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#86 August 2011
Mad Dogs & Britons!
by Jim Meyer In search of the roots of Defenders Day ... and a cold beer in Edgemere about the cover:
Editor’s Note 9 What You’re Saying 11 What You’re Writing 15 Don’t Miss 17 The Goods —— baltimore observed
Illustration by Robbi Behr
21 Liftoff by M. Holden Warren Could a problem that has plagued city police offer a key to breaking a cycle of crime?
25 The Ultimate Punishment 27 Voices
—— space 47 The Seafarers by Rebecca Messner For a handful of Baltimoreans, home is where the boat is.
more online at www.urbanitebaltimore.com
VOICES An extended interview with Mark Holland about “healing cities” STORIES The 2nd and 3rd place fiction contest winners A reader’s tale of visiting Sardinia VIDEO A day with “seafarer” Vaughn Micciche A pickletini-making demo with John Reusing GUIDES Baltimore’s outdoor movie venues
on the air
Urbanite on The Marc Steiner Show, WEAA 88.9 fm at 5 p.m. August 17: The death penalty in Maryland August 23: “Wheelie boys” September 12: Defenders Day special
food + drink 51 The Spice of Life by Jennifer Walker
IMAGES A photo gallery of the “wheelie boys” More images of boat-homes
Culinary cocktails pack the heat with inventive, unorthodox ingredients.
55 Dining Reviews 57 Wine & Spirits
by Quinn Fusting I’ve had one dream about you since I’ve been in Phnom Penh. You were flat and washed out like a paper doll. You were holding hands with another girl …
arts + culture 59 The Last Drive-In by Anne Haddad
Maryland has only one remaining drive-in theater, but outdoor films are on the rise.
61 Music 63 Book 63 Theater
—— 65 The Scene —— 70 Eye to Eye
Urbanite #86 august 2011 5
issue 86: august 2011 publisher Tracy Ward Tracy@urbanitebaltimore.com general manager Jean Meconi Jean@urbanitebaltimore.com editor-in-chief Greg Hanscom Greg@urbanitebaltimore.com assistant editor Rebecca Messner Rebecca@urbanitebaltimore.com digital media editor Andrew Zaleski Andrew@urbanitebaltimore.com editor-at-large David Dudley David@urbanitebaltimore.com online editors food/drink: Tracey Middlekauff Tracey@urbanitebaltimore.com arts/culture: Cara Ober Cara@urbanitebaltimore.com proofreader Marianne Amoss contributing writers Michael Anft, Scott Carlson, Charles Cohen, Michael Corbin, Heather Dewar, Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson, Mat Edelson, Lionel Foster, Brennen Jensen, Michelle Gienow, Clinton Macsherry, Richard O’Mara, Robin T. Reid, Andrew Reiner, Martha Thomas, Michael Yockel, Mary K. Zajac editorial interns Jonah Furman, Ashley May art director Peter Yuill production manager Belle Gossett Belle@urbanitebaltimore.com staff photographer J.M. Giordano Joe@urbanitebaltimore.com production interns April Chou, Aprile Greene, Susannah Lohr, Allison Samuels senior account executives Catherine Bowen Catherine@urbanitebaltimore.com Susan R. Levy Susan@urbanitebaltimore.com account executives Joe McMonagle JoeM@urbanitebaltimore.com Natalie Richardson Natalie@urbanitebaltimore.com advertising sales/events coordinator Erin Albright Erin@urbanitebaltimore.com advertising/sales/marketing interns Kayla Bruun, Ed Gallagher jane of some trades Iris Goldstein Iris@urbanitebaltimore.com creative director emeritus Alex Castro founder Laurel Harris Durenberger — Advertising/Editorial/Business Offices 2002 Clipper Park Road, Fourth Floor, Baltimore, md 21211 Phone: 410-243-2050; Fax: 410-243-2115 www.urbanitebaltimore.com Editorial inquiries: Send queries to email@example.com (no phone calls, please). The magazine is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts or artwork. Urbanite does not necessarily share the opinions of its authors. To subscribe or obtain assistance with a current subscription, call 410-243-2050. Subscription price: $18 per year. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission by Urbanite is prohibited. Copyright 2011, 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.
6 august 2011 www.urbanitebaltimore.com
bottom photo by Sam Holden; middle photo by Allison Samuels; top photo By Allison Samuels; photo of Greg hanscom by Allison Samuels
Illustration Intern Susannah Lohr is a senior communication design and illustration major at Washington University in St. Louis. Lohr spent last summer in Florence, where she studied drawing and Renaissance art history. This summer, she’s doing illustration work for Urbanite, including the image that appears with “What You’re Writing” in this issue (p. 11). After graduation, Lohr says she hopes to work as a creative director or children’s book illustrator.
Editorial intern Ashley May joins Urbanite from New Freedom, Pennsylvania. A rising senior at Ithaca College, May studies journalism, photography, and religious studies, and writes for The Ithacan. She’s currently working on a documentary about the World Boardgaming Championships and gearing up for post-undergrad life come December. Her review of the book Outdoor Sculpture in Baltimore appeared in the July issue.
Jim Meyer is a stand-up comedian, actor, and retired roller derby announcer. For this issue, he wrote “Mad Dogs & Britons!” (p. 32), about his madcap quest to find the roots of Defenders Day. He was born and raised in British-free Baltimore and will gladly sell you an old Jaguar. Check out www.jim meyerexperience.com to follow his exploits or make an offer on the car.
consider this issue of urbanite a shot across the bow. The British are indeed on the march. This spring, Maryland kicked off its official commemoration of the War of 1812—the “second war of independence” that, contrary to the name, stretched from 1812 to 1815. And what is an anniversary if not a marketing opportunity! The Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission and Maryland Office of Tourism have been hard at work planning events and activities that will, with any luck, draw history buffs from far and wide to Baltimore and surrounds. There will be historic re-enactments, fireworks displays, and a “water trail” where boaters can explore historic sites. Work is underway on the national level as well. The United States Mint is issuing a commemorative coin. The National Park Service has unveiled a shiny new visitors center at Fort McHenry, where Francis Scott Key watched the “rockets’ red glare” light up the star-spangled banner. (Key’s original manuscript is on display now at the Maryland Historical Society in Mount Vernon, along with portraits of the “rock stars of 1812.”) And yes, in what comedian Jim Meyer calls “a seemingly monumentally bad idea” in his cover story in this issue (“Mad Dogs & Britons!” p. 32), negotiations are underway to bring the British navy back to Baltimore to mark the 200th anniversary of the bombardment of the fort. No doubt it’ll be a more congenial affair this time around. So consider yourself warned. The hoopla is just beginning. And with any luck, it’ll be good for more than just the tourist industry. (Although judging from what went down at the Inner Harbor after the Fourth of July light show this year, we’ll be lucky to accomplish that much.) Kids these days could use a fun history lesson or two. Only 12 percent of U.S. high school seniors have a firm grasp of American history, according to the Department of Education. Just 2 percent understand the significance of Brown v. Board of Education. A romp on the battlements at Fort McHenry ought to breathe a little life into at least one chapter of those droll history texts. This issue isn’t all cannons and bayonets, however. We traditionally dedicate the August edition to summer reading. To that end, starting on page 38, you’ll find the winners of the Enoch Pratt Free Library’s 2011 Pratt Contemporaries Fiction Storyteller Award. The first-place winner is featured here. Find the second- and third-place stories on our website, along with a charming—and, we’re assured, entirely true—story about a trip to the island of Sardinia that was sent in by reader Donald Lee Sickler in response to our May wine column, “Grape Escape.” In this month’s food feature, “The Spice of Life” (p. 51), Jennifer Walker writes about “culinary cocktails” that incorporate pickle juice, bacon, hot peppers, and all manner of unorthodox ingredients. In “The Last Drive-In” (p. 59), Anne Haddad waxes nostalgic about watching movies outdoors. Elsewhere in this issue, Michael Corbin continues his year-long “Crime & Punishment” series with a story about Maryland’s fraught relationship with the death penalty (“The Ultimate Punishment,” p. 25). And in “Liftoff,” (p. 21), writer/photographer M. Holden Warren takes an inside look at the young men and boys who pull daredevil tricks on bicycles and dirt bikes in city streets. They’ve been called “terrorists” and worse. One man, however, believes that he can harness the passion they have for their bikes, and use it to do good.
Coming next month
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what you’re saying
G H L I G H T S HEALTH CARE PA R K · A R T S C A P E H I THAT WORKS T PA T H S O F R O L A N D E R C E S · N E AV R S A’ I GuAl y 2 0 1 1 i s s u e n o . 8 5 j
was revealed—the complete absence of meaningful access to real education and treatment programs, the same problem rampant in the adult prison system. In the 1970s Ochiki Young was the first Maryland prisoner to earn a four-year UP college degree—a bachelor’s AS mORE SUbURbS OFFERWIL L CITY-STYLE LIVING, HOW VIVE? from Morgan State UniverAGING URbAN CENTERS SUR sity. Then-Governor Mandel had the state police take Ochiki out of the Maryland Correctional Training Center in Hagerstown and put him on a helicopter for a trip to Annapolis, where he met the governor. Mandel commuted Ochiki’s life sentence to ten years. In 1979, Nathaniel Johnson was the first Maryland prisoner to earn a graduate degree— a master’s in creative writing from Goddard College. Yet Nat, who did not even have a life CROSSING THE LINE sentence, died in 1996 in the Eastern CorrecRe: “Getting it Straight,” July ’11, about tional Institution for lack of adequate medical the lives and challenges of transgender treatment. When society provided tools for individuals education and treatment, the wondrous results were heralded in just one case, and then the Thank you for the wonderful interview. I am in lesson was quickly forgotten. The lesson forgotthe process of transitioning at 37 years old and ten, the funding dried up, and it’s no wonder wrestling with many of the same social issues. Maryland’s penal gulag, for both juveniles and The suicide rate for transsexuals is around 50 adults, is merely another warehousing system. percent and this is in large part due to a feeling that they will never be accepted by society. It —Douglas Scott Arey, Jessup Correctional Institution is important that we work to change these attitudes. —Melissa STRIDING TOWARD THE LIGHT Re: “An Invitation to Ophelia’s Tea Party,” June ’11 Excellent interview! You’ve given us much to think about. Thanks to both of you for sharing The layers of meaning are rich, and it gives one your stories. lot to chew on. The purposeful striding away —eliz from darkness toward light brings hope to mind, even with the shroud of sadness still in the room. INMATES NEED EDUCATION
I believe high tech can provide some growth for our area, but a much larger economic development opportunity is being built here in Baltimore: a restoration economy. In a restoration economy, “ecosystem markets” are used to apply a dollar value to environmental benefits that come from enhanced land and water practices such as conservation tillage, sustainable forest management, urban runoff abatement, etc. This changes the benefits from non-valued, “feel good” volunteer efforts into financially valuable assets or ecosystem “credits.” One existing ecosystem market, created by the Clean Water Act, has restored over 160,000 acres of wetlands and generates over $1.7 billion annually in economic activity. The Environmental Protection Agency has recently set a “pollution diet” for the Chesapeake Bay. If ecosystem markets are part of this, a developer, water treatment plant, or farmer who puts too much runoff into the bay will be able to purchase offsets or water quality credits from another entity that has reduced its runoff below required limits. This allows businesses, municipalities, and farmers to offset and reduce pollution as they continue to grow their business, services, and products. Building a restoration economy in Baltimore will help restore the bay and unlock economic and financial benefits for our communities. And just as importantly, Baltimore would become the leader for the nation in developing this new type of economic growth. —John Campagna, managing director of Restore Capital
Correction Apologies to Rahne Alexander for screwing up both the spelling of her name and her alma mater in “Getting it Straight” (July ’11 Urbanite). She attended the University of Southern California, not the University of South Carolina.
The 140 column inches devoted to the juvenile justice “Labyrinth” feature story (June ’11 Urbanite) can be summarized in a few pithy comments of one incarcerated juvenile in the story: “Ain’t a damn thing going on at that school. You got a shop class with no tools, a ‘technology’ class with no computers, some teachers showing movies all day everyday, and a bunch of [Black Guerilla Family] comrades beefing with a bunch of fake-ass Bloods.” In forty-five words the extent of the problem
Brilliant, haunting, and memorable! —Sage9
SAVE THE BAY—AND THE ECONOMY I read with interest your article about economic development for Baltimore focused on high tech (“Press Start,” May ’11). Having worked both in Silicon Valley and Wall Street
Join the conversation. Follow us on Facebook (and use the “Suggest Urbanite” button to recommend us to friends) and Twitter (@UrbaniteMD). E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or send your letter to Mail, Urbanite, 2002 Clipper Park Road, Fourth Floor, Baltimore, MD 21211. Please include your name, address, and daytime phone number. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. Urbanite #86 august 2011 9
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i had no idea how sick Louis was when I agreed to drive him from Baltimore to his new home in San Diego. My brother couldn’t drive with a bad back, and Louis and his lifelong companion, Tess, were too old and neurotic to survive a flight, so I packed the car with organic dog treats from Howl, and we headed west. Tess, a slender shepherd mix, had a highfaluting attitude. She and my brother believed her superior intellect and refined manners qualified her for the front seat. Louis was an overweight, heavy-breathing, butt-munching mutt who usually smelled like yesterday’s trash, which he undoubtedly had snacked on moments before. He had no grandiose ideas and so hopped in the back and lowered his head while Tess, the entitled, took in the view of our fine country. We went south and strolled under oaks and Spanish moss in Georgia and then traveled west, eating andouille sausages and listening to country music. When we stretched our legs under starry skies, Louis let Tess decide in which direction we would walk. It was Tess who chose which bed to sleep in when we stopped in the dingy, pet-friendly motels, and Louis curled up on the floor nearby. Somewhere in Louisiana, I looked in the back seat and saw the old boy craning his neck for air. Tess glared at me with cold contempt when I suggested that she take a turn in back, but after a long battle of wills she finally, grudgingly stepped over the console. When Louis hopped into the prime position, he turned his full attention toward me. His eyes were filled with the purest form of unadulterated love. “You like the front seat don’t you, Buddy,” I
said. He reached out his paw for my hand, and we rode through Texas, the long stretch of Highway 10 suddenly not so barren, as we looked out the window and contemplated how lucky we were. —Nancy Murray is a real estate agent and playwright whose playAsking Questions opens at the Fells Point Corner Theater on August 12. Louis died two weeks after arriving in San Diego.
we were nearing the border of Wisconsin, and I could see the pink squid coming from down the road. Wide-eyed, I pushed my face up against the glass. Tension built. The trip from Baltimore had taken us three days in our beat-up green Windstar minivan, driving the long stretches of highway and curving country roads. The muggy heat of July poured through open windows. Our air conditioner was broken, and my sister and I shared the middle seat to avoid the water that seeped in when it rained. Our sticky Popsicle fingers left marks on the door handles. We had protested the historic sites, lagging behind and whining that our feet hurt, but then begged to stop at every McDonald’s or playground we saw. Today, a certain excitement teemed in the backseat of our van, and we sat wild with curiosity. Just over the border separating Wisconsin from Illinois, we saw a small gift shop, huge plastic dinosaurs lining its sidewalk. Mangled vines and flowers bursting like fireworks overflowed from their pots. A giant squid with bulging cartoon eyes reached his pink tentacles around the entrance of the store. “DreamLand” was spelled out on the front in
dazzling, lit-up letters. Shimmering golden feathers hung in the front window, and sugary sweet music danced in the air. A grumble of “No” rose from the front seat, where our tired grandparents sat fanning their faces. As DreamLand disappeared into the distance, my sister and I, sighing, slid back down into our seats and dreamed of what was hidden behind those doors. —Sally McFadden is a freshman at Towson High School and is taking creative writing classes.
