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Boredom-proof Your Workout • Get the Scene: Our New Arts Calendar october 2008 issue no. 52

Looking for the Cure BIG IDEAS FOR A HEALTHIER CITY

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BREAST CENTER

Alison Jones Age 38 Columbia, MD

in days, not weeks, i could get back to being a mom. Alison’s Story When my doctor discovered a lump, I was full of questions. What’s going to happen? Will I have a scar? What if my breast needs to be removed? Should I tell my son? My doctor told me that the Saint Agnes Breast Center was my best option for a biopsy. At Saint Agnes, my doctors and nurses instinctually

Saint Agnes Hospital 900 Caton Avenue Baltimore, MD 21229 410 368-DAYS (3297) www.DaysNotWeeks.com

knew all of my questions and calmed all of my fears. Before I knew it, my test results came back negative. I never knew that 80% of biopsies are benign. I was elated. I could get back to being a mom and stop worrying.

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contents

october 2008 issue no. 52

f e a t u r e s 44

keynote: the advocate interview by lionel foster

osi-baltimore’s kimá joy taylor discusses the health care deficit in america’s cities and beyond.

48

health care, heal thyself by sharon tregaskis

big metropolitan hospitals are baltimore’s new high-polluting industry. can the health care sector clean up its act?

48

52

my pain, your gain by tracy middlekauff

from capoeira to krav maga, these unconventional workouts are guaranteed to beat back gym fatigue.

60

sick chic by stephanie shapiro

cancer blogs and celebrity tell-alls have turned illness into a badge of honor. but who benefits from the new culture of affliction?

62

the fix by greg hanscom

at a west baltimore drug rehab facility, relief from the city’s addiction woes comes from a different kind of needle.

60

d e p a r t m e n t s 13

editor’s note

17

what you’re saying

21

what you’re writing

27

corkboard

29

the goods

62

on the cover:

illustration by whitney sherman

cover me

hey, lay off!

blood: infected, inherited, giver of life

this month: reading buildings, igniting baltimore, and flying squash

yoga on a budget. plus: peruvian furnishings, die-hard clothing, and asian trendsetters

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What if we used giant magnets instead of gas?

Independent thinkers belong at independent schools. Independent schools are known for strong academic programs, small class sizes, and individualized attention. But there’s more to them than that. At independent schools, teachers encourage students to question and to think creatively – whether they’re solving a math problem or tackling global issues. So, if you want an education that will inspire and prepare your young thinker, think about an independent school. They’re great places for life’s next big questions.

Baltimore Independent Schools Inspiring Independent Minds

Come to an Open House Today, Today, independent independentschools schoolsoffer offer scholarships assistance scholarshipsand andfinancial financial assistance to before. to more more students studentsthan thanever ever before. Don’t justsend sendyour your children to Don’t just children to school. school. Send to be inspired. Send them to them be inspired. We invite We you to to come to an Openand you invite to come an Open House House and learnhow firsthand how an learn firsthand an independent independent schoolyour canchild’s enrichlife. your school can enrich child’s life.

Baltimore Lutheran School Coed, Christian; Grades 6–12

October 25, 11 am–1 pm

410-825-2323, ext. 272 www.baltimorelutheran.org

The Bryn Mawr School

Glenelg Country School

McDonogh School

Roland Park Country School

Girls, Grades K–12; Coed Preschool

Coed, Pre-K–Grade 12

Coed, K–12

Girls, Grades K–12

Fall Visiting Days: October–December

410-323-8800, ext.1232 or 1310 Fall Visiting Days Registration: www.brynmawrschool.org

The Catholic High School of Baltimore Young Women, Grades 9–12

October 18, 10 am–1pm

410-732-6200, ext. 216 www.TheCatholicHighSchool.org

Friends School of Baltimore Coed, Age 4–Grade 12

Pre-K–Grade 5: Weekday tours by appt. MS & US: October 19, 2 pm

410-649-3211 www.friendsbalt.org

Garrison Forest School

Pre-K–5: October 22, 9–11:30 am Grade 6–12: October 29, 9–11:30 am Pre-K–12: November 2, 12:30 pm

410-531-8600 www.glenelg.org

Harford Day School Coed, Grades K-Prep–8

November 16, 1–3 pm

410-838-4848, 410-879-2350 www.harfordday.org

Krieger Schechter Day School Coed, Grades K–8

October 27, 9 am January 11, 2 pm

410-486-8640 www.ksds.edu

Coed, Age 2–Kindergarten Girls, Pre-First–Grade 12

Loyola Blakefield

Coed, Preschool– Grade 12

410-413-2308 www.BethTfiloh.com

410-559-3111 www.gfs.org

443-841-3680 www.loyolablakefield.org

The Boys' Latin School of Maryland

Gilman School

Maryvale Preparatory School

Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School K–12: November 16, 11:30 am–1 pm

Boys, Grades K–12

October 19 MS & US: 11am; LS: 2:30 pm LS: November 13 & January 8 8:15–9:30 am

410-377-5192 www.boyslatinmd.com

October 26, 2:30 pm

Boys, Grades K–12

LS: October 12, 2 pm MS & US: October 19, 2 pm

410-323-3800 www.gilman.edu

Boys, Grades 6–12

October 26, 8:30 am–noon

LS: October 2 & 21, Nov. 6, Dec. 3; 9 am MS: October 19, 12 pm US: October 19, 2:30 pm

410-581-4719 www.mcdonogh.org

The Montessori School Coed, Toddlers–Grade 8

October 2, 9:15 am November 6, 9:15 am

410-321-8555 www.montessorischool.net

Notre Dame Preparatory School Girls, Grades 6–12

October 18, 9:30 am–12:30 pm

410-825-0590 www.notredameprep.com

Oldfields School Girls, Grades 8–12 Day/Boarding/5-Day Boarding

Oct. 13, Nov. 4, 8 am–noon RSVP Required

410-472-4800 www.OldfieldsSchool.org

Girls, Grades 6–12

The Park School of Baltimore

410-252-3366 www.maryvale.com

November 9 LS: 1–3 pm; MS & US: 3:30–5:30 pm October 16 & November 21, 9–10:30 am

November 1 US: 10 am–noon; MS: 1:30–3:30 pm

Coed, Age 4–Grade 12

410-339-4130 www.parkschool.net

October 19, 1:30 pm

410-323-5500 www.rpcs.org

Ruxton Country School Coed, Grades K–8, plus Pre-1

November 9, 1–3 pm

443-544-3000 www.ruxton.org

St. Paul's School Coed, K–Grade 4 Boys, Grades 5–12

LS: October 8, 9 am MS & US: October 14, 9 am All grades: November 2, 2 pm

410-821-3034 www.stpaulsschool.org

St. Paul's School for Girls Girls, Grades 5–12

November 2, 2 pm

443-632-1002 www.spsfg.org

Waldorf School of Baltimore Coed, Pre-K–Grade 11

Pre-K–K: October 12, 2 pm Pre-K–Upper School: November 9, 2 pm

410-367-6808, ext. 203 www.waldorfschoolofbaltimore.org

If you miss an Open House and would still like to visit a school, simply contact the school to make an appointment. www.BaltimoreIndependentSchools.org


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Baltimore Theatre Alliance Baltimore Theatre Project CenterStage The Collective & The Baltimore Improv Group Fells Point Corner Theatre Hippodrome Foundation Run of the Mill Theater Single Carrot Theatre Spotlighters Theatre The Strand Theater University of Baltimore Vagabond Players WombWork Productions

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october 2008 issue no. 52

contents

35

baltimore observed

37

boys to men

update: news and follow-up reports

by lionel foster

young black high-schoolers don ties and tails for a coming-of-age ceremony

37

41

inside out by greg hanscom

can nature education take flight in the era of no child left behind?

69

space house on a hill by lisa simeone

an old mill town welcomes a new breed of settlers

75

the drawing board sick and tired of ugly health clinics?

79

eat/drink what it was was tripe by james mcpherson

79

a dish not everyone can stomach

85

reviewed: luca’s cafe and the old stein inn

87

wine & spirits: wine and brine

89

the feed: this month in eating

91

art/culture the play’s the thing by violet glaze

meet the new barnstormers emerging from baltimore’s theater underground plus: media rants, island sounds, and a fugitive guy

91

101

the scene: this month’s cultural calendar

114

eye to eye urbanite’s creative director alex castro on the photography of jack radcliffe

this month online at www.urbanitebaltimore.com:

video: pricks to kick your fix at the penn north neighborhood center recipes: tasty tripe for the bold omnivore

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Issue 52: October 2008 Publisher Tracy Ward Tracy@urbanitebaltimore.com Creative Director Alex Castro Editor-in-Chief David Dudley David@urbanitebaltimore.com Managing Editor Marianne K. Amoss Marianne@urbanitebaltimore.com Senior Editor Greg Hanscom Greg@urbanitebaltimore.com Staff Writer Lionel Foster Lionel@urbanitebaltimore.com Literary Editor Susan McCallum-Smith literaryeditor@urbanitebaltimore.com Contributing Writers Michael Anft, Scott Carlson, Charles Cohen, Mat Edelson, Clinton Macsherry, Richard O’Mara, Martha Thomas, Sharon Tregaskis, Mary K. Zajac Editorial Interns Malene Bell, Sheena Gebhardt, Lara Streyle, Salma Warshanna, Andrew Zaleski Design/Production Manager Lisa Macfarlane Lisa@urbanitebaltimore.com Traffic/Production Coordinator Belle Gossett Belle@urbanitebaltimore.com Photography Intern Eric Drummond Staff Photographer La Kaye Mbah Production Interns Aisha Khan, Christopher Sausto Web Coordinator/Videographer Chris Rebbert website@urbanitebaltimore.com

12

urbanite october 08


photo by Christopher Sausto

courtesy of Tracey Middlekauff

courtesy of James McPherson

photo by Eric Drummond

contributors Photo intern Eric Drummond is a senior at Rochester Institute of Technology pursuing a B.A. in photojournalism. He is an active member of the school’s chapter of the National Press Photographer’s Association and photo editor for RIT’s Reporter magazine. Last summer, the Westminster, Maryland, native interned with the Carroll County Times. This month, his photo of the new and improved Irvine Nature Center accompanies the “Baltimore Observed” story “Inside Out” (p. 41). “The difficult part,” says Drummond, “was creating a natural-looking picture in an environment that’s also trying to mimic nature.” James McPherson was born in the town of Bristol, Pennsylvania, but he was raised steeped in Scottish culture: Both of his parents were immigrants from Paisley, Scotland. Now a retired mathematics professor and avid fan of the poet Robert Burns, he’s a founding member of several prominent Burns Clubs and a much-sought-after speaker at Scottish functions. Still, as a child, he sometimes balked at tripe and onions, the muchmaligned traditional dish he raves about in this month’s “Eat/ Drink” feature (“What It Was Was Tripe,” p. 81). “At the dinner table, my father used to say, ‘Boy, eat with your stomach, not your brain,’” he recalls. McPherson lives in the small Caroline County town of Ridgely on the Eastern Shore. Freelance writer Tracey Middlekauff will try nearly anything once in pursuit of a story. She has swallowed fire and stuck things up her nose at the Coney Island Sideshow School, gotten Rolfed, become a sugar addict, and tried to learn how to be a psychic for publications such as the New York Sun and Time Out New York. She now lives in Baltimore with her husband and their dog, three cats, and lizard. For this issue, she went in search of the perfect workout, putting herself through an exhausting regimen in the process. “I discovered muscles I never knew I had, and would just as soon forget,” she says. As a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun for twenty-three years, Stephanie Shapiro explored the city’s nooks and crannies in search of strange, sad, and wonderful tales. Among those stories was the one she wrote many years ago about a fledgling neighborhood publication called The Urbanite. In this month’s issue, she contemplates the transformation of public attitudes about illness (“Sick Chic,” p. 60). A Baltimore resident since 1984, Shapiro lives in Roland Park with her husband, Tom Waldron, and sons Ben and Henry.

editor’s note

If you’re going to take on American health care—you know, the

screwy public-private system that is the most costly on the planet, even though it delivers care that ranks far back in the pack among industrialized nations—you’ll have to deal with me. Health care reformers hate people like me, or they should, because we make fixing the system all but impossible. For one, I’m covered, unlike about forty-seven million other Americans (760,000 of them Marylanders). Second, I have almost no understanding of how health insurance works, or even what kind of coverage I possess. Go ahead. Ask me about PCPs and PPOs and EPOs and FSAs and HRAs. Say “out-of-network providers.” Show me one of those spreadsheets that tell me how much I’m going to pay for my kid’s braces. Watch my eyes glaze over. Now, combine this confusion about my coverage with the fear of losing it. Mix well, and you get an impregnable matrix of self-interest and ignorance. No matter how wasteful and mediocre American health care is, many have concluded that trying to fixing it would only make it worse. Part of the problem is that a lot of other people think there is no problem. If you’re enjoying this fall’s election season, you may have noticed that this notion tends to break on party lines: A poll in March from the Harvard School of Public Health found that an implausible 68 percent of registered Republicans (compared with 32 percent of Democrats and 40 percent of Independents) declare the U.S. health care system the best in the world. Problem solved! When so many subscribe to this line of magical thinking, little wonder it’s hard to muster enthusiasm about reform. I asked Vinnie DeMarco, the tireless president of the Maryland Citizen’s Health Initiative (MCHI), how to sway public opinion on an issue—the right of a human being to see a doctor—that seems like it should resist purely partisan interpretations. “People understand that we’ve got to do something or we’ll all suffer,” says DeMarco, who has a reputation for congenital optimism. “The resistance is from people who are afraid that their current coverage will be undermined.” DeMarco and MCHI have been pressing Maryland lawmakers to extend health insurance to all state residents for years, scoring a coup in 2008 with the passage of the Working Families and Small Business Health Coverage Act (see January ’08 Urbanite), which expands coverage options for lower-income residents. If you’re still reading newspapers, you’ve probably heard about DeMarco’s latest: On September 29, MCHI unveiled Health Care for All, a blueprint for a statewide plan devised with the help of public health experts. The plan would guarantee coverage for all Marylanders by creating an insurance pool for small businesses, expanding the state Medicaid program, and rolling out prevention-focused measures. How to pay for it? A mandatory 2 percent payroll assessment for all businesses, plus increased alcohol and tobacco taxes and a surtax on highincome earners. Would it work? Beats me—remember, I can’t keep this stuff straight—but DeMarco says he can prove most businesses would save money. “Our job is to convince people that not only will this not undermine their coverage, it will make it more affordable and sustainable,” he says. This month, Urbanite looks at a few unorthodox cures for this $2-trillion dilemma. Open Society Institute-Baltimore’s Dr. Kimá Joy Taylor talks to staff writer Lionel Foster about what she learned from the last big push for universal coverage (“The Advocate,” p. 44). Sharon Tregaskis diagnoses the epic wastefulness of U.S. health care by burrowing into the mountains of toxic unpleasantness it produces (“Health Care, Heal Thyself,” p. 48). Stephanie Shapiro ponders the meaning of the new, more public culture of affliction (“Sick Chic,” p. 60). Senior editor Greg Hanscom wonders if alternative medicine might hold promise for Baltimore substance abusers (“The Fix,” p. 62). And Tracey Middlekauff puts her own body on the line as she patrols the frontiers of fitness (“My Pain, Your Gain,” p. 52). Baltimore, of course, is home to some of the world’s best clinicians, researchers, and public health gurus; hospitals have replaced the smokestacks of the city’s vanished industries. Perhaps it isn’t a stretch to think that there’s someone around here with the solution to a problem that no one—especially me—seems to want to think about. —David Dudley

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Don’t Ask Why, Ask When...

Issue 52: October 2008 Publisher Tracy Ward Tracy@urbanitebaltimore.com General Manager Jean Meconi Jean@urbanitebaltimore.com Chief Financial Offi cer Carol Coughlin Senior Account Executives Catherine Bowen Catherine@urbanitebaltimore.com Susan R. Levy Susan@urbanitebaltimore.com Advertising Sales Assistant Erin Albright Erin@urbanitebaltimore.com Marketing Director Kathleen Dragovich Kathleen@urbanitebaltimore.com

es nde atte l l d to A ere ent e of r a air ap e m win ro pod ! Hip s et tick

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urbanite october 08

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Marketing/Administrative Assistant La Kaye Mbah LaKaye@urbanitebaltimore.com Bookkeeper/Marketing Assistant Iris Goldstein Iris@urbanitebaltimore.com Founder Laurel Harris Durenberger Advertising/Editorial/Business Offi ces P.O. Box 50158, Baltimore, MD 21211 Phone: 410-243-2050; Fax: 410-243-2115 www.urbanitebaltimore.com Editorial inquiries: Send queries to editor@urbanite baltimore.com (no phone calls, please). The magazine is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts or artwork. Urbanite does not necessarily support the opinions of its authors. To subscribe or obtain assistance with a current subscription, call 410-243-2050. Subscription price: $18 per year. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission by Urbanite is prohibited. Copyright 2008, 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, P.O. Box 50158, Baltimore, MD 21211.


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Homes of Distinction. Agents of Integrity. For full details on these featured homes and our complete listings go to ywgcrealty.com Brandon Gaines, Marc Witman, Michael Yerman, Cindy Conklin & Bob Merbler

•Baltimore Metro 410.583.0400 • Bel Air 410.420.6778 • Federal Hill 410.727.0606 • Canton 410.732.3030 FEDERAL HILL � 1211 LIGHT STREET Several condos available in sought-after building in the heart of Federal Hill. Building amenities include fitness center, large rooftop deck with panoramic city skyline views, lounge, and half basketball court. All residences offer kitchens with granite counters & SS appliances.

�#310 – 1BR unit featuring high ceilings, lots of light & private balcony overlooking interior courtyard. $269,900 SHANA WITMAN 443.226.6038 �#101 – large 2-level, 2BR unit. Great floor plan, fresh paint & carpet $315,000 ELOISE BARNUM 443.326.3088

BOLTON HILL � 1714 PARK AVENUE FRIENDS AT BOLTON PARK - Recently converted custom 1 & 2 BR condos in stately stone building formerly known as The Friends School. Contemporary kitchens with granite counters, many with original wood floors, exposed beams & priceless artisan detail. Historic Tax Credit. From $149,000 SHANA WITMAN 443-226-6038

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CANTON WATERFRONT 2772 Lighthouse Point East #214-Exquisite corner waterfront condominium in the Beacon. This unit alone has a huge wrap-around patio providing reach out and touch harbor/river views. Professionally decorated interior with high-end upgrades throughout. 3rd bedroom is now a study. 24-hour security, marina, restaurants. 3 parking KIM KING 443.223.8363 spaces. $1,045,000 MICHAEL YERMAN 410.583.0400

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2327 Boston Street #3-Vacation at home in this waterfront property. Featuring 2 master bedrooms, both with water views and huge walk-in closets. Enjoy a jacuzzi overlooking city lights and the ambiance of a see-through gas FP. Entertain on the upper balcony or enjoy any one of the great restaurants within walking distance along the promenade. $749,000 SHARON SLEVIN 410.299.6627

Unit 2307-Enjoy the stunning views that only a 23rd story unit can provide! This 2 bedroom, 2 full bath unit has every amenity you need plus all the conveniences and luxuries of Harbor Court living! Formal dining room and huge living room provide expansive water views while both bedrooms take in the sunsets. Unit deeded with one garage parking space. $670,000 MICHAEL YERMAN 410.583.0400

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illustration by Chris Rebbert

what you’re saying

Ragging on Newspapers

Leave it Be

Writer Michael Anft (“Stop the Presses,” September) asks whether anyone cares that six thousand journalism jobs have been lost nationwide this year. It’s a staggering number. But as once dignified and useful papers like the Sun become unrecognizable rags, why would intelligent readers care that intelligent and principled journalists are not staffing them? It’s a vicious cycle. What we need to care about is finding new outlets and new vehicles. We need to care about developing and supporting truly independent purveyors of thoughtful, balanced information and opinion. (Yes, I am an avid Urbanite reader. Yes, I’m canceling my subscription to the Sun.) I disagree with Anft’s assessment that today’s fast-food approach to intelligence means “there is less of a need … to probe the world’s dark crannies and dens of iniquity and shed light on them.” Was he being deliberately outrageous? We have more dark crannies in need of probing than ever before! This year’s kick-off of the One Book One Maryland program with A Hope in the Unseen is a great advertisement for the value of in-depth reporting. That book morphed from articles in the Wall Street Journal into a highly original and insightful piece of nonfiction. Would the author have been able to take the four-year risk involved in writing it without the test market that the newspaper provided? As members of the thinking public, we need to remember the role of the Fourth Estate, even if it seems to be waning, and actively support good journalism wherever we can still find it.

Regarding Mark Chalkley’s commentary on the restoration of the NCR trail as a rail line (“The Drawing Board,” September), one man’s “luxury” is another’s quality-of-life necessity. Given that the Baltimore region is so lacking in the sort of accessible amenities that the NCR represents, it would be a shame to see it go. And while I share his enthusiasm for rail transport—and, as a former financially challenged Baltimorean, want to see the region flourish— in this case I feel the idea is misguided. For one, passenger rail transport in the United States has never been a lucrative business, and the line now lacks the vital freight customers that could subsidize such an action. Many of the communities along the line would probably fight to save their restored bucolic nature, just as those citizens near the Capital Crescent Trail that he mentions are. The expense it would take not only to solve the York Road crossing issue, but also to provide adequate clearance to carry the freight rail industry’s fiscal saving grace—doublestack intermodal and auto racks—would add greatly to such a project. Too much, in fact, to ever make it a reality, as it is a duplication of routes already in existence in an ever-shrinking competitive market. Secondly, the line runs through a region that has minimal population concentration, which would also make its survival financially questionable. Instead, the meager dollars spent on the region’s passenger rail transport would probably be better placed toward lines where such concentration already exists. One idea that comes to mind is an East Baltimore MARC station that would save commuters living in that area the daily trip to Penn Station, West Baltimore, or BWI stations—a trip that costs time and money, and keeps some from riding MARC. Or, perhaps, east-west

—Rebecca Ruggles works with local nonprofits and foundations on health and environment program development.

expansion of Baltimore’s light rail. Or even better still, since I am an Annapolis resident, if Mr. Chalkley wishes to undo a rails-to-trails effort, how about restoring the former highspeed interurban line that ran between Baltimore, Annapolis, and the District by way of what is now BWI? Lastly, a 20th-century luxury? Explain to me how what he presents in a wistful manner would not be more than a tourist line that would carry more weekend sightseers than anything else. I doubt there are many commuters traveling north from Baltimore to York to work, and have a sneaking suspicion York has enough of its own problems and would prefer not to have any more of Baltimore’s riding in occasionally, though I am sure they would like our tourism monies. (Also, in the 1900s, the Northern Central was part of the Pennsylvania Railroad, not the Penn Central as Mr. Chalkley states. The PC was not born until 1968, with the merger of rival Pennsylvania and New York Central Railroads and the federally forced addition of the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad.) Baltimore’s rails travel north enough for now; leave the NCR alone. —Bryan Bohn is an armchair rail historian and a resident of Annapolis. Can Do I enjoyed reading Mary Zajac’s article (“Green Days,” September) regarding East Baltimore’s Polish community harvesting green beans and her family’s summers spent picking on the farm. This ties in well with the canning industry that existed in the Fells Point area, where I spent the summer of 1966 working at the Lord Mott green bean canning factory at the foot of Thames Street. That was a different Fells Point, although certainly not deficient in taverns. —Benjamin Kowarski lives in Baltimore.

