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APRIL 2011 | VOLUME 1 ISSUE 3 Founders Chris Jennings Racheal Spence Editors: Johari Barnes Kara Soule Proofreaders Sheila Fant Angela Harl Design Chris Jennings

Photography Contributors Racheal Spence Chris Jennings Christina Konarski Arthur Hawkins

Writers and Contributors Racheal Spence Chris Jennings Kara Soule Lindsay Johnson Bestsy Schwartz Josh Hurwitz Abby Rutman Joe Davis Angelique Henle Special Thanks New Evolution Graphics Nations Photo Lab Lowside Sydicit Special Olympics of Maryland The Hour Haus Christopher Schafer


Story by: Racheal Spence Photos by: Tina Konarski and Racheal Spence


magine driving west bound on Route 50, driving over The Chesapeake Bay Bridge, it’s cold and windy with snow still visible from the storm a few days prior. As you glance to the right, you see Sandy Point State Park. The beach is covered in tons of big white tents…and there are a lot of people, most of them in bathing suits. Suddenly hundreds…well thousands of people run and jump into the icy cold waters of the Bay. At this point you may think to yourself, “Really? Are these people crazy? Is this some kind of a cult? It’s the end of January! Shouldn’t the beach be closed?!” I can assure you, there was nothing fishy about the events of that day. However, yes all of us who are guilty of becoming a “plunger” are probably a bit insane. But when you sum it up we’re all just crazy about helping. Helping what? Helping change lives, and giving people the chance to make a difference in someone else’s life. You see, yes, one person can make a difference, but 12,000 people can change lives. The 15th Anniversary of the Maryland State Police Polar Bear Plunge was held on January 28th and 29th, with the main event being Saturday the 29th. This year’s event was one of the most unique thus far, and we can expect for it to only grow larger in future years, with more activities and special guests. Although this was the first year the plunge was officially a “dry event” (no alcoholic beverages were served), the numbers still pulled through strong with over 12,000 plungers and over $3 million dollars raised. The plunge of 2011 had become one of the most interesting events to start off the New Year, and decade, including six tents of incredible activities for everyone in the family. From the Carnival Funfest tent to the Ram’s Head Ice Lodge, and even a pampering area for mom in the Women’s Spa Experience Tent courtesy of Robert Andrew’s Salons and Spas there was something for everyone. As always with the Polar Bear Plunge all monies raised is donated to Maryland Special Olympics, a wonderful cause that does amazing things for the athletes and families of the participants. Since it started in 1997, the plunge has raised millions of dollars to support Special Olympics of Maryland. The money is used to provide the tools needed to allow year round training and competitions in 28 different sporting events for those with intellectual disabilities of all ages, who otherwise may not get the chance to participate. So where do you begin when there is so much to see and do? Well, we started by checking out the Carnival Funfest tent, which was the all around family spot. Within this single tent there was face painting, live entertainment, a petting zoo, and rides for the kids. Let’s not forget about the Official Plunge store for all your 15th Anniversary memorabilia, amazing food and craft vendors, groups and organizations, and the annual Plunge sand sculpture. It is easy to say you could get lost in this one tent and have a fabulous time. But why would you want to when there is so much to see and do. For the more athletic driven folks there were two tents in particular that would have grabbed your attention on the snowy beach. The X-Games Adventure tent with Pure Boardshop from Annapolis, MD as the host and The Chesapeake Bayhawks Arctic Lacrosse Experience tent. The X-Games tent was a skateboarders dream… clear ground and ramps to use while the ground was still covered in snow outside. Demonstrations from some of Maryland’s premier skate teams and shops throughout the day, as well as an open area for others to enjoy for themselves. In the lacrosse tent some of the top lacrosse companies were offering discounts and exclusive offers on equipment as well as hosting giveaways throughout the day. As if that’s not enough, the 2010 MLL Champion team had players on site for demos and autographs for the fans. In addition, statewide youth organizations were there to highlight their teams and give out information for the upcoming season. With all the noise from those sporting areas one sure could use some relaxing “me” time in the Women’s Spa Experience hosted by Robert Andrew’s Salons and Spa. The spa was a perfect twist to the cold environment. One of the highest ranked spas in the nation, Robert Andrew’s Salons and Spa brought pampering to Sandy Point and we don’t mean by giving you an extra towel to dry off. A wide variety of

services, from massage and other specialty treatments to consultations for surgical and more sensitive procedures were provided for guests. On the spot transformations took place over at The Mickey Harris’ Monster Garage…ok it was a tent…but set up like a garage. However, this did not stop the world renowned airbrush artist with the help of Straight Line Auto body from transforming the Harley Davidson Street Glide, donated by Harley Davidson of Annapolis into a customized 15th Anniversary piece of art, actually including polar bears within the paintings. One of the biggest attractions of this year’s event however was in the Ram’s Head Ice Lodge, and no, it wasn’t the Bear Pong, although that was a big hit too. DJ Pauly D from MTV’s reality hit show “Jersey Shore” came to Annapolis to spin two sets prior and after the plunges. I am sad to report that the guy with unmovable hair was wearing a fitted cap…personally I would have enjoyed a guest of higher credibility however the plan to get more donations worked with meet and greets selling for a minimum of $600. This guy had more security than the President of the United States. The Ice Lodge turned into a rave and become packed with teens and young adults crowded around the stage and even jumping on chairs to get a glimpse or a photo of the MTV star. The highlight of his performance was the subtle switch of the infamous “It’s T-shirt time” to “It’s Plunging Time” and for the L.A.C.E. Magazine crew, it almost was plunging time. This was the virgin plunge for the L.A.C.E. Magazine crew. But just before our 3pm plunge it was time for a speech followed by a special plunge from the Baltimore Raven’s Quarterback, Joe Flacco accompanied by Ms. Rosa Marcellino. Rosa is a 9-year-old Special Olympics athlete from the Edgewater area, who is responsible for Rosa’s Law (bill to ban the “R-word” within the federal health and labor laws as well as education) that was passed by The House of Representatives back in September of the 2010 year. After Flacco spoke, we made our way down to the beach for the special plunge that Flacco and Marcellino took together. This was Joe Flacco’s third year participating in the plunge, and yes, actually plunging, head under and all. Then it was time, 3pm, the second plunge. Team L.A.C.E. was getting ready to jump into the almost freezing bay, none of us with the experience of plunging in the past; we made our way to the beach. Hundreds of people in bathing suites waiting on the shore for that horn to sound. Then the air horn sounded telling all of us to “GO! JUST JUMP!” and we did. One of the most insane experiences of my life thus far, voluntarily running into water that stung your skin like a thousand needles at once. “You may think it’s crazy to jump into the bay in January with snow still on the ground, but raising money for a good cause is awesome! The plunge was COLD but it had great people with very warm hearts. ^_^” Jennifer Boschert, part of the L.A.C.E. team, told us after plunging for the first time herself. As for others, let’s see what people told L.A.C.E. Magazine about their experiences throughout the day. Elie, from Potomac, Maryland said “My first one, three girls, two young guys, they had a great experience.” Jessica Goodwin from Westminster, MD wrote in our book; “It’s my first time. I’m psyched and nervous, can’t wait to jump in the Bay. All for my stepbrother, Woody. I love you WoodyMan. Love and Hugs.” “This is my first plunge. Having a blast! Entertainment is awesome, I couldn’t think of a better cause to support. Be a fan”- Beth slater, Poolesville, MD. Once again a successful event, that raise funds for a great cause. No wonder it has been deemed one of the premier wintertime events in the state and along the Eastern seaboard. Have you plunged yet? If not add it to your bucket list, you really can’t lose. A day filled with free festivities for all, and you get to help someone at the same time. L.A.C.E. Magazine is ready for the 16th Plunge, and can’t wait for the end of January 0f 2012 to plunge again. For more information about the Plunge and how to join or make your own team you can visit . ■

