Breitbart-ian propaganda for Moore and gotten stomped. So now he was recalibrating. A year ago, it was impossible to imagine that Alabama would end up with a Democratic senator in Sessions’ seat. “Judge Moore has never been, really, an economics guy,” Bannon told Newsweek following Moore’s defeat, and wished for a candidate like Sessions where “immigration and trade would’ve been at the top of the agenda.” In Baltimore, Sessions followed the


Bannon script and stirred up fear of immigrants and minorities. He was talking about the Salvadoran gang MS-13 and immigration, going back to his own most deeply-held convictions of the danger of immigration. Someone in the DOJ must have thought Baltimore would be the perfect venue for this message. “Over the last two years, this city in particular has experienced violence like we haven’t seen in nearly a quarter of a century,” he said. “Baltimore has a higher murder rate and a higher violent crime rate than Chicago with less than a quarter of the population, if you can believe it.” There is virtually no MS-13 presence in Baltimore. Sessions did not mention that eight members of an elite police task force here have been indicted by the Feds for racketeering and a series of other crimes—robbing civilians, planting drugs, stealing drugs and having them sold in Philadelphia by a local cop. A detective, Sean Suiter, was murdered on Nov. 15 and it later came out that he was scheduled to testify against those officers the very next day. Not exactly a good place for your law-and-order speech. The “strong and motivated policing” he called for was what allowed the Gun Trace Task Force to be out of control in the first place. And to make it worse, Baltimore’s police commissioner asked the FBI to take over the case more than a week earlier and never got an answer. But when Sessions was asked about the FBI taking over the case by a local reporter, Sessions seemed largely unaware of the case and spoke in


platitudes about cooperation. Sessions partially blamed immigrants for Baltimore’s crime, but he also wanted to blame those who protested the death of Freddie Gray in 2015. “Bad things start happening and you can trace the surge in violence in this city to the riots and some of the reactions that occurred afterwards,” Sessions said. Baltimore was a bad spot for Sessions because it also reminds people that he had to recuse himself from the Russia investigation for lying under oath. That investigation is now handled by Rod Rosenstein, who used to be U.S. attorney in Baltimore and is now Sessions’ number two at the DOJ. Rosenstein was to testify about the investigation before the House the next day. “I’m appropriately exercising my oversight responsibilities. So I can assure you that the special counsel is conducting himself consistently with our understanding about the scope of his investigation,” Rosenstein said. The far right is enraged because they think Mueller and his team are politically biased and are demanding that Rosenstein fire Mueller. Last month, Republicans said that firing Mueller was the only way to prevent a coup. And messages between two FBI agents, one of whom was on Mueller’s team, have given fuel to that fire. The texts between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, it turns out, were released to a “select group” of reporters, who came to the DOJ offices to see them on Dec. 12— before members of Congress got them.

Strzok said that the Republican party ought to “pull their head out of their ass” and called Trump an idiot. Strzok was fired for this. But the far right is capitalizing on it. A Bannon-affiliated Super PAC is buying ads in local cable markets calling on Mueller to be fired. Right-wing pundits are calling for a purge in the FBI. This is dangerous shit, for sure. But it’s crazy to act like our law enforcement offices all around this country aren’t politicized. It’s just that they’re usually right-leaning. At the same moment Sessions was speaking, the first 6 of 193 people who will ultimately face trial as a result of four broken windows on Inauguration Day were sitting a courtroom being prosecuted by his DOJ. And testimony showed that they had a clear political bias against anarchists and for Trump. But the same armchair #Resistance that has ignored the trampling of the rights of citizens and journalists in this case are getting ready for a mobilization if Mueller is fired. The danger is that they will be willing to embrace the kind of tough-on-crime mass incarceration policies of a Sessions DOJ if it helps save Mueller, who they see as the last hope. As Sessions slithered away, looking simultaneously delighted and nervous, like a school boy at a strip club, his red cheeks glowing beneath his white hair, it was clear, once again, that we are in hell. Baynard Woods is a reporter for the Real News Network. Email; @baynardwoods on Twitter. Check out the Democracy in Crisis podcast on Soundcloud and iTunes.

DECEMBER 20, 2017

Talking About The Impossible Ben Jealous wants to unite the Democrats and turn the governor’s seat back to blue By Lisa Snowden-McCray

Ben Jealous. Photo by Tom Hausman

Ben Jealous and I are in the 100 East Pratt building in early November talking about his race for the Maryland Governor’s office. I am trying to get Jealous, a former head of the NAACP, community organizer, and a Rhodes Scholar, to talk about the fate of the Democratic party after Donald Trump’s surprise presidential election win. Trump’s administration has been devastating for

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the progressive community, and as many try to hold on to political ground they have worked years to gain, the unresolved animosity among Democrats and independents hasn’t made the work any easier. The back and forth over Hillary versus Bernie, “economic” anxiety versus plain old racism, and just how far left the party should push itself, hasn’t stopped.


But Jealous won’t touch it today. “It’s time for us to build a movement of working families across this state,” he tells me. “That will be Democrats, Independents, and frankly even some Republicans who are tired of a governor who only is good for half measures.” Health insurance and taxes are at the top of everyone’s minds no matter what their zip code, he says. “You’re in Dundalk, they’re still mourning the loss of Bethlehem Steel,” he says. “You’re in Cumberland, they’ll point to the prison and say that’s where the factory used to be. You’re on the Eastern Shore, I’m sitting with a little white girl, middle class family, buried three classmates this year who died of the opioid epidemic. I’m in Baltimore City talking to high school students; five kids shot and killed at the high school this year.” Jealous then provides a lived-in universalism: “Every struggle you see in black East and West Baltimore, you see in white in Cumberland. There’s danger in moments like these when working families, economically struggling families, are super stressed out across this country.” The solution, Jealous says, is to talk about the problems that unite us all—the struggles all Marylanders face and then work together to fix them. “This is not about Democrats versus Republicans, this is about the people of Maryland. We have the opportunity to build a movement and what I’ve done my whole life is build movements.” Jealous, who was born in California but spent summers here in Maryland as a child, has been a student organizer (as a teen, he worked for Jesse Jackson’s 1988 presidential campaign), a journalist (for the black Mississippi-based newspaper the Jackson Advocate), the founding director of Amnesty International’s U.S. Domestic Human Rights Program, and the head of California-based grantmaking group the Rosenberg Foundation. In 2008, at the age of 35, he became the youngest president and CEO of the NAACP. He’s quick to remind me that during his tenure, the NAACP helped push to make same-sex marriage legal here in Maryland, and also in Maine, Minnesota, and Washington State. He’s behind the successful efforts to abolish the death penalty in Maryland and pass the DREAM act here too. “[In 2012] I put organizers from the NAACP on the ground in Baltimore City, in Prince George’s County to deliver votes for marriage equality, while running the largest nonpartisan door-to-door voting effort in the country and the largest nonpartisan unlikely voter turnout [effort],” he says. “ Every single one of those efforts they told me was impossible, they even said that it was unlikely black men would show up to vote for Barack Obama, and that year we set records. We did all of that the same way. We built a bigger, more robust coalition than anyone thought was possible. And that how we’ll win this election. I tell folks every day, I’m not running toward the left, I’m not running toward the right, I’m just running toward the people.” Jealous isn’t a politician per se, but he has the air



Ben Jealous. Photo by Michael Key

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and cadence of one. On paper, he’s a revolutionary with a deep history of protest. In real life, his answers can sometimes feel canned. He takes pauses and you can see him searching briefly for a necessary talking point— like Cory Booker, he seems intent to follow the straightdown-the-line, low-key progressive rhetoric of President Barack Obama. It hints at the line that he must walk (whether he’d like to admit it or not) between the varying degrees of progressivism. Jealous must consider the white moderates who feel comfortable with Hogan the person, even if they don’t necessarily like all of his policies. (In an October poll released by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategies, more than half of Democrats questioned said they approved of Hogan, but fewer than 25 percent said they’d vote for him). He must win over white Bernie bros, women who went all in for Hillary, young black people who align closely with DeRay Mckesson and the Black Lives Matter movement, and also some of the more socially conservative black people who know like the back of their hands, the preachers’ cadence that Jealous sometimes falls into. It’s quite a task. And what hovers in the background is the devastating, surprising 2014 loss of Democratic candidate Anthony Brown to Larry Hogan for governor and subsequent high approval rating among Democrats for Hogan. That local election was telling, and perhaps predictive of the 2016 presidential election: A moderate, establishment Democrat thought they had it in the bag and didn’t campaign the way they should have (famously, some of Brown’s signs simply read “Vote for


the Democrats”) or really push any buttons, and lost as a result. In this sense, Jealous’ alignment with Sanders—he co-chaired the Sanders campaign in Maryland—makes sense. Jealous provides a contrast to Brown’s electionlosing, Hilary-like, middle-of-the-roadness. Jealous announced that he was running for governor at the end of May and announced the addition of a running mate, Democratic insider Susan W. Turnbull last month. Turnbull is a Bethesda resident and served as chair of the Maryland Democratic Party from 2009 to 2011 and as vice chair of the Democratic National Committee from 2005 to 2009. A Clinton surrogate during the election, Turnbull is also a cofounder of Emerge Maryland, a progressive group that helps women run for office. Jealous has picked up endorsements from grassroots group Progressive Maryland, labor union Communications Workers of America, the Service Employees International Union, and the group National Nurses United. He’s also backed by Bernie Sanders and Cory Booker. He’ll battle at least seven other candidates for the Democratic nomination, including Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, former Michelle Obama aid Krishanti Vignarajah, techie and former innovation advisor to Hillary Clinton Alec Ross, and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III. (That same MasonDixon Polling and Strategies poll, by the way, had Baker at the head of the pack.) Whoever comes out on top will have to topple Larry Hogan. Hogan is pretty popular as far as governors go, although he’s less popular here in Baltimore because of his decision to kill the Red Line and his hardline stance on crime. Jealous, on the other hand, has made it his business to be in Baltimore—he was here at a University


of Baltimore rally against Betsy DeVos on Sept. 11, just a few days after it had been announced she was invited to speak at the school’s fall graduation. His decision to show up was a move that could have been seen as opportunism, but somehow didn’t. “Your graduation day speaker is supposed to represent the best ideals of the school and the highest aspirations of the students and Betsy DeVos is quite simply the most anti-public education secretary of education our country has ever had,” Jealous said to loud applause. “In her very short tenure she has made it easier for banks to profiteer off of students, she has threatened the very hard-won protections students have against sexual assault that President Obama pushed through, and she has attacked the very notion of public education itself.” Jealous’ speech and presence cuts through the small event, especially in contrast to another candidate for governor, Alec Ross, whose speech feels more like promo, less organic. Not long before that in August, Jealous stood alongside several city councilmembers (among them Brandon Scott, vice chair of the council’s Public Safety Committee) outside of the controversial closed-door meeting Gov. Hogan called in Baltimore last August to discuss the city’s rising crime rate. “The timing of the meeting reeks of politics,” Jealous told The Sun then. “Whenever you see a leader close a meeting that’s normally open, you have to ask, ‘Are they trying to hide something?’ You have to ask, ‘What are they afraid of?’” I ask him why he’s in Baltimore so often, and he


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Ben Jealous. Photo by Tom Hausman

