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f r a nk enf ish! · ba lt imore: t he ne x t ‘gri t t y ci t y ’ ? · row house renovat ions november 2011 issue no. 89

Special Section Med School Redefined

e e r t F s a L t a More than ha from prison e lf the people released behind bars a ach year will soon be them stay ou gain. How can we help t?


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4  november 2011  www.urbanitebaltimore.com


this month

#89  November 2011

feature 34

departments 55

On the Outside

about the cover: Illustration by Can Okan Arabacioglu

by Michael Corbin Each year, thousands of men and women walk out of prison and come home to Baltimore, only to find that true freedom is out of reach.

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Editor’s Note 9 What You’re Saying 13 What You’re Writing 17 Don’t Miss 19 The Goods —— baltimore observed 25 Reshaping Education by Ron Cassie A new city design school is intent on preparing students for elite colleges and the 21st century workplace. 27 Update 29 How to Fix a Rowhouse 31 Voices

—— poetry 53

For Nick Hughes (son of deranged poets)

59

space

scope

55 Agri Culture by Brennen Jensen Sleek and chic meet rustic and rough in a refurbished barn.

45 Med School Redux

by Ron Cassie As bioscience breakthroughs transform the way we look at human health, schools race to train a new generation of doctors.

music On set with Bosley during his video shoot for “Sharpshooter.” Plus, tracks from Honey Pig.

—— food + drink 59 Space Invaders by Martha Thomas The new face of sustainable seafood

web extras

more online at www.urbanitebaltimore.com

on the air

Urbanite on The Marc Steiner Show, WEAA 88.9 FM November 14: Shifting away from a strategy of mass incarceration November 22: Bioscience breakthroughs at Johns Hopkins November 30: Can Baltimore become a sustainable city?

by Alyson Harkins

——

25

63 Dining Reviews 65 Wine & Spirits

—— arts + culture 67 Small Time by Scott Carlson Why small cities like Baltimore are poised for success in a hot, thirsty, and oil-starved future. 69 Book 71 Music 71 Theater

—— 73 The Scene —— 78 Eye to Eye Urbanite #89  november 2011  5


Discover an experience like no other See why LiFeBriDge HeALtH & FitneSS is ranked in the tOp One perCent of health clubs in the u.S. this year, give thanks to a healthy body and mind!

issue 89: november 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, Baynard Woods, Michael Yockel, Mary K. Zajac editorial interns Anissa Elmerraji, Krishana Davis production manager Belle Gossett Belle@urbanitebaltimore.com

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designers Kristian Bjornard, Lisa Van Horn staff photographer J.M. Giordano Joe@urbanitebaltimore.com production interns Sarah Thrower, Dave Volpe senior account executives Catherine Bowen Catherine@urbanitebaltimore.com Susan R. Levy Susan@urbanitebaltimore.com account executive Natalie Richardson Natalie@urbanitebaltimore.com sales marketing associate Erin Albright Erin@urbanitebaltimore.com advertising/sales/marketing intern Adrienne Price creative director emeritus Alex Castro founder Laurel Harris Durenberger — Advertising/Editorial/Business Offices 2002 Clipper Park Road, Fourth Floor, Baltimore, md 21211 Phone: 410-243-2050; Fax: 410-243-2115 www.urbanitebaltimore.com Editorial inquiries: Send queries to editor@urbanitebaltimore.com (no phone calls, please). The magazine is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts or artwork. Urbanite does not necessarily share the opinions of its authors. To subscribe or obtain assistance with a current subscription, call 410-243-2050. Subscription price: $18 per year. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission by Urbanite is prohibited. Copyright 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.


contributors

editor’s note

bottom Photo by Heather Kuhn; middle photo by Sarah Thrower; top photo By andrea rios; photo of Greg hanscom by Allison Samuels

Can Okan Arabacioglu is a freelance illustrator whose work has graced the cover of City Paper and been featured in publications like Rolling Stone, the Boston Globe, and Hyperactive Magazine. In 2001, he left his hometown of Istanbul, Turkey, to study illustration at Maryland Institute College of Art. Now a resident of Catonsville, he mostly creates editorial illustrations, such as the one that appears on this issue’s cover. He also works with local musicians, like Baltimore band The Water, whose new album cover he is designing.

Editorial intern Anissa Elmerraji joins Urbanite fresh from UMBC, where she graduated in May with a degree in English literature. A California native, she moved to Western Maryland when she was 9 and ultimately made her way to the Baltimore area. In college, Anissa held the posts of staff writer, assistant arts editor, and arts editor at her school’s newspaper, The Retriever Weekly, and interned at Style magazine. She hopes to move from Columbia to the city and spend more time at Club Charles, where John Waters serenaded her the night of her twenty-first birthday.

Alyson Harkins, author of “For Nick Hughes (son of deranged poets)” (p.53), teaches English at a Prince George’s County high school. Past occupations include oyster shucker, maid, bartender, and union organizer. Her favorite poet is Nick Flynn. She spends her spare time studying clouds.

on july 26, i received an e-mail from Michael Corbin, one of Urbanite’s

greg hanscom

contributing writers, who was working on a story for the magazine. I’d been pushing him to take the story in a direction that made him uncomfortable. He was not happy with me, and he meant to let me know it. “I don’t know what you really are about,” he wrote. “Or what this magazine is about.” Twenty-seven minutes later, a second e-mail arrived: “Forget the rest of the previous email, except the [revised story], which is good.” Later, he brought me tomatoes he grew in his garden. They were so good I ate them like apples. What is this magazine about? Well, if that story doesn’t capture it, I don’t know what does. Urbanite is about that struggle—the struggle to come to grips with the reality of a blighted, gritty, and heartbreakingly beautiful city. It is a labor of love for everyone who works on it, from the writers and editors to the sales and office staff. We do this work because we love Baltimore, and because we can’t turn our backs on the things that make it less than it could be. We struggle because we believe that it is possible to build a prosperous city that works for everyone, not just a lucky few. Few embody this struggle more than Corbin, a former prison educator and advocate for adjudicated youth, and one of the most probing, perceptive minds at work in Baltimore today. This issue contains what I believe is Corbin’s most powerful work to date. In “On the Outside” (p. 34), he tells the story of Lyndell, a young man he first met while teaching in a Maryland prison. The story makes a forceful case that we, as a society, can no longer afford the social or personal costs of locking up so many thousands of people like Lyndell, who, like many young black men, has spent years cycling in and out of prison. It’s the kind of journalism that I believe can change the world. It’s the kind of writing that can only come out of struggle. Huge thanks to the Annie E. Casey Foundation for funding this story and Michael’s Crime & Punishment blog on www.urbanitebaltimore.com. I’m glad to have had the chance to work with Corbin on this story, particularly because this will be the last issue of Urbanite in which I will have any significant hand. I’m writing this note from my new home in Seattle. In September, my wife and I packed up our daughters and our dog and our lives and headed cross-country, drawn by family and a landscape that we sorely missed. I’m presently working for Grist, an online magazine that covers cities and the environment with a vicious sense of humor. (You can find my work at www. grist.org and follow me on Twitter at @ghanscom.) My heartfelt gratitude goes out to Publisher Tracy Ward and the whole Urbanite crew, who took me in four years ago and gave me a job as a writer—a license to explore the city, meet its people, and write a few of its stories. As many of my friends reminded my as I was making my departure, I left a dream job. Appropriately enough, this issue also holds two stories written by Urbanite’s new editor-in-chief, Ron Cassie—(“Reshaping Education,” p. 25, and “Med School Redux,” p. 45). Cassie has written for newspapers and magazines for eight years and has some serious street cred. He reported from New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He traveled to Haiti following the earthquake last year. And he has spent years living in and writing about Baltimore. He comes to the magazine most recently from the Dundalk site of patch.com (AOL’s hyperlocal news experiment), where he proved that the area could foster a vibrant online community. Most importantly, Ron brings a real passion to the position. I know that he and the rest of the Urbanite crew will continue this struggle to understand and improve a city we all love. Best of luck, and fond farewells!

Coming next month

¿HABLAS ESPAÑOL? Can Baltimore’s growing Hispanic population gain a foothold?

Urbanite #89  november 2011  7


what you’re saying SPECIAL EDUCATION FEATURE

KIMCHI: IT’S ALIVE! · FA L L A R T S G U I D E · I O N N O R0 T1 H1 iSsCs Ou Re EnSo! . 8 7 S eTAT ptember 2

RESOURCES FOR

PARENTS

s

bloody trail. It was then that I gave up bow and arrow hunting. I know the deer population has to be thinned, but I think qualified persons with rifles should be recruited. —Jim Holecheck

GIVING CITY SCHOOLS A LEG UP

Rightful Heir Re: “Heir Apparent,” Oct. ’11, about American Estate Jewelry: thank you for the wonderful mention of American Estate Jewelry! One crucial correction, though: I could never make a bracelet myself, especially the complex pieces you’ll see at Radcliffe’s. Michael Galmer is renowned as a silver designer and is also “technically brilliant,” in the words of industry leader Jim Rosenheim. Radcliffe will show you Michael’s sketches upon request so you will see his rare talent and creative process. My skill is not as a designer; I simply know extraordinary when I see it. —Carolyn O’Keefe

Thinning the Herd Re: “In the Hunt,” Oct. ’11, a writer’s tale of finding solace in hunting deer: i’m against bow and arrow hunting. After a young life of hunting upland game and wild pigs in Kentucky, I was an early member of the Baltimore Bowmen. I was proficient with the bow, but found that the kill was seldom clean or complete. Upon discharge from military service, I decided to bow hunt one more time at Aberdeen Proving Ground. I was alone in the forest when I spotted a doe and took aim with my 70-pound Bear bow. The arrow flew straight and hit the deer. But I wondered if the arrow might have struck a tiny whisp of a tree branch and instead of hitting a fatal area may have hit the doe on its rear and simply scared her into taking a long run through the woods. If the razor-sharp broadhead arrow remained in the deer, it was painfully slicing her with every step she took. I tried to follow, but the evening’s dusky light made it difficult to find a

Achievement is Not Guaranteed Re: “Extracurricular Activity,” Oct. ’11, about the Middle Grades Partnership: your article is a great conversation starter, but we’d like to push the conversation further: Equal partnership (benefits flowing in both directions) is the number one thing that sets Middle Grades Partnership programs apart. Are there other ways to bring public and private schools together around a common goal? The article implies that our kids would be achieving even without MGP in their lives. Well, maybe. But consider this: A student with a B average in Baltimore City is not guaranteed success in high school and beyond. Most of our kids live in high-poverty/ high-crime neighborhoods, attend struggling schools, and are faced with a lot that makes success difficult. Are MGP’s resources really best served elsewhere? If so, where? And then: What happens to our kids? The article calls summer learning a “low-stakes arena.” But many educators and researchers are challenging this assumption. American kids do lose learning over the summer. Summer learning loss in math and reading can set students back months, and the loss for urban students is greatest. Since when do we call that “low stakes”? —Beth Drummond Casey, Executive Director, Middle Grades Partnership

Not in My Neighborhood Re: “Who says Baltimore can’t think outside the box?” Oct. ’11, editor’s note: it’s not racial segregation that has opponents of the Red Line concerned. It’s segregation from crime. There hasn’t been one murder in Canton, Fells Point, or the Inner Harbor this year. Take one look at the Murder Ink Google Map from the City Paper and tell me you want to let that “outside the box.” —Geoffrey Bennett

Incomplete Assignment Re: “Getting an e-Ducation,” Oct. ’11, about the pros and cons of earning an online degree: it’s surprising and unfortunate that Christianna McCausland’s piece on online learning omitted the area’s early adopter in

technology-enhanced learning: the University of Baltimore. In 1999, UB launched the first fully online MBA program to be accredited by AACSB, the highest distinction that business schools can receive worldwide. Since then, UB’s online course presence has grown so significantly that, today, 50 percent of our MBA credit hours and 25 percent of undergraduate business credit hours are taken online. UB also offers a fully online and accredited webMPA. In addition to these degree programs, from which students can graduate without ever coming to campus, UB offers many hybrid courses—classes that integrate online instruction with traditional face-to-face learning. Without even a mention of any of UB’s extensive online offerings, Ms. McCausland’s article would get an “incomplete” at best in my class, whether it were online or on campus. —Peter Toran, Vice President of Planning and External Relations, University of Baltimore

SAVE OUR SHIP Re: “Money Pit” Oct. ’11 about the restoration of the USS Constellation: the piece by Charles Cohen in your October issue about the USS Constellation was at best misleading and at worst biased reporting. The Constellation is not just a tourist attraction, but a source of pride to many local urbanites and members of Historic Ships in Baltimore who sponsor events throughout the year to raise funds in support of our maritime heritage. Despite using quotes from various sources Cohen fails to adequately explain the cause of the problem or its solution. Who was responsible for the 1997 failure to seal the edges of cold-molding plywood? How can $2 million in today’s inflated currency solve the problem of a 60-foot hole in the hull? This kind of superficial negative journalism is more appropriate for a weekly tabloid and not at all what I have come to expect from Urbanite. —Gerard Marconi

CORRECTION: The photo of Edward Glaeser that appears in the Aug. ’11 issue of Urbanite was taken by Louise Kennedy Converse, not Christopher Weddle.

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 mail@urbanitebaltimore.com or send your letter to Mail, Urbanite, 2002 Clipper Park Road, Fourth Floor, Baltimore, MD 21211. Please include your name, address, and daytime phone number. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. Urbanite #89  november 2011  9


1. Babe. The renowned casual-chic women’s boutique has relocated to Fells Point! This larger, more glamorous retail space allows for much more hand-picked inventory, offering the best of the best from BCBGeneration, Ella Moss, Splendid, Charlie Jade, and many more trusted brands. Best Weekend Wear 2011 from Baltimore Magazine!

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Authentic vintage clothing from the 20’s to the 90’s! Dapper 3 piece Men suits 80’s Prom Dresses Cocktail Dresses

2. Shockers Glass Studio Welcome to Baltimore’s only in-house glass repair! Shop for a new piece or get that old favorite back in action! Shockers supplies Baltimore with a variety of artistic glass smoke delivery systems. Stop by this holiday season and get the gift that smokes all others!

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3. DeBois Textiles Check out our great selection of winter coats and faux furs. Boots, sweaters, vintage wools, leathers and so much more. Authentic vintage clothing for men, women and children at greatly reduced prices. Award winning thrift store located in our warehouse—all under $10. 4. Wee Chic Holiday looks and gifts that stand out in the crowd. Visit Wee Chic to check out our unique, modern mix of clothing, toys and gifts for your little one-of-a-kind from birth to size 8. Green Spring Station. Join us on facebook. facebook.com/weechic 410.878.7400

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

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12. Stebbins Anderson Stebbins Anderson a Baltimore tradition since 1867. Stebbins offers everything from a light bulb to a beautiful patio set or a lovely sofa. While at Stebbins stop by our new store, Stebbins for Her, a ladies boutique featuring Vera Bradley, Fossil, Honora cultured pearls and fashion jewelry. Stebbins, the store that works for you!


what you’re writing

In The Kitchen

illustration by Dave Volpe

it’s 9:30pm; the power has been out for almost seven hours. It’s been raining all day. There’s no cell service in the part of the Catskills where we’re staying. The cabin is on the Delaware River, 5 miles downstream from the scenic reservoir that provides 25 percent of the drinking water for New York City. The only landlines are connected to wireless phones, so those are out too. My 1-year-old twins are sleeping. The moonlight is bright enough that they haven’t noticed the lack of a nightlight. I found a small bag of tea lights in the drawer by the kitchen sink. I’ve already used half of them; I wonder how long they will last. There’s chicken for dinner. We’ll eat that along with whatever else is left—we are leaving tomorrow. I found pearl onions, corn, broccoli, and noodles—the squiggly kind. I make a list of everything I need so I only have to open the fridge once. The blue glow of the stove is further illuminated by the small LED flashlight I have hanging from the ceiling. I have three burners running and the grill has been started outside. Water is limited since the sump pump needs electricity to function. I don’t know how much is left. I use the same water for the noodles, corn, and broccoli. There’s a wrought iron grate in the floor by the counter. I hear trickling. I shine the flashlight down, and the light reflects back up through the gnarled metal design. There’s water in the basement.

We sit down on the long wooden table with our plates full as we sip a local Cabernet blend. We quietly banter during our relaxed candlelit dinner. Later, I step outside and listen to the flowing water. It’s getting higher. The stream on the other side of the house is beginning to resemble the river out front. Back in the kitchen, it’s quiet. The plates are bare and scattered on the table. The wine is gone. I can hear water coming in—faster now— through the grate to the basement. I am standing by the kitchen sink, full of used pots and pans. A candle melts in the window; the rain hits the tin roof over the patio. We see flashing lights through the trees on the remote gravel road—then the siren sounds. It’s 1:00 a.m. We need to get out. Now. —Dani Thron lives in Baltimore City and provides financial literacy training throughout the metro area. She likes to cook, garden, sail, and write nonfiction.

“in the modern world,” my mother argued years ago, “a woman’s time could be better spent out of the kitchen than in.” Teaching me to cook was against her idea of women’s liberation. In college, a friend and I shared a New York City apartment with a tiny kitchen. We began to collect Columbia University boyfriends and, when Thanksgiving came around, decided to invite all of them to a grand, home-cooked Thanksgiving dinner.

