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J A N U A R Y 3 1 , 2 0 1 8 V O L . 2 I S S . 5 B A L T I M O R E B E AT. C O M

U S I N G I N VA S I V E D R U G T E S T I N G T E C H N O L OG Y TO C H E C K S T R E E T D R U G S CO U L D S AV E L I V E S — W I L L THE CITY SUPPORT IT? B y B ay na r d Wo o d s


Typhoon w/ Bad Bad Hats ....................................................................... W JAN 31 ALL GOOD PRESENTS

Merriweather Post Pavilion • Columbia, MD

Greensky Bluegrass w/ Billy Strings

Attendance included with purchase of tickets to 2/3 Greensky Bluegrass @ The Anthem.. F FEB 2



Emancipator Ensemble............................................................................ Sa 3

Cinderalla’s Tom Kiefer • Queensrÿche • Kix • Ace Frehley and more! .............................................................. MAY 4 & 5



MARCH (cont.)

J. Roddy Walston and The Business w/ Post Animal..........Th 8 White Ford Bronco:

No Scrubs: ‘90s Dance Party

with DJs Will Eastman and Brian Billion .........................F 9

Beth Ditto w/ SSION ................Sa 10

DC’s All-90s Band .......................F 9

COIN w/ The Aces ......................Sa 10 Múm ..........................................Su 11 Sleigh Bells

J Boog

w/ Jesse Royal & Etana .............Su 11

K.Flay w/ Yungblud ...................M 12 I’m With Her w/ Andrew Combs

w/ Sunflower Bean ......................W 14


(Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, Aoife O’Donovan) ....................Tu 13

ZZ Ward w/ Black Pistol Fire

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

Mason Bates’s Mercury Soul ........................Th 15

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


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

Nils Frahm ...............................F 16 Jon Batiste (Solo in the Round)


Ganja White Night

Early Show! 6pm Doors ..................Sa 17

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

The Oh Hellos


The Floozies w/ Anomalie

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

Late Show! 10:30pm Doors .............Sa 17


Lane 8 w/ Enamour .................Th 22

Moose Blood w/ Lydia ............Su 18 Coast Modern..........................M 19 Wild Child w/ The Wild Reeds .Tu 20


Railroad Earth w/ Roosevelt Coliler .......F 23 & Sa 24




Kelela .........................................Th 1 Galactic (F 2 - w/ Butcher Brown) .... F 2 & Sa 3

Betty Who .................................W 21 Dan Auerbach & The Easy Eye Sound Revue feat. Robert Finley and Shannon Shaw

w/ Shannon and the Clams........Th 22

Hippie Sabotage

Godspeed You! Black Emperor

LP w/ Noah Kahan .........................M 5 Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark w/ GGOOLLDD ......Tu 6 Cornelius ....................................W 7

of Montreal .............................Su 25 Turnover w/ Mannequin Pussy

w/ Melvv & Olivia Noelle ..............Su 4



The Marshall Tucker Band • Blackberry Smoke • The Outlaws and more! .................................................................. MAY 6 2 and 3-day tickets on sale Friday, February 2 at 10am


w/ KGD .......................................Sa 24

& Summer Salt ...........................Tu 27

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

Dierks Bentley w/ Brothers Osborne & LANCO .......................................... FRI MAY 18 Sugarland w/ Brandy Clark & Clare Bowen ................................................. SAT JULY 14 • For full lineups and more info, visit •

Lincoln Theatre • 1215 U Street, NW Washington, D.C.

PostSecret: The Show ...... MAR 24 Sucker For Love ................... FEB 10 Pod Save the People (Live) . FEB 18 Rob Bell w/ Peter Rollins .......... MAR 27 Max Raabe D NIGHT ADDED! FIRST NIGHT SOLD OUT! SECON Andy Borowitz ........................ FEB 24 & Palast Orchester.............APR 11 George Ezra .............................APR 26 Dixie Dregs STORY DISTRICT’S

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

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

Calexico w/ Ryley Walker ............APR 27 Robyn Hitchcock and His L.A. Squires

w/ Tristen .......................................APR 28

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

9:30 CLUB PRESENTS AT U STREET MUSIC HALL Flint Eastwood w/ NYDGE ..............F FEB 2 Anna Meredith w/ Flash Frequency ..... Sa 3 Why? w/ Open Mike Eagle ........................F 9 Anti-Flag & Stray From The Path .. Sa 10 Wylder w/ Virginia Man ....................... Sa 17 MAGIC GIANT w/ The Brevet.............. Su 18 MAKO w/ Night Lights .......................... Sa 24 Gabrielle Aplin

Missio w/ Welshly Arms...................F MAR 2 Ella Vos w/ Freya Ridings ....................... M 5 Amy Shark w/ MILCK .......................... M 12 The Hunna & Coasts ....................... Sa 17 The Strypes ......................................... F 23 The Marmozets ................................ Sa 24 Vinyl Theatre & Vesperteen ......... Su 25 Hollie Cook......................................... M 26 w/ John Splithoff & Hudson Taylor ......... Su 25 Albert Hammond Jr ........................ Tu 27 Sevdaliza ........................................... Tu 27 Digitalism ........................................... W 28 • Buy advance tickets at the 9:30 Club box office •

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.


w/ Luke Combs & Lauren Alaina.............................. MAY 24

On Sale Friday, February 2 at 10am



Rhye w/ Boulevards....................M 26 Lights w/ Chase Atlantic & DCF .Tu 27


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!

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.


Power and Fear

Letter to Ethics Committee alleges Del. Cory McCray threw chair in Annapolis office and intimidated Out For Justice’s Nicole Hanson


Using invasive drug testing technology to check street drugs for fentanyl could save lives—will the city support it?

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 For distribution, contact Lynne Brown at 202-747-2077, Ext. 8075. Distributed by MediaPoint, LLC

Local Singles Reviewed

Ed Schrader’s Music Beat scowl, Medicine Man rage, JPEGMAFIA laments, more

WEEK IN REVIEW . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 NEWS LISTINGS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 BEAT NEWS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 REAL NEWS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 BLADE NEWS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 FENTANYL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 ART . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 MUSIC. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 STAGE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 SCREENS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 BOOKS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 FOOD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 WEED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 SUGAR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31

JANUARY 31, 2018


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 ©2018 BROWN NAFF PITTS OMNIMEDIA, INC.


©2018 Live Baltimore Home Center, Inc. Live Baltimore is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

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


Carol Robles lives in Baltimore’s Patterson Park neighborhood.


SUGAR’S SEX EDUCATION OPEN HOUSE Thursday, February 8, 6 p.m.-8 p.m. 1001 W 36th St. Just ask Carol, who taste-tested multiple city neighborhoods before settling in Patterson Park. With its resident diversity and Latin-infused shops and restaurants, she can spice up her cooking and her social life. What will you discover more of in Baltimore? Find out at

Find your home in Baltimore City.

(410) 467-2632 | Come celebrate the Baltimore Beat’s Sex Issue at Sugar and get sex-educated! The staff of sex-positive, education-focused sex toy store’s educators will be available to answer questions and help you shop. There will also be an anonymous question box at the front of the store and the event will end with Sugar’s educators gathering those questions and answering them aloud. **Drinks and snacks and lots of good conversation.** 10% percent of the evening’s proceeds will go to the Baltimore Abortion Fund.

G-SPOTS, SQUIRTING & FUN with Jacq Jones | $25 February 26th

ROPE SALON with Darian | $15 March 8th 7pm

POLY AND THE LAWPOLYAMORY AND THE LAW Jonathan D. Lane March 14th 6:30pm

EVERYTHING YOU NEED FOR VALENTINE’S DAY! Purchase tickets in person at the store, over the phone with a credit card or online at presented by

The Gun Trace Task Force trial for Detective Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor, which •is just getting started, seemingly promises to implicate even more officers. When

Week In Review

former BPD detective Maurice Ward took the stand, he said BPD Lt. Christopher O’Ree gave the OK to officers showing up late for work so they could receive overtime pay. Also implicated in this is current head of Internal Affairs Maj. Ian Dombrowski, who Ward claims he heard offered overtime for guns taken off the street. Dombrowski was involved in an overtime scandal himself back in 2011 and Councilperson Brandon Scott has called for Dombrowski, who denied Ward’s allegation, to be removed from IA. That hasn’t happened. For now, well, IA is looking into it. And former GTTF member Sgt. Ryan Guinn, who was part of a 2010 arrest in which drugs were planted (Det. Sean Suiter was supposed to testify about this case but was killed the day before he got the chance), is, according to Ward, the cop that tipped off the GTTF about the investigation. Guinn, mind you, remains on the force to this day. Along with the shocking Gun Trace Task Force trials, a number of updates on other stories of police misconduct: Officer Richard A. Pinheiro Jr., who turned off his body camera and who the public defender’s office said had been planting drugs, was found guilty of fabricating evidence and misconduct (if you recall, former police commish Kevin Davis dismissed this body camera scandal as Pinheiro “recreating discovery”); and Larry Lomax, who was infamously pulled to the ground by his dreadlocks during the Baltimore Uprising, was awarded $75,000 after the aforementioned O’Ree and Sgt. Keith Gladstone were found guilty of excessive force. New Baltimore Police Department commissioner Darryl DeSousa has already began deflecting criticism and playing the P.R. game Baltimoreans know all too well. A series of Baltimore Sun articles revealed that DeSousa was involved in two fatal shootings back in 1995 and on WBAL radio DeSousa was asked about the scandalous Gun Trace Task Force corruption trials to which he provided the unsatisfactory “bad apples” defense, avoiding the growing sense that the BPD’s corruption is top-down corrupt. Though he also admitted to the Sun that there is an internal investigation of the police department that reaches the top of the organization. Since DeSousa became the commissioner there have been 10 homicides, one police shooting, and one person killed by police. Oh yeah, about that internal investigation was mentioned after DeSousa was pressed to explain why on the day that DeSousa’s commish position was announced, a number of people inside the BPD were shut out of their phones, computers, and more. The original story was it was a technical malfunction but that was clearly bullshit because DeSousa has since clarified it was done to prevent leaks, which also doesn’t quite align with some of the rumors the Beat has heard from those close to the department. We will wait and see. Noted and sometimes controversial street photographer Noah Scialom killed himself on Jan. 23, shocking the arts community. Scialom, whose gritty, quirky work appeared in Baltimore City Paper, the Baltimore Sun, the New York Times, among other publications, also ran a popular Instagram (@knowaphotographer). There will be a celebration of his life at the Chapel Mausoleum of Resthaven Memorial Gardens in Frederick at 2 p.m. on Feb. 2. Ericka Alston-Buck announced late last week that she was no longer head of the Sandtown-Winchester-based Kids Safe Zone or the Penn North Recovery Center next door. The center, meant to be a haven for kids who had nowhere else to go outside of school, was closed this past Monday, but was expected to be up and running the following day. The exact details of the change are unclear. AlstonBuck’s former assistant, Essence Smith, who is now the director of the Kids Safe Zone, wouldn’t go into details in a Baltimore Sun interview. However, both women say they are anxious to get back to the work of helping the city’s children. Two children, whose names have not yet been released, died in a house fire in West Baltimore around 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 26. The 1-year-old and 2-year-old were found inside a residence at 1100 Mount St. along with a woman identified as their aunt, who suffered non-life-threatening injuries. On Sunday, Jan. 28, the Baltimore Police shot and killed a man in West Baltimore. According to the police, he was a 33-year-old male “armed with a real gun and a replica gun” and pointed his gun after he was chased by police. Between Jan. 22 (when the previous issue of the Beat went to press) and Jan. 29 (when this issue of the Beat went to press) there were nine homicides in Baltimore including Marco Byrd, killed on Jan. 19 and not yet classified as a homicide when the Beat that week went to press; Travis Wallace on Jan. 21; and Philip Williams Jr. on Jan. 27. Two as-yet-unidentified victims were killed on Jan. 23, then one on Jan. 24, one on Jan. 25, one on Jan. 27, and one on Jan. 28. There have been 23 homicides in Baltimore this year. The third Baltimore Ceasefire takes place this weekend from Feb. 2 to Feb. 4.

Stories from last week in Baltimore not covered elsewhere in this issue

Gun Trace Task Force members Marcus Taylor, Daniel Hersl, and Maurice Ward.

• • •

• • •

JANUARY 31, 2018



The Development, Real Estate, and Gentrification Beat •

The historic building and notorious fraternity house at St. Paul and 30th streets, not far from Johns Hopkins, is currently looking for renters. In 2016, the three-story house, built in 1930, was sold to new owners. The building was entirely renovated and now contains 13 apartments across four floors starting at $900 and going up to $1350 and ranging from 345 square feet to 800 square feet. The building had been empty for the past couple of years leading up to the purchase and renovation after a 16 yearold girl was sexually assaulted at the then-Sigma Alpha Epsilon frathouse in the fall of 2014. For more information on rentals go to

Catherine Pugh

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

The Hotel Revival (1001 Monument St.), a boutique hotel from San Francisco’s Joie de Vivre, will open in Mount Vernon Place in the spring. It will feature a restaurant called Square Meal and a rooftop bar, Topside. And if you been walking around the midtown area, you have surely seen some “we’re hiring” fliers from Hotel Revival in restaurants, coffee places, and stores—so if you’re looking for a job or know of anybody who is, send them that way.

Community Events: J A N . 3 1 - F E B . 7

State of the State Address. Governor Larry Hogan delivers his State of the State address. Jan. 31, 1 p.m., State House, 100 State Circle, Annapolis, West Wednesday. 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. Jan. 31 and Feb. 7, usually held at the intersection of 33rd Street and Greenmount Avenue, check for details. Baltimore City Office of Civil Rights Wage Commission Meeting. The commission is responsible for the administration and proper operation of the minimum, living, and prevailing wage laws. Feb. 1, 3:30 p.m., Office of Civil Rights, 7 E. Redwood St., Baltimore Ceasefire. Events to promote unity and peace throughout Baltimore City. Feb. 2-4. Visit for more information. Winter Swap at the Community Center. Share some clothes and take some clothes, for free. Feb. 3, 1-4 p.m., The 29th Street Community Center, 300 E. 29th St., Baltimore’s Black Lives Matter Week of Action in Schools. Baltimore joins the efforts of more than 20 cities to bring a Black Lives Matter Week of Action into local schools. Feb. 5-10, Baltimore Water Affordability Volunteer Meeting. Learn more about the water crisis and how to work together to ensure that everyone has access to safe, affordable water. Feb. 6, 6:30-8 p.m., Food and Water Watch Maryland, 3121 St. Paul St., Suite 28, (410) 394-7652, North Avenue Rising Open House. Part of a series of meetings focused on obtaining specific community feedback regarding design elements for the North Avenue Rising project. Feb. 6, 4-7 p.m., Enoch Pratt Library-Penn North, 1531 W. North Ave., Baltimore Day in Annapolis. Mayor Catherine Pugh and other city leaders discuss funding and local legislative efforts for the 2018 session. Transportation available from various Baltimore locations. Feb. 7, 6-8 p.m., House Office Building, 6 Bladen St., Annapolis, (410) 396-4735,


City officials who arrived on Jan. 26 to clear out the people experiencing homelessness who have been living under 83 near Guilford Avenue and Bath Street were met by a mini-protest. “No housing, no peace,” people yelled, led by Kelvin Morris with homeless advocates such as Christina Flowers and Duane “Shorty” Davis present too. Mayor Catherine Pugh announced the space would be cleared two weeks ago but some of the people living there said they didn’t get the announcement. Many observed that the Volunteers of America Bridge Housing facility on the 5000 block of E. Monument Street, where they were offered housing, is far away from downtown and inconvenient for many of those who just had their belongings rounded up and trashed by the city.