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talks about his family. “My family has lived the American dream because we first invested in the Maryland dream. For my family, it starts in Upton, the McCulloh homes housing projects where my mom spent half her childhood.” Jealous says that his family moved to Maryland because things were a little easier here than in their home in Virginia. Schools here were better and his grandparents were able to get the kind of jobs that helped them nurture a family. His maternal grandmother worked as a social worker here for 40 years. I ask him about recent Democratic wins across the country, including in Virginia where Democrat Ralph Northam bested Trump-endorsed Ed Gillespie. He said those elections gave him hope. Democratic wins across the country, including in Virginia where voters flipped the governor’s seat from red to blue. He said those elections gave him hope. “The voters of our country are ready to move away from hate and hurt and back towards hope and healing, and that’s what you saw,” he says. “It was led by young people, it was led by women— voters who are really invested in our future and who understand what’s at stake for future generations.” I try again to talk about the Democratic party. There are some who will be thrilled that he’s earned an endorsement from Bernie Sanders, I say, but it won’t mean much for others. “My endorsements are bookended by two U.S. Senators; Bernie Sanders and Cory Booker,” he says. “The entire Democratic party exists between those two. We’re building a big tent campaign.” A few weeks after we talk, Jealous makes an appearance at what is billed as a “Medicare for all” rally at Notre Dame of Maryland University. The packed and stuffy auditorium is ready to hear Bernie Sanders, who is also making an appearance. If it wasn’t already clear from the lifesized Bernie Sanders cut-out in the lobby, or the Bernie Sanders t-shirts being worn by many in attendance, the crowd is definitely here for Bernie, not Ben. “I’m committed to Bernie, but I’m not committed to Ben yet,” a man behind me comments to a woman sitting next to him. Most of the crowd here looks like young, white progressives and their parents—that is to say, college students and folks who are 50 and up. I notice there are some boisterous groups of brown and black people, and learn later that they are nurses whose unions are backing Jealous’ “Medicare for all” stance. Members of the People’s Power Assembly walk around handing out fliers that read “end the occupation/ abolish BPD.” The committed Bernie fan behind me isn’t sold on that idea. We can reform the police, he suggests, but we still need


them. This is the sort of voter Jealous has to nurture. This isn’t a pie in the sky rally; it sticks to the nitty gritty details. We need health insurance, we need common sense solutions, and Jealous can provide them. First up is Turnbull, who warms up the crowd with stories about her mom and dad. Both of her parents’ illnesses, along with the need for healthcare, made a lasting mark on her younger life, she says. “We have to make sure that no Marylander is choosing between paying for rent or for their medical bills,” she says. “I believe in Medicare for all because no one should have to make that kind of decision.” She introduces a few nurses who dutifully stay on message, telling stories of how access to healthcare, or lack thereof, has played out in real life before their eyes. Sanders himself comes out to roaring applause and a standing ovation. He hammers home the greed in Washington and the need for progressive change. “We are living in a moment when the billionaire class has never had it so good,” he says. “They want more and more and more and they want that more on top of the backs of the elderly and the children and working people and the sick and the neediest among us. Their greed has no end, but we are going to end it for them.” Sanders takes the crowd through the Republican party’s latest hits: attempts to get rid of Obamacare, the current tax bill, and the looming fear that Medicare and Medicaid are next on the chopping block. Wins like the ones that happened in Virginia on Nov. 7, though, mean that change is possible. “We need great governors, progressive governors, all across this country. And there is no individual that I know who is running for governor who has the record of progressivism that Ben Jealous has,” Sanders says. “This is a man who has been there in all of the important struggles of our time. In the struggle for racial justice, in the struggle for economic justice, in the struggle for environmental justice, for immigration justice. He has been there and as governor of this state he will be there in a position of real power to bring about the change we need.” When Jealous takes the stage, he begins to build on a theme: “We can, we must, and we will.” At the age of 15, his mother could and did integrate Baltimore’s Western High School. He and the NAACP could and did help abolish the death penalty, pass marriage equality, and so on. “If any of the folks tonight are sitting around tonight saying, ‘You know, Jealous is talking about the impossible,’” Jealous says, “Say ‘Yeah.’ I’m doing it again.” The crowd doesn’t roar with as much enthusiasm as they had for Bernie, but you can sense he’s winning them over more and more. Jealous is saying all the right things.


SUGAR TALK Anal sex advice and a PrEP explainer By Jacq Jones This week, let’s get right into some questions. “My boyfriend wants to have anal sex. I’ve tried it with my past boyfriend and it really hurt. Is there a way to reduce the pain? I’d really like to give my boyfriend this experience.” Anal sex should never, ever hurt. Pain is our body’s way of telling us that something isn’t right. It’s a warning system that prevents us from really hurting ourselves. So listen to your body and slow down. Getting to place where a body is ready to receive anal penetration can take time. To get ready for penetration, you need to relax. For penetration to be comfortable, those muscles need to relax. When the muscles in your anus are relaxed, penetration can be not just comfortable, but mindglowingly delightful. Start out with analingus (rimming), massage with lube, or vibration around the outside of the anus. When you feel like you’re ready for a little penetration, tell your partner. Have your partner use a well lubricated finger or a small butt plug. The person receiving the penetration is the person in charge of how much, how fast, how deep. If something starts to hurt, slow down. Don’t go into it thinking that you’re going to go from a little vibration outside the butt to full on anal intercourse in one session. This is something that may take days, weeks, or frankly never. Anal sex can be utterly fantastic. And no matter how educated and caring a partner is, some folks just don’t like it. That’s totally OK. You don’t have to like everything. One of the best things about giving or receiving anal sex is that it’s totally not gender dependent. Everyone has a butt. And anyone can celebrate their butt. In fact, the clitoris has more nerve endings than anywhere on the human body, followed by the anus, then the penis (new information is coming out that indicates it’s possible an uncircumcised penis


may have almost as many nerve endings as the clitoris). So, if you have a penis, you should definitely experiment with exploring your butt. Enjoying anal sex is a process— it takes time. Be patient and enjoy the journey and if you’re looking for more info, check out these books: Tristan Taormino’s “Guide to Anal Sex for Women” (which has great advice for people of all genders) and Jack Morin’s “Anal Pleasure and Health.” I’ve been hearing about PrEP. What the heck is that? PrEP is AMAZING. It’s the first major breakthrough we’ve made in HIV prevention in decades. We’ve come a long way in our fight against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. With ongoing treatment, many people are able to live long, healthy lives with HIV. Currently there are around ONE million people living with HIV in the United States. Unfortunately, in the past several years, we have seen an increase in HIV infections, especially among men who have sex with men, and even more among African-American men who have sex with men. While folks who have ongoing treatment can live healthy lives, treatment involves a decent amount of medication and following up with doctors. In Maryland, we have good systems in place to support folks living with HIV and it’s rare for someone to not be able to afford or access treatment. Unfortunately, that’s not true for people in many other states. Previously, we had four main ways of preventing HIV: abstinence, condoms, needle exchange programs, and testing and treatment. All of those methods require people to change their behavior. Sometimes, people don’t want to change their behavior. Sometimes, for a million different reasons, they just can’t use a condom every time they have sex. And that is putting them at higher risk for HIV.


There are many reasons that people aren’t able to use condoms when they have sex. They may be in a relationships where they can’t ask their partner to use a condom. They may be too high when they have sex to remember to use a condom. They may love going to condom-free sex parties. They may be a sex worker who gets paid more to have sex without a condom, and they need that money. They may be an HIV negative person in a monogamous relationship with an HIV positive person who hates feeling like there’s a barrier between them and their partner. Until PrEP, there wasn’t a good way for folks in these situations to protect themselves. But now, there’s PrEP, a pill that someone who is HIV negative takes every day (kind of like the birth control pill). If it’s taken every day, the risk of infection drops to less than one percent. If someone misses some pills, the effectiveness drops, but it’s still more effective than nothing. Not everyone should take PrEP—it’s for folks who are at higher risk for HIV. Like any medication, it has side effects, and if you’re not at higher risk for HIV, it’s probably not worth the trouble.You can even stop and start PrEP. Are you planning a vacation that’s going to be a fuck fest? Start PrEP six weeks before you go, take it consistently until after you’re home, and stop taking it until your next vacation. You can get PrEP by asking your doctor. Depending on your doctor, you may need to do a little bit of education. If you want to avoid that, try going to a local LGBTQ clinic like Chase Brexton. If you have insurance, PrEP should be covered. It’s definitely covered on Medicaid. For the right person, PrEP can be an amazing option. Thanks for your questions! I can’t wait to hear what you’re thinking about next.

DECEMBER 20, 2017

How Did I Get Here? Outcalls’ Melissa Wimbish and Britt Olsen-Ecker talk dangers women face in bars, imposter syndrome, and more By Maura Callahan

Melissa Wimbish (left) and Britt Olsen-Ecker of Outcalls. Photo by Steve Parke, courtesy Outcalls

As its title would suggest, local pop sextet Outcalls’ track ‘Pillcauzbee,’ off their September EP “No King,” conjures the moment one realizes they’ve been drugged and begin to lose faculties, a moment experienced by many of the nearly 60 women who have accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault. “Every single time I try to walk away I feel real high/ What did you do/ It’s getting late and maybe I was thinking I should say goodbye/ Why can’t I move,” sing Melissa Wimbish and Britt Olsen-Ecker. Late in November, Outcalls put out a remix of ‘Pillcauzbee’ by producer Drew Scott, best known as a member of Blacksage and for his collaborations with Al Rogers Jr., among others. On the remix, Scott strips away the R&Binflected track’s horns and threads woozy synth wompwomps around Wimbish and Olsen-Ecker’s vocals, at one second measured and rhythmic and at another trailing and faded. Founded by Evan Kornblum and Jeff Bucklew as a mostly male eight-piece, Outcalls has since split off, leaving Wimbish and Olsen-Ecker at the helm. Shortly before they return to the recording studio, I sat down with the two classically-trained Peabody alums shortly to talk about the band’s new direction, the inspiration behind ‘Pillcauzbee,’ the plague of self-doubt while in a room full of dudes, and more. Baltimore Beat: Tell me about the story behind ‘Pillcauzbee.’ Melissa Wimbish: A friend of ours went to a party. She definitely felt like she knew something happened,

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she was drugged, because she had I think two or three drinks. She woke up in a bed, like where the fuck am I? These two men came into the room, they were a couple, and said “you were really messed up, we knew something happened, it didn’t seem like you were just drunk, it seemed like somebody gave you something and we tried to ask you where you lived by you couldn’t remember your address so we took you here and we didn’t do anything, we just put you in the bed.” As she’s telling me this story she’s like ‘I woke up and the first thing I did was say where am I, and then I checked to see if I was still wearing my Spanx. And when I realized my Spanx were still on I knew nothing happened.’ So she knew she hadn’t been assaulted but that somebody had attempted. So these guys were awesome and took care of her. Britt Olsen-Ecker: I think we started writing it like early 2016 before any of this stuff really started going down. The beginnings of all of that inspired us. MW: Right because that was around the time that [Bill Cosby] had just been accused, he wasn’t even on trial yet. BOE: They were starting to flow in, a lot of them. For the longest time we would just call it ‘Pill’ and for the album I think we debated do we do ‘Pillcauzbee’ or do we do ‘Pill’? And we decided to go with the ‘Pillcauzbee’ name and I’m glad we did.