I had no culinary skills, which was OK with my roommate because, I was assured, she had watched her mother make a turkey. She would take charge of the cooking, and I could do the shopping. So on Thanksgiving eve, with a list of what we needed, I bought, among other things, a turkey, celery, eggs, sage, and two large loaves of Wonder Bread. We rose before dawn on Thanksgiving and with no recipe—just my roommate’s memories—got to work chopping celery, adding eggs and spices, and tearing up the loaves of Wonder Bread. This was before one could Google “Wonder Turkey Stuffing” to find out that “once the bread has dried out … fill the cavities loosely.” Instead, we stuffed the bird with both loaves of fresh bread, double-stitched the bird closed, and wrapped it in heavy-duty aluminum foil, a method in which the turkey is supposed to steam in its own juices, and become moist. The turkey wouldn’t fit in the oven. After calling couple of people in the building with no answers, we called a guest to see if his oven would accommodate the turkey. It would. So we took the turkey in its roasting pan on the subway up Broadway to his apartment and then set off on a daylong tour of Manhattan while the turkey cooked. Little did we know, Picasso’s Guernica at the Museum of Modern Art, with its “tortured images of massacred animals” might be an omen for our Thanksgiving feast. My roommate went to collect the bird, and I returned to our apartment to set the table. The phone rang. I answered to hear sobbing, “The Urbanite #89  november 2011  13


APARTMENTS

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what you’re writing turkey blew up. It exploded. The bits are all over the inside of the oven.” As it were, bread—especially fresh Wonder Bread tightly stuffed into a turkey and securely wrapped in aluminum foil—will build up enormous amounts of steam inside the bird until finally it explodes. They scraped the bird off the oven, and our dinner was bits and pieces of steaming, sickly white pieces of turkey, served under gravy alongside canned green beans with slivered almonds, sweet potatoes with melted marshmallows, Jell-O salad with pineapple and green peppers, and a store-bought pumpkin pie. Pretty close to what one might have expected from my mother’s kitchen. —When Jo Proctor graduated from college, she went to France to learn to cook and later worked with Julia Child and the French chef Madeleine Kamman.

it was early November, and my roommate, Jen, and I, clearly eager for Christmas to arrive, had decided to hang our decorations. The tree went up; illuminated plastic Frosty the Snowman and Santa Claus figures were placed on either side of the futon; and strings of multicolored lights were hung around the perimeter of the living room, dining room, and kitchen. Our once sparsely decorated apartment had now become a holiday light show. A few weeks after hanging our decorations, I’d had my wisdom teeth removed. I was prescribed Hydrocodone to ease the pain of the four throbbing holes in my mouth. I’d heard stories from friends and coworkers alike of how potent these little pills were, but I hadn’t fully grasped the fact until I awoke face down on my bedroom floor, a pool of blood staining the carpet beneath my drooling mouth. I took another pill as the pain had returned and hurried to the kitchen, where I grabbed a warm washcloth, and darted back to my bedroom to wash out the blood before it had a chance to deeply set. While in the kitchen, though, something caught my eye. Something completely mesmerizing awaited my return. After a half-hour or so of vigorously scrubbing, I went back to the kitchen to admire those multi-colored Christmas lights that lined the corners where wall met ceiling. By now, the pill I’d taken was in full effect, along with the accompanying mind-bending side effects. I stood there for quite some time, just blankly gazing at those beautiful lights. My roommate’s brother, Frank, was visiting, and entered the kitchen to grab a drink. He glanced at me as I watched the twinkling lights, a look of bewilderment in his eyes. “Bob? What are you looking at?” he asked. “The Christmas lights,” I replied. He seemed somehow even more perplexed as he took a sip of tea, and said, “They’re not on.” He left the kitchen, and I briefly considered what he’d just said, before I ultimately carried on, watching a flickering light show that was not happening.

—Bob Beaverhausen works for the postal service in Baltimore. He enjoys spontaneous road trips and photography, and hopes sometime to attempt standup comedy.

sitting, blogging, paying bills, making coffee: I was doing any one or two or all of these that Saturday morning, padding around, staying quiet. “Ang!” The shout disrupted the quiet, and startled me. “Mommom?” I jumped up, heading toward the living room that had been transformed into my grandmother’s hospice care. “Mashed potatoes!” she exclaimed with more life and enthusiasm I had heard from her since we found out she didn’t have much time left with us. She wanted mashed potatoes. The hospice nurses say that toward the end, when your body can’t or won’t accept, or doesn’t want, food, that you dream in detail about favorite meals. They say you can actually taste the cheese, the filet mignon, the crabs, the favorite Christmas ham. I kind of laughed and told Mommom that I certainly saw mashed potato mix in the kitchen, the cluttered-with-nonperishables kitchen, and I’d be happy to make her a helping. Realizing I’d need to get microwaving with some urgency—her desire to eat was quite fleeting—I walked the two steps back into the kitchen of the tiny, almost miniature rowhouse on Pleasant Place. Mommom’s home of thirty-plus years had been like the clown car of houses; somehow, she had raised nine kids in this barely two-bedroom house. And somehow, the kitchen was always the epicenter of planned and unplanned family get-togethers. Yet, somehow, on this Saturday morning, the house felt perfectly full with just the two of us, and the quiet. And the smell of instant mashed potatoes—certainly not one of my favorite scents—wafting from the microwave. She ate about three bites of the buttery, off-white mixture but had the satisfied smile of someone who just finished Thanksgiving dinner. I had a bite too, although I quickly regretted it. She went back to sleep, and I went back to sitting/blogging/paying bills in the quiet. The remaining portion of mashed potatoes went back into the refrigerator, where they stayed until Mommom passed away a few weeks later. —A native Baltimorean, Angie Shaeffer works at her alma mater, Goucher College. She reads a lot and likes to try foods she can’t pronounce. Read her writing on www.middleclasshood.com.

on sunday mornings, we would wake to the smell of freshly baked “light” bread—rolls my mother made using yeast. The process for making light bread required the dough to rise two times: one hour for the initial mixture, and a second hour after shaping the dough into rolls. By the time we were up

and ready for 9:30 Sunday School, both breakfast and dinner were finished. My mother’s tradition, as was her mother’s, was to have Sunday dinner completed when you returned from church. Sunday was the Lord’s day—you weren’t supposed to really do any work, other than attending church and eating. We’d grab a roll with butter and jelly and head out, walking up Pennsylvania Avenue to the church on Cumberland Street. My Aunt Puddin’s light bread, on the other hand, as well as her dinner, was usually not finished until early Sunday evening. Puddin lived on Etting Street. Her house was the gathering place. This was the place where some of the men would recover from Saturday night card games, tell their tall tales, and occasionally start up a Sunday kitchen table card game, while the women and children were in church. It was pretty difficult to maneuver in the small kitchen with so much activity. My holiday menus for Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas include light bread. My husband and children could always count on awakening on those special days to that familiar aroma. The children are all grown and married with their own children, but holidays will find them back at home in the kitchen in search of whatever was on the holiday menu, especially light bread with butter and jelly. The house on Pennsylvania Avenue is gone. Puddin and the house on Etting Street are gone. The church is still there, and we still get together on Sundays after church for dinner, but we only have light bread on holidays. —Patricia Rhodes lives with her husband, Robert, in Northeast Baltimore. She is an associate director of financial aid at Towson University.

“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 Ancestors Nov. 14, 2011 January 2012 Selling Out Dec. 12, 2011 February 2012 Living Without Jan. 9, 2012 March 2012

Urbanite #89  november 2011  15


MEET NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING HISTORIAN AMANDA FOREMAN “A WORLD ON FIRE: BRITAIN’S CRUCIAL ROLE IN THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR” John Walsh of THE INDEPENDENT: “Beautifully written. . .A past of blood, tears and sweat. . .brought to vivid, burning life.” Michael Burlingame of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: “Ms. Foreman. . .is such an engaging writer that readers may find this 958-page volume too short.”

NOVEMBER 10th at 6 PM, LECTURE FOLLOWED BY A BOOK SIGNING & RECEPTION $35 MdHS Members- $50 Non Members RSVP by Nov. 4 410-685-3750 ext. 377 or events@mdhs.org

Photograph of Amanda Foreman by Chris Floyd.

What’s more basic than healthy food? Help our low-income neighbors get it. United Way of Central Maryland’s Access to Healthy Food Initiative will expand access to healthy food by 1.5 million pounds annually for low-income people who just can’t get it.

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Shop. Work. Donate. Shop any one of our 26 locations. www.goodwillches.org

16  november 2011  www.urbanitebaltimore.com


don’t miss images (clockwise from top left): Forgery of St. John in the Archimedes Palimpsest, fol. 57r, copyright the owner of The Archimedes Palimpsest; no Photo credit; Clouds Courtesy of Youngmi Song Organ; photo by Maria Linz Photography; Courtesy of Grace hartigan; no photo credit

5

6

1

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1 November 1–December 18 VISUAL ART

Korean-born visual artist and Maryland Institute College of Art faculty member Youngmi Song Organ starts her creative process by brushing her hair in the morning. In her exhibition End to End she explores the connection between past and present in everyday life by affixing strands of her hair to paper in tightly arranged, geometric compositions. Free 1300 Mount Royal Ave. 410-669-9200 www.mica.edu

2 November 4, 6:30 p.m. COMMUNITY/FOOD/DRINK

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Maryland chapter enlists the culinary creativity of Aldo’s Ristorante, Joe Squared, Talara, and Flying Dog Brewery to host the eighth annual Baltimore Wine Opener at the Baltimore Museum of Industry. The event is a fundraiser for the foundation, which supports the nearly 30,000 children and adults in the U.S. living with cystic fibrosis, which affects the lungs and digestive system. $100 –$225 1415 Key Hwy. 410-704-2000 www.thebmi.org

3 November 9, 7:30 p.m.

5 November 12, noon–4:30 p.m.

MUSIC

LITERATURE/visual art

The late Bill Monroe, mandolin virtuoso and father of bluegrass music, is the focus of a tribute concert. Peter Rowan and Tony Rice, disciples of Monroe and bluegrass legends in their own right, join the Travelin’ McCourys (two of whom are sons of Monroe’s old pickin’ partner, Del McCoury) to play the music of Bill Monroe at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts.

In the age of e-books, it’s hard to imagine a physical printed document surviving millennia. At the Walters’s fall forum, discover the secrets behind saving the Archimedes Palimpsest, a manuscript from the 3rd century B.C. Walters curator Will Noel leads a panel discussion of experts from Stanford and Rochester Institute of Technology.

$30, day of $32 3506 Gwynnbrook Ave. Owings Mills 410-356-7469 www.gordoncenter.com

4 November 11, 7:30 p.m. VISUAL ART

IMPACT, the theme of Maryland Art Place’s fall benefit this year, refers to the historical and continuing female influence on the Baltimore art scene. The gala, which also marks MAP’s thirtieth anniversary as a nonprofit art center, will mark the debut of five paintings by Grace Hartigan, renowned abstract expressionist and director of the Hoffberger School of Painting at Maryland Institute College of Art from 1965 until her death in 2008. $250 8 Market Pl. 410-962-8565 www.mdartplace.org

Free 600 N. Charles St. 410-547-9000 www.thewalters.org

6 November 17 and 18, 8 p.m. MUSIC

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s 2011–2012 season celebrates the impact of revolutionary women on the world of music. They pay homage to Joan of Arc, whose 600th birthday is being recognized this year, with a semi-staged production of Arthur Honneger’s epic oratorio Joan of Arc at the Stake, before it heads to Carnegie Hall the next day. $28–$61 1212 Cathedral St. 410-783-8000 www.bsomusic.org

For more events, see the Scene on page 73.

Urbanite #89  november 2011  17


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what ’s new in style, shopping, & beyond Re-design

Photos (clockwise from left): photo by Sarah Thrower; photo by Sarah Thrower; photo by George Frazier

anissa elmerraji Calling the newly re-opened design by nature (8600 Foundry St., Savage; 443-467-0501; www.designby naturemd.com) a “flower shop” would be missing the mark. “We’re kind of like a collection of boutique items, but without the boutique prices,” says co-owner Robert Honaker of the shop, which just moved from its Fleet Street location to historic Savage Mill. It’s a place where you can find an open air atrium, house-made soy-based candles, and custom bonsai creations. Of course, Design does flowers, too: Honaker and co-owner Charlie Daniels personally select plants and flowers from local farms to use in their arrangements for weddings and parties.

Baker’s Avenue

andrew zaleski James Hamlin isn’t a baker by trade. But after twenty-seven years baking his own rolls at home, Hamlin decided to make things official by opening The Avenue Bakery (2229 Pennsylvania Ave.; 410-225-3881) in August. Sweet potato muffins, cinnamon rolls, and Hamlin’s signature white and wheat rolls are just some of the items for sale. But for Hamlin, a Pennsylvania Avenue native, the bakery—the area’s first since the 1960s—is just one piece in a larger homage. “I could’ve placed this anywhere in the city,” he says, “but this community has a great history.”

Bag Your Bags

krishana davis You may have seen George Frazier if you patronize the Downtown Farmers Market. He owns Baskits or Bag It? (www.baskits.net), a Baltimore-based company that sells both American-manufactured and African fair trade baskets ($35–$65) at local farmers markets. The baskets are made from either river grass or white ash and typically last at least five years. For Frazier, using baskets instead of bags is a no brainer: “They don’t topple over, [they’re] less likely to bruise produce, and you won’t forget them as often.”

Urbanite #89  november 2011  19


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Photos (clockwise from left): photo by Sarah Thrower; photo by Brian D. Lyles; photo by Sarah Thrower

anissa elmerraji If you’re in the market for a kitchen sink with character and a little life experience, try visiting the new Halethorpe ReStore (3741 Commerce Dr., Halethorpe; 443-297-5141; www.chesa peakerestore.org/halethorpe), a sort of Goodwill for household appliances and building supplies. The third ReStore to be opened by Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake (HFHC)—stores one and two can be found in Pasadena and Dundalk—the Halethorpe location offers affordable new and used housewares, including sinks, washing machines, and furniture, with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting HFHC.

So Fresh and So Clean

krishana davis ReNew Botanicals doesn’t include a lot of the “toxic controversial ingredients that can irritate skin,” says Shelley Birnbaum, owner of ReNew Organics Skin Care (822 W. 36th St.; 410-400-2745). Birnbaum’s new vegan skin care line includes cleansers, moisturizers, eye cream, masks, and exfoliants ($25–$35). The products treat various skin types, from dry to oily, and come in seasonal blends like earthy sensual for fall and cranberry and floral for spring.

Back to Your Roots

anissa elmerraji Roots, split ends, wispy locks—all tell-tale signs of a habitual hair-dyer. But for patrons of Geometrics Salon (2904 O’Donnell St.; 443-759-6669; www.geometricsbaltimore.com), one of the only salons in Baltimore with a staff specially trained to apply Colour by J Bevery Hills, hair woes are a thing of the past. The new organic hair color line, infused with eucalyptus and black pearl powder, makes hair look and feel healthier, says owner Reginald Dowdy. Treatments (starting at $60) are available in eighty-eight shades and promise to counteract the damage of dye jobs past.

Urbanite #89  november 2011  21


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24  november 2011  www.urbanitebaltimore.com


baltimore observed

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features  /  update / voices

Reshaping Education A new city school will engage students in fashion, architecture, and graphic design curricula, intent on preparing students for elite colleges and the 21st century workplace. By Ron Cassie

E Design sponge: “We’re going to be preparing students for the best schools in the country,” says Baltimore School of Design Principal Joseph Freed.

leven-year-old Njeri Iandiataiyero likes to draw. “Portraits and landscapes mostly,” she says inside the Maryland Institute College of Art’s Brown Center while registering with 150 fifth- and six-graders for Baltimore City’s newest “transformation” school, the Baltimore School of Design, which will ultimately be a full middle/high school offering classes in fashion, graphic design, and architecture. It’s Njeri’s lucky day. Her father, Kamau Iandiataiyero, took Njeri’s older sister to the annual citywide school fair last November, hoping

she’d decide on a high school. Instead, Njeri, a fifth-grader at the time, discovered the Baltimore School of Design. “I really want to work on my art,” she explains. Kamau Iandiataiyero, a senior project manager at Legacy Builders and Construction Services in Harbor East, embraced the opportunity for his daughter to develop her artistic skills over the next six years. “Everything we look at in this world has been designed by someone,” he says. “The furniture in our houses, the buildings we walk into, the buttons on our clothes.”