We want to hear what you’re saying. E-mail us at mail@urbanitebaltimore. com or send your letter to Mail, Urbanite, P.O. Box 50158, Baltimore, MD 21211. Please include your name, address, and daytime phone number. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. You can also comment on our website (www.urbanite baltimore.com/forum).

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5 lung cancer treatments over one week. The rest of your life is all yours. The CyberKnife Center at Franklin Square. CyberKnife does what was once considered impossible. Treats lung cancer without surgery, without pain, and without the side effects of chemotherapy or traditional radiation therapy. Actual treatment usually involves five brief outpatient visits over a week’s time, instead of thirty treatments over six weeks for conventional radiation therapy. To find out if you’re a candidate, contact Linda Stark at 1-877-CYBER-01 (1- 877-292-3701) or learn more, at LookInsideTheSquare.org.

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what you’re writing

Blood

After

transfusion, I refused to sign. It was before Red Cross screening for HIV/AIDS. In the NICU, our baby girl had to endure daily bloodsticks in her heels with no anesthesia and a feeding tube in her stomach. I remembered that picture and, for tiny Jenny’s sake, I held on. —Shari Basner Zaret lives in Columbia. She is working on a novel based on her grandmother’s life as a traveling saleswoman in Russia. Her daughter just started graduate school.

My husband

© Emersont | Dreamstime.com

eight weeks of bed rest, oncea-week visiting nurses who shot me up with medication to stop the contractions, and daily worry and complete isolation, my water still broke. My husband was supposed to lecture that morning and had to call his department chair to ask permission to cancel his class. Only then did he load me, bent double, into our rusty VW Rabbit and drive me slowly to the entrance of Hopkins Hospital. I was crying so hard I couldn’t see the dome. I was only twenty-six weeks. When she was born at 1 pound, 10 ounces, our baby cried; I’m sure of it. She should have been an easy delivery, so tiny, but the birthing bed was soaked a pinkish red. They quickly took her away. They hooked her up to lines, antibiotics, and oxygen, and the neonatologist spoke in a kind but serious voice to ask me what name we wanted on the card taped to her Isolette. I couldn’t think of one; it was too soon. I was sent home, without a baby to hold. Throughout the next week, we both grew weaker, her thin legs a constant mottled blue, my skin a queasy gray. Ten days after delivery, the cotton comforter had new streaks of pinkish red, and I had contractions again. The department chair was annoyed that this time he had to call my husband out of class; he asked, could it wait? When we arrived at my doctor’s office, pink had turned to angry orange-red. She called to alert the ER, and there was a tremor in her voice. This time, we drove right up to Hopkins’ emergency bay, as my doctor ran down the sidewalk, her white coat fluttering like a sail behind her. She commandeered a gurney and elbowed her way to the elevators. While we waited outside the OR, I signed papers to absolve the hospital in case of my death. The nurses snapped a Polaroid of our baby girl up in the NICU nursery to show me before rolling me into surgery. Parts of the placenta had remained postpartum and were poisoning me. The doctors stopped the hemorrhaging but kept monitoring my blood count. Days later, when they handed me papers authorizing a blood

is Felix reincarnated, and I am Oscar from the Neil Simon play The Odd Couple. Something as bold, wet, and personal as blood gets under his skin. Each month, knowing this, I wrap the bloody evidence of my menstruation in a cocoon of toilet paper and deposit it in the bottom of our bathroom wastebasket, hiding it beneath the floss and Kleenex. True to form, he immediately takes the contents to the outside trash can. I don’t mind. Being a nurse, blood is a part of my everyday world. “It’s only a little blood,” I always tell my kids as I bandage their scraped knees. Last October, in my effort to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle, I purchased a menstrual cup. The first time I removed it, I was amazed. Before me was a vessel filled with free-flowing, unaltered blood; a cup of blood that I produced, pure and life sustaining. It was not at all like the stained cotton I was hiding in the trash. I felt like Angelina Jolie when she and Billy Bob exchanged vials of each other’s blood to wear around their necks. I hesitated before I dumped it down the toilet, as if it was a sacrilege to do so. There was an increased awareness of the awesomeness of this substance, and I felt connected … dare I say connected to creation, the cycles of nature and my power as a woman? Yes, that is exactly what I felt. Now, monthly I am reminded of its potential: potential to nurture a life, save a life, or even create a life. I have stopped telling my kids it’s “only a little blood.” And to date, I have

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not shared my secret cup and the affirmations it brings with my husband, but I think he knows something, because he hasn’t taken out the bathroom trash in a long, long time. —Name withheld

When

the nurse technician’s foot snagged on and yanked the catheter tube leading up into my father’s bladder, I heard him scream out for the first time in my life. His hands cupped tightly at his groin as we tried to console him. The tech offered no apology. “You might see a little blood in the tube for a bit,” she said. And then she left. He soon stopped squinting his eyes and clenching his teeth, and his breathing slowed. “Goddammit!” he said. At 80, he lay there looking as weak and vulnerable as a toddler, something I wasn’t prepared for. Being the father of a toddler myself, I instinctively wanted to take his pain, to put myself in that bed and get hooked up to all those wires and tubes like some sort of human carburetor, and take his failing heart into my chest. And then he could comfort me, like he did when I was 4 and had hurt my finger. While playing a game of tag, Stephanie, from three doors down, slammed her front door on the tip of my index finger, practically severing it, as I reached in to tag her back. It was the first time I had ever seen my own blood. Everyone was yelling, especially me. Just arriving home, my father took one look at my finger and said, “You’ll be fine. They’ll patch that right up.” A calm came over me. Even at 4, I knew that if he said so then it would be so. And it was. But that only seems to work from parent to child. In his catheter tube, I saw his blood blending into his collected urine, turning it from gold to rust. My heart ached. But I didn’t say a word. —Doug Lambdin teaches English at Mount St. Joseph High School in Baltimore.

Have you ever paid attention to

the color of blood? The most amazing color of red. Red so intense that it can only be created by nature: life. It’s the color of life. You take precautions, although not always. People make mistakes. You get to a point where you think you are safe from those worries and concerns. You get lulled into a sense of safety. One day his doctor calls to say, “We need to talk about your test.” You both go. The news is broken. Weight settles. Next step? Next step? Next test? You need to get tested immediately. Today.

You do the anonymous thing. You wait fourteen days to see if your life is going to change forever. Resignation sets in. You know what the result is going to be. You just know it. Your test results are in. Waiting, resignation, and weight settle deeper into you. You are called into the office and sit down. “Your test results are back.” Pages turning as she looks for your ID number. “This is my first time having to do this. Your test is HIVpositive. I’m sorry. You are the first person I’ve ever had to tell this to. Are you OK?” “Yeah, actually. I pretty much assumed that it was going to be positive.” You feel sorry for her. In all of the test results she has delivered, you are the first person she’s ever had to tell, “Life as you know it changes today.” You think you are OK but you aren’t. Once you leave, you break down. You cry for a long time. Days. The world doesn’t feel, smell, or even taste the same as it once did. You thought you were safe. Now you have to figure out who you can tell, who you can lean on. Break the news to your family. Even when you figure out how to carry on, to put one foot in front of the other every day to keep going, you’re still not done. You are left with this nagging feeling, a need to leave something lasting before your race is run. Now there’s a permanent immediacy to life. From now on your life is measured in the eight vials of blood that are taken from you every four months. At least that’s how it feels for me sometimes … —C. Michael E. is a Maryland native. He has lived in Baltimore for ten years, most of them in the Mount Vernon neighborhood.

It’s a peculiar paradox that the

blood-borne illness I was stricken with last summer came from an insect that was sucking my blood. If I’m going to donate nourishment for the little parasite, the least it can do is just take the food and not interrupt my ability to produce more. At first my doctor thought I had Lyme disease. I’d been hiking a couple of weeks before the symptoms showed up. (Flu-like—but what isn’t? Lyme: flu-like; meningitis: flu-like; anthrax poisoning: flulike; flu: flu-like.) As soon as you say “hiking” to doctors, they head for the antibiotics. But I didn’t feel better, and he ordered me to the hospital. I showed up in the emergency room annoyed and feeling fairly well into miserable. I just wanted to lie on my couch and watch Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. The interrogation in the emergency room seemed interminable; they had discovered an unacceptably elevated heart rate. A cardiologist was summoned (he came after the infectious diseases guy), and nurses kept

threatening unpleasant procedures if the rate could not be brought down. Months later I learned that when your heart is beating that fast it’s not doing the requisite pumping job. If it’s just fluttering its valves, no blood is actually moving along—the whole point of the heart in the first place. I spent four days in the hospital, and they never figured out what I had. The infectious diseases doctor, with entourage, came by every day to ask me how I felt (“the same”), but no progress was made toward a diagnosis. This makes a patient interesting, and a medical student followed me from room to room interviewing me for a presentation she wanted to make. It became clear, after far too many tests, that I had some sort of virus and they couldn’t do anything for it. I was released. Eventually I started to feel better and the flu-like symptoms faded. Weeks afterward, a rheumatologist (specialists were collecting like detritus at a turn in the river) scooped my doctor by telling me I’d had West Nile virus. Yes, West Nile virus. This summer I was nervous about mosquitoes—the bloodsuckers that had infected me. I asked every doctor I knew if I was now immune to West Nile virus, and they all uttered exactly the same sentence in exactly the same intonation with exactly the same affect. Cocking their heads up to the right, in an unnervingly unpersuasive tone, they’d say, “I think so.” ■ —Stephanie Gibson teaches writing and communication at the University of Baltimore. So far, she remains healthy. “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 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. Submissions should be typed (and if you cannot type, please print clearly). Only one submission per topic, please. Send your essay to Urbanite, P.O. Box 50158, 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

Gods Invention Migration

Oct 6, 2008 Nov 7, 2008 Dec 8, 2008

Dec 2008 Jan 2009 Feb 2009

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urbanite october 08

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The Matchmaker In this classic American comedy, Thornton Wilder proves that sometimes love can buy money. The Pearlstone Theater Sept 10–Oct 12, 2008

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Edward Albee’s cautionary tale about the dangers of mixing alcohol and marriage. The Head Theater Oct 22–Nov 30, 2008

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urbanite october 08

luxury apartment living that’s fells point to the core.


corkboard

Baltimore Running Festival

Oct 11, 8 a.m.

Runners of every age and skill level converge on M&T Bank Stadium for the eighth annual Baltimore Running Festival. Races include the Kids Fun Run, the 5K, the 13.1-mile half-marathon, a team relay, and the 26.2-mile marathon. If setting a personal best isn’t on your agenda for the day, camp out on your front stoop and cheer on the runners—the half-marathon and marathon courses wind through and around Fort McHenry, the Inner Harbor, Lake Montebello, and dozens of neighborhoods in between.

Races start at M&T Bank Stadium 1101 Russell St. 410-605-9381 www.thebaltimoremarathon.com

Baltimore Architecture Week

Oct 15–26

Baltimore’s built environment is so rich that Architecture Week now stretches over twelve days. There’s something to do almost every day: Take a walking tour of Mount Vernon, Bolton Hill, and downtown (“Baltimore Architecture Walkabout,” Oct 26); learn how to improve energy efficiency in older homes (“Greening Your Historic Home,” Oct 21); or discover how symbols, architectural markers, and faded signs on some of Baltimore’s buildings act as historical records (“Read Any Good Buildings Lately?” Oct 19). Most events are free.

410-625-2585 www.aiabalt.com

Ignite Baltimore

Oct 16, 6 p.m.

It’s like speed dating for bright ideas: In an Ignite event, speakers get just a few minutes and twenty slides to present their favorite innovative concept to a room full of strangers. After sparking conversation in cities across the country and as far away as Paris, Ignite comes to Baltimore, where sixteen lightning-fast presentations on science, technology, media, and more will answer the question, “If you had five minutes on stage, what would you say to Baltimore?”

1010 Hull St. Free; reservations required via www.upcoming.yahoo.com/ event/942003 www.ignitebaltimore.com

Arianna Huffington at Goucher College

Oct 23, 8 p.m.

In 2005, author and activist Arianna Huffington co-founded the Huffington Post, a political news website and blog that attracts millions of readers each month. Huffington discusses this year’s historic presidential election at Goucher College less than two weeks before the nation goes to the polls.

Goucher College Kraushaar Auditorium 1021 Dulaney Valley Rd. Free; reservations required 410-337-6333 or boxoffice@goucher.edu

Great Halloween Lantern Parade

Oct 25, 7:30 p.m.

For one night every year, Patterson Park becomes a ghostly, illuminated spectacle as Baltimoreans parade through the park with costumes and painted lanterns. Post-parade, enjoy hot cider and live music at the Grand Finale Monster Raising Party. Contact the Creative Alliance for information on stilt-walking and lantern-making classes in the preceding weeks.

Pulaski Monument, Eastern Ave. near Linwood Ave. Free 410-276-1651 www.creativealliance.org

Punkin Chunkin

Oct 31–Nov 2

Did you know that an air cannon can hurl a pumpkin 4,434.28 feet? It’s true, and it happened at the 2003 Punkin Chunkin World Championship. This year is the twenty-third annual chunk, taking place in Bridgeville, Delaware, west of Rehoboth Beach. Drive there for the day or reserve a campsite and spend the weekend taking in the fun, including fireworks, pumpkin and chili cookoffs, and the singing of the official chunkin anthem, which ends with the line “Them punkins are gonna go!”

Gates open at 7:30 a.m. each day Adults $9, children younger than 12 free 302-684-8196 www.punkinchunkin.com

Photo credits from top to bottom: courtesy of MarathonFoto; courtesy of the Baltimore City Life Museums, Ziger/Snead, and Charles Brickbauer; illustration by Matthew Woodruff; courtesy of the Huffi ngton Post; photo by Roey Yohai; courtesy of the World Championship Punkin Chunkin Association

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coMpiled by lionel FosteR

Now celebrating its one-hundredth year, Weber’s Cider Mill Farm (2526 Proctor Ln., Parkville; 410-668-4488; www.webersfarm.com) offers Baltimoreans an autumnal playground minutes outside the Beltway. Kids will love taking a turn down the hillside slide, navigating through the 5-foot-high hay bale maze (or the Mini Maze for little ones), and scouring piles of pumpkins for the perfect jack-o’-lantern. Plus, there’s a scarecrow-making workshop and barnyard critters to visit. Weber’s bakery is famous for its peach cake (see August ’07 Urbanite) and, as the name suggests, everything apple: caramel-dipped, cider, preserves, and salsa. Market hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily throughout October. The barnyard activity area is open 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. —Sheena Gebhardt

courtesy of Weber’s Farm

Fun on the Farm

Charm City

ph ot ob yL

aK

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Baltimore native Rogés Ota Sturdivant found inspiration for a new business during a visit to Japan three years ago. Everywhere he turned he saw jeweled charms connected to cell phones via a thin, colorful strap. These keitai (cell phone) straps, as they are called, are part of a multi-million-dollar novelty phone accessory market in Japan—and a trend Sturdivant hopes to jump-start in the United States with Yurphone (www.yurphone.com). Yurphone offers more than sixty different styles of straps with glittering charms in the shapes of animals and fashion accessories attached. Whether you sport one strap or ten, they’re a great way to personalize and accessorize your phone. Prices vary from $8 to $300 for custom pieces. —Lara Streyle

—S.G.

photo by Er ic D

A few years ago, when mixed martial arts (MMA) began its transition from fringe combat sport to mainstream entertainment, Maryland native and police officer Gregory Day was not surprised. After practicing wrestling for most of his life, becoming a police defensive tactics instructor, and discovering MMA, he wanted to position himself to capitalize on the sport’s growing success. In 2006, he borrowed a fighting term and founded Never Tap Out (www.nevertapout.com), a line of apparel designed for emergency responders, athletes, and anyone inspired by the never-say-die attitude that these professionals bring to their jobs. Never Tap Out offers T-shirts, sweatshirts, and hats with the brand’s customized law enforcement, firefighter, and military logos and the company’s slogan, “Inspired by Heroes.” Twenty-five cents from each purchase are donated to charities like the Officer Down Memorial Page (www.odmp.org), which honors fallen law enforcement officers. Order online.

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Cheap Karma In the music world, some groups are leaving the price of their albums up to their listeners. Sid McNairy, owner of Lifeline Power Yoga (111 Allegheny Ave., Towson; 410-6275291; www.lifelinepoweryoga.com), has jumped on that bandwagon. As of June, patrons are asked to pay what they think the classes are worth, instead of shelling out up to $14 per class. The result? “We ended up getting a lot of people who didn’t think they could afford yoga,” he says. (The suggested donation is $10 per class, but the process is anonymous, and McNairy says he suggests less for his more frequent patrons.) Lifeline specializes in power vinyasa yoga, a flowing form that generally appeals to a more active, athletic clientele, with classes at beginner and intermediate levels as well as private instruction. See website for class schedule and info on special events. photo by Christopher Saus to

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In 1979, an Italian priest named Ugo de Censi founded a school for wood and stone carving within his mission in Chacas, Peru, a poor town in a remote section of the Andes Mountains. Five years later, the first graduates formed Artesanos Don Bosco (828 S. Charles St.; 410-563-4577; www.artesanosdonbosco.com), a nonprofit artist collective specializing in liturgical art and hardwood home furnishings. The group’s Baltimore location is its only showroom in the United States. Each piece in Artesanos Don Bosco’s line of tables, chests, chairs, and furniture accessories is carved by hand from mahogany, walnut, cherry, or cedar, and signed by the artist. Instead of nails, most works are masterpieces of tongue-and-groove construction, as with the Cuarto de Luna (Quarter Moon) rocking chair or the sloping, curving shelves of the Cordillera Blanca (White Mountain Range) bookcase. Prices vary from approximately $400 for a dining room chair to $8,000 for the Alpamayo, a wall-sized mahogany storage system that can visually anchor an entire room. —Lionel Foster

Wild Kingdom

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Still Life Gallery owner Rebecca Weber calls her Ellicott City storefront (8173 Main St.; 410461-1616; www.stilllifegallery.net) an “art-gallery-meets-natural-history-museum”: one wanders the two cluttered rooms of contemporary art and design objects watched over by the glass eyes of several stuffed animals, including a massive caribou head hanging over a doorway. “I wanted to create a cabinet of curiosities,” says Weber, who re-opened the 10-year-old gallery this year with a new look and a new mission—showcasing “artists who were responding to nature.” To set the scene, there’s a menagerie of mounted animals from her antique taxidermy collection, a look that made news back in February when a Natural Resources police officer cited the store for violating an obscure 1908 law prohibiting the display of native wildlife. (Weber says the DNR has since made nice, giving the gallery a stuffed Canada goose as a gift.) The critters aren’t for sale, but you can pick up other strange and wondrous objects: amazingly lifelike snails, carved from wax; sculptor Walter Tschinkel’s otherworldly aluminum castings of ant colonies; a sleek chrome-steel Le Corbusier sling chair upholstered in rustic cowhide, perfect for that cattle rancher with a yen for Mid-Century Modern. —David Dudley w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m o c t o b e r 0 8

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Waste to watts: David E. Scott, Baltimore’s director of public works, stands with the sewage sludge “digesters” that fuel a new power plant.

News and follow-up reports The Big Squeeze Gov. Martin O’Malley isn’t sure he has a solution to the state’s looming energy crisis. (See “Baltimore Unplugged,” September ’08 Urbanite.) In late August, at a gathering of local government officials in Ocean City, he made an unsettling admission: “As much as I’ve thought about this problem and as much as I’ve been able to sit down with very smart, professional people who study this problem day in and day out, and as much as I’ve read about this problem and its imagined solutions, I really don’t know how this one turns out. I wish I could tell you that I do.” According to the Maryland Public Service Commission, the state will face rolling blackouts as soon as 2011. To head off this scenario, O’Malley suggested that the state provide funding for small municipal “peaking plants” to help meet demand on summer days when electricity use is highest. He pledged to make Maryland “the national leader in renewable energy” and touted “smart meters” that can reduce electricity use during peak hours. Most dramatic was a suggestion that the state could direct regulated utility companies such as Baltimore Gas and Electric to build new power plants. The proposal would be a step back from a 1999 law that deregulated power plants. “We cannot stand idly by and wait for market forces or the electricity good fairy to come in and solve this problem for us,” O’Malley said. “We have to do something about this now or the rolling brownouts and blackouts will happen.”

Rising from the Ashes The story inspires wonder: Over nine days in April 2005, some five thousand volunteers gathered at the site of the old Memorial Stadium in Waverly. There were sorority sisters and fraternity brothers from nearby Johns Hopkins University. There were high school kids and AmeriCorps volunteers, National Guardsmen and Girl Scouts. And there were residents from Waverly and the surrounding neighborhoods who had come out to lead the effort to build a new playground in their community. “Our playgrounds were in disrepair. Kids were just sitting in front of the TV,” says Debra Evans, a Better Waverly resident and community organizer at the time who was dubbed “The Playground Lady” for her eight-year crusade to build the facility on the lot next to the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Family Center at Stadium Place. Designed in part by local school children and funded with $350,000 raised through spaghetti dinners and penny jars, the elaborate complex of faux wood turrets, towers, and tunnels was the

baltimore observed embodiment of the surrounding neighborhoods’ tenacity and spirit. On the afternoon of September 9, the playground burned, leaving only the swings and the “tot lot” untouched. At press time, fire department investigators were probing the incident as arson. Evans says she cried a lot in the days after the fire, but a community meeting the next night drew about two hundred supporters, determined to raise the $5,000 insurance deductible plus the funds to feed and equip an army of volunteers. Evans is already planning next spring’s work party. “It has to be done the same way,” she says. “The only way to claim it as our own is for each person to have a hand in it. It has to be built by the people.”

u p d at e

Cooking With Gas Baltimore’s sewage specialists are spinning gas into power at the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant, home to the two giant golden pineapples visible from the I-695 Beltway east of town. Those pineapples are actually 3-million-gallon, European-designed “eggshaped digesters” full of sewage sludge and sludge-munching anaerobic bacteria. One of the byproducts is gas (call it biogas: It’s mostly methane, the same stuff that’s in natural gas) that has for years been burned off, or “flared.” Local lore has it that the larger-than-life candles have provided ambience for many a backseat make-out session, but in late September, the plant plans to snuff them. The gas will be piped to a pair of generators, where it will pump out three megawatts of electricity, enough to power roughly one thousand average Maryland homes. The upgrade cost $14 million, but the juice from the new generators will cut the plant’s electric bill by more than $1.4 million a year at current prices, says plant manager Nicholas Frankos. “As energy prices go up,” he adds, “the savings get bigger.” City energy advisor Ted Atwood calls waste gas energy “the biggest thing going on right now in renewable energy” in the region. The city is also planning to pipe methane from rotting trash at the Quarantine Road Landfill to generate electricity for the Curtis Bay Coast Guard Station. Meanwhile, Johns Hopkins University is looking into fueling generators with liquid fuel generated from “wood waste,” such as the estimated 30,000 tons piled at Camp Small off Cold Spring Lane. And on the Eastern Shore, a proposed plant would generate power from “poultry litter,” aka sawdust and chicken poop.