BB: Why’s that? BOE: With everything that’s happening right now, I think it’s good to be making a statement like that and my hesitation is always err on the side of caution, don’t be controversial, but it is good to be controversial right now. MW: And why is it controversial? We discussed that too, like maybe he hasn’t been proven guilty but the fact is, he’s probably guilty and we believe the women, we believe the victims, and why isn’t that the default? BOE: We were saying believe victims. It’s taken me a little bit to get over my own being afraid of saying things but now that’s happening and I’m glad. The song itself, we wanted to talk about what is that experience like. MW: But it’s very simple as far as what we’re saying but you don’t have to day much to say what’s happening especially if you call the song ‘Pillcauzbee’. But the simplicity—obviously because what faculties do you have about you when you are in that situation? I think because we both come from this classical background and having to translate texts a lot from another language, how do we simplify something, how do we just boil it down? We did that with this song lyrically and we communicated that to Drew [Scott] as well, we said, “This song is dark and it’s fucked up but it’s also fun because there is that aspect of [having] your




Outcalls live at Ottobar Photo by Chrissy Abbot / Courtesy Outcalls

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guard down.” BOE: Yeah, you’re partying, you feel a little buzzed. But I’ve been in situations where there’s the instant that you’re like, something’s wrong. Or something’s a little off and it’s scary to be thinking about that while you’re having such a good time—and it happens like a snap. BB: For a lot of women—I would say this is true of myself, even if I’m having the best time at a club where I feel relatively comfortable, I never feel totally at ease. BOE: Definitely. I never leave a drink unattended. MW: Never ever ever. BOE: And that concept is just . . . MW: The fact that we have to think about that! It runs through my head every time. And it’s so funny how even now when I’m at a bar with a guy or a friend that’s not a woman and I say “watch my drink,” they smirk. And it’s like, do you understand that this is going through our heads all the time? BOE: And it happens anywhere. We’ve had it happen to friends like down the street at the local neighborhood bar. It’s crazy. BB: How was it working with Drew Scott on the remix? MW: He really followed our direction which was, we wanna make this sinister but fun; let’s not make it all super dark. Because it is very dark already. BOE: I like the end where he repeats that “How did I get here?” When we were recording, I think this song has the most personality and Steve [Wright], our engineer, was like, “Think of a character and maybe be a little slurred and don’t over-enunciate—”


MW: Right, don’t try to sing it too beautifully. What would the character be doing, what would you be doing if you were in this situation? BB: What were some of the ideas you were working with in the other songs on the EP? BOE: Crushing the patriarchy with ‘No King’ [the title track] for sure. Kinda the story behind that is you [Melissa] were living in Denver and there was an artist who would tag on “no parking” and “no smoking” signs and he would just erase the “par” or “smo” and it would say “no king” and we decided that we wanted to write a song called ‘No King’ before the first note was played. We kind of function like that, like we come up with lyrical ideas or a title and then think of what a story or future music video would look like. So with ‘No King’ it was like medieval like sword fight and execution and we were like, ‘this is where the sword fight happens.’ MW: And how do we recreate that musically. BOE: We recorded it the day after the inauguration. MW: It was the song we wrote the fastest. We had played these songs with these other guys [in the previous band lineup] before, and we wanted something totally different that we had come up with ourselves and Britt really was insistent upon that; let’s write something just for ourselves that nobody else had any input on. BOE: Mostly the men. MW: Right, nobody as in all of the previous men that we worked with. Some of them were great, some of them weren’t, and we wanted to have something that was totally our own. And that’s why ‘No King’ meant so much to us. BB: Do you feel like there are any threads from the original iteration of the band that are still there in your current music? BOE: Yes and no. But I would say more no.


MW: Even the songs that we wrote in that arena sound different now. And when we play them live, they sound totally different. In a way that we connect with more. We have an idea now and we can talk it out with our band. BOE: Yeah that was a big thing [before], feeling not safe in the room. MW: Feeling like if we had a suggestion or we didn’t know exactly how to articulate it, that we would be looked at in a way that was very dismissive. BOE: Like we would be shut down. MW: And in some ways I began to feel so inexperienced like I had nothing to offer— BOE: We both did. MW: —or I didn’t know how to talk, and so I thought, maybe I should just not talk. BOE: And we would say it to people like, “well I don’t know much about this—” And then it was like, no, we have music degrees, we know about this. BB: Imposter syndrome. BOE: Absolutely. MW: But heavily perpetuated by some of the people we were working with. So it’s amazing how in retrospect, one of the things Britt and I keep coming back to is: Let’s never let ourselves be in that position again where we’re questioning ourselves like that. There were so many drives home where we were just like, what did we do? Every night, we were just not happy. And now we can’t shut up, we’re just like, “What about this idea, what about this idea.” And being exhausted after an hour of rehearsal, now we can rehearse until two in the morning and be like oh shit, time to go to bed. Outcalls plays Windup Space’s NYE Daft Punk tribute show on Dec. 31 with Interstella Live Live Live and Metro Gallery on Jan. 6 with Amazing Bill and Petunia.

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ART American Visionary Art Museum, 800 Key Highway. (410) 244-1900, avam. org. “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, Baltimore-based 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 City Hall, 100 Holliday St., (410) 396-3100, MayorCatherinePugh. “WOKE,” Recent abstract paintings by Alma Roberts. Through Jan. 15, 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. Through 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. Artist talks and performances Jan. 19; on view through Jan. 27. C. Grimaldis Gallery, 523 N. Charles St., (410)539-1080, cgrimaldisgallery. com. “Tara Sellios: Sinuous,” Photographs and watercolor and ink drawings from Boston-based artist Tara Sellios. Through Dec. 23. “Ben Marcin: Structures,” New photographs from the self-taught Baltimore photographer’s ongoing series of abstract grids. Through Dec. 23. 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,” Processdriven, 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, guestspot. org. “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.

DECEMBER 20, 2017


Courtesy Facebook

Butch Dawson & Friends Holiday Show D E C . 2 3 Happy holidays; here’s a free—yeah, free—show headlined by Butch Dawson, one of the city’s most compelling and ambitious rappers, along with a whole bunch of likeminded MCs such as CCL$, Blacksheep Refugees, Isaiah Leonard, Tromac Pineapple, James P, Zheep, and Shido. Come expecting termite art hiphop that explores golden-era boom-bap—so you know, blurry beats, slippery samples, and a scrappy sort of poetry—but with a distinctly local take, which mostly means it sounds more busted and avant-garde. If this is unfamiliar to you, start with Butch’s ‘Dead Man Draggin’.’ Appropriately, this show is at the mostly metal-courting Sidebar; there is a specific kind of punk/metal approach Dawson and friends bring to their hip-hop. 9 p.m., The Sidebar, 218 E. Lexington St., (410) 659-4130,, free. (Brandon Soderberg)

Courtesy Facebook

Boister Solstice Shows D E C . 2 1 , D E C . 2 2 Celebrate the winter solstice with a Baltimore music institution of sorts, the folk-inflected, kind of classical, ostensibly art rock group Boister, who’ve been crafting their distinct brand of haunted, sophisticated music since 1998. The famous music producer Jim Dickinson once said Boister “makes Tom Waits sound like a sissy,” which, yeah, sounds pretty good, right? And given how askew this whole horrible year has been, the atonal guitar skronk, the tipsy horns, and vocalist Anne Watts’ well, Watts-ness (a great composer, a strong voice, a powerful presence on the stage) seems like the right way to welcome brutal winter and stare down the end of a rough year. For the show, Boister promises “lots of new material, 20th anniversary celebratory merch, stocking stuffers, presents, cake, [and] treats.” 7:30 p.m., An Die Musik, 409 N. Charles St., (410) 385-2638,, $10-$17. (Brandon Soderberg)


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, blackcatdc. com 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,

DECEMBER 20, 2017


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.

T H U . 2 1

An Die Musik. Boister Annual Solstice Concert. Bertha’s. Jeff Reed Trio. The Birchmere. A John Waters Christmas. Cat’s Eye Pub. The Racket. The 8x10. Moose Jaw, Thistle Rue, Fried Pickin’. Metro Gallery. Palisades, Blindwish, Awake At Last, Ignite The Fire. Motor House. Turntabliss with Amy Reid. The Ottobar. Hedwig And The Angry Inch. Rams Head Live. NGHTMRE and Valentino Khan, Justin Caruso. Rams Head On Stage. Frank “Scooby” Sirius & Kim Michelle. Tin Roof. Joint Operation. The Windup Space. All Ball, Hellp, Dave Jacober, Ali Clendaniel.

F R I . 2 2

An Die Musik. Boister Annual Solstice Concert. Baltimore Soundstage. Plevytak & Blake, Modern Nomad, The Dune Flowers. Bertha’s. The Juke Drivers. The Birchmere. Freddie Jackson. Cat’s Eye Pub. Ken G. Shorts; Black Falls Band. The 8x10. A Very Jerry Christmas with Cris Jacobs and Friends. The Fillmore Silver Spring. Action Bronson, Meyhem Lauren. Germano’s Piattini. Kash Wright Trio. 9:30 Club. Ookay. The Ottobar. The Devoids, Manta Rat, Ginger Blossoms. Rams Head On Stage. Slim Man Christmas Show. Royal Farms Arena. Xscape. The Sidebar. Eze Jackson. Tin Roof. Light Up The Moon.

S A T . 2 3

An Die Musik. Nico Sarbanes and Todd Simon. Baltimore Soundstage. Ultra Nate, Lisa Moody, Wayne Davis, The Elders, Kenny

An Die Musik at Andie Musik Live Photo courtesy of

Bobien. Bertha’s. Whale Show. The Black Cat. The Obsessed, Rezin, The Messthetics. Cat’s Eye Pub. Ursula Ricks’ Project; Carl Filipiak Jazz Band. The Crown. Blush + Brews with Loc Spice, Amy Reid, Station North Sadboi, O-Slice, Sovthpaw, Kiilolo. Germano’s Piattini. Glenn Angus Jazz Quartet. Joe Squared. Busy Bee for Maryland NORML Food Drive. 9:30 Club. Next Up II, Echelon The Seeker, OG Lullabies, Fielder, FootsXColes, Flash Frequency, Redline Graffiti, Dreamcast. The Ottobar. Legends Of Etc, Fractal Cat, Fuzzqueen, Matt Ellin. Rams Head Live. Kix. Rams Head On Stage. Todd & Cindy Bauchspies Christmas Concert; Capitol Steps. Reverb. Katfish The Tranimal. The Sidebar. Butch Dawson & Friends. Tin Roof. New Virtue. U Street Music Hall. Anik Khan, Ras Nebyu, DJ K-Meta, Ohso, Coach Bombay, Niara Sterling, O-Slice. The Windup Space. Thorn Apples, Super City, Matt Hutchison & The Big Gin.

S U N . 2 4

Bertha’s. Whale Show; Hootenanny. Cat’s Eye Pub. Steve Kremer & The Blue-


sicians. Germano’s Piattini. Holiday Jazz Brunch with Craig Gildner and Beto Rodriques.

M O N . 2 5

Cat’s Eye Pub. Timmy Shelley’s Christmas Extravaganza. Rams Head On Stage. Sean Altman’s Jewmongous.

T U E . 2 6

The Birchmere. Charles Esten. Cat’s Eye Pub. Cat’s Eye Blues Jam hosted by Ursula Ricks. Rams Head On Stage. Jimmie’s Chicken Shack.