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charlotte elliott treasures for you to discover 837 w. 36th st. 410.243.0990 charlotteelliott.com

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26  november 2011  www.urbanitebaltimore.com

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Feature 1 / update  baltimore observed Not to mention every “Everything we look at year and will fill out to roughly 625 students when seventh website, computer game, in this world has been through twelfth grades are and iPhone app. And that’s the vision behind designed by someone,” added. Entering the 2013–2014 school year, the Design School the Baltimore School of Kamau Iandiataiyero moves into the former Lebow Design, which was inspired by the High School says. “The furniture in Clothing Factory in Station North, following a $25 million of Fashion Industries in our houses, the buildings renovation project funded by a New York and developed with assistance from Stawe walk into, the buttons unique public/private partnership utilizing community tax cey Mancuso, principal of on our clothes.” credits and loans guaranteed Miami’s Design Architecby the Baltimore City Public ture Senior High. In 2010, Schools. The school system won’t own the U.S. News and World Report named DASH, building, but will sign a long-term, $1.7 million as the Miami school is known, one of the top annual lease. fifteen public schools in the country. When the new building on Brentwood “Our mission is to provide an extensive Avenue opens, the four-story, 110,000-squarechallenge, rigorous academics, and an arts and foot space will feature large design, drawing, design curriculum in a culture of collaboration and painting studios, as well as galleries for and respect,” says Baltimore School of Design student shows and traveling exhibitions. The Principal Joseph Freed, former head of Towold loading dock will be converted into a stage, son’s award-winning Carver Center for Arts surrounded by a courtyard theater. “I’ve really and Technology. “We’re going to be preparing been excited about the building renovation, students for the best schools in the country, especially because the building was used for and we’d like to think that other schools are clothing manufacturing,” says Steve Ziger, lead going to take what we’re doing and use it as a architect and board member of Ziger/Snead model in the future.” Architects. “Lots of remnants were left behind— These are lofty aspirations for a school that old ironing boards, pattern cutters, and presses. almost failed to get off the ground. We’re going to exhibit these in the school.” The Baltimore School of Design is the brainThe building renovation will include either child of state Sen. (and recent mayoral candia green roof or solar collectors on top of the date) Catherine Pugh, who has been working fourth floor as Ziger looks to demonstrate to bring the school to fruition for a half-dozen sustainability practices to students. He hopes years. From the start, Pugh imagined bringing the school will attract design firms to locate in the design school into the Station North Arts Station North and boost the number of African District, which is in her legislative district, American architects in the city. “It’s disaphoping to develop relationships with the pointing [in a majority black city] but there’s up-and-coming arts and business community few African American architects in Baltimore,” there, as well as Maryland Institute College of he says. “Over time, perhaps that can change. Art’s burgeoning presence on North Avenue. Morgan State has a good program. Or they Her original vision was for of a fashion school. could go to Yale or Columbia. We have high But the school board rejected the school’s first expectations.” application. Among the hurdles was developHigh school students will be encouraged to ing funding to build a new, state-of-the-art, participate in internships at local architecture design-oriented facility while the school and design firms, including those associated system’s capital budget barely covers needed with school’s board, such as Ziger/Snead, Unmaintenance on existing structures. der Armour, and Camera Ready Incorporated. The project remained stalled until Pugh Of course, launching a non-traditional persuaded MICA President Fred Lazarus to school does not guarantee success. Several come on board and bring some of the school’s Baltimore City charter schools have been resources to the project. With Lazarus aboard, closed in recent years for a variety of academic, the mission broadened to include graphic deaccounting, and facility reasons, including the sign and architecture. MICA deans and departHomeland Security High School. The Institute ment chairs now dot the school’s board, which of Business and Entrepreneurship High School includes Pugh, Lazarus, and an eclectic mix of will close this year as well. Baltimore’s creative business leaders, nonprofit But Pugh is optimistic that the school has directors, and educators, including Leslie set itself up for success by channeling students’ Shepard, the retiring director of Baltimore’s academic and career interests into the curricusuccessful School of the Arts, a performancelum. “I’m for catering to the specific dreams based institution. and interests of young people,” she says. The Design School opened this year with sixth- and seventh-grade classes only at the re­ cently shuttered Winston Middle School. The —Ron Cassie is an Urbanite contributing writer. school adds an eighth and ninth grade next

update by Andrew Zaleski

mi coche es su coche As cities move to bolster their sustainability efforts, ride- and car-sharing programs are taking extra steps to make vehicles available to new generations of urban drivers (see “My Car is Your Car,” Oct. ’10 Urbanite). In August, the car-sharing service Zipcar announced it is partnering with Ford Motor Company to provide fleets of Ford vehicles, right on campus, to more than 250 universities nationwide. The two-year agreement comes after an independent survey commissioned by Zipcar in 2010 revealed that people between the ages 18 and 34 are driving less. About half of the 1,025 drivers polled said “they had consciously made an effort to reduce how much they drive ...” As of now, the only Maryland university involved in the partnership is Hood College, although Zipcars are available at the University of Maryland, University of Maryland Baltimore County, and other spots downtown.

dropping in In 2008, Baltimore City’s school system put its on-time graduation rate at 62.6 percent (see “Dropout City,” Sept. ’09 Urbanite). New numbers released in September by the Maryland State Department of Education suggest a marked turnaround from those 2008 figures. Data from the 2010–2011 school year show that of the students who entered ninth grade in 2007, 87 percent either have graduated or are still pursuing a diploma. The dropout rate in 2010–2011 was 4.2 percent, down from 9.4 percent recorded in 2006–2007. And among African American males, three times as many graduated—1,799—compared to those that dropped out of high school.

biker justice? The wheelie-boys that ride dirt bikes around Baltimore City have been vilified as public menaces (see “Liftoff,” August ’11 Urbanite). In 2007, one apparent wheelieboy—7-year-old Gerard Mungo Jr.—was arrested outside his home in East Baltimore and taken to Eastern District headquarters after two city police officers found him sitting on a dirt bike with the engine idling. Prosecutors didn’t follow through on any charges, but Mungo’s family unsuccessfully sued the six officers involved in the arrest. According to the Baltimore Sun, the case, which was heard in Howard County instead of Baltimore City, was deemed fair by the state’s Court of Special Appeals, despite outcry from the family’s attorney, who claimed the case was moved to Howard County to escape an African American jury.

Urbanite #89  november 2011  27


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Feature 2  baltimore observed

How to Fix a Rowhouse With $15 million in stimulus funds, the city faced a daunting challenge: finding homes that were worth fixing. By John Motsinger

Photo by Sarah Thrower

I

t seemed like a match made in heaven. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—the “stimulus bill,” as it is widely known—Baltimore received $15.7 million over three years to “weatherize” homes. Weatherization, which involves patching leaky windows, adding insulation, and generally making a house more air-tight, is one of the best ways to cut back on energy use and save on monthly bills. The funding—a huge boost for what had previously been a million-dollar-a-year program—would create new “green jobs” and slash monthly utility bills for some of Baltimore’s poorest families. (See “A Greener Shade of Blue,” April ’09 Urbanite.) In the spring of 2009, the city drafted Ken Strong, who was working at the time for a nonprofit children’s advocacy organization, as assistant housing commissioner, charged with putting the massive influx of federal stimulus dollars to work. But as it turned out, sealing windows and adding insulation would be the least of Strong’s problems: Most of the people who applied for weatherization assistance had homes that were in such rough shape, they didn’t even qualify. In the first year of the program, only about a third of weatherization applicants’ homes were eligible for improvements. More than a third of applicants had bad roofs, another fifth had too much moisture or mildew, and a few dozen more had problems with pests, lead, asbestos or other structural issues. For homes like these, sealing up leaky windows and adding thicker insulation would only trap unhealthy air inside. They would require substantial work before weatherization could even be considered. Separate programs had long existed for lead abatement, weatherization, and coordinating rehabilitation services, but historically they had operated very independently. Strong’s first job, then, became coordinating the various city, state, and federal programs. Now, under a program called the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative, Strong is leveraging money from various other funding streams in order to target homes that would otherwise be left behind.

A house for all seasons: With help from Assistant Housing Commissioner Ken Strong (right), Tawanda Wilkens (left) was able to weatherize her 91-year-old grandmother’s home.

Green & Healthy Homes is a nationwide program that’s up and running in thirteen cities across the U.S., with Baltimore leading the charge. Strong says it’s working. To make his case, he likes to tell the story of 91-year-old Bertha Mccollum. A widow, Mccollum has lived in the same house on Biddle Street for more than fifty years. Her 36-year-old granddaughter, Tawanda Wilkens, has been her caretaker for the past five years, but Wilkens has three sons of her own and was worried about having them in the house: The paint on the walls and floorboards was full of lead. As a result, McCollum had been struggling to keep her house up. The city, through the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative, tackled several of these problems at once: The Health Department took care of the lead paint; Baltimore Housing helped weatherize the building; Rebuilding Together, a local home renovation nonprofit organization, helped Mccollum purchase a new chair that would be easier to get into and out of so she wouldn’t be stuck sitting all day; Civic Works, a program of AmeriCorps, even fixed up a vacant lot next door by creating a small garden. “Without those improvements being made, she wouldn’t have been able to live there,” says Wilkens. Cleaning up the lead paint has allowed Wilkens to continuing caring for her grandmother without having to worry about her kids’ health. For Strong, the story is proof that the program is working. “When I think of sustainable housing, I think of [Mccollum] on Biddle Street,” he says. Hundreds of families have benefited so far from the city’s new housing initiative. Since 2009, the city has weatherized 2,000 homes, with 1,400 more units slated for weatherization in the final year of stimulus funding. But

Strong says there’s still room for improvement. For an individual, it’s an onerous task to have to visit several different offices to apply for different types of assistance. Strong is trying to devise a new system to further streamline and automate the process for one-stop shopping, so each applicant can digitally upload all their vital information to a central database that can be used by multiple city departments. Baltimore Housing is also conducting a pilot study that will help measure its return-on-investment for the more comprehensive building improvements. The city spends an average of $5,000 to weatherize a home in Baltimore, and comprehensive building improvements can cost two to three times that amount. Yet spending these larger sums might be the only way to keep some of the poorest families in their homes and off the streets. This more holistic approach also saves money in the long run—and not just for the homeowner. In 2010, the state spent an average of nearly $1,000 per household for 36,000 households to help poor families pay their monthly energy bills. Weatherize more houses, and the need for these “energy assistance” subsidies goes down. The bad news is that energy assistance funds are on the decline, and the stimulus money is about to run out. Strong says without stimulus funding, there’s no way the city can sustain its current rate of progress. Still, by coordinating existing services, he believes he’s found a recipe for success, even if it’s just one house at a time. “For us, that’s where the gold is,” says Strong. “We know we’re helping a family to the best extent we can.” —John Motsinger wrote about the impact of stormwater runoff on the Inner Harbor in “Under Pressure” (July ’11 Urbanite). Urbanite #89  november 2011  29


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voices  baltimore observed

Playing for Keeps

Andy Bienstock on the resiliency of radio, the lack of giants in jazz, and twenty-five years of broadcast music in Baltimore

Photo by Ami Dougherty

By Baynard Woods

andy bienstock, who always wears a suit, a tie, and a broad-brimmed hat, is celebrating his twenty-fifth year as a jazz radio DJ. His voice—a soft, gruff, almost-whisper—and his straight-ahead jazz repertoire have become an integral part of Baltimore’s nocturnal soundscape. Bienstock has been at the same frequency throughout most of his long career, broadcasting jazz in the beginning, and later as host of WJHU’s Morning Edition. Radio has changed a lot over the last twenty-five years. Bienstock can now record his shows in advance, so that he can get home to his restored 19th-century house in Annapolis before midnight each night. But, unlike most corporate radio disc jockeys, Bienstock listens to every song he plays and records it “live.”

talking about the music, I love sharing the music. It’s fun. It’s an actual fun job. When you get to sit in a room and just play great music—choose it yourself—I’ve never had a playlist, I’ve never had people telling me what to play. For better or worse, it’s my choice. urb: How do you decide what to play? Is it just things that you really love?

You always think about the listener; the listener always comes first. I don’t play everything I love. I try to play things that are accessible. And accessible to someone who doesn’t necessarily love jazz, who would just tune in and say, “Oh, you know, that’s a really beautiful tune.” There’s a lot of really beautiful, melodic stuff that people don’t know about that is intellectually stimulating, you know—just ’cause it’s pretty doesn’t mean it has to be cocktail music.

ab:

urb: What do you think about the future of urb: This is a pretty important anniversary for you—twenty-five years doing jazz radio in Baltimore. How did you get started?

I started, actually, in 1980, in college, when I was a freshman at [Johns] Hopkins. There was a little 10-watt radio station, WJHU, which was in the basement of the dormitories. I’d done some radio at summer camp and just always had a dream of being involved in radio somehow—and the first or second day of school I went down and did a demo to do a jazz program, and got it. I did, I don’t know, Monday or Tuesday morning, from 6 to 9 a.m. broadcasting probably to all of twenty-five or thirty people.

ab:

urb:

What keeps you doing the jazz show after all of this time?

I think it’s inertia, on one hand. On the other hand I really love doing this. I love playing the music, I love

ab:

the jazz listenership, both for your show and for live jazz in Baltimore?

I think it’s a huge question. I actually got to go to the Newport Jazz Festival this year to see the music. It struck me at Newport, after playing some concerts on the air from Newport’s past, that we really don’t have many giants anymore. There aren’t many transcendent jazz artists that draw a really big crowd, that mesmerize. Jazz has kind of fractured itself off. There’s lots of different genres, all of them very good, but none of them drawing a particularly huge audience. And a lot of the audience is not overlapping—a lot of the people who like traditional jazz don’t really care for the more modern stuff. Some of the modern fans sort of sneer at the older things. And there’s no real giant stepping forward that makes everyone say, “Oh yeah.”

ab:

I saw—I won’t mention who it was—but there was one act at Newport that the New York Times critic just

raved about. I could barely stand to be in the general vicinity of it. And I’m not saying it wasn’t good music, but it wasn’t particularly enjoyable to listen to. And, you know, critics lead the way, and a lot of critics, I think, are more interested in what’s new and what’s fresh and sort of discount what’s old, even though it’s still well done. I mean, there are old styles of jazz that are not new and fresh, but musicians are still making incredible records within that genre. So it’s troubled. It’s… going to have a smaller audience, and a shrinking audience. urb:

What do you see as the future of radio in this era when so many media are up in question, and the music industry itself is up in question?

I’ve been going to conferences and workshops for the last ten years that [say] the doom of radio is around the corner. Eight years ago, we thought everyone would be listening on iPods; young people don’t listen to the radio. But radio’s as strong as it ever was. Our ratings are better than they ever were. Radio is very resilient—TV didn’t kill it, computers haven’t killed it yet. It’s not to say it won’t happen. Who knows, ten or fifteen years from now, it could be dead. But I don’t think it will be.

ab:

urb:

I know a lot of people who’ve said that they’ve learned about jazz by growing up listening to your show—

ab:

Can I just say that scares the fuck out of me, thank

you. urb:

Well, that’s what I wanted to ask. Other than being scared, how would you describe the taste these people may have developed, or their sense of jazz?

ab:

Exceedingly good. Exceedingly good taste.


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Urbanite #89  november 2011  33


On the Outside by Michael corbin

photography by j.m. giordano

Liberation is not deliverance. —Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

L

yndell struggles. He puts fresh scotch tape over the gauze the emergency room doctor at Maryland General used to cover the knife wound to his forearm. It’s been a few days of hustling, and sweat, dirt, and puss have caused the white medical tape to lose its grip. He shows me the small caliber revolver he decided to get after the stickup boys cut him, then took his little stash and the $50 he made being a heroin mule. “They had a knife, and I ain’t have shit,” he says. We’re walking along East Biddle Street in Baltimore’s Berea neighborhood. He tells me this is where he caught his first criminal charge when he was 18. He has been charged six times since and has cycled in and out of the correctional system for possessing and selling drugs, for violating the terms of his probation, and once for being violent in the commission of a robbery. Of his thirty-four years, Lyndell has spent ten in prison. “I been in re-entry programs, treatment programs, church, the masjid, but mostly I been in prison or jail, or out here doing what I gotta do.” There are currently 2.3 million Americans behind bars, and they are disproportionately people of color. One in eight black men will spend time

34  november 2011  www.urbanitebaltimore.com

in prison during his 20s. If current trends continue, one in every three black men in America who have never been to college can expect to spend some time in prison. Nationally we spend in excess of $50 billion dollars annually on statelevel corrections. In Maryland we spend about $1.4 billion. It has cost Maryland tax payers in excess of $30,000 for Lyndell alone, each year he has been incarcerated. But the profound cost to society and the individual doesn’t end when these men and women walk out of the prison gates—and except for those sentenced to death or life without parole, everyone gets out. Nationwide, 700,000 people leave prison each year. Roughly 13,000 people walk out the doors of Maryland state prisons alone, and more than half of them return to Baltimore, where they concentrate in just a few zip codes, clustered in two distinct areas in east and west Baltimore. And chances are good that they will cycle back into prison again: Nationally, recidivism rates hover around 60 percent, but in specific areas in this city and others, easily twothirds of ex-offenders go back. It is a cyclical journey. Citizens from poor, racially segregated neighborhoods with limited life chances and marginal connections to the


Each year, thousands of men walk out of prison & come home to Baltimore, only to find that true freedom is still out of reach.