Emily’s Desserts

With W ith it h a wh whop whopping oppi oppi op ping n 661% 1% %o of our voters and a total off 44,243 243 votes, t Emily’s E il ’ Desserts D has been deemed the best cupcake in the Baltimore Washington area. As Baltimore’s first gourmet vegan dessert company, Emily’s bring you a vast assortment of delectable cupcakes, as well as other desserts including cakes, cookies, and chocolate covered pretzels. The company website states “My goal with this business to make great tasting desserts that everyone will know and love. The way that I look at it is for every vegan dessert eaten that is one less dessert that has eggs and dairy in it.” Whatever the occasion, Emily’s has you covered, from weddings and graduations, to birthdays and business functions and everything in between. Not only can your order amazing tasting cupcakes, available in two different sizes, but there is an assortment of cakes, cookies, truffles and pretzel rods dipped in chocolate. In addition, you can set up an appointment at the Emily’s dessert Bakery, or stop by The Ooh La La Cupcakery in downtown Baltimore, Roots Market in Clarksville and Olney, David’s Natural Forest Hill and Milk & Honey Market in Baltimore. With so many great flavors and combinations there is sure to be something for everyone and the best part is, it is one of the healthiest cupcakes you can consume in this area. Check out the website for more information and a complete list of gourmet cupcakes for your special occasion.■ Emily’s Desserts Bakery 4901 Springarden Drive Baltimore, MD 21209 443-858-7045

Sugar House Cakery lands our number two spot and is reppin for the lower end of the beltway, delivering satisfaction to your sweet tooth…literally. With 1,856 votes this small family run business is sure to start booming in the cupcake wars of the sweet tasting world. Sugar House Cakery, located in Silver Spring, was started in August of 2010 by twin sisters, Jessica Jimeno and Jennifer Smith. Jessica says that creating the perfect cupcakes is “a cohesive unit of deliciousness.” The girls spend numerous hours in the kitchen creating mouthwatering flavors and ideas for cupcake lovers of every kind. The best part is… they deliver. That’s right why leave home to pick up these little treasures when they can be dropped off for you. With free delivery within the company’s 20-mile radius, and only a $5.00 charge for every 10 miles after that, how could you pass it up? Try out some of their year round flavors at any time including Vanilla Bean, Rockin Red Velvet, and Chocolate, all made with mostly natural high-end ingredients. Check out their website for a full list of creative cupcakes. We liked the PB&C. What will your cupcake of choice be? What’s next for Sugar House? Well to start you can find them at St. George Greek Orthodox Spring Festival May 6-8, 2011.■

For over six years, Sweet Sins Bakery has been cooking up some delicious baked goods in their strictly gluten-free bakery. “At Sweet Sin bakery, our goal is to create and serve quality desserts, while following our unique health-related recipe requirements without compromising the outstanding flavor.” Sweet Sin Cupcakes is the company’s newest location, which serves up their yummy cupcakes daily, as well as, coffee, tea, and an assortment of lunches and soups free of gluten. In addition to the new Charles Village location, you can find a variety of their baked goods in these local markets, Wegman’s, Whole Foods, and Roots Market. Sealing our number four spot with 313 votes, Sweet Sin Cupcakes needs to be on your list of places to try. You can’t beat a great tasting dessert that’s closer to the healthier end of the sweets column. To learn more about Sweet Sin Cupcakes check them out on the web at■

Sweet Sin Bakery M-F 7am to 9pm. Saturday 10am to 9pm Sunday 10am to 5pm 123 West 27th Street Baltimore, MD (410) 464-7211

Help Distinctively Yours Event Management celebrate six years of service! We are thankful for the clients that we have serviced over the years and are excited to work with our future clients. To say thank you, we are offering our 2011 clients a discount on our packages and services. Services must be booked by April 30th. *dates are based upon availability

Call (410) 905-6178 or email for more information.

Local Food, Lotsa Love Betsy Schwartz, youngest in a family of health nuts, grew up in Glen Arm eating tofu and chickpeas. She rebelled with White Castle burgers and fish sticks but, fortunately, emerged unscathed and with a more adventurous palate. After earning her BA from the College of Notre Dame in 2002, Betsy embarked on a lifelong mission of simple pleasures: running, reading, writing, and eating. You might spot her training for a marathon or dining out at one of Baltimore’s fine establishments. She also writes nutrition articles for


here’s a lot to love about Woodberry Kitchen. And Woodberry Kitchen will love you right back. Entering the warm, exposed-brick interior of this two-story gem in Clipper Mill is like walking into a giant hug. Hosts and servers, outfitted in plaid shirts and vintage aprons, are genuinely happy to see you, whether you’re seated at a table or just passing by on your way up the stairs. Navigating the narrow aisles on a crowded night can be tricky, but it just adds to the bustling, cozy atmosphere. We dined at Woodberry Kitchen with two other couples on Valentine’s Day weekend, which may be an unfair time to critique a restaurant, but our server never faltered or made us feel rushed. While waiting for our party to arrive, my boyfriend, Adam, and I sampled bread slathered with butter from Trickling Springs Creamery and sipped a couple of signature cocktails: the Gov’t Mule ($11), a gingery vodka concoction in a copper mug, and the Tupac Amaro ($11), which our server accurately described as a margarita with a kick (due to the addition of Texas Pete’s hot sauce) and graciously offered to replace if I was disappointed (I wasn’t). From its beginning, Woodberry Kitchen has played a significant role in the local food movement in Baltimore, and the menu reveals a long list of farms throughout the Chesapeake region who provide for the restaurant. Many of the individual items include the origin of the ingredients as well. We started with Chesapeake Farmstead oysters ($16) with shallot butter, roasted peppers, and a sweet onion relish. While the sweet-salty flavor was outstanding, I wondered if the lukewarm temperature was intentional or if they should have been slightly hotter. Feeling adventurous, we chose Liberty Delight beef heart ($10), served with rocket (another name for arugula) and radishes in a chervil dressing. Our server compared the heart to steak without the grain, and again, he was spot on. The red strips were tender enough to cut with a fork and had a clean beefy flavor that was a perfect match for the peppery greens. The wood-roasted royal trumpet mushrooms ($11) were possibly the best part of the meal. The meaty stalks, served sizzling

in a tiny cast iron pan with butter, sea salt, and garlic, seemed a bit pricey at first. But this dish of superb simplicity elevated me to umami heaven, and I was sad to see the last one disappear. Virginia Rockfish Out of the Oven ($22) was our entrée choice. The thick, skin-on fish was served alongside Cottingham Farm beets and turnips with a modest amount of buerre blanc sauce. It was all quite delicious, and the earthiness of the beets blended beautifully with the rockfish. After three small plates, I was glad we decided to split an entrée. Fitting dessert in is a feat we usually don’t bother to attempt, but the occasion called for it, so we loosened our belts and marched on. Having recently traveled to New Orleans, we picked the beignets ($6), which arrived in a glass dish with chocolate fudge, strawberry jam, and a deluge of whipped cream. Fried dough coated in sugar pretty much tastes amazing no matter what you do to it, but the tiny beignets got lost in the cream, and I wished they had been served separately from the toppings. The meal was over, and we all sat back smiling, feeling warm and fuzzy, already reminiscing about the last three delicious hours. Reluctantly, we made our way downstairs, past fellow patrons and smiling employees who, like loving parents, sent us out into the night with full bellies and happy memories sure to bring us back home soon.■

Woodberry Kitchen 2010 Clipper Mill Rd Baltimore, MD 21211 Hours: Mon-Thurs 5-10 pm; Fri & Sat Supper 5-11 pm; Sunday Supper 5-9 pm; Sat & Sun Brunch 10am-2pm

L.A.C.E. // 12

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By: Station North Art Festival and Adopt A Block, Inc. Dated: February 1, 2011 The 5th Annual Station North Art Festival in conjunction with Station North Arts District and Adopt-A-Block, Inc.’s Station North Thrift Store is creating an opportunity for future young artists of Baltimore to present original works of art.

