April 2012 Issue

Page 1

Quarantine Road

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Urbanite 3-6.indd 1

3/5/12 9:42 AM

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this month

#94  April 2012

features 36

about the cover: Photo credit: Corbis Photo illustration: Bradley Hamblin The photo illustration on this month's cover, also used inside in the feature well, utilizes "tilt shift" photography, a technique that, while sharpening and saturating objects in the foreground, blurs the background of the picture. The result is that objects appear miniature, almost toy-like. It's an effect we hoped would highlight the idea that development and infrastructure are essentially pieces of a puzzle, placed by policy makers, that we have control over.

departments 38


keynote The Deep Sea Diver


interview by Ron Cassie



Marine toxicologist, ocean advocate, explorer, and author Susan Shaw talks about diving into the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, dead zones, and the discovery of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch while sounding a warning about the harm chemicals, plastics, and greenhouse gases are causing in the our seas.

23 ——

baltimore observed

27 From Your Curb to Quarantine Road by Baynard Woods Is another waste-to-energy plant the answer for Baltimore's trash?

29 Update 31 Not Praying for the Home Team 33 Urbanite Project

38 feature The Era of Suburban Sprawl Has to End. So, Now What?

—— poetry 53


by McKay Jenkins

Name the challenge—abandoned urban centers, deforestation, the loss of farmland, the degradation of the Chesapeake Bay—decades of unchecked growth have turned Maryland's open land into concentric circles of sprawl with devastating consequences for the environment.

—— space


—— food + drink

67 Dining Reviews 69 Wine & Spirits


The Wired Campus

more online at www.urbanitebaltimore.com

on the air

Urbanite on The Marc Steiner Show, WEAA 88.9 FM April 11: Baltimore's faith community tackles food deserts. April 25: PlanMaryland roundtable on development and the environment

An explosion of information technology brought on by the digital revolution has colleges rethinking how they teach—and how students learn.

No Farm, No Foul

by Tracey Middlekauff Re-examining the farm to table movement


web extras

The Way Things Work

by Jim Meyer Inside D.R. Center's Victorian rowhouse, bygone machines evoke an era when technology was big, handmade, and incredibly intricate.

higher learning


by Jillian Rose Krupp


by Andrew Zaleski

Editor’s Note What You’re Saying What You’re Writing Don’t Miss The Goods


arts + culture 73

Great Expectations

by Karen Houppert Kwame Kwei-Armah wants to change the cultural landscape of Baltimore—one step at a time.

75 Theater 77 Fashion 77 Film

—— 79 The Scene —— 86 Eye to Eye

April 26: Kwame Kwei-Armah's expansive vision for Center Stage

Urbanite #94  april 2012  7

issue 94: april 2012 publisher Tracy Ward Tracy@urbanitebaltimore.com general manager Jean Meconi Jean@urbanitebaltimore.com editor-in-chief Ron Cassie Ron@urbanitebaltimore.com assistant editor Rebecca Messner Rebecca@urbanitebaltimore.com digital media editor Andrew Zaleski Andrew@urbanitebaltimore.com editor-at-large David Dudley David@urbanitebaltimore.com online editors food/drink: Tracey Middlekauff Tracey@urbanitebaltimore.com arts/culture: Cara Ober Cara@urbanitebaltimore.com, Baynard Woods Baynard@urbanitebaltimore.com proofreader Marianne Amoss contributing writers Michael Anft, Scott Carlson, Charles Cohen, Michael Corbin, Heather Dewar, Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson, Mat Edelson, Lionel Foster, Brennen Jensen, Michelle Gienow, Clinton Macsherry, Richard O’Mara, Robin T. Reid, Andrew Reiner, Martha Thomas, Baynard Woods, Michael Yockel, Mary K. Zajac editorial interns Michael Nakan, Cassie Paton art director Bradley Hamblin Bradley@urbanitebaltimore.com production manager Belle Gossett Belle@urbanitebaltimore.com staff photographer J.M. Giordano Joe@urbanitebaltimore.com


production interns Sarah Thrower, Wen Xiong video intern Lindsay Bottos-Sewell senior account executives Catherine Bowen Catherine@urbanitebaltimore.com Freda Ferguson Freda@urbanitebaltimore.com Susan R. Levy Susan@urbanitebaltimore.com account executive Natalie Richardson Natalie@urbanitebaltimore.com

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sales marketing associate Erin Albright Erin@urbanitebaltimore.com bookkeeper/distribution coordinator Michelle Miller Michelle@urbanitebaltimore.com creative director emeritus Alex Castro founder Laurel Harris Durenberger — Advertising/Editorial/Business Offices 2002 Clipper Park Road, Fourth Floor, Baltimore, md 21211 Phone: 410-243-2050; Fax: 410-243-2115 www.urbanitebaltimore.com Editorial inquiries: Send queries to editor@urbanitebaltimore.com (no phone calls, please). The magazine is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts or artwork. Urbanite does not necessarily share 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 2012, 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.

bottom Photo by Joanna Comfort; middle photo by Laura Prichett; Top photo courtsey of Phipps/Kaye; Ron Cassie PHOTO by Sarah Thrower


editor’s note

Karen Houppert is a contributing writer for The Washington Post magazine and is currently working on her third book, due out early next year. Houppert is excited by Baltimore newcomer Kwame Kwei-Armah, a theater guru originally from London, and the “interesting infusion of international artists in the city which can only enrich our arts scene.” Her story about his new tenure at Center Stage begins on page 13. Ron Cassie

McKay Jenkins is the author of six books, including What’s Gotten Into Us: Staying Healthy in a Toxic World (Random House, 2011), and he teaches at the University of Delaware. Jenkins spent the late ‘80s and early ‘90s covering the real estate boom in suburban Atlanta and was shocked at the rate of development. As for Maryland, which he focused on for this month's feature story on page 38, he says, “there’s a lot more to ensuring [it] remains a beautiful and sustainable place to live than an ever-expanding ring of suburbs.” See more about Jenkins’ work at www.mckayjenkins.com. Benjamin Warner teaches writing at Towson University and has previously contributed to Urbanite. In viewing the film Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World for "Invisible Cities," on page 77, Warner discovered a new appreciation for Islamic art. “I saw images I hadn’t encountered since high school art class, if ever,” he says. “The film has inspired me to explore the Islamic art and manuscripts collection [currently at] the Walters.”

playing hooky from the grind (ahem) of the editor’s desk, I recently jumped on the infamous Bolt Bus from Penn Station with a truant buddy and took off for New York to catch the final show of Björk’s monthlong residency at the Roseland Ballroom. Beyond the Icelandic singer’s otherworldly voice, the performance of her latest album, Biophilia, was an amazing piece of theater, combining science, technology, nature, and music. Quoting the World English Dictionary here, “biophilia" literally means "an innate love for the natural world, supposed to be felt universally by humankind.” Björk’s concept work—with songs like “Cosmogony,” “Dark Matter,” “Mutual Core,” and another about DNA—embraces the entirety of the universe from quantum physics to subatomic particles to sound. After weeks of poring over the alarming math in the state’s PlanMaryland document with University of Delaware professor, author, and Towson resident McKay Jenkins, who wrote our April "Green" issue cover story (p. 38), frankly my soul needed a lift. In the past, much of the technology upon which our communities have been built—fossil fuel energy and toxic chemicals—has wreaked devastating havoc on our environment. But from the Biophilia show, I took away an appreciation that technology today has the potential to reveal the grandest, and most microscopic, workings of the universe. That idea I found inspiring. Perhaps it will drive a new appreciation for the natural world. And by the way, Jenkins doesn’t just bring the bad news. He notes plenty of “best practice” efforts in Maryland and around the country. Elsewhere in the magazine, intrepid reporter Baynard Woods follows his trash, in “Baltimore Observed,” from the curb to the BRESCO incinerator and the city’s landfill on appropriately named Quarantine Road, exploring the efficacy of a second proposed waste-to-energy incinerator along the way (p. 27). As part of our ongoing Urbanite Project 2012: Healthy Food Challenge, Assistant Editor Rebecca Messner looks at faith communities’ efforts to create access to affordable and healthy food options for Baltimore City residents living in or near food deserts (p. 33). Also, Urbanite digital wunderkind/editor Andrew Zaleski, in “Wired Campus,” recalls his senior English seminar at Loyola University—where the prof tossed out the books in favor of a shared Google Doc (p. 47). It's just one example of change in higher education via emerging social media tools. On to lighter notes. In “Space” Jim Meyer explores a Victorian rowhouse straight out of Hugo. Don’t believe me? Check staff photographer J.M. Giordano’s pictures on page 57. In “Food and Drink,” kudos to e-zine editor Tracey Middlekauff for examining the challenge Baltimore chefs face in the whole locavore movement—and for coming up with the March Madness-worthy headline “No Farm, No Foul” (p. 63). Looking for more non data-driven items this month? Check out the lingerie and a bicycle built for bar crawls in “The Goods” (p. 23 and 25). Finally, with a nod to Opening Day, Rafael Alvarez profiles Orioles chaplain Reverend John Bauer in “Not Praying for the Home Team” (p. 31). Bauer was christened at Sacred Heart of Jesus in Highlandtown, the same year Baltimore son Babe Ruth smashed sixty home runs for a certain rival up north. Eightyfour years later, he’s christened both of rightfielder Nick Markasis’s boys at the same church. Alvarez reports Bauer prays for peace, the safety of the troops, the sick, and the spiritual needs of his flock, but not for O’s victories. To which, I say, “Jeez, Father, would a prayer for a timely base hit when the Sox or Yankees are in town kill ya?"

Coming next month

The Art of social change Are community projects changing the city or changing art?

Urbanite #94  april 2012  9



10  april 2012  www.urbanitebaltimore.com

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fact that ownership crossed the threshold into minority status represents only the typical 3 to 4 percent hit suffered by most cities since the mortgage bust as Baltimore’s ownership rate fell from 51 percent to 48 percent in the past few years. The 26-year-old who loves to rent will purchase a home when she becomes statistically likely to marry between ages 32 to 37. Just like everyone else who is white or Asian. The problem remains home ownership among African Americans, who continue to lag even when income is comparable to whites. —Michael Ullman, a social science researcher who completed his doctoral work in social welfare at the University of Hawaii-Manoa, is the National Development and Program Evaluation Specialist for the nonprofit U.S.VETS.

business-as-usual approach to this issue by our so-called leaders. —Occupyinghomeowner

Old World Charm Re: “La Dolce Vino,” Mar. ’12, about Little Italy wine bar Osteria da Amedeo and the Italian Wine Club of Baltimore: osteria da amedeo is an absolutely outstanding Wine Bar to visit during the Wine Tasting events, but [also] a wonderful establishment to visit during your time in Little Italy. It is always welcoming and comfortable to sit and sip! The owner, Amedeo, is always there to welcome and chat with the customers. By the time you leave, he knows your name and always extends a friendly handshake and smile. On the top of my list!! —Christina

The Rent is Too Damn High Re: “The City That Rents?” Mar. ’12, about more people choosing renting over homeownership in Baltimore: thank you for your article on renting versus owning in Baltimore. But while it covered many salient issues, you did overlook one factor: Many 20- and 30-somethings are marrying late, if at all. Most houses are priced that a working couple might easily put together a down payment (and only might). For a single person like myself, it’s guaranteed to be a struggle. Splitting rent with a roommate is much easier than [trying] to buy a house by yourself. No one wants to help you buy, and if you manage to buy and do want a roommate, you’ve got the hassle of trying to become a “landlord” yourself. And yet I’m thinking of buying because rents are going up—what’s a modern single Baltimorean to do? —Rebecca Pickard

the story … substitutes anecdote, or interviewing a couple Gen Y’ers, for basic social science. Baltimore, like most large urban cities, has a lower homeownership rate due to three factors: High poverty rate (21 percent); low rate of two-earner families; and high proportion of African Americans, who suffer acutely [from] both factors. The city of Baltimore is 63 percent African American, who have a homeownership rate of only 45 percent nationwide, compared to nearly 75 percent for whites. The

tons of fancy new apartment buildings but nary an affordable one-bedroom to be found in a safe neighborhood within city limits. I would pass on the granite and high ceilings in exchange for a rental payment I could afford without having to share my fridge and living room sofa with a roommate. The demand for >$1,000 studio and one-bedroom apartments is going to drop out any moment now. The only people who can afford that are the young, single financial district workers and that market is going to be exhausted soon. If I am going to spend over $1,000 a month, it’s going to be on a mortgage, not an apartment. Can someone please build/ renovate a building without all the bells and whistles that would offer reasonable rents?

In Full Bloom Re: “Flowering of Station North,” Mar. ’12, about Pearson’s Florist owner, Vander Pearson: good @urbanitemd story about a North Ave. florist. When in France, go to Arles. When in Crabtown, see Vander Pearson. —@stephanie_h

Change We Can Believe In Re: “Retooling the City,” Mar. ’12, about seven of Baltimore’s most influential Change Makers:


Where Are the Gatekeepers? Re: “Slow Out of the Gate,” Mar. ’12, about sprucing up the city’s back alleys by gating them off: “unreachable owners of vacant properties...” How much longer are the city’s elected officials going to allow these unseen human rats to hold the law-abiding homeowners and renters of this lovely city hostage? It is time to treat them as the negligent criminal enablers and abettors that they are. I say this because everyone knows that a vacant house is a future crime scene in the making. A future scrap metal theft, a future fire, a future building collapse, a future cover for a drug deal, rape or murder. It is never a question of “if,” but “when.” Vacant[s] are the number one threat to my neighborhood in Brooklyn and I am tired of the

great to see article on busyman @MikeMakes [Mike Brenner] in latest issue of @UrbaniteMD … Congrats and keep up the startup evangelism —@joezuc

great profile piece in the @UrbaniteMD on one of my favorite @JohnsHopkins profs @LesterSpence —@MaxDworin

salute to @LesterSpence for the recognition in @UrbaniteMD for the#BaltimoreMixtapeProject among other things. Hip-hop stand up! —@hiphopimpact

CORRECTION: In “La Dolce Vino,” Mar. ’12, we incorrectly identified Amedeo Ebrahimpour as Marc de Simone in the article’s photo.

Join the conversation. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@UrbaniteMD). 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. Urbanite #94  april 2012  13

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what you’re writing

photo by Eddie Winter

waking up with the bright light shining through the window, I can already tell it’s past 10. My head throbs and my mouth is dry as I pull the bedsheet off me, still lying on the carpet next to my friend’s bed. I pat all my pockets making sure I still have my keys, wallet, and phone. Walking downstairs, I smell smoke and see cans everywhere. My socks stick to the floor as I walk to grab a cup of water and go over to the couch and turn on the TV, still covered in the champagne from last night. The thought of even venturing into the basement scares me, knowing it can only be worse than the kitchen, and I think, “What if this was my house?” Slowly more people walk downstairs, and some of the kids on the couch begin to wake. The room is filled with stories from just a couple hours ago. As Sports Center repeats itself for a third time, I stand up and say, “I’m heading home. I’ll see you guys later,” proceeding to give everyone I know handshakes and hugs before I can be convinced to help clean up. Just before I leave the room I hear the words, “Somebody clean up the puke in the bathtub.” Stepping out of the door and into the cold wakes me up a bit. I check my phone—no texts or missed calls from the parents. What’s new. I look at myself in the mirror, my hair

greasy and torqued in all different ways; grab a breath mint; and put the car in reverse with twenty-five minutes of silence ahead. —Seventeen-year-old Ryan Gary is a senior in high school and will be attending LSU in the fall, where he plans to major in fisheries science.

my parents could really throw a party. Moving to Brooklyn from the City before it was the thing to do might have hampered their ability to stage a get-down, but their friends came from all over in cabs and on the G train, Bedford Avenue, this must be it. I was invited to some parties and hung out with babysitters for others. By the time I was 16, I was on the guest list for good. My father had been directing a play in Europe and was home after three months. A party was in order, and I wanted to invite someone. I asked about my +1 at the dinner table one night. He was a guy I met while Dad was away. He was also 26. “What the hell?” my father said in my stepmother’s direction. “J, don’t freak out. I was there when they met. He’s cool. Really—it’s not like that. He’s a great musician.”

Dad sighed into the bowl of his wine glass, rolling his eyes and shaking his head. This better be good. Party Night came, and 26 showed up on time and dressed for the occasion, jeans and a black leather jacket. My father was light-hearted and welcoming, his girded caution visible only to those that knew him well. “What’s going on, man? I hear you’re a musician—the bass guitar?” Hour after hour the music shook the stairwell and some 20-year-old types didn’t like everything we played and my stepmother shrugged. The food went fast at first and then slow as people settled on where they wanted to be and who they wanted to dance with. A redhaired woman stomp-walked good and trashed into the backyard, and a tall friend went to check on her. A party was a statement back then: This is who we are and you are a part of us, a family reunion, a place for an older man to come courting me aboveboard. 26 kissed me goodnight before he left the party—not sneaked in a car but passionate and direct at my father’s front door. We didn’t see each other much after that night, but I’ve given the same kiss away many times over because some things are too rich to keep. —Kumari McKie lives in Reservoir Hill with her two children.

Urbanite #94  april 2012  15

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16  april 2012  www.urbanitebaltimore.com

what you’re writing

i was in my late 20s, recovering from the adventuresom ’60s with the less exciting ’70s, and had moved to Charles Village. There I met Hopkins graduate students from South America and the Caribbean and learned how to party, which mostly meant how to dance—merengue, salsa, cumbia. We danced to soca rhythms from the greats—Sparrow, Lord Kitchener, and Lord Shorty. The woman who stole the show was from Senegal; no one could match her moves. Holidays and birthdays were great reasons for a party. For New Year’s Eve there were homemade empanadas by the cooks from Venezuela and Argentina. The dancing was nonstop after 10 p.m. The Trinidadians danced calypso with style, and we all sashayed furiously through the merengues. As the night wore on, we got louder and more joyful. The Hopkins students not invited got angrier and called the Hopkins police to subdue the sound. By 4 a.m. we were spent and lounging over chairs and sofas. Now those were parties! —Janice Dykacz has lived happily in Baltimore since 1969.

if you asked grandma Flack, “What’s your secret to long life?” she’d reply, “A shot of Peppermint Schnapps, every night!” Today is her 95th birthday, and we’re going to party it up. The guests for this grand event are Grandma’s dearest friends, who are

members of the 60-plus club. There’s no wine or beer at this party: My aunt, Tia Kathy, is the host, and she has set the table with tea cups and saucers. Soon enough, the guests arrive. They are women I hardly know but greet with hugs and kisses nonetheless. Grandma has lived in the neighborhood for over fifty years, and she’s a celebrity here. “You don’t look a day over 80!” they say. Tia Kathy offers a slice of her famous plum cake and brewed tea. Meanwhile, Grandma enlightens the crowd with stories from her youth. These are stories she has told a hundred times, but she is not tired of telling them. After all, she survived the Great Depression, sewed her own clothes, and lived years off yard sales. She speaks with bright eyes as if none of it injured her. “I had guardian angels watching out for me,” she says. The caretaker, Arline, hushes the crowd and pulls out her guitar. “In honor of Grandma Flack, join me in singing her favorite song: ‘You Are My Sunshine.’” None of us are singers, but we put soul into it as Arline wails on the guitar. Grandma insists we could take American Idol. “This is the best day I ever had,” she says to everyone. When the guests go home, Grandma and I pull out the bottle of Schnapps and pour a round for just the two of us. As I kick it back,

the shot goes down rough. Grandma, on the other hand, smacks her lips. Ninety-five years old, and she can still hold her liquor. —Layla Flack works at a biopharmaceutical company and writes in her spare time.

