Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

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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HFStival rises from the deadNow that we’ve entered our third decade, the culture lords of my generation have gotten nostalgic for the good old days. We worshiped Kurt Cobain, entered radio contests on WHFS 94.7 and made wicked cassette mix tapes. I remember a time when we taped the radio — BT on Transmissions, anyone? We loved the Nineties. I mean, we totally loathed the nineties, but in an ironic way we relished those days, cognizant of the dissonance… Ahem.

It seems others are feeling similarly wistful for the Clinton years when we unknowingly trashed the planet and beat icebergs back driving SUVs and rocking out to alternative schlock like Live.  Here, just 5 signs we are totally in charge of the culture ship and steering it back into time.

5. The artistic directors of Urban Outfitters has outfitted the Millennials in grunge-era plaid, imitation thrift store t-shirts and Rolling Stones-inspired t-shirts because we still haven’t gotten over seeing Mick Jagger sing Brown Sugar at RFK in 1994. Actually, no one has gotten over seeing Mick Jagger sing Brown Sugar, and that’s how they are selling a Super Deluxe edition of Exile on Main Street for upwards of $100. (more…)

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Matt Roth for The New York TimesThe Baltimore Chop reported this morning that the New York Times “dump[ed]” on Baltimore yet again. The Gray Lady had the audacity to point out that adding a third arts district in the boarded-up Howard Street corridor is fiscally risky and may not yield immediate results–measurable by, at the very least, fewer vacant buildings.

We perked up (being a bit foggy-brained this Friday morning) at this bit of the Chop’s post:

… the New York Times is looking down its nose at us again. They seem to see Baltimore as little more than a source for so-so regional cuisine, a great inspiration for campy Broadway musicals, and a crummy baseball team for the sweeping.

This time around they’re making us out to be a bungling, artless money-pit who is stuck in the Schmoke era and wants to copy Manhattan. We really, really wish the Times would mind their own fucking business a little more, and publish these cheap, quickie drive-by stories about Baltimore a little less.

And they include links to said (sad) articles which do tend to be reported via a helicopter ride in and out of Baltimore (would a Times reporter deign to take Bolt?). However, I would argue that the Times review of that Eastern Shore-inspired Greenwich village restaurant made it sounds pretentious, bland and overpriced, which is reason for a poor review: Maryland, especially in context of Manhattan’s West Village, is none of those things. (more…)

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Baltimore Sun photo by Barbara Haddock Taylor / May 10, 2010Well, yesterday was a good news and bad news day.

We are now running a $500,000 ad campaign that implores tourists to come, “Find Your Happy Place in Baltimore.” It features a logo design that only a 5th grade teacher just discovering clip art could love. And within 24 hours, Happy has become synonymous with “trigger-happy” or high-as-a-kite-happy–as in just the place for a “thrill-seeking junkie,” as one person posted on the Baltimore Sun web site. The crime columnist Peter Hermann gathered a slew of spot-on comments about the new slogan, including from the former police commander Buz Busnuk:

[Buz] mentioned… The drug dealer named Don Papa who boasted three years ago that he made $180,000 in one night selling drugs on Pennsylvania Avenue. He called the street “a freaking gold mine,” and according to a transcript in a federal court file, told detectives: “This is the heroin capital of America, ain’t no more dope sold nowhere than right there on Pennsylvania Avenue.”

“He thought this place was Nirvana,” Busnuk said. “Wasn’t he in a happy place?” (more…)

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I Love Your Ideas But You Dissapoint MeSeen in alley off Cathedral Street. Probably not intended for our governor, but the sentiment is fairly spot on.

Don’t Dissapoint Us, Mr. Martin.

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The City Paper‘s 2nd annual Bike issue highlights recent progress on the biking issue in Baltimore.

In the past year, two new bicycle shops have opened in Baltimore. Bike-repair collective Velocipede is frequently over capacity, resorting to waiting lists shortly after opening in the evenings, year-round. The City of Baltimore is poised to release its first-ever comprehensive bike map; official bike routes, lanes, and other improvements are sprouting on city streets like grease stains or potholes. Four landmark pieces of bike-policy legislation passed in the state legislature just last week. Bicycling magazine just placed Baltimore in its “Top 50 Bike-Friendly Cities.” And this is all recent–the evolution of cycling in our city over the past few years is on par with the evolution of fish growing legs, learning to crawl, walking on land, and standing upright.

Subsequent articles warn that if bikers don’t continue to advocate for greater bike safety, we’re likely to see more fatalities. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-funded Alliance for Biking and Walking’s 2010 Benchmarking Report, Maryland (nation’s richest state, etc.) ranks 33rd nationwide for bike and pedestrian funding. In a state as congested as ours we should be spending at the top.

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Flickr photo from sidewalk flyingOcean City recently announced that it will quit recycling to save $1 million a year. Maryland’s favorite (hmm, only) seaside getaway is set to produce yet more trash courtesy of the boardwalk’s overpopulation of tattooed dudes with bellies spilling over fire-emblazoned trunks. Truck loads of Bud Lite bottles, baked bean cans, empty Trasher’s buckets, ice cream-smeared cups, and Menthol Lite butts are slated to be incinerated in Chester, PA, supposedly producing “green energy.” If you consider acrid black smoke to be environmentally friendly, you should all cheery about this one.

OC’s Public Works honcho Richard Malone was not very upbeat about his decision, in fact he suggested that “you can hardly imagine” how the decision burned him from the inside, according to the Baltimore Sun. (more…)

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