I Robert served nine years of a nineteenyear sentece before getting his first job this summer. Despite his efforts, though, he has no better than a one in two chance of staying out of prison.

commonweal go to jails and prisons filled with people from other poor, racially segregated neighborhoods, then return to those same dispossessed communities. This journey is facilitated by very expensive criminal justice policies and practices that have little relation to actual crime control or public safety. The result is a pariah caste in the heart of Baltimore and more broadly across our country. It is one of our society’s most profound and least visible problems. Because of its very specific racial consequences, Ohio State University law professor Michelle Alexander has described the system as a new Jim Crow. “Few Americans today recognize mass incarceration for what it is: a new caste system thinly veiled by the cloak of colorblindness,” Alexander writes in her award-winning 2010 book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. Yet America’s current economic decline opens a unique window for Maryland and the rest of the country to re-examine—in some cases examine for the first time—what we want our system of punishment to really accomplish. America simply can no longer afford the strategy of mass incarceration and its devastating human consequences.

first met Lyndell in prison. He was finishing up a five-year sentence for drug distribution and robbery at the Metropolitan Transition Center in East Baltimore. I was helping him with his ged and pushing him to keep trying to get a diploma after he got out. He had dropped out of East Baltimore’s Dunbar High School years earlier, and I knew that his odds were not good. The incarceration rate for black male high school dropouts is fifty times the national average. Nearly 60 percent of all black men born between 1965 and 1969 who dropped out of high school went to prison with a felony conviction at least once before they turned 35. Lyndell grew up and lived mostly in East Baltimore in the 21213 zip code but spent time over west in 21217 with some other ex-offenders when housing was hard to come by after doing time. He has only had steady work for short periods in his life. His most remunerative legitimate work has been manual labor. He discovered he had a knack for mixing good concrete and a strong back to pull two-by-fours over wet cement. He worked for a number of Baltimore contractors. It was pretty good money for a young man who couldn’t read too well. He had his own set of tools for a while and moved from job to job until someone working cheaper or with a stronger back took his place. The underground economy always beckoned. In the few years I’ve known him, Lyndell has made progress with his literacy, and, when focused, shows potential for a different life. But he is often fatalistic. Maryland changed its felon disenfranchisement law in 2007, but Lyndell has never cared much about voting; he’s had little space in his head for civic consciousness. Last spring, we talked about Alexander’s book over breakfast at Jimmy’s in Fells Point. “She is right about some of that,” he said of her “new Jim Crow” argument. “But it’s more about money now. And we killing each other; don’t need nobody coming after us.” Often angry and self-destructive, Lyndell wrestles with drugs and alcohol. I once gave him a copy of Chester Himes’s book Yesterday Will Make You Cry, a novel based on Himes’s time in the Ohio penitentiary and a powerful statement of the rage that the intersection of race and prison can produce in a man. “Well, that nigger was right about one thing,” Lyndell told me after we had read the book together, practicing for the ged reading test. “I been mad a long time.” Urbanite #89  november 2011  35


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T

At Baltimore City’s Re-Entry Center, Gerald Grimes tries to find more than 5,000 ex-prisoners jobs each year. But with scarce resources, Grimes predicts being able to find jobs for just 400 ex-offenders.

R

obert sits with a military bearing in the re-entry offices of the Druid Heights Community Development Corporation. Two months out, on the other side of the wall, after serving nine years on a fifteenyear sentence, he carefully protects the black portfolio of evidence in his lap. Here is the ged; the certificates of training, therapy, and accomplishment; gold stars; college credits; letters of recommendation; creased supervisor reports; and a thank-you note from the office of Maryland’s governor for the re-upholstering of some ergonomic chairs, done in a Hagerstown prison factory so that executive branch staff in Annapolis could sit more comfortably. Robert is free, his recompense for drug and robbery charges paid, although he will still be monitored and tested for years to come under the terms of his release. “I’m not worried about this talk of recession and unemployment,” he says. “I’ve been working on this transition for years. I have a support system.” He does not obscure his crimes, his responsibility, his regrets or shame, but exists now in the belief that rehabilitation and redemption are living possibilities.

“I am ready,” he says with no inflection of doubt in his voice. “This is the real second chance I’ve never had.” For someone on the outside of his experience, it’s hard to comprehend how much work went into Robert’s prison dossier, to his metamorphosis. Despite this effort and his confidence, on average Robert has no better than a one in two chance of staying out of prison. “Some guys do expect to go back,” Robert says. “Maybe not right away, but after they been out struggling for a minute and had a bunch of other people expecting them to go back. Expectations change.” State and local leaders occasionally acknowledge that such high recidivism is evidence that the larger system of punishment has problems. Those leaders then often call for more and better “re-entry” programs to help those like Lyndell and Robert. Almost never do state and local leaders connect the consequences of mass incarceration to the continued existence of communities in Baltimore hyper-segregated by race, poverty, and abandonment. Nor do they connect the persistence of that segregation, poverty, and abandonment to the consequences of crimecontrol strategies.

o take a measure of the human dimension of the inadequacy of current approaches in Baltimore, and even more, to see how “re-entry” programs by themselves are insufficient for the realities thousands face in the city, you need only listen to those who work on the front lines. Gerald Grimes is project manager of Baltimore City’s Re-Entry Center at Mondawmin Mall. An ex-military man, he explains his motivation for the work he does by pointing to his faith and family members who have personal experience with prison. He has worked with Baltimore City for more than twenty years, trying to get people jobs. Grimes has collected data that show 9,000 prisoners from a variety of penal institutions returning to Baltimore each year. The Re-Entry Center serves more than 5,000 men and women annually. “The people who walk through my door here at the ReC can be desperate,” he says. “We have thousands of customers here looking for a job.” Grimes simply does not have the resources to serve all the people who come for his help. For the most recent fiscal year he says he has lost all the philanthropic money that made up more than a third of his operating budget. “Before the recession we were able to place about five hundred people in a job [per year],” he says. “Since the recession we are looking at about four hundred.” Grimes is proud of his staff and feels he has succeeded if he can keep even one returning prisoner from re-offending, if he can help one man find his way back to acceptance in society. But Grimes has seen enough to know the bigger picture: “The war on drugs turns out to be a war on people sometimes,” he says. “Being a black man myself, I understand when this is seen as a race thing ... If you want to disenfranchise somebody without actually putting shackles on them, then give them a criminal record.” True to his mission, though, Grimes thinks the solution to both crime in Baltimore and the struggles of ex-offenders is more one of economic opportunity. “We, of course, need more job opportunities,” he says. He pauses and then sits forward in his chair: “We need jobs. But anybody who does this work knows that it is more than a job. We have pockets of society, pockets right here in Baltimore that are designed to make people fail. We have to get rid of these. Everybody needs a piece of the pie.” Andre Fisher has worked for the Druid Heights Development Corporation for seventeen years, eleven of them devoted to helping men returning from prison. He is a passionate advocate for his West Baltimore community and knows the struggle of re-entry first hand. “I know what these men are going through. I come from it. I am formerly incarcerated and ex-a lot of things,” he says.


Fisher says he has seen many programs, initiatives, pilot efforts, state and local compacts, funders, and politicians come and go—but he hasn’t had the luxury of losing focus on the men coming back from prison to his community. He is blunt in his analysis: “When is our society going to stop playing bullshit with people’s lives? If the man does the crime, then the man should do the time. But the way we work it now, the time never ends for a lot of men.” A significant problem in Baltimore, Fisher says, is the utter lack of meaningful coordination and collaboration among service providers. “You got this program over here, that one over there, everyone has their criteria or narrow focus. No one is dealing with the whole man. “I figured out what works, and I don’t know why the big experts can’t figure it out,” he adds. “It’s about relationships, seeing the man whole, providing him something stable. This is how a man becomes a productive member of society again. “It will take a real collaborative effort in Baltimore,” Fisher says. “Not some fake and phony collaboration either like we’ve had in the past. We can’t just have folks showing up at election time talking a good game. Everybody wants [me to do] the work I do, because nobody wants to work with this population, [but] nobody wants to pay for it … They will pay for that prison cell, though.” Earl El-Amin, imam of the Muslim Community Cultural Center of Baltimore in the former Bergner Mansion at the western end of North Avenue, also knows the struggles and victories of men who have returned to the city from prison. “As I looked over those at the mosque today, I counted over fifteen ex-offenders,” he says after a service in August at the beginning of Ramadan. “Some of them are in positions of authority; some are still finding their way.” El-Amin, a former juvenile justice independent monitor for Maryland and a former chaplain at Maryland’s Patuxent Institution prison, ran youth diversion programs for the Urban League for eight years and has worked on parole plans for men about to get out of the penitentiary. He is now vice president of program development for the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives, an organization that works with those involved in the criminal justice system. “We are not an agency or a program,” he says of the Islamic Cultural Center. “We simply believe that this is what we are supposed to do. This is what brotherhood means.

“What we do as a society now is just shoot these guys back into society,” El-Amin says, raising hands to mime the firing of a slingshot. “Most of them, when they pass the gate and hit the air of the streets, they disintegrate. For the ones that don’t have a support system, they’re dead. That is why re-entry programs are never enough. We have to provide for the physical, intellectual, and spiritual needs of these men.” However, El-Amin says there are larger forces at work in the use of incarceration in his community. “We don’t believe in conspiracy theories, but there is a prison-industrial complex … And the punishment of men has blossomed so much in Maryland and America that it has become big business. Prison … helps keep western Maryland afloat. Where are they getting their prisoners from?”

T

racy sits with a preternatura l equa n im it y in the Islamic Cultural Center. He is an important member of the mosque community, a juvenile counselor in Baltimore, a member of the administrative team of his neighborhood association, home owner, family man, and ex-convict. He served twelve years in prison under the “subsequent offender” law, one of Maryland’s first legislated mandatory minimum sentencing laws, passed in the early years of the war on drugs. Without rancor, Tracy explains that he did sell drugs, but when the police raided his Lexington Terrace home, he was a target. “I didn’t have or sell any drugs when they came, but I had a reputation, and they were on a mission,” he says matter-of-factly. They arrested him on possession and distribution charges and ultimately put him behind bars. “I still feel as if I was railroaded,” he says. “The police knew me, knew what I was about, and came for me because of who I was, not what I was doing.” Tracy was a multi-sport athlete at the former Southwestern High School and had hopes of playing college basketball before the mix of the streets and prison re-wrote his life story. “I didn’t really leave the streets when I went to prison,” he observes. “I just changed zip codes. All the same people and all the same activity in the streets was in the prison, except for the guns and the girls. Prison does educate many to just go harder. “When I came home, the same struggles were everywhere. Prison was just part of life for many.

Mass Incarceration

O

ften the problems that confront cities like Baltimore seem insurmountable. How could we even begin to change the social forces that produce the life stories of Lyndell, Robert, and Tracy, and the thousands of other men like them? How can we get beyond our closely held liberal or conservative ideologies of crime and punishment? “It goes without saying that the narrow range of concepts about corrections we hold cannot help,” writes Todd Clear, dean of the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University, in his 2007 book, Imprisoning Communities: How Mass Incarceration Makes Disadvantaged Neighborhoods Worse. “Phrases such as ‘getting smarter rather than tougher,’ ‘providing more programs,’ and ‘investing in reentry’ are not bad ideas, they are just irrelevant to the problem of mass incarceration of people from poor communities. To deal with that problem, we will have to make community well-being a central objective of our penal system.” Yet today, Clear says America’s economic woes give us an opportunity to fundamentally change the system we have been committed to for the last thirty years. “Everything seems to have changed,” Clear tells me. “The states’ fiscal

By the numbers

1 in 100 1 in 6 The number of American adults in U.S. prisons in 2008

Some friends were like, ‘When you coming out the house? We ready to go. Start this up.’ Hustling was part of life, but I had to go in a different direction.” That meant breaking away from much of the community he had known. “Some people stop seeing you,” he says and then pauses abruptly. Looking up, he amends his thought: “Or, rather, they see what they want to see.” Then there was the challenge of finding a legitimate job. The categorical dismissal by employers cut deep for Tracy. “When I went over to Veolia [Transportation] they didn’t even look at me. Said they don’t even accept applications from ex-offenders. I said, ‘You don’t even know me!’” But while Tracy was taking classes at Sojourner-Douglass College in East Baltimore he was hired as a security guard for the school. “It wasn’t just the job. It was being trusted, accepted,” he says. “I mean, they gave me the keys to the building! Finding that acceptance, a belief that a man can change—that makes the difference, sometimes all the difference. That doesn’t happen for a lot of brothers.”

The number of black men who had been incarcerated in 2001

1 in 3

The number of black males born today who can expect to spend time in prison, if trends continue


The imam of the Islamic Cultural Center on North Avenue, Earl El-Amin is a former chaplain at Maryland’s Patuxent Institution prison and has worked on parole plans for soon-to-be-free prisoners.

“Most [prisoners], when they pass the gate and hit the air of the streets, they disintegrate.” crises have created a real incentive to reduce corrections costs, and that can only be done by reducing prison populations.” We have a window of opportunity to begin a conversation about what justice could look like—and some states have already begun. Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Kansas—all “red states,” Clear points out—are taking the lead, but “blue states” such as Michigan and New York are on board. These states are all in the process of implementing comprehensive plans to reduce their prison populations. Clear points to a model called “justice reinvestment,” spearheaded by the non-partisan nonprofit Conference of State Governments (csg) Justice Center, as the framework that represents the most promising way forward. With it, states reduce prison populations, then take the money that is saved and reinvest some portion of it in programs and strategies that keep people from being incarcerated in the first place—for

example, by diverting some offenders to treatment rather than prison, reforming parole and probation practices, and working with street and neighborhood level providers who experience crime and punishment first hand. This is really about making a criminal justice system a “community justice system,” Clear says. “Each state will look different and have to approach it individually,” says Robert Coombs, Senior Policy Analyst and Public Affairs Manager for the csg Justice Center. Coombs says the center has demonstrated both success with its model and unlikely bipartisan support for making change. “The states that have had success are able to get out of the binary of left and right, liberal and conservative to ask questions of what the system of incarceration and corrections is accomplishing.” csg begins by getting all the stakeholders together from the top of state government down to the service providers in the community. The

28thousand 6 in 10

Residents of Baltimore City who are incarcerated or under the supervision of probation or parole on any given day

The number of ex-offenders who will be re-arrested within three years of their release

organization then collects, analyzes, and maps the state- and community-specific data on the impacts of crime and the state’s system of punishment. “The collection of data is really at the heart of what we do,” says Coombs. Based on that data, csg then works with the stakeholders to reduce spending on corrections and reinvest in locally based strategies to improve public safety and communities. In June, North Carolina passed a Justice Reinvestment Act, designed with the help of csg. The law allows for post-release supervision of prisoners to be more flexible and focused on high-risk individuals. It allows probation officers to provide swift and sure sanctions when needed but offers incentives for offenders to participate in rehabilitation programs. The law also expanded the state’s felony drug diversion program, keeping drug users out of prison where they often receive little help for addictions. The state projects it will save $290 million over the

50billion Dollars spent on American corrections facilities each year

Urbanite #89  november 2011  39


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Now a social worker, Tracy served twelve years in prison under Maryland’s “subsequent offender” law. “I didn’t really leave the streets when I went to prison,” he says. “I just changed zip codes.”

far from the idea that we are a redemptive society. We are simply a very punitive society.”

T

next six years as a result of having fewer prisoners. Of that, North Carolina expects to send $4 million annually back to communities affected by both crime and punishment. Similarly, Ohio passed bi-partisan legislation this summer that established statewide criteria for community corrections programs and community supervision, requires first-time property and drug offenders to serve probation and attend treatment rather than be incarcerated, and directs returning prisoners to specific community services. From savings generated by locking fewer people up, Ohio has committed to reinvesting $20 million over four years to improve felony probation supervision by providing incentive funding for agencies that reduce recidivism. Fourteen other states have worked with csg to begin this comprehensive change. Maryland is not among them. Maryland does some of these things now in a patchwork of approaches. But a measure of this state’s inability to even look at its system of punishment comprehensively is the absence of a way to meaningfully track Maryland prisoners from booking to re-entry and placement in community programs. The Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services describes its present information system managing Maryland’s prison population, through the course of their incarceration to re-entry, as “stovepiped,” meaning that it is so bureaucratically

5grams

The amount of crack cocaine that triggers a minimum sentence of 5 years in prison

subdivided that it produces little meaningful data. The department has been promising an upgraded Offender Case Management System for years. The first component is installed and running, says department spokesman Rick Bennetti. And beyond technological fixes and data   collection, “it takes political leadership,” says csg’s Coombs, and a bipartisan recognition that perpetuating the current system of punishment both is not working and is no longer affordable. “Community justice—the kind of justice the reinvestment movement represents—is both a moral argument and a strategic one,” says Clear of Rutgers. “Morally, it is the idea that the operations of the criminal justice system should be judged partly on whether they leave communities hard-hit by crime as better places for people to live, work, and raise their families. Strategically, it is a recognition that the justice system must partner with the community in order to prevent crime.” Earl El-Amin argues that Baltimore communities are ready for that partnership, but we have to go further to repair communities deformed and scarred by both crime and our system of punishment. “You can’t program your way out of this. You couldn’t make enough programs,” he says. “This is not just about setting up programs and changing policies. This is about how we view our fellow human beings. We’ve moved

5.3million

The number of Americans who are denied the right to vote by law because of felony convictions

his summer, when I was working on this story, Lyndell was arrested again for possession of drugs with intent to distribute and for violating his parole. He pled guilty to a lesser possession charge and was sent to the Baltimore City Detention Center, where he is waiting to be moved to the Maryland Reception, Diagnostic and Classification Center (mrdcc) on East Madison Street. mrdcc is the gateway to Maryland’s prison system. Here Lyndell will find out where he will spend the next eighteen months. He begins again the cyclical journey. Robert got his first job this summer. He works for a company that sells and installs replacement windows and doors. They do energy audits and help homeowners reduce their energy costs. His first assignment was to work the booth at the Howard County State Fair. Robert was a little nervous trying to remember his script and his pitch, but he kept his head high. “You know, if I could sell drugs, I can sell these windows,” he says with a full-throated laugh. He got a little down after a customer who seemed interested and asked a lot of questions revealed that he was an engineer and was just seeing if Robert knew what he was talking about. “But really it was good practice,” he says. “I am going to keep moving forward.” When I last talked to Tracy, he was preparing for the Eid al-Fitr, the celebration that marks the end of Ramadan. He is philosophical about his journey and what remains to be done in Baltimore and America. “When I got out of prison I did confront prejudice. But that’s what is in some people’s hearts,” he said. “I had to—what now I call ‘de-program’—the people I came in contact with. “I didn’t change them by words from the mouth, but by works,” Tracy said. “This is what we all have to do, with works not words.” —Urbanite contributing writer Michael Corbin is a former prison educator and youth advocate. This article and Corbin’s Crime & Punishment blog are funded by a generous gift from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

 A discussion about America’s strategy of mass incarceration on The Marc Steiner Show, WEAA 88.9 FM, on November 14

60%

Estimated unemployment rate for ex-offenders nationally, even before the most recent economic downturn

Urbanite #89  november 2011  41


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scope

Glass house: Medical schools like Johns Hopkins are changing the way students approach the world of medicine.