“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 What YoureWriting@urbanitebaltimore.com. Submissions should be shorter than 400 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 Deadline Riot April 9, 2012 Up at Dawn May 14, 2012 Nerves June 11, 2012

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6. Cross Keys Dental Associates Cross keys Dental Associates have provided quality pediatric dental care for more than 30 years. Drs. Douglas Clemens and Allan Dworkin specialize in pediatric dental care, accompanied by Dr. Olwyn Diamond who provides outstanding orthodontic care. We are proud to have the opportunity to put a smile on every child’s face! Call 410-435-8400 today to schedule an appointment.

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Bring in your unused diamonds, gems, gold and other fine jewelry and Misha & Co. will turn them into beautiful, one of a kind creations.

3. Urban Threads nestled on Route 40 in Ellicott City, Urban Threads is a cool boutique bedding and drapery showroom featuring fabulous ready-made linen, silk, cotton, and taffeta home décor textiles. With 30 years of design expertise provided by owners Ann McDaniels and Jane O’Donoghue you will be sure to come away with a custom, beautiful look for any room in your home.

5. Joy Sushinsky Love your life now? What will the next 20, 30, or 50 years bring? You may not be able to see the future. But a sound financial investment of your first home purchase now will ensure that you have the ability to fund you future dreams. Free homebuyer seminars the last Tuesday of every month. Please contact me to find out more. Joy.sushinsky@longandfoster.com 443.622.7323


Extraordinary Treasures!

2. Misha & Co. Misha & Co. is a unique find in the Baltimore area. Michael has been creating jewelry since the age of sixteen. Working with classic and unique materials including recycled gold and silver from clients’ old jewelry, Misha’s can create any piece of jewelry that one can envision–all with state of the art computer animated design or working with traditional hand wrought techniques. Whether you are looking for modern to antique or classical, Misha’s creations are unsurpassed.

4. Stebbins Anderson STEBBInS- A Baltimore tradition since 1867. Stebbins has everything you need to enjoy the outside. Patio tables, chairs, umbrellas, replacement cushions and a full line of Weber grills. Stebbins offers a great selection of manufactures such as Brown Jordan, Winston, Hanamint, Telescope and Lloyd Flanders. Shop early for your best selections!!!!

Turn your ordinary treasures into...

Linen, raw silk, silk, silk dupioni, cotton organza, and much more.


The Village of Cross Keys


Green Spring Station 10751 Falls Road., Ste 119 443.275.1321 • mishaandco.com



9051 Balto. Nat. Pike, Ste. 4C Ellicott City, MD 21042


6 Long and Foster weLcomes Joy sushinsky to the hampden oFFice.

We put a smile on every child’s face...

Your Baltimore Neighborhood Specialist

Joy Sushinsky 443.622.7323 joy.sushinsky@longandfoster.com 1131 W. 36th Street, Baltimore, MD 21211 410.889.9800




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First visit by First birthday recommended


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802 Kenilworth Drive

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by providing the most comprehensive and compassionate dental care to adolescents, children, infants, and individuals with special needs.

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7. Race Pace Bicycles

Visit Race Pace’s newest location in Federal Hill. Our family owned business has 34 years of experience getting Baltimore on bikes. Featuring full service and sales, we have something for cyclists of all ages, interests and experience! Make sure to mention this ad and receive a FREE Race Pace water bottle.


Spring Vintage has arrived!

8. DeBois Textiles

Spring is in full bloom at DeBois! Authentic vintage clothing for men, women and children at greatly reduced prices. Check out our great selection of Easter dresses, prom fashions and so much more. Shoes, hats, denim, fabric—you’ve got to see it to believe it! Award winning thrift store—everything under $10.



store hours: monday



- saturday, 10am - 5pm 1835 washington blvd, baltimore 410-837-8081 • www.deboistextiles.com



shift pale lager is brewed by new belgium brewing fort collins co



9. New Belgium

Day Dresses and Western Shirts starting at $12, 80’s Prom Dresses starting at $35, Lee, Levi, and Wrangler Denim Jackets starting at $15.



Hello Baltimore, it’s SHIFT beer time! Introducing 16 ounces of a job well done, whether you just finished work or play, cracking open our new refreshing pale lager rewards your efforts in hoppy style. This is what the end of the day tastes like, for more info about SHIFT, go to www. newbelgium.com.

10. Shockers Glass Studio

Welcome to Baltimore’s only in-house glass repair! Shop for a new piece or get that old favorite back in action! Shockers supplies Baltimore with many choices (a variety) of artistic glass smoke delivery systems. All glass (except soft glass) made in USA by Americans with love and pride.

11. Loafers & Laces

One of a kind Creations Jewelry created from gemstones, vintage tin, glass, silver & gold. Fashion, accessories & gifts.

Grand Re-opening! April 13 -15 Special offers, drawings & more!


Men’s Fine Shoes & Accessories 1515 LaBelle Avenue Ruxton, Maryland 21204 410-828-1948 www.loafersandlaces.com


New Location: 822 W. 36th Street in Hampden (1 block from Chestnut Avenue)

Located on the second floor of Ruxton Station

Mon-Thurs 11-6, Fri-Sat 11-7, Sun 12-5

410.444.7979 | studiocjewelry.net

00000 WBS Loafers and Laces Ad.indd 1

1/13/12 4:32 PM

Loafers and Laces is a locally owned men’s shoe store dedicated to providing the finest in men’s shoes by Alden, Martin Dingman, and Wolverine. We also carry Penhaligons men’s fragrances, belts by Antas, and socks from Byford. Located in Ruxton Station (at the intersection of Bellona Ave. and Ruxton Rd.) Ruxton, MD on the second floor next to Jewels. 410-828-1948 www.loafersandlaces.com

12. Studio C Jewelry & Gifts

Local artist Constance Scott designs oneof-a-kind jewelry for a following of hip customers looking for unique creations not found elsewhere. Located now in Hampden, the shop showcases jewelry crafted from gemstones, vintage tin, and precious metal clay, in silver & gold as well as fabulous fashion accessories and gifts. GRAnD RE-OPEnInG WEEkEnD: APRIL 13, 14 & 15TH.

20  april 2012  www.urbanitebaltimore.com

images (clockwise from top left): photo by Britt Olsen-Ecker; photo by Stephanie Potter Corwin; courtesy of Jacquie Greff at Tonal Vision LLC.; photo by Catherine Pelura Photography; photo by Mark Dennis; photo by Jim Burger

don’t miss 2


3 5



1 APRiL 1, 7 a.m.–Noon

3 APRIL 13, 7:30 p.m.

5 APRIL 20, 7–11 P.M.




You’ve patiently waited out a (not so) cold winter for the re-opening of the annual Baltimore Farmers’ Market & Bazaar. Starting April 1, find the market and all its glorious wares—fresh produce, farm-raised meats, vegan delights, sandwiches, pizzas, pottery, and a fantastic host of miscellanea—under the Jones Falls Expressway every Sunday until December.

Baltimore-based songwriters ellen cherry (pictured) and Sandy Asirvatham team up to preview music from their upcoming collaborative project, Mobtown Moon, a singer-focused reinvention of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. Both cherry and Asirvatham will perform their own original music as well.

Young Audiences’ annual gala, Taste the Arts, aims to raise money to support arts education in local schools. This year’s theme, “Baltimore, City of Firsts,” pays tribute to the city’s Young Audiences chapter, which, sixty years ago, began its mission to provide students with their daily dose of the arts. The night features a silent auction and cuisine from local restaurants including Tapas Teatro, Charmington’s, and Meet 27. (Urbanite is a sponsor of this event.)

Free Holliday and Saratoga sts. www.bop.org

$10 Germano’s Trattoria 300 High St. 410-752-4515 www.germanostrattoria.com

2 APRIL 1, 3 P.M.

4 APRIL 14, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.



Fluid Movement, the quirky Baltimore-based performance art group, commemorates the history of Baltimore’s department store district with Howard & Lex: The Way We Roll. The event follows seasoned roller skater Sylvia Kleinman as she reminisces about Frank Sinatra’s debut at the Hippodrome Theatre, the Lexington Market in its prime, and other tidbits of local historical gold.

Baltimore’s annual CityLit Festival returns for its ninth season at the Enoch Pratt Free Library. This year’s lineup includes author Walter Isaacson, the man who penned the lives of bio-worthy brainiacs like Apple genius Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein, and poet Benjamin Busch, known for his role as Officer Anthony Colicchio on The Wire. Check out the Literary Marketplace—an agglomeration of local writers, literary organizations, journals, and small presses.

$5 228 N. Howard St. www.fluidmovement.org

For more events, see the Scene on page 79.

Free 400 Cathedral St. 410-274-5691 www.citylitproject.org

$90–$110 American Visionary Art Museum 800 Key Hwy. 410-244-1900 www.avam.org

6 APRIL 21, 11 A.M.–6 P.M. COMMUNITY

Don your eye patches for Fells Point’s eighth annual Privateer Day. The day-long festival features a host of pirate inspired activities, like live battles by Valhalla’s Pirates, a living history troupe dedicated to enlightening the masses about the Golden Age of Piracy. Be sure to visit the Thames Street Grog Garden where a selection of ales and live music await. Free Fells Point 410-675-8900 www.fellspointmainstreet.org Urbanite #94  april 2012  21

Design The Sofa Of Your Dreams. Choose your back Choose your arm

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We’re devoted exclusively to beautiful sofas, loveseats, sectionals, sleepers, chairs and recliners in hundreds of fabrics and leathers. You’ll find top brands like Precedent, Henredon, Rowe, Braxton Culler, Elran, Natuzzi Editions, Vanguard, Ekornes and many others...all at Maryland’s guaranteed lowest prices.



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22  april 2012  www.urbanitebaltimore.com

the goods

what ’s new in style, shopping & beyond

Stockpile of Style

Photos (clockwise from top left): photo by Matt Coleman; photo by sarah Thrower; cover illustration by Samantha simon

cassie paton If you’re a man in search of style, or a woman who knows a man in need of it, Confirmed Stock (www.confirmedstock.com) has you covered. The pop-up retail concept, debuting at the 2640 Space in Charles Village on April 28, will sell mostly American-made products, including paper goods from Almanac Industries in Baltimore, belts and wallets from Corter Leather in Boston, and other menswear, accessories, and furniture items from independent vendors. Co-creator Neal Shaffer, working in collaboration with design and development company Drexler, is passionate about supporting artists who produce quality products. “What we’re really promoting with this event is a more mindful approach to buying,” Shaffer says. “To us, it makes more sense to spend money less often on quality items than to spend it more often on things that won’t last.”

Chesapeake Eats

cassie paton Looking for a place to dock the boat and pick some crabs? Crab Decks & Tiki Bars of the Chesapeake Bay (www.crabdecksandtikibars.com) is the ultimate guide to Maryland’s seafood restaurants, crab shacks, and tiki bars. Husband-and-wife co-authors Bill Wade and Susan Elnicki Wade spent seven months researching—and consuming 11 gallons of crab soup, 300 oysters, and plenty of beer, among other things. “I underestimated how much [Marylanders] love their crabs,” says Susan, who grew up in Pennsylvania. She’s hesitant to name her favorite spot (“It’s like asking who my favorite child is”), but Nick’s Fish House & Grill has a special place in her heart.

A World Apart

michael nakan With offerings ranging from vintage African Kuba cloths to ikat textiles to antique Persian rugs, the look offered by Cashmere Interior (1101 S. Bouldin St.; 410-878-0043; www.cashmereinterior.com) is unique compared to other interior design companies. “We buy things from all around the world and bring it to our clients,” says founder and principal designer Charlene Lester. “The look is collected rather than from a showroom floor.” Lester promises that her mix of international antiquities—including an extensive selection of African and Turkish textiles—and clean-cut, modern designs will thrill customers working with any budget.

Urbanite #94  april 2012  23

Urbanite spring 12_one third V_final:Layout 1

HAITI Most Haitians have always considered it important to maintain the memory of their ancestry from Africa. In the popular Voodoo religion this is reflected in the rituals with constant allusions to “Guinen,” the country of origin – in fact the coast of West Africa from where the slave boats took them to Haiti. In Haitian art, paintings or sculptures several of the preferred animals are from the jungles or plains of the African continent. Lions, antelopes, zebras and giraffes are very commonly depicted by artists as part of the Lost Paradise.

S h o p N at i v e . S h o p L o ca l.

Baltimore’s Best Selection of

Native Plants

Paper mache, made with used cement bags and discarded book pages, is a specialty of Jacmel, a town in the south of the country. Skilled artisans there even make one of a kind pieces that are displayed in art expositions all over the world. By recycling used materials that would otherwise asphyxiate sea corals and fish, to make those trophies, we do our best to help our country in particular and the Caribbean region in general to please you, the end customer… These 'pets' don't need food or extra care. Just love!



� Trees, shrubs, vines and wildflowers � Native plants for retail and

wholesale customers � More than 200 native species � Great selection of berry bushes � Organic lawn care products � We install rain gardens and native landscaping

410 323 2350

April 22 � 12pm-4pm April 29 � 12pm-4pm May 5 � 10am-4pm May 13 � 12pm-4pm May 19 � 10am-4pm May 20� 12pm-4pm June 2 � 10am-4pm

P E A b o d y P R E PA R At o R y S UMMER 2012 C AMPS The Peabody Preparatory’s summer session of music and dance instruction for all ages begins June 18. Individual instruction and group classes are offered at the Preparatory’s campuses in downtown Baltimore, Towson, and Annapolis.

Herring Run Nursery 6131 Hillen Road Baltimore, MD just south of Towson 410-254-1577 ext. 104

bAltiMoRE June 18–July 20 Summer dance 5-Week intensive July 9–13 Peabody Classical Singer Workshop August 6–17 dance Refresher intensive toWSon July 9–13 Harp Ensemble Camp July 30–August 3 Chamber Camp August 6–10 Camp Allegro AnnAPoliS July 23–27 Camp for Singers

ER t S g i ! isit ep R E n o Wtails, v.edu/pr e 0 r d hu l Fo ody.j r cal 463 o b a 4 pe -23 0 41

Peabody Children’s Chorus 2012–2013 Auditions Scheduling Appointments NOW for June 2012 24 Urbanitethird_0312.indd april 2012  www.urbanitebaltimore.com 1

3/1/12 3:18 PM

Herring Run Nursery is a program of Blue Water Baltimore, a 501(c)3 non-profit working to restore and protect our streams, rivers and harbor.


w. b l u e w a te r b a l


e. or


the goods

A Better Break

Photos (clockwise from top left): photo by sarah Thrower; Photo by J.m. Giordano; Photo by J.m. Giordano, model: Miriam Ault

michael nakan It’s the three R’s gone green—retrain, reclaim, and renew— at Second Chance (1700 Ridgely St.; 410-385-1101; www. secondchanceinc.org), a Baltimore-based deconstruction firm that focuses on creating jobs for the unemployed and disenfranchised. Since 2001, the company has specialized in providing an environmentally friendly alternative to demolishing structures, taking buildings apart piece by piece and selling the reusable parts to fund workforce development programs. The store’s selection of used furniture and household items is typically “less expensive and higher caliber than what you’ll get elsewhere,” says executive director Mark Foster.

Bier Bike

michael nakan Walk around Fells Point at midnight and you might catch a glimpse of a sixteen-person bicycle powered entirely by the huffing and puffing of red-faced friends cycling from bar to bar. The Germans call it a Spaßfahrrad (literally, “fun bike”), and this European contraption has made it across the pond courtesy of Charm City Pedal Mill (443-9566455; www.charmcitypedalmill.com). For about $150 per hour, the bike ferries patrons from one historic Fells Point watering hole to another, hitting such landmarks as Dead End Saloon and Ale Mary’s. It’s steered by a hired driver and operates year-round, so having a few drinks at each bar is no problem even on the coldest winter nights. Sadly, in a break from European tradition, drinking while pedaling is not allowed.

Underneath It All

cassie paton In a time when it has become acceptable to buy underwear in a store that also sells cereal and light bulbs, Polina’s PRIVÉ Fine Lingerie (1706 Aliceanna St.; 410-276-0205; www.polinasprive.com) is a nice change of scenery. They offer high-quality European brands like Mimi Holliday, Blush, and Huit—without the bad lighting. Ladies both on the small and large side won’t struggle to find their sizes, and the store plans to eventually offer a bridal collection and host bachelorette parties. Owner Polina Hansen, originally from Russia, saw an opportunity to fill a void. “[In Russia,] we have lingerie stores on every corner. When I got here I was very upset that there weren’t more options.”

Urbanite #94  april 2012  25

Change someone’s life today. Starting with your own.


Graduate Programs in Education Classes are held on the Goucher campus and in Anne Arundel County— with some courses available online.

MASTER OF ARTS IN TEACHING Certification in: Elementary, Secondary and Special Education Dual Elementary/ Special Education Dual Secondary/ Special Education

OPEN HOUSE Wednesday, May 9, 2012 | 7 p.m. Rosenberg Gallery, Goucher College Tuesday, May 15, 2012 | 5 p.m. Carver Staff Development Center 2671 Carver Road Gambrills, MD For more information or to RSVP, call 410-337-6047 or visit goucher.edu/gpedu.

26  april 2012  www.urbanitebaltimore.com

MASTER OF EDUCATION Athletic Program Leadership At-Risk Students and Diverse Learners Literacy Strategies for Content Learning Middle School Reading Instruction MD-Approved Program: Reading Specialist Certification (K-12) School Improvement Leadership MD-Approved Program: Administrator I Certification Teacher as Leader in Technology

From Your Curb to Quarantine Road Is another waste-to-energy plant the answer for Baltimore’s trash?

Photogrphy by j.m. Giordano

By Baynard Woods

By 2 p.m. on a recent Friday afternoon, City employee Lewis Gibson has picked up 14 tons of trash with his own hands, one of which is marked with a long white scar—the result of improperly disposed broken glass. And now Gibson and driver Nelson Ricks wait behind seven other vehicles on a ramp leading up to the Baltimore Refuse Energy Systems Company (BRESCO) waste-to-energy facility. Beside them, off Russell Street, the plant’s iconic white smokestack juts up into the sky over I-95. When they’re finally waved onto the tipping floor, Ricks backs up to a mountain of garbage about 25 feet high and 60 feet in length. Inside a hangar-like building with mud floors and corrugated tin walls, he dumps their second 7-ton load of the day. “It’s hard on the body,” Gibson says of the rigor of disposing of other people’s trash. “People need to understand how to dispose of their waste better,” he adds, noting that much of his daily collection—potential recyclable material, food waste, excess packaging, electronic equipment, unbagged litter— make his job harder and the air around Baltimore fouler. Of course, dealing with waste is one of the more vexing problems that policy makers face. Waste-to-energy remains a compelling solution because it promises to solve two problems at once. Maryland doubled down on the WTE model when Gov. Martin O’Malley signed Senate Bill 690 last May, which reclassified WTE as a Tier 1 form of renewable energy, putting it in the same category with wind and solar power. A new, second—and controversial—waste-to-energy plant in the Fairfield area of south Baltimore was scheduled to begin construction in February before seeking a deadline extension from the Maryland Public Service Commission.

