BALTIMORE’S FREE ALTERNATIVE WEEKLY ■ VOL. 33 NO. 9, MARCH 4-MARCH 11, 2009 ■ WWW.CITYPAPER.COM
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BALTIMORE’S FREE ALTERNATIVE WEEKLY EDITOR: Lee Gardner ART DIRECTOR: Joe MacLeod MANAGING EDITOR: Erin Sullivan ARTS EDITOR: Bret McCabe MUSIC EDITOR: Michael Byrne ONLINE EDITOR: Tim Hill SPECIAL PROJECTS EDITOR: Anna Ditkoff SENIOR STAFF WRITER: Van Smith STAFF WRITERS: Edward Ericson Jr., Chris Landers CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Jeffrey Anderson, John Barry, Tom Chalkley, Charles Cohen, Raymond Cummings, Violet Glaze, Michelle Gienow, Cole Haddon, Geoffrey Himes, Henry Hong, Martin L. Johnson, Laura Laing, Brian Morton, Kate Noonan, Al Shipley, Vincent Williams, Mary K. Zajac CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS AND ILLUSTRATORS: Okan Arabacioglu, Emily C-D, Tom Chalkley, Ben Cricchi, Jennifer Daniel, John Ellsberry, Alex Fine, Emily Flake, Michelle Gienow, Mel Guapo, Sam Holden, Frank Klein, Daniel Krall, Hawk Krall, Uli Loskot, Christopher Myers, Michael Northrup, RaRah, Paige Shuttleworth, Deanna Staffo, Smell of Steve Inc., Jefferson Jackson Steele, M. Wartella, Autumn Whitehurst BALTIMORE WEEKLY EDITOR: Wendy Ward COPY EDITOR: Joseph Tropea ASSISTANT TO THE ART DIRECTOR: Wynter Towns INTERNS: Matt Garland, Jami Katz, Randi Leyshon, Kathryn Mastandrea, Awis Mranani, Chidinma Okparanta, Michael Schwerin PRODUCTION DIRECTOR: Athena Towery (x211) SENIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Matt Walter CLASSIFIED PRODUCTION SUPERVISOR: Donald Ely GRAPHIC DESIGNERS: Frank Hamilton, Daria Johnson ADVERTISING DIRECTOR: Jennifer Marsh (x221) SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES: Andy Grimshaw (x222), Chris Ziolkowski (x219) ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES: Valerie Gatzke (x253), Nina Land (x220), Annie Smikins (x214), Dylan Smith (x226) CLASSIFIED MANAGER: Leslie Grim (x246) REAL ESTATE ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE: Ashira Jensen (x248) AUTOMOTIVE ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE: Bettina Wachter (x244) CLASSIFIED DISPLAY REPRESENTATIVES: Kathryn Hudson (x249), Patrick Martin (x245), Joy Sushinsky (x247) CLASSIFIED LINE SUPERVISOR: Nicole Urbain (x212) CLASSIFIED LINE REPRESENTATIVE: Gemma Gould (x213) ADVERTISING ASSISTANT: Linda Bernstein (x216) CLASSIFIED SALES ASSISTANT: Rob Farley (x208) EVENTS/MARKETING INFORMATION: x252 CIRCULATION DIRECTOR: Christine Grabowski CIRCULATION MAINTENANCE: Mike Grabowski DISTRIBUTION: Keith Bondurant, Kelly Carr, Evan Ebb, Lloyd Farrow, Harold Goldman, Mike Grabowski, Jean LeBlanc, Abe Mamot, Bonnie Mullens, Miroslav Muzyka, Michael Nelson, Marek Obrebski, Hector Rivera, Mark Scudder, Marek Seder, George Svezzese, James Tighe BUSINESS MANAGER: Nicole Seabrease RECEPTIONIST: Michelle Bollino NATIONAL ADVERTISING: The Ruxton Group, (888) 278-9866 GROUP PUBLISHER: Don Farley (x229) GENERAL SALES MANAGER: Jennifer Marsh (x221) PUBLISHER’S ASSISTANT: Susan Slike (x224) Volume 33, Number 9 March 4, 2009. City Paper is published every week by Times-Shamrock communications.Letters and calendar submissions are welcomed; please see these sections for details. Unsolicited editorial submissions will not be returned. Subscriptions available for $150 per year, 1st class. No refunds. ©2009 C.E.G.W./Times-Shamrock. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the editor. 812 Park Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21201 (410) 523-2300; advertising fax: (410) 523-2222; editorial fax: (410) 523-0138; Baltimore Weekly fax: (410) 523-8437. Get It Online: www.citypaper.com
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City Chic. eals Great Dhe On T Winter t s e l o o C s Thread UPDATE YOUR WARDROBE JOE TROPEA
VOL. 33 NO. 9, MARCH 4-MARCH 11, 2009
IN THE PAPER FEATURE/13 COLUMNS & DEPARTMENTS THE MAIL/5 POLITICAL ANIMAL/7 MOBTOWN BEAT/9 MURDER INK/10 WHOSE RESPONIBLE?/45 SAVAGE LOVE/63 FREE WILL ASTROLOGY/75 PUZZLE PAGE/77 ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT OPENING ACT/19 FILM/20 MUSIC/23 ART/26 STAGE/29 EAT ME/31 EATS AND DRINKS/32 BALTIMORE WEEKLY HIGHLIGHTS/36 VENUES/38 THE SHORT LIST/39
COMICS THIS MODERN WORLD/5 DIRT FARM/62 THE PAIN—WHEN WILL IT END?/62 MAAKIES/62 LULU EIGHTBALL/75 IMPORTANT COMICS/73 ON THE COVER: PHOTOGRAPH OF ROSA RIVERA OF ROSA’S GRILL BY FRANK HAMILTON ON THE WEB SITE ❑ FEATURE: MRS. PEÑATE’S TAMALES RECIPE BLOG ROLL: ❑ THE NEWS HOLE ❑ NOISE ❑ FEED BAG ❑ ULIBLOG ❑ ARTS AND MINDS ❑ X-CONTENT ❑ CPTV
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Don’t Toss the Media Into Your Loafers
The Best Defense Is a Better Offense Many thanks to David Simon for his report on the Baltimore Police Department policy of withholding names of police officers that end up using deadly force in the line of duty (“The Shield,” Feature, Feb. 25). I’ve expressed in a previous letter to the editor my concern about the percentage of the time that a police-involved shooting results in a fatality. I realize that at present, the capacity of our current police department to deal with a crisis in the moment may be, for a variety of reasons, significantly limited largely due to underdeveloped ideas of what constitutes optimal policing. I get the impression that at least part of the problem is that the leadership that makes the decisions about what is and isn’t justified lacks a full awareness of the options available to any police officer in a crisis situation. Performance improvement is not integrated into the management of our police force. There are profound and perfectly good psychological reasons for the police to want to be protective here. Most of these reasons stem from a philosophy that if you do wrong, you must be punished. You reap what you sow. If we were able to move beyond this narrow philosophy and adopt a performance-improvement approach where situations were evaluated and all parties were enabled to learn from what happened, we wouldn’t need to hide identities. If the culture were one of safety and development of skills, it would be able to grow into the kind of police department we could trust. This is the kind of society we not only could have, but is within our reach. JAN CAUGHLAN BALTIMORE
