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BARBER SCHOOL 路 SURFING LESSONS 路 EXTREME DIY august 2010 issue no. 74

SUMMER DREAMS

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN FANTASY MEETS REALITY?


Baltimore Green Works thanks you for your support! At Baltimore Green Works, we strive to embrace Maryland’s diverse communities by offering programming that promotes sustainable ways of living. Every spring for the last seven years, we’ve brought you the Ecofest and Baltimore Green Week. In 2008, Baltimore Green Week changed its name to Baltimore Green Works and began to offer more free and low-cost year round programming. So far, we’ve added the Ecoball, GROWorkshops, Projects in the Park, and the Sustainable Speaker Series. The Sustainable Speaker Series continues to be a success! This year we brought you Farm City’s Novella Carpenter, EPA’s Senior Advisor for the Chesapeake Bay, Chuck Fox, and MacArthur Fellow, Will Allen .

We’d like to thank YOU, our sponsors, and the great local businesses who support us! Sustainable Speaker Series: Enoch Pratt Free Library, Living Classrooms Foundation and Lorenz, Inc. Also to Urbanite Magazine, Whole Foods, Herring Run Watershed Association, Baltimore Museum of Industry, Baltimore Bioneers, Goucher College, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Red Canoe, Waste Neutral Group, The Ivy Bookstore, and the Burkshire Marriott Hotel. Baltimore Green Week: MTA, Constellation Energy, Restore Capital, Verizon Foundation, Baltimore Community Foundation and Urbanite Magazine. Also to Chipotle Mexican Grill, Maryland Port Authority, Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, The Senator Theater, Maryland Institute College of Art, Morgan State University, Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks, Waste Neutral Group, East Coast Organics, Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, Neighborhood Design Center, Towson Arts Collective, Eliza Doering, Andrew Grimm, June Star, For the People Entertainment, the Frontier Dentists and Tree Baltimore. Projects in the Park: Lorenz, Inc., Parks & People Foundation, Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks and Chipotle Mexican Grill.

From the New York Times Magazine to you: PAUL GREENBERG, AUGUST 18TH, 6:30 P.M.

Ecoball: Living Classrooms Foundation, Baltimore International College, and Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park and Museum. Also to Urbanite Magazine, Three Stone Steps, Red Maple Restaurant & Lounge, John Shields, Partnership Wealth Management, All About Me Salon and Day Spa, Emminence Organics Skin Care, Waste Neutral Group, The Mooks, City Living Magazine, and Drexler Designs. GROWorkshops: Parks & People Foundation, Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks. These makers of fabulous local food have graciously supported our events: Brewer’s Art, Bon Appetit, Bluebird Artisinal Coffee Roasters, Chipotle, Firefly Farms, Planet Produce, Many Rocks Farm,Two Oceans, True Foods, Trickling Springs Creamery, Roseda Beef, Woodberry Kitchen, Clementine, The Dogwood, Gertrude’s, Real Food Farm, Great Kids Farm, The Wine Group, and The Wine Source BGW has received generous support from: Annie E. Casey Foundation, Lorenz, Inc., MTA, Constellation Energy Foundation and our benevolent volunteers. Special thanks to Chubb & Son Insurance and to the Citi FInancial Group for donating the funds raised from their jeans drive.

Enoch Pratt Free Library, Southeast Branch

In Four Fish, Paul Greenberg explores our relationship with the oceans, honing in on four varieties of fish - salmon, bass, cod and tuna. He uncovers the myths, misconceptions, and cultural precedents that persist while leading us to healthier, more cost-effective and environmentally sound choices. Presented in partnership by: Baltimore Green Works’ Sustainable Speaker Series and the Enoch Pratt Free Library Sponsored by Lorenz, Inc. and the Living Cassrooms Foundation

www.baltimoregreenworks.com


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contents

august 2010 issue no. 74

features 32

meet me at the fair

scenes from the eleven best days of summer story and photography by jim burger

38

hitsville

the 1991 ford tempo was finished, bound for the junkyard. then mick gauvin decided to send his old car off on one glorious last ride. by benjamin warner

40

the great escape

when the chincoteague ponies proved to be a letdown, a summer roadtrip went in a different direction. by marianne amoss

32 42

pipe dream

a lifelong surfer wannabe finally gets on the board. by andrew reiner

departments 9

45

11

what you’re saying

15

what you’re writing

19

this month online at www.urbanitebaltimore.com: video: charles cohen captures life at barber school and the story behind a photography book about local motorcycle clubs

editor’s note

city of dreams nutrition facts

fact or fiction: real-life ghosts, a lonely man, and losing louise

corkboard

this month: fashion week, science fair, and renn fest

21

the goods: disc golf! plus: home goods, veggie ice cream, and an improved

27

baltimore observed old school

market bag

at a baltimore hair-cutting institution, students learn barbering the old-fashioned way. by charles cohen

45

space inside the garden walls

baltimore city inmates find solace in a small patch of green. by brennen jensen

51

eat/drink making it

a hardy crew of food fanatics takes diy to an all-new level.

by michelle gienow

on the air:

aug 5: the african american quilters of baltimore aug 19: the caretakers of baltimore’s prison garden

55

reviewed: feast @ 4 east and koco’s pub

57

wine & sprits: cocktail creations

59

the feed: this month in eating

61

art/culture in stitches

aug 25: baltimore food makers

a new generation of african american quilters by mary k. zajac

plus: victoria vox, the baltimore improv festival, and this month’s cultural highlights on the cover:

photo by jim burger

74

eye to eye

urbanite’s creative director, alex castro, on randi reiss-mccormack w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m a u g u s t 1 0

7


Taste and Experience Downtown Baltimore.

i s s u e 74 : a u g u s t 2 0 1 0 p ub lish e r Tracy Ward Tracy@urbanitebaltimore.com c r e at iv e d ir e c t o r Alex Castro gener al manager Jean Meconi Jean@urbanitebaltimore.com e d i t o r -i n -c h i e f Greg Hanscom Greg@urbanitebaltimore.com

Enjoy Downtown Baltimore’s rich and diverse

m a nag ing e d it o r Marianne K. Amoss Marianne@urbanitebaltimore.com

restaurant scene. Whatever your preference,

e d i t o r -a t -l a r g e David Dudley David@urbanitebaltimore.com o nline e d it o r s green/sustainable: Heather Dewar Heather@urbanitebaltimore.com style/shopping: Jada Fletcher Jada@urbanitebaltimore.com home/design: Brennen Jensen Brennen@urbanitebaltimore.com food/drink: Tracey Middlekauff Tracey@urbanitebaltimore.com arts/culture: Cara Ober Cara@urbanitebaltimore.com

the dining possibilities Downtown are endless. Visit DineDowntownBaltimore.com

lit er a r y e d it o r Susan McCallum-Smith literaryeditor@urbanitebaltimore.com

for restaurants, specials, menus and more.

p r o ofr eader Robin T. Reid c o n t r ib uting w r it er s Michael Anft, Scott Carlson, Charles Cohen, Michael Corbin, Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson, Mat Edelson, Lionel Foster, Clinton Macsherry, Richard O’Mara, Andrew Reiner, Martha Thomas, Michael Yockel, Mary K. Zajac e d it o r ia l in t er ns Amelia Blevins, Simon Pollock

CITY CENTER

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

MOUNT VERNON FEDERAL HILL

t r a f fi c p r o d u c t i o n c o o r d i n a t o r Belle Gossett Belle@urbanitebaltimore.com

FELLS POINT

d e signer Kristian Bjørnard Kristian@urbanitebaltimore.com

HARBOR EAST

p r o d uc tio n in t e r ns Jenna Kaminsky, Karly Kolaja, Megan Pennington

INNER HARBOR

v i d e o g r a p h e r /w e b s i t e c o o r d i n a t o r Chris Rebbert website@urbanitebaltimore.com

WESTSIDE

se nio r ac c o un t ex e c utiv e s Catherine Bowen Catherine@urbanitebaltimore.com Susan Econ Econsusan@urbanitebaltimore.com Susan R. Levy Susan@urbanitebaltimore.com ac c o un t ex e c utiv e Rachel Bloom Rachel@urbanitebaltimore.com a d v e r t i s i n g s a l e s /e v e n t s c o o r d i n a t o r Erin Albright Erin@urbanitebaltimore.com b o o k k e e p i n g /m a r k e t i n g a s s i s t a n t Iris Goldstein Iris@urbanitebaltimore.com m a r k eting in t er ns Madeline Miller, Megan Pennington, Maria Satyshur o nline a ssista n t Shantez Evans 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

DIAMOND TAVERN

An Initiative of Downtown Partnership of Baltimore

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THE PRIME RIB

Find convenient and low cost parking at many Baltimore City garages on evenings and weekends, at www.DowntownBaltMap.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 support the opinions of its authors. To subscribe or obtain assistance with a current subscription, call 410-243-2050. Subscription price: $18 per year. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission by Urbanite is prohibited. Copyright 2010, Urbanite LLC. All rights reserved. Urbanite (ISSN 1556-8105) is a free publication distributed widely in the Baltimore metropolitan area. To suggest a drop location for the magazine, please contact us at 410-243-2050. Postmaster: Send address changes to Urbanite Subscriptions, 2002 Clipper Park Road, Fourth Floor, Baltimore, MD 21211. Urbanite is a certified Minority Business Enterprise.

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urbanite august 10


photo by Karly Kolaja

photo by Claire Mueller

contributors Production intern Jenna Kaminsky is about to begin her senior year at Maryland Institute College of Art, where she is studying graphic design. A native of Richmond, Virginia, she has lived in Baltimore City for nearly three years and finds great enjoyment in the diversity of the arts community here. At Urbanite this summer, she’s been assisting with design, marketing, and advertising. Post-graduation, she plans to remain in the city and use her knowledge of both graphic design and Baltimore neighborhoods to engage and educate people.

Editorial intern Simon Pollock is a rising senior political science major at Goucher College and a native of Northampton, Massachusetts. When he’s not at Urbanite or writing op-eds for Goucher’s student paper, the Quindecim, he plays Ultimate Frisbee, sees a movie at the Charles, or catches some live music. For this issue, he wrote an update on the Chesapeake Bay (p. 29) and pieces in “The Goods” (p. 21 and 23) about veggie ice cream, a locally created farmers’ market bag, and disc golf—another of his favorite activities.

editor’s note

On July 2, 1980,

thousands of people jammed into the promenade along Baltimore’s Inner Harbor for the grand opening of the $21 million Harborplace shopping pavilions. My wife, who was 7 at the time, remembers it as a big day. Her mother pulled her and her 10-year-old brother out of swimming lessons and hauled them down to the harbor to stand in the sticky heat among the throngs, listen to the speeches, and wait in line for an order of Thrasher’s fries, doused in vinegar. Harborplace, which celebrated its thirtieth anniversary this summer, largely sprang from the vision of celebrated developer/philanthropist James Rouse, whose pioneering fi rm built many a shopping mall in this region. Harborplace was something a little more novel—a “festival marketplace” that blended retail with a kind of county-fair atmosphere of perpetual whimsy. There was a shop that traded in quirky hats, a place fi lled with stuffed animals, and a kite store—“We were crazy for that kite store,” my wife says. She has fond memories of Harborplace in the years that followed that opening day, feeding her face with Lee’s Oreo cookie ice cream and fried dough, exploring the tall ships, and tossing bread to the birds in the harbor. “I loved it there.” Much has changed since the Rouse Co. first dared to dream down on the Inner Harbor. With the addition of the National Aquarium, the attractions in the Power Plant, and the two sports stadiums nearby, the harbor has become a major draw for tourists. (Before The Wire, it was synonymous with this city in the eyes of the outside world. “Baltimore? Yeah, I’ve been there. Went to the harbor once. It’s really nice.”) But Harborplace, once the center of activity, has become a side attraction at best—especially for residents. Its present owner, General Growth Properties, which bought the place from the Rouse Co. in 2004, is in the process of dragging itself out of bankruptcy. Still, General Growth is promising to transform Harborplace from a seasonal tourist attraction into a place where locals once again flock to shop and dine. It could work: More than 40,000 people now live within a mile of Pratt and Light streets, including thousands in the condos and apartments that have been built since Harborplace fi rst opened; more than 100,000 people work downtown. It’s a new dream, laid over the old—and what is a city, if not our dreams writ large, then run up against the realities of the economy, the times, and history? As with the city, so it is with our lives. This issue of Urbanite features four essays about quintessential summer fantasies. Photographer Jim Burger writes of his boyhood fantasies of small-town midways and trains his lens on the “eleven best days of summer” in “Meet Me at the Fair” on page 32. In “Hitsville” (p. 38), Benjamin Warner follows an intrepid neighbor’s quest to demolish his own car in a demolition derby, while Andrew Reiner tells of realizing a three-decade long fantasy of learning to surf in “Pipe Dream” (p. 42). Urbanite’s managing editor, Marianne Amoss, in “The Great Escape,” (p. 40) goes in search of the famous Chincoteague ponies. If there’s one theme that binds these essays together, it’s this: Our dreams are just that. They rarely, if ever, turn out the way we imagine. Reality has a way of bending our visions, of transforming the objects of our desire. But perhaps, these stories suggest, that’s OK. We change with our dreams, adapt to new realities, and layer new fantasies over the old. Summer, of course, is the season of dreams, when we escape the workaday routines of the rest of the year and imagine ourselves somewhere (or someone) better. Jim Rouse’s unlikely fever dream was turning a dying old harbor into a perpetual festival. And for a long time, it worked. Maybe this new vision will become reality for a time, too. In the meantime, before the heat fades and the autumn begins, we can all kick back and close our eyes—and see what kind of future we can imagine. —Greg Hanscom

WHERE’D YOU LEARN TO TALK LIKE THAT? Coming Next Month: Rethinking urban schools www.urbanitebaltimore.com w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m a u g u s t 1 0

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KESPEAR SUMMER SHA TASTE-OFF • OL • HOT DOG O P W E N L O A CO . 73

E

no 0 issue july 201

Rome was not built in a day, and legacy systems do not turn on a dime. We know what needs to be done and what needs to change. Thanks, Tony. —Gordon Steen, Pikesville

WHO YOU CALLIN’ CHICKEN? FINALLY HAT IT TA KES TO DO W E HAVE W BA APEA KE Y? SAVE THE CHES

the last meal I read about Tony Geraci’s departure from the Baltimore City Public Schools with dismay but not surprise (“Hard to Swallow,” July). As parents of three girls who are committed to public education in general and in Baltimore City in particular, my husband and I were very hopeful about Geraci’s plans for the food in school. A year into the program, I asked my eldest daughter about the food. “Nothing’s changed,” she said. “It’s still the same old pizza and fried food.” (Not that she objected, mind you!) We’re not Whole Foods shoppers, locavores, vegetarians, or foodies; our eating style is probably more retrograde than most people’s these days. But whether it’s meatloaf, cookies, or veggies, we care about fresh ingredients prepared carefully. For a family like ours to feel that the school food is inedible for our children means that it’s literally inedible. Not all parents have the ability to shop weekly and get up early to provide a home lunch for their kids—lord knows, we barely manage to do it some days. So having good food in the schools—an essential underpinning to success in the classroom, no doubt—is not a luxury. It is a necessity. I sincerely hope that BCPS will re-prioritize this important issue and find the resources to make real change, with or without a celebrity chef. —Claire Carton, Baltimore From the eds.: Officials at the Baltimore City Public Schools have reversed course, announcing that Tony Geraci will retain his title of Food and Nutrition Director. However, as we reported, Geraci will now work part-time for the schools while juggling other work and time with his family. from the web Tony [Geraci] got the ball rolling.

