Monthly Archives: September 2011

Baltimore Book Festival: Day 2

12:01pm – leave apartment

12:12pm – arrive at Cultural Center in time to see
the train pull out of the station. 😦

12:26pm – fare inspection, I feel so validated
knowing my pass is good.

12:30pm – arrive at Baltimore Book Festival

12:33pm – lunch at a table near the stage, a blues
band is playing

12:47pm – exploring south end of festival

12:54pm – arrive at main festival tent or “Literary
Salon,’ there is a HUGE line blocking the entrance to the tent. When I ask the
line is for, I simply get a “NO CUTTING,” “LINE STARTS BACK THERE!!!”

1:01pm – the line was for the book
signing tent, and once I get inside the salon I see a woman giving out “Free
Fall” bookmarks, but no TV cameras.

1:04pm – moderator
announces the Martins’ have not arrived yet, but they are expected in “5-10

Roland and Jacquie Martin arrive in the Salon tent for their discussion of
their respective books.

Roland talks about editing his wife’s book: “I am not your husband – I am your editor. I know what I’m doing, and in
the end I think she’ll agree with me.”

moderator asks about politicians being balanced. R – “NO!” when pressed about
the Obama’s being balanced Jacquie simply ignores the question and goes into a
stump speech about delegation, time management and saying no. I’m glad I didn’t
have to pay for this event.

1:33pm – she
talks about how FB and Twitter are making us “incapable of having face to face
conversations.” Meanwhile, her husband gets a tweet which he answers on stage
(he claims it’s from his bosses
asking him to comment on a story they had just run, but it was most likely
staged for “ironic effect”).

Roland: “We are living a lie – overspending, owning too much stuff, living in a
house we know we can’t afford. We are living our dream life with our dream income… but by saving money and living
within our means – that is the ‘new normal.’”

1:40pm –moderator opens floor for questions.

“There is no ‘Hispanic Vote’ as Hispanic\Latino voters in different parts of
the country are different…but their influence in Colorado, Arizona and Nevada will decide the next election.”

Roland gives Obama a “C” for his handling of the economy and caving to his GOP
challenges. “When I make an investment, I expect an ROI – Return on Investment
– if I vote for you than I expect to get what I want to get…

1:54pm – “Why should gays, females and old white men
have ‘agendas,’ when the Black Man is supposed to stay quiet? It is time we
call for a Black Agenda!”

2:08pm –discussion breaks up

trying to get an explanation of how the new GO Pass at Centerstage works, but
instead they just hand me a card with the phone number and logo on it.

 2:27pm – get
one of the last seats for the “Why Do We Kill” panel at the City Lit stage.

moderator: “I know this is cheesy, but it’s worked so far today – at the count
of three shout: ‘NO RAIN!’”

moderator introduces the panelists former homicide detective Kelvin Sewall and
Stephen Janis founder of the “Investigative Voice” blog.

 2:37pm – Janis
explains the politics of crime in the city as crime “drives tourists away from
the Inner Harbor and more importantly deters people from buying property

moderator asks Sewall what the best part of his job was: “Being able to go up
to a grieving family member and tell them ‘we caught the guy that killed your
loved one.’ It doesn’t bring their relative back, but it provides them with

2:47pm – Janis
begins to address the “systemic, city wide nature” of crime within Baltimore

2:48pm – when
he is essentially shouted down by a man in the back of the audience: “BULLSHIT,
there is no crime in my neighborhood! It’s not til you get to the Section 8
housings that you run into crime in my part of city – so I say we TEAR THEM

moderator gives him a chance to walk it back, but no slams ahead full throttle:
“Drug addicts DESERVE TO DIE!” When asked if he really meant that as it sounded, he replied “YES, you live by the
sword you than you DIE by the sword!”

Sewall says the real solution is to
start anti-gang education at the elementary school level as gang activity is
“already common on middle school campuses.”

moderator opens floor to questions, Janis takes time to softly address his
differences with the earlier shouter.

3:01pm – how does politics effect police work?

Sewall: Our justice system is
overworked, prosecutors\public defenders are overworked and judges and DAs are
under increasing pressure for convictions since they are elected.

Janis: And that pressure comes
mainly from us – the media – we print stories about crime rates, convictions,
and any sentencing they receive.