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Contact us now @ 1.800.765.5170 or www.brtlabs.com

Not seeing the results you want from your antidepressant? Please consider our depression research study. Our office is conducting a research study to evaluate whether adding an investigational medication to an approved antidepressant therapy might give relief from the symptoms of major depressive disorder (MDD) when added to a current medication. You may be able to take part in this study if you: • Are 18-65 years old, • Have been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) • Have been experiencing symptoms of depression for at least the past 2 months, • Have been taking at least one antidepressant medication as prescribed but it is not helping you enough. Additional study criteria will be assessed by the study doctor. The study lasts 15 to 22 weeks. Participants will receive either the investigational medication or a placebo (an inactive substance). All study-related medications, office visits and examinations will be provided to you at no cost.

Baltimore Lab School provides an exceptional academic experience for bright students with learning differences and ADHD. Summer Program also offered

For more information, please call

(410) 602-1440

or visit: www.pharmasiteresearch.com

www.MDDResearchStudy.com 28  april 2012  www.urbanitebaltimore.com

2220 St. Paul Street Baltimore, MD 21218 410-261-5500


environment / update  baltimore observed

Update by Cassie Paton and Andrew Zaleski

trash Photo by Baynard Woods; Update photo by J.M. Giordano

Trash: Baltimore recycled 27 percent of its trash before single stream recycling began in 2005. That number has barely budged, to 27.9 percent today.

And at the beginning of this year, a new tenyear contract between the City and Waste Management subsidiary Wheelabrator, which runs the BRESCO plant, went into effect. Baltimore City is expected to incinerate 200,000 tons of trash per year at the site or the equivalent of almost 3,000 pounds of trash per resident over the length of the contract. Baltimore County will send another 200,000 tons of waste to the plant annually as well. “We extract value from waste,” says BRESCO facility manager David Jones, standing on a walkway above the refuse storage pit. “This wall right here is the threshold between waste disposal and power plant,” he says, as a fivepronged crane swoops down and scoops up a load of garbage to drop into the 2,500-degree boiler. “As the trash turns to ash, the heat being released is transferred from the walls of the furnace and turns pressurized water in tubes to steam and ultimately electricity.” This process—and the trash that fuels it—provides enough energy to power the plant, sell 10 megawatts of energy to the City per day (enough to heat 10,000 homes at below market rates, according to the contract), while distributing 35 to 40 megawatts per hour to BGE’s energy grid. But not everyone thinks waste-to-energy is such a good idea. Environmental groups are particularly concerned with the pollution and air-quality health issues that arise from the emissions steaming in puffs of smoke from the BRESCO smokestack each day. The Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), a nonprofit focused on enforcement of anti-pollution laws, issued a report showing that “WTE incinerators typically emit more pollutants per hour of energy produced than Maryland’s largest coal-fired power plants.” According to EIP data, the BRESCO plant emitted more mercury, lead, and dioxides per hour of energy than any of Maryland’s coal-fired plants. In an email, Wheelabrator representative Melissa Lohnes notes, “Waste-to-energy and coal plants are not directly comparable,” citing the “important public service—long-term, costeffective management of solid waste,” without the depletion of nonrenewable resources. Still, the City fined the BRESCO waste-toenergy plant $77,500 last year for mercury emissions violations (the company denied wrongdoing but paid the fine). While continuing to push for stricter monitoring of the Baltimore facility,

environmental groups are now also turning their attention to the construction of the greenlighted Energy Answers plant on the Fairfield Peninsula near Brooklyn and Curtis Bay, whose 21226 zip code was the second most polluted in the nation in 2009, according to EPA data. The pollution levels have since decreased, but EIP and the Energy Justice Network (EJN) believe that the Fairfield incinerator—which has twice the capacity of the BRESCO facility— could change that, especially now that Energy Answers has been permitted to release the same amount of mercury as coal plants and is located fewer than 2 miles from Benjamin Franklin High School and Curtis Bay Elementary. That’s why representatives from EIP and EJN held a meeting in Curtis Bay in February to inform the community about the dangers of air pollution. “In addition to the toxic pollution from the incinerator itself, you have 4,000 tons of trash [total] per day coming into the community and ash going out on trucks. The ash has all the same toxicity as what is in the air,” says Energy Justice Network Director Mike Ewall. According to Wheelabrator, incineration reduces refuse 90 percent by volume and 25 to 35 percent by weight. However, because the City is paid by the company to dispose of ash from non-city sources as well, the landfill on Quarantine Road at Hawkins Point (also near Brooklyn and Curtis Bay) received more than 200,000 tons of toxic ash last year—the same weight as the trash we produced. Ewall points to San Francisco as a model. That city has reduced waste by 70 percent with aggressive, mandatory recycling and composting programs, aiming for zero waste by 2020. Several other Western cities—Seattle, for example—are moving toward the model (Seattle plans to reach a 60 percent recycling rate this year). Nantucket is another pioneer in zero waste, but the model has not been implemented successfully in a major East Coast city. Back in the truck, on the front lines of humanity’s never-ending battle with trash, Lewis Gibson thinks Baltimore could reach the same levels as San Francisco, despite our current 27 percent recycling rate (roughly the same as it was in 2005, despite the city’s adoption of “single stream” recycling). “People could recycle 75 to 90 percent of what they still throw away,” Gibson says. “Especially with composting. But the city needs to teach people how to do it.”

putting the brakes on bike lanes at mt. royal avenue Increasing the number of bike lanes in Baltimore remains a top priority of cyclists and environmentalists alike, and between 2000 and 2008, cycling increased by 75 percent (see “Shifting Gears,” June ’11 Urbanite). But while many are actively working toward developing more lanes, hurdles still remain. An effort to construct a dedicated bike lane on West Mt. Royal Avenue near Maryland Institute College of Art, a cycling hotspot, has recently run aground. MICA president Fred Lazarus points to the potential negative effects a bike lane could have on Mt. Royal Avenue, where traffic is already heavy. In a meeting at the college in February, Lazarus implied that he was not convinced a bike lane “would not impede the safety of pedestrians,” according to the Baltimore Brew.

baltimore the builder While Baltimore used to be an industrial powerhouse, employing nearly 30 percent of its residents in the manufacturing sector, as of October 2011, just 4.7 percent of its workforce was in the business of making stuff (see “City by Numbers,” January ’12 Urbanite). But not all is dreary. A study done by the Brookings Institution and released last month “showed nearly double-digit growth in export goods and services in 2010” in Baltimore, according to the Baltimore Sun. And manufactured goods, including chemicals, electronics, and computers, made up more than half of the city’s exports.

underwater real estate In a continuously struggling housing market, Baltimore remains among the top-ranked cities with a majority of renters rather than homeowners (see “The City That Rents?” March ’12 Urbanite). According to the Baltimore Sun, of those Baltimoreans who do own, about 125,000 homes are worth less than what their owners owed on their mortgage at the end of 2011. Overall, Maryland ranks ninth in the country in negative equity, with almost 30 percent of loans falling into that category.

Urbanite #94  april 2012  29

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PS-2012 Urbanite 2-28 Camp r2.qxd


12:32 AM

Page 1

Camp Open House • Sunday, April 15 at Park School • 11am – 1pm


June 18 – August 17 for ages 3 1/2 to 18 (410) 339-4120 • www.parkcamps.com

The Park School 2425 Old Court Road Baltimore, MD 21208

30  april 2012  www.urbanitebaltimore.com

• Explorer and Pioneer Camps for Young Children • Arts and Science Camps • Young Filmmakers’ Workshop • Sports Camp • Beyond Park Day Trips • Leadership Camp • Project Boost

g, Plus swimmin ing, sports, canoe g, in rock climb and more.

People  baltimore observed

Not Praying For the Home Team

A Highlandtown boy, O’s chaplain offers spiritual support— not victories—at Camden Yards. By Rafael Alvarez


Photo by J.M. Giordano

e has blessed bats, heard the confessions of Judas Iscariots in facemasks known as umpires, and for years has handed out Holy Communion to the likes of Rick Dempsey and Angels manager Mike Scioscia, along with ushers and any ballpark employee who asks. But Father John Bauer—Yankee hater, Highlandtown boy, and Catholic chaplain for the Baltimore Orioles since 2002—has prayed for an O’s victory only once, against the Bronx Bombers, at the special request of former manager Lee Mazzilli. (The Orioles won.) “A woman came up to me at the ballpark and said, ‘Father, do you pray for the Orioles?’ I told her no, that I had priorities—to pray for peace, for our soldiers, for the sick. And another lady standing next to her says, ‘The Orioles are sick.’” A Redemptorist ordained in 1956 and now semi-retired at his childhood parish, the Sacred Heart of Jesus at Conkling Street and Foster Avenue, Bauer has loved baseball since he was old enough to tag along with cousins to sandlot games at Patterson Park. Between the Depression and World War II, he starred as a catcher for Engine Company No. 5 in Fells Point and in the outfield for the Red Shield Boys Club on Clinton Street, which closed in 2006 and is for sale. “We never lost a game,” says Bauer. “In [high school seminary] I hit over .400, and I could hit the long ball too.” More than most, however, the old priest—born the year the incorrigible Catholic Babe Ruth hit sixty home runs— knows that it’s just a game.

Once a Caribbean missionary, he volunteered for a tour in Vietnam as an Army chaplain. “Soldiers need a priest too. I flew to different firebases to say Mass. I saw medics decide who to work on and who couldn’t be helped. One night we lost thirty-two guys," Bauer says. “One of my pilots was killed, but not when I was on the plane. And on Christmas, I flew from base to base and celebrated five Masses. Finally they told me, ‘Father, we’re taking you back.’” There are a few things Bauer would like to tell Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter, skipper of the perennial losers since late in the 2010 season. “These guys don’t run the bases right,” observes Bauer, having compiled his scouting notes over a decade as the preacher in the box seats. “They touch the base with the wrong foot.” Bauer’s approach to getting off on the right foot with the ballplayers is to sit— Roman collar in place—on the bench before batting practice. As the players drift out of the clubhouse to the field, he slides down the bench to make room and asks: “How’s the family?” “One guy comes out, maybe two, and they sit and start talking about other things than baseball,” says Bauer. But by the time the National Anthem is over, I have to be off the field and in my seat.” Bauer won’t, however, be at Opening Day this year, for it falls on the most somber hour on the Christian calendar. The Orioles’ 2012 season begins at home, Good Friday, against the Minnesota Twins just after 3 p.m.—the time the faithful observe the moment of Christ’s death. Two days later, Bauer will be at the ballpark to celebrate the first Mass of the new season on the B&O warehouse fourth floor. For those taking notes on their theological scorecards, it will also be Easter for rightfielder Nick Markakis. Because of his Greek heritage, Markakis is widely assumed to be Eastern Orthodox, which often celebrates Easter a week after the Roman Church, but that’s not the case. “One year I was talking to him on Easter Sunday and said, ‘I guess you’ll be celebrating next Sunday.’ And Markakis says, ‘No I won’t. I’m Roman Catholic.’” Markakis befriended the affable Bauer, who smiles easily and has small, twinkling eyes beneath the bill of a blue “Vietnam Veteran” ball cap. Bauer baptized both of Markakis’ sons— Taylor in 2009 and Tucker a year later—at Sacred Heart of Jesus, the same church where the priest himself was christened. Bauer is all but retired, noting that a priest is never really finished with his vocation “until they throw the dirt on you.” He holds onto his gig at the Yard and his seat near the “enemy” dugout because there are only so many priests to go around. While watching the game play out on the emerald diamond, does he ever regret choosing the altar over the outfield? “If I had pursued playing ball it would have been over long ago,” says Bauer. “Even if I’d have held on and become a manager, I’d be fired. But here I am—84 years old and still a priest.” Urbanite #94  april 2012  31

The 2012 Urbanite

P r o j e c T:


Fc ho od allenge

Compete for $12,000 in prize money! Why do We still have food deserts? Urbanite Project 2012: Healthy Food Challenge is seeking creative, innovative, non-traditional ideas that address one or more of the barriers to affordable, healthy food for Baltimore City residents living in food deserts. For details, visit: www.urbaniteproject.com

inStitUtional partnerS


American Communities Trust | Enoch Pratt Library The Marc Steiner Show | Richardson Farms | Zia’s

1 32 PrattAdApr2012_5.25x10c.indd april 2012  www.urbanitebaltimore.com

3/6/12 5:02 PM

urbanite project  baltimore observed

Journey through the Desert In food deserts, faith communities offer healthy options. By Rebecca Messner


ne does not expect to find kale growing on North Avenue. And yet, in an abandoned parking lot on the corner of North Avenue and Aisquith Street, a couple of blocks away from the Eastside District Courthouse, beneath hoops of thick plastic flapping in the wind, that’s exactly what you’ll find. The hoop houses, built in July 2011 by members of Ark Church and other community volunteers, are one of the only providers of fresh, organic produce in the area, which is littered with carryouts like New York Fried Chicken across the street. In the summer, the church hosts a community flea market in the lot, giving away whatever produce they can. “It’s a big hit,” says Kellie VaughanJames, Ark Church’s office man2012 Baltimore City ager. “Right now, we’re growing Food Environment arugula, kale, spinach, some other Food Desert* kind of lettuce that I don’t know Healthy Food Retail the name of …” Supermarket Virtual Supermarket Ark Church’s hoop houses Public Market Farmers Market are just an example of the effort Neighborhood Boundaries Harbor, Lakes, & Streams by faith-based organizations in Non-Residential^ Major Parks Streets *Food Desert: An area where the distance to a supermarket is more than ¼ mile, the median household income is at or below 185% of the Baltimore—in some cases, for Federal Poverty Level, over 40% of households have no vehicle available, and the average Healthy Food Availability Index score for supermarkets, convenience and corner stores is low (measured using the Nutrition Environment Measurement Survey). decades—to help increase access to healthy food in their In the red: Food deserts make up 20 percent of Baltimore City. communities. The church lies just on the grocery store, says Vaughan-Williams, leaves edge of a food desert. According to Baltimore City’s Food Policy Initiative and the Johns Hopmuch to be desired. “I know an apple isn’t supkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF), a neighposed to look like that,” she says of the produce borhood qualifies as a food desert if it is more at the supermarket. “It’s all waxy. And there’s something wrong if you have to put a grapethan ¼ mile away from nearest supermarket, fruit in Saran Wrap,” she says. “You go to buy if its median income is at or below 185 percent milk, and it’s two days before the expiration of the federal poverty level, if more than 40 percent of households do not have access to a date.” vehicle, and if the food sold at nearby stores is Anne Palmer, director of the Eating for not considered healthy. the Future program at CLF, who administered “Our pastor, Dr. Carter, two years ago the study of the Stop Shop & Save, agrees. “It’s started looking at how we can heal our own grim,” she says. The study also found that 74.42 bodies,” says Vaughan-James (who is also percent of those surveyed ate two or fewer Dr. Carter’s daughter). “We try and do whole servings of fruits and vegetables a day. health initiatives. [Dr. Carter] understands Vaughan-James says the lettuce grown that it starts with what you put in your body.” at the hoop houses goes quickly, and the colAccording to a community assessment study lard greens they harvested in December were conducted by CLF in 2008, 50 percent of peoby far the most popular crop. Not everything they grow, however, is appealing to the comple surveyed at the nearest grocery store, Stop munity. “They’re not interested in purple carShop & Save in Oliver, had someone with diarots,” says Vaughan-James. The church will betes in their household. sell excess produce, like the purple carrots, Oliver doesn’t qualify as a food desert unto Milk & Honey Market, an upscale grocery der CLF and Baltimore City’s criteria because of the Stop Shop & Save, but the food at that and espresso bar in Mount Vernon. The church Cedarcroft



Cross Country

Lake Walker

Lake Evesham

Mt Pleasant Park

Evesham Park

Glen Oaks



Mount Washington


Chinquapin Park


Loch Raven



Hamilton Hills

Pimlico Good Neighbors

Reisterstown Station

Cross Keys




" )


Seton Business Park


" )

Loyola/Notre Dame



New Northwood

Kenilworth Park

Richnor Springs






Grove Park

Morgan Park

Hoes Heights


West Arlington


Original Northwood

Pen Lucy





Source: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg school of public health, johns hopkins center for a livable future, city of Baltimore department of planning


" )

Wyman Park

East Arlington

" )


Better Waverly

Forest Park

Concerned Citizens of Forest Park

Druid Hill Park

West Forest Park

Garwyn Oaks

Windsor Hills





" )

Old Goucher



South Clifton Park

Coppin Heights/ Ash-Co-East

Charles North


Hunting Ridge

Rognel Heights

Edmondson Village



Franklintown Road

Rosemont Homeowners/ Tenants

Lower Edmondson Village

Harlem Park



Union Square

Shipley Hill

" )

Saint Josephs



Carrollton Ridge

New Southwest/ Mount Clare

" ) " )

Ellwood Park/ Monument

Butcher's Hill

Patterson Place

Patterson Park Neighborhood

Patterson Park

Little Italy

Perkins Homes

Baltimore Highlands

Hopkins Bayview


Joseph Lee



Brewers Hill

Fells Point

" )



" )

Upper Fells Point

" )


Graceland Park

Stadium Area



Federal Hill

Gwynns Falls

" )


Carroll Park

Yale Heights

Washington Hill

Inner Harbor

Downtown West

Washington Village/ Pigtown



" )


Barre Ridgely's Circle Delight

Pulaski Industrial Area


McElderry Park



" )

" )

Pleasant View Gardens

" )

" )

University of Maryland

Hollins Market



" )

" )


Heritage Crossing


Franklin Square

Middle East



Saint Agnes

South Baltimore


Locust Point

Saint Paul

Canton Industrial Area


Spring Garden Industrial Area

Morrell Park


Locust Point Industrial Area

Port Covington

Mount Winans

" )

Dundalk Marine Terminal

Cherry Hill

Middle Branch/ Reedbird Parks

Fairfield Area




Curtis Bay

Curtis Bay Industrial Area

1 inch = 1,500 feet

Hawkins Point

^ Not included in study. Non-residential areas include Colleges and Universities, Hospitals, Industrial Areas, Stadiums, and Cemeteries.

Holabird Industrial Park

Saint Helena


" )

O'Donnell Heights

Broening Manor

" )

Carroll - Camden Industrial Area

Wilhelm Park



Armistead Gardens

Biddle Street

Gay Street

Seton Hill

" )

Penrose/Fayette Street Outreach

Carroll-South Hilton

Orangeville Industrial Area

Johnston Square

Mount Vernon

Ten Hills

Broadway East

Mid-Town Belvedere

Madison Park




" )

" )


Evergreen Lawn


Greenmount Cemetery




Greenmount West

" )

Bolton Hill



Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park

Orchard Ridge

Penn North

Druid Heights

Northwest Community Action


Lower Herring Run Park

Four By Four

Darley Park

East Baltimore Midway


Reservoir Hill


Panway/ Braddish Avenue

Mount Holly


Clifton Park


Jones Falls Area

Parkview/ Woodbrook


Coldstream Homestead Montebello

Charles Village

Liberty Square


West Hills




Central Forest Park

Forest Park Golf Course

Herring Run Park


Johns Hopkins Homewood

Park Circle


Ednor Gardens-Lakeside



Howard Park




" ) Beverly







Wilson Park


Lucille Park


Morgan State University


Central Park Heights

Langston Hughes

Rosemont East

Perring Loch

" )


Roland Park



Villages at Homeland


Woodbourne Heights

Cameron Village

" )

Taylor Heights





then circulates profits back into other programs, like subsidized housing or other health initiatives. For the community of Ark Church, Vaughan-James says the biggest barriers to healthy food are availability, education, and price. “People in this community can get to Whole Foods downtown. It’s very possible,” she says. “But with the prices there, it’s not possible for them to shop there.” “At [CLF], we look at food insecurity in terms of justice and equity,” says Angela Smith, Project Director of CLF’s Baltimore Food and Faith Project, which partners with Baltimore area faith communities and religious organizations of all faith traditions to promote a just and sustainable food system. “Faith communities have a very long history in looking at that.” As a way of explaining the link between food and faith, Heather Newman, Director of Communications for the Franciscan Center, which has been serving the Baltimore community since 1968, says the federal government didn’t start offering assistance until the MARCH New Deal. “Until then, it fell to the church to take care of the poor. By a lion’s share, it’s the faith-based organizations that are doing this work. All the religious scriptures have justice issues around taking care of the needy, and a lot of religions revolve around a kind of communal meal. It’s one of the areas where there’s always a connection, no matter what your religion.” Today, the center serves between 400 and 500 meals a day and has recently incorporated healthier options, including vegetarian dishes on Mondays. Regardless of the effort, Smith says, it has to come from the ground up. “I have a policy that I never go anywhere I’m not invited,” she says. “I’m not knocking on people’s doors. Certainly, we have a mission, but it has to come from the folks on the ground who are dealing with this situation every day and know their community’s desires.”