You can’t innovate without vision, and Tony [Geraci] has vision. What he’s been able to accomplish in two years, despite an intransigent bureaucracy, is pretty darn amazing. Great Kids Farm, molded from fallow, unused ground, has served the city’s school kids well. The entrepreneurial nature of selling its produce to a willing buyer certainly makes up for the lack of district funding, and it teaches the children a basic lesson in business—and success. Glad Tony’s hanging in there on a part-time basis. Baltimore would be much worse without him. —Bill Lawton, Canton bay feedback Urbanite’s admirable coverage of the poultry litter problem on the Eastern Shore (“Now or Never,” July) focused, as coverage like this always does, on the Chesapeake Bay. There are six bays in Maryland, and five of them are the coastal bays, the shallow bodies of water behind Ocean City and Assateague Island. While their total area is much smaller than that of the Chesapeake, the coastal bays are no less important as an economic engine for the region. Ask any hotelier in Ocean City what would happen if the coastal bays could no longer support flounder and blue crab populations or if the waters were deemed unsafe for swimming. Newport Bay and the St. Martin River in the coastal bays watershed are very nearly there now. Both bodies of water are off-limits to shellfishing, as pollutants tend to concentrate in fi lter feeders like clams. Dense summer blooms of tough macroalgae in the St. Martin devastated an oyster restoration project. Only pollution-resistant species can survive, and those species have little market or recreational value. Those who treasure the beach and who, like my family, went “downyoshun” every summer, must support the courageous efforts of those who advocate for healthy coastal bays if they expect future generations to be able to enjoy our coastal waters. —Ron Pilling is a past president of the Assateague Coastal Trust. I farm. I love farming. I love the bay and the awesome food it gives us. What is better than picking crabs and eating sweet corn with just a little bit of Old Bay? It pains me that after twenty-seven years of rhetoric from all sides, the bay is in

what you’re saying worse shape than when we signed the Chesapeake Bay Agreement. The finger is always pointed at agriculture. I would suggest that chicken production is not agriculture but industry. Why is “big chicken” not held accountable for its manure? Take a look at the bay’s recent report card. The upper Western Shore has the highest score. This area is a mixture of rural development and agriculture, much like many areas on the Eastern Shore. What it does not have is chickens! I say hold the chicken industry accountable for the pollution it creates. —Drew Norman is co-owner of One Straw Farm, the largest organic farm in Maryland. the park’s past I thought you would be interested in knowing how the new Roosevelt Park swimming pool came about (“Pool Party,” July). The renovation to the pool complex wasn’t something the city just decided to do. Back in the 1990s, a plan to sell cityowned property, including Roosevelt Park, to various developers was promulgated. Hampden residents and business owners banded together and formed the Friends of Roosevelt Park to stop the plan. To show solidarity, more than five hundred people held hands and formed a circle around the entire park. With the assistance of Hampden’s 42nd District delegation and seed money from the Maryland General Assembly, the Friends of Roosevelt Park created a master plan for the park that was approved by the city. It included renovating the recreation center, upgrading the kiddie area, upgrading the baseball fields, moving the community garden, building a skateboard park, and renovating the swimming pool. Another aspect of the master plan (which has just begun) is the creation of an amphitheater as a gateway to the park and Hampden. The park’s success should be an example to those in city government that a community’s vision and persistence can lead to positive changes in the community. —Allen Hicks is founder and past president of the Friends of Roosevelt Park.

We want to hear what you’re saying. E-mail us at mail@urbanitebaltimore.com or send your letter to Mail, Urbanite, 2002 Clipper Park Road, Fourth Floor, Baltimore, MD 21211. Please include your name, address, and daytime phone number. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m a u g u s t 1 0

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The Main Street Live! Summer Concert Series returns to the Hunt Valley Towne Centre. This year, don’t miss The Bridge Unplugged, a local rock band that’s always on the road in the United States and Europe; Deanna Bogart, whose soulful blues have won awards as she’s toured the United States and abroad; and Millennium, a high-energy music and dance group featuring past American Idol finalist Travis Tucker. Plus, so much more! The concerts are free to all and run from 7:30 to 9 p.m. every Friday. Enjoy the outdoor concerts, have a snack, grab a drink and pull up a chair courtesy of Greetings & Readings. Thanks to our Concert Series sponsors Greenspring Energy and St. Joseph Medical Center.

Box of Rain Boutique is Baltimore’s choice for contemporary fashions. Whether you are looking for the perfect pair of jeans or a dress for girls night out, we’ll have you looking and feeling your best. Conveniently located next to DSW. Bring in this ad to receive $20 OFF* your next purchase! *restrictions apply, see store for details 410-329-1505

Celebrate Summer! Stop by and check out the area’s largest selection of wine, beer & spirits. For more information, visit www.calvertwine.com. 15% OFF any wine in the store. Any size, any type (excludes sales items). 410-771-3232 • www.calvertwine.com


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Please join us as we celebrate the Summer Music Festival. We offer our select InnKeeper’s Wine List at 50% savings. Baltimore County Restaurant Week Participant, August 13th - 22nd. 410-527-0999 • www.greystonegrill.com

Proud to sponsor the 2010 Hunt Valley Concert Series and deliver advanced care right here in our community.

Visit DiscoverSJ.com A unique and exquisite Asian dining experience serving only the freshest sushi and sashimi! Bring this ad to receive $10 savings towards a minimum $20 purchase. One per purchase. Not redeemable with any other offers. JWK 410-329-1088 • Asean Bistro 410-772-5300 www.jessewongskitchen.com • www.aseanbistro.com


what you’re writing

Fact or Fiction

photo by Luciane Lazzaris — www.fl ickr.com/photos/lurdz/

“you should meet louise,” said my

mother. “She’s nice. She’s your age. She has a lovely smile. I’ve told her all about you. You ought to show her around.” Louise was a neighbor’s niece who was also vacationing in Ocean City. I was 15 and resented my mother trying to hook me up. “I’m tired of hearing about Louise, and there’s something you’re not telling me.” She cleared her throat. “Louise has never been on a date. It would mean so much if you took her out for ice cream.” In my mind, Louise grew larger and more pimple-faced by the hour. I saw the lonely girl everywhere—in the shops, on the boardwalk, on the beach. I cringed whenever an unattractive girl walked near me and felt relief when she passed by. I imagined Louise hunched behind every beach umbrella and potted palm, winking and blowing kisses. Once I spied a sexy girl sitting alone on a bench. She tossed back her shining hair and lifted her tanned face to the sun. Could this be Louise? I was determined to lean into her and feel the warmth of her perfect skin. “Sweetheart,” I’d say. “Don’t be bashful. Let me take your hand and show you around.” Just then a muscular jock called her Sue and kissed her on the lips. On the last evening of our vacation, my mother insisted that we take a stroll on the boardwalk to get ice cream and watch the sunset. I sat in silence and glared at her as I licked my cone. I had a sour feeling that she was still scheming for me to meet Louise, so I prepared myself. I’d avoid the yearning gaze of Louise’s fishy eyes; I’d be careful not to brush her thin, oily hair; and I’d try not to grimace at her reddened jowls, cracked lips, and mole clusters. When I imagined everyone on the boardwalk snickering at me as Louise took my hand and

traced a heart on my sweating palm, I asked my mother, “Where is she?” “Where is who?” ”Louise!” “She left yesterday.” I hid my grin. “Tell the truth. Is Louise really ugly?” “Ugly? She’s pretty. Louise is a beautiful girl.” I tried to separate fact from fiction as I struggled to give Louise a makeover. “Will she visit Ocean City next year?” I asked hopefully. —Rick Shelley teaches mosaic-making at the Creative Alliance and the American Visionary Art Museum. He has written a collection of short stories based on the eccentric characters he has known in Baltimore.

ghost-chasing tourists wearing Hawaiian shirts come to my work, an old pub in Fells Point, and want to hear stories. They ask me, leaning over to whisper as if it were a secret, if the bar is haunted. I wink slyly, mention things I’ve heard: a man in a black tailcoat who is rumored to appear by the pool table, white orbs floating in patrons’ photographs. I tell them that I sometimes feel a cold breath on the back of my neck, that I see flashes of movement in my peripheral vision. They leave with goose bumps, giddy with this notion of a haunted place, of ghosts. What I really see are the ghosts of a family that has suffered immeasurable loss, a story that these tourists do not want to hear. The couple that owns the bar has lost two children in ten years. First a son, from an accidental

drug overdose, and then a daughter to cancer. I see a shrine to their son’s childhood in a shadow box above a door, his G.I. Joes and plastic dinosaurs shaded behind a sheet of dirty glass. I see boxes of art supplies and camera equipment from his college days, packed away in the empty apartment above the bar where he used to live. I see a mother whose nerves shatter every time she steps in this place where her son was found dead. I see their most recent loss, their youngest daughter, whose handwriting is scribbled on recipe cards, whose children tumble in with their father, running through the bar barefoot. And a father and his daughter, now the only living child, sitting silently together sipping beer, haunted by this grief. —Kelly Scott lives and works in southeast Baltimore. She is a recent graduate of the University of Baltimore’s MFA in creative writing and publishing arts program.

sophie and i had just passed the Mechanic Theatre when a man walked past us and very candidly said hello. We smiled and responded in kind, then continued on our westward promenade. A few steps farther and we heard the man give a shout. Turning around, we saw him walking back toward us with his index finger in the air. He was an Asian man of slight stature; a trusting smile pulled at the crow’s feet around his middleaged eyes. “I wonder,” he said, “you speak good English?” We replied that we spoke it well enough. He begged us to follow him. “A small favor,” he implored. We shrugged—we were on our way nowhere fast or slow, so we followed. He unlocked the door to a darkened convenience store on the ground floor of a hotel. Flipping on the lights, he booted up an antiquated computer. “My son,” he explained, “will be married. He ask me write speech, but my English ...” Here he smiled bashfully and

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

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fl ipped his hand over and over. “Not so good. So you read?” The content of the speech was unremarkable. It described, in many more words, how happy he was that his family and that of the bride’s would be forever joined in holy matrimony—about what you’d expect. But contrary to expectations, there was not a single grammatical error; the punctuation was perfect, as was the spelling. Sophie and I exchanged a dubious glance, then lauded the man on his proficiency in English. He thanked us profusely and then insisted upon showing us a video of his other son, a commentator for ESPN, discussing the enduring sex appeal of an Olympic swimmer named Summer Sanders. He continued to rave about his two sons; they were so successful, he was so proud. Finally leaving the shop twenty minutes after being lured in, we wondered how many people the man had enlisted to edit his flawless wedding toast. Was his son really getting married? Did he have any sons at all? Or was he just a lonely man desperate for a connection with somebody, anybody, even if it meant constructing a parallel life for himself? ■ —Kyle Whelan was recently priced out of Brooklyn and is learning to love Baltimore. He wishes that everybody had a vegetable garden in their backyard. He is at work on his first novel.

Discover the Freedom to be Fit and have Fun! Join in August and receive one free month and a LifeBridge Health & Fitness gift card.

ALL OF THIS UNDER ONE ROOF

“What You’re Writing” is the place

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

Topic Sunrise, Sunset Sibling Rivalry The Dinner Table

Deadline Aug 9, 2010 Sept 6, 2010 Oct 4, 2010

Publication Oct 2010 Nov 2010 Dec 2010

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urbanite august 10


corkboard

Wonder Warehouse

Through Sept 6

Put some science in your summer with Wonder Warehouse at the Maryland Science Center. It’s a 7,000-square-foot exhibit of more than a dozen large-scale demonstrations of physics, engineering, and chemistry principles. Included is the “Fryzooka,” which demonstrates compression by blasting potatoes at a steel screen, resulting in cut French fries—which are then cooked and served in the cafeteria.

Maryland Science Center 601 Light St. 410-685-5225 www.mdsci.org

White Marlin Open

Aug 2–6

Man and fish face off at the 37th annual White Marlin Open in Ocean City, where anglers vie to reel in the biggest fish they can. Spectators can marvel for free at the size of the catches—and the prize money: Last year’s first-place finisher netted $903,442.

Harbour Island, Ocean City 410-289-9229 www.whitemarlinopen.com

Enchanted Forest 55th Birthday Party

Aug 14–15

Fans and former employees celebrate the Enchanted Forest’s fifty-fifth birthday at Clark’s Elioak Farm, which now owns many of the fiberglass fairy tale figures that made the park so popular (see Urbanite, Dec. ’07). Planned are storytelling, appearances by costumed storybook characters, and face-painting.

10 a.m.–4 p.m. 10500 Clarksville Pike, Ellicott City 410-730-4049 www.clarklandfarm.com

Baltimore Fashion Week

Aug 19–22

Work it! In its third year, Baltimore Fashion Week features “rack ready” designs from thirty-odd local, national, and international designers. On opening night this year is a “Sexy Aquatic” runway show of lingerie and swimwear, which organizer Sharon Nixon compares to the famous Victoria’s Secret shows.

Sheraton Baltimore North 903 Dulaney Valley Rd., Towson 443-708-7886 www.baltimoresfashionweek. com

Baltimore Comic-Con

Aug 28–29

Comic book artists, writers, publishers, vendors, and fans flock to Baltimore for the eleventh annual Comic-Com. Todd McFarlane, creator of the popular Spawn series, makes a special appearance on Saturday.

Baltimore Convention Center 1 W. Pratt St. 410-526-7410 www.comicon.com/baltimore

Maryland Renaissance Festival

Aug 28–Oct 24

Grab your lute and don your best chain mail for “Renn Fest.” There’s a variety of period-specific sights and performances to take in, plus lots of food (smoked turkey legs! steak on a stake!) and drink. During opening weekend children 11 and younger are admitted free.