3:04pm – How
are they getting word out about this issue if they are a) not getting any media
attention and b) not addressing the communities directly affected by said
issues? They did have a full review in CP when the book came out, but the
authors agreed (in principle) to have a similar forum in East\West Baltimore if asked.

3:12pm – battery on my camera dies. 😦

Sewall: “Human nature means we will never
solve the problems of homicide.”

3:22pm – Why
are such a disproportionate number of violent offenders black? Janis says it
may have to do with the number of older houses still affected by lead paint.
(?) Sewall goes into a mini-rant about how the media only covers white victims
of crime while ignoring black victims.

3:24pm – panel
breaks up; book signings and further discussion continued at next tent.

3:35pm –funnel cake. 🙂

3:48pm – catch
last part of Jared Ball’s Mixtape Radio Show and book discussion. There are not
one, but two TV cameras trained on

arrive at Baltimore Free School tent for next panel, but instead find it set up
for children’s activities. I try to find some nearby tent it could be held in,
but there wasn’t one.

people come by to break up activity area and set up seats for next panel.

4:07pm – start of chunkily named:
“Opionions…Everyone’s Got Them: Writing about What You Love, What You Hate and
Everything Else that Makes Up The Majority of Life” (yes, that’s the real title)

4:09pm – there five people on the panel (almost half
the size of their audience), and I’m not sure if I’m going to be attributing
them correctly.

4:16pm – How do you chose a topic to write about?

4:18pm – Michael Corbin (CP): “Freelancing is a fool’s errand.”

4:23pm – Brook
Hall (???) on social media sites: “they are completely reactionary. People forwarding
stories, commenting on them, but not PRODUCING them.”

4:25pm – Omar Farooq (Indypendent Reader): “Memes
are the new expectations of editors, writers must be controversial or they
cannot get attention. Controversy is more important than substance.”

4:29pm – God, this is b-o-r-i-n-g.

4:37pm – Does a negative opinion of something stop
you from writing about\reviewing it? Split decision

4:45pm – going to try to get at least one more shot
out of this camera, they’re saying anything interesting anyway.

4:54pm – how will blogs and online news sources effect
traditional books\newspapers? Hall: “books will become luxury items.”

5:00pm – I left the panel and made my way towards my apartment.

Categories: adventures, attractions, Baltimore, entertainment, festivals, writing | Leave a comment

Baltimore Rain (Book) Festival: Day 1

11:22am – leave apt, it is raining lightly but

11:39am – catch light rail going towards Cromwell,
disembark at Centre St (one stop)

11:44am – withdraw 60 dollars from ATM outside of

11:50am – arrive at Baltimore Book Festival, and make
my way towards the Md. Science-Fiction Writers tent on the east end of the

12:03pm – beginning of panel discussion “Alien Minds:
Writing from a Non-human Point of View”

12:16pm – now torrential rain drowns out some of the

12:37pm – moderator announces that she must
microphone equipment and books off the floor of the tent to prevent us from
being electrocuted. Panel acknowledges this but keeps going.

12:50pm – in order to get rid of books before they
get damages, moderator announces impromptu “book raffle.” I use this as an
excuse to leave and explore the rest of the festival.

12:55pm – that didn’t take long as most of the tents
were closed. It turns out books + rain are not a good combination – even if
said rain has subsided (at least temporarily).

12:59pm – Discussing A RAISIN IN THE SUN with woman
at Everyman Theatre tent

Maryland Writers Association has a new book of poetry out. As a special
festival promotion they’ve reduced the price from $12.95 to…$11.95 – now that’s a deal!

1:11pm – get to the
“food court” on the north end of the festival (all FOUR vendors of it) just as
a large group of school kids and their chaperones do. I don’t feel like
crowding in on them so I decide to defer lunch until after my next panel.

1:15pm – talk about
my disappointment volunteering for Pride at GLCCB booth.

1:27pm – arrive at
Md. Romance Writers tent, previous panel “Which e-Reader is Right for You?” is
still going on.

1:33pm – panel breaks
up, and ppl start to leave as new panelists assemble on their makeshift stage
for the next show: Charmed by Charm City: Why Maryland is an ideal setting for

1:37pm – moderator:
“Okay, we’re going to play a little game here: the panelists are going to read
from their works and you have to guess what part of Maryland that is supposed
to be.”