Blood, Sweat, and Tears Contaminated DNA evidence has caused a shakeup at the Baltimore City Police Crime Laboratory and cast a shadow over the state’s plans to implement sweeping DNA sampling for crime suspects. (See “The Test,” April ’08 Urbanite.) In August, the Sun reported that a lab supervisor discovered that the lab hadn’t cataloged its employees’ DNA. Cataloging employee DNA is standard practice in the industry because a flake of skin or an eyelash from a lab worker dropped into a sample can contaminate evidence. Police spokesman Sterling Clifford says that since the discovery, employees’ DNA has been added to the database. While a dozen “unknown” samples were found to be employee DNA, Clifford says the contamination did not lead to any wrongful convictions or acquittals. Nonetheless, shortly after the lab disclosed the mistake, its longtime director, Edgar Koch, got his walking papers. Defense attorneys say the firing calls into question DNA evidence that has long been considered bombproof. Patrick Kent, chief of the forensics division at the state public defender’s office, told the Sun that police are “talking out of both sides of their mouth ... They’re saying, ‘Oh, it’s not a problem at all,’ and on the other hand they have fired the crime lab director … Crime lab directors are only fired when you have some serious quality control violations.” These concerns will likely be put to the test this month in the trial of Kevin Gerald Robinson, who is accused of killing 26-yearold Lisa Barselou in 1989. DNA evidence is the key to prosecutors’ case, according to the Sun, but recent testing revealed that part of the sample was contaminated by a lab employee. ■ —Greg Hanscom Urbanite intern Lara Streyle contributed to this report.

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e d u c at i o n

baltimore observed

Men in full: High school boys participate in the sixth annual beautillion, sponsored by the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.

Boys to Men It looked like a scene from a Jane Austen novel, with a contemporary twist. On a soggy Sunday evening last April, approximately thirty Baltimore high-schoolers—some in jeans, others in suits straight from church services—tried to curtsy, circle, and bow to what sounded like English court music in the cafeteria of Baltimore County’s Milford Mill Academy. The dancers forgot which way to turn, missed cues, and giggled. Finally, a trim, scholarly looking, and increasingly exasperated man grabbed a microphone and stepped onto the floor. “Repeat, repeat, repeat!” he commanded. This was the scene three weeks before the sixth annual “beautillion” sponsored by the Delta Lambda chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity in northwest Baltimore. Ralph Johnson, former chapter president and the associate dean of students at Johns Hopkins University, is the mastermind behind the event, which was inspired by the 18th-century

rite of debutante balls, or cotillions, that mark a girl’s passage into adult society. In the past twenty years, a number of groups have repurposed the ritual to encourage a safer, more productive route for African American boys into manhood. Any male high school senior with at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA, some demonstrated involvement in extracurricular activities, and a school official willing to vouch for his character may participate, but the organizers, members of the oldest African American intercollegiate Greek-letter organization in the country, focus exclusively on drawing African Americans. The goal is to supplement their final year of high school with training to make them more adept at navigating the adult world and, during graduation season, present them to society as men in full during a ceremony at Delta Lambda’s annual Black and Gold Ball. “We have young men from all walks of life as part of the program,” said Johnson, “from traditional, supportive families to young men who don’t know who their parents are.”

Johnson has been a mentor of mine since my undergraduate days at Hopkins: He’d been encouraging me to join Alpha for ten years before I attended one of the chapter’s recruitment meetings in April. I’m not an Alpha member, but last October, I taught an SAT prep session that served as the first event for the 2008 beautillion class. Recruitment for participants, all high school seniors, begins in September. From then until the May graduation event, the young men, or “beaus,” take part in more than a dozen activities relating to college readiness, developmental health, and cultural awareness: This year, they went on a three-day retreat, spent a night observing the legislative process in Annapolis, and got lessons on etiquette and grooming. In addition to opportunities for bonding with peers and mentoring, the beautillion process serves as a scholarship fund-raiser. Friends and families write checks to the nonprofit Delta Lambda Foundation on the participant’s behalf. The beau receives the total, minus 15 percent for program costs, for

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A night to remember: Beaus and escorts promenade at Martin’s West.

college expenses. Regardless of how much the beaus raise, the fraternity guarantees each no less than $500. Some have walked away with as much as $6,000. I posed the same question to nearly every beau: Do your peers ever tease you for learning about place settings or struggling with bow ties? “Everybody thinks it’s a great idea— friends, family, teachers,” said Kahri Henderson from Baltimore City College High School. Whether they were football players, musicians, or debaters, that answer was consistent. It is, for some, a life-changing experience. During this year’s retreat, one participant said the program might have saved his life: He became a beau instead of joining a gang. Each beau needs a mother and a father to participate in the ceremony. Henderson’s mother passed away when he was young, so the organizers recruited a surrogate, Vicki Jenkins, from one of the organizers’ church. “I said, ‘I’m gonna follow you through to college,’” said Jenkins, recalling a conversation she had with Henderson shortly after they met. “‘You’re my son not just for a night,’” she promised. Each beau also needs a date, although the organizers prefer the term “escort,” to emphasize the fact that a beau should bring someone he respects and believes could benefit from the process, and not necessarily a girlfriend. The escorts attend the spring rehearsals that lead up to the ball.

A few hours before the start of the May 17 ceremony at Martin’s West, I caught up with beau William Brayboy’s escort, Jasmine Allen, who was decked out in a floor-length white tulle gown. “I was reluctant at first,” she told me. At one point, she said, she wondered, “Why am I here?” But now she was convinced it had all been worth it. In the five minutes I sat next to her, five people complimented her on her appearance. “Once you’re in it,” she explained, “you’ll feel good about yourself because of the way you look and how you feel about yourself.” Still, when you’re standing in a roomful of Baltimore-area teenagers in black tailcoats, it’s hard not to wonder about the arch-traditional elements of the beautillion. To some the emphasis on etiquette and finery reeks of classism. Stacy Rodgers has heard this argument before. Her son was in the beautillion in 2004, and she’s been coaching the female escorts on how to curtsy, stand, and glide across the floor since 2005. “We should be able to expose our children to the best of the best,” said Rodgers, who serves as deputy secretary of programs for the Maryland Department of Human Resources, the state’s human services agency. The position gives her the chance to see what happens to children who are denied opportunities to learn about customs and behaviors outside of their immediate, sometimes impoverished, environment. “You should be able to dine with

kings and queens and go back and be the sister girl around the way.” But perhaps even thornier than class is the question of conservative gender roles: The beautillion cultivates a type of refinement in which the women are pretty and graceful and the men are strong and chivalrous. How receptive would the chapter be if, for example, a beau wanted to bring another beau as an escort? “We don’t ask about sexual orientation,” R. Anthony Mills Sr., Delta Lambda chapter president, told me. “We are unashamed about indicating that your escort is [to be] a woman. We’ve not to my knowledge been in a situation where someone has wanted to do anything differently. We set the expectation and let the chips fall where they may.” At 9:45 p.m. the first beau, Eric Sanders Jr., was introduced. After his name was called, he walked slowly down the main aisle then stood still while the master of ceremonies read a brief biography. His escort, Teresa Folks, waiting twenty feet away near the front of the stage, walked forward, accepted a longstemmed yellow rose, and curtsied before Sanders escorted her to the side of the stage. After all the beaus had been introduced, the music for the promenade began. The boys took their mothers, standing in the front row, by the hand, and they walked through a choreographed sequence of turns and bows as a group. At the end of the song the beaus walked their mothers off the floor, picked up their escorts, and performed a similar movement with them. Johnson had explained the significance earlier. “When they finish that dance with their mothers, they’re basically saying goodbye,” he said. “The next woman in their lives may be a mate. It’s a seamless transition from adolescence to adulthood.” The high point of the evening came as the beaus stood in front of the stage while their fathers walked down the main aisle to John Williams’ “Dry Your Tears, Afrika,” from the soundtrack to the film Amistad, and lined up behind them. “Present the medallions,” Johnson commanded. The beaus about-faced, and the fathers placed gold-plated medallions attached to Kente cloth ropes around their necks. The fathers walked off, Johnson presented the beaus, now officially men, to the assembly, and six hundred people cheered. I caught up with Johnson immediately after the ceremony. I already knew the answer, but I asked if those were tears I saw in his eyes. He smiled. “You don’t need to put that in the article, do you?” he asked. I lowered my pad and pen just a bit and told him that I might. ■

e d u c at i o n

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“Kids spend five hours a day in front of video games, TVs, and iPods, and about four minutes outside,” says Peggy O’Neill, the Irvine Nature Center’s interim executive director. “These are the future stewards of our planet.”

Out of the woods: Kids discover the great outdoors inside the new $4.2 million Irvine Nature Center near Owings Mills.

Inside Out On a beaming summer morning in a barnturned-nature-center on the grounds of St. Timothy’s private school for girls in Baltimore County, an almost-3-year-old boy went nose-to-nose with a spadefoot toad. A staffer lifted the creature, small enough to serve on a cracker, from its aquarium and held it before the child, who did what came naturally. He went bananas. It was a scene familiar to anyone who has spent time in any of a thousand environmental education centers and schools created in the 1970s by environmentalists who wanted to teach children to care for the suddenly vulnerable planet. The Irvine Nature Center’s modest menagerie included the toad, some Madagascar hissing cockroaches, and a boa constrictor. A hodgepodge of handmade nature exhibits and a collection of well-handled feathers and bones decorated the humble interior. The place had been kept alive by generations of seasonal naturalists and nonprofiteers who crammed into offices in the old hayloft, accepting paltry wages in return for doing something they believed in and a chance to make the woods their workplace. But at the end of July, after thirty-three years next to the pond at St. Timothy’s, Irvine uprooted and moved about six miles northwest, to a new facility on 116 acres of forest and farmland outside Owings Mills. Designed by the architectural firm Grieves

church. Inside are spacious offices, four large classrooms, a nature shop, and a central hall designed by the Maryland Science Center that takes virtually everything that’s outside and brings it inside: There are interactive exhibits on woodlands, wetlands, and meadows, and a dark room designed to mimic the forest at night. Irvine, which a decade ago ran on less than $500,000 a year, now boasts an annual budget of more than $1.2 million. In addition to ten environmental educators, the center has an administrative staff of six, with eight others dedicated to development and marketing. The new facility and a recent media blitz, buoyed by $8.5 million in pledges and donations, aim to reposition Irvine as a community resource center and a major regional attraction, says interim executive director Peggy O’Neill, who was business manager at the private Whitby School in Greenwich, Connecticut, for fourteen years and more recently worked at the Garrison Forest private girls’ school. With growing alarm about global warming and environmental destruction, environmental education nationwide seems poised to leap out of the creek and into the mainstream. The movement has been spurred by Richard Louv’s 2005 book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from NatureDeficit Disorder, which argues that cooped-up kids are more vulnerable to everything from attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder to childhood obesity. “Kids spend five hours a day in front of video games, TVs, and iPods, and about four minutes outside,” says O’Neill, who bought copies of the book for the entire Irvine staff. “These are the future stewards of our planet.” But despite the latest green wave, nature education is being held down by a national education policy that pushes English and math at the expense of social studies, science, PE, and recess—to say nothing of field trips.

“We’re seeing a new problem in the field of environmental education,” says Tom Ackerman, director of teacher training and student leadership for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, a nonprofit that runs one of the largest environmental education programs in the country. “We’re getting lots of cancellations.” To counter this, the foundation is spearheading the No Child Left Inside Coalition, which now includes more than six hundred environmental education, conservation, and outdoor recreation groups nationwide. The coalition worked with Maryland Congressman John Sarbanes to create a bill that would set aside $500 million over five years for outdoor education. The House passed the bill in September; the Senate isn’t expected to consider it before next year. Things seem to be moving more quickly at the state level. Last April 22—Earth Day— Gov. Martin O’Malley established the Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature, a committee that includes staffers from the state education and natural resources departments as well as environmental educators. He charged the group with developing an “environmental literacy” plan for the state’s public schools. The plan, which will include curricula, models for outdoor learning programs, and professional development opportunities for teachers, is due out January 1. Meanwhile, Ackerman says the bay foundation has kept its school programs going by putting more energy into recruitment. Back at Irvine, the mood has been a little jittery. O’Neill says the organization “made some assumptions” when it created the new facility. Among them was the assumption that they could draw larger crowds, bolstering revenue for an organization that drew 88 percent of its income last year from contributions and just 2 percent from program fees and sales from the nature store. The organization is in the process of raising $3 million for an endowment, and O’Neill says she is working toward a “healthier balance” between revenues and gifts, which are risky to rely on. But that could be difficult if the bus- and carloads of kids fail to show up. As gas prices rose this summer, the Irvine staff made contingency plans to take more programs to schools that couldn’t afford to bring kids to the center. So far, though, interest in the center seems high, and O’Neill remains optimistic that the national trends are working in Irvine’s favor. “We’ve been doing this ‘being green’ since 1975,” she says, “and suddenly it is the ‘in’ thing to be.” ■

s u s ta i n a b l e c i t y

baltimore observed

—Greg Hanscom

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The Advocate

Public health practitioner Dr. Kimá Joy Taylor diagnoses America’s health care crisis I n t erv i e w

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n 1994, when an ambitious Clinton administration proposal to guarantee health coverage for every American collapsed into a bitter partisan feud, health care proponents across the country were distraught. “It felt like a complete failure at the time,” remembers Dr. Kimá Joy Taylor, who since October 2007 has directed the Open Society InstituteBaltimore’s Tackling Drug Addiction initiative. Today, forty-seven million Americans are uninsured, and Americans typically spend twice what residents in other industrialized countries do on health care. Despite this, Taylor says the 1990s push for universal health care was not in vain: “It started a lot of the conversations about what does and does not work on a national level.” Indeed, fourteen years later, just weeks before a presidential election, health care access and affordability are again top priorities for both major party nominees. In 1998, after completing her residency at George Washington University Medical Center, Taylor entered the federal National Health Service Corps, a Department of Health and Human Services program that sends doctors to underserved communities—in her case, Unity Health Care’s Upper Cardozo Center in Northwest Washington, D.C. There, despite language barriers, she felt an immediate bond with the center’s patients, who were largely drawn from the area’s Vietnamese, Ethiopian, and Hispanic communities. Convinced of the importance of literacy for basic health awareness, she started a book drive that evolved into the nonprofit Reach Out and Read of Metro D.C. That book drive foreshadowed her transition out of primary care into public health policy. In 2002, she won the Commonwealth Fund/ Harvard University Fellowship in Minority Health Policy, which covered the cost of her master’s degree in public health. In 2004, she became health legislative assistant to U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, and in 2006 she began working as assistant commissioner of the Baltimore City Department of Health. She left that post in 2007—in part, she says, “because I just needed to see my family”: husband Reed, 2-year-old son Kai, and, now, a baby due in January. “As a pediatrician, I told people how to take care of their kids and felt guilty that I wasn’t spending more time with my own.” Taylor takes the long view on some of urban America’s starkest health disparities, a pragmatism built on her clinical experience on the frontlines of America’s health care crisis. That experience motivated her to work for more systemic change, but she warns that her medical colleagues, like most Americans, will have to adopt a very different approach if a comprehensive system becomes a reality. “People think doctors are going to have the wonderful ability to bridge all the gaps,” she says of America’s fragmented health system, “but we were brought up in the same communities as everyone else, with the same prejudices.”

Q A

Why did you decide to pursue a career in medicine?

There’s something very tangible about medicine. Someone comes in sick. God willing, you can do something, and they get better. Sometimes it doesn’t always work that way, but it’s very concrete. My

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main thing was wanting to help the underserved, people who don’t have a voice, having often been in that position myself.

Q A

In what ways did you feel disempowered?

For one, being an African American woman in areas where there were not many African Americans. Society is getting better now, but there was always one track for everything, and if you’re not in that track, your voice is not heard. If you look at statistics for many minority populations, you’ll see that medicine hasn’t really taken into account all the cultural issues and other aspects that are involved in people’s care. When I was coming up in medicine, when you saw African American patients, a majority of times, it would be in, say, slideshows about sexually transmitted diseases. Meanwhile, other crucial differences just weren’t discussed. With jaundice, for example, if you’re light skinned, your whole body turns yellow. If you’re not, what should a doctor look for? Because I’m African American, I ask. But that information should be available to everyone.

Q A

Why did you decide to get a public health degree?

I was frustrated that I had multiple kids who had the exact same symptoms and I couldn’t do anything. At the clinic, kids came in with lead levels high enough to require hospitalization. We’d treat that one child, but a year later see another case involving a different family from the same apartment. One family moved away from the health hazard, but another moved in. I could give each patient medicine, but I couldn’t treat the whole person. When you start to ask about the bigger issues— in this case, environmental factors—that’s when public health comes in.

Q

Do you think that what you learned in public health school should be built into the basic medical curriculum?

A

Yes, but in retrospect, a lot of it—the follow-up phone calls to make sure a patient is taking her medicine, working with a school so that a patient can be seen during the day, begging a specialist to see someone who doesn’t have insurance—I probably learned while working in the clinic. But you don’t realize what you’re learning because it’s in such a medical context. You’re used to being an advocate, but you’re not used to saying, “This is the skill that makes this advocacy easier” or, “This is the road map that you need to use.”

Q

So you see advocacy as something that should come natu rally to doctors?

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keynote

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A

I think so. It’s as basic as advocating for someone to get their shots. On a larger level, you’re an advocate when your patient doesn’t have insurance but needs to see a psychiatrist.

Q

You hear stories about doctors thinking like social workers to fi ll gaps in patient care, then acting like accountants to keep their hospital or clinic fi nancially solvent. Should we patients be concerned?

A

Hugely. I have friends who always want to bring up Sweden [and that country’s universal health care system]. My response is, “Everyone in Sweden looks the same.” Once Sweden started getting immigrants, buddy, those conversations got ugly. So it would be much more difficult, but we’re never going to get to national health care unless we start having honest conversations.

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Q

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Yes. You should be very concerned. It’s all about volume and how many patients the doctor has seen. You have seven-and-a-half minute slots. You’re not building rapport in that short amount of time. If a patient’s the least bit reluctant to open up, you’re never going to get at that one comment that could be key.

All of the facilities listed in the U.S. News & World Report ranking of the country’s best hospitals are in urban areas. But according to a report released last year by the National Association of County & City Health Offi cials, mortality rates for residents in America’s largest cities are twenty percent higher than the rate for all other sections of the country combined. Should we all move to rural Pennsylvania? No. Rural areas have their issues, too, because there are so few doctors there. A lot of people still don’t think in public health terms. Doctors and everyone else are very much patient-focused as opposed to populationfocused. Once you start talking about the whole person and population, you realize we need to do something about pollution. It’s a bigger picture. If you start thinking in public health terms, you ask, “How do we get the hospitals to actually work together and talk together for the good of the community?” One patient is seen at one facility, and it’s like it never happened when they go to the next hospital.

Q

You’ve described a fragmented health care system in which even many who have coverage do not receive high-quality care. What’s stopping us from implementing a universal system that actually works?

A

I think Americans have a very different understanding of health care. National health care [as it is practiced in other countries] is prevention-focused. It’s about making sure everyone has the basics. It’s about getting generic drugs as opposed to the newest drug out on the market. It’s not about getting the open MRI when I walk into the doctor’s office and ask [for it]. It’s not about the patient dictating care. I think for a lot of Americans, if they’re honest with themselves, it’s going to be hard to accept that this is the case. There still will be, in many respects, two tiers of care, one for the very rich and then national health care. That used to hurt me to some extent, but now I just don’t care. The rich are always going to have access to a wider range of services with fewer time constraints. That’s a given, but let’s at least make sure everyone else has basic care.

Q

I’ve lived in Great Britain, which has a national health care system, but with that system come arguments about what illnesses and interventions will be covered and how long it will take to receive treatment. How much more complicated would those arguments be in America, which has a much more diverse population?

What do you think about a jurisdiction like Howard County, Maryland, trying to institute universal health care on its own? I think that what programs like this can do for the national level is show that it can be done. People are still going to pooh-pooh it and say, “Well, Howard County’s so wealthy,” but it at least shows they can work through some of the nuts and bolts on a small level and say, “These are the things that work and these are the things that don’t work.”

Fifteen years ago, people like Hillary Clinton encountered fi erce opposition while pushing for universal health care. But the conversation has changed, especially during the lead-up to next month’s presidential election. Where do you think we’ll be on the issue fi fteen years from now? I don’t think we’ll have national health care. I think we’ll have a lot more local programs like Howard County’s. I think we’ll be many steps closer, because a lot of these programs will have made us have the dialogue, but America isn’t ready to race into national health care. I say that with a heavy heart. God, before I die, please let us have it.

Q

There are obviously a lot of different ways to advocate for change within the health care system. Are there any that strike you as more or less helpful than others?

A

Real-life stories can be very effective. One of the things that influences some of my colleagues in medicine when they say, “Oh, everyone has health insurance,” is talking to someone who doesn’t. You need to see the story firsthand for it to really hit you. Voting is also hugely important. With respect to addiction treatment, a lot of legislators don’t think that’s something people vote on. Meanwhile, most potential constituents think one vote doesn’t matter. Well, it always matters. If you get everyone to vote, legislators see that there’s a bloc of support behind an issue. Being able to say, “I know this program works because I have the data to show it”—that makes people jump on board. Then there’s media and communications, but media not just in terms of newsprint. If you’re able to influence different forms of mass communication and entertainment— like movies, for example—that totally changes people’s ways of thinking. A perfect example of many of these tactics is the movement around breast cancer. My grandmother had breast cancer in the late 1970s, but no one talked about it back then. You went in, had your mastectomy, and that was it. But now—because survivors speak out, host walks, and educate policymakers—when they say the National Institutes of Health needs funding to conduct basic cancer research, it happens. If you have larger coalitions working, people can take pieces. To think that you’re going to move something forward just on your own is probably naive. ■

—Lionel Foster is Urbanite’s staff writer.

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The hauls of medicine: Tim Pickering, vice president of Biomedical Waste Services, says his company collects 1 to 2 million pounds of medical waste each year.

HEALTH BY THE NUMBERS: For source material, go to www.urbanitebaltimore.com.


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Green Rx for a Dirty Industry Every day, a fleet of nine trucks emblazoned with the moniker “Biomedical Waste Services” rumbles through the streets of Baltimore, patrolling from loading dock to loading dock, collecting everything from used needles to leftover chemotherapy drugs from three local hospitals and roughly five hundred doctors’ and dentists’ offices. Much of the refuse packs a toxic wallop: expired medications from pharmacies, mercury fixative used in pathology labs, and radioactive waste from the VA Hospital downtown. The 45,000 to 50,000 pickups made statewide by BWS trucks each year add up. The company collects more than 12,000 gallons of hazardous waste packed in Department of Transportation-approved drums, 1 to 2 million pounds of medical waste in telltale red plastic bags, and 100,000 pounds of computers and other “e-waste.” Decades back, steel was king in Baltimore. Today, the city runs on health care, which comprises the fastest-growing sector of the economy and serves as a linchpin of the Baltimore Development Corp.’s efforts to catalyze growth in the region. But behind the gleaming laboratories and white-coated doctors, the health care system has a dark side: Nationwide, hospitals produce nearly 4 billion pounds of trash each year. This river of refuse that flows out the back doors and into landfills, rivers, and the air we breathe has come to symbolize the excesses of a bloated, wasteful industry. And it’s an industry that keeps growing. Today, the $2.3 trillion sector represents more than 16 percent of the gross domestic product. By 2016, it’s expected to blossom

Between 2006 and 2007, 8 percent of Americans, or 23.1 million people, delayed medical treatment because of cost. An additional 6 percent, or 17.3 million, did not receive care at all.