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he 5th Annual Station North Art Festival will be under way in the Station North Greenmount community. This community event will be held on Saturday, May 14, 2011 from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm at the Station North Thrift Store located at 1400 Greenmount Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21202. This year’s theme, “Aimed for Purpose�, is all about positive choices leading to a positive future. Young people in grades K-12 are invited to participate and present their original artwork such as sculpture, drawings, paintings, arts & crafts, and more. Even more exciting is that there is no fee charged to area schools or students to participate in the Station North Art Festival. All entries will be exhibited at the Station North Art Festival and all students who participate will be recognized. Local celebrated artists and teachers will serve as judges and top prizes will be awarded to selected students for outstanding performance in individual categories, based upon age and artistic medium. “Our theme this year is all about positive choices and how those choices impact our purpose in life. We want our young people to know that they have extraordinary power to make choices in their everyday lives that will bring about positive changes now and in the future�, states Jessika Klingenberger, Festival Coordinator. “In recognizing our children’s artistic efforts, our goal is to stimulate interest in the Station North Arts Community and to promote a positive attitude toward creative and artistic exploration in our young people in Baltimore City.� The Station North Thrift Store was established in 2002 to

be a hub of blessing for the Station North Arts Community and East Baltimore, and serves as the primary location for the Station North Art Festival. For many people who live in the area, finding quality items at affordable prices can be challenging. Customers range from single moms, to low income senior citizens, to recently released men looking for clothes for a job interview, to student artists looking for new ways to express themselves. All Station North Thrift Store proceeds go to support Adopt- A- Block. Inc., a 501(c)3 charitable organization and its various programs serving the citizens of Baltimore. Registration deadline for art submissions is Friday, April 24, 2011. Please contact Jessika Klingenberger, Festival Coordinator at 410.882.2217 with any questions you may have. About Station North Art Festival: Station North Art Festival is a community art festival whose mission is to create an opportunity for emerging young artists in Baltimore City to create, express, produce and present original works of art. Located in the Station North Arts District in Baltimore, MD the Station North Art Festival is open to young people ages 4 to 16 from area schools and the community. Station North Art Festival is a collaborative project with Station North Thrift Store.

Christopher Shafer Baltimores Best Chothier by: Chris Jennings


Febuary 15th we had a chance to meet Christopher Schafer. It was a day that I will never forget. We came up to the Hour Haus in Station North and sat down with Baltimore’s best tailor. The experience was like no other and we had no idea what was in store for us after this interview. Chris Schafer is a man on his game. One of the current managers of the Hour Haus in Baltimore City he has gone against the rocker stereotype and has become one of the best tailors in Baltimore. He has dressed some of Baltimore’s best including Ravens player Terrell Suggs. This guy has impeccable style and he has a genuine heart. He is an avid member of the Station North community and he participates with numerous charities. Chris started his journey as a teenager hanging out at the Hour Haus when it first opened its doors to the music and arts community. He helped bands unload their equipment and assembled drum kits. From there he started playing. “This place was so cool! I remember [residents] took a old phone booth and turned it into a shower.” Chris reminisces about the good times at the Hour Haus. He loved this place so much he and his brothers Ray and Joey took it over fifteen years ago. There was even a time when he lived there. As the times changed so did Chris. He got married and bought a house he had no idea where his life would lead him. His wife got a job that required them to relocate to London. While he was there he found a job as a tailor and that job changed his life. He loved it! He became intrigued by fashion. When their time in London came to an end he decided to pursue the career and he found another job as a tailor here in the US. It didn’t take long before he decided to venture out on his own and become his own boss. He takes what he does very seriously. He has made a name for himself all over Baltimore by intertwining himself in a lot of networking groups in town. The connection he has made and is capable of making is what makes his business boom. He is apart of the Baltimore Fashion Alliance, the Baltimore Business Network, and the Maryland Musicians Network to name a few. As the conversation when on, I took a second to glace around his office and the

“It’s not just about buying a suit. It’s looking the best you possibly can look.” attention to detail is what caught my eye. The row of fabric sample books that lined his bookcase, the ties that were hung on a hand made cork board made out of real wine bottle corks, and even the pink measuring tape that he repeatedly wrapped around his left pointer finger caught my attention. He started measuring one of his best friends for a suit and the precision he used amazed me. He gets every detail down even to what side do you wear your watch and if you wear a bracelet. This is just the beginning of his path to great success in the fashion industry. To find out more about him and to get your own custom clothes made check out his website at http://www. you can also find him on Facebook.■

“I invest in my clients, just like they invest in me.”

By: Chris Jennings Lemonade is their name and branding is their game. Brandon Fugit, Brittany Leigh Donohue, and Jared Childress are three photographers making a name for themselves in the Baltimore car scene. Spearheaded by Fugit, they got their start last summer taking photos at all of the local car shows. With their common interest being custom cars they are all apart of a car club called Team Nuegen. Brandon Fugit, a graphic designer, started Team Nuegen in 2007. He has been a graphic designer for eight years now and his skills has been the biggest reason for their notoriety. The colorful logo and stunning graphics set them apart from the pack. When I asked where the name Lemonade came from he said it was a line from a song that came out last summer. The name alone will make anyone pay attention. He got his interest in photography from Brittany (his fiancĂŠ). They met through their car club two years ago and she was taking pictures with her Canon G11. Things just fell into place last summer at the Ocean City Car Show in June when the debuted their new company the Lemonade Stand. A few months later they added their third photographer, Jared. Jared, a former marine, had always had an interest in photography. He brings a great dynamic to the group and together they just work. The most interesting thing about Jared is that he is colorblind. Even though that has its challenges he still maintains his motivation for the craft. These three are just getting going. Make sure you keep up with them on Facebook. I see nothing but a bright future for these three budding photographers!

The Black Rose blooms lush inside hollow minds Of Life screaming unwieldy bereavement

On Aphrodite’s greatest achievement

Nebuchadnezzar my pillow is full Of petals like yours but mine are all black A law of nature I cannot annul In nothingness my dark flower falls back

I have sifted through the sands of Egypt Explored every garden for that which grows Through the brain stem arousing a head trip But faux is the botrytis blighted rose

Bliss is exposing ignorance to truth Uprooting black roses I do uncouth


Zephyr clears the sky so Apollo shines



SCIENCE OF THE WORLD The world is an atom to the universe Curled in a ball of small space is its curse People participate as particles Actively act as the atom’s articles Words chemically react Figuratively fibbing the fact That we can go anywhere yet traveling is limited That we live forever, yet death is imminent Desire to go far hands reach for the stars Developing cars, airplanes, space shuttles and missions to Mars But with all that we still can’t navigate to the back of the blackness Because the particles are separated by the atom’s axis Surrounded by electrons, protons and neutrons This matter is getting crowded with all these people righting wrongs As the nucleus develops we need to speed up the process Making all the physical particles indivisible and not settle for less We have to have patience for the joining of the nations And when an atom becomes a world the world will become a universe Without limitations

For me, as a musician and singer/songwriter, open mic nights have always been important. The open mic community is where poets, musicians, singers and songwriters can hone their skills or play in front of people for the first time, but I guarantee you, you will always play in front of a receptive and supportive audience. Yes, all artists, beginners and even seasoned professionals come together and perform for a night for each other and for a crowd that appreciates the artistry. After visiting I created a weekly schedule of open mics to hit Monday through Thursday. I have had the extreme privilege of going around Baltimore and experiencing some the different open mic nights it has to offer and now I would like to share what I have discovered with you. Monday evening starts out downtown off of Alice Anna and Eden streets at a trendy little place called Teavolve. Teavolve is a teahouse which features special blends of loose teas, tea infused sangrias, amazing food, and coffee; just to mention a few things. The atmosphere here is very relaxing with plenty of seating and places to dine while the music is going, not to mention the Happy Hour that lasts until the music stops. Usually the whole place will fill up with artists, fans, listeners, and passers-by for most of the evening. The open mic signup gets going around 6:30 and the music starts at 7 with Acacia Sears, the host of this awesome artist jam. Acacia usually starts off the night singing 3-4 of her original music with her keyboardist and drummer, which is definitely not something you should miss. As the night progresses you start to notice that Teavolve’s open mic brings about a wide array of artists, not limited to just singers with their guitars. Performers at this open mic include slam poets, rappers, full bands doing originals and covers, singers on keyboards who may or may not play the trumpet at the same time, and many more artists who come to showcase their talents. The age range here is from young to old and everyone is very receptive, even of the kids who come out and sing out of tune versions of hip hop songs. Every time I go, there are a lot of familiar faces that come back repeatedly to perform for the Teavolve crowd. The music stops at around 10pm at which I move on to Baltimore’s Best Dive Bar (named by Baltimore’s City Paper) – Leadbetter’s. Leadbetter’s open mic starts at 9pm and goes all night until 1:30am. The atmosphere here is a complete 180 from Teavolve. It’s your classic Baltimore Dive bar with swinging saloon type doors, a pool table in the back, dark lighting, bar seating, and the coldest beer in Baltimore. But, just because they have the coldest beer and they are the best dive bar, they also pride themselves that Leadbetters is the place for local music and musicians. I do have to attest to that because I was playing Leadbetter’s open mic nights way back in the day, almost 7 years ago, and it is still as great today as it was then. The night is run by Ken G. Shorts and Curt Reynolds who are also local Baltimore musicians. Now, just because this place isn’t as trendy as Teavolve, this doesn’t mean that the artists are not as fascinating. Leadbetter’s brings on more of an older eclectic crowd, many of whom are seasoned musicians who play blues, folk, country, rock-a-billy, and jazz. They also have plenty of advice to offer the younger musicians who come into play. The audience here might have a few passers-by who come in for a drink or two, but you really are playing for other musicians all night and they are extremely supportive. I think one of my fondest memories so far of this particular open mic was a lady named Lindsey who played