1:50pm – finally get
to hear why they think we should set our books here: “the weather,” “the history,”
“the eccentrics” and “the novelty – so few books are set in Maryland.” Whoa,
don’t get too deep there!

1:53pm – sensing a
break up, the moderator from the sci-fi panel I attended earlier jumps in to
plug her booth and the moderator from this panel announces a book raffle to be
held “in a few hours.”

1:57pm – back on
“vendor row.” Don’t want a hot dog, a tofu sandwich, or a funnel cake…

1:59pm – that leaves
me with one booth left, and I nearly fainted when the two women who were
blocking the menu moved to reveal the prices. However, I was committed now and
ordered the fish platter.

2:03pm – I take the
fish stick and fry basket from the man and he directs me to the condiments at
the end of the counter. I pick up a pack of tartar sauce…but…I…can’t…get it….open.

2:05pm – I look up
and see the entire trailer staring at me, the cashier looks at me smugly for a
moment before finally asking “are you having a problem there?” I go to say no,
but her colleague insists and when he hands the now opened packet back to me…I
find out its cocktail sauce. 😦

2:07pm – I actually don’t like cocktail sauce, but after all
the trouble I was sort of obligated to use it. My next problem was finding somewhere
to sit down and it at. There were a few tables scattered around the park, but none
of them were covered…

2:09pm – so I was
forced to eat my cocktail covered fish in the rain; when I went to throw the
half-finished basket of fries away, I realized I wasn’t carrying my hat

2:17pm – after backtracking
to all the booths I’d been that day, I find my hat in a muddy puddle under the
table I’d been eating at.

2:18pm – put my
muddied hat into my soaking wet backpack and made my way back to the light rail
in the light, but steady rain.

Categories: adventures, attractions, Baltimore, entertainment, festivals, light rail, news, weather, writing | Leave a comment

Highlights of the Baltimore Book Festival


12pm – Alien Minds: Writing from a non-human point of view

1:30pm – Charmed by Charm City: Baltimore makes a great setting for fiction

2-4pm – FREE Friday Feedback: Got Lit? Get Feedback!

5pm – Bad Girls of the Ancient World


2:30pm – Why do we kill: The pathology of Murder in Baltimore

4pm – Opinions . . . everybody’s got one: Writing about what you love, what you hate, and the everything else that makes up the majority of life.

6pm – Riot\Grrrl


1pm – About face: Military resisters turn against war

2pm – Surviving your stupid, STUPID decision to go to grad school

4pm – Delusional Dickens and Domestic Violets

5pm – Cities, communities, resistance!

Categories: attractions, Baltimore, entertainment, festivals, upcoming events, writing | Leave a comment

Baltimore Park(ing) Day 2011

Categories: adventures, art, attractions, Baltimore, entertainment, festivals, photography | Leave a comment

Second Saturday: Part 2

The first thing I did after picking up the “venue crawl”
card from the counter was to put the tiny blue sticker on it that I gotten from
Gallery Myrthis earlier that afternoon. The second was to go back up to Cyclops
for that sticker the manager had promised me earlier…except now he can’t find
them (natch).

While he searches for those stickers, I walk around his
store getting those glossy fliers all sticky from my sweaty fingers. I mumble,
apparently aloud, that I’m tired of carrying them, “but they’re too small to
bother getting a bag for and too big to fit neatly into my pocket.”

“WHAT was that?” Fuck.

Why is it every time I mumble something to myself there’s
ALWAYS someone behind me demanding to know what I just said?

“It was nothing,” I said taking my now stickered card back
from him and walking away.

“I KNOW you said SOMETHING,” he said following me out of his
store. I crossed the street quickly and didn’t bother looking back.

It was almost 7pm when I went into Load of Fun\Theatre to
inquire about tickets to their Alley Aerial Festival. I know because I asked
the crew from The Single Carrot where the box office for the festival was, and
they were able to get someone to unlock the door for me.

Unfortunately, the show didn’t start for another hour (I had
the event time confused with Everyman’s “A Raisin in the Sun” which started at
7:30) so I went back outside where TSC had just finished setting up their
“Neighborhood Art Project” and a few people had gathered to begin the process
of filling in the 12”x24” poster board the theater was providing for the event.