North Harford Road


The Orchards

North Roland Park/Poplar Hill

" )

Hawkins Point

To learn more about Urbanite Project 2012: Healthy Food Challenge, which is offering $12,000 for the most creative ideas for increas ing access to healthy food in food deserts, visit www.urbaniteproject.com. Urbanite #94  april 2012  33

photo by David Rehor

Opening channels At Gateway School, students overcome communication barriers. By stephanie shapiro

Speak with the parents

of children enrolled in Gateway School and a common theme emerges: Although founded in 1960, the school is “Baltimore’s best-kept secret,” says the mother of one student. Only after a long, difficult search did she and others discover the school for children ages 3 to 12 with communication disorders related to autism, speech-language disorders, hearing loss, and other conditions. Now, they’re thrilled to be a part of the Gateway community, where their children receive support from a comprehensive team of educators, speech-language and occupational therapists, a school psychologist, and a social worker. For parents seeking special education services on their child’s behalf, Gateway’s stateof-the-art facilities, housed in The Hearing and Speech Agency in North Baltimore, shouldn’t be a secret. “We welcome students with diverse communication needs,” says Jill Berie, Gateway’s Educational Director. In the following story, the parents of two students share their journey to the school and what it means to see their children thrive in an environment where the staff understands and meets their individual needs.

An early leap into the mainstream In the airy lobby of Gateway

School in Baltimore, 5-year-old Elena Pearlstein bounces out of class and into her father’s arms. She cups his head in her hands and says in adoration, “Your face.” Then Elena jumps down. It’s late in the morning, time to leave “Little Ears, Big Voices,” Gateway’s preschool program for children with hearing loss, to resume the second half of the school day at St. James Academy in Monkton. A year and a half ago, Jonathan and Michele Pearlstein couldn’t imagine that their daughter would be ready for a mainstream classroom. “We had a child who wasn’t speaking, and we were afraid that she wasn’t going to be able to go to kindergarten at the age she should have,” Michele Pearlstein says. “Now she’s splitting her time between Gateway and a mainstream school, and she’s holding her own.” Next year, Elena will leave Gateway to attend St. James Academy fulltime. At age 3, Elena entered Gateway’s preschool, where intensive speech-language therapy, an onsite audiologist, and a

nurturing early learning environment have brought her up to speed developmentally with hearing peers. At one time, the Pearlsteins had reason to worry that their daughter’s disability would always hold her back. Elena’s hearing loss wasn’t appropriately diagnosed until the age of 18 months. By then, she had never had the consistent hearing experience that is critical for speech and language development. The “one size fits all” approach offered by Harford County’s public preschool program was of little use in addressing Elena’s particular challenges. As her parents searched for solutions, Elena began retreating into her own quiet world, opting not to play with other children and exhibiting behavior problems. The stress took its toll on the couple, who also have an 8-year-old daughter. Then they discovered Gateway and paid a visit. It didn’t take long to know it was the right fit for Elena, although it would mean an hour commute to Baltimore and a super-sized financial commitment. Ultimately, Michele and Jonathan Pearlstein realized that their daughter’s welfare was well worth any such inconvenience. “Since Elena was late in being diagnosed, we were not going to look back on this and have any regrets,” says Jonathan Pearlstein, a self-employed financial advisor who works on his laptop in the school’s parent resource library while Elena attends school. A less costly program closer to home “may or may not have worked, but we would always wonder if there was something better out there,” Pearlstein says. Today, there’s no wondering. Elena has become a chatty, outgoing child who makes up songs in the car and is on the verge of reading. She cracks jokes, takes ballet lessons, wants to do karate like her sister, and will play lacrosse at St. James Academy, coached by her father. Elena has come so far that “a lot of kids in her class at St. James don’t even know she has hearing aids,” Michele Pearlstein says. “We were afraid she’d stand out. She doesn’t.”


A team for every student Marguerite Loeschke

follows her imagination down railroad tracks and under the sea. The 5-year-old girl would like to become the engineer of a historic steam locomotive out West, but also ponders life as a mermaid who swims with the “King of the Blue Whales.” Taking a break from her kindergarten class at Gateway, Marguerite, who has an autism spectrum disorder, draws that big blue whale, plus a tiny mermaid to keep him company. She completes the picture with a boat and her neatly printed name. Since coming to Gateway, “Marguerite’s progress has been amazing,” says her mother, Kate Hollander. Like other parents of children with communication disorders, Hollander and husband Paul Loeschke first struggled to understand their daughter’s difficulties and how to help her.

At the age of 2 ½, Marguerite’s social isolation and poor verbal skills became apparent. “It was very clear that she was bright, but in other ways she was atypical of kids her age in the way she communicated and related to other children,” says Hollander, who noted Marguerite’s atypical behavior while on maternity leave after the birth of a second daughter. Monthly, and then weekly, speech-language therapy provided through Baltimore City’s Infant and Toddlers program proved ineffective. “We weren’t getting anywhere,” Hollander says. “Looking back it’s pretty obvious. But when it’s your first child it’s difficult to recognize the signs of developmental delay.” At 3 ½, Marguerite was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder known as Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-

NOS). Determined to find the services that best served their daughter’s needs, Hollander and Loeschke began the arduous process of developing an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Under federal law, an IEP guarantees a free and appropriate education to children with special needs. But the search for the right school for Marguerite continued until Hollander mentioned their predicament to an uncle. He referred her to Gateway, describing the school as a “miracle worker” for a friend’s child, who eventually went on to college and a career. As soon as Hollander, along with her husband and Marguerite, set foot in Gateway, “I fell in love with the place,” she says. At Gateway, Marguerite quickly began to flourish. “You have this amazing team of people: a special education teacher, an instructional assistant, speechlanguage and occupational therapists, a psychologist, and a social worker taking a comprehensive approach,”

her grateful mother says. Marguerite’s memory and love of music and drawing have become catalysts for improving her speech and modifying her rigid adherence to routines. Hollander praises the strategies the Gateway team uses to introduce subtle changes to Marguerite’s daily habits and teach her to take turns with her sister. When Marguerite has difficulties at home, Gateway comes through as well for her parents. “They give me ideas, they give me tools, and they give me strategies,” Hollander says. She and her husband have learned, for example, to draw Marguerite into conversations with statements specific to the day’s activities, such as “‘Oh, you pretended to be a bear and made a cave,’ instead of simply asking the open-ended ‘What did you do today?’” Just as important, Hollander says, Gateway has helped her and Loeschke “to also enjoy Marguerite’s silences—because she is a warm, loving child who sometimes just wants to cuddle on the couch and not talk.”

If you think Gateway School’s languagebased curriculum might be the right choice for your child, call 410-318-6780 for more information. Visit www.hasa.org for details about our summer programs.


Deep Sea Diver

Marine toxicologist, ocean advocate, explorer, and author Susan Shaw talks about diving into the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, dead zones, and the discovery of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch while sounding a warning about the harm chemicals, plastics, and greenhouse gases are causing in the our seas. Interview by Ron Cassie

A photographer and filmmaker at the time, Susan Shaw, with the encouragement and support of Ansel Adams, authored Overexposure in 1983, a research book on the dangers of photographic chemicals. With an M.F.A. from Columbia University already in hand, she returned to Columbia and completed a Ph.D. in Environmental Health Sciences from Columbia’s School of Public Health. She was among the first researchers to document and study the presence of perfluorinated chemicals, flame retardants, and cancer-causing chemicals—many found in consumer products— in the tissue of harbor seals and marine fishes typically sold for commercial purposes. In 2011,the Society of Women Geographers named Shaw its Gold Medal Award recipient, the organization’s highest honor, first given to Amelia Earhart in 1933. She is an Explorers Club Fellow and has provided commentary in several documentary films on the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, including Animal Planet’s Black Tide: Voices of the Gulf and Green Planet’s The Big Fix, which was an Official Selection documentary at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.

36  april 2012  www.urbanitebaltimore.com

photo courtesy of MERI

keynote Urb: Ansel Adams approached you when you were a photographer/filmmaker and in graduate school about a research project around the dangers of photographic chemicals, correct?

— jb: I called Kodak in Rochester—it was like going into the castle—I told them I was doing a student project. I was able to talk to a toxicologist, and he opened up his file drawer and taught me a lot about the chemical ingredients, which they were not releasing at the time, especially the color chemicals, so I got access to the formulas and I was able to figure out what the real hazards were. When they actually figured out that I was writing this book, they never really let me in there again. But I did get information that companies are allowed to keep as trade secrets. That’s one of the problems we have today with toxic chemicals and with companies controlling our exposure to them. Can you describe the potential problems around chemicals and processes listed as trade secrets?

— Trade secrets are one loophole that companies use to produce chemicals and market them without telling the public even what is in the formulation, let alone the telling them what the hazards are. And that’s the way our federal law regulates toxic chemicals—it’s the Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976. This has just been an ongoing battle for decades. There are 80,000 chemicals or more in commerce and in use and only a small fraction of those, maybe 20 percent, are even put on a list for testing. What can you tell us about the recent documentary The Big Fix?

— The Big Fix is about how we responded to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the amount of suffering that was caused by that oil spill and the environmental degradation that is still going on from the largest environmental disaster in our history. And [it’s about] the company, BP, and some of our agencies that downplayed the dangers. We allowed BP to use two million gallons of chemical dispersants on the oil spill, which was unprecedented in the amount of dispersants that was used. And to inject that much dispersant—or any amount of dispersant in water that deep, a mile deep, at the wellhead, had never been done before ... making that a chemical experiment. There’s a compelling photo of you diving into an oil slick.

— For me it was frightening to dive into the water. I didn’t know what to expect going down. In the water I started to see the break up of the oil and then I started to see a lot of dead animals in the water. It was rather horrifying.

We’ve heard of a trash pile the size of Texas floating in the Pacific. Urban myth?

You’ve done a lot of work around harbor seals and toxic chemicals found in their tissue. Why do you point to seals as a “sentinel,” an indicator of what’s happening to the marine ecosystem?

— Because they are at the top of the marine food web and they are bio-accumulating persistent compounds, organic chemicals like PCBs and DDT, and now flame retardants. Once [these substances] get into the body through the food web, the animals at the top are getting the highest dose because at each level of the food web the chemicals are building up in tissue, and then the next up, like from a fish to a seal, the levels jump up a thousand fold. Why are they sentinels? Because seals are at the top of the food web, like we are; they are eating fish like we do, so they are exposed in a similar way through food. They are similar to us biologically, they are mammals, they feed their young and transfer a certain amount of the body burden to their young while its nursing … How is climate change affecting coral reefs—so important to marine life?

— Carbon dioxide that’s emitted into the air comes down into the ocean and changes the chemistry and acidifies the water. The oceans are 30 percent more acidic because of that. That’s one chain of events that’s happening and affects animals that have to make a calcium shell like corals, like shellfish of all kinds. Clams in the mud, for example, will dissolve in acid water, acid mud, and they are unable to make the shell. The reason the coral are so important is they are nurseries for about 25 percent of all marine species, so losing those nurseries is going to be cataclysmic for us. We’ve lost already half the coral reefs worldwide. It also makes water expand and warm up to add those gases, so we’ve had drastic temperature spikes for the last ten years. The thinking is that sea levels might rise by .8 meters by 2100, and it’s possible sea levels could rise up to two meters by 2100.

— They are called gyres. They are slow-moving current areas where plastic debris gets trapped. Currents in the gyre are going in the opposite direction of the rest of the ocean and [they are] going very slowly. It’s a phenomenon of the ocean that there are these gyres, and there are at least five of them—or more—in the different oceans of the world. Charles Moore was sailing through the Pacific ten years ago, and he found the big Pacific gyre—that’s now called the Pacific trash patch. He sailed right through and realized there were mountains of plastic debris and trash in it and sort of slowly sailed around it. The size it—of these—is what is sort of shocking. They are like a small continent— the one in the Pacific is twice the size of the state of Texas. And they are very deep. They go down 500 meters or more. Every person in the U.S, it’s estimated, throws away 185 pounds of plastic a year. The New England coast last year saw a significant harbor seal die-off. How often do events like this occur?

— There have been hundreds of huge die-offs among seals and dolphins since the 1980s. There has been a die-off of dolphins, more than 600, in the Gulf of Mexico after the oil spill. Half of them were new born or stillborn, meaning that something was impairing the reproductive ability of the mother dolphin because they are miscarrying. And that die-off is still going on. They are so polluted that they are considered hazardous waste when they come up on beaches—that’s an EPA designation based on levels just of PCBs alone in the tissue. There is a dolphin death happening now off Cape Cod; they’re counting [over 100] dead dolphins, and they don’t know what is even causing this. Some will argue they are [dying of] natural causes, but they are so polluted that you can’t dismiss that this is weakening animals and reducing their resilience. These are what are referred to as “signal” wildlife events. If you think about it, this is what Rachel Carson was talking about with DDT. The birds were just literally falling out of the sky, and why? It’s not that we were spraying the birds; we were spraying their foods, the lawns, and on the land. After the Gulf spill, however, things don’t seem to have changed much, in terms of drilling and oil excavation.

— I was hoping the Gulf oil spill would be a huge wake up call, but actually we are going deeper into offshore drilling and waiting for the next one to happen.

Urbanite #94  april 2012  37

The Era of Suburban Sprawl Has to End. So, Now What?

By McKay Jenkins photography by J.M. Giordano

Acreage: Homes are being constructed on lots twice as large as they were in the 1940s. But although the homes are getting larger, they are housing fewer people.

Rich Hall, Maryland’s director of planning, with the state agency since 1992, has a bird’s eye view of the state’s past. Here’s what he sees: While it took three centuries to develop the first 650,000 acres in Maryland, the next million acres have been paved over in just the last forty years—and at a rate three times faster than the state’s population. In the last halfcentury, the Era of Suburban Sprawl, Maryland has lost 873,000 acres of farmland and nearly 500,000 acres of forest. The average Marylander now has one of the longest commutes in the country. Many cities around the state—and not just Baltimore—have seen their populations crash, their infrastructure crumble, and their budgets collapse. Hall can also see into Maryland’s future. He knows, for example, that another one million people are going to move here in the next twenty-five years, and that these new residents—and the 500,000 homes they are going to demand—will add enormous pressure on natural and man-made systems that have already been stretched to their breaking point. Just for starters, by 2035, the state is projected to lose another 226,000 acres of farmland and 176,000 acres of forest. These are deeply worrisome numbers for a state that is already the fifth-most densely populated in the country, and it is Hall’s job to stop, or reverse, these trends. His signature sits atop a provocative new document called PlanMaryland, which consolidates a variety of “smart growth” measures first adopted in 1997 and made official policy by Gov. Martin O’Malley in December. The document, in remarkable detail, raises deep questions about the future of the state and makes plain the economic and ecological benefits of building homes and businesses near existing roads and sewer lines. But Hall’s biggest problems may be philosophical: how to get Marylanders to understand that virtually every person in the state lives within a single living, complex watershed, and that every decision we make—from the houses we buy and the places we shop to the length of our commutes and the way we eat—has an effect not only on the quality and cost of our lives but on the fundamental resources on which our lives are built. We’ve sold our farms to suburban developers, so now our food travels, on average, 1,500 miles before it hits our plate. We’ve cut down our forests to build ever more subdivisions

and shopping malls, so now we have climate change and land that is unable to effectively filter drinking water. We’ve demanded everlarger single-family homes, which require huge amounts of electricity, so now we have to blow up mountains to feed our coal-fired power plants. “It’s like the boiled frog theory,” Hall says. “Put a frog in boiling water and he’ll jump out, but put him in warm water and keep increasing the heat, and he won’t realize what’s happening until it’s too late. That’s what happens with growth. It seems like it happens overnight, but it doesn’t.” Over the next few months, state and local planners will map out what of the state’s land ought to be preserved, and what can still be sacrificed. Beginning early next year, state agencies, overseeing everything from road building to school construction, will be required to keep the plan—and the Chesapeake watershed—in mind. There is no legally binding language in PlanMaryland, and questions remain about whether the state can enforce its vision on rural counties not always inclined to take orders from Annapolis. The only real way the state can inhibit rural development is to refuse to pay for development, roads, sewage treatment, schools, etc. that it doesn’t like. Beyond the data, which is daunting, and the politics, which will be volatile, PlanMaryland in the end poses a simple question: What makes a state a good place to live, not just today but for a long time? Because when it comes right down to it, Maryland can grow like an oak, using its resources wisely and well, staying within its natural limits. Or it can grow like a cancer.

Housing Name the challenge—abandoned urban centers, deforestation, the loss of farmland, the degradation of the Chesapeake Bay—and after seventy-five years of unchecked growth, it’s all tied to the way local governments and real estate developers have turned the state’s open land into concentric circles of sprawl. The numbers in PlanMaryland are ominous: More than a quarter of the state’s 6.2 million acres have already been developed, and fully 60 percent of this land—one million acres—has been built since 1973.