by six a.m., snow was falling in gusts and sprays. My phone blinked and buzzed from an onslaught of text messages. I heard my girlfriend cajoling me awake. I groaned. Less than an hour later our two-car caravan left the D.C. metro area as a cataclysmic snowstorm approached the capital like something out of a disaster movie. We were escaping the Snowpocalypse, but we were driving right into an intestinally destructive melee of saturated fat and competitive running. Four-and-a-half miles in under an hour, with a twelvedoughnut snack break halfway through: This was the Krispy Kreme Challenge at N.C. State. Only six of us were foolish enough to attempt it, with my girlfriend there to chronicle the event and identify our bodies if need be. A hot-wings joint en route offered a picture on the wall to anyone who could eat twelve of their spiciest wings in under fifteen minutes. No way I’m punishing my body like that less than twenty-four hours before a doughnut race, I thought. Two minutes later, I was signing the waiver, thinking about permanent taste bud damage. Soon, I was gasping in defeat, my Urbanite #86 august 2011 11
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but not where you want to be? No one chooses to have depression. But every day, people choose to do something about it. And for many, it means taking an antidepressant. But for some, this may not always be enough. Low mood and loss of interest are just a few of the common symptoms that can continue to stay with you – even while you’re treating depression. If you’re experiencing unresolved symptoms, it maybe time to consider additional options. The Depression Outreach Study is evaluating an investigational drug that’s intended to be taken with your current antidepressant (SSRI), to see if it helps to lessen any ongoing symptoms of depression. All eligible study participants will receive investigational study drugs, coverage for their current prescription antidepressant, and studyrelated care at no cost. If you’re at least 18 years old, have been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), and are taking a prescription antidepressant, you may be eligible to participate. To learn more, conTacT us: alan m. Jonas, M.D. , Principal Investigator robert B. lehman, M.D., Sub-Investigator
Depressionoutreachstudy.com 12 august 2011 www.urbanitebaltimore.com
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what you’re writing face covered in purple splotches. Three of my friends got pictures on the wall. I got diarrhea as a consolation prize. As if we didn’t feel foolish enough, we picked up some superhero underwear—to be worn outside the pants—at a Walmart. It was bitterly cold when we left the hotel the next morning, by which time I’d already made three agonizing trips to the bathroom. Shorts around my ankles, Transformers briefs around my shorts, I thought hard about my life. I was an idiot, I decided. So I ran 4.6 miles and ate twelve Krispy Kreme doughnuts. It was glorious. I didn’t finish in an hour, and my stomach never forgave me, but at least I did better than the barefoot guy in the Mortal Kombat costume. —Joseph Grammer is a recent graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park. He lives in Gaithersburg and is pursuing a career in counseling psychology. When he is not writing, he plays guitar, reads, exercises, and goes on adventures with his girlfriend.
in june of 1956, my mother drove my 5-year-old brother and me (aged 10) from suburban New York to Montgomery, Alabama, where her brother was stationed in the Air Force. She missed him, she explained to us. We spent the long, hot summer in a small, rented apartment on the second floor of a plain, white house on a plain, white street. Everything
about that place was alien to me: the water fountains for whites and coloreds only, the windshield crusted with dead insects by evening, hamburgers with mayonnaise and pickles, and goober peas at the Piggly Wiggly. By the end of August, Mom had made the decision to return to my father. Toward the end of the meandering drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains we approached the turn-off for the famous Luray Caverns. We were given a choice: visit the caverns and skip dinner, or drive on, using the last of our money for a meal on the road. We chose the caverns. They were a series of immense, cold rooms luminous with gaudy spotlights. A guide showed us new stalactites, shaped by endless streams of slowly dripping water, and monumental formations that resembled Greek columns, pipe organs, flowing veils. But my most vivid memory of the caves was the two yelloworange blobs on a larger circle of white: “fried eggs,” frozen for eternity as rock. How could they be cold and hard when they looked so soft? Did they bring to mind my slowly forming breasts? Or possibly my gnawing hunger? I still shudder at the cloying flavor of pralines, our supper that evening, taken from a souvenir box bought for my father. When we finally reached home a day later, he was out. But there was a huge bouquet of dying flowers waiting for us on the dining room table.
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—Pat Alexander’s narratives are usually in the form of visual art—see the Lexington Market Metro station’s mosaic and paintings. She teaches in the fine arts department at Maryland Institute College of Art, and although she has lived in various locations on the East Coast as well as in London and Germany, she now resides in Baltimore.
“What You’re Writing” is the place for creative
nonfiction from our readers. Each month we pick a topic. Use the topic as a springboard into your own life and send us a true story inspired by that month’s theme. Only previously unpublished, nonfiction submissions that include contact information can be considered. We reserve the right to edit heavily for space and clarity, but we will give you the opportunity to review the edits. You may submit under “name withheld” to keep your essay anonymous, but you do need to let us know how to contact you. If you’ve already changed the names of the people involved, please let us know. Only one submission per topic, please. Send your essay to Urbanite, 2002 Clipper Park Road, Fourth Floor, Baltimore, MD 21211, or e-mail it to WhatYoureWriting@urbanitebaltimore.com. Submissions should be shorter than four hundred words. Because of the number of essays we receive, we cannot respond individually to each writer. Please do not send originals; submissions cannot be returned.
Topic Deadline Publication Ghost Stories Aug. 8, 2011 October 2011 In the Kitchen Sept. 12, 2011 November 2011 Silence Oct. 10, 2011 December 2011
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images (clockwise from top left): illustration by Brady Starr; photo by Kathy Kadow; courtesy of Daptone Records; courtesy of Sutisa Storm; Photo by Jay DeVries, Makeup by Valerie Tilghman, Model is Christine House; courtesy of Visit Baltimore
don’t miss 6
1 August 5–14 FOOD/DRINK
Get ready for what’s billed as “the most delicious week of summer.” Baltimore Restaurant Week kicks off August 5 and goes through August 14. Participating restaurants will offer prix-fixe dinner meals for $35.11. B&O American Brasserie, the Brewer’s Art, and b Bistro are some of the more than seventy restaurants getting in on the action. $35.11 www.baltimorerestaurantweek.com
2 August 6, 8 p.m.–midnight STYLE/SHOPPING
High fashion comes to Charm City with Baltimore Fashion Week, August 18–21. Designers from in and around Baltimore will present their collections, and emceeing the entire week will be YouTube sensation Ted Williams, the homeless man with a golden voice. The event kicks off August 6 at the Mystique Gala, which will be held at Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Museum in Fells Point. $60 1417 Thames St. 410-244-7220 www.baltimoresfashionweek.com
3 August 11, 6:30–10 p.m. FOOD/DRINK
FOOD=ART is a new monthly dinner series that aims to support the emerging culinary artists of Baltimore. This month’s dinner, on August 11 at the Marquee Lounge at the Creative Alliance, will be hosted by Joe Edwardsen of Joe Squared, who will break out of the pizza mold to present “FOOD=FARTS,” a multi-course blind tasting of inventive bean-based dishes.
5 August 20 GREEN/SUSTAINABLE
On August 20, the National Wildlife Federation will encourage scores of Americans to spend the night under the stars for the Great American Backyard Campout. Head to the Irvine Nature Center for a night of twilight activities and campfire snacks. The organization also has a limited number of tents for rent.
$45 3134 Eastern Ave. 410-276-1651 www.foodequalsart.com
Free 11201 Garrison Forest Rd., Owings Mills 443-738-9200 www.explorenature.org
4 August 15 and 17, 7 p.m.
6 August 27, 11:30 a.m.
Don’t worry—there won’t be zombies. The 29 Days Later Film Project gave teams twenty-nine days to write, produce, direct, and edit a four- to eight-minute short film. See the finished products at the historic Patterson Theater at the Creative Alliance on August 15 and 17. $9, Creative Alliance members $4 3134 Eastern Ave. 410-276-1651 www.29dayslater.com For more events, see the Scene on page 65.
The Silopanna Music Festival packs a whole day’s worth of soul into Anne Arundel County on August 27, with performances from Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings (pictured), Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, Matt and Kim, Fitz and the Tantrums, Harper Blynn, and Baltimore’s own LAZERlibby and Cris Jacobs of the Bridge, among others. $39.50–$225 Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds 1450 Generals Hwy. 410-268-4545 www.silopannafest.com Urbanite #86 august 2011 15
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what ’s new in style, shopping, & beyond
Meter MaÎtre D’s
Photos (clockwise from left): photo by Allison Samuels; courtesy of James schaffer; photo by Christian Schlebach
andrew zaleski When local techies James Schaffer and Shea Frederick showed up at Baltimore’s Civic Hack Day in February, they already knew what city data they wanted and how they wished to use it. “Parking tickets universally suck in every city,” says Schaffer. The solution: Spot Agent (www.spotagent.com), an iPhone and Android app that not only gauges drivers’ risk of receiving a parking ticket at specific locations around the city, but also informs drivers at what time and for what reason they might get slapped with a parking citation. Now if only it could parallel park my car for me.
Your Mom Buys Organic
greg hanscom There is something primal about vying for free-range, organic foodstuffs with a thousand other cart-pushing hunter-gatherers, but a visit to the new MOM’s Organic Market in Timonium (20 W. Ridgely Rd.; 443-921-1390; www.momsorganicmarket.com) provides a more civilized experience. The aisles are wide, well-lit, and (on a recent Sunday, at least) lightly populated. And the emphasis is on organics, with locavoredom a secondary concern: “If someone is farming locally and dumping toxins on the land,” says owner Scott Nash, who started the business in his mom’s Beltsville garage in 1987, “I think that they’re part of the problem.”
andrew zaleski Old sails gain new life thanks to Re-Sails (42 Randall St., Annapolis; 410-263-4982; www.resails.com), a Rhode Islandbased manufacturer that produces apparel, accessories, and custom bags using recycled and beat-up sails. With a new storefront in Annapolis, nautical types can shop the store’s impressive list of distinctive creations, which include garment bags, backpacks, wine “sax,” bean bag chairs, and briefcases. Just be wary of billowy gusts along the Annapolis waterfront.
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6/27/11 3:31 PM
Photos (clockwise from left): no credit; photo by Allison Samuels; courtesy of Picture People
In the night-happy wetlands of Federal Hill, there are few well-lit places to take the kids or grab a cappuccino in the evening. Afters Café (1001 S. Charles St.; 410-244-0909; www. afters-café.com), named for the sweet, non-alcoholic elements that follow any good meal, aims to change this. The café, with its comfortable, futuristic décor, features Illy espresso beans, elegant baked goods from Patisserie Poupon, and—best of all—a self-serve frozen yogurt bar, with toppings from Cocoa Pebbles to fresh kiwi. Grab a punch card, conveniently separated into pastries, fro-yo, and coffee, for many happy returns.
andrew zaleski Cray Merrill’s Brassworks Company (1641 Thames St.; 410-327-7280; www.baltimorebrassworks.com) opened in Fells Point thirty-six years ago and has since been a one-stop-shop for brass furnishings and restoration services. While not all the items sold are nautically themed, the inside is a veritable shrine to sailing instruments from the 18th and 19th centuries: tide clocks, chart weight compasses, sextants. But, says Merrill, items can serve practical purposes. This oil-burning lantern, manufactured in the Netherlands, is often purchased by customers to light their patios and decks.
Worth a Thousand Words
jonah furman David Caulkins started developing Bespoken Art (www.bespokenart.com) in November, pursuing his interest in “creative and different business ideas.” Drawing on Caulkins’s background as a speech communications major & business minor, the Houston-based company prints canvases of waveforms of any audio of your choosing. The customizable giclée-on-canvas visualizations start at $250, and 5 percent of the proceeds go to Smile Train, funding corrective surgery for children with cleft palates.
Urbanite #86 august 2011 19
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feature / crime and punishment / voices
LiftOff Story and photography by M. Holden Warren
Could a problem that has plagued city police offer a key to breaking a cycle of crime?
ere comes the pack,” says Boosie, 15, sitting on a Schwinn, his Dodgers hat twisted to the back. Fifteen other teenagers have joined him, standing atop a grassy hill in Druid Hill Park, their eyes fixed on the horizon, where the sound of whining engines rises over the city’s din. Finally, a storm of dirt bikes and four-wheelers crests the rise, swarming down through traffic. As the riders pass beneath the hill, they lift their front tires, then stand up on their seats or hang one leg over the handlebars. Some take their bikes so vertical their rear mudg uards scrape pavement. Ever y Sunday, r iders from all over the BaltimoreWashington, D.C., area congregate here before heading off on a pack ride through the city. Boosie and his buddies don’t have dirt bikes of their own yet, but they ride away summer nights on their bicycles, exploring the city with one wheel in the air. Some kids practice their layups and fantasize about being basketball stars. Boosie wheelie-rides and dreams of riding with the pack. “On the pedal bikes, only people in your neighborhood know
Urbanite #86 august 2011 21
Dust up: Dirt biking is illegal on city streets, but police are prohibited from taking up chase. Riders have been called “terrorists” and worse, but Munir Bahar, below and far right, believes he can harness the passion these young men feel for their bikes and channel it to do good. Carde Cornish, right holding toddler, says working with Bahar has convinced him to give up drug dealing to pursue a career as a photographer.
