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S T EELT OW N SUNDOW N • BRING ON THE BEES • DI V ERSI T Y S T RIK ES OU T april 2010 issue no. 70


Green Economy?

CÉZANNE aND aMErICaN MoDErNISM through May 23 “…a fascinating exhibition...” The New York Times

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TICKETS Supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. Additional funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art, The Henry Luce Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, The Leir Charitable Foundations, and the Thaw Charitable Trust.



Generous local sponsorship provided by The Rouse Company Foundation and by David L. Warnock and Deidre A. Bosley.

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Paul Cézanne. Detail, Fruit and a Jug on a Table. c. 1890-94. Bequest of John T. Spaulding. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Photo ©MFA, Boston Morgan Russell. Detail, Three Apples. 1910. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Given anonymously 1949 (349.1949.2). Digital Image ©The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA/Art Resource, NY. ©Simone DeVirgile


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april 2010 issue no. 70

features 38


keynote: anchor man

ted howard on putting the rust belt back to work interview by marc steiner


green guide 2010

save the whales, the rain forest, the ozone layer? let’s start with saving your job. our recession-era guide to thinking green offers tips on how to tap into the green economy, eco-size your home and wallet, and reinvent your career for a more sustainable future. by greg hanscom and maren tarro


in the shadow of steel

back when baltimore’s robust manufacturing economy was the envy of the region, more than thirty thousand men and women were employed in bethlehem steel’s massive sparrows point mill. in this exclusive excerpt from the new book roots of steel, a steelworker’s daughter recounts growing up in the last days of the blue-collar boom. by deborah rudacille


departments 9

editor’s note


what you’re saying


what you’re writing fired: not safe for work, a teenage triggerman, and doing the right thing


corkboard this month: the circus comes to town, the birds take the field, and pirates swarm

what to do

face first

the point



the goods: sweet treats. plus: a new artisanal ale, chic kids’ consignments, and


baltimore observed one man out

why have african americans abandoned baseball?

this month online at

by michael corbin

photos: dennis drenner shoots the ruins of the chesapeake restaurant


green: more resources for eco-friendly baltimore living


toolkit: resources for do-it-yourself winemaking

bracelets for haiti

show me the honey

a nonprofit spreads the sweet stuff, one hive at a time. by sharon tregaskis

past prime

looking back at the long-derelict chesapeake restaurant’s ’60s heyday by brennen jensen



metals artisan john gutierrez

by elizabeth evitts dickinson

on the air:


urbanite on the marc steiner show, weaa 88.9 fm april 1: the full interview with ted howard april 8: eric overmyer from treme april 13: african americans and baseball april 29: deborah rudacille on roots of steel


square deal a 130-year-old union square rowhouse gets a green facelift. by marianne k. amoss



diyine the winemakers of highlandtown battle for bragging rights. by clinton macsherry

reviewed: bagby pizza co. and the carlyle club

75 77

the feed: this month in eating



two sides of playwright/television producer eric overmyer by martha thomas

on the cover:

photo illustration by kristian bjørnard

plus: a transatlantic comic summit, a transmodern moment, and this month’s cultural highlights


eye to eye

urbanite’s creative director, alex castro, on the photography of rob brulinski w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m a p r i l 1 0


lunC h


Charles Street Area Restaurants

D i n n e r.

4 East Madison inn abacroMbiE FinE Food akbar b&o aMErican brassEriE ban thai thE brEwEr’s art cazbar

indigMa Joss caFé & sushi bar

Monday-Friday, 4-7 p.m. $3 beer, wine, and champagne $5 specialty cocktails small plates and flatbreads $5-10

XS {1307 north charLEs strEEt}

$1.50 sushi and $1 off Drinks Monday – Friday, 4 - 7p.m. Complimentary Valet parking thursday, Friday, saturday, 5 p.m. – Close For a complete list of restaurants all along Charles street, visit

kuMari rEstaurant and bar MariE LouisE bistro Maisy’s Midtown yacht cLub MiLton’s griLL

t r a f fi c p r o d u c t i o n c o o r d i n a t o r Belle Gossett

p r o d uc t io n in t e r n s Tyler Fitzpatrick, John Miskimon, Kelly Wise v i d e o g r a p h e r /w e b s i t e c o o r d i n a t o r Chris Rebbert

Minato Mount vErnon stabLE and saLoon MughaL gardEn

se n io r a c c o u n t e x e c u t iv e s Catherine Bowen Susan Econ Susan R. Levy account ex ecutiv e Rachel Bloom

My thai owL bar

a d v e r t i s i n g s a l e s /e v e n t s c o o r d i n a t o r Erin Albright

rEd MaPLE saMMy’s trattoria sascha’s 527

b o o k k e e p i n g /m a r k e t i n g a s s i s t a n t Iris Goldstein founder Laurel Harris Durenberger

soFi’s crEPEs

Advertising/Editorial/Business Offices 2002 Clipper Park Road, Fourth Floor, Baltimore, MD 21211 Phone: 410-243-2050 ; Fax: 410-243-2115 w w

sotto soPra thai Landing tio PEPE tug’s bar and griLLE turP’s sPorts bar and rEstaurant Xs

Editorial inquiries: Send queries to (no phone calls, please). The magazine is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts or artwork. Urbanite does not necessarily support the opinions of its authors. To subscribe or obtain assistance with a current subscription, call 410-243-2050. Subscription price: $18 per year. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission by Urbanite is prohibited. Copyright 2010, Urbanite LLC. All rights reserved. Urbanite (ISSN 1556-8105) is a free publication distributed widely in the Baltimore metropolitan area. To suggest a drop location for the magazine, please contact us at 410-243-2050. Postmaster: Send address changes to Urbanite Subscriptions, 2002 Clipper Park Road, Fourth Floor, Baltimore, MD 21211. Urbanite is a certified Minority Business Enterprise. 1

ed ito r ia l in ter ns Maria-Pia Negro, Maren Tarro

d e sig n e r Kristian Bjørnard

Mick o’shEa’s

Find convenient and low cost parking (at many Baltimore City garages on evenings and weekends) at

u10-775.ChasSt.Dining_Urbanite.in1 rbanite april 10

c o n tr ib uting w r iter s Michael Anft, Scott Carlson, Charles Cohen, Michael Corbin, Mat Edelson, Lionel Foster, Brennen Jensen, Clinton Macsherry, Tracey Middlekauff, Richard O’Mara, Andrew Reiner, Martha Thomas, Sharon Tregaskis, Michael Yockel, Mary K. Zajac

d e s i g n /p r o d u c t i o n m a n a g e r Lisa Van Horn



liter a r y ed ito r Susan McCallum-Smith proofr eader Robin T. Reid

thE hELMand

{2 north charLEs strEEt}

e d i t o r -i n -c h i e f David Dudley

se n io r e d it o r Greg Hanscom

gEisha sushi bar

B&O American Brasserie

gener al m anager Jean Meconi

david and dad’s caFé

EsquirE LoungE

taste & experienCe Charles street

c r e ativ e d ir ec tor Alex Castro

m a naging ed ito r Marianne K. Amoss

EdEn’s LoungE

Charles street.

p ub lish er Tracy Ward

cobbEr’s Pub & caFé donna’s coFFEE bar & rEstaurant

Dine on

issu e 70 : a p r il 2 0 10

3/12/10 11:26:00 AM

photo by Cory Donovan

contributors Since receiving his BFA in photography from Maryland Institute College of Art in 2004, Cory Donovan ’s work has been included in various group and solo exhibitions, as well as such publications as Decibel, Baltimore, DC Modern Luxury, and Maryland Life. For this issue, he shot home winemakers Joe Di Pasquale and Domenico Parravano (p. 69)—and got inspired by their DIY spirit. “I totally want to make my own wine,” he says. Donovan lives in Mount Vernon with his dog, Nelly.

photo by Kelly Wise

Urbanite editorial intern Maria-Pia Negro is a junior at Loyola University Maryland, where she studies journalism and writing. A staff writer for the university’s studentrun newspaper, The Greyhound, Negro hopes to continue working in journalism after graduation, perhaps in her native Spanish language. She says Baltimore reminds her of her hometown of Lima, Peru—except for one important thing: “The traffic is not so bad here.” For this issue, she wrote about a local pastry shop and a sixth grader making bracelets to benefit Haiti (p. 21 and 23).

editor’s note

In 1995 the economic prognosticator/activist Jeremy Rifkin produced a

book called The End of Work, which offered two scenarios for our labor future. One, disturbingly, looks a bit like what’s actually going on—rising global unemployment, growing income disparities, billions trapped in a permanent underclass. The other, rosier one looks more like the leisure-filled techno-utopia promised by The Jetsons. Robots do the service-oriented scut jobs while virtual companies sell consumer goods turned out by largely workerless factories. In an Utne Reader piece that year, Rifkin promised that in 2045 “less than 20 percent of the adult population works full time.” So, what are they doing? Well, they’re earning “social wages”—government vouchers—for doing things that might count as volunteerism today, “from helping take care of children and the elderly to working in preventive health programs, local art galleries, park maintenance, history projects, adult education, community gardens, and neighborhood sports teams as well as religious and political activities.” But even this semi-work absorbs only a few hours a day, “leaving more time for family, friends, personal projects, and relaxation.” This worker’s paradise might sound suspiciously French, but George Jetson would feel right at home: As cartoon fans recall, he labored all of three hours a day, three days a week— that’s a full-time position in mid-21st-century Orbit City—pointlessly pushing a button as a put-upon middle-management type at Spacely’s Space Sprockets. The sprocket industry apparently served as the rough equivalent of Rifkin’s Post-Market Era employment sector—a time-killer designed to get Dad out of the house for a few hours. Part of you is probably saying, “Bring on the robot maids and the nine-hour weeks.” But the other part—the nose-to-the-grindstone Calvinist side that has made the United States among the more labor-intensive Western democracies—might reasonably wonder if there’s another way to reconcile the notion that your job isn’t your life. Along with liberating workers from dirty and dangerous tasks, technology has done some less wonderful things—eliminating millions of jobs and rendering the surviving ones intolerable by electronically yoking us to our career responsibilities, 24/7. Those of us who are lucky enough to be fully employed in 2010 are working harder and longer. The average American man puts in a hundred extra hours a year compared with his disco-era predecessors of the 1970s; for women, it’s twice that—the equivalent of five extra weeks of work. As a wise man once said, “Jane, stop this crazy thing!” Is there a better way? Rifkin’s former collaborator Ted Howard, now an economic development guru at the University of Maryland, thinks so. He talks to Marc Steiner in our “Keynote” interview (p. 38) about putting rusty industrial powerhouses back to work by establishing cooperatively owned and environmentally sustainable businesses that tap into anchor institutions such as universities and hospitals. Senior Editor Greg Hanscom offers another prescription for retooling the city in his report on environmental education and the promises of the coming green economy, part of this year’s gala annual Green Guide (p. 43). The blue-collar trades that built industrial cities such as Baltimore were anything but green, as the environmental toll left behind by a century of steelmaking at Sparrows Point shows. But while they lasted, they provided livelihoods for millions. In an excerpt from her new book, Roots of Steel (p. 56), contributing writer Deborah Rudacille paints a vivid portrait of a vanished moment in American labor—when grimy mill work was a ticket to the middleclass dream. That era has passed, but there’s something oddly contemporary about Rudacille’s memoir: The steelworkers of the postwar boom may have been cosseted by generous wages and health plans, but they were also so drained by their daily labors that they could barely greet their families after they staggered home. Worse, their jobs were killing them, literally— poisoning them with asbestos and other airborne toxins that would cut short the retirements they worked so hard to earn. For them, as for us, the long-promised age of leisure would have to wait a few more generations. —David Dudley

w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m a p r i l 1 0


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urbanite april 10

illustration by Chris Rebbert

what you’re saying

face it

a word of caution


The coverage of race in your February issue was thoughtful, and Joan Jacobson’s profi le of the diverse residents on one block of East Baltimore Street was very engaging (“The Color Line”). But before I could absorb the afterglow of hope from reading this article, I was stopped cold by the ad on page 13 for cosmetic surgery. The copy about the plastic surgeon, next to the face of a “perfect”-looking African American model, read, “Focused expertise in ethnic rhinoplasty, nose revisions and nostril shaping.” Sigh. So much for celebrating diversity. Perhaps a future issue might visit an upscale block fi lled with Michael Jackson look-alikes?

Near the end of “Edge City” (January) is a paragraph that begins “Selling the neighborhood …” that told of something that could undo all the good that Pat Turner and the Westport Waterfront project are trying to achieve. The first partner in building housing that would include low-income rentals was reported to be Landex Corp. This is the same Landex that owned blighted apartments in Essex and Dundalk. They were emptied and then demolished, at considerable cost in suffering to displaced tenants, aggravation to the neighborhood, and dollars to the taxpayers. It would behoove Turner and the Westport community to find an investor truly committed to making decent, safe, sanitary, affordable housing—something that endures, not just another commodity to be milked as a tax shelter for the rich and then discarded.

We neglected to credit Nicholas Critelli, who shot the photo of the eye used in the rendering on the March issue’s cover. Urbanite regrets the omission.

—Amy Davis, Evesham Park

We want to hear what you’re saying. E-mail us at mail@urbanitebaltimore. com or send your letter to Mail, Urbanite, 2002 Clipper Park Road, Fourth Floor, Baltimore, MD 21211. Please include your name, address, and daytime phone number. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

—Martin French, Baltimore

You call that art? Coming Next Month: Inside Baltimore’s cultural revolution w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m a p r i l 1 0


Kindness to Others in Need “Support comes in many ways from Donna and Sarah.” When Donna and Sarah heard that a former oncology patient, who was also a generous GBMC volunteer, had a broken washing machine and was in desperate need of plumbing services, they stepped in. Donna asked family members to donate money to this volunteer instead of giving her Christmas gifts. Sarah solicited donations and did research to find a plumber. Through their efforts, they purchased a new washing machine, laundry tub and plumbing services. Everyone involved was thrilled to “give back” to their volunteer and former patient.

Read more extraordinary stories at

putting your mind at ease

Sarah Jacque & Donna Lewis

Oncology Support Services


—Jerome Emile Ball is a 1976 graduate of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where he majored in English and secondary education. The call came on Friday just before lunch. “John, I need you to pack up your things and come straight to my office.” My recruiter sounded pissed, and rightfully so. She had a reputation to uphold at the elite San Francisco law firms where she placed most of her clients. Employers trusted her to find recent college grads like me who were too young and stupid to heed the signs saying DEAD END. For four-and-a-half mind-numbing days, I had shared a small office with an attractive law school dropout. Her desk faced a window overlooking the financial district and the

photo by Zach Johnson |

In December 2003, my employer of twenty-seven years, the Baltimore City School System, went on a staff-reduction spree that cost the jobs of scores of senior employees. I was one of thirteen schoolbased administrators fired the day before Christmas vacation. My dismissal took me totally by surprise. I was a front-line administrator, a foot soldier assistant professor known to get involved, not a rhetoric-oriented North Avenue bureaucrat. What had I done to warrant this? While not always politically correct in my management approach (“Do it now, and do it right; you’re getting paid”), I gave myself to the often-unclear mission to educate and control students in school. I observed teachers’ lessons: Some were good, some were outstanding, some were pitiful. For those that were good, I offered suggestions for improvement. On outstanding lessons I lavished praise, and for those that needed a great deal of work, I tried to correct instructional methods without destroying the teachers’ morale or confidence. I broke up fights, many times between students who dwarfed my stature. Frequently, I prevented violent confrontations. I seized contraband alone or assisted by school police. I knew school law and was fair in imposing discipline. Thus, my firing humiliated and disgusted me. When I left that December day with my “we don’t need you” letter, the words of a Rod Stewart song came to mind: “Is that the thanks I get for loving you?”

what you’re writing

mouth of the bay beyond. I faced a bare eggshell-white wall with my back to the door. The substance of the work, as best I can remember it, was to sift through piles of paper and e-mail, entering the names, dates, and contact information I encountered there into a database. I was led to believe this information could someday be important to someone (or group of someones) involved in a class-action lawsuit. I would race through my stack of papers and have nothing to do, so I found other ways to pass the time. I read a book, I surfed the Web, I made small talk with my officemate. I tried to be discreet and act busy, knowing how the attorneys and paralegals liked to pop their heads in to check on us. On one such occasion, I decided to open an e-mail from my girlfriend despite its suggestive subject line (“Booty-licious”). It was at this moment—as the derriere of a G-stringed debutante from the latest issue of Maxim filled the screen—that I heard the distinct clip-clop of business heels arrive at the open door directly behind me. The sound of those heels echoed in my head as I opened the door to my recruiter’s office and asked, “Did I just get fired?” —John Motsinger lives in Baltimore with his girlfriend, who no longer sends him inappropriate pictures. I wonder what thoughts went through my uncle’s mind as he lay dying in the street. In our family, he had always been the storyteller and entertainer, our self-taught soothsayer. Laughing, he’d look at our palms or scrutinize the cards we’d pulled and spin grand tales of what was to come. He’d tell us where we’d find love, money, and happiness. We always seemed to end with happiness. He predicted so many events for our friends and family that he must have read his own fortune. He must have known that his murder would happen while he was working. That he’d be called on to make a hoax food delivery. That as he walked his final steps

up to the door of a dark house, three kids would come up behind him fast, one of them, the oldest at 17, loaded with a gun. That, if the kids had only asked, my uncle would have handed over the $20 he had on him. I imagine how this boy felt after he fired the gun. I imagine him fingering its handle and barrel long before he pulled the trigger. He needed to sense its power, to know he owned it. The weapon must have been cool and heavy in his hot, 17-year-old hands. He must have felt a rush of importance as the gun recoiled against his slight frame, and my uncle—47 and graying at the temples, unassuming in a cabbie hat and a secondhand trench coat—hit the ground like a puppet. It has been almost a year. Their trials are approaching; the two younger boys are being tried as accomplices while triggerboy faces first-degree murder as an adult, which in Alabama could mean imprisonment for life. My family believes this vengeance will give them peace, but I have always believed that youth should get second chances. But now, I really just want what I can’t have. That carelessly fired shot taken back. My uncle reading my palm. —Annie Nguyen is an English and creative writing professor at the Community College of Baltimore County. One by one, the white switchboard operators snatched quick, sidelong glances. There were six of us—young, black, and overdressed—there for someone’s idea of a diversity management training program. Plucked from accelerated classes at the local integrated high school, we were to work summers and holidays through the rest of high school and college as switchboard operators, at twice the pay as the stores in the mall, and graduate as new managers. We nervously joked about being the new Southern Bell(es). We trained to work emergencies, memorizing word-for-word scripts. No deviations, no improvisations of any kind were allowed. w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m a p r i l 1 0


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urbanite april 10

The schedule was just as strict, with bathroom breaks mandated at specific times. A few days in, a call came in to my board from a panicked and incoherent woman. I could make out the word “burning,” but she couldn’t tell me who or where she was. Suddenly, I knew. She was an elderly lady who lived in my neighborhood. “Miss Cary? This is Sheri, Helen Parks’ youngest.” “Oh?” she asked. I didn’t know that I knew her house number, but I did, and I said the address for her. “Is the fire in your kitchen? I’ll take care of it. Get out now!” I listened for the sound of her feet, left the line open, and called the fire department. Then I called the ambulance and told them she had a bad heart. I sat back and looked around to see the supervisor coming up to me, tears streaming from behind her big glasses. “I have to terminate you now.” I’d racked up too many violations to count—I’d guessed at the address, prompted the caller, given her instructions, and let her leave the line. But I had saved her. “I know,” the supervisor said. “I was monitoring you.” She was still crying. “You have to go, now.” It took awhile, but I came to realize that the supervisor got the worst of it that day. She had to go back to work for the company that made her fire a kid for saving an old lady. ■ —Longtime public radio host Sheri Parks is an associate professor of American studies at the University of Maryland, College Park.