In the book George and Martha, George, a grumpy hippo, hates pea soup. In fact, George “hate[s] pea soup more than anything else in the world.” To compound his problem, his friend Martha makes split pea soup everyday. Sometimes, Martha made split pea soup all day long. Finally, George reaches his breaking point. He decides never to eat another bowl of split pea soup again. Instead of telling Martha’s his feelings, though, George tosses her soup into his loafers. Unbeknownst to him, she watches him dispose of the soup. She confronts him about it. Cornered, he confesses his dislike of the soup. It turned out that she, too, hated the soup. In the end, they eat chocolate chip cookies together and everyone is happy. You, the customer of media, are George. From the decline in newspaper subscriptions to the fall in TV news ratings to the increase in grumbling indications are that people are dissatisfied with the media (“Mediagnosis,” The Mail, Feb. 25). Behaving like George, the people (you) are bottling up their feelings and tossing the soup into their loafers. By that, I mean, without complaint or protest, you cancel subscriptions, stop watching, and generally tune out. Unfortunately, the media, unlike Martha, does not catch you in the act and then can’t question you. So they make best guesses—like blaming the declining economy. This leads to bad decisions, more crap productions, and ultimately the death of major media outlets. Keeping with the spirit of Dave Eberhardt’s appeal for more discourse on the topic, I call on every disgruntled TV watcher, newspaper reader, or blogging pundit to make with the Airing of Grievances and bombard their local stations and papers with letters to the editor, phone calls, e-mails, telegrams, air grams, and even show up at their place of business. Cry havoc and let loose the complaints of war. Following up with that,
Address letters to THE MAIL, City Paper, 812 Park Ave., Baltimore, MD 21201; fax: (410) 523-0138; e-mail: letters@citypaper. com. Only letters that address material published in or policies of CP, are no more than 500 words long, and include the writer’s name, address, and daytime phone number will be considered for publication. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.
when you do cancel a newspaper subscription— tell them why. Be blunt. I’ll start. Foremost, I wish print publications like City Paper, The Urbanite, and others would prominently place the guidelines by which freelance contributors can submit stuff for consideration in their papers and on their web sites. Secondly, I wish City Paper would allow op-eds like The Baltimore Sun. I’d also like to see more history in these papers. City Paper has had informative articles on such topics as Baltimore’s contribution to the ice cream industry (“I Scream, You Scream,” Charmed Life, April 29, 1998), while The Sun once had a series entitled,” I Remember When,” which featured stories by and recollections of people who lived through events in Baltimore’s past. Bring them back. Finally, I wish media outlets would fire pundits, reporters, and columnists who confuse “climate” and “weather” when debating issues surrounding global warming. They are two different things, studied by two different disciplines. Differentiating between them is a 6thgrade skill. If you do not know this bit of trivia, it is guaranteed that the more complex science is beyond you and that you’re incapable of intelligently contributing to the debate.
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THIS MODERN WORLD
BY TOM TOMORROW
Black History Month I read with disgust “Black History Month” by Vincent Williams (Social Studies, Feb. 18). Williams writes,“I don’t remember the last time I celebrated or even acknowledged Black History Month.” That is a shameful disgrace to his black family, Vincent’s black race of people, and black slaves who suffered under the brutal system of slavery in colonial America to leave Vincent Williams and all blacks a “never again” moment for blacks living today. As I see it, Black History Month should be celebrated by all black folks first, and other racial groups if they choose because black slaves endured racism and racial discrimination despite a determined effort by some white folks to kill all black folks, or to work black slaves to death. As an Afrocentric feminist, I am tired of certain educated and uneducated delusional black folks who are ashamed of the good and bad parts of our black history. Our black history is not a myth, and a multicultural society will erase the tribes of people to live as one.
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Made Us Look? I don’t blame NASA scientist/convicted childporn-viewer Alfred Schultz for feeling confused after his recent legal ordeal, since our current “child porn” obsession confuses me, too (“Guilty as Charged,” Mobtown Beat, Feb. 10). We are constantly being told that this nasty stuff is every-
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MARCH 4, 2009
city paper | 5
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0UT YOUR CAREER ON THE FRONT BURNER
where, that the man next door or in the next cubicle is drooling over it right now, and that a glimpse of it will turn a law-abiding citizen into a vicious baby-raper. (Oddly, this doesnâ€™t seem to apply to police and prosecutors, who can apparently stare at â€œchild pornâ€? all day long without suffering ill effects.) Therefore, taxpayers interested in seeing some of this crapâ€”not to get turned on, but to determine whether a real problem existsâ€”are denied this privilege since, as everyone knows, one peek at â€œchild pornâ€? will turn us all into raving maniacs. Could it be that our alleged â€œchild pornâ€? crisis is, like the Great Satanic-Worship Day Care Scandal of the 1980s, all hype and no substance? Could it be that the hold â€œchild pornâ€? has taken on the American imagination represents a form of psychological displacement, a means of collective denial for the documented fact that compared to other industrial nations, we treat our children like garbage? Could it be that our supposedly patriarchal society offers equal opportunity for both men and women to have their reputations ruined in a high-tech witch hunt? It could indeed. JON SWIFT BALTIMORE
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Corrections: The photograph of Gov. Martin Oâ€™Malley that ran with our Mobtown Beat story on the death penalty in Maryland in the Feb. 26 issue should have been credited to Jay Baker. On a similar note, the photograph of L.P. Steamers in this weekâ€™s EAT dining guide, though credited to Jefferson Jackson Steele, was actually taken by Frank Hamilton. City Paper regrets the errors. Also, David Simon covered the police for The Sun from 1982 to 1995, not 1982 to 1985, as stated in a note at the end of last weekâ€™s feature (â€œThe Shield,â€? Feb. 26). Editorâ€™s note: Details are still being firmed up at press time, but weâ€™re excited to announce City Paperâ€™s first short film contest; visit citypaper. com/go/shortfilmcontest for forthcoming updates.