10 a.m.–7 p.m. 1821 Crownsville Rd., Annapolis 1-800-296-7304 www.rennfest.com

Photo credits from top to bottom: courtesy of Maryland Science Center; courtesy of White Marlin Open and Sportfi shermen.com; photo by Martha Clark; photo by AW Creative Group; courtesy of Jamal Igle | DC Comics™; courtesy of Maryland Renaissance Festival

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urbanite august 10


I Scream, You Scream

In the battle between dessert and icky greens, Dominion Ice Cream (3215 N. Charles St.; 410-243-2644; www.eatyourvegs icecream.com) is a peacemaker. The shop carries eleven varieties of ice cream made with vegetables, often sourced locally: “Muscle Up” contains spinach, “Eagle Eye” carrots, and “Sweet Pie oh Mi” sweet potato. “Ice cream is here to stay,” says owner Donna Calloway. “I thought, why not make it healthy?” Don’t tell the kids, and they might not notice: The red cabbage ice cream is like “strawberry with a nutty taste,” Calloway says. For confirmed old-school sweets fiends, there are also Italian ices and regular Hershey’s ice cream. photo by Karly Kolaja

—Simon Pollock

Bag it Up

courtesy of Sac à Baguette

Ever struggled to fit that fresh baguette or bouquet of flowers in your tote bag without damaging them? Local architect Marybeth Shaw of Shaw-Jelveh Design has a solution: the Sac à Baguette. While living in Paris in 1992, she saw folks breaking baguettes in half in order to fit them in their bags. No more: The canvas-and-leather bags boast a detachable “baguette quiver,” plus a washable nylon liner and a zippered pocket. Because they’re fabricated domestically, in New York City’s Garment District, the bags have a hefty price tag—$299 each. “We have to commit to something now,” Shaw says. “We don’t need a hundred tote bags at $10.99 apiece; we need one that costs a little more, looks great, and will last ten years.” Bags can be purchased via www. sacabaguette.com or locally at The Store Ltd (5100 Falls Rd.; 410-323-2350). —S.P.

New and used bookstore The Book Escape (805 Light St.; 410-504-1902; www.thebookescape.com), which has operated in Federal Hill for six years, now has a second location at 10 North Calvert Street (410-929-7653). Owner Andrew Stonebarger thought the downtown spot, which opened in April, would attract weekday browsers to the store’s wide range of titles. “Where other used bookstores have a single focus, we have a healthy selection of everything,” he says. Confirmed bookworms can now sign up for a book pass that entitles carriers to discounts and extended hours.

—Amelia Blevins

photo by Karly Kolaja

A New Chapter

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urbanite august 10


Art Store

Billed as “a cozy gallery and an artful shop,” Emporium Collagia (1732 Thames St.; 410-534-5340; www.luanakaufmann.com) combines owner Luana Kaufmann’s collage giclée prints with vintageinspired home accessories from all over the world. The airy shop opened in Fells Point in May and carries mostly handmade items such as wine bottles emblazoned with inspirational, witty phrases. “It’s a wedding of my life,” says Kaufmann, a native of the D.C. area who has lived in Baltimore for twenty-seven years. “I love buying and love to be able to integrate and combine it with my work.” Keep an eye out this month for new meditation card decks and journals, Kaufmann’s latest creations.

photos by Karly Kolaja

—A.B.

Fore!

photos by Karly Kolaja

Country club too expensive? Tired of the city courses? Try out a different kind of golf. Same rules. No clubs. Add Frisbees. It’s disc golf. Feel free to dig out the old dog-chewed Wham-O, but seasoned competitors go for discs specially designed for driving, throwing mid-range shots, and putting from companies such as Discraft and Innova—not to mention a host of stylish bags in which to carry them. Baltimore-area residents can play full courses in Druid Hill Park and Patapsco Valley State Park, with a friendly, nine-hole beginner course open to the public at Goucher College. Starter sets and individual discs are available at local retailers Sports Authority (1238 Putty Hill Dr.; 410-821-0210; www.sportsauthority.com) and Princeton Sports (6239 Falls Rd.; 410-828-1127; www.princetonsports.com).

—S.P.

New Blooms

Amy Epstein has always loved flowers. Whenever she was jobless as a teenager, she would break out the yellow pages and call every florist she could. And when she grew up, she opened her own flower shop, Crimson & Clover, in Canton in 2003. Now handling the blossoms for eighty weddings a year, Epstein needed a bigger space; this June, she moved to a new location in Roland Park that boasts parking for clients, a considerably larger cooler, and lots of foot traffic (733 Deepdene Rd.; 410-534-5459; www.crimsonandcloverdesigns.com). With a background in visual art, Epstein brings a unique flair to floral arrangement. “I wasn’t taught in a traditional way,” she says. “I look at everything around me for influence.” Recent arrangements have featured artichokes and ornamental pineapples. “I love when people come and ask, ‘What is that?’”

photo by Karly Kolaja

—S.P. Looking for more local buys? Check out our new shops directory at www.urbanitebaltimore.com.

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1. Bee Beautful Experience our “After the Weekend Sale” in August. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday cleanse, cut, and style for $30. Danielle M does the best waxing in town, and we now do massages Monday thru Saturday. The Badger Line of sunscreen without Vitamin A and all their green products are here!

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6. Mt. Washington Wine Company Mt. Washington Wine Company offers a hand-picked selection of fine wine, microbrews, spirits, and accessories.Located in Baltimore’s historic Mt. Washington Mill, between Whole Foods Market and Starbucks, Mt. Washington Wine Company has a simple goal: to provide you with an exceptional shopping experience.

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Celebrating 20 Years!

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On the Avenue in Hampden Bikes Accessories Service Twenty 20 Cycling Co. 725 West 36th Street Baltimore, MD 21211

3. Lingerie Lingerie For 20 years, women of all ages, sizes and styles have allowed Lingerie Lingerie to fit them with their most intimate apparel. We are friendly, knowledgeable and discreet. Voted “Best Place to Buy a Bra” by City Paper 2006-2007. Pictured here C Chic by Chantelle .

5. Eye Candy eye candy opticianry, inc. carries architecturally inspired artistically executed prescription eyewear and fashion sunglasses from Europe, Japan and the United States. We offer the latest technology in lenses available in the market place to suit each customer’s specific needs. Euro style with Baltimore charm.

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a full service green salon

2. Twenty20 Cycling Co. Twenty20 Cycling Company’s knowledgeable and friendly staff offers over 25 years of experience with a customer centered philosophy. Featuring new bikes for all budgets, expert mechanics for all repairs, and professional bike fitting by certified bike fitters. All are invited to go for a ride at BALTIMORE’S NEWEST BIKE SHOP.

4. Centro Tapas Bar Centro offers a variety of traditional Spanish tapas along with a few lively menu additions from Latin America. The word “Centro” means downtown or center. The restaurant embodies the very same hip, casual atmosphere that is the essence of downtown dining. Exclusively featuring house made Sangria, local micro brews and a Spanish/Latin American Wine list.

Bee Beautiful

443.759.5620 Hours: Mon-Fri 11am - 7 pm Sat 10 am - 6 pm Sun 11 am - 4 pm

Mon. 10am-4pm Tue. - Fri. 9am-7pm | Sat. 9am-4pm Shawan Plaza • 11341 York Rd • Hunt Valley 410-527-4630 www.beebeautifulgreensalon.com

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Shops at Kenilworth • 820 Kenilworth Dr Towson, MD 21204 • 410-296-8808 www.lingerielingerieshop.com

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5 EYEWEAR WITH A FLAIR!

Spanish & Latin American Small Plates Weekly SpecialS: Tuesday $3 Tapas, Beers & Sangria Thursday All Night Happy Hour

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1444 Light Street Baltimore 21230 (443)869-6871 Tues-Thurs 6-10pm Fri-Sat 6-11pm Sunday 5-9pm

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On the Avenue in Hampden 900 W. 36th Street • Baltimore • 21211 410.889.0607 • eyecandyop.com Open Sun. 11-4, Mon. & Tues. 10-5, Wed. 10-6, Thurs. 12-7, Fri. by appointment

Offering a hand-picked selection of fine wine, microbrews, spirits, accessories, and an exceptional shopping experience. Join us for in-store tastings every Friday, 6-8 p.m.


Buy Local advertising section

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eat. drink. lounge. waterstone.

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Seton Hill & Mt. Vernon’s newest wine bar & lounge Mediterranean Cuisine

8. Greetings & Readings A full service book and Hallmark store, the selection at Greetings & Readings in the Hunt Valley Towne Centre has been refined over the years to include notable brands like Vera Bradley, Brighton, Swarovski, Waterford, Godiva and so much more. Plus, a café with free Wi-Fi, great coffee and desserts.

Happy Hour 3-7 in bar area $3 brews | $4 tinis | $5 tapas Friday Dinner $5 wine glasses Saturday Dinner $15 wine bottles

9. Zia’s Zia’s is a café, juicebar and caterer. They offer healthy, delicious, quick nourishment for breakfast, lunch or dinner, using organic, free-range & local ingredients. From meat-eaters to vegans, vegetarians to raw foodists, they believe everyone deserves fresh, cleanly produced food. Zia’s invites you to discover how delicious healthy eating can be!

Large selection of regional wines available for take out

311 W. Madison Street Baltimore, MD 21201 410.225.7475 www.waterstonebarandgrille.com

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Providing your favorite women with fabulous shoes, handbags and accessories

10. Poppy and Stella Shoes and handbags that combine modern detailing with timeless appeal, as well as a handpicked assortment of jewelry and accessories for embellishments that inspire. Like stepping into the closet of the most stylish woman you know, Poppy and Stella has everything you need to make that closet your own.

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Hobo

handbags Limon Piel Leaders in Leather

Fresh, locally roasted coffee, loose leaf teas and brewing accessories.

Pour La Victoire Frye

Faryl Robin

shoes Jeffrey Campbell

Poetic License

Sam Edelman

7. Waterstone Bar & Grille Introducing Mt. Vernon and Seton Hills newest wine bar & grille with an eclectic menu. Large variety of premium wines, liquor, and beer. Chef specials offered daily with wine parings. Walking distance from The Hippodrome, Lyric, Meyerhoff and Mt Vernons Historic Monument. eat. drink. lounge. waterstone.

Fells Point • 728 S. Broadway 410.522.1970 • (Next to Bertha’s)

Retail Shop Open Monday - Saturday, 8am - 6pm Sunday, 8am - 4pm

Annapolis Towne Centre at Parole 1910 Towne Centre Blvd • Suite 123 410.224.0157

4607 Harford Road Baltimore, MD 21214 410-254-0122

poppyandstella.blogspot.com

www.zekescoffee.com

11. Zeke’s Coffee Founded in 2005, Zeke’s Coffee is a family owned and operated company. Fresh-roasting each pound with a small fluid bed roaster, and using only the finest available beans, Zeke’s boasts high quality, locally roasted coffee.


Culture doesn’t always fit inside a glass case. For more information, visit www.goucher.edu/culture.

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Study with national leaders in cultural preservation Work in the field in your own community Complete most of your coursework from home Collaborate with peers and mentors in one-week residencies

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THE STEINER SHOW AT BUSBOYS AND POETS THE

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The Marc Steiner show announces a new national program live at Busboys and Poets in Washington, DC to be broadcast on Free Speech TV. For dates and times, go to www.steinershow.org

In fact, we have an issue with everything Baltimoreans eat — a food issue. Introducing the Urbanite Food/Drink e-zine. It’s all the food info you want in convenient, bite-sized pieces delivered right to your inbox. And if food’s not your thing, we have plenty of other issues. Sign up for any and all of them at urbanitebaltimore.com.

Urbanite Arts/Culture • Urbanite Food/Drink Urbanite Home/Design Urbanite Style/Shopping • Urbanite Green/Sustainable

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urbanite august 10


baltimore observed C U Lt U r e

Old School

At a Baltimore hair-cutting institution, students learn barbering the old-fashioned way. BY CHARLES COHEN PHOTOGRAPHY BY J.M. GIORDANO

I

n the old-school barbershop world of Cy Avara, the diverse makeup of the crowd on the cutting room floor packs more of a wallop than the Barbasol lotion that stings the eyes. Sitting in the twenty-six well-worn red leather barber chairs at Avara’s Academy of Hair Design in Dundalk are African Americans, whites, Asians, men, women, old, and young. The cast of characters standing behind the chairs is just as colorful. “We got our own little melting pot in here,” says Avara, who opened the school in 1960 on Pratt Street and this shop in downtown Dundalk ten years later. The mix is quite remarkable considering that self-segregation thrives when it comes

to hairstyling. People tend to get their hair done by their own kind. In Baltimore there are black barbershops and white shops; even unisex outfits tend to favor some ethnicity, gender, class, or fashion tribe. But here, there’s a little of everything. “If you’re looking for Baltimore’s zeitgeist, this is one of the places—I really believe that,” says student Steve Rowell, who sports a waxed matador mustache. Here you’ll meet students like Charles Clark, a tall, striking man who a year and half ago was expected to die after being pulled from a car wreck that claimed his brother’s life. There’s Chris So, a 25-yearold who had rejected his mother’s advice to take up the shears (she’s a well-known hairdresser) until his career as a mortgage broker tanked. Then there are the instructors, many of whom have been with Avara for decades. Shirley Green was making hair weaves for the Temptations and Gladys Knight & the Pips in the early 1970s when Avara invited her to join the staff. Now she serves as a kind of shop sergeant, ordering students to pull up their gangsta-low drawers and putting ornery customers in their place. Malcom Watson, a newcomer to the staff, has a background as a repo man, a banker, and a male model, and hair swirled up like cupcake icing. He could hold

Precision tool: At Avara’s Academy of Hair Design in Dundalk, student Charles Clark concentrates on correctly using an electric razor.


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his own in the backroom banter at the Bada Bing club. The down-and-out economy cranks steady business for trade schools like Avara, where a men’s regular cut by a student is only $6. It also brings an abundance of new students, who pay $7,500 for the 1,200-hour course to get a degree and stand ready to take the state board examination. In return, they believe they’re getting quick access to entrepreneurialism. Opening a restaurant, even a tiny pizza joint, requires replenishing an inventory, maintaining a payroll. But with a barbershop, it’s just a matter of rent, a chair, and flashing a pair of sharp scissors. “I saw my barber one day driving a Benz, and I wanted a Benz too,” says student Donnell Thompson, 24, who currently works at a Sam’s Club in Reisterstown. “I got to do something with my life.” No one preaches the transformative powers of barbering more convincingly than Cy Avara, now 76. His father, a Sicilian immigrant, had a barbershop near Union Square. Avara has early childhood memories of judges coming by the house on Sundays; his father would escort them to the shop across the street and charge them $5 extra for working on his day off. “He would say to my mother in broken English, ‘You see that these hands are gold,’” Avara recalls. (His mother, it needs to be noted, was Mary Avara, who old-timers will remember for her rants against the “sickies” of pornography during her more than twenty-year reign on the Maryland Motion Picture Censor Board.) Today, age has slowed Avara’s gait, but put a pair of shears in his hand and he’ll move with the nimble motion of a jazz drummer on brushes. “Look, all you have to do is go against the grain,” he demonstrates for a student who is midway through a cut. This hands-on approach is Avara’s signature touch, and what he says distinguishes his school from others, where students make their mistakes on mannequins before touching real hair. “I thought we were going to do some book work, but they put us on the floor,”

says student Anthony Folkes of his first day of class. “They took the training wheels off pretty fast.” The list of well-known graduates of Avara’s program includes Howard “Hep” Preston, owner of Geometrics Hair Studio in Canton, who graduated in 1982 and has worked as John Waters’s on-set hairstylist. Avara’s office walls are hung with plaques and photos from politicians and sports legends, from Marvin Mandel to Johnny Unitas. Today, Ben Cardin and John Sarbanes are loyal customers. Like any pursuit, the barbering career is determined partly by effort, but some luck doesn’t hurt. Avara’s school still teaches, to start, the subtleties of what we civilians would dub crew cuts but are properly called “taper cuts,” using electric razors, shears, and—Avara’s favorite—the straight razor. And it turns out that this back-to-the-basics approach is feeding into an old-school, men’s barbershop renaissance. Examples in Baltimore can be found in the Beatnik Barber Shop, the Quintessential Gentleman, and the Chop Shop, where Bill “The Barber” Puller, another Avara graduate, cuts hair. “The guy thing is such a good niche right now, and there isn’t a whole lot of it,” Puller says. With the economic forecast still gloomy, it’s refreshing to hear this kind of optimism. At the school, it pours from the ex-drug dealer, the laid-off marketer, the aging bricklayer, and the ambitious receptionist. “I think what it boils down to is a lot of positive thinking and wanting something bad enough,” says Rowell, the mustachioed student who has made pilgrimages to an old barbershop in Brooklyn and picked up vintage gear at an antiques store to give himself a connection to the old-timey art form now enjoying a revival. “I think I got that drive and, I don’t know, the sky’s the limit.” ■

baltimore observed the bay beat: The Environmental Protection Agency released strict new pollution caps in July that could cut nutrient runoff into the Chesapeake Bay by more than half by 2017—but once again, enforcement of the new rules falls to the states. (See “Now or Never,” June ’10 Urbanite.) The six states and District of Columbia that contain portions of the bay watershed will be “critical cops on the beat,” according to the EPA, in charge of creating their own “watershed implementation plans” to slow nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment runoff from large farms, parking lots, construction sites, and other sources. Dawn Stoltzfus, spokesperson for the Maryland Department of the Environment, says the state has programs in place that make it well situated to meet the new caps. But, she says, “local towns and jurisdictions are going to have to do a lot more.” All concerned parties, from farms to factories, should expect the pollution cops to come knocking soon, and often.