“What You’re Writing” is the place

for creative nonfiction from our readers. Each month we pick a topic. Use the topic as a springboard into your own life and send us a true story inspired by that month’s theme. Only previously unpublished, nonfiction submissions that include contact information can be considered. We reserve the right to edit heavily for space and clarity, but we will give you the opportunity to review the edits. You may submit under “name withheld” to keep your essay anonymous, but you do need to let us know how to contact you. If you’ve already changed the names of the people involved, please let us know. Only one submission per topic, please. Send your essay to Urbanite, 2002 Clipper Park Road, Fourth Floor, Baltimore, MD 21211, or e-mail it to WhatYoureWriting@urbanitebaltimore. com. Submissions should be shorter than four hundred words. Because of the number of essays we receive, we cannot respond individually to each writer. Please do not send originals; submissions cannot be returned.

Topic Into the Wild Burned Out Fact or Fiction

Deadline April 12, 2010 May 10, 2010 June 7, 2010

Publication June 2010 July 2010 Aug 2010

w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m a p r i l 1 0




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urbanite april 10


Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus

April 7–18

The circus is coming to town! The touring “Zing Zang Zoom” production blends magic with circus arts, featuring human cannonballs, majestic Bengal tigers and Arabian horses, and the terrifyingly named Quadruple Russian Fire Swing. On April 14, the circus’s elephants parade up Eutaw Street from the arena to Lexington Market for their annual lunch of thousands of bananas, heads of lettuce, and carrots.

1st Mariner Arena 201 W. Baltimore St. $14–$75 410-547-SEAT

Orioles Opening Day

April 9

Yes, our beloved Birds are in a twelve-season tailspin. But don’t let that spoil Opening Day, where the Orioles take on the Toronto Blue Jays and, after a few hot dogs and beers, hope for a winning season springs eternal.

3:05 p.m. Oriole Park at Camden Yards 333 W. Camden St. com

Fells Point Privateer Day

April 9–10

All together now: Yarrrrrr! Dress in your puffy shirt for this annual celebration of all things pirate. The weekend kicks off with the Swashbuckler Soiree on Friday, with live music and eats and drinks provided by Fells Point restaurants. Activities at Saturday’s Privateer Day range from live music and children’s activities to a sea battle and sword fights. The action wraps up with the nighttime Pyrate Invasion— drink and food specials at local pubs for a nominal upfront fee.

www.fellspointdevelopment. com/privateerday.html

Project Clean Stream 2010

April 10

The annual Project Clean Stream galvanizes communities to clean up Maryland’s waterways. Last year, volunteers pulled more than 320,000 pounds of trash from area streams. Interesting finds included a dishwasher, a toboggan, and, ironically, a “no dumping” sign.

9 a.m.–noon To nominate your local stream or volunteer for a team, call 410-377-6270 or go to

Sugarloaf Crafts Festival

April 16–18

The thirty-fourth annual Sugarloaf Crafts Festival is a juried craft and fine art show, featuring work both functional and decorative, from furniture and garden items to sculpture and jewelry. Gourmet eats, children’s activities, and live demonstrations by craftspeople round out the weekend.

Maryland State Fairgrounds 2200 York Rd. $8, $7 online, children younger than 12 free For more info and discount tickets, call (800) 210-9900 or go to

Baltimore Green Week

April 17–24

The seventh annual celebration of all things green kicks off with Saturday’s EcoFest, a festival held at Druid Hill Park that features green vendors and exhibitors, group bike rides, live music, and more. Workshops, lectures, and other activities on such topics as sustainable food, climate change, and public health take up the rest of the week. events/baltimore-green-week/

Photo credits from top to bottom: courtesy of Ringling Bros.® 2010; courtesy of Todd Olszewski/Baltimore Orioles; courtesy of Fells Point Main Street; photo by Bob Whitcomb; courtesy of Jill MacLaren; © Blake Anthony |

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Educating Earth-Friendly Citizens THE WORLD HAS SO MUCH TO TEACH US, and McDaniel College engages students to think—and act responsibly as stewards of the Earth—and to both measure and reduce McDaniel’s carbon footprint. Here are 3 ways environmental initiatives have taken root to result in a much greener McDaniel. • Geothermal heat pumps in the nine North Village apartments and in the Garden apartments have cut energy cost by one-third. • During a 10-week Recyclemania competition, the College recycled 31,150 lbs. of paper, cardboard, bottles and cans. That’s 10.5 lbs. per person. • Englar Dining Hall suspended use of trays known as “Wasteless Wednesdays,” to realize a ton of savings within a 6-week period. To learn more about the countless ways to become carbon-neutral, go online

McDaniel Undergrad Ellen Larsen happily spent much of Earth Day dressed as a tree while doing her best to focus attention on the ways the campus community can protect the environment. Such environmentally conscious activities are not limited to April 22.


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Swimsuit season is just around the corner, and slacking off in the back row of an aerobics class won’t shrink that spare tire. Try True Balance Studio in Mount Vernon (1021 N. Cathedral St.; 410-800-2812; Run by trainer Ali True (pictured), who claims twenty years in the fitness industry, it started out as a private training gym but, in late 2009, also began offering memberships on a month-to-month basis for around $50 to $65, depending on the client. True promises a private trainer-level of attention, with a designated workout time (which also keeps the open rowhouse-sized space from feeling crowded) and a friendly phone call if you haven’t shown up in a few weeks. Clients can make custom plans for marathons or injury recovery, or just plain work out: There’s circuit training, zumba, pilates, boxing, and more. “Everybody knows everybody. Everybody’s friends,” says True’s husband, Jason Smith, who heads up the kettlebells department. “There’s good energy here.” —Marianne K. Amoss

Tot Couture photo by Tyler Fitzpatrick

Business partners Portia Romond and Pintet Halasan have six children between them—six constantly growing children who go through clothes like, well, constantly growing children. Frustrated with the lack of quality affordable kids’ duds, they opened Jack and Immy Children’s Consignment in Fells Point (2108 Fleet St.; 410-732-0195; Named after Romond and Halasan’s youngest children, the cute-as-pie shop fills the gap between disorganized thrift bins and high-end boutiques, with lovingly hung racks of steeply discounted clothing (ranging from infant to size 10) and accessories from brands like Ralph Lauren and Gap at prices as low as $2.95. “We’re both young mothers. We know how frustrating shopping for kids can be, so we try to run the store with that in mind,” Romond says. —Maren Tarro

Puff Piece Hampden may have lost the beloved New System Bakery, which closed in February after eighty-eight years, but another local pastry shop is just warming up its ovens. Puffs & Pastries (830 W. 36th St.; 410-878-1266; www.puffs opened in 2008, offering traditional European pastry with a modern twist—éclairs filled with French heirloom rose mousse, Earl Gray tea-flavored cake filled with fresh strawberries and custard—along with some nontraditional items (bacon chocolate bars!). Owner Anisha Jagtap, former executive chef at Sascha’s in Mount Vernon, boasts that everything is made with fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients—and butter, rather than additives and fillers. “You can treat yourself to one pastry, and you can feel OK eating it because it’s all natural," she says. —Maria-Pia Negro photo by Kelly Wise

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What’s a connoisseur of Old World quality to do in today’s assembly-line world? David Wiesand has got your back. McLain Wiesand Custom Built Furniture (1013 Cathedral St.; 410-539-4440; www.mclainwiesand. com) has been turning out fine wood and metal custom furnishings and artwork since 1986. Wiesand’s showroom and workshop in Mount Vernon is packed to the rafters with armoires, mirrors, and chairs in various stages of completion. From casting and molding to staining and finishing, the Maryland Institute College of Art graduate and his crew of craftspeople design, construct, and restore furnishings and antiques down to the tiniest of details—and in a variety of styles, from Chippendale to midcentury modern to Moroccan. “Our [online] catalog is really just a sampling of what we do,” he says. “Once we get in the workshop, there are so many possibilities.”

Girl Power Plenty of ’tween girls enjoy making bracelets, but one local girl is using jewelry to raise funds for victims of the recent earthquake in Haiti. Baltimore City resident Makayla G. Gilliam-Price is crafting bracelets from colorful beads and selling them for $5 to friends, family, and classmates at the Calvert School, where she’s in the sixth grade. She's already surpassed her goal of raising $1,000 for UNICEF, but she continues on. (Lakeshore Learning Store in Towson recently donated fifteen bags of beads to the effort, relieving Gilliam-Price’s mom of paying for them out of pocket.) Gilliam-Price has a history of helping out: She volunteers at literacy nonprofit Baltimore Reads and Towson University’s Saturday Morning Science series. In the future, she plans to establish a nonprofit called Moving Girls to Greater Power to sponsor girls’ peer-to-peer mentoring. “If you believe in yourself,” she says, “you have confidence to do whatever you want.” To purchase bracelets, e-mail —M.N.

Traveling Europe as a techno DJ left a lasting impression on Brian Strumke, especially where a certain fermented beverage is concerned. “I couldn’t help but become well-versed in beer culture,” says the founder of Stillwater Artisanal Ales ( Turns out he also had a knack for making the stuff. His Stateside Saison, a New World take on a classic Belgian-style ale, made its Baltimore debut at the Belgian Beer Festival at Max’s Taphouse in February and hit Maryland shelves last month. Brewed in Westminster with European malts and hops from the United States and New Zealand, it’s bottle-conditioned to create a stable beer with the potential to be further aged. But how does it taste? “It’s citrusy with a dry, rustic finish,” says Strumke of the hazy brew, which will be available in 750 ml bottles and kegs. As for future releases, Strumke (fittingly, a native of Brewer’s Hill) has a few surprises brewing. “I’m working on several brews in locations throughout Europe that I’ll export to the United States.” —M.T.

photo by Charles D. Cook

Happy Hour

nursery_market days spring 2010_V4:Layout 1


5:01 PM

Page 1

 Market Day @ Cylburn Aboretum

Native Plant Sale @ Herring Run Nursery

Saturday, May 8 8am - 2pm

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baltimore observed sport

One Man Out

Where are African Americans in the national pastime?


ow about Al Bumbry?” I asked this question to a group of 15- and 16-year-old Baltimore high school students in April a few years ago. The room was silent. One young man bit his lip, cockd his head, and squinted one eye like he might know, like the name might mean something. But then nothing. “Paul Blair?” I pressed on. “Eddie Murray? You gotta know Eddie Murray! And Frank Robinson? C’mon!” It just wasn’t there. I’ve asked scores of city kids, particularly in the spring, what they know about baseball, specifically baseball in Baltimore. What I’ve found is that the game does not resonate. They might have learned about Jackie Robinson or seen the highlight reel of the integration of 1947, but many kids I’ve queried have never been to a game at Camden Yards. They’ve never heard of Memorial Stadium. “Hey, isn’t there somebody named, like, Markakis?” a high school junior offered once. Immediately a peer called out the general lack of affinity: “Baseball’s too damn boring. Baseball’s some bullshit.” This disconnect in the city is mirrored by an absence on the field. When I ask Adam Jones, the Orioles’ Gold Glove centerfielder, what it will feel like to be once again the only African American on the team’s starting roster, he’s humble, hesitant, stretching for the post-racial. “I’m just getting to know Baltimore,” he says over the phone from Arizona, where he’s training for the 2010 season. “I’m a West Coast guy. I know we need to give kids more opportunities to play the game. I look forward to working with the kids of Baltimore.” Jones pauses, not satisfied with his answer. “Baseball has become a lost art,” he reflects. “And for real—it’s been, what, ten, eleven years since this team has won?” (It’s actually twelve.)

also in b a lt i M o r e observed: 29 Sustainable City Attack of the nonprofit bees 31 Preservation The Chesapeake Restaurant emerges from the past

by michael corbin illustration by l aurent hrybyk

35 Appreciation Artisan John Gutierrez

 In the classroom or on-line

A national leader in the production of Fulbright Scholars

A Carnegie Classified Doctoral Research Institution

Each year on April 15—Jackie Robinson Day—the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida releases its “Racial and Gender Report Card for Major League Baseball.” Last year’s report noted that 2008 was the first season since 1995 to see an uptick in the percentage of African American players in MLB, rising from 8.2 percent in 2007 to 10.2 percent in 2008. Institute Director Richard Lapchick noted hopefully in the report that the one-year rise might be a sign that the league’s efforts to connect with black America are taking effect. Privately, several people I’ve talked to in the Orioles organization acknowledge the dilemma of having only one African American on the team’s starting roster. They also concede the distance—a certain social lacuna difficult to articulate—between the brick warehouse of Camden Yards and the streets of contemporary Baltimore. The historically precise Yards and its retro-urbanism conjure for the Orioles and the major leagues a “national pastime” that predates 1947: It’s the world of white-only baseball. “I do not think that blacks were ever particularly interested in what whites got from the game, or in how the baseball myth worked for them,” cultural critic Gerald Early writes in his thoughtful 2000 essay “Why Baseball Was the Black National Pastime.” “AfricanAmericans experienced the game through their flawed Americanism, imposed on them by whites, and this is why they are somewhat alienated or distanced from the game today.” Antonio, a student I used to teach, grew up on 33rd Street. “When I was 5 or 6, baseball was my everything,” he says. “I could hear the roar of the crowd and see the lights from Memorial Stadium. I played baseball in elementary, in an after-school program. I had an autographed Ken Griffey Jr. glove.” Now a sophomore at Morgan State University, he has left the game in his past. “You know, I can’t even have a conversation [about baseball] with people on campus. They don’t know anything about the game.” Now in 2010, in the age of Obama, baseball begins again in Baltimore. I ask Orioles fielder Adam Jones if he thinks one day, like Roy Campanella or Henry Aaron, a young person in America or from Baltimore might aspire to be him. “Well, first, I wouldn’t put myself in league with those guys,” he says. When I press a little bit on the burdens of racial representation and of being a role model, he tries again. “You know, my brother told me to embrace it. I’m just going to embrace it.” ■ —Michael Corbin On the air: More on African Americans in baseball on The Marc Steiner Show, WEAA FM 88.9, on April 13.

baltimore observed Class Act: Can better schools make better

neighborhoods? The folks at the Goldseker Foundation think so. In February, the nonprofit awarded grants totaling $435,000 to five neighborhood-school partnerships aimed at high-performing schools that are located in designated Healthy Neighborhoods (see Urbanite, March ’10). Created in 2001 to increase housing values in “undervalued” parts of town, the Healthy Neighborhoods program now includes fifteen city neighborhoods. Schools selected—including Gwynns Falls Elementary in Greater Mondawmin, City Neighbors Charter in Lauraville, and Barclay Elementary/Middle in Barclay—will receive between $20,000 and $50,000 for academic improvements, while their neighborhood partners will get up to $30,000 to help market the schools as community assets.

u p d at e

Former Major League Baseball commissioner and raconteur A. Bartlett Giamatti famously wrote that baseball was “designed to break your heart.” He wasn’t just talking about winning and losing—or the hapless Orioles of the 21st century—but rather the mythology of baseball. We like to think of our “national pastime” as a story we tell ourselves about how our differences are reconciled in the park, in the yard, on a spring day. I think about this when I drive down Edison Highway in East Baltimore at night, willing spring against the snow, looking at the lights of the Mars grocery store distribution center off to the east and trying to imagine the ball field that used to be there. Bugle Field, demolished in 1949, was the home of the Baltimore Elite (pronounced ee-light) Giants, winner of the 1939 Negro National Title. This was where a 16-year-old Roy Campanella played, where Hall of Fame pitcher Leon Day played, where back-to-back National League Rookie of the Year winners Junior Gilliam and Joe Black played. In his new book from the Johns Hopkins University Press, The Baltimore Elite Giants: Sport and Society in the Age of Negro League Baseball, Bob Luke captures a moment when baseball truly was the national pastime for both black and white Baltimore: Jackie Robinson playing for the Dodgers in the third game of the 1949 World Series. “Hundreds of people in Baltimore stopped work up and down Pennsylvania Avenue … to listen to and watch the account of Robinson’s play,” he writes. “A crowd of two hundred gathered in front of a store at 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, where a television set broadcast the game.” Decades after the extinction of the Negro Leagues and the imperfect integration of the majors, much of black America has grown disenchanted with baseball. Observers of the game today argue over explanations for this—claiming everything from the growing cultural dominance of basketball and football to the inhospitable geography of the inner city to continued racism. Major League Baseball’s response is a program called Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI), which celebrated its twentieth anniversary in 2009. Founded in Los Angeles, RBI now reaches out to the baseball-dispossessed in all thirty MLB cities. Baltimore’s RBI program began in 1997. “We have the Gameday Experience Program, Jackie Robinson Day, our annual clinic at Carroll Park, and our City Schools Summer Curriculum Program,” says Monica Barlow, the Orioles’s public relations director. “Last year we had nineteen teams participate, with 350 players … The kids get the opportunity to play at Oriole Park and are hosted at several Orioles games. Winning teams also get to travel to and play in a regional RBI tournament.”