“When you have young people hooked on television, on electronic intoxication, you need something to get them off of that. I don’t have to ask a young person twice to look at a dirt bike.” —Munir Bahar that you nice,” Boosie says. “But on the dirt bikes, the whole city knows your name.” The riders jump the curb and climb to the top of the hill, where Boosie and the boys hustle up to them, begging to take a motorcycle for a quick spin. They know it is only a matter of time before the police show up. It used to be they could ride around Druid Lake undisturbed, but the city outlawed it. Now, the Sunday rides are a wild safari hunt through every corner of the city, the police shadowing the bikers, looking to pick off stragglers or tracking them to where they live to seize their bikes. “Five-oh!” someone yells, and the
riders signal each other by touching their foreheads as if they are pushing down enormous top hats. Police cruisers slowly roll up the block, lights flashing. Overhead, the police helicopter hovers, a voice over the loudspeaker telling the crowd to disperse quietly or be arrested. The bikers head out, still popping wheelies. The chase is on.
t is legal to own a dirt bike in Baltimore, but it is against the law to ride one inside city limits or even to refuel at a city gas station. But every day people ride, and there’s little the police can do; law prevents officers from taking up chase—it’s just too dangerous. As a result, the
22 august 2011 www.urbanitebaltimore.com
bikers are largely free to do what they want, much to the ire of many city residents, who see them as a lawless band of thrill-seekers, risking not only their own lives, but also those of others on the streets and sidewalks where they ride. “We’ve made inroads,” says police department spokesman Kevin Brown. “But with any crime you will never eradicate it.” The issue came to a head last summer, when 44-year-old motorcyclist Alphonso Gaye was killed when he swerved to avoid a man riding a mini dirt bike with a 2-year-old child. At hearings at City Hall, representatives of the police and the city Recreation and Parks departments testified that,
because of legal and liability issues, there was no feasible solution to the problem. Then Gaye’s father, Frank Gaye, spoke. “If it’s illegal, then stop it. If it is legal, then regulate it,” he told the council members. “But you all see it and do nothing about it.” Everyone is understandably frustrated with this game of cat and mouse that has played out in the city streets every summer for the past twenty years. City Council President Bernard “Jack” Young has proposed creating designated areas where bikers can ride legally, but the idea has failed to gain traction. The dirt bikers, for their part, have spoken mainly with their machines. But last summer, at a community meeting held by Young following Gaye’s death and another incident in which a dirt biker allegedly slammed into a car, then assaulted its driver, 29-year-old Munir Bahar rose to speak for the riders. Standing at the lectern, he told the audience, “We are not the Taliban,” and urged Young to take a different tack. For Bahar, dirt bikers’ behavior is
Feature baltimore observed elusive demographic, which is responsible for much of the city’s violence? It has been done before using boxing and basketball. Some bikers are so bold as to imagine a day when dirt bikes are embraced and celebrated as a cultural aspect of the city, an attraction people will come to Baltimore to see. They say the Sunday rides are times of peace and unity that bring together riders from every corner of town without guns or grudges. What if, each Sunday, the police escorted riders through the city instead of hunting them? Bahar and his compatriots acknowledge that the liability and legal barriers to creating a middle ground for bikes are enormous. But simply outlawing them is not working. “Look, we can put in more measures of control,” Bahar says, “but you cannot strip away a deeply ingrained part of people’s culture.”
just a symptom of the deeper problems that ravage much of the city. He knows the poison. Raised by a single mother, Bahar was selling drugs on the corners of West Baltimore by age 13. From then on, he was in and out of the juvenile and criminal justice systems. His last stint was in 2001 between his sophomore and junior years at Morgan State University. Upon his release, he vowed to break the cycle and devote his life to rebuilding his community. Bahar started Brother II Brother, a youth mentoring program aimed at helping kids like him, but couldn’t find a building. Other projects followed, but he never attracted sufficient funding to keep them afloat. Two years ago, he began filming the Sunday rides, creating a YouTube channel and a loosely organized advocacy group called Raise It Up. His belief: that dirt bikes can be a powerful tool to engage the city’s youth. “Look, I’ve run youth mentoring programs in Baltimore for the last eight years,” Bahar says. “What I learned is that you need a carrot. When you
have young people hooked on television, on electronic intoxication, you need something to get them off of that. I don’t have to ask a young person twice to look at a dirt bike.”
he Taliban speech mainly won Bahar and his fellow riders castigation in the press. “Mr. Bahar and others may say that bikers aren’t the Taliban,” the Baltimore Sun editorialized, “but they terrorize law-abiding motorists and pedestrians with their anarchic behavior and scofflaw attitude all the same.” Those who know Bahar, however, believe that he may be able to harness this beast. “When you look at his ability to go into a room and capture the attention of young black males who may be connected with the streets, there’s not a lot of people out here who can do that,” says David Miller, chief visionary officer and co-founder of the nonprofit Urban Leadership Institute, who has supervised Bahar in several outreach programs. “The fact that Munir is real, that he is honest, and that he is from
the street allows him to navigate in a world that many people talk about but few can enter, to engage these young people on a higher level.” A legal solution to the issue continues to be elusive. But within the dirt biking community, people talk about a number of possible solutions. One would be to provide approved zones and ride days for the bikes. As a test project, a small slice of Druid Hill Park could become a dirt bike area with daily riding hours and rules that riders must wear helmets. Riders groups could transport bikes on trailers, then the city could provide secure, on-site storage. Classes could teach engine repair, GED prep, and life skills. The riders tend to be 15- to 30-yearold black males. Some are professionals and parents, while others are in and out of the drug game with criminal records or no high school diploma, struggling to find a place in society, hungry for education and employment. What impact would it have if the police and city officials used dirt bikes to strike up a dialogue with this
ack on Boosie’s block in West Baltimore, a mob of kids and young men on bicycles takes turns wheeling up and down the street for hours. Carde Cornish, 20, pedals his bike by calmly, leaning back and tapping the brake, one wheel and one hand in the air. For Boosie, Raise It Up is about little more than the T-shirt and YouTube videos. But for Cornish, it is a way to expand his horizons. In 2008 and 2009, Cornish’s best friends, Champ and 69, were gunned down in this neighborhood, leaving Champ’s girlfriend alone with their newborn child. Cornish, who was selling heroin at the time, found the Raise It Up Facebook page, started talking to Bahar, and left the street life. He started filming the Sunday rides and attending physical training workshops led by Bahar and a local martial arts master named John Tran. Inspired, Cornish got a job working at a local community center. He begged his family for a camera and started moonlighting as a freelance photographer, shooting anything he could find. “I realized there are so many other ways to make money [besides selling drugs],” he says today. “I want to travel. I want to photograph. I want to see the world.” Web extra: Find more of M. Holden Warren’s photographs at www.urbanitebaltimore.com
Urbanite #86 august 2011 23
24â€ƒ august 2011â€ƒ www.urbanitebaltimore.com
The Ultimate Punishment Maryland still allows the death penalty— so why don’t we use it? By Michael Corbin
Photo by J.M. Giordano
n 1923, 21-year-old George Chelton was the first person executed at the Maryland Penitentiary on Forrest Street. A black man from Somerset County who had been convicted of rape, he was the first of seventy-five Marylanders hung on the gallows in Baltimore. The previous year, the state legislature had mandated that all executions in Maryland must take place at the penitentiary to discourage “the curious mobs that frequent hangings taking place in the counties of this State, and who attempt to make public affairs of the same.” Officials in Maryland and across the United States wanted to distinguish state executions from extrajudicial lynchings that still occurred with disturbing regularity. Maryland, along with thirty-three other states, still allows capital punishment, but actual executions have become rare. The last person to be executed here was convicted murderer Wesley Eugene Baker, who died by lethal injection at the hospital on the grounds of the former penitentiary in 2005. Governor Martin O’Malley, who says he opposes the death penalty, earlier this year withdrew new lethal injection procedures laid out by the state’s Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. His reasoning: One of the drugs used for execution was no longer available. Thus, Maryland allows the death penalty, local prosecutors continue to seek death for certain criminals, and abolitionists and proponents argue vociferously and endlessly against it— yet the state doesn’t execute criminals because we don’t have the agreed upon procedures for killing or the drugs to carry it out. In fact, while capital punishment has been upheld in the courts and has high levels of support among the public, the death penalty is on the decline nationwide. More than three thousand people are on death row in America today. In 2000, eighty-five Americans were executed, according to the nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center, and each subsequent year saw a drop. In 2010, there were forty-six executions. As New York University law professor David Garland writes his new book, Peculiar Institution: America’s Death Penalty in an Age of Abolition, “Capital punishment in America today is a story of a legal norm combined with its widespread evasion.” Yet in Maryland, as in all death penalty
Last stop: Inmates are held here, in the hospital at the Baltimore City Correctional Center, before being put to death.
states, major variations exist at the local level. Wayne Kirwan, spokesman for Howard County State’s Attorney Dario Broccolino, says his boss “basically feels that there really isn’t a death penalty in Maryland.” Broccolino is vice president of the Maryland State’s Attorneys Association—the offices that decide whether to push for the death penalty. In Baltimore County, it’s another story. “We could substitute a different drug right now, establish new procedures, and move forward,” says Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger, who is currently seeking the death penalty for Karla Porter, 48, for her role in a murder-for-hire scheme that resulted in the death of her husband at a Hess gas station in Towson. “The last poll I saw said that 56 percent of Marylanders were in support of capital punishment,” Shellenberger says. “I submit to you that in my county it is much higher.” Gregg Bernstein, Baltimore City’s new state’s attorney, says that while the death penalty may not deter crime in general, there is evidence that it works against specific crimes. As an example, he cites prisoners serving life in prison, who would have no reason not to attack or kill their guards, if not for the prospect of an even worse punishment: “We can specifically deter such criminals with the threat of death.” “For criminal justice professionals, capital punishment is a practical instrument,” Garland writes in Peculiar Institution. For the rest of us, he argues, the prolix death penalty debate becomes a kind of end in itself: “For politicians and elected officials, the death penalty is a ... political token in an electoral game that is played before a viewing audience. For the mass media each capital case promises a suspenseful, dramatic narrative, a classic human interest story that
is constantly renewed. And for the on-looking public, the death penalty is variously an edifying morality play, a vehicle for moral outrage, a prurient entertainment, or an opportunity for the expression of hatreds and aggressions otherwise prohibited.” As important for Garland is how death penalty discourse informs our larger understanding of crime and punishment. “Legislators enact capital statutes,” Garland writes, “including many that will never be executed—as a means to raise public morale and demonstrate resolve in the ‘war against crime.’” The discursive purposes of capital punishment can also be seen in the behavior of America’s governors. In 2003, George Ryan, Republican governor of Illinois, came to think of capital punishment as fundamentally flawed. “I no longer shall tinker with the machinery of death,” Ryan said. Two days before he left office, he commuted the sentences of all 156 inmates on Illinois’s death row. “The political salience of the issue,” Garland writes, “goes a long way toward explaining why governors more often authorize executions in election years ... and why the power to grant mercy is rarely exercised except by governors who are no longer running for office.” Still, sixteen states have abolished the death penalty. Maryland, where five people currently await execution at the maximum-security facility in Cumberland, seems unlikely to follow suit. “The state legislature and governor have had multiple opportunities to abolish the death penalty in Maryland,” says State’s Attorney Shellenberger. “Each time they have failed.” Web extra: To read the rest of Urbanite’s Crime & Punishment series, go to http//:bit.ly/corbincrime.
Urbanite #86 august 2011 25
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Creating Cities That Heal City planner and sustainability pioneer Mark Holland on the engineered city, the power of public transit, and who pays your medical bills Interview by Greg Hanscom
ark Holland spent several decades in that gleaming model of urban sustainability, Vancouver, British Columbia. A one-time city planner, he created Vancouver’s sustainability office and played a central role in creating the über-green Olympic village for the 2010 winter games. Holland, who is now a developer for New Monaco Enterprise Corporation, has become a pioneer in the “healing cities” movement, which seeks to create urban areas that are gentle on the land, sure, but that also have the power to heal their human inhabitants.
courtesy of Mark Holland
Tona’s Photo by Gar Roberts Photography; Rahne’s Photo by J.M. Giordano
urb: How did you come upon the concept of “healing cities”? mh: Ten years ago when we talked about creating sustainable cities, that was entirely a focus on environment. What has happened since, is that … we began to see this tsunami of information coming forward in the connections between design and health. We realized we really needed to dig deeper into the human experience in cities. Most of that has been left to a strange amalgam of other practitioners—architects, environmental physiologists—but it really hasn’t found its way clearly into a framework of urban planning … We wanted to draw attention to the engineering model of a city that rose very strongly about 150 years ago. In a debate between old and new cities, most everybody agreed that a more medieval city is a better experience, but it is really expensive to run garbage trucks through the back streets of Florence. It’s just really difficult. So what emerged was an architectural theory of cities as engineering systems, this idea of big pumps and water systems and motorized transport. We built it out after two world wars, and we weren’t asking questions about personal and emotional health. It wasn’t really until Jane Jacobs’ book [The Death and Life of Great American Cities] came out in the ’60s that a book showed this model had consequences and they weren’t ones that anybody liked. That’s why, when we take our holidays, we all go to cities that have a different story or a different DNA. What we are trying to do here is better understand how that works. It’s a question of better understanding, when we design our cities, how to serve the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy [of Needs] rather than be stuck at the bottom. urb :
What kind of connections have been made between urban design and human health?
mh: It’s quite phenomenal, actually. For instance, a straight-line distance of about 400 to 500 meters between where you live and a
grocery store or an eating or drinking establishment will result in directly increased walking … Walking increases for individuals about 20 percent for each park that is within a 1-kilometer distance of a residential area. That’s a big number. That’s why a person who lives in a suburban density is at least 10 pounds heavier than the average person who lives in an urban density, all other things being equal. Well, for every pound, your body creates roughly 75,000 miles of capillary blood paths to treat all those cells. So, ten times that, that’s a lot more; that’s blood pressure issues. We worked out, for a project we are working on now, we will be saving hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in projected health care costs … just because we are structuring the land totally around [increasing physical activity]. urb: A lot of this type of research and thinking
leads to more dense, urban-style development. But the United States is still a suburban nation. How do you get around that? mh: If you want to get people out of their cars, you have to give them an option. People will almost never go shopping without a car if they have the choice, because of the reality of shopping: multiple destinations, lots of bags of stuff, the kids, the dog. We shop in our vehicles, and fighting that is not wise. What is important is, [even] people who make $100,000 a year don’t want to pay $20 to park downtown. You can put them on a bus … or a train, and you’re way better off. What city planning needs to do to make us healthier is to have as many of those people living in a 400-yard walking distance of a safe, convenient, and clean transit ride that will take them either where they go to school or where they work. urb :
You’re sure this isn’t a sinister Canadian plot to get us all to ride the train?
mh: Here in Canada, we have a public health care system, and as a result, my taxes pay the end-of-pipe costs for the lifestyle choices that my family and all of my neighbors make. In [the United States], if you drink too much pop, you get very obese and get diabetes, well, that’s your problem. That’s the way it works until we all agree to pay for the health system, and, then, no, that’s my problem.
Web extra: Read an extended version of this interview at www.urbanitebaltimore.com.
Urbanite #86 august 2011 27
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MTA wants you to report suspicious activity on public transportation by Robin T. Reid Anyone riding public transportation around Baltimore knows about the Maryland Transit Administration’s “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign. Picked up from New York City’s transit authority, the campaign encourages citizens to report activities or situations that could be linked to terrorism to the police. For example, that bag or suitcase on the seat across from you may be trash or forgotten by a commuter. But then again, it may not be in this postSept. 11 world. Better to ask an MTA officer to investigate. To maintain the campaign’s momentum, MTA recently got $837,340 in grants. R. Earl Lewis Jr., the agency’s deputy chief-emergency preparedness, said the money would be used to spread the message by various methods, such as transit vehicles, radio, Web and digital media,
and life-size decals at bus and lightrail stops. Advertisements should start appearing this month. So far, MTA has not had any problems with terrorism. Nor does it want to wait for any, says Jawauna Greene, the agency’s director of communications and marketing; “We are proactive.” MTA is doing this in conjunction with other transit agencies in the BaltimoreWashington corridor. “We’re a member of the Greater NCR Regional Transit Security Working Group established by Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration in the 2005 fiscal year,” Lewis said. “During a recent grant year, the participating transit agencies’ representatives—MTA, Washington Metro Area Transit Authority, Virginia Railway Express, and several … local transit agencies—determined it would be valuable to conduct a
common security awareness campaign given that the transit systems in the region are linked.” While the larger agencies have such campaigns already, many of the smaller ones don’t, Lewis said. Hence all of the transit systems that feed into the regional network need a combined, unified campaign. “We recognize that the people who spend a lot of time in the system, like passengers and employees, are in a position to potentially notice behaviors related to a potential terrorism incident,” Lewis said. “It’s important to provide them with the information and encouragement to report suspicious behavior or activities they may see.” To do just that, call 1-800-492-TIPS (8477). The agency has about 247 sworn law enforcement and civilian personnel (uniformed and undercover) who are always diligently patrolling the system.
SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION
Transit officer rides the rails and roads to protect citizens. Q: How many arrests do you make in a month?
photo by David Rehor
: That varies based on the criminal activity that warrants arrest during that period of time.
Numerous undercover police officers ride public transportation throughout Maryland.
To anyone who’s ever thought about not getting a ticket for the light rail, think again: You’re being watched. The Maryland Transit Administration Police Force has numerous undercover officers who travel around the region aboard buses, subways, and the light rail. While their task has always been an important, tough one, it has become more so since Sept. 11, 2001, exposed the United States to the horrific terrorism that other parts of the world have experienced for years. One of those officers agreed to discuss the job and what the MTA looks for to help other riders spot potentially dangerous activities.
: How long have you been working for MTA?
A : I have been a member of the transit police for years.
Q: Have you always worked undercover? A : I have worked in the Criminal
Investigation Unit for eleven years.
Q: What interested you about working undercover?
Q: Are certain times of day, week, and year more problematic?
: Absolutely. Criminal activity is documented to be higher around the holidays and during the time when the unemployment rate is high and during the times when schools are in session.
Q: How often do you respond to tips from
Q: What transit lines do you work—buses,
: That varies, too. However, when we get tips, we respond quickly and efficiently to every creditable tip that we receive in order to provide our patrons with the best service possible.
: I like having the ability to gain intelligence that would not normally be obtained through the normal means. light rail, the MARC trains?
: It varies according to where we are needed. We go wherever there is a spike or increase in criminal activity.
Q: What constitutes suspicious behavior? A : Suspicious behavior is any activity out of the norm and behavior observed, based on my expertise and instinct, to be abnormal due to the location, weather, and time of day. For example, if it is August and you see someone wearing a long winter coat.
Q: What crimes do you most often see happening aboard public transit?
: The criminal activities I see most on the transit system are minor violations such as drinking, eating, and people evading paying the fare.
citizens on average (say in a month)?
Q: Do you carry a weapon always? A : Yes. Since I took a sworn oath to
serve and protect the citizens of the state of Maryland, my weapon is a part of my equipment.
mad dogs &
britons! In search of
the roots of Defenders Day … and a cold beer in Edgemere
e made landfall at North Point with 295 British horses at our command and were met immediately by the defenders of Maryland. “Two dollars,” demanded the woman in the tollbooth, adding, “Pretty car. What is it?” “It’s an ’86 Jaguar XJ-S. British,” By Ji m M ey er I replied and asked for a receipt. I l l u st ra t i on s b y Robbi Beh r Like the British army that made this journey nearly two hundred years ago, we weren’t on a pleasure trip; we were on a mission to reach Baltimore City by land. Along the way, we hoped to find the spot where Major General Robert Ross, leader of the British forces, was killed, an event that turned the tide of the battle and, some say, the war. A third goal was to avoid losing our leader—me— to a hail of musket fire. Urbanite #86 august 2011 33
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n August 2 4, 1814, the British burned Washington, D.C., and immediately made for Baltimore. They began their attack here at North Point on September 12. I never understood why it took them nineteen days. It’s a straight shot up Interstate 95 and across the Key Bridge. Even if you have to stop to burn Bladensburg, it shouldn’t take more
than two hours. “The Bridge was not here in 1814. It was built in the ’70s,” said Dr. David Gadsby. Dr. Gadsby is an archeologist and a bit of a local historian. Insight like that is why I brought him along. The British landed in North Point with five thousand soldiers, sailors, and marines. Even if they carpooled, getting three into an old British car is tight, and with muskets, you’d need a sunroof. You’re looking at over three grand in tolls alone, and finding unleaded gasoline back then was nearly impossible. They were right to sail. From the Key Bridge, we headed to Fort Howard State Park at the southern tip of the North Point Peninsula. This was where the British forces disembarked. Park rules, clearly posted, state no horses and no firearms. General Ross famously rode an enormous black charger, and Dr. Gadsby assured me that he was, in all likelihood, packing heat. This English excursion was already off to a rough start. Lucky for them, the park rangers’ shifts wouldn’t start for over a century. Dr. Gadsby and I made our way down to the beach, passing between manmade hills, overgrown concrete bunkers, and abandoned World War I-era gun emplacements that would have been quite useful on that fateful fall day in 1814. We found no assembled American army. Other than the two of us, the only person in the park was a lone fisherman, Kevin Keith, who rolled his cooler out onto a little spit facing the smokestacks of Bethlehem Steel. It’s an industrial wasteland now. Two hundred years ago, it wasn’t even imagined. Keith hadn’t seen any invading armies, but offered, “I can’t say what’ll happen in the near future.” “If you did see a flotilla of British war ships bearing up the river, what do you think your reaction would be?” I asked. “That I should stop fishing,” Keith answered.
sk most Americans about the attack on Baltimore, and they will mention the bombardment of Fort McHenry, where a fleet of fifty British war ships armed with 2,300 guns launched a naval assault up the Patapsco River, pummeling the fort and wreaking havoc on the water taxi schedule. The defense of Fort McHenry is seared into our national consciousness: The rocket’s red glare turned night into day and the barrage of bombs, heard nearly one hundred miles away on the streets of Philadelphia, continues to resonate in our National Anthem, born that day. But the British attacked on two fronts. The day before the navy began its bombardment, General Ross took five thousand crack troops ashore 5 miles to the east of Fort McHenry, with plans to march down North Point Road, through Edgemere and Dundalk, and hang a left onto Old Philadelphia Road headed downtown. They hoped to burn the city, never granting it a chance to read. September 12—the anniversary of the day the Bristish troops landed at North Point—is commemorated in Maryland as Defenders
Day. As Ross’s army marched toward Baltimore, three thousand American troops under the command of General John Stricker engaged the Brits in a delaying action known as the Battle of North Point. Their plan was to slow the British advance to give the fifteen thousand troops defending Baltimore time to prepare. The Brits would be stopped cold just shy of Hampstead Hill in what is now Patterson Park. General Ross wouldn’t even make it out of Dundalk. Most people around here will tell you a pair of local teen sharpshooters, Privates Daniel Wells, 19, and Henry McComas, 18, shot him off his horse, stunning the British army. General Ross was shipped to Nova Scotia, his body preserved in 129 gallons of Jamaican rum. The two boys were captured and hanged. The defense of Fort McHenry gave us the Star Spangled Banner. The death of General Ross and the valor of young McComas and Wells may have saved the city, some would say the nation. Surely that spot, so vital in the life of the young United States, would be easy to find. With that mission in mind, Dr. Gadsby and I headed north, following the general’s path up North Point Peninsula. The peninsula is narrow, 2 miles at its widest, maybe 50 yards close to the tip, and the surrounding Patapsco River filled both extremes of our peripheral vision. The two lanes of North Point Road wound past workboats and osprey, which cohabited in inlets flanked by forest and field. It would have been easy to forget we were on the outskirts of Baltimore if it weren’t for the fact that the natives are genetically predisposed to build rowhouses. One side of North Point was dotted with half a dozen in sets of two; beside the road, a formerly pink flamingo stood painted white, the better to mingle with the egrets.
he locals, it seemed, were well aware of the upcoming bicentennial celebration. “I’ve seen the license plates,” said Ron Kunkel, whom we met at the park at North Point and who has lived in the area for all of his 53 years. When pressed for some local history, he told us, “Wells and McComas shot the British Commander right up here at Todd’s Farm.” Sure enough, between Ross Road and McComas Road, we found Todd’s Inheritance, a farm dating back to 1664. The British burned the original farmhouse as they made their way back to their boats in defeat. The white brick building that stood there now went up in 1816. A historical marker in front proclaimed that this was where General Ross was gunned down. Mystery solved, we continued north, nearly two centuries behind the leaderless army, past Sparrow’s Point High School, the Edgemere Volunteer Fire Department, and a single-story formstone bunker of a house, and entered the hustle-free bustle of Edgemere. The faded signs on an unnamed local pub promised Natty Boh; the taps offered only Budweiser. Disappointed, Dr. Gadsby and I headed for Fearl’s Bait & Tackle (& Ice & Snow Balls & Ammo & Archery). “Edgemere is Mayberry,” owner Fearl Bradley, 55, told us. “If they set you here blindfolded, you would think you were on the lower Eastern Shore.” Fearl has lived in Edgemere for a pair of decades. Before that, he lived much of his life in Canton. He is slowly following the British back out to sea. When asked if he knows anything about the Battle of North Point, like most Edgemereians, Fearl said, “No,” then spent the next twenty minutes describing the battle in detail. “McComas and Wells, they met the British general head on. Those boys shot General Ross right here,” he said, pointing out toward Main Street, a mile or more from Todd’s Inheritance. “The whole country, with our freedom, it kinda started right here.” Or maybe back there. But definitely nearby. I asked Fearl what Edgemere would do if five thousand British Urbanite #86 august 2011 35
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troops marched into town now. a cannon pointed squarely at “Throw a hell of a party,” he rethe front door of a rowhouse plied. “As long as there’s no war across the street. Empty slots marked the sides of the pedeson, bring ’em on!” A little perplexed by the Gental where the plaques had been eral’s multiple deaths, we headed pried loose. out of Edgemere and turned So this was where McCoonto four-lane North Point Boumas and Wells, not Randall, levard. About half a mile down definitely killed General Ross, the road, we passed Christina’s three-quarters of a mile from Female Review, the first of at the Aquila Randall Monument, least half a dozen strip bars bemaybe 3 miles from Fearl’s, and tween here and Patterson Park. I 4 from Todd’s Inheritance. Or maybe not. I was beginning to was amazed the Brits were able think everyone we talked to to get five thousand marines as lived right in front of where far as they did. Dr. Gadsby and I veered off General Ross was shot. of the boulevard and back onto “And for good reason,” exNorth Point Road, where we plained Dr. Gadsby. “It’s the caught sight of a 6-foot marble central narrative, a great story. These two teenaged kids with obelisk sitting next to a drainage ditch in the front yard of a little their rifles up and kill the most yellow house. Across the street powerful guy on the block and roosted a pair of Ravens-purple contribute substantially to savflamingos. We parked the Jag in ing the city and maybe even the front of a limp and tattered plascountry. It’s made its way into tic sign that read, unpromisingly, local legend.” “Neil’s Tarp Repair.” From the Battle Acre, we Erected in 1817, a time when pressed on to Pulaski Highway, memory of the battle was fresh which has replaced PhiladelBy land and by sea: Many people know the story of the British phia Road through the city. and tarp repair made sense, the naval attack on Fort McHenry, but few have heard of the second front, Eagles and herons gave way monument credited a 24-yearwhere soldiers landed at North Point. to pigeons and Foxtrot. We old soldier named Aquila Randall with assassinating General passed Chaps Pit Beef, with its Ross on that very spot, maybe two miles from Fearl’s and another line out the door, and Sherrie’s Showbar, home of “Cold Beer & Fat mile or more from Todd’s Inheritance. We shared a moment of siChicks.” Finally, we did what General Ross and his British invadlence shattered by a musket shot that turned out to be a backfire ers couldn’t—we made it to Patterson Park. This was where fifteen from the idling Jaguar, and began to wonder if General Ross wasn’t thousand Americans defended the city nearly two hundred years the mutant offspring of a cat, a vampire, and a highlander. ago, eventually sending the tattered remains of General Ross’s army high-tailing it back through Dundalk to their waiting fleet. orth Point Road crossed North Point Boulevard and Dr. Gadsby and I climbed to the pagoda at the top of Hampstead rolled into Dundalk. The road was lined with the Hill. There we met with Kate Marks, Outreach and Partnership Cosquat, 1960s-vintage rowhouses of Baltimore County. ordinator for the Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission, We were on the lookout for the Battle Acre Monument, a title nearly as long as the battle. The commission, created in 2007 supposed site of the Battle of North Point, which by Governor Martin O’Malley, is coordinating dozens of events beslowed the British onslaught, buying time for the defenders of Baltween now and 2014, most notably two Star Spangled Spectaculars timore. Fearing we’d missed it, we pulled off the road and parked in 2012 and 2014 with fireworks, tall ships, and, in what is seemin a line of 1950s rat rods under an oddly welcoming sign depicting ingly a monumentally bad idea, a return of the British Navy. I asked Marks why we remember the defense of Baltimore. “The a sneering skull and crossbones. Inside we met Tim Sneed, owner of Mobtown Cycle. Battle of Baltimore was a major victory,” Marks answered. “It was Sneed wore a black bandana and spoke with a drawl formed a source of pride for Americans. People stopped thinking of themat the intersection of Dundalk and Los Angeles. “Backtrack back selves as New Yorkers or Marylanders and they started thinking of down North Point. As soon as you cross Trappe, you’ll see the themselves as Americans. It made them proud, proud to identify 7-Eleven. After the 7-Eleven, there’s a bank, then a little four-store as Americans.” Of course, I had one more question. “When we were in Dundalk, strip-[mall], and it’s right there,” Sneed told us, adding, “That’s actually where the kids shot the general.” pretty much everyone we asked said, ‘This is where General Ross I asked Sneed how he knew that this was the location of Ross’s was killed.’ Where was he really killed?” death. He said, “I guess I’m the only cat in Dundalk who reads. “No one knows,” Marks answered. “Historians don’t know. It’s There’s a plaque. It should still be there.” still disputed.” “So they could all be right,” I said. It wasn’t. Dedicated in 1839, the Battle Acre was a little grassy “No,” answered Dr. Gadsby. “They can’t all be right.” plot behind a wrought iron fence next to a pizzeria. Its concrete I knew I brought that guy for a reason. gateposts lay toppled into the mud. The fence in the back had been pried open as well, creating a shortcut through to the strip stores. A pair of trees stood in the sad little park and, on a stone pedestal,
Urbanite #86 august 2011 37
F I C TIO N C O N TEST W I N N ERS Urbanite presents the winner of the Enoch Pratt Free Library’s 2011 Pratt Contemporaries Fiction Storyteller Award, created to promote the work of up-and-coming Maryland writers. Read the other winning stories at www.urbanitebaltimore.com.
