When considering the impact of the September 11 attacks many of us first think of New York, then of DC, and from there we might leap to the abstract idea of “America.” But 68 Marylanders lost their lives that day between the attacks at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the crash of Flight 93. A two part 9/11 memorial installed yesterday afternoon at Baltimore’s World Trade Center will ensure that Maryland’s loss is not forgotten.
The memorial incorporates recovered steel from the World Trade Center, limestone from the Pentagon’s west wall, and stone from the Flight 93 National Memorial. Names of Marylanders lost that day are inscribed in the monument.
Part of the memorial sits outside the World Trade Center at 401 East Pratt Street. The second part is installed at the building’s “top of the world” observation level on the twenty-seventh floor. Admission to that portion is $5.
Yesterday’s Ravens/Steelers game started out with a message of unity — it was, after all, the tenth anniversary of 9/11. We all stood for Taps, paid more than the usual amount of attention for the Star Spangled Banner, then oohed and aahed as fighter jets screamed by overhead.
And then the football started. According to an opinionated man in the nosebleed section with me, there were fewer scuffles between players “because of today.” It still looked pretty brutal out there, though. After one nefarious move by Pittsburgh, everyone in my section started shouting “Steelers SUCK, Steelers SUCK!” One sincere-looking guy tried to switch it to “USA! USA!” but that didn’t really work. Resentment trumps nationalism, at least when it comes to football.
But it was hard to stay cynical when the Ravens were rocking it so hard. And the upside of having a long and sometimes miserable rivalry is that other times, you get to triumph. All those silly outfits seem worth it.
And on the hot, crowded light rail home from the game, no one was grouchy; we were even nice to the Steelers fan who tried to shove his way on the overstuffed car. After all, we felt kind of sorry for him.
He went by the name of “Oliver,” and he was a fawn piebald puppy with huge bat ears and an endearingly inquisitive expression. Not only was he the cutest creature I’d ever seen, but he’d be weaned by the middle of August, which was exactly when we’d be ready for him. I e-mailed my partner, D, the photo, though it was a symbolic gesture only (how could anyone possibly say no?).
“Very handsome,” he e-mailed me back a few hours later, “but haven’t we already seen that one?” To D, the puppies were starting to blend into one another. To me, there were looking more and more distinct, and I’d never seen one quite as adorable as Oliver.
We paid the deposit to the breeders, Clem and Betty Disterhaupt of Stuart, Nebraska, and “Oliver”—all ears—was all ours.
The arrival of this young creature in Baltimore was preceded by the kind of anticipation—at least, on my part—that might herald the coronation of a young rajah. A trip to Petsmart produced a top-of-the-line puppy bed, a box full of toys, training snacks, a selection of leashes, harnesses and collars, and a pile of books about French bulldogs. The puppy’s delivery date was marked on the wall calendar, and the countdown began.
We had decided to call our dog Grisby, after a French film we both liked (I recall the name as David’s choice, though he’s equally certain it was mine): Touchez Pas au Grisbi, which translates along the lines of Don’t Touch the Loot! The movie, which came out in 1954, is directed by Jacques Becker and stars the aging French actor Jean Gabin. It deals with a band of jaded, world-weary French gangsters who spend most of their time sitting around a café mumbling about le grisbi, which is old-fashioned French criminal slang for “the booty.” We thought it would be a good name for a French bulldog because it contained a growling “grrr” sound, because it was French, and because it sort of meant “treasure,” but in a tough, macho way that seemed appropriate for a sturdy little bulldog, especially a boy. I still love the name, though now of course I’m not able to separate it from the being to whom it refers, and it continues to annoy me when people who’ve known him for years continue to call him Frisby, Grizzly, Grigsby or Grimsby.
When G-day finally dawned, I was so excited I could hardly function; I actually got into a minor argument with D about directions to the freight terminal at Baltimore Washington Aiport, and we never argue, so I must have been feeling tense. After driving around in circles for a while, we finally found the right bay. We signed some papers, turned over a credit card, signed more papers, and were finally handed a small, maroon-colored dog crate which we carried out into the August heat. I rested it on the hood of our car and opened the door. A small, curious face peered up at us. Reaching inside, I lifted out a small, velvety creature with markings the color of milky tea. He was squat and muscular, with a flat face, no tail, and ears so big they were actually shocking. I was instantly smitten.