Testing, Testing … More troubles for the

state’s plan to broaden the use of DNA evidence in criminal trials (see Urbanite, April ’08): Prosecutors are being forced to postpone or drop cases due to a growing backlog of analysis requests at the Baltimore Police Department’s crime lab. New lab director Francis A. Chiafari (who took over the beleaguered facility in 2009) told the Sun in February that the lab remained understaffed due to a 2007 hiring freeze and was struggling to cope with a recent jump in requests for analysis. Several high-profile criminal cases, including the attempted-murder trial of a teenage boy accused of shooting a 5-year-old girl in July, have been pushed back because of DNA testing delays. A recent $375,000 grant from the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention might help: That’s enough to outsource about 275 DNA cases to other labs. Smarter 311 : Another step on the road to a

next-generation 311 system: San Francisco and Washington, D.C., recently implemented an application programming interface (or API) to make 311 data open to all citizens. By using the Open311 API, residents can read and add information about service problems such as sewer backups or non-emergency issues using a smartphone application. (See Urbanite, Jan. ’10.) Many cities already have their independent app; Open311 would standardize their protocol to encourage Web developers to build apps that work for all cities, speeding the rollout of collaborative mapping and helping citizens interact online with their communities. Go to http:// for more info.

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Your Smile Matters

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Show Me the Honey

A new nonprofit promotes a citywide network of community-supported beehives.

photo by Tyler Fitzpatrick


n a sunny day in mid-February, as city work crews and residents struggled to cope with 4 feet of unwelcome snow, Meme Thomas and her daughters trekked out the back door, past the dormant vegetable garden, to a far corner of her family’s Mount Washington yard. There the landscape designer bent her ear to one of her two beehives, listening for the tell-tale hum inside. Then she cleared the ice and snow blocking the entrance to each. The honeybees—she affectionately refers to them as “the girls”— promptly emerged in a burst of spring-cleaning vigor: Mortician bees shuttled away corpses while others carried waste from the hive. Thousands more remained inside, where the gentle contractions of their flight muscles generate enough heat to maintain a cozy 93 degrees for their queen all winter long. “If more humans had a social structure like the bees, we would have a more harmonious universe,” says Thomas, one of fiftyeight registered beekeepers operating in the city. “Everyone has a job. They complete a task, then move on to the next without even asking why.”

Local food aficionados claim no victual logs fewer food miles than the golden flow from a comb. They have a point: Apis mellifera likes to forage within a mile-and-a-half radius of its hive. Consequently, each colony renders a unique record of its neighborhood’s flora and weather patterns in the hue and flavor of its honey. This winter, as her colonies awaited the spring blossoms, Thomas hatched a nonprofit called Baltimore Honey. Her plan: Place twenty more hives throughout Charm City, supplying pollination services for the burgeoning community gardens and urban farms that are transforming abandoned lots into edible oases. (See Urbanite, Sept. ’09.) Fully one-third of our diet—including most fruits and vegetables—owes to the work of pollinators. “There are so many people creating gardens, wanting to grow and eat things locally, live better,” says Thomas, an avid gardener. “The only way they truly can be productive with all their energies is being sure their plants get pollinated. If we can provide the bees, the food will come.” Thomas has modeled her project on community supported agriculture programs in which subscribers pay up front for a share of a local farm’s harvest. For $45, each hive’s half-dozen subscribers will receive at least one pound of natural, raw, micro-local B’More HonE packed in a custom-labeled, recycled glass jar. At peak production, each

Bee queen: Beekeeper Meme Thomas has set out to populate Baltimore with pollinators and provide healthy, local honey in the process.

baltimore observed community supported apiary might produce as much as 120 pounds of honey, says Thomas, who always leaves behind at least 80 pounds of honey to feed the colony through winter. (Large-scale honey producers feed bees sugar syrup replacements.) What isn’t distributed through the network will be sold at Whole Foods, which provided a $15,000 startup grant for hives and equipment. Like the bees themselves, the scheme employs an elegant division of labor. Each of the city’s nine neighborhood districts and the grounds of the Maryland Zoo in Druid Hill Park will be assigned two colonies, as well as human hosts and stewards. Prospective hosts file an application describing the proffered hive site and attesting that it meets the city’s beekeeping specifications. After a visit from Thomas confirms the site’s suitability, the host gets adjacent property owners to sign on in support of a neighborhood colony and pledge to forgo the use of pesticides and other toxins near the bees. Prospective stewards apply to care for and maintain the hives. Those who lack the requisite experience will receive scholarships to attend a training program run by bumba, the Bowie Upper Marlboro Beekeepers Association, in partnership with the University of Maryland entomology department. Using handheld GPS units, the stewards will also collect samples and track details such as daily hive weight measurements, used to guide management and inform scientific studies. “There aren’t enough pollinating insects out there anymore,” says bumba president Scott Seccomb. “The more beekeepers we have, the more we’ll know about what makes those little pollinators tick.” The new apiaries will have another benefit as well. For more than a century, backyard beekeepers in the northern half of the United States have imported queen bees from commercial queen-rearing concerns in the deep South, where the breeding season begins early enough to yield replacements for winter-killed northern hives before spring arrives. Over the last decade, however, the spread of the Africanized honeybee and invasive mites, plus changing climate patterns, have turned such cross-country commerce into an Achilles heel. Baltimore Honey plans to engage stewards in an effort designed by Seccomb to produce breeding stock uniquely suited to Baltimore. It’s these added benefits that make the work worthwhile for Thomas. “We provide a bee environment that’s sustainable for the city, provides pollination, and encourages local genetic diversity,” she says. “Honey is the byproduct.” ■ —Sharon Tregaskis w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m a p r i l 1 0


She never knew donating her kidney would be this easy. * * * The University of Maryland Medical Center is one of only three hospitals in the nation to perform single-incision laparoscopic kidney-removal surgery through the navel. The whole procedure is minimally invasive, recovery is quick—about a week—and the procedure barely leaves any scar at all. Donors leave the hospital with just a small bandage and the knowledge that they’ve saved someone’s life. Donating a kidney has never been easier.

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photo by Dennis Drenner

baltimore observed

P r e s e r vat i o n

Past Prime

Once swank, the long-closed Chesapeake Restaurant stirs, two decades after serving its last highball.


or most Baltimoreans younger than 60, “Chesapeake Restaurant” are only words on battered signage near the Charles Theatre, where an arrow futilely points to a dark quintet of chocolate-brown rowhouses, empty and desolate since the 1980s. But if you were a citizen of means during the Mad Men years, that name might evoke a scene that looked something like this: It’s a Saturday night in the mid-1960s, and you and the Mrs. are getting ready for an evening out. You slip into your best attire— trim, two-button suit for you, dress gloves and pearls for her—and head to 1707 North Charles Street, where you are greeted by a tuxedoed gentleman who hands you a pack of matches bearing your name in gilt letters. Your reservation is acknowledged. (And you did make reservations, because you won’t find an empty table amid this thicket of gray flannel, satin, and chiffon.) The air is a heady mix of tobacco smoke, big-night-out perfume, and the enticing aroma of charcoaled steak. In the bustling foyer: a motorized lazy Susan, groaning with deep-sea victuals on ice—lobsters, crabs, plump clams, briny oysters. The jaunty strains of “The Girl from Ipanema”—with occasional rhythmic

accompaniment from a martini-loaded cocktail shaker—drifts in from the piano lounge to the right. That’s dapper Neil Wolfe at the ivories, soon to record with Barbra Streisand. On your left, the boisterous Elbow Room Bar—home to many a backslapping “client lunch”—is in full swing. There’s National Premium on draft and an electrified likeness of Pimlico Race Course behind the bar, where the refashioned guts of a pinball machine make horses “race” around the oval at Old Hilltop. A few Saturdays back, half a dozen Green Bay Packers whooped it up so hard that a besotted halfback had to be carried out the door at closing. (How they managed to clobber the Colts with those morning-after heads remains a mystery.) Where to tonight? The Crisfield Room? The Chestnut Room? Perhaps upstairs to the fireplace-flickering Lamplighter Room, or the Babe Ruth Room, that temple to the Sultan of Swat where everything from his wristwatch and his bats are enshrined. Ultimately, you are led to the dark-paneled Chesapeake Room, where burgundy carpets match the curved leather booths. A Manhattan arrives at your elbow. A Caesar salad tonight? They’re prepared tableside. The Chesapeake’s famous slogan—Cut your steak

with a fork or tear up your check and walk out—promises that the beef is always a good bet. Then again, the New York Times just rhapsodized about the crab imperial. Save room for flaming strawberries Romanoff or a fresh coconut snowball. And, gently discernable above the murmur of conversations and tinkling water glasses, Wolfe segues into “The Shadow of Your Smile.” Fast forward to 2010. There’s the old piano, now wearing a blanket of dust and keeping silent watch over a disheveled lounge in a vacant building where the office calendars read 1986. But perhaps not for much longer. The vacant building’s longtime owner, Baltimore lawyer Robert Sapero, recently sold the Chesapeake to the city, ending a protracted legal tussle that involved a failed attempt to wrest the building away using eminent domain. A development team that includes restaurateur Qayum Karzai, of Helmand and Tapas Teatro fame, has been tapped to relaunch the property; an eatery, gourmet foods market, and office space—perhaps bearing the Chesapeake name—may open here by 2011. But before the 21st-century story of this address is written, attention must be paid to three generations of Baltimore’s Friedman family, who birthed a gastronomic giant here—beginning with Morris Friedman, who opened a grocery on the block in 1919. “When whiskey came back—the end w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m a p r i l 1 0


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9/25/09 10:58 AM

photos by Dennis Drenner

baltimore observed

Last call: Donald Friedman, grandson of original Chesapeake owner Morris Friedman, surveys the long-dormant lounge and dining room of the old family restaurant. A new development team has been tapped to renovate and reopen the once-popular Charles Street destination, which has been shuttered since the mid-1980s. “I just hope whoever comes in here has success,” he says.

of Prohibition—my father moved next door, and with my older brother we opened the Chesapeake Restaurant. Twenty-nine seats: That’s five booths and nine counter stools,” says nonagenarian Norman Friedman over the phone from his retirement home in Florida. (Along with his younger brother Philip, 85, they helped the author fill in the details of this story’s opening; Mad Men scribes should put the pair on retainer.) By 1961, the Chesapeake subsumed five rowhouses, boasting three hundred seats on two floors and a national rep for steaks and seafood. Its success was a mix of innovation—they were Baltimore pioneers of prime beef and charcoal grilling—and old-school simplicity. The kitchen staff, most of whom worked there for decades and almost all of whom were African American, might have lacked culinary degrees, but they made up for it with an intimate knowledge of cuisine de Maryland. The downturn came quickly. A fivealarm fire swept through the place in 1974,

burning up the Babe’s belongings and cueing some of the elder Friedmans that it was time to retire. Even as the family rebuilt, that stretch of Charles Street spiraled downward, with seedy bars and peep shows filling the storefronts. Harborplace’s arrival in 1980 further shifted urban energy downtown, and by mid-decade the Friedmans were fighting for the public’s protein dollar in an era of chain steak joints and “casual dining.” They stuck a fork in the business in 1983. New restaurateurs briefly opened the Chesapeake later in the ’80s before the place was more or less mothballed. New owner Sapero perennially blamed the blighted environs for his inability to market the space to new operators. More than twenty years later, Donald Friedman—Philip’s son and a Hampdenbased business consultant who grew up working at the Chesapeake—tromps through the decayed restaurant on the eve of its redevelopment. He recounts how, as a boy, he literally bumped into the Temptations

coming out of the bathroom. “Nothing but nice memories,” he says. “I just hope whoever comes in here has success.” Down in sunny Florida, his father and uncle watch—happily—from the sidelines. “I wouldn’t go back in the restaurant business if you paid me a thousand dollars a minute,” says Norman Friedman. His brother Philip, meanwhile, wonders whether the Karzai team should consider retaining the Chesapeake name if they succeed in reopening the restaurant. “If I were opening that place today, I don’t think I’d use the name. People who remember the place would expect it to be the Chesapeake. And it simply wouldn’t be. You’ll never recapture the past.” ■ —Brennen Jensen Web extra: More photos at w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m a p r i l 1 0




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urbanite april 10

baltimore observed

a p p r e c i at i o n

Man of Steel

John Gutierrez march 20, 1964–february 25, 2010

n February 25, the Baltimore community lost one of its great creative talents. John Kennedy Gutierrez passed away after a battle with cancer. He was just 45. Gutierrez started a custom woodworking shop in Baltimore in 1991 after earning a degree in furniture design from the Rochester Institute of Technology. He mastered a number of materials and soon expanded his practice into metalwork. Gutierrez believed in the power of craft and the ability of human design to impact the built environment, and he chose to locate his burgeoning practice in one of Baltimore’s most glorious— and, at that time, underutilized—industrial spaces. Today, Gutierrez Studios occupies twenty thousand square feet in a 19thcentury foundry on the Clipper Mill campus. As Gutierrez Studios steadily grew over the years, Gutierrez and his staff of artisans and designers pioneered a new look for the city, crafting interiors and public spaces ranging from the industrial chic interior of Woodberry Kitchen to the simple iron gates and benches of the Pope John Paul II Prayer Garden on Charles Street (as well as the

stairway in Urbanite’s offices). The studio also became known for its line of contemporary furniture, as well as lighting fabricated from specially treated fiberglass. But perhaps even more than the work forged in his studio, Gutierrez will be remembered for his gregarious and generous nature. His studio became a hub of activity, with a rotating cast of international visitors, artisans, and professionals and a reputation for lively gatherings with bonfires, food, live music, and dancing. Every December, he opened the studio for a raucous holiday party. Other times, he gathered a group of friends for a simple meal cooked over an open fire—which somehow turned into an all-night affair with people popping by from all over the city. Gutierrez was a vibrant and vital force in the Baltimore community, and his absence is palpable. He will be remembered not only for the legacy of fine craftsmanship that he left to Baltimore, but also for the gracious spirit he embodied. ■

photo by Chris Hartlove


—Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson

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photo by David Rehor

Julie Norin of the Hearing and Speech Agency got her world-traveler dad back in the conversation—and away from the dangers of progressive hearing loss.

keeping dad on top of his game Hearing and Speech Agency’s staff help people see the light about hearing aids. B y R o b i n T. R e i d

As an audiology extern at the Hearing and Speech Agency, Julie Norin spends a lot of time helping people to see as well as hear. The 40-year-old fits patients with hearing aids, perceived as cumbersome attributes of old age. But once they see how sleek and efficient today’s hearing aids are, not to mention how much better they sound, the stigma usually vanishes. “Twenty years ago, hearing aids were awful,” Norin says. “Technology has changed so drastically that it’s like comparing an eight-track tape with an iPod. Speech clarity is so much better, and many hearing aids are invisible or resemble hightech phones or listening devices. “You have to explain this with some urgency,” she continues, “but you can’t make people do something they’re not ready to do. It’s a balancing act.”


One such balancing act hit close to home for Norin. Her father, Edward Spitz, was showing signs of hearing loss several years ago but was most definitely not interested in getting hearing aids. “Only in his 60s, he thought he would look old,” she recalls. “He didn’t recognize his TV was louder or that we had to repeat things in conversation all the time. I was concerned that he was missing major parts of conversation and filling in too many gaps with what he thought he heard, which is something people do when they have a hearing loss.” To Spitz, he wasn’t the problem; everyone else was. “Everyone around me mumbled,” he recalls. His opinion changed in November. While on a riverboat cruise in Europe, he and his wife became friendly with a man slightly his junior who used hearing aids. “And he was happy to have them,” Spitz adds. “He had more fun than I did.” Upon return, Spitz visited his daughter at HASA to be fitted with hearing aids. “We talked about what was most important to him in terms of style and technology, which is what I do with every patient,” Norin says. “I ask about situations in which they struggle to hear. Background noise is usually the culprit.” Spitz chose a small device that fits behind his ear and is almost invisible. The first night he used it, Norin was thrilled, yet not surprised, that he could hear her perfectly well, even when they sat down together in a crowded restaurant. Helping her father was yet another reinforcement for Norin that she’d chosen the right field—and the right employer. The former advertising sales executive returned to school six years ago after she’d spent some time with a speech pathologist. “My oldest son was diagnosed with apraxia when he was 2; he was unable to talk,” she says. “I was so appreciative of his speech pathologist and the difference she made in our lives that I went back to school to study speech pathology.” She veered into audiology soon afterward partly because she liked the gadgetry involved. “As a kid I liked to take things apart,” she explains. “I’m the one who programs all the electronics at home. I’m a gadget girl.”

And that’s her nickname at HASA, where she is an audiology extern—her title until she receives her doctorate in May. Originally established in 1926 as a community center for the hard-of-hearing, the nonprofit agency provides comprehensive audiology services, speech therapy, occupational therapy for children, and sign language interpreters. Also within the state-of-the-art facility is the Gateway School for children with communication disorders. Audiology fees are based on income. And that is one of the reasons Norin enjoys working for HASA.“Because we offer clinical services and hearing aids on a sliding scale, we are able to help patients on a fixed income,” she says. “I don’t know of any other place in the area that does that. We also participate in the Hear Now Program, run through Starkey, a hearing aid manufacturer [that provides the latest hearing aids to people who otherwise could not afford them]. We are able to do what we love: work with patients and make hearing aids affordable.” In addition to Starkey, HASA works with all of the major hearing aid manufacturers, something Norin says other clinics don’t always do. “I like the flexibility in what we offer our patients,” she explains. “One patient came to us because the last audiologist he worked with only carried one manufacturer, so he was limited to their products. We work with that manufacturer too, but my patient was able to choose hearing aids from another manufacturer based on not only price, but also what the hearing aids could do for him.” Norin is also passionate about hearing protection. She has fit many patients with musician’s earplugs, as well as other types of custom hearing protection devices, which she says are important “for protection from noise created by everyday items, including power tools.” “I went into this field to help people,” she continues. “If I was going to dedicate my time, I wanted to feel like there was a greater purpose.” And of course, she adds, “I love gadgets.”