In early January, following the emergency evacuation and eviction of the Post Office Garage studios in Johnston Square, the Beat received a series of leaked emails which, well, mostly showed the city making progress. There was very little controversy in these emails, mostly due to the hard work of Amy Bonitz, a DIY Safe Art Space Task Force member and head of Baltimore Arts Realty Corp. (BARCO), who was on top of getting the evicted artists extra time to get into the space and articulating the specific problems these artists faced to a fairly clueless city. It’s rare that leaks aren’t damning, so shout out to Bonitz for her hard work here.

The Beat received a few messages last week that observed that the Johnston Square area where the Post Office Garage is located and which developers have long had their eye on for “growth,” is, according to a Baltimore Business Journal story, about to be involved in a $15 million project that will add a 60-unit affordable housing development. “Just sayin’ . . . ,” one text read followed by an upside down smiley face emoji, suggesting the timing is not entirely coincidental. As is often the case when artists are kicked out of an area, however—even if in the case of the Post Office Garage, where it was an emergency evacuation—paranoia and speculation follow.

Residents of The Munsey Building at the corner of Calvert and Fayette streets have filed a class-action lawsuit against the building’s owners for—among other things— air conditioning that hasn’t worked for the past three summers, no heat in winters, flooding, and mold—all this as the building is being presented to renters at luxury apartments. The lawsuit is seeking damages of $75,000 for 15 different counts tied to negligence, consumer protection violations, and more.


JANUARY 31, 2018

POWER AND FEAR Letter to Ethics Committee alleges Del. Cory McCray threw chair in Annapolis office and intimidated Out For Justice’s Nicole Hanson By Lisa Snowden-McCray and Brandon Soderberg

Out For Justice Executive Director Nicole Hanson never had any negative interactions with Senate candidate and Maryland State Delegate Cory McCray (D-Baltimore City) before she says he intimidated her and threw a chair in Annapolis last year. The Beat broke the story last Wednesday. The details of the incident, which Hanson says happened around 5 p.m. on March 28, 2017 are laid out in a letter she sent to the Joint Committee of Legislative ethics early last April. She says it happened when she was in the lounge area McCray shares with Delegate Antonio Hayes. The three were debating the root causes of poverty. “He believed that poor people were poor because they would not save money,” she wrote in the letter. “We began to talk about the root causes of poverty, and I informed Delegate McCray that I disagreed with his statement, and gave him examples of the institutional barriers that make it difficult for poor people to save money and afford bail,” Hanson wrote. Speaking to The Beat last week, Hanson said that while “everyone was passionate about the topic . . . it was not a heated argument,” but that “all of a sudden, without prompting or provocation,” McCray exploded. What follows is a lengthy excerpt from Hanson’s letter: “McCray inexplicably leapt out of his seat, stated ‘Fuck this; I’m sick of this shit.’ Simultaneously, he picked up his chair and threw it behind him. It slammed against the wall and his staff member’s desk but did not break. I was still sitting and surprised by his reaction. He rushed toward me, and, standing over me, pointed with his finger in my face and repeated ‘I’m sick of this shit.’ He then stated, ‘You are always fucking with a nigger’s head. I know when people are trying to get in my head.’ Delegate Hayes, at that point, put his arm in between Delegate McCray’s chest and my face to try and diffuse the situation.” Hanson said that prior to that incident, she’d worked with McCray a little bit on legislation. Her organization, Out For Justice, focuses on rights for people who have been formerly incarcerated, and so she is often in

JANUARY 31, 2018

Delegate Cory McCray Courtesy

Annapolis lobbying for them. “I felt that he was OK, but I didn’t really know enough about him to engage with him a lot like I would other legislators,” she said. Once everything was settled down, and she’d left for a bit to smoke a cigarette, she says she gathered her things and left. “I knew that I was never coming back,” she said. “I knew that once I left, got my things, that would not be a place where I feel comfortable doing my work and serving the people who hired me.” Hanson said she knew she didn’t want to involve authorities: “The work that I do, I’m trying to keep folks away from interacting with the criminal justice system so that’s why I thought that we could figure it out in-house,” she said. She also stressed that McCray is

someone whose vote she needs and whose relationship she needed to maintain, but she couldn’t keep it quiet. On April 27, 2017, the Joint Committee of Legislative Ethics sent a letter to Hanson verifying that they received her April 3 letter. Though they ultimately dismissed the complaint because it is “not within the technical jurisdiction of the Joint Committee,” they wrote that they forwarded it to the office of current Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates Michael E. Busch and said McCray’s actions as described “breached the standards of conduct expected of members of the General Assembly.” When The Beat called Busch’s office last Wednesday, they seemed unaware of the complaint but said they would look into it and get back to us soon. Representatives for Busch’s office


acknowledged to The Baltimore Sun and Washington Post that Busch had spoken to McCray, though they never got back to The Beat. In a phone interview with The Beat, McCray, who is running against Sen. Nathaniel McFadden (D-Baltimore City), confirmed that the argument did happen and that it began as “a conversation in reference to poverty,” but said “at no time did I throw a chair or [do] anything physical to her.” He said he later apologized to Hanson (who doesn’t dispute that but says the apology, which came a while after the incident, was inadequate). McCray also said he later met with Speaker of the House Busch and the two discussed what he could learn from the incident. “I wouldn’t do the things that’s being described or what you’re saying in reference to a woman because I have a 7- and a 9-year-old, I have a wife,” he said. “And at the same time, I know that it’s my responsibility as a legislator to be able to act to a certain level, to a certain decorum, and I think that it was inappropriate for me to raise my voice.” After the incident, Hanson told several people what happened. Dayvon Love, director of public policy for the thinktank Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, was one of the first. Speaking to The Beat over the phone last Friday, he said he was glad the story was finally out. “I had to watch Nicole over the next several months, like every time she’d see him or hear about him, watching her just be really upset but her feeling like she had to hold it in,” Love said. “I remember her saying ‘I’m not trying to make it so that he don’t have to have his seat. My purpose isn’t to humiliate him, I just want something to happen so that he understands that it’s not OK.’” Love also said that stories like Hanson’s aren’t an anomaly in Annapolis, where power and fear keep victims silent. “That speaks to the culture of Annapolis,” he said. “I know stories of women who have been abused and/ or assaulted in Annapolis [and] just they don’t feel comfortable sharing it because the people involved are people who have influence. . . . People who folks would respect.”


“Cops and Robbers at the Same Time” Testimony in the racketeering trial of two police officers reveals unprecedented corruption By Baynard Woods Sgt. Wayne Jenkins was driving his squad’s car the wrong way down a one way street—as he often did—when he saw a man walking with a backpack get in a van with Oreese Stevenson. Jenkins slammed on the breaks. This encounter on March 16, 2016 would begin a long saga that illustrates the determined, almost obsessive, corruption in the Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF). There was no probable cause to stop or search Stevenson. But for Jenkins, the backpack was enough. “Anytime someone is over 18 with a bookbag, Jenkins thinks it’s concealing drugs or money,” Maurice Ward testified in federal court at Tuesday’s police corruption trial. Ward, who worked under Jenkins in two different units, including GTTF, was the first witness in the trial of Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor, both members of the elite task force. Hersl and Taylor, charged with robbery, extortion, using a firearm to commit a violent crime, and fraud charges relating to overtime theft, are the only officers who have not pleaded guilty. Ward was testifying in the hopes of a reduced sentence and was laying out a series of crimes, committed by himself and with other officers, going back to 2014 and earlier. Jenkins has also been charged by federal prosecutors with planting heroin on Umar Burley in 2010. Detective Sean Suiter was killed the day before he was scheduled to appear before the grand jury to testify in this case. But even in light of the stories of egregious corruption that have emerged about members of the taskforce, Ward’s testimony about the Stevenson case is stunning. The officers grabbed Stevenson. Jenkins, who later became the sergeant of GTTF but was at the time the head of a special operations unit, lied to him and told him he was a federal agent and they were there because of a wiretap. Ward opened the bag and found cocaine. The squad then managed to get Stevenson’s keys and did a “sneak and peek”— breaking into a residence to take a look around before seeking a warrant. In order to do that without arousing suspicion, they pretended to see someone run out of the back of the


house. Then some of the officers left to go get a legitimate warrant. Ward was left in the house alone and said he wondered if they were going to split money without him. When they found a safe in the basement during their search of the house, they used a series of tools to pry it open, finding somewhere near $200,000. Jenkins, Ward said, took about half the money. Then they re-sealed the safe and Taylor began filming a recreated discovery of the safe on his cellphone. “Don’t touch it,” Jenkins yells on the video when they see the stacks of $100 dollar bills. He instructed Taylor to keep recording the money so no one would think they stole any. Then they called another officer who worked with “the feds” to process large amounts of cash. Stevenson was arrested for drugs, which they also found in the house. Ward went to let his dog out and then met Taylor, Jenkins, and Det. Evodio Hendrix at Taylor’s home—he was the only one who lived alone. They went into Taylor’s basement and split up the money. Hendrix, Taylor and Ward each got $20,000. Ward said Jenkins got more. But, Ward said, he had some time to think on the way home. There was nothing he could do with that kind of money. Jenkins warned them not to use the money conspicuously and suggested they have home improvements done by someone he knew who would cook the books for them and issue false receipts. Ward rented. He didn’t want the money in his house so when he got home, he discarded the money, tossing it in an area behind his building. It was the second time he had thrown away money they stole, he said, acknowledging he would have loved to keep the money if it had been practical. The first time was after stealing 20 lbs of weed and $20,000 from two men they stumbled upon in the middle of a pot deal. “I didn’t want to be the one on the squad to be, ‘I’m not with that,’ ” Ward said on the stand. But the jaw-dropping Stevenson story—only one of many from the first day of testimony in what is expected to be a month-long trial—was not over yet. Already it had involved profiling, illegal

searches, theft, and faked evidence. But the paranoia that made Ward throw away his money may have gotten ahold of the other officers as well. Ward says that Jenkins listened to the recordings of the calls Stevenson made from jail “like he was obsessed.” He discovered that Stevenson was complaining about missing money and said he was going to get a lawyer to try to address it. Jenkins also learned that Stevenson’s wife was dealing with the lawyers—and that Stevenson was also talking to another woman.So Jenkins got either Hendrix or Taylor—they had neater handwriting, Ward said—to forge a letter to Stevenson’s wife from the other woman. It said that she was having Stevenson’s baby and they should talk, and included her phone number. Jenkins placed the note on the door—the same home where they had stolen over $60,000—knocked, and ran. A couple months later, in June of 2016, Jenkins took command of the Gun Trace Task Force, where Momodu Gondo, Jemell Rayam, and Daniel Hersl were already working. It was, at that point, largely an investigative unit that brought in about one gun every week. Jenkins brought Ward and Taylor with him and transformed it into a squad that practiced “street rips” to greatly increase those numbers—and charged overtime for them. Ward testified that under Jenkins the GTTF drove up arrest numbers using “door pops”—pulling up fast on a group of people and slamming on the breaks, acting like you’re jumping out to see who runs. According to Ward they would make 50 unconstitutional stops like this on a busy night. They regularly stopped any car—especially Honda Acuras—that Jenkins, who always drove, perceived as a “Dope-Boy” car. They kept BB guns in the trunk in case they got in a shootout with someone who didn’t have a gun. “Jenkins liked to profile a lot,” Ward said, noting that he would make up an excuse like a no seat belt or a tintedwindow violation after the fact. If they got guns, they could claim overtime. The GTTF had a day schedule with no weekends, and was supposed to work from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Often, Ward said,


they did not even come in to work until their shift had ended—working all of their hours on overtime. Ward testified that the willingness to give “slash days”— days off that aren’t counted as such— and overtime as rewards for getting guns off of the street went all the way to the top of the department with “a wink and a nod.” Hersl’s lawyer, William Purpura, who also represents Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, referred to the “riots” of 2015 that followed the death of Freddie Gray in police custody. He spoke of the unrest as an exigent circumstance that required more policing—even if the community saw overpolicing as the problem. “GTTF was to get guns off the street—quite frankly, we don’t care how you do it,” he said, describing the mandate of the unit.” Jenkins assured Ward and Taylor that “Danny’s good. He’s just like us,” which Ward says he understood to mean, “He would split money and we didn’t have to worry about him.” Hersl’s attorney argued that his client’s crimes should be treated as theft rather than robbery because he had legitimate probable cause against the suspects. Taylor’s entire defense seems to be based on the fact that the witnesses—whether his co-defendants from BPD or people like Stevenson—are criminals and liars and can’t be trusted. In his opening remarks, Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo Wise said that “this is not a case about overzealous policing or police tactics.” It was, he said, about greed. But he also acknowledged the way their legitimate police work was inextricably intertwined with their criminal enterprise. They were “motivated to seize guns and make gun arrests so they could claim overtime.” And that motivation put them ever more often in situations where “agents were able to abuse their positions in order to commit crimes.” “They are, simply put, both cops and robbers at the same time,” Wise said. Visit for independent local, national, and international journalism that examines the underlying causes of chronic problems and searches for effective solutions.

JANUARY 31, 2018

Community members sound off on troubled Baltimore school system at Town Hall By Jaisal Noor and Brandon Soderberg

Schools CEO Sonja Santelises Screencap courtesy The Real News Network

At a Dunbar High School town hall on Monday night, Baltimore City School Board members including school CEO Sonja Santelises responded to concerns about freezing classrooms and widespread mismanagement at schools. The town hall was announced on Jan. 10 at a School Board Meeting taken over by angry parents and organizers who packed the North Avenue Baltimore City Public Schools headquarters demanding accountability for the lack of heat in city schools at the beginning of the month. This town hall, moderated by WEAA radio host Farajii Muhammad, continued the pattern of that Jan. 10 meeting: a defensive Santelises continually placing blame on Governor Hogan and the state but also on residents, who seemed willing to agree that the state is at fault here but refused to let city school officials entirely off the hook. “For quite a long time, you have already failed. You failed. Everything that we’re sitting here listening to now is the same old re-gift-wrapped explanation to what is wrong,” community member Donald Rhuebottom said, voicing what many who showed up felt. “We now have protocols in place that we didn’t have before so that when buildings are too hot, we met with the Baltimore Teachers Union, we worked with them. We worked with other teachers who had actually

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emailed directly. We had some parents who did that,” Santelises said. “And so, one of our big lessons was having kind of a consistent policy that said this is the target for every young person in Baltimore City.” Rhuebottom also repeated a faulty piece of data that continues to spread— that Baltimore is the fourth highest funded school system in the country. “We get more money per student than almost anybody in the country. But then we don’t even have a single school that’s proficient. Not one,” Rhuebottom said. As Real News reported back in December, this fudged fact—that Baltimore has the fourth highest perpupil funding in the nation—which Project Baltimore often cites in stories that go viral, is misrepresentative: The Census Bureau says Baltimore ranks 2,600 out of the nation’s 13,000 school districts. Baltimore is fourth only among the country’s 100 largest school districts. “That’s not accurate information,” Santelises told Rhuebottom. “When you look more deeply, what you see is that there are outside organizations that have said for a long time that Baltimore City is not funded at the level that it should be.” Most of the crowd didn’t quarrel with Santelises and the school board’s blame on funding issues—it’s just that they wouldn’t let that be the end of the conversation.

“We better recognize who is really to blame for this funding crisis. We better recognize when Governor Hogan says he has given our schools $2.5 million but with so-called accountability standards. When he tries to paint us with a false narrative, that we are incompetent. We are unable to manage our own affairs. There is widespread corruption. This too is coded language and it too is racist,” another resident said, confronting city officials and then invoking Project Baltimore, whose slogan is “Save Our Schools.” “Our elected officials, along with the media under the pretext of Save Our Schools, among others are complicit in the undermining of our schools,” the resident continued. “Particularly the mayor and the City Council that are more interested in failed policies like mandatory minimum sentences, giving themselves a raise, and disproportionately funding the police department instead of demanding that the state comply with its agreement to fully fund our schools.” Also referenced was a widely circulated Baltimore Sun article that found Baltimore City has returned $66 million slated for school construction including heating repairs because it was unable to complete projects on time or at cost. The article was picked up by Republican Governor Larry Hogan, who cited it as evidence of mismanagement by the city.