an instrument I had never seen before called a Bowed Psaltery. A Bowed Psaltery is a triangular wooden stringed instrument that is played with a bow. She was simply adorable and recited some original poetry and played cover tunes on the bowed psaltery including “Edelweiss” and a couple Christmas songs. Leadbetter’s always brings in a new and interesting crowd every time I go – it never gets old and it is ALWAYS interesting. Tuesdays I quickly realized were my busiest days and honestly I haven’t been out to many open mics on a Tuesday. However, the time I did venture out I did go to the 8x10, one of my personal favorite music venues. I had played the 8x10 a few times before on a couple of showcases but didn’t realize that they had an open mic. The twist to this open mic is that it is also a competition. The 8x10 got a sponsorship from Nice Package Productions to hold a yearlong contest for all the 8x10’s open mic artists. Every open mic night 2 winners are selected (one from the audience and one the staff picks). The winners from that month then go on to battle each other to be the monthly winner the following month. Then each quarter the monthly winners in that quarter battle to become the semi-finalist….then the semi-finalists battle…I could go on but really if you win you have a shot at a $2,700 recording package! Nice Package Productions also provides a prize for each winner at each level which includes recording time, packaging design, free posters, and more. The doors open promptly at 7pm, no earlier and no later (trust me I got there at 6:30 and had to go next door until 7) and there is a cover charge of $5 for everyone. They only take the first 10 artists to get there and sign up, and each set is 3 songs or 15 minutes whichever comes first. I would suggest the best bet of winning is to bring a bunch of people to watch because they determine the winner by a decibel reader (aka. Best audience reaction – hint hint). The chance to play on their stage is amazing because they provide a professional sound engineer, professional sound and lighting, guitar and bass amps, and a drum kit. So really, if you are a band all you have to do is show up with a guitar and bass, everything else is covered and you get to feel like a rock star. The music started around 8 and it was really filled with all the competitors and only a few listeners. Everyone that played was super phenomenal especially this one cat Marq-Paul LaRose who is an astonishingly amazing guitar player. He played killer riffs on top of music that was playing in the background and caught my attention immediately. You can hear his music and find out more about him at www.Marq-Paul. com. I also got a chance to meet a budding young artist, Hunter Steelethorne, who impressed me so much by his amazing stage presence. Hunter can be found on Facebook, but I would keep a

look out because I think that there will be some great things coming from him. Wednesdays are spent at Hightopps Bar and Grille in Timonium, MD. The night starts at 9PM and goes all night long and is hosted by Brian Raphael and Adam Braverman two of the members of a band called C.O.V.E. Their third member is Jonny Benson a violinist. Brian and Adam start off the night with some awesome 90’s covers and original music. Brian’s amazing voice and Adam’s mesmerizing guitar playing, amps everyone up for the music to come. Honestly Hightopps open mic night has to be one of my weekly favorites. The artists mix is a wide variety of performers all whom are extremely talented. The air there is such a creative atmosphere that artists will jump up and play the djembe, sing harmonies, and even play a horn along with the artist performing. It turns into an awesome jam night and it really is like a huge family at Hightopps. Brian and Adam are very welcoming hosts and are extremely sweet to all the new comers to their open mic. It’s actually at Hightopps that L.A.C.E.’s own Chris Jennings and Racheal Spence have met the majority of the guest they bring on to L.A.C.E’s weekly web radio show. They have brought on Chris Thomas, Chris Brunn, and Brian and Adam from C.O.V.E., all which they met at Hightopps. Chris Thomas is a singer/songwriter with a hip hop groove whose guitar playing reminds me a lot of Ani DiFranco. He does an amazing acoustic rendition of “No Diggity” which impresses the crowd each time he plays it. Chris Brunn, another singer/songwriter, is back in the Baltimore scene after living in Frederick, MD for a time. He has a powerful voice that is similar to the 90’s alternative rock era, his stage presence is captivating and his guitar playing is also extremely impressive. Both of these Chris’s and C.O.V.E. all have video archives that you can check out on L.A.C.E. Magazine’s site at, and you can take a listen for yourselves. Thursdays I decided to expand away from the Baltimore area and head to Annapolis for an open mic night at The Whiskey. The nights there start around 9pm and there is a cover charge of $5

for anyone coming to watch, not for the artists however. The open mic’s are held upstairs on their stage and the sound quality is great and, again, like the 8x10 you have a chance to really feel like a rock star on stage. The talent in Annapolis is booming and the stage gets performers from slam poets, reggae bands, dueling rappers, singer/ songwriters, husband and wife performances, and the list goes on and on. It’s a crazy great time at The Whiskey and if you do well you get a chance to play a paid gig there. The atmosphere is really laid back and is filled with not only performers but a bunch of listeners that trickle in throughout the night from the downstairs bar. The Whiskey, like the 8x10, is another chance to perform on a stage and really get a good feel for your audience, for all you beginner performers. We have had the chance to meet and listen to a lot of great artists from The Whiskey, so I would keep a look out for when they appear on the radio show! All in all, this last month of “touring” around these open mics, there is not one that is better or worse than the other. Each has its own kind of “personality”, atmosphere, and set of regular players that keep coming back week after week because of those factors. These open mics offer a safe place for artists to go and perform knowing that they will never be judged, just given the support they need to grow which varies from venue to venue, but one thing is for sure, each open mic night supports the local arts whole heartedly and you will be welcomed back again and again at these places with open arms as you integrate yourself into the community of artists. Each place also becomes a little kind of home away from home. The venues and the people that run these nights are in it to provide the support and nurturing that every artist needs to grow into their own and succeed. Without this community to provide a back bone I really feel that artists would never get a chance to perform, share, and release their beautiful creations and abilities to the world. Since going around to this set of open mics, I have learned that there are many more open mic nights that I haven’t yet visited and I can’t wait to go out and try them out, and believe me I’ll be ready to share what I find out with you as soon as I do! ■

“THAT’S BIG” I Want to Have My Own Baseball Field By Charles “Choo” Smith


ith the encouragement from his parents, and because of the teasing he received from his neighborhood pals, Bruiser Howard demonstrates that, with a vision, determination, and grit, building a baseball field in his backyard is a goal he can achieve. $14.95, 48 pages illustrated and featuring interesting baseball facts and figures ISBN 978-0-935132-35-9

Choo Smith, a former member of the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters basketball team, tells a true story from his childhood about having a vision and turning it into reality.

Yes, Available soon…



I Want to Have My Own Baseball Field BY CHARLES “CHOO” SMITH

Enclosed is my check for $_______________________ for ____________books. ($14.95 + $5.00 = $19.95 total for postage and handling per book) Make checks/money orders payable to: Choo Smith Enterprises • 2901 Druid Park Drive • Suite A200 • Baltimore, Maryland 21215 Name ____________________________________________________________________________________ Address___________________________________________________________________Apt.#___________ City_____________________________________________________State_____________Zip_____________ Telephone_____________________________ Email address_______________________________________ Published by C. H. Fairfax Company, Post Office Box 7047, Baltimore, MD 21216, USA, 410-728-6421