W E D . 2 7

The Birchmere. Charles Esten. Cat’s Eye Pub. Dog Among The Bushes. The Crown. Cascading Elephants, Andy Livingston, Melanin Free, Clean Breast, Seesaw Offenders. The 8x10. Baltimore School Of Rock Alumni Show. Joe Squared. Doc Pine & The Respect He Deserves, Matt Pless, Quinton Randall. Rams Head Live. Thursday, Pianos Become The Teeth, Pup. Rams Head On Stage. Stephen Kellogg. The Sidebar. DJ Pancakes’ Back II Life. Tin Roof. Chris Diller.


Poetry: Alain Ginsberg Excerpt from upcoming poem ‘Greyhound’ Marta talks to me about the “possibility” of the big happiness that comes with travel but also the innumerable smaller possibilities that come with it as well. Like, yes, it would be the ideal possibility to get mountains and tall trees, but there is the possibility of joblessness or of no pets allowed or of allergies that comes with it. I am a series of possibilities is what I think to say, but so far I am not a possibility that also gets a dog, just a kind of mid-tier femme who can’t do eyeliner very well. I am the possibility of good eyeliner but like, not. The possible outcome of taking a bus is sitting alone but usually you aren’t actually alone, just the possibility of varying levels of discomfort. Once on a bus from Baton Rouge to New Orleans some man kept grunting and huffing and I truly thought about how easy it would be for them to end me. Not in a “end me please” kind of melancholy, but in the sense that I would die in a state where no one knows me by names I have long since thrown out the window. The possible outcome of starting HRT is to be alone, but the possibility of being alone by not starting it, or by starting it and later ending it, is also present. I do not think people who were close to me left because of hormones, but because they realized I’d still be a bitch after I got where I was trying to go. Where I’m trying to go.

‘Ode To Peeing In Public’ Yes I don’t feel safe when sitting prone, shackled by whatever lays across my ankles, that is true but one day I will enter the restrooms without urinals and lead-head held up, knife in my pocket (knife at home, not on my person at all) and what a simple joy that will be, to only worry about having toilet paper and not to die peeing. Everyone feels bad when the person in the movie dies on the toilet but no one feels bad when I hold my bladder until I’m home. At home I think I’m safest in the bathroom because no one will yell at you while you’re pooping, but in public someone willing to kick open the door to a stall won’t mind fighting me despite my station. I am often worried about getting the shit kicked out of me before it lands within the bowl of a toilet. At the concert that adapts bathrooms to become gender neutral, a stranger will say aloud “let’s use the men’s room, for fun” and I shrink myself out of the women’s room like a ghost. After the performance I am congratulated while piss exits me and I am told this is not uncommon and I cannot wait for the applause. In New Mexico a man kicks open the bathroom stall I am sitting in and his pants are already undone, from them he pulls out a balloon and a bouquet of flowers, “thank you for flushing” he says as I imagine blood exiting my nose and how awful my piercings would feel to be punched. I can’t wait to take a picture of my body in a bathroom and to have it be more than a remembrance of the things that have left me.

Alain Ginsberg (they/them) is a writer and performer from Baltimore. Alain is the author of “Until The Cows Come Home” (Elation Press, 2016), “Loathe/Love/Lathe” (Nostrovia! Press, 2017), and has had their work nominated for Bettering American Poetry, Best of the Net, and a Pushcart Prize. Their work has been featured or is forthcoming with Shabby Doll House, Metatron, Lambda Literary, and elsewhere. Outside of writing, Alain is a barista, a bartender, and a Taurus. Follow them on twitter @anotherginsberg and learn more at

Me being a bitch is not a possibility, but a definitive fixed point in the cosmos.



DECEMBER 20, 2017

6080 Falls Road @ W. Lake Avenue Mt. Washington

11 East 33rd Street, 1 block from Johns Hopkins Charles Village



SANTA BABY Bunns of Steele presents a karaoke-burlesque mashup with “Burl-eoke Heauxliday” By The Bad Oracle (Annie Montone)


Siren the Entertainer performing at “Burl-eoke.” Courtesy Bunns of Steele

As we sit sipping pre-show drinks at the bar downstairs at the Crown, in front of a stage decorated with some of the most depressing Christmas trees I’ve ever seen, Tommy Gunn somehow makes me feel like I’m in a Winter Wonderland. As creative director and stage manager for Bunns of Steele Productions, the burlesque company behind the recurring “Burl-eoke” shows at The Crown, Gunn’s enthusiasm is infectious. When I ask what makes Bunns of Steele different from other troupes, his answer is a jaunty: “Well, you’re not gonna see burlesque as goofy as this.” If you don’t know what “Burl-eoke” is, don’t worry; it was practically invented by the company’s founders, Bunny Vicious and Twiggy Steele. The concept is a kicky blend of karaoke, burlesque, and improv. At the mid-December holiday edition of “Burl-eoke,” several (pre-selected) singers compete in the first round by performing prepared Christmas tunes to karaoke tracks, and one is eliminated by audience vote. In the second, the remaining singers are paired up at random with burlesque dancers to form teams. The dancers have no idea what they will be dancing to, the singers little more what they will sing. In the third round, the difficulty increases as Gunn, who also serves as MC, introduces “challenges” like eating popcorn as they perform, or a “backwards burlesque” where the dancer has to put their clothes on. In between rounds, company members give lap dances and sing silly songs.

DECEMBER 20, 2017

The structure of the event helps keep the whole thing from going stale, sometimes a problem with straightforward burlesque, which can feel like an endless string of pretty ladies biting their gloves and peeling their stockings. There’s also a refreshing diversity of performers involved; Gunn is quick to note that the company is a “body positive environment” and that does seem true, as there were lots of different body types on stage, all united by fluffy red marabou. Bunns of Steele also disrupts the focus on women’s bodies found in traditional burlesque: Gunn dances, as does Danny Carbo, a “boylesque” performer who does a sexy routine to “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” no easy feat. Song choices range between Lee Conderacci’s pop-punk snarl on Blink 182’s ‘I Won’t Be Home for Christmas’ to the sultry vocals of CynDiva Harcum’s take on ‘Merry Christmas Baby.’ And if you think that dancing to something like this would be cut rate, you’re dead wrong. Some of it is, true to Gunn’s word, goofy—I won’t soon forget the burlesque-styled Christmas tree in five-inch red heels—and some, like Tempete La Coeur’s on-the-spot improvisation to ‘Let it Snow,’ classic and elegant. And as someone who can barely put her clothes on in the morning without fucking it up, I’m impressed by the dancers’ ability to shed that last piece of clothing on the beat—burlesque is truly all about the timing of the pasties. Despite a few technical difficulties, the evening


holds together, and that is largely due to the company’s warmth and clear joy in what they do. There are as many enthusiastic hugs onstage as there are butt tassels, and so you can’t help but root for them. By the time Conderacci and Viscous are crowned the winning team, the entire audience is feeling it, interacting with the performers as Gunn encouraged us to do during the “Burlesque 101” info session at the top of the show. As Bunny Vicious unbuckles the clasps on her green satin corset and Bitesize Aria spins in mounds of angelic tulle, both on stage for the show’s finale (a Mariah Carey-fueled dueling duet), the energy in the room surges. Audience participation is a must at a burlesque show, but right now, we don’t need to be told what to do. Amid claps and hollers, whistles and stomps, the singers throw themselves into the high notes as the dancers triumphantly twirl and flash to the music. If Gunn says anything important as he grabs the mic back, I don’t hear it. By that time, it’s all just part of the blissed-out blur. Bunns of Steele produces multiple events a year, including several “Burl-eoke” nights at The Crown— look out for Valentine’s Day and 4/20 shows, among others, coming up in 2018. Go to to check out the company’s new weekly podcast, premiering on Dec. 21 at 11 p.m. For more information on Bunns of Steele, visit



“Cirque de la Symphonie Holiday Spectacular ” at BSOMUSIC Photo Courtesy of BSO MUSIC


“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. Cirque de la Symphonie Holiday Spectacular. Cirque de la Symphonie joins forces with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra for a musical showcase of acrobats, contortionists, jugglers, balancers, strongmen, and aerialists. Dec. 22, 8 p.m.; Dec. 23, 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St., (410) 783-8000,, $17.50-$79. Comedy Cantonese. Magooby’s Joke House invites audience to participate in the Jewish tradition of gorging on Chinese food and Jewish humor on Christmas Eve. Marc Unger headlines. Dec. 24, buffet served at 7:30, show at 8:30 p.m., Magooby’s Joke House, 9603 Deereco Road, (410) 252-2727,, $30 for show only, $40 for show plus Chinese buffet (plus $5 for kosher). Joe Squared Holiday Spectacular. Comedy from Eric Navarro, Kiragu Beauttah, and Rose Vineshank plus music from Michael Moran and the Chris-Misfits, The Gunson Roses Office Holiday Party, and Leo’s Maximum Yuletide Trumpets. Dec. 23, 8:30 p.m., Joe Squared, 33 W. North Ave., (410) 545-0444,, $10. “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. 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. Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker.” The Ballet Theater of Maryland presents their version of the grand ballet accompanied by the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra. Dec. 23, 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., Lyric Opera House, 140 W. Mount Royal Ave., (410) 685-5086,, $19-$54.



DECEMBER 20, 2017

TAKING OUT THE TRASH The Complete Guide To Never Watching Woody Allen Again By Adam Katzman


“Wonder Wheel,” now playing at the Charles Screencap courtesy YouTube

“Losing Ground” Screencap courtesy YouTube

Another Oscar season. Another Woody Allen movie. Another attempt to shuffle past Dylan Farrow’s accusation of childhood sexual assault while Allen puts a thinly veiled screed against her mother into theaters. The “For Your Consideration” screener for Allen’s latest, “Wonder Wheel,” even considerately removes his name from the packaging just in case Oscar voters had any qualms about who made the product they were voting on. The grounds on which the case of her assault were dismissed by the original medical examiners have been questioned, even then by the presiding judge and attorney, as laid out in Maureen Orth’s 2014 piece “10 Undeniable Facts” for Vanity Fair. There is one difference this Oscar season however: The discourse outside of Allen has shifted considerably, bringing forth a public reckoning with sexual abuse and harassment by men in power, from the entertainment industry to public office, purging moguls, politicians,

DECEMBER 20, 2017

and other previous untouchables that HR departments were used to sweeping under the rug. Whether it leads to a structural shift and ushers in a new system of accountability (it’s heartening to see conversations about everything from protecting workers through the collective power of unions to longtime radical concepts like restorative justice on the table) or it remains an attempt by executives to curtail bad business while remaining profitable on the market is yet to be seen. Men who for a long time were using systems of intimidation to silence their victims with everything from lawyers to ex-Mossad agents (in the case of Harvey Weinstein) are seeing the door, but inconsistencies remain. For example, Louis CK’s movie “I Love You Daddy” about a Woody Allen figure had its distribution cancelled once allegations that were an open secret were finally in an era where they could made on the record. Woody Allen, though, has “Wonder Wheel” in

theaters (it’s now playing at the Charles Theatre), another movie in the works, and a distribution deal with Amazon— despite the executive that signed the Amazon deal being fired over sexual misconduct allegations of their own. Dylan Farrow again had to ask, now with the belief in victims leading to otherwise seismic shifts in accountability, “Why has the #MeToo revolution spared Woody Allen?” Back in 2014, I wrote a version of the list below for the now defunct site Animal New York, dealing with the still prevalent notion that that sacrificing Allen as an artistic and cultural institution on account of a “murky” case would be detrimental to the history of American cinema. A final frontier in which criticism works outside of concepts like justice, where one must be allowed to engage with art in a way that transcends reactionary morals and that Allen’s art in particular is too great to be ruled out by ethical concerns. It wasn’t new and it had been disputed before. Jonathan Rosenbaum, in “Notes Toward the Devaluation of Woody Allen,” posited Allen as a foreign arthouse CliffsNotes for middlebrow American intellectuals with inferiority complexes, dumbed down Bergman and Fellini and not much else. In 1979, Joan Didion suggested Allen’s nexus of cultural godsends were merely an outgrowth of capitalist consumption, an arrangement of commodities meant to signify artistic enrichment but merely functioning as a collector’s catalogue. As someone who grew up a neurotic, nebbish-y Jew, I found his works at least somewhat formative—but life goes on, and the idea that we can’t live without Allen is a false one. Treating his works as the final word on a number of subjects is a disservice to the vast history of cinema and literature. As such, this is an attempt to offer an alternative viewing option for every one of his films so that we can finally let go of his overrated career. Some of the artists in question have their own checkered history and when I wrote this I hadn’t realize that Fassbinder, in particular, was an abusive tyrant himself. Being dead, though, reckoning with his behavior as such doesn’t mean perpetuating his career in a way that evades accountability. The list is by no means definitive—and that is the point—so feel free to substitute with your own choices and make my canon cannon fodder.