By Quinn Fusting
will never send this to you. The English girls have flat-line mouths and upraised chins. st I’ve had one dream about you since I’ve been in pl ace I stare at the streets lined with rows of tattered umbrellas and buildings. Half-dead chickens that hang off the edges of Phnom Penh. You were flat and washed out like a paper doll. You were holding hands with another trucks lift their limp wings and blink their eyes sleepily. Famigirl who was wearing my clothes and who had long lies of four on one motorbike drive past. Women wear dust masks hair like I do. For the first time after a dream about and long sleeves and look at us with blank eyes. Piseth gave me a you, I wake up and I’m not sad. dust mask too before I left, but the other volunteers aren’t wearIt’s so hot here. ing them, so I don’t wear mine either. It smells like dust, gasoline, KGN cooking oil, and something else that I’ll never be able to describe because only the sun in Cambodia can make it smell this way. We go to the countryside the day after I arrive. It’s a Sunday, and Piseth, our Khmer guide, says the other volunteers wanted to We take a ferry to Silk Island, where mad women chase us to try and sell us silk. I don’t have any money―just an American go there. They’re mostly girls from England. We get in a covered cart pulled by a motorbike called a tuktuk. 20―and that’s way too much money to whip out here. The ferry
38 august 2011 www.urbanitebaltimore.com
Photos: (left) Ryan Fox|bigstock.com, (right) Photo by lanphoto
across the muddy river costs 1,000 rile, or 25 cents. I sit next to the German guy, Harry, who lives with us in the apartment where all the volunteers who have come to work in Cambodia are lodged. His hair is gelled up, and he has two black earrings on. His skin is shiny, and his face looks older. We talk, and I can barely understand him because of his heavy, sharp accent. He’s here taking a career break—to get some clarity, he says. I’m here because I can’t stand to be home anymore. The metallic chug of the boat and the unfamiliar pitch of the Khmer voices cloud my ears. When a woman in a dust mask and hat comes over to collect our money, Harry pays for me too. Piseth stamps around at the front of the boat and rubs his chin. He’s upset because they charged us double since we’re foreign. Harry and I will work together. Tomorrow, I’ll find out what that work will be. Some archaeology site. KG
Everyone else has gone to sleep, and I’m alone in my hot room. I hear a small knock on my door. Harry is there, and he hands me a glass of water. He asks if I’m OK and stays in the doorway for a minute. He says he feels like the English girls aren’t listening to him when he talks. He thinks it’s his English but I tell him that I feel the same way. They ask lots of questions but don’t listen to our answers. Because I’m the only American and he’s the only German, we get along. KG A week after we broke up, you made my bed and got in it with me. You rubbed my belly with your big hands until I fell asleep. Your fingers were warm, and I breathed slowly. When we woke up, your eyes looked like they were tangled in knots. We had never broken up with anyone before. We didn’t know what was supposed to happen next. KG
Work at the archaeology site is mundane. We have Raised in Baltimore, On my first day of work it’s hard for me to wake up. to scrape at a baked, dirt wall, and I can’t get the Quinn Fusting It’s easy to sleep here. I keep the fan blowing on my screeching sound of the scraping out of my head. We left her hometown body all night and only pull the sheet up to my knees. stop working once they hire men from the village to to study comparado all the digging. Now Harry, Isa, and I laze around There’s a karaoke bar next door. The music plays all tive literature and the apartment waiting to hear what we will do next. night long, but I sleep anyway. The high Khmer voices French at Smith I fall asleep just from sitting because the heat is so bulge and contract like oil drops in water. College in 2007. Harry is ready when I go downstairs. He sits on the heavy. Having graduated couch with his lips scrunched to his nose while he I wander to the roof of the apartment from time this past May, she flips through a book. His pants and shirt are clean and to time and read until I fall asleep again. Harry reads is moving to Paris white. up there sometimes too. There are children sitting on this fall to teach English and work balconies across the way learning English. I eat toast that tastes like coconut and drink hot on her short stories. Harry and I talk haltingly about the book he’s readtea. We wait for Isa, the Swiss girl who will be working with us. Out of twenty volunteers, only Harry, Isa, and ing. It’s about an executioner in the Middle Ages. He says he likes historical novels. I ask him if I can look I will be working on this project. Piseth says we’ll be digging up a town from the 6th century. The site is next to the at it because I want to see the German words. I’m starting to unKilling Fields. derstand his accent more. I’m starting to feel like we’re speaking KG in a language that no one else understands. KG I don’t know why I address everything to you. I don’t want to think about you. I don’t know what you look like anymore. Your It was pouring rain, and you and I were desperate to do someface shakes and shifts like an image on a TV with bad reception. thing. We were too young to drive. We walked to the rusty part of The colors are all wrong. town that was littered with dirty plastic, dead plants, and neon One night I want you. I want you so much I try to call you from lights. The people who walked past us looked sick. We ate at No. 1 Chinese at the sticky table in the window next Cambodia. It’s the night the volunteer organization takes us out for dinner. We go to a nice part of town that has retained traces of to the buzzing “open” sign. We stuffed ourselves with orange chicken. You ordered a Coke, and I drank it. The bubbles in my French colonialism. There are twinkling yellow lights around the rooftops of restaurants that illuminate patches of the dark sky. nose made my eyes water, and I burped every time I took a sip. We’re a large group and take up one dark wooden banquet We walked home through the rain. Your hands were numb table. I sit across from Harry and an English guy I haven’t met when we got inside because you wouldn’t wear gloves. You before, Mark. I’m squeezed between Isa and a hen-like English wouldn’t wear a jacket either, just that thin, black sweatshirt. We girl. The three of us decide to split a bottle of wine. We serve each lay on the couch and watched something while our stomachs other small glasses, but we serve them often. churned. We turned off the light and half slept. My tongue, swollen and purple from wine, twirls the squid I I opened my eyes and looked at the blue light from the TV ordered around in my mouth. Then we all have Mai Tais. Mark flashing on your face. I held your hands and played with your finand I walk around the corner to buy cigarettes. When I come back gers. There was nothing for people as young and in love as us to do. KG there’s another Mai Tai at my place so I drink it. Later that night, I try to call you on my little Cambodian cell Tonight when I ask Harry for a cigarette he passes the whole pack to me and then leaves his hand on mine. The commotion phone, and I get nothing. I get three cold beeps that freeze my ear.
Urbanite #86 august 2011 39
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F I C TIO N C O N TEST W I N N ERS from the bars filled with tourists is still ringing in my head even though we’re far away on the porch now. Every night, we go to bed early in the morning and wake up for work just a few hours later. I can’t tell the days apart. The same drivers try to take my hand and lead me to their tuktuks. The same emaciated children stomp around and try to get us to buy them food. One girl is 16 but she looks like she’s 4. She holds my hand when I wander around the street. The children know our names, and we know their names. Harry drags his fingers across my arm. I still feel his fingers on me when he pulls away. KG
left illustration by j.m. giordano; right photo by ©iStockphoto.com/ Claudiad
Today Harry and I bike to the temples. We eat lunch in front of what used to be the floating temple before the Khmer Rouge forced Buddhists to hack it to bits. It starts to rain for the first time in two months. Hard cold drops fall on our skin and leave
clean streaks down our faces where dirt had been. Then the wind blows, and we’re cold. We bike to a restaurant and order egg noodles and drink tea. I tell Harry I am full, and he puts his hand on my belly. His palm covers the whole thing. He looks at me and says that I feel full. The Khmer family behind us stares quietly. When we go back into town, we stop at an intersection, and Harry looks at me and says I like spending my days with you like he is surprised. Steam rises from the wet pavement, trucks layered in human beings drive past, cars and motorbikes honk, and children yell. When I look up at his heavy brown eyes he smiles in a way that makes me smile too. And this is why I will never send this letter to you.
The Guns In Gaza
By david finney
By Jeffrey F. Barken
endix didn’t need to hear their words to know they were in an argument. She wagged a finger at the man. The man fumed over the unwashed dishes. It was all so familiar. It was as if, from there in the planter, Bendix knew what they were upset about. Watching them through the wide picture window, he was reminded of a movie with the volume down. A movie he’d seen many times before. He stalked forward. He told himself, These suburban jobs aren’t so bad. The smell of fresh cut grass and the rustling overhead of leaves in an evening breeze—altogether you might think of it like a trip back home, as comfortable as that ratty blanket you still keep on the bed …
Continued online at http://bit.ly/werewolfattacks.
iam called me on a Thursday. He said he would be down on Saturday to pick me up. To tell the truth, his call caught me off guard. It had been over a month since we last saw each other at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, and I was sure that he and Lilly had gone back to London. “You’re where?” he wanted to know. I told him about the kibbutz where I was volunteering and working as a gardener. “All right, that’s grand, that’s grand,” he said, and I could hear his Irish roots in his English accent. “I’ll look it up and be down to fetch you. I’ve got a car rented.” At that, he hung up, leaving me with no idea what time or even where I should meet him …
Continued online at http://bit.ly/gunsingaza.
Urbanite #86 august 2011 41
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The Jewish Museum of Maryland at the Herbert Bearman Campus presents
Interior of Attman's delicatessen, c. 1984. Photo by Elinor B. Cahn. 1985.031.002; Introducing the grandson to deli at Attman’s, 2010. Courtesy of Dr. Howard Woolf; Max Abramowitz family before Shabbat dinner, 1945. Courtesy of Audrey Polt. CP 14.2010.034; Rose Cohen, Fannie Katz, and Marlene Katz Sollod salt ﬁsh for Passover, c. 1949. 1992.095.001; Cracking crabs on Polt back porch, 1999. CP 14.2010.014; All food photography by Elena Rosemond-Hoerr.
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42 august 2011 www.urbanitebaltimore.com
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ODYSSEY TO MORGAN
University president navigated from sharecropping to academia BY RO B i N T. R E i D
David Wilson’s journey to the
presidency of Morgan State University began in southwestern Alabama, where his parents worked as sharecroppers. The youngest of ten children, he progressed east to Tuskegee Institute, where he became the first person in his family to go to college. Wilson’s travels from there took him northeast to Massachusetts to get his doctorate at Harvard and eventually west to be the chancellor of the University of Wisconsin Colleges and the University of Wisconsin Extension. He reached Baltimore last year, eager to join Morgan, a school that like him was continuing along the road to increasing successes.
Q: To what do you attribute your success?
A: To a lot of things. First, to my parents,
who were loving, caring, tough, and who had high expectations of me. They had structure in the house, and they were spiritual. Second, to my other brothers and
sisters. I would not have gotten through college without them, because they gave me emotional and financial support.
Q: What degrees did you get? A: I got my BS at Tuskegee in political
science and afterward my master’s in student personnel administration in 1979. I earned my master’s at Harvard in educational planning and administration; I stayed on there to get my doctorate.
Q: What were some of your earliest jobs after Tuskegee?
A: For three years I worked for the
Research and Development Institute of Philadelphia, where I directed a U.S. Department of Labor program that looked at the teenage and minority unemployment rates in the city, which were then the highest in the nation. The firm went belly-up, and there I was in Philadelphia with no family and no job. I went on unemployment,
and then I became a telemarketer for Reader’s Digest. It was just awful; people would hang up on me. I decided I had to do something. So I applied to Harvard, and I was accepted. The only issue was that the tuition and fees were about $40,000, which I didn’t know how I was going to get.
Q: What did you do? A: I flew home, and I met with Ken
Gresham, then-president of the Central Bank of the South. I showed him my letter from Harvard. He looked at it and turned to me and said, “You want to go to grad school, it’s going to cost you $40,000, and you have no job.” I said, “Yes, that’s about right.” He said, “That’s the boldest thing I’ve ever heard.” I then replied, “I believe I’m the first person in this area to be accepted to Harvard, and I would like to go with the support of this bank.” He said, “Let me sleep on it.”
David Wilson, right, said his informal chats with students on campus were some of the main reasons he decided to become Morgan State University’s president in 2010.
photo by Paul Greene
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The next day, I went in with my father. And he said, “If you give David this loan and he can’t pay it back, I’ll give you my Social Security”—which was about all he had. The bank president thought about it for around fifty seconds and said, “I don’t know why I’m going to do this, but I’m giving you the loan.”
Q: Was Harvard worth it? A: It was the best experience of my life
because I interacted with people from all over the world. The expectations were very high, but Tuskegee prepared me well. I was ready for whatever Harvard threw at me. It
was a lot of hard work and staying positive; I rarely have bad days.
Q: How did you first learn about Morgan? A: My ex-wife had gone to Morgan, but
other than that, I had not heard much about it. I was happy as a lark in Wisconsin, where I was leading thirteen liberal arts colleges and the UW Extension around the state. The chair of Morgan’s presidential search committee contacted me in 2009 when the president was retiring and said they wanted to come out to spend some time with me. A month later, they came out, and I was very impressed.
As I did more research on Morgan, it was a jaw-dropping experience. I began to seriously consider the possibility. So I flew out here anonymously for one weekend. I stopped students to talk, and I was interested in the way they thought about the university. I also asked them about goings-on in the world, to see where their heads were. I was extraordinarily impressed by the complexities of what they thought and the way they presented themselves. Through the students I could tell that there was a nurturing, caring, high-quality faculty, and that’s what a university should be. So I came, and it’s the best decision that I’ve ever made.
Morgan State University expands for the future As any great actor or athlete will say, you’re only as good as your last performance. And that may be what keeps the best moving forward, working out, rehearsing, training, whatever necessary to succeed when you’re next at bat or on the boards. Morgan is motivated by the same knowledge, to some degree. One of Maryland’s oldest schools both in terms of age and accreditation, Morgan is also one of 121 academic institutions in the country classified as a doctoral/ professions dominant school by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. This distinction occurred in 2005. With it came increased opportunities to obtain federal and state funds, grants from private companies and organizations, and of course more prestige. It also means lots of work to maintain the doctoral status and to reach the next level within Carnegie’s classification system. So for the past year Morgan’s faculty, students, administrators, and board of regents have been developing a plan to steer a steady course of growth over the next ten years. “Our first and foremost goal is to keep students at the center of the enterprise,” said Maurice Taylor, vice president for university operations. “We now have about eight thousand. We want to grow to between twelve thousand and fifteen thousand students. We’ll do that by expanding our relationships with
courtesy of Morgan State University Office of Design & Construction
A new building off Hillen Road for the Earl G. Graves School of Business is one of the hallmarks of the university’s expansion.
community colleges, online programs, and by increasing diversity.” Although established in 1867 as a school for black men interested in the ministry, Morgan has always welcomed a diverse faculty and student body. Currently 87 percent of undergraduates are black. The graduate programs are more diverse; overall about 10 percent of the students are white, 75 percent black, 10 percent international, and 5 percent other ethnicities. Since 2001, eighteen Morgan students have received prestigious Fulbright scholarships to study and teach in foreign countries. Another goal outlined in the plan is to engage with the neighborhoods near the university. “We talk to them about health services, and we work with local agencies,” Taylor said. “For example, as part of a partnership with Penn State University, Morgan was recently awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy in which we will disseminate research on how houses in Baltimore can become more energy-efficient.”
To measure the university’s impact on the community, President David Wilson is establishing the Morgan Mile where over the next ten years, the services provided by students and faculty, particularly those from the fifteen doctoral programs, to people and organizations within a mile of Morgan will be tracked as much as possible. “Any institution has an economic impact on the community,” Taylor added. “You can’t build a wall and be a castle and cut yourself off from urban issues.” Morgan’s ten-year plan does not include a castle, but it does include buildings. Three new ones are slated to be constructed off Hillen Road; one will be a general classroom building, and the other two will be parts of the business school and community health and human services program. Additionally the main quad on campus is getting a facelift. “In the next three to four years, the whole landscape of the campus will change,” Wilson said. For more information about Morgan go to www.morgan.edu.
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Ocean views: Vaughn Micciche, 28, appreciates the freedom of the liveaboard life.
The Seafarers For a handful of Baltimoreans, home is where the boat is.