“We are sending money back to the state. So, my question is, what is our plan that we can stop sending money back to the state?” another speaker asked. “Now look at the budget. I feel like there is nothing that that budget is saying that they have money for that we don’t have a building that has a need to meet that money.” “What we are advocating for is for that process to be changed,” Santelises said. “Because as has been noted . . . it amounts to a poor tax.” The speaker agreed with Santelises but also indicated the answer wasn’t enough. Santelises continued. “So, if you do not have the money to forward fund your project, you get dinged and your money gets sent back. So, if you’ve got a rich uncle who can give you the money to pay for the roof upfront. Well then you’re straight. If you don’t have a rich uncle, then you’re set trying to guess and project. So, I think it’s important for everybody here. Look, there are lots of legitimate anger and everything else, but let me tell you something. Please understand that $66 million is $66 million that we found that was not given to us.” Then Santelises moved back to a point mentioned on Jan. 10: The city schools are essentially set up to fail and portrayed as inept. “All this stuff about administrative mismanagement and ineffectiveness and the narrative, right? The narrative that gets put here,” she said. “It’s interesting how it becomes ineptitude when it was actually us who found and did the analysis.” Perhaps more telling than any of the back-and-forths last night, however, was a handout given to attendees listing and detailing every Baltimore City Public School that had heating issues. It was 10 pages long. 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.


Photo Courtesy The Real News Network

No Housing, No Peace City removes homeless encampment, advocates and people experiencing homelessness protest, critique Mayor Pugh By Jaisal Noor and Brandon Soderberg In front of City Hall on Friday, Jan. 26, about two dozen people gathered in protest of Mayor Catherine Pugh and the city, which earlier that morning had removed everybody from a homeless encampment under 83 near Guilford Avenue and Bath Street and tossed their belongings. “No housing, no peace. No housing, no peace,” the mix of those experiencing homeless, advocates, and activists shouted. Two weeks earlier, Baltimore officials announced they were going to raze the encampment citing unsafe and unsanitary conditions. The city pledged to do outreach to the residents. Instead of placement at city shelters, they offered them “dormitory-style housing” at the Volunteers of America Bridge Housing facility on the 5000 block of E. Monument Street. Evictions such as this one have happened a few times over the past several years and are seen as cruel and temporary solutions to the homelessness problem. “This is number six [eviction] for the real care providers to experience how the city continues to deal with our homeless individuals, especially those on the street,” said advocate Christina Flowers, referencing other homeless sweeps over the past few years including August 2017’s Tent City eviction and a June 2015 removal of an encampment on Martin Luther King Boulevard and W. Franklin Street, which resulted in the area under the overpass being blocked and fenced in.


The city paid Volunteers of America $705,828.92 to house and provide services to those who were evicted for six months, The Baltimore Brew reported, and many have demanded transparency in how that money was spent. “We need to see evidence of what the city claimed that they are doing pertaining to our homeless population,” advocate Richard T. White declared at City Hall. “We need to see evidence of monies that’s being utilized pertaining to citizens that are homeless here in Baltimore City.” A couple hours earlier, city workers arrived at Guilford Avenue under 83 to throw away all of their belongings and were met by protest. Many threw their belongings onto the street to slow down the eviction process and some stood in the street, blocking traffic. “A lot of the people that live out here decided to take a stand,” said Tony Simmons. “They’re just gonna bring attention to the city, that they don’t wanna keep being moved and shuffled around like cattle.” “I’m homeless. I ain’t got no house. I been out here seven years. They ain’t helping me. They just wanna move everybody off the streets,” said Shaq, who had been removed from the encampment. Tarra Martin, who said she has been experiencing homelessness for eight years, showed the Real News her blanket and tarp, which was going to be thrown out. “[People from the mayor’s office]

haven’t met with everybody. There s a lot of people they definitely haven’t met with,” Martin said, countering the mayor’s office claims. In an email, Terry F. Hickey, director of the Mayor’s Office of Human Services, said the city and nonprofit organizations conducted extensive outreach. “We are confident everyone had notice of the pending action,” Hickey wrote. “Some may disagree on face value with any action involving encampments, but this fails to take into consideration that complexities of the issues surrounding homelessness.” Many of those experiencing homelessness pointed out that the new shelter in east Baltimore is far from their work and homeless services, concentrated downtown. This too reflects criticisms during the Tent City eviction where many were offered shelter at the former William Pinderhughes Elementary in Upton, far from City Hall, where they had been camped out. 3rd District Councilman Ryan Dorsey, who has visited the Volunteers of America Bridge Housing facility, also criticized the location. “It should be obvious this isn’t a place that would set people up for success by having nearby access to jobs or other aspects we consider fundamental to a high quality of life,” Dorsey said. “Setting a deadline for displacement is not an adequate substitute for doing the work of actually


reaching people, to work in their service, without taking from them the dignity of self-determination. Leaving people with no choice but to go somewhere else is inhumane, and its not different from any other form of displacement associated with gentrification.” “People who are now moved into the VOA facility are being well taken care of and are on a road to permanent housing and getting the support they very much deserve,” Hickey wrote countering criticisms. Following the eviction and the brief blockade at Guilford Avenue, the group marched to City Hall and began discussing plans to possibly camp out in front of City Hall and demand a city representative meet with them. “So, today is another example of evicting homeless individuals,” Flowers said. “No housing, no resources, no emergency supportive services, but they wanna push our homeless individuals into a institutional setting program, building somewhere where they used to house ex-prisoner and cons, whatever. This is not the setting for some of these traumatized, special circumstances homeless individuals.” Additional reporting by Dharna Noor. Visit for independent local, national, and international journalism that examines the underlying causes of chronic problems and searches for effective solutions.

JANUARY 31, 2018

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

Activists stage a ‘dance protest’ in front of the Trump International Hotel on Saturday, Jan. 27. Washington Blade photo by Michael Key

Hundreds of LGBT activists protest at Trump Hotel, D.C. City Hall Hundreds of LGBT activists attending the National LGBTQ Task Force’s annual Creating Change conference in D.C. this week rallied and marched from the Trump International Hotel to the John A. Wilson City Hall building Saturday afternoon in a multi-issue protest that included a call to decriminalize sex work. Organized jointly by the Task Force and the local LGBT group WERK for Peace, participants carried signs in English and Spanish saying “Stop Donald Trump’s Attacks on Freedom, Justice and Equality;” “The Future is Queer” and “Dismantle White Supremacy.” Before and after organizers spoke to the crowd, participants danced on the sidewalk in front of the hotel to music blaring from loud speakers perched in the back of a pickup truck. Others tossed large quantities of rainbow colored confetti said to be biodegradable into the air before it rained down on the hotel’s front entrance on Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Firas Nasr, founder and coordinator of WERK for Peace, told the gathering one of the protest’s themes was “intersectionality” in which LGBTQ people stand in solidarity with the concerns and injustices faced by a wide range of minorities, including Muslims, people of color, indigenous people and immigrants. He and other speakers at the protest said their aim also was to focus on two bills currently before the D.C. City Council calling for curtailing sexual harassment on the streets and decriminalization of sex work. “We are here today to send a clear message to our local and national government that we will not tolerate our bodily autonomy being taken away,” he said. “We are here today to send a clear message that we will not tolerate sexual violence in our community.” Jessica Raven, executive director of the local group Collective Action for Safe Spaces, said one of the two bills, the Street Harassment Prevention Act, was aimed at educating the public and the community to respect the right of consent, including the right to decline consent, for overtures by someone interested in sex. The bill, introduced by Councilmember Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1), calls,

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among other things, for the city to “create policies and guidelines to identify and educate District employees about street harassment, to fund programs to support the prevention of street harassment,” and to collect data to determine the “pervasiveness” of street harassment in the city. The second bill for which the protesters advocated is the Reducing Criminalization to Improve Community Safety and Health Act of 2017,” which was introduced in October by Councilmember David Grosso (I-At-Large). The bill would repeal all current D.C. laws that call for criminal penalties for commercial sex work engaged in by consenting adults. It would cover sex workers and their customers. The bill explicitly states nonconsensual sex “trafficking” would remain illegal under the bill. Grosso and a coalition of local activists, including LGBT activists that endorsed the bill, said decriminalization would make it easier to prevent sex trafficking and prosecute those who profit from it by eliminating the fear among victims of sex trafficking to come forward and seek help from law enforcement without fear of being arrested for prostitution. “One way in which the state often takes away our ability to exercise our bodily autonomy, [it] takes away the consent that we have as individuals is to criminalize things that we do with our bodies,” said Shayla Alfonzo, an official with the D.C. sex worker advocacy group HIPS. Alfonzo, who spoke when the protesters assembled in front of the Wilson Building, said among those adversely impacted by the current status of criminalization of sex work are “communities of color” and “queer people,” including transgender women. (Lou Chibbaro Jr.)

Democrats invite trans service members to State of the Union Two members of Congress have invited a pair of transgender troops to attend the State of the Union address Tuesday in the aftermath of President Trump’s attempt to ban them from the U.S. military. Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.), chair of the Congressional Transgender Task Force, has invited Army Staff Sgt. Patricia King as his guest to sit in the House gallery as Trump delivers his speech before a joint session of Congress. Kennedy, a rising star in the Democratic Party, is also slated to deliver the Democratic response in the aftermath of Trump’s address. Kennedy won’t be in attendance in the House gallery for the actual speech as a result of this commitment, according to his office. The other transgender guest — Marine Corps veteran Lynda Bengtsson-Davis — will attend as a result of an invite from Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.). According to Huffman’s office, Bengtsson-Davis served more than a decade in the Marine Corps and now seeks to enlist in the Air Force Reserve. After Trump first announced in June he would ban transgender people from the military, he followed that up with a directive to the Pentagon barring transgender people from service or enlistment and denying payment for troops who need gender reassignment surgery. But as a result of multiple court orders following litigation from LGBT groups, Trump’s transgender ban was put on hold. According to an article in the Boston Globe, King, 37, enlisted in the Army right after graduation from Cape Cod Tech and has been deployed to Afghanistan three times. She was serving in the Army at the time Trump announced his transgender ban. “I have served for almost 19 years,” King is quoted as saying. “And all of a sudden, it is all hanging in the balance.” King also asserts she was the first transgender person in the armed forces to have gender reassignment surgery paid for by the U.S. military. King was able to undergo the procedure in November as a result of the court orders against Trump’s ban. (Chris Johnson)



FENTANYL? Using invasive drug testing technology to check street drugs for fentanyl could save lives—will the city support it? By Baynard Woods

Tino Fuentes and William Miller Sr. Photo by Baynard Woods

Tino Fuentes, a recovering addict and former heroin dealer from New York, might not be the most obvious advocate for drug testing. But there he is, standing in a Station North warehouse apartment, holding several packets of the single-use Rapid Response drug-testing strips that are supposed to be used to test people’s urine for the presence for drugs. But Fuentes puts them to a different use—one that may save lives. “After you suck it dry, put your shot to the side, add water to the cooker. All you’re looking for is the residue,” he says to a number of users or former users who are still involved in Baltimore’s opiate community. “You don’t have to waste the drugs at all. Just the residue. . . . I’d be pissed off if you took some of my shot, you know what I’m saying?” Instead of using the strip to monitor the activities of employees or parolees, Fuentes and others use the strips to test street drugs for fentanyl. Drug checking rather than drug testing.

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As the death toll associated with fentanyl, a synthetic opiate 50 times as potent as heroin, rises, users desperately need a way to know just what they’re putting in their veins. In October, Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency, claiming that more than 64,000 Americans had died from opioid overdoses the previous year. Fentanyl is responsible for a large part of that number. In Maryland alone, fentanyl killed 1,100 people in 2016—with close to that number dying in just the first half of 2017 (numbers for the entire year have not yet been made publicly available). Saving those lives is what it’s all about for Fuentes, who ran heroin houses in the Lower East Side in the ‘80s and now spends his time traveling, preaching harm reduction. When he comes to a city like Baltimore, he usually finds some street drugs and tests them. Fentanyl, which can be easily manufactured in makeshift labs and does not require poppy fields like heroin, is everywhere.


It is technically illegal for Fuentes to check the drugs in Baltimore—when he is testing he is legally in possession of the drugs; in some places the strips themselves are considered paraphernalia—but the weathered and grizzled old New York Puerto Rican with a leather jacket, flat old-man golf hat, and glasses perched on his nose like Ben Franklin doesn’t give a fuck. That’s why, although he consults with some cities, he doesn’t operate as a 501(c)3 or any other legal entity. Sometimes ethics—saving lives—is more important than the law. But there are places that recognize the need for these harm-reduction strategies. “I’m not going to sit back and wait for the law to change or the government to help, because they ain’t never helped me and the law ain’t either,” he says to the group. “That’s why I do what I do.” Insite, a safe injection facility in Vancouver, first developed the technique of using drug testing strips to test for fentanyl. “It was just trying to find a solution because there


are other drug checking methods that are used— primarily actually in communities like nightlife and festival communities—but the kind of tests used in that community are not sensitive enough to pick up fentanyl, which is really active in small doses,” said Stefanie Jones of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “That’s why using those test strips came about. It was a process of trial and error of how to get it to work most effectively.” A study conducted at Insite showed that 86 percent of the drugs and 90 percent of the heroin they checked had fentanyl in it. Users who knew fentanyl was in their dope changed their behavior—they were more than 10 times more likely to reduce their dose. Washington D.C’s City Council has adopted emergency legislation that would allow organizations to distribute the strips and allow individuals to use them without fear of legal consequences. The Baltimore City Health Department did not respond to repeated requests, made by telephone and email, for comment. In absence of safe injection spaces and emergency legislation, you need someone like Fuentes, who knows how to talk to users and addicts. He knows what it is like and he doesn’t judge. And he looks for other people like himself, who may have some sway in the community. Today, a group of five met him first at a nearby cafe, where he explained who he was and what he was trying to do. Then they all walked, slowly, to a nearby apartment where he would demonstrate the testing. “We take it and dip it in there for 15 seconds, right,” he says dipping the strip into a small tin votive candle holder that some people use to cook their opiates. “Then you put it up like that, as you see it start getting pink, that’s sucking up the water.” In a few seconds, lines start to stand out on the strip. If there’s one line, then your dope has fentanyl in it. And if there are two lines, it probably doesn’t. The test only covers 12 fentanyl analogues, including the even stronger carfentanil—but new varieties are developed nearly every day. And the tests can’t check the strength of a drug, only its presence. So even if it tests positive, it may not kill you. Baltimore has a long culture of heroin use, with an estimated 25,000 users. “We have to recognize here in Baltimore people have been addicted to heroin and opioids for decades,” the city’s Health Commissioner Leana Wen told the Baltimore Sun. “Individuals have not had access to treatment for many years, and many of these individuals are using drugs when we now have fentanyl.” In some ways, Baltimore is built on opiates. John O’Donnell named his property Canton, now a yuppie neighborhood, after the region of China because of the money he made there. And a Baltimore-based ship named the Eutaw delivered the first opium from Turkey to China in 1805, some decades before the first of the Opium Wars.