“What’s Up, Tiger Lily?” / “Tokyo Drifter” The entire joke of “What’s Up, Tiger Lily?” is that Allen and friends found a Japanese cheapie and for the benefit of Western audiences recut and redubbed it with an endless string of Asian stereotypes. Once considered inventive, its sub-”Kung Pow: Enter The Fist” gags don’t really need saving. That said, Seijun Suzuki’s “Tokyo Drifter” takes the Western gangster picture and gives it a psychedelic, William Burroughs-esque cut-up that leaves the hard-boiled yarn in a pile of surreal pixie dust. “Take The Money And Run” / “Bottle Rocket” For a charming riff on the heist genre also made up of endearingly bumbling criminals, “Bottle Rocket” is still great and also works as a sweetnatured epilogue to “Thief,” where maybe James Caan’s Frank finally came to peace with his post-prison PTSD and adopted a euro-bohemian openness to life’s left turns. “Bananas” / “Duck Soup” Allen liberally quotes from Groucho on the reg, and “Duck Soup” is a literal lifesaver in Allen’s “Hannah and Her Sisters.” Unlike the condescending cultural tourism of “Bananas,” the Marx brothers situate their absurdist conflict between European decadents, a necessary reminder that the civilized West is a post-WWII myth. “Duck Soup’s” eventual descent into free-associative nonsense is also one of the greatest critiques of war by way of demonstrating by default, the totality of its psychic carnage. “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid To Ask”/ “Taxi Zum Klo” “Taxi Zum Klo” is willing to demonstrate the Everything in Allen’s title and then some as a frank, funny, and unfiltered autobiographical tale of gay cruising that along the way plays like a big, troll-ish “fuck you” to William Friedkin’s nightmare about what the homos are up to, “Cruising” too. “Play it Again, Sam”/ “In A Lonely Place” A Humphrey Bogart homage that pretends to question Bogie’s gender problems with beta male neuroses as the alternative while simultaneously dropping one of the most uncomfortable



CO N T I N U E D F R O M PAG E 26 string of rape jokes in all of movies. One is better off watching the god Nicholas Ray’s “In a Lonely Place,” where Bogart’s toxic masculinity is explored by way of an abusive screenwriter who might as well be a murderer. “Sleeper” / “Safrana” & “Soleil O” “Safrana” and “Soleil O” are less dystopian time warps than postcolonial satires of France’s (and the West’s) perception of itself as a beacon of advanced civilization from the perspective of African migrants whose labor it exploits for progress. “Love and Death” / “Shadows Of Our Forgotten Ancestors” Sergei Paranov’s “Shadows Of Our Forgotten Ancestors” already toyed with Russian literary history by adapting Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky’s novel into a freewheeling romp of familial rivalries, boisterous cultural celebrations, and careening disasters far more enlightening than Allen’s series of anachronistic jokes. “Annie Hall” / “Modern Romance” Woody Allen’s transition from tworeeler gag-man to serious filmmaker also contains his biggest problem—movies about “smart” nebbishes who can’t drop the “dumb” quirky broads in their life. Allen’s whole career is Nice Guys of OKC sexism with better jokes. “Modern Romance’s” female counterpart, on the other hand, is the rational anchor in the relationship, while Albert Brooks’ hysteria drops one-liners in favor of breaking point discomfort, leaving a more realistically sour taste than Allen. “Interiors” / “35 Shots Of Rum” Instead of the classic “fuck you mom and dad!” tale of rich kids dealing with their parents divorce (in boring Ingmar Bergman-lite style), try “35 Shots of Rum’s” affecting “Late Spring” riff where a radical, collegiate daughter and her widowed train car driver father find themselves drifting apart in the nonwhite part of France Allen has never bothered with. “Manhattan” / “The Landlord” Allen’s WASPirational tendencies crystallized here, completely leaving behind his ethnic conundrums in favor of whitebread foibles that whitewash New York in their essentialism. Watch Hal Ashby’s “The Landlord” instead, a New York comedy whose central conceit about Park Slope gentrification and race/ class discord is as relevant to Brooklyn now as it was in the ‘60s. “Stardust Memories” / “Goodbye, Dragon Inn” Given that “Stardust Memories” was a shameless rip of Fellini’s “8 ½,” you could probably just stick with “8 ½,” but Tsai Ming Liang’s “Goodbye, Dragon Inn,” about the mysterious goings-on during a run-down theater’s final screening of King Hu’s Wu-Xia epic “Dragon Inn”— from failed attempts at cruising to the ghosts of cinema’s past saying goodbye


to their life’s work—would be a far less cynical viewing, offering an entire cosmology from the ephemeral flashes of lives reflected back on us. “A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy” / “Together” Lukas Moodysson’s “Together” is another period piece with various couples in retreat getting their sexual standards in a twist, only this one’s getaway is a utopian hippie commune in ‘70s Sweden where gender and class on multiple sides of the political divide are left upended. Less a one night stand than a seasonal affective disorder whose chaos reorganizes into delightfully comedic praxis. “Zelig” / “Chameleon Street” Instead of Allen’s shy adapting to strong personalities, Wendell B. Harris Jr.’s “Chameleon,” based on a real person, demonstrates black intelligence worming past the barriers of white American condescension. “Broadway Danny Rose” / “24 Hour Party People” This kaleidoscopic Factory Records story is also about a talent agent (of sorts) whose work is prey to the whims of local opinion, but the cheekily self-deprecating mythology here steps out of Allen’s oldies comfort zone and into what was actually happening behind the scenes. “Purple Rose of Cairo” / “Last Action Hero” A blockbuster trying to have it both ways and question the connection between bloodlust and box office returns while offering both, this muchmaligned, meta-actioner starring Arnold is the closest we’ll get to hey-day Grant Morrison’s reflexive humanism on film. “Hannah And Her Sisters” / “Born In Flames” It soon becomes apparent that Allen has a limited number of topics. Though not about sisters per se, “Born in Flames’” exploration of a diverse sisterhood in the aftermath of a peaceful socialist revolution screams for an intersectionality nowhere to be found in Allen’s work. “Radio Days” / “Turtles Can Fly” Bhaman Ghobadi’s “Turtles Can Fly” is a wartime drama (this time Iraq) from a (sage) child’s perspective in which a community (in this case a Kurdish refugee camp) is heavily reliant on a technological medium (here satellite instead of radio) for understanding the outside world. “September” / “Morvern Callar” Instead of Allen’s recycled usage of the frail and unstable woman archetype, “Morvern Callar” dumps the suicide onto the boyfriend’s part as a misguided martyrdom that sets the stage for “woman as subject” to reclaim agency over her own narrative. “Another Woman” / “A Single Man” For an existential meditation on aging, death, and academia, “A Single Man’s” tale of a gay professor’s diminishing returns after his loved one’s departure bolsters its Vogue spread stylistics with

“Mighty Aphrodite” Screencap courtesy YouTube

“Frankenhooker” Screencap courtesy YouTube

genuinely emotional subtext. “Crimes and Misdemeanors” / “The Trials of Henry Kissinger” Another comedy-drama about a white man who gets away with murder and this time gets a Nobel Peace prize for it. “Alice” / “I Am Love” “I Am Love” turns rich white woman feminism into a superheroic origin story. Tilda Swinton flying the coop is one of the most epic “my man ain’t shit, peace out y’all” sequences in the history of film. “Shadows and Fog” / “Night and Fog” While “Shadows” is Allen’s tribute to German expressionism, you realize none of his works actually deal with that other German mark on society—the Holocaust—even if his title borrows from one of the most powerful and succinct examinations of it. “Husbands and Wives” / “Why Does Herr R. Run Amok?” Since one of Allen’s main themes is bourgeois marital discord, why not leave it to the king, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, whose “Why Does Herr R. Run Amok?” presents as wry a dismantling of the hetero-nuclear familial dream as there is. “Manhattan Murder Mystery” / “Wild Grass” Alain Resnais, a true innovator from the French New Wave, continues in old age to break ground instead of settling into consistent mediocrity with this philosophical caper about old people and weed. “Bullets Over Broadway” / “Berry


Gordy’s The Last Dragon” Another comedy about a gangster trying to get his moll into showbusiness, “The Last Dragon” also deals with white gentrification of black culture—the message being, “CAN VANITY FROM VANITY 6 LIVE?” pretty much. “Mighty Aphrodite” / “Frankenhooker” A horror-comedy that retools “ReAnimator” to critique the threat of “domestic bliss” to the innocent sex workers stuck with living out its secret fantasies. “Everyone Says I Love You” / “Car Wash” A disco musical (of sorts) true to its genre’s roots in that its black, latino, queer (or a combination thereof) working class characters (with the token well-meaning but clueless rich, white lefty) turn to disco’s multicultural uplift as a soothing mechanism for their societal frustrations. “Deconstructing Harry” / “Sullivan’s Travels” For a good take on exploiting people to get over writer’s block, there’s “Sullivan’s Travels,” in which a privileged director leaves his mansion to play hobo better than your average trust punk and learn about “the other side” for his next movie. “Celebrity” / “The Nutty Professor” For a far more caustic take on celebrity, try Jerry Lewis’ “The Nutty


DECEMBER 20, 2017

“Blue Jasmine”


Screencap courtesy YouTube

CO N T I N U E D F R O M PAG E 27 Professor.” Though not directly about fame, its central autocritique of Lewis’ IRL schmuckness puts a lot more at stake than this masturbatory exercise, even if Lewis eventually just devolved into Buddy Love for his remaining years. “Sweet And Lowdown” / “’Round Midnight” Of course Allen’s one movie about jazz would be about a shitty white guitar player. “Round Midnight” boasts saxophonist Dexter Gordon as a fictional composite of Lester Young and Bud Powell in a film with more at stake than cheap, sullied nostalgia. “Small Time Crooks”/ “Crimson Gold” Also concerning a jewelry store robbery, “Crimson Gold” is a much grimmer affair, but within its caustic realism are a few comically bitingly setpieces that display how class inequality and systemic frustrations are as criminal as actual crime. “Curse Of The Jade Scorpion” / “Querelle” In its own way, “Querelle” is also a magical movie about thieves and cursed trajectories, one awash in phallic set designs, lush colored backdrops, and spilled blood. “Hollywood Ending” / “Hooper” For a film about filmmaking that actually has a point and some heart, Hal Needham’s “Hooper” is like Francois Truffaut’s “Day for Night” but southern fried with bar fights, car stunts, and explosions for the hell and the love of it. “Anything Else” / “The Monkey Hustle” You know what’s a great movie about an old man mentoring a kid or two? “The Monkey Hustle” (with a script co-written by Odie Hawkins!), where Yaphet Kotto shows some kids the ropes of the “flim flam, scoot and scam” plus a whole Chicago neighborhood (including Rudy Ray Moore as a slick, ostentatious