At first, our little puppy was so cute that it was actually a serious problem. We couldn’t take him anywhere without attracting attention. French bulldogs seem to be rare in Baltimore, because on catching sight of him, strangers would dash across a busy street to get a closer look. A quick stroll round the block was impossible. To make matters worse, we live in the Belvedere whose function rooms on the ground floor are often used for wedding receptions on weekends. I soon learned the how fatal could be the combination of a French bulldog puppy and a crowd of drunken, sentimental bridesmaids, who would begin to throb loudly and coo maternally at the sight of a small puppy. It got to the stage that, on weekends, I would put Grisby in a bag—a sort of makeshift burkah—and zip it up, so I could sneak him out without being spotted.
Another problem was that, while he may have been the cutest little French bulldog on earth, Grisby did not seem to be especially smart. French bulldogs are notoriously, ridiculously hard to housebreak, and toilet training took the best part of a year. Since we live on the fifth floor, this meant five or six trips in the elevator every day, sometimes in an emergency, and if the elevator took a long time to arrive, the results were not pretty. The books seemed to be right about French bulldogs being stubborn and especially difficult to train; once the lesson is learned, though, it is seldom forgotten, and after that first year, there were no more “accidents”– at least, none big enough not to be forgiven.
Police in Anne Arundel are stepping up enforcement of safety laws in the wake of eight local pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities in 2011. According to The Sun, officers will be issuing warnings and citations to drivers who edge into bike lanes, jaywalking pedestrians, and other unsafe road-sharers.
It remains to be seen what effect these measures will have and if they will inspire surrounding counties to follow suit. Certainly with the modest influx of bike lanes in Baltimore City recently (some of which run contrary to the flow of car traffic), a thorough refresher in bicycle safety for both motorists and cyclists would be welcome here as well. And with pedestrian fatalities holding steady across Maryland even as total traffic fatalities have decreased, a re-education in the art of vehicular (and non-vehicular) coexistence couldn’t come too soon.
You know school’s back in session in Roland Park when it takes 45 minutes to get through the intersection at Northern Parkway and Roland Avenue in the morning, when you see otherwise shaggy young men in shirts and ties and stylish teens like the two pictured here hanging at Starbucks in their soccer uniforms. Even after a tough, hot practice these two manage to look laid-back chic. (Beautiful skin and gorgeous hair help…not that it matters girls, it’s what’s on the inside that counts…)
Samantha Silverman and Maddie Stuzin, Ages 14 and 15
Hi girls. Whats with those outfits?
We had practice today.
What’s the best and worst part of soccer practice?
Running is the worst. Getting to know your team is the best.
What is your fashion style this fall?
Maddie: Blue jeans with a cute sweater and I love Frye boots!
Samantha: I would wear shorts all year round if I could! And I love my Toms.
Samantha: You buy a pair and the company donates a pair to a developing country.
I love that! What will you two miss the most about summer?
Maddie: Just hanging out and not having to do much of anything.
Samantha: And wearing T-shirts and sweatpants whenever you want!
Duane “Shorty” Davis goes on trial next week for terrorism charges — for leaving a decorated toilet outside a Towson courthouse. Davis is an artist, a former barbecue chef, and a political activist; his art of choice is making politically-charged toilet sculptures. When Davis dropped off one of his sculptures outside the courthouse last year (“festooned with newspaper clippings, an electronic transmitter and a cell phone,” according to the Baltimore Sun), the police brought the bomb squad in. Now Davis faces up to ten years in jail.
