Anti-Sheppard Pratt Forces Organize

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Along Bellona Avenue this week signs objecting to the Sheppard Pratt mental health residential treatment home sprouted along the road. The signs direct readers to the website for Neighbors Against the Sheppard Pratt Hotel which has over 230 Facebook likes. While opposition is mounting, the hospital completed the sale last week and plans to go forward with opening the six-bedroom home on LaBelle Avenue. Like it or not, there is little residents can do: Sheppard Pratt’s proposal is protected by federal and state housing laws.

Film Fest Standouts

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Our past visits to the Maryland Film Festival have left us surprised, shocked, entertained, engaged — but never bored. The cinematic celebration returns this weekend, and features films both foreign and domestic, short and long, classic and cutting-edge, odd and odder. Our picks for some must-see screenings are below; check out the full schedule here.

 

Meek’s Cutoff
Saturday, May 7 (8:30 PM)
Charles Theater
Kelly Reichardt, a rising star in American independent film, explored the subtle tensions of daily life in the Pacific Northwest in her films Old Joy and Wendy and Lucy to a low-key, memorable effect. Now, she turns her attention to that classically American genre, the Western, and we can’t wait to see the results. This film follows a wagon train of hopeful settlers (most notably Michelle Williams) searching for safe passage through the Cascade Mountains in 1845.  Low supplies, an untrustworthy guide, the sudden appearance of an Indian — Reichardt’s quiet subversion of Western conventions makes for a fresh and startling story.

My Joy
Saturday, May 7 (11:00 AM)
Charles Theater
Looking to recapture that feeling of dread and exhilaration that last year’s film fest hit Dogtooth left you with? Our pick for bleakest story on the screens this year is Ukranian filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa’s ironically titled My Joy. At once a day-in-the-life depiction of Georgi, a truck driver, and a dark commentary on the madness of post-Soviet society, My Joy is provocative, brutal, and thrilling.

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
Friday, May 6 (1:30 PM) & Sunday, May 8 (2:00 PM)
Charles Theater
Or maybe you’re over bleakness.  Earlier this year, A. O. Scott noted that Uncle Boonmee’s “contemplative mood and genial, curious spirit….encountered in an appropriately exploratory frame of mind [could] produce something close to bliss.” Exploratory is the key word here; this lush Thai film, which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2010, features surreal touches, including ghosts, spirits emerging from the jungle, and other shadowy beasts.

Alloy Orchestra Presents Masters of Slapstick
Sunday, May 8 (11:00 AM)
Charles Theater
A film festival tradition, the Alloy Orchestra writes and performs original scores to accompany silent films. This year is your chance to watch their embellishments of a series of short films featuring everyone’s favorite wordless masters of physical comedy: Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin.

Photo by Rich Riggins, courtesy Maryland Film Festival

Prisitine Roland Park Victorian

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Hot House: 117 Beechdale Road, Baltimore, 21210

Classic Victorian, all systems go, in the heart of Roland Park:

$995,000

What: A beautifully renovated Victorian, circa 1905 — that rare Roland Park house with everything in perfect working order –no peeling paint, no clanking radiators, and insulation!  A recent and total makeover, which included central air as well as all new windows and doors, has transformed this house into a high quality home with major curb appeal. From the welcoming porch, a gracious foyer leads to a generously proportioned living and dining rooms, both with wood burning fireplaces (think winter dinner parties in front of a glowing fire). Sunny windows draw you straight through to the back of the house, where a brand new custom cook’s kitchen promises a lifetime of great eating and big windows look up towards the big back yard, complete with big old trees and tasteful play area. Sleek but practical mudroom is a bonus. Upstairs, luxurious master bed and bath, walk-in closets and additional pretty bedrooms offer period touches like built in cupboards and polished wood floors. A nicely finished basement is now and would be, perfect for kids.  Side driveway with parking pad a plus, as is easy access to Rt. 83.  

Where: Between Falls Road and Roland Avenue, near the old Baltimore Country Club golf course. Walk to Eddie’s, walk to schools, walk to Petit Louis. Roland Park is in northwest Baltimore, a historic neighborhood designed by the Olmstead architectural firm (NY Central Park) – a ten minute drive to downtown. 