By R ebecca M essn er Photography by J.M. Gior da no
oshua Slocum, in Sailing Alone Around the World, the personal account of his historic voyage circumnavigating the globe in the late 19th century, describes life on board his weathered sailboat, Spray: “Mine was not the sort of life to make one long to coil up one’s ropes on land, the customs and ways of which I had finally almost forgotten … I was born in the breezes.” It’s a romantic notion, that of giving up the solid, unwavering conveniences of life on land for
the freedom of the expansive sea. And for a handful of Baltimoreans who dock their boats in the dozenor-so marinas around Baltimore’s harbor, it’s life. But as Slocum learned on his three-year voyage, life aboard a boat can be uncomfortable. It’s cramped, complicated, and, in the winter, cold. At dusk on a quiet Wednesday night in July, as a cool breeze wafts softly up off the water near Fells Point, the view from Vaughn Micciche’s 1977 41-foot Formosa clipper ketch, Jalan Jalan, would make anyone want to wax poetic. Micciche, 28, Urbanite #86 august 2011 47
Yacht club: Nate Tower has all the amenities of home on his yacht, Aquilo, including a walk-incloset.
“And even though I won’t, it’s nice to know I could give them the finger and roll out tomorrow.” Vaughn Micciche
Web extra: Find more boat photos and a video of Vaughn Micciche and Ben Walther aboard Jalan Jalan at www. urbanitebaltimore.com. 48 august 2011 www.urbanitebaltimore.com
Livin’ the dream: Geoff Hamilton and his wife, Patti, live aboard their 1987 Sea Ray 410 Aft Cabin yacht.
Waterfront property: Vaughn Micciche’s sailboat Jalan Jalan stays docked in picturesque Fells Point.
moved onto the weathered sailboat just over a year ago, after moving out of his girlfriend’s house. “I didn’t want to pay $1,200 a month for a one-bedroom or be tied down by mortgage payments,” he says. “So I bought the boat.” The boat, whose name in Indonesian means “going out for a stroll,” cost him $20,000, which he says is what you’d get if you stripped it down and sold it for parts, and he now pays $650 a month in slip fees. Of course, there are drawbacks. At present, the bathroom onboard Micciche’s boat is broken, requiring a walk up the skinny dock to the marina’s restrooms. He’s about halfway through a major reconstruction of the interior with a high school buddy, Ben Walther, who gamely points out how difficult it is to build flat surfaces without the use of a level.
ellow liveaboard Nate Tower, 45, doesn’t have such basic concerns. Tower, a local champion sailboat racer, lives on his 48-foot, twobedroom, two-bathroom Hatteras yacht, Aquilo, named after the Roman god of the northern wind. (When he bought the boat three years ago, it was called Key Wasted, but Tower renamed it with a grand re-christening party.) Tower says he was looking to move out of his house in Federal Hill and wanted a condo with a waterfront view. “I said, ‘Why don’t I just buy a condo on the water?’” The boat, which he shares with his chocolate labradoodle, Rudder, has all the comforts of home, including a walk-in closet, a garbage disposal, and a microwave. Tower says he enjoys the social aspect of life on board, where your neighbors are a stone’s throw away and the vessels’ claustrophobic interiors encourage you to hang out outside. “There’s a camaraderie among neighbors— we all have this shared experience,” he says. Still, the reality of sea life catches up with him on occasion. He recalls two weeks last summer when an excess of algae in the harbor resulted in a fish kill. “For two weeks,” he says, “it smelled like dead fish.” And life on the water also has an effect on his love life. He recently met a girl who happened to mention she got seasick easily. “I said, ‘Well, this probably isn’t going to work out.’” Tower’s dockmates at the Baltimore Marine Center in Canton, Geoff Hamilton and Patti Lippold, moved on board their two-bedroom 1987 Sea Ray 410 Aft Cabin yacht from a four-bedroom house because they were looking to downsize. “You’d be amazed how much stuff you don’t need,” Hamilton says, although he admits to missing his 45-inch TV screen. The couple now enjoys taking trips to St. Michaels. “It doesn’t go very fast,” Lippold says of the boat. “It’s a cruiser.” Still, therein lies the real draw of onboard living: The ability to pull up anchor and set off, Slocum-style, in search of adventure—even if that adventure is just across the bay. Micciche, who is a consultant at a data integration company by day and an accomplished trials biker by night, takes frequent trips to Middle River and Annapolis. He says that without the option of sailing away, he’d grow impatient with the rooted, 9-to-5 lifestyle. “There’s nothing more stifling than working at a desk job,” he says. “And even though I won’t, it’s nice to know I could give them the finger and roll out tomorrow.” Urbanite #86 august 2011 49
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50 august 2011 www.urbanitebaltimore.com
food + drink
feature / dining reviews / wine + spirits
The Spice of Life Culinary cocktails pack the heat with inventive, unorthodox ingredients.
photo by j.m. giordano
By Jennifer Walker
tanding in front of two bottles of hot sauce and Sriracha, John Reusing, the youthf u l, goateed owner of the la idback bar Bad Decisions in Fells Point, plops a pickle spear into a martini glass and looks at me. “Choose your own destiny,” he says. Not wanting to appear a sissy, I choose Sriracha and its more lingering heat. He squirts the bright red chili sauce into the glass, adds vodka and a splash of pickle brine, and stirs. This is Reusing’s most popular savory drink: the pickletini. While it may sound unappetizing, Reusing’s pickletini isn’t a far departure from the classic savory cocktails that were introduced in the first half of the 20th century. Popular concoctions included the dirty martini, made with gin, vermouth, and olive brine, and famously favored by Franklin Roosevelt. And of course there was the Bloody Mary, a mixture of tomato juice, vodka, Worcestershire sauce, and cayenne pepper, which was supposedly invented by bartender Fernand Petiot in 1921 at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris.
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feature / recipe food + Drink Baltimore bartenders from Jack ’s Bistro, Idle Hour, and Mr. Rain’s Fun House, among other locales, are creating modern versions of these classic savory drinks with ingredients like chile powder, horseradish, pickle juice, avocado, and cumin. The inventive spirits are known as “culinary cocktails” and are popular enough nationwide to have been named a top-twenty food trend for 2011 by the National Restaurant Association. Reusing, a biology major and former staff member at a Johns Hopkins University lab, was a local savory cocktail pioneer when he opened Bad Decisions in 2008 after a string of bartending jobs in Little Italy. “Really nobody else wanted to do it,” he says. “It was more important that we had White Zinfandel.” Bad Decisions stocks no wine and only about ten beers, but its bar shelves hold more than eight hundred liquors. Reusing’s drink menu—a thick, tattered, slightly damp book—contains dozens of cocktails, handwritten on yellowing graph paper and organized by liquor. Although sweet drinks still dominate the menu, Reusing also makes cocktails with savory ingredients like pickled vegetables, habanero peppers, and wasabi powder. His bar is lined with a yellow Colman’s mustard can filled with vanilla beans and five frosted glass jars stuffed with pickles, green olives, pickled green beans, pickled pepperoncinis, and cherries soaking in whiskey. He’s not opposed to experimenting with garlic, ahi tuna, or Manwich in his cocktails. For newcomers like me, the pickletini is often the first venture into the world of savory drinks. “That’s the gateway drug,” Reusing says. After every sip, I taste a faint but tangy brightness from the pickle brine and a heat so strong my lips burn. Reusing burns through 5 gallons of pickles a month. Some customers even store glass jars of special Brooklyn Brine Co. pickles in Reusing’s small refrigerator for their own ’tinis. For my next drink, Reusing mixes up a bacon habanero mojito, a meaty cocktail that he serves at his special oncea-month bacon nights. He cooks up so many strips of pork at these events that he has his own bacon sponsor, Kunzler. Because Reusing is constantly experimenting with new ways to mix bacon and booze, his monthly offerings are always changing. “It’s way harder to find a good combination than it is to find off combinations,” he says. He has learned, for example, that the juniper flavor of gin doesn’t mesh with bacon’s salty fattiness. To ma ke the mojito, Reusing starts with a bright orange habanero
pepper—which he stores in a glass beer stein in his small refrigerator—and cuts a slit in the center to release its heat. (For those who want more fire, Reusing will cut the habanero into rings.) The pepper goes into a tall drink glass, along with light rum, mint leaves, lime juice, and simple syrup. Reusing then crumbles in one strip of crackling bacon and garnishes with mint sprigs. On my first taste, the mojito is sweet and sour and tastes exactly like, well, a mojito. “The longer it sits, the hotter and spicier it’s going to get,” Reusing tells me. I watch the clock, and after about ten minutes I taste a subtle burn that lingers after I swallow. When Reusing needs some mixologist inspiration, he turns to the far wall next to the TV, where there’s a small row of books, including The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock, published in 1930, three years before Prohibition ended. Craddock left the United States during Prohibition to learn bartending at the American Bar at the Savoy hotel in London, where he served dry martinis, a cocktail he’s credited with inventing, to other American expatriates. Since Reusing has made three-fourths of the book’s 750 cocktails, he throws it on the bar as a second menu when the mood strikes him. “A lot of these old drinks have a story to them, which is really cool,” he says. “That was when someone would actually obsess over perfecting a drink.” Flipping through the book, I’m fascinated by the drinks made with egg whites. Reusing says people are mistakenly scared of consuming raw eggs in their cocktails, since the liquor and acid kill the whites’ harmful bacteria. Reusing creates a new drink on the spot for me, shaking together one egg white, absinthe, Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, rye whiskey, and Aztec chocolate bitters for the heat and spice. He pours the soft brown liquid into a martini glass and sprinkles on cayenne pepper. The drink is frothy white on top, thanks to the egg white. I try Reusing’s creation, but don’t taste the fire. Still, I press Reusing to write this new cocktail into his menu book. He takes a taste to see if it’s worthy, and it’s sweeter than he expected. He adds three more dashes of Aztec chocolate bitters, gives it a stir, takes another sip, and pauses. It’s still not ready, he says. “[But] it has potential.” Web extra: Visit www.urbanite baltimore.com for a video tutorial on mixing the perfect pickletini.
hese three culinary cocktails from John Reusing of Bad Decisions bar in Fells Point are all about heat. When making your own spicy cocktails, choose a neutral liquor that won’t fight the spice, such as vodka, gin, or sake. At first, go easy on fiery ingredients like hot sauce, Sriracha, and habanero peppers, and add more to taste.
Pickletini The pickletini is the most popular savory cocktail at Bad Decisions. Reusing uses Sobieski, a good quality but inexpensive vodka. Play with the heat in this drink by replacing the hot sauce with a spicier Sriracha, or combining the two together for a major kick. 1 pickle spear 2 dashes hot sauce ½ oz pickle brine 2 oz vodka Place the pickle spear in a martini glass. Add hot sauce, pickle brine, and vodka and stir, being careful not to topple the pickle.
Bacon Habanero Mojito Adjust the heat in your mojito by changing the way you slice the habanero. For less heat, cut a slit in the pepper; for more heat, slice the pepper into rings. At first the drink will taste sweet, but the spice kicks in as the flavors meld together. 1 habanero pepper, scored or sliced into rings fresh mint leaves from 2 to 3 sprigs of mint 1 lime, juiced 1 oz simple syrup 2 oz light rum 1 strip cooked bacon, crumbled mint sprigs to garnish soda water Using a spoon, muddle the habanero, mint, lime juice, and simple syrup in a tall drinking glass. Add the rum and a handful of ice, then fill the glass with soda water to the rim. Drop in the bacon crumbles and stir. Garnish with mint sprigs.
Smoky Margarita Reusing makes his smoked margarita with pepperinfused tequila. As a substitute, add a sliced habanero pepper to plain tequila for a margarita with subtle heat. 2 oz pepper-infused tequila ¹/³ oz scotch or bourbon 4 oz sour mix smoked paprika to garnish To infuse tequila: Fill a glass jar with a combination of habanero, Serrano, Anaheim, and red peppers. Pour in tequila until the liquid reaches the rim. Check the infusion each day. If the peppers are wilted, add more tequila to fill. The infusion is ready when the red peppers’ color seeps into the tequila (about five days). “That’s when the evil has soaked out,” Reusing says. The tequila will keep for one month. To make the smoky margarita: Mix together the tequila, whiskey, and sour mix in a short bar glass. Top with smoked paprika.
Urbanite #86 august 2011 53
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dining reviews food + Drink
The side of fries comes with a lovely, lemony béarnaise. In recent years, b has done by martha thomas more than clamber aboard the local food wagon. Along with his he tree-lined blocks of creative vegetable dishes, ForBolton Hill, with their grand rowhouses, are reminiscent of sythe embraces the tongue-to-tail other elegant neighborhoods in movement, with specials from, other cities, places where an easy yes, beef tongue to sweetbreads evening stroll might take you to and lamb belly. Even the evea shopping district with bouning’s fish special, a flaky white tiques, coffee and wine bars, and dorade, arrives whole (although friendly restaurants with wellthankfully de-boned), seared heeled clientele who just didn’t skin crispy in a drizzle of olive oil feel like cooking tonight. and lemon, a random sprinkling While this sequestered ’hood of sea salt its only dressing. The has none of the retail pleasures side is chard, sautéed with slivers of Beacon Hill or Beekman Place, of garlic, yellow raisins, and it does have b bistro, and that’s pine nuts. Fresh-picked: Pink spring radishes at b bistro come straight from Chef Jamie Forsythe’s farm. almost enough. The restaurant Desserts are likewise subtle sting on the tongue, served with a bagna doesn’t have to compete with the cacophonous thoughtful: a molton chocolate cake comes in cauda—a warm bath—of olive oil, anchovies, choices of, say, a Hampden or Fells Point, and a swirl of salted caramel with cardamom ice garlic, and grilled bread. A block of crumbly most of the diners are here because they either cream, while the tangy lemon tart, in a thick and slightly tangy feta was topped with pickled live nearby or consider this gem of a restaurant shell topped with a heap of meringue, is served rhubarb and a dusting of ground pistachios. On their own little secret. with honey ice cream. another evening, appetizers were a mound of Go on a Tuesday, when wine is half price, Lately, a visit to b doesn’t only mean you’ll tender forest mushrooms with a slightly sharp the neighborhood vibe is at its best, and Chef find something on the menu you’ll enjoy. It white sheep’s cheese sauce, and squash blosJamie Forsythe, refreshed from his day away means that you’ll most likely find a dish that soms, fried in a paper-thin batter, crunchy and from the kitchen, has most likely returned will delight you, one that may send you to the hollow inside, with basil aioli for dipping. from his other job, operating Fig Leaf Farm— farmers market in search of squash blossoms The moules frites can easily make a meal. the Howard County land that supplies much of or leave you with a persistent craving to return The mussels are steamed in a choice of arothe produce here—with a bushel of something. to see what’s in from the farm. (Dinner Tues– matic broths: saffron with orange and fennel or On a recent night, it was spring radishes, Sun; brunch Sun. 1501 Bolton St.; 410-383-8600 Thai-influenced green curry and coconut milk. finger-width and rosy-hued, with just the right www.b-bistro.com).
photos by Allison Samuels
Meet 27 By Libby Zay
Beat the wheat: Potato-and-chickpea Batada Vada makes for tasty gluten-free eating at Meet 27.