DECEMBER 20, 2017

Courtesy Parlour Pictures

priest) fights corrupt development. “Melinda and Melinda” / “The Double Life Of Veronique” Another artfully elusive Kieslowski feature, with Irene Jacob playing two performers, the titular Veronique and her mysteriously linked other Veronika, the latter’s death leaving a bewitching crater in the former’s existence. “Match Point” / “Snake Eyes” For a movie about sports and murder that shamelessly rips off its influence, Brian De Palma’s Hitchcock homage “Snake Eyes” doesn’t pretend to be above the camp that it actually is, and as such has fun with it. “Scoop” / “The Ruling Class” For a film about an aristocrat going full Jack the Ripper, “The Ruling Class” has Peter O’Toole’s heir to the House of Lords conflating wealth and power with divinity to the point of killing to keep it that way. Overtly satirical and committed to its subversive vision. “Cassandra’s Dream” / “Twin Dragons” Another film about two brothers embroiled in conflict after one of them sinks in debt to the mob. Both brothers are played by Jackie Chan and this one has a factory sequence to rival Charlie Chaplin’s in “Modern Times.” “Vicky Christina Barcelona” / “Two Lovers” An understated look at the “is she Jewish?” conundrum and an even more downbeat “Heartbreak Kid” where Moni Moshonov ‘s(!!!) Russian immigrant laundromat owner wants a depressed Joaquin Phoenix to keep it within the tribe even while he’s bent on the “shiksa” next door. “Whatever Works” / “Arab Labor” Instead of trying (and failing) to situate Larry David as a Woody surrogate, Israeli sitcom “Arab Labor’s” main Palestinian nebbish tragicomically demonstrates the limitations of assimilatory concession when your surrounding environment doesn’t even register you as human.

“You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger” / “Cleo From 5 to 7” In which a fortune teller’s false prediction looms over a singer awaiting her medical results, wandering around Paris meeting multiple strangers, all while Agnes Varda carves out a subtle manifesto on feminism, existentialism, and war. “Midnight In Paris” / “I Shot Andy Warhol” For a series of half-sketched caricatures and drab period recreations gathered together to denostalgize the past, go with Mary Harron’s “I Shot Andy Warhol.” It partially endears one to Valerie Solanas’ S.C.U.M. manifesto while also critiquing its essentialist transphobia, either way leaving one with no desire to go back in time. “To Rome With Love” / “Teorema” Wherein Pier Paolo Pasolini sent Terence Stamp to Italy with loins, having him play an angel of destruction whose seductive presence tears apart an Italian family’s bourgois bubble and causes self-reflection to the point of disrepair. “Blue Jasmine” / “Wanda” Skip Elia Kaza’s “A Streetcar Named Desire” adaptation (Allen’s source here) because dude was a snitch but check his wife Barbara Loden’s “Wanda,” a great movie about an ambling, working class woman whose elliptical wanderings wrest her narrative from us with proto”Morvern Callar” obfuscation. “Magic In The Moonlight” / “Rouge” To invert “Magic In The Moonlight’s” Houdini-esque debunking of spiritualists and also its casual orientalism, turn to Stanley Kwan’s “Rouge,” where the ghost of a ‘30s courtesan (the late, great Anita Mui) winds up at a reporter’s office in ‘80s Hong Kong searching for the ghost of her forbidden upper-class lover (the late, great Leslie Cheung), who died with her in a suicide pact so they could be together in the afterlife. It dispenses of illusion with a heartbreaking, romantic sincerity that shows class as the ultimate grift. “Irrational Man” / “Ganja & Hess” Instead of another “Crimes and


Misdemeanors”/”Match Point” (albeit with a more justifiable cause) try Bill Gunn’s “Ganja & Hess,” a hallucinatory, class-conscious parable about the self and communal destruction wrought by a wealthy black anthropologist upon becoming a vampire. “Café Society” / “The Errand Boy” Jerry Lewis’ gleefully anarchic “The Errand Boy,” in which a gopher is chosen by execs to spy on their studio, tearing both the studio and its chosen medium apart in the process, is an obliterating rebuke of the studio system Allen celebrates in “Café Society.” “Crisis In Six Scenes” / “Harlan County USA” Allen’s tale of suburban family in the ‘60s overturned by the arrival of a radical hippie does include the great Elaine May leading an elderly reading group on Mao and Fanon-inspired bouts of direct action, but any number of films about regular workers turned radical activists are worth watching instead. try “Harlan County USA’s” document of a miner’s strike in Kentucky. “Wonder Wheel” / “Losing Ground” Instead of another “my freakin’ exwife!” saga about a hysterical actress, Kathleen Collins’ “Losing Ground,” about the existential and sexual discord between a professor of logic and her libertine artist husband (“Ganja & Hess’” Bill Gunn) as he paints models while she acts in a student film about a “tragic mulatto,” was not only one of the first films directed by a black woman (although only just released in 2015 because the film industry hates them) but one of the shrewdest explorations of race, gender, and artistic representation. “A Rainy Day in New York” / ANYTHING OTHER THAN THIS Word at the moment is Allen’s next films revisits the Manhattan trope of a middle-aged man dating a teenager, and honestly, maybe just watch like, literally, anything other than that?


SEA OF LOVE “The Shape of Water” is a gorgeous ode to love and otherness By Dominic Griffin


“The Shape Of Water” Courtesy YouTube

“The Shape of Water,” the latest film from visionary filmmaker and casual monster fetishist Guillermo Del Toro, is about those who don’t belong. It’s about Elisa (the brilliant Sally Hawkins), a scarred mute who works as a cleaning lady at a secure government facility, and the sea creature (Doug Jones) secured at this facility who she falls in love with. But it’s also about her best friend and co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer), a black woman adept at helping Elisa communicate after years of her own husband barely speaking to her. It’s about Elisa’s neighbor and confidante Giles (Richard Jenkins), a closeted artist with a fridge full of half-eaten dessert from repeatedly, unsuccessfully flirting with a handsome pie shop attendant. And it’s about Dr. Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhlbarg), a scientist whose compassion finds him without a country when neither of the masters he serves want to help him save the life of the “asset,” as the Amphibian Man is referred to throughout. Even the film’s setting in Baltimore, lensed by cinematographer Dan Laustenser to appear at times like one of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s otherworldly visions of Parisian post-apocalypse (it was shot in Canada—Hamilton and Toronto), is treated like an outsider, the bastard child of Washington, D.C.


Colonel Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon) suggests Hoffstetler should settle down elsewhere, in a “real” city. The pristine rows of suburban homes the colonel calls home are “Stepford Wives” clean, antiseptically vanilla. It’s a hermetically sealed simulacrum of the “great” Amerikkka Donald Trump and Roy Moore and every asshole with a red baseball cap wants to bring back. It is a world in which Strickland, a borderline sociopath whose underlying streak of humanism only serves to make him more villainous, would prosper as a hero. A telling moment early on in “The Shape of Water”: Strickland goes into a car dealership and gets sold on a teal, finned Cadillac, the kind that seemed sci-fi back in 1962, when the film is set. The salesman tells Strickland that it’s the car of the future, which makes it perfect for him. He tells Strickland he’s the man of the future, that he belongs. As a WASP-y military man in a suit, of course he belongs. He always belongs. Cut to Strickland driving the car confidently, like a vision out of a Don Draper ad. But this isn’t a McCarthy-era creature feature where a handsome man with a pistol saves the damsel in distress from a fish monster. It’s a Guillermo Del Toro film. So Del Toro course corrects the monster movies of his youth and give us an adult fairy tale where a woman and a Merman

fucking in a bathtub is presented as matter-of-factly as a wife passing her husband the Sunday paper. Though the film is gorgeously realized and hypnotic in its classical beauty, at its core it’s a timeless, regular-ass love story. There’s a purity to the love Elisa and her gilled beau share. Shorn of screwball rom-com dialogue, their wordless courtship is more potent for its lack of banter, its delicate pussyfooting. This cinematic distillation of attraction is a dance of the eyes, a near musical spectacle. Elisa struggles to express to Giles why she wants his help saving this mysterious creature. She signs that when he looks at her, he sees her as she really is, not what she’s lacking. When Strickland finds himself attracted to Elisa, it’s specifically because a woman who can’t speak turns him on. He’s a married man, but he still lusts to dominate Elisa, which seems to be his only other concern in the film outside vivisecting her paramour at the behest of his betters. Elisa and the creature don’t speak— both because they can’t and because they do not need to—but for Strickland, silencing otherness is practically a kink. So the film flits between the whimsical majesty of its central romance and the terrifying reality of the time in which it is set. It paints two concentric circles.


The world shared by its two lovers and the world at large looming around them, ever threatening to drown them, an irony that makes their moments of peace under water all the more sweet. Del Toro does a masterful job of transitioning between this film’s conflicting moods, arriving at a singular tone that distinctly crystallizes his authorial voice. “The Shape of Water” is the culmination of his entire career, fusing Del Toro’s confidence in his own storytelling ability with the boldness of his themes. He’s as comfortable assaying an effervescent Jacque Demy impersonation as he is getting his hands dirty in showing the rotten core of a world that rejects what doesn’t immediately mirror its own visage. The result is a picture that works best at the intersection of warring tones, the centerpoint between the beauty of love and the cancer of bigotry, between cinema of the absurd and the macabre. Passive furries may have helped “The Beauty & The Beast” become a global smash this year, but it’s “The Shape of Water” that uses its interspecies, starcrossed lovers to actually say something. “The Shape of Water,” directed by Guillermo Del Toro, is now playing at the Charles Theatre.