Tino Fuentes and William Miller Sr. Photo by Baynard Woods

Tino Fuentes and William Miller Sr. Photo by Baynard Woods

In the post-World War II period, heroin was a boutique affair in Baltimore. But according to David Simon in “The Corner,” his deep study of addiction, the ‘60s changed all of that. “Overnight, the money got serious,” he wrote. “The users, an army unto themselves, were serviced daily in back alleys and housing project stairwells by men who were, on some level, careerists.” These men worked for people like “Little Melvin, Big Lucille, Gangster Webster, Kid Henderson, Liddie Jones, Snyder Blanchard,” legendary figures who, according to Simon, “became success stories for an increasingly alienated ghetto world, bona fide gangster caricatures with territories and soldiers and reputations.” Still, he writes, they were “serious, cautious.” It was in this world that William Miller Sr., one of the old-heads gathered in this apartment to learn


about the strips, started shooting up, back in the 1960s. Miller is a dark-skinned man with a long slow drawl and a fierce authoritative intelligence. He has acquired skills and wisdom—he’s had to in order to survive for half a century of dope in Baltimore. He rode the wave of the ‘60s. In the ‘70s, Little Melvin and all the other big names had fallen to Nixon’s war on drugs. And then in the ‘80s coke came and wreaked havoc on the drug world—and ramped up the war against it. “The heroin trade was limited to the hardcore, but the arrival of cheap, plentiful cocaine in the early and mid’80s broke down all the barriers and let everyone play,” Simon wrote in his 1997 classic on a Baltimore drug corner. At almost the same time Simon was writing “The Corner,” drug companies such as Pfizer and Purdue

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“I’m not going to sit back and wait for the law to change or the government to help, because they ain’t never helped me and the law ain’t either.” Photo by Baynard Woods

Photo by Baynard Woods

were heavily advertising a new generation of synthetic opiates like Oxycontin. This, along with a revolution in thinking about pain management, made opiates available to a greater public than ever before, leading to a national “opioid crisis,” where addiction and overdose have hit every strata of society. Fentanyl was developed in the late 1950s and was marketed under the name Sublimaze, but it first came to public consciousness when Michael Jackson overdosed in 2009. Prince died of a fentanyl overdose in 2016 and Tom Petty in 2017. It is considered so dangerous that when Baltimore police raided a corner store where they thought they found 16 pounds of fentanyl, they sent in a hazmat team with gas masks and apocalyptic-looking suits. And, perhaps in a nod to how useful the test strips could be, it took the department a month to realize that they had, in fact,

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confiscated pounds of Viagra and Cialis, not fentanyl. Miller has seen it all. But he hasn’t seen anything like fentanyl. “This thing just all of a sudden happened in Baltimore because there wasn’t no fentanyl,” Miller says. “The most deadly drug we had at one time was some China White and I don’t know whether fentanyl was mixed in it or not but that at that time was killing people and that was like the ‘90s.” But this is different. Miller can’t even begin to count the number of people he’s known who died because of the drug. “No matter how you feel about people that use, people are gonna get high and this fentanyl thing, man, it is killing people,” Miller said. Because of the deaths, rumors start to swirl and drug-scare stories sweep the streets and social media. One of the younger men with Miller starts to ask about


weed laced with fentanyl, a story that went around the web in the last year or so. “You can’t put fire to fentanyl,” Fuentes says. “You can’t burn it that way.” If it was on weed and you smoked it, it wouldn’t do anything. Fact-checking site and Vice have shown the fentanyl-laced weed stories to be false. Other stories circulated that you can die just by touching a speck of fentanyl—they also proved false. But the dangers are real, and real information saves lives. So now Miller is here with a few of his younger friends to learn about using these strips from Fuentes, who took a bus down from New York City with about 20 strips. After he showed them how to use the strips, he’d leave them with the rest to spread around their community. They’ve got to do something. The simple economics of it mean fentanyl is here to stay. A kilogram of heroin can cost as much as $60,000. But a kilogram of fentanyl, which is 50 times stronger, costs as little as $2,500. The logic is similar to the capitalist paradigm that led to the aggressive marketing of opiates over the last decades. Forty-one Attorneys General are investigating the drug companies’ role in the opioid overdose crisis. “And look, the profit these guys are making, they’re not going to stop pushing their thing. They’re not going to stop eating and taking care of their family,” Miller said of the street dealers and underground chemists who are the heirs of the pharmaceutical companies and their reps, hitting the street to hype their dope. The street money is what makes what Fuentes does dangerous. “When I was a dealer, if I thought something was talking shit about my product, I’d put a bullet in them,” he says. It’s for this same reason that Miller did not want his younger friends to go out and give their friends the strips on the streets. He knows that you have to play it carefully when you are messing with a man’s money. So he took most of the 20 strips that Fuentes was able to bring down and would help introduce the concept


William Miller Sr. Photo by Baynard Woods

to his peers. “It is some limitations to the strip, but guess what? This is better than not having anything at all,” Miller says. “I do think they can be one of the tools in the toolbox of a harm-reduction method because it will at least let people know what’s happening.” Fuentes, who approaches the drug problem from the harm-reduction perspective, also sees testing drugs as only one part of a “tool box” of safe use. “Always, always have naloxone and always use with somebody else because [fentanyl] is not heroin and this, within a couple minutes, can kill you.” He turns to Miller. “As old timers, you know, old heroin overdose we’ll be sitting down, nodding out, little by little and then you stop breathing,” he said. Both of the men laughed. “With fentanyl you don’t have that privilege.” Within two minutes, you can be out. It’s more difficult to mix fentanyl in the black tar heroin that comes up from Mexico, but Miller has only seen that in Baltimore once. A new study published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs on heroin in the city shows that in Baltimore, heroin is powder—“either raw (Colombian in origin and relatively pure) and scramble (raw heroin traditionally blended with quinine and lactose)” and that as scramble becomes more common, so does fentanyl, with which it is increasingly cut. Some of what is sold as heroin is nothing but fentanyl. And Baltimore is not alone. “When I went to Ohio I didn’t find anything, anything at all with heroin in it. Everything I bought


was fentanyl,” Fuentes says. And it’s not only heroin. Fuentes has found fentanyl in cocaine, crystal meth, and even Xanax. “I’ve tested 11 Xanax pills that look just like a bar, like it came from a pharmacy. They were pressed illegally and they were positive for fentanyl. I tested MDMA, positive for fentanyl. In Atlanta, crystal meth, positive for fentanyl,” he says. “Always test every batch,” Fuentes says. “Don’t assume because the last batch.” He calls it the “chocolate chip” effect when the drugs aren’t cut well and the fentanyl is not well distributed. And he says it is going to get worse: “For as long as I’ve been doing this, and the type of work I did before, I tell you we’re at like 25 percent of where it is going to get.” While fentanyl is clearly a problem, the solutions being proposed by law enforcement and government officials are not likely to be effective. Twenty states have passed “drug-induced homicide” laws and many others prosecute drug providers for overdoses, even when they do not have a specific law. DPA and other groups vehemently oppose this return to drug war thinking. But now white kids are dying too. “It’s not just us dying anymore,” Fuentes says. “I’m Puerto Rican so when I say ‘us’ I mean people of color. It’s not just us anymore so it’s shifting from a war on drugs to a public health issue.” The goal is that if Miller and his peers take the technique and spread it in their community, then they can get agencies or nonprofits to start buying the strips.


“It has to come from the community, because that’s who it affected and we’re going to benefit greatly when it comes to this if it’s applied correctly. And we will be hoping the health department adopts it,” Miller says. “Doing it like this, it spreads out among communities. You guys either take it and run with it or you don’t. If you do, so now you’re doing it. If you don’t, that’s fine. I’ll leave some strips, do what you do on your own. Figure it out, go into your neighborhoods or wherever you think it’s deemed necessary and see how it works for you.” Fuentes tells a story about reversing a fentanyl overdose with three or four doses of naloxone. After the guy got out of the hospital, he bought three bags of heroin. Fuentes tested them for him. They all had fentanyl. “He threw them out and said call the detox,” Fuentes says. “That’s not the norm and that’s not what I’m looking for because I don’t want people to think he’s trying to push me to get off. No I don’t. I used to get high as shit. Probably if there was no fentanyl, maybe I’d be getting high right now.” Fuentes, who has been working in harm reduction for 15 years, is half joking. But after a half century of heroin use, the fentanyl deaths helped push Miller to give it up. “Everything combined pushed me to the state that I’m in at this point. Law enforcement, prison sentences, stigma, the way people treat you, discrimination, all of these things combined, got me to where I’m at now—but most of all the repeated deaths from overdoses, man.”

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CROSS TRAINING With a new show at Terrault and a new gallery downtown, Alex Ebstein talks keeping up studio and curatorial practices By Rebekah Kirkman


Artist and curator Alex Ebstein with artwork by Roxana Azar (left) and Ginevra Shay (right) in “A Big Toe Touches A Green Tomato” at Resort, a new gallery co-founded by Ebstein and Seth Adelsberger. Photo by Marie Machin

“I feel like I eat stress or something,” Alex Ebstein, wearer of many hats, tells me. Over the years she has run (or co-run) a few galleries, worked in media, written for publications like City Paper and BmoreArt (among others), and been an adjunct professor at MICA, Towson University, and American University, all while developing her own studio practice—and this is an abbreviated summary. With a seemingly tireless ambition, she has helped promote the notion that Baltimore is a site of rich artistic exertion. This probably comes from her own praxis of multitasking: “In many ways [Baltimore’s art scene] is about collaboration and community-building and wearing multiple hats and having jobs that bring you into the community in a different way,” she says. “I think that’s as valid a way to participate in the arts as anywhere else.” The past couple of years have felt particularly busy for Ebstein. But just over the last few weeks, she’s finished up new artwork for her two-person show with Leah Guadagnoli at Terrault Contemporary, “Cut, Copy, Paste. It’s Not What You Think,” and finished the buildout for Resort, a new gallery around the corner from Terrault that she’s co-running with her partner Seth Adelsberger. Renovations on Resort were finished

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mere hours before the Jan. 20 opening of its first show, “A Big Toe Touches A Green Tomato,” featuring artists Roxana Azar and Ginevra Shay. She also curates the art on display at Metro Gallery—the current show “Field Notes” includes Gina Denton, Jean Nagai, Tyler Keeton Robbins, and Katey Truhn and Jessie Unterhalter. “The art world is so finicky that I just feel like when you get the opportunities, you want to take them,” she tells me at Terrault. “It’s like you’re your own limit.” For Ebstein, many of those opportunities are selfmade. Nudashank, the artist-run space in the H&H Building that Ebstein co-curated with Adelsberger, was a locus of the DIY art scene’s eclecticism and wave-making collaborations between local and non-local artists. A good example of such was 2012’s “Gran Prix,” a joint effort with New York curatorial project Gresham’s Ghost that felt more like a museum-sized exhibition than a DIY art show, featuring 29 Baltimore-based and New York-based artists and spanning the Nudashank and Gallery Four spaces and two storefronts on Eutaw Street. The end of Nudashank’s four-year-run in 2013 was the natural result of life and other work getting in the way. Adelsberger was offered a solo show in the BMA’s Front Room and Ebstein started working toward an MFA at Towson University. “We sort of had Dina


[Kelberman]’s show and then just never came back,” Ebstein says. While in grad school, the eye condition that Ebstein has been dealing with since childhood, uveitis (an inflammatory disease that damages eye tissue), had gotten worse. She had had two surgeries to alleviate pressure in her eyes and two more to remove cataracts that had built up over time due to the medicines she had taken. She went to grad school “expecting that all to be behind me” but scar tissue had built up, tearing a hole in her retina during her second semester of school and requiring her to have additional surgery. “Having the expectation to produce [in school], I think it was really good for me,” she says. “It distracted me from what could have been a much worse, much more self-pitying situation, and it definitely made me keep going and find a way—like, at worst case scenario, what am I going to make?” The unique, wobbly way she was seeing things worked its way into her visual language, guiding the forms in her compositions. Imprecise twine grids and un-straight lines, Jean Arp-like bean and ring shapes, and enigmatic stucco-textured forms reappear in her work. Sometimes the shapes look like letters, too, like those randomly arranged and graduated from seeable


‘Electric Eyelids’ by Alex Ebstein (left) and ‘Number 4 Song in Heaven’ by Leah Guadagnoli (right) in “Cut, Copy, Paste. It’s Not What You Think.” at Terrault Contemporary Photo by Lauren Castellana, courtesy Terrault Contemporary

to impossibly tiny on an eye chart. She started thinking more holistically about her health and had “medicine fatigue,” so she started doing yoga, but certain poses put more strain on her eyes (and generally yoga wasn’t helping her condition, she says) so she stopped. But the loss of that practice led her to using yoga mats in her studio. When she first started using the mats, she says, “they were white and filled with holes and they hung like Swiss cheese away from the wall, and they were like these sad objects.” She eventually started using more colorful mats and made them behave more like paintings, pushing them back into the frame. The recent work has toyed with abstractions of the body, thinking through the way that fitness and health are marketed to select audiences (think: white people’s yoga, expensive gym memberships, lululemon and other expensive athletic brands), through almost childlike bright and playful compositions. Cutting out lumpy, slender, and curvaceous shapes that squat, bend, sit, or float, Ebstein inlays them with chunkier geometric backgrounds. The yoga mat material—a highly malleable, plastic form, with a tiny allover grid pattern—works for her because of all the similarities it has to paint: It can cover

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large planes and has elasticity and a tactile quality that you can almost feel as soon as you see it. As a piece of exercise equipment (a site on which the body will move), the yoga mat implies the body without directly pointing to it. The texture of Ebstein’s work in the Terrault show complements Guadagnoli’s impeccably smooth, sculpted, and colorful pieces that sometimes read peripherally like shallow stage sets, reconfigured baby toys, an architect’s desk, and abstracted aerobic blocks. The two artists both make art that seems hard-worked and well-loved and that, at least at first blush, conjures joy. Three of Ebstein’s newer pieces in the show feature Miami-colored (dusty teal, sunset mauve, plucky coral) MDF frames, enclosed by a layer of Plexiglas, with an outer layer of pastel-painted aluminum shapes bolted to the Plexi. She wanted the shapely foreground figures that appear in her compositions to pop forward more, so she sketched abstractions of gym/fitness advertisements and seashells, enlarged them, and cut them out of aluminum sheets. She started to see the metal as a “hard bone” against the “more malleable, fleshy part” of the yoga mats. The brands in these fitness ads present themselves “to a self-selected audience,” she says, “that this kind of


fitness decides can afford and value health as a luxury.” Ebstein recognizes that idea carries some parallels to the vast inequities of the art world. “There is that critique of fitness and putting it in the weirdest, most useless venue to be like okay, well, I’ll make a luxury good out of it,” she says. “To translate that critique into art is something I wrestle with a lot. And I think the thing that makes me still sure about that intention is health and fitness should be for everyone and should not be marketed and priced in this very elitist way.” It would seem then that the name of the new space she and Adelsberger have started, Resort, is similarly somewhat cheeky. (It makes me think about how an expensive touristy getaway probably blinds you to a place’s real culture and life and people and so on. And of course when you google “Resort Baltimore,” what you get are Inner Harbor hotel listings.) The fact is that Baltimore’s art scene has never revolved around money—artist-run spaces make a little bit of money sometimes, but hardly enough to break even on the funds and labor they (and their artists) put into their programs. But an underlying goal for Ebstein and others in Baltimore’s artist-run spaces all these years has been to deprioritize making money as a signifier of success.