Why: A wide wraparound porch, great landscaping with a show-stopping planting of hostas in front, and modern, south-facing kitchen overlooking the terraced back yard – and all above-mentioned mod cons.

Why not: House sits up off the street, so requires some stair taking unless you’re first to the parking pad.

Would suit: Old house family who (heart) City Life, but not the hassles of city living.

 

Q & A With "Modern Family" Star Julie Bowen

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We asked Modern Family star and Baltimore girl-done-good Julie Bowen (nee Luetkemeyer) a few questions about life, the secrets to her success and growing up in Baltimore (in Woodbrook). We learned the Brown University alum and mother of three is not wholly unlike the funny, self-deprecating, lovable character she plays on TV.

Sum up your life philosophy in one sentence.
If everyone gets to bed with a clean diaper and minimal whining, I win!

When did you define your most important goals, and what are they?
I thought my most important goals were career related, and in some ways they still are.  I love working and get (overly?) excited about new jobs and the opportunity to work with creative people.  Having three kids in two years, however, has forced me to shift a great deal of focus outside of myself and my own goals which is, frankly, much more healthy.

What is the best advice you ever got that you followed?
My parents told me to get an education, whether I “used” it or not, and I did.  It is still the greatest thing I have ever done even if I rarely dig out Neoplatonism in cocktail conversation.

The worst advice, and did you follow it? Or how did you muffle it?
The worst advice was never direct as much as it was implied.  Some people in my life kept saying I was “lucky” to get jobs, and I shouldn’t push my luck by asking for better salaries or even better jobs.  I spent a great deal of time undervaluing myself, and still feel I have to fight against this mentality as a default mode.

What are the three most surprising truths you’ve discovered in your lifetime?

  1. Kids are amazingly fun.
  2. Kids are amazingly hard.
  3. One person, place or thing will never meet all of your needs. Get a deep bench and keep expanding.

What is the best moment of the day?
5 a.m. Coffee, email, and a book before I go running.

What is on your bedside table?
Half a broken toy truck,  crosswords, three books to read and a picture of my dearly departed dog.

What advice would you give a young person who aspires to do what you are doing?
Get used to hearing “no” and don’t take it personally.  Auditioning is a war of attrition, and if you can resist the urge to quit when you are sure you won’t get a job, you will eventually land on your feet.

Why are you successful?
Am I?  That’s hard to accept…I suppose I have success in acting because I really love it and didn’t look at my failures (there have been PLENTY) and rejections as deterrents.

What was the best thing about growing up in Baltimore?
The Orioles and lightening bugs.

What was the worst thing about growing up in Baltimore?
The humidity!

What do you miss most about Baltimore?
My parents and old friends like Lillie Stewart, Catherine Thomas and Emily Wilson….

What is the thing you must do/place you must visit when you are in Baltimore?
The Irvine Nature Center is the best.  My dad can’t survive without a trip to Tark’s (Grill).  And for culture, the Walters Art Museum is my favorite.

What is your favorite regional delicacy? 
Berger Cookies!!!!  Oh my god!  I always thought you could get those anywhere until I moved away from Baltimore.  What a horrible realization!

Eddie’s or Graul’s?
Graul’s!  The chicken salad alone is worth it.

The creator of “Modern Family” is also from Baltimore.  Do you two ever commiserate on the best and worst of Baltimore?  Did you know each other or any of the same people growing up?

Jason Winer (Friends School alum) directed Modern Family the first season and still has strong Baltimore ties.  We didn’t talk a whole lot of Baltimore, but whenever we did, we used the full-on Bawlmer accent, hon!

 

It’s Summer! Imagine it On the Water in this Spectacular Spot

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HOT HOUSE: 435 Ginn Lane in Pasadena, Md.

At auction: a one-of-a kind modern glass house and 3.51 acres with total privacy and views of Magothy River near the Chesapeake Bay. Suggested opening price:  $3.5 million. Sold to the highest bidder. 

What:  A beautiful, custom-designed glass house, built in 1997 for the late Leroy Merritt, developer and founder of Merritt Athletic Clubs.  An initial listing price of $7.9 million attracted no offers, and the house is being auctioned off on June 3 by Merritt’s estate. With high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling glass, the river views are spectacular from every room. At the top on the house is an observatory with 225 degree views. Sleek design and multiple levels of open living offer modern aesthetic appeal in a four-story, four bedroom home with four full and two half baths. Sunken living room and marble floors.  The grounds include a lovely pool, putting green, volleyball court and caretaker’s cottage. Private, waterfront land has a deep water pier with multiple boat slips and your own beach. This house was recently a Wall Street Journal  “House of the Day.”   