Houses are being constructed on lots twice as large as they were in the 1940s, but although homes are getting bigger, they are housing fewer people. None of this has been by accident. Since the end of the Second World War, but especially since the 1970s, county governments have often encouraged residential and commercial development to abandon cities and towns where infrastructure—roads, sewage systems, schools, hospitals—already existed, and to start all over again on once-rural land. And despite rumors to the contrary, it’s not just Baltimore City that has been losing population, although Baltimore did lose a whopping 30 percent of its population over the last forty years. Between 2000 and 2009, even as Maryland’s population increased 7.6 percent, nearly a quarter of the state’s 157 municipalities lost population, and another 40 percent gained fewer than 100 people. Cumberland, Oxford, and Snow Hill all lost population. “Where did all those people go that used to live in cities? They didn’t move to Florida; they moved out into the counties, at a tremendous cost of infrastructure,” says Gerald Winegrad, a sixteen-year veteran of the state legislature who now teaches public policy at the University of Maryland. “The myth that Baltimore lost population because of crime, and that everyone else is thriving, is a bunch of horse manure.” Sprawl is exacerbated by population growth and by policy. “Local governments make all the land use decisions, and they haven’t cared about sprawl so long as it maximizes their tax coffers,” Winegrad says. Winegrad is sharply critical of a central tenet of the plan, which allows local governments, rather than the state, to determine what land can be developed and what should be preserved. Such local discretion, he fears, will only perpetuate the madcap, fragmenting sprawl that has gone on for seventy-five years. The trick for policy makers, then, is not just to prevent sprawl, but to induce people and businesses to move back to cities and towns. In Cleveland, city officials are in the midst of demolishing more than 20,000 abandoned homes and integrating the resulting lots into a web of urban green space. In Detroit, a city with 100,000 empty private and commercial parcels, officials are trying to “shrink” the city with a risky step: convincing residents to move into better neighborhoods by cutting services (like garbage pickup and even sewer services) in blighted ones. Here in Maryland, the city of Frederick took a downtown flood control

project and turned it into the $150 million Carroll Creek renovation, with more than 400,000 square feet of office space, 150,000 square feet of commercial and retail space, and nearly 300 residential units—along with brick pedestrian paths, shade trees, and a 350-seat outdoor amphitheater. The trick is to show people just how many interesting—and established—places there are to live, says Halle van der Gaag, executive director of Blue Water Baltimore, a watershed restoration group. “If people don’t want to live in a rowhouse but in a community on the water, if people want to see birds every day, there are places to do that,” she says. “People are entitled to that. We can’t just have strip malls in places called The Winds at Duck Cove where they’ve already paved over the duck cove.”

Fewer trees: PlanMaryland forecasts another 478,000 new homes in the state by 2035.

Farms and Forests Even with a growing interest in supporting local farmers, Maryland has a long way to go to reverse decades of real estate speculation that have driven farmers to sell their land. From 1982 to 2007, PlanMaryland reports, state farmers sold some 500,000 acres of land—one-fifth of Maryland’s total—to developers.

Equally troubling is the destruction of a half-million acres of forestland over the last half-century—and the prospect of losing a couple hundred thousand acres more. Large-scale deforestation has scientists worried about everything from climate change to the land’s diminished ability to filter drinking water. Statewide, deforestation “continues to move us towards increasing loads of nitrogen, phosphorous, and sedimentation that all goes straight into the bay,” says Walter Boynton, a professor at the University of Maryland’s Chesapeake Biological Laboratory. “We’ve been doing this at a horrendous rate for a long time, and none of that bodes well for the ecology of the bay or the ecology of the 8,000 miles of streams we have in Maryland.”

Urbanite #94  april 2012  41

Most of the state’s remaining forests are fragmented, and nearly 60 percent is in private hands, which, given development pressure, is always in danger of being sold off and developed. The double insult of cutting down forests and replacing them with suburban sprawl—with all the pavement and pesticides that such development implies—has had a devastating impact on bird habitat, for example. According to Audubon magazine, Cornell University’s David Pimentel has estimated that, nationwide, some 72 million birds are killed each year by direct exposure to pesticides. “It is curious that the news media have drawn our attention to the loss of tropical forests yet have been silent when it comes to how we have devastated our own forests here in the temperate zone,” writes Doug Tallamy, an entomologist at the University of Delaware and author of Bringing Nature Home. “Only 15 percent of the Amazonian basin has been logged, whereas over 70 percent of the forests along our eastern seaboard are gone.”

Drainage: The Jones Falls collects runoff from suburban creeks, carrying pollution to the harbor.

Cities around the country are beginning to take reforestation seriously. In Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood, a swath of public utility lawn that has sat idle for 100 years has been turned into a 7-acre park and an “edible landscape” known as the Beacon Food Forest, featuring not only berry bushes and vegetable gardens but chestnut, walnut, apple, and mulberry trees. In Philadelphia, officials hope to plant 300,000 trees in the city over the next three years, including donating trees to homeowners with the expectation that they will spare the city further costs by tending the trees themselves. Locally, the Susquehanna and the Potomac rivers have begun to show the benefit of major forest restoration efforts on farms. Of the country’s top dozen counties in preserving land, five are in Maryland, and plans are underway to continue this work. In Baltimore County, for example, limiting water and sewer lines to urban areas has helped permanently protect more than 60,000 acres of land in permanent protection. In Worcester County, a 2010 county land-use plan seeks to protect 200,000 acres of farmland—nearly two-thirds of the entire county. Baltimore City wants to canopy 40 percent of the city with trees in the next twenty-five years. To Boynton, this kind of work needs to accelerate, and fast. He and a group of scientists and policy makers have put together a Chesapeake Action Plan calling for the reforestation of at least 85 percent of the watershed’s shores and riverbanks. “These loads can go down, and the Bay reads that and responds reasonably quickly,” Boynton says. “This is in reality, not just in academic la-la land.”

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Water When it comes to drinking water, Marylanders might take comfort that it isn’t (yet) like southern California, where disappearing freshwater has residents sipping their own effluent. But with crumbling water and sewer pipes in cities, hundreds of thousands of leaky septic tanks, petrochemicals running off roads and parking lots, and fertilizers and pesticides pouring off industrial farms, the safety of Maryland’s drinking water could potentially be comprised in the future. Exacerbating the problem of clean drinking is the fact that most municipal water treatment plans were designed 150 years ago to kill pathogens like cholera and typhus. They have a much harder time removing things like pesticides or pharmaceutical drugs, to say nothing of the pollution running downstream from city streets, suburban malls, and rural farms. For example, a recent study by the Associated Press found a vast array of pharmaceutical drugs in the drinking water supplies of some 46 million people in the nation’s two dozen largest cities. Keeping these contaminants out of the water supply in the first place means, among other things, reforesting streams and rivers, and drastically reducing the pollutants pouring off impervious surfaces like sprawling buildings and parking lots. Groups from Baltimore’s Parks & People Foundation to the federal EPA have taken a decidedly holistic, watershed-based approach to rehabilitating urban neighborhoods. With detailed maps of (often buried) streams in hand, Parks & People volunteers and school children have systematically torn up 24 acres of “ultra urban” asphalt and replaced it with thousands of trees and gardens. Sitting as it does in a basin, Baltimore collects pollutants from all over the region; the city frequently violates EPA limits on urban water pollution, the meeting of which would cost from $35 million to $50 million a year, says Blue Water Baltimore’s Halle van der Gaag. “It’s like a great big funnel collecting from all those suburban creeks and pouring into the Jones Falls, which then pops into the Inner Harbor,” van der Gaag says. Another problem with replacing farms and forests with rural, low-density housing is that most of these homes rely on septic tanks. Subdivisions using septic tanks release ten times more nitrogen (the most damaging pollutant in the Chesapeake) per household than homes on sewer lines.

Consider the scale: There were already more than 430,000 septic systems in Maryland in 2009. The forecast is for another 478,000 homes in the state by 2035, and even if only a quarter of them are outfitted with septic tanks, these new homes will still contribute two-thirds of the region’s total pollution load. Counties outside the city typically have not been forced to address the pollution running off their land. Gov. Martin O’Malley asked for a doubling of the “flush fee”—from $2.50 to $5 a month per household, on average—to pay for upgrades to pollution controls on the state’s biggest sewage plants.

But for the state to deal with storm water runoff would require a bump to $10 a month. A new idea, already in place in Philadelphia and Wilmington, is to charge landowners for the pollution they create. The owners of shopping malls—with their massive one- or two-story buildings and vast acres of parking lots—would pay more for storm water management than, say, the owner of a twenty-five-story apartment building that sits on a city block. Another pending issue looms over the state’s policy on the natural gas drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which has been shown to contaminate drinking water supplies. Gov. O’Malley has temporarily banned fracking in western Maryland. But here again, watersheds are more complex than state boundaries: Pennsylvania sits atop gargantuan supplies of gas trapped in the so-called Marcellus shale deposit, and much of that land drains into the Susquehanna River—which in turn drains into the Chesapeake Bay.

of Australia. Sweden has the most retail space in Europe, with 3 feet per person, according to the book Retrofitting Suburbia. The recent economic collapse, of course, has left the corpses of empty malls all over the American landscape. Busted metropolises around the country are all scrambling to address these issues. Atlanta, which twenty years ago was just beginning to transform itself into a southern Los Angeles, has become an 8,000-square-mile suburban megalopolis where commuters drive an average of 66 miles a

Transportation Once upon a time, Maryland’s newest arrivals moved to cities. But even by the 1930s, the arrival of the automobile (and the subsequent explosion of suburban roads and housing developments) was already causing state land-use planners to bemoan the “miserable string-towns” that were rapidly gobbling up the state’s farms and forests. And today? PlanMaryland reports that in 2010, Marylanders drove more than 56 billion vehicle miles, averaging 10,000 per person—a 40 percent jump since 1990, and a rate that far outpaced both the growth in population and the miles of new road construction. More than three-quarters of these miles were driven by solo drivers.

More numbers: Marylanders spent more than 700 million hours commuting in 2009. The state’s average commute time is now nearly thirty-two minutes, longer than both New York and New Jersey and one of the highest numbers in the country. If current trends continue, by 2035 those “miles traveled” will grow from 56 billion to 84 billion per year, and the state will need nearly 15,000 new miles of road, at a cost of $110 billion. Meanwhile Maryland public transit ridership has grown by only 1 percent in twenty years. Why? Because although nearly 80 percent of the state’s population lives within a ten-minute drive of public transit, suburban development has dispersed jobs and schools and shopping malls far from any train or bus services. Which raises a related question: How much shopping, exactly, do we need? By 1986, the U.S already had the most retail shopping space per person in the world—about 15 square feet per person. By 2003, this had increased by a third, to 20 feet per person, nearly twice the next country on the list, Canada, and three times that

Pedal it: The Capital Bikeshare program in Washington, D.C. has recorded nearly one million trips. Baltimore launches a modest bikeshare this year.

day. Reeling from congestion, the city is developing an urban park along an abandoned railroad corridor, with light rail and miles of biking trails. In 2010, the city of Portland agreed to spend more than $600 million on bike infrastructure over the next twenty years, including the designation of some 700 miles of bike lanes. And some new apartment complexes in Portland now cater specifically to cyclists with no parking places for cars. In Denver, city planners hope to encourage 15 percent of city residents to get to work on foot or by bike by 2020. To jumpstart enthusiasm for the idea, local nonprofits move into empty storefronts and erect—for just a couple of days—everything from sidewalk cafes to art exhibitions. In just its first year of operation, a bike-sharing program in Arlington, Virginia contributed 100,000 bike trips to a regional bike-sharing program, based in Washington, D.C., that totaled nearly one million trips. Other interesting statistics: Bike trips beginning in Arlington averaged just over 1 mile and nineteen minutes each, yet riders cumulatively saved some 6,200 pounds of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere. Here in Maryland, the proposed 16-mile Purple Line light rail would connect New Carrollton to Bethesda and provide direct connections to the Metro, MARC, and Amtrak. Baltimore’s proposed 14-mile Red Line would connect the western suburbs to downtown Baltimore and east to Bayview. And the city is putting the final touches on the 12-mile, $4 million Jones Falls Trail, which will ultimately run from the Inner Harbor all the way to Robert E. Lee Park. Baltimore is also set to begin its own limited bikesharing plan this summer.

Urbanite #94  april 2012  43

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Energy/Climate Change Maryland’s carbon dioxide emissions rose by 18 percent between 1990 and 2005, in large part because 60 percent of the state’s electricity is still generated by coal-fired power plants, which are the greatest contributors of carbon dioxide pollution.

electricity (still delivered by BGE) from a company called Clean Currents. And clean energy advocates like the Chesapeake Climate Action Network have cheered the planned September closing of the R. Paul Smith coal-fired power plant southwest of Hagerstown, which the group says will reduce annual CO2 emissions by 200,000 tons a year. The most hotly debated alternative to coal, of course, is wind power, which Maryland’s coastline, with its shallow waters and strong winds, has in abundance. The state’s recent approval of the merger between Exelon and Constellation Energy requires the company to invest in 125 megawatts of in-state wind generation, enough to power 40,000 homes. A recent study, published in the journal Renewable Energy by researchers at the University of Delaware, showed that large offshore wind farms could generate nearly twice the state’s total current electricity needs. And installing wind turbines far off the coast of Maryland would not just generate enormous quantities of electricity; it would also create lots of local jobs, says the study’s co-author Willett Kempton, professor of marine policy at the university. As with everything else, solving energy problems always comes back to the way we allow development to happen. People living near cities and towns drive up to 40 percent less. Less driving removes the need to construct nearly 7,400 miles of additional roads and highways, which would in turn reduce the amount of pavement, which would allow forests and farms to absorb more carbon dioxide. And so on. “There’s no magic here,” Dru Schmidt-Perkins, of 1,000 Friends of Maryland, says. “We know exactly what we need to do in order to ensure a clean, healthy, profitable Chesapeake Bay watershed. It’s a combination of planning the development and making the investment in infrastructure. We know this. It’s not magic; it's math.”

The result? Regional climate experts consider it perfectly plausible that sea levels on the Maryland coastline will rise 3 feet over the next century; state officials are planning for a 4-foot rise in the state’s sixteen coastal counties, and a 6-foot rise is considered possible. Maryland is behind only Louisiana and Florida as most likely to be affected by rising sea levels. We’ve long known what to do about rising sea levels: Reduce our use of fossil fuels, especially the coal that lights our homes and the gasoline that powers or cars. Protect and replant forests, which not only absorb carbon dioxide but also enormous quantities of storm water. Protect and replant wetlands, which absorb storm surges. Maryland has more than 7,000 miles of coastline along the Chesapeake, the Coastal Bays, and the Atlantic Ocean, along with 600,000 acres of wetlands, and PlanMaryland explicitly urges these areas be mapped and protected. Failure to do so will only multiply the damage scientists see on the horizon, like the tens of thousands of waterfront acres around the region that are likely to drown in the next century—many of them the very forests and wetlands most needed to prevent further damage. Dorchester County alone stands to lose some 85,000 acres of marsh and forest by 2100, climate experts say. “On my best days, I think it is technically feasible to have a high-rent society and a clean environment, but those are my good days,” the University of Maryland’s Boynton says. “What would that mean? Putting growth in areas where there is infrastructure to handle it.” There has been some regional movement on energy and climate change, but not a lot. Along with nine other states in the Mid-Atlantic and New England, Maryland recently agreed to join a cap-and-trade system to reduce carbon dioxide power plant emissions by 10 percent by 2018. Jam: The state's average commute time of nearly thirty-two minutes is longer than State law requires 20 percent of electricity to both New Jersey and New York and one of the highest in country. If current trends come from renewable energy sources by 2022, and continue, by 2035 the number of miles driven by Marylanders will grow from 56 billion to 84 billion, requiring an additional 15,000 new miles of road. state residents can already sign up to have clean

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higher learning

The Wired Campus



an explosion of information technology brought on by the digital revolution has colleges rethinking how they teach— and how students learn. By Andrew Zaleski photography by J.M. Giordano

Urbanite #94  april 2012  47

I was still a student at Loyola University Maryland, occupying space in a senior seminar class, my penultimate hurdle en route to a bachelor’s degree in English literature. The course centered on T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, and the eleven of us had purchased about a dozen books—from the text of the poem itself to Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway— in preparation for many late nights and plenty of lastminute, before-class skimming. But about one month into the semester, something unusual happened: Professor Nick Miller tossed out the syllabus. Instead, he placed the text of The Waste Land into a Google Document, which was then shared with all the students in the class. Every Monday and Wednesday we set our laptops on the round seminar table, fired up this Google Doc, and inserted electronic annotations while simultaneously discussing the meaning of “Shantih” (the

a ye a r and a h alf ago

For the last decade, the NMC has published an annual “Horizon Report” outlining emerging technologies and their likely effects on college education. Of 2012’s crop, mobile apps and tablet computing (the report mentions the iPad, as well as the Motorola Xoom and Samsung Galaxy tabs) hold prominent positions: The NMC expects each to be adopted into the mainstream of higher learning within the next twelve months. Adams stresses that these reports are meant mainly as predictive tools—guides filled with information and examples of what other colleges do in the digital realm—and not deadline-driven lists of demands. But the underlying premise is unwavering: The top-down approach to learning, with professors serving as arbitrary gatekeepers of information, is old hat. Incoming students, often more familiar than their professors with new technology, want mentors who walk with them, not professors who talk at them. “The evolution of what we do is dramatically moving away from being the content providers to being the organizer and the person who really helps students process information,” says Roger Casey, president of McDaniel College in Westminster. In Maryland, a number of schools have begun to ride this wave of digital innovation, using new media and devices, like the iPad, to change the way course material is communicated. The hurdle, college educators say, is parlaying advances in information technology and technological devices into meaningful pedagogical improvements. McDaniel College philosophy professor Peter Bradley, whose fall semester course “Critical Thinking” had fifteen first-year students on their own iPad2s as part of a new

Sanskrit term Eliot employs in the poem) and debating whether the typist was the apathetic girlfriend of the young man carbuncular, or just a dispassionate prostitute. We typed comments in pre-assigned colors (I think mine was orange), linked from the document to YouTube videos and outside sources, and read and reread Eliot’s poem, trying to extract the tiniest nuggets of meaning from his cryptic lyricism—all from behind laptop screens. In turn, understanding the poem became less of an individual pursuit along the road to a grade and more of a shared endeavor among fellow thinkers. “It’s not like I was tech-savvy,” says Miller. “It was more like technology saved the class—it gave us the tools that allowed people who were completely unfamiliar with The Waste Land to find a way into it.” Laptops in an English literature class might sound ridiculous (some of us thought so, while others warmed up to it). But the digital revolution of the last decade has brought about significant change in higher education. According to Heather Weiss, director of the Harvard Family Research Project and an evaluator of the MacArthur Foundation’s digital media and learning initiative, simply “imparting knowledge” is now obsolete. “Educators are now preparing kids for a future they simply cannot predict, and so your whole approach to learning must change accordingly.” Today’s education, Weiss says, is “about creating knowledge and very active learning,” aided by digital technologies. “The whole lecture-based learning thing doesn’t work for everyone,” adds Samantha Adams, director of communications at the nonprofit New Media Consortium (NMC), an international community of experts in educational technology, which includes researchers, practitioners, and school administrators and instructors. Adams’s point isn’t exactly new, but what is different is that in a world where class discussion can happen in a Twitter feed accessed through a smartphone and online textbooks can link to YouTube videos, lectures need not be the only—or even the main—way students learn.