‘Either With or Without You’ by Alex Ebstein in “Cut, Copy, Paste. It’s Not What You Think.” at Terrault Contemporary Photo by Lauren Castellana, courtesy Terrault Contemporary

“I think money needs to stop being the thing that defines art and the valid art world,” she says. Ebstein, Adelsberger, and a team of about 10 friends and former students have worked on the building since last April. The building’s previous renters, a nonprofit called Sharp Dressed Man that gives free suits to men re-entering the workforce, had to move out of the building when it caught fire in 2016. (It relocated to a spot on nearby Lexington Street.) The landlords did some structural and electrical repairs to make it safe, while Ebstein, Adelsberger, and co. went to work tearing down non-structural walls and putting up new ones, removing drop ceilings, and clearing out the junk—there was pigeon shit everywhere, evidently. They got Adelsberger’s frame shop, New Standard Frames, up and running on the second floor before anything else so they could make some money while putting in work on the third floor studio space and the first floor gallery. Ebstein says they have about a year of programming in the works for Resort, and are thinking of other pop-up events they might like to host. Ebstein locates Resort’s program somewhere in between Nudashank and Phoebe—oh, by the way, among all of these other things, Phoebe was the gallery she ran on Franklin Street in 2016, which was, for her, a way to offer a platform to women artists she admired. Resort’s first show, “A Big Toe Touches A Green Tomato,” features local artist and curator Ginevra Shay (former artistic director of The Contemporary) and Philadelphia-based artist Roxana Azar. Shay and Azar have been close friends for

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a long time but hadn’t shown their work together this way before, and there are just as many interesting visual tangents and offshoots between their artworks as there are parallels—hands and leaves, fine craft and clearly hand-wrought forms, crystals and rock formations and worndown buildings. A sparse, black and white, school-portrait-style photo by Azar features the artist’s face staring blankly in the distance with dozens of flower petals arranged neatly in rows over their face. In Shay’s ‘Head with Holes,’ a sheet of steel in the vague shape of a cartoonish facial profile is amusingly perforated with similar face-in-profile shapes. There are different levels of austerity (the staid black and white portrait, the dark metal propped up on concrete) mixed with humor or candor. Ebstein says if she could afford it, she’d make Resort her own full-time gig. But she finds more nourishment being able to fit into an arts community in so many different ways—especially, she says, as an adjunct, teaching studio and professional development courses. “I’m happy to be in the academic creative community and I’m excited to see what new, young, creative people are thinking, and be there to work with them through writing artist statements,” she says. “That really gives me as much life as being in my own studio. I think it’s a good balance. I think if I was only in my own studio I’d resent the work.” “A Big Toe Touches A Green Tomato” is up at Resort through March 3. For more info, visit “Cut, Copy, Paste. It’s Not What You Think.” is up at Terrault Contemporary through Feb. 17. For more info, visit

American Visionary Art Museum, 800 Key Highway. (410) 244-1900, “The Great Mystery Show,” A group exhibition of self-taught artists exploring the unknown and human imagination. Through Sept. 2. 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. “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. “Spiral Play: Loving in the ‘80s,” Three dimensional collages in intense colors and spiral shapes by the late AfricanAmerican abstract expressionist Al Loving. Through April 15. “Beyond Flight: Birds in African Art,” Approximately 20 works demonstrate the symbolic roles birds serve within African cultures. Through June 10. “Head Back & High: Senga Nengudi, Performance Objects (1976–2015),” Performance photography and a video documenting more than 40 years of work from American artist Senga Negudi. Through May 27. Brantley Avenue, 1048 Brantley Ave., “The Baltimore Mural Story: The Art of Pontella Mason,” An exhibition celebrating the art of Baltimore’s late great muralist, Pontella Mason, including several pieces from his private collection. Opening reception features live music, lite fare, a “life size” photo booth, and gift shop. Feb. 2, 6-9 p.m. Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower, 21 S. Eutaw St., (443) 874-3596, “Art of Lace,” From Baltimore native fashion designer Stacy Stube, a collection of pieces inspired by the Kebaya dress originating in Indonesia. Feb. 3-July 28; reception Feb. 10, 4:30-6:30 p.m. C. Grimaldis Gallery, 523 N. Charles St., (410)539-1080, “Collages: An Exhibition,” Collages by Romare Bearden, Vivian Fliegel, José Manuel Fors, Lee Hall, Grace Hartigan, Keith Martin, and Esteban Vicente. Through March 10. Creative Alliance, 3134 Eastern Ave., (410) 276-1651, “Unveiled,” Mequitta Ahuja, Milana Braslavsky, and Sebastian Martorana reexamine traditional artistic languages. Gallery talk Feb. 10, 4 p.m.; on view through March 3. “Personal Locale: The Annual Resident Artist Group Exhibition,” Coinciding with the Annual Resident Artist Open House, the Creative Alliance hosts an exhibition of work exploring sense of place by its resident artists. 10 Minutes TOPS! Resident Artists’ Open House Feb. 17, 6-10 p.m.; on view through Feb. 17. Current Space, 421 N. Howard St., (410) 343-9295, “Horizon Compromise,” A solo exhibition of photographs by Brad Ziegler created over the course of three years spent traveling 46 states. Through Feb. 4. “Nature,” Photography by Natalie Conn taken during visits to the Museum of Natural History in New York. Through Feb. 4. Goya Contemporary, 3000 Chestnut Ave., Mill Centre #214, (410) 366-2001, “Lilian Hoover,” A solo exhibition by the local painter. Through March 1. Maryland Art Place, 218 W. Saratoga St., (410) 962-8565, “Scott Pennington: Two Minute Joys,” Solo exhibition by Maryland native artist specializing in large-scale participatory installation and sculptural assemblage works. Through March 10. Maryland Institute College of Art, 1300 W. Mount Royal Ave., “Germinal,” Site-specific installation by painting faculty member Lauren Frances Adams exploring themes converging around feminist activists from American history, domestic ornament in service of political messages, such as Quaker abolitionist quilts and pro-Confederacy secessionist cockades, and the recent removal of Baltimore’s Confederate monuments. Through March 13; reception Feb. 15, 5-7 p.m., at MICA’s Pinkard Gallery, Bunting Center, 1401 W. Mount Royal Ave. “Land/Trust,” Works exploring contemporary relationships to land by Margaret Boozer, Demian DinéYazhi´, Maren Hassinger, Mary Mattingly, Nadia Myre, and Glenn Ross. Through Feb. 22 in MICA’s Decker and Meyerhoff Galleries, 1301 W. Mount Royal Ave. Motor House, 120 W. North Ave., (410) 637-8300, “10x10” Arts Every Day presents their second annual exhibition of over a hundred student and teacher artworks from Baltimore City Public Schools that respond to a culturally relevant body of work. This year’s artwork was inspired by painter Jacob Lawrence and Maryland story quilter Joan Gaither. Through Feb. 23. Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture, 830 E. Pratt St., (443) 263-1800, “Freedom: Emancipation Quilted & Stitched,” Documentary-style story quilts by artist Joan M.E. Gaither, PhD that celebrate the contributions, lives, and legacies of people of color in Maryland. Through Feb. 28. Resort, 235 Park Ave., (443) 415-2139, “Ginevra Shay and Roxana Azar: A Big Toe Touches A Green Tomato,” In Resort’s inaugural exhibition, photography, sculpture, and ceramics from Baltimore-based artist Ginevra Shay and Philadelphia-based artist Roxana Azar. Through March 5. See more art listings at



LOCAL SINGLES REVIEWED Ed Schrader’s Music Beat scowl, Medicine Man rage, JPEGMAFIA laments, more By Brandon Soderberg

well, that means a whole lot to me and plenty of other people. The song itself? Like ‘Hotline Bling’ as remixed by Kyle Hall with a Bootie Brown acapella over it. Medicine Man, ‘Red Line Blues’ A 2016 demo of this functioned like po-faced folk with a strong message, but this proper recording has got music as angry as its lyrics, raging against gentrification, institutionalized racism, honky apathy, and everything else Baltimore’s got in spades. The garage rock protest trio declare on their Bandcamp that they are “three upstanding young men trying to save rock & roll from being whitewashed,” and here they invoke rock before the Beatles took out its rumble and made it all hippie-dippie. Ronnita Freeman, ‘Father Fix-It-Felix’ This track about the limits of the church from singer-songwriter Ronnita Freeman begins with the biting, “See you told me to go to rehab but I don’t drink/ You’re quite the stranger to accuracy/ But please, please keep tellin’ me what you think.” From there, a barely-contained protest song seething under its coffee shop confessional exterior: “In between prayin’ the gay away/ My bad thoughts won’t stay and anti-conversion therapy/ All my sanity is a grave playground for you.”

Ed Schrader’s Music Beat video for ‘Dunce’

Ama Chandra, ‘Blackbird’ I ding the Beatles a little bit a few track reviews down but look, the most beloved band of all time can take it, and besides, they exist to at this point to be toppled, overtaken. That’s what Ama Chandra gently does on this oblique cover of ‘Blackbird.’ A tricky bass line that sounds like something from Sleep’s ‘Dragonaut’ sets this cover off-course from the jump; then her vocals melt this cherished track into a jazzy, unsentimental, and empowered interpretation. Blue Benjamin Sleepy, ‘Stick & Move’ Probably best known for the frantic ‘On The Run’ from 2016, this new one from Blue Benjamin Sleepy also has a frenetic “Frogger”-like quality, with Sleepy bouncing all over the time’srunning-out video game beat, mixing Migos-like triplets and Soulja Boy-esque sputtering, then slowing it all down to talk some heartening “I was down but now I’m up” stuff—like Big Sean but not um, shitty—with a touching aside or two, as always: “I done had too many lessons/ I’m tired of my grandmother stressing.”


Creek Boyz, ‘Trap Digits’ With harmonized howls that fall somewhere between Bone-Thugs-NHarmony and Lil Yachty, ‘Trap Digits’ is a club-at-closing-time cry fest featuring a whole bunch of maudlin guys singing at the same time over a beat that sounds like it’s from “Legend Of Zelda.” As another profoundly scrappy tale of what hustling’s actually like, it answers more idyllic dopedealing tracks with a Charles Burnett-like bittersweetness. And in the context of Creek Boyz’ ascent, it’s a worthy follow-up to the streets’ top tearjerker ‘With My Team.’ Ed Schrader’s Music Beat, ‘Dunce’ Wherein minimalists Ed Schrader’s Music Beat eschew the oft-perfected drum and bass or just drum and voice primitivism of the past for some kind of Suicide ‘Frankie Teardrop’-like maximalism with help from Dan Deacon, who pairs “Rat Movie” composer mode electronics with “wriggle like fucking eel” squiggles of noise. Meanwhile, vocalist Schrader offers a kind of ‘50s movie Aldo Ray cynical snarl. My theory? It’s about Trump or maybe just oppressive male dickheads in general.

Hardly Flesh, ‘Gender Sucks’ Hardly Flesh sings the way you talk to a good friend, where words stick together, and thoughts bump into one another and the end goal is just the rare chance to think through your shit aloud, unabated. Something like a love song (“If I am your girl, I can be your woman/ And if I am your boy, I could be your toy”), ‘Gender Sucks’ is also about doubt—in the last verse Hardly Flesh admit they wrote the song in 10 minutes, wonder how many songs they “can write in C,G, and D”— and is an aching example of how social constructions such as gender invite selfdoubt into just about everything, even the song they’re singing. JPEGMAFIA, ‘1539 N. Calvert’ The opening track of JPEGMAFIA’s latest “Veteran”—which is getting a lot of non-local love since its release and hey that’s great (save for so many reviewers’ impulse to apologize for JPEGMAFIA’s politics, OMG music critics are such halfstepping dorks)—takes its title from the address of the beloved Bell Foundry, shut down by our crooked, fascist city and,


Ryan Harvey, Kareem Samara, & Shireen Lilith, ‘See It Through’ Folk punk that could come with footnotes it’s so well-observed and thoughtful and fully embroiled in the world of activism. There’s even some oh-so-important praxis here, seeing as it comes from “Thin Blue Border - Vol. 1,” a collaboration with London’s Kareem Samara and Amsterdam’s Shireen Lilith. In the background, Lilith sings, Samara’s oud eddies, and Harvey’s voice shakes as he tells himself and others, “Hold the line, even if your voice shakes/ Friend of mine, even if your voice shakes/ Push forward, it’s up to you/ See it through.” Sheree Hicks, ‘Living All Alone’ A tough cocaine ‘80s thump with some rigid, live instrumentation, and vocalist Sheree Hicks’ unruffled delivery updates this cover of the vaunted 1986 Phyllis Hyman hit for a more pliable, modern house anthem about heartbreak. Produced by DJ Pope of the legendary “DJ Pope and DJ Oji’s Underground Experience” show once on WEAA—and like so many things on WEAA long gone, but anyways—this is throwback vocal house of the sort that never feels old, just real, real comfortable and always a little transcendent.

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VENUES An Die Musik, 409 N. Charles St., (410) 385-2638, Anthem, 901 Wharf St. SW, Washington, D.C., (202) 888-0020, Baltimore Soundstage, 124 Market Place, (410) 244-0057, Bertha’s, 734 S. Broadway, (410) 3275795, The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria, VA, (703) 549-7500, The Black Cat, 1811 14th St. NW, Washington, D.C., (202) 667-4490, Cat’s Eye Pub, 1730 Thames St., (410) 276-9866, Creative Alliance, 3134 Eastern Ave., (410) 276-1651, The Crown, 1910 N. Charles St., (410) 625-4848, TheCrownBaltimore Echostage, 2135 Queens Chapel Road NE, Washington, D.C., (202) 503-2330, The 8x10, 10 E. Cross St., (410) 625-2000, E.M.P. Collective, 307 W. Baltimore St., (410) 244-0785, 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, Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St., (410) 783-8000, Lithuanian Hall, 851 Hollins St., (410) 685-5787, 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,

JANUARY 31, 2018


W e d . 3 1 Cat’s Eye Pub. Baltimore Rockabilly with Jay Cleaver. The Crown. Cable Salad 5 with Smax, Black Lodge, Rob Neubauer, Alex Silva. 9:30 Club. Typhoon, Bad Bad Hats. The Ottobar. Karaoke Night. Rams Head Live. Neck Deep, Seaway, Creeper, Speak Low If You Speak Love. The Sidebar. Back II Life. Tin Roof. Building The Band. The Windup Space. Windup Wednesday.

T h u . 1 An Die Musik. Madeleine & Salomon: A Woman’s Journey. Anthem. Justin Moore, Dylan Scott. Baltimore Soundstage. The Dangerous Summer, Microwave, The Band Camino. Bertha’s. Jeff Reed Trio. The Birchmere. Todd Snider, Allen Thompson. Cat’s Eye Pub. Pete Kanaras Blues Band. The Crown. Searching 4 Something; Natural Velvet, A Deer A Horse, Purrer, Joe Biden. The 8x10. Jerry Joseph & the Jackmormons, Ms. Sara. The Fillmore Silver Spring. Wardruna. Germano’s Piattini. For the Love of Wine. Motor House. Mood2Soul. The Ottobar. Des Demonas, Quattracenta, Rob Macy; Rusty Sal. Rams Head On Stage. G. Love & Special Sauce, The Ries Brothers. Tin Roof. As If - A ‘90s Tribute. U Street Music Hall. Rostam, Joy Again.

F ri . 2 An Die Musik. John Lamkin III Trio with Christie Dashiell Celebrates Black History Month. Baltimore Soundstage. Who’s Bad: The Ultimate Michael Jackson Tribute Band. Bertha’s. Juke Drivers. The Birchmere. Corey Smith, George Shingleton. The Black Cat. Drunk Education with Jennifer Bendery, Marin Cogan, Alex Jaffe, Tonya Riley; The Great Southern Sideshow Hootenanny Fundraiser. Cat’s Eye Pub. Katie Bowers Band; Bad Neighbors. The Crown. Karaoke Forever: First Friday; 808 Vol. 9. Echostage. Datsik, Space Jesus, Riotten, Sullivan King, Wooli. The 8x10. Better Off Dead, Cousin Earth. The Fillmore Silver Spring. Chase Rice, Travis Denning. Germano’s Piattini. The Peacherine Ragtime Society Orchestra’s Palm Court Orchestra. Joe Squared. Oriole Fuzz Express, Conor & The Wild Hunt, Happy Haines. Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Stephen Hough Performs Mendelssohn. Lithuanian Hall. Save Your Soul with DJ Alr!ght, Pharaoh Haqq. Metro Gallery. METRO/SEXUAL - Drag


Show hosted by Baby. 9:30 Club. Greensky Bluegrass, Billy Strings. The Ottobar. Bob Marley Tribute Night featuring Cables Stewie, Unity Reggae Band, Trinidad and Tobago Baltimore Steel Orchestra, DJ Rod Gnarly aka DJ Rasta Rod; Extra Medium Dance Party with DJs Noteman and Double A. Rams Head On Stage. Hey 19: A Tribute To Steely Dan. The Sidebar. Sanction, Queensway, Hangman, Deep Rest, Butchers Dozen. Tin Roof. Dell Fox Company. U Street Music Hall. Flint Eastwood, Nydge, Honest Haloway; Soulection Radio Tour featuring Joe Kay. The Windup Space. BeatClub.