FROM THE WEB From COMMENTS on citypaper.com: FEATURE: â€œTHE SHIELDâ€?
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All Iâ€™m saying is if it [is] â€œfairâ€? to name the officer, it is â€œfairâ€? to describe, in detail, the criminal history of the person the officer shot and the circumstances of the incident. The thing is, anyone, ANYONE, who racks up multiple arrests over years is not a very decent person. Now you can all go back to calling into question the character of the officer. â€”â€œh23,â€? 2/25/2009, 5:34;01 p.m.
Feature: â€œThe Shieldâ€? This is exactly the type of article The Baltimore Sun should have in its newspaper. Unfortunately, thatâ€™s not how the Tribune Company operates. Baltimore City Paper tops them again. Another outstanding piece from David Simon. â€”â€œatilla the hon,â€? 3/1/2009, 2:32:21 p.m. â–
MARCH 4, 2009
POLITICAL ANIMAL IF IT’S WAR THEY WANT IT’S GETTING TO THAT TIME WHEN WE MAY HAVE
to man the barricades and wait for the telltale sound of squealing now that President Obama has released his budget. Not long after that, we’ll see the banners and hear the predictable charges of “Class warfare!” And if you think about it, that’s exactly what it is—and the class that has been taking it on the chin for the last 30 years is about ready to return fire. It was Ronald Reagan who began this battle, on a number of fronts. It was Reagan, the first
BY B R I A N M O R T O N
of Representatives). Newt Gingrich, who this weekend was featured on the cover of The New York Times Magazine as one of the Republicans jockeying to lead the party out of the wilderness, said this at a GOP press conference in August of 1993: “I believe this will lead to a recession next year. This is the Democrat machine’s recession, and each one of them will be held personally accountable.” In contrast, by the time George W. Bush had been in office a year, the right-wingers were already champing at the bit not just to keep lowering the top rate, but actually pushing to tax low-income earners even more, since in their eyes, if poor people aren’t taxed enough,
IF THIS IS CLASS WARFARE, THE TANKS OF THE RICH HAVE BEEN GRINDING THE REST OF US DOWN INTO THE MUD FOR 30 YEARS. union member to become president, who cut the legs out from under the collective bargaining movement, beginning the steady erosion of union membership (thus giving power to the executive class whose salaries began their explosive and outrageous rise). It was Reagan who began the campaign to lower the top-tier tax rates, by a series of avuncular lies, the biggest of which was ridiculed as “trickledown economics.” Give all the tax breaks to the top brackets and the largesse would trickle down to everyone else. Reagan’s budget director, David Stockman, was even quoted in The Atlantic in 1981 as calling the Reagan tax plan “a Trojan Horse” to bring down the top rate. By the time George H.W. Bush took office, the top tax rate was down to 28 percent, and Reagan had yet to fulfill his promise to balance the budget with all the magical revenues that cutting taxes were supposed to bring. When Bill Clinton raised the top rate back up to 39.6 percent, conservatives took to the airwaves with their unceasing whine that Clinton enacted “the largest tax increase in American history.” Eight years later, Clinton balanced the budget and left George W. Bush with a surplus. And what was the first thing Bush claimed? That he could cut taxes, keep the surplus and grow the economy! Have we learned anything here yet? About every other year in this space for the last six years, I have repeated Santayana’s old saw about what happens to those who forget history (while putting together my book of columns, this became rather obvious), but here I am again trying to point out what will happen—and the conservatives are playing their part right down to re-blocking the same choreography. The blogger David Waldman, known as “Kagro X” on the Daily Kos, compiled a list of quotes from prominent Republicans back in 1993 after Clinton proposed his deficit reduction plan (that, like Obama’s stimulus plan, passed without a single Republican vote in the House
they aren’t angry enough about the size of government (which has always been bad in the eyes of the right). Calling the poor “Lucky Duckies,” the Wall Street Journal editorialized in November 2002 that “Workers who pay little or no taxes can hardly be expected to care about tax relief for everybody else. They are also that much more detached from recognizing the costs of government.” By the end of the Bush administration, Bloomberg reported that the average tax rate paid by the richest 400 Americans dropped a quarter to a stunning 17.2 percent and their average income doubled to $263.3 million, mostly because of the steady Bush effort to keep cutting capital gains rates. The Congressional Budget Office points out that the average post-tax income of the top one percent of households, adjusted for inflation, jumped by a million dollars since 1979, while the pay for most families has only barely climbed faster than the inflation rate. If this is class warfare, the tanks of the rich have been grinding the rest of us down into the mud for 30 years. Lawrence Summers, the former Clinton treasury secretary turned Obama economic advisor, used to say that, in effect, families in the bottom 80 percent of earners were each sending an annual check of $7,000 to the top one percent. President Obama has a chance to reverse the reverse-Robin Hood mindset that the Republicans have foisted on us for two generations. All the money that has been funneled to those top earners has gone to eviscerate government, enable irresponsible stock traders and real estate swindlers, and balloon executive salaries despite vanishing profits and failing companies, while the pensions and the jobs and the futures of middle class and poor Americans vanished like tears. Change isn’t going to come quick. As a matter of fact, it’s going to be a war, and the people who got all that money aren’t going to give up easily. ■ firstname.lastname@example.org
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LORENZO REEVES (LEFT) WITH LAVERN WHITT.