As bioscience breakthroughs transform the way we look at human health, schools race to train a new generation of doctors.

Med School Redux Martha Tesfalul had just arrived at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine when she stepped on a bus with other first-year medical students for a school-organized tour of Baltimore. Down Broadway to Fells Point, Tesfalul and other new students glimpsed the Captain James Crabhouse and the twentyfour-hour Sip and Bite. They drove past Patterson Park and learned of its renaissance over the past decade. But soon enough they got to the deeper purpose of the trip: a glimpse of the lower-income sections of East Baltimore, including neighborhoods where East Baltimore Development Inc. and Hopkins Hospital and its expanding campus continue to cause tensions among residents. A couple of days later, as part of a mandatory day of community service, Tesfalul painted chairs and pulled weeds at the Julie Community Center, a community organization dedicated to the poor. The tour and service day are part of an introductory, weeklong “intercession” on health disparities at Hopkins, in which students get a first-hand look at the realities of life in the city and the many forces that shape residents’ health. “I think the idea was to make it clear that we’re not only in school at Hopkins, but in Baltimore,” says Tesfalul, “to get a sense of the city’s history, meet people, and hear their opinions, which are not always positive about Hopkins.”

by ron cassie

photography by j.m. giordano

“It’s certainly nothing like we ever did when I was in medical school,” says Patricia Thomas, an associate professor of medicine and associate dean for curriculum at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, who got her M.D. from Rutgers in 1976. “We started with anatomy. We went to lectures and took notes.” One might imagine that, with the recent breakthroughs in bioscience, including the mapping of the human genome, today’s med students would be hustled straight to the lab like their predecessors. And in fact, med schools across the country are putting a growing emphasis on building would-be doctors’ understanding of the latest developments in bioscience, genetics, and genomics. But as bioscience discovery has exploded, so has recognition of the critical role of social, behavioral, and environmental factors in the expression of each individual’s genes, and therefore his or her health. Hopkins’ new “Genes to Society” curriculum, launched last year with Tesfalul’s incoming class, is part of a national effort to address the challenge of training doctors for the 21st century.


Outside job: Students like Martha Tesfalul are actively engaged in the community that surrounds Johns Hopkins med school, learning about the city’s history and people, in order to better understand their future patients.

“We have an explosion in the biosciences, and the question is, how do we keep pace? ” says John Prescott, chief academic officer at the Association of American Medical Colleges. “Doctors need to realize they are going have to keep learning. This isn’t last century. They can’t finish medical school and their residency and that’s it. “At the same time,” Prescott continues, “physicians also must communicate well, listen, and understand each patient’s needs. That’s not in opposition to the science part, but complementary. Some people call this combining the art and science of practicing medicine.” ate this summer, as this year’s new crop of medical students returned from their tour of East Baltimore, Jon Lorsch, a biophysics and biophysical chemistry professor at Hopkins medical school, explains to a visiting reporter that genetic science will entirely transform medical practice as we know it today. “Financially, the price of sequencing [an individual’s] genome will keep coming down, to as little as, say, $1,000 or less,” Lorsch says. “So it will be available for everyone. And it only has to be done once. That’s quite good when you compare it to an mri that has to be done for every new diagnosis.” Take that individual genetic information and integrate the person’s relevant psychological, sociological, and environmental factors, and you get “individualized medicine,” which has become the Holy Grail of western medical

L

research. In comparison, the old inferences drawn from family histories will look like kindergarten brushstrokes. The goal, Lorsch says, is to treat each patient individually, “rather than as an average.” The questions are when and how that will become possible. The ability to easily map an individual’s genome may be only a few years away. Figuring out how to use that data in a clinical setting will take longer: “How we use that information—here’s what your condition is and how we treat it—isn’t clear,” Lorsch says. “What it does mean, however, is that we will start getting in a better position to say, ‘OK, this one letter [in your genome] is in this position and that means you are at a higher risk for diabetes, cardiac arrhythmia, or heart disease.” Dr. Keith Lindor, dean of the Mayo Clinic’s medical school, says researchers have made progress with a few genetic disorders and cancer syndromes, but there is still a long way to go. “Genetics has been around a long time, but the big changes haven’t come to the front clinically yet,” Lindor says. “A lot of schools, though, are engaged in the research.” One example of the promise of this type of medicine is the

46  november 2011  www.urbanitebaltimore.com

rising field of pharmacogenomics, a branch of pharmacology concerned with how an individual patient’s genetic makeup affects his or her response to specific drug treatment. In taking a patient’s genotype into consideration, pharmacogenomics strives to improve and maximize drug therapy while minimizing harmful side effects. “You may walk into a doctor’s office in the future,” Lorsch says, “you go in with a migraine, and he or she studies [your genetic information] and says, ‘Oh yes, I see you have this change in your genetic material. Here, take this medication and you should feel better.’” And the value of mapping genetic material expands beyond the patient’s genome. Someday doctors will be able to map the genetic makeup of, say, a breast cancer tumor and then project how likely it is to respond to a particular drug or chemotherapy cocktail. It’s not just about efficacy, but cost, too. At present, medicine is often a matter of trial and error. Doctors try one medication and if it doesn’t work, or if the side effects are dramatic, they try another. Bioscience and the sequencing of a patient’s genome could lead to earlier and more effective treatments, helping keep skyrocketing health care costs down. ohns Hopkins pediatrician and pioneering medical geneticist Barton Childs argued in his 1999 book, Genetic Medicine: A Logic of Disease, that all medical theory and practice should be based on the interplay between a person’s genes and the environment. As a pediatrician, Childs was keenly aware of how disease could be inherited from a parent, says Patricia Thomas, the associate dean at Hopkins. “For decades, Childs had been asking the question, ‘Why this patient and why at this time? ’” she says. “He recognized that it was the interaction of the environment with the human genome that served as the trigger [for disease].” In 2003, the completion of the Human Genome Project inspired Edward Miller, dean and

J

You may walk into a doctor’s office in the future, you go in with a migraine, and he or she studies [your genetic information] and says, ‘Oh yes, I see you have this change in your genetic material. Here, take this medication and you should feel better.’ —Jon Lorsch


scope ceo of Johns Hopkins Medicine, to order a full review of the med school’s curriculum. Barton Childs’s thinking was an inspiration: Members of the curriculum reform committee were given copies of his book as a starting point. “Simply put, our medical students could no longer regard the human body as a biological machine in which physicians act as mechanics when parts break down,” Miller wrote in a 2007 Hopkins magazine opinion piece. “Rather, they would have to learn a logic of health and disease that takes into account complex interrelationships among genes, along with each person’s particular protein profile, [and] environmental experiences and exposures.” Far from a mere swapping in of updated textbooks, the Genes to Society curriculum marks a distinct, changing view of medicine framed now around individual variability on a health continuum. The traditional view had separated health states in black or white. “‘Normal’ anatomy was taught the first year, ‘abnormal’ the second year,” Thomas says. “We don’t do that anymore.” The Genes to Society initiative also moves from a partitioned medical curriculum, where students studied one thing at a time, to a systems-based approach, in which they study the whole cardiovascular or endocrine system, for example. The curriculum also integrates basic, clinical, and social science throughout all four years. Students revisit topics repeatedly in light of their ever-increasing knowledge base. And Hopkins is by no means the only institution changing along these lines. The Georgetown University School of Medicine recently overhauled its curriculum, also with a focus on “system biology,” designed to help students understand the workings of the human being as a whole rather than part by part. This new “integrative” approach is not the only change at Georgetown, says Aaron Laviana, now a first-year urology resident at UCLA, who served on the student-faculty curriculum reform committee. Laviana says he and his fellow students dove into cadaver dissections in their first week at Georgetown. Today, first-year courses include Physician-Patient Communication and Evidence-Based Medicine & Population Health. “I think it enables us to take a more humanistic approach to medicine,” Laviana says of the new curriculum. “In the past, I think there was a more paternalistic relationship between doctors and patients. Now it’s more of a shared decision-making model.” Like other medical schools in the region, Georgetown also offers research opportunities and other academic programs related to the burgeoning bioscience field. For example,

med students can take courses in the school’s Department of Biostatistics, Bioinformatics, and Biomathematics. Just down the street, the George Washington University Medical Center is home to the McCormick Genomics Center. Howard University’s College of Medicine hosts the National Human Genome Center. In Baltimore, along with Hopkins, the University of Maryland School of Medicine is at the forefront of genetic and genomic teaching, says Prescott with the Association of American Medical Colleges. The Institute for Genome Sciences, an international research center located on UMD’s campus in Baltimore, also offers a program in personalized and genomic medicine. UMD professor Miriam Blitzer currently serves as president of the Association of Professors of Human and Medical Professors, which promotes educational genetics programs in medical and graduate schools and now includes more than ninety institutions. Blitzer says that while UMD hasn’t done a dramatic, Hopkinsstyle, all-at-once overhaul, the university has been modifying its first-year curriculum to include discussions of genetics and genomics

within the context of medical conditions. “We’ve integrated the curriculum over the past ten to twelve years, but we don’t have a specific course of genomics or genetics or a block-type course,” Blitzer says. She notes that in March, the university created a new position of associate dean and director of the Program in Personalized Medicine. “It’s a very formal recognition of how genomic medicine is playing a role in transferring medical advancement into clinical practice,” she says. Across many of these schools, lecture time has been cut, giving medical students more time for learning in small groups, workshops, and communication-based discussion sessions. Lectures available on video and podcast offer students more f lexibility and the ability to review subject matter when convenient. Future simulation models for medical students will include courses based on gaming design, similar to programs developed by the military, that replicate, for example, emergency room crises in real time, Thomas says.

T

he first printout of the human genome encompassed a bookshelf of data of more than a hundred volumes, each 1,000 pages long. Scientists are now working to determine the sequences of the three billion chemical base pairs that make up human DNA. It is impossible to imagine a field of medicine that hasn’t or won’t be touched by advances in genetics and genomics.

Generation next: Patricia Thomas, associate dean for curriculum at Hopkins, had a very different experience in med school. “We went to lectures and took notes,” she says.

Urbanite #89  november 2011  47


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scope

The central mission for medical schools today, then, is to create doctors who w ill be capable of not only understanding quantum leaps in bioscience but also of translating them into clinical practice. As a result of the recent genetic and genomic breakthroughs, biochemistry has joined organic chemistry among the most vital undergraduate course work for pre-med students. Similarly, classes in statistics and experience handling large databases—like those associated with genetic and genomic research—are considered in a more practical light than, say, calculus. But Hopkins’s Thomas says that’s not all. It’s important for students today to “have a really rich background in behavioral and social sciences,” she says. “This curriculum [Genes to Society] has a lot of public health, environmental, sociological, and human psychology components. Students need to bring in all the communication skills as well,” because, as care becomes more individualized, doctors will need to be able to relate to patients as individuals. In addition to the tours and community service, Hopkins med students in their first weeks of school role play, learning how to interview patients and take medical histories, a process Thomas didn’t begin until her second year. Speeding up the communication skills process allows students in the second semester to participate in a half-day-a-week clerkship in an outpatient or community care setting—again adding practical, real-world experience to all the hard sciences. The approach is working for Martha Tesfalul, who majored in sociology at Harvard before enrolling at Hopkins. Tesfalul says what initially drew her to Hopkins was “the recognition that people don’t live in isolation and they are not defined by parameters that are set in labs.” Now, in her second year, Tesfalul says she has added appreciation for the six-year effort it took to develop the Genes to Society program. “I think the fact that Hopkins and the faculty were willing to completely turn the curriculum upside down demonstrates their commitment to prepare us for a field where we always have to be learning,” she says. Says Lorsch, “We want doctors who can rapidly adapt to the changing environment, when much more information and different tools become available. We’re trying to project what may be coming. “The challenge with science,” he adds with a smile, “is never knowing when breakthroughs are likely to happen.” —Ron Cassie’s last “Scope” article looked at a team of professionals working to establish a health care cooperative in Maryland (“Change is Brewing,” July ’11 Urbanite).

study up The Baltimore-Washington region is packed with medical schooling opportunities. Here are some of the options. ( contin u e d)

m e dic a l s chool s

n u r s i ng s chool s

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine www.hopkinsmedicine.org/som The 2012 U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Graduate Schools” issue ranked the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine number three among U.S. medical schools behind Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania.

Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing www.son.jhmi.edu The Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing offers a bachelor of science in nursing program, a masters in nursing degree, and two doctoral nursing programs.

University of Maryland School of Medicine www.medschool.umaryland.edu The University of Maryland School of Medicine is ranked seventh among seventy-six public medical schools in research funding and is among the fastest growing research enterprises in the country. Georgetown University School of Medicine http://som.georgetown.edu More than four hundred scientists at Georgetown University’s School of Medicine are working on research projects, including three hundred active clinical trials. George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences http://smhs.gwumc.edu Medical students participate in the four-year Practice of Medicine course, getting early exposure to patients and the means to develop clinical thinking. Howard University College of Medicine http://medicine.howard.edu The Howard University College of Medicine ranks third among America’s medical schools in producing physicians who practice primary care, work in underserved areas, and are minorities—doctors that meet the nation’s new health care needs, according to a recent study by George Washington University. n u r s i ng s chool s

Coppin State University www.coppin.edu/nursing The Helene Fuld School of Nursing at Coppin State University offers baccalaureate, registered nurse (RN)-to-bachelor of science in nursing, and masters programs. University of Maryland School of Nursing http://nursing.umaryland.edu The University of Maryland School of Nursing offers a traditional bachelor of science in nursing degree and an RNto-bachelor of science in nursing track. The school offers masters and doctoral degree programs as well.

Towson University Department of Nursing www.towson.edu/nursing Towson offers a bachelor of science in nursing degree, an RN-to-bachelor of science in nursing track, as well as a master of science degree program in nursing. Stevenson University www.stevenson.edu/academics/nursing/index.asp Stevenson University, formerly Villa Julie College, offers a traditional bachelor of science in nursing degree as well as tracks for transfer students, second bachelor degree students, and RN-to-bachelor degree students. Bowie State University www.bowiestate.edu/academics/departments/ nursing The Bowie State University nursing program offers a traditional bachelor of science nursing degree, an accelerated BS nursing program, and a masters of science in nursing, among other programs. Washington Adventist University www.wau.edu Formerly Columbia Union College, Washington Adventist University offers a bachelor of science in nursing and a master of science in nursing with business leadership. Salisbury University www.salisbury.edu/nursing Salisbury University offers a traditional bachelor of science in nursing degree as well as tracks for second bachelor degree students and RN-to-bachelor degree and masters of science students. othe r

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences www.usuhs.mil Run by the federal government, the Uniformed Services University of the Health Science prepares students for medical careers in the Department of Defense and the United States Public Health Service.

—R.C.

How Johns Hopkins is training a new generation of doctors, on The Marc Steiner Show, WEAA 88.9 FM, on November 22. Urbanite #89  november 2011  49


photos by David Rehor

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Communicating the Joy of the Arts Sign Language Interpreters Hone Skills at Cultural Events B y R o b i n T. R e i d Susan Roza’s task on the night of September 12 was daunting: the sign language interpreter was going to spend the next forty minutes recounting in American Sign Language what author Sally H. Jacobs was saying about her new book, The Other Barack, at the Enoch Pratt Library. To the hearing audience assembled in the room, Roza’s gestures and expressions looked a bit like mime. To the deaf audience, those same gestures and expressions offered an entrance into a new venue, one where they could participate and enjoy a lecture that otherwise would have been all but inaccessible. Roza is an intern in the Hearing and Speech Agency’s Centralized Interpreter Referral Service (CIRS) Interpreter Mentoring Program. CIRS began the program about twenty

years ago as a way for students of interpreter training programs to hone their craft outside of the classroom. The program has evolved over the last two decades and expanded in 2007 with the addition of Lisa Weems, who leads the professional education and training of CIRS’s team of interpreters and interns. In 2008, the program got its first “foreign” student, from Pennsylvania’s Bloomsburg University. As the program expanded, other students joined. Many came from the Community College of Baltimore County; however, some came from as far away as Western Oregon University, which offers a bachelors degree program in Interpreting Studies. The interns spend a year learning the requisite skill sets in preparation for professional practice.