Where: A small rise on a private peninsula overlooking the Magothy River, Broad Creek and Sillery Bay. Pasadena, pop. 12,000, is on the western shore of the Chesapeake, near both Annapolis and Severna Park, about forty minutes from Baltimore. 

Why: A good chance to redecorate–even your mother-in-law will realize that her Victorian sofa won’t work here. Seriously, stunning views of sky and water puts the world in a different perspective.

Why Not: Visitors will be almost pathologically unable to resist comic observations about people who live in glass houses…

Would suit:  Water-loving millionaire with no urge to throw stones.


Lauraville for Hipsters with a Heart

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Hot House: 6400 Old Harford Road, Baltimore 21214

Sweet farmhouse Victorian  in the young and trendy neighborhood of Lauraville/Hamilton: $225,000

What: Sunny, charming and recently updated, this three bedroom, two-bath Victorian was built in 1920, when Hamilton was a making the transition from farmland to suburbs.  After years of decline from its working class roots, Hamilton is now one of the city’s great comeback neighborhoods, ethnically diverse and authentically Baltimore. Restaurants, art galleries, yoga centers, natural food and nightlife abound (checkout the Hamilton/Lauraville Main Street blogspot).  And 6400 Old Harford Road is an easy walk to everything.  The house features 9 foot ceilings, big windows, crown moldings and a wraparound porch. At 2,902 square feet and .3 acres,  it’s one of the largest houses around–you’ll be the envy of the neighbors, always a plus, and the large attic gives you potential for an easy 6 bedrooms.  Updated kitchen with breakfast nook, modern baths, new siding in’06, new roof in ’08. 

Where: Hamilton/Lauraville  is in the northwest corner of Baltimore City, bisected by Harford Road, and west of Northern Parkway. 10 minutes to Herring Run Park .

Why: young community, a real house in an up-and -coming hood with fun shops and great restaurants–walk to Hamilton Street Tavern! 

Why not: Great public schools? Not so much. Young families will need to check it out.  

Would suit: yoga teacher, college professor, hipsters with a heart.

Baltimore Rhino Makes A Splash

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In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a thousand-pound rhino living on the rocky land beside the Jones Falls River. It is a beautiful gray creature, awesome, in the old-fashioned sense of the word, and flat out surreal, positioned amid an urban setting.

People are starting to discover the beast, as they hike, bike, make out or smoke up, near the bucolic stream. “Wait, is that a rhino?” one guy asked himself aloud; another woman snapped a photo with her cell and texted a message.

To be clear: The rhino isn’t real, but looks so from afar. Chad Tyler, 29, exhibit designer at the National Aquarium, placed it there this spring. The artist sculpted the piece from foam and concrete, over a period of patient weeks, setting up studio in a Ruxton barn. Fishbowl talked to Chad about his process and vision for the unique, eco-conscious project he calls, “There’s a Rhinoceros in the River.”

FB: So, how did you become inspired to build this rhino for Baltimore?
CT: The Rhino was born of an idea originally conceived in the car while driving back to Chicago with Jowita (yo-v-ta), my amazing fiancé. Ever since we were introduced to the lower Jones Falls River valley when we moved here ten months ago, I have been in love with it. I have always been drawn to these landscapes that almost don’t seem to fit into their context, that challenge your expectations of the natural environment, and where the intersection of the manmade and nature is so seamless and integrated. Think Northerly Island in Chicago, a former airstrip, famously bulldozed overnight at the bequest of Mayor Daley. The airstrips are piled on the edge of the island, rebar, concrete, and all. Some of the old concrete lighting foundations still exist, some of the taxi-ways can be found buried by the tall grasses grown through its cracked pavement. …To me, the Jones Falls River is so much more interesting because of all its layers. Because it is this living thing, moving about the concrete rubble strewn about its banks, banging against stone walls meant to contain it–[flowing] beside and through old mills that borrowed its water to operate, underneath bridges built high to avoid being swept away…and eventually 70-feet beneath an eight-lane highway that borrows the rivers fluid design. A river seemingly obscured from view and unknown to many. The intersection of culture, history, and industry is great inspiration to me.