THURSDAY, FEB. 26
MEXICAN CONNECTION M Y S PA C E . C O M / P R O D U C E R C H I C 1
Baltimore drug case with ties to city politics part of nationwide cartel crack-down ON FEB. 25, a Baltimore drug conspiracy was in the limelight as part of the public unveiling of an ongoing federal effort to destroy the Sinaloa Cartel of Mexico. At a press conference in Washington D.C., officials said that Operation Xcellerator, an anti-narcotic initiative targeting the powerful cartel’s operations in the United States, had in the past 21 months arrested more than 750 people and seized more than $59 million in drug proceeds, 12,000 kilos of cocaine, 1,200 pounds of methamphetamine, 1.3 million Ecstasy pills, and more than 160 weapons. Eight of those arrested and charged for their dealings with the Sinaloa Cartel are part of a Baltimore-based drug conspiracy that is tied, through one of its members— Lawrence Schaffner “Lorenzo” Reeves—to an educational seminar program for children seeking to enter the entertainment business. Reeves is co-founder of the seminar business, called Hollywood in a Bottle, and a seminar it held last summer at a Baltimore City public school received support from Baltimore Comptroller Joan Pratt. “Just 40 miles from here,” said acting Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) chief Michele Leonhart, with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder by her side, “we took down violent drug traffickers which were supplied with hundreds of kilos of cocaine from Mexico.” L ater t h at d ay, U. S. At tor ney for Mar yland Rod Rosenstein told Cit y Paper that the case Leonhart was referring to was against Reeves and his seven accused co-conspirators. Rosenstein added that the Reeves conspiracy is the only Baltimore case that falls under Operation Xcellerator. It was indicted late last August, and has since received extensive coverage in City Paper (“The Hollywood Connection,” The News Hole, Aug. 29, 2008). Reeves, who has prior drug convictions in Maryland and Arizona, pleaded guilty in January to his part in the conspiracy to import more than 330 pounds of cocaine from Mexico. His criminal-defense attorney, Gary Proctor, had no comment for this story. In July 2008, a City Paper repor ter d ropped by t he Nationa l Academy Foundation School, a Baltimore city public school in Federal Hill, where the wellattended Hollywood in a Bottle program was being held. It featured experienced Hollywood professionals sharing career advice with youngsters.
“Joan Pratt was our biggest sponsor,” the event’s publicist, Sharon Page of Synergy Communications, proclaimed at the time. A month later, after Reeves’ indictment, Page backed off on that claim, saying that Pratt only “paid for our T-shirts.” When asked in a Feb. 26 e-mail about the heightened profile of the Reeves case, Pratt gave the following prepared statement: “I’m always concerned about crime and it is troubling to hear about this investigation. I have no knowledge of this conspiracy or facts surrounding this investigation.” Last August, Pratt explained to City Paper that, while she does not know Reeves per son a l ly, she does k now Reeves’ Hollywood in a Bottle co-founder, LaVern Whitt, a native Baltimorean and former Hollywood stuntwoman. Pratt, who runs an accounting business aside from her public duties, filed incorporation papers on behalf of Page’s Synergy Communications. Pratt and her private attorney, Sharon King Dudley, who was hired last year by Baltimore City to investigate employee-discipline matters, were two of Hollywood in a Bottle’s four listed sponsors on the company’s web site. Nothing has come to light suggesting that Pratt had any direct interactions with Reeves, or that Pratt had any knowledge of Reeves’ criminal activities. Whitt has said she didn’t know about Reeves’ involvement in drug activities either. “I needed help, so he came on board,” she told City Paper after Reeves’ indictment. “I just met him five months ago. This is my hard-earned idea. I need sponsors to help me. I have no idea about that other world. I don’t know him like that.” Whitt had Baltimore criminal defense attorney Warren Brown handle any further inquiries on the matter. On Feb. 26, after being told that Operation Xcellerator tied Reeves to Sinaloa, Brown said that Whitt, “is just like probably tons of other people who may have received funds from this guy. She would not know about his
involvement in any criminal activities.” Lending credence to this claim, he said, is “the fact that she was never contacted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office” in connection with the case. Nonetheless, Whitt’s par tnership with Reeves has tainted some of her other endeavors, including a documentary-in-progress she’s co-producing with entertainment titan Kevin Liles, the executive vice president of Warner Music Group and also a Baltimore native. Called Women in Power, a sevenminute promo of which was screened at the historic Senator Theater early last year, the film’s subjects are Baltimore’s four top elected officials: Mayor Sheila Dixon, City Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, State’s Attorney Patricia Jessamy, and Pratt. In late 2007, Whitt did on-camera interviews with each of them. All four have since sought to distance themselves from the project. After the Reeves indictment came down last year, City Paper contacted the subjects of Women in Power to ask them what they knew about Whitt and her involvement in Hollywood in a Bottle and her relationship with Reeves. Dixon’s then-spokesman Sterling Clifford said he’d vetted Whitt before she interviewed the mayor and turned up no red flags, but Dixon’s office had no comment for this story. Rawlings-Blake’s spokesman Ryan O’Doherty asserted on Feb. 26 that the council president regarded Whitt as simply another member of the media seeking access. “Ms. Whitt came to this office to do filming for a documentary,” O’Doherty said, “and we granted it, just as we do others, and the relationship ends there.” Jessamy’s office, which last year confirmed that Whitt had interviewed the state’s attorney, did not return calls for comment on the matter. Other than Reeves, two other members of the eight-man conspiracy—Devon Marshall and Otis Rich—have also pleaded guilty. Both have violent criminal histories. Marshall was described by pros-
2:45 P . M . The buildingmaintenance supervisor at Carroll Manor Apartments, BY AN NA DITKOFF an apartment complex in the 700 block of Arlington Avenue in Harlem Park that caters to people 55 years and older, received a call from the family of Frederick Archer, one of the complex’s residents. The maintenance supervisor entered Archer’s apartment and found the 68-year-old African-American man dead. He had been stabbed and possibly beaten. Archer is the fourth person over the age of 50 murdered this year.