DECEMBER 20, 2017

All-American Guy, All-American Story With “The Disaster Artist,” the Franco brothers search for dignity in bad movie indignity By Max Robinson


“The Disaster Artist” Screencap courtesy YouTube

The unique appeal of “The Room”—a disorienting and stilted tale of lust, betrayal, and emotionally charged games of tuxedo football—is best described as “if somebody made a David Lynch film completely by accident.” Director Tommy Wiseau’s 2003 self-financed labor of love is almost mesmerizingly watchable, a parade of ill-advised cinematic left turns: Pointless philosophical conversations between leads Johnny (Wiseau) and his best friend-turned-surfer-dudepersonal-Judas Mark (Greg Sestero) on an obviously fake apartment complex rooftop punctuated by bizarre subplots that come and go without payoff and an excruciating marathon of the most cringe-inducing sex scenes imaginable outside of late night Cinemax. Given its cinematic half-life—on the fringe of public consciousness as a staple of Friday night college dorm room viewings and midnight movie screenings—it feels inevitable that somebody would adapt Sestero’s hilarious memoir, 2013’s “The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made,” documenting his decades-long friendship with Wiseau and the making of “The Room” from script to screen. That the “somebody” to do it is one-time Academy Award nominee/occasional celebrity nuisance James Franco, who both directs, produces, and stars as Wiseau, is a little more surreal. “The Disaster Artist” could have easily been a very by-the-numbers biopic in another life and the script from screenwriter duo Michael Weber

DECEMBER 20, 2017

and Scott Neustadter (“The Spectacular Now,” “Pink Panther 2”) certainly dips into its fair share of “based on a true story” cliches. For one, we probably didn’t need a scene where a minor character all but looks directly at the camera to explain that Tommy’s script shows how he feels victimized by the world. Thankfully, the actual film is suitably weird and intriguing in its choices. Franco, a talented leading man usually resigned to charming scumbags, disappears into the role of the mumbling, sulking Wiseau in a way that is at times eerie. Franco threads the needle gracefully, keeping his performance funny without delving into a cruel impression as he delivers heavily accented lines—Tommy’s obviously from somewhere in Europe but claims to be an American from New Orleans or “newwarrlins” —and steps into the director’s signature baggy cargo pants. The profound humanity Franco gives the director is easily “The Disaster Artist’s” biggest saving grace, refusing to shy away from Wiseau’s casual abuse of both Sestero and his film crew but zeroing in on a lonely outsider’s desperate need for approval from a cosmically indifferent Hollywood. When an aggressively overeager Wiseau is dressed down by a big shot movie producer (a cameoing Judd Apatow) after interrupting his dinner at an expensive restaurant, your heart breaks with him: You know from the second the stardom-hungry Wiseau sees his shot that no one on the L.A. celebrity food chain is going to tolerate his schtick and he’ll walk away utterly humiliated.

Wiseau may be just another aggrieved rich white guy mad at the world for not giving him what he feels entitled to, but you find yourself admiring his clueless fearlessness, whether he’s dancing like a jackass at a nightclub or demanding that an alley scene be shot on an obviously fake set instead of an actual nearby alley. “The Disaster Artist” wisely grounds itself in the relationship between Wiseau and Sestero, played by Franco’s brother Dave Franco. The younger Franco is not only a talented actor in his own right (see last year’s slept-on 15 minutes in the future thriller “Nerve”) but the decision to cast actual brothers as Wiseau and Sestero gives their messy, odd friendship a crucial lived-in dimension, from their awkward first meeting in a San Francisco acting workshop to the seemingly endless limo ride to the premiere of “The Room.” Franco’s film nails the rough edges of Wiseau’s bizarre pseudo-mentorship of the much younger Sestero, like his intensely guarded privacy about his wealth and ethnic background or his abrupt invitation to share a previously unmentioned one bedroom apartment with him in Los Angeles. As the traditionally handsome Sestero finds some small semblance of success with bit part TV auditions and a bartender girlfriend, Franco’s Wiseau lashes out at his self-appointed protégé for finding the success that he knows will always be out of reach for someone who looks him. This back and forth—the earnestly grateful but embarrassed Sestero shouldering more and more of Wiseau’s verbal barbs and public outbursts—is the


emotional center of “The Disaster Artist” as they go from friends to filmmakers. Their emotional foosball game finally hits a breaking point as Wiseau callously forces Sestero choose between their movie and a potentially career-making guest spot on “Malcolm in the Middle,” Wiseau’s cruelty punctuated by his mocking insistence that the show is called “Little Malcolm.” The resulting extreme close up on Sestero as a crewperson shaves off the beard he needs to book the “Malcolm” gig is a quietly devastating little moment in a film that’s largely a comedy. Wiseau’s slow but steady alienation of the only person who truly believes in him, seemingly the first person to reach out and embrace him for who he is, is the mini-tragedy of the heart of “The Disaster Artist.” “The Disaster Artist” feels less like an attempt at biographical realism and more like a streamlined creation myth for “The Room.” The aforementioned fateful “Malcolm” gig or Wiseau’s revelatory viewing of “Rebel Without A Cause” that serves as the inspiration for “The Room’s” famous “You are tearing me apart, Lisa!” line are obviously fabricated or exaggerated, but they give the proceedings a larger-than-life weight. Notably, “The Disaster Artist” is full of bit parts and cameos from everyone from Hannibal Burress and Bryan Cranston (here playing himself circa 2002) to Sharon Stone and all three comedian hosts of the “How Did This Get Made?” bad movie podcast. On paper, this would be distracting; but in practice, the sea of recognizable celebrities playing nobodies act as a kind of Hollywood Greek chorus to the tragedy that is the making of “The Room”—a constant on-screen reminder of the traditional fame that eludes Wiseau and Sestero. That one-hit wonders like Corona’s ‘The Rhythm of the Night’ and Rick Astley’s immortal ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ are heavily featured on the soundtrack also feels significant in a film about making peace with celebrity infamy. Hard-fought blood, sweat, and tears success stories showcasing the indomitable human spirit in the face of adversity are a dime a dozen in Hollywood, so it’s fitting that “The Disaster Artist” is an ode to the undeniably American story of a strange, aggressively unpleasant man failing so badly at his corny dream that he falls ass backwards into his own kind of fame. “The Disaster Artist,” directed by James Franco, is now playing at the Charles Theatre.


“Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi” Screencap courtesy YouTube


“Big Sonia” opens Dec. 22 at the Parkway. Screencap courtesy YouTube

SCREENS The Charles Theater 1711 N. Charles St., (410) 727-3464, “The Disaster Artist” (James Franco, U.S., 2017), now playing. “Lady Bird” (Greta Gerwig, U.S., 2017), now playing. “The Shape Of Water” (Guillermo del Toro, U.S., 2017), now playing. “Wonder Wheel” (Woody Allen, who by the way has been accused of sexual assault; even a judge said his behavior toward Dylan Farrow was “grossly inappropriate,” U.S., 2017), now playing. “Akira” (Katsuhiro Otomo, U.S., 1989), Dec. 20. “Beat The Devil” (John Huston, U.S.,1953) Dec. 21. “Call Me By Your Name” (Luca Guadagnino, U.S./Italy, 2017) opens Dec. 22. “Darkest Hour” (Joe Wright, U.K., 2017), opens Dec. 22. “The Shop Around The Corner” (Ernst Lubitsch, U.S., 1940) Dec. 23, Dec. 28.

The Creative Alliance

“Christmas Evil”

3134 Eastern Ave., (410) 276-1651, Interactive Movie Night: “Die Hard” (John McTiernan, U.S., 1988) Dec. 22. “Something Funny About Rape” short with panel discussion (Hannah Brancato, U.S., 2010) Dec. 20.

Courtesy the Parkway

“Christmas Evil” D E C . 2 2 D E C . 2 4

The Parkway Theatre 5 W. North Ave., (410) 752-8083, “My Friend Dahmer” (Marc Meyers, U.S., 2017), through Dec. 21. “Shadowman” (Oren Jacoby, U.S., 2017), through Dec. 21. “Thelma” (Joachim Von Trier, Norway, 2017), through Dec. 21. “Tom of Finland” (Dome Karukoski, Finland/Denmark/Sweden/Germany, 2017), through Dec. 21 “Big Sonia” (Leah Warshawski and Todd Soliday, U.S., 2017) opens Dec. 22. “The Paris Opera” (Jean-Stéphane Bron, France/Switzerland, 2016), opens Dec. 22.’ “Christmas Evil” (Lewis Jackson, U.S., 1980), Dec. 22, Dec.24.

The Senator Theatre 5904 York Road, (410) 323-4424, “The Greatest Showman” (Michael Gracey, U.S., 2017), now playing. “Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle” (Jake Kasdan, U.S., 2017), now playing. “Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi” (Rian Johnson, U.S., 2017), now playing. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (Martin McDonagh, U.S., 2017), now playing. “It’s A Wonderful Life” + Food Drive (Frank Capra, U.S., 1946), Dec. 23.


I just saw “Love Actually” for the first time last holiday season (I know, I know) and so this marks the first year I’ve believed in both Christmas and love itself. But I still make room in my heart for evil this time of year, and there’s no better way to foster yuletide depravity than by cozying up to the fire—or, this weekend, to the Parkway’s big screen—for a viewing of the 1980 holiday slasher “Christmas Evil.” Well known as John Waters’ favorite Christmas movie, and of course it is, “Christmas Evil” tells the story of Harry, a middle-aged toy factory worker who suffers from A. the dickheads and Scrooges who surround him, and B. the childhood trauma of walking in on his father, dressed as Santa Claus, groping his mother by the tree. What could arguably be some kind of Oedipal complex drives Harry to desire to become Santa, and this pained need is felt to the point that a scene in which he weeps with joy at the sight of his reflection, white beard glued to his face, is almost heartwarming. But soon, any infringement on his identity and the sanctity of the season turns bloody. Here you’ll find plenty of injurious uses for Christmas paraphernalia (other tutorials can be found in “Home Alone”), such as blinding by toy soldier and slashing by tree topper. Dec. 22, 9:30 p.m. and Dec. 24, 7:30 p.m., The Parkway Theatre, 5 W. North Ave., (410) 752-8083, (Maura Callahan)


DECEMBER 20, 2017

IN SEARCH OF… A Baltimore pizza tour with Hersh’s Josh Hershkovitz By Casey Embert


Josh Hershkovitz Photo by Marie Machin

Josh Hershkovitz Photo by Marie Machin

DECEMBER 20, 2017

While New York has its signature hand-tossed thin crust slices and Chicago is known for saucy deep-dish pies, Baltimore pizza, absent of such hard and fast techniques or long standing traditions, mixes a hodgepodge of creative ingredients and cultural influences into its own inexplicable style. Local food critics and passionate Yelp-ers have offered their varying opinions on Baltimore’s pizza culture (or, some claim, lack thereof) but I’m more interested gathering insight from somebody who makes pizza for a living. So earlier in the year, I went on a bit of a tasting tour with Josh Hershkovitz, the chef and owner of Hersh’s in Federal Hill. Running a busy restaurant and spending quality time with his family is a challenging balancing act for Hershkovitz, so he hasn’t had much time to explore the imaginative offerings of the rest of the city’s pizza shops, even some of the sturdy, touristy spots. From proven Baltimore institutions to neighborhood hangouts to undiscovered treasures (you’d be surprised how creative and indulgent mall pizza can be), the city has a lot to offer. Hershkovitz and I sampled a few around town so I could learn more about Baltimore pizza culture and about Hershkovitz himself. Hershkovitz grew up in Owings Mills in a tightknit Jewish family and opened Hersh’s in 2011 with his sister, Stephanie. Together, they blend their Jewish heritage with their love for fresh Mediterranean flavors to create their own take on nostalgic Italian dishes, including classic Neapolitan pies. “My grandmother used to have all 15 people in the family over every Friday night for the Sabbath,” Hershkovitz said. “But it wasn’t religious. It was just us getting together to eat.” His family enjoyed cooking from scratch and he would help out in the kitchen as much as he could. His grandmother made traditional Jewish fare, like kreplach, while his mother, on the other hand, had a unique specialty: “[She] used to take flounder, cover it in crushed Cheez-Its, put frozen spinach in the middle, roll it up, and then bake it in a dish of ranch dressing,” he said with a laugh. Hersh’s makes its own pasta, stuffs its own sausages, and pickles its own hot peppers and with an ever-changing antipasti menu and seasonal rotating pasta dishes and pizzas, Hershkovitz basically operates Hersh’s as a farm-to-table restaurant—he just doesn’t market it as such. “I feel like we’re eating the way they do in the rest of the world,” Hershkovitz said. “It’s a good marketing point, but I think that’s the way everybody should be eating.” Hershkovitz lights up when he talks about the farmers he works with. He works closely with Richfield Farms, located in Manchester, Md., from whom he gets ingredients like heirloom tomatoes, eggplant, and basil every Thursday at the farmers market in Towson. He also patronizes Zahradka Farm in Essex because they deliver fresh produce