This week, Davis and filmmaker Rob Fiks stopped by the Marc Steiner Show to talk about the trial, and about the documentary Fiks is making about Davis’ life. The white art school filmmaker; the black political activist on trial; the accusations of police misconduct… and the toilet art at the center of the controversy: something about the story seems so wonderfully Baltimore. What won’t be wonderful, though, is if Davis ends up in jail for a misunderstood artistic statement. Locking him up doesn’t seem like it’ll make the world a safer place. We wish him luck at next week’s court date.
In this day and age, it would be hard to find an internet user who doesn’t belong to a group deal site. Most people belong to several; it’s easy to be lured in by their promises of grandeur and their seemingly insider info. We join because the concept is great and the potential deals are so tempting. And yet, once you’ve joined, you realize that the deals are rarely applicable to you. Yes, 50% off laser hair removal sounds great, but the drive back from York, PA sounds like it would be unpleasant. Sure, that 50% off a bushel of crabs sounds nice, until you realize it’s only valid from November 30-January 30. And, frankly, if we were going to skydive, we wouldn’t want to do it on the cheap.
Thankfully, an alternative to the woes of “horizontal” deals is coming to Baltimore.
Citybizlist, a site dedicated to bringing relevant local business news to business owners, executives, and professionals, is launching Citybizlist Rewards, a program that will offer deals their targeted demographic actually wants to use.
Edwin Warfield, CEO of Citybizlist, wrote in the launch email that the launch is “a tremendous step forward for readers and advertisers….Our fast-growing audience has demonstrated a passion for the quality business and financial content curated by our editorial team, and we believe they’ll be similarly excited by the deals we’re finding for them.”
Warfield touches on a key point: the relationship between reader and advertiser is key in group sites. With horizontal group sites, companies know that so many readers will see their offer and at least some of them will likely be interested. The risk always looms that the deal won’t work. Citybizlist solves this problem by offering relevant companies a pipeline to their target audience, and in doing so, offers its readers deals they actually want to use. It’s a symbiotic relationship.
“We’re offering a limited number of advertisers the chance to put their business in front of a very high profile audience of business executives, entrepreneurs, and professionals. We will be offering real rewards for our readers that you don’t see anywhere else; our philsophy is ‘you’ve worked hard, you’ve earned it, now enjoy yourself,’” says Warfield.
Probably the most time-consuming/embarrassing part of passing through TSA is shoe-removal. Not only is the unlacing inefficient when you’re nearly late for boarding, it’s not the most hygienic-feeling step, especially when the guy in front of you forgot his socks, and his Odor Eaters. A shoe-removal-frustrated friend who wished to remain anonymous said, “Can we talk about how gross it is to see complete strangers’ feet? Or having that handsome stranger help you with your bags and then… Ugh! Off come the shoes and there’s your bunion like a sixth finger pointing at him and grossing him out! And how about never wearing boots or high heels or any shoe other than a flip-flop or slip-on on an airplane? That’s fun.”
Agreed. Soon, though, seems we’ll be able to skip the foot-baring burden, striding from home to airport to window seat without so much as loosening double-knots, thanks to better technology in the works–according to a Politico post this week. At a “Playbook Breakfast” forum at the Newseum, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told Politico White House Correspondent Mike Allen, “We are moving towards an intelligence and risk-based approach to how we screen. I think one of the first things you will see over time is the ability to keep your shoes on. One of the last things you will [see] is the reduction or limitation on liquids.”
No details released about the new scanning technology to make our stilettos and sneakers safer, or any real hints regarding when we can start keeping our shoes on. So, keep your shirts on, travelers, be patient and polite about pulling your wingtips off, and trust that in coming months–or possible several years–your TSA walk will move at a quicker, cushioned clip.
As soon as you make it inside the fair, someone will try to take your picture so he can sell it to you later. “I’ve got a camera here,” a man with a gold tooth croons, but since everyone here has a phone and ergo a camera, this particular carnival swindle seems out-of-date, easy to resist. We sweep past him. We are savvy, thrifty; we take pictures of ourselves!