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Green machine: Nurse Barbara Sattler, director of the University of Maryland School of Nursing’s Environmental Health Education Center, started the state chapter of Hospitals for a Healthy Environment.

to 20 percent. And in anticipation of a tsunami of demand from aging baby boomers, the industry is in the midst of a $200-billion building campaign. In Baltimore, that translates to more than $2 billion in construction at Mercy Medical Center and Johns Hopkins, Franklin Square, and St. Agnes hospitals. For health care providers focused on the Hippocratic precept, “First, do no harm,” toxic trash is a sign of an increasingly alarming truth. Our health care system is making people and the environment sick. Nurses suffer one of the highest occupational rates of asthma in the nation. Medical labs juggle an extensive chemical arsenal, complemented by the caustic cleaning supplies and neurotoxic pesticides used throughout health care facilities. Pharmaceuticals work their way through our bodies and wastewater treatment plants and into our waterways. Dioxin, a compound released into the atmosphere by medical waste incinerators, poisons breast milk, which has become the most chemically contaminated of all foods. Efforts to clean up the industry first made headlines in the late 1980s, when needles and other medical refuse washed up on East Coast beaches. In 1998, the American Hospital Association, the American Nurses Association, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made a joint pledge to cut medical waste in half by 2010, forming the advocacy organization Hospitals for a Healthy Environment (H2E)—now called Practice Greenhealth—to promote environmental sustainability in health care. Health Care Without Harm, founded in 1996, helped shutter several thousand medical waste incinerators nationwide and create tougher emissions standards for those that remain. Today, the group boasts nearly five hundred member organizations in fifty countries. Meanwhile, the nonprofit Teleosis Institute has launched a green pharmaceuticals program, and Healthcare Design magazine highlights the latest in green building. “Given that our mission is both to keep people healthy and help them heal when they’re unhealthy, it would be a complete contradiction for us to contribute to poor health—whether of employees, patients, or the community,” says nurse Barbara Sattler, professor and director of the University of Maryland School of Nursing’s

Environmental Health Education Center and head of the nation’s only graduate program in environmental nursing. “We’re focused on making our mission consistent; we want our health care institutions to be healing places.” To move Maryland’s hospitals closer to that goal, Sattler authored a grant application in 2005 to establish a Maryland chapter of Hospitals for a Healthy Environment. She called on many of the same philanthropic heavyweights that have supported the construction of hospitals throughout the region: the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation, the Zanvyl and Isabelle Krieger Family Foundation, the Aaron and Lillie Straus Foundation, the Clayton Baker Trust, and the Abell Foundation. The Maryland chapter of H2E now boasts a membership comprising more than half of the hospitals in the state. These facilities have implemented innovative recycling and composting efforts, developed local food programs, reduced reliance on toxic chemicals, and established environmentally preferable purchasing policies. “We’re now seeing the hospitals begin to adopt an environmental ethic,” Sattler says, “so it’s part of the fabric of the decisions they’re making.” That doesn’t make it easy. Greening the industry requires confronting a set of unique realities. Hospitals run twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year. A staggering array of state, federal, and accreditation agencies regulates the sector. Then there are the people—patients, employees, and a highly decentralized management system to keep it all together. “An institution with six thousand employees and eight hundred patients on any given day, it’s a huge operation,” says Denise Choiniere, a cardiac care nurse and environmental health coordinator at the University of Maryland Medical Center, who piloted a program that now recycles 97,000 batteries each year that were previously incinerated. “You can’t just stick out some recontinued on page 103

Drawing connections: Baltimore Medical System CEO Jay Wolvovsky (right) and colleague Fitsum Temelisso look at plans for a green clinic slated to open in Highlandtown in early 2010.

THIRTY-FIVE percent of conventional cleaning products can cause blindness, damage skin, or harm organs through the skin. w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m o c t o b e r 0 8

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Old school workout: Kevin Campbell hits the heavy bag during a session with a private boxing coach.

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veryone who has tried and failed to stick with an exercise program is familiar with The Moment of Unbearable Boredom. It washes over you while you’re on the elliptical machine, the treadmill, the stationary bike—any piece of equipment that spins very quickly without going anywhere. In between thumbing through the gym’s wrinkled copy of Self, you find yourself checking the clock every thirty seconds. Has it really only been five minutes? And then it hits you: There is no way you are going to keep this routine up for another month, let alone for the rest of your life. It’s not all in your head. Your rut is real, and it can affect your body as well as your brain. Doing the same thing over and over can lead to repetitive stress injuries, and if you never challenge your muscles to do new things, you’ll likely plateau, stop seeing results, and grow discouraged. But if you mix it up (known in the fitness biz as cross training), you’re much more likely to stay interested, stick with a program, maybe even—gasp—have a good time. In order to escape the endless grind of the Stairmaster, I went out in search of a fitness routine that would be less, well, routine. Something novel. Intense. Possibly strange. Most importantly, I looked for—and found— workouts that engaged my mind at least as much as they challenged (and sometimes punished) my body.

Pain,Your Gain In Search of the Boredom-Proof Workout B Y

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Hoop dreams: Noelle Powers and Owen Smith display their hoopidexterity.

Sir Yes Sir! Charm City Fitness Boot Camp

The Audacity of hoop Hooping Class Trance-y trip-hop music fills the air. A handful of adults, myself included, sway our hips rhythmically back and forth, back and forth, trying to keep our hoops aloft around our waists. The instructor, Noelle Powers, reminds us to change directions from time to time, both to balance out our bodies and so that we can become “hoopidextrous.” If your idea of the hula hoop begins and ends with the flimsy plastic Wham-O version from the 1950s, you’re in for a surprise. For one thing, the modern exercise hoop is bigger and heavier than its kid cousin. The hoop itself dates back to ancient Egypt; then, it was made of dried grapevines. Some Native American cultures practice a sacred hoop dance, which in part symbolizes the endless circle of life. The “hula” part signifies an act of cultural appropriation to modern hoopers and as such is strictly verboten. (If you must, use “hoola.”) Thanks in part to the current popularity of hooping in the jam-band and rave scenes, the modern hooper tends to be something of a laid-back hippie type: Think peace, love, and understanding, by way of Burning Man. Hooping is the perfect antidote to a modern, frenzied, results-driven type-A workout. It’s more like playing than exercising—getting in shape just, like, happens. “Sure, it’s a great exercise for your body,” Powers says. “But it’s also great for your brain.” Because the hoop is touching the left and right sides of the body in quick succes-

sion, both hemispheres of the brain are being activated in a unique way. This bilateral stimulation, Powers believes, is a great stress reducer. Hooping can also be “therapeutic, spiritual, and meditative,” she says. In class, we don’t just learn how to keep the hoops twirling around our hips. We learn to move in a circle, to twirl the hoops on our arms and necks, and how to move the hoop up and down our bodies. It’s all in the speed: Powers demonstrates that, if you slow down, the hoop will slide below your hips; increase your speed and the hoop rises. When I try this, the hoop slides all the way down, not to be coaxed back up. “It was not what I had anticipated,” first-timer Brian Fitzek confesses afterward. “Before, I had a hard time imagining hooping for an hour, but I came to realize there is much more one can do with hoops.” Once we have the basics down, Powers, who comes from a dance background, encourages us to cut loose and express ourselves to the music. “Take your own style into the hoop,” she says. After hooping for an hour, my style is to stand in one place and try to keep the thing aloft. But even with my technical limitations, I can begin to feel hooping’s rhythmic, hypnotic quality—there is definitely something soothing in keeping the big wheel turning. There are ongoing hooping classes at Studio Edge in Mount Washington (1425 Clarkview Rd., Suite 500; 410-296-4955; www.thestudioedge.com) and the Stadium Place YMCA (900 E. 33rd St.; 410-889-9622; www. ymaryland.org). Visit www.hoopingpowers.com for schedules.

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In a gadget- and gear-obsessed world, boot camp is a refreshing return to bare-bones exercise—an old-school beatdown, if you will. Since April 2007, Charm City Fitness has been offering twice-weekly one-hour boot camp classes in Patterson Park. No fancy machines or plasma TVs. It’s just you and your willpower. Which you are going to need: The program was designed by Chris Gonzalez, a personal trainer at Charm City Fitness and an ex-Marine. My teacher, Charm City co-owner Jodi Naasz, is impossibly fit, but not in an intimidating, unachievable way. Neither a scary Lou Gossett Jr.-style drill sergeant nor an insufferable cheerleader type, Naasz manages to be simultaneously motivational and sarcastic: “If


you need to stop, stop,” she tells us during class. “I’m not going to laugh at you. … Well, maybe on the inside.” Boot Camp sessions are coed, but my class is an all-girl army. Things get going gently enough, with a brief jog around the Pulaski Monument and back to our starting position by the tennis courts, where we warm up with some calf, quad, and bicep stretches. Then it’s down to business. We take off running around the park doing “Indian sprints”—the class forms a line, with each participant running next to a partner. Naasz sets the pace (it’s fast), and when she shouts, “Go!” the last in line sprints to the front. Again. And again. And again. Never a fast runner, I experience a bit of highschool-track-team anxiety that I will be left behind at the back of the pack. I’m a sweaty, gasping mess, but I keep up. This is followed by calisthenics, situps, crunches, leg lifts, squats … and more Indian sprints. Naasz plants us in the full August sun to do push-ups. But it isn’t until I find myself with burning legs, trying to bunny-hop up a flight of stairs for the second time, that the full meaning of “boot camp” starts to sink in. Despite all the physical punishment, what could be a grueling endurance test is actually kind of lighthearted, thanks in large part to Naasz’s upbeat attitude and unbridled enthusiasm. “I love being fit and exercising, but I understand that most people don’t share my enthusiasm,” she says. “My goal is to make fitness less intimidating and more enjoyable for my clients.” And her clients definitely catch the spirit. Alison Jones liked what she saw in boot camp so much that she reenlisted for a second round. “What sets boot camp apart is that I don’t get bored,” she says. “I tend to lose focus in my usual routines.” Charm City Fitness: 3039 Eastern Ave.; 410-327-8783; www.citysweat.com

Drill now: Jodi Naasz leads her recruits through boot camp.

Nearly a

Lethal weapon: Dewi Smith toughs it out in a Krav Maga punching drill. The self-defense classes are designed to simulate the adrenaline rush of real combat.

Street Fighter Krav Maga “It took me years to realize you can kick someone in the groin even when they’re bending over.” Not exactly the kind of thing you want to hear from your instructor at the average group exercise class. But at Krav Maga Maryland in Owings Mills, fitness is the byproduct, not the goal. Learning practical, real world selfdefense skills is the number-one priority here, and the real world angle is no joke: Krav Maga teaches techniques to defend against all manner of attacks, including those from assailants armed with knives and guns. The system was devised by the Israeli military and is now part of the required training for Baltimore County police officers. Krav Maga is not a martial art in the traditional sense. “It’s not aesthetic,” says lead instructor and director of operations Jeff Mount. “It’s purely functional, and the one goal is self-defense.” It’s true: In one class, I learn how to get out of two chokeholds and a headlock. At first, grabbing my partner’s face in order to wriggle free of his grip feels downright impolite, but after a few tries it begins to seem disturbingly natural. The hour-long class is punctuated by fast, intense, exhausting drills: sprinting, jumping with the knees to the chest, kicking, punching, and then kicking some more. All of this is designed to wear you out and train you to be, as Mount says, “explosive.” “You must feel physically, emotionally, and mentally what it’s like to be in a fight,” he says. “In that situation, your adrenaline and your fear will make you feel like this.” Once

you reach the point of exhaustion, it’s time to go at it again. There’s an almost joyous bloodthirstiness to all this, but the vibe is not macho; women make up about 30 to 40 percent of the student body. Erika Kilchenstein, a student at Towson University, loves Krav Maga so much that she participates in a sparring session despite broken toes. (No, she didn’t break them in class.) The injury doesn’t seem to stop her from kicking, wrestling, or hanging upside down from the heavy bag while her gloved classmate punches her in the stomach and ribs. “You don’t even know you’re exercising!” she enthuses afterwards. “I’ll take class for three hours at a time because it’s so interesting.” Krav Maga in Owings Mills: 11299 Owings Mills Blvd., Suite 113; 410-356-0707; www.kravmd.com. Visit the website for other area locations.

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Pole position: Amy Solis flips for the “stripper workout” at Xpose Fitness.

Ladies Only Pole Dancing and Exotic Chair Class Candace Schaeck, owner and instructor at Xpose Fitness in Towson, is leading a room full of women of very different shapes and sizes in something called an exotic chair class. “Keep on those toes, pretty ladies!” she exhorts. “Doesn’t it feel goooood? Oooh!” About half of the students wear sky-high stripper heels or go-go boots, while the other half—myself included—sport more modest white gym socks. Nothing particularly salacious is actually going on here. While there are some

hip grinds and pelvic thrusts in the routine, exotic chair class is essentially an incredibly vigorous core workout combining elements of Pilates and yoga. The main deviations from a standard exercise class are the incorporation of a chair, which is occasionally straddled and referred to as your “victim,” and the spinning disco ball, which helps set the mood. The self-proclaimed mission of the Xpose Fitness chain is to help women feel fit, sexy, and empowered. No men are allowed past the lobby, and there’s definitely a chummy clubbiness among the women here—and an almost feverish devotion to the system. “It’s totally non-judgmental,” says florist Sharon Gordon, who has been an adherent for two years. At 50, she is rocking a pair of black knee-high, lace-up go-go boots and a tiny black skort. “It’s changed my confidence and my body image for the better. This group of women has become like a family.” Of course, the most iconic element of the so-called “stripper workout” is pole dancing, the other class offered at Xpose. The pole studio consists of ten brass poles, a wall of mirrors, and another disco ball. Jamie Fleming, a student at Towson University, calls it “vertical ballet.” In her pink skort and silver glitter disco boots, she demonstrates a seemingly impossible contortion called “the Gemini,” followed by an inversion in which she holds onto the pole with her legs, eventually ending up in a handstand with her legs in a straddle. She’s been taking lessons for six months and claims that her first time she was “totally uncoordinated.” Now she makes it look easy. I quickly discover that there’s nothing easy about it. Working the pole—the spins, the dips, and the more advanced inversions—requires a lot of core and upper-body strength. To help build that strength, Schaeck instructs us to jump up, grab the pole, and hold on for dear life. My shaking biceps can’t

In 1900, the average American life expectancy was

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cut it, and I slide to the floor in an unbecoming heap. I’m also having a bit of trouble letting go when it comes to the more, er, expressive moves. Crawling around like a cat and hoisting my leg around a metal pole feel more awkward than sexy. Then again, it could be my gym socks and sweatpants. No one else seems to be encumbered by self-consciousness, after all. “It gives you a new respect for women who do it for a living!” Gordon says. “This is it for me,” Fleming adds. “I just can’t do elliptical bullshit.” Xpose Fitness: 1700 Joan Ave., Towson; 410-661-1301; www.xposefitness.com. Visit website for other area locations.

The Sweet Science Private Boxing Lessons If you take private boxing lessons from personal trainer and coach Jim Meyer, you’re not going to get some watered-down cardioaerobics version. He’s got too much respect for the sport for that. He will put you through the same paces, drills, and exercises he teaches to the pros he trains. That doesn’t mean you’re going to have to get in the ring and fight, but you will get an intense workout that requires your full physical and mental participation. Meyer started boxing when he was 8 in a program at the Middle River Boys Club. He had Olympic aspirations, which were dashed when he tore up his knee in a motorcycle accident, ending his amateur career with a 422-0 record. He worked as a personal trainer for several years before he started teaching his favorite sport to his non-boxer clients. “From the very start I wanted to teach real boxing and nothing else,” Meyer says. “I knew the workout got results, and learning the science was fun. I’m happy to say I’ve created a lot of boxing fans from people who were never interested in the sport.” My lesson begins with two two-minute rounds of jump rope, to build endurance

forty-seven years.


and to develop hand-eye coordination. Then it’s on to major core work combined with plyometrics—explosive movements that help develop a powerful punch. In one exercise, I lie flat on my back while Meyer repeatedly drops a medicine ball towards my head from above, which I must catch and throw back up to him. My arms are already shaking, and I haven’t even boxed yet. Then comes the fun stuff: the actual punching drills. Meyer wraps my hands and helps me into my gloves—I feel, briefly, like a real fighter. Then I realize how little I actually know. First I must learn the proper stance. Then, Meyer teaches me the six basic numbered punches—left jab is one, right cross is two, left and right hooks are three and six, left and right uppercuts are five and four. It sounds simple until he starts calling out combinations for me to land on the focus mitts (special padded leather gloves that serve as targets).

Meyer gives me a whirlwind tour through skills that ordinarily would be developed over weeks—punching the heavy bag, the reflex bag, and the life-size dummy that Meyer calls “Bob.” The reflex bag gives me the most trouble. I flail at it, trying desperately to land a glove on the bobbing and weaving bag. In the few times I manage to connect with a left jab, my timing is all wrong and my punch feels weak as a kitten’s. I have better luck later in my session working on the focus mitts. For a brief time, during a fast (for me) punching combination, I get to taste the addictive quality of getting in the zone. My gloves make a satisfying “thwack” as they land on the mitt’s sweet spot. I’m not thinking, I’m reacting; I am one with my gloves. Of course, the moment I notice this, the spell is broken and I almost put my face into a focus mitt. “You started thinking,” Meyer says, sagely. An hour of my life has never passed so quickly. Meyer says he always likes to mix things up to make sure his clients stay motivated. That’s what keeps Anne Santoni Rouse coming back for more. “He is always challenging me,” Rouse says. Once, Meyer wrapped a rubber strength-training band around her waist, stretched it out, and made her pull him up and down the gym. “I was probably saying some interesting words that day,” she laughs. The next day, I wake up feeling as if a truck ran over my forearms and obliques. And I want to do it again. In fact, I feel as if I could do this exact workout every day and never get tired of it. Mission accomplished. ■

Workout Makeover Still not satisfied? Here are some more ideas to help liven up your fitness routine. Get in touch with your inner goddess with some belly dancing lessons. For a list of area instructors, visit www. baltimorebellydance.com. Capoeira is a martial art developed by slaves in Brazil in which fighting masquerades as dancing. (See Urbanite, January ’07). Visit the website of the International Capoeira Angola Foundation’s Baltimore chapter for class information and locations: www.baltimorecapoeira.org. There’s a reason that ballet dancers have such long, lean muscles. Become the prima ballerina or danseur you know you were meant to be with

Baynesville Boxing and Fitness: 8630 Loch Raven Blvd., Towson; 410-698-5032; www.maryland fitnesstrainer.com.

adult ballet classes at Baltimore Ballet (www.baltimoreballet.org). When you were a kid, you called it

—Freelance writer Tracey Middlekauff lives in Homeland. This is her first story for Urbanite.

having fun, not exercise. Bring that joy back and go rollerskating with friends or family at Putty Hill Skateland (8019 Belair Rd.; 410-661-7778). If Marie Osmond can do it, you can too. Learn swing dancing at the Avalon

It’s a hit: Trainer Jim Meyer puts client Kevin Campbell (pictured) through a punching drill.

Movement Studio in Catonsville (www. avalondance.com).

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SickChic

ON GROWING ILL IN PUBLIC By

st epH a n I e

I L LU st r at I o n

By

L e a fi n g t h r o u g h a 2007 issue of Glamour magazine—in the doctor’s office, naturally—I found a new wrinkle on what has become a staple of women’s magazines: the cancer chronicle. The introduction to fashion designer Liz Lange’s account, “How I Beat Cancer—My Way,” took a disconcerting tone. The story’s lead-in marveled that, unlike other luminaries who wasted no time broadcasting their cancer diagnoses to the world, Lange was slow to post her big news. But, “Six years after being diagnosed with cervical cancer, she’s finally sharing her story.” In the word “finally,” I detected subtle condemnation. How could Lange have held out on us, the magazine seemed to ask, even if she later explained that her initial secrecy “helped keep life normal”? Isn’t every cancer-stricken celebrity obliged to share his or her saga with the masses, ASAP? Lange came around, though. Now that she had been cancer-free for six years, it was “the right time to go public,” she wrote. Reminding readers to get a regular Pap smear, the test that Lange said saved her life, she concluded, “I would feel guilty if I didn’t do all I could to save someone else’s.” Once, the “C word” was taboo in a culture where cancer was regarded as a character flaw. “Any disease that is treated as a mystery and acutely enough feared will be felt to be morally, if not literally, contagious,” Susan Sontag wrote in her essay Illness as Metaphor, first published in 1978. Sontag, who died of breast cancer in 2004, lived long enough to see the emergence of a more generous and less judgmental attitude toward illness. But it’s an attitude that is freighted with perplexing implications for a society with few personal boundaries. Medical advances and a popular culture that thrives on confession have absolved the ill of the social stigma that once accompanied disease. Today, illness becomes us as we become ill—and survive to write/blog/stage-whisper on our cell phones about it. The compulsion to document malady as it runs its course has become in itself a contagion, made possible largely by the Internet’s viral capacities. In a cruel but quantifiable way, it can even be cool—and professionally advantageous—to be sick, especially if you have a particularly sad or caustic (or sad and caustic) story to tell. Until shortly before his death in August, journalist Leroy Sievers drew tens of thousands of listeners and Web viewers to a weekly podcast and NPR blog called “My Cancer” that described living with colon

Approximately one diagnosis of cancer.

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cancer; he was also featured, with Lance Armstrong and Elizabeth Edwards, in a Discovery Channel documentary called Living With Cancer. The late computer scientist Randy Pausch’s stirring lecture on embracing life, given while dying of pancreatic cancer, was a YouTube phenomenon that spawned a bestseller, The Last Lecture. In her graphic memoir, Cancer Vixen: A True Story, Marisa Acocella Marchetto asks, “What happens when a shoe-crazy, wine-swilling, big city girl finds a lump in her breast?” (Answer: A possible movie version, with Cate Blanchett slated to star.) Public figures hardly have a monopoly on proclaiming their illness to the world. Any unsuspecting bystander may be privy to explicit conversations once held in confidence with a physician— onerous medical privacy rules notwithstanding. In another era, reputable citizens risked their good name if they confessed to certain maladies. Thomas Eagleton’s admission that he had been treated for clinical depression cost him the vice presidential slot on the Democratic ballot in 1972. Before Magic Johnson’s revelation in 1991 that he had contracted HIV, I remember attending a funeral for an acquaintance where the virus that killed him was never mentioned by name. Now, you can claim anything from HIV/AIDS to erectile dysfunction without becoming a social pariah. Mainstream culture confers honor upon the ill, glorifies them as heroes, blesses them with uncommon fortitude and courage. Illness also grants entrance to exclusive societies, such as the ever-expanding sorority of breast cancer survivors. In a 2001 Harper’s essay called “Welcome to Cancerland,” social critic Barbara Ehrenreich used her own breast cancer diagnosis to question the ultimate benefits of membership in “a cult of pink kitsch”—one whose relentless agenda of charity races and ribbon-wearing has done little more than drum up more business for the “Cancer Industrial Complex”: “America’s breast-cancer cult can be judged as an outbreak of mass delusion, celebrating survivorhood by downplaying mortality and promoting obedience to medical protocols known to have limited efficacy.” Nevertheless, within the real and virtual communities that have coalesced around a disease, syndrome, or disability, illness has become a means of self-identity. Sontag may have maintained that illness has no meaning, but the quest for meaning—and, by extension, identity—persists within these communities, as well as in innumerable articles, films, and books. continued on page 107

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The Fix Can a millennia-old Chinese healing art help solve Baltimore’s substance abuse crisis?