right to the restaurant. As we made our way to the first stop on our tour—Matthew’s Pizza, located off Eastern Avenue in Highlandtown since 1943—Hershkovitz discussed his 2016 appearance on “Chopped,” the competitive cooking show on the Food Network in which four chefs are given a basket containing four mystery ingredients that they must showcase in a dish. Hershkovitz discovered chaudin, fresh green peas, sorghum, and vodka sauce in his basket. His appetizer dish of fried chaudin with bacon-vodka sauce and a “sorghum surprise” afforded him a hasty elimination after the first round. “Everybody made a bad dish, but mine was the worst,” he laughed. Matthew’s serves a personal pan pizza that mixes old world Italian flavors with regional ingredients such as their famous 8-inch crab pie (market price), topped with lots of buttery backfin crab meat, sweet caramelized onions, mozzarella and Reggianito cheeses, and a generous dusting of Old Bay. It’s pure, concentrated Maryland. But I especially loved the way the cheese melts into the dough—finally, a crust worth eating. We also ordered an 8-inch pie with red sauce, gooey mozzarella cheese, and thin-sliced housemade meatballs ($12), a pie that Hershkovitz fondly remembers from his childhood. Growing up, Hershkovitz would help out in his father’s supermarket, The Markets at Highlandtown, right down the street from Matthew’s, but he didn’t pursue cooking as a career until much later in life. First he went to University of Chicago to study sculpture and philosophy. When he returned home to Baltimore, he opened up a furniture business where he made custom cabinets, libraries, and bars. He even built the bar at Hersh’s. But one day in 2000, he saw an advertisement in the City Paper looking for kitchen help at one of the most prestigious restaurants in Baltimore, the Charleston. With absolutely no formal culinary training or professional kitchen experience, he applied for the job anyway and earned a spot on the line making salads and desserts. There he found similarities between sculpture and cooking. “[With] sculpture, you’re taking something and you’re putting it out in a space that somebody’s using,” Hershkovitz said. “You interact with the piece, and that’s what I loved about making furniture. But food took that to another level [with all] the senses it has to appeal to.” Our pies arrived at our table on paper plate pedestals and we took a few moments to revel in all of their greasy glory. The crunch of the thick crust, sweet tang of the tomato sauce, gooey mozzarella cheese, and smell of crisped meatball slices quickly reminded us why Matthew’s is a veritable Baltimore institution. But the most reliable way to determine a pizzeria’s quality, we decided, is to order a simple cheese pizza, so we stopped by Brick Oven Pizza


the restaurant is spacious, romantically lit, and smells of burning oak—the wood they use to fire their pizza ovens. We ordered the Regina ($16)—another Trinity Test—topped with fresh tomato sauce, a little bit of fresh mozzarella, salty guanciale, and fresh basil. Simplicity prevailed here, and while we both wished this pie were a little cheesier, the sweet, vibrant red tomato sauce made up for it. Then we got a little weird with it and ordered the Stinger Bell pizza ($15), topped with house-smoked mozzarella, thin lemon slices, olive oil, lemon bitters, fried basil, and spicy honey (also weird: a fancy pizza chain from out of town with a pie named after a drug kingpin from the “The Wire,” but hey). Regardless, the smokiness of the cheese played well with the tart lemon and sweet honey. “This smells fantastic with the lemon,” Hershkovitz said. “It’s got a lot of cheese on there, so it’s a little chewy, but if I get a bite with the lemon and the honey, it’s really nice.” When our pizzas arrived, Hershkovitz immediately checked the bottom of the pies to examine the char they had from the wood-fired ovens. I’ve noticed he does this at Hersh’s too. If it doesn’t have the proper amount of char, he won’t serve it to the customer until it’s just so. In addition to providing a memorable culinary experience for his customers, Hershkovitz is also concerned with being on the right side of history. For most of 2017,

Josh Hershkovitz Photo by Marie Machin

off Broadway in Fells Point to grab some pizza by the slice. “You have to see how somebody works with the holy trinity—the sauce, the dough, and the cheese,” Hershkovitz said. A sign outside Brick Oven Pizza—locally known as BOP—boasts its crispy, homemade crust cooked in their wood-fired pizza oven. Their pies are pre-baked and then individual slices are heated to order in their wood-fired oven. BOP serves a decent slice of cheese pizza ($3) with a solid cheese-pull situation, which is what you want from a neighborhood corner joint. Hershkovitz agreed, so we headed to Joe Benny’s off High Street in Little Italy. He scanned the room, enamored with the energetic atmosphere and engaged employees, including a crew of regulars playfully giving Gardella shit. Gardella addressed everyone—even us—like they were old friends, a testament to the importance of personable customer service. “There’s definitely a Baltimore style of service—a laissez faire attitude,” Hershkovitz said. “I think there’s a difference when somebody can make you feel like you’re at their house. When you go to a restaurant, you can tell when they’re genuinely excited about what they’re about to bring you and the experience you’re about to have. You don’t know what somebody’s day has been like to that point, so it’s up to us to make it wonderful.” Baked in deep dish pans in convection ovens in what must be the tiniest kitchen in Baltimore (a small nook at the end of the bar), Joe Benny’s serves a Sicilian focaccia pizza cut into vertical, pillowy strips. We ordered the Pasquale ($14), which addressed our personal pizza trinity of meat, cheese, and pickled things. It was a hearty vehicle to deliver lots of melty mozzarella and just enough vegetables to make it feel like we were doing our bodies a favor here. The tang of the pickled peppadews totally set it off. I preferred the center cuts of the pizza, where the cheese is creamier and the toppings more plentiful. Angelo’s—Hershkovitz liked it too, though he bemoaned the lack of a “crispy outside of the dough.” When we arrived at Ribaldi’s Pizza on the corner of 36th Street and Keswick Road—a brightly lit Italian spot tucked in Hampden and once the location of giant slice institution Angelo’s—Hershkovitz immediately noticed that they use the same tomatoes he does in his pizza sauce, Alta Cucina from California. We snagged the last two slices of cheese pizza ($3) and because the few outdoor seats were filled, we enjoyed our slices on a neighboring stoop like old friends. Like BOP, Ribaldi’s heats individual slices to order, though they use a standard gas oven deck. The slices were large with a crispy thin crust, but a scant layer of sauce and cheese left me a bit underwhelmed. More inventive were the Neapolitan pies we tried at Paulie Gee’s off Chestnut Avenue in Hampden. Paulie Gee’s has established itself as a mainstay in New York pizza culture and has opened multiple locations from Brooklyn to Miami. Here in Baltimore,


Josh Hershkovitz Photo by Marie Machin

Hersh’s sold a pizza called the La Resistenza, topped with a zesty marinara sauce, salty guanciale, red onion, spicy arugula, and a drizzle of good olive oil. From each La Resistenza sale ($15), Hersh’s donated $3 to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in light of the current political climate. They recently took the pie off the menu after serving 1,253 of them and donating about $4,000 to the ACLU. “It [was] our second best-selling pizza of all time, and it [didn’t] even have cheese on it,” Hershkovitz said. In 2014, Hersh’s fielded threatening phone calls when the restaurant offered free pizzas in exchange for unwanted Ray Rice jerseys after the former Baltimore Ravens running back was caught on video punching his wife in an elevator. Hershkovitz is unapologetically vocal about his political leanings and personal ethos and as we wrapped up our tour, he offered a sentiment that matters even more than the ideal char on the crust or the tastiest California tomatoes. “Nothing gets done from being timid and not saying how you feel,” he said. “I’m never gonna feel bad about being unequivocally on the right side of something.”


DECEMBER 20, 2017


Golden Lemon Photo by Baynard Woods / Courtesy Democracy In Crisis

Golden Lemon The weed ecosystem bears a weird resemblance to the mediasphere. There was a time when pretty much everyone was smoking the same shit, just like everyone was watching the same sitcoms. But then the supply side, in both cannabis and media, busted wide open and there was no longer a dominant source either of information or intoxication. Now the skill is in knowing how to choose what you like when there is such an overwhelming variety. The signal to noise ratio is all screwed up—there’s not enough good shit and you’re overwhelmed by the noise of stuff you don’t dig. When you hear all of your friends talking about some kind of new hybrid, or see people making a big deal out of a strain—when a strain goes viral—you figure you should check it out, like the new Netflix show. I don’t know how many people I heard talking up Golden Lemon as the best shit they’ve had in ages. Since it’s an indica-heavy hybrid, I kinda slept on Golden Lemon for a while. But the stoner exclamations of “duuuuude” echoed around the weed world like retweets and I figured I’d give it a taste. When I looked into it I discovered that Golden Lemon comes from Lemon Skunk and Kosher Kush. I’ve always been a fan of both of these—perhaps it’s partly because skunk goes deep into some of the earliest decent weed I ever had. Golden Lemon is profoundly skunky, with that roadside driveby stank that is so sickly sweet that it is both enticing and repelling at the same time. But it has a bright overtone to that dankness—by the way, y’all, “dank” can apply to good buds, like “dank nugs,” but please don’t use it for other things you like, or you will get gross real quick. For all the smell it’s got, there’s surprisingly little taste

DECEMBER 20, 2017

in Golden Lemon. It’s like a cheese that’s all nose, stinking up the room, and no pallet. But that smell! Scientists and growers think that the limonene terpene is one of the chemical compounds that accounts for the uppy feeling of some buds and here it may help offset the deep-sleep funk of very high THC percentage. The high is kind of like vacation or a holiday—it’s supposed to be relaxed but turns out a little edgy, a little busy, and a little frantic, while still managing to be refreshing. Golden Lemon is great sitting-around-the-living-room weed, which is usually my least favorite kind. It doesn’t really propel you to do shit, but it doesn’t make you tired either. What it really does, though, is make your thoughts loud, kind of like you’re yelling to yourself in your head, except you’re not yelling because there is no emotion or urgency to it. Just like the volume is turned up, OR YOU ARE THINKING IN ALL CAPS WITHOUT TRYING TO INDICATE ANYTHING BY USING THEM. As I sit here thinking in all caps, laughing a little bit at it, at myself, I realize that Golden Lemon is the weed equivalent of a dank meme—it combines different elements to create a bombastic expression of something pretty simple and expressionless. It’s not my favorite, but I’ll definitely click on it again. (Baynard Woods) Strength: 7 Nose: Animal musk muted with lemon air-freshener and wrapped in grass clippings Euphoria: 7 Existential dread: 4 Freaking out when a crazy person approaches you: 3 Drink pairing: Pinhook rye with one cube if ice Music pairing: Jackson 5, ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ Rating: 7



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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


ISSUE DATE: 171129




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DECEMBER 20, 2017






Trapped by Depression?

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DECEMBER 20, 2017




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DECEMBER 20, 2017






Are intrusive thoughts interfering with your daily life? Do these thoughts lead to distress or fear? If you suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) you may qualify to participate in a clinical research study examining the use of an investigational medication for people with OCD, not currently satisďŹ ed with their SSRI (or clomipramine). For information please call


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