eet 27 has all the makings of Remington’s next neighborhood bar, except one: the bar itself. Set on busy North Howard Street in the space vacated by the Two Sisters Grill, the former greasy spoon has been completely revamped into a restaurant with a swingin’ speakeasy vibe. What would be the perfect spot for commuters to drop in after work for a beer or a place for Ottobar concert-goers to grab some pre-show cocktails remains a BYOB joint, however, so the sophisticated long bar with overhanging chandeliers sits empty. Owners Richard D’Souza and Paul Goldberg remain optimistic that their appeal for a liquor license will go through. For now, they aim to win locals over with mouthwatering, inventive food. And be forewarned, a bite of Batada Vada, an appetizer of potato fritters surrounded in chickpea tempura, will do the job in a heartbeat. Dubbed a catchall “American Bistro,” Meet 27 features typical American dishes mixed with the flavors of India, Nepal, Tibet, Thailand, and Mexico. Meat eaters will enjoy the peppercorn beef, a robust pot roast of tender chunks of beef served with garlic-mashed potatoes, or the Mexican burger, topped with corn relish and plated alongside sweet potato
fries. Vegetarians will eat up the Aloo Tikki burger, made from potato croquette on a house-made focaccia roll. Much of the food is gluten-free. D’Souza’s wife, Renee, a pastry chef who runs the adjacent Sweet Sin bakery, can’t eat foods containing gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and some oats, so D’Souza sidesteps gluten by, for example, substituting navy beans for flour in bread. Most guests would barely notice the difference, but Goldberg says one of his hamburger buns has already reduced a woman with the gluten allergy to tears of joy. The culinary team at Meet 27 proves gluten-free is anything but bland. Milder palates might even find some dishes too packed with flavor. The slow-cooked vindaloo pork was fiery, while the Asian barbeque sauce that coated the chili paneer was a sugary sweet. If you need to cool down or cleanse your palate, Renee D’Souza provides plenty of delectable desserts to top off your meal. You’ll hardly notice the absence of gluten—or the lack of adult beverages flowing from behind the vacant bar. (Dinner Mon–Sun. 127 W. 27th St.; 410-585-8121; www.meet27americanbistro. yolasite.com) Urbanite #86 august 2011 55
56â€ƒ august 2011â€ƒ www.urbanitebaltimore.com
wine + spirits food + Drink
Vino Cheapo How to drink the good stuff for less By Clinton Macsherry
‘m sure glad that economic recovery has gotten underway and the folks on Wall Street feel titanic again. Prosperity will no doubt start trickling down to us Main Streeters any day now, just like always. Some of our fellow hoi polloi have already started celebrating. The Los Angeles Times recently reported that following a two-year slump, U.S. wine sales have increased by 7 percent, and for the first time, Americans collectively drink more wine than the French. Volume doesn’t tell the whole story: After trading down to less expensive w ines in the depths of the recession, U.S. consumers are once again “reaching for pricier bottles,” the LAT notes. Forg i v e m e the ha r r umph of a n inveterate thrift shopper. Cheapsk ate, tig htwad, skinf lint—I’ve been called them all. To which I plead guilty (unless copping an Alford incurs lower legal fees). In flush times and in fallow, most of my wine purchases fall under $15, and that won’t change based on Moody swings or the bipolarities of Nasdaq. Spending more can surely be justified, and as we discussed shortly after the economy tanked, the least expensive wines on the shelf don’t necessarily represent the greatest value (See “The Grape Depression,” Jan. ’09 Urbanite). But drinking cheaply need not mean drinking poorly. Simple strategies have made me a wiser miser. There’s no tastier way to pinch pennies than finding underappreciated regions and correspondingly underpriced wines. Inexpensive Argentine Malbecs hit the sweet spot for many value-seekers, although mediocre versions have bottle-rocketed along with Malbec’s popularity during the past decade. Ditto for Australia’s entry-level reds. (But scout for those countries’ bargain whites, such as Torrontes and dry Riesling, respectively.) Lately I’ve had better luck with wines from Spain’s emerging export regions—Campo de Borja, Jumilla, and Rueda, for example—which can carry price tags under $10. Some critics carp that they’re styled expressly to please the international palate, but few challenge their cost-to-quality ratio. Connoisseurs-on-the-cheap, not just trophy collectors, should also take note of vintages. I Illustration by Chris Rebbert
once found a fabulous $11 Sangiovese—a baby Brunello di Montalcino, almost—and bought it repeatedly, until two consecutive bottles tasted clearly inferior. In auto-shopper mode, I’d neglected to notice that the year on the label had advanced. Rating an entire region’s annual production involves gross generalization, but knowing that wines excelled in a given vintage can make for successful bottom-fishing. The Southern Rhone enjoyed an outstanding 2007, and you’ll pay dearly for that year’s Châteauneuf-duPapes, but it’s a perfect vintage for exploring relatively humble Côtes du Rhônes. The same principle applies to 2009 Bordeaux. I adore discounts, and they come in many forms. Big-box stores like Beltway Fine Wines run ads featuring specific wines at reduced cost or offering percentages off a total sale. The best discounts escalate as the purchase increases, and they’re ideal for cellar-stocking. Some smaller retailers post coupons on their websites and give customers on their email lists advance or exclusive access to sales. (So sign up.) Free in-store tastings provide opportunities to sample new wines and buy what you like, often at reduced prices. Hampden’s Wine Source hosts a bunch. Most wine shops also offer case discounts that can shave 20 percent or more off the per-bottle cost. Wells Discount Liquors lets you mix and match, with discounts even on half cases. Inventory clearance is a glorious thing. Domaine des Michelons Moulin-à-Vent 2009 ($18, 13 percent alcohol) gets three ticks on my cheapo checklist: It’s from oft-overlooked Beaujolais, the “poor man’s Burgundy”; critics hail 2009 as Beaujolais’ finest vintage in decades; and I bought it on sale for $15. It pours dark garnet, with aromas of rain-soaked berry patch, ham, and violets. Flavors of boysenberry and toast fill out a cruiserweight frame. Moulin-à-Vent earns a reputation as Beaujolais’s burliest cru (or village sub-appellation), but lipsmacking acidity and saline-mineral endnotes keep this refreshing enough for picnics. Although it scrapes the ceiling of cheap drinking, so far it’s my year’s best bargain. At least the advice is free, and worth double that. (Read my take on Spanish wine in the upcoming September issue of Urbanite.) Urbanite #86 august 2011 57
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arts + Culture
Illustration: Peter Yuill / Movie Stills: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part Two (Warner Bros.), Transformers 3 (Paramount Pictures), Horrible Bosses (Warner Bros.)
feature / music / book / theater
The Last Drive-In
Maryland has only one remaining drive-in theater, but outdoor films are on the rise.
or movie lovers like me, nostalgia is a strong and irrational force. anne haddad multiplex theaters are the After a heyday in the 1950s and ’60s fueled writer anne haddad loves to chain restaurants serving run and hike, but her favorite by car culture and the rise of the American outdoor activity, truth be the masses. The Senator teen rebel movie, the drive-in theater began told, is watching movies. and the Charles are fine to fade in the 1970s. Owners had trouble booking the popular films that drew crowds. Many of them dining on white tablecloths. Video Amerisold their increasingly valuable land to developers. Screens cain equals take-out gourmet. But the came down. Suburbs sprouted, along with malls and a new Bengies Drive-In Theatre, about a forty-minute drive east of Baltimore, is in a category all its own: It’s like a local diner model of movie theater most of this country thinks is the only with a peculiar but irresistible menu where we put up with a kind left. little abuse from the owner and come back for more because But not every one of the 4,063 drive-ins operating at the Urbanite #86 august 2011 59
Check it out!
Senior Living: Your Reinvented Lifestyle
Cover by Alex Brown
Feature / music arts + culture industry’s peak in 1958 went dark. By the 1990s, new drive-ins were being built, and old ones were refurbished and thriving. About 374 now operate around the country, drawing families and booking first-run crowd-pleasers, according to the United Drive-In Theatre Owners Association. Pennsylvania has thirty-three driveins, more than any other state. Maryland has only the Bengies. I go to the Bengies partly for the movies, and mostly to experience this retro bit of Americana that I missed out on as a kid, when the only drive-ins I saw were in movies. Part of me wishes drive-ins would show revivals like Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman or Beach Blanket Bingo, but the surviving drive-ins owe their success to casting off the B-movie image and booking big box-office winners like Super 8 and The Hangover Part II. The movies are mainstream, but at the Bengies, at least, the atmosphere is not, starting with the house rules. From the moment patrons turn off Eastern Boulevard and get in line for the drive-up box office, owner D. Edward Vogel spells out a highly specific code of conduct: STAY IN YOUR VEHICLE NO ONE IS ALLOWED TO GET IN OR OUT OF VEHICLES IN THIS DRIVE. There are signs all over the Bengies—commandments about how to behave, where to walk, when to stay, and when to go. There are signs that make you think you may have gone back in time, like the one advertising “Pizza Pie.” New this year: Lest you ruin anyone else’s experience by leaving early and blinding them with your drive lights, drivers of cars that cannot totally darken lights while the car is moving will have to pull over at the entrance, remove the floor mats, pop the hood, and wedge the mats under the hood so they hang down and cover any lights. Vogel has crafted his rules with the same attention to detail as that of a middle school vice principal. He knows that not everybody gets good home training. Those who do not abide by the rules will be asked to leave—sometimes permanently, which will happen if you pull out a laser pointer. Once you’re settled in, tune your car stereo to the 106.9 FM station that works only on the Bengies grounds, and Vogel’s disembodied voice orients you to his reality, providing yet more suggestions as to how you ought to behave: “Be sure to turn your car ignition switch to the ‘accessory’ position so you don’t drain your car battery. If you don’t know where that is, check your owner’s manual ...” Control freak that he is, Vogel really wants us to have a good time and be able to leave without needing a jump start at 2 a.m. And to be fair, there are a few generous allowances: You can bring your own food, although you must pay $10 for a permit (no alcohol or glass bottles, though). You can bring your dog (there’s a whole section on the Web version of the house rules on
pets, and be forewarned that the outside-foodand-beverage permit applies to Rufus, too). You are also allowed to smoke, but I hope you don’t if you’re parking near me. And the rules don’t seem to be hurting business any. Vogel sells out on some big films on weekends. (He declined a request to allow a photographer on the Bengies grounds for this article, writing in an e-mail, “I do not want to have to turn away more customers.”) But he opens in April and keeps the movies running into October, and he’d love it if more people came before and after the peak summer months. Vogel, like those who organize outdoor film series around the city, is rescuing this rare public activity from extinction and possibly creating a new golden age of outdoor movie-watching. In Huntington, Indiana, drive-in theater owners built a second screen facing the first one to get more bang for the buck on their existing land: Drivers simply park facing whichever screen they want to watch. Some creative Californians have started the Santa Cruz Guerilla Drive-In, an outdoor movie theater that “springs up unexpectedly in the fields and industrial wastelands,” with a mission of “reclaiming public space and transforming our urban environment,” according to the organization’s website. As a lover not just of film but also of the social experience of watching movies with other people, I see this trend as a hopeful mitigation of the home-theater era. And having house rules really does work at the Bengies. I can always take my children and their friends. The only fogged-up windows I’ve seen there were in my own car—kids seeking refuge from mosquitoes or an unexpectedly cool breeze. We used to get them all set in their pajamas, make a bed in the back seat, and head out for Doctor Doolittle, Kung-Fu Panda, or some other movie that invariably featured talking animals. Their friends would fall asleep, but not my kids. I would have been the same way—too much going on, don’t want to miss any of it. The Bengies is like a dream state, anyway: I’m in my car, but I’m watching a movie. It’s really late at night, but there are hundreds of strangers around me, just hanging out quietly … What is it about a drive-in movie? Well, what is it about any place that offers a mix of the familiar and the strange, be it a carnival, an art museum, or a cathedral? It’s where we can get away for a while, stop the voices in our heads and listen to another voice: “Those of you who are leaving, drive carefully toward the left and follow the signs. You will encounter a traffic-calming device called a treadle. Do NOT be afraid to drive over the treadle. “Now, when you get to Eastern Boulevard, most of you are going to want to turn left if you’re heading toward Martin State Airport …” Web extra: Find a list of outdoor movie venues in and around Baltimore at http:// bitly/Bmoreoutdoorfilms.
White Life by White Life (Ehse Records, 2011) By Brandon Weigel
ome might refer to the band White Life as indie pop, and they would be wrong. Yes, their self-titled debut is an album of ’80s-influenced electro-pop, and yes, it is being released on Baltimore indie label Ehse Records, but any pretense that comes from grouping those terms together should be thrown out the window. White Life’s songs are all danceable beats and heart-on-your-sleeve choruses, and they don’t try to be anything more than that. They are meant to make you dance, to get stuck in your ear hole, to be fun and playful. Nothing is meant to be obtuse, or even particularly challenging. After hearing the album’s eight tracks—a jubilant blend of electronic pulses, rudimentary drum machine beats, funky bass lines, throwback sax solos, and piles of hooks—it’s hard not to get caught up in doing exactly what White Life wants you to do: lose yourself in the good time. “To deny music of danceability seems to be denying it of one of it’s greatest powers, and I had been doing that for years,” says singer and primary songwriter Jon Ehrens. Ehrens, 26, is referring to his various lo-fi and indie projects that came before the pop plunge, the most recent and best known among them being Art Department, a band that made minute-and-a-half blurts of fast-paced rhythms, jangly guitars, and what Ehrens himself refers to as “chipmunk” vocals. But he has always been enthralled with a song’s ability to take listeners to that euphoric other place, especially after taking particular shine to the production of pop hit-maker Lukasz Gottwald, better known as Dr. Luke. He’ll even cop to Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” making him cry. “His songs have those magic moments that really escalate you, if you’re willing to do it,” Ehrens says of Dr. Luke. “I want to experience it, and if you let yourself, it’s really effective.” White Life won’t have you shedding any tears, and it will be lucky to reach a fraction of a percentage of the mainstream audience of Dr. Luke’s radio anthems. But when a group of songs takes you to that place, you just know it—and you dance right along. Urbanite #86 august 2011 61
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Book / Theather arts + culture
Hoodoo You’ll Love
rapists, and copkillers— black or white— respectfully and impartially. McTeer, Woods explains, was born for the part. He h a d i n h e rited “sheriff ’s blood f rom his father and ESP from his mother,” and was raised on a ruined plantation that “came with” an elderly African American couple of practicing witchdoctors who, according to McTeer, “noticed his power” and taught him the spells they had learned from their forbearers. From his first day in office, the 22-year-old McTeer mixed a strangely effective brew of pragmatism and mysticism. When he found his witnesses intimidated by spells or hexes, he took up the Black Arts himself—sometimes removing curses, sometimes allowing people to believe he
had hexed them, and sometimes joining forces with influential local witchdoctors. When, in 1962, McTeer finally lost an election, he continued to serve the community as a “poor man’s psychiatrist,” healing the afflicted with combinations of driftwood, shark’s teeth, crab shells, and small explosives that he himself admitted were as much “showbiz” as real. The desperate streamed to his office each day, going in “shaking with fright” and “coming out whistling.” Coffin Point paints McTeer as part superhero and part good-old-boy, dramatizing legendary crimes like the “Human Torch Case” and the “Icepick Killing” in vivid and often poetic language. Woods, who has a Ph.D. in ancient philosophy, takes a healthy critical distance from the myths spun around and by McTeer, using interviews, newspapers, and McTeer’s own books as his primary sources. It’s not the gore or the lore that gives this book force, though; it’s Woods’s respect for the story he’s telling. In the end, Woods shows how McTeer’s authority— spiritual, physical, and legal—is born of faith. As McTeer himself explained in reference to his witchdoctoring, “It was, in many ways, just like being a sheriff without a gun—you were only as strong as people’s belief in you.” While this repeated theme verges on cliché, the addition of hexes, hoodoo, and a headless corpse rising from a foggy Carolina marsh makes for a diverting read.
play, but in the intervening years, the notion of kids who acquire artillery grew less implausible. The finished piece, performed by the Heralds of Hope Theater Company at the Load of Fun Theatre (LOF/t), is part of the Baltimore Playwrights Festival (BPF), which celebrates its thirtieth year in 2011. The title of LaMont’s play refers to a state of hysteria—simultaneous screaming and laughing—that is inflicted by “ancestors who suspect you The world’s a stage: Kevin Kostic presents his musical, Unraveled are using your race in an exploitative on the Gravel, as part of the Baltimore Playwrights Festival. way,” says LaMont. “It’s a term I made up.” Jersey Jack Black, serving a prison sentence for killing a police officer, has cast himself as wrongfully accused and has become a celebrity symbol of oppression. He captures the sympathies of two young and idealistic teenagers who hatch a plan to help him escape. The girls also The Baltimore Playwrights Festival presents happen to live in the house once occupied by Zulu Fits at LOF/t, August 18–September 4 Patty Cannon, a notorious 19th century human Unraveled on the Gravel at Spotlighters Theater, trafficker who hopped between Delaware and August 4–21 Maryland’s Eastern Shore, kidnapping both esBy Martha Thomas caped slaves and free blacks and shipping them h en Alonzo LaMont came up with the to southern states. idea for the play Zulu Fits twenty years The interwoven tales, says LaMont, look at ago, the plot—two teenaged girls “who are basithe nature of evil, as well as the choices the girls cally terrorists, plotting a revolutionary act”— make. Their mother is pushing them to be cu“was really far-fetched,” he says. He shelved the rious, to learn more about history, but instead,
says LaMont, “they go for the sexy pick,” the charismatic prisoner. One message of the play, he points out, is “humans often go for style over substance: Who do we elevate in our minds, without recognizing what’s in front of us?”