B y

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T

hey gather on a corner in West Baltimore’s Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood early on a hazy August morning. A cluster of gray-haired guys, up from South Baltimore, smoke cigarettes on the sidewalk. Across the street, a couple of young men slouch atop a brick half-wall. A man named Steve sits on a nearby stoop, a red cap shading his weather-worn face. They’re all here for their fix. At nine o’clock the doors open, and the motley group files into the Penn North Neighborhood Center and up the stairs, signing in before taking seats in rings of chairs in a drab conference room. A guy sitting along the back wall asks the gathering crowd if anyone wants to buy a vial of “special oils” from a lime-green Geico bag in his lap. “I got White Diamond, Pattie LaBelle, and Lick Me All Over,” he says. Steve sits with his back to the wall near the door, watching a big ox of a man everyone calls Mark walk to the water cooler. “How you doin’?” Steve asks. “I’m all fucked up,” Mark says. He starts to laugh, but Steve doesn’t let him brush it off: “I know,” Steve says. “I was observin’.” Mark loses his grin. He tells Steve he bottomed out a few days back; he decided to go to the VA Hospital and get some Prozac and painkillers. “I thought about it,” he says, “but I decided not to.” Instead, he came back here, to Penn North (so named because it sits at the intersection of Pennsylvania and North avenues), a facility for recovering addicts that takes an unorthodox approach to managing addiction. Penn North is a project of the 34-year-old Tai Sophia Institute in Laurel, a school that offers masters degrees in acupuncture and herbal medicine. Opened in 1995, Penn North offers an array of treatments ranging from Narcotics Anonymous meetings to acupuncture, massage, and reiki, a Japanese relaxation and healing technique. Natalie Mercer, a former youth minister who signs people in each morning and coordinates the center’s HIV/AIDS education program, teaches a weekly recovery class centered around the seven principles of the African American festival of Kwanzaa.

In 2004, infants of Cuban mothers had rates in the country.

It’s one small front in the battle against one of Baltimore’s most unshakable ills: The city is home to an estimated 45,000 to 85,000 addicts, and their addictions feed a host of other problems, from domestic violence to sky-high rates of incarceration. Penn North’s backers say the approach is working and is bringing treatments that were once dismissed as New Age crystal worship to the gritty world of the city streets. Robert Duggan, an acupuncturist and Tai Sophia co-founder, says that unlike traditional methadone and buprenorphine treatments that substitute one narcotic for another, the techniques at Penn North don’t promise to take the pain away. The thrust of the program is to help addicts recognize the triggers that make them want their drugs and learn to deal with those yearnings in positive ways. “Everybody in Baltimore is addicted,” Duggan says. “They’re addicted to Starbucks, to their wife’s affections, to their children. Our goal is not to stop people from being addicted. It is to move people from nonfunctional to functional addictions.” This morning’s treatment is an odd hybrid of a twelve-step meeting and a meditation session. It begins when acupuncturist Rhonda Sapp Armero, dressed in pink-rimmed glasses and jackedup black shoes, rings a bell three times slowly. The crowd quiets. “Today is August 15, 2008, the only one you will ever see,” Armero says. She reads an inspirational quote about “getting unstuck,” tells the roughly forty people in the room to “take this opportunity to find your yin,” and leads them in a breathing exercise. The group recites the Serenity Prayer. Then the needles come out. Armero and three helpers carefully insert five hair-thin needles into the ears of everyone in the room. “Get your ears pierced. They’s nothing to it,” Steve coaches a first-timer. “What really helps is the breathing. When the pins go in, you exhale.” As the needle workers make the rounds, a young guy named Kevin, his hair braided into tight cornrows, watches and grimaces. When Armero reaches him, he tenses and taps his heel nervously. Armero tells him to loosen up. “Did you have breakfast?” she asks.

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“Yeah.” “Did you have sugar? I bet you had coffee with lots of sugar.” “The sugar and the pins don’t mix,” Steve explains. “They gonna be fightin’ each other.” With ears around the room bristling with needles, the acupuncturists turn off the lights and leave. Flute and harp music plays from a portable radio. With the exception of Kevin, who looks around restlessly, everyone is still. The older guys who had been smoking outside share a newspaper. A fit fortysomething man in a pressed tropical print shirt closes his eyes and rests his upturned wrists on his knees as if he is meditating. A couple of guys fall asleep, and one snores, winning a slap from a woman sitting a few seats down. A roomful of tired faces seems to find reprieve. When the lights come back on after about an hour and the acupuncturists remove the pins from people’s ears, most of the attendees seem to be in no rush to leave. They talk or just sit quietly. Acupuncture is a millennia-old Chinese practice that claims to heal by activating points along “energy pathways” in the body. It has been dismissed as quackery by some in the Western medical establishment. While acupuncture has been shown to temporarily relieve pain, there is no solid evidence that it can treat disease or cure addiction, says University of Maryland biostatistics professor R. Barker Bausell, who wrote the 2007 book Snake Oil Science: The Truth About Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Bausell spent five years as research director at the university’s Center for Integrative Medicine. He says conducting a clean, rigorous study on acupuncture is almost impossible. Coming up with a placebo is difficult because it’s hard to convince someone you’re poking him with needles if you’re not. People who take part in acupuncture trials also tend to be self-selected, meaning that they believe from the outset that it can help them. “The placebo effect automatically kicks in,” Bausell says. A major literature review conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1997 found that it was hard to conclude anything about acupuncture’s effectiveness because so much of the research was complicated by study design, sample size, and other factors. Last year, at a conference at the University of Maryland marking the tenth anniversary of the NIH review, researchers reported that while the quality and quantity of acupuncture studies had increased, the results to date were largely mixed or inconclusive. The difficulty in measuring acupuncture’s proclaimed benefits doesn’t seem to be hurting its popularity. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the NIH, 8.2 million adults in the United States have tried acupuncture. In Baltimore, the Center for Integrative Medicine is now experimenting with acupuncture at the Shock Trauma Center, an icon of invasive Western-style emergency medicine. The study’s leader and head of the university’s traditional Chinese medicine research program, Dr. Lixing Lao, says preliminary results suggest that acupuncture is helping relieve acute pain. The biological explanation holds that the needles cause the body to produce glucocorticoid hormones that reduce inflammation, as well as endorphins that suppress the sensation of pain. With drug addiction, the theory is that the needles cause the brain to release an endorphin that mimics the neurotransmitter

“Everybody in Baltimore is addicted,” says Robert Duggan, an acupuncturist and Tai Sophia co-founder. “They’re addicted to Starbucks, to their wife’s affections, to their children. Our goal is not to stop people from being addicted. It is to move people from nonfunctional to functional addictions.”

dopamine, relieving patients’ cravings. A 1999 Boston University study found that acupuncture patients were 29 percent less likely to be readmitted into detox programs within six months than those who underwent more traditional treatment, but its authors acknowledged that the study was limited because its subjects were self-selected. Nonetheless, between seven hundred and a thousand acupuncture addiction programs have sprung up nationwide, according to the nonprofit National Acupuncture Detoxification Association. Acupuncturists at the Tai Sophia Institute began using needles to treat addicts in the Baltimore Women’s Detention Center in 1993. The school’s students, supervised by certified acupuncturists, still do most of the treatment at Penn North. The patients are referred from a long list of treatment centers and detox programs around the city, as well as from the court system. Baltimore Substance Abuse Systems, the quasi-public nonprofit that doles out public funds for drug treatment, will provide $450,000 for Penn North this year. Duggan says the facility serves six thousand people annually; seventy to eighty receive acupuncture there each day. Some of them walk away believers. “The first time I did fullbody acupuncture, I hate to use the term, but I felt high,” says a Penn North client named Lillie. “It was like nothing in the world was wrong with me.” Lillie says she is here because her doctors gave up on her. “Now, I’m looking at me in a more thorough way,” she says. “I’m looking at health in a different way. I had to make some really serious changes—not just physical, but spiritual, mental.”

The leading cause of death for black males aged

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Generously supported by Constance R. Caplan, Suzanne F. Cohen and the Suzanne F. Cohen Exhibition Fund, Stiles Tuttle Colwill and Jonathan Gargiulo, Nancy Dorman and Stanley Mazaroff, Ellen W. P. Wasserman, the BMA Friends of Modern and Contemporary Art, Sandra Levi Gerstung, an anonymous donor, Sylvia Cordish, Monroe Denton, Aaron and Barbara Levine, and Lin Lougheed

NoV 8, 3:30 pm artIsts hIlary harkNess, NICole eIseNmaN & tom otterNess

artbma.org North Charles & 31st streets 443-573-1700 opeN Wed–suN

Friedl Kubelka. Franz West with Picture Object (Guitar). 1974. ©Friedl Kubelka

OCTOBER 12 – JANUARY 4


Explore the Possibilities…

at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing

Open House Saturday, October 4, 9:30 a.m. Featuring panel discussions on the Baccalaureate, Master's, DNP, and PhD Programs.

Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing 525 North Wolfe Street Baltimore, Maryland 21205 Register at http://www.nursing.jhu.edu/openhouse/ For disability access information, contact Mary O’Rourke at 410.955.7548 or email jhuson@son.jhmi.edu

PumpkinFest

at Your New Place to Explore Nature

Saturday, October 18, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. A Family Harvest festival featuring: • Arts and Crafts • Face Painting • Food • Kiddie Entertainment • Pony Rides • Hay Rides • Scarecrow Making • Nature Games Parking - $15.00 Raindate: October 19, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information call: 410- 484 – 2413 x 225

• Happy Hour drink prices • Restauraunt samplings • Ecclectic, imaginative, and LIVE entertainment for October include: » The Quiet Duo October 3 » St. Veronica’s Steel Drum Band October 10

Pre-show entertainment starts @ 7 pm!

www.ExploreNature.org

11201 Garrison Forest Rd. Owings Mills, MD 21117

for complete band listings + info visit

live.centerstage.org

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KomenMD Urbanite:Layout 1

7/28/08

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A L S O I N S PA C E : 75 The Drawing Board Nancy Lord Lewin gives the city’s health clinics a facelift

House on a Hill A new home ushers in a new era for the former mill town of Oella

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n a rocky outcropping overlooking the Patapsco River, at the border between Baltimore and Howard counties, sit two weathered Adirondack chairs. Huge sycamores and tulip poplars cover the riverbank below. Sitting here, surrounded by woods, you might think you were in the middle of the 14,000-acre Patapsco Valley State Park, which begins just steps away.

BY LISA SIMEONE P H O TO G R A P H Y B Y A L A N G I L B E RT

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Wood work: Tom and Lisa Baum’s light-filled home is filled with personal touches, such as the Rumford fireplace mantel fashioned by Tom’s father and the cradle Tom himself made for the couple’s young son, Ethan.

But this is private land, in the very private village of Oella. It was here, in May of 2002, that Tom Baum proposed to Lisa Knab, and it was here that they decided to build a house, on an acre-and-a-half lot made up of hilly terrain, rocks, and a 200-year-old water channel called a millrace. But Tom, an architect and the president of Bozzuto Homes Inc. and Bozzuto Development Co., and Lisa, a certified master gardener, saw only possibility. They named the house in honor of the spot where they got engaged: Riverknoll. “We still sit out there and look at the river,” says Lisa. “This place is like a little secret.” The characteristics that drew the Baums here are the same ones that have made Oella a treasure hidden: rustic woodlands, peace and quiet. Just twenty minutes from BWI Thurgood

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Marshall Airport and a stone’s throw from Catonsville, the tiny four-square-mile hamlet is celebrating its two-hundredth anniversary this year. It’s also in the midst of that most clichéd yet desirable of fates: a renaissance. Founded in 1808 by the Union Manufacturing Co., Oella was for 160-plus years a prosperous mill town. Like nearby Ellicott City, its proximity to a powerful river made it the perfect spot for a textile mill. Workers dug by hand the millrace, a mile and three-quarters long, that powered the ten thousand spindles of the cotton mill downstream. That millrace, which today surrounds the Baums’ property, still fills up with water after a heavy rain. But the mill it served closed in 1972, victim of a changing global economy and changing tastes in fashion. “Double-knits killed us,” says Charles Wagandt, a historian, developer,

and engine behind Oella’s resurgence. Wagandt, a descendant of the Dickey family (of Dickeyville fame) that bought Oella Mill in 1887, is 83 years old, yet still retains the vigor of the young man who worked in the mill during its heyday. After the mill closed, Wagandt bought the 76-acre village outright in 1973. His dream was to preserve Oella’s historic and architectural integrity, improve the houses in which former mill workers live, and redevelop the area for new tenants, all without destroying the lush natural setting. He founded the Oella Co. and partnered with the county, state, and private developers to save Oella. “We practiced smart growth before the term existed,” Wagandt says. The mill building itself has been converted to luxury apartments—the jewel in the crown of Wagandt’s preservation achievements, for which the


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Maryland Historical Trust recently awarded him its highest honor: the Calvert Prize. Stone houses that predate the War of 1812, red brick houses from the 1830s and ’40s, and even a few log cabins still line the narrow, twisting streets and march up impossibly steep hillsides. Some former millworkers, now in their 80s, still live in their original homes. Other houses, such as those on Long Brick Row, are inhabited by new, younger residents attracted to this Brigadoon-like village in the wilderness of the Patapsco River Valley. These houses, though, weren’t always so civilized: Oella didn’t get public water and sewer systems until 1984. Before then, residents had no running water indoors and relied on pumps and outhouses. Photographs of the ceremonial toppling of the

outhouses, so late in the 20th century, still provoke disbelief. Even with public water, Lisa says, friends thought they were crazy to buy land here. “It didn’t look like a buildable lot,” she says. But her husband had a vision. “This is the best piece of property in Oella,” Tom told her. He set about designing a modern Arts and Crafts home that integrates the outside with the inside. The Baums made a point of using natural elements in the construction of the house to complement the idyllic setting. “No concrete,” Lisa says, “but wood and stone, and crushed stone around the outside to allow proper water drainage. We have drip irrigation, which is more efficient.” They sited the house next to the original stone foundation for the horse stables that were there in 1809.

Inside that foundation Lisa cultivates a perennial garden. The house is wrapped in windows— inside, you feel as if you could reach out and touch the leaves on the trees. To preserve that sense of immediacy, the Baums purposely did not build decks on the back of the house, which faces the Patapsco. Instead, they created a side deck and a screened-in porch off the kitchen. The kitchen’s granite countertop, flecked with green and gold, mimics the riverbed, Lisa says. “It also hides the dirt,” she adds, referring to the havoc wreaked by her three stepsons who often swim in the river below. In the living room, floor-to-ceiling windows flank a classic Rumford fireplace—tall and shallow with a streamlined throat. Tom’s father crafted the cherry mantelpiece that

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At the corner of Boston and Conkling Streets

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surrounds it. Tom clearly inherited that woodworking talent: The Baums’ infant son, Ethan, sleeps in a big maple cradle Tom built by hand. Wood—much of it Brazilian walnut, or Ipe—abounds in this house, in keeping with the Craftsman style and the Baums’ taste in design. Even the garage doors are solid cedar. Tom also included a feature familiar to turn-of-the-20th-century rowhouse dwellers everywhere—pocket doors.

The house is wrapped in windows—inside, you feel as if you could reach out and touch the leaves on the trees. “It was important to make the house fit in such a way as not to destroy the integrity of any of the natural features,” writes Tom in an e-mail. During the Oella leg of the recent Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage, some visitors congratulated the Baums on their “renovation,” not realizing that the house is new. Tom calls it the biggest compliment they could get. “It was then that I knew we really accomplished what we set out to do.” ■

View from the top: The Baums opted for a side porch (above) rather than a back deck, to preserve their view of Patapsco State Park, which borders their property. The house fits in so well with the historic character of the rest of Oella (below) that some visitors don’t realize it’s not original to the area.

—Lisa Simeone hosts the nationally syndicated radio programs Soundprint, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Broadcast Series, and NPR World of Opera, and is a contributing writer for Style magazine. This is her first article for Urbanite.

The Greater Oella Community Association (GOCA) is sponsoring a fall festival in celebration of Oella’s bicentennial. Festivities are scheduled to take place at the Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum (300 Oella Ave.) on Saturday, October 11, 11 a.m.–4 p.m. There will be pony rides, games, music, food, and beverages. For more information, contact Jay Patel, president of GOCA, at 410-461-3118.

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SPRINGARDEN DRIVE Situated on over one acre of professionally landscaped grounds. 12’ ceilings, original mouldings, hardwood floors, historic colors, period lighting, fireplaces. Conveniently located off 83 near Mt. Washington.

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1414 Key Highway Baltimore, MD. 21230 (p) 410-528-1546 (f) 410-727-6460 www.azolainc.com 74 u r b a n i t e o c t o b e r 0 8


The Drawing Board

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Got an idea about how to build a better city? Draw us a picture.

photo by Shelby Silvernell

R E D ESIG N I N G C IT Y C L I N I CS TO FO STE R H EA LTH

Amid Baltimore’s burgeoning landscape of renowned medical institutions, there is a shadow health system, an obscure patchwork of clinics, health centers, and community nonprofits that serve the city’s most vulnerable populations. They operate in facilities that are at best unwelcoming and at worst physical manifestations of the city’s profound socioeconomic disparities. The buildings undermine their very purpose: Just as the look, feel, and collective identity of schools, homes, and parks work to inspire or deflate the spirit of their inhabitants and communities, so too does the design of health spaces. Look at the Eastern Health Clinic, built in 1955. The growing Hispanic community in East Baltimore calls it “La Carolina,” for its location at 620 North Caroline Street. Allocating resources to redesign and re-brand La Carolina (and address the many structural problems) would make health care easier to access, increase staff satisfaction, and ultimately improve patient health. Simple retrofits could include adding signs and banners to the exterior; painting interior spaces in soothing palettes; and including healthy snacks in the vending machines. More substantial additions could include redesigned reception areas, waiting rooms, exam rooms, and common spaces; culturally appropriate health and community-resource libraries; and updated, comprehensive, English/Spanish marketing materials on city health services accessible to all literacy levels. This is what health care could look like in a city committed to addressing disparities by designing the health experience to the standards of humanity, justice, and equity.

photo by Lisa Macfarlane

From Last Resort to Refuge

nancy Lord Lewin is a Baltimore native with a masters in public health from Boston University. she has worked with diverse communities and organizations locally, across the United states, and in costa rica to incorporate community-oriented innovation into health initiatives. as an open society Institute (osI) Baltimore community Fellow from 2004 to 2006, she launched and managed the Baltimore Health clinics project that was funded by osI-Baltimore, the abell Foundation, the Baltimore city Health department, the neighborhood design center, and the mayor’s office of neighborhoods.

To submit an idea for The Drawing Board, e-mail editor@urbanitebaltimore.com.

illustration by Jen Mussari

Healthy by design: A few alterations, such as improved signage and easily understood icons (below), could turn an imposing structure into an inviting, easy-to-access healing environment.

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Read articles, link to advertisers, view Urbanite videos, and sign up to recieve our biweekly e-blast. www.urbanitebaltimore.com w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m o c t o b e r 0 8

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Best of Baltimore 2006, 2007 & 2008 hard to find designer clothing & accessories

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eat/drink The shell game: Clinton Macsherry offers pearls of wisdom on what to drink with oysters (p. 87).

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What It Was Was Tripe A humble ingredient gets its due by Jam es McP he r s o n

83 85 87

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The Feed This month in eating

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Recipes Two Takes on Tripe

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What It Was Was Tripe In praise of an unmentionable food By James McPherson Photography by La Kaye Mbah

Inside job: Honeycomb tripe is the lining of a cow’s reticulum, or second stomach.

S

ome folks love tripe and some folks don’t. Those who do praise it with a passion; others simply declare it unfit to eat. The tripe that I grew up on was, at best, a peasant dish. My father called it “Scottish soul food.” When I was a boy walking home from school on a cold winter’s day, it seemed that I could detect the aroma of boiling tripe at least a mile from home. The smell alone had the power to make you feel warm. Tripe has a rich history. According to Larousse Gastronomique (which boasts a dozen recipes for the stuff), it was praised by Athenaeus and Homer, enjoyed by William the Conqueror, discussed by Rabelais, and fought over by Philip I of France. Tripe is a featured specialty in many of the most famous restaurants in the world. When served in a classic brown-colored tureen presented on fine settings, its earthy rusticness contrasts dramatically with the lavishness of the atmosphere. Growing up in a small Pennsylvania factory town, I suffered much verbal abuse at the hands of my little playmates, some of it because of tripe. American youngsters were totally unable to comprehend that anyone could eat the stomach of a cow. This tripe-induced abuse continues even today. Adult Americans

who are capable of eating a common hot dog without even cooking it have been known to make disgusted noises whenever tripe is mentioned. If they only knew what was in that hot dog. There was a time, during my young manhood, when I was earnestly courting a certain young lady. I was invited to come to Sunday dinner and meet her family. This I viewed as a great step forward. During the course of what was a very pedestrian dinner of incinerated pot roast, the father of the young lady held forth at great length on the solid virtues of good old American well-cooked meat and potatoes. He also addressed, with equal vigor, the evils of all those strange foods that foreign people eat. I had this terrible feeling that I was being set up. Indeed, I was soon asked what it was that those foreign people from Scotland ate. Being anxious not to offend, I tempered my response carefully, but I did say that tripe was one of my favorite dishes. I was then pressed to explain exactly what tripe was. This was the turning point of the conversation. The father made it clear that such things simply were not mentioned at his dinner table. “Anything as gross as tripe would

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EAT/DRINK

—James McPherson lives on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. This is his first article for Urbanite.

Two Takes on Tripe Fresh tripe is available from some specialty butcher shops and larger supermarkets, and it’s also often found frozen. Either way, if it has not been cleaned, it must be washed thoroughly in cold water, with all of the fat and other material scraped away. Before being used in a recipe, tripe is typically boiled for about an hour or so in sufficient water to cover well. Add one level tablespoon of salt per three quarts. After boiling, discard the liquid and rinse the tripe under running cold water. At this stage, the prepared tripe should be tender enough to eat, but quite firm and a bit rubbery. Depending on the final cooking time required by your recipe, the tripe may require more or less cooking. Tripe is tough and rubbery if undercooked, a gelatinous mass if severely overcooked. Mushroom and Tripe Soup This soup is quite rich and somewhat rustic.

RECIPES

never pass over my lips,” he assured the company, with much righteousness. Some weeks later, I found myself joining the family for snacks in the living room. The old man was stuffing himself with a meat-like substance, which he skewered with an oversized toothpick from a large container in the center of the coffee table. I cautiously asked him what it was that he was enjoying so much. He explained that it was a very special kind of spicy meat that the local Amish folk prepared—he bought it at the local farmers’ market every Saturday, he said, and it was one of his favorite snacks for watching TV. I did not have the heart to tell him that what he was eating was, in fact, pickled tripe. In 1982, I spent about ten days as the houseguest of some very good friends in the small Scottish town of Coalsnaughton. On the morning of my last day, I went for a long walk with Andrew, the teenage son of my host. We were admonished by his mother to be sure to return home on time because she had a roast in the oven. Some friends were coming and there was to be a bit of a going-away dinner in my honor. Andrew and I walked along the river for a considerable distance, deep in conversation, and we talked too much and walked too far. We opted to take the bus home. The next bus was not due for about thirty minutes; since the bus stop was just in front of the local pub, we reasoned that we had just enough time for a pint or two. As we sat in the pub, I noticed an old-age pensioner in the back of the room, standing behind a well-used two-burner Coleman camp stove upon which sat two battered old pots, steaming. I walked back and had a look and a smell. One of the pots contained stovies—a traditional potato-and-meat dish—and the other tripe, just like my mother used to make. The tripe was for sale at fifty pence a bowl. I had a bowl, and then I had another, and then yet another. After I finished the third bowl, the old man walked to our table and poured the remainder of the pot into my dish. “Ye’ve had damn near it a’, ye micht as weel feenish it,” he said. “An’ there’s nae chairge fer that ain!” At the dinner table after our return, I was forced to explain why I was not attacking the roast beef and Yorkshire pudding with more spirit. When I told the story of the old man and the tripe, it was accepted without question. Such is the nature of Scottish understanding and hospitality. ■

about 3 minutes. Add the hot stock very slowly, stirring constantly. Let the mixture thicken before adding more stock. Add the mixture of cooked mushrooms and onions and the tripe and let simmer for about 45 minutes. (At this point the soup may be refrigerated and finished later.) To finish, add the cream and simmer gently. Add remaining herbs and spices to taste and serve hot. Tripe and Onions This is essentially the recipe my mother used when I was growing up. She would sometimes serve it in a flat soup dish with a large heap of bashed tatties (mashed potatoes) in the middle of the dish.