SUNDAY, MARCH 1 1:30 A.M. Nelson Gause, a 29-year-old African-American man from Arcadia, was at a party at Kolpers, a bar at 1520 Clipper Road just outside of Hampden along the Jones Falls. Gause was stabbed in the chest during an altercation. A 31-year-old African-American man at the party chased the person who stabbed Gause out of the bar. The two struggled and the man was stabbed in the head and hand. The suspect got away. Gause died at an area hospital an hour later. The other man survived. This is the eighth fatal stabbing this year; 19 people were stabbed to death in all of 2008.
MURDERS THIS WEEK: 2 MURDERS THIS YEAR: 38 UPDATES Four more people were arrested this week for the murder of Petro Taylor, a 20-year-old African-American man. A 16-year-old African-American girl named Grechauna Rogers was arrested last week and charged with the homicide. This week, police arrested Terrell Gray, a 23-year-old AfricanAmerican man, Anthony Williams, a 23-year-old African-American man, and two more teenage girls—Sierra Pyles, a 19-year-old African-American, and Tenisha Lawson, an 18-year-old African-American—for Taylor’s murder. Taylor’s body was found in Leakin Park, burnt beyond recognition, on Dec. 30, 2008. According to police, he was actually killed on Dec. 28. Taylor was beaten at the Red Carpet Inn at 5810 Reisterstown Road, thrown into the trunk of a car, and driven to Leakin Park. There Taylor was stabbed numerous times and set on fire while he was still alive. Trever Gipson, a 35-year-old African-American man, was indicted by a Baltimore City Grand Jury on Feb. 23. Gipson is accused of stabbing 48-year-old African American man William Hightower to death. According to the State’s Attorney’s Office, Hightower was stabbed repeatedly in the upper body in the 3000 block of Woodhome Avenue on Nov. 8, 2008. Police gave the date of Hightower’s murder as Nov. 15, 2008. Gipson also has charges against him for failing to keep his address up to date with the sex offender database. In 1999, he pleaded guilty to a third-degree sex offense. It is unclear what his sentence was. On Feb. 27, Brandon Spady, a 26-year-old African-American man, pleaded guilty to the murder of his girlfriend. Spady was sentenced to 20 years in prison. On Dec. 17, 2007, Spady called the police and told them that his girlfriend was lying on her bedroom floor unresponsive. His girlfriend’s name, according to the State’s Attorney’s Office, was Lezli Williams. At the time of her death, police gave her name as Lezli Dukes. She was a 22-year-old African-American woman with three children who lived in the 3200 block of Walbrook Avenue. Spady admitted to police that he had had an argument with Williams and grabbed her FOR THE LATEST “by the neck, threw her down on the floor, and CITY PAPER STORIES AND UPDATES, held her down by the neck for 15-20 seconds. VISIT CITYPAPER. He saw her eyes roll back into her head and then COM/NEWS. put her in the bed.” He then told Williams’ 7-yearold daughter that “Mommy was sleeping.” He left thinking she was merely unconscious and realized the next morning that she was dead. Williams’ children—the 7-year-old, a 3-year-old, and a 1-year-old—tried to wake their mother up in the morning, but could not do so. A 2003 study published in the American Journal of Public Health authored by Jacquelyn Campbell, a professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing and a national expert on domestic violence, found that being strangled by a boyfriend or husband increased a woman’s chances of being killed by him fivefold. citypaper.com
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BILL 09-0290 SIMULATED SLOT MACHINESâ€” ZONINGâ€”LICENSING AND REGULATIONâ€”ADMISSIONS A N D A M U S E M E N T TA X . Would reduce the tax on illegal machines and allow more of them.
KEEPING TABS ON THE CITY COUNCILâ€™S ACTIVITIES SO YOU DONâ€™T HAVE TO
B Y E DWA R D E R I C S O N J R . THE STORY: Built into the bill, introduced by Councilman Robert Curran (D-3rd District), is the notion that the machinesâ€™ operators grossly under-report their revenue. Because of this rampant tax cheating, the real effect of Curranâ€™s bill would be to increase the cityâ€™s revenue by about $5 million. The bill could have â€œunintended consequences,â€? Curran admits: It could reduce the number of illegal slot machinesâ€”because some bar owners have told him they canâ€™t afford the proposed annual $3,000 per-machine tax. Curran spins this as a good outcome for those concerned about illegal gambling. He says, the unintended consequence (actually intended by the bill, which raises the cap on the number of illegal machines perversely allowed by the zoning law) of increasing the number of â€œamusement devicesâ€? in Baltimore to 4,000 (from the current 2,200) would be an even better outcome, because then the city could collect a full $12 million in additional revenue. To those who question Curranâ€™s logic and motive, Curran replies, â€œgive your idea for raising revenue without raising taxes.â€?
BILL 09-0288 BURGLAR ALARMSâ€”REGISTRATION FEES. Would repeal the annual $20 registration fee burglar-alarm customers must pay to the city to help cover the cost of false alarms.
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citypaper.com/go/feedbag MARCH 4, 2009
BILL 09-0289 FORECLOSURE CHATTLESâ€”NOTICE OF DISPOSSESSION. This would allow foreclosed homeowners to stay in their homes for free for at least a year after the foreclosure judgment, rather than the current two weeks. THE STORY: Co-sponsors Bill Henry (D-4th District) and Mary Pat Clarke (D-14th District) say they want to encourage lenders to work out things with borrowers, to prevent foreclosed homes from blighting neighborhoods. â€œI say itâ€™s time for a little fairness for the people who went through all [they were put through] by the banksâ€? foreclosing their homes, Clarke says. The entire council signed onto the bill as sponsors, to the applause of spectators. But the bill appears predicated on the questionable premise that allâ€”or at least mostâ€”of the cityâ€™s foreclosure evictions are served on innocent homeowners and victims of predatory lenders. However, given that at the height of the bubble, two-thirds of Baltimore home sales were to investors, it appears that the bill could abet failed (or fraudulent) speculators at least as much as blameless victims. CITY COUNCIL QUOTE OF THE WEEK
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THE STORY: Bill sponsor Councilwoman Rochelle â€œRikkiâ€? Spector (D-5th District), says the fee was imposed six years ago after a rash of false fire alarms. â€œWell, I hope by now we have corrected all of the faulty alarms and people realize itâ€™s not in their best interestâ€? to have a faulty system. â€œWe cannot continue to go into the pockets of our constituents, and that $20 annual registration has to cease and desist now.â€? While itâ€™s true that burglar alarm users (and the burglar alarm industry) have been irked by the fee systemâ€”which includes a $50 surcharge for the third false alarm in a year, and escalating fines for more false alarmsâ€”Spector overlooks the subsidy alarm users and the industry have received from other taxpayers. As of 2003, the fees amounted to little more than 10 percent of the cost of responding to false alarms, but the fee system, which generated about $575,000 that year, helped bring down the number of false alarms from about 82,000 in 2003 to less than 30,000 last year. Even then, responding to 30,000 false alarms costs the city about $1.5 millionâ€”right in line with the total fees generated by the program. The private burglar alarm industry, nationwide, receives one of the largest taxpayer subsidies of any industry, according to an analysis by reporter David Cay Johnston. â€œThis particular free lunch is so lavish,â€? he writes in his 2007 book, Free Lunch, about hidden corporate subsidies, â€œthat the taxpayers provide all the profits the industry reports.â€? User fees help taxpayers get a fairer deal.