They test what they’ve learned regularly by interpreting events for Baltimore arts organizations, like the Pratt. It’s a win-win situation, Weems explained. “This is a safe environment for interns. If you as an interpreter misrepresent a person during a medical appointment, that could affect the health care that person gets. The places we go are museums, libraries, places where none of the information you’re conveying is crucial to conducting life,” she said. “And the museums are places that don’t typically provide interpreting services without a specific request.” The Hearing and Speech Agency started contacting arts organizations and local nonprofits about the program late last year. Weems and her colleagues have ten community

partners (including the Pratt) so far. But that list is sure to grow; the response has been overwhelmingly positive. The interns usually work in teams with a supervising mentor, and they’re called upon to interpret lectures, movies, museum tours, and book signings. Sometimes they get material in advance to prepare. Often times, though, they have to wing it, as Roza did with Sally Jacobs. “What I love to do ahead of time is go to NPR or WYPR to see if the author has given interviews,” she said. “You can get an idea of their voice register, how quickly they speak, and their use of language.” Intern Jovita Douglas was preparing to interpret a symposium at the Pratt on carcinogens. “I’ll look up the speaker’s background and history. Then I try to listen to anything I can find to


see if he or she pauses a lot; that gives you time to reflect on what has been said.” Interpreting is not simply a matter of repeating what has been said verbatim. Weems said the interns must also convey the speaker’s tone. “If someone is being condescending,” she added, “our client has a right to know.” And then there’s conveying intent, a tricky aspect of interpreting. “You can spend years talking about speaker intent,” Weems said. “It’s not just about finding a word. There is cultural information, how we interpret to a specific audience, and what to do when the message being said is confused. There are all these little complexities that the interns don’t learn in school that they’re forced to confront here.” At the end of the program, the interns join CIRS’s roster of almost two hundred interpreters, who work as independent contractors and are available twentyfour hours a day, seven days a week. Most services are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires facilities to be accessible to all individuals. For a deaf person, that often means the provision of an interpreter when clear communication is important. Clients most commonly need interpreters at hospitals and medical offices. Interpreters may also be used at schools, job training facilities, courts, and family events. CIRS Interpreters are provided for funerals for no charge. “We educate clients on how to use interpreters also,” said Tina Montgomery, director of CIRS. “If someone says to us, ‘Now don’t interpret that,’ we say ‘It’s our responsibility to interpret everything heard into sign language, and everything that is signed, I will voice.’ It’s our obligation to convey to our clients everything that happens.”

Interns meet with their mentor immediately after each assignment to get feedback on their work. Pictured, L-R: Intern Susan Roza, Mentor Amy Bopp, and Intern Nina McFadden.

We asked Rebecca Hartman (customer service representative at CIRS) to give us some tips about the best way to communicate with the deaf.

Q: As a deaf person, what things would you like us to know about communicating?

A: I would like to see more of my coworkers

use sign language. Often a deaf person is the last person to get news or important information. Most deaf people make an effort to communicate with a hearing person. Sadly, many hearing people are afraid to try or approach a deaf person.

Q: When I first meet someone who is

deaf, how do I start to communicate? I don’t know American Sign Language.

A: Use a pen and paper to write out sen-

tences or type them on a computer. Using body gestures is one of many modes that you can use to communicate. Imagining yourself as a mime instructor or performer would be an easy way to communicate.

Q: What are some things I should NOT do? A: If you are having a conversation with a

deaf person and another hearing person calls your name to get your attention, please ask him or her to wait until the deaf person finishes talking to you. This happens all the time and is very disrespectful. Also, please don’t tap too hard on a deaf person’s shoulder in order to get her or his attention, but just tap very gently. If a deaf person has little hearing, please do not talk too loud to assure that she or he understands you, but talk slowly and nicely.

Q: How has technology (texting on a cell

phone, e-mail, etc.) made it easier—or more difficult—for you to communicate?

A: Technology has really improved our deaf community’s quality of life a great deal. Text

messaging and using videophone relay service is our lifesaver!

Q: Do most deaf people know how to read

lips? If so, does it help—or matter at all—if we try to speak more slowly?

A: Not all deaf people can read lips. But it

does matter to some people. It depends on where or how she or he is raised and how much hearing loss she or he has.

Q: What is “audism”? A: “Audism” is a negative or oppressive

attitude toward deaf people by either deaf or hearing people and organizations, and a failure to accommodate them.

Q: If there was an emergency and you were not facing me, how would I let you know?

A: You can tap on a deaf person’s shoulder

gently, wave your hand, or stomp on the floor to get his or her attention. In an emergency, you can turn a light on and off if they are not facing you.

Q: What are the ADA rules regarding providing accommodations of sign language interpreters?

A: The ADA defines a qualified interpreter as

one who is able to interpret effectively, accurately, and impartially both receptively and expressively, using any necessary specialized vocabulary. It’s important that the interpreter be qualified for the situation they are interpreting. Certified interpreters are bound by the code of ethics of their certifying national organization. The organization also has grievance procedures that allow consumers to address violations of their respective code of ethics. To find out more about CIRS, call the Hearing and Speech Agency at (410) 318-6780 or visit www.hasa.org


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She guarded the redd until you could swim Gasped for air when there was none Breathless bloodswell lungburst   Your adolescence Shielded from the light Whale eye cast from under Full fathom five   Echoes of conversation among the ruins Not a sound you made Silent as a fish Gliding seaward with the tide   You retreated to private ground One of the winter race The creatures held your gaze Took you away Their adaptations-perfect chemistry and rhythm Your rapt attention   In the slanting rays of late afternoon Spawn climb ladders Just as you climb your own Tie it with a sailor’s knot Denouement Swing.

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Agri Culture Sleek and chic meet rustic and rough in a refurbished barn. By Brennen Jensen photography by J.m. Giordano

S

ome thirty years ago, when Bill Steinmetz and Betty Cooke first saw the structure they would eventually painstakingly reshape into a residence, the building already had a host of occupants: Black Angus cattle. When the married pair ultimately bought the circa-1857

Barn dance: The refurbished Hunt Valley-area barn acts as an impromptu art gallery and artists’ studio.

stone barn near Hunt Valley in 1993, the crumbling relic was just days away from being burned to the ground as a training exercise for county fire fighters. Today, the barn has been reborn into a gleaming space where sleek and chic meet rustic and rough. The pair of former Maryland Institute College of


instructors has been tinkering with the project for years now, and reinventing the barn continues to be a labor of love “It’s really a piece of sculpture,” Steinmetz says. “A king-sized piece of sculpture.” Stepping into the 60-by-40-foot barn, one is initially struck by the sculptural nature of the stout beams holding up the roof. These Douglas fir timbers are all new, although they are held together with traditional wooden-peg joinery in a manner reminiscent of the original structure that was too rotted to save. Helping with the barn’s rebirth have been the husband-and-wife architectural team, Karen Lemmert and David Naill, of Baltimore’s Manifold Design. Aesthetically, it’s all about striking a balance between contemporary cleanness and aged authenticity. The barn’s massive stone end walls with their rows of slit ventilation openings and weathered patina best exemplify the latter attribute. “You just don’t mix up a bucket of cement and repoint the stone,” Naill says. “It has to be done carefully, sensitively. We have to match the mortar colors just so to blend in.” The barn’s original main level was reconstructed to house the principal living space and

“It’s really a piece of sculpture,” Steinmetz says. “A kingsize piece of sculpture.”

a kitchen. The wide, poplar plank flooring here cleverly connects past and present. “It was our intent to leave gaps between the boards and to face-screw them so it’s reminiscent of old plank floors,” Naill says. While structurally old school, the floor’s light-colored stain is clearly a contemporary touch. And there’s form and function here: Beneath the boards is a radiant heating system with a grid of hot-water pipes. This poplar-clad floor plate is pulled away from the end walls to allow more light down to the lower level and to leave the looming stonewalls unbroken in all their 19th century glory. The use of plate glass railings also leaves views to the walls unblocked. The ground floor houses bedrooms, bathrooms, and office space

56  november 2011  www.urbanitebaltimore.com

on a concrete floor, which wears a pristine finish of white epoxy. A long, spotlit hallway here will serve as an impromptu art gallery—it is the owners’ intention to eventually fill the barn with their art collection. The couple intentionally didn’t build loft spaces in the overhead rafters to save room for some of their larger sculptural pieces. The pair also plans on creating art in the barn, as well. Adjacent to the main barn is a former milking parlor and tractor repair shop, offering plenty of high-ceilinged, potential studio space. Large works come in and out of this space through a pair of massive, 11-foottall swinging doors that were recently repaired and rehung.


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For Naill, who grew up on a farm in Carroll County, the still-morphing Cooke/Steinmetz project remains a “fun experiment.” “A lot of it,” he adds, “is about knowing when to think less like an architect and more like a farmer.”

Present-day pastoral: Manifold Design maintained the structural integrity of the mid-19th century barn, while updating it with clean, modern accents, like the expansive windows that overlook the property’s rolling grounds.

Urbanite #89  november 2011  57


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food + drink

feature  /  dining reviews  /  wine + spirits

Space Invaders The new face of sustainable seafood By Martha Thomas

I

photos by j.m. giordano

t may be a grave mistake to look at a snakehead if you’re thinking about eating one. Before heading to Alewife, where Chef Chad Wells had promised to feed us a meal of invasive species—including the Asian native also known as “Fishzilla” and “Frankenfish”—we searched for pictures on the Internet. The long, eel-like fish—with its menacing expression and gaping mouth filled with pointy teeth, not to mention its ability to breathe air and wriggle on land—is an “apex predator,” says Steve Vilnit of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. “It lives at the top of the food chain and eats everything.” The snakehead doesn’t look like something I’d want to eat, and even for those of us who believe in embracing our food at its source, I don’t

Frankenfish: One way to solve the problem of invasive snakeheads in Maryland is to eat them.


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feature / recipe  food + Drink

Man vs. fish: Chef Chad Wells of Alewife serves snakehead fried, grilled, and ceviched.

“This is an 80-pound fish with a gigundo mouth,” McKnight says of the invasive blue catfish. “It’s a vacuum cleaner with fins.” think I’ll be hugging a live one anytime soon. But I had agreed to try the fish, so I headed to the downtown restaurant feeling a bit squeamish. As it turns out, my fears were unfounded. The snakehead Po’ Boy that Wells brought out could have been made from any other flaky white fish—breaded and fried, it was served on a French baguette with spicy Creole remoulaude sauce. In fact, the meat was mild and didn’t have the fishy flavor I was expecting. My 12-year-old daughter, who generally turns up her nose at all things aquatic, proclaimed it “delicious.” Yes, she confirmed, unfamiliar with the cliché, “it tastes just like chicken.” Invasive species, says the International Union for Conservation of Nature, “represent the second most significant cause of species extinction after habitat destruction.” The impacts of alien species “are immense, insidious, and usually irreversible,” the IUCN website warns. Nobody is sure how snakeheads made their way to Maryland. The first fish might have been from a home aquarium, “humanely” disposed of in a local pond, or it could have been a living fish purchased for food and let loose in a river. When a snakehead was discovered in a Crofton Pond nearly ten years ago, it set off a media frenzy, and widely circulated photos of the fish, dubbed “Frankenfish,” brought the notion of invasives to public attention as DNR

officials scrambled to keep the fish contained. They succeeded in eradicating it in Crofton, but even so, snakehead (likely from a separate release) made its way to the Potomac and its tributaries, where the population is now probably in “the tens of thousands,” according to Jonathan McKnight, associate wildlife director for DNR. While the actual population of snakehead in Maryland isn’t known, and its damage has yet to be calculated, says McKnight, the fish is a particular threat to the popular largemouth bass—itself a non-native species. When it comes to invasives, he notes, “there’s a certain human bias in the equation.” The native fish populations of the Potomac River “have been scrambled for some time. But that doesn’t mean it’s OK to continue to add new ingredients to the recipe.” Another menace, says McKnight, is the blue catfish. “They’re horrible. Blue cats will eat whatever’s around.” Most worrisome is the oversized species’ appetite for already threatened native mussels. “This is an 80-pound fish with a gigundo mouth,” he says. “It’s a vacuum cleaner with fins.” But like the snakehead, blue catfish, says McKnight, “makes pretty good chow.” Wells serves it in the form of fish tacos at Alewife, with chimichurri, blistered corn salsa, shredded cabbage, and sweet potato shoestrings. Joe Squared recently replaced the tilapia on its seafood lovers pizza with blue cat, says owner Joe Edwardsen. The restaurant, he says, isn’t planning to alert its customers that they are eating an invasive predator. “We didn’t identify it before. It’s always been called flaked fish.” The blue cat, says John Rorapaugh, vice president of sustainable initiatives at ProFish, a Washington, D.C.-based distributor, “has a clean taste to it,” compared to the farm-raised varieties. “Chefs love it.” Rorapaugh is part of the small cadre trying to explore commercial outlets for invasives in Maryland. He has worked to promote sustainable seafood at ProFish since 2002 and says the market has gone through evolutions. “It used to be about just buying sustainable fish. Then chefs started looking for local choices.” Rorapaugh says chefs have embraced the non-native blue catfish and snakehead “with open arms.” This year, the Fisheries Department of Maryland DNR issued guidelines sanctioning the commercial sale of snakehead, and Rorapaugh is ready. One fisherman he works with anticipates a supply of 600 pounds per day. Winter is the season for snakehead, when the fish moves from the weed beds to deeper waters, Rorapaugh says. And like it or not, there will be a large supply. Thanks to recent rains, snakeheads have wound their way through the Chesapeake Bay to additional rivers. And while it’s thought to be a freshwater fish, the snakehead seems to survive in brackish water. “Who

knows what will happen when the Bay goes back to regular salinity levels,” Rorapaugh says. Along with the snakehead Po’ Boy (which Wells plans to put on the lunch menu at Alewife), we sampled a sautéed snakehead filet, a thick cut (from near the head, said Wells) marinated in chimichurri, served alongside a salad of pineapple and fennel, with a cumin vinaigrette. Snakehead, he told us, resembles tilapia when raw but responds to different cooking methods. When fried, it’s flaky but stays firm. On the grill, it holds together like lean meat. Moreover, says Wells, the thick slime on the skin keeps snakehead when it’s frozen. At a recent Snakehead dinner held at Alewife, Wells and fellow chefs served the fish seared, ceviched, with risotto—and for dessert, candied snakehead skin with coconut custard. For Wells, eating the invasive creature is personal. A lifelong fisherman, he says, “I don’t want these things to ruin fishing for me.” So, he points out, “every time someone takes a bite, they’re helping to eradicate the fish.”

Recipe chad wells’s blackened snakehead with piña colada salsa and strawberries

1½ tbs papr ik a ¾ tbs g ra nu lated ga rlic 1 tbs onion powder 1 tbs d r ied thyme 1 tsp black pepper 1 tsp cayenne pepper 1 tsp d r ied basil 1 tsp d r ied orega no 1 tsp kosher sa lt 1 sna kehead fi let, sk inned 1 pineapple, d iced 1 ca n crea m of coconut (fi nd it in the cockta il a isle) ½ bunch cila ntro, chopped 1 haba nero pepper (optiona l) Roasted red peppers, strawber r ies, a nd avocado for ga r nish

Snakehead: Mix first nine ingredients in a small bowl. Cut snakehead into four pieces. Towel off excess moisture, and coat each piece generously with seasoning. Sautee over high heat for three minutes. If not cooked fully, bake at 400 degrees for 3–5 minutes, depending on thickness. Piña colada salsa: Combine pineapple and cilantro. In a separate bowl, stir cream of coconut until smooth. Add six tbs of cream of coconut to pineapple-cilantro mixture. Add diced habanero if desired. Plate fish atop salsa and garnish with roasted red peppers, strawberries, and avocado.