3 lbs prepared tripe 3 cups beef stock 1 lb mushrooms (a mix of chanterelles and other types of mushrooms may be used) 4 tbs butter 3 medium onions 2 bay leaves 4 clumps fresh thyme 5 tbs all-purpose flour 2 cups heavy cream Pinch cayenne pepper Fresh parsley, chervil, and chives Salt and pepper

3–4 lbs prepared tripe 5 large onions 4 oz butter 1 pint half-and-half or light cream 1 oz cornstarch ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley Salt and pepper

Cut the prepared tripe into ¾-inch squares. Add to the beef stock and simmer until the tripe is almost cooked. Remove the tripe, strain the liquid, and set both aside. Peel the onions and chop as fine as possible. Select 8 to 10 of the nicest mushrooms and set aside. Chop the remainder as fine as possible (or use a food processor). Melt two tablespoons of butter in a heavy saute pan. Add the chopped onions and cook until tender. Cut the thyme into small pieces and crush the bay leaves into pieces. Add the mushrooms together with the bay leaves and thyme to the onions and simmer for about 15 minutes. Melt the remaining butter in the soup pot on low heat. Slowly add the flour, stirring constantly, to make a roux; cook for

Wash the prepared tripe and cut into 1-inch squares. Peel the onions and chop into a ½-inch dice. Place the tripe and onions into a heavy saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 90 minutes. When tripe is tender but firm, add the butter and cup cream. Mix cream and the cornstarch well, then add slowly to the barely simmering tripe. Bring to a boil and stir until thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle on the chopped parsley just before serving. —J.M.

Web extra: More tripe recipes at www.urbanitebaltimore.com

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Hip, Independent, Authentic Baltimore Get to the point.

Check out all the award winning toys from around the world. Baltimore’s most unique toy store.

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Organized with a mission to bring today’s leading art, fashion and cultural movements into greater public awareness by establishing a network of product distribution outlets and social epicenters.

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The Blarney Stone

Everything but the clothes. Come visit the newest addition to Fells Point. Selling women’s shoes, accessories, handbags, and gifts!

Hometown Baltimore with a shot of Bailey’s. A great low-key place to hang out and have fun with plenty of atmosphere to keep it lively.

728 S. Broadway 410-522-1970 www.poppyandstella.com

704 S. Broadway 410-342-3947

1623 Thames Street 410-342-5000 www.amusetoys.com

Cupcake

and

everything but the clothes

Halloween

at Fells Point, Broadway Square An emporium of household art. Pick up anything from a drink stirrer to an ornate fountain in, as the name implies, an eclectic style. 723 S. Broadway 410-675-5105

October 31st 4-10pm Children’s activities, & costume contest for adults and children.

732 S. Broadway 443-538-5748 www.TAGgalleries.com

Combines the best of sports bar and casual restaurant, into a different kind of neighborhood gathering place, where friends and family can gather to grab a bite, watch the game, or just enjoy a beer together in a lively atmosphere. 718 S. Broadway 410-342-4222 www.greeneturtle.com

Fells Point Main Street. Over 50 independently owned businesses. Local owners, local flavor. Be somewhere, not just anywhere. Shop, dine, play in Fells Point.


photo by La Kaye Mbah

Corner bar redux: Roasted black bass and pineapple fried rice at Luca’s Cafe

If Locust Point natives are bemoaning the loss of their familiar haunts along Fort Avenue as the neighborhood gentrifies, they should be somewhat consoled by this inviting and egalitarian place, which is perched comfortably between the Point’s two worlds. Inside, a competing display of color suggests this balance: Video poker games light up one side of the bar, while on the opposite wall there’s a rainbow of fruit jars—pineapple, strawberries, papaya, watermelon—full of infused Stoli vodka. Message: The young professionals sipping fruitinis at what was once Truman’s Bar should make themselves as comfortable as the longtime locals drinking $1 ponies of Miller Lite during Ravens games. A partnership between a couple of veteran bartenders (Lando Orsino, who worked at Canton’s Claddagh, and his wife, Gina, of NcDevin’s) and a pizza joint impresario (Chris Maler, an owner of Matthew’s Pizza on Eastern Avenue), the restaurant gets its moniker from the owners’ sons, both named Luca. The executive chef, William Hughes, shares the kitchen with Christian Ciscle, who worked down the avenue at Nasu Blanca before the place abruptly closed its doors over the summer. Pricey Spanish-Japanese fusion may have

been a bit too out there for the ’hood. But Luca’s updated Italian-American seems like a good fit. Despite the Matthew’s connection, the pizzas here don’t resemble the thick-crusted pies that made Highlandtown famous. These are thin and loaded with such lively topping combos as roast beef, garlic, and cipollini onions, or arugula, portobello mushroom, and broccoli rabe. And Luca’s boasts a far more eclectic menu, one that ranges from the decadent (a creamy mascarpone appetizer with shallots, pesto, and chunks of crab dubbed “The Dip,” slathered on slices of chewy toasted Italian bread) to the unexpected (hearty Hungarian goulash served with gnocchi). There’s a daily whole fish special, a halfchicken rubbed in Caribbean-style spices, and an excellent take on a regional stalwart: crab cakes, broiled to a crispy finish and served with garlicky broccoli and mashed potatoes. For dessert, look for rich chocolate fondue with fresh fruit or—straight from the county fair—fried dough with powdered sugar and honey. (Lunch and dinner daily. 1230 E. Fort Ave.; 443-708-5751; www.lucas-cafe.com.)

REVIEWED

EAT/DRINK

Luca’s Cafe

—Martha Thomas

Hey, where’d all the Germans go? A century ago, Bavarian restaurateurs had a heavy bootprint in American cities. The late, lamented Haussner’s in East Baltimore, a gilded survivor of this fallen culinary empire, was shuttered in 1999, and sturdy, monochromatic German fare has been hard to find since. Maybe all that pork and cabbage is a hard sell for modern palates. Still, whenever October rolls around, even devotees of hipper ethnic eats find themselves looking for a wurst. The answer to this autumnal dilemma lies at the end of a woodsy lane near Edgewater, home of the Old Stein Inn. Housed in what was once one of the oldest gas stations in Anne Arundel County, the cozy half-timbered Stein, owned since 1983 by the Selinger family of Germany’s Rheinland-Pfalz region, is a major draw for beer geeks. The bierstube boasts dozens of lagers, pilsners, and doppelbocks, plus ten taps of seasonal drafts from several regions: fruity Reissdorf Kölsch from Cologne, Munich’s yeasty-fresh Franziskaner Weissbier, even a pink Belgian lambic flavored with raspberries. Better still: a peaceful lanterned biergarten out back in which to consume these foamy treats beneath the stars. One can assemble a serviceable meal from a budget-friendly sampler of wursts, pickles,

and a fresh-baked hot pretzel with spicy mustard, or dig deep into the menu of freshened Rhineland cuisine that’s more than just bellybusting ballast for a night of stein-hoisting. All the usual suspects are here: You’ve got your sauerbraten, your kassler rippchen, and more schnitzels that you can shake a stick at. But there’s also such Germanic exotica as currywurst, the iconic Berlin street food of sausage doused in addictive curryflavored ketchup. (Patron to waitress: “Can I get a barrel of that to go?”) Preparations tend to be a notch or two above the norm: Weiner schnitzel, the thin breaded filets that are the German cousin to costolette Milanese, are delicate, deftly fried rounds of veal, spritzed with lemon—light, simple, and well executed. A Munich-style braised pork shank is rich and complex with notes of clove and caraway; sides of tender spaetzle (potato-based egg noodles) and vividly sweet-sour red cabbage serve notice that, just because there’s a strolling accordionist on the premises, the Old Stein isn’t just an exercise in oompah kitsch. (Dinner Wed–Sun. 1143 Central Ave., Edgewater; 410-798-6807; www.oldstein-inn.com.)

photo by La Kaye Mbah

The Old Stein Inn

Prost!: Schnitzel Cordon Bleu at the Old Stein Inn near Annapolis

—David Dudley w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m o c t o b e r 0 8

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Immerse yourself in an elegant and comfortable dining experience where there’s something cool, fresh and raw for everyone.

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HOLIDAY WINEd UP 2008 Tuesday, November 18th from 6pm-9pm Wine Tasting & Sale Up to 20% discount off wines Tickets sold in the wine shop or by phone 410.244.6166 $35 per person all included Tickets are limited

• Brunch on Sundays (11:00-4:00) • Dinner 7 days a week • Lunch, Tuesday-Friday

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Where the Locals Eat: The 100 Best Restaurants in the Top 50 Cities; 2007

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Restaurant Row at Market Place 32 Market Place, Baltimore BabaluGrill.com 410.234.9898 Complimentary Valet Parking �

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EAT/DRINK

The perfect pairing with raw oysters doesn’t come on draft

photo by La Kaye Mbah

By Clinton Macsherry

“I

t is no way to eat oysters,” writes Felipe Fernández-Armesto at the outset of Near A Thousand Tables: A History of Food. He’s describing the fussiness—specialized cutlery, “lemon juice strained through muslin napkins,” douses of “bizarrely flavored vinegars”—with which many eaters approach the bivalves. Such people “forfeit the full, true oyster moment,” Fernández-Armesto continues. “Unless you discard the utensils, raise the half-shell to your mouth, throw back your head, scrape the creature from its lair with your teeth, taste its briny juice and squelch it slightly against the palate before swallowing it alive, you deprive yourself of a historic experience.” Hungry yet? The “R” months are upon us, so it’s time to get shucking. This tidbit of culinary wisdom was first recorded in 1599 by Elizabethan writer Henry Buttes, who observed, “The oyster is unseasonable and unwholesome in all months that have not the letter R in their names.” Diarist Samuel Pepys, another oyster fancier, happily recounted eating his first of the season in a September 1661 entry. You can slurp oysters after April if you want to—people in some parts of the country do. They’re flouting the conventional belief (now somewhat outdated) that fresh oysters are more prone to waterborne bacteria and post-harvest spoilage in warm weather. There’s a more technical reason for the season, but I don’t want to give you Too Much Information. Let’s just say that certain reproductive peculiarities of the oyster make it less attractive during spring and summer (to humans, if not to other oysters). I enjoy the good fortune of being born into a family of shuckers. Over the years, my father and most of my seven siblings (hold the aphrodisiac jokes, please) have adroitly

pried open skipjack-loads of oysters. My own skill set leans more toward supervision and quality control. And I usually pick the wine. That last line might draw derisive snorts from the city’s raw bars, where beer is the beverage of choice. Beer brings some bluecollar charm to the table, but little in the way of taste synergy. In The Oysters of Locmariaquer, her book on France’s prized Belon oysters, Eleanor Clark noted that oysters offer “some piercing intuition of the sea, and all its weeds and breezes.” Muscadet, the world’s most perfect oyster wine, offers something similar. Made from Melon de Bourgogne grapes grown in the region surrounding Nantes, France—close to where the Loire flows into the Atlantic—Muscadet carries crisp, tangy citric flavors underscored with a distinctly saline minerality. It sometimes tastes like you’re drinking it out of a seashell. How that note of sea salt works its way into Muscadet is an open question. It could be a coincidental quirk of the grape’s flavor profile, but that’s not a very satisfying explanation. Maybe the soil of local vineyards holds heavy concentrations of salt and other marine minerals—soil composition and other site-specific factors are critical components of terroir, a concept positing that individual vineyard areas leave distinctive fingerprints on wines produced from their grapes. But the direct uptake by vine roots of particular flavors from soil is not supported by science. Perhaps sea air permeates the whole environment, infiltrating grape skins, production equipment, and storage facilities. Whatever the case, it’s worth noting that Muscadet isn’t unique in this regard: Some Napa Valley Cabernets, to cite one example, are said to have flavors influenced by nearby eucalyptus groves. Domaine de la Pépière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur Lie 2006 ($12, 12 percent alcohol) hails from the largest of three Muscadet subregions (Sèvre et Maine). It is aged on its lees (sur lie), a deposit of dead yeast cells and other sediment, which adds complexity, body, and a faint spritz to what can otherwise be a somewhat dilute wine. Washed citrus rind, some white flowers, and a wisp of matchstick on the nose give way to bracing flavors of lemon and grapefruit, with some stoniness to go along with a streak of sea salt. This domaine offers a higher-end bottling for around $20, but most Muscadet sells in the $8 to $12 range—making it, for my money, one of the best values in the wine world. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go visit my family. ■

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wine & spirits

Heaven on the Half Shell

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It’s just like riding a bike. Actually, it is riding a bike. Or walking, running, swimming, strength training or doing yoga . . . At the MAC, it’s easy to get healthy no matter how long it’s been since you’ve exercised. And before you come up with another excuse not to join: We offer more fun ways to get fit than any other health club in town, so there goes the boredom excuse. We have three locations—say goodbye to the inconvenience excuse. The “I can’t afford it” excuse won’t work, since we offer a variety of memberships to fit your budget. And 20-minute circuit training crushes the “not enough time” excuse. But the best thing about joining the MAC is that you’ll feel so good, you won’t want to make excuses.

BE STRONGER THAN YOUR EXCUSES.

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Full Service Facility 3 clubs for the price of 1 *Offer expires October 31, 2008.


EAT/DRINK tHe FeeD

C om fort fo od with an EdgE

This Month in Eating Compiled by Martha Thomas

Wednesday Night

Celebrate Sous Vide Night Thursday Night

$20 Beer Dinner Night Sunday Night

$12 Entrees at the Bar Stools New Regional Menu Every Month Dinner: Wed - Sun 5pm -10pm Unique bar fare til 1am - Open til 2am Two Happy Hours Every Day! 5pm - 7pm and 11pm - 1am $2 off appetizers, beer, wine & specialty cocktails! Closed Monday and Tuesday No Entrees over $19.75

Canton at 3123 Elliott Street 410.878.6542 jacksbistro.net

TASTE OF BETHESDA More than fifty restaurants and forty thousand attendees take to the streets for the nineteenth annual fest, proving again that culinary meccas can crop up just about anywhere. Join the throngs for tastings of fussy tapas of Davino Lounge, pasta from Bice, and all things Indian, Malaysian, French, and Ben & Jerry’s. Admission is free; $5 coupon books get you the treats. 11 a.m.–4 p.m.

OCT 4 Woodmont Triangle area, Bethesda 301-215-6660 www.bethesda.org

MARYLAND BREWER’S OKTOBERFEST Break out the lederhosen: German attire gets you three extra drink tokens at this seventh annual fall salute to the hops. Expect sour beef and brats, a class on baking with beer, a home brew contest, live music, and a galaxy of brews from more than a dozen participating breweries. Noon–8 p.m. Tickets $20 in advance, $25 on-site.

OCT 11 Timonium Fairgrounds 1-800-830-3976 ext. 108 www.dasbestoktoberfest. com/maryland/show-info

PALACE ON DALLAS If you’ve ever been curious about the five conjoined Fells Point rowhouses on Dallas Street outfitted by artiste Dolores Deluxe and husband/production designer Vince Peranio, here’s your chance. The couple hosts a garden party with hors d’oeuvres by Nancy Longo of Pierpoint as part of the Creative Alliance’s Art to Dine For series of cultural fund-raisers. Tickets $65.

OCT 12 410-276-1651 www.creativealliance.org

CIRQUE DE HARBOR EAST Six Harbor East restaurants will each offer a course and libation for this second annual progressive dinner. Eighty participating diners can amble between Roy’s, Pazo, Lebanese Taverna, Ra Sushi, Cinghiale, and the Oceanaire, stopping to take in musicians and street theater along the way. Seatings begin at 6 and 7 p.m. $95 inclusive.

OCT 15 Harbor East 410-752-9331 www.harboreast.com

ST. MARY’S COUNTY OYSTER FESTIVAL This weekend festival is the home of the National Oyster Shucking Contest—considered the Super Bowl of shucking, with contestants hailing from regional competitions throughout the country. The winner heads to the World Championship in Galway, Ireland. The National Oyster Cook-off is another draw, as well as plenty of eating, drinking, and music. Sat 10 a.m.–6 p.m., Sun 11 a.m.–6 p.m.

OCT 18–19 St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds, Rte. 5, Leonardtown 301-863-5015 www.usoysterfest.com

SECOND ANNUAL GRAPE STOMP Kick off your shoes at Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard and Winery in Dickerson: Kids and adults can compete for prizes by stomping on grapes in wood barrels. Last year’s leftover grapes were machinemashed for a commemorative vintage called Stomp that will be served at this year’s event (and sold for $15 per bottle). Noon– 5 p.m. Tickets $10 for ages 21 and older; younger than 21 free.

OCT 18 –19 18125 Comus Rd., Dickerson 301-605-0130 www.smvwinery.com

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by Vincenzo Bellini

by Giuseppe Verdi

NOVEMBER 2008

OCTOBER 2008

$10 OFF

URBANITE SPECIAL OFFER:

tickets to Aïda on Saturday, October 18, 2008

Must be ordered by phone, mention “Urbanite Offer” when ordering. Not valid with other discounts or offers.

Free Informative Lecture 1 Hour Prior To Every Opera.

SM

by Gioachino Rossini

by George Gershwin, DuBose and Dorothy Heyward and Ira Gershwin

MARCH/APRIL 2009

MAY 2009

Baltimore Opera Company MICHAEL HARRISON, GENERAL DIRECTOR

presents

Four operas of love and heartbreak. AT THE LYRIC WITH ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS PROJECTED ABOVE THE STAGE AT EVERY PERFORMANCE

Subscriptions from $77. Tickets from $39.

410-727-6000 www.baltimoreopera.com


Curtain raisers: Playwright Tim Paggi (top left) with Sarah Perrich and Kevin Blackistone at the Annex Theater, one of several new small, underground theaters in Baltimore.

art/culture 93 MUSIC

Lionel Foster on Lura

95 FILM

Violet Glaze on the JCC CineFest

97 BOOKS

Marianne Amoss enters Paper Kingdom David Dudley on Michael Olesker Literary editor Susan McCallum-Smith gets medieval

101 THE SCENE This month’s cultural highlights

The Play’s the Thing Small theater companies are injecting fresh energy into Baltimore’s showbiz scene

O

by V iolet G l a z e Photog r aph b y L in d s a y Ma cDon a l d

n a desolate strip of Oliver Street, sandwiched between vacant houses and a cemetery, there’s a door propped open at the foot of a concrete stairwell. The stairs lead to a vast industrial living space, where a cluster of actors huddle around a smoke-engulfed table in the back. One of them is pretending to be a cat, another a mouse. They’re warning a third performer, who is playing a suicidal man, that he shouldn’t jump in the Inner Harbor because it’s full of toxic cotton candy.

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To give, please call 410-837-1800 or visit goodwillches.org. 92

urbanite october 08


director Kaitlin Murphy in a langorous whisper, her slender fingers cupping a cigarette. She has degrees in art and archaeology from James Madison University, but found theater to be a better way of combining her creative impulses and her need for community. “I like the aspect of theater that includes lots of people with lots of different interests,” she says. “We just want to have a space where people can do new, interesting things like theater and experimental performance art, and also be open to a vaster part of the community.” If Annex Theater’s guiding ethos is to stage the new and experimental, why perform Rhinoceros, a golden oldie from the avantgarde canon? “Our focus always has been, and probably always will be, to do original works,” Moritz says. “Rhinoceros, under normal auspices, wouldn’t be considered an original work, but in some way or another, [Kaitlin], along with us, envisions it as something that is original.” And if Murphy’s directorial approach is anything like the spangly, otherworldly caftans she and Grace Bedwell fashioned as costumes for The Written World, it promises to be unconventional. Jayme Kilburn, artistic director and founder of the Strand Theater (you may have noticed its gorgeous Art Nouveau facade a block north of the Charles Theatre) offers a similar formula for her sixty-seat venue. A California native, Kilburn founded the Strand after a postgraduate internship at Center Stage, with assistance from Joy Martin, who owns the theater building, Club Charles, and several other properties in the 1700 and 1800 blocks of North Charles Street. A former actress, Martin shares Kilburn’s vision for a venue that gives female playwrights and directors a much bigger role. “Our mission is to produce new works that inspire young audiences to see theater and to give women at least a fiftyfifty split,” Kilburn says. “We have pledged to produce at least half the season [with] women playwrights, directors, and roles.” So far she’s making good on the promise with productions like The Femme Show, a multimedia, multi-performance revue with a traveling cast of lesbian performers, and (in conjunction with the Baltimore Playwrights Festival) Tim Paggi’s Nonstop Realism, a collection of satirical vignettes, including one that ends in a “feminist working-class revolution.” In addition to their energy, ambition, innovation, and courage, the artists behind the new breed of underground theaters also have the size of their houses on their side. “When a theater is small, you can take more risks,” Kilburn says. “There is not as much overhead, so you do not have to base the entire season on what you think people will pay to see.” But in an era when HD-TV is king and the music scene holds sway over many twentysomethings, how can you convince audiences to try live theater? “The cheaper theater is, the more likely people will come see it,” Kilburn

art/culture MUsiC

I Come From Far Away

Lura at the Baltimore Museum of Art, Oct 4 at 3 p.m.

photo by Ernest Collins

The gathered actors are doing a readthrough of the absurdist drama A Baltimore Love Thing, written and directed by 2004 Goucher graduate Tim Paggi, a soft-faced, blond young man with a slight “yeah, what about it?” twinkle in his eye. He’s sitting with his actors in front of a black platform. A jury-rigged light system is gridded overhead; nearby, there’s a circle of mismatched furniture arranged as a makeshift living room for the other artists who share this live/work space. It’s a modest setup compared to, say, Center Stage, but for the core company of the Annex Theater—including Paggi, Evan Moritz, and Kaitlin Murphy, plus a rotating group of contributors and volunteers—it’s all they need. Here at the Annex (named for its location in the Copy Cat Annex building in Station North), headshots and resumes are less important than a willingness to pitch in, whether that means sewing thrift shop finds into costumes, painting cardboard backdrops, designing posters, or running the lights and sound. When asked about his budget for this production, Paggi shrugs. “We’ll just be finding whatever we can,” he says. A host of small, innovative companies have sprung up lately. Not far from the Annex, the Strand Theater opened on Charles Street this year, dedicated to contemporary works that emphasize women’s perspectives. And in 2007 a troupe of Colorado theater grads dubbed the Single Carrot Theater began mounting productions at venues around town. Then there’s Baltimore’s neo-Dada supergroup, the Wham City arts collective, which has staged the occasional gonzo theatrical adaptation of works such as Jurassic Park. It’s the logical conclusion to two divergent story lines in American culture—the lawless DIY ethic of punk rock and the spunky optimism of every Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney movie where someone crows “Hey! Let’s put on a show!” “As soon as we got this space in January, we got a call [about staging Wham City’s] Jurassic Park,” says dark-haired Moritz, a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, native who moved to Baltimore a year ago after graduating from James Madison University with a theater degree. He’d sensed opportunity—and community—in the city’s burgeoning underground arts scene. The successful production of Jurassic Park in April brought a flurry of nontheater-related events into the space while the company put the finishing touches on Moritz’s The Written World, a surreal, post-apocalyptic drama about a priest haunted by the departed spirits of a Jonestown-style mass suicide. It played for three nights in May, a limited run that’s typical for theaters of this ilk. Now, the Annex crew is planning a series of short vignettes replicating Hanna-Barbera cartoon shorts (complete with sound effects and music) and a production of Eugene Ionesco’s 1959 Rhinoceros. “I’ve never been involved with theater before this year,” says Rhinoceros

A world apart: Cape Verdean singer Lura brings the lush sounds of the former Portuguese colony to Baltimore.