Having spent a number of years designing exhibits and experiences built around animals, water, and conservation, I have come to think a lot about the question of why people visit zoos and aquarium to view these animals. What is about this facilitated experience of nature that brings audiences back, time and time again? Why are we so often wrapped up, in love, with the iconic and exotic animals from the other side of the globe? I found myself in the library looking at the history of Baltimore, the Jones Falls River and the industrial development on its banks. I began to connect an interesting chronological correlation between the foundation of the Baltimore Zoo and the expansion of the cotton mills after the Civil War. The mills’ rapid growth and increased demand on the river, the manipulation of its banks, the construction of higher bridges; a certain destruction or manipulation of nature, and in kind a newfound desire to view exotic nature through the lens of a zoo, was really interesting to me.

Wait, why a rhino?!
My original idea was to sculpt or replicate a number of the world’s iconic animals. The panda bear, the giraffe, the hippo, the moose, a congress of antelope, the zebra, the rhinoceros, etc. convening on the banks of the Jones Falls as if to discuss the state of things. With obvious limitations I [singled out] the rhinoceros, the third largest terrestrial mammal, a seemingly solitary creature, built strong and yet possessing a certain compassion in its eye, almost sympathetic. I love some of the myth behind the rhino: Supposedly [adept] at detecting a fire, it runs into the forest and heroically stomps it out — a guardian to its neighbors.

What was your sculptural process like?
I began the process of sculpting the rhinoceros by first making a scale model out of plasticine, an oil-based clay. I then translated the model to a giant block of expanded polystyrene foam also known as EPS foam in a good friend’s barn in Ruxton. I basically whittled the big block of foam with a 16-inch hand saw, referencing back to the model, until I got it right. Once the form was complete, I coated it in a custom mix of glass-fiber-reinforced concrete to seal it and to create the details, color and texture.

What was the project’s hardest challenge?
Definitely the process of transporting it to the river and installing it. Once I finished with the concrete, I split the whole thing into three separate pieces. With the help, in total, of 15 volunteers across three evenings, we managed to move the pieces to the site, down a root-strewn, rocky slope, down a five foot flood wall, and across a hundred feet of boulder and gravel-laced river wash!

What do you hope viewers take away?
First and foremost, my hope with this project is to draw a smile to the face of the passersby. My hope is that once this happens, they may [stop and] see something they haven’t noticed before. I hope the project might encourage some to think differently about the river and our relationship to it… I would love if it has the ability to encourage some of the viewers to become advocates or stewards of the watershed through involvement in cleaning and protecting the river with an organization like Blue Water Baltimore. Getting involved by joining a trash pick-up event, an invasive species clearing day, or maybe by marking the storm drains on your block can help protect the watershed and continue to build an enduring relationship with the river.

Tight Genes

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Turns out Kate Middleton is 13th cousin, thrice removed, of Maryland’s own Francis Scott Key, the same fellow who wrote “The Star Spangled Banner,” we now know, thanks to news of the book, The Ancestry of Catherine Middleton, just released by the New England Historic Genealogical Society. While the several-hundred-year study, which detangles Middleton’s roots since 1521, doesn’t sound like a page-turner, pages do deliver amusing proof that the pretty princess, 29, is also loosely related to Colonial Maryland governor Sir Thomas Bladen, George Washington, General S. Patton, and talk-show-queen Ellen DeGeneres, among other famous folks. Which makes a person wonder if every one of us isn’t distantly stitched to someone famous (or infamous). Connections, once you start tracing bloodlines, abound. Check it: Baltimore native Elizabeth “Betsy” Bonaparte married Emperor Napoleon’s weak-willed brother, Jerome, in 1803–Napoleon I hated Betsy and did not invite her to set up house in France; Jerry, though he dug her, dumped her in 1805. Liz’s son, Bo, was the first president of the Maryland Club. (Although we can’t confirm if any of his relations still live in town. Anyone?) Baltimore style-setter Diana Warfield Daly is distantly related to Wallis Warfield Simpson, the de-throwning diva with the best-dialogue in “The King’s Speech” and the best-style ever to hit the royal family. Johns Hopkins Cardiologist James L. Weiss is the distant second-cousin-twice-removed of Harry Houdini. (Is that where he gets his life-saving magic?) If you knew you had old ties to someone history-book big, like Abraham Lincoln, how cool, right? On the other hand, what if you were related to John Wilkes Booth? We’d love to know who’s related to whom. Tell us what you know on the community page or below in comments…