The Hearing and Speech Agency 5900 Metro Drive, Baltimore, Maryland, 21215 410-318-6780 | Established in 1926, the Hearing and Speech Agency (HASA) is a private, nonprofit organization providing hearing and speech services, special education, sign language, and oral interpretation in Maryland. Our services are offered in a state-of-the-art facility by audiologists, educators and speech-language pathologists who meet the highest level of professional certification, including many with graduate degrees from top universities. Please contact us for information or to make an appointment for clinical services.

photo by Tracey Brown, Papercamera

w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m a p r i l 1 0



Anchor Man University of Maryland economic development maestro Ted Howard talks about making the knowledge economy work for the urban poor. interview by marc steiner   |  photograph by marshall clarke


hree years ago, Ted Howard got a call from the Cleveland Foundation, a community foundation that pools the city’s philanthropic resources and gives out grants for local projects. Like Baltimore, Cleveland had fallen a long way since its mid-century glory days. For the last several years, the Great Lakes burg has been dueling with Detroit and Buffalo for the title of poorest big city in America. The folks at the Cleveland Foundation had been following Howard’s work at the Democracy Collaborative, a research and policy center at the University of Maryland, College Park, that fosters what Howard calls “wealth-building opportunities” for the poor. And they wanted his help. Urban economic redevelopment strategies have generally used either corporate tax breaks or job training programs to lure industry, Howard says. Neither has been particularly effective long-term. “There’s a growing sense that the approaches we’ve been using have hit a dead end,” he says. “We’ve got to get outside of this box we’re in and [move] toward a new strategy.” Today, Howard splits his time between his office in College Park and Cleveland, where the foundation has named him a senior fellow for social justice. He and his team have set out to create jobs by tapping in to the vaunted knowledge economy inside once-prosperous cities— institutions such as universities and hospitals that are what he calls economic “anchors.” “These great urban areas with terrific infrastructure and extraordinary cultural and historical assets—they’re sort of just being thrown away,” Howard says. “I don’t think our country can afford to throw away our great cities, nor the people in them.”


Talk to me about the Democracy Collaborative.

We were founded about ten years ago. Our interest is in how you strengthen democracy at the community level, in neighborhoods and cities. Frankly, we’re very concerned about the future of our democracy, particularly because there’s a growing wealth inequality in the United States. Political theorists of the left and right disagree on many things, but one thing they agree on is when you get such concentrations of wealth, it becomes seriously corroding of democratic life. How do you expand wealth-building opportunities for those tens of millions of Americans in low- and moderate-income communities who have been left out of the American promise? We’re very interested in this idea of how you create jobs, the kind that stay rooted somewhere and really rebuild the economy in some of our great cities, Baltimore being one.


Let’s talk about the work of the Democracy Collaborative in Cleveland.


Our task was, how do we actually create jobs that are meaningful—that are good, living-wage jobs that have benefits—and how do we anchor them in some of the poorest and highest unemployment areas in the city? [Our answer was to] start companies that are attached to the procurement opportunities that come through the big anchor institutions—big, nonprofit institutions like universities, hospitals, cultural institutions, and the like. These kinds of facilities are called anchors because, unlike major corporations, they don’t get up and leave. You know, Johns Hopkins is going to be where it is in Baltimore in a hundred years. It’s not gonna move its whole campus over to China. Here in Cleveland, just three of the largest institutions—the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, and Case Western Reserve University—annually spend $3 billion on goods and services. Almost none of that spending, however, is done locally. This project is designed to capture some of that spending, drive it into the community, then link it to the build-up of new small businesses that are cooperatively owned and green.


Tell us the stor y about the Evergreen laundry.

The Evergreen Cooperative Laundry is one of a number of companies that we’re starting. There’s another one called Ohio Cooperative Solar. There’s a large food production greenhouse called Green City Growers. You think of a laundry, you tend to think of a small dry cleaning facility. This is an industrial, commercial-scale laundry doing 10 to 12 million pounds of bed linens for hospitals and nursing homes. It’s about a $6 million a year operation, and it will employ fifty people when fully operating, all of whom will be the owners of the laundry. There are no outside investors; it’s all owned internally.


How does a co-op function?

Well, when you’re hired, you’re hired first as a temporary worker for about a six-month period, and during that time, you’re getting performance reviews. At the end of that period you’re invited to become a member of the co-op. You immediately get a raise of a couple dollars an hour, and from your salary, 50 cents every hour is deducted and put into your account. At the end of three years, you’ve invested $3,000 of your own money. That’s your share of the company. Then, each year the company turns a profit, dividends are allocated to everyone’s account. The projections from our business plan—which we think is quite conservative—are that at the end of eight years as an employee, you will have a $65,000 ownership stake in the company. When you leave, you can take that with you.

The other piece is, you’re playing two roles. When you’re on the line doing the laundry, you’ve got your worker hat on; you’ve got to run the machines, you’ve gotta do a job. But then sometimes you put your owner hat on. Every month, the whole company gets together, and there’s open-book financial management. You look at your income, your profit and loss, and you start to make decisions. “Is this the time for us to get a raise? If we do get a raise, what happens to the capital of the company? Maybe it’s better to defer that.” So you are making the democratic decisions in the company. It’s very different than just clocking in at 9 and leaving at 5. This is now your company. Your livelihood is dependent on making this work.


So you have three worker-owned industries that employ how many people at the moment?

The greenhouse has yet to break ground, so we only have a couple people that are developing it. At the laundry we’ve got ten to fifteen people, and we’ll eventually get fifty. Ohio Cooperative Solar, I think, is about fifteen right now; it will eventually hit a hundred employees. So we’re ramping up the scale as we go.





This is a model that’s almost antithetical to what most people think of as American business. The way we look at them, [businesses] are structured in a very hierarchical way. Top down. You know, we’re so used to checking our democratic rights at the door when we enter the workplace. Working for somebody and being told what to do, it’s almost hard to conceive that you can actually have democracy at the workplace. In fact, there are worker cooperatives all across the country that are very successful. You’ve got almost ten thousand companies in America that have significant worker ownership, and some of them are heartily democratic. There have been some serious academic studies that show that both worker co-ops and employee-owned firms are more productive than similar companies in their sector. They tend to retain their employees longer so they’re more profitable, and they lead to greater outside accumulation because the employees have a stake in the company.


It cost $ 6 million to build the cooperative laundr y facility, right? Where does that money come from?

This is really to the credit, first and foremost, of the Cleveland Foundation. The foundation said, We’re going to put $3 million into a fund to help seed a group of companies that start to employ people locally. Of that $3 million, we took $750,000 and dedicated it to the Evergreen Cooperative Laundry. We then leveraged an additional $5 million from [the United States Department of] Housing and Urban Development, and a long-term, twenty-year loan through the city of Cleveland. We got a couple conventional bank loans. We put in something called a New Markets Tax Credit. The greenhouse deal—which is a 5-acre urban food production greenhouse, the largest urban greenhouse in the country; it will grow 800,000 heads of lettuce—will cost $14 million. And where we got that was about $1 million of grant money. We got $1 million of the stimulus bill, a grant from the Department of Energy that’s going to allow us to erect a 250-foot-tall, 1.5-megawatt wind turbine in the heart of the city to help generate power for this. Ten million dollars for brownfield redevelopment are going into this deal. So local philanthropic dollars can be used to leverage sources of money that don’t generally make their way into the low-income community, and that’s part of the formula here. The other thing—we’ve gotten investments from the anchor institutions. Ohio Cooperative Solar is doing 100-kilowatt solar panel installations on the roofs of the hospitals and universities. We own the panels, and the university or the hospitals buy the energy from them. But to get that company going, the three large institutions each put a quarter of a million dollars into the pot, because they thought it was a good way to begin to diversify their energy sources and become greener.

All right. So these three industries will employ a hundred and fifty people. Maybe two hundred. But there are tens of thousands of people who are living in poverty in our cities.

Our target in the next three years is to get to five hundred jobs in the inner city area. However, the neighborhoods we’re working in have 43,000 residents. Unemployment is over 25 percent. So five hundred jobs isn’t a solution. The larger vision we have is, over this next ten to fifteen years, can we create five thousand or even ten thousand jobs through this strategy? And I think we can, and in fact I think that the strategy can be disseminated throughout the state of Ohio. There’s a huge market that’s available through these local institutions if we can focus their purchasing locally and bring them on as partners.


What do you think this means, not just economically but politically?

I think the level of pain in our urban areas among low- and moderate-income people is so extraordinarily high that, unless we’re just going to write off thirty or forty million Americans, we’ve got to find some new approaches. Broadening ownership of capital is a winning formula—not the only answer, but it’s a winning formula for helping to expand the assets of individuals and also to anchor the companies in localities, because if you and I own a big company together in Baltimore, and we live near the company and work there, there’s no way we’d vote to send our jobs overseas. I mean, it could be labeled socialist. [But] some people say, you’re trying to make everybody a capitalist by giving them an ownership stake. I don’t know what the right label is. A colleague and I wrote an article about this strategy and its implications for The Nation, a very progressive magazine. The day after it appeared, there was a very long and extremely favorable article about the Cleveland model and Evergreen in BusinessWeek. The BusinessWeek reporter said, “When’s the last time that The Nation and BusinessWeek ever agreed on anything?” I think there’s something here that makes sense to people. It crosses some sort of divide.


I wish there was a way the thing could move quicker than it does, to get more people to work.

God knows with the level of pain and distress in our communities, we need tens, hundreds of thousands of jobs created every year. On the other hand, it’s taken decades for our cities to get into terrible shape. It’s going to take a long rebuilding process to get out. ■

On the air: Listen to a podcast of the full interview with Ted Howard at or tune in to The Marc Steiner Show on WEAA 88.9 FM on April 1. w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m a p r i l 1 0




Save money.

Reduce power use. Experience



Be part of a Maryland that is Smart, Green and Growing. CFLs use 75% less electricity than incandescents, last up to 10 times longer and can save you up to $65 over the life of the light bulb. In top-loading washing machines, use cold water to save energy and up to $63 a year. Detergents formulated for cold water get clothes just as clean.


When not in use, unplug your TV. A plasma TV left plugged in costs an estimated $159.76 annually. Install a low-flow showerhead to achieve savings of 25%-60%. Showers use less hot water than baths.





When not in use, unplug your laptop. Left plugged in, it costs an estimated $15.90 annually. Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120 degrees). You’ll save energy and reduce the risk of scalding. When not in use, unplug your gaming system. A game console left plugged in costs an estimated $25.73 annually. Wash only full loads of dishes, air dry and use cold water if possible. If washing dishes by hand, do not leave water running in between piles.

Windows account for 10%-25% of your energy bill. During the summer, your air conditioner must work harder to cool hot air from sunny windows. Use curtains or shades to give your air conditioner and energy bill a break. Ceiling and other fans provide additional cooling and better circulation so you can raise the thermostat and cut down on air conditioning costs. Pump up your tires; properly inflated tires improves gas mileage by 3%. You can save up to $115 per year on gasoline costs by reducing your miles driven 5% through biking, taking public transportation,walking or combining trips. Turning your thermostat back 10%-15% for 8 hours can save as much as 10% on your energy bill. Using a programmable thermostat makes this a user-friendly process. The average household dedicates 11% of its energy budget to lighting. Turn off lights when not in use. Wasted energy is wasted money. Save money by setting your refrigerator temperature to between 37-40 degrees (F) and your freezer to between 0-5 degrees (F). Unplugging an extra fridge or freezer can save you up to $200 a year.

To find out more visit ENERGY.MARYLAND.GOV or call 800-72-ENERGY YOU BELONG HERE.


urbanite april 10

Martin O’Malley, Governor Anthony G. Brown, Lt. Governor Malcolm Woolf, Director, MEA

3:12 PM


Green Guide Being green, as a famous frog once observed, can be difficult. That’s especially true in a beaten-down economy. But hard times—and environmental problems—bring opportunities for those who are willing to seek out solutions and work hard to make them reality. And being eco-minded and keeping an eye on the family budget can go hand in hand. This year’s green guide is dedicated to those who are committed to making a difference for the environment even when paying the bills is challenge enough.

Degrees of Green Looming ecological meltdown—and a different kind of green—inspire a stampede of academic programs focused on the environment. In the early 1990s, when I was an unshaven, pony-tailed undergrad

by greg hanscom photography by lindsay macdonald illustrations by harry campbell

majoring in environmental studies at a tree-trimmed liberal arts school in New England, my advisor told me in no uncertain terms that my pending bachelor of arts degree was not a recipe for a cookie-cutter career. Or any career, for that matter. “You’ll have to create your own job,” he explained. Somehow, this message, coming from a serene nature writer comfortably ensconced in academia, seemed inspiring, not alarming. I didn’t know what I would do after graduation; I envisioned working for a shoestring nonprofit environmental group, making just enough money to keep the cupboards stocked with instant falafel mix. (This, in fact, is pretty much what happened.) Fast-forward to 2010. The environmental studies program, and a related campus-wide sustainability initiative, have all but devoured my alma mater. The ES faculty has doubled in size, the college has hired a dean for environmental affairs, and the dining halls are stocked with local meat and produce, including the fruits of a student-run garden. Similar programs are sprouting up like mushrooms nationwide. A 2005 study by Aldemaro Romero, dean of the college of arts and sciences at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, found more than a thousand environmental studies and environmental science programs at American colleges and universities—up from just a handful in 1950. The new programs came in two major waves—one between 1965 and 1975 that coincided with the national flowering of environmental consciousness that gave rise to the fi rst Earth Day and the Environmental Protection Agency, and the second in the 1990s, as environmental careers became more abundant and lucrative. All indications are that the environmental field will continue to be a strong career bet. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of jobs for environmental scientists and specialists will increase by 28 percent between 2008 and 2018. The department puts computer mapping and other “geospatial technologies”—which are often hitched to environmental studies programs—on its list of “high growth” economic sectors, along with

Lean and Green: A guide to eco-friendly living on a budget Good Eats Stocking your pantry with organic, local, in-season produce can be spendy, but with a little finesse, sustainable groceries can cost less than conventional ones. Start with a solid plan in the form of a menu and shopping list, and stick to it. This will help you eliminate waste—the average American household tosses 470 pounds of food into the trash each year. Cut costs (and packaging) by buying items such as grains, dry beans, and pastas in bulk. And to get more for your money at the farmers markets, join a community supported agriculture (CSA) program. Memberships range from $450 to $2,700 for a growing season; some CSAs, such as the Cromwell Valley CSA, have work exchange


urbanite april 10

programs that cut or eliminate costs. (See “Serious About Eating Local?” April ’09 Urbanite.) Buy fruit and veggies by the bushel and can or freeze what you can’t eat right away. (Bonus: Keeping your freezer fully stocked helps it run more efficiently.) Going the Extra Mile Could you really afford to bid adieu to your fourwheeled friend? Consider this: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American household spent $7,896 on automobiles in 2007— more than health care, clothing, and entertainment put together. Commuting by bike rather than by car could save you several thousand dollars a year, according to Baltimore City bicycle and pedestrian

planner Nate Evans. Baltimore Bicycle Works in Station North is a hub for local bike commuters, and rehabbed bikes can be had for cheap (or nothing) a few doors down at the Velocipede Bike Project. Not into sweat and Spandex? Green Rider in Fells Point sells electric bikes, including models that fold up for easy storage ($1,100 and up, but very Euro-chic), and electric scooters. Zipcar’s car-sharing program costs $50 a year plus $8 an hour (to cover fuel and insurance). And an unlimited MTA pass (local bus, light rail, and Metro) can be yours for $64 a month. Man’s Best Friend? Here’s a budget- and Earth-saver: Eat Fluffy. Kidding! Well, kind of. According to Time to Eat

biotechnology and information technology. “This is a huge growth area,” says Ronald Castanzo, director of the newly minted environmental sustainability and human ecology program at the University of Baltimore. Who knew? (And wait a minute, why am I not making six figures now?) The University of Baltimore’s program is one of a dozen or so environmentrelated programs in the area, and there are at least three more on the way. These are boom times for environmental scholarship. But there’s something even more interesting afoot: Environmental sustainability has busted out of its basement offices on many campuses and wriggled into areas as unlikely as nursing and business. Studying green, it seems, isn’t just for the hippie ecologists anymore.