In 1988, a 47-year-old singer from a littleknown chain of islands off the coast of Senegal traveled to France to record her first album. Since then, Cape Verde’s Cesaria Evora has introduced millions of international listeners to the archipelago’s signature musical style—the morna, a slow, sweetly tragic form that many compare to the blues. Evora’s success opened the door for an entire generation of Cape Verdean musicians, including one of her former background singers, Maria ¯ de Lurdes Pina Assunçao—better known as Lura—who is scheduled to perform at the Baltimore Museum of Art on October 4. The Portuguese-born Lura is not a native Cape Verdean, although she is connected to the country both by blood—her mother and father come from the islands São Nicolau and Santiago, respectively—and by her own musical curiosity. Now, just as Evora has popularized the morna, Lura has adopted two styles from her father’s island as her own: the accordion-propelled funana and the calland-response folk form called batuku. She employs each on her two North American releases, 2005’s Di Korpu Ku Alma (Of Body and Soul) and 2007’s M’Bem di Fora (I Come From Far Away). Lura’s mastery of these musical dialects seems to have taken place during the two years that divide these projects. Up-tempo and down, the songs on each album are full of nimble guitar playing and intricate drum work. Both recall the joys and pains of life on an enchanting, if impoverished, island. But on M’Bem di Fora her singing is the real difference: Instead of marching through the lyrics with a studied seriousness, her quick, hushed tones skirt between guitar, accordion, and drums. Fortunately, you don’t have to speak Creole to appreciate the significance: She sounds, at last, right at home. —Lionel Foster

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since 1910

Garrison Forest Open House

Age 2 through Grade 12

Sunday, October 26 2:30 pm

www.gfs.org Latest in Technology and Facilities on Beautiful 110- acre Campus

Full-Day Kindergarten

Extended Day Options

Bus Transportation Available

Find your self. Be yourself. Coed, Age 2 through Kindergarten • Girls, Pre-First through Grade 12

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—Violet Glaze wrote about Baltimore as Gotham City or Metropolis in the June issue of Urbanite.

art/culture

courtesy of Robert Lantos

concludes. A night at the Strand costs no more than $15 and can be free on special event nights. The Annex asks for donations at the door, preferring not to turn people away just because a ticket’s too dear. The idea is to keep the price point down and entice curiosityseekers—especially those intimidated by the stifling (and inaccurate) reputation of theater as the province of snobs and connoisseurs. “The amount of money in Shakespeare is unreal,” says Moritz, who does freelance backstage crew work (with Murphy) at the Shakespeare Theatre Company in D.C. He doesn’t have anything against Shakespeare, or Broadway, or any other big player in the theater world. “But there’s something that [big theaters] can’t fulfill,” he says. It’s the age-old call-and-response between established masterpieces and brave new territory, the same westward expansion that fueled Tristan Tzara’s Dada plays at Cabaret Voltaire, Bertolt Brecht, and New York’s experimental Living Theater. “It’s necessary in a larger community that there are multiple theaters, and each fulfills a different niche,” Moritz says. “What can you do at the Meyerhoff versus what you can do at the Talking Head Club? It’s just appealing to a different crowd.” Vince Lancisi, artistic director for the professional Everyman Theatre, seems to welcome the newcomers. “I think the work they’re doing is really exciting.” Any resentment that these arty kids might be poaching the young audiences who might otherwise fill his house? “Absolutely not. Theater is one of the few businesses where anyone who introduces anyone to the world of theater [benefits] the entire community,” Lancisi says. “It wasn’t so long ago that Everyman was the new kid on the block. To see these guys doing the same thing does my heart good.” As the Strand prepares for its spooky Halloween-themed production of Molly Rice’s Watch, a Haunting that opens October 16, the Annex Theater continues to dive headlong into its fall season (A Baltimore Love Thing October 2, 3, and 4; Hanna Barbera October 24 and 25; and Rhinoceros on November 16, 17, and 18), transforming Baltimore’s theater landscape one wing-and-a-prayer production at a time. “I had a professor who always told us that if you could do any other thing besides theater, you really should do it,” Moritz says. “Making money in theater is absurd. Even music, in a certain way, gets you quicker recognition and is a little more lucrative. What we’re doing here is idiotic,” he laughs. So, will Moritz be happy if Annex Theater never takes off, never operates in the black, or never garners more attention than the occasional write-up in a local publication? “Of course. As long as we still have people coming to see it.” ■

Sole survivor: Stephen Dillane (right) and Ayelet Zurer in Jeremy Podeswa’s Fugitive Pieces, part of the JCC CineFest

FiLM

Memory Block

JCC CineFest at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts, Oct 27 and 29 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov 12 at 7 p.m.

When “never forget” is the rallying cry of Holocaust remembrance, it’s bold for the JCC CineFest—a joint venture between the Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore and the Senator Theatre—to kick off its third season with Fugitive Pieces, a film about how clinging too fiercely to the past can strangle the future. Jakob Beer (Stephen Dillane) was a happy child until the Nazis murdered his parents and sister, leaving him to flee for his life into the woods of Poland. Forty years later, he’s a lonely and obsessive Holocaust scholar who complains in his journal about his ex-wife (Rosamund Pike) and how her effervescent love and attention prevented him from wallowing in the self-imposed misery he deemed necessary to remember the little things about his vanished family—how tea was always served with lemon, not milk; how uncooked pie crust felt between his fingers as he watched the women bake; or how his beloved sister, Bella (Nina Dobrev), would finger a silent rendition of Moonlight Sonata on the kitchen tabletop. Is he unable to move on? Or simply unwilling? If Jakob sounds like a drag to be around, you’re right—and the movie drags considerably when he’s on-screen,

especially when he’s reading his overwrought poetry or refusing to notice how friends and loved ones have rejoined the business of living without sacrificing their integrity. But glowing scenes from his childhood as a refugee living in Greece skitter like a water strider on the surface of the film’s bigger question—one asked not only by those struggling to comprehend the looming presence of the Holocaust in their own lives, but also by anyone suffering from catastrophic loss: When is it OK to forget? After Fugitive Pieces screens on Monday, October 27, the festival continues on Wednesday, October 29, with Someone To Run With, an Israeli movie about how a lost dog leads to a journey through Jerusalem’s underbelly, and concludes November 12 with A Secret, a French film about a young boy uncovering his father’s wartime indiscretions in occupied Paris. —Violet Glaze

Admission is $9 per person, per night; tickets are available at the door a half-hour before each screening, or in advance at the Rosenbloom JCC in Owings Mills, 3506 Gwynnbrook Avenue, and the Weinberg Park JCC, 5700 Park Heights Avenue. A guest speaker follows each film. Go to www.jcc.org for more information.

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art/culture

BOOKs The posters range from the black-and-white photocopies of the ’90s to the vibrant, colorful screenprints popular these days—all in all, a proud collection of Baltimore music-scene souvenirs. To order your own copy ($45), go to paperkingdom.blogspot.com. —Marianne K. Amoss

Mad as Hell

Tonight at Six by Michael Olesker (Apprentice House, 2008)

Showtime

Paper Kingdom, edited by Elena Johnston (self-published, 2008)

Baltimore as art gallery—it’s an idea that sparked a book project for Elena Johnston, a 2006 MICA illustration graduate. The Philadelphia native had collected lots of homemade posters and band flyers for Baltimore shows, and she felt they were more than just pieces of paper stuck to walls and front windows. So in August she released Paper Kingdom, a self-published compendium of posters culled from both her own collection and that of friends and acquaintances. The posters were created by familiar Charm City characters: artist Shaun Flynn, typographers (and 2008 Urbanite Project participants) Nolen Strals and Bruce Willen, musician Tonie Joy, Ace of Cakes cast member Katie Rose. Johnston also interviewed musicians, including electronica star Dan Deacon, Justin Lucas of instrumental group Madagascar, and Victoria Legrand of the dream-pop band Beach House.

For two decades, former Baltimore Sun columnist Michael Olesker read a commentary on WJZ-TV’s evening news. When he was let go in 2002, Olesker spent the last months on his contract noting the newsroom idiocies that transpired under his nose, and he’s now packaged those observations into Tonight at Six, a comprehensive kiss-off to the institution of local television news. Olesker’s insights may have a familiar ring: Newscasters and TV reporters, it seems, are empty suits with nice hair who drift from market to market barking Ted Baxterisms. There’s no shoe-leather reporting, no depth, no clue about how a city actually works—just a parade of sound bites and images of random mayhem, punctuated by football scores and Doppler radar. “The newsroom was run by people who knew … nothing at all about the things they were allegedly covering,” Olesker marvels. The book functions best as a tasty backstage tell-all of the local demi-celebrity class of TV newsfolk. The late Jerry Turner and Al Sanders, ’JZ’s avuncular anchorpillars, emerge as tragic heroes who strained to give their

broadcasts a semblance of integrity, only to be replaced by telegenic dingbats. Sally Thorner—“the Annette Funicello of local news”—and “the pronunciation-challenged Vic Carter,” among many others, appear in pungent workplace anecdotes: Olesker fumes to WJZ General Manager Jay Newman about “your idiot fucking anchor” after Carter fails to properly pronounce “scleroderma”; anchorman Richard Sher and reporter Dennis Edwards come nearly to blows after Sher points out that Edwards doesn’t understand what “alleged” means. (Sher: “Dennis, you are the dumbest person I’ve ever worked with.” Edwards: “You’re nothing here.” Sher: “How about if we take it outside and I blow your head off.”) Paging Ron Burgundy! There’s something elegiac about a newsprint guy unloading on his cathode-ray-tube counterparts, even as their respective media race to the bottom. Olesker’s argument that local television news operations should be more like newspapers, with experienced reporters working within a beat system, seems untethered to the current economic realities of either business. And when he complains that the practice of “retracking” national and international stories from the parent network with a local anchor’s voiceover amounts to a kind of plagiarism, a reader might be forgiven for recalling Olesker’s firing from the Sun in 2006 over attribution issues. Is retracking a network piece that different from borrowing boilerplate from other newspapers? Maybe, but Olesker never addresses the distinction. Which is a shame: If nothing else, this might have unearthed some pungent workplace anecdotes from the author’s other former office. —David Dudley

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• Engaging artists and cultural groups in a variety of workshops, exhibitions, and events. • Serving a wide variety of organizations and individuals by giving voice and visibility to issues that matter to them most. • Working closely with dozens of Baltimore City youth developing art and leadership skills. • Partnering with hundreds of students and faculty from Baltimore area colleges and universities.

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art/culture books

Local Heroes

by susan mccallum-smith ness,” and who had a kind of “Native American solemnity of utterance.” Contrasting with this abundant testosterone are moments of gentle lyricism. Beowulf talks of having “wintered into wisdom,” and on his death, “The prince’s spirit would spin free from his body.” And who could read the following description of a grieving woman—

Baltimore, or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden (Bantam Dell, 2007) Beowulf, verse translation by Seamus Heaney (W.W. Norton, 2000) The Blue Star by Tony Earley (Little, Brown and Co., 2008)

with hair bound up, she unburdened herself of her worst fears, a wild litany of nightmare and lament: her nation invaded, enemies on the rampage, bodies in piles, slavery and abasement

“H

e must be on the threshold of Hell …” Yes, it’s election season in America. Sorry, I jest. He is our hero Lord Baltimore, a survivor of the First World War whom God has honed “with hammer and anvil, a blacksmith at the forge” to scourge the world of a plague of vampires unleashed by this epic bloodshed. (Odd—it still sounds like election season in America …) Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden’s adult fairy tale, Baltimore, or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire, is illustrated in menacing black and white by Mignola, best known as the creator of Hellboy. Its elegantly tuned gore is heavily influenced by the subversive children’s author Hans Christian Andersen, that manic-depressive who delighted in denying the happily-ever-after. Three men gather in a dirty tavern in a no-name town, summoned by the mysterious Lord Baltimore. While they await their host, they exchange news about villagers controlled by a devil-puppeteer, about a Chilean lake infested with evil, about a soldier who transforms into a grizzly bear at nightfall and devours his buddies. And they talk of Lord Baltimore, who, after waking up in a corpseplugged trench to the sound of slurping and munching, swears to do battle with the vampire leader of the Red Death. He travels dressed like a morbid tinker, jury-rigged with daggers, pistols, and scabbards, and hammers a nail using an axe handle into his wooden leg after each vampire culling in a perverse blend of home- and self-improvement. Baltimore’s camp melodrama, religiosity, and Hammer horror movie dialogue completely titillated my inner Goth. And by the time I read this, in Beowulf—“it would come: the killer instinct / unleashed among in-laws, the blood-lust rampant”—I’d pinched the dog’s collar, black-lacquered my nails, and fashioned curtain hooks into nipple rings.

Ready for battle: Lord Baltimore, the weapon-slinging anti-hero of Baltimore, or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire

If Baltimore is an anti-hero, then Beowulf personifies the pure-hearted, ArthurianWagnerian, bicep-bulging, blond-locks-a-flowing mythical hero. The Nobel-Prize-winning Irish poet Seamus Heaney has transformed the original Anglo-Saxon text, written between the seventh and tenth centuries by an unknown author, into something utterly modern and relevant. Beowulf tells the saga of a Scandinavian prince who saves a nation—not once, but thrice. First, Beowulf slaughters the maneating demon Grendel, “this corpse-maker mongering death” who had been treating the country like a larder. Then he takes on Grendel’s revenge-hungry mommy, a battle that leaves behind a considerable amount of “wound-slurry.” Thirdly, he slays a dragon, but in doing so receives a fatal wound. Heaney’s language throbs with muscular punch and kick-ass alliteration: “greedy and grim, he grabbed thirty men / from their resting places and rushed to his lair, / flushed up and inflamed from the raid, / blundering back with the butchered corpses.” In his introduction, Heaney explains that he based the poem’s sound on his Irish relatives, those “big voiced” men whose words carried a “weighty distinct-

—and not think of Darfur (or Georgia)? Jim Glass, the hero of The Blue Star, Tony Earley’s follow-up to Jim the Boy (2000), is more like the rest of us—flawed, hapless, doing his best despite the circumstances. In 1941, the year before graduating high school in tiny Aliceville, North Carolina, Jim “didn’t know how it was possible that he loved Chrissie Steppe, only that he did.” His passion is mighty inconvenient, given that Chrissie is his buddy’s gal and that her family’s disreputable past, bone-crushing poverty, and Cherokee ancestry churns up mixed feelings in his guts. Furthermore, Jim has just ditched his longtime sweetheart, the know-it-all Norma Harris, who “actually had a picture of Abraham Lincoln” in her bedroom—not that Jim has ever set foot in her bedroom—and his mom, his three uncles, geez, the entire town is miffed, being the kind of folks prone to start quilting the moment a boy throws a girl the wink. Indeed, these are the kind of folks who find copperheads in potato holes, wear their paws off playing fiddle, and say “y’all” and “daggum.” Yet Earley turns this borderline hokey material into something profound, and the scenes of Jim and Chrissie’s courtship often resemble the swooningly pitched duets from La Bohéme. “Being in love is like getting run over,” says Jim’s Uncle Zeno, sentiments that were shared, I’m sure, by Maestro Puccini. “Sometimes it kills you and sometimes it don’t.” After Pearl Harbor is bombed you can pretty much guess the rest of the plot of The Blue Star, but you don’t care because Earley’s story of the down-to-earth heroism of everyday decency has you scrambling for your hankie, dagnabbit. ■

Illustration copyright © 2007 by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden, from Baltimore, or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden. Used by permission of Bantam Books, a division of Random House Inc.

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I filmed my own sex tape and “accidentally� sent it to everyone.

William knows all too well what pop music can do to your life. If you or someone you know is dealing with a pop addiction, there is hope. WTMD 89.7. STOP THE POP INSANITY.

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LIstener supported radIo from toWson unIversIty

The pop made me do it.


th e sc en e: O ctob er ART

House Call The BMA hosts the first major U.S. retrospective of Austrian artist Franz West’s sculpture, design, and works on paper in To Build a House You Start with the Roof: Work, 1972–2008. Viewers can, and are meant to, handle some pieces. Running concurrently in the BMA’s experimental exhibition space, Front Room, is the work of Dieter Roth (a former resident of Vienna, West’s hometown) and Rachel Harrison, who both draw inspiration from everyday objects. Oct 12–Jan 4, 2009. (10 Art Museum Dr.; 443-573-1700; www.artbma.org)

THEATER

Mixed Doubles Center Stage’s 2008–2009 season opens with Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker, which finishes its run of mistaken identities and secret rendezvous on Oct 12.

Unhappier couplings abound in Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, the story of one rough night in the home of a troubled husband and wife. It takes over the main stage Oct 22–Nov 30. (700 N. Calvert St.; 410-332-0033; www.center stage.org)

MUSIC

Combo Plate The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra devotes a weekend to Leonard Bernstein’s controversial Mass: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players, and Dancer. Bernstein protégée Marin Alsop conducts, with the Peabody Children’s Chorus, the Morgan State University Choir, and a marching band. Performances will be recorded for classical label Naxos. Oct 16–18. (1212 Cathedral St.; 410-783-8000; www.bsomusic.org.) The BSO then takes Mass on the road, to Carnegie Hall Oct 24 and Manhattan’s United Palace

art/culture

Theater Oct 25, and D.C.’s Kennedy Center on Oct 26. On Oct 11 at Sonar, Greg Gillis, aka Girl Talk, performs dance-inducing tracks made from unauthorized samples of well-known tunes—what the New York Times Magazine called “a lawsuit waiting to happen.” Brooklyn electronica duo Ratatat play the same venue on Oct 5. (407 E. Saratoga St.; 410-783-7888; www.sonarbaltimore.com)

ARTS PROGRAM

Cheap Dates During the third annual Freefall Baltimore—a month’s worth of free cultural activities—professional printers demonstrate the Baltimore Museum of Industry’s 19thcentury printing presses; the Municipal Opera Company of Maryland sings selections from the original work Bent Twig at the Walters; and nearly two hundred painters, sculptors,

and photographers open their studios to the public for the Open Studio Tour. Go to www. freefallbaltimore.com for a complete list of events. (Urbanite is a sponsor of this event.)

FILM

Ladies First The Baltimore Women’s Film Festival is all about movies made by, for, and about women. Fifty percent of the proceeds goes to breast cancer research. Oct 23–26 at Landmark Theatres Harbor East (645 S. President St.). Go to www.bwfilmfestival.com for a full list of films. On Oct 29 at 7 p.m., Metropolis editor Susan S. Szenasy drops by MICA’s Brown Center (1300 Mt. Royal Ave.) to introduce and discuss the magazine’s new short film, Brilliant Simplicity: 15 Designers Research Collaborate Innovate, about creating innovative, socially responsible design. Free; RSVP at www. metropolismag.com/mica.

photo by Sloan T. Howard

The new mega-exhibition at the American Visionary Art Museum, The Marriage of Art, Science, and Philosophy, features work from more than fifty artists, inventors, philosophers, and scientists such as Dalton Ghetti, whose pencil-tip carvings appear above. Opens Oct 4. (800 Key Hwy.; 410-244-1900; www.avam.org)

Compiled by Marianne K. Amoss

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SPSG is a welcoming community nestled within Maryland’s historic Green Spring Valley. On the school’s 38-acre campus, girls in grades V through XII grow up in a secure and nurturing environment where they learn to lead, to achieve, and to believe in themselves.

Open House

Sunday, November 2, 2008, 2 p.m.

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For more information, please visit SPSG online at www.spsfg.org or call the Admission Office at 443.632.1002.


Health Care, Heal Thyself continued from page 51 cycling bins and expect it’s going to work. Who’s going to pick it up and where will we store it until the recycling people come?” Many in the waste management industry see promise in the surging passion for all things green. “Every chance I get, I talk with customers about making it easy to recycle and trying to get them to think—whether it’s composting or cans or bottles—about ways to reduce their carbon footprint,” says Tim Pickering, vice president of Biomedical Waste Services. If there’s good news, it is this: Going green may well make the difference between red and black on the corporate balance sheet. “Waste is not an inevitable result of production, but a measure of inefficiency,” says Laura Brannen, the former executive director of H2E’s national organization who is now director of customer sustainability for the health care solutions division of Houston-based Waste Management Inc., which operates in Baltimore. “If you’re not watching your back door, you’re tossing resources, throwing away tens of thousands, if not millions, of dollars of supplies. If you think you can’t afford to do the right thing, you’re wrong … you can’t afford not to do it.” Rachel DeMunda heads the effort to get a handle on those numbers at Mercy Medical Center, where she is director of environmental health and safety. Until recently, Mercy owned and operated its own incinerator, burning half of all its trash—from medical waste from pathology to pizza boxes discarded in the staff lounge. Then, in 2006 the hospital demolished the incinerator to make way for a high-rise patient facility. Today, a waste reduction and recycling program called “Have Mercy on the Earth” requires an annual training session for every employee. “Have Mercy” has already diverted 20 percent of the hospital’s overall waste stream to recycling centers and shaved $300,000 off the annual garbage bill. Much more work remains. Of the 4 million pounds of garbage generated at Mercy each year, almost 25 percent leaves the site in a red bag. About half of that is just carelessly discarded pizza boxes and the like, but once it’s in the red bag, regulations mandate that it be treated as infectious material—meaning that it is shipped to an incinerator at more than five times the cost. “Right now we pay 4 cents per pound for [regular] trash,” DeMunda says. “For medical waste we pay 21 cents.” DeMunda would like to cut red-bagged waste to just 10 to 12 percent of the final haul. In 2006, the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions found an alternative to incineration: an enormous rotoclave, a device that heats medical waste to 250 degrees Fahrenheit for at least thirty minutes, then shreds it, transforming it into noninfectious waste that can be trucked to the landfill. Last year, Chris Seale, director of Hopkins’ department of environmental services, launched a waste segregation program that separates regular trash from medical waste; the program start-up cost $60,000, but Seale expects to see more than $100,000 in annual savings as a result. The latest project, he says, is a program that recycles “sharps”—needles and lancets—and replaces disposable collection containers with reusable ones. Cutting down on what leaves in garbage trucks is only the first step of an effort to reduce toxics that reach—literally—into every nook and cranny. This fall, the grassroots Maryland Pesticide Network and the national nonprofit Beyond Pesticides plan to release results of a two-year collaboration with H2E’s Maryland chapter and seven eldercare facilities and hospitals, including Hopkins. Instead of chemical pesticides—many of which are linked to cancer, Parkinson’s, autoimmune disorders, and reproductive dysfunction—the

“Given that our mission is both to keep people healthy and help them heal when they’re unhealthy, it would be a complete contradiction for us to contribute to poor health,” says Barbara Sattler, professor and director of the University of Maryland School of Nursing’s Environmental Health Education Center. program takes a holistic approach to keeping critters such as mice and roaches off the premises in the first place. So far, pest sightings at Hopkins have been cut by 60 percent, Seale says, and spraying has been virtually eliminated. “Pests can carry disease, so pest control is really important. But so is protecting people from unnecessary exposure to pesticide,” says psychotherapist Ruth Berlin, Maryland Pesticide Network’s executive director. Solutions such as this demand a good bit of creative thinking and a passion for questioning the status quo, says Waste Management’s Brannen. “For years, we said, ‘Of course we have to disinfect floors,’” she says. “Then we stopped to think about it.” Today, many hospitals have switched to a general, nontoxic floor cleaner for daily use when patients are present, blasting germs with disinfectant only after a patient is discharged. Sattler compares the mindset to treating a headache: Sure, you could take morphine to knock back the pain, but most of the time Tylenol will do the trick. “The morphine is overkill,” Sattler says. “We began to look for the Tylenol—the most effective, least hazardous approach—throughout the industry.” Not only do such efforts reduce costs associated with dumping hazardous waste, but they also improve employee health and productivity. “The number-one reason people miss work is respiratory illness,” says healthy building materials consultant Jan Stensland, a California-based expert in indoor air quality who helped create green building standards for health care giant Kaiser Permanente. Approximately 16 percent of the U.S. population suffers from asthma, she says. “Any time you can make sure you’ve done your utmost to eliminate [asthma] triggers in the work environment, you help patients and staff, and you help the bottom line.” Stensland has also worked to reduce the use of formaldehyde, a ubiquitous methanol byproduct that features prominently in the manufacture of building materials and cleaning products. “Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen and respiratory irritant,” she says. “In good conscience, how could a health care [organization] assemble a facility with known carcinogens?” Also on her hit list: polyvinyl chloride, or PVC. A component of everything from building materials and water pipes to clothing, upholstery, and IV bags, PVC has been implicated in endocrine disruption, leukemia, and cirrhosis of the liver. Beyond removing health hazards, hospitals should be promoting healthy living, says Louise Mitchell, a physical therapist with a background in nutrition and farming who heads up Maryland H2E’s Healthy Food in Health Care campaign. She serves as a matchmaker, w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m o c t o b e r 0 8

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introducing hospital chefs, food distributors, and local farmers. “We’re supporting hospitals not only in providing food that’s more nutritious and healthier,” Mitchell says, “but food that comes from a system that uses fewer pesticides, synthetic growth hormones, and antibiotics.” Sinai Hospital, a leader in the effort, now purchases almost half of its produce from regional farmers, sends used fryer grease to a biofuel manufacturer, and sells local, organic produce in its cafeteria. Administrators at the nonprofit Baltimore Medical System (BMS) have taken it a step further with their plans for a $10.3 million clinical facility slated to open in Highlandtown early in 2010. BMS provided health care for 46,000 patients last year, many of them uninsured, at seven primary care centers sprinkled throughout the city. Inside the new clinic, a public meeting room would serve as a classroom for health education and seminars on food preparation and nutrition. Natural light, healthy building materials, and art created from recycled materials could educate patients about the relationship between individual human health and that of the planet. And on a terrace off the fourth floor, a healing garden is planned to provide space for reflection and contemplation. If all goes according to plan, the facility’s interior will garner a platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, while the building itself, shared with other tenants, rates a silver or gold. “It’s a stake in the ground,” says BMS President and CEO Jay Wolvovsky. “If you’re going to build a brand new building and not take into account lowering the carbon footprint, you really can’t speak with any clarity on the environmental issues [affecting patients].”