U p d at e

Classically trained: Avara student Chris Maddox gives a straight-razor shave to a client.

—Simon Pollock a unified front: Last year, when President Obama announced plans to spend $10 million to kick-start twenty “children’s zones” across the country, Baltimore neighborhoods scrambled to put together proposals for the June 28 deadline. (See “The Way Out,” Nov ’09 Urbanite.) Nine city organizations announced their intent to apply for Promise Neighborhood funds, meant to improve academic and developmental opportunities for children in poverty-stricken areas. But acting on the counsel of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, only one Baltimore proposal was submitted; nearly all of the other eight groups agreed to sign on as partners. The proposal comes from the nonprofit Center for Urban Families, which provides family services and workforce development in Park Heights. “In our view, Park Heights is the neighborhood that would best benefit from a focused concentration of those resources,” says Rebecca Murphy, the mayor’s director of special projects. The center should find out in September if it has been chosen from among more than three hundred applicants nationwide. —Amelia Blevins

Web extra: Watch Charles Cohen’s short video of life at barber school at www.urbanitebaltimore.com. w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m a u g u s t 1 0

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Meet Me At the Fair Scenes from the eleven best days of summer STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY JIM BURGER


All’s fair: Last year, nearly 400,000 people rode the rides, milked the cows, and played the games at the Maryland State Fair, a summer institution since 1878.


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M

y first fair was the Fayette County Fair, a late-summer gathering of produce and livestock that appeared like a mirage outside my boyhood hometown in western Pennsylvania. Silkscreened posters nailed to telephone poles announced its arrival weeks before, and after days of sun and soakings by late-afternoon rains, the message was faded but delivered. No one didn’t know that the fair was open. I was what was commonly referred to in the amusement industry as a “rube,” a country bumpkin. I’d make the long, dusty walk out Route 119 to the fairgrounds, then stroll up and down the midway listening to the live and recorded exhortations of the barkers until I knew them by heart. Then I’d hand over hard-earned lawn-mowing money to see the “World’s Biggest” this and the “World’s Smallest” that. They were All Alive, of course … unless they weren’t. How fortunate I was to have actually seen, with my own two eyes, a woman, normal in every respect, except she was born with the body of a spider. And I’m a better man for having known Tall Trudy. I hung around Trudy so much that she eventually took me in and let me help with her act. She stood more than 8 feet, or so she claimed, and to prove it, she would call some hapless man from the audience to stand next to her. My job was to place the ottoman upon which the

Dog days: At first glance it appears a giant husky is walking down the midway, but it’s really just 9-year-old Joey Singer with a stuffed animal. The prize is courtesy of Joey’s father, Brian, and his luck on the fair’s billiard tables. Years of practice in the pool halls of Rosedale didn’t hurt, either.

Kid stuff: A lone adult joins the younger riders on the Typhoon. As the machine slings them in a circle, the air fills with shrieks, and the occupants become indistinguishable, young from old, in a perfect cacophony of joy and terror.

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poor fellow would stand. “Get your fat ass up here,” she’d mutter to him under her breath, but into the microphone. The ottoman was overstuffed, so when the man stepped onto it he would sink, exaggerating their height difference. She’d pat him on his head. “Come back when you grow up, baldy.” Then everyone would laugh as he skulked away. Today’s rubes can rest easy. The elevenday Maryland State Fair in Timonium, which drew more than 392,000 visitors last year, is a less tawdry affair. But the annual summer event (it dates back to 1878) wasn’t always that way. Max Mosner, the fair’s president and general manager, has been there since 1963. “When I started here, the midway wasn’t family-oriented,” he says. “The games weren’t fair, and it was full of freak shows. That’s all gone. Today it’s good, clean fun.” True enough. But sometimes I’d gladly pay every penny in my pocket to see Trudy once more. ■ —Jim Burger thinks nothing of spending $50 in quarters to win a seventy-five-cent stuffed animal and holds a master’s degree in economics from MICA. The 2010 Maryland State Fair runs August 27 through September 6. For more information, go to www.marylandstatefair.com.

Double take: Nine-year-old Caroline (left) and Caitlin McCarthy, identical twins, sit together on a bench in the shade drinking milkshakes, each maintaining her individualism through flavor choices—one chocolate, one vanilla.

Summer’s end: As night creeps in and colored lights flicker to life, the midway seems quieter. The thoroughbreds at Timonium racetrack are back in their stalls, and the grandstand is empty. Parents push strollers toward the parking lots, their passengers fast asleep. Children, desperately holding onto what’s left of their school vacations, ask for one more ride and then one more after that.

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s t i H e l l i v

, d e h s i n i f s po wa m e T d r o F rd. The 1991 ar a c y k d l n o u j s i e h h t d bound for uvin decided to sen Ga Then Mick lorious last ride. g jackson off on one by

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When the first car flips onto its roof, the crowd stands up and cheers. They cheer when the driver emerges unharmed and when a front loader flips the car back onto its wheels. They cheer when the driver climbs back in through the window and cranks the key and the engine actually starts.

I

They cheer when the smoke from the oil drippage plumes bright white.

t’s 4 A shorto’clock on a track race is not to They cheer when there’s fire. sticky Saturday afternoon be confused with a tradiin August. I’m in the grass 10 feet off a tional demolition derby, in which cars— dug-out dirt track in Arcadia, Maryland, eating a mostly huge Detroit barges from the 1970s—park pit-beef sandwich with raw onion and horseradish, awaiting back-to-back in the center of a pit, facing the outer jersey the second-to-last demolition derby of the summer. On the hillside walls, and, at a blast from an air horn, commence slamming the life above me is my neighbor Mick Gauvin, strapped into the passenger from one another. The fire company runs those here, too; the clock seat of his ’91 Ford Tempo. Next to him, at the wheel, is Jim Tyler, a ticks on until each competitor, like an exhausted heavyweight, is nine-year derby veteran with a cigarette stuck to his lower lip. He’s standing flat-footed and dazed, throwing big, dumb haymakers into wearing a flame-retardant jumpsuit. Both men are in helmets. Both each other’s flanks until one limps and sputters to victory. A shortare bracing for impact. track derby is more nuanced; it’s about speed as well as survival. Each Mick has been raving about derby pit beef ever since he decided race consists of six-minute sprints around the track. The hits come in to enter the Tempo in the short-track race back in February when we the heat of the run, and because a hit is an obstacle to victory—and were shoveling snow off our walks together. Looking at him in his victory is taken seriously—contact is something to be avoided if poscar up there on the hill as he awaits the opening heat of the comsible, which it isn’t. pact division, I can’t imagine his sandwich is sitting too well. The “Hope you don’t mind,” Tyler said to Mick before climbing Tempo, until recently an elephant-gray lawn ornament, is now sleek through the rear window and into the driver’s seat, “I don’t use brakes. and black, with two white racing stripes up the hood (and “Urbanite” I keep the pedal matted the whole time.” emblazoned on the side—the magazine sponsored the car). He bought hen I was 15, learning to drive with my father on a little neighit from a mechanic with 200,000 miles on it and racked up another borhood street, he turned to me and said: “Now you’re going fast 50,000 before it developed an overheating problem no one could figure enough to kill us both.” out. Now it’s derby meat. It was true, and soon after that lesson I was rear-ended by a truck For the past twenty years, the Arcadia Volunteer Fire Company doing 20. I lived, but even today my neck will seize up from the whiphas been hosting these summertime smashups on a field in northern lash. What was awful, though, was not the pain (which only came Baltimore County, charging fans $12 ($6 for kids) to witness a day’s later) but the stomach-sinking, world-shrinking sensation of being worth of vehicular mayhem. The events raise upwards of 20 percent of just alive, the breaths of air that followed the impact as though I’d the firefighters’ annual operating budget. To run a car in a demolition come up from underwater. derby, you better have something else to get you to work the next day, For some, that awfulness must be thrilling, distilled into the because the derby entrant isn’t coming back street legal. anticipation of a hit. In the United States, more than 35,000 people die Since Mick retired, I started to get the feeling he’d been waiting in automobile accidents each year, but a demo-derby race is designed for the Tempo to die so he could transform it into an Arcadia derby for that purpose, to show us cars hitting cars, or, as the head referee machine. He laid the groundwork that winter when he donated the told the drivers’ circle before they took the course, to “put on a good Tempo to Apex Towing, a company that had both a history with the show for the crowd.” demolition derby and the necessary equipment to haul the car to the Mick has been going to demolition derbies since he was a kid in race and back home when it was over. The company happily agreed to the late 1950s, having discovered the sport via his Uncle John, a derby run the car. As the benefactor, Mick was granted a ride-along. enthusiast who took him to Westport stadium on Baltimore’s southJim Tyler, the Apex driver and a former derby champ, has spent west side. “They’d have races there Saturday nights, then donkey basethe past two weeks getting the Tempo “derby ready,” taking an hour ball Saturday afternoons,” Mick told me. (Never seen donkey baseball? or two each day after clocking out as a heating and air-conditioning Google it.) He drove in his first derby race when he was 17, piloting a man to drill new holes, run new wires, bolt down doors, and chain to big Oldsmobile that took one hit before the driveshaft snapped. He the body of the car anything a collision might send rattling into the followed that with nearly half a century of spectatorship, for a time pit. Now, the Tempo’s front bumper and the headlights are gone, and traveling the country as the drummer for the original Flying Burrito the windows have been replaced with blue webbing—a precaution to Brothers, without a real address, without his own conveyance. Now keep large debris from flying in or (if their seatbelts fail them) Tyler or this. Another derby car. Mick from flying out. There have been events every fifteen minutes for most of the afOther modifications are more strategic. Tyler has mounted ternoon, pauses in the action coming only as front loaders dodder into 5-inch-long screws on the fender to spike the radiator of any car rearthe ring to push away cars that have given up the ghost. Many in the ending him. “They tell me they’re too long, I’ll just knock ’em down crowd have come prepared, sitting with their tools, waiting to scurry with a hammer,” he promised an hour before the race. Tyler mainto the drivers’ area to hammer back vital pieces after a particularly tained the scatological nihilism essential for derby-work. Opining on the Tempo’s poorly placed oil filter that, if struck, could knock them continued on page 69 out of the race entirely, he told me, simply, “Shit on it.”

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The Great

Escape by marianne amoss

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n a sticky, slow Tuesday afternoon in July, Mom and I left Baltimore and headed east. We were on our way to Pocomoke City, an Eastern Shore town of fewer than five thousand where we would spend the next two nights in a bed and breakfast. Our days, though, would be all about ponies. Our real destination was Chincoteague Island in Virginia, our main goal to see the wild ponies make their famous swim across the Chincoteague Channel. Each summer, “saltwater cowboys” round up and sell some of the wild ponies to control the herd size and raise money for the island’s volunteer fire department. The ritual was made famous by Marguerite Henry’s beloved 1947 children’s book, Misty of Chincoteague, based on the real-life pony named Misty and the family that adopted her, the Beebes. Every year, tens of thousands of visitors descend on the tiny island to take in the pony fun.

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When the Chincoteague ponies let us down, our summer roadtrip took a different direction. My mom and I, both lifelong Baltimoreans, had never been to the pony swim. And so we set off, starry-eyed with summer roadtrip fever. For my mom, it was an accomplishment in more than one sense. Not only was she seeing the ponies and spending time with me, her younger daughter, but she was doing something she hadn’t done in a long time: going out of town and leaving my ailing grandmother in the care of someone else. For my whole life, my mom spent every Saturday with my grandmother in Dundalk. During the summer, when Mom had a break from her job as a high school English teacher, she was over several times a


photo by Garrett Kline

week, cleaning the house, watching cooking shows on PBS, chatting about my grandmother’s friends and our extended family, taking Grandma (who never learned to drive) around town to pick up groceries and refresh the flowers on my grandfather’s headstone. Growing up, my sister and I spent a lot of time there, too, rollerskating in circles around the basement, eating Salisbury steak, and watching Grandma’s “stories” (a.k.a. soap operas) with her. But in the past few years, Grandma had slowed down; she was tired all the time and began to have trouble moving around and taking care of herself. Even though my mom continued her regular visits, for peace of mind and Grandma���s safety she hired a daytime aide. Before we left for Chincoteague, the aide assured my mom that, while we were gone, Grandma would be in very good hands. Traffic was light, and Mom talked me into stopping at the outlets past the Bay Bridge, even though I was worried about arriving at the bed and breakfast on time. (The owner had requested that we arrive no later than 9 p.m.) But afterward, we made good time on the two-lane roads, zooming past the fields with single, lonely farmhouses; past the long, low chicken houses; past the odd wooden hurricane shelters dotting the roadsides. And we arrived on time. The bed and breakfast was a big Victorian house with a sweet flower garden on the north end of the tiny town, where for those two days I saw fewer than ten other humans, counting the couple that owned the B&B and their other guests. That night, Mom and I fell asleep to the blue light of crime dramas on TV and the hum of the air conditioner. Up the next morning at 5 a.m. and out the door by 6, we grabbed large iced coffees at McDonald’s and headed down the road toward Chincoteague. The ponies were to swim sometime in the morning, during low tide. On the way, we drove past NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, an aeronautic research center; on the fenced-in grounds, a few huge satellite dishes pointed toward the sky. Then we zipped across a drawbridge and into pony country. On Chincoteague, stores advertised Misty merchandise, and pony lawn ornaments decorated front yards. There was a statue of a frolicking Misty on Main Street, near the inn where Henry reputedly wrote the book, and the pony’s hoofprints were stamped in the concrete outside the Roxy Theatre, where she pranced down the center aisle for the premiere of the 1961 film Misty. With the other excited tourists, we boarded a school bus that took us from the island’s high school to Veteran’s Memorial Park, where we joined the crowd lining the shore, waiting patiently for the orange flare that would signal the start of the swim. I had imagined being right there on the shore when the ponies came out of the water, but getting up close meant wading through several feet of mud, which we weren’t prepared for. We found a good spot and hoped for the best, but when the swim finally started, all we could see was a bobbing brown line moving across the water. Afterward, Mom and I walked in the heavy, humid air to Pony Swim Lane, where we were lucky to find a patch of grass on which to sit while we waited for the ponies to parade past. We snacked on cheese curls and people-watched, and I complained about being hot. Eventually a woman walked by, scolding the onlookers for being in the road. “Get your feet up on the sidewalk,” she said. When the ponies finally appeared, they were packed in tight, surrounded