When it comes to environmental science and research, the big kid on our block is the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. UMBC’s Department of Geography and Environmental Systems offers programs in environmental studies and environmental science that are fairly typical of the fields. Students earning a BS in environmental science carry a research-heavy course load, logging time in the field and the lab studying ecology, environmental chemistry, atmospheric science, and the like. For a BA in environmental studies, students get a basic foundation in science, too, but are free to range more broadly into the social sciences, aiming for careers in environmental law, policy, advocacy, or communications. In addition to its undergraduate offerings, UMBC has master’s and PhD programs focusing on environmental systems (ecosystem science, water resources, etc.), human geography (human impacts on the environment, environmental policy), and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing technology. The school is the field headquarters for the Baltimore Ecosystem Study, a mammoth, federally funded urban ecology project. (See “Where the Wild Things Are,” July ’08 Urbanite.) It also hosts the Center for Urban Environmental Research and Education, the U.S. Geological Survey’s regional water science center, and two NASA centers that research Earth systems and monitor the Earth’s surface and atmosphere. Finally, there’s a prestigious National Science Foundation-funded fellowship specializing in water in the urban environment (“igert” for short). “Environmental science and environmental studies programs give students a broad range of skill sets,” says Sandy Park, chair of UMBC’s Geography and Environmental Systems department. His students have gone on to work for federal agencies such as the National Park Service and the National GeospacialIntelligence Agency (“kind of a spooky group,” Parker says). They’ve landed jobs with county planning departments, fire and police departments, private

the Dog: A Real Guide to Sustainable Living, your furry friend may be as destructive to the planet as that GMC Denali in the driveway. Authors Brenda and Robert Vale, sustainable designers from New Zealand, figured out how much land is required to produce the ingredients in pet foods and concluded that owning a German shepherd is worse for the environment than a SUV; keeping a cat is almost as bad as putting around in a Volkswagen Golf. Their solution? Raise chickens or other edible pets. Baltimore City regs allow up to four chickens, with the proper papers, as long as they’re kept in a movable cage at least 25 feet from your house. Potbelly pigs are OK, too (mmm—miniature bacon), but sorry, no roosters, turkeys, geese, or emus inside

“Climate change is the biggest challenge the world has ever faced. I tell my students that no matter what they’re doing in the world, whether they’re a psychologist or a teacher, the environment has to be part of their lives. They are really the ones that are going to have to solve these problems.” — Ariane de Bremond, director of environmental studies at Goucher College

city limits. And if you must stick to your canine/ feline fetishes, consider the immortal words of Bob Barker: “Have your pet spayed or neutered.” The Next Generation Not having kids is a great way to show your love for Mother Earth and your bank account, but if you’re past the point of no legal return, you can still do your part. “How about not using diapers?” suggests Karen Stupski, a permaculture instructor at Heathcote, an intentional community in Baltimore County. Maybe that doesn’t jibe with your lifestyle, but whatever you do, avoid disposable diapers. Soft and Cozy Baby in Hampden offers cloth diapers and diaper covers for do-it-yourself-ers. Modern Diaper

Service offers home pick-up and cleaning services for $70 a month. As your kids grow, try not to spoil the little buggers—or landfills: Buy toys that grow with your child, or craft playthings out of household items (think sock puppets and homemade modeling dough). Secondhand and hand-me-down clothes will save your wallet; Little Lamb Consignments in Roland Park is a great place to pick up brand-name clothes for less. And as far as eco-friendly entertainment goes, it doesn’t get any cheaper than a day of frolicking in the woods. ■ —Maren Tarro

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environmental consulting firms, military contractors such as Northrop Grumman, and even the United Parcel Service. From Parker’s perspective, the environmental field is wide and full of possibilities. Appropriately, Baltimore’s environmental studies offerings include a veritable tsunami of undergraduate and graduate degree programs. (Grab your surfboard and hang on.) Towson University, like UMBC, offers interdisciplinary environmental science and environmental studies majors. At Johns Hopkins University, the school of arts and sciences offers a master’s degree in environmental sciences and policy for part-time students, as well as an online certificate in GIS; the department of earth and planetary sciences has both a major and minor in global environmental change and sustainability; the geography and environmental engineering department offers undergraduate, graduate, and PhD programs; the part-time engineering program offers a master’s degree in environmental engineering, planning, and management, plus an advanced certificate in post-master’s study in climate change, energy, and environmental sustainability. The Center for a Livable Future at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, meanwhile, researches diet, health, and food production and their interplay with the environment and social equality. The University of Maryland, Baltimore, offers degrees in environmental law and environmental health nursing. The Community College of Baltimore County in Catonsville dispenses associate degrees in geospatial applications, including GIS. Morgan State University offers undergraduate biology and graduate environmental science degrees. Four years ago, Morgan acquired an estuarine research center in Calvert County, where students get a hands-on introduction to the Chesapeake Bay and an introduction to a whole host of careers. “African Americans and other minorities are vastly underrepresented in the natural sciences,” says Kelton Clark, the research center’s director. “Often in the urban environment, people look at the built environment. We tend to miss the importance of the natural environment. We don’t see those as our issues. [The research center] provide[s] an opportunity for students to experience that.” And the great green wave is still cresting. The University of Baltimore will be accepting students into its new program in the fall. If the Maryland Higher

“Sustainable global solutions—I think that is the mantra of the 21st-century business school. We are always going to teach marketing, finance, et cetera. But in addition to that, we’re going to be talking about sustainability. It’s going to be embedded in each and every course we teach.” — Darlene Brannigan Smith, dean of the Merrick School of Business at the University of Baltimore

continued on page 51

Higher Ed A sampling of eco-offerings from the course catalogs of Baltimore area schools Wildlife Law and the Endangered Species Act University of Maryland, Baltimore County The 1973 Endangered Species Act (ESA) is arguably the most controversial of U.S. environmental laws. The course combines science, policy and legal history, philosophy, and contemporary politics in an integrative approach to understand and analyze the natural resource problem of threatened and endangered species in the United States.

Environmental Finance Johns Hopkins Carey Business School This course provides a background in the evolution of environmental policy, an overview of various environmental markets, an understanding of environmental brokerage— including buyers, sellers, channels, and securities—and how these securities play a role in investment, policy, governance, and new project funding.

Weatherization Tactics Baltimore City Community College This thirty-five-hour course prepares participants for entry-level employment in the green economy as part of a weatherization crew or for advancement to crew chief. Topics include installation of energy efficiency measures such as insulation, caulk, and heater blankets; basic knowledge of building science, weatherization materials, and ventilation rates; and calculation of area and volume. Safety procedures for both workers and residents will be stressed.

Applied Toxicology University of Maryland School of Nursing [This course] surveys the principles of toxicology that pertain to human health and the environment. Includes the historical background of toxicology; principles of absorption, distribution, metabolism, and elimination; effects of toxic agents, food additives, and pollutants with effects on general and susceptible populations; comparative effects on other animal populations; risk communication; and the integration of these principles into public health practice.

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There are more than a thousand environmental studies and environmental science programs at American colleges and universities—up from just a handful in 1950. Education Commission approves it, the arts and sciences program at Hopkins will soon be offering a new part-time master’s degree in energy policy and climate. And both Loyola and Goucher are in the process of designing environmental studies majors of their own. Students have been a driving force behind the programs at both Loyola and Goucher. Andrea Giampetro-Meyer, a professor at the Sellinger School of Business and Management who has been involved in the discussions about an ES major at Loyola, says that while the faculty has been making plans, several students have crafted their own ES degrees. “They kept asking, ‘When’s the environmental studies program coming on line?’ And finally they just said, ‘I’m not waiting for it. I’m going to pursue it anyway,’” she says. Compared to what she’s seen in the past, she adds, “Today’s students are much more take-action.” Ariane de Bremond, director of the environmental studies program at Goucher, has a similar story. “In the last couple of years, there has been excitement from the faculty,” she says, “but it [got started] because there was such a clamor among the students.” Goucher undergrads created an agricultural co-op and planted a garden on campus, selling herbs and vegetables to the company that runs the dining halls. For the faculty, developing an environmental studies program that jumps across traditional academic divides has been controversial at times, de Bremond says, but “the students have kept pushing this forward.” A little help from some wealthy benefactors has been helpful, too. Last spring, Robert Meyerhoff gave Goucher $1.5 million to create an endowed faculty chair in environmental studies. In December, the college won a $448,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to launch the new program. With luck—and the appropriate faculty, administration, and state approvals—both the Goucher and the Loyola programs will be up and running this fall. Some kind of an environmental studies program is required coursework for a liberal arts school, de Bremond says. “Every college in our cohort has a program. It’s a huge area of interest.” But she believes there’s a more important reason for schools to get on board: “Climate change is the biggest challenge the world has ever faced,” de Bremond says. “I tell my students that no matter what they’re doing in the world, whether they’re a psychologist or a teacher, the environment has to be part of their lives. They are really the ones that are going to have to solve these problems.”

So another generation of liberal arts students will be reading Silent Spring and A Sand County Almanac, and turning over stones in streambeds in search of stonefly larvae. Not surprising. But consider these words, from Darlene Brannigan Smith, dean of the Merrick School of Business at the University of Baltimore— which is not exactly a bastion for the butterfly-nets-and-hip-waders

Waiting for the Green Collar Economy The line stretches across the lobby of the Pleasant View Gardens Community Center and out into a chilly January morning just across the expressway from downtown. Word on the street is that there are jobs for the taking, and more than a hundred people have gathered for a chance at one of them. Kenith Dingle, a 27-year-old community college student, says he has résumés in for a catering attendant position at Legg Mason and for a housekeeping job at the Marriott. Marcus Allen, 25, has been making the rounds at job fairs and watching the e-mail alerts from www.snagajob. com. Gil Jones, 50, used to pack boxes at McCormick & Co. and Black & Decker; he’s been out of work for more than two years, he says. Each one of these men hopes that today will be the end of his personal losing streak. But the odds are not good. The nonprofit Parks & People Foundation—the organization that is hiring today—will interview six hundred people at sessions like this. In the end, twenty will be hired to plant trees and shrubs, pull weeds, and clean up trash along local streams. The jobs, which pay $8 to $13 an hour and include benefits, come care of a $1 million grant from the U.S. Forest Service, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a.k.a. the stimulus bill. President Obama and others have championed “green collar” jobs— watershed restoration, energy-saving retrofits of homes and buildings, wind turbine manufacturing, and solar panel installation—as the future for American blue-collar workers. (See “A Greener Shade of Blue,” April ’09 Urbanite.) But for Baltimore's more than 28,000 unemployed residents, that future still looks a long way off. Weatherization programs offer a stark case in point. The stimulus bill set aside $5 billion to retrofit buildings, mainly low-income housing, to make them more energy efficient and cheaper to heat and cool. But a February report from the U.S. Department of Energy’s inspector general found that in Maryland, only 279 units had been weatherized—just over 4 percent of the 6,850 units for which the state had received funding. John Mello, green projects director for the nonprofit job training corps Civic Works, says it has taken the city a while to get up to speed because it has been short on administrative staff. Still, Mello says, momentum is building. In addition to the government contracts, he says, there is growing interest among private homeowners. Baltimore Gas and Electric has spurred local demand with incentives of up to $400 for certain energy saving retrofits. On the national level, President Obama is pushing a “Cash for Caulkers” program (officially called HOMESTAR) that would provide homeowners with additional rebates of up to $3,000. Thirteen of Maryland’s two-year colleges now offer weatherization training programs—and there’s been no lack of interest. “Business is good,” says Lucious Anderson, vice president for business and continuing education at Baltimore City Community College. But many employers are in a holding pattern. “If Cash for Caulkers passes [Congress], we have projections to increase staff fourfold. If it doesn’t go through, that’s not happening,” says Peter Van Buren, president of TerraLogos Energy Group and head of the green careers pathways taskforce within the mayor’s green jobs coalition. Long-term, however, Van Buren is optimistic about the green-collar economy. “Somebody is going to be capturing the green jobs market,” he says. “We would like it to be Baltimore.” Van Buren says the coalition is planning a green jobs summit—for early 2011. ■ —G.H.

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May 1, 2010 Maryland Zoo at Baltimore, Druid Hill Park NAMIWALKS is a nationwide fundraising and mental health awareness program that is being held in more than 80 communities around the country in 2010. These walks will raise approximately 9 million dollars in 2010 toward support services to hundreds of thousands of individuals and families across the country affected by serious mental illness. Join NAMI Metropolitan Baltimore for the 2010 Maryland NAMIWALKS. All money raised by walkers will fund support, education, and advocacy programs for families affected by mental illness in the Maryland area.

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set: “Sustainable global solutions—I think that is the mantra of the 21st-century business school. We are always going to teach marketing, finance, et cetera. But in addition to that, we’re going to be talking about sustainability. It’s going to be embedded in each and every course we teach.” Smith acknowledges that the drumbeat of social and environmental responsibility emanating from business schools nationwide is in part a response to some of the spectacularly bad decisions made by Wall Street and corporate America of late. “For years, business schools have talked ‘business ethics.’ The focus has been on decision-making and a black-white perspective,” she says. “But critics say, ‘Look at the Enrons, at the WorldComs—business schools have failed.’ Our focus needs to shift to value-based leadership.” Dipankar Chakravarti, professor and vice-dean for programs at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, agrees that academics have some catching up to do. “Business schools developed a great bank of knowledge and understanding. We got really good at delivering this core package of knowledge over the past few decades,” he says. “But somehow business schools became obsessed with that process and its application to places right around us—‘If you want to make money, you go to Wall Street.’ But business cannot exist separate from society.” The Carey School, the Merrick School, and Loyola’s Sellinger School all now put special emphasis on creating business leaders who are responsible members of society—not just those inclined to slice off a small portion of corporate profits for charity, but also people who can design businesses that actually solve societal problems. Carey offers a course in environmental finance and emphasizes the power of traditional advertising and persuasion models to drive improvements in human and environmental health. Sellinger has a course in environmental law and policy, and for its new full-time MBA program

for “emerging leaders,” Giampetro-Meyer says “sustainability is woven throughout the curriculum.” After attending a United Nations summit on responsible management and education in 2008, Smith proposed that the Merrick School sign a UN compact committing the school to educating students in sustainable business models and practices and helped develop a “sustainability management” specialization within the University of Baltimore/Towson University MBA program. “The business schools that are on the leading edge are focusing on this,” she says. Chalk it up as another sign that “sustainability” isn’t going away anytime soon. “Twenty years ago, the focus [at business schools] was on global business. Students took special courses in ‘global.’ Now you can’t talk supply chains, marketing, management without talking about a global workforce,” Smith says. “Sustainability is the new global. We’ll know we’ve achieved our end result when it becomes a natural part of what we do.” ■ —Greg Hanscom is Urbanite’s senior editor. Web extra: Find a guide to Baltimore’s greenest grade schools and a full listing of area environmental studies programs at


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Shell Game

Seal up your house and save some bucks.


Add or replace weather stripping around doors, windows, and roof hatches.

Check your chimney damper to ensure that it closes effectively, and consider installing a glass door over the fireplace.

Seal and insulate around exterior penetrations such as light fixtures, electrical outlets, hose bibs, pipes, electrical connections, and exhaust vents.

Insulate your attic, if it isn’t already.

Install interior storm windows on singlepaned windows.

Caulk around door and window frames.

Install a tight storm door in front of the exterior doors to create an insulated airspace.


Seal/insulate interior penetrations such as recessed light fixtures, electrical outlets, and plumbing holes.

f you want to make your house more eco-friendly, you can shell out big green for solar panels, wind turbines, and high-tech replacement windows. Or you can buy some insulation and some caulk. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that adequate insulation in your attic, ceilings, exterior and basement walls, floors, and crawl spaces can trim 30 percent off your home energy bills. Plugging leaks with caulk, sealing, or weather stripping can save another 10 percent. A home energy audit will give you a detailed accounting of the chinks in your house’s armor, but if you don’t want to drop $300 or $400 on an audit, here’s where to look for places to start. Throw on your grubbies and get ready for a couple of days of dirty work, or check out to find a qualified contractor. ■

Close shafts connecting floors or attic and basement. (Many older buildings have open shafts hidden inside walls that allow air to circulate, bypassing insulation.)

Seal leaky ducts with foil tape or mastic cement. Wrap ducts in uninsulated attics and crawl spaces with insulation.

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In the 1950s and ’60s, the Bethlehem Steel mills of Sparrows Point were the largest integrated steelworks in the world. Fed by an unprecedented economic boom, the industry gave a generation of working-class Baltimoreans a chance to live the American Dream. But the good times didn’t last forever.

IN THE SHADOW OF STEEL by deborah rudacille photographs by j.m. giordano

From Roots of Steel by Deborah Rudacille. Copyright 2010 by Deborah Rudacille. Published by arrangement with Pantheon, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Random House Inc.

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For her book Roots of Steel, Urbanite contributing writer Deborah Rudacille returned to the community she’d left behind: Dundalk, the proudly blue-collar Baltimore County suburb born of Baltimore’s industrial boom years. Many of the tens of thousands of workers employed by the mammoth Bethlehem Steel mills of Sparrows Point settled nearby, including Rudacille’s father, born in one of the Point’s tiny workers’ bungalows. But Rudacille, unlike many postwar sons and daughters of Dundalk, went to college and moved away. “I never wanted to move back,” she recalls. “And every time I went back to visit, I got anxious.” Part of the reason was that the Dundalk she remembered—a stable, if insular, community of hardworking middle-class families—wasn’t the same. The collapse of the steel industry in the 1970s and ’80s and the disappearance of well-paid manufacturing jobs left the suburb reeling with some distinctly urban ills: blight, homelessness, crime, unemployment. Gone


was the company-town security of cradle-to-grave health care and pensions; left behind was the toxic legacy of a century of industrial pollution—and an equally toxic sense of betrayal. During the 2004 presidential elections, Rudacille resented how that blue-collar bitterness was frequently invoked in the media as a kind of unthinking populist rage. “There was all this talk about how the working class always votes against its own self-interest, and [it] basically made them out as dunces,” she says. “I knew the story was a lot more nuanced.” So she returned to Dundalk to talk to retired workers about the industry and the jobs that once defined them. Many sources were friends of family members who had built a living in the mills. The story she emerged with is a kind of people’s history of the American industrial era—a warts-and-all portrait of a vanished age of labor. The jobs that these men and women did were difficult, dirty, and almost

unimaginably dangerous, at least from the perspective of a 21st-century cubicle dweller: If you weren’t maimed or burned amid the Dickensian coke ovens and blast furnaces, you could anticipate a postretirement life cut short by asbestosis, mesothelioma, or a host of other work-related diseases. (Indeed, Rudacille says, several of her interviewees died before the book’s publication.) But the pay allowed steelworkers to raise families in relative comfort and prosperity. The absence of that secure employment, as manufacturing cities such as Baltimore have discovered, has left a terrible void. The book’s title, Rudacille says, “is both literal and metaphorical. There’s this steely will and work ethic. On the other hand, roots of steel will bolt you in place.” —David Dudley

“You are a little harder when you come out of a steel mill than when you went in.” —austin mclelland

hen I think of my late baby-boom childhood in Dundalk, I remember penguins and POW bracelets, the Christmas train garden at the fire station, the summer parties at shore homes where you could win dolls and games by spinning a big wooden wheel with numbers set up in the covered pavilion behind the house. I remember my father letting me pick his teams on the weekly football pools that circulated in the mills, and giving my brother and me coins to put in the jukeboxes in various taverns when we hung out with him on Sundays after he and my mother were divorced. When my father picked us up on Sunday mornings, my mother told him to take us to Mass, but we often skipped it. Instead, he took us to circuses and ice shows at the Baltimore Civic Center, and he even took us to the see the Beatles movie Yellow Submarine, though he himself had been a ’50s teenager who styled his hair in a DA, wore pegged pants, and believed that rock and roll started and ended with Elvis. It was an enchanted childhood in some ways. Take the penguins. They were housed at the Eastpoint shopping center on the northern border of Dundalk, just below the city line, in a refrigerated department store display window. No trip to Eastpoint was complete without a visit to the miniature penguins at Hochschild Kohn, frolicking in their little pool. Then we would walk to Hess Shoes, where live monkeys jabbered and climbed a tree inside a cage in the middle of the store, and salespeople took X-rays of your feet to prove to your parents that your toes had room to grow. Eastpoint was no mere shopping center for us Dundalk kids; it was a place of magic. For our parents, the beautifully landscaped shopping center—a proto-mall with a long double-facing row of shops—symbolized something more vital than magic. It was the emblem of their newfound prosperity. “When Eastpoint opened in 1956, people from all over the

city shopped there,” recalled Harry Young of the Dundalk-Patapsco Neck Historical Society. “It was the number one shopping center in the area for a long time.” Eastpoint and the busy car dealerships that sprung up across the street on Eastern Avenue were like neon signs advertising an economic revolution. Released from the shackles of depression and war, the American people went on a buying binge the likes of which the country had never seen. Working-class Baltimore families like mine both produced and consumed the products that fed the postwar boom. An astounding 85 percent of all consumer goods at the time used steel in one form or another, from tin cans to household appliances. “Steel was being used for everything under the moon,” said Young. “And everything was being replenished. Mom needed another pot because the one she’d been using for five years was wearing out. After the war, all the industry around here changed over from war production to civilian. Then Korea breaks out, so you’re back in war production again.” In Sparrows Point and Dundalk, many World War II veterans, now young men with families to support, re-enlisted when the Korean conflict broke out. Bob Strasbaugh left a wife and three-month-old daughter when he shipped out to Korea as a Marine Corps medic in 1950. “I was with that bunch that was cut off at Choisin Reservoir,” he told me. “Fourteen thousand against 150,000. It was tough. Forty below. Summer gear.” Less than half of the U.S. forces survived. When Strasbaugh returned, he went back to the Point, where he was promoted to foreman a few years later. My father dropped out of Sparrows Point High in 1951, after getting caught smoking, and enlisted in the Air Force. He finished high school while stationed at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas and then served as a military policeman in Germany and later Morocco. One night he was

