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Archive for July, 2010

Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun

A passerby moarns Stephen Pitcairn

Summer is the drippiest of love-fests in Baltimore. There was Artscape, of course, then came a sweatstorm of art-rock at Whartscape, the monthly baby and dog parade at First Thursdays and weekly dose of sno-balls and popcorn at AVAM’s oldster movies. All: colorful, boozy, laidback, and mostly free.

But lately, my buzz has been way harshed by the sober truth of summer in the other Baltimore. Earlier this year, and it was probably not a coincidence that there were two feet of snow on the ground, The City Paper marveled that murders were way down.

After six days without a murder, there was one homicide this week. As of March 15, there have been 14 fewer murders in 2010 than on the same date in 2009. This is a decrease of 32 percent.

With the mercury, Baltimore’s murder rate shot back up to 8 in one week in May, starting with a fatal shooting of a 16-year old boy near the H.L. Mencken House in west Baltimore. This past week, the 7 murders included Stephen Pitcairn, a promising 23-year old research aid at Hopkins who was stabbed after handing over his wallet to experienced criminals in Charles Village. He died lying on the pavement holding the hand of a stranger, a neighbor who called the police. The frankly random nature of the killing has been stunning. (more…)

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Amazing riff on Monopoly about Speculation in Central Baltimore by a student called Cary at MICA

Artscape was the usual blur of thousands of sweaty strangers moving like a sticky stream of molasses up and down sun-baked streets. People drank giant strawberry daiquiris out of foot-long plastic cups a la Senior Frogs, expensive iced lemonade, or milk from sippy cups, in the case of the babies (babies love Artscape). Oozing rather than easing down the road were fashion-forward teens, “art cars” freaks, adorable independent artists hawking irresistibly cool knick knacks, and fearless mohawked boys biking against all odds through this mess of humanity.

We have posted photos below of the crowd which was eclectic and peace-loving. It was a great weekend for Baltimore.

One neat addition to the festival this year was a kind of trade fair in the garage opposite the Charles Theatre, featuring community projects like a Center for a Livable Future-affiliated food dessert study and a mural project inspired by the history of Baltimore.  Also in the garage was a table of artwork exploring current events.

“Baltimore is still a frontier,” said a MICA graduate showing off her contribution to Artscape, a jigsaw puzzle depicting Baltimore, its pieces composed of neighborhoods and parks. She described what it was like to spend four years in a city changing rapidly. The “Central Baltimore Game of Speculation”, created by another MICA grad named Cary, was inspired by the wildly fluxuating rent and real estate climate around Baltimore, specifically near MICA.

“We were told to never set foot on North Avenue when I arrived as a freshman even at midday” she said behind thick black-rimmed glasses. “This year at orientation, they told them that’s where they should go at night to hang out.” The speculators have pounced on local real estate, raising rents, but buildings still loom abandoned and gutted along the Avenue.

Parasols were essential companions to ward off the torrid summer sun

(more…)

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