â€œWhatever is going on in that neighborhood, she always had her finger on that pie.â€? â€”MARY PAT CLARKE (14th), in salute to the former Planning Commission member Rita Church-Baker, who died Feb. 21. The next City Council meeting is scheduled for March 16 at 5 p.m.
ecutors as Reevesâ€™ enforcer, someone who could be counted on to inflict violence to settle disputes. When his Harford County home was searched last year, among the guns that turned up was an assault rifle with 20 armor-piercing bullets. His familiarity with streetlevel violence landed him on the potential witness list of a death-penalty trial that ended abruptly last spring when two of the three defendants, Harry Burton and Allen Gill, pleaded guilty to charges of running a murderous, decade-long drug
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â€œIT IS TROUBLING TO HEAR ABOUT THIS INVESTIGATION,â€? JOAN PRATT SAYS. â€œI HAVE NO KNOWLEDGE OF THIS CONSPIRACY OR FACTS SURROUNDING THIS INVESTIGATION.â€? conspiracy based at the Latrobe Homes housing project in East Baltimore. Court records indicate that the third man in the Latrobe Homes case, Stanford Stansbury, who has family ties to notorious Baltimore bailbondsman and ex-con Milton Tillman Jr. (â€œGrave Accusations,â€? Mobtown Beat, April 23, 2008), negotiated a pending plea deal in the case. Richâ€™s criminal career includes two convictions for drugs and firearms, amid three other dropped murder and attempted-murder charges. On Feb. 20, Richâ€™s name came up in a court hearing in the federal drugs-and-guns case against Andre Kirby. Prosecutors explained that Kirby, on the day that he was arrested last May, had given Rich a ride to the hospital after Rich had been shot amid a surge in gangrelated violence. The five remaining members of the alleged conspiracy have pleaded not guilty to the charges and are awaiting trial, scheduled to begin Aug. 17. Two of themâ€”Juan Nunez and Marcos Galindoâ€”have transportation-related businesses. Nunezâ€™ trucking compa ny, J& R T ra nspor t, was run out of an East Baltimore building that also houses his former bar, El Rancho Blanco on Fagley Street, and Nunezâ€™ loan for purchasing the building was co-signed by Gilbert Sapperstein, a well-known po-
litically connected figure who was convicted in 2005 of bilking millions of dollars through city government contracts. During hearings in the case, Nunez was described as using drug cash to buy luxury cars from a Los Angeles-based car dealer, selling vehicles with hidden drug-stash compartments, and, despite having no reported income, depositing large amounts of money into bank accounts. Galindo, who has prior guns-and-drugs charges in Arizona, is director of a Mesa, Ariz.-based company called Precision Installation, which designs office space and delivers furniture. Two other co-conspiratorsâ€” William Leonardo Graham of Baltimore and Nathaniel Lee Jones of Calvert Countyâ€”have prior drug-related convictions, and Graham has a prior gun conviction. Also charged in the case is Justin Santiago Gallardo of Annapolis, whose prior criminal history appears to consist of driving-related of fenses in Mar yland and Arizona. The prosecution of the Reeves case, says Rosenstein, â€œmakes the obvious connection that drugs are coming to Baltimore from outside of Maryland. We will continue to trace the drugs back to the source, work our way up to the top, and ultimately indict the major players.â€? â– VA N S M I T H
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LATIN BLISS BY HENRY HONG PHOTOGRAPHS BY THE AUTHOR F THE INNUMERABLE LITTLE POCKETS OF JOY that can randomly pop into existence on any particular day, a truly special one was visited upon me this past fall. I arrived home to find a delivery menu stuck on my door, which on its own may not be such a big deal, but even from a distance I could tell it was new, unfamiliar.
A BANANA LEAF, NECESSARY FOR PROPER BANANA-LEAF TAMALES.
MARCH 4, 2009
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THE GLISTENING GREEN, SQUAT BUNDLES WERE MORE OF A PACKAGED DINNER THAN A PORTABLE SNACK, WITH VEGETAL, SMOKY PEPPER, AND WARM CINNAMON AROMAS WAFTING UP WHEN YOU OPENED ONE.
¡TAMALES PARA TODOS!