by the saltwater cowboys. I was struck by how wild they seemed, and wholly other. I’d imagined making friends with one or two, patting their long faces and feeding them carrots, but I could see that it wasn’t to be; they had no interest in us humans gawking at them from the sidewalk. Even at the fairgrounds, where they were corralled in preparation for the auction, it was hard to get close to them. I felt sorry for the little sickly looking ones that were enclosed in their own corral, and for the babies that were auctioned off with the warning that they still needed to be bottle-fed. The others were busy munching hay, whinnying, and wallowing in the mud and dirt. No amount of cooing or coaxing could get their attention. I did spend a few smitten minutes with one cute young pony that wasn’t part of the Chincoteague herd, stroking its rough fur through the metal fence with my fingertips, but even it was aloof. Mom and I were both disappointed. So we shoved off in search of some fun. We ended up taking an impromptu tour of the island, driving around to find the Beebe ranch, browsing a yard sale, and taking photos of a giant wooden statue of what looked like a Viking. We stopped at the NASA visitor center to check out the old rockets and research craft set up in the yard, wondering what the giant satellite dishes across the street were listening to. On the way back, we stopped at farm stand after farm stand, looking for the best deals on cantaloupes and watermelon, which filled the car with a sweet scent after we piled them in the hatchback trunk. We had a great time. And when we got home, Grandma was fine; nothing bad had happened. Mom was so relieved and glad she’d taken the chance. We had a few precious months of Saturdays before Grandma went into a nursing home in January, leaving behind the little white house where she’d lived for sixty years. She passed away in March, a few weeks before she would have turned 95. Mom and I have talked about going back to Chincoteague this year, but we’re not sure there’s much more to see there. We might just spend a few Saturdays together here instead. ■ —Marianne Amoss is Urbanite’s managing editor.

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Pipe Dream For as long as I could remember, I thought of myself as a surfer. The only problem: I couldn’t surf. BY ANDREW REINER PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRISTOPHER BABCOCK

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ryan Babcock is a 24-year-old budding fi lmmaker, a former middleschool student of mine, and, as of last June, my surfing instructor. “So, do you have the bug?” he asked as we left the ocean after my first day of lessons. We plunked our surfboards down onto the beach at 35th Street in Ocean City. I smiled tautly and wondered what to say. Nothing, I mean nothing, would have pleased me more than to answer with an unequivocal “yes.” After all, Bryan had been a supportive, gracious teacher. Most important, this surfing lesson was supposed to be the culmination of a dream that I had patiently harbored, at times denied, for twenty-eight years. But something had gone wrong with the script. Instead of feeling an existential sigh at the relief of finally—finally—attempting to ride the wild surf, I could only despair at the large rash on my chest and stomach, testament to the hours spent on my belly instead of on my feet. I knew better than to expect success on my very fi rst day. I’ve taught tennis for more than twenty years, so I understand the toll of forging new neural pathways and, particularly, the embarrassment of adults when they try something for the fi rst time. Nothing inhibits learning like the ego. But this rash was a whole other story. I couldn’t hide it after a lesson like I could a lousy backhand; it branded my torso like a scarlet reminder of my failure. “Tomorrow you’ll get the bug. You’ll see,” Bryan said, a hint of the solicitous middle-schooler’s smile flashing across his face. I wanted to share in his optimism. But dreams are funny things: The spectacle of failure, like ghosts from the past, grows stronger with every unrealized year, sometimes overshadowing them.

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n winter weekdays when I was in high school in northwest Baltimore, I got home, changed into my Sunshine House Surf Shop hooded sweatshirt and corduroy Op brand shorts (nylon Birdwell Beach Britches on mild days), laid on my bed—the Beach Boys on the stereo and posters of South Moon Under models splashed against my bedroom walls—and channeled images of myself surfing. Had anyone walked in during this séance, they would have deduced that I surfed. The truth was, though, that the only waves I had ever ridden were on a raft. No one could have dismissed me as a poseur because I was too cagey of a brand manager: I never wore more than one surfing-related article of clothing at a time outside of my room. None of my friends, not even the older brother with whom I shared a bedroom, knew about this obsession. (I waited to tack up the posters of curls—all right, an Op World Cup of Surfing t-shirt, too—until after he left for college.) Lord knows I had the opportunity to surf, considering the frequent excursions my friends


and I made to Ocean City every summer. So why all of this closeted mooning? Why didn’t I Just Do It and try surfing? Depth perception. Lack of it, that is. Whenever I watched Ocean City surfers, they always seemed unusually distant, regardless of how close or far they were from the beach. I couldn’t accurately gauge the proximity between the surfers and myself—not because of any medical condition, but simply because I couldn’t envision myself in the same waters with guys who looked the part. It was like junior league tennis all over again, struggling to close the gap between myself and opponents who swaggered like John McEnroe. It didn’t matter that the waves these surfers rode crested at barely 5 feet, or that they often seemed to wipe out anyway; with their full-body O’Neill wetsuits and double-finned boards, they looked as if they belonged at Oahu’s Banzai Pipeline. My intimidation was further exacerbated by the territorialism endemic to surfing and the snarky surfers’ lexicon that barely conceals contempt for novices, or “kooks,” and “spongers” on their boogie boards who attempt to share the waves. All of this led to a showdown between me and the world of surfing one summer night when I was 20 and living in Ocean City. Staggering home along Coastal Highway after a night of drinking with friends, I beelined for one of those large locked boxes fi lled with rental umbrellas and boogie boards. After questioning my friends’ masculinity, I eventually got them to help me break open the box, and we stole the yellow foam boards and ran down to the night ocean. My friends soon grew tired of the novelty and left, but I stayed in the water, woozily trying to ride on my knees. Even under cover of darkness I couldn’t bring myself to remain on the vertical axis for long. It felt like a trespass, and I lay back down on my chest. Twenty-five years would pass before I tried to stand up again.

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n the second day of lessons, Bryan suggested that we meet at the 62nd Street beach because the waves were “tamer” there. Bryan’s younger brother, Christopher, joined us and borrowed my camera, just in case. Anxious, I asked Bryan to review the steps for popping up on a surfboard before we entered the water. The veteran of surfin’ safaris from San Diego to Ecuador told me not to worry. “Ninety percent of surfing is about reading where the sets are lining up and knowing when to paddle.” As we waded out, he added, “If you remember anything, remember this: Paddle like crazy and then pop up when you feel a slight lift in the wave.” Simple, right? Paddle. Pop up. Yet wave after missed wave broke over me until my limbs grew limp and my brain sodden and dazed. In the rare moments when I felt as if the tides aligned, I floundered to merely stay balanced and horizontal. That was when I realized part

of the problem: The ocean had grown crummy with 20-something hotshot surfers bearing flashy state-of-the-art wetsuits and surfboards. Perhaps sensing my enervation (masked as exhaustion), Bryan crept up behind me and eased me forward to the waves breaking a few feet from kids digging in the sand. Each time one crested, he pushed me into it, but I didn’t remonstrate. Finally he yelled, “Stand up!” and I sprang to my feet, more out of a primal need to reach land than any desire to save face. I maintained my balance long enough to hear Bryan yell, “Keep riding! Keep riding!” By the time we left the water that evening, I had ridden my surfboard to the sand’s edge twice, nearly impaling a toddler in a bonnet the second time. As I stood on the sand, toweling off, Bryan showed me Christopher’s digital images. “Check it out,” he told me. “You’ve lived your dream.” I wanted to believe him. I had stood atop a moving surfboard. But can you say that you have skydived if someone else has pulled the parachute cord? I was splitting waves, but at the end of the day we are left with two things: our dreams and ourselves, and our subconscious won’t abide a lack of integrity in either. Bryan and Christopher excused themselves to catch up with a few surfing pals and left me with the camera. I laid the surfboard on the sand, sat down, and watched the hotshots riding the waves. No, I admitted to myself, I hadn’t fulfi lled my dream the way I had always imagined. I didn’t know when to yank the ripcord. But as I waited, I peeked at the photographs. Sure enough, I had finally stood atop a surfboard; I had broken through the formidable vertical axis. Not only that, but I appeared every bit as spatially in sync as the other surfers. As embarrassed as I was by these painfully obvious observations—the kind that only teenaged, Op shorts-wearing parts of ourselves can make—I was grateful for them, as well. Sometimes, standing up is an existential act in itself. ■

As we waded out, Bryan told me, “If you remember anything, remember this: Paddle like crazy and then pop up when you feel a slight lift in the wave.”

—Andrew Reiner is in the midst of what he calls his “ decade of dreams.” Next up is getting married, completing a memoir about junior high and masculinity, and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

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Inside the Garden Walls

space

Inmates find solace in a small patch of greenery. It’s a blisteringly hot June morning when Willie Isaac escapes from prison. The lean 54-year-old, sporting a head of bundled dreadlocks and a gray, prison-issue jumpsuit, has spent more than three decades behind bars. In full view of both guards and fellow inmates milling about the exercise yard within the hoary Metropolitan Transition Center in East Baltimore, Isaac flees beyond the stout walls and cruel coils of concertina wire. He does it most every day. Isaac’s freedom is purely of a spiritual nature, however, fostered by a row of raised garden beds he’s learned to care for. He wields a red rubber garden hose, sweeping a watering nozzle gently across a bed of impatiens and hosta. “This takes me away from here to the other side of life,” Isaac says, mopping a glistening brow. “There’s nothing more beautiful than to see life continuing, growing. In here you can’t hear a baby cry. The next best thing is to see a flower bloom.”

by brennen jensen photography by chris myers

Room for relfection: The small garden at the Metropolitan Transition Center in Baltimore City provides a temporary sanctuary for inmates.


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

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AMENITIES: Mill Race lounge | 3-RooM Fitness club (with gyM, caRdio theateR and a studio) | libRaRy | bike stoRage | concieRge-style seRvice | PaRking (coveRed and oPen) | scenic obseRvation deck | RiveRside oPen-aiR Picnic and PaRty RooM FEATURES: all utilities included (individually contRolled) | designeR kitchen with custoM cabinetRy | toP-bRand stainless steel aPPliances and kohleR® FixtuRes | huge, FactoRystyle windows | classic exPosed bRick walls in Most aPaRtMents | washeR and dRyeR in each aPaRtMent | incRedible RiveR and wooded hillside views | 24-houR Maintenance guaRanteed

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urbanite august 10

840 oella avenue, ellicott city, Md 21043


spaCe

Fertile ground: The garden was first planted with flowers but now also grows such vegetables as squash, eggplants, and tomatoes.

That a garden grows inside this grim, sprawling correctional facility, parts of which date back nearly two centuries, is due in part to the TKF Foundation, an Annapolis organization that issues grants for the creation and maintenance of gardens across the state. Each of these “sacred places,” as the foundation calls them, is designed to be a “temporary sanctuary” that provides solace and encourages reflection. While most are at schools, churches, or hospitals, two of these gardens are inside prison walls—here in Baltimore and at the Western Correctional Institution in Cumberland—with a third under development at the sprawling Jessup Correctional Institution. The garden where Isaac toils has been fueled by $40,000 in grants since 2001 and sits inside a part of the penitentiary complex called the Metropolitan Transition Center, where convicts within eighteen months of their release dates do their final time before returning to society. (See “Learning the Hard Way,” Sept. ’09 Urbanite.) “Most people in prison are eventually getting out,” says the foundation’s executive director, Mary Wyatt. “If they are given the idea that they are worth nothing and are hopeless human beings, isn’t that how they are going behave when they come out? Let’s give them something beautiful to send them back home to their neighborhoods on a positive note.” Overseeing the inmates as they oversee the garden is Maurice Smith, a jovial correctional officer who retired in 2008 only to be coaxed back into uniform on a contractual basis barely eighteen months later, largely so he could continue to look after this prison-yard patch of green. “I’m an avid gardener,” Smith says. “I know when you walk outside and see flowers blooming it changes your attitude about your life. People think I’m crazy when I say that, but it’s true.” The TKF Foundation’s prison garden at the Western Correctional Institution is an elaborate, circular affair with a gurgling fountain at its center. But here, there wasn’t much room within these ancient walls to design anything quite so ambitious. The garden’s raised beds simply surround the basketball court and weight lifting area. A wooden bench at its center serves as a meditation spot. The yard was devoid of any greenery at the start, and inmate labor as much as anything fueled its rebirth. Smith says when they got 4 tons of free mulch from the highway administration, dozens of inmates turned out to help distribute it. “They loved having something to do,” he says. “Most are just very curious about the garden.” Originally just flowers, including tulips for springtime color, the garden now holds

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IntErnatIonal

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urbanite august 10


spaCe vegetables, including squash, okra, collards, tomatoes, and eggplants. Legal issues thwarted the initial plan to hand the garden’s harvest over to a nearby soup kitchen, so prison staff enjoy the bounty now. “The inmates will sneak and eat a tomato now and then, and I don’t mind,” Smith says. One plucky inmate found a way to successfully microwave okra with ramen noodles. Inmates earn 90 cents a day for tending the garden, but on this steamy morning all of the incarcerated gardeners in their matching jumpsuits say they get much more from the experience: “peace of mind,” “calmness,” “purpose,” “hope.” Telling a reporter want he wants to hear? Maybe. But actions speak louder than words, in prison and everywhere else. “I can tell you,” Smith says, “the garden is one area we never have problems with drugs, fighting, or contraband.”■ Constant gardener: Willie Isaac waters the garden on a hot June day. Inmates say working in the garden nets them much more than the 90-cents-a-day wage: hope, peace of mind, and a sense of purpose.

On the Air: The caretakers of the prison garden on The Marc Steiner Show, WEAA 88.9 FM, on August 9.

—Brennen Jensen is Urbanite’s Home/Design online editor.