“You were at ‘Linus & Alora’ last season weren’t you?”
TSC Artistic director Nathaniel Cooper asked me.


“Yes, I recognize you from one of our shows – your name is
Jonathan isn’t it?”

Double fuck.

Then I notice that I’m standing next to Jessica Garrett who
played Linus’ unidentified tormentor in the play, so I took the chance to ask
the question that had been nagging me since last season:

“What were Sunshine and Noodle supposed to be anyway?”

“Well…um…we had a meeting about that, but it was never
resolved. So I guess it’s up to whatever you want to interpret it as.”

‘Hey, Jonathan, who were Sunshine & Noodle?’ ‘They were…trolls, demons — angels, yeah angels.’
‘Thanks, you’re really good at interpreting things.’

See how helpful that little exercise was? Me neither, so I
sulked back into the gallery pretending to marvel at the various woodcuttings
until they allowed us back into the main staging area.

This rather crowded holding area was the same black box
Glass Mind Theater used to stage “Neighborhood 3,” but somehow it looked
smaller without the seats. They also had a bar area with “Coke, Diet Coke,
water and wine.”

I ordered the Diet, and turns around to the old, beaten up
fridge behind him and says “that’ll be $3.”

“Put it back,” I sighed.

“Look, we gotta pay our actors somehow.”

So what was that whole $20 thing I had to pay when I came in
for? This is Station North NOT Disneyland, but they got the whole captive
audience thing down pat.

Several minutes later they called us into the seating area.
They called it “Graffiti Alley” because it was an alley and it was covered
entirely with colorful tags of all sorts and everyone coming into it had to get
their picture taken in front of one wall or another, then they had to get shots
of the alley from their seats. It was nothing but flashes until the stage
manager came out to announce the rules.

Remember how I said this wasn’t Disneyland? They proved it once
the acts started. You never forget these acts were dangerous or that the
performers were only being supported by two strings of rope\silk, but the whole
twist body into pretentious position and wait for applause bit got old rather

The sole exception to this was the aggressive, almost erotic
silk routine “Turf” about female competitiveness. The “aerial fence” act that
followed was simply boring, lacking either narrative or visual interest – even
the gawkers on the other end of the alley left after a few minutes. I, however,
had to sit there until intermission.

I left the gallery at intermission just as Cooper was putting his now completed poster board back into his theater’s box office. I
looked down at my card, sighed and made my way to back to my apartment.

Categories: adventures, art, Baltimore, entertainment, festivals, neighborhoods, retail, Station North | 1 Comment

Second Saturday: Part 1

I haven’t done a Second Saturday post in a while… and I
might not do so again for quite a while.

I left the apartment just after 4pm, and made my way towards
Gallery Myrthis on the northern boundary Station North. It’s a long walk, even
just from North Avenue, and it could have been a lot longer if I hadn’t
rechecked the address on my printout as the converted townhouse it’s housed in
isn’t that well marked.

The exhibit was broken into 3 sections based on the section
of the house it was in: the front room was mostly medium sized paintings with
bold patterns on a white canvas along with several light colored sculptures;
the kitchen was filled with large dark pieces with no discernible patterns; the
‘office’ was built around smaller prints as well as pieces that didn’t fit into
the other two rooms.

I can’t really go into much more detail as the gallery owner
or her assistant kept trying to talk to me every time I stopped to take notes.
They did give me the ‘venue crawl’ sticker even though a) her gallery wasn’t on
the crawl and b) she didn’t have the card she supposed to put said sticker on
(and she had no suggestions as to who would).

I make my way back to North Avenue and go into Cyclops Books to see they had a venue card. They didn’t, but the owner said I might find
some cards across the street at Joe Squared Pizza. He did, however, let me look
around at their motley collection of literary posters and random framed prints
lining the walls between their ratty sofas and sparse bookshelves. On my way
out, he said I could come back for a sticker (if I find a card to put it on).

I walk into the tiny bar next to the art supply store and
ask for the venue card. The staff dutifully looks at me like I’m from a
different planet. I try to describe what I’m looking for and they hand a list
of upcoming bands performing at their bar. I try again, but after a fruitless
search of the front of the bar, they turn up empty again.