Jackpot! A brand new delivery place, and not only that, the first-ever delivery Mexican! And Honduran food, too. Here in East Baltimore (already the convenience capital thanks to the availability of delivery beer and cigs) you can order cemitas, tacos, pupusas, and most importantly, tamales. It’s only in the past decade that Baltimoreans have enjoyed a veritable wealth of quality Latin cuisine options, and only in the past few years that such a variety of nonstandard Tex-Mex dishes has appeared on Baltimore-area menus. Now, finally, tamales are prevalent enough to warrant delivery status (albeit with just one option currently—Pizza and Taqueria-Tex-Mex on Eastern Avenue; see below). This was really a special moment for me; after all one way to measure a city’s awesomeness is by the variety of foods that can be had without even walking one’s lazy ass out of the house. Baby steps, Baltimore, baby steps. The last time I’d had a decent tamal was years ago, when my girlfriend at the time made one of her food-mule runs from her native Detroit. It was her usual haul of pierogies and gulasz from Polish Village in Hamtramck, and green and red tamales from some unnamed place in Mexicantown, all paragons of their ilk. And while I have yet to encounter anything even approaching the food from Polish Village here in Baltimore, the local tamal scene has caught up, and I daresay surpasses that of Detroit. This in my estimation is due to the prevalence of southern-style (i.e. from Southern and Gulf Coast Mexico and Central America) tamales. Considering their brief history here, I guess it’s not so surprising that a lot of people don’t know exactly what tamales are. A tamal (the singular form of tamales) is essentially masa (ground corn treated with lime) mixed with fat, usually surrounding some sort of filling, that’s been wrapped in leaves and then cooked. The field corn used for masa requires chemical treatment (lime or other alkaline) to remove the tough indigestible hulls from the kernels, which are then ground into flour. Tamales are an indigenous American food, consumed by ancient Mesoamerican cultures like the Aztecs. Perhaps the most familiar style of tamales in the United States are the type popular in the South and Southwest, usually masa mixed with lard or shortening wrapped in dried corn husks, filled with beef, pork, or chicken and salsa verde (green tomatillo-based), salsa roja (red dried chili pepper-based), or mole (dried chili pepper 14 | city paper
MARCH 4, 2009
and chocolate-based) sauce. Often the choices are streamlined to just green or red. Tamales calientes, or “hot tamales,” were a type popular in the Mississippi Delta, where Mexican and African-American laborers picked cotton in the same fields. Bluesman Robert Johnson famously used them as a metaphor for vaginas in his song “They’re Red Hot,” and you can still buy nasty Hot Tamales candies, which impart heat with cinnamon flavor. (Cinnamon is used in many tamal recipes, so there is a valid if tenuous connection there.) The southern style differs in that the tamales are wrapped in banana leaves instead of corn husks, a technique arising in post-Columbian times, as bananas are native to Southeast Asia. Banana leaves are much larger and sturdier than corn husks, and thus allow for more size variation and differences in cooking technique and consistency. At local eateries, banana-leaf tamales are often roughly the same size as cornhusk tamales, about the size of a TV remote control. This is probably to price them competitively (usually around $2) because homemade ones are typically larger. In any case, in Baltimore it is usually Honduran or Salvadoran restaurants that serve these banana-leaf tamales, which tend to be more tender and moister than their Mexican counterparts, which too often have masa that is grainy, dense, and dry. My theory is that because the banana leaves form a tighter, more durable package, the masa can be made “looser” with the addition of more fat or liquid without fear of leakage or loss of structural integrity. Another difference is that the meat (usually pork or chicken in Baltimore) in corn-husk tamales is cooked beforehand, then used to fill the tamales, which are then steamed relatively briefly to set the masa. The banana leaves used in southern-style tamales enable longer cooking times, and the meat (usually dark meat chicken) is cooked directly inside the masa, enhancing the savoriness of an already extra-fatty product. In fact, these tamales almost never have any sauce cooked into them, although this, too, may be a costcutting measure. I was introduced to this type of tamal by my friend Fred, who is originally from Guatemala and has worked in my restaurant for several years. Three years ago, his mother was visiting over Christmas, and asked if she could use the restaurant facilities to make tamales, since, like many labor-intensive foods, they are a holiday tradition when you have family and friends around who are willing to be pressed into forced
labor. In exchange for my help, I got her recipe, and I still feel guilty for getting the far better end of that deal. I’d made tamales just a few times before, having mostly shied away from them due to the enormous time and effort investment: The process—mix the masa, cook the sauce, prepare the meat, assemble the tamales, and steam—is pretty much an all-day affair. But there were a few major differences this time. The use of banana leaves, of course, was the big one, but also I noticed that Fred’s mom cooked her masa far longer than usual. I now believe this is part of what makes the Central American tamales so moist—the long cooking time ensures full absorption of liquid by the corn meal before tamal assembly, thus enabling the cook to accurately adjust the final texture of the masa. In Mexicanstyle tamales, the masa is cooked briefly if at all, and I think the resulting dryness and stiffness is caused by under-saturated corn meal soaking up all the moisture. And finally, the use of raw meat (in this case pork) being cooked directly within the tamales, which are steamed for three or four hours, or long enough for the pork to become tender. Suffice it to say these things changed my world view entirely. The glistening green, squat bundles were more of a packaged dinner than a portable snack, with vegetal, smoky pepper, and warm cinnamon aromas wafting up when you opened one. Inside was tender on-the-bone pork, sweet peppers, sliced olives, and the amazing masa—completely different than anything I’d had before, barely cohesive, trembly, almost gelatin-like in texture, acquiescent to the merest pressure, but still holding shape around the filling. That day and the subsequent week, I had so many I felt like I was sweating lard, aka “the tamal sweats,” and while I was grateful to Mrs. Peñate (Fred’s mom) for opening my eyes, I also felt despair at the thought of having to do so much damn work if I ever wanted to have such good tamales again. My hopes were briefly sparked in 2007 when I moved to Butcher’s Hill and noticed a few places selling tamales, but in general they were disappointing, not even matching those from Detroit. The recent tamal explosion, however, led to my first encounter with a retail bananaleaf tamale. A friend recommended I try pupusas at Rosa’s Grill at Lexington Market, but tamales were on the menu and I noticed they were wrapped in foil, a tell-tale sign of the Central American style. Though they were a bit minimalist compared to the homemade ones
I’d had, lacking any sauce and using chicken instead of pork (probably to shorten cooking time), the masa was righteous, and they were far and away the best retail tamales I’d had in Baltimore up till then. Thus began my mission to organize a guide to this city’s current state of tamal affairs. I employed the assistance of several friends, many of them tamal virgins, to compile scores and comments, all of us enduring intense bouts of tamal sweats in the process. No need to thank us, it was our pleasure.