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set upon by a group of thugs and stabbed. He survived to return home in 1954, joining his father, brothers, and cousins working on the Point. By then, industrial employment in Baltimore was topping wartime highs. “The need for skilled workers is tremendous—tool and die makers, machinists, electricians, welders, shipfitters, and mechanics are in big demand,” the manager of the Baltimore office of the State Employment Service told a Baltimore Sun reporter in 1951. “Virtually every high school and college graduate can have his pick of jobs this year.” My father’s friend Willy Cohill told me that in those heady days of the postwar boom, “there was so much work that when you were looking for a job you could go anywhere. If you didn’t like this place, you could go next door. There was always somebody looking to hire you.” In this competitive hiring environment, Bethlehem Steel had a built-in advantage—the high school sitting in the midst of the company town of Sparrows Point. Few of the young men who grew up there expected to do anything else but follow their fathers and uncles into the mills. They could hear the din of their future as they sat in their classrooms. “When I started high school, they were building the number-ten blast furnace,” my uncle Ray said. “You’re in school, and all you hear is BA-BOOM, BA-BOOM ’cause they’re driving piles day and night. They drove piles twenty-four hours a day to put this blast furnace in. And the high school is right there.” I asked him if most of the kids from his class, the last to graduate from “old” Sparrows Point High School in the company town before “new” Sparrows Point High opened 2 miles away in 1952, had gone to work for Bethlehem Steel. “Probably not as many as you would think,” he said, pointing to competitive jobs at Western Electric, Lever Brothers, General Motors, and American Standard. Often, those who chose jobs off the Point had seen their fathers’ health destroyed by steelmaking. “Some said, ‘They’re not gonna kill me like they did my father.’” Still, the company did everything possible to bring those young men on board right after graduation. “The company actually had an employment table set up in the gym while we were practicing for our commencement,” Harry Young told me. “I knew kids who graduated at seven at night, had a little party afterwards, and reported for work the next morning. They didn’t even take a day off.”

Iron men: Photographer J.M. Giordano shot these portraits of former Sparrows Point steelworkers for a series titled Stainless. Clockwise from left: Dick McDermott, Lee McLelland, and Tom Capecci

Young said that he was one of only 12 students in a class of 146 enrolled in the academic track. “Most of the boys took shop,” he recalled—and at Sparrows Point, that didn’t mean making birdhouses. “You were training to be a machinist, a sheet metalist, or some other trade,” he said. Bethlehem Steel hired machinists to teach the classes and provided equipment for the school, the same that was being used in the mills a whistle away from the classrooms—in effect, training its next generation of employees while they were still teenagers. When he returned to Baltimore after World War II, Wendell “Wimpy” Doyle (so named by co-workers for his love of White Castle hamburgers) was determined not to become a steelworker. “I wasn’t going to work for Bethlehem. I was tired of steel because my family was Irish and they all worked in the steel mills,” he told me. Doyle worked first as a meatpacker and later as a salesman for the same company. But after he and his wife had a couple of kids, he concluded that “Bethlehem Steel is where the money is” and surrendered to his fate. He rose through the ranks, retiring as a general foreman in 1982. In 1959, Sparrows Point officially claimed the title of the largest steelworks in the world. At that time, just about everyone in Baltimore knew someone who worked for Bethlehem Steel. Whole families in Sparrows Point and nearby Edgemere and Dundalk often worked there, their economic security entirely dependent on Bethlehem paychecks. My aunt Shirley Lewis, for example, went to work in the receiving office after graduating from Sparrows Point High School in 1956, joining her father, brother, and mother on the Bethlehem payroll. She and my uncle Ray were high school sweethearts; they married in 1960 after he served two years in the Air Force. He too found a job on the Point. “When I started in ’56, they had thirty-five open hearth furnaces, ten blast furnaces, four soaking pits, four rolling mills, the plate mill, the skelp mill, the flange mill,” Ray told me. “You had the coke ovens, benzoil plant. But they peaked out at about ’59, and you started getting foreign steel coming in. After that it was just a gradual decline.” When I was born in 1958, my father worked in the tandem mill, a finishing mill where workers could earn big bonuses tied to production. But he was subject to frequent layoffs. He spent a lot of time selling

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“There was so much work that when you were looking for a job you could go anywhere,” my father’s friend Willy Cohill told me. “If you didn’t like this place, you could go next door. There was always somebody looking to hire you.” insurance or flipping burgers at Gino’s, a local fast-food chain. “The money was good, and they had good benefits, but every year he either got laid off because he didn’t have much seniority, or they would go on strike,” my mother recalled of my own father’s years on the Point. I asked my mother what good money was back then. “Your father probably brought home $50 a week,” she said—good enough to buy a brick townhouse in one of the new developments springing up in southeastern Baltimore County for its growing population of industrial workers. With the help of the G.I. Bill, my parents were able to secure a loan on a brand-new three-bedroom house with hardwood floors and a finished basement with knotty-pine paneling. In 1947, the average family in Baltimore still rented, but by 1960, owner occupancy rates in the city’s working-class neighborhoods were above 70 percent. In the county, acres of farmland between Sparrows Point and the city line disappeared as builders constructed rowhouse developments for the burgeoning population of young industrial workers. “That all started around ’52 or ’53,” said Harry Young, who was by then working for the Baltimore County Bureau of Land Acquisition. The new developments became part of greater Dundalk, which in the 1950s expanded well beyond the original thousand acres purchased by Bethlehem Steel back in 1916. “When the rowhouses were finished, the population was about 115,000,” he said. “If Dundalk would have been incorporated, it would have been the second-largest city in the state.” The Sparrows Point works exerted a kind of magnetic attraction, pulling young men away from less lucrative jobs. “I had an uncle who was a foreman at General Motors and another uncle in the police department. My dad was in law enforcement. So I could’ve went anywhere,” Tom Capecci told me. But when he was offered a position in the rod and wire mill in 1966, he joined another uncle and two cousins on Sparrows Point. Melvin Schmeiser was trained as an auto mechanic at Mergenthaler High School, but two weeks after graduating in 1966 he found himself at the Point in the Penwood power plant. The reason was simple: “They were paying twice as much as the Pontiac dealer down Fleet Street.” Not surprisingly, Baltimore merchants and lenders treated Bethlehem employees like royalty. “People would say, ‘Oh, you work for Bethlehem Steel!’ We had the best benefits, the best health care,” recalled Donald Lindemann, who worked in the tin mill. Pete Selhorst, a steelworker a generation younger than Lindemann, agreed. “Anytime you wanted to buy anything, people were like, ‘You work at Sparrows Point, wow, come in.’ It was like red carpet from then on,” he said. This crimson carpet was rolled out for not only managers, foremen, and skilled craftsmen, but for common laborers too—people who might not have much formal education or book knowledge, but who (in a phrase I have heard from more than one retiree) “knew the mill” and got regular raises according to the terms of the United Steelworkers contracts, just like everyone else. “It was bull work, hot bull work,” said worker Bill Knoerlein. “But it provided a living for a lot of people.” Knoerlein started working at Sparrows Point in 1960 and stayed for thirty-eight years, retiring as a turn foreman in 1998. “For a great many years,” he said, “Sparrows Point was a badass place.” The number one rule was to keep the lines running, no matter what; health and safety ran a distinct second to tonnage.

Working in the machine shop next to the coke ovens, Austin McLelland often saw workers carrying out injured men to the dispensary or the hospital. “They’d bring them through our shop,” he said, “and you’d see their bones hanging out of their legs or fingers chopped off, and they’d take them to the hospital to try and put them back together.” He told me about an electrician he called Uncle Herb who was electrocuted on the job. “Fifty thousand volts were running through the line, but they didn’t like shutting down the electric when there was a problem because then they’d have to shut down all the coke ovens.” When Uncle Herb and two other electricians went up into the scaffolding to repair the problem, “that fifty thousand got him,” McLelland said. “They carried him out in a basket.” Shift work was brutally hard on the body. In the tandem mill, Ed Gorman said, “one week we worked Sunday and Monday four-to-twelve, off Tuesday, come in Wednesday, worked Thursday midnight, off Friday, daylight Saturday. Your bowels don’t get a chance to be functional. They don’t know whether they’re coming or going.” In the tin mill, almost everyone worked rotating shifts. “One week you’d work two daylight [7 a.m. to 3 p.m.], two three-to-eleven, one eleven-to-seven. Or you could work three eleven-to-seven and two daylight and then go back to three-to-eleven,” tin flopper Phyllis Moskowitz recalled. “You never knew how you were going to work.” That kind of schedule made family life difficult. “I worked turn work for fifteen years. Three-to-eleven was tough for the kids and tough for my wife. You don’t see them,” Wimpy Doyle said. “I would come home from working midnight and take the two kids to elementary school and come home and go to sleep,” Gorman told me. “Then I’d wake up when they come from school and we’d have supper at 4:30. I’d get up early to eat supper with the kids. What other professions do you wake up to eat supper?” Rose Marie Weller described for me a typical evening with her husband, Lee, when he was working daylight, the shift most conducive to a normal family life. After showering at the plant and leaving his dirty work clothes there, he would shower again at home, she said. Then, “he would eat his dinner and hardly talk, except to ask the kids what they were doing in school. And then he’d come in and watch television and read his newspaper and sit on the chair with the cat in his lap. I’d finish washing the dishes and come out, and him and the cat would be fast asleep. I wouldn’t wake him up because I knew how little sleep he got. About ten o’clock, I’d say ‘Lee, wake up and go to bed,’ and he’d say, ‘I want to watch the news.’ So I’d sit in the chair with my book. And he’d watch the news and then go to bed.” In her 2005 book, Wives of Steel, Karen Olson, professor of history and anthropology at the Community College of Baltimore County, noted the toll that steelmaking took. “Long hours and changing shifts left many steelworkers chronically exhausted and excluded from a central role in family life,” she wrote. “These arduous conditions often fostered drinking after work as one of the few accessible ways to relax after a shift, and a pervasive bar culture encouraged drinking as part of a masculine ritual that was obligatory for steelworkers.” continued on page 87 w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m a p r i l 1 0



SQUARE DEAL Bringing a big Union Square home back to life took some resourceful recycling


hris Taylor stomps his foot on the kitchen floor of the 19th-century rowhouse his company renovated on West Lombard Street in the historic southwest Baltimore neighborhood of Union Square. The sound is heavy and clear: no creaks, squeaks, or give. “This is basically a brand-new modern house,” he says—except where it’s not. These wide planks of hard pine beneath his feet were the house’s original roof joists. Taylor’s crews dug them out from under layers of tar, hand-cut them to size, and then nailed them down with hand-cut nails. The roof was then reconstructed with engineered wood. The kitchen floor nicely sums up the approach of Taylor’s real estate development company, Urban Space Developers, which he co-owns with builder Jay Holsey. “The essence of the house remains, and we build as green as we possibly can,” Taylor says. A vocal community activist, former city middle school teacher, and leader of Union Square’s active neighborhood association for the last five years, he’s a man of no small ambitions (he has a scheme for getting whole neighborhoods off the grid, hooking them up to geothermal energy systems). He and Holsey have transformed about fi fteen rundown properties in such neighborhoods as Pigtown, Charles Village, and Federal Hill into ecofriendly, high-end homes.

BY MARIANNE K. AMOSS PHOTOGRAPHS BY AN N E GUMMERSON w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m a p r i l 1 0





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M a d e l e i n e K . A l br i g h t F i r s t W o m a n S e c r e ta r y o f S tat e o f t h e U n i t e d S tat e s Thursday, April 29 7 p.m. Remarks

8 p.m. Book Signing Dr. Albright will sign her New York Times best-seller, Read My Pins: Stories From a Diplomat’s Jewel Box (Harper Collins, 2009). Books will be available for purchase on site.

This event is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is required. Please register at

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space Their most recent sale is this 3,500square-foot beauty, a spacious three-story brick rowhouse built around 1880 and, like many others of its size in West Baltimore, later chopped up into apartments. (During the renovation, Taylor says five kitchens were pulled out.) It was vacant, a foreclosure, when Taylor purchased it in 2009, but he says he knew it had potential. Renovating sustainably was paramount, from sourcing materials and labor locally to sharing old bricks with neighbors to donating discarded but useful stuff to the architectural salvage firm Second Chance. “We take whatever’s good about the house, deconstruct it, and save as much as possible,” Taylor says. Some old materials, such as the recycled slate roof tiles that now line the third-floor shower, were repurposed. Mixed in are some innovative new products, including a stunning recycled coconut-shell backsplash in the kitchen. The appliances are Energy Star-rated, the water heater is tankless, and toilets are dual-flush. But despite the modern upgrades, the place retains some Old Baltimore charm, with wide rooms (20 feet in the front) and many windows. The new owner, Subrena Utley, couldn’t be more pleased. A D.C. native, Utley relocated here from Capitol Hill after househunting for two years. She had even talked with contractors about putting a wide-plank kitchen floor into whatever house she found—but now, she doesn’t have to. ■ —Marianne K. Amoss is Urbanite’s managing editor.

Top: The rowhouse retains some old Baltimore charm, with high ceilings and tall windows that flood the place with sunlight. Middle: The roomy kitchen features energy-efficient appliances, a granite-topped island, and a recycled coconutshell backsplash. The wide floor planks came from the roof; they were cut to size by hand and refinished. Bottom: Innovative reuse continues in the third-floor bathroom, where slate roof tiles line the shower. The vanity countertop is recycled PaperStone.

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Juiced: Amateur vintners Joe Di Pasquale and Domenico Parravano help make Highlandtown the homemade wine capital of greater Baltimore.

DIYine The home vintners of Highlandtown aim to crush the competition.


arting between counters in the kitchen of Di Pasquale’s Italian Deli and Marketplace in Highlandtown, 4-year-old Kostek Schiavone pauses to chomp the mini cannoli in his hand, then apply what’s left to his mouth, like lipstick. He dodges a few workers closing down for the evening, oblivious to pleas for calm from his father, Dan, who’s wrestling with an air-conditioner-sized grape crusher perched atop a new 32-gallon rubber trash can. With his attention careening around the room, the elder Schiavone momentarily loses track of the proportion of Barbera and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes he’s feeding into the crusher for a red blend he’s making. So it often goes for many of Highlandtown’s home vintners, for whom winemaking is not a job but a hobby—and sometimes an adventure. “Hobby” shouldn’t imply that the vintners don’t take their work seriously. Nor should their wines be underestimated. At the Eighth Annual Highlandtown Wine Festival on April 18, attendees will have a chance to taste entries in this year’s Homemade Wine Competition and judge for themselves. The competition seems good-natured—outwardly, at least—and two driving forces behind the festival, Schiavone and Joe Di Pasquale (whose market sponsors the event), have a high-spirited sense of entertainment. But no one sets out to make second-rate wine. That could mean pouring a lot of effort down the drain. Moreover, home vintners put pride in their bottles, and they want it swallowed in the literal sense only. Schiavone is crushing his grapes in mid-October, during the first cold snap of fall. “I’m late,” he notes. “Last week was warmer, which you

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The 2010 Highlandtown Wine Festival takes place on April 18 at Our Lady of Pompei Convent Garden, 2600 Claremont Street. Tickets and entry forms are available at Di Pasquale’s Italian Market (3700 Gough St.; 410-276-6787). For more information, go to or call 410-534-2212.

eat / drink In a cellar with mismatched moderne furniture and a rack of antlers hung above a mantle, he greets a couple dozen tour-takers— mostly 30something, weekend-scruffy urbanites. From behind a long bar festooned with Christmas lights, Schiavone produces a bottle of his and Salvi’s Cabernet-Barbera blend, making its debut today. It shows pinkish purple, with tangy notes of red currant and licorice and a pleasantly rough-hewn character. Wine scribes might call it rustic. Kevin Eskridge, visiting from Butchers Hill, declares it “actually surprisingly good. Definitely a little cloudy, but it’s on its way.” The tour culminates in a reception at Di Pasquale’s market, complete with roasted chestnuts, following an Italian San Martino Day custom. Di Pasquale pours two of his homemade wines, a Malvasia Nero and a Chenin Blanc. Its mottled grapefruit color aside, the Chenin Blanc stands out, with a medium body framing deep lemon and melon flavors. Impressive, but this Chenin won’t be in contention at the festival: As organizers, Di Pasquale and Schiavone disqualify themselves from the competition. “We don’t give up bragging rights, though,” Di Pasquale notes. “We can always say we would have won if we’d been able to.” ■ —Clinton Macsherry is Urbanite’s wine and spirits columnist. Web extra: Tips and resources for do-it-yourself winemaking at


Pasquale and other suppliers. After harvest on the West Coast, usually in early October, the grapes travel by train and truck to Baltimore, arriving five days later. Di Pasquale sells approximately 1,500 “pieces”—crates of grapes about the size of case of beer, or 5gallon jugs of pre-pressed juice. (Wines made from the latter aren’t eligible for the competition.) Crate prices vary by grape variety, from $20 for the humble Thompson Seedless to $40 for old-vine Zinfandel. “Zinfandel’s a staple of the Italian-American community,” Di Pasquale notes. “Fruit-forward, earlymaturing—it’s instant gratification. For a while, that was all we got.” Zin remains a favorite, as does Moscato among white varieties, but customer orders now run the gamut. Some grapes get hot for a few years (Petite Sirah is a recent example), then drop off in popularity. Variables come into play, but home vintners can make wine for the rough equivalent of $3 a bottle, excluding equipment costs. A week after the crush, Schiavone, Salvi, and Di Pasquale reconvene to press the wine. Bending over the trash can full of grape must, Salvi pulls some stems from this purple slurry of juice, seeds, and skins—simmering with early fermentation— then scoops it into a wood-slatted cylinder equipped with a descending vise. Cloudy purple juice runs free into a stockpot below, followed by juice that’s clearer and darker as the men wind down the vise. The juice gets funneled into 5-gallon carboys or 15-gallon demijohns. As sediment gradually collects in these containers’ bottoms, vintners will periodically siphon the liquid into fresh vessels, a fi ltration process known as “racking.” Racking and cleaning the equipment are the most labor-intensive parts of the winemaking process, but even they are fundamentally uncomplicated. “Once you see it done,” Schiavone says, “it’s so simple you wonder what all the fuss is about.” In Italy, the first racking traditionally takes place around November 11, feast day of San Martino—patron saint of vintners and beggars, among other souls. Salvi quotes an old-country adage that roughly translates “on the feast of Saint Martin, grape must becomes new wine.” (Per San Martino, ogni mosto diventa vino.) Set to coincide with San Martino Day, Highlandtown’s annual Basement Bar Tour—a take-off on neighborhood home showcases—includes a stop in a former Moose lodge that doubles as Schiavone’s home and art gallery. (See Urbanite, Nov. 2007.)