S at . 3 An Die Musik. Da-Hee Kim; Folkal Point: Caleb Stine. Anthem. Greensky Bluegrass, Billy Strings. Baltimore Soundstage. Stone Horses, Goodbye July, The Revived, Fast As Lightning, After The Broken, Taboo Tattoo. Bertha’s. Automatic Slim and His Band. The Birchmere. Maysa. The Black Cat. Rock’n’Roe: A Dance Party for Reproductive Freedom featuring Higher Numbers, DJ The Question; Cat Jack, Emma Myers. Cat’s Eye Pub. Ursula Ricks’ Project; Roger Girke Band. Creative Alliance. Bob Marley’s Birthday Soul Shakedown Dance Party with Strykers’ Posse. The Crown. Winter Bash with James Nasty, DJ Hella Freckles; Vague Saturday with Bastet. The 8x10. Runaway Gin: A Tribute to Phish. The Fillmore Silver Spring. Walker Hayes, Kylie Morgan. Germano’s Piattini. The Ken and Brad Kolodner Quartet. Joe Squared. Luau & Summer BBQ Comedy & Music. Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Stephen Hough Performs Mendelssohn. Metro Gallery. Soul Cannon, Drug Pizza, Hexgirlfriends, Nina Gala. Motor House. Rob Curto’s Forró For All. 9:30 Club. Emancipator Ensemble. The Ottobar. Celebration, Amy Reid, Drums Of Life; Videodrome Dance Party. Rams Head Live. SZA. Rams Head On Stage. Rachael & Vilray featuring Rachael Price of Lake Street Dive; Good Deale Bluegrass, Eastman String Band. Reverb. Reverb Open Jam Night. The Sidebar. Genosha, Deathwatch, Dissonace, VO/ID, Silence The Blind, Hostile Array. Tin Roof. Dell Fox Company. U Street Music Hall. Anna Meredith, Flash Frequency; Julius Jetson, Kids Want Techno, Lick. The Windup Space. Team Fierce Chicks Rock Presents: The 6th Annual Karaoke Smackdown.

S u n . 4 An Die Musik. Irene Jalenti - Here, There and Everywhere: An Homage to the Beatles. The Black Cat. Responsive Light. Cat’s Eye Pub. Steve Kremer & The Bluesicians; Grapefruit Kings. The Crown. Stooper Bowl 2. Germano’s Piattini. Robert Hitz Studio presents “Falling in Love with Love.” The Ottobar. Service Industry Night; The Orphan The Poet, I The Victor, Burdened Hearts, Tore Back.

M on . 5 An Die Musik. Monday Jazz Jam hosted by Alex Meadow and Joshua Espinoza. The Birchmere. Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo. Cat’s Eye Pub. Phil Cunneff New Trio. The Fillmore Silver Spring. SZA. The Ottobar. Metal Monday. Rams Head On Stage. Danny Burns, Aine O’Doherty. Red Room. Volunteers’ Collective. Tin Roof. Open Mic Night. The Windup Space. BIKE LOVE: A Bikemore Valentine’s Day Party.

T u e . 6 The Black Cat. Letitia Van Sant, Be Steadwell, Elena Lacayo. The Birchmere. Tommy Emmanuel CGP, Rodney Crowell. Cat’s Eye Pub. Timmy Shelley Band. Creative Alliance. The Songster Series: Abby Becker. The Crown. Karaoke Forever. Lyric Opera House. Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit. 9:30 Club. Lauv, Ashe. The Ottobar. Two For Tuesday with Particol. Rams Head On Stage. Dean Rosenthal’s Acoustic/Electric Racket Show. The Sidebar. The Silverites Happy Hour Show. Tin Roof. The Harikaraoke Band Gong Show.

W e d . 7 Baltimore Soundstage. Chippendales 2018: About Last Night Tour. Bertha’s. Big Bertha’s Rhythm Kings. The Birchmere. Tommy Emmanuel CGP, Rodney Crowell. The Black Cat. Girlpool, Land Of Talk, Forth Wanderer. Cat’s Eye Pub. Matt Kelley’s Swangbang. The 8x10. People’s Blues of Richmond. Metro Gallery. Brent Faiyaz, Diana Gordon. 9:30 Club. Grace VanderWaal. The Ottobar. Karaoke Night; Munk, Headless Robot, Evergroove. The Sidebar. Prison, Joe Biden, BRAT, BustDown. Tin Roof. Building The Band. U Street Music Hall. Jerry Folk, SAINT WKND, Indiginis. The Windup Space. Windup Wednesday.


“Ready or not, here I come” Performativity, repression, and revolution in Caryl Churchill’s second-wave classic “Cloud 9” By The Bad Oracle (Annie Montone)

STAGE Watching Caryl Churchill’s “Cloud 9” could give you a real case of the Stroop effect. This piece of neuroscience is why it’s harder to read aloud the name of a color if the text is printed in a different one. If the word “blue” is written in green ink, you have to work harder to process it. Churchill’s first act twists your brain like that: She has men playing women, grown women playing little boys, white men playing black men, young ladies playing old women. The incongruence grows as we see that this part of the show is set in the overly restrictive environment of a late 19th century Victorian colony in Africa. And it hits a fever pitch right about the time Harry, a uniformed officer, turns to a male servant and casually asks him if he’d like to go to the barn and fuck. Churchill is a master of deliberate contradiction. Her 1978 play delights in the The cast of “Cloud 9” by Iron Crow Theatre explosively performative. She insists that we’re all constantly performing to some Photo by Rob Clatterbuck, courtesy Iron Crow Theatre degree our age, our race, and especially our gender. And if that’s true, then it follows that there must also be an audience for whom we’re compelled to construct our show. Enter the White Man, first in the farce, so it’s deliberately hard to keep everyone straight form of Clive (played by Matthew Lindsay Payne). At (pun intended). There are marital affairs, cunnilingus first it seems that Clive is the butt of Churchill’s joke, in the drawing room, shocking admissions of illicit since we immediately see that he can’t detect the truth desire. If Churchill can disrupt our expectations and right in front of his face. But as the first act progresses, perceptions, she will. it becomes clear that she intends something more Act two jumps forward 100 years in time, and sinister. Everyone around Clive has to twist and turn the characters age too, albeit at a slower rate. They’re to accommodate his very narrow worldview, and what about 25 years older, and the sexual repression lies outside its borders must be crushed to fit within that fuels the first act has given way to a newfound it. His family’s show is for him, always, even if it makes sense of liberation—in other words, the characters them abjectly miserable. are experiencing a significant cultural jump within Here’s where Churchill’s dizzying casting drives a quarter of a lifetime. But formative experiences are home the point. Clive’s wife, Betty, swans across the hard to shake, and as much as we may try to resist stage, fanning herself with horror at the suggestion the horribly outdated attitudes of our parents, they that she might have legs under her skirts. She’s the sometimes seem hardwired into our DNA. picture of dainty, subservient femininity in every way Take, for example, Betty’s daughter, Victoria except that she’s played by a man (a very on-point (Kristina Szilagyi). Victoria is a literal doll in the first Tavish Forsyth). Poor little Edward (Barbara Madison act; inanimate, completely without voice or autonomy. Hauck) is cruelly treated by his father because of his In the second, we see her struggle to escape this “girly” affectations, but we can plainly see that “Edward” learned passivity, particularly in her relationship is a grown woman, so it doesn’t track. with her husband, Martin, played by Jonas David Joshua, played by Nick Fruit, is Clive’s African Grey. Grey almost walks off with the show with his servant, who Clive describes: “You’d hardly notice the hilarious delivery of lines like “I’m writing a novel about fellow was black.” And indeed we would not, as Fruit women from the women’s point of view.” He’s the is white. Joshua himself says: “My skin is black but oh kind of man who is so busy mansplaining to women my soul is white” and for him, appearing as “white” as about letting them talk that he forgets to actually let possible, and drawing a distinction between himself them talk. Martin’s first act mirror, Harry Bagley (also and other Africans, is a matter of literal survival, as played by Grey), is an explorer who “explores” everyone we learn that local indigenous people, including and everything. Martin is exploring too, trying on the Joshua’s own family members, are being put to death suit of a “woke” guy, until it turns out he might have at the direction of the white imperialists. Clive is to give up some of his unearned privilege, at which sexist, homophobic, and racist, all of which Churchill he immediately balks: “I was all for the ‘60s when suggests serves the same purpose: to repress the Other liberation just meant fucking.” and uphold his own supremacy. Churchill dives into how disorienting an evolving Add to all this that Churchill wrote a quick sexual social structure can be, how it’s hard to break free of



oppressive rules because there’s comfort in the familiar, even though we may hate ourselves for indulging in that comfort. Lin (a grounded Kathryne Daniels) embraces a sexuality that her first act counterpart, Ellen (also Daniels), is denied, but she doesn’t know how to express it on her own terms: “I changed who I sleep with, I can’t change everything.” Edward (now played by Forsyth) and his lover, Gerry (Fruit, relaxed and strong), fight over the idea of marriage: Edward yearns to be not just a partner, but a wife, and Gerry rejects that dynamic in their relationship. Betty (now Hauck) free falls in the aftermath of her separation from Clive, unsure who she is in the absence of a man to perform for. The script is not without flaws. It’s a little overlong, for one thing, and shows its age in places. Why a play from the past has been resurrected is always a question, even more so when it’s a play whose onceradical politics have perhaps not held up well 40 years later. Churchill attempts to create context for a white man to play Joshua, for example, but it’s difficult to justify, especially because she doesn’t really address race again after the first act. No matter how you slice it, a white actor playing a black character is never going to avoid the wincing overtones of a minstrel show (especially considering that Churchill herself is white). She also draws some outdated lines between queerness and pedophilia: Edward is sexually abused in his youth by his uncle, and because Churchill never clearly underlines subsequent trauma or fallout from this, it seems like she uses their relationship as just another indicator that Edward has been obviously queer since childhood. But director Dr. Natka Bianchini does restrain the show, and insofar as its central caricatured conceit can be subtle, the production resists muging and winking; the acting is rarely overly emphasized or cartoonish. The cast walks the line, at times brilliantly, between character and caricature, grounding the show and saving it from a descent into the full-stop offensive or ridiculous. As we’ve seen a number of cleavings between generations lately—evidenced in debates between Civil Rights Leaders and the new vanguard, Black Lives Matter, or between younger and older women it comes to certain feminist principles—what feels outdated to some feels progressive to others. Maybe the problem is not so much with the play itself, but its audiences, some of whom will see this as cutting-edge commentary instead of what it really is: a decades-old piece of radical theater. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, mind you, but it is a different one. “Cloud 9,” written by Caryl Churchill and directed by Natka Bianchini for Iron Crow Theatre, runs through Feb. 4 at Baltimore Theatre Project. For more information, visit

JANUARY 31, 2018






Daniel Elder Katie Elder Vanessa Vale 409 W. Coldspring Lane Baltimore, MD 21210

410-646-8124 HAIR * ART * MUSIC

Portrait of Shakespearean actor Ira Aldridge by Henry Perronet Briggs Courtesy Wikipedia Commons

“Red Velvet” F E B . 2

As the first successful African-American actor to perform internationally, Ira Aldridge is described by his biographer Bernth Lindfors as “the most visible black man in a white world in the middle of the nineteenth century.” And still relatively little is known about his life—and still, even after Aldridge’s groundbreaking performance as Othello in London in 1833, Shakespeare’s black tragic hero continued to be played by white men in blackface well into the next century. In her biodrama “Red Velvet,” opening this week at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, playwright Lolita Chakrabarti imagines scenes from Aldridge’s private life as he prepares for the role, all while London riots over the abolition of slavery. Through Feb. 25, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, 7 S. Calvert St., (410) 244-8570,, $16-$43. (Maura Callahan) BIG Mainstage. Baltimore Improv Group hosts two troupe performances every Friday and Saturday night. Jan. 2 and 3, 9 p.m., The BIG Theater, 1727 N. Charles St., (888) 745-8393, Born This Way. Dani Ciscell hosts a night of all-women improv, stand-up, and sketch from Ladies All Stars, Blood Pact, Synched, Lesbiguous, and Liz Curtis. Followed by an all-comedy open mic. Feb. 3, 8 p.m., Charm City Comedy Project at Zissimos Bar, 1023 W. 36th St.,, $5. “The Death of Walt Disney.” The regional premiere of Lucas Hnath’s biographical play about the megalomaniacal mind of Walt Disney. Feb. 2-25, Single Carrot Theatre, 2600 N. Howard St., (443) 844-9253,, $25-$29. “Inherit the Wind.” Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee’s courtroom drama chronicles the Scopes “monkey” trial. Through Feb. 4, Vagabond Players, 806 S. Broadway, (410) 563-9135,, $10-$20. Prim and Proper. Eva Mozena Brandon, Tiffany Cain, Nicki Fuchs, Marlenas McMahonPurk, Kasha Patel, Lisan Wood, and host Cecily Alexandria perform in Charm City Comedy Project’s all-women stand-up showcase. Followed by an all-comedy open mic. Feb. 2, 8 p.m., Charm City Comedy Project at Zissimos Bar, 1023 W. 36th St.,, $5. “Red Velvet.” The biographical play from Lolita Chakrabarti tells the story of the 19th century African-American Shakespearean actor Ira Aldridge. Feb. 2-25, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, 7 S. Calvert St., (410) 244-8570,, $16-$43. “Skeleton Crew.” In the third play in Dominique Morisseau’s Detroit trilogy, four workers at the city’s last exporting auto plant face down an uncertain future. Through March 4, Baltimore Center Stage, 700 N. Calvert St., (410) 332-0033,, $20-$79. “The Tempest.” The Baltimore Shakespeare Factory presents the bard’s shipwreck drama featuring an original score. Through Feb. 4, St. Mary’s Outreach Center, 3900 Roland Ave.,, $19-$24. TK Kirkland. The comedian and actor has appeared in a number of films as well as HBO’s Def Comedy Jam and BET’s Comicview. Feb. 1-3, Baltimore Comedy Factory, 5625 O’Donnell St., (410) 547-7798,, $20-$23. “Waitress.” Featuring original music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles, the musical based on the film by Adrienne Shelly tells the story of a waitress and expert pie maker who sets out to rebuild her life. Through Feb. 4, Hippodrome Theatre at the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center, 12 N. Eutaw St., (410) 837-7400,, $42-$214.