By: Lindsay Johnson

Choo Smith wants you to pay it forward. Smith, a former Harlem Globetrotter and current native of Baltimore city, is setting out to change lives with his youth basketball camp. He believes deeply in the expression “Love it, learn it, live it, and lead it.” ‘You’re supposed to give it back,” Smith recently told LACE Magazine. “Anyone can have every ounce of what’s in me—if I give it back, then I’m doing it right.” Smith came back to Baltimore after playing with the Globetrotters and set out to achieve his life’s mission. From a young age, Smith knew that he had a responsibility to give back to his community. Raised by two parents throughout Baltimore, sports played a big role in Smith’s upbringing. One of the most influential moments in his life came after starting a season with a championship baseball team at 0-13. After telling his father about his frustration with his new coach, Smith’s father told him to apologize to his coach. “Go back there and tell him you’re sorry,” Smith recalls. “Tell him you’re ready and willing to do whatever it takes.” Sure enough, the team finished champions that year, too. They were even one win away from going to the national championship. The lesson for Smith? “One person is never bigger than the team. If you are, than it is your responsibility to elevate the team and to make people better.” This has become Smith’s philosophy on life. Smith looked to his father often for advice and guidance throughout life. Having an honest force helping him, Smith came to understand who he is as a person. “When you have that kind of supports, and you understand that you have that support—that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing. Having someone who walks with you and who is there with you—that makes all the difference.” Smith is using this idea of responsibility to help kids in Baltimore not only become better athletes, but become better people as well. The mission statement of the Choo Smith Youth Empowerment

states that it is “dedicated to developing and implementing programs that facilitate positive growth in the lives of the youth we serve as well as their families and community.” The Youth Empowerment facility offers tutoring, as well as training on the fundamentals of basketball. Citing God as one of the strongest influences in his life, Choo set out to be an example of someone who recognizes his flaws yet still believe in himself enough to share his ideals. With support from Karyn Bullock and Alonzo Ray, Smith has built the camp into what it is today—a facility dedicated to helping young men and women improve and become the best person they can be. Throughout his lengthy career, Choo has always known he would return to Baltimore to give hope back to his community. Seeing small successes every day in his program, he knows he is doing the right. While recently travelling through Israel on a trip to meet the President there, he got some offers to help out in other parts of the county—but citing Baltimore as a wonderful town—it wasn’t on his agenda. “For the most part, it was just really important to me that someone represents our town ad not give. I think we have a bad place in a lot of people’s hearts. But I, and a lot of others, we want to expose people to what is really going on. There are a lot of good things happening in our city, and a lot of good people. We can make a difference and we can make a change.” And that is exactly what Choo Smith is doing, day by day, piece by piece, player by player. Visit to see how you can make a donation or lend a hand to the youth of Baltimore.

5 GREAT HIP HOP ACTS When people say “Hip hop is more than a genre it’s a lifestyle”, these five artists prove that and then some. All of them completely different from one and other,. They all have one thing in common, hip hop. We found five of Baltimore’s most talented artists to give you a taste of what this city is made of. Hip hop in Baltimore comes in all shapes, sizes and flavors. No stereotypes here, just great artists and great music!

and Prophecy the Kid make up this hot hip hop duo. T.E.A.M. stands for This T.E.A.M. Plans to Bloodhound Endeavors About Millions, its all about their dream to reach millions. Their drive and dedicatake the industry tion to music has them pushing the envelope. Their creative style and appreciation for all types have them pushing past the limits of the genre. by storm! of music will Their individual styles are different but together they mesh perfectly. Prophecy the Kyd is the story teller. He is also the more outgoing of the two. He is always full of energy and you can hear it in the music and on stage he is explosive. Bloodhound is defiantly more reserved, but don’t let his relaxed mannerisms fool you. When he opens his mouth it’s like a lyrical explosion. These two are a perfect match. T.E.A.M. is ready for success. Their style and work ethic sets them a part and for them the sky is the limit. This fall they released their first official project the “No Prisioners” mixtape and with that they caught our attention. The mixtape was downloaded and/or listened to over 2,000 times. Currently they are working on their first album with an unknown release date.. Not only are these guys amazing artists they are also business men. Recently they started their own company with manger Syranno called Late July Music Group. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter. You can find their mixtape on their website: http://www.


The Young Jay Verze Has a Bright Future in Hip Hop Jay Verze is a talented, fifteen-year-old hip hop artist. Despite being young, he has already come a long way as an artist and has big plans for his future. Bored at home on a snow day at the age of seven, Jay Verze started writing rhymes in a notebook and found not only that he immensely enjoyed it, but that he was also really good at it. Jay Verze attends New Towne High School where he formed a hip hop group with some friends. He has recorded a few tracks, and he plans to continue developing as an artist through 2011 and beyond. Jay would like to go to college for audio engineering or music production. To stay up to date and find out more about what this talented, young hip hop artist has in store, you can follow him on Twitter @jayverze or find him on Myspace or Facebook.


Reina Williams Proves Success Doesn’t Mean Sacrificing Individuality The uniquely talented Reina Williams has worked to reach her current level of musical success with a combination of confidence, positivity, and hard work. She is an artist whom people gravitate to because of her powerful voice, relatable message, and humorous perspective. The Baltimore (Pikesville to be exact) native writes and plays a mix of soul, R&B, hip hop, rock, and acoustic guitar music. Reina’s mother was an opera singer, so music and the performing arts have always been present in her life. She delved further into music in middle school, picking up the guitar, and then really found her passion for it in tenth grade while attending Pikesville High School. She began to hang out with other students involved in the music department and hone her craft. In addition to playing the guitar, she expanded her talents to writing, singing, rapping, and creating beats. Self-managed, Reina Williams has already accomplished great things as an artist. She has had music featured on Punk’d, The Hills, The City, Friday Night Lights, and Melrose Place. She is excited to be getting noticed by bigger producers and really progressing in her musical career. In addition, Reina was voted the “best solo performer”of 2010 in the City Paper. She said it “felt crazy” to win, and that it’s awesome to know people are really listening. She also felt honored because there are so many talented performers in Baltimore. Reina is currently simultaneously finishing work on a 12-song CD project for which she is writing and producing, while also finishing her own album. She keeps busy writing, recording, and playing shows and festivals all over. She continues to work on finding a marketable sound while maintaining her own uniqueness and individuality in her music. More information about Reina and her music can be found at


Hip Hop Artist Berg is Ready to Share is Artistic Talents John Bergersen, or Berg, as he calls himself, is breaking the mold when it comes to your typical hip hop artists. Berg is a multitalented musician involved in writing, singing, rapping, creating beats, composing and producing. Berg has always had a talent and passion for all kinds of music. When in college, he played in various rock bands, but always felt a special pull toward hip hop music. He constantly wrote rhymes and even participated in online rhyme-writing battles where he really honed his craft. He soon started rhyming over beats and putting songs together. Berg now creates his own beats using music creation machines and software; he can sit and work on his music for hours without noticing the time pass. He explains that one of his greatest obstacles is finding time to commit to his music while working a full-time job, but that he finds creating music and writing about his experiences to be the best form of therapy. He is a dedicated husband and father, and when asked his greatest accomplishment, Berg quickly and unwaveringly answers “My son.� In his musical career, he touts his ever evolving and growing talents, and the progress he has made as what makes him most proud and encourages him. Fearing rejection, Berg hesitated for awhile before putting out any of his music for others to listen to, but now he is confident and ready to be heard. By this time next year he hopes to be known and have his message heard through the release of his 6-8 track EP, which will showcase a wide range of his material and ability. He may not be your typical hip hop artist from the city, but Berg brings a fresh perspective to the scene. He is a talented musician with a message to share.


DJ Rosie Focuses on Community in Both Her DJing and Her Life DJ Rosie literally stumbled upon her DJing career accidentally. She went to a club one night back in 2001, but the normal DJ had been fired. The owner told patrons they would have to put on their own music, and after a number of failed attempts by others, Rosie tried her hand. She jumped in the booth, sifted through the CDs for something people could dance to, and was a hit! She was offered a job that night. Seven years ago she started DJing hip hop night at The Hippo. When it started, it was one Thursday every month, but has now become so popular that it goes on every Thursday with Rosie DJing every other week. These hip hop nights at The Hippo started with about 60 people, and now bring in 500 club-goers and lines around the block! DJ Rosie does most of her DJing at clubs in Baltimore and Washington, DC, but she has also DJed other events like beach parties and weddings. She is extremely proud of the growth she has made as a DJ in the past ten years, working up the ladder from 100 person bars to 2000 person parties. In addition to having a talent and love for DJing, Rosie has a passion for giving back and helping others. She has DJed many pride events for the gay community and enjoys working with promoters who are also interested in giving back and working together in a positive and meaningful way. Rosie gives back greatly in her day job as well, working as a special education teacher for students aged 17-21 at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. She helps these students transition out of school and into the work place, and after two years of teaching, Rosie still absolutely loves going to work and making a difference every day. In the next five years, Rosie plans to be married, still living in Baltimore, and have her Master’s Degree from John’s Hopkins University in Special Education. In addition, she plans to continue teaching and DJing, and above all she plans to continue to be happy and give back to the community.