INCE BOTH banana-leaf and corn-husk tamales were tasted, a direct comparison was impossible. Flavor and texture scores reflect the average based on the subjective ratings (1-5) of 10 tasters. Most retail bananaleaf tamales are filled with chicken, so chicken (and thus verde or green) corn-husk tamales were tasted when possible. Most places also offer roja, or red tamales filled with pork; exceptions are noted. All tamales cost around $2.00 each, with the exception of Mari Luna’s, which are three for $8. All “comments” are those of tasters, and “notes” are by the author.
HABANERO GRILL 4701 Eastern Ave., (410) 342-0937, habanerogrill.com Flavor: 3.08 Texture: 3.06 Taster Comments: “mushy”; “smooth and rich”; “average flavor; “crap texture” Notes: The tamales came unwrapped, haphazardly boxed, and had a slight orange hue. The masa had potato chunks and chickpeas mixed in, which most tasters liked. The chicken was white meat and rather bland.
RECI PE FOR TAMALES DE MARGARITA SANTANA PE単ATE AT CITYPAPER .COM/GO/TAMALES
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¡TAMALES PARA TODOS!
“a little spicy” Notes: Although we ordered a la carte, tamales were served un-husked (most likely originally corn-husked), drizzled with sour cream, and served with condiments, making reheating difficult. Beef tamales are also available.
MICHELLE’S CAFÉ 1832 Eastern Ave., (410) 522-0554, michellescafebaltimore.com Oxaqueño tamal Flavor: 3.5 Texture: 2.67 Taster Comments: “complex sauce”; “dense”; “cornmeal not flavorful” Notes: Banana-leaf tamales were included to
compare with other banana-leaf tamales. While the mole provided depth, it was sparse, and the masa suffered from flavor and texture problems. Salsa verde tamal Flavor: 2.6 Texture: 2.4 Taster Comments: “one dimensional”; “overwhelming spice”; “too dense”; “a bit dry”; “great flavor and spice” Notes: Corn-husk tamales. The masa tends to be drier later in the day. The verde sauce was very flavorful, but skimpy. However, the masa and chicken had good flavor. Several kinds of tamales are available, but tend to sell out toward the end of the day.
PIZZA AND TAQUERIA-TEX-MEX 3019 E. Baltimore St., (410) 327-7679 Flavor: 3.6 Texture: 3.1 Taster Comments: “excellent balance”; “firm but not too dry”; “hint of spice” “zesty”; “satisfying”; “average” Notes: Corn-husk tamales, served with salsa verde, had very good moisture and good flavor throughout. Bonus points for being available for delivery.
MARI LUNA MEXICAN GRILL
MARI LUNA MEXICAN GRILL 102 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville, (410) 486-9910, mariluna.com Flavor: 2.29 Texture: 2.56 Taster Comments: “dry”; “mealy, kind of bland”;
PIZZA AND TAQUERIA TEX-MEX
ROSA’S GRILL MICHELLE’S CAFÉ (OXAQUEÑO)
MICHELLE’S CAFÉ (SALSA VERDE)
400 W. Lexington St., (410) 545-0572 Flavor: 4.06 Texture: 3.72
LIVE on Sunday, March 29
FOR DETAILS AND YOUR CHANCE TO GET IN: go to JDStudioNo7.com or look for the Jack Daniel’s Promo Team in your area. Must be 21 years or older to participate. See ofﬁcial rules at JDStudioNo7.com. Invites are limited. JACK DANIEL’S, OLD NO.7 and STUDIO NO. 7 are trademarks. © 2009 Jack Daniel’s. Tennessee Whiskey Alcohol 40% by Volume (80 proof). Distilled and Bottled by JACK DANIEL DISTILLERY, Lynchburg (POP. 361), Tennessee.
16 | city paper
MARCH 4, 2009
Leave the Show to the Band. Please Enjoy Responsibly.
The International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement LA SIRENITA RESTAURANTE II 3928 Eastern Ave., (410) 522-5055 Flavor: 3.09 Texture: 2.88 Taster Comments: “eh”; “a little dry and bland”; “some good spice”; “meh”; “decent” Notes: Corn-husk tamales oddly wrapped in plastic wrap. They were filling and had slight kick, but the masa was a bit dense.
is holding a tribunal to put the city of Baltimore on trial for its crimes against the African Community
Issues to Be Discussed: Police Violence, Housing Issues & Economic Terrorism. Saturday, March 14, 2009 2pm-8pm Sojourner Douglass College • 200 N. Central Ave (Cafeteria, Rear Entrance) Baltimore, MD for more informantion, call 443.599.0106 • inpdumbaltimore.org
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Taster Comments: “rich”; “really fucking good”; gooey”; “almost gelatinous, full flavor”; “a little mushy.” Notes: Banana-leaf tamales with very rich and smooth masa texture—some tasters found to be too soft. Pleasant flavor throughout, however, and sweet tamales are also available. Overall, these were the favorite banana-leaf tamales.
[ ] A r e y ou c ons t an tly t ugging at it?
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410 -296 - 8808 LA TORTILLERIA SINALOA
LA TORTILLERIA SINALOA
716 Eastern Ave., (410) 276-3741 Flavor: 3.81 Texture: 3.88 Taster Comments: “integrated, balanced”; “striking spice and flavor”; “the best one, love the spice”; “tad too spicy” “easy to eat without a plate”; “hearty with good moisture.” Notes: Corn-husk tamales, beautifully wrapped and served with salsa verde. The overall favorite among corn-husk tamales—firm but moist, and very well seasoned.
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206 S. Broadway, (410) 327-9199 Flavor: 2.7 Texture: 2.69 Taster Comments: “falls apart too easily”; “flimsy”; “interesting taste”; “unknown/unwelcome flavor”; “different but good” Notes: Banana-leaf tamales with a very moist, almost soggy texture and an unusual flavor, which was theorized to be bay leaf or cilantro. Several different varieties of tamales are available.
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EL TROVADOR 318 S. Broadway, (410) 276-6200, eltrovadorrestaurant.com Flavor: 3.75 Texture: 3.91 Taster Comments: “unusual flavor”; “good chicken flavor”; “very smooth”; “quite tasty”; “mushy.” Notes: Banana-leaf tamales with potato chunks mixed into the masa, which was moist and soft. Tasters compared the flavor to chicken soup. ■
LA SIRENITA RESTAURANTE II
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