Finally the manager shows up, and I have to start all over
again. After yet another attempt at describing what I’m looking for, I pull out
the “events calendar” I’d printed from Station North’s website describing the
event. But before I can ask for said card again, she cuts me off:

“We can only accept OFFICIAL Station North promotional cards – that slip of paper WILL NOT due for the free pizza offering.”

“You mean like the one I just asked you about?”

“Oh, I’m so sorry, you can’t get those HERE,” she said. “Have you actually hit EVERY store in this neighborhood? If not, I suggest you do so,”
she said practically shoving me out the door.

Whatever, I wasn’t in the mood for pizza anyway.

I leave and go next door to the McDonald’s next door, where
the sole cashier seemed to be having trouble keeping up with the 2 or 3 people
in front of her. She even hands me a random drink from the fountain (which used
to be on my side of the counter), and when I went to counter the manager hands
me a new drink before I got to pleasure of complaining.

I finish my meal, and decide to continue on to Metro Gallery
as the woman at Joe Squared suggested. Until I remembered, they weren’t
participating in the venue crawl… neither was Charles Theater and The Depot (a nightclub
which was) wasn’t even open yet, so I stopped into Sofi’s Crepes and ordered a
surprisingly large chocolate chip crepe and sitting on counter next to me was a
pile of fliers – including a grey one labeled “Second Saturday in Station North.”

Yah! I have a card….now what?

Categories: adventures, art, Baltimore, entertainment, festivals, neighborhoods, retail, Station North | Leave a comment

Weekend Guilt trip

These are some things that I should be excited about this weekend…but aren’t.

  • The Boy Scouts of America has released a new
    merit badge: Chess, no really.
  • Everyman Theatre is opening its season with the
    Tony Award winning play “A
    Raisin in the Sun
    .” Not only that but the two previews on Weds\Thurs were
    only $25…but I didn’t attend either due to the rain. Sadly after tonight, the
    price skyrockets to $45 per show.
  • BSO is hosting a special
    this weekend, and tickets are only $10. Which I’m told is a really good deal.
  • Spotlighters is hosting a comedy
    to benefit its new ADA renovations.
  • Once you’ve been in Baltimore for a while, it
    becomes harder and harder not only to keep track of ethnic\neighborhood
    festivals, but to get truly excited about them – even if they’re only a few blocks from your
Categories: Baltimore, festivals, scouting, upcoming events | Leave a comment

Editorial: Reflections on a half season of Baltimore theatre

I started reviewing theatre for the Baltimore Guardian back in January of
this year after being rejected from seemingly every paying job in the city. The review of “Shooting
” was the second play I’d seen since moving to Baltimore in 2009
(the first was the abysmalZippy the Pinhead: The Musical”) and only the
second play I’d seen since “As You Like It” at UM’s Jerry Herman Ring Theater in 2004 (because there was
only ONE theatre in the rural town I moved here from – and it only showed middle\high school plays).

There is one misconception about my reviews it is that I “hate
all shows” or that I only go into them “so I can rip them apart” from some
perverse gain. I go into a show with the sole
purpose to be entertained, and if I’m paying $45 out of pocket
for a show than I expect to be at least not be bored (that’s right I’m talking
about you, “Crime & Punishment”).

Seriously, DON’T BORE ME – I can only take one “Muldoon” per season
(part of the reason I started writing art\movie reviews as well).

Also, when I write reviews I am always cognizant of the fact
that I am merely voicing an opinion,
and that sadly for some many shows it will be the only opinion (as the only other theatre sites for Baltimore that
I’m aware of are BBW, CN\DQ and Maryland Theatre Guide). I occasionally hear from people who disagree with my opinion
(“for every caller is a thousand listeners”) and enjoy hearing from people who legitimately
liked the show in question (to be differentiated from bomb throwing trolls from
the theatre companies).

City theatre companies (with the exception of Mobtown Players) have announced the
shows for their upcoming seasons, and I in turn have posted a preliminary list
of the shows I’m planning to see (for the first half of the season anyway). I also have a similar,
but nowhere near complete, list of upcoming art shows, but most of my time (and money) will be consumed with these

I have a few other projects to complete this holiday weekend
(none of which involve overpriced cars driving around in circles), and
barring any technical\server issues hope to have more stories posted later this
week. Servus.