DJ Remedy Spins and Scratches His Way to DJing Success The sound and feel of scratching is what DJ Remedy first fell in love with when he began DJing eleven years ago. A friend of his had a turntable, and Remedy started playing with it, spinning and scratching records, and an amazing career in DJing began. DJ Remedy started DJing in his home state of Rhode Island before moving to Baltimore four years ago. Since finding his love of scratching, DJ Remedy has become well-versed in all genres of music, especially underground hip hop. DJ Remedy is heavily influenced by and plays a lot of old school hip hop when he DJs. This was the music of his childhood, which he started listening to around the age of six. He became even more immersed in it when he started DJing in high school. Remedy is also an avid skateboarder, and was influenced by much of the music featured in old skate videos. He explains that in the city, where he spent a great deal of time as a kid, skating and hip hop go hand in hand. DJ Qbert, the late Roc Raida, DJ Mekalek, and DJ Revolution are some of DJ Remedy’s top influences, and the people he says he really learned the foundation and art of DJing from. He has even had the honor of opening a show for DJ Qbert and Roc Raida. Other accomplishments include opening for Method Man, Redman, and the Sugarhill Gang. He also cites being able to reach a much wider audience by spinning on Sirius and XM satellite radio as a highlight of his career. DJ Remedy has recently finished an album with DJ Metaphysics called “Off the Rock.” In addition, he is always involved in scratching and working on various mixes and recordings. DJ Remedy DJs every Friday and Saturday night at the Fishhead Cantina.


Story by: Angelique Henle

Recently L.A.C.E. Magazine just moved into The Hour Haus Studios right in the center of The Station North Arts and Entertainment District. This couldn’t be more of a dream come true for a magazine that centers itself on just that, hence the name L.A.C.E. which stands for Local Arts Culture and Entertainment. Station North, which spans the communities of Charles North, Greenmount West, and Barclay, is the first area in Baltimore city to receive the state designation as an arts and entertainment district. This area is a diverse collection of artist live-work spaces like The Hour Haus, galleries, businesses, row homes, and even MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art). Station North has a mission that by supporting and promoting artists and cultural organizations in the area, the Station North Arts & Entertainment District can create a vibrant neighborhood where arts, artists and entertainment venues flourish in the midst an economically diverse community. Station North is indeed flourishing with so many entertainment venues and art outlets including The Charles Theater, Club Charles, Joe Squared, The Hour Haus, Area 405, Load of Fun Studio, Metro Gallery, The Parkway Theater, Ottobar, Station North Arts Café Gallery, and Tapas Teatro, just to name a few. Station North not only allows access to artists in the area all these outlets, but they also have a wide variety of events that encompasses everything that goes on around the area. One of these events is the well known “Second Saturday in Station North” which nine venues all within 4 blocks of Charles Street and North Avenue – will feature FREE events throughout the day to encourage people to venue-hop and experience the diversity and creativity of the Station North Arts & Entertainment District. They already started March 12th and events include Art Exhibitions, Live Music performances, workshops, and more. Second Saturdays go on each month aiming to heighten awareness, interaction, and appreciation among Baltimore’s thriving art and music communities and promote the district as a cultural destination. The venues include Joe Squared, The Metro Gallery, Bohemian Coffee House, The Windup Space, The Hexagon Space, Galerie Myrtis, Cyclops Books & Music, Graffiti Alley @ Load of Fun, and Strand Theater. Station North also has a Flea Market which starts May 7th and goes on each first Saturday of the month until November, and from the looks of the pictures posted up it holds up to its title “Everything and The Kitchen Sink”. The Hour Haus, which is now the new home for L.A.C.E. Magazine, is right next door to Joe Squared a pizza shop with a bar, live music, and local art on the walls. The Hour Haus itself is really every musician’s dream come true, providing live-work space and a huge stage for rehearsals. They also provide a recording studio as well so that residents of the Hour Haus can record their music to use in Press Kits and to sell and make some money. The Hour Haus has been a live music venue and house for musician’s for the last 25 years. For 15 of those years, Christopher Schafer and his brothers have been running the place and fixing it up. Chris has his own studio within the Hour Haus which he uses for practice with his band and also for his custom clothier business. L.A.C.E couldn’t have come into the Hour Haus at a better time than now, because the renovations to the stage and recording studio have just recently been completed and events are going to start taking place within the venue again. This is going to provide great coverage for all the local happenings in the Art District and I am proud to say that the Arts District has really become “Our House”.

ABBY’S A$$HOLE OPINION Where Have All The Lyrics Gone?

“Do you ever feel like a plastic bag drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?” Ummm, no Miss Katy Perry-I can honestly say I have yet to feel like a piece of garbage floating around, wishing I could go back to days when people would stuff me with groceries. Where have all the lyrics gone? What happened to the actual thought process of writing poetry? What happened to putting a past experience into a deeper meaning by using educated words in a simple way for others to embrace? Instead, we are given a dance beat to an over-produced, auto-tune voice/song? Or better yet, we rely on 15 year olds to write our love story. “Baby, baby, baby, ooohhhh…” It’s embarrassing! Bob Dylan once said, “The thing about rock’n’roll is that for me anyway it wasn’t enough ... There were great catch-phrases and driving pulse rhythms ... but the songs weren’t serious or didn’t reflect life in a realistic way. I knew that when I got into folk music, it was more of a serious type of thing. The songs are filled with more despair, more sadness, more triumph, more faith in the supernatural, much deeper feelings.” Well Mr. Dylan, all we can offer you now is “panty-snatchers”, “gangsters”, memories of being a plastic bag, and if that wasn’t enough we even “want your ugly-want your disease”. I’m so sorry to disappoint the artists out there who actually have something intelligent, useful, hopeful, or powerful to say, but thanks to the reverse blessing of iTunes no one can be a “legend” anymore. “Singles” Land is where songs lay, so unless you have a funky-mindless beat (ehmmmmKesha) we probably won’t remember you. Oh, but you can guarantee I’ll be out on that dance floor right along with the rest of ‘em using the pick-up line Miss Spears so generously graced us with a beat to… “If I told you, you had a nice body-would you hold it against me?” But then again, that’s just my a$$hole opinion.


Everyday we’re struggling. The machine won’t stop. These bloodsuckers won’t drop. They suck your soul dry and laugh when you cry. Blood sweat and tears just to get by. It’s never enough and always too much. We sit with the devil to pay for our lunch. Loyalty trust is just something to tax, so bring the giant down and put this on wax.

The world we live in is already gone. They feed you there bullshit, tricks and lies. They are the spiders and we are the flies. This system is so f**ked and full of maybes. What kind of world do we live in where you have to put a price on having a baby? We are just a number, nothing more nothing less. I may be the enemy for getting this off my chest, because loyalty and trust is just something to tax. So bring the giant down and put this on wax. This is our world, our planet, our water, and our soul. Expression is an emotion, not taxable. Soon they will put air in bags and charge people to breath. Its up to us to stand up and say enough is enough and take back our culture, ideas, art, music, and creativity so our future generations will be free to express themselves! This is my random thought for the season. J BEEZEE



anny Nguyen, aka Atomic Goofball, is an inspiring break dancer, car enthusiast, and human being. He has gone through so much and worked extremely hard to get where he is today as a professional break dancer and actor. He started dancing to Michael Jackson as a child, and learned the moonwalk during freshman year of high school. During his junior year he learned to do the worm, and would do both the moonwalk and the worm at school dances. He got a lot of attention for it, and everyone loved watching him do the worm, but then at one homecoming dance he saw another guy doing windmills and other break moves. “He smoked me,” says Atomic Goofball. That’s when he really got into breaking. His b-boy name stems from the fact that he was nerdy and goofy growing up. He was often called a goofball and it just stuck with him. He added the atomic part because he thought it simply sounded cool. “Atomic sounds cool added to anything,” Danny says. Soon after starting to break-dance, Danny got into battling. He says that nothing ever changed his life as much as dancing. He went from being a nerdy, buck-toothed kid who was often made fun of, to someone who was accepted and admired when he started dancing. He finally felt like he was comfortable and could be himself. Accomplishing new moves became addicting for him, and he wanted to battle and learn more and more. He watched videos of some of the great breakers like Rock Steady and the New York City Breakers. He joined the breaker crew Lions of Zion, and has been dancing with them for a few years. He cites getting into the group as one of his greatest accomplishments because the members are pioneers in