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eat/dr ink

Making It

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reviews

57

wine & spirits

59

the feed

Feast @ 4 East and Koco’s Pub

Creating cocktails

This month in eating

A hardy crew of food fanatics takes do-it-yourself to an all-new level. BY MICHELLE GIENOW

photo by Karly Kolaja

I

t seems like everyone in Baltimore is busy these days designing handmade books, concocting herbal soaps, knitting their own dish towels. Do-it-yourself food-related activities have become particularly popular: hardcore home-ec projects like organic vegetable gardening or lacto-fermenting your own kimchi are suddenly de rigueur. However, there’s DIY, and then there’s the Baltimore Food Makers. Baltimore Food Makers is a sort of social-networking version of the tale of the Little Red Hen who planted wheat, then harvested, threshed, milled, and baked it into bread (using air-caught wild yeast, to be sure) all by herself. This local group meets at monthly potluck dinners/skill-building sessions where members share expertise in topics like cheesemaking and keeping backyard poultry. There is also an online forum where Food Makers trade recipes (“Chicken feet and heads in soup”), share cool finds (“Free emu on Craigslist!”), solve troublesome

food-related issues (“Apple butter accident?”), or just nerd out on meta-food topics (“Is canning too trendy?”). (Disclosure: The author is a Food Makers member.) The group is a natural—organic, even— outgrowth of recent slow-food and local eating trends. The bestselling books The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (which popularized the term “locavore”) and documentary fi lms like Food, Inc. have brought to the fore the dangers of our industrial food system—sick factoryfarmed animals and polluted waterways, among many others—and sounded a call for a return to traditional and artisanal foods. Gen Y and millennial consumers in particular have enthusiastically embraced Pollan’s exhortation to reclaim control over their own nourishment and re-establish a relationship with food. They do so by producing it themselves, start to finish, drawing their inspiration from Pollan’s In Defense of Food: “For most people for most of history, gathering and preparing food has been an occupation at the very heart of daily life.” Food Makers was founded in October 2008 by Johanna Bachman, who lives in Hampden with her husband, Adam, and their three children. “I started this group not to learn exotic recipes but because I couldn’t find bread made without sugar, or canned beans without way too much sodium,” she says. “So I thought there have to be other people out there who care about this too, who struggle to nourish their families within a dysfunctional food system that is no longer able to feed us appropriately. If we have to take things into our own hands, why not do it together?”

Hands-on: Johanna Bachman started the Baltimore Food Makers group two years ago to create a community of the food-conscious.

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urbanite august 10


eat / drink

photo by Michelle Gienow

Essential Vinaigrette

Notorious: Brian Murphy is known among his Food Makers compatriots as “the extreme meats guy,” partially due to the fact that he’s transformed one of the two bathrooms in his Patterson Park rowhouse into a meat-curing room.

Bachman, who lists scratch-cooked bread, beans, and granola, plus home-roasted coffee, as “things I cook every day,” says of her currently 180-member creation, “We are not about food snobbery or one-upmanship. We are more, ‘Wow, did you know you can ferment this?’” Brian Murphy, who recently took over nominal leadership of the group (“I’m the guy that posts the potlucks”), agrees completely. “We’re not foodies. We’re food geeks and freaks. For us it’s not about expensive, obscure ingredients or complicated techniques—well, OK, sometimes we like to play around with that stuff—but mainly it’s just about making everyday food really really well in a way that’s good for us and for the world at large.” One of the newest deep-geek DIY food trends is home charcuterie, which Murphy has embraced passionately: Last year he converted his Patterson Park rowhouse from a two-bathroom home to a one-bathroom, onemeat-curing-room home. Recent projects include homemade duck breast prosciutto, Gunpowder bison braciola, and home-cured bacon. Is this something many other Food Makers are also doing? “No, no,” he laughs. “In the group I think I’m known as the extreme meats guy.” (So says the man currently housing a deer heart and four lamb heads in his freezer.) “But we have members with all kinds of amazingly specific skills, like foraging [for] wild edible plants and homebrewing crazy alcoholic beverages, and we all learn from each other.” “What I love about foodmaking is that it’s an outlet for creativity,” says Food Makers member Aliza Sollins. “Pickles no longer have to be dill pickles from a jar. Once you learn the simple basics of pickling, you can make

anything from brandied cherries to a personalized hot pepper relish. And it’s really as easy as boiling water for a bowl of spaghetti. People just have forgotten these skills, or think they’re harder than they really are.” The group skews young; most Baltimore Food Makers fall between 22 and 34. However, other than growing their own food— nearly everyone has a garden or at least a few herbs and tomato plants growing on the fire escape—there really isn’t one defining Food Maker characteristic. Members live in both the city and suburbs and work as engineers, stay-at-home mothers, teachers, midwives, and professional organic farmers (four of those at last count). Roughly half are vegan, eating no animal products whatsoever, while the other half of the group elbows each other to get first crack at the venison tartare. What brings such disparate Baltimoreans together across the potluck table? Sollins suspects that people are drawn to the skills-oriented group as a way to feel selfreliant during unstable political, social, and economic times. “As the real estate and stock market bubbles have shown, money isn’t the tangible treasure we once thought; we are learning instead to revalue our labor, time, and resources,” she says. In short, she says, it just feels good to be able to solve your own problems—and know you can reach out to a group for help. Bachman’s take? “People come to Food Makers to find joy in the adventure of feeding ourselves,” she says. “And the potlucks are just awesome.” ■ —Freelance writer and photographer Michelle Gienow spends more time cooking meals than her family spends eating and digesting them.

After thinking over various different potential projects and recipes—what DIY food undertaking could represent the Food Maker ethic yet not frighten the horses?— those contributing to this article settled on a classic vinaigrette recipe. Um, salad dressing? Isn’t that a little, well, pedestrian? No way, says Baltimore Food Makers facilitator Brian Murphy. “My mom sort of brags about me by telling her friends, ‘He makes his own salad dressing!’ But what we should be saying is, ‘You buy your salad dressing?’ Why pay for water, high-fructose corn syrup, and soy oil, when in two minutes you can make something way better?” ¼ cup balsamic vinegar or fresh squeezed lemon juice ¼ tsp salt ⅛ tsp fresh ground pepper ½ tsp coarse-grain prepared mustard (like Grey Poupon) ¾ cup of the best extra-virgin olive oil you can lay hands on Place above ingredients except olive oil in a screw-top jar and shake until salt dissolves. Add oil to jar in small increments (no more than ¼ cup at a time), shaking to emulsify. Store at room temperature. Try adding some fun things in the first step—although not all at once! If you try these you need to either use all the dressing at one time or keep it refrigerated. 1 clove garlic, pushed through a garlic press finely chopped shallot drizzle of honey finely chopped fresh herbs mashed anchovies —recipe courtesy of Baltimore Food Makers

On the Air: Baltimore Food Makers on The Marc Steiner Show, WEAA 88.9 FM, on August 25.

For more information about Baltimore Food Makers, go to www.foodmake.org.

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ABSOLUTELY すっかり全部

DELICIOUS. BALTIMORE

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urbanite august 10

HARBOR EAST

1390 LANCASTER STREET RASUSHI.COM

410.522.3200


photo by JTyler Fitzpatrick

Feast @ 4 East

In season: Feast @4 East serves locally sourced cuisine in a peaceful garden setting.

Feast @ 4 East is a secret garden of sorts, tucked away in an unobtrusive Mount Vernon townhouse-turned-bed and breakfast. Diners can eat in a real garden toward the back, replete with fountain, lush greenery, and a high wall to keep out the rest of the world. The food served at Feast, however, deserves to be shared. Chef Sandy Lawler dishes out well-seasoned and cooked fare with French, Mediterranean, and vegan influences. She plans the menu around what’s in season (or at least what’s growing in the Eastern Shore greenhouses) from local, organic vendors; the names of the suppliers are printed along the bottom of the menu. The self-taught cook chalks this ideal up to childhood shopping trips with her mother to produce shops in Bronxville, New York. During a late spring meal, the starters were simple and balanced. An onion tart appetizer featured caramelized onions held together in a thyme and white pepper custard, cradled in thin layers of melt-in-your-mouth crust. Asparagus soup—available in vegan and non-vegan (with cream) versions—was a bright green puree topped with four thin spears of the spring vegetable. And each component of a small salad—artisanal blue cheese, roasted nuts, fruit, and fresh, local

greens—held its own, enhanced by just a drizzle of vinaigrette. Entrees maintained the momentum. A hearty concoction of Creole shrimp (and not the “jumbo,” flavorless variety that bargain hunters like), tomatoes, and the holy trinity of peppers, onions, and celery was served with rice and a hefty side of lightly salted chopped spinach. A manageable-sized piece of Chesapeake rockfish came drizzled with mustard, tarragon, and chive. Porcini mushroom risotto provided a strong base for pearly white scallops with sautéed mushrooms. The only letdown of the evening was the slow-cooked pork, which was a series of small slices of overly fatty meat. But that was more than made up for by the dessert offerings, which included chocolate pot de crème and a small walnut cake infused with orange honey syrup and dusted with powdered sugar. Feast doesn’t have a liquor license (it’s BYOW), but it wisely has worked out an agreement with the nearby Spirits of Mt. Vernon, which gives Feast diners 10 percent discounts. (Lunch Wed-Friday until October; Dinner Wed–Sat. 4 E. Madison St.; 410-6052020; www.4eastmadisoninn.com/feast.)

reviewed

eat / drink

—Robin T. Reid

Koco’s Pub Home cooking: Koco’s Pub in Hamilton is known for its crab cakes and and family-friendly atmosphere.

photo by JTyler Fitzpatrick

Before the Hamilton/Lauraville renaissance of the last few years, there was Koco’s Pub. For twenty-five years, the corner restaurant/bar has attracted both locals and tourists with its brightly painted exterior, homey vibe—and crab cakes. The business has been continuously owned and operated by the Kocovinos family: Joanna and John and their daughter Marcella Knight, who splits her time between serving as general manager and pitching in on waiting tables and tending bar. The cool, dark space feels comfortingly like a club basement, with the bar and a kids’ play area bookending the dining tables. The food—classic pub fare, including wings, burgers, and salads—was, until recently, served on paper plates with plastic cutlery, due to the tiny kitchen’s inability to accommodate a restaurant-sized dishwasher. (Koco’s has since switched to silverware and compostable carry-out containers, in order to be more eco-friendly.) But it’s the crab that draws the crowds: The menu offers a crab cake sandwich and platter, as well as Maryland-style crab soup and a warm crab dip with appealingly gooey cream cheese. Knight says the crab itself is imported, high-

quality swimming blue crab from Indonesia. A recent crab cake special featured a softball-sized cake with lots of lump and a healthy dose of binder, served with a stack of alternating slices of feta cheese and tomato, which tasted as if it had come straight from a backyard vegetable garden. (Koco’s usually sources produce regionally but will go as far as Florida for good tomatoes.)

The Koco’s crew is taking some time off this month to celebrate its anniversary, closing the bar August 14 through 23. If you can’t make it in before then, order some to go: The pub overnights its crab cakes to anywhere in the continental United States. (4301 Harford Rd.; 410-426-3519; www.kocospub.com.) —Marianne Amoss w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m a u g u s t 1 0

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How cocktails are born

photo by Karly Kolaja

By Clinton Macsherry

I

n mixology matters, among others, my nature tends toward what might politely be called “old school.” (People who know me often use alternative phrases, usually retaining the “old” part.) My old schoolmates and I get a bad rap from upstarts who feel oppressed by custom and convention, but they miss the point: Tradition doesn’t stifle innovation; it simply puts it into perspective. Stated somewhat differently, originality in itself doesn’t make a bad idea a good one. Given that our heritage includes the Sazerac, the Manhattan, and so many other classics, barkeeps who think they can slosh any liquor admixture together and call it a cocktail strike me as amateurs. Appending the suffix -tini to drinks that taste of nothing more than chocolate or apple juice seems downright puerile, even when they’re served in grown-up stemware. With that off my chest, I’ll acknowledge that the standards were themselves once inventions. They got their start somewhere, although the circumstances often fall under dispute. The margarita provides an illustrative case. Wikipedia lists eight of the drink’s most popular creation myths, although there’s no agreement on just how many exist. Despite adamant claims by others, research points toward the two most likely inventors, both working in Mexico in the 1930s: Danny Negrete, owner of the bar in Puebla’s Garci Crespo Hotel, who purportedly blended tequila, triple sec, and lime juice as a wedding present for his sister-in-law, then named the drink for her;

and Carlos “Danny” Herrera, owner of the popular Rancho La Gloria restaurant south of Tijuana, said to have created the drink for Ziegfeld starlet Marjorie (“Margarita” in Spanish) King, who was allergic to all spirits save tequila and disliked it straight. Whatever its genesis, the margarita has since entered the canon and become by all accounts one of the most popular cocktails on the continent. Properly crediting a cocktail’s creator is tricky business even when the drink has more recent provenance. On the Chanticleer Society Web forum, devoted to bar culture, folks have discussed at length the limitations of intellectual property law in this regard. Copyrights don’t apply to recipes, and while a cocktail’s name can be trademarked, that affords no protection for the formulation. Although it’s theoretically possible to patent a process, you’ll more likely win one for a frozen daiquiri machine than a frozen daiquiri. And nothing guarantees that the person who first applies originated the invention in question. My happiest encounter with a newfangled cocktail occurred a few months ago in D.C. at the Bar Dupont, a moddish space with a grand view of Dupont Circle. The drinks list combined some semi-obscure classics, like the Bees Knees, with offerings crossing my path for the first time. Among the latter, I found the description of the Thyme Gimlet, along with its $5 happy-hour price tag, somehow irresistible—“Tanqueray gin, simple syrup, fresh lime juice, fresh thyme.” (Just a hunch, but I’ll bet some of the thyme gets muddled with sugar and water in making the syrup.) Mind you, a classic gimlet ranks among my favorite drinks, and the infusion of thyme here isn’t the only deviation from orthodoxy: For cocktail historians, Rose’s Lime Juice, rather than fresh lime, makes a gimlet a gimlet. (See Urbanite, April ’08.) I don’t know what got into me, but I’m glad it did. The fresh thyme made an inspired gimlet addition, with a savory, citric-herbal quality that gave the sweet-tart drink a new dimension. Bar Dupont makes no overt claim to authorship of the Thyme Gimlet. Some Google hits credit a Boston bartender with the invention of a lemon-thyme gimlet in 2007, close in concept. (But lemon?) Regardless, I’m grateful for the eye-opener. And with my crop of back-porch herbs—basil, thyme, rosemary—hitting August stride, there’s still time for play before old-school goes back in session. ■

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w i n e &  s p i r i t s

eat / drink

Muddlers of Invention

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serving french forward, modern american cuisine friendly service in a fine dining setting awarded four stars by elizabeth large, baltimore sun half-price appetizers & five dollar martinis every thursday at the bar

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A World Class Waterfront Venue Great outdoor setting on the water ~ Indoor and outdoor wedding ceremony and reception areas for 250 to 300 guests ~ Dance floor and band area ~ Award wining caterer 500 Harborview Drive 410-727-3663 • www.tabrizis.com 58

urbanite august 10

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an old fashioned neighborhood grocery store, organic farmers market, gourmet specialty shop, European bakery, & supermarket all rolled in one. We are Whole Foods Market™ the leading natural foods grocer in the country & we are right in your neighborhood! harbor east 1001 fleet st. 410.528.1640

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Check out local in store events first week of August. To get latest specials, recipes & best deals delivered straight to your inbox: wholefoodsmarket.com/newsletters

photo by Nanomalefico| Dreamstime.com

Imagine…

tHe Feed

eat / drink

This Month in Eating Compiled by Amelia Blevins

B&O CR AB BASH

AUG 3

Six local chefs vie to create the best crab dish in the Crab Bash, marking B&O American Brasserie’s fi rst anniversary. Guests and judges can taste each creation and vote on their favorite. Attendees are entered in a raffle for a one-night stay at Hotel Monaco and dinner for two at B&O. 5:30 p.m. $10; proceeds go to the Baltimore City public schools’ Great Kids Farm.