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from horror movies, it’s to be wary of the fair. COME WATCH THE FUN! the banners at the Maryland State Fair urge; enjoy THE 11 BEST DAYS OF SUMMER! Okay, fine — but from previous experience, I know my own dangerous susceptibility to blooming onions, giant stuffed animals, Gravitrons, elephant ears, and games where all you have to do is toss the whiffle ball into that basket that’s barely two feet away! What I’m trying to say is that sun and sugar make me stupid, and that after the fair I’m left with a sore tummy and the feeling that I spent all my allowance on candy that didn’t even taste that good. Which is why this time I brought along two fair companions to protect me from myself, one because she is pretty much the opposite of a sucker, and the other because he is very tall.
STOP #1: The Racetrack
Our first stop is the racetrack, because it seems like the best possible spot to test my mettle, and because, fair companion #1 is an old pro with a system.
The stands here are crowded, perhaps because there’s more shade here, and also beer. Immediately, there’s a clear aesthetic and sun-exposure divide between those with a system and the rest of us. Fair companion #1 is one of the few system-havers without leathery skin, a tucked in shirt, a steely gaze. They tend to cluster around the TV screens that simulcast races from Saratoga and Belmont, whereas the rest of us dupes only care about the horses that are right in front of us.
One of the best things about horse-racing turns out to be how you can’t stop yourself from yelling, whether you’re steely-gazed and system-having, or naive and drunk, or two years old. The horses round the corner and come thundering toward you and that old, deep conquering urge bubbles up, and you hear someone shouting COME ON NUMBER FOUR YOU ARE EMBARRASSING ME, DESTROY THEM ALL, I KNOW YOU HAVE IT IN YOU and it turns out to be you. Not that it’s working. I propose a consolation-prize system for last-place finishers, and fair companion #1 gives me a withering look. Fair companion #2 reports that everyone in the men’s bathroom was simultaneously peeing into the urinals and paging through the racing program with his free hand.
STOP #2: All Time Low Superfan Line
The girls at the very front of the line for tonight’s All Time Low concert are so young and enthusiastic and adorable that you have to look closely to tell that they’re also exhausted and frankly angry. They woke up at 3:00 AM to get here by 6:00 AM; this will be their sixth time seeing the band, and they know some girls who’ve seen them about twice that many times, often in the front row, and the band says hi to them. They have signs to hold up, asking Zach to take a picture with them because they’ve already got pictures with the other three guys in the band, but Zach is always so camera shy, even though he’s really cute.
But the security here makes no sense, and they’re letting people who’ve just arrived this afternoon make a second line right next to theirs, and everyone’s going to get let in at once. The girls are readying themselves: once the gates are opened, they’re going to have to sprint across the field, then force themselves into a prime spot at the front of the stage. It might be brutal. At the Selena [Gomez] concert last week, it was crazy, one of them tells me; little kids were getting trampled.
Fans wear the band’s t-shirt, but ultra-fans wear shirts with lyrics or inside jokes hand-lettered in neon puffy-paint, and maybe a cute beaded fringe along the bottom. The line is already hundreds of people long, and 80 percent of those people are teenage girls. I ask what makes the band so good that they’re willing to give up an entire Sunday to sit in the sun, and not even see anything of the fair except the concrete pathway and chainlink fence of this teen-girl holding pen. “Sex appeal,” one of them says, and the others all nod sagely. From what the poster’s photos show, their version of sex appeal hinges on a hank of dark hair over one eye, cool-guy earrings. One girl plays me a song called “Therapy” on her phone. It’s about how when you’re feeling alone, you should remember that you’re not the only one who feels that way. The girls recommend that in order to get a true appreciation for the band’s appeal, I need to watch these DVDs.
The horses thunder by on the other side of the chain link fence. I ask the girls if they’ve bet on any of the races, and they give me a weird look. “We’re too young,” they say. “Look, it’s Matt!” one of them exclaims, pointing across the field. I don’t see anything. “You can see his feet under that trailer,” she says. The trailer is a couple hundred feet away. I guess I can kind of see someone’s feet underneath it. Matt is the band’s manager, the girls explain. They recognize him from the DVD. I tell them that I just won $21 at the track (true story; send me an email if you want to know my system). They seem unimpressed.