Urbanite #89  november 2011  61


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dining reviews  food + Drink

The Chameleon by martha thomas

photos by Sarah Thrower

T

he Chameleon (formerly the Chameleon Café) has seen a few updates lately. The dining room walls, long painted butternut gold, are now cool gray-blue, with modish curtains in a black and white pattern of flowers, ferns, and pheasants. The entrance to the restaurant has been relocated to the side of the rowhouse it calls home, so diners no longer walk past the open kitchen on their way to the dining room, thus missing a chance to glimpse the choreography of Chef Jeff Smith and his cadre of helpers, who stand behind a counter briskly and methodically preparing food and arranging it on plates. Never fear, the important things about the Chameleon remain the same: When it opened, the place was a pioneer on the stretch of Harford Road that has more recently become a sort of restaurant row. And ten years later, it continues to serve up seasonal dishes with just the right creative flourish. If anything, the passions that informed Smith’s menu in the early days have intensified. His commitment to local foods has expanded well beyond the planters of herbs outside the restaurant, and you might get the impression that he’s in a contest with himself to up the percentage of local ingredients while tightening the radius of their origins. In summer, the menu is close to 100 percent local—a good thing if you like the tomatoes,

The Verandah By Tracey Middlek auff

F

ans of the Rustic Gourmet’s homemade Indian cuisine, available at area farmers markets, need no longer plunge into a deep depression when the markets close for the winter. That’s because Radhika Sule, the woman responsible for the flavorful market fare, has opened her own restaurant, the Verandah, in the Hampden space formerly occupied by Soup’s On. The old soup standard’s chalkboard menu and display case retain the space’s casual, cozy, feel (and yes, the ladle door handle is still there)—but that’s about all that feels the same. Sule hails from Mumbai, and the menu reflects the diversity of regional cuisines and dishes available in that teeming metropolis. The well-seasoned chicken curry—swimming in a red, fragrant, almost soupy broth—has enough peppery spice to warm the body and awaken the palate but is still an accessible dish for those who are not acclimated to the heat of fiery chiles. The tikki chaat, meanwhile, is a nod to the street foods of Mumbai. Here, chickpeas are smothered in a tangy, spicy sauce spiked with tamarind and turmeric.

The Chameleon seems to put as much effort into the stuff that surrounds the center of the plate, with elaborate sides that complement each entrée: a savory zucchini cake, a deviled egg, and a few Marvesta shrimp with bluefish; corn soufflé with the steak. But another recent addition to the menu is a category called “The Other Cut,” presumably smaller plates. But they aren’t all that small. The difference is the plate Best supporting: Chameleon puts creative emphasis on accompaniments. is pared down, without the detailed sides. The corn, and late summer stone fruit that he buys meat cake is a miniature meatloaf (a hearty from a farm stand up the road. One exception serving for one) made from beef, pork, and to the rule is Smith’s nod to a century-old liver presented with a small portion of roasted recipe: pan-fried chicken with thick, crispy, potatoes, a few cornichons, and a dollop of and salty skin, sprinkled with lardons and spicy mustard. draped with a fried banana. It’s called Chicken Desserts at the Chameleon are a bit more Maryland after a dish popular when ships far-flung. While there’s always some iteration traveling from South America would pull up of a seasonal fruit, the peanut butter pie with to Baltimore docks loaded with exotic produce. its crumbly chocolate cookie crust and smooth During the autumn, the ratio of local drops dark chocolate sauce falls into what locavores somewhat, although the perennial favorite, call the “Marco Polo” exception: the use of cornmeal crusted oysters, rich with remoulade ingredients that are not from around here, but and layered atop spinach, reappears, as does you just can’t live without. (Dinner Tues–Sat. Smith’s passion for pig, with braised pork cheeks 4341 Harford Rd.; 410-254-2376; www.the served with sweetbreads, and a crispy pork belly chameleoncafe.com) with wilted spinach, apples, and pecans.

Stuffed parathas—essentially an Indian flatbread— are a specialty here. Happily they are not gargantuan, overstuffed affairs, but rather just the right size to eat in one sitting. The crispy exterior of my favorite one, the paneer paratha, yields to a soft and steamy inside, which harbors plump peas and delicate homemade curd cheese. The samosas at the Verandah were a pleasant surprise. Rather than the deep-fried North Indian Hale and hearty: Tikki chaat at the Verandah makes an ample vegetarian meal. style dumplings I was expectmoist chunks of chicken and crispy lettuce ing, here they are baked in a flaky pastry and lightly dressed in a yogurt-based sauce. But resemble nothing so much as a rustic hand if you’re in the mood for a sandwich, go with pie. The chicken samosa comes studded with the chicken salad. Rather than a pedestrian, piquant green chilies and loses nothing but mayonnaise-smothered mess, Sule’s version is the guilt factor for having been baked rather a masterpiece of fusion, spiced with curry and than fried. cinnamon that leaves a lingering, subtle note There are also more standard lunch items of hot pepper. (Lunch Tues–Sat. 842 W. 36th available—think sandwiches and wraps— St.; 410-889-0999; www.therusticgourmet. that have been infused with Indian flavors. net.) The kebab wrap, for example, consists of Urbanite #89  november 2011  63


Staging my own wardrobe malfunction at the office holiday party?

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wine + spirits  food + Drink

Grape Red Hope

Franc talk about the other Cabernet By Clinton

MacSherry

B

ack in 1980s, when I stroked a keyboard for City Paper, I took great umbrage when people said they’d read something in “the paper”—by which they referred not to my publication, nor to any of the noteworthy gazettes serving communities from Charles Village to Columbia. Invariably, “the paper” meant the Sun papers, and after the demise of The Evening Sun in 1995, simply The Sun. Serious news issued from “the paper,” the phrase implied, while the rest of us shed Lite 4 All. In retrospect, my resentment seems quaint. Even then, broadcast journalism and the ascent of de facto national papers had ushered The Sun into slow, sad eclipse. Now I’m one of six or seven surviving readers of The Sun’s print edition, and everyone knows there’s more to news than “the paper.” Ponder this the next time you hear someone ask for “a Cabernet,” by which they almost certainly mean Cabernet Sauvignon. Perhaps they intend no disrespect toward Cabernet Franc, but that grape deserves far better than the popular neglect that’s befallen it. Cab Franc’s centuries-old history in wine production predates Cab Sav’s; in fact, genetic analysis reveals that the former (together with Sauvignon Blanc) sired the latter. Marquee obscurity notwithstanding, Cab Franc has long played a leading role in the blends of Bordeaux’s St-Émilion region, most notably the majestic Château Cheval Blanc. In the Loire Valley, it typically stands alone in perfumed red gems from Chinon, Bourgueil, and other appellations with cult-like followings. But for consumers weaned on big, bold reds, Cab Franc may be a fashion victim. Lighter in color, body, and tannins than Cab Sav, it elevates subtlety and complexity over bombast, with cherry-berry flavors often inflected with black olive and iron. What also sets Cab Franc apart—for better, sometimes for worse—is a WINE PROVIDED BY WOODBERRY KITCHEN, PHOTO BY SARAH THROWER

telltale herbaceous streak. Given favorable growing conditions and skilled vineyard management, that streak might express itself as tobacco leaf or sweet bell pepper. Treated poorly by man or nature, those notes turn thin, vegetal, and weedy. Such pitfalls make Cab Franc risky business in Maryland, where traditional European red grapes often struggle to mature. “When I first started as a winemaker in the ‘80s, I didn’t think Cab Franc had any future here,” says Al Copp, co-owner of Woodhall Wine Cellars in Parkton. “No one knew how to ripen it.” But Cab Franc has other qualities— thick skin, disease resistance, winter hardiness—that made it attractive to mid-Atlantic growers. Several regions began touting Cab Franc as their Next Big Grape. Now, says Kevin Atticks, executive director of the Maryland Wineries Association, wine industries “in Virginia and the Finger Lakes [of upstate New York] have all but declared Cab Franc their signature variety.” In Maryland, the buzz hasn’t so much fizzled as been overtaken. “Some vineyards have learned how to make Cab Franc really well,” says Copp, who emphasizes low yields and gauging ripeness by pH balance rather than other conventional measures. “But it’s not just Cab Franc. After a long time, we’ve reached the point where we know how to ripen grapes.” Atticks agrees that Maryland wineries “are doing better work with all varieties. I don’t think we’re interested in trumpeting just one red.” Atticks and Copp both advise keeping an eye on up-and-coming Maryland Barbera (a variety native to Italy). Sounds great to me, but meanwhile, I’ll keep enjoying bottles like Woodhall Cabernet Franc 2008 ($18, 12.5 percent alcohol, with a 15 percent dollop of Cab Sav). Inky, medium-bodied, and scented with dark berries, its bright acidity frames flavors of sour black cherry. Mint and graphite endnotes say goodbye with a gentle tannic handshake. This is “a Cabernet” I’ll request for a Maryland Thanksgiving.   Urbanite #89  november 2011  65


arts + Culture

feature  /  book  /  music  /  theater /  scene

small TIME

Why small cities like Baltimore are poised for success in a hot, thirsty, and oil-starved future. By Scott Carlson

Illustration by marco marella

A

couple of years ago, while I was reporting on a redevelopment plan in Buffalo, New York, I met up with Robert Shibley, an architecture professor who had long been interested in a renaissance for his once-great Rust Belt town. Buffalo, along with cities like Utica, Syracuse, and Rochester, had the sort of wonderful, old architecture and infrastructure you can find across upstate New York. We agreed that it was a shame to watch these places crumble in abandonment. But Shibley foresaw a glorious future. With ample freshwater (including the nearby Great Lakes), rich agricultural land, and a cool climate, upstate New York was well positioned in a hot, thirsty, and oil-starved future. It was almost a Manifest Destiny. “It is our ecological responsibility to grow here,” he said. Catherine Tumber would have agreed. Her excellent new book, Small, Gritty, and Green: The Promise of America’s Smaller Industrial Cities in a Low-Carbon World, finds


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Feature / Book  arts + culture

Jacket design by David Baldeosingh Rotstein, Jacket photograph from ullstein bild/The Granger Collection, New York

potential in many busted and booming-again cities in the Northeast and Midwest, cities like Flint, Michigan; Muncie, Indiana; Peoria, Illinois; and Youngstown, Ohio. She could have swept south and also included Hagerstown; York, Pennsylvania; and maybe even Richmond, Virginia; and Greensboro, North Carolina, and still stuck to her thesis. Even Baltimore—which might be larger but has so far avoided unchecked sprawl—may fit into Tumber’s vision. These places, she writes, are both big enough and small enough to manage a coming societal transition, in which people may have to live on constrained oil supplies and rely more on local networks for food and other goods.

Two of Tumber’s six chapters are devoted to agriculture. And these sections of the book represent much of the way Tumber dissects her book’s topics: She makes an efficient survey of the history and current thinking around urban and suburban agriculture, but she focuses on places and colorful characters that illustrate the challenges, which mainly lie in policy changes.  In this section, it’s Henry Brockman, who owns a 24-acre farm in Illinois, 20 miles between Peoria and Normal. In what seems like a win for the globalist view, he sells his sustainably cultivated produce way up in the wealthy north-Chicago suburb of Evanston. Why doesn’t he sell in Peoria? Although the demand is there,

These places are both big enough and small enough to manage a coming society transition of constrained oil supplies. Tumber’s thinking goes against the grain of urban thinkers who contend that cities will organize themselves into giant “megaregions,” sprawling into one another, often along interstates. (In this future, Baltimore would be one node in a megalopolis that includes New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.) Megaregion futurism has its champions among pundits and policymakers: Richard Florida shuns smaller cities in the hinterlands with his theory of the “creative class”—society’s Alphas, who allegedly seek out cosmopolitan cities. Barack Obama’s $50-billion high-speed-rail plan— which, for hefty ticket prices, would connect megaregions like Miami-Tampa, San FranciscoSan Diego, and the Northeast Corridor—likewise ignores smaller cities, which would benefit from investment in regular old rail. The megaregion concept is a product of globalization, which values ruthless efficiency and specialization, with most of the benefits going to elites. But Tumber believes that globalization is a historical anomaly, not necessarily a new world order. “Globalization relies on cheap, long-distance transportation and industrial food production, both highly dependent on finite reserves of oil, whose bounty is already belied by spiking fuel prices and mounting alarm about climate change,” she writes. Or, as put by James Howard Kunstler, the peak-oil prophet (whom Tumber cites here and there in her book): “The world is about to become a larger place again.”  So how do these small cities, long derided as provincial and irrelevant, prepare for the future that Tumber sees coming? She focuses on several broad topics, all of which are relevant to Baltimore: controlling sprawl and redeveloping the suburban fringe, developing agriculture in and around the city, reviving small-scale manufacturing, and redesigning economic networks and school systems. All of these topics involve interlocking policy conundrums that may be more easily navigated in small cities, where relationships are closer and bureaucracy less entangling.

the markets there allow vendors to buy vegetables wholesale and resell them, which drives away local growers. Policy changes informed by consumer demand could fix this, Tumber says. In fact, a relatively small number of farms like his could feed all of Illinois. And some day, they may need to: Most domestically produced food is shipped from California, but Tumber points out that 86 percent of California farmland is targeted for development—and it is threatened by the trends of climate change. Baltimore City already has a vibrant farmers market network, and a number of groups are working on recultivating vacant parts of the city. Perhaps the biggest challenges here are the school systems, the reskilling of an industrial workforce, and the support of local businesses. The good news on that front, Tumber argues, is that localism, which started in the 1970s mainly as a countercultural movement, now represents a broader group of people who see globalism’s fragility and its attacks on small businesses.  Given the popularity of the Tea Party, which claims, at least, to look out for the little guy, localism could expand its reach even further. Tumber points to C. Wright Mills, a sociologist who, following World War II, concluded that small- to medium-sized cities were the best places for small-business entrepreneurs, and that because of that culture, these places in turn supported a more democratic environment, with people that supported civic enterprises like libraries and arts institutions. (By contrast, the corporatist, globalist track supported disinvestment.) The modern localist movement, Tumber writes, “is little understood and well worth recovering,” as it “could appeal to both liberals and conservatives during our own era of economic upheaval and political crisis.” ­­—Scott Carlson is an Urbanite contributing writer. Why Baltimore is poised for success in a hot, oil-starved future, on The Marc Steiner Show, WEAA 88.9 FM, on November 30.

Dark Arts The Nazi Séance: The Story of The Jewish Psychic in Hitler’s Circle by Arthur J. Magida (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) By Baynard Woods

I

n difficult times, we seek solace in escapist fantasy. Our last decade was spent watching wizards and vampires, and during the years between the two world wars, a desperate Europe turned to fortune tellers and psychics like Erik Jan Hanussen, a (discreetly) Jewish mystic and subject of The Nazi Séance by Arthur J. Magida, a writer-in-residence at the University of Baltimore. Hanussen became wealthy and influential off this public desire for the occult, which eventually led him dangerously into the orbit of the Nazis. Hanussen, an unapologetic opportunist and bon vivant, lent large sums of money to the dissolute head of the Storm Troopers in Berlin, and there were rumors he advised Hitler himself. Although Magida shows that the rumors were largely unfounded, the Nazis certainly didn’t mind when Hanussen’s spiritualist newspaper predicted Hitler’s victory. Hanussen may have been shrewd enough to foresee the rise of the Nazis. But his supposed abilities did not enable him to predict their crimes. We, however, can’t forget them. Magida rarely mentions the Nazis without reminding us how badly things would turn out. This constant eye toward the future keeps the reader from ever inhabiting Hanussen’s present. In hindsight, it is hard to see how this “mind reader” could have believed “that businesses about the Jews was just an election trick.” This distance makes it difficult either to sympathize with Hanussen—or to understand him. The best we can do is look back with the tragic knowledge of what would come. Once the Nazis take power, however, Magida’s narrative takes on the palpable dread of a thriller as Hanussen desperately compounds wrong moves in his misguided attempts to escape the fate his collaboration had prepared for him. In this moment—when he finally steps out of the role he had been playing for much of his life—Hanussen comes to life. The Nazi Séance not only demonstrates the impossibility of telling the future; it also shows how difficult it is to accurately understand the present. As our own political and economic situations get worse, this book serves as a stern warning against the opportunistic mixture of magic and politics.

Urbanite #89  november 2011  69


Office Space Available

At Clipper Mill! Come work in a creative, shared office community. Myrtis Bedolla, Curator, examines the life, artwork and legacy of Delilah Pierce (1904-1992); and will be joined by friends and family members who will share personal stories of her life.

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70  november 2011  www.urbanitebaltimore.com


music / Theater  arts + culture

Soul Man On A Mission Honey Pig by Bosley (2011) by Al Shipley

a year ago, a raucous nine-piece soul J ust revue calling itself Tommy Tucker & The Supernaturals that included both members of Wye Oak was making its way across Baltimore stages with a stunningly entertaining set of

funky original songs. By the time those songs had made it to wax this year, however, the singing and dancing frontman once known as Tommy Tucker had been rechristened the mononymous solo artist Bosley. (His real name, for the record, is Thomas Mayer.) Although billed as a solo album, Honey Pig is still very much a live band record, as is quickly asserted by the opening track, “Jungles.” The first minute of the song slowly builds steam, with the rhythm section laying down a relaxed groove and a horn section gradually joining in under Bosley’s wordless falsetto before he finally begins a verse. By the end of the song, the horns are braying in an ecstatic climax, and from that moment forward Honey Pig almost never stops sounding like an ideal soundtrack to a wild house party. In recent years, paying tribute to classic soul has become a surefire route to both commercial success and critical acclaim, with many artists using superficial genre signifiers and predictable, formulaic Motown-in-a-box arrangements. Bosley, thankfully, takes his ’60s and ’70s R&B influences in a more personal, idiosyncratic direction that feels natural and lived in, like a nice old suit he’s worn enough times that it fits him perfectly.