#WeAreSoulLove JANUARY 31, 2018



Dressing down genius Love and extreme measures in “Phantom Thread,” a fitting farewell to a legendary screen presence By Dominic Griffin


Daniel Day-Lewis (left) and Vicky Krieps in “Phantom Thread,” now playing at The Charles Theatre

The last time Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day-Lewis teamed up on screen, we got “There Will Be Blood,” a stern, brutally realized epic on the poisonous lust of capitalism, but viewers expecting a retread of that collaboration’s sparse, rustic aesthetic will be pleasantly surprised. “Phantom Thread” is similarly built around an engrossing performance from DayLewis—in what he says will be his final performance— only this time, the fruit bore from that starting point tree is far sweeter. Day-Lewis stars as Reynolds Woodcock, a fashion designer in ‘50s London. With his similarly minded sister Cyril (Lesley Manville), Reynolds lives a hermetically sealed, purposefully curated existence. Everything from his routine to his living quarters to his meals are as meticulous and fussed over as the ornate dresses he devotes his life to making. The film’s form follows suit, with loping camera movements and expertly arranged frames designed to mimic Reynolds’ personal style. Even the score, from frequent Anderson collaborator Jonny Greenwood, possesses a mellifluous quality unlike his usually stirring dissonance. It’s the antithesis of the mud-caked, oil-slicked canvas painted around the cold heart of “There Will Be Blood’s” Daniel Plainview. When we meet Reynolds and his perfectly crafted world, we see how poorly outsiders fit inside it, as one of his lovers sits as the uncomfortable third wheel between he and Cyril. His sister offers to politely dispatch this companion whose welcome has expired and their relationship unintentionally echoes every Batman story where doting butler Alfred must handle a break-up on busy playboy Bruce Wayne’s behalf. Only it’s not a tireless war on crime that occupies Reynolds, but an obsessive pursuit of tasteful refinement. “Phantom Thread” being a romance at heart means this timely split opens the way for a new meet cute, with Reynolds finding a new flame in Alma (Vicky Krieps), a waitress he’s immediately beguiled by, both for her shape and her efficacy for remembering his absurd breakfast order. (Seriously, this man eats what


sounds like a slowed down Ghostface Killah verse.) Not longer after a whirlwind first date, Alma moves in to become his live-in muse. In a different film, the blossoming courtship between Reynolds and Alma would be an exponentially saccharine adventure, not unlike the sweet natured story of “Punch Drunk Love.” In that film, Anderson dug deep inside the anxiety and neurosis of difficult social interactions to find a moving, aspirational reflection of love at first sight, a practically superhuman force of nature capable of cutting through any seemingly insurmountable hardship. But here, influenced heavily by the haunting suspense of Hitchcock’s “Rebecca,” an older Anderson dramatizes the other side of love. It’s a haunting, darkly comic romance between an artificially confident tyrant and the only woman bold enough to prick a hole into the bloviated farce surrounding his sheltered existence. Initially, Alma’s presence in Reynolds’ life is positive so far as she inspires his work and tickles his fancy. In her voice-over narration, she remarks how adept she was at standing still while he made alterations to the fabric he draped her in. She brags about how no one could stand as long as she could. Her aptitude for modeling his work can’t change that she’s not a mannequin in his workshop, but a living, breathing human. One whose mere existence flouts in the face of the Woodcock house order. She becomes an interloper in his otherwise idyllic lifestyle. Most romantic comedies feature a scene where a manchild bachelor has to adapt to cohabitation, but Anderson captures that transition with a horror director’s eye for chilling detail. Greenwood’s score convulses and contorts, its beauty stuttered by dread and discomfort. The camera stays still longer, trapping every awkward silence or sharp debate in unflinching totality. The sound design, in particular, is incredible, with something as simple as the sound Alma makes buttering her toast sounding like a Tex Avery cartoon piano crashing from the sky. Because the film is stylistically on Reynolds’


side here, his initial monstrousness seems almost understandable. Anderson realizes the sum total of this man’s sartorial largesse so fully that anyone getting in the way of his process seems irrational. At one point, Reynolds implies that Alma’s basic expectation of developing a functioning adult relationship with her lover is childish. But it’s Reynolds who is the immature one. Like most talented men, he sees his artistic gift as a perfectly normal excuse to disabuse himself of any responsibility outlined in a normal person’s social contract. It’s this element of the film that feels the most timely, as the media is so populated by stories of privileged men living in metaphorical fortresses built by the immense weight of their perceived genius. Perhaps that is why when Alma turns the tables on him in the second act, it’s difficult to question or criticize her methods. For a public figure so towering in his influence and self deception, it’s understandable that extreme measures may be required to rejigger their sense of fealty. The darkly comic give and take in Alma and Reynolds’ romance resonates beyond the more immediate concerns for whether or not she goes too far in the pursuit of domestic equilibrium. Where Adam Sandler’s Barry Egan in “Punch Drunk Love” was an awkward schlub whose connection with Emily Watson’s Lena Leonard gave him strength, Reynolds is a man so deluded by his own projected sense of self that he needs the dressing down he receives from Alma. The curious, unexpected way the film arrives at that powerful conclusion is a testament both to the brilliant performances at its core, from Day-Lewis in his final bow and Krieps in a breakout role, and to Anderson’s continued growth as one of our greatest filmmakers. “Phantom Thread,” directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, is now playing at The Charles Theatre.

JANUARY 31, 2018

ON THE ROAD “The Road Movie” a montage of quirk, chaos, and lots of car crashes from the internet By Brandon Soderberg


A 70-minute assemblage of Russian dashboard camera videos, “The Road Movie” unfurls like a mix of Alien Workshop’s avant-goof skateboard video “Memory Screen,” Robin Bougie’s gnarly-silly porn clip tautology “Retard-O-Tron,” and Alan Clarke’s dispassionate, cinematic laundry list of violence, “Elephant.” Its director Dmitrii Kalashnikov is a coy minimalist with impeccable pacing who knows when to just give you the goods, when to let you sit in some quiet build-up or chill hang-out time afterward, and when to distract with brisk montages set to music. With each clip, you anticipate something ugly happening and briefly breathe easy when it’s more ridiculous than horrifying (a naked woman wandering down the median; a guy stealing sausages from the back of a delivery truck) though occasionally the two intersect, like when a car cruises through a forest on fire or a driver acrobatically bounds out the front window of his truck after a collision and jogs to the shoulder, unscathed. “The Road Movie” contains lots of pain and injury and some deaths in here probably and this has been a big sticking point in just about every review of the movie. Compounding xenophobia and bourgeois morality American critics in particular have tried to cast the movie as an argument for how Russia is out of control or some larger lament about society as too far gone, but that’s pure projection (“The Road Movie” is the most misread movie by film culture’s wet sandwiches since “Spring Breakers”). People here curse like maniacs and road rage clips involve sledge hammers, hatchets, and fist fights for sure, but if the movie makes any kind of argument, it’s in praise of resilience (the prevalence of the dashcams in Russia,

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by the way, is tied to profoundly corrupt police and hopelessly unkind insurance companies) and people’s scrappy kindness. Following moments where people witness an accident, narrowly escape death, or get hit but not hit too bad, they often announce how “lucky” they are and wonder if others are OK. Hearing people amid panic engenders empathy. Like the “Cursed Images” Twitter account or that “Back at it again at Krispy Kreme” Vine, “The Road Movie’s” clips offer a quick reward—a dose of pure terror, comedy, or both—but entire stories hide inside these clips if you wanna absorb all of the details and context clues. Little things such as the music (often sugar rush Russian pop) or talk radio (often of the icky shock jock sort) playing in the cars while bonkers bullshit happens on the other side of the front window add some deadpan levity; quotidian conversations leading up to the chaos are entertaining and occasionally existential. “What a fuck. He saw cows. Why was he riding so fast?” a driver asks after witnessing a car hit a few cows crossing the street. When a seemingly drunk driver veers off the road into a muddy river, the passenger calmly quips,“We are sailing.” And a clip where nothing happens is among the most loaded. Brief footage of a car on the road leading up to the Kremlin is revealed via the ending credits as a video tangentially tied to the death of a Putin critic. Its title: “From the place of Boris Nemtsov murder episode, Uploaded by the public account WorldNews, 308 views.” “The Road Movie,” directed by Dmitrii Kalashnikov, opens at the Parkway on Feb. 2.


SCREENS The Charles Theatre, 1711 N. Charles St., (410) 7273464, “Call Me By Your Name” (Luca Guadagnino, U.S./Italy, 2017), now playing. “I, Tonya” (Craig Gillespie, U.S., 2017), now playing. “Lady Bird” (Greta Gerwig, U.S., 2017), now playing. “Phantom Thread” (Paul Thomas Anderson, U.S., 2017), now playing. “The Shape Of Water” (Guillermo del Toro, U.S., 2017), now playing. “Bob Le Flambeur” (Jean-Pierre Melville, France, 1955), Feb. 1. “In A Lonely Place” (Nicholas Ray, U.S., 1950), Feb. 3, Feb. 5, Feb. 8. The Creative Alliance, 3134 Eastern Ave., (410) 2761651, “The Man” (Joseph Sargent, U.S., 1972), screening followed by discussion with Clayton Lebouef, Katrina and Bell McDonald. Feb. 1. Interactive Movie Night: “Groundhog Day” (Harold Ramis, U.S., 1993), Feb. 2. E.M.P. Collective, 307 W. Baltimore St., (410) 2440785, Brian and Shorty’s Dinner and a Movie: “13th” (Ava DuVernay, U.S. 2016), Feb. 2. Native American LifeLines of Baltimore, 106 W Clay St., (410) 837-2258, “Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World” (Catherine Bainbridge & Alfonso Maiorana, U.S., 2017), Feb. 3. The Parkway Theatre, 5 W. North Ave., (410) 7528083, “Beuys” (Andres Veiel, Germany, 2018), through Feb. 1. “Please Stand By” (Ben Lewin, U.S., 2018), through Feb. 1. “Groundhog Day” (Harold Ramis, U.S., 1993), Feb. 2. “Lover For A Day” (Philippe Garrel, France, 2017), opens Feb. 2. “The Road Movie” (Dmitrii Kalashnikov, Russia, 2016), opens Feb. 2. Sight Unseen Presents: Horizontal Portraits—short films by Danish filmmaker Eva Marie Rødbro (“I Touched Her Legs,” “We Chose The Milky Way,” “Dan Mark,” “Kriger,” and “Fuck You Kiss Me”), Feb. 5. Everyman Theatre at the Parkway: “Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf” (Mike Nichols, U.S., 1966), Feb. 6. Sweaty Eyeballs Present: Three shorts by Ahn Jae Hoon with director Q&A. Feb. 6. The Senator Theatre, 5904 York Road, (410) 3234424, “Darkest Hour” (Joe Wright, U.K., 2017), now playing. “In The Fade” (Faith Akin, Germany, 2017), now playing. “The Post” (Steven Spielberg, U.S., 2017), now playing. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri” (Martin McDonagh, U.S., 2017), through Feb. 1. “The Sound Of Music” (Robert Wise, U.S., 1965), Jan. 31, Feb. 1, Feb. 4, Feb. 5, Feb. 6. “A Streetcard Named Desire” (Elia Kazan, U.S., 1951), Feb. 7, Feb. 11, Feb. 12, Feb. 13. St. Bernadine Church, 3812 Edmondson Ave., (410) 362-8664. Brian and Shorty’s Dinner and a Movie: “13th” (Ava DuVernay, U.S. 2016), Feb. 3. The Windup Space, 12 W. North Ave., (410) 244-8855, Mondo Baltimore: “Alienator” (Fred Olen Ray, U.S., 1990), Feb. 1.


Timmy Reed, “Kill Me Now” F E B . 1 The latest from prolific, ambitious Baltimore author and educator Timmy Reed (previous books: “Tell God I Don’t Exist,” “The Ghosts That Surrounded Them,” “Stray/Pest,” “Miraculous Fauna,” “Star Backwards,” and “IRL”) is “Kill Me Now,” a toughminded bildungsroman about a young man nicknamed “Retard” (boy are teens terrible to each other!) who befriends an older neighbor and well, learns to be a bit more open and accepting. Written in the voice of “Retard” (actual name: Miles) by way of journal entries, Reed constructs a warts-and-all depiction of being young and open-hearted and understandably very pissed off. As to not spoil much more, here’s a quick excerpt from early in the book: “I chew on my pens until they explode in my mouth and the ink gets suck in the cracks between my teeth and people laugh. My shoelaces are always coming untied. I sweat in my sleep and wake up very cold. My short-term memory sucks donkey wang. Everything I touch somehow gets lost. People tell me I look confused.” Reed will be in conversation with Madison Smartt Bell tonight at Atomic (and will also appear at Bird In Hand on Feb. 8 on conversation with Jane Delury). 7 p.m., Atomic Books, 3620 Falls Road, (410) 662-4444,, free. (Brandon Soderberg)

Mark Whitaker, “Smoketown: The Untold Story Of The Other Great Black Renaissance” F E B . 6 There are almost endless alternative or underground histories of America—or OK, in this case, Amerikkka—that have been ignored, removed, whitewashed, or just not talked about all that much because well, racism. So many cities are full of robust and massively important black cultural and political hubs that don’t get nearly half the critical and historical engagement they should. Mark Whitaker’s book “Smoketown: The Untold Story Of The Other Great Black Renaissance,” intends to expand the black history of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania beyond the setting of numerous August Wilson plays. Whitaker recently wrote in the Paris Review that while the European-American history in Pittsburgh “is well documented . . . far less chronicled but just as extraordinary is the confluence of forces that made the black population of the city, for a brief but glorious stretch of the twentieth century, one of the most vibrant and consequential communities of color in U.S. History.” Pairs nicely with RJ Smith’s 2007 book, “The Great Black Way: L.A. in the 1940s and the Last African American Renaissance.” 6:30 p.m., Enoch Pratt Central Library, 400 Cathedral St., (410) 396-5430,, free. (Brandon Soderberg)


Atomic Books, 3260 Falls Road, (410) 662-4444, Timmy Reed, a writer and teacher from Baltimore, will discuss his new coming-of-age novel, “Kill Me Now,”in conversation with Madison Smartt Bell, Professor of English at Goucher College; Feb. 1, 7 p.m. Monthly First Friday, this time featuring Oliver Brewing Company. Happy Hour prices on their beer all night, and extended hours at Atomic’s Eightbar until 11 p.m.; Feb. 6, 7 p.m. Baltimore County Public Library Pikesville Branch, 1301 Reisterstown Road, (410) 887-1234, Astrophysicist and author Mario Livio discusses his new book “Why?: What Makes Us Curious,” an exploration of the scientific nature of curiosity; Jan. 31, 2:30 p.m. The Children’s Bookstore, 737 Deepdene Road, (410) 532-2000, Weekly storytime for children ages 4 and under; Feb. 2, 9:30 a.m. Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St., (410) 435-7333, Enoch Pratt Free Library sponsors Writers LIVE with Chris Matthews, author of “Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit”; Jan. 31, 7:30 p.m. Enoch Pratt Central Library - African American Department, 400 Cathedral Street, (410) 361-9287, Author, historian, and journalist Mark Whitaker discusses his new book “Smoketown,” a portrait of Black culture in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from the 1920s-1950s; Feb. 6, 6:30 p.m. The Ivy Bookshop, 6080 Falls Road, (410) 377-2966, NoNieqa Ramos, interviewed by Amanda Eby, discusses her new teen memoirstyle novel, “The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary”; Feb. 1, 7 p.m. An evening of poetry from Mason Jar Press, an independent press based in Baltimore, specializing in handmade, limited edition chapbooks and fulllength publications by both established and emerging writers; Feb. 2, 7 p.m. Red Emma’s, 30 W. North Ave., (443) 602-7585, Award-winning journalist Johann Hari presents “Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression—And the Unexpected Solutions”; Feb. 1, 7:30 p.m. Red Emma’s Mother Earth Poetry Vibe Featuring Lyrispect, the Philadelphia-based, awardwinning lyricist, author, educator and voiceover artist whose work brings together multiple art forms; Feb. 3, 7:30 p.m.

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Photo: Lars Plougmann



6080 Falls Road @ W. Lake Avenue Mt. Washington WWW. THEIVYBOOKSHOP. COM


11 East 33rd Street, 1 block from Johns Hopkins Charles Village WWW. BIRDINHANDCHARLESVILLAGE. COM

What’s Baltimore Reading? What’s on the city’s bookshelves? And why? In a new feature, people across Baltimore let us in on their reading habit

Ed Doyle Gillespie’s books. Courtesy Ed Doyle Gillespie

JAYNE MILLER has been a reporter with WBALTV for more than 30 years. She’s currently the chief investigative reporter with the 11 Investigates I-Team. She lives in Baltimore and is a member of the boards of directors for Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake, the Citizens Planning and Housing Association, Stocks in the Future, and the Friends of Canton Dog Park. I fear real reading is losing favor with the dominance of social media and the addiction to 140 (now 280) characters. I admire my spouse as she carves out time to read, quietly and intently, able to tune out the clamor around her. I only wish I could claim such a feat. That said, I read every day newspapers and other publications. My current book is “The New Jim Crow”

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[by Michelle Alexander]. It is like reading a book of what I see and cover just about every day in Baltimore. It is also a must read for anyone interested in really changing the status quo in cities such as Baltimore where structural racism is so deeply entrenched. People often ask about the book I most recommend. That depends on many things. But since I have spent much of my career on the acts of violent crime, the conditions and factors that drive it, and what I call the mismatch between public policy and the incidence of crime, I think Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood” is a riveting, real narrative to take a deep dive into the thinking of people who do real harm and [wrestle with] why it happens. (JM) EDWARD DOYLE-GILLESPIE is a poet and police


officer. A longtime Hampden resident, he taught history and literature for nearly 10 years and is the author of the poetry collection “On the Later Addition of Sancho Panza.” So, I am eating from several [book] plates at the same time. I am teaching an ethics class to my police officers this year, part of which involved Kant. I’m reading “The Metaphysics of Morals” for that. Also, I’ve decided to read a stack of books that equals my height—5’10”. In that pile I’m revisiting lots of Ray Bradbury, Vonnegut, and Steinbeck. Speaking of Steinbeck, I did a reread of “The Grapes of Wrath.” I read it this time as a piece of 20th-century transcendentalism. Love it. (EDG) This story is brought to you by The Ivy Bookshop.