STOP #3 – Treats
We get to the 4H/FFA Home Arts Building just in time to see the ribbon ceremony for the Pillsbury Pie Baking Championship. As the judges deliberate, I spot a lady hovering around the pie showcase table. She’s got tight gray curls and something about her face that tells me she’s serious about pies. Her entry is the apple pie with the cute heart/leaf cutouts on top of its latticed crust, a nice touch that would’ve impressed me if I were a judge.
Mentioning the judges turns out to be a sore spot — I’d always assumed they were master bakers, or at least celebrities, but my informant tells me that I’m mistaken. There is actually a (possibly sinister) overseeing organization, the Maryland Agricultural Fair Board, which certifies fair judges for each category. You can never have quilted or baked in your life and still get certified as a quilting or baking judge, she tells me, in the kind of whisper that indicates long-standing personal resentment. Plus this contest is sponsored by Pillsbury, meaning you have to use one of their frozen crusts, and any baker worth her salt knows that their crusts are way too easy to over- or under-bake. This lady is intense. She kind of seems like she’d be pissed off if she won.
And she doesn’t. Third place goes to an almond/blueberry/goat cheese/basil concoction described by the judges as “very different,” second place goes to a man (!) who made something involving brandy-poached pears (possibly explaining the head judge’s excessive enthusiasm and slight wobbliness). The winner’s a young girl with her arm in a sling. “She has a broken arm, go figure!” the judge says brightly. My informant snorts. She tells me her husband is vegan and doesn’t eat any of her baking, which for some reason is so heartbreakingly poignant I have to walk away.
Sinister judging controversy notwithstanding, it seems like there’s an effort made for every single person in the 4H/FFA tent to come away with a ribbon of some kind. There are rows and rows of baked goods in different categories, i.e. “sliced refrigerator cookies, 6 years old.” The dark irony is that no one’s allowed to eat any of the treats, except the judges — something about food safety regulations, I hear, but I know a conspiracy when I see one. Clearly judges want all the cookies to themselves. I wait until the gray-haired lady isn’t looking before I pick up a brochure about how to start the baking judge certification process.
STOP #4 – Birthing Pavilion
A big sign in the Cow Palace/Birthing Center lists the afternoon’s schedule (Dairy Cattle Showmanship competition, 12 PM; Crossbred Gilts Swine Show, 5PM, etc.) and also proclaims that “Calves, baby pigs, and chicks will arrive on their own schedule.” This turns out to be a lie; the poor pacing, groaning sow at the center of a crowd of spectators has had her labor induced for our convenience. This info is cheerfully revealed by the 4H lady, herself pregnant, who’s providing the background chatter for this weird birth showcase. Though the sow’s water broke a while ago, farrowing turns out to be a slow-ish procedure, so there’s plenty of time to fill with color commentary (for instance: the fact that giving birth in pigs is called farrowing). The whole thing is being staged in a way that’s uncomfortably close to a sporting event, with bleacher stands and (I kid you not) a big TV screen broadcasting a close-up of the action for those who don’t have good seats.
“The fact that she’s laying there looking uncomfortable indicates that labor is progressing,” the 4H lady chirps helpfully. Now the pig lurches to her feet, does a kind of downward-facing pig move, and turns to glare at the lady. Fair companion #1 is literally on the edge of her seat. “Let me know if you see any fluids or piglets coming out that end,” the lady tells the spectators on our side of the pen. It is at this point that I insist that we leave.
STOP #5 – Midway
On the midway, we’re all dupes together — those of us clutching the giant Pooh-Bear-in-a-rasta-cap we won after spending way too much time and money bouncing whiffle balls off the rims of milk cans, and those of us too unskilled and/or timid to win giant stuffed animals. There’s a sideshow tent advertising a 4-foot, hundred pound rat (The most incredible thing you’ve ever seen!!!) which seems like a misfire for the Baltimore crowd; people are shrugging, like Yeah that sounds about right. All I’ve eaten today is a giant cone of soft serve with rainbow sprinkles. I’m getting cranky. Only now do I realize why the Midway rides make you pay in tickets instead of dollars — because 6 tickets for 90 seconds on the swing carousel sounds like less of a blatant swindle than $6. Fair companions #1 and 2 look at me like You really haven’t figured that out til now?