48  april 2012  www.urbanitebaltimore.com

courtesy of mcdaniel college

what we do is dramatically moving away from being the content providers to being the organizer.

pilot program, observed subtle but significant changes among students. Small group discussions in class were steadily replaced with conversations via Twitter, on Facebook, and in blog comments. “Back-channel” conversations occurred where some students participated in a traditional discussion while others raised questions on social media. Students also watched videos embedded within the text of their e-textbook, and when writing papers, “tweeted” questions at Bradley. “I’ve had full conversations with students from my couch,” he says. Of course, he adds, it was the messenger, and not the essence of the course material, that changed. “For the most part there’s nothing really radical here … it’s just another medium,” says Bradley. Given the medium, however, learning can become a joint enterprise where even students who normally shy away from direct interaction in the classroom find ways to connect and contribute. Hood College, in Frederick, made a big leap in embracing digital technology when it issued iPad2s to all 318 first-year students in August. “We’re seeing a move towards a collaborative learning environment,” says David Gurzick, an assistant professor of management at Hood College. “Having the iPad in front of them allows them to Google information, pull up examples—it really makes a bit more of an engaged classroom and gets them to be more active participants in the learning process.” Elsewhere, students have ended up defining the learning process outright. Last spring, when Loyola professor Paul Tallon taught a class of finance students about using technology in financial services, the brokerage firm TradeKing invited Tallon’s students to develop mobile apps using the firm’s programming code. “I was initially very anxious,” Tallon says. He encouraged his students to find programming buddies—including friends at other

Education on demand: Tony Varga, a freshman who was in Peter Bradley's fall 2011 Critical Thinking course at McDaniel College, browses a website on his iPad2.

higher learning universities—and after a month, students came back with apps that made sense of options pricing and posted on Twitter the stock trades people make. “Now my students are learning from other students in other universities,” says Tallon. The big motivator? A cool $10,000 in prize money offered by TradeKing to the students in Tallon’s class. Tallon’s experience illustrates Weiss’s point about digital, active learning: It makes higher education reflect a workplace world that’s increasingly more collaborative. Why not encourage classes to jointly contribute to a single document of notes using an app, like Evernote, that allows students to share documents and store them on tablets, laptops, and phones? And then bring those devices into classrooms where, despite in-class discussion, traditional learning has been a siloed operation? (My notes. My highlights. My test.) National examples abound of schools embracing the latest digital technology. Since 2009, Abilene Christian University in Texas has equipped its students with iPhones. At Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania, all full-time students receive an iPad2. The costs incurred in equipping all students with the latest gadget is nothing to sneeze at—at $399 apiece, it costs more than $120,000 to purchase iPad2s for Hood’s class of 2015. By comparison, a stationary computer lab of twenty computers costs nearly $180,000. For larger schools, gradual implementation, along the lines of University of Maryland’s effort in College Park, might make more sense. In 2008, it launched the Mobility Initiative to investigate whether mobile technology improves students’ educational experience. By 2010, 545 students were iPod- or iPhone 4-toting digital learners. That same year, the school introduced its Digital Cultures and Creativity living and learning program, and all seventy-five participating students were handed an iPad. Adams says that while a school’s evaluation process of new digital tools is critical, the NMC also believes colleges “have to be willing to experiment, take risks, and even fail.” But for smaller colleges on tight budgets, particularly state schools, what might amount to nothing more than a failed experiment can be costly. And it seems foolhardy to assume that students can just buy the newest devices on their own. A recent study of Maryland’s university system by the Institute of Higher Education at the University of Pennsylvania concluded that between 1999 and 2009, as family incomes have remained flat, tuition at the state’s public four-year schools rose by 25 percent; at public twoyear colleges, tuition has risen by 6 percent. “The problem is inequality,” Adams says. “Not everyone has access to pay for their own equipment.” At the University of Maryland, for instance, students who opt

for the iPhone 4 have to pay the monthly account charges. Also, professors still have concerns about handing students the ability to surf Facebook or shop online during class from the convenience of their school-sanctioned mobile device. (I’d be lying if I said there weren’t times in that Waste Land course I was more interested in Gchatting over Gmail than figuring out why the month of April is so cruel.) Bradley notes that even though students are certainly entertained by new devices outside and inside the classroom, “it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re learning.” His observation underscores an important point: College

first needed to be taught video editing, audio recording, and image processing. Now, UMBC offers a multimedia literacy lab, a one-credit course taken concurrently with another class, where students learn those skills. “There is a recognition that part of what it is to be literate in today’s society is being able to use these technologies and communicate effectively with them,” Shewbridge says. But too much focus on digital media could undervalue crucial aspects of undergraduate education, like constructing arguments in academic papers and learning to speak extemporaneously in front of others (see: laptops in an English class). Shewbridge, whose

Digital divide: Bill Shewbridge, who oversees the digital storytelling project at UMBC, warns against assuming students are digital natives .

students, while they know their way around an Android phone, a Kindle tablet, or the Apple app store, don’t necessarily associate new technologies with learning, although that can change. Phillip Perry, one of Bradley’s students in the fall, said most of his classmates viewed the iPad as just a toy at first. Then, after using it to look up information in class and highlight passages in their etextbooks, “we realized it’s a tool for so much more than just the games,” he says. In fact, the more problematic issue might be assuming that students today are as well versed in using digital tools as their age implies. “There is a tendency to think that students are digital natives,” says Bill Shewbridge, the director of the new media studio at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). “But uploading a picture to Facebook doesn’t make you a producer, much less an informed consumer.” A television producer-turned-professor, Shewbridge discovered this after embarking on UMBC’s digital storytelling project eight years ago. To tell digital stories— short videos, usually for a particular class, that combine scriptwriting, interviewing, and research—students

experience helping students produce digital stories has been primarily in the humanities fields, sees it slightly differently. “The humanities typically are looking at being critical consumers of media. Nothing teaches you more about how things are put together after you produce something on your own—you become a much more critical consumer.” Yet fostering educational aims through digital media doesn’t always mean innovation limited to incorporating the slew of new devices that get released every year or transforming students into amateur producers. As the NMC’s Horizon Report notes, “People expect to be able to work, learn, and study whenever and wherever they want to.” They can in the digital age. Podcasting, routinely done by universities nationwide, allows Baltimore City Community College (BCCC) students to listen at their convenience to recorded lectures, thus freeing up the professor in class to spend time on specific questions. Many local higher learning institutions, like Towson, Morgan State, and BCCC, utilize Blackboard or a similar online interface through which students interact with one another and professors using discussion boards, blog posts,

Urbanite #94  april 2012  49

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higher learning music, and videos, and access them from a mobile device. At Coppin State, students and faculty share documents, instant message, and video chat using Microsoft’s LYNC software, which they’ll have fully implemented campuswide by the fall. These options also tend to be more cost-effective. File-sharing services like Dropbox “cost pennies,” says Adams. Thanks to its membership in the Maryland Education Enterprise Consortium—and a $180,000 donation from Microsoft—Coppin State is paying a much smaller sum to integrate its campus with LYNC this semester, according to Vice President for Information Technology Dr. Ahmed El-Haggan. Moreover, many of these technologies, while perhaps not as flashy as an iPad or as well known as Facebook, serve the same purpose of removing barriers between students and professors, and among fellow students. “The idea of social media is really the exciting part,” says Mike Reese, associate director of Johns Hopkins’s Center for Educational Resources (CER), which provides guidance for Hopkins faculty looking to augment their classes with digital technologies. “Learning is a social process. It’s not so much that we have shiny objects or interesting demonstrations that we can watch, but that we can connect people in new ways.” Still, an all-important central question remains: Does introducing any of this stuff into a classroom produce measurable academic improvement? Or are universities just unthinkingly shifting pedagogies in the name of progress? “If you’re going to spend money on these kinds of technologies, it has to be in pursuit of some objectives that are educationally defensible,” says Candice Dalrymple, director of the CER. Dalrymple emphasizes that digital tools “should supplement and enrich,” not interfere with, the teaching process. In some cases, she says, professors who approach the CER looking for ideas may conclude that no technology is needed for their particular courses. Other times, technology pairs seamlessly with course objectives, as was the case with a Hopkins history course, “Remembering Vietnam,” offered in spring 2009. A collaboration between Professor Ron Walters and Joan Freedman, the director of Hopkins’s student digital media center, the class required students to work with primary source material—songs from the Vietnam War period, clips from field reporting, videos, seminal photographs— and interact with that material by manipulating photographs in Photoshop, recording songs and oral histories, and producing short, five-minute radio pieces. “Students became very facile with the technology but not for the technology’s sake—for demonstrating what they now knew in this era that was so steeped in media,” Freedman says. The ulterior benefit, higher education leaders like Harvard’s Weiss say, is student engagement, not only with the course material, but also with digital media in a way that is more learning-oriented, as opposed to entertainment-oriented. It’s a benefit that some professors, like Paul Tallon, believe outweighs concerns about in-class Facebook-surfing. “Technology is disruptive, and it’s forcing us to confront the inevitable,” he says. “Ten years down the line, if I’m doing the sort of teaching I’m doing today, I won’t have any students in the classroom.”

How universities in the Baltimore area are incorporating digital media into their classrooms Baltimore City Community College NetTutor, a product of Link-Systems International, enables students in math and chemistry courses, among others, to collaborate over Link-Systems’s WorldWideWhiteboard suite. Bowie State University The university is migrating to the Blackboard's online learning management suite this semester and is offering training sessions to professors on communicating with students via instant message and recording and uploading lectures for streaming online. Capitol College Through Blackboard, students can download lectures uploaded online by their professors, although currently only those with Windows PCs can do so. Coppin State University To support its migration to LYNC, all of Coppin’s computer labs have computers equipped with webcams and microphones to enable online video conferencing among students and professors. Also, in the fall, Coppin State will be one of the first HBCUs to offer a fully online business degree. Goucher College Established in January 2011, Goucher’s master’s in digital arts is a limited residency program: a majority of the interaction with professors is done online via video chat and discussion boards, as well as through podcasts and social media. Hood College With all 318 students in its freshman class receiving iPads, Hood College decided to “e-gift” to each student their first-year common text, A Thousand Splendid Suns. Johns Hopkins University Inside the digital media center is a gaming lounge and lab equipped with Xboxes and PlayStation consoles, as well as four separate computer stations used for recording music, Web programming, and creating animations.

Morgan State University Morgan State’s digital media center provides technology for distance education, digital storytelling, website design, and a variety of other projects. It also trains faculty on using digital technologies in their teaching and research. Notre Dame of Maryland University Notre Dame’s major in digital media arts combines courses from the school’s art, computer studies, and communication departments. Students work mainly from the digital media lab, equipped with Mac computers and software. Sojourner-Douglass College The school of nursing at Sojourner-Douglass uses Blackboard to update students on course schedules and assignments. Stevenson University Stevenson offers an information systems course called “Integrating Technology and Digital Media in the Classroom,” which examines how new digital tools are changing in-classroom learning. Towson University All Towson professors may use the digital media classroom, which allows faculty to record lectures and upload them to Mediasite for students to download . Additionally, faculty can record review sessions for students’ use in online courses. University of Baltimore UB’s media lab contains equipment for video and audio recordings, as well as post-production software like Final Cut Pro. The school also offers a certificate in digital communication, a postbaccalaureate program that trains students in digital advertising, digital communication, and social media strategies. University of Maryland, Baltimore County This semester, students in Bill Shewbridge’s class are working with the Maryland Traditions folklife program to document traditional arts around the state and produce digital stories from their findings.

Loyola University Maryland Professor Paul Tallon teaches his IT for Financial Services class in Loyola’s new Student Experiential Learning Lab, a mock trading room with computers equipped with market simulation software.

University of Maryland, College Park College Park has a robust digital humanities program that dates back to the founding of the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities in 1999. The aim of the program is to use digital media to study humanities subjects, like art history and literature, in new, inventive ways.

McDaniel College This semester, McDaniel is adopting OrgSync, software that will give campus organizations a central hub to communicate with each other using social media, text messaging, and shared documents.

University of Maryland University College The major in digital media and Web technology provides students a foundation in gaming and Web-based technology, with the goal being to prepare graduates for entry-level positions in the digital media and computing industries.

For more on what schools in Baltimore are doing with digital media, go to bit.ly/wiredcampus. Urbanite #94  april 2012  51



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the way things work Inside D.R. Center’s Victorian rowhouse, bygone machines evoke an era when technology was big, handmade, and incredibly intricate. By Jim Meyer photography by J.M. Giordano

Urbanite #94  april 2012  57


hen D.R. Center found his Victorian rowhouse in 1976, it was a linoleum and fluorescent wasteland. The once beautiful old home had languished as an office building for decades—stripped of its architectural splendor—but Center saw in it the shadows of what could be. Now, the bronze avatars of a pantheon of Greek gods make their homes in Center’s parlor. “This design was formulated on a twenty-fourhour train ride to Mardi Gras,” Center says. “I was bored stiff and had a sketch pad with me. I started doodling and actually got around to doing it. I designed the first floor with the arches and the columns. I put in the floors, the cornice moldings, and ran gas lines for the light fixtures.” On a marble pedestal in the parlor kneels Hermes, his winged helm cocked jauntily in greeting by the foyer. Jason stands triumphantly with his golden fleece beside a wrought iron stove that, in shape and substance, brings to mind the eggs of Fabergé. The walnut and white-oak f loors fill the room with the rich wood smell of a humidor; their Greek-key pattern—sparkling in the light of the gas chandeliers—draws visitors forward to the room’s focus, an enormous Burdett organ flanked by statues of Icarus, the boy whose wax wings melted as he flew too close to the sun.

A one-of-a-kind built for Philadelphia’s 1876 Centennial Exhibition, the organ would be the Holy Grail for most collectors. Its delicate lines and graceful proportions belie its massive presence. Its green and gold pipes form three clusters and nearly touch the room’s 12foot ceiling. “I was always interested in pipe organs,” says Center in his light Kentucky drawl, “and when I was about 12, I built one.” While most kids his age were tinkering with erector sets, Center cobbled together an electro-pneumatic masterpiece from cast-off parts in his parents’ one-and-a-half-car garage. “It pretty much filled that garage up,” he says. “But I quickly found out that I didn’t have a talent for playing it, so I discovered a roll-playing device and attached it.” Center, 62 and trim in his dungarees and work shirt, carries himself with the preserved youth of a life spent laboring well. He is a welcoming host with a warmth that fills the space around him. As a child, Center was compelled by the mystery of machines; after completing his organ, he moved on to clocks. There are clocks in nearly every room of Center’s house. The three enormous tower clocks on the upper floors that face the street were built on iron bowlegs, each so heavy it took a pair of strong men to bring them up the stairs. The clocks’ 220-pound weights hang on steel cables over the central stairs, and their pendulums descend through holes in the floor,

Machine shop: Since the age of 12, Center has been building and repairing old organs and clocks; his home is now filled with both.

58  april 2012  www.urbanitebaltimore.com

swinging hypnotically through the rooms below. Their exquisite gold-leaf chassis contain roiling seas of intermeshing gears and delicate balancing blades that fill Center’s home with constant, soft, mechanical sounds. “This one strikes from 9 in the morning to 9 at night, then it shuts off to give my neighbors a break,” says Center, pointing to the iron dragon with the 8-foot wingspan, which forms part of a tower clock, perched over the street on the side of his house. “Originally, it was just going to be a dragon’s paw holding the bell,” says Center. “Well, now there’s a whole dragon outside. I thought it would be neat to have him blow smoke, but I’ve just got too many projects.”


Ten years ago, to make room for those projects, Center built an addition that stretches from the back wall of the original house all the way to the alley. On the first floor, you’ll find his workshop, where Center repairs orchestrions— bygone machines of gears, bellows, pipes, and drums that recreate the sounds of an entire orchestra. Center makes his living repairing these grand, old machines, and he is one of only six men in the United States to do so. He has traveled the world in search of them, from Peles Castle in the Carpathian Mountains to Istanbul and the palace of Sultan Abdülmecid I. A 10-foot-long, 1912 Ruston & Hornsby diesel engine squats in one corner of his workshop.

“When I got it, it didn’t run at all,” Center says. “I had to dismantle it; I sent the piston to New York to have new rings made and had it rebored. Now it works like a charm.” The old engine sits behind an unrestored, 1892 Thomas Edison Dynamo direct current motor. Together, they’ll generate 10 kilowatts of power at 115 volts of Edison direct current. “I’m somewhat of a Luddite,” says Center. “I don’t have a smarty phone or any iPods or pads,” he adds as he fires up the century-old direct current motor that powers his machine shop. It lurches to life, and the thick leather belt it drives gives off a whiff of smoke in protest as it begins to turn the overhead line shaft that, in turn, powers Center’s tools. The newest of the tools Center uses to repair his orchestrions is more than six decades old. The drill press dates to the Great Depression. His metal lathe is a work of art in itself, its stout, iron body painted a rich, star-spangled red, white, and blue. Above the workshop is what Center calls Orchestrion Hall. Here, on sun-flooded floors, are his greatest treasures. There is a reproducing

piano that perfectly recreates the keystrokes of Gershwin, and a 120-year-old Hooghuys street organ that, for decades, was pulled through the streets of Delft, in the Netherlands. The size of a large coach, the Hooghuys’s ivory white flank is painted with a field of pink and green flowers. As the organ’s wooden slats spin open and closed to change the music’s volume, they intermittently reveal views of the cacophonous wooden gears within. The far end of Orchestrion Hall holds Center’s Welte Style 5 Orchestrion—one of only two left in existence. “These orchestrions were always the most interesting to me,” Center says. He places a music roll—“Bugler’s Holiday”— into the mahogany machine, and it leaps to life. Trumpets sing its bright, bouncing melody, snares rip and roll with the raucous beat, and the mighty bass drum sounds off like thunder. The walls of the room quiver with the sound no modern machine could match, and Center’s eyes seem to twinkle in time with the music.   For more photos of Center's contraptions, go to bit.ly/clockhouse.

No-man band: Center is one of only six people in the United States who repair orchestrions—bygone machines that recreate the sounds of an entire orchestra.

Urbanite #94  april 2012  59

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Urbanite #94  april 2012  63

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ach ingredient on my plate has an impeccable pedigree: local, house made, farm fresh, artisanal, ethically sourced. What could be wrong with such a well-intentioned dish? As it turns out, there is one thing: It’s incredibly boring and bland, lacking in any culinary point of view. This is, alas, not the first ho-hum meal I have endured at a self-proclaimed “farm to table restaurant” (I will not say where this occurred), and so I wonder: As more and more restaurants jump on the locavore bandwagon, just what does the farm to table label really mean? Has it become just another trendy marketing ploy? For both chefs and diners, what is, or should be, more important: the message or the cuisine? And what happens if and when these two concepts are at cross purposes? These musings, I thought, were innocent enough. But as I began to interrogate the assumption that going local is always better—and by implication, the notion that using anything non-local must somehow be morally or ethically inferior—I encountered some intense emotions and strong opinions on both sides of the debate.

techniques with exotic ingredients. I didn't become a chef because I love how a carrot tastes.” It’s not that there’s anything inherently wrong with a simple, rustic style of cooking, but why, he maintains, would anyone want to pay big bucks for it? “American farm to table cooking is just country European cooking, which was done by mothers and servants, not trained chefs. Many talented European chefs had the luxury of growing up with this cooking, but had the sense to give something more to the dining public.” Nonsense, says Baltimore’s reigning sustainability and local food iconoclast, Woodberry Kitchen’s Spike Gjerde. “‘Farm to table’ doesn’t refer to cooking,” he says. “Actually, farm to table doesn’t really refer to anything, if it ever did. The point is to care about the food you are cooking—not only how it tastes, and how much it costs, and can I get it tomorrow, but also how it was grown, and how that affected the land and water where it was grown, and how the farmer made out, and then do with it what you will: Cook it like grandma would, or like a chemist would, or manipulate it like good old [Thomas Keller].” Chef X bristles at any implication that he doesn’t care about the food on the plate. “I care very much that it was raised properly, fed right, and respected on its way to my back door. But does it matter to me whether it came from 60 or 6000 miles away? Not particularly.” Anyway, Gjerde believes it takes more creativity to come up with a dish based solely on what’s available locally than it does to create something around far-flung ingredients. “When you don’t have all the colors you want on the plate, you’ve got to dig a little deeper,” he says. Jerry Pellegrino, chef and proprietor of the “seed to table” eatery Waterfront Kitchen, says that Chef X and Gjerde are both right. “They’re both saying correct things. Any chef understands the concept of garbage in, garbage out. Ingredient-driven really means just finding the best ingredients. It doesn’t matter what you do with it; it must start with quality.”