© Gutenberger

want to really get the fermentation going.” We’re joined by Gino Salvi, who’s partnering with Schiavone in this batch of wine, and Di Pasquale, who sells grapes to many of Highlandtown’s home vintners and lends his production equipment to neighborhood friends. “Oh, a new trash can,” says Di Pasquale, eyeing the container in which Schiavone and Salvi are up to their elbows mixing crushed clusters. “I see we’re moving up.” Di Pasquale has served as Highlandtown’s primary grape supplier for approximately fi fteen years, a role he inherited from a former pastor of the Our Lady of Pompei parish. Although no one has documented the history of home winemaking in the area, it probably extends back to the neighborhood’s emergence as an Italian ethnic enclave in the early 20th century. (The butchers and brewers who settled here after the Civil War were mostly of German and Irish backgrounds.) Home winemaking has deep roots in Italian and Italian-American culture, and participants in the festival typically cite family heritage as a source of their avocation. The fact that most contestants reside in the same neighborhood heightens the sense of competition. “We’ve had people enter from as far away as Mount Washington,” Schiavone quips, “but not often.” Domenico Parravano, 59, recalls stomping grapes in his native Italy. “We’d come home from school,” he says, “and there’d be ten of us in boots and short pants in a big concrete tub.” Now, in the basement of a former Highlandtown grocery, Parravano makes wine in stainless-steel fermentation tanks that hold hundreds of liters. “When they lift those things,” says Di Pasquale, his son-in-law, “they look like missile silos.” Parravano pours bottles at big family events like fi rst Communions and gives others to clients of his contracting business. He’s also a perennial top contender in the Homemade Wine Competition, and his rivalry with Domenico Petrucci—also a contractor, from a neighboring hometown in Italy—has grown almost legendary. “I don’t mention names,” Parravano says, “but people in the neighborhood ask, ‘Oh, do you like my wine?’ You always say yes, but some really is good, some is so-so.” Asked directly whether Petrucci provides tough competition, Parravano pauses, then offers only this: “He does pretty good.” Highlandtown’s vintners sometimes incorporate locally grown grapes, but most use produce shipped in from California by Di

Roasted Chestnuts (Castagne Arrostite)

Apportion 3½ oz. unpeeled chestnuts per serving. Heat an oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Slit the flat side of each chestnut with a knife. Spread the chestnuts on a cookie sheet. Roast for 30 minutes. When cool, remove shells. —adapted from The Silver Spoon (Il Cucchiaio d’Argento) w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m a p r i l 1 0


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In The International World Wine Competition for Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc

A place of serenity, history, and fine wine, retaining the traditions and values of the old world. 15113 Liberty Road, Mt. Airy, MD 21771 410-775-2513 Tue-Sat, 10am-5pm Sun 1-5pm

photo by La Kaye Mbah

Bagby Pizza Co.

Thin is in: Bagby Pizza Co. bakes gourmet pies in Harbor East.

If a measure of a neighborhood’s sophistication a decade ago was the availability of double espressos and tall skinny caramel macchiatos, these days it’s thin-crust gourmet pizza. Bagby Pizza Co. embodies the transformation of the area now known as Harbor East by setting up shop on the ground floor of the Bagby Furniture building, a factory that once cranked out punched-tin pie safes and oak ice boxes for Baltimore families. A good deal of Bagby’s charm is in its modesty. The décor—distressed brick walls, banquettes built from planks of wood, and artwork by local artists (who get the space free)—is only slightly more understated than the red-lettered sign flanking a slice o’ ’za outside. But while the no-frills look might recall a Famous Ray’s or other New York slice-to-go emporium, Bagby only sells whole pies. The menu is both minimal and comprehensive: Well-considered toppings such as sweet fennel sausage, caramelized onions, bacon, roasted artichokes, and fresh spinach can be mixed and matched atop 10- or 14-inch pies, along with a cheese of choice— salty asiago, fresh goat, crumbly feta. The make-your-own concoctions are somehow more tantalizing than the standard menu combinations (grilled vegetable, all-meat,

four cheese, honey chicken). The crusts are thin and slightly charred around the edges, their crackle and flavor reminiscent of a simple cheese-board cracker. There are also pasta options, in stunning portions: vegetable lasagna, fettucine with meat sauce, and baked penne with sausage, peas, and tomato cream. The latter boasts a nicely balanced sauce, the bits of sausage sharp with fennel. Likewise, salads are no mere afterthought: Mixed fresh greens and roasted vegetables arrive in a white porcelain bowl, tossed with a creamy roasted shallot and sherry dressing. There are also five overstuffed sandwiches, served on ciabatta or rustic Italian bread, and a burger that’s available with any of the pizza toppings. Desserts for now are limited to pastries and brownies by local baker Sara Hubbard of Sara’s Sweets. Though Bagby does a brisk carry-out and delivery business with the high-rise residents nearby, there are plenty of reasons to eat in, including an accommodating BYO policy (no corkage fee) and an anxious to please staff. Too bad they don’t have a bunch of factory workers upstairs to stop in for a slice at lunch. (Lunch and dinner daily. 1006 Fleet St.; 410605-0444;


eat / drink

—Martha Thomas

Drowsing beside the lobby of the hulking Carlyle apartments, the Carlyle Club is one of those under-the-radar restaurants embedded in North Baltimore’s older residential buildings. In warmer months, a few café-style tables and umbrellas might cue the passing motorist that there’s some manner of food dispensary within, but the rest of the year, the place might as well be buried inside a mountain. The Carlyle, which shares ownership with the nearby Ambassador Dining Room, abandoned its Lebanese theme last year for a “coastal Indian” menu that more closely resembles the offerings a few blocks down University Avenue at the Ambassador. The room itself is surprisingly posh and serene (especially if there are any diners around who remember the space’s 1980s incarnation as a B-list Chinese restaurant), with a calming modernist vibe, a cheery fireplace, and only the faintest whisper of curry in the air. The Carlyle departs a bit from the Indian food norm—the dishes are generally mildly spiced and served individually plated rather than dished out in platters, family-style, unless requested otherwise. (And, on a recent semi-busy Saturday night, that request was honored only with a great deal of reluctance.) The long rice-lentil crepe called dosa is perhaps the best-known South Indian item

among Western palates, and the Carlyle’s version of the standard potato-and-pea-filled masala dosa makes a satisfying appetizer for two, the crisp crepe spilling over the plate and accompanied by a perky pair of chutneys. The dosa’s close cousins, the flat uttapam (thicker and pancake-like, topped with bits of tomato, cilantro, and chiles) and the fat, dumpling-like idli (served here floating in brothy sambar) are less compelling, suffering from a creeping blandness. (That sambar could have passed as canned vegetable soup.) Things get a few measures more interesting elsewhere on the menu, which offers a likable, if rarely surprising, tour of the subcontinent’s southern side. Coconut milk lends a tropical note to zingy chicken curry, while lamb bihari feels like it’s somewhere on the road to Morocco, with its melange of dried cranberries, tomato, and eggplant. A tomato-y fish curry, fine but forgettable, offers more proof that the Carlyle isn’t exactly a fire-breathing culinary adventure. But that’s probably not what the crowd drawn to this sedate and well-mannered sleeper is craving. (Dinner nightly; brunch Sun. 500 W. University Pkwy.; 410-243-5454.)

photo by La Kaye Mbah

The Carlyle Club

Southern fried: The Carlyle Club turns out a fine dosa, a staple of South Indian cuisine.

—David Dudley w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m a p r i l 1 0


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At Grano Pasta we present you with an array of traditional and innovative Italian recipes that are reproduced by our talented staff with the pride of the old masters, utilizing the bounty of terroir.

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6. Neopol Savory Smokery

Come see us for herb-smoked salmon, goat cheese pie, salmon salad, curried chicken salad, smoked tofu, smoked shrimp, crepe du jour, house-cured gravlax, sandwiches like salmon BLT, smoked crabcake, smoked chicken breast, smoked shrimp, and dozens of seasonally-changing savory items. We bake and smoke right here and prefer locally-sourced organic ingredients.


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tHe Feed

eat / drink

This Month in Eating Compiled by Martha Thomas



For the spring edition of this class, holistic health counselors Lucas Seipp-Williams and Richele Henry—who work under the moniker Baltimore Health Coach—demonstrate how two or three prep sessions each week can lead to seven days of healthy eating. 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. $60; $50 in advance.

Ruscombe Mansion 4801 Yellowwood Ave. 443-418-9534


APRIL 16 –18

Categories at Salisbury’s seventh annual Pork in the Park BBQ Festival include ribs, chicken, and the ambitious “whole hog.” Only judges get to sample the entries, but the 35,000plus attendees can choose from the other ’cue-heavy food vendors while browsing the crafts tents, sipping beer and fresh-squeezed lemonade, and checking out the battle of the bands or the “chickin’ pickin’ competition.” Fri 4 p.m.–10 p.m., Sat 10 a.m.–10 p.m., Sun 11 a.m.–5 p.m. $2; children younger than 12 free.

Winterplace Park 6737 Blue Ribbon Rd. Salisbury 410-548-4914



Yes, Virginia, Catonsville does have a restaurant scene, and it’ll be on full display at the fourteenth annual Taste of Catonsville. About twenty local restaurants will showcase their specialties, including the Candle Light Inn, Sugar Bakers Cakes, and the Indian Delight Restaurant. Held at the Rolling Road Golf Club, the evening raises funds for the annual Fourth of July parade and serves as a kick-off to the Rediscover Catonsville Restaurants Week. 5:30 p.m.–7:30 p.m. $45; $35 in advance.

Rolling Road Golf Club 814 Hilltop Rd. Catonsville 410-719-9609



Ann Stubbs—who owns, with her husband, the 130-acre Sinking Springs Herb Farm in Elkton—draws on her forty-plus years of experience to teach a class about growing food in a green way. The two-hour class, sponsored by Cecil College, covers composting, natural micro- and macro-nutrients, and worms. To register, call 410-392-3366. 1 p.m.–3 p.m. $20.

Sinking Springs 843 Elk Forest Rd. Elkton 410-398-5566



Since November, the STEW crew has been hosting egalitarian fundraisers at the former Methodist church on St. Paul Street, now known as 2640. The Baltimore Development Cooperative—the artist collective that snagged the prestigious Sondheim Prize last year—teams up with Red Emma’s Bookstore Coffeehouse to serve a multi-course, locally sourced dinner to a hundred paying guests. Profits are then divvied up among the social justice nonprofits or groups that have given presentations during the meal. 7 p.m. $10–$25 sliding scale.

2640 St. Paul St.

w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m a p r i l 1 0


So much fun. So close to home.


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urbanite april 10 12758 ACT RG Urbanite April.indd 1

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festival The Transmodern Festival

book City Sages

art Festival Imagé

the scene This month’s cultural highlights

Victorian ladies venture into the future in Eric Overmyer’s On The Verge...

Between the Lines

Playwright & Wire veteran Eric Overmyer pens a portrait of another troubled town in HBO’s Treme.


n Eric Overmyer’s comic play On the Verge or the Geography of Yearning, three Victorian lady explorers discover the future. In the course of their travels, they stumble upon the 1950s, where they are baffled by the operation of a hand-held eggbeater, references to rock ’n’ roll, and the phrase “I like Ike.” The play, presented by Columbia’s Rep Stage beginning April 14, is a highly stylized, surreal piece, full of whimsy and wordplay. In his production notes, Overmyer calls On the Verge “a play about language,” insisting that his lines “not be naturalized or paraphrased.”

photo by Skip Bolen, courtesy of HBO

... while new Orleans residents struggle with the recent past in HBO’s Treme.

by martha thomas

It’s hard to believe that the man behind this absurdist fantasy went on to pen realistic, just-the-facts dialogue for some of television’s most admired police procedurals: Law and Order, Homicide: Life on the Streets, and especially The Wire. Overmyer was a writer and producer for season four of David Simon’s HBO series, the one that focused on those tenacious middle-school kids. But Jackson Phippin, who directed On the Verge when it had its world premiere at Center Stage in 1985, recognizes Overmyer’s way with words in all those places. “I can hear his attention to the detail of language and the culture that it reflects,”

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urbanite april 10

says Phippin, who’s also directing the Rep Stage revival this month. Whether writing for the stage or television, Phippin says, Overmyer applies the same fastidiousness, the same ear for the sound and rhythm of dialogue, the same carefully observed attention to the people he is writing about. “Eric makes a great effort to get it right.” Phippin fully expects Overmyer’s newest project, Treme, to follow suit. Overmyer again partnered with David Simon on the series, which premieres on HBO this month. Set in post-Katrina New Orleans, Treme focuses on struggling musicians in the historic, predominantly African American neighborhood known as the Faubourg Treme. Like its Baltimore-based predecessor, the show uses a mix of professional actors and local residents to create a richly authentic portrait of a troubled city’s inner life. But this project is on Overmyer’s home turf—he’s been a part-time resident of the Crescent City for twenty years. Born in Colorado, Overmyer has also become a Baltimorean by default: His career as a playwright and television producer was jumpstarted here and has become deeply entwined with the city. In 1983, Overmyer was working as literary manager at Playwrights Horizons in New York City when a friend sent a copy of On the Verge to Center Stage. Its success here led to more Center Stage premieres, including his plays In a Pig’s Valise and The Heliotrope Bouquet. “I’ve spent a lot of time [in Baltimore] over the years,” Overmyer says. “More time than in just about any city except the places I’ve lived. I like Baltimore. It’s real; it has its own accents, its own architecture, history, food, and problems.” On one of his first trips to Baltimore, in the early 1980s, Overmyer got a firsthand look at the devastated neighborhoods he’d explore a decade later as a writer/producer on NBC’s Homicide, the series based on former Baltimore Sun reporter Simon’s 1991 book. While working on the show, he lived in Fells Point and befriended Simon, who’d just made the leap from newspapering to television. “We talked a lot about how much we both loved New Orleans,” says Overmyer, who had bought a house there in 1989. Simon began visiting him in NOLA, and the two began thinking about a project about the city’s musicians, a conversation that resumed during work on The Wire. After Katrina, the story began to take shape. “There was no real eureka moment,” Overmyer says, “but seeing those images and thinking about what had happened—the shock of the storm,” helped to shape the idea of a show about people coping with the aftermath of the disaster. Simon’s critical success with The Wire helped sell the series, Overmyer says. “Even though HBO didn’t really know what we were talking about, they told us to go ahead and write the pilot.”

Set three months after Hurricane Katrina, Treme follows a recipe similar to that of The Wire: complex characters in densely intertwined story lines, stunning on-location cinematography, and a sense of verisimilitude that feels documentary. But it is a more joyful show, infused with color and camaraderie. There’s a restaurateur (Kim Dickens) and a radio jock (Steve Zahn), a human rights lawyer (Homicide’s Melissa Leo) and her political activist college professor husband (John Goodman). Another Wire regular, New Orleans native Wendell Pierce (who played Bunk Moreland), is cash-strapped trombonist Antoine Batiste. An assortment of bona fide New Orleans musicians, including trumpeter Kermit Ruffins and the Rebirth Brass Band, play themselves, and there’s music in just about every scene. Cast members have been known to break out in dance while waiting between shots, Overmyer says. One of the most striking scenes in the first episode involves a character named Albert Lambreaux, a chief in one of the famous tribes of Mardi Gras Indians that parade through the city during festivals. Played by Clarke Peters (The Wire’s Lester Freamon, the cerebral, office-bound detective), Lambreaux dons an elaborate outfit of cascading feathers and beads (“It’s insulting to call it a costume,” warns Overmyer) and dances slowly and deliberately down a deserted lane, a figure at once seemingly deranged and dignified. The scene looks like a flight of whimsy—a displaced dreamer making his way in a strange place, not unlike those lady travelers from On the Verge. But it’s the real thing, a New Orleans tradition depicted with the same authenticity that made The Wire such an uncanny viewing experience for Baltimoreans. But despite their troubles, the stormtossed residents of Treme seem less fundamentally doomed than their counterparts on The Wire, a show that Overmyer admits “was about people who live in a more dire world.” Still, he’s not promising any happy endings. “I can’t give away any major plot points,” he says. “But as the Saints have shown [by winning the Superbowl], New Orleans can be very resilient. It’s bounced back from the kind of devastating calamity that no other city in this country has ever gone through. That sounds like hope to me.” ■ —Martha Thomas is a frequent Urbanite contributor. Eric Overmyer discusses Treme on The Marc Steiner Show, WEAA FM 88.9, on April 8. On the Verge or the Geography of Yearning runs April 14–May 2 at Rep Stage, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway ( Treme premieres on HBO on April 11.