CHALLENGE ACCEPTED Casey Jenkins talks about the origins of February’s Black Restaurant Challenge By Arli Lima


Hangover Omelette from participating restaurant Water For Chocolate.

Casey Jenkins

Photo by Arli Lima

Photo was taken by Marquees Walker

Chef Casey Jenkins, owner of the popular Waverly restaurant Darker Than Blue Cafe, has been busy since the eatery closed back in 2014. He has served on the Maryland Board of Tourism, co-chaired the Baltimore restaurant co-op SKIP (Shop Keepers Independent Procurement Program), and accompanied Maryland’s Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford on a black restaurant tour. Originally from White Plains, New York, Jenkins learned how to cook in the military and later attended the Culinary Institute of America. He worked at a few restaurants in New York before moving to Baltimore and opening Darker Than Blue Café, which was in business for eight years. Jenkins has always been passionate about AfricanAmerican-owned restaurants and continually strives to break boundaries and create opportunities for black food culture to thrive. This month he’s working on his newest venture, The Black Restaurant Challenge. I recently sat down with him at Terra Café (101 E. 25th St., [410] 777-5277, to discuss the month-long event. (Arli Lima) Baltimore Beat: In your own words, what is the Black Restaurant Challenge? Casey Jenkins: We are challenging everyone to eat at two African-American-owned eateries per week during the month of February. It’s not only local; we’re challenging everyone around the country, but you get discounts from the Baltimore restaurants that are listed on our website ( And it’s not only restaurants; we have eateries and food trucks also. Each week, every restaurant will come up with a certain discount for their most popular dishes. It


varies per restaurant and you can go on our website and look under the discounts tab and see what discount each restaurant is offering. BB: Is this your first year organizing the challenge? CJ: In January of 2016 we were sitting in this room [Terra Café], myself and the owner Terrence Dixon, we were looking at this challenge they were doing with the water bucket and we thought, “OK we should do a challenge.” So we came up with The Black Restaurant Challenge. I immediately went onto Facebook and put a page together. We tried to build some media interest on it back then but it was too late into January because the media already knows what they’re doing, magazines already know what they’re printing, and radio stations already know who they will invite on their shows. Everyone thought it was a great idea but we couldn’t pick it up because it was too late. Larry Young from the radio show [ on WOLB Talk 1010] really pushed us to do it again so Terrance and I decided to do it again this year. BB: Why did you feel Baltimore needed this challenge? CJ: Back in 2009, my restaurant Darker Than Blue was voted one of the 50 Best Restaurants in Baltimore by Baltimore Magazine and I remember we were one of the few that didn’t participate in restaurant week. The price points didn’t work for me because my price points were already low and like most restaurants and eateries we can’t indulge in Restaurant Week. Years ago I told the people at Downtown Partnership, “Hey, you guys need to find a way to be more inclusive for people that can’t participate.” BB: Besides the sponsorship marketing, what


else are you doing to promote this challenge? CJ: Because it was too late to generate buzz last year, we said we have to do something big. We decided to host a free kick-off event at the Baltimore Visitor Center. Right now we have nine restaurants attending the kick-off and they will be giving away samples of their food. The response has been great! I didn’t realize it would be such a large thing. Did you see the Facebook page? Who would have thought that 37,000 people would be interested in this? The location only holds 250 people but we figured we would rotate people in and out. We originally put 500 free tickets on Eventbrite and 15 minutes later I got a notification from them saying the tickets were running low and I thought “this isn’t possible.” Then I looked and the site and it was true; five minutes after that we were out of tickets. So in 15 minutes, 500 tickets sold out. Then I put 500 more because I’m thinking we can rotate people in and out over two hours . . . half an hour later, 500 more tickets were gone. Right now we have nine restaurants attending the kick-off and they will be giving away samples of their food. BB: What’s next for you and the Black Restaurant Challenge? CJ: We want to keep expanding. I’ve got the Black Chef’s Network out of North Carolina flying me down for their monthly meeting because they want to hear about how I’ve organized this. As for me, I’m working on opening my restaurant again; Darker Than Blue will be back in 2019. Black Restaurant Week runs from Feb. 2-25.

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The Food Beat •

New restaurants and expansions in Baltimore include: Fells Point’s Pie In The Sky (716 S. Broadway) in the former location of Mare Nostrum; a second location for the Baltimore Soup Company (2 E. Wells St.); the recently renovated Walters Cafe in the Walters Art Museum (600 N. Charles St.); additions to Hollins Market (875 Hollins St.) where Pigtown’s Culinary Architecture opened Culinary Architecture Cafe and where Neopol Savory Smokery, also in Belvedere Square, is about to open up another location; a second location near Johns Hopkins Hospital for vegan soul food favorite Land Of Kush (840 N. Eutaw St.) has been announced for this year; once-shuttered soul food restaurant Darker Than Blue, which closed in 2013, will reopen in Northwood Plaza by Morgan State in 2019. Among the restaurants that have closed recently: Charles Village’s Paul Chen Hong Kong (2426 N. Charles St.), Federal Hill’s Metropolitan Coffee House & Bar (902 S. Charles St.), Canton’s Firehouse Coffee (1030 S. Linwood Ave.), and Dinosaur BBQ, the well-received chain with a location here in Harbor East at 1401 Fleet St. since fall of 2015. Belvedere Square Irish pub Ryan’s Daughter (600 E. Belvedere Ave.), which was open for 14 years, closed on Jan. 21, though a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page hinted at something else coming soon (“We see it as a chance to start something else and we might see you sooner than you think in another location”). Hampden’s Union Brewing is set to receive a $500,000 loan from the Baltimore Development Corporation to expand its space in Medfield/Hampden. Among the things the loan will help Union pay for is a new 60-barrel brewing system, which they first mentioned in May of last year. Dependable lunch spot Chickpea City (202 W. Read St.) has expanded its menu, adding some burgers including a kofta burger—a 6 oz. beef or lamb patty in the minced, meatloaf-like style of kofta. Topping options include whipped garlic sauce, tahini, hummus, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, mixed, pickles, hot peppers, beets, mediterranean salad, and shuttah (red pepper sauce). The Mondawmin Mall Target, whose closing was announced in November to much community outcry—and plenty of corporate apathy from Target—finally closes on Feb. 7 and with it goes not only a major shopping hub in West Baltimore but a place where many got affordable groceries. One possibility for the massive, soon-to-be-vacant building is for the city to acquire it and open a food hall in the style of R. House or Mount Vernon Marketplace, the Baltimore Business Journal reports. Related to another food desert oasis removed: Mayor Catherine Pugh’s recent decision to no longer use the term “food deserts” but instead to call them “healthy food priority areas.” Pugh claims the change is due to accuracy because indeed, places where food deserts exist don’t simply lack food but healthy food specifically. Yeah sure, but it also feels like another way Pugh is obsessed with optics more than change. We won’t stop using the more evocative “food desert” term and we won’t stop wearing our “No Food Deserts” caps designed by rapper Greenspan and available at Feb. 9 is National Pizza Day and Ribaldi’s Pizza & Subs (3600 Keswick Road), once the location of Angelo’s, is one of the 8,000 pizza spots involved in Pizza Across America, a large-scale pizza donation initiative. Ribaldi’s donation will go to Baltimore’s Manna House (“a welcoming setting where the poor and homeless can enjoy a nutritious breakfast seven days a week”) located at 435 E. 25th St. CiderCon, which began on Jan. 30 continues through Feb. 2, mostly takes place in Harbor East’s Marriott Waterfront, but there are a whole bunch of public events around town listed at The Black Restaurant Challenge, covered more in-depth on pg. 29, begins on Feb. 3 and runs through Feb. 25 with black-owned restaurants across the city offering discounts, specials, and more.

Lemon Haze Photo by Brandon Soderberg, courtesy Democracy In Crisis.


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Lemon Haze My giant dog just had serious, invasive leg surgery—the second in three years, oh boy—and the 120-pound loveable lug won’t be able to do much for the next eight weeks. Right now, he has a lot of trouble walking, even just to go outside and take a dump, though because he’s gone through this once before he’s handling it half alright—he seems to remember how to essentially walk on three legs—and it’s kind of nuts and terrifying to see his whole shaved leg as just one stapled bruise that puffs up and discolors as the bruise jumps around? Anyways, it mostly means I spend a lot of my time at home on the bed (which is now on the floor boxspring-free because that’s the only way the dog could get on it safely) doing little to nothing right next to him, watching things or listening to the radio and generally feeling like I am have been transported into the worst Samuel Beckett play of all time. It will be OK. I’m telling you about this mostly because it might give you a sense of the conditions under which Lemon Haze does what it does and does it well. Namely, make everything feel alright. There isn’t much to Lemon Haze; it’s a polite wisp of a strain—a combination of sativa-heavy Lemon Skunk and all-sativa Silver Haze—that just nudges you when you inhale (to even say it hits you sounds too rough), stays around, makes you happy. It’s a marathon strain really, the high lasts a while, like the smile you get after you’ve had a great conversation with someone new you really like or something, the doofy grin on your face droops but in slow motion. Even its name—Lemon Haze as opposed to “Purple Haze”—connotes gentility, kindness. More Birdie of McDonaldland than Grimace,


if that makes any sense (byproduct of this comforting bud: It’ll make you say the stupid shit you think like comparing weed strains to McDonald’s characters). And of all the delicious Lemon-based strains, this one smells and tastes best, even better when it’s burned. Its taste mingles nicely as you light it up, the cookedness counters the sweet rather than ruining it, which is often the case with delicious-smelling boutique strains. Totally OK with the bad, quasi-content, with the dog next to me on the mattress slowly fading on his prescribed painkillers—a doggie cocktail of Tramadol and Carprofen—listening to Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile’s ‘Blue Cheese’ (a wonderfully weeded song with lines like “I didn’t mean to cough on her/ Forgot to add the fabric softener/ I met a girl named Tina/ That girl, that girl, supplies the reeferina” and a reference to Nintendo cheat hardware, Game Genie), Lemon Haze cast me in the like, weirdest, most lame version of that scene in “Gimme Shelter” where the Rolling Stones are all clearly high-as-fuck on the floor at Muscle Shoals listening to endless waves of acoustic guitars on “Wild Horses.” Preferable to the shithouse Beckett play life has currently cast doge and I in otherwise for sure. (Brandon Soderberg) Strength: 7 Nose: a lemon lollipop that melted on your car’s backseat from the sun Euphoria: 9 Existential dread: 2 Freaking out when a crazy person approaches you: 2 Drink pairing: Stumptown Sparkling Honey Lemon Cold Brew Music pairing: Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile, “Lotta Sea Lice” Rating: 8


Sugar Talk Cervix Talk By Jacq Jones Last week I learned that January is Cervical Health Awareness Month. I’m sure all y’all were already aware of this, but it was news to me. There’s a holiday, month, or awareness day for just about everything. Ice cream, pizza, steak, blow jobs (you’ve got to wait till March for that one), and now, cervixes. The cervix is a pretty cool body part. It’s a little thing, about the size (and feel) of the end of your nose. It’s how the uterus opens into the vagina. It allows sperm to pass into the uterus, and it lets menstrual blood and babies come out. The cervix also protects the uterus by keeping it sanitary and blocking bacteria from entering. The cervix seems like a pretty simple body part, but folks have questions, and we’re here for those. Why on earth am I supposed to get a Pap smear? How often do I need to get it? Pap smears are pretty damn awesome. They may not be fun to get, but they’re one of the very few tests out there that can detect changes in cells BEFORE those changes turn into cancer. Your medical providers can then treat those cells and actually prevent cancer. Not detect cancer early, but actually prevent that shit. Pap smears were invented by Dr. Georgios Papanikolaou in the 1940s and went into wide use in the 1950s. Before folks started getting Pap smears, cervical cancer was the leading cause of cancer death for women in the United States. After introduction of the Pap smear, cervical cancer rates declined by over 60 percent. That’s huge. So yes. If you have a vagina, please get a Pap smear as frequently as your clinician thinks you should. If you are a trans or genderqueer person and dealing with your vagina doesn’t feel comfortable, there are medical providers who specialize in getting you through the exam (check out Chase Brexton). If you are a person of any gender who has a vagina and have fear or trauma associated with vaginal exams, there are medical providers who specialize in helping you get through


the exam as well. Ask for a clinician who specializes in trauma informed care. A Pap smear can save your life. I’ve been hearing about cervical orgasms. What are they? My one friend keeps talking about them like they’re the holy grail of orgasms. Let’s get one thing out of the way: There is no holy grail of orgasm. Different people have different bodies, different relationships with their bodies, different histories and experiences, and different understandings of what sex and sexuality mean to them. Orgasms are, in general, good things. One kind of orgasm is not fundamentally better than another. People who have experienced cervical orgasms describe them as deep in the body or whole body orgasms. These orgasms result from stimulation deep in the vagina, specifically from massage of the cervix or deep thrusting against the cervix. Some folks find that orgasms resulting from this kind of stimulation create a sense of spiritual well being or oneness. So, what’s going on there? When it comes to science, the jury is still out. We know that the cervix has nerves, but there’s some dispute as to if it has the kind of nerves that are sensitive to touch (sensory nerves). One study, done by Komisaruk, Gerdes & Whipple, found that when pressure was applied to the cervix, study participants reported feeling the sensation. Some of the women described the sensation as pleasurable. In my work as a sex educator and formerly as an assistant in a clinic, I can promise that most folks with cervixes experience some sensation when their cervixes are touched. We also know that the clitoris, which has a ton of nerves, is usually stimulated directly or indirectly when the vagina is penetrated. In fact, most orgasms that involve vaginal penetration are “blended orgasms”— meaning there’s a bunch of different nerves and neural pathways being stimulated at the same time. How that stimulation happens can result in different sensations. In an utterly unscientific survey of folks I know,


several people reported enjoying cervical massage, especially massaging around the cervix or using fingers to make a ring around the cervix. Other folks reported that they very much enjoy deep, hard thrusting on the cervix with a penis or dildo. The best way to explore cervical or deeper body orgasms is to take your time and get really turned on. If you are someone who can have more than one orgasm in a session, do what you do to have an orgasm, then move on to cervical stimulation. Many people don’t like have their cervix touched when they aren’t turned on. However, the way we process sensation often changes with arousal. What doesn’t feel good when you’re not all revved up can feel awesome when you are. Lots of folks like to have their hair pulled when they’re having sex, but pulling their hair when they are walking down the street will get a very, very different reaction. Try massaging around the cervix and see how that feels. Then try putting pressure directly on the cervix and see how that feels. If the sensation feels odd, sit with that and see where it takes you. Keep breathing and relax into the new sensations. Breath is important to any sexual experience. It’s especially important when you are trying something new. Enjoy yourself. If the sensation feels yucky, stop and do something else. No one likes everything. If you don’t like something, it just means that’s not the thing you should be doing right then. Keep playing and exploring. There’s a touch that will absolutely send you over the edge—let me know what you find. Do you have a question about sex, relationships, or gender? Send us an email at sugartalk@! Jacq Jones is a sex educator and the owner Sugar, a sex positive, educationfocused sex toy store in Baltimore and online at

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