breaking and have inspired a lot of people in the breaking community; they were some of his greatest heroes. Atomic Goofball says he never thought he’d get this far with breaking. He practices a lot, but has found that much of his b-boying has come naturally and wasn’t really like work. He finds drive and inspiration from the littlest things. Break dancing has not always come easily for Danny. He had to have chest surgery because he was born with a deformity in which his sternum grows inwards. He had a very extreme form of it, and his chest was pushing in on his lungs and heart. He was often made fun of in school because his chest looked weird and different from the other students. He was called names and had to wait until no one else was in the locker room to change, or just avoid taking his shirt off in front of his classmates. It was very painful for him to be treated this way by his peers. Danny wanted to have the surgery when he was younger, but since the surgery would be on his core, his parents wanted him to wait to make sure it was safe. He was able to have it done when he was in his early 20s in 2004. While the surgery was necessary for Atomic Goofball’s health and well being, it was also difficult for him because he was in his prime as a dancer and an established b-boy. He was on bed rest for a little while, and was unable to do much dancing for about a year. His opponents and his crew, Lions of Zion, kept working and getting better, and like any competitive sport, Atomic Goofball felt like he was “left in the dust” while he was able to do little more than watch “7th Heaven” on the WB. Danny felt depressed because he couldn’t dance for all that time, and dancing was his outlet and stress reliever. He had thoughts of suicide, but decided that

was definitely not what he wanted. DespWWite the fact that his doctors and parents told him break dancing wasn’t for him and was going to cause complications, Danny trained himself secretly in his basement because breaking is his calling. More than six years later, he is a more talented and influential dancer than ever! One of best moments in Danny’s life was when his parents accepted the fact that, even after the surgery, he was going to continue pursuing break dancing, and finally stopped telling him to be careful or that he was going to hurt himself. Now they are extremely proud of him when they see him dance. Like many dancers, one of his major influences is Michael Jackson. Another of his inspirations is his dad. Danny explains that his father is brilliant, and has done a lot in his life that Danny admires. As Danny says, they “live on two different sides of the planet,” but both have worked hard to accomplish a lot in their lives, exceeded expectations, and never gave up on their goals. Atomic Goofball also says that it feels really good to have fans and followers who support him in the break dancing he works so hard at. At a recent video shoot, more than 300 excited fans showed up to watch and be a part of the experience. He meets a lot of people, but is able to keep in perspective that people are just people, and that everyone is trying to do the best he or she can. No matter who he meets or talks to, he sees them as comrades. He has gotten to meet some big names like the Black Eyed Peas and Guru from Gang Star. Atomic Goofball used to practice to Gang Star’s music, so meeting Guru was particularly awesome. Even more awesome was the fact that Guru actually approached Atomic Goofball first. He was out practicing one day and Guru saw him and said, “hey you’re real hip hop.” Danny replied, “you’re Guru!” To which Guru said, “let’s get a picture.” He has also met DJ Premier and Crazy Legs from Rock Steady, who created and pioneered so much for b-boying, to name only a couple. Atomic Goofball has accomplished many great things in his career. For example, he was in Step-up 2 and 3. Much of his family and friends attended the premiere, and they were extremely proud of him. They took up two whole rows and cheered as loudly as they could. He sees every accomplishment and everything he does as he progresses in his career as a stepping-stone. He works to get better every year, and constantly tries to outdo himself. Atomic Goofball doesn’t really feel like he has one singular “greatest” accomplishment because he hasn’t yet done everything he wants to. One thing that gives him a really positive and accomplished feeling is getting messages and emails from people all over the world saying he’s an inspiration who makes them want to dance, do more, and be better at what they do. This shows the power of the Internet at its best! Danny doesn’t even always know where the countries are that he receives emails from, showing the widespread effect he and his dancing have had. Break dancing has even opened up the world of travel to Atomic Goofball. He went to Korea to film a dance movie and describes the experience as one of the most fun dance-related trips he has ever gone on. He was treated with so much respect and high class, and was sponsored by Korean government. He was filming a high-end Korean production, and the Korean actor/dancer he was dancing with, Jay Park, is like the Justin Timberlake of Korea, so there were tons of crowds and fans around. Atomic Goofball himself was a draw and had his own fan base representing, too. For example, once when he came out of the bathroom people were lined up with cameras and notebooks, excited to meet him because they loved his YouTube videos and wanted his autograph. In addition to breaking and filming the movie, he got to visit some of Korea and see the beautiful scenery and architecture. The food was different from what he is used to eating in the United States, and he is somewhat of a selfproclaimed picky eater, but he got comfortable with it. A final great highlight of the trip to Korea was meeting some great friends. In addition to having a passion and talent for b-boying, Danny loves cars. He drives a 350Z, which he calls “the goof mobile.” Danny is part of the Team Solo Car Club. Back when he started b-boying, his friend Nicholas started modifying his own car, and Danny got really into it with him. He watched The Fast and the Furious, went to street races, and attended car shows. He and his crew contacted the coordinators who run one of the car shows, and asked if they could come and break dance. They thought it was a great idea, so Atomic Goofball and his crew started going to and

breaking at a lot of car shows. This was great for Danny because it merged his two loves. Battles have become popular at car shows too, and he even battled at a car show in New Jersey and won 2nd place. Danny’s first car was a 1995 Ford Contour. It was sea foam green, and he modified it with a huge spoiler, and an exhaust pipe he could fit his head into. He laughs as he explains that it wasn’t even a good sound, but he was so proud of it and thought it was the coolest ever. “I thought, I’m gonna pick up so many girls in this car. I didn’t… they were very embarrassed to ride with me,” he laughs. While Danny thought it was the greatest, others didn’t agree. Sadly, one day while he was working at the mall, someone ripped the spoiler off in broad daylight and stole the sound system out of the back of the car. In 2010 he released his car in new form. It’s green and has a wide body. He has won four awards, and shows it a lot. He is going to show it more and go to a bunch of car shows during the summer of 2011. Atomic Goofball gets his bodywork done at Base Auto Body in Elkridge. They have been working on his cars for a while, and he was really excited about them doing his first custom job. Danny is extremely happy with the great work they did. Most of the instillation work is done by his friend, Josh, at Decadence Performance while the tuning he trusts to Frank Hill’s Garage. He also does some of it himself, but doesn’t like to do the extensive, more difficult work because he’s not the most experienced installer. He enjoys doing little things like the wheels, exhaust, and some wiring. As he gets more and more into cars and more and more knowledgeable, though, Danny is learning a lot, and has even started to train with Josh from Decadence Performance. Atomic Goofball is also involved with Strife TV, both with the chapters in California and Korea. It’s a really open and creative outlet, and many different people contribute. Danny has been watching their videos for years. They do coverage of b-boy events and jams, and promote breaking and b-boys. He met them as one of these events, and was included in one of their videos. He really enjoys it because they make new and funny videos, collaborate, and share and develop new ideas. Atomic Goofball is on a roll and has tons of great things in his future. On the horizon are more car shows, and more breaking and improving on his dancing. In addition, a friend is helping him put together a video reel to pitch a possible TV show. Danny Nguyen, aka Atomic Goofball, has already accomplished so much and inspired so many people, and there seems to be no end to this great ride in sight!■


By: Lindsay Johnson


n the eve of their largest tour to date, Fiction 20 Down is playing to standing room only crowd of mixed ages and proportions. There’s old folks, young folks, baby folks—its like the whole town of Elkridge showed up to see the band tonight. A mere few minutes before Fiction 20 Down (F20D to their fans), I had a chance to sit down with Jordan Lally, the band’s front man, who explained a little more about the band’s background, their excitement for the upcoming tour, and where their future lies. Noting the lack of egos when the band gets together, Jordan says that their current ability to play so well together comes from an innate ability to mesh and put music out as one that it almost seems like second nature. With two studio albums under their belts and one more in the works this fall, the band is putting out fresh material at an impressive rate. The band’s process now is to write music at home, then get together in the studio and really work it out as a band—and they find that their creative energies really feed off of one another. Their live shows and fan following is what really legitimizes them as the next great band on the horizon. When we met, the band was about to embark on a 13-date tour in 15 days, visiting several southern states including Florida and Louisiana. More impressive, though, is that this wasn’t their first multi-date tour. According to Jordan, “we are well-received in lots of other areas, especially Florida and southern cities.” The night before, for example, they played to a great crowd in Richmond. In addition, their tour mates for this upcoming stretch include Ballyhoo and Iration (who hail all the way from Hawaii). Both bands are signed to major labels.