Double time: Musician/artist Khaela Maricich is one of the performers at this year’s Transmodern Festival.


Now Voyagers

The Transmodern Festival, April 15–18 Artist/filmmaker Catherine Pancake describes the earliest incarnation of the Transmodern Festival, the interdisciplinary art event she helped found in 2003, as a “nicheof-a-niche.” The first shows emphasized the then-novel notion of mixing visual art with music and performance. “To my surprise,” says Pancake (also a 2009 Urbanite Project participant), “that kind of work has been exploding in popularity.” After a pause in 2004, Transmodern has emerged as a can’t-miss annual arts happening, in part because the performanceoriented work it champions has emerged as the preferred medium of the city’s theatrically minded alt-culturati. Similar fringe fests, such as New York’s Performa and Portland’s Time-Based Art Festival, are proliferating nationwide. “It’s a zeitgeist thing,” Pancake says. This year’s four-day festival opens with experimental films and live music at the Baltimore Museum of Art, decamps to the galleries of the H&H Building (highlights include the Annex Theater’s live adaptation of the trippy 1973 film Fantastic Planet), then busts outdoors with Pedestrian Services Exquisite, a site-specific “urban safari.” Performer/ curators include both visiting artists and such local stalwarts as the Fluid Movement troupe, who will be leading a “Love Parade” on Sunday. With its roaming performers and participatory art projects, Transmodern has a rep as an avant-weird free-for-all; Pancake says she’s trying to rein in the zany a bit this year. “I do sometimes want more gravity,” she admits. “But we’re sustained by ticket sales, so we have to bring in the crowds.” And that they do: “Last year we had two thousand people. I mean, what’s going on in this city?” —David Dudley For ticket and venue information, go to w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m a p r i l 1 0


Thursdays at the BSO Restaurant Deals The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra teams up with restaurants to compose an evening of music and fine dining. Simply purchase a BSO Thursday concert ticket, then call your favorite restaurant and mention “Symphony Special” when making reservations. Visit for more details. Advance reservations required, other restrictions apply.


Two of today’s bright young talents, Hannu Lintu and Colin Currie, join the BSO for a brandnew work by Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara. The program also features Sibelius’ Finlandia and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7. COLIN CURRIE

THREE ROMANTICS Thursday, May 13 Sammy’s Trattoria

Romantic flames illuminate three great works from the passionate 19th century: Strauss’ tone poem Don Juan, Brahms’ Third Symphony and Schumann’s Piano Concerto played by Canadian pianist Louis Lortie.

Night of the Cookers


Thursday Wine Nights The BSO has partnered with Bin 604 to introduce Thursday “Wine Nights” at the Meyerhoff. Flights of fine wines (Apr 8: Spanish wines; May 13: Italian wines) and samplings of cheeses will be served in the lobby. Join us at 6:30 for great deals and great company. No reservations required, minimal charges apply. Media sponsor: BA LT I M O R E | 410.783.8000



The City That Reads City Sages (CityLit Press, 2010)

Word!: The new City Sages anthology is a collection of writings by Baltimoreans past and present.


The first title out on new local book imprint CityLit Press—headed by Gregg Wilhelm of CityLit Project and Festival fame—doesn’t lack for ambition. City Sages is a 300-pluspage anthology of thirty-six fiction and nonfiction writers, both alive and not, who have lived or currently live in Baltimore. But it’s no shopworn rundown of the usual suspects. The book starts off with Madison Smartt Bell’s very funny Small Blue Thing, a retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven written from the bird’s point of view, juxtaposed with The Black Cat, a Poe tale about another vexing creature, a feline named Pluto who psychologically tortures the narrator. An excerpt from the 1845 autobiography Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave is bookended by a straightforward Anne Tyler tale, an excerpt from her 1982 novel, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, and a poetic memoir by Jane Satterfield, from her 2009 book, Daughters of Empire (see Urbanite, Sept. ’09). Editor Jen Michalski—also the editor of literary journal JMWW and co-host of the popular 510 Readings series—says the two years she spent working on the book proved to her that the Baltimore literary landscape is even more far-reaching than she’d thought. “For someone who was supposed to be knowledgeable of the scene, there were so many people I didn’t know,” she says.

Michalski says she tried to be inclusive of Baltimore’s various groups of writers, soliciting entries from pockets she felt were underrepresented. “I took the same approach as I would as editor of the journal. You don’t look at bios; you don’t look at names. You just look at the story, and if it hits on all cylinders for you, it’s chosen.” (Some of the stories— such as Lalita Noronha’s Where Hearts Lie, Jessica Anya Blau’s Bubbe and Zeyde, and Ron Tanner’s My Small Murders—first appeared in these pages, and Urbanite literary editor Susan McCallum-Smith is also represented, with a story from her first collection, 2009’s Slipping the Moorings.) The anthology is in no way comprehensive—there’s too much literary history in this city to fit into three hundred pages—but Michalski says if all goes well, there may be a second volume down the road. “Baltimore allows you, if you feel there’s a need for something, to just do it. And people are gonna help you get it done.” —Marianne K. Amoss City Sages will be officially released at the CityLit Festival on April 17 (see page 85), with six authors reading from their work. For more information, go to www.


Festival Imagé at the Maryland Institute College of Art, April 16–24

We call them comics, but the French insist that the art of the bande dessinée (“drawn strip”) is no joke: Comics in France—available in hardcover, large-format form—have long been considered a serious art form. Now the new generation of French comic and animation artists will join their American counterparts to celebrate the two cultures’ inked traditions. For Festival Imagé, MICA partnered with the Alliance Française de Washington to showcase the work of five French artists. From Nicolas Nemiri’s sci-fi blend of Japanese manga and French aesthetics to Domitille Collardey’s soft ink drawings and Antoine Dodé’s darker graphic novels, the artists of Festival Imagé present a striking range of styles. “France and Belgium have the most vibrant of all the international comics markets, and the bulk of the work has not been reprinted or translated in America,” says José Villarrubia, a MICA illustration professor and festival organizer. “In France, the comics are not really for children, and they’re not literary; they’re somewhere in between.”

The festival serves a dual purpose: MidAtlantic fans get a closer look at what the French call “the ninth art,” and the European visitors get to check out some outside-themainstream (i.e., non-Mickey Mouse) American work. “The French artists know very well the American comics like Superman and superheroes,” explains Sylvain Cornevaux, deputy director of the Alliance Française. “But they really want to discover the other comics.” Along with lectures, workshops, exhibitions, and panel discussions by artists and publishers at venues in D.C. and Baltimore, the festival features a presentation of MICA students’ pages based on the French comic character Gargantua, as well as short animated films by students from MICA and the French art school Supinfocom. Laurence Arcadias, co-chair of MICA’s animation department, says she hopes Festival Imagé will continue the process of breaking down the Franco-American cartoon border. “The idea is to show the difference and also show how to take the best of each culture,” she says. “There’s not only one way to do things.”

© Cyril Pedrosa/Editions Dupuis

The Ninth Art

Share and share alike: Festival Imagé will tease out the differences and similarities between American and French animation and comics (such as Portugal, above).

For more information, go to www. aspx?id=619.

—Lauren Seibert w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m a p r i l 1 0



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the sce n e : april CLASSICAL MUSIC

Take the kids to hear—and see—Carnival of the Animals. On April 24, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performs Camille Saint-Saëns’s 1886 suite of fourteen movements (don’t worry, the whole thing only lasts about an hour) as elephant, kangaroo, and swan puppets dance to the music. (1212 Cathedral St.; 410-783-8000; www.

’20s Chicago. April 7–May 9. (700 N. Calvert St.; 410-332-0033; As part of the Shakespeare for a New Generation program, on April 12–24 the Baltimore Shakespeare Festival restages last summer’s production of Hamlet, offering special student matinees as well as public performances. At St. Mary’s, 3900 Roland Avenue. (410-366-8596; www.


American Opera Theater and the Handel Choir of Baltimore are combining forces to present Jephtha, George Frideric Handel’s final work, about the puzzling relationship between God and man. April 30–May 1 at the First English Lutheran Church, 3807 North Charles Street (1-800-838-3006; ROOTS MUSIC

On April 21 at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts, the music of southwest Virginia’s Appalachian communities is celebrated in Music from the Crooked Road, featuring Sammy Shelor, the Whitetop Mountain Band, and others specializing in bluegrass mountain music. Fans of the style can also travel the actual 250-mile Crooked Road; for more info, go to www. (3506 Gwynnbrook Ave.; 410-356-SHOW; NEW MUSIC

The April 1 offering from the Contemporary Museum’s Mobtown Modern new-music series is an all-night musical vigil dedicated to elemental symbols and the “cosmic wheel,” opened by a world premiere of series organizer and electronic musician Erik Spangler’s Mandala of the Four Directions. At Maryland Institute College of Art’s Brown Center, 1301 West Mt. Royal Avenue. (

Everyman Theatre and the Baltimore School for the Arts collaborate for a stripped-down version of the classic 1938 Thornton Wilder play, Our Town: no sets, props, or curtains. Through April 18. (1727 N. Charles St.; 410-752-2208; www. Becoming a Man in 127 Easy Steps is Scott Turner Schofield’s one-person show that, using acrobatics and multimedia storytelling techniques, shares the story of how he changed gender from female to male. April 2 and 3 at the Theatre Project. (45 W. Preston St.; 410-752-8558; www. PERFORMANCE

Illuminopolis is a variety show combining burlesque and circus tricks with different kinds of light: LEDs, black light, fire. Promised are illuminated costumes, bellydancing with a fiery sword, and juggling in a bubble. April 3 at the Creative Alliance. (3134 Eastern Ave.; 410-276-1651; www.


Over the course of April 26–29, Tibetan monks will create a sand mandala at Towson University, as part of the Mystical Arts of Tibet series. Also planned are lectures on Buddhism and a performance titled Sacred Music Sacred Dance for World Healing on May 1. (410-704-2807; www.towson. edu/asianarts/events_spring2010.html)

Center Stage puts on Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, August Wilson’s 1982 play about a group of struggling blues musicians in late

The winners of this year’s Baker Artist


The capstone of MICA’s experimental fashion concentration, Panoptic will transform the cavernous North Avenue Market (12 North Ave.) into an exhibition space for fashion, costume design (including Erin McAleavy's costume Earth Alive, pictured), video, and dance. April 3. If you’re looking for something a little less edgy, try MICA’s annual student fashion show on April 17. This year, it’s titled Reflections and is about fashion cycles and how they mirror culture. (410-669-9200; Compiled by Marianne K. Amoss

art/culture Awards get their own show at the Baltimore Museum of Art: the three winners of the $25,000 Mary Sawyers Baker Prize (filmmaker Karen Yasinsky, sculptor Richard Cleaver, and violist Peter Minkler) and the five $1,000 winners of the Baltimore’s Choice Prize (painter Kelly Walker, beatboxer Shodekeh, dancer/poet Amanda Fair, photographer Steven Parke, and graphic designer Kaveh Haerian). April 7–June 27. (10 Art Museum Dr.; 443-573-1700; www. Any and all artists can include their work in Maryland Art Place’s annual Out of Order show—provided they (or a strong friend) can be there during the twenty-four-hour window allotted for installation. Proceeds from tickets to the exhibit/party support MAP’s programming. April 9. (8 Market Place, Suite 100; 410-962-8565; www. At School 33’s annual juried Lotta Art event, all ticket holders (it’s $150–$175 per person) are guaranteed to net one of 120 works of art through a lottery-style drawing. April 24 at Silo Point, 1200 Steuart Street. Urbanite is a sponsor of this event. (410396-4641; Intricately enameled boxes, vases, and urns are the focus of the Walters Art Museum’s big spring exhibition, Japanese Cloisonné Enamels from the Stephen W. Fisher Collection (through June 13). The museum hosts a variety of related events this month, including a college night devoted to anime, manga, and Japanese fashion and music (April 15); and an Asian Spring Family Festival with music, dance, and storytelling (April 24). (600 N. Charles St.; 410-547-9000; FILM

The annual Baltimore Jewish Film Festival brings recent acclaimed films of Jewish interest to town, including the darkly comic Nora’s Will, about a wife who commits suicide right before Passover to annoy

her husband (April 15), and The Wedding Song, about two young girls, one Muslim and one Jewish, whose friendship is tested during the Nazi occupation of Tunis in 1942 (May 11). April 8–May 17. Most films are screened at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts at 3506 Gwynnbrook Avenue. (410542-4900 ext. 239; LITERARY

Held as always at the central branch of the Pratt Library (400 Cathedral St.), the seventh annual CityLit Festival on April 17 packs readings, workshops, and a literary marketplace for publishers and authors into one day. Special guests include Maryland poet laureate Stanley Plumly and Sam Lipsyte, author of the recently released The Ask, who will read with Dawn Raffel, Geoffrey Becker, and Andy Devine in a special 510 Readings event. (410-274-5691; www. Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the bestsellers Eat, Pray, Love and Committed, is the featured author for 2010 of the Frederick Reads program, an effort by Frederick County’s libraries and other groups to foster love of reading. She’ll stop by several spots in the county on April 14 and 15; several events are free and open to the public but require tickets, which will likely go quickly. ( The spring installment of Loyola University’s Modern Masters series continues with Maurice Kilwein Guevara, a native of Colombia whose poetry often explores the tension felt by immigrants straddling two cultures. April 21. (4501 N. Charles St.; 410-617-2228; Fiction writer Kathy Flann and fiction writer/film adaptation specialist Bill U’Ren read from their work on April 21 in the Athenaeum at Goucher College, where they teach creative writing. (1021 Dulaney Valley Rd.; 410-337-6333;

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In The Shadow of Steel continued from page 63

The Residences at Oella Mill—Unique Apartment Homes on the Patapsco River.

Most steelworkers phrase the fact more positively. “We’d sit there and drink our beers and shoot a little pool, and then here’s the threeto-eleven shift coming in,” said LeRoy McLelland Sr. “Maybe we spent a little more time there [in the bars] than we should,” but drinking together “created more harmony and solidarity than the union hall did,” he said, “because not everybody went to the union hall.” Not all steelworkers drank heavily, and some, like my Uncle Ray, didn’t drink at all. But for many others, stopping by the bar to have a few (or more than a few) beers with friends after work was a habit they were not inclined to break. “I had guys that would work eleven-to-seven, go out on payday to drink, and then come back to work for the next shift,” Doyle told me. “They had a lot of alcoholics. Some were worth saving.” As children my brother and I spent a fair amount of time in the North Point Road bars with our father, begging him for coins to put in the jukebox and playing shuffleboard while he socialized with his friends. He was not alone in his habits; most of the men we knew lived similar lives. My mother objected to this lifestyle, and my parents divorced when I was a young child. They remarried when I was 12 years old, though my father didn’t stop drinking entirely until I was in college. Unlike many of the retirees I’ve interviewed, I don’t think my father loved making steel. In his mid-40s, he enrolled at Dundalk Community College and then University of Baltimore, carrying a full course load while working full time at Signode, a Dundalk manufacturer of packaging products, with his friend Willy Cohill. He graduated with a BA in political science and for the last fifteen years of his life worked as a market conduct examiner for the Maryland State Department of Licensing and Regulation. His new job required him to travel around the country, examining the pay-out records of every insurance company that did business in Maryland, checking to be sure that they were not

defrauding their customers—work that sounded dull to me but that my father seemed to enjoy. He spent a great deal of time in New York City, where he became an avid theater patron, attending Broadway and off-Broadway plays two or three nights a week. Near the end of his life, he took pride in the fact that he had visited forty-nine of the fifty states (excepting only Colorado) and numerous foreign countries. “Your father was a diamond in the rough,” my mother says whenever she is asked to describe him. I believe that there were quite a few men like my father at Sparrows Point in its heyday, men who became steelworkers not by choice but by convenience. Once he found work that permitted him to indulge his love of travel and conversation, he became a much happier man than he was in my childhood. I regret that he had so few years to enjoy his new life. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1995 and died two weeks after his sixty-fifth birthday, after a four-year fight with his disease. His brother Ray, four years younger, was felled by mesothelioma at age 68. Their elder brother, Ben, a Sparrows Point bricklayer like Ray, died at 66. When I think of the people who worked at Bethlehem Steel in the postwar years, I think of my father and my uncles. In some ways, they were a blessed generation. Born into depression and war, as adults they reaped the benefits of the longest economic boom in American history in what now seems a golden age for working people. But they worked harder than most people can imagine working today. And in the end, many of them paid a heavy price for their good luck. ■ —Deborah Rudacille has been an Urbanite contributing writer since 2008. Listen to the author discuss this story on The Marc Steiner Show, WEAA FM 88.9, on April 29. On May 16, the Creative Alliance will host In the Shadow of Steel, a special event with readings, guest speakers, and live music. Go to for more information.

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One of these photographs alone would be interesting: the action, the color balance, the ambiguity. But together they create something that is greater than the sum of the individual parts. The photographs involve us in a way that a single image cannot. They make us truly active in the process of creating the work, in that we have to sew the two together in some way that makes sense. We have to half-create the work by creating a suitable narrative based on the clues in the works. We do this with any work of art, but when there are multiples, we are forced to imagine that much more deeply. What are the hands in the air doing? What is that truncated mask there? Where is that arm coming from? Dream or nightmare, the two images merge in a way that describes some event we can feel and allows us to fantasize. Rob Brulinski is a thoughtful photographer who not only injects himself into the arena of his photographs, but also enjoys setting in motion the very situation that he will photograph. Probably taking away from the reader’s own interpretation, here is what the artist related about the work in an e-mail: “I wanted to ‘shake up’ the people … in the photos by giving out [masks] and wearing a mask myself. A friend brought a rather large white sheet and attempted to literally bag up the crowd … I ran into the middle of that and took the first photo. Right after the white sheet incident, I forced a teenager behind me to wear the Michael Myers mask (I was Nixon) and photographed him. Then I jumped on his back and went crowd-surfing, never seeing the mask or him again. I believe [the photographs] tell the simple story of [the] messy disorder, even lawlessness, that one person can present to a crowd … Carrying a camera around enables me to justify the disorder that I habitually create.” —Alex Castro


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Rob Brulinski Summer Entropy July 2008 Type 600 Polaroid film 7 x 4 1 ⁄16 inches


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April 2010 Issue  

(Re)tooling, Steeltown, Sundown, Bring On The Bees, Diversity Strikes Out