“Farm to table is saying right up front that it is ... ingredient-driven rather than chef-creativitydriven or technique-driven. It’s saying that the most important thing is where it comes from, how it was grown, who grew it, and not what you do with it. It’s basically patting yourself on the back for being there.”—Anthony Bourdain to Wylie Dufresne, from the food nerd quarterly Lucky Peach

“[At farm to table restaurants] we are paying for an experience, for a performance of sorts. But then, that’s part of what ‘restauranting’ is.”—Psyche Williams-Forson, associate professor of American studies and co-director of graduate studies at the University of Maryland, College Park

Of course, “farm to table” doesn’t really describe a type of cuisine—it simply tells you where the food came from. But for many diners, the term comes with a host of expectations, many of which revolve around signifiers of rusticity, authenticity, purity, and simplicity. Some chefs, however, believe that meeting these expectations comes at the expense of technique and creativity. Take “Chef X,” who runs the kitchen at a small, wellregarded local restaurant. Chef X, who prefers to remain anonymous, says, “For me, cooking is a craft, and the guys I respect most, like [molecular gastronomist Wylie] Dufresne, [Thomas] Keller, and the French gods, all take these beautiful ingredients and twist and augment them into something more than just food. That's what I want when I go out to an expensive restaurant. Innovative

Farm-to-table pioneer Jeff Smith, chef/owner of the Chameleon, has been doing his well-regarded version of Maryland cuisine for nearly a decade, and says, “People don’t realize that is very difficult to make most of your food local. You have to be creative, and you really have to be dedicated.” In an effort to make things a bit easier for locavore chefs, Smith is working on creating a food hub in the Hamilton/Lauraville neighborhood that will streamline the buying and selling process. But, according to a local caterer, who also prefers to remain anonymous, it’s just not possible or practical for everyone to be 100 percent local. “Some restaurants can do it, but catering companies really can’t,” he says. “The menu would be limited ... and it would be too expensive. ... Woodberry, though, has the clientele that will pay for it.”

But Gjerde maintains that chefs and diners can’t afford not to source locally and sustainably. “‘Organic and local product is too expensive’—I get that all the time,” he says. “But on a practical level, our love of cheap salmon will cost us our last salmon. What’s the cost of that?” But the fact is, despite appearances—Woodberry Kitchen is booked solid most nights—the majority of the dining public cannot afford to eat out at restaurants in that price point. “We eat at one of these establishments, and that allows us to feel as if we’ve done our good deed for the day,” says Williams-Forson. “But we end up paying a lot in order to feel good about ourselves.” If farm to table dining is perceived—correctly or not—as elitist, something that’s only for the wealthy, does it have a future outside of a relatively small (read: privileged) audience? Smith certainly hopes so. “Over time, I have seen [farm to table] dining become more of a trend and less of a philosophy,” he says. “People are doing it because it’s the thing to do. But if you want the movement to go forward, you want everyone to be doing it!” “Spike is sincere, but he’s extreme. Extremists are great for proving the point, but they’re not really realists.”—Jerry Pellegrino, chef/co-owner Waterfront Kitchen Ask Gjerde if there’s anything truly wrong with occasionally indulging in a sustainably raised Scottish grouse or wild boar that happens to be from far away, and he’ll point you towards a local alternative—that may or may not be the same beast. It doesn’t really answer the question, but for him that’s beside the point. “No one can be absolute,” Pellegrino says. “Not even Spike is absolute.” Indeed, Gjerde admits that he stocks some decidedly un-local products like lemons, limes, and coffee, a messy fact that he claims drives him crazy and points to one of the inherent difficulties in being 100 percent local in a climate without a year-round growing season. Yes, of course you can have a great meal at Woodberry Kitchen in the middle of the winter, as I recently did. But then, I’ve also had a just-as-great, though decidedly different meal, at Chef X’s restaurant in the winter. Some of the ingredients were local—some weren’t. Is it so wrong to appreciate that bit of variety? Ultimately, Williams-Forson suggests, “You have to ask yourself what appeals to you about food. If you’re only eating for politics, you’ll probably be flip-flopping the rest of your life.” As for me, I don’t feel shame about indulging in the occasional organic avocado, Meyer lemon, or bottle of French wine—and I certainly don’t want to live in a world where I can’t have a bit of Parmiggiano Reggiano on my spaghetti. At the same time, I would happily subsist on a diet of Maryland tomatoes, local basil, and the occasional piece of crispy bacon from Truck Patch Farms all summer long. And this may be the real lesson here. No matter your politics, as Gjerde correctly points out, “If it doesn’t taste good, it’s irrelevant.”

Urbanite #94  april 2012  65

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dining reviews  food + Drink

Thames Street Oyster House

crabcakes. A 10-ounce patty, seared in its own miniature cast iron skillet, is presented with a side of roasted Brussels sprouts and a ramekin of souffle-like baked squash. Our waitress tells By Martha Thomas us it’s “Chesapeake blue crab,” a delicacy indeed in this town, where the local favorite mostly hails from the Gulf, or Venezuela. Topped with a swirl of remoulade, the cake is otherwise simple and sweet, with tender white lumps that fall gently from an oversized patty with no discernable binding. The rest of the menu is seafood, seafood, and more seafood, with occasional nods to meat eaters—such as grilled beef tenderloin (with the opLump sum: The crabcakes at Thames Street Oyster House are filled with Chesational addition of lobster) and peake blue crab, a delicacy in this town. a grilled chorizo sandwich. The Maryland crab soup is classic, with bits of lthough its chef seems devoted to New vegetables in the spicy tomato base, although England-style seafood favorites—witness tender chunks of beef short rib share the broth the classic split top rolls packed with unadulterated lobster or plump fried clam bellies— with the shreds of crab. Thames Street Oyster House has not forgotten The smoked shellfish plate is a display of its geography. Settled on an ancient block, one small bay scallops, shrimp, and fat mussels, deep cobblestone street’s width from Baltimore’s harwith smoke, although chilled, along with blue bor, the rowhouse style restaurant in no way nefish rillette atop a crisp slice of baguette. glects its hometown’s iconic shellfish. Houseknecht draws from his home state with fried calamari from Point Judith and Block Eric Houseknecht offers up the mother of all

photos by Sarah Thrower


Island scallops, seared and served over New England-style succotash with peas, corn, and sweet peppers. At Thames Street, there’s a nice range of dining options and spaces. You can revel in smaller plates from the raw bar or such appetizers as oysters Rockefeller, sautéed mussels (from Prince Edward Island), or a lobster wedge salad at the bar tables on the bustling ground floor, or head upstairs to a slightly more subdued dining room for a multi-course meal. There’s even a predictable list of appetizers: crab dip with cream cheese, steamed Gulf shrimp with Old Bay, and chicken wings for those looking for straight-up bar food. Each day, the “local” happy hour offers local microbrews and a choice of Boordy wines, along with oyster shooters and the housemade Rye punch. Here’s a good chance to sample from the daily list of oysters, from briny Chincoteague to firm and salty Cape Cod varieties, served with cocktail sauce, lemon, and mignonette. It’s long been claimed that oysters are an aphrodisiac, and we’re not here to dispute the notion. While the Thames Street Oyster House may seem just too bustling for romantic conquests, there’s a sense of nostalgia here, from the barn board doors on the restrooms to the vintage oyster cans used to present the check, that is certainly enchanting. (Lunch Wed–Sun, dinner daily. 1728 Thames St.; 443-449-7726; www.thamesstreetoysterhouse.com)


oil gathers below the fresh toppings. At Daniela’s, it’s done right. There are a host of rich, simple ardinia, the less popular of Italasagnas, including mushroom, beef, ly’s two major islands, with its and roasted vegetable. Spinach fetrocky shores, clear waters, and extucine comes with an earthy Bologtraterrestrial desert landscapes, feels nese, and ravioli with crab or spinach about as far from Baltimore as you and ricotta are served with warm, can get. Sardinians, like Baltimorcrushed tomatoes. eans, tend to live and die in Sardinia. Oddly enough, the dish that makes the biggest statement is one So it’s surprising to meet Daniela that we Baltimoreans tend to think Useli, who moved to Baltimore with we do well: crab soup. Useli’s soup, her family just over a decade ago dense with shards of tender crab, from Cagliari, the island’s capital (her husband works at the National starts smooth, with verdant hints of Institute on Drug Abuse in D.C.). Fatto in casa: Daniela Useli's handmade pastas are the highlight at Daniela's. oregano and basil, and nutty garlic Lucky for us, she also opened a complementing sweet crushed tomarestaurant and brought with her a few generadough. Everything in the restaurant is handtoes. The spice comes in subtly at the end and is made—not so that they can stamp “artisanal” tions’ worth of Italian recipes. elevated nicely by crisp, homemade croutons. Daniela’s is a tiny place on the Avenue in on it and call it a trend, but because that’s simply It’s an odd setup—Useli makes everything Hampden, where everything on the menu the way the best Italian things are made. Flaky upstairs and divides the pasta in plastic takeout (which is really just a chalkboard) fits in a glass saccotini—savory pastries with ricotta, spinach, containers, which sit in a downstairs refrigeradisplay case. There are only two tables inside, so and bacon, or sweet with lemon crema—literally tor. The pasta is either sold to go or reheated and go during off-hours and bring a bottle of wine, leave shards of themselves on the plate, falling plated at your table. The result can leave a little so you can find a seat and get to know Useli apart with each bite. Four kinds of focaccia— to be desired—a microwave never does great and Stefano Tanda, her son who works behind sausage mascarpone, eggplant parmiggiano, things to pasta—but the effect is unpretentious the counter when he’s not at school. Tanda may zucchini, and tomato basil—could easily make and familial, as if you popped by to see the famneed to translate—despite being here for more a satisfying lunch, or at least ruin your dinner. ily and Daniela insisted you stay for a plate of something warm. (Lunch Wed–Sun, dinner than a decade, Useli still speaks little English. When focaccia’s done right, it’s a topographical It’s worth visiting to experience the things map of texture—crunchy corners, chewy edges, Tues–Sun. 900 W. 36th St.; 443-759-9320) Useli, formerly a chef at Sotto Sopra, does with pillowy centers, and silky valleys where the olive By Rebecca Messner


Urbanite #94  april 2012  67

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wine + spirits  food + Drink

Muscat Love

New life for the world’s oldest grape By Clinton Macsherry


ver notice how just about everything sounds better in Italian? What would you prefer for dinner: squid or calamari? Afterwards, would you rather take a walk or make a passeggiata? Should you catch someone’s eye, what’s more likely to entice you into conversation: “Hey, good-lookin’” or “Ciao, bella?” It’s tempting to think that something as simple as labeling underlies the skyrocketing popularity of Moscato, more traditionally known in English and French by the less-appetizing moniker Muscat. California-based mega-winery Gallo debuted its first Moscato in 2008. Since then, according to the trade e-zine Wine & Spirits Daily, overall Moscato sales have topped 4.1 million cases—nearly double the figure for Malbec, itself a super-hot variety. The only potential check on this explosive growth may be grape supply. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that major producers are scouring the planet for more fruit, with Gallo rumored to have cornered the market on bulk Italian Moscato. Turns out that Moscato and Muscat are hardly the only names for what most authorities consider the world’s oldest and most widely travelled grape. The Spanish call it Moscatel, the Germans Muskateller, the Hungarians Muskotaly, and so on. By any alias, it’s arguably the wine-andspirit-world’s most versatile variety, prominent in beverages as diverse as Italy’s sparkling Asti Spumante, the fortified wines of Australia, and Chile’s signature pisco brandy. With few exceptions, though, Muscat-based wines have a common denominator: sweetness. photo by j.m. giordano

And that apparently sits just fine with the “Millennials,” consumers who have reached the age of majority since Y2K and who industry insiders believe are propelling the Moscato juggernaut. If older wine snobs consider sweet wines unsophisticated, that’s their problem. The Millennial generation “isn’t interested in that hierarchical, ‘this is good, this is bad’ by an expert,” one wine executive told W&SD. “They want to hear and see what people like them think on Yelp.” Local experience bears that out. At Wells Discount Liquors in North Baltimore, where Moscato “flies off the shelf,” manager David Moore attributes the sales surge to “word of mouth” among “nontraditional wine drinkers. They walk in every day, looking like they’ve never been here before. Nine out of ten ask for a Moscato that a friend brought over or told them to try. I think it’s kind of cool—it’s bringing new customers to wine.” Wells doesn’t track sales by variety, but Moore estimates that the two or three bestselling brands alone account for up to fifteen cases per week. To keep pace with increasing demand, Wells has tripled its Moscato offerings, which now number more than thirty. Most of these wines come in the frizzante, or slightly fizzy, style of Moscato d’Asti, from Italy’s Piemonte region. Apparently Moscato’s surging popularity hasn’t spilled over to Asti Spumante, which has greater effervescence and less residual sugar. Even so, Asti remains Italy’s most productive wine zone (which is saying something) and Moscato’s qualitative sweet spot. Some versions vary in carbonation level, and “some have more acidity, more sharpness, more brightness,” Moore notes. “Others are softer, a little sweeter, maybe a bit flabby—those aren’t my favorites. I want a certain degree of refreshment.” Clear, pale gold, with a noseful of candied fruit slices and ripe green melon, Lodali Moscato d’Asti 2010 ($14, 5.5 percent alcohol) brings faint bubbly pinpricks to the inner cheeks. Buxom flavors of peach, golden raisin, and panettone carry just enough acidity to keep from cloying. Apricot lingers on the finish. I note with pleasure this wine’s low alcohol content, another characteristic charm of Moscato. It’s led some wags to call Moscato the ideal breakfast wine. Some truth resides in that jest. Often served with dessert, I think it pairs better with fruit salad, French toast, and bacon, maybe with a splash of OJ. Perfect, in other words, for brunch—one of my favorite words in English. I don’t think the Italians have a translation. Urbanite #94  april 2012  69

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Urbanite #94  april 2012  71

Expectations Kwame Kwei-Armah wants to change the cultural landscape of Baltimore—one step at a time. By Karen Houppert photography by J.M. Giordano

Folks at Center Stage are trying to organize Kwame Kwei-Armah’s mind. It's an arduous task of classifying, categorizing, color-coding—and thereby pinning down for inspection—the rush of thoughts galloping through new artistic director Kwei-Armah’s brain. Ideas, connections, digressions spill out on a whiteboard in the office. They are sorted into three columns, broken into sub-categories, delineated in red, blue, and purple ink, and swept together under one grand title: “The Sweep of the American Zeitgeist.” The list careens from “Calvinist economics” to “rugged

individualism/the self-made man” to “migration/borders” to “civil liberty,” “capitalism,” and the “opiates of the West—religion, shopping, sports, and food.” This is a smattering of the things KweiArmah is interested in exploring over the next few weeks as he curates his Center Stage seasons. OK, months. OK, years. He is beginning to realize he may have to pace himself. Kwame Kwei-Armah took the reins of Center Stage in July 2011 when Irene Lewis stepped

down after nineteen years at the organization’s helm. Although he has never served as artistic director of a regional theater before, he comes here from London where he has acted, directed, and written plays for more than twenty years. He is well known in Britain for his role as a paramedic in the long-running TV hospital drama Casualty and has experience as the artistic director of Senegal’s annual World Festival of Black Arts and Culture. In the past, he has come to Baltimore’s Center Stage as a director and when his plays were produced at the theater.

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Feature / theater  arts + culture Already at Center Stage, he has introduced a reading series using local actors, started a community roundtable discussion at the opening of each show to “cross-pollinate ideas,” expanded the seating capacity of one theater, agreed to host a playwrights’ laboratory called WordBRIDGE this summer, and even changed Center Stage’s signage to make it more welcoming. “When I arrived,” he says, “our banner outside said ‘Cool, savvy entertainment,’ and we immediately changed it to say, ‘Welcome to the conversation.’” As he goes forward, he is committed to a season that contains at least 50 percent new plays and also revisits the classics. When he came up with a draft of plays for the new season, colleagues axed half his list. “It’s a steep learning curve, trying to learn what the Baltimore audience likes,” he says. “It’s a different paradigm in London, where we don’t really have membership and subscribers who buy tickets for the whole year. There, you are selling on a show-by-show basis.” Here, he has to sell a slate of shows. And, when he arrived in Baltimore, people warned him that this was a very “titledriven” audience. “If they’ve seen the play in the last fifteen years we can’t do it again,” he says. “It has been interesting negotiating that, coming from a culture where you can have five Romeo & Juliets running in London at the same time and people will go see multiple versions just to see what different artists are doing with a piece.” He is toying with the idea of converting the theater’s Chapel Bar into an experimental theater space. “This is a dream,” he says, admitting it is not even in the planning stages yet. “But wouldn’t it be great to make a fifty-seat theater where people can do edgier, more avant-garde work?” He also likes the idea of doing some thematic programming with other Baltimore arts organizations. For example, he says, one theater might do Romeo & Juliet while another does West Side Story. It’s the stealth approach: Baltimore audiences may yet join London in having multiple versions of plays going on simultaneously. It is also a way of community building, strengthening Center Stage’s somewhat tenuous tie to the city’s arts community under Irene Lewis. Philip Arnoult, director of the Center for International Theatre Development and founder of the Theatre Project in 1971, refers to Kwei-Armah as a “theatrical Don Schaefer” and thinks “he is the right man at the right time to make an impact on a new theatrical topography in Baltimore.” And Kwei-Armah’s engagement in the community is not limited to arts venues. He sees theater as a way of jump-starting a cultural conversation. “I see theater as a place of entertainment but also as a civic powerhouse. It’s a place you go to discuss, think, ruminate, and articulate ... I want to create plays that are a catalyst for debate,” Kwei-Armah says, explaining that both the presentation and the content ought to invigorate the conversation.

Perhaps epitomizing this idea of diverse artistic voices fueling a lively civic dialogue is Kwei-Armah’s My America series. He is asking fifty playwrights across the country to write three-minute monologues entitled My America. The project is still in planning stages; Center Stage hopes to present a different one each night in the run up to the election, as a kind of curtain raiser. “It’s really a way of announcing that Center Stage is in the new play business and drawing national attention to us from the writing community,” he says. And then, perhaps indicating that he has truly acclimated to the Baltimore scene, he parrots civic leaders’ most common lament. “We can send out a different kind of signal about Baltimore,” he says, “one that says we’re an arts town, not just The Wire.” Clearly the question on everyone’s mind when it comes to Kwei-Armah is … why Baltimore? Kwei-Armah, who has settled in Roland Park with his wife and children—his youngest is at Roland Park Elementary, his teenage twins are finishing exams in London before beginning at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, and his oldest attends the University of Westminster in the UK—begins with the pat and predictable: Center Stage is an institution he loves and adores; he has worked there before and has a relationship with the city of Baltimore. Then he gets closer to the bone. “I thought it would be good for my art,” he says. Kwei-Armah describes his artistic progression as fueled by dissatisfaction. When he first started off as a singer, he grew frustrated waiting for the right songs to be written that spoke to him. So he started writing his own songs. When he started acting, he got frustrated waiting for the right scripts “that said things I wanted them to say.” So he became a playwright. When he became a playwright, sitting in rehearsals for his plays, he got bored “watching them search for the right direction to capture things I’m trying to capture.” So he started directing. Lately, he’d been annoyed by the predictable nature of plays being staged in London. “So by God’s grace or whatever, I became an artistic director so that I could put on the kind of plays that I want to do.” He says this without hubris. Indeed, it seems to come more out of that British “Calvinist economics,” that life-is-about-work ethos that he mentioned on his whiteboard. Then, personifying that life-is-about-work ethos, he tells me that in addition to running Center Stage, he wrote a play in December, recorded it for the BBC in January, and is now working on a play he will stage here next year. That reminds him. “Oh, yeah.” He grabs a marker and studies his sweeping list of the “American Zeitgeist” until he locates the category he's looking for. With some satisfaction, he puts a tick mark next to it. Mission accomplished. On to the next task.