Every instrument is captured clearly and cleanly, with no attempt at a faux-retro sheen, but the performances still have just enough spontaneity and looseness that Honey Pig never feels like a smooth cruise through some well worn songforms and clichés. Sometimes Bosley inserts a slight edge into an innocent melody, like “I’ll take you up to lookout point/ we’ll have a six pack and a joint” on “Coca Cola,” and sometimes he simply adds a light modern touch, like the thumping, vaguely hip-hop drum loop that drives the densely textured “Just Like You.” Bosley gets especially conversational on the single “Neon Magazine” and the closing “Baby’s Wearin’ Blue,” but his scenery-chewing speak-singing is just a bit too clever and impressed with itself for its own good, sometimes coming off like the work of a bad Tom Waits wannabe. Quite simply, the singer is at his best when he’s belting out his witty lyrics in tightly arranged and powerfully hooky sounds like the string-driven “Sharpshooter” and the surging, uptempo “Money Tree.” And since those moments make up the majority of the album, Honey Pig succeeds far more often than it falters.

EVERYMAN THEATRE 2011—2012 SEASON

Top photo by Micheal Patrick O’Leary

Lush Life Private Lives at Everyman, November 2–December 4 La Cage Aux Folles at the Hippodrome, November 1–6

“love that cannot speak its name.”

Directed by Carl Schurr

The question is: If Maryland passes a same-sex marby Martha thomas riage bill, will La Cage Aux Folles n Noel Coward’s Private Lives, two glamremain as uproariorous couples bounce from the French ously funny? The seaside resort of Deauville to an elegant flat musical adaptain Paris. The play was written at a time— tion of the 1973 not unlike our own—when unemployment French play (made in the U.S. was in the double digits; it was into a film in 1978, described by the British magazine Punch and later an Ameras “a little impudent comedy … an iridesican version called cent bubble of a play.” Audiences, we’re told, The Birdcage with loved to eavesdrop on folks whose biggest Nathan Lane and worry was what to wear for dinner or how to Elite suite: Noel Coward’s Private Lives brings bubbly scandal to the Everyman. BOX OFFICE: 410.752.2208 WWW.EVERYMANTHEATRE.ORG Robin Williams) best one another in witty repartee. Private Lives focuses on Amanda and Elyot, is under no immediate threat and will alight at Everyman has decided that it’s time for a who have been divorced for five years after a the Hippodrome for eight performances in Norevival of this frothy classic and has enlisted brief and stormy marriage. Somehow, the two vember. While the lives of Georges and Albin resident actor Carl Schurr (most recently the end up in adjoining hotel rooms on their reare anything but private in their own commutormented father in All My Sons) to direct—his spective honeymoons. From the onset it is clear nity (where Albin performs as the drag queen debut as a director for the company. And while that the two are bored with their new spouses, ZaZa at Georges’s nightclub), things aren’t so Schurr notes that some plays may “profit from Sybil and Victor, and when the embattled easy when Georges’s son Jean-Michel shows up being relocated into another era,” Private Lives lovers encounter each other on the adjacent with his fiancée—and her ultra-conservative “belongs in the 1930s.” balconies, zingers ensue, and they soon escape parents. The rollicking masquerade, punctuThe play, he says, “should celebrate its together. ated by plenty of flashy musical numbers, will period, the art deco style, the music, and the It’s Coward’s vision of a perfect pair: paslikely outrage few while entertaining many. mood of the years before the war.” Everyman sionate equals who can’t resist a good jab, even designer Daniel Ettinger creates a sumptuous as they observe the manners befitting their set, Schurr promises, and David Burdick, who Private Lives at Everyman, www.everymantheatre.org social positions. Some have theorized that crafted the post-war costumes for All My Sons, La Cage Aux Folles at the Hippodrome, www.franceAmanda and Elyot, as mirror images of one tailors elegant period clothing. merrickpac.com another, represent Coward’s expression of the

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Urbanite #89  november 2011  71


c r MSTaEINER

THE

LOST & FOUnD: THE SECRETS OF ARCHImEDES

show

AAM WE 8.9 F 8

The Marc Steiner show Monday-Thursday, 5-7 pm Join the conversation at www.weaa.org

OCT. 16–JAn. 1

Become a fan on Facebook: facebook/themarcsteinershow

LoSt for centuries. FouND by the Walters Art Museum. Discover how an international team of experts resurrected the Archimedes Palimpsest, a hidden manuscript by one of the ancient world’s greatest thinkers, Archimedes of Syracuse.

WHAT WILL YOU DISCOVER? 600 N. Charles St. Baltimore, MD / 410-547-9000 / thewalters.org this exhibition has been generously supported by an anonymous donor and by leadership gifts from the Selz Foundation and the Stockman Family Foundation.

72  november 2011  www.urbanitebaltimore.com

Photo by Michael Cantor


the scene

this month’s happenings compiled by Rebecca Messner

ARTS/CULTURE dance

Courtesy of Sonnabend Gallery, New York. © Candida Höfer

For B.A.R.E.: Bodies, Attitudes, Reflections, Exposed, the dancers of Baltimore’s Full Circle Dance Company perform choreographed explorations of body image: a frustrating moment in a department store dressing room, an interpretation of the freeing and isolating nature of sexuality, and an intense look at the way abuse can damage selfesteem. The show takes place November 4 and 5 at the Baltimore Museum of Art. (10 Art Museum Dr.; 443-573-1700; www.artbma.org)

literature Presenting the fourth volume of his collection The Modern World-System, American sociologist and world-systems analyst Immanuel Wallerstein will be speaking at 2640 Space on November 3. Influenced by Karl Marx and Fernand Brauduel, Dr. Wallerstein has performed groundbreaking work that has outlined a new theory about worldwide division of labor. (2640 St. Paul St.; www.redemmas.org)

film Increase the guilt you feel when you realize you forgot your reusable grocery bags at the checkout line when the Irvine Nature Center screens Bag It, an acclaimed documentary about plastic bags and their harmful effect on the

On November 16, the Baltimore Museum of Art unveils Interior Worlds, a thirteen-piece collection of photographs by contemporary German photographer Candida Höfer. Made famous by her commanding, symmetrical interior shots of the Louvre in Paris, Höfer presents photographs of some of Baltimore’s iconic architectural landmarks—the George Peabody Library and the Walters Art Museum—that she took while visiting the city last year. The exhibit will run through February 26, 2012. (10 Art Museum Dr.; 443-573-1700; www. artbma.org)

planet’s waterways and our bodies, on November 8. (11201 Garrison Forest Rd., Owings Mills; 443-738-9200; www. explorenature.org) Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts pays tribute to legendary jazz musician (and longtime host of NPR’s Piano Jazz program), Marian McPartland, on November 10 with its showing of In Good Time, The Piano Jazz of Marian McPartland. The film covers the British performer’s fascination with American jazz music, despite her parents’ hopes that she stick to classical, and her eventual rise to jazz fame. (801 Chase St., Annapolis; 410263-5544; www.marylandhall.org)

music Enjoy the cool melodies of classical solo saxophonist Jeremiah Baker on your lunch hour at Peabody on the Court. The free performance is on November 4 at the Walters Art Museum. Baker, whose goal is to use the saxophone to draw people into the beauty of classical music, will break up the monotony in your workday. (600 N. Charles St.; 410547-9000; www.thewalters.org)

For the thirtieth anniversary season of the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, the group welcomes Sweet Honey in the Rock, the Grammy Award-winning a cappella chorus, on November 5. Rooted in their commitment to African American musical and cultural traditions, Sweet Honey will join forces with the Choral Arts Chorus for an evening of spirituals, jazz, and blues at Goucher College. (Kraushaar Auditorium, 1021 Dulaney Valley Rd.; 410-523-7070; www. baltimorechoralarts.org) Mister Heavenly is the product of a collaboration between frontman Nick Thorburn of Islands; Honus Honus, the piano player from experimental band Man Man; and drummer Joe Plummer from Modest Mouse. The band has created a new genre they call “Doom Wop,” which Thorburn described (in an interview with The Arts Section blog) as “essentially low frequency, and extremely slowed down music atop traditional doo wop harmonies. Or something.” See them at the Metro Gallery on November 5. (1700 N. Charles St.; 410-244-0899; www.themetrogallery.net)

The Baltimore-based Veteran Artist Program gives artists who have served in the military a forum to show their stuff. Hear some of them perform on November 11 at the 2nd Annual Veterans Day Celebration at the Creative Alliance. (3134 Eastern Ave.; 410-276-1651; www.creativealliance.org) Baltimore band The Bridge has been a fixture on the bluesy, jam-band scene, playing shows from Federal Hill’s the 8x10 to Tennessee’s Bonnaroo music festival. After ten years, the band recently announced their breakup. Playing the last of their annual Wednesday-beforeThanksgiving shows at Rams Head Live! on November 23 (and their last show as a band), the boys promise “three monster sets” and special guests. (20 Market Pl.; 410-244-8854; www.ramsheadlive.com) Philadelphia-based band The War on Drugs plays the Talking Head Club at Sonar on November 6. Their new album, released in August, is Slave Ambient, and its richly layered, forward-moving sound evokes the same open-road expanses that inspired the band’s classic rock predecessors. Opening are Purling Hiss and Carter Tanton. (407 E. Saratoga St.; 410-7837888; www.sonarbaltimore.com)

theater After a yearlong, $12 million restoration, the Patricia and Arthur Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric (a.k.a. the Lyric Opera House) is already deep into its inaugural season. On November 4 and 6, the new and improved space will host performances of Giuseppi Verdi’s La Traviata, a classic opera chock-full of scandalous passion, hopeless romance, and tragic mistakes. (140 W. Mount Royal Ave.; 410-685-5086; www.lyric operahouse.com)

visual art The Susan Myers Exhibition: More or Less will be showing at Towson University’s Holtzman Art Gallery on November 5. The Philadelphian’s visual artist and metalsmith’s work explores the concept of value through transformation by taking contemporary ideas and molding them into new concepts through

Urbanite #89  november 2011  73


PRIDE AND PASSION

Contemporary American Cuisine in a semi-formal atmosphere.

The African-American Baseball Experience

A traveling exhibit organized by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and The American Library Association. On display at the Central Library through December 9.

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OYSTER CELEBRATION { NOVEMBER 1–6 }

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Visit An Initiative of Downtown Partnership of Baltimore

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74  november 2011  www.urbanitebaltimore.com


the scene

metalwork. (8000 York Rd.; 410-7042000; www.towson.edu) Kyle Durrie of Power and Light Press will park Movable Type, a deliverytruck-turned-print-shop, at the American Visionary Art Museum for an afternoon of interactive printing demos on November 5. Durrie makes Charm City a stop on her eight-month, cross-country journey to share the craft she describes as both fun and empowering. (800 Key Hwy; 410244-1900; www.avam.org)

COMMUNITY As part of the Mount Clare Museum House’s lecture series on the Civil War, Dr. Leslie Rowland, associate professor of history at the University of Maryland, hosts the talk Black Military Experience, about the more-than 180,000 black men who served in the Union Army, and the role they played in abolishing slavery. (1500 Washington Blvd.; 410837-3262; www.mountclare.org) What in America turned into a fright fest of sexy nurse costumes and “fun sized” candy, in Mexico, remains a colorful, celebratory remembrance of the lives of friends and family who have died. Celebrate El Día de los Muertos (“The Day of the Dead”) at the Walters Art Museum on November 6 with traditional Mexican dance performances, a live mariachi band, and family art activities. Attendees are encouraged to bring objects in honor of passed loved ones. (600 N. Charles St.; 410-547-9000; www.thewalters.org) During the mid-17th century, Clipper Mill housed the foundry responsible

for forging columns that still support the U.S. Capitol dome. Today, shops and studios have taken up residence in this revamped industrial space and on November 17, proprietors will welcome the community with open arms (and free food). During Mingle at the Mill, shops like Form boutique and La Contessa will stay open late as guests enjoy live music, a cash bar, and chili and cornbread from Woodberry Kitchen. (Clipper Park Rd.; 410-296-2877; www.clippermill baltimore.com) On November 21, seven storytellers have just seven minutes to regale you with personal anecdotes during We are Family: Stories about the Ties that Bind, the sixth show in this year’s Stoop Storytelling series. Before the show, enjoy cocktails and music by jazz vocalist Felicia Carter and bassist Amy Shook. (700 N. Calvert St.; 410-276-1651; www. stoopstorytelling.com) Santa?! I know him! Kennedy Krieger hosts an uber-family-friendly wonderland of holiday cheer at the Festival of Trees, billed as “the Mid-Atlantic’s largest holiday-themed festival.” Expect three days of fairyland forests, gingerbread towns, and toy train gardens, with more than one hundred craft boutiques. At the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, November 25–27. (2200 York Rd., Timonium; 410-252-0200; www. marylandstatefair.com)

FOOD/DRINK Creative Alliance’s “Art to Dine For” series stops by the Baltimore home of art connoisseur Connie Caplan on November 3. The four-bedroom, 7,000-square-

foot house was designed by Caplan’s son, New York architectural designer Jonathan Caplan, as a space to house both herself and her collection of contemporary art, which includes paintings by Andy Warhol and Philip Guston. (410-276-1651; www.creativealliance.org) The flu is no fun. Neither, for that matter, are flu shots. Tai Sophia offers an alternative. At their workshop Supporting Immunity in Fall and Winter, on November 10, faculty members of the revered healing arts institution will provide you with creative, natural ways to support your immune system, using food, herbs, and lifestyle activities. (7750 Montpelier Rd., Laurel; 410-8889048; www.tai.edu)

avoid the crowd and pay $10 to attend the preview party and sale the night before. (800 Key Hwy; 410-2441900; www.avam.org)

HOME/DESIGN At 10 years old, the Morgan State University’s undergraduate architecture and environmental design program is gunning to be the leading black undergraduate architecture program in the country. To mark the occasion, the school invited back the program’s founder, Melvin Mitchell, to speak on November 4. Mitchell is author of the book The Crisis of the African American Architect: Conflicting Cultures of Architecture and (Black) Power. (1700 E. Coldspring Ln.; 443-885-333; www.morgan.edu)

STYLE/SHOPPING The airy, elegant sculpture court at the Walters—not to mention the museum’s impressive collection of Art Nouveau jewelry—is a suitably inspiring setting in which to host the Jewelry Fair at the Walters, where many of America’s finest jewelers will be November 4–6. Peruse the pieces for sale or participate in gallery talks like the “Fabulous Fakes” lecture or “Enamels & Pique-á-Jour,” which are followed, fittingly, by champagne receptions. (600 N. Charles St.; 410-547-9000; www.thewalters.org) Get your holiday shopping done early at Bazaart, the American Visionary Art Museum’s annual market of original creations by more than fifty local artists on November 26. After browsing, visit Andrew Logan’s “Cosmic Galaxy Egg” in the Jim Rouse Visionary Center, where shoppers will be admitted free all day. Or

GREEN/SUSTAINABLE Middleton Evans, a photographer based in Maryland, spent five years traveling all over North America, from Alaska to the Bahamas, in an effort to find and photograph all of the continent’s water birds in their natural habitats for his book Rhapsody in Blue. Hear him describe his experience at In Search of Glorious North American Waterbirds at the Irvine Nature Center on November 19. (11201 Garrison Forest Rd., Owings Mills; 443-738-9200; www.explorenature.org)

Urbanite #89  november 2011  75


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76  november 2011  www.urbanitebaltimore.com

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The Jewish Museum of Maryland

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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.

Urbanite #89  november 2011  77


eye to eye

Billy Friebele. Walking as Drawing D.C. 2011. Animated drawing.

according to artist Billy Friebele, your daily routine is anything but. Friebele creates maps based on urban walks, often including large groups of volunteers. “We feel like we are in control of our lives, but when I see the patterns that emerge out of different places, it cara ober makes you realize we’re cara ober is urbanite’s online not,” says the professor of arts/culture editor. to receive her weekly e-zine, go to bit.ly/ art from St. Mary’s College ezinesignup. in Maryland. “We are moving in herds and in patterns that we’re not really aware of. “ In his “Walking as Drawing” project, Friebele documents and analyzes travel patterns in a number of man-made environments, including a Target store; New York City; Java, Indonesia; and Cuzco, Peru. Each event is a collaboration with a group of “walkers” that unfolds within a limited time frame. Journeys vary in length from one hour to several. After the circuit is finished, Friebele creates drawings and animations that reveal patterns in behavior, architectural planning, socioeconomic clusters, and the disparities between planned and spontaneous paths. Some of Friebele’s ambulatory maps,

78  november 2011  www.urbanitebaltimore.com

like the one created at the O’Miami Festival, reveal perceived areas of safety and fear and show a clear gravitation by most participants to inefficient and circuitous routes of travel. Others, like the one from Cuzco, Peru, expose two contrasting structures, one loopy, made by original Inca roads, and the other a rigid, European grid imposed by Spanish conquerers. For his ambulatory map of Washington, D.C. (pictured here), Friebele handed out maps in front of Civilian Art Projects, the gallery that exhibited his latest projects. Not surprisingly, D.C.’s grid with diagonal “state” streets cutting through created an angular drawing, almost like an asterisk. One participant, he noted, even drew a plus sign walking around the nearby Convention Center. Of his communal process, Friebele says, “I like that I have no control over the project, just as the participants have limited control over where they walk, because they can’t get through walls. It’s much more interesting to see where all different types of people move simultaneously, rather than making a work about my own way of walking. In the end, it’s a drawing that reveals a set of possibilities and choices within a system.”


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November 2011 Issue  

Frankenfish!; Baltimore: The Next 'Gritty City'?; Rowhouse Renovations; Free at Last

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