The work of Annapolis-based journalist Shannon Brownlee suggests that cleaning up the health care business is going to require more than aggressive recycling and green buildings, however. In her 2007 book, Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine is Making Us Sicker and Poorer, Brownlee argues that fee-for-service and pharmaceutical business models create incentives for high-tech yet unproven interventions. Cut out the excess and you reduce health care costs by 20 to 30 percent—that’s $700 billion a year— according to Brownlee, and stanch the flow of toxics the industry spews. “There’s an enormous amount of unnecessary care in our system and the bulk of it is through hospitalization,” Brownlee says. “Either the hospitalization was unnecessary or what happened during the hospitalization was unnecessary. So some percentage of the stuff coming off the back end was stuff the patient didn’t need and wouldn’t have wanted if they knew how harmful it was.” Ultimately, reform rests in the hands of patients. After all, we are the ones who make the lifestyle decisions—about eating, drinking, sleeping, exercising—that can prevent the catastrophic breakdowns that land us in the hospital in the first place. In other words, cleaning up our health care system may be as simple as taking better care of ourselves. “If we can heal people, we can heal the planet,” says the University of Maryland’s Sattler. “And if we can heal the planet, we can heal people.” n —Sharon Tregaskis writes about science and the environment in Ithaca, New York.

TURN A NEW PAGE WITH THE PRATT CONTEMPORARIES

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Open House

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Sunday, October 19 beginning promptly at 2 pm The Pratt Contemporaries is a new group of young and dynamic cosmopolitans who support and seek awareness of the Enoch Pratt Free Library. Members receive exclusive access to Baltimore’s lively literary and social scene.

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Kara Woo ’08 • Gold medalist, 2008 International Olympiada of Russian in Moscow • National Merit Semifinalist • Delegate, 2006 NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference • Friends School Diversity Council, student representative • Dance Team captain, Middle Eastern Dance Club, Concert Chorale member • Gay/Straight Alliance, member • Presently enjoying her freshman year at Brown University

Friends. Let your life speak. w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m o c t o b e r 0 8

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FREE OUTDOOR CONCERTS DONEGAL XPRESS 2400 BOSTON STREET IN HISTORIC CANTON

Friday, October 3, 6-9pm Special thanks to Bass Ale, Stella Artois and Bud Light

THE NEIGHBORHOOD Shops And Restaurants

FRESH FUN DAILY Situated in the heart of Canton, there’s something for everyone at The Can Company. Stocked with Baltimore’s lively dining and nightlife, stylish shopping, plus, services and essentials, The Can Company offers variety everyday.

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Developed and Managed by Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse. urbanite october 08

2400 Boston Street, Baltimore, MD 21224 410.558.CANC (2262) | www.thecancompany.com

Austin Grill Babylon Nails Boston Street Dentistry Brocato’s Studio of Hair Design CakeLove Chesapeake Wine Company Cloud 9 Clothing Cold Stone Creamery Downs Stationers Electric Rays Tanning Salon GNC Kiss Café Lenscrafters Long and Foster Realtors Millennial Media Outback Steakhouse Pasticcio Ristorante Italiano Radio Shack Ray Lewis’ Full Moon BBQ Ritz Camera Starbucks Subway SunTrust Bank Vircity

Offices Alexander & Tom Benexx Community Analytics Computer Career Institute at Johns Hopkins University DAP Design Purchase Link Emerging Technology Center Francis Cauffman Notemarks LLC RPI Consultants


Sick Chic continued from page 61 Just as people once pried meaning from plagues and other calamities, it is second nature for Americans to search for significance in their illnesses. In hardship, the Puritans found divine evidence that they were uniquely suited to civilize the New World: Their suffering was proof of their exalted status in the eyes of God. Contemporary storytellers also tend to interpret their trials as a part of some higher plan, or as a painful but necessary path to a greater truth that can serve others as well. As comforting as they may be, so many chat room confidences, infertility blogs, and media accounts of brave battles with fatal illnesses may lack the power and purpose of the formative narratives they spring from. The current license to tell all also counters the conviction of these earlier people. Today, the search for redemption in disease tends to take a more democratic form, as it cuts across racial, ethnic, and class lines with an implicit refrain: Disease or disability can strike anyone, whether a beautiful celebrity or a single mother with no insurance. In this light, the self-absorbed impulse to broadcast the unpleasant details of illness can also be interpreted as an equalizing social force. We’re all human, these stories collectively proclaim. We all get sick. Tragedy occurs with equal opportunity. We’re not that exceptional, after all. And yet, I tend to cringe when I stumble across headlines such as this, from Rhode Island’s Block Island Times: “Island visitor chronicles cancer battle on blog,” Maybe it’s the potential for exploiting pathos, not the message, that’s troublesome. In creating her blog Chemopalooza.com, Kelly Kane had the best of intentions—to chronicle her experiences with Hodgkin’s lymphoma for family and friends. But when the blog itself was deemed newsworthy beyond her audience, its value for other cancer patients was usurped by its value as a slightly sensational local newspaper article. It’s not the blog itself, but its role as heart-tugging feature fodder that’s disturbing. In the infinite universe of the digital commons, one individual’s heartfelt effort often collides with the mass media’s tabloid predilections. On a more immediate level, seeking validation in the stories that constantly recycle through the self-help galaxy may be a poor substitute for tackling the complex web of challenges specific to one’s own illness. Shorn of the particular in favor of the universal, such sagas can also engender false hope or fear: It’s all too easy for those who are ill and vulnerable to mistakenly base their prospects for recovery on the outcome of another patient’s story. In her work as an acupuncturist, my friend Cynthia Jabs tries to guide clients toward personal narratives that don’t conform to standard story arcs with predictably happy or sad endings. “If we have a paradigm that lets us see illness as part of our way of doing life’s work, then there can be some movement, something positive,” she says. For others, the acceptance that Cynthia nurtures may look a lot like resignation. Ehrenreich, for one, abhors the relentlessly cheery public discourse on breast cancer because it transforms the disease “into a rite of passage—not an injustice or a tragedy to rail against, but a normal marker in the life cycle, like menopause or graying hair.” Ultimately, it’s impossible to tease out the benefits from the drawbacks of this discourse in any definitive way. Nor is it possible to know whether those who have seized upon social media to share personal accounts of illness with millions of strangers find the same consolation as those who confide in smaller groups of intimates.

When my friend Ali Kahn, a writer and folklorist, was diagnosed with breast cancer last winter, she told one hundred friends and colleagues in two group e-mails. “It was purely a gut reaction,” she says. “I wanted the people I care about and work with to know what was going on with me. I wanted to make the connections.” The correspondence created “an immediate community and cocoon of support—which I hadn’t expected or anticipated,” Ali says. She has no regrets about sending a series of e-mail updates that outlined treatment options and chronicled her mastectomy, her chemotherapy, and the challenges of navigating a massive amount of ambiguous findings. Her clinical reports were tempered with instructive insights that could readily serve as an emotional road map for anyone confronting crisis: With all the push to get everything done the last three months, I’ve virtually had no quiet time to reflect on all of this. It feels good to do that now. And that’s what this time is for. There are no rules, there’s no “right” or “wrong” way to deal with it—you make it up as you go and just plow ahead.

The e-mails became “a catalyst that got people talking and thinking about illness and vulnerability,” she says. And yet, Ali is the first to admit that her instincts were really no different than those of any breast cancer patient ruminating on her illness for an audience she may never meet in person. So, how to speak openly and healthfully about illness? Does a personal “story” lose its particular energy as it merges with a profusion of similar stories? Must every story stand alone to inspire? Is there really a difference between stories intended for a mass audience and those for friends, colleagues, and—most important—oneself? In a supportive environment, no matter how vast, sharing the trials of illness and recovery can be an affirming, if impersonal, process. It’s likely, for example, that “Christina Applegate’s Brave Battle: Cancer at 36,” an US Weekly cover story in August, comforted countless readers. I can’t help but think, though, that stories shared with those who know your laugh and enthusiasms serve their purpose more profoundly and equitably. “There were no boundaries as far as what I would or would not talk about,” Ali told me later in an e-mail. “If there’s trust, you can put your vulnerabilities out there, which makes you stronger—and seeing you be strong and positive in the face of this illness which our culture has personified as the cell from hell is ultimately what helps other people. It’s the teachable moment, the gift that we who have an illness can give.” The contours of Ali’s story follow those of countless others— as do the lessons she is now qualified to impart. But here’s the distinction: With her friends as a sounding board, Ali found her voice, and in turn, her community received an open invitation to respond. Rarely does a story told to a faceless crowd elicit the kind of meaningful support that comes from those who love you; nor can it weave its audience into the fabric of your life, the way that Ali’s story did. In a way, her search for meaning in illness was rewarded by the new stories it engendered, and the meaning contained within them. n —This is former Baltimore Sun reporter Stephanie Shapiro’s first story for Urbanite. w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m o c t o b e r 0 8

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brown lecture series presents

FREE FALL at Meadow Mill

Bring in this ad when you join this fall and we’ll waive the joining fee! * *certain restrictions apply

Tuesday, October 28, 7 p.m. Central Library, 400 Cathedral St.

Ms.Cooper is a journalist and author of The House on Sugar Beach: A Memoir. She is chief diplomatic correspondent for The New York Times. The Brown Lecture Series has been made possible by a generous gift from the Eddie C. and C. Sylvia Brown Family Foundation.

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The Fix continued from page 65

“When you’re making the decision to let go of drugs, everything has to change: the friends, the places you’ve spent your time,” says Armero, who has a private practice called About Chi Acupuncture in Fells Point. “Every aspect of your life has to change.” She says the five needles used in ear, or auricular, treatment help the body flush out toxins and establish a new, healthy balance. They also help patients connect with “something in the world that’s bigger than you,” she says, and regain control of their lives. “After using drugs for so many years, their mind is out of control,” says Vernard Nelson, Penn North’s program manager and team leader. “The needles help get their mindset back in order.” Nelson was first introduced to acupuncture when he was in prison, serving time for a drug charge. Since he started with the needles, he says he has gone back to heroin and crack only once. That was eleven years ago. Stories like Nelson’s are not uncommon at Penn North. A 2001 study conducted by the nonprofit Center for Social Research found that people entering the treatment program had been arrested an average of fifteen times over the preceding eleven years. Ninety-seven percent of the people who left the program stayed out of trouble for the five months that followed. Something seems to be working here, though it is not clear whether it is the needles, the Narcotics Anonymous meetings, or some combination of things. Bob Duggan suggests, only half kidding, that the healing power at Penn North is in Natalie Mercer’s smile as she greets patients filing in from the street each morning. “Heroin is a very faithful

friend,” Duggan says. “If you want me off heroin, you better build me a community of friends. This is a place where people know they have community day or night.” Kevin, the young guy with cornrows who fidgeted during the acupuncture treatment, says his first round of addiction “treatment” for heroin came courtesy of the prison system: “I had to go cold turkey,” he says. “Nothin’ for thirty days. I had to dry out.” He was later referred to a prison treatment program, then sent to Penn North by a judge in drug court. Asked if he thinks acupuncture helps, he says, flat out, “Hell no.” He attributes his ability to stay clean to his determination and a “higher power.” But then he admits that acupuncture has helped him face the root of his addiction. “I don’t like pain. Any kind of pain, I try to run from,” he says. He hates the needles, he says. He snorted heroin rather than injecting it. “But here, I haven’t run from the pain.” Asked if he will come back to Penn North after his courtordered treatment, Kevin doesn’t hesitate. “Yeah,” he says. “It’s part of my life now. It helps me stay together.” n —Greg Hanscom is Urbanite’s senior editor. His wife, Tara Thomas, is a student in the herbal medicine program at Tai Sophia.

Web extra: Footage from the Penn North Neighborhood Center at www.urbanitebaltimore.com

Boys. We know how they think. We know how they learn. It’s what we do.

Open HOuse ~ s u n day , O ctO Be r 1 9 Middle and upper school at 11:00 a.m. Lower school at 2:30 p.m. LOwer scHOOL Visiting days november 13 and January 8 from 8:15-9:30 a.m.

THE BOYS’ L ATIN SCHOOL OF MARYL AND 8 2 2 We s t L a k e A v e n u e | B a l t i m o r e , M a r y l a n d 2 1 2 1 0 4 1 0 . 3 7 7 . 5 1 9 2 | w w w. b oy s l a t i n m d . co m

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When what was simple

Dress up your home with our fine window treatments

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gets complicated. M A R K E T P L A C E

Diplomate in Clinical Social Work

Couple Therapy Services since 1993

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Broadway Drapery 3500 Parkdale Avenue Baltimore, MD 21211

Maharishi Enlightenment & Invincibility Center Transcendental Meditation® classes

Effortless • Immediate Benefits Eliminate Stress Maharishi Vedic Approach to Health(SM) Non-invasive • Safe Prevention-oriented www.BaltimorePeacePalace.org Baltimore@GlobalCountry.net 410-625-3696

Ayni Health Alliance at

AYNI (eye-knee) = Sacred Reciprocity

Your center for professional holistic healthcare in Owings Mills including Holistic MD, Acupuncture, Massage, Nutritional Counseling, Psychotherapy, Clinical Hypnotherapy, wellness classes and much more! 410-356-2169 www.aynihealthalliance.com

Art & Design Since 1969

Exotic timber, slabs, burls, veneer, metal, semiprecious stone restoration, custom tables. 410.788.2696 www.starsart.com 134 Baltic Ave. Baltimore, MD 21225

Ignite your creativity... Embrace your style... Discover your love of beads... We offer an amazing selection of beads, silver, tools, chains, gemstones, books, classes & crafts that will delight everyone on your gift list!

Roland Park Victorian Canton waterfront condo Mount Vernon brownstone Bolton Hill townhome Mount Washington modern BECAUSE CITY LIFE IS A WONDERFUL LIFE Avendui Lacovara 410-235-4100 443-326-8674 (direct) alacovara@cbmove.com Roland Park at Cross Keys

Your Antique Auction Source Our next auction October 19th & 20th Visit us online for details 908 York Road, Towson 410.828.4838

Open 7 Days - 10:30 to 6:30

501 N. Charles Street 410.837.2323 www.beadazzled.net

NEOPOL

Roastery & Retail Shop

Baltimore’s ONLY

Open Tuesday thru Sunday

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

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Fresh, locally roasted coffee, loose leaf teas and brewing accessories. 3003 Montebello Terrace Baltimore, MD 21214 443-992-4388 www.zekescoffee.com

antiques.alexcooper.com

Baltimore Chop Books, Music & Coffee House Downtown’s ONLY General Independent Bookstore • 20% Off NYT Best-sellers • Patisserie Poupon Pastries • Baltimore’s only full line of Marie Belle of NY truffles • Amazing organic espresso

625 Washington Blvd next to Camden Yards (410) 752-HITS(4487)

www.myspace.com/BaltimoreChop


Tide Point Early Childhood Education Center Serving children 6 wks to 5 yrs. MSDE approved Creative Curriculum used, supplemented by frequent field trips and enrichment programs. A service of the

Beer, Crabs, and Decks

1030 Hull Street, Suite 100 Baltimore, MD 21230 410-234-0471

We’re seeking candidates for the following positions ...

ROSS’

Advertising Sales Executive First United Church, UCC

Worship: Sunday 10:45 am Holy Communion celebrated the first Sunday of each month

www.firstuniteducc.com St. Sebastian Independent Catholic Church Mass: Sunday 4:30 pm & Wednesday 7:00 pm

B H O US

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No matter who you are, no matter where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.

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BAJA BLUE JUMBO CRABS Check out the size. You won’t believe it. Dine In or Carry Out • BYOB Catering and Delivery • Wholesale Crabmeat

410-288-1200 - 7 DAYS 1109 North Point Road, Dundalk

www.saintsebastiancatholic.com

Advertising Sales Assistant

Rev. David B.G. Flaherty, Pastor 1728 Eastern Ave., Baltimore 443.691.9800

g reen place Ecolistic Cleaning

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The realistic choice for non-toxic, eco-friendly house & office cleaning! Specializing in

SPECIALTY, HEALTH-CONSCIOUS CLEANING WITH A FOCUS ON ATTENTION TO DETAIL

Brazilian Straightening Treatment and Extensions

Licensed, bonded & insured

Men’s & Women’s haircuts and color. Student Discounts Available

Urbanite is seeking a dynamic, self-motivated sales professional to join our team. Urbanite is a fastpaced selling environment in which you will prospect to establish an active account list, develop sales proposals, and successfully manage the entire sales process.

Serving Baltimore City & County 888-4-ECOLISTIC www.ecolisticcleaning.com

Tues 9-6 | Weds-Fri 9-7 | Sat 9-3

Must be organized and detailoriented and have excellent communication skills, and be able to multi-task, meet deadlines, and work well under pressure. Experience in Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint is required.

Urbanite is a customer-focused and forward-thinking company that rewards hard work, innovation, and teamwork. EOE. Send cover letter with salary requirements and resume to: Tracy Ward, Publisher Urbanite 2002 Clipper Park Road, 4th Flr. Baltimore, MD 21211 Tracy@urbanitebaltimore.com www.urbanitebaltimore.com

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McDonogh School in Owings Mills offers a challenging curriculum and the support of the entire McDonogh family—innovative teachers, caring advisors, involved parents, and truly remarkable peers.

BALTIMORE BIONEERS’08 My School

Cultivating Change. Inspiring Solutions.

For information about our K-12 college preparatory program or to register for an open house, please call us at 410-581-4719 or visit us online at www.mcdonogh.org. Open House Dates:

11.07.08-11.09.08 @ MICA

Grades K-4 9:00-11:00 a.m. Thursday, October 2 & Tuesday, October 21 (For Fall 2009 applicants only) Thursday, November 6 Wednesday, December 3

For three days, the Baltimore Bioneers program will feature an unforgettable array of some of the most insightful, inspiring innovators working to restore our Earth and heal our communities.

McDonogh

Come hear regional thought leaders representing the environmental, social justice and wellness movements.

Grades 5-8 12:00-2:00 p.m. Sunday, October 19 Grades 9-12 2:30-4:30 p.m. Sunday, October 19

FOR MORE INFORMATION & TO REGISTER, PLEASE VISIT:

CULTIVATINGCHANGE.ORG Urbanite 7-30.indd 1

7/30/08 5:31:29 PM

ABILITY IS NOTHING WITHOUT OPPORTUNITY Enter St. Paul's and discover a world of possibilities. COED LOWER SCHOOL

BOYS MIDDLE & UPPER SCHOOL

OPEN HOUSE FOR ALL GRADES

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 8 BEGINS AT 9 AM

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14 BEGINS AT 9 AM

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2 PM

Kindergarten through 4th Grade Open House for Parents

Grades 5 through 12 Open House for Parents & Students

Kindergarten through 12th Grade Open House for Parents & Students The Ward Center for the Arts

Held jointly with St. Paul’s School for Girls

Complete details available at www.stpaulsschool.org Admissions Office: 410-821-3034 Call us to learn more about the opportunities in Kindergarten through 12th grade that await you at St. Paul’s School.

This conference features a recording of the Bioneers Conference in San Rafael, CA. Visit www.bioneers.org for more information about our partnership.

design: substance151 (substance151.com)

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JHU_EDU_inspire_reading_Oct_Urbanite2.qxp:Layout 1

9/3/08

1:57 PM

Page 1

Inspire discovery. Teachers create success stories everyday. Whether you’re a recent college graduate, considering a career change, or an experienced educator looking to advance, the Johns Hopkins School of Education can prepare you to inspire students to reach their

Sunday, Oct.19, 2-3

pm

Adults: $10 at door. Children - 12th grade: FREE!

full potential. Earn a master’s degree through full- or part-time study in flexible formats at convenient campus locations. Some programs even help with the cost of tuition and fees while you gain classroom experience. Learn more at an upcoming information session.

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The work of Baltimore-based photographer Jack Radcliffe captures the world over time. For the past thirty-five years, he has focused on repeated photographs of the same individuals as they grow, mature, and die. Viewing these images, one is aware of a deeply meditative, almost philosophic point of view. Radcliffe says, “Early in my career, I discovered that the meaning of a single exposure, when it is part of a collection of moments, becomes only one element of an evolving story. In every succeeding photograph, the subject and I are older, our circumstances have changed, and our relationship has deepened or dissolved. Whether the subject is my daughter, a local family, a former student, or a hospice patient, they are all in part autobiographical.” He has been photographing Sheila, the subject of this photograph, since 1999. —Alex Castro

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Jack Radcliffe Sheila and Rob, Havre de Grace, 2001 15 x 15 inches gelatin silver print www.jackradcliffe.org


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Private and Semi-Private Rooms Now Available 116

urbanite october 08

October 2007 Issue  

Looking For The Cure: Big Ideas For A Healthier City; Boredom-Proof Your Workout; Get the Scene: Our New Arts Calendar

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