B&O American Brasserie 2 N. Charles St. 443-692-6172 www.bandorestaurant.com

BALTIMORE SUMMER RESTAUR ANT WEEK

AUG 13–22

Experience Baltimore’s diverse food culture with the summer version of Restaurant Week. Patrons can sample the offerings of participating eateries in Little Italy, Canton, Mount Vernon, Federal Hill, and other city neighborhoods. To kick off the week, on August 12 chefs from participating restaurants compete to create the best appetizer. Prix fi xe lunch $20.10, dinner $30.10.

www.baltimorerestaurantweek. com

PEACH FESTIVAL

AUG 14

For more than thirty years the Carroll County Farmers Market has hosted the Peach Festival to celebrate the juicy summer fruit. A host of peach treats will be available, along with breakfast and lunch, handmade crafts, and live music from the General Store Band. The festival is also the start and end point for the Eat-A-Peach Challenge Bike Ride, which benefits the Brain Injury Association of Maryland; for more information, go to www.biamd.org. 8 a.m.–1 p.m.

Agriculture Center 700 Ag. Center Dr., Westminster 410-848-7748 www.carrollcountyfarmers market.com

HOT HOT HOT!

AUG 19

To support local sustainable agriculture and gastronomic talents, the American Culinary Federation and the Samaritan Women are hosting a series of charity events. This month, they’re serving up spicy small plates—made from food grown at the women’s southwest Baltimore farm—accompanied by cool drinks. Proceeds benefit student scholarships at the Baltimore International College and a “Teaching Kitchen” and culinary vocational training program for women in the Samaritan Women transitional program. $65. Farm tour at 6 p.m.; reception at 6:30 p.m.; dinner at 7 p.m.

The Samaritan Women Farm 602 S. Chapel Gate Lane www.thesamaritanwomen.org/ kitchen2010.html

WINE FESTIVAL AT LINGANORE WINECELL ARS

AUG 28 –29

Vintage jazz is the theme of this month’s festival at Linganore Winecellars/Berrywine Plantations in Mount Airy. Promised are more than thirty artisans, a winery tour, and nineteen wines to taste, plus live jazz from the David Bach Consort and Night and Day Music. Take a blanket or chair, but no pets. $15 adults 21 and older; $10 adults 18–20; free for minors accompanied by an adult. 11 a.m.–6 p.m.

Linganore Winecellars/Berrywine Plantations 13601 Glissans Mill Rd., Mount Airy 410-795-6432 www.linganorewines.com

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art / culture

63 music

Victoria Vox’s Exact Change

65 theater

The Baltimore Improv Festival & the Baltimore Playwrights Festival

65

book Living the Life

67 the scene

photo by José Sanchez

This month’s cultural highlights

In Stitches African American quilters chart new territory in colorful fabric and thread. by mary k. zajac

New territory: Signifyin’, by African American Quilters of Baltimore member Barbara Pietila, both draws on and diverts from traditional African American quilting.

T

he woman looks out the window, telephone receiver in hand, its long black cord curling under her elbow, mimicking the scallops of her lacy white collar. Outside, a pair of women walks in front of an apartment building where more women thrust their heads out of windows to take in the scene on the street, a blur of emerald, lemon yellow, and lipstick red. All of this color and activity, pieced together with fabric and thread, make up Signifyin’, a quilt made by Barbara Pietila, one of the founders of the local quilting guild the African American Quilters of Baltimore. It’s a warm May evening, and eight women have gathered for an informal meeting at the Lochearn home of the guild’s president, Janet Waters. One by one, they lovingly unroll quilts from their bindings and hold them up for display. There’s Rosalind Robinson’s queen-sized rendition of the classic “courthouse steps” pattern, in which long strips of black and white fabric punctuated with a bright shot of yellow create a jagged staircase across the quilt. There’s Clarissa Price’s hand-quilted Amish diamond, where

a traditional swirling feather pattern emerges in tiny stitches across fields of solid burgundy, gray, and purple. Eleanor Johnson has used machine quilting, embroidery, and appliqué to create textures like the tiny fold of fabric known as “shark’s teeth” on her artful, creamand salmon-colored quilt. And Waters’s own striking, three-dimensional orange quilt bends and curves as gracefully as a Chinese character. Although they seem far removed from what Pietila calls the “mammy-made” quilts of their mothers and grandmothers—a style she describes as “kind of botched together, a little lumpy, strictly for the bed”—the guild’s creations are part of a long-standing tradition of American, and particularly African American, quilting. While the quilting traditions of the Amish and Depression-era Midwest have been celebrated for decades in books and museums, Pietila says that in the 1970s, when she began quilting in her home with several other African American women, there was little public awareness of African w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m a u g u s t 1 0

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When the original group of Baltimore women created the guild in 1984, their work included traditional techniques like hand quilting. But they soon began to create a new aesthetic that incorporated new fabric instead of scraps and a wide array of patterns and styles. “Barbara [Pietila] expressed the fact that black people were perceived as only making one type of quilt,” Price explains. “And that’s what I liked about Group effort: Janet Waters, Clarissa Price, and Barbara Pietila are some of the the guild … Their quilts core members of the African American Quilters of Baltimore. didn’t look like the quilts that I had seen at my grandmothAmerican quilting. Pietila attended early er’s or in the books that said, ‘This is what the meetings of the Baltimore Heritage Quilters’ African American quilt [looks like].’” Guild, but she admits that she “never really Today, it is impossible to point to one infelt quite that comfortable with them … I dividual African American quilting aesthetic. was the only African American [there] at the “[Quilting] styles vary,” says Pietila, whose time, and there was the impression that we quilt They Sold Nettie Down South hangs in didn’t do quilting.” the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African Americans did quilt, however. African American History and Culture. “Just Like the quilting of colonial women of the about any style you can think of you’ll find in eighteenth century, the Amish, and other the African American quilting community American communities, the African Ameri[now].” can quilt tradition grew out of common While the women meeting in Waters’s necessity: People simply needed something home also acknowledge this diversity, they to sleep under. Women like Price’s great distinguish themselves from other quilting grandmother would write letters to family communities by their willingness to reinvent members asking them to save fabric from old tradition and move away from rules. “[Our dresses, men’s shirts, and even denim that quilting is] contemporary, extemporary kind could be cut up and sewn into quilts. And of work,” explains Rosalind Robinson, who because the fabric itself was so precious, the has the gift of being able to see a quilt in her quilt’s design was dictated by what scraps head before she starts work on it. “We quilt were available and how artfully the quilter more with our feeling and as expression vercould piece them together, rather than a sus following the rules and letting the rules recognizable pattern. But not many of those make the quilt.” quilts survived: “A lot of old African AmeriThe wide range of the guild’s work— can quilts don’t exist anymore,” Waters says, from quilts made by “non-traditional “because when the current one wore out, it traditionalists” who use unusual fabrics or became the stuffing for the new one.” color combinations in traditional patterns Public awareness of African American to the quilts of innovators who add texture quilting has risen in the past twenty years or photographic images to their work—will due to a growing number of guilds and be on display when the guild hosts Twenty publications such as Baltimorean Roland Years of a Pieceful Passion, its biennial show L. Freeman’s seminal 1996 book, A Comat the James E. Lewis Museum of Art on the munion of the Spirits: African-American Morgan State University campus August 7 Quilters, Preservers, and Their Stories. But it through September 30. And while some of was the 2002 Whitney Museum of American this work does seem far removed from the Art exhibition of quilts made by women in “mammy-made” quilts of past generations, the poor tenant community of Gee’s Bend, the essential materials of fabric and thread Alabama, (an exhibit that stopped at the remain constant. ■ Walters Art Museum in 2007) that propelled —Mary K. Zajac recently joined an online African American quilts into the public spotquilt swap, in which participants make dolllight. The publicity given to the Gee’s Bend sized quilts for other members. To view her quilts—scrappy and improvisational, artful creations, go to www.suppclub.blogspot.com. and utilitarian—has been both a boon and a hindrance to African American quilters, WaOn the Air: The quilters share their ters says, as the public now expects all quilts stories on The Marc Steiner Show, on made by African Americans to look like the WEAA 88.9 FM, on August 5. Gee’s Bend quilts.

art/culture

MUsiC

Return of the Uke

Victoria Vox, Exact Change (Obus Music)

T

he humble ukulele has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years; sales are booming, and its impish jangle turns up with increasing frequency in indie circles. Baltimore’s Victoria Vox, a Berklee-trained songwriter, can claim legitimate early-adopter cred: She took up the uke in 2003, when she was a struggling singer-songwriter living with her mom in Wisconsin. Vox showcased the diminutive four-string axe in her 2006 album, Victoria Vox and Her Jumping Flea, and its 2008 follow-up, Chameleon, and even scored an endorsement deal with KoAloha Ukuleles, the Honolulu-based maker of high-end ukes. “I just find so much joy in playing the ukulele,” she says. “You can play jazz or rock or funk—all on four strings. There’s a rapper in Brooklyn who plays the ukulele.” The uke might scream novelty act, but behind the whimsical instrumentation lies some precise pop-friendly songcraft and serious ambition, as Vox’s new album, Exact Change, proves. Like its predecessors, the album showcases a mix of ebullience and earnestness: There’s a heavy-handed but catchy eco-parable (“Mother Nature”), a pair of accordion-driven Franco-pop numbers, and a jaunty ode to her adopted hometown (“Beautiful Home”). The ukulele lends a note of jazzy exotica to otherwise traditional singer-songwriter confessionals; in the haunting closer, “The Birds,” Vox pushes the little instrument into expressive new territory. Wresting big feelings out of the simple ukulele is no mean feat, and Vox admits that her musical weapon of choice can be a puzzler for bookers. “People don’t know where to put me,” she says. “I’m like, ‘Just put me with the singer/songwriters.’”

—David Dudley Victoria Vox performs at the Metro Gallery on August 12 (1700 N. Charles St.; http://themetrogallery.net). For more information, go to www.victoriavox.com.

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art/culture t H e at e r

Ready or Not

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nything can happen at an improv performance. In most cases, actors rely on suggestions for inspiration: The audience provides a word, a location, or the relationship between two people onstage. Using that random bit of information, a short skit (or a long scene) is created on the spot. It’s usually funny and always unexpected. Catharine Robertson, executive director of the Baltimore Improv Group (BIG), says she might ask the audience to name their least-favorite thing in their closet. The response, she says, can take you anywhere. “Say it’s the scuba equipment they never use. The scene could be about a vacation, someone drowning, or shattered dreams.” More than a dozen troupes (three or four each night) from the region participate in BIG’s fourth annual Baltimore Improv Festival this month at the Creative Alliance. This year’s lineup includes iMusical, a Washington, D.C.-based group whose piece from two

BOOk

Wild Ride

Living the Life (Lowside Syndicate, 2010)

Biker book: Living the Life gives an insider’s perspective on Baltimore’s 1970s motorcycle culture.

Web extra: Watch Charles Cohen’s short video featuring an interview with Doug Barber at www.urbanitebaltimore.com.

photo by Megan Wills

The Baltimore Improv Festival at the Creative Alliance, Aug 12–15 The Baltimore Playwrights Festival presents Hammarskjold at Spotlighters, Aug 12–29

years ago still has BIG members talking. “An audience member shouted the word ‘narwhal,’” says BIG member Heather Moyer. What followed was a spontaneously created tale of a young woman seeking to avenge the deaths of family members who had been gored by the horned marine mammal, all set to made-up-on-the-spot seachanty-style music. “It was hilarious,” Moyer says. “We all still sing the song ‘Ghost of the Ocean, Unicorn of the Sea.’” BIG Artistic Director Mike Harris predicts, “You’re going to swear up and down they must have rehearsed this. I promise you they didn’t, and you’re going to laugh your behind off.” Robertson describes the improv experience as ephemeral. “For example, nobody

O

will ever see the narwhal musical again, and that’s kind of sad.” The participants in the Baltimore Playwrights Festival spend far more time on their scripts. Now in its twenty-ninth year, the festival’s six full-length plays began performances in June. The action continues this month with three plays, including Ronald McKinney’s Hammarskjold at the Audrey Herman Spotlighters Theatre. Billed as a “psychological thriller,” it’s the story of a man who shows up in a New York hospital claiming to be Dag Hammarskjold, the United Nations Secretary-General who died in a plane crash in 1961. The rest of the characters in the play, says festival chairman Rodney Bonds, “are people talking to their psychiatrists. And the audience is the psychiatrist.” —Martha Thomas For tickets to the Baltimore Improv Festival, call 888-745-8393 or go to www.baltimoreimprovfestival.org. For tickets to the Baltimore Playwrights Festival, call 410-752-1225 or go to www.baltplayfest.com.

n the cover of this black-and-white photo book is a solo biker popping his sidecar sideways up in the air on the beach at Daytona. His hair is blowing back, his short sleeves are snapping, and he seems to be mastering with ease what surely is an insane stunt. The image plays to one of the most central icons of the ’60s and ’70s—Dennis Hopper giving the finger at the end of the movie Easy Rider—that was emblematic of a generation’s dreams of freedom. But that was “Born to Be Wild” Hollywood-style; Living the Life is real, subtle, and so much more badass. The elegant hardback, published by Rosedale-based Lowside Syndicate, lasciviously details in “ride-along style” the 1970s Baltimore motorcycle scene and, in particular, a club called Dirt That Moves. (What a name, considering that most clubs burnish titles of fierceness: the Pagans, the Hells Angels, the Imperials.) Living the Life explores the ageold American ideal of taking a crazed journey to taste true freedom—nirvana reached on a panhead Harley—but the price can be found in the creases of their grins. There are plenty of images, all taken by Q-Ball (a.k.a. Doug Barber, a member of the club), of biker hijinks and tussles with The Man (cops), but the book’s strength is its quiet photographs. The best example is a photo of two bikers parked in a dirt lot and locked in conversation. One

holds a can of beer, the other a cigarette; they’re rooted on their parked bikes like mechanical centaurs, absorbed in each other’s words in a way that only comes from years of friendship. And, damn, you want to know what they’re talking about. Here lies the book’s main flaw. There just isn’t enough info on these guys. Instead, we get the biker poetry of Sorez the Scribe, who only stokes the fires of curiosity with his circling themes of freedom, drug abuse, violence, and brotherhood. This ambiguity may be due to the eternal struggle of Q-Ball, who studied photography at Maryland Institute College of Art. His artist/photographer’s instinct to capture life is at odds with his love and respect for the biker community, which doesn’t usually take kindly to being photographed. In the end, Living the Life teeters between art and documentation; it will keep you spinning again and again through the pages, each time gleaning a bit more as to how the rider on the cover hit a wheelie that just may not be possible anymore. —Charles Cohen To purchase Living the Life, go to www.lowsidesyn.com.