Announcing Donated Media: MD SPCA

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Baltimore Fishbowl’s Donate Media Program gives one-year of free media to a selected non-profit. This year’s recipient is the Maryland Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Learn more about the Donated Media program at the bottom of the page. 

The MDSPCA Executive Director Aileen Gabbey kicks off the program with her interview below.

What is a typical workday like for you? Our mission is to help pets and people, so I need to stay focused on that. Recently, most of my time has been devoted to opening our new building, which was very exciting! Now, I have the fun of sharing that with our supporters! I’ll give tours of our new building; I’ll share happy stories with the media; I’ll spend time with staff and volunteers on our annual goals. I also spend time working with fellow directors in our Baltimore shelter alliance. Right now, we’re doing a big joint spay and neuter event together, which has been just great.

What is the most important thing the Maryland SPCA accomplished in 2010? The new building is definitely the big highlight! Our Board worked tirelessly on the campaign and our Staff worked wonders while we were under construction. While all of this was going on, we also opened a new wellness clinic, adopted almost 3,000 pets, neutered over 8,000 dogs and cats, and took in over 1,200 animals from the BARCS city shelter. We don’t sit still!

What is your highest/most ambitious goal for 2011? Hardest challenge? We want to keep focused on helping pets and people and each year we want to help more and more. This year, we want to increase our spay and neuter surgeries by 10%. We want to help more pets through our wellness clinic. I guess our challenge will be to let people know we still need help. Despite the success of the new building, we still have animals inside who have lots of needs!

Share some inspiring animal news! One of my favorite dogs recently was Stewie. He’s a five-year-old Lab we took in from the city shelter. Not only is Stewie older, he’s also blind. There is no time limit for an animal’s stay at the MD SPCA, so we know it takes a little longer for older or handicapped pets to get adopted. The dogs go out several times a day with our volunteers. I frequently saw Stewie out with his volunteer friends, warming his face in the sun. It took a few weeks, but, Stewie finally got adopted! I’ve attached his picture the day he went home with his new mom.

What can Baltimore animal lovers do to help the MD SPCA most effectively? Come help and spread the word that we need help! We don’t receive any operating funds from the government or the ASPCA. That surprises a lot of people. We rely on kind-hearted people to donate and volunteer.

How many pets do you have? And, are you sometimes tempted to adopt your rescues? People assume I am going to have a full house! My husband and I actually have just one dog and one cat, both from the MD SPCA. I try not to overdo it. But, I have to say, it is really tempting sometimes when I see the cute faces as I walk through each day!

 

A Greenspring Valley Estate That Will Steal Your Heart (and Your Wallet)

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Hot House:  2217 Greenspring Valley Road, Stevenson, 21153

Greenspring Punch — country manor house and estate, circa 1885, with 98 acres and gardens: $4,995,000 

What: The Real Deal. English country house, in cream stucco, with major views, stables, barns and tenant houses in the heart of the Greenspring Valley. Owned since the 1920’s by several generations of the Baetjer family, this is a house you could lose your heart to. Stunning spiral staircase leads to an oval skylight, nine fireplaces, five, six or seven bedrooms (who can count?) , seven full baths, a servant’s wing (!) and every window has a view. Ancient trees, wonderful gardens, vistas, not another house in sight.  Best of all ….”potential for horses, sheep, poultry and other”! 

Where: Greenspring Valley Road – just five minutes from the shops at Greenspring Station and Rt.83– twenty minutes to downtown, but feels like you’re deep in horse country.  

Why: Grand but not grandiose. Your friends will give you credit for more taste than you actually possess. Also, perfect place to channel the ghost of Harvey LaDew.

Why not: Don’t order the racehorses unless you’ve got another million or so to spend. It all needs updating. Kitchen, bathrooms, pool, systems, everything.  Once that’s done, the house is a dream.

Would suit: George Washington, or similar.