Categories: Baltimore Guardian, editorials, entertainment, news, theatre | Leave a comment

the christening party, Irene departs

The rain and wind continued through the night. Unfortunately
the window in my hotel room overlooked the adjacent unit (which was apparently
empty) and the sound of the a\c essentially drowned out any outside noise, so I
was able to forget all about the storm for the night.

I woke up at 7am with the noisy kids in the room behind my
headboard. I showered, got dressed and just as I was heading downstairs the
phone rang. “All church services were cancelled – I could go back to bed.”

Now she tells me, now that I’m all ready for…nothing.

She suggested I go downstairs for breakfast as lunch
probably wouldn’t be until sometime after noon. There was maybe one table left
in the hotel’s tiny breakfast area, and the line was long enough that if I knew
if I went up for seconds the seat would be gone. Fortunately, that wasn’t a
problem as their bland, dried out buffet food was barely worth firsts.

The christening was cancelled (or at least postponed), but
the after service get-together was still going on as scheduled. Someone had to
eat all the food they’d bought, the cake they’d ordered and those baby gifts in
the trunk were definitely not going back with us.

Said food consisted of small sandwiches, chips\salsa, a
crock pot full of ground beef for sloppy joes (not the same batch from my other
brother’s party), and of course the aforementioned cake…now utterly

My older brother arrived around 1:30pm (when most of the
food was gone) with my other nieces – and Luke – in tow. They weren’t
particularly hungry when they got there, but Luke enjoyed sneaking away chips
when his mom wasn’t looking. Eventually, Lilly’s dad pulled an old Matchbox
playset out of the closet and the kids spent the next hour or so racing with
them until they were chased to another part of the house (as their initial play
area was directly below the room where Lilly was sleeping).

Finally around 3pm, we left. The rain had stopped, the winds
had subsided, and the sun was trying to peek out. Shepard Smith was STILL
hosting live coverage of the storm, but he now sounded weary and tired,
mustering as much enthusiasm as a cashier at a fast food restaurant.

It was a long, but relatively quiet, ride back to the coal region.
The few signs of damage dried up the further away from the city we drove until
the only lingering indication of a storm was an occasional puddle along the
side of the road.

Categories: family, hurricanes, weather | Leave a comment

Luke’s birthday, Irene’s party

Luke’s party was at 3pm which meant we didn’t have to leave
until around noon, but with my dad’s childish stall tactics in play (he HATES
family get-togethers) we didn’t actually leave the house until closer to 1pm.

When we were finally able to drag him out to the car, the
first thing he did was complain about the “damned caterwauling” on the radio.
There was nothing “wrong” with the singer’s voice, he just wanted to spread his
misery around which he proved by demanding mom change the station to something
he liked even though: a) he didn’t say what that might be, b) he refused to
take the station list she handed him, and c) she was DRIVING at the time.

We were finally able to agree on FNC radio – okay, it was
the station least protested – which was providing round-the-clock coverage of
the hurricane: the accrued damages, the evacuations and the storm’s projected
path all with Shepard Smith’s over-excited – almost giddy – mantra of “NYC’s
gettin’ a HURRICANE!”

It was 3pm, and we were barely to Hamburg yet, but dad
insisted on stopping at a gas station to pick up snacks for the hotel room. I
was able to go in, use the restroom, buy a coffee and come out before mom was
done at the pump. Dad took another 10 minutes to come out with a single
half-filled bag of… whatever. Did I mention he hates family get-togethers?

We arrived sometime after 4pm, and I helped mom take the
presents out of the back of mom’s car, while dad just stood there complaining
loudly about a “lack of directions.” Finally, he stormed off to the side patio
for a “kids-today-are-outta-control” rant with my Luke’s other grandpa.

Meanwhile, the dozen or so small children assembled for my
nephew’s party were playing in the backyard, oblivious to any coming storm.
They’d remain that way until the gradually darkening skies finally gave way to
short bursts of moderately heavy rain – a brief sampler of things to come later
that night.

Dinner, in the form of sloppy joes and hors d’oeuvres was
served around 6pm, and the rain had let up enough for us to eat outside (under
a small tent). The cake was served around 7pm, and we left for the hotel shortly
before 9pm in the fierce wind and heavy rain… conditions that were expected to
continue through my niece’s christening the next morning.

Categories: family, hurricanes, weather | Leave a comment

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