As the show begins, it’s easy to see how much the crowd loves the music. Their blend of acoustic hip-hop and reggae plays well together. Laid back, fun, and just downright happy, Fiction 20 Down is infectious in their ability to draw in a crowd. It’s not long before most of the room is swaying in time with the beat and putting down drinks to whistle and cheer them on. There is something about their music that sets it apart from the Jack Johnsons and Cage the Elephants that have come onto the mainstream music scene lately. They have melody. There is a real sense of harmony up there, both within the band and the sound they’re producing together. And while they not devoid of covers, most of their stuff is original and it sounds natural, not forced. This is great music for Sunday afternoon day drinking or any nice, sunny day. The drummer, Andre Toney, and Jordan play off of each other well, complementing one another’s rap roles on a cover of ‘Nuthin’ But a G Thing.’ The other members, D.J. Fritzges (bass) and Justin Berdeguez (lead guitar), really carry the tune of the band, offering solid melody and a strong, consistent sound. When I ask Jordan how he thinks this upcoming tour will affect their band, he hopes that touring with Ballyhoo and Iration will promote them to the next level and get them to the national venues he believes they are heading towards. With over 2400 Facebook fans, that’s an easy thing to believe. Catch Fiction 20 Down this summer around town before they get too big. Look for their third, full-length studio album this fall.

Q&A with Stephen Willems these performances and one’s ability relate to a mass population in such an intimate fashion. This is why I have always written with the audience in mind. I believe it is my job as a writer to be understood and felt by the audience not the other way around. The relationship to the audience and the ability to form such a relationship has been and continues to not only motivate me but aid in coping with everyday life. L.A.C.E. Magazine: How did you become interested in poetry? Stephen Willems: My interest in poetry sparked in 9th grade when the English teacher, Chuck Ehrman, assigned each student to recite a piece of literature that personally inspired us. No one took this assignment very seriously, including me. Later we were told to create a piece of our own to recite. While other students searched Google and other internet search engines for poems just unknown enough to make Mr. Ehrman decide it isn’t worth the trouble or time spent looking. I was a lead singer in a band so I brought a piece that I had spent far too long preparing. Luckily it paid off. Impressing a classroom of 20 or so students and 3 members of the faculty that had little to no experience in any related field. After the “Slam” was over, I continued on my quest to be a front man of the next big thing. Three years had passed as well as a countless number of band members when I was placed into a drama class following a broken leg accident brought about by a gokart and its steering column and not enough calcium. The same essential task was assigned, to recite of a monolog in literature that inspired. I asked if it would be appropriate to perform my own piece, Shelly Befort, my intro to theater teacher, agreed. After the performance, Ms. Befort was intrigued by my skills as a writer and urged me to work more in-depth within theatrical performance. With Ms. Befort’s help and the support of many others, I built a basic knowledge of performance poetry which I have been crafting ever since. LM: When did you start performing your writings? SW: I have been on stage since the age of six, from performing “Wipeout” by The Beach Boys on bongo drums in my school’s talent show. I have also performed at pop punk house parties and board walk performances. I have always been fascinated by the relationships built within

LM: How does your everyday life play a part in your chosen art form? SW: Poetry is a way for me to collect the chaos of everyday life and place it in an order that usually comes close to emulating beauty. I always tell others “I am not a poet, I’m just confused.” I try to mean most of words I know I will end up taking back later because life seems to constantly change. That change induces a sense of perplexity, which later I translate into poetry. LM: Where do you draw most of your inspiration from? SW: My sources of inspiration vary, though I have found that exploring those sources is a good way to evaluate what aspects of my life I am currently most involved in. At the moment I have found relationships (both platonic and intimate) to be a large source of energy as well as the concept of self acceptance and self awareness. Though my mind is notoriously scattered, so much of my inspiration is dependent on what I can vocalize or convey best to a audience rather than my energy which many times is spent ruminating on other issues. LM: What did your first piece consist of? What was it about? SW: My first piece consisted of loud mouth generalizations of how most things you’re not supposed to talk about on the first date (or with your significant other) worked and could be solved with a blatant disregard for the intricacies within such problems. I have grown a lot as a person since then but feel like we all have such urges at times wither it is due to insecurities or done as a means to grasp attention. I am not certain but at the time I obtained what I needed to move on. LM: What do you love about poetry and all it can

offer? SW: Poetry is limitless and provides me with a venue to put inherently negative things into a positive light. Poetry helps me convey the life in such a way that I find meaning in every minute of my time spent living. LM: Are there any venues that you perform at regularly? SW: I just recently moved to Baltimore so I am finding new venues as well as new friends within them currently. Things have been very irregular due to a vast amount of obligations but I am sure I will find a venue to settle down at soon (it is a new relationship one shouldn’t be too hasty). LM: Do you have any future plans with your writing? If so, what are they? SW: I just released my first album “Never Shut Up Never Surrender” and am looking forward to the album through self booked shows throughout the United States. I have currently booked New York, Chicago, Connecticut, and many other states and look forward to the experience that the tour will bring. I am also working on dates to open for a local folk-rock band “Midway Fair”. I am looking at producing another two albums as well as a book by late 2012. I am working diligently within education, in hopes to create a government funded Poetry Slam Team for intellectually disabled individuals.

LM: Where can people find some of your work? SW: Visit my website or become a fan on Facebook: Stephen Williams. Also, be sure to check out the multiple videos posted on YouTube and multiple other websites. LM: Can you give any advice to other poets out there? SW: Take everything to heart; don’t be afraid to express each and every emotion that can induce. You will hear people say don’t heed the criticisms of others but to be successful I believe one must relate to their audience which in turn means care enough about each individual member to hold their comments in your heart. You would be surprised at how much room you have inside of your chest.■

3 Minutes One Smile

Call me to a room And I’ll try to make you smile With a lot more than a tip of a hat Because I think with you in mind Speak with you in lungs Move with you in body Love with you in heart And I feel I feel with you in subconscious I can’t help it And I don’t want to I’m honored to be your voice Your chance at redemption Your 3 minutes after my poem Where you come nowhere close to quitting your day job But you try to convince me and yourself you did (I know you really did it’s ok) Life’s not as simple as I make it anyways And I’m never going to be satisfied with it No amount of money no god no women no job Will ever complete me I’m sorry And it’s not your fault And I’m not blaming you A matter of fact I love you for that That knowledge that thought For trying to save me You work so hard sometimes So now, it’s my turn And I want to make you smile

Tell me what I can do I swear it’s why I write for you… I read your body language Analyze your facial expression Note every intonation in your voice The decimals in your claps The love in your laughs You hairs standing on end And how uncomfortable I can make you in your own goddamn skin At the edge of your seat Waiting to see if you’ll be ok… You’ll be ok (you don’t need me to tell you that) I promise today I’ll take the blame And I’ll be ok as well Just give me my 3 minutes I live for this And just because I need it It doesn’t make it any less genuine And I didn’t put pen to paper to tell you about all my other intentions I just want to make you smile Let you know you’re incredible Give you credit for all the potential you haven’t fallen short on Today you don’t have to fall short Please believe you keep my heart pumping And I’m trying to let you feel the ripples in its beat Feel my heart Beat Outside of my chest Inside of your smiles

At the edge of your seat It tells me we’ll be ok There is no other way I would rather unwind my day Then with you Right here Right now We are so perfect for each other in this moment In these 3 minutes where you find yourself Searching for redemption And I find myself no longer alone Can you smile with me now? I haven’t had someone to joke with in quite some time And now that you’re here I don’t want to make you feel Lost Upset Out of place Or unwanted You don’t have to run home with me You’re perfectly fine at the edge of your seat Not losing sleep over my words But give me 3 minutes Where I believe you would follow me there Hold me there Love me here And accept me Because I wouldn’t strive so hard If I didn’t think you were so beautiful And I hope to God That makes you smile

By Stephen Willems

LOWSIDE magazine

baltimore, md

photograph by Magic Ken

L.A.C.E. Magazine Spring 2011  

L.A.C.E. Magazine issue #3

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