Coffin Point: The Strange Cases of Ed McTeer, Witchdoctor Sheriff (River City Publishing, 2011) By Sondra Guttman
Bottom photo by Philip Laubner; Top cover by Chip Cooper, jacket design by Lissa MonroE
f your image of the rural Southern lawman tends toward Yosemite Sam or Boss Hogg, you owe it to yourself to check out the story of Ed McTeer, the “Boy Sheriff” who ruled over rural Beaufort County, South Carolina, through four decades of racial turmoil—without a gun. Written by Baynard Woods, a native of the Palmetto state (and also a frequent Urbanite contributor), Coffin Point: The Strange Cases of Ed McTeer—equal parts history, reportage, biography, and folklore—immediately immerses readers in the creepy, swampy island culture of the South Carolina lowcountry. When McTeer began his reign in 1926, Beaufort County was the kind of place where a man would kill his wife “because the grits were cold,” and an ordinary disagreement would often escalate into murder, lynching, or riot within hours if it weren’t stopped. That’s where young Ed McTeer steps in: busting rum-runners, wife-murderers,
ADifferent World W
nother play that might not have been fully appreciated twenty years ago is also the BPF’s first full-length musical, Unraveled on the Gravel, by Kevin Kostic, playing at Spotlighters Theatre. It’s the story of a group of friends who have been together since high school; the play opens an hour before two are to be married. The groom-to-be, Ray, is a compulsive hitchhiker, taking off late at night to the consternation of his fiancée, Amber. The play flashes back to other periods in the friends’ lives, unraveling the truth behind a tragic accident that took place around high school graduation. And while the songs revolve around interior monologues— think Billy Bigelow’s soliloquy from Carousel— the contemporary musical style and the gnarly relationships of youth owe more to Spring Awakening than Rodgers and Hammerstein.
For tickets to Zulu Fits, call 410-997-3997 or visit www. heraldsofhopetheater.com. For tickets to Unraveled on the Gravel, call 410-752-1225 or visit www.spotlighters.org. For more information on the Baltimore Playwrights Festival, visit www.baltimoreplaywrightsfestival.org.
Urbanite #86 august 2011 63
64â€ƒ august 2011â€ƒ www.urbanitebaltimore.com
this month’s happenings compiled by Rebecca Messner
ARTS/CULTURE DANCE The Collective dance company presents aLIVE! on August 26, featuring the instrumental indie rock of Baltimore band the Water and the slick beats of DJ Relax. At the Creative Alliance (3134 Eastern Ave.; 410-276-1651; www. creativealliance.org)
courtesy of Ryan Browning
Cirque du Soleil returns to Baltimore in August for eight performances of Quidam, about a young girl who retreats into a dream world after her parents divorce. The show, in town at the 1st Mariner Arena August 24–28, has toured five continents and features fiftytwo pliable acrobats, musicians, and singers. (201 W. Baltimore St.; 410-3472020; www.cirquedusoleil.com)
LITERATURE Part of 1st Thursdays at Hopkins Plaza, the 5th L, a spoken word hip-hop soul group, performs at Preston Gardens for a lunchtime concert on August 4. The 5th L’s performances are meant to entertain and enlighten, as they mix together Broadway-style theatrics, high-energy rap performance, and poetic integrity. (Preston Gardens Park, St. Paul St.; 410-2441030; www.godowntownbaltimore.com)
Minás Gallery will host a reading of Akbar Ahmed’s book Suspended Somewhere Between: A Book of Verse, on August 14 at 4 p.m. The poems reveal Ahmed’s religious and cultural struggles in a Muslim world and convey his overall message of compassion. (815 W. 36th St.; 443-418-4762; www.minasgallery andboutique.com) Amy Hempel’s emotional short stories about relationships, minor disasters, and moments of revelation will be this month’s reading club selection at Atomic Books. The meeting will take place August 31 at 7:30 p.m. (3620 Falls Rd.; 410-662-4444; www.atomicbooks.com)
FILM Inspired by the ongoing exhibition What Makes Us Smile, this summer’s lineup of films at the American Visionary Art Museum’s Flicks from the Hill has been nothing but laughs. This month, catch Viva Las Vegas on August 4, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective on August 11, Men in Black on August 18, and 1963’s version of The Pink Panther on August 25. (800 Key Hwy.; 410-244-1900; www.avam.org) Racing fans, switch your gears to prepare for the Baltimore Grand Prix
by watching a free screening of The Fast and the Furious at the Southeast Anchor Library on August 31. The 2009 film will show at 5:30 p.m. and is suggested for a teen and adult audience. (3601 Eastern Ave.; 410-545-3115; www. prattlibrary.org)
MUSIC Brooklyn-based anti-metal metal band Liturgy visits Floristree on August 2, bringing their unique blend of black metal, hardcore, and experimental music on tour in support of their new album, Aesthethica. (405 W. Franklin St.) Grandfather, a three-piece rock band from New York, plays at the Windup Space on August 3, to join Baltimore bands Uakari, instrumental postrockers, and Time Columns, a mathrock duo that uses electronic looping and creative instrumentation. (12 W. North Ave.; 410-244-8855; www.thewindup space.com) On August 5, two of Baltimore’s best bluegrass bands—Bluestone and Charm City Limits—come together to play traditional tunes, as well as gospel, country, and blues. Special guest John Glick will join the bands on fiddle at the
Creative Alliance. (3134 Eastern Ave.; 410-276-1651; www.creativealliance.org) An die Musik hosts a concert of baroque music at the Walters Art Museum on August 11. Arceci/McKean & Friends features soprano Elizabeth Hungerford, Johanna Novom and Adriane Post on baroque violin, John Armato on theorbo, and John McKean on the harpsichord. Meet the musicians at a wine reception after the show. (600 N. Charles St.; 410-385-2638; www. andiemusiklive.com) April Smith and the Great Picture Show, a self-described mixture of 1930s cabaret and the music of Tom Waits, joins Michigan indie pop band Tally Hall and singer songwriter Casey Shea at the Metro Gallery on August 14. (1700 N. Charles St.; 410-244-0899; www. themetrogallery.net) Enthusiastic Celtic rockers the Rogues descend upon the Maryland Historical Society on August 18 to perform their “high-energy collision of Celtic, rock, and world styles.” Stick around after the show to get your CD signed. (201 W. Monument St.; 410-685-3750; www. mdhs.org)
Ryan Browning’s Irrevelant Bullshards, a solo exhibition of painting and sculpture, continues at School 33 Art Center through August 20. The hypercolorful exhibition explores the escapist fantasies created by sci-fi novels and mythological games like Dungeons and Dragons, creating entirely new virtual landscapes. (1427 Light St.; 443-2634350; www.school33.org)
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the scene Baltimore’s own J Roddy Walston and The Business will be performing at the Hot August Blues Festival on August 20 in Oregon Ridge Park. The festival features talent from Tedeschi Trucks Band that has been praised by Rolling Stone for their Revelator album; Robert Randolph and the Family Band, who recently released We Walk This Road; and the Outsiders Are Back, who are gaining more popularity with Kings Go Forth. (13401 Beaver Dam Rd., Cockeysville; 877-321-3378; www.hotaugust blues.com)
VISUAL ART Beyond the Surface: Works by John K. Lawson continues through August 28 at the Metro Gallery. Lawson’s mixed-media work, influenced by his childhood in England and his formative education experience in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, makes use of everything from mannequin heads with beaded hard hats to salvaged illustrations from Hurricane Katrina encased in encaustic wax. (1700 N. Charles St.; www.themetrogallery.net)
workshops from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. this month that encourage you to create works of art with such projects as designing a model museum. (10 Art Museum Dr.; 443-573-1700; www. artbma.org)
which invites cyclists of all levels to form teams teams of two or three, will feature a course of secret clues, challenges, and checkpoints throughout the whole city. Helmets are required. (www. urbanbikeadventure.com)
Bob Benson, the talented mosaic artist behind the blinged-out tree in front of the American Visionary Art Museum, teaches Shiny Happy Things on August 13, where he’ll teach you how to make your own “flashies”: sparkling decorations made from mirrors and marbles and other small, pretty objects. (800 Key Hwy.; 410-244-1900; www. avam.org)
FOOD/DRINK Spend the dog day afternoons on August 5 and 12 the Italian way—with a Negroni and a game of Bocce—when the Wine Market hosts its Bocce Ball Party on the Patio. The restaurant will offer Italian drink specials, including $6 Negronis and $16 bottles of Italian wine. (921 E. Fort Ave.; 410-244-6166; www. the-wine-market.com)
COMMUNITY Long a tradition in the parking lots and sports fields of Poly/Western High School, the International Festival returns August 6 and 7, to celebrate Baltimore’s cultural diversity with music, dancing, and a variety of ethnic foods. (4600 Falls Rd.; 410-396-3141)
At the Walters Art Museum, Setting Sail: Drawings of the Sea from the Walters’ Collection, continues through September 11, focusing on drawings, prints, and watercolors of ships, sailors, and the sea from the museum’s permanent collection. (600 N. Charles St.; 410-547-9000; www. thewalters.org)
Join the National Aquarium for its 30th birthday celebration at noon August 5–7 for a party full of family fun, like the Ocean Art Project at the back of the pier, and dance, including Zumba instruction. The St. Veronica’s Youth Steel Orchestra and the Waxter Center Steppers are among the featured performers. (501 E. Pratt St.; 410-5763800; www.aqua.org)
Learn how to craft your own clay, paper, or foam sculpture August 7 at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Sculptures for Your Garden is just one of the
One part obstacle course, one part scavenger hunt, and one part road race add up to make the Urban Bike Adventure in Baltimore on August 27. The race,
Prepare the John Lee Hooker. Blues comes to Eastern Yacht Club’s third annual Wine and Blues Festival on August 20. Music from Bluestreak Rhythm and Blues, Ursula Ricks Project, Old Man Brown Twine Time, and the Deb Callahan Band from 1 p.m. until 11 p.m., with wine tastings going until 7 p.m. Some of the finest Maryland wines, including those from Woodhall Wine Cellars, Far Eastern Shore Winery, and Frederick Cellars, will be available to wet your palate. (2330 Seneca Rd.; 410-6863555; www.easternyachtclub.com) Sundays in August are the new prime time. Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar offers three-course prime rib dinners. For just $29.95, each guest receives a juicy cut of prime rib with one side, a choice of three salads, and a dessert. Skip cooking for one night. And take a bib. (720 Aliceanna St.; 410-332-1666; www.flemingssteakhouse.com)
GREEN/SUSTAINABLE Venture out of the city for the Eastern Shore on August 13 and hop on your bike, for Ride to See: A Bicycle Tour of Kent County. The rides, which wind through historic villages and picturesque countryside on the Chesapeake County National Scenic Byway, begin bright and early and range from 15 to 100 miles in length. (Galena Middle School, 114 S. Main St., Galena; www.ridetosee.org)
STYLE/SHOPPING August 26–28, the Baltimore Summer Antiques Show takes over the Convention Center. Antiques lovers from the U.S. and abroad will descend upon Baltimore to view pieces from more than 550 international exhibitors from such places as France, Italy, China, and Japan. The show promises more than 200,000 individual items, including porcelain, furniture, European silver, antique jewelry, and more, as well as a seventy-dealer Antiquarian Book Fair that will feature first editions, rare books, and delicate manuscripts. (1 W. Pratt St.; 410-649-7000; www.baltimoresummerantiques.com) Art With a Heart hosts Shop and Bop on August 5 and 6, a show of artistic creations by participants in the organization’s Summer Job Program. All art works exhibited at the show are for sale, and all proceeds go to benefit the program, which uses art as a vehicle to teach job skills. (3512 Keswick Rd.; 410-366-8886; www.artwithaheart.net/ heartwares)
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eye to eye
“to know a poem one must live with it. One must dig their toes into its very L’s and O’s,” writes Baltimore multimedia artist Stephanie Barber in “For a Lawn Poem,” a lecture available in chapbook form from Publishing Genius. Not satisfied with sharing her poems in the usual way, Barber set out to create an environment where her readers could interact physically with her words. For her aptly titled Lawn Poem, Barber cut stencils out of Kentucky Bluegrass sod—each letter is two feet long—and laid them into the yard at the Poor Farm, an artist residency and exhibition cara ober space in Wisconsin. The poem is too large to read from cara ober is urbanite’s online one vantage point, or even to photograph in its entirety. arts/culture editor. to receive To read it, one has to walk on it. “The most exciting part her weekly e-zine, go to www.urbanitebaltimore.com. of seeing people interact with the poem was the way they had to walk slowly and carefully to read the entire piece, with head down and sort of murmuring to themselves, like the tradition of walking meditations,” she says. Barber’s willingness to create a form that forces readers to “dig their toes” into her work makes all the difference. Still, Lawn Poem is an elegant, playful verse with complex visual metaphors—well worth reading on the page. Lawn Poem Its hooves were mouse and fire And it was angry and into counting Also it was starstruck Like a complicated Mexican companion cat 70 august 2011 www.urbanitebaltimore.com
Stephanie Barber Detail from Lawn Poem, 2009 Kentucky bluegrass and lawn 40 feet by 25 feet Photo by Stephanie Barber
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