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DISCOVER THE PERFECT CITY Stop by on September 12th and see my whole collection of more than 100 cars and cycles. If its got wheels, I’m sure you’ll find it at the 13th annual Wheels event. There’s going to be live music, food and of course, lots of horsepower.

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urbanite august 10

6/30/10 5:33 PM


TH E SCEN E: AUGUST DANCE

MUSIC

Ooh, barracuda: Heart performs hits from the ’70s and ’80s like “Crazy On You” and “These Dreams” at Pier Six on Aug 1. If that gets you feeling nostalgic for decades gone by, catch Blondie (“Call Me”) and Cheap Trick (“I Want You to Want Me”) on Aug 29. (731 Eastern Ave.; www. piersixpavilion.com) Stopping at Rams Head Live is the For the Love of It Tour, featuring reggae legend Beres Hammond with guests Inner Circle (famous for “Bad Boys,” the Cops theme song), Culture, and Lenya Wilkes. Aug 10. (20 Market Place; 410-244-1131; www. ramsheadlive.com) On Aug 25, local composer and electronic musician Erik Spangler premieres several new works at the Windup Space. He also teams up with Brian Sacawa to reprise their January 2010 Mobtown Modern performance of Zodiacrobatic, their version of electronic music composer Karlheinz Stockhausen’s 12 Melodies of the Zodiac. (12 W. North Ave.; 410-244-8855; www. thewindupspace.com) VISUAL ART

Waiting for a flight or for a loved one to come home? While you’re at Baltimore/ Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, visit the upper level of the international terminal to take in mica@bWi: mica fulbright honorees, featuring photography, painting, and more by Maryland Institute College of Art alums, students, and teachers who have received the prestigious grants. Through Oct 12. (410-669-9200; www.mica.edu)

passion at Morgan State University (see “In Stitches” in this issue, on page 61), there’s my american series: the documentary story Quilts of dr. Joan m. e. gaither at School 33 through Aug 14 (1427 Light St.; 410-396-1641; www.school33.org), and henry holmes: picture Quilts at the Creative Alliance, Aug 12 through 18 (3134 Eastern Ave.; 410-276-1651; www.creativealliance.org). In advancing abstraction in modern sculpture, the Baltimore Museum of Art showcases a recent acquisition— sculptor David Smith’s 1933 Head with Cogs for Eyes, believed to be lost—along with forty-odd other non-representational, sculptural works culled from Smith’s estate, the museum’s permanent collection, and private collections. Through Feb 20, 2011. (10 Art Museum Dr.; 443-573-1700; www.artbma.org) The Baltimore-born Billy Baldwin is “probably the most ingenious of 20th-century interior designers,” according to Evergreen Museum and Library, which hosts an exhibition of his furniture, textiles, and fine art through Oct 24. Baldwin, whose clients included Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and fashion icon Diana Vreeland, is known for his sleek, practical design sensibility. (4545 N. Charles St.; 410-5160341; www.museums.jhu.edu)

Quilts are all the rage this month. In addition to twenty years of a pieceful

Current Gallery, which lost its space last year when the building it inhabited was slated for demolition, celebrates its new home at 421 North Howard Street with baltimore vs. the world, an exhibition of different kinds of video—documentary, animation, home videos, shorts, and more. Participating artists are both local (including Matt Porterfield, whose dirty catch is pictured) and not. Through Sept 5. (www.currentspace.com) Compiled by Marianne Amoss

art/culture

Local dance company The Collective combines modern dance with swing, salsa, and hip hop for its performance at Creative Alliance. The company shares the stage with The Regulators, a local nineperson troupe of street dancers. Aug 20. (3134 Eastern Ave.; 410-276-1651; www. creativealliance.org) Learn the alluring art of belly dancing at BellyPalooza 2010. Workshops for novice and experienced dancers cover a wide range of skills, from playing the finger cymbals to making Greco-Turkish leap turns. There’s also a bazaar where you can pick up sequined outfits and hip scarves. The instructors give a performance on Saturday. Aug 21–22 at Johns Hopkins University. (www.pipermethod. com/bellypalooza.html) FILM

in search of memory tells the story of Eric Kandel, the 80-year-old neuroscientist who won a 2000 Nobel Prize for his work studying how the brain stores memories. The screening is hosted by the Jewish Museum of Maryland at the Myerberg Senior Center, 3101 Fallstaff Road, on Aug 10. RSVP to 410-358-6856 or tmorganstein@myerbergseniorcenter.org. (www. jewishmuseummd.org)

On Aug 21, the Southeast Anchor branch of the Pratt Library (at 3601 Eastern Ave.) screens mr. boh’s brewery, the 2006 documentary (co-created by Urbanite’s creative director, Alex Castro) about the rise and fall of National Bohemian Beer. (410-396-1580; www.prattlibrary.org) Short films by local Stephanie Barber and New York-based Fern Silva are screened in the Stamp Gallery at the University of Maryland, College Park. Curator Jackie Milad says the work combines “rich images and sound to create a dreamlike visual experience for the viewers.” Through Aug 13. (301-314-8493; http:// thestamp.umd.edu/gallery/upcoming.html) CULTURAL CELEBRATION

On Aug 8, the Eubie Blake Cultural Center hosts a “livication celebration” to honor two late, local, African American greats—world-champion boxer Joe Gans and activist/actress Henrietta Vinton Davis—and several living folks who are doing good work in the community. Guest speakers include Clayton LeBouef, actor (of Homicide, The Corner, and The Wire fame) and author of The Life and Breath of Henrietta Vinton Davis, and Colleen Aycock, author of the biography Joe Gans. Blues musician Chaz DePaolo provides tunes. (847 N. Howard St.; 410-225-3130; www. eubieblake.org)


f a l l s p r i n g

peabody preparatory 2 0 1 0 - 2 0 11 c a t a l o g

For your copy of the catalog, call 410-234-4630 or visit www.peabody.jhu.edu/prep

THE PEabody PrEParaTory’s FaLL sEMEsTEr oF MUsIC aNd daNCE INsTrUC TIoN For aLL aGEs sTarTs WEdNEsday, sEPTEMbEr 8, 2010 68

urbanite august 10

Urbanite_0810.indd 1

7/1/10 12:00:20 PM


Hitsville continued from page 39 violent race. They are roiled up in a jolly summer mood. There’s a beer garden and potatoes being fried, Old Bay seasoning to pour on top of them. T-shirts and belt buckles are for sale, and an announcer with a portable headset is staying remarkably fresh in this, his second full hour of play-by-play. Finally, a horn blasts, and the cars in the compact division roll toward the track. Tyler has used his connections to get the Tempo into the rear of the eight-car field, not wanting to be jostled from behind or crunched between two rivals as they vie for position in an early turn. The hill above the track is grassy, the speed deceptive; dropping toward the track, the cars look like cattle bunching up through slaughterhouse doors. Going into the first turn, they go four-wide at 35 mph through a space only big enough for two. After the first lap, the Tempo is second from last, but Tyler has adopted a laissez-faire strategy for the first race. He just wants to avoid contact and put in enough laps to qualify for the “feature”—the money race that pays the winner $200. Enough derbies have taught him to bide his time: To make it count in the next race, you have to finish with a car intact enough to run again. He lays back and swerves around a detached fender laying in the dirt. By lap two, tires are rolling off wheels like big rubber bands. The crowd squeals as they get hit with clots of mud the size of plums. When the first car flips onto its roof, they stand up and cheer. They cheer when the driver emerges unharmed, and when a front loader flips the car back onto its wheels. They cheer when the driver climbs back in through the window and cranks the key and the engine actually starts. They cheer when the smoke from the oil drippage plumes bright white. They cheer when there’s fire. Tyler avoids the wreckage, taking the Tempo around turns as cool

as a blast of conditioned air. His strategy seems to be working. With three minutes on the clock, cars with zestier approaches have taken each other out and lie dead and T-boned on the track. A red Escort wagon drags its crumpled rear end, while a Volvo sedan with spraypainted yellow highlights rumbles along like a tank under fire. A ’78 Ford Fairmont driven by a 75-year-old man and painted with cow spots has its hood bent up like a flap of cardboard but still makes the rounds. The Tempo cruises past it, unscathed. Somewhere in minute four, Tyler and Mick go up the berm that occasionally hangs up a car like the pivot-point on a seesaw, and their engine dies. The remaining cars avoid them in their final laps around the course. Of all the calamities possible in hurling 3,000-pound boxes against each other, Tyler and Mick have succumbed to a dead battery, their alternator having given out. They do not qualify for the feature. But if there’s a worker-ant mentality to derby preparation, it comes, too, in knowing that your mound of effort can be demolished with a swipe out of the blue. Racing numbers carefully stenciled on doors smear with the first graze of contact; stripes go crooked on a crumpled hood. Cars that come back to derby after derby begin to look like Coke cans used for 12-gauge target practice. I’m overwhelmed by both the miracle and fallacy of safety in these things, cruising along the Beltway, as I do, in my own piece of flimsy tin. Alternator aside, the Tempo looks pretty good. “Oh, she’ll be back,” Tyler says. “Shit, I bet we get two, three more races out of her.” Asked if he’ll ride along again, Mick grins like a kid, as if—along with the weight of nerves—he’s sweated out twenty years. “Man,” he says. “I’d be back again tomorrow.” ■ —Benjamin Warner recently acquired his mother’s 1999 Toyota Camry. It has 135,000 miles and is, he hopes, years away from its first demolition derby.

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t pizza • coupons • what you’re wearing • punk music • asian-hispanic fusion cuisine • the renaissance • post modernism • couture cuisine

Five issues, to be exact. Say hello to Urbanite’s new e-zines. Because there’s just way too much happening way too fast in Baltimore to keep it all contained in our magazine, we’re giving you more of what you love about your favorite interests, Urbanite, and Baltimore in our new e-zines. Make our issues your issues—FREE. Subscribe to any and all of them at urbanitebaltimore.com.

Urbanite Arts/Culture • Urbanite Food/Drink • Urbanite Home/Design • Urbanite Style/Shopping • Urbanite Green/Sustainable


OVERLOOK CLIPPER MILL HOMES ARE BACK ON THE MARKET AND AT NEW prices! These contemporary park homes feature sun-drenched rooms, wooded views, and the latest in sustainable design options. With easy walking access to Light Rail and I-83 just around the corner, Overlook Clipper Mill promises to be the envy of all. Priced from $499,000. Sales center open weekends from noon - 5pm or by appointment. 410-727-0606 | OverlookClipperMill.com

Green. With envy. And with new prices!


Ready for Renewal? We’ve Got a Rabbi for You! Join us for the High Holydays and find out what everyone is talking about.

M A R K E T P L A C E

For ticket information and our special offer for newcomers, call 410-523-2446 or email urban@bethambaltimore.org Rabbi Daniel Cotzin Burg

Search the MLS for Free, just like a Realtor. www.realicyn.com o 410-531-0321 • c 443-250-9859 alicyn@northropteam.com Alicyn DelZoppo

Expect the Unexpected

The most beautiful treasure trove of gifts, jewelry and home furnishings in Baltimore. Accepting your consignments every day.

Best Sushi - City Paper 2009 Happy Hour Monday - Friday, 5pm - 7pm Open for Lunch & Dinner

thehomeagainstore.com 410.377.3067

413 N. Charles Street Baltimore, Maryland 410-244-6988 (f)410-244-6833 www.josscafe-sushibar.com

Realtor®

TYPE A

CLEANING & orGANIzING

“Give yourself a rest and leave your home a mess.”

Detailed cleaning using only non toxic/eco friendly products. Pre/post parties, move in/out, laundry, and dishes. Light clutter to hoarding: NAPO member. Free estimates and consultations.

6719 York Rd Baltimore,MD 21212

Roland Park Victorian Canton waterfront condo Mount Vernon brownstone Bolton Hill townhome Mount Washington modern

Fall Classes Starting Aug. 21 ENROLL NOW Limited Space Available •Beginner Couturier •Pattern Making & Pattern Design •Advanced Couturier

BECAUSE CITY LIFE IS A WONDERFUL LIFE Avendui Lacovara 410-583-0400 443-326-8674 (direct) alacovara@ywgcrealty.com

To Register or Information: 410-560-3910 www.marylandacademy ofcourturearts.com

410-592-2597 • 410-913-5724

www.TypeAcleaning.com

Retail Shop

Emphasizing local, seasonal, sustainably farmed ingredients whenever possible, yielding meals that are sure to please your palate and ignite your senses. 443-312-2094 www.patchworkcatering.com jacki@patchworkcatering.com

NEOPOL Baltimore’s ONLY smokery, specializing in smoked seafood and meats, savory cheese pies, gourmet foods, smoked seasoning salts and chef’s supplies. Belvedere Square Marketplace Baltimore, Maryland 21212 Tel: 410-433-7700

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Lenny’s Famous Trays for All Occasions

Open Monday - Saturday, 8am - 6pm Sunday, 8am - 4pm Fresh, locally roasted coffee, loose leaf teas and brewing accessories. 4607 Harford Road, Baltimore, MD 21214 410-254-0122 www.zekescoffee.com

Teavolve Cafe & Lounge WHERE EVOLUTION IS HAPPENING

Fun drinks. Cool music. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. Brunch. Harbor East 1401 Aliceanna St. 410.522.1907

Dairy • Deli • Fried Chicken Salads • Sandwiches • Desserts

Deli Check Out Our Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Menu

9107 Reisterstown Road

at McDonough Rd. Valley Village Shopping Center Owings Mills • 410-363-3353

1150 E. Lombard Street Baltimore • 410-327-1177

www.lennysdeli.com


I used to flash gang signs at the bowling alley.

Just ask Dave, pop music can make you do things you wouldn’t normally do. If you or someone you know has a pop addiction, there is hope. WTMD 89.7. STOP THE POP INSANITY.

LIstener supporteD raDIo from towson unIversIty

I was a pop addict.


eye to e y e

Powerful and unsettling art is often difficult at first to absorb. Such is the work of Baltimore artist Randi Reiss-McCormack, who sets side by side tasteful and simple daily pleasures with the bizarre and macabre. In the recently completed painting shown here, there is no context; what characters these “marionettes” represent is unknown to us, as is the space they inhabit. What we do know—or, rather, sense—comes from the spirit of the presentation. Its awkwardness and slapdash feel leave us uneasy, and the allusion to violence in the starkly rendered knife-like object held by the major figure does more than hold our attention. The artist hinted at her point of view in a recent e-mail. It is “the insistence of the wall covering and cramped space converging on the puppets” that is for her “actually the most frightening aspect of the painting.” In sum, for both artist and viewer, the psychological impact of the painting dominates. The dolls’ smiles are not smiles. Behind them lie forces that only our subconscious can plumb. —Alex Castro

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Randi Reiss-McCormack Gang of Three 2010 33 x 23 inches oil on canvas www.randireissmccormack.com


MARYLAND • COLUMBIA • TIMONIUM • GREENBELT • ROCKVILLE 800.490.1627 • phoenix.edu/maryland © 2010 University of Phoenix, Inc. All rights reserved.



August 2010 Issue