Lady in waiting: Las Meninas tells the story of an illicit affair between Queen Marie-Thérèse and a dwarf.

The Real Girls Las Meninas at Rep Stage, April 18–May 6 by Martha Thomas


f you look carefully at Diego Velázquez’s painting "Las Meninas," says director Eve Muson, “you’ll know exactly what Lynn Nottage was up to” when she penned her 2002 play of the same name. “It’s a story within a story within a story,” in the same way that the painting, of a young girl at court, with her ladiesin-waiting (one of whom is a dwarf), features layered perspectives. “Nottage is telling the unknown stories of those who aren’t in the power structure,” says Muson. And like the painting, the story, told by an historical figure who may or may not have existed, mixes up the notion of what is real. Velázquez himself appears in his 1656 painting, and a mirror in the background reflects the faces of the child’s parents, the King and Queen of Spain. The images of the monarchy hover close to the center of the piece, but are elusive, and may or may not be what is on the painter’s unseen canvas—and are thereby two steps removed from reality. The play Las Meninas is the story of the illicit affair between Queen Marie-Thérèse, wife of Louis XIV, and a dwarf, imported from Africa and presented to the queen as a gift. By some accounts, the queen, herself an outsider in the French court of the Sun King, gives birth to a dark-skinned daughter, believed to be the famous “Black Nun of Moret,” who appears in another painting from the period. The play is narrated by a novitiate on the night before she takes her vows. But even she is unsure of the truth. “The nun keeps saying, ‘I’m telling you my story, but I wasn’t there,’” says Muson, raising the question, “is this story true?” The playwright, says Muson, focuses on the outsiders: “She’s giving them their voice, their personal stories. I think Nottage wants to tell the stories of people whose histories have been erased.” For tickets to Las Meninas, call 443-518-1500 or visit www.repstage.org.

Urbanite #94  april 2012  75

Sondheim’S Fairy Tale muSical


WOODS Final Two Weeks through

Apr 15

Artistic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah directs



By Matthew Lopez

Apr 4–May 13

Discover dramatic works of art from 40 cultures like the Olmec, Maya and Inka.



600 N. Charles St. Baltimore, MD 410-547-9000 thewalters.org

Mexico, Face with Nose Ornament and Tlaloc Headdress, Teotihuacan, 450–650 �� / This exhibition has been organized by the Walters Art Museum. The exhibition has been made possible through the generous contributions of John Bourne, the Women’s Committee of the Walters Art Museum, the Selz Foundation, and the Ziff Family, through its endowed exhibition fund for the arts of the ancient Americas.

76  april 2012  www.urbanitebaltimore.com

At the close of the Civil War, three Richmond Jews—one a former Confederate soldier and two his former slaves— spend the eve of Passover struggling with new roles and age-old questions of justice and mercy. The William l. and Victorine Q. adams Foundation & The rodgers Family Fund

State Theater of Maryland

www.centerstage.org | 410.332.0033 centerstagemd centerstage_md

Fashion / film  arts + culture fashion is. In other words, don’t expect skinny girls wearing dresses walking in a straight line. Unlike in past years, Transcend organizers Karen Feliz and Morel Doucet did not give designers any premise for their lines—the only rule is designers must express themselves. Aa a result, Feliz says many chose to incorporate materials other than fabric or drastically change found fabrics. Make it work: Natalie Ebaugh, a senior fiber major at MICA,puts the finishing For some designers, like touches on her clothing line for Milquetoast. Hayley Martell, a junior fibers major, putting on a show like this meant raising more than $3,000 through Kickstarter for dyes to transform found materials into wearable Transcend at Maryland Institute College of Art, garments. Because the lines are self-funded, deApril 13–14 signers invested more than time into lines that, Milquetoast at 2640, April 21 By Ashley May in many cases, “push people’s preconceived notions” of design, Martell says. “The show is about questioning the boundhis month, Maryland Institute College of aries of fashion,” Feliz says. For example, Art presents two fashion shows: Transcend, Transcend will feature a line made from 1950s the 19th annual benefit show presented by the scrap material designs that were enlarged and Office of Diversity, and Milquetoast, the final reprinted on new fabrics, two lines incorporatproduct of the yearlong Multi Media Event class’ ing theater performance, and a swimsuit line work with experimental fibers at 2640. Each that combines fabric with digitally printed show features about a dozen student-designed photographs of Miami and Cuba. fashion lines that challenge notions of what

The swimsuit line “The Past is Present” is by Stephanie Santos, a senior fibers major of Cuban descent, born in Puerto Rico but raised in Miami, Florida. She says she often struggles with a sense of home, because she feels disconnected from her Cuban roots. Santos will also display an abstract experimental line in Milquetoast. Most of the designers in Milquetoast are senior fibers majors, like Santos, who value fashion as an art in itself. “Clothing is our expressive medium,” says Valeska Populoh, professor of the Multi Media Event class. For her Milquetoast line, Santos worked with a choreographer and composer and used dancers as her models, to show specifically how clothing can constrain movement—like the way in which location has constrained her cultural identity. Her line features silk organza garments draped over the body in a way that disrupts the human silhouette. Some of her garments look like a puff of material placed over the head with the rest of the body nearly naked, while others concentrate only on one area of the arm and appear like a carefully constructed sling. “When I choose where the part of the garment will go, I just try and think of ways of obstructing movement and inhibiting vision,” Santos says. “I just play.”

Invisible Cities

al-Rahman, with an interior of red and white striped voussoirs; and the palace of Suleiman the Magnificent, its walls drenched in enough gold-leaf to make supposedly sunnier French designers appear dour. In the footage of the Alhambra, the plaster carvings are so ornate that the inscriptions seem to rise like words from the weave of a bird’s nest. Language is the line that connects the points between these epochs—the film starts with an examination of calligraphy, the revelatory words of the Quran being primary to Islamic artistic expression. The film tells the story of Mohamed Zakariya, an American convert from California who in 1983 traveled to Turkey to study with the great calligraphic masters. Zakariya is an affable gray-haired man with a characteristic under-beard and at least one visible arm tattoo. His voice is decidedly American, and when he speaks of being introduced to the exemplars of his craft, it’s with the exuberance of a guitar player who has just stumbled on a new Django Reinhardt recording. The underlying analysis humanizes these seemingly inhuman feats of grandeur by examining the minutia of the artistic process. If there is something else that ties together these images of the Islamic world, maybe it is that: that there is no end to the potential depth of its detail.

Top photo by j.m. giordano; Bottom photo by Shawn Baron

Project Runway


Islamic Art: Mirror on the Invisible World at the Walters Art Museum, April 22 By benjamin warner


slamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World, which tracks the artistic expansion of the ancient Muslim world, pans its camera over palaces, mosques, and mosaics from Damascus to Jerusalem to the eerily beautiful adobe of Djenne. “The diversity of these many Muslim countries, from India to Mali,” says producer and director Robert Gardner, of Roland Park, “is a reminder of how rich Islamic culture has been throughout history and continues to be today.” The film uses its experts well—imams and professors from Yale and Princeton and a host of museum curators, including Amy Landau, the curator of Islamic art and manuscripts at the Walters Art Museum. “The film was shot all over the world and showcases the treasures of the renowned David Collection in Copenhagen,” says Carrie Gardner, who researched and worked on the script, “but we were really very lucky to be able to use so many images from the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore and collaborate with our own fantastic local curators.” With its broad reach, much of Islamic Art illustrates the assimilative techniques of Islamic rulers and their artisans—techniques that effectively demonstrate the diversity of a culture

On location: Baltimore-based Gardner Films traveled across the world to film Islamic Art.

often painted, today, with a monolithic brush. It might be valuable to imagine, before viewing this film, just what Islamic art is. Yes, there are those piercing blues that we’re told stem from a wealth of Iranian cobalt, but certainly that is not the defining feature. In fact, as the film gently reminds us, there is probably nothing to be gained from reducing the art of such a wideranging people to any singular tendency. The film, narrated by Susan Sarandon, shows us the Great Mosque of Cordoba, built by Abd

For more information, visit http://fyi.mica.edu.

For more information, visit www.thewalters.org.

Urbanite #94  april 2012  77


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the scene

this month’s happenings Compiled by Anissa Elmerraji


Kota Ezawa. Flowers, 2009. Paper Size: 20.5 x 27 inches, Images Size: 14.5 x 22 inches, Color Aquatint Etching; Edition of 50. Published by Paulson Bott Press


Funnyman Mike Epps comes to Baltimore with his new “I’m Standing Still” stage act on April 7. Known for his film roles like The Hangover and Next Friday, Epps will star alongside Jordin Sparks in the upcoming musical Sparkle, which is set to be released this summer. (201 W. Baltimore St.; 410-347-2020; www. baltimorearena.com)

watch a hilarious video on the Internet? April 12 is your chance to share the fun with a captive (and pleasantly inebriated) audience during YouTube Show & Tell at the Marquee Lounge. With each participant allotted five minutes of spotlight, there’s sure to be plenty of funny to go around. (3134 Eastern Ave.; 410-276-1651; www.creativealliance.org)



If your high school prom was full of high school drama, then the Baltimore Improv Group’s Prom without Tears is the one for you. On April 21, dust off your old dress or tux and head to the Patterson for a night of dancing, flirting and, of course, a healthy dose of improv. (3134 Eastern Ave.; 410-276-1651; www. bigimprov.org)

Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s famous tale, the Creative Alliance presents this year’s Marquee Ball: Wonderland on April 14. Baltimore band The Bellevederes supply a mix of vintage R&B as whimsically costumed guests enjoy art auctions, scrumptious fare, and a night of dancing. (3134 Eastern Ave.; 410-276-1651; www. creativealliance.org)

On April 11, award-winning journalist and author Mark Bowden visits Towson University for a discussion of his latest nonfiction works, including Worm: the First Digital World War and Guests of the Ayatollah. Best known as the author of Black Hawk Down, Bowden kicked off a successful journalism career on the streets of Baltimore before going on to work at publications like Atlantic Monthly and Vanity Fair. (8000 York Rd.; 410-830-6055; www.towson.edu) Teacher, writer, consultant, and author Ian Jukes discusses learning in today’s technology-centric society during Understanding the Digital Generation on April 17. Pulling from his book Understanding the Digital Generation: Teaching and Learning in the New Digital

Landscape, Jukes goes in depth about the evolving learning styles of today’s youth. (4701 N. Charles St.; 410-5325546; www.ndm.edu)


New York-based singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten brings her mix of wistful indie rock and folk to the Ottobar on April 19. Etten plays from her third album, Tramp, which includes “We Are Fine,” a duet with Beirut’s Zach Condon. Wye Oak singer Jenn Wasner opens with her solo project, Flock of Dimes. (2549 N. Howard St.; 410-662-0069; www.theottobar.com)

Your favorite French elephant comes alive on April 21 at the Meyerhoff. Enjoy Francis Poulenc’s cheerful score for the beloved book and television series Babar the Elephant, which follows the antics of the wise and just Babar, king of the elephants. Cartoonist Angie Jordan illustrates the story live onstage. (1212 Cathedral St.; 410-783-8000; www. bsomusic.org) Get a taste of life in the 19th century with songs, stories, and shadow puppetry during Cogs, Wheels, and

Meteor Showers at the Creative Alliance on April 27. Songwriter Linda Nelson weaves tales about the Underground Railroad and more, while artist Katherine Fahey performs a show of old-time shadow puppetry. The duo is joined by a handful of local performers, including “Baltimore Jonny” and Walter Jones. (3134 Eastern Ave.; 410-276-1651; www.creativealliance.org) On April 29, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra presents Beethoven’s Last Night, scoring a fictional tale of the musical luminary’s final night on earth as he completes his last and greatest work, Symphony No. 10. The score includes beloved classical pieces like Flight of the Bumblebee and Mozart’s Requiem. (201 W. Baltimore St.; 410-247-2020; www. baltimorearena.com) Indie legends Death Cab For Cutie join forces with the San Francisco-based Magik*Magik Orchestra for a musical collaboration of epic proportions. On April 30, hear Death Cab’s latest album, Codes and Keys, accompanied by crushing strings at the Music Center at Strathmore. (5301 Tuckerman Ln., N. Bethesda; 301-581-5100; www.strathmore.org)

On April 1, enjoy a show of traditional Japanese dance at Kabuki Dance By Bando Kotoji. Seasoned Japanesse dancer Kotoji performs three pieces: the upbeat Manzai dance, the wistful Tamatori Ama, and Yoshino-yama, taken from the Kabuki play Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees. (800 York Rd., Towson; 410-704-2000; www.events. towson.edu)


Do you ever miss the sound of other people laughing with you when you

Every two years, the Baltimore Museum of Art hosts the Baltimore Contemporary Print Fair, featuring contemporary drawings, prints, and photographs. This year, the fair runs April 28–29 and features more than twenty presses including Manneken Press, Clay Street Press, and Shark’s Ink. Artist Trenton Doyle Hancock will speak along with the founders of Printeresting.org, a website dedicated to all things printmaking. (10 Art Museum Dr.; 443-573-1700; www. artbma.org)

Urbanite #94  april 2012  79

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the scene HOME/DESIGN


Iron Crow Theatre Company presents Daniel Maclvor’s The Soldier Dreams, April 7–21, a comedic show that tells the story of David, who unexpectedly falls into a coma. The play explores how David’s family and his partner Richard cope with the prospect of losing someone dear to them. (45 W. Preston St.; 410-539-3091; www.theatreproject.org) On April 20 and 22, the Lyric presents Charles Gounod’s Faust. Set in present time, director Bernard Uzan’s rendition of the show follows Faust, who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for eternal youth. Sung in French with English surtitles, the performance features the Concert Artists of Baltimore Orchestra. (140 W. Mount Royal Ave.; 410-6855086 www.lyricoperahouse.com) On April 13, the Fells Point Corner Theatre brings back 10 X 10, a night of ten plays by ten different playwrights that are each ten minutes long. This year, playwrights hail from Connecticut to Chicago to good old Charm City. After the performances, the audience gets to vote on the best play of the night. (251 S. Ann St.; 410-276-7837; www.fpct.org)

Artists, policymakers, and practitioners gather to discuss the boundless benefits of arts and entertainment districts during the National Symposium on Arts/ Cultural/Entertainment Districts on April 4–5. The two-day event kicks off with a tour of our very own pinnacle of culture, Station North, followed by a word from keynote speaker, Dr. Mark Stern of the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice. (401 W. Pratt St.; www.stationnorth.org) Indulge in penne alla vodka or gnocchi della casa from La Scala Ristorante while you meet locals from the Little Italy community during the 2nd Annual Spring Social on April 19. With proceeds benefitting the Promotion Center for Little Italy, the night features a game of bocce ball, a 50/50 raffle, a silent auction, and plenty of good company. (1012 Eastern Ave.; www.promotioncenterfor littleitaly.org) ¿Hablas español? Brush up on your Spanish skills at La Tertulia, where local Spanish speakers gather for informal chatting sessions. It's held during the Creative Alliance’s gallery openings through April 19; Spanish speakers

This year, the Baltimore Symphony Associates’ 36th Annual Decorators’ Show House features the quaint and rustic Eck House, located on 45 acres in Towson’s Cromwell Valley Park. Guests are invited to browse the home’s interior and gardens, redecorated by twenty local designers from firms like Le Chateau Interiors, Grillo Interiors, and Simply Put Interiors. Proceeds support educational programs sponsored by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Take a tour Tuesdays through Sundays from April 29 through May 20. (1996 Cromwell Bridge Rd., Towson; 410-783-8000; www.bsomusic.org)

should sport red shirts. (3134 Eastern Ave.; 410-276-1651; www.creative alliance.org)

GREEN/SUSTAINABLE Inspired by Homewood Museum’s Federal Foodies: From Farm to Table in Early Baltimore exhibition, Historic Farm Day gives a glimpse of 19th-century food practices. On April 1, bring the kids to an outdoor petting farm and a presentation by urban beekeepers. Actress and culinary historian Dory Gean Cunningham serves up stories of early American food preservation practices. (3400 N. Charles St.; 410-516-5589; http://museums.jhu.edu)

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On April 3, Robert Staples and Day The 26th Annual Towson Gardens Barbara Charles of the Virginia-based design3rd firm Staples & Charles Ltd disMay - 10-3 To kick off Baltimore Thursday, Green Week, cuss their lengthy career as planners and Baltimore Green Works presents author designers of some world’s premier The streets surrounding theof the Historic Courth Justin Martin as part of their Sustainmuseums. Founded in 1973, the firm has worked with the Smithsonian, Monticello, the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, Texas, and even the Coca-Cola Company. (1000 Hilltop Cir.; 410-455-1000; www. umbc.edu/arts)

able Speaker Series. On April 17, Martin discusses his new book, Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted, which chronicles the life of the landscape architect and social reformer well known for his work with New York City’s Central Park. (400 Cathedral St.; 410-396-5540; www.baltimoregreenworks.com)

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eye to eye

it's not uncommon to skewer a map with pins to document one's travels. However, Plot, a site-specific work by Dawn Gavin, a professor at the University of Maryland College Park, elevates the practice to a dizzying level. Employing 1,600 straight pins and as many atlas fragments, the work is a kinetic map of possibilities. Unlike the documents she uses as source material, which can be neatly categorized into finite territories, Gavin presents a fractured landscape in flux. Composed within a set of 6-foot concentric circles, Plot directly challenges authoritative ideas about boundaries and allegiance. Gavin, originally from Scotland, has long explored the efcara ober fects of geography, displacement, and identity in her artwork. However, this piece in particular stems from the direct excara ober is urbanite’s online arts/culture editor. to receive perience of living and working in the United States as a nonher weekly e-zine, go to bit.ly/ citizen. According to the artist, Plot came about “after I went ezinesignup. through the instability of negotiating complex visa issues, including a forced requirement to leave my job in Maryland in 2003 and remain outside the U.S. for twelve months.” After she returned to her home (and her dog) in Baltimore, the backgrounds in her artwork disappeared, with her imagery hovering instead in circular swarms. In Plot, Gavin both addresses the sensation of being "out of place" and creates a new narrative that renders boundaries obsolete, as many of the places culled from the atlases are now different or no longer exist. As with any travel, remembrance plays a large part in its significance. “Memory, and its inherent unreliability, has a direct bearing on my artistic practice,” says Gavin. “I have often considered my work to be a highly elaborate means to just hold on to a place or an idea, or to create a system that triggers a recollection, in the same way that re-telling a story might facilitate remembering it.” Viewed close up, each tiny circle acts as a vignette for a specific place in time, while the larger composition coalesces like memories from a journey, jumbled and merged into a new story. 86  april 2012  www.urbanitebaltimore.com

Dawn Gavin Plot (2005) Latex paint, paper (map fragments), and PVA 72" x 72" The work was installed as part of a solo exhibition at Texas Woman's University called ZERO/POINT/ POSITION.


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