Fair companion #1 is gently insisting on the swings, swindle notwithstanding. What if, she posits, the swindle is itself an essential part of the whole fair-going experience? Isn’t a little good-natured, consensual swindling actually sort of fun, and doesn’t that explain the whole appeal of Las Vegas?
As usual, fair companion #1 is right. The swings are a different animal entirely from the rest of the Midway attractions: their color scheme is faded pastel, and once you’re strapped into your wicker swing chair you can look up and see the detailed pastoral scenes painted on the ceiling. And while someone’s trying his best to destroy that charm by blasting that annoying Drake song from last year from the ride’s soundsystem, once we’re airborne it hardly matters. From up here, the neon tents and neon signs and parades of strollers get that special poignancy of things seen from a great distance. And as we swing higher, it’s easy enough to imagine you can see it all — the 98-pound watermelon; Marty Long, X-Treme Power Sculptor and Master of the Chainsaw; the sweet-faced 4H kids; the eerily accurate age/weight/birthday guesser (“I know my females really well”); the deep fried Oreos; the non-ironic overalls; the fringed eyelashes of alpacas; the look on a baby’s face when he strokes the long soft nose of a horse for the first time.
As a service to our young readers (and let’s face it, their neurotic parents) we will print over the next few months winning college essays from local students who were accepted into their first choice college or university. The author of the following essay is a Gilman alum and Dartmouth sophomore. See our top story “Coaching College Essays” for tips on how to write a winning college admissions essay.
Whenever I show a photo of my family to new friends, they invariably do a double take. No, it’s not because my father is Joe Biden nor because my sisters were raised by wolves. It’s because of me.
In my family of six, I am the only one with red hair — and not auburn-red, chestnut-red, or any red close to my parents’ brown, but a loudly lustrous, fire-orange red. And like most redheads and unlike my family, my arms are speckled with galaxies of freckles and my skin roasts scarlet under minimal sun exposure. I am, in many ways, a genetic non sequitur. My appearance does not follow from the premises of my existence.
As a result, strangers often either mistake me for someone else’s son or demand an explanation. From the moment I had a tuft of carrot on my head, the ladies in my mother’s garden club would come up to me, grab themselves a handful, and ask, “Where on earth did you get that fabulous red hair,” as if it were a rare ficus from the Galapagos. I heard the same from barbers, teachers, shopkeepers, anyone with a working pair of eyes, really.
Thankfully the answer doesn’t involve the mailman or tinkering with chromosomes. “From my grandmother,” I can say confidently, since I have inherited, quite unmistakably, the exact shade of persimmon-red hair of my mother’s mother. Coincidentally, I get my first name from her maiden name, making me a party to a remarkable hereditary phenomenon: all of the children on her side of the family named Harrison at birth — three of us so far — also, as a result of a certain common attribute, share a set of nicknames that includes “big red,” “carrot top,” and “pumpkin head.”
The oddity surrounding my birth and naming has always inclined me to consider my red hair a definitive aspect of my being, much more so, I imagine, than those with blond or brown hair do. As my hair goes with my name, so too should it with my identity. Growing up as a redhead, I’ve realized, I faced a unique set of challenges that have, for the better, profoundly influenced the person I have become.
One such challenge was the lack of redheads in my life. With Grandmother hours away, I was the lone freckle-face at home, and often the only one in the class. The sole redhead on TV came on way past my bedtime. The only fair-skinned fictional hero I ever found was a comic-book character. And as for historical figures, let’s just say I gave up on them when I learned that George Washington had red hair but powdered it white.
I was in a world all my own — a solitude that, while alienating at times, ultimately helped me find myself. By the time I reached the impressionable years of middle school, I felt in full command, able to deviate from the standard paths and avoid ready-made molds at will. I found my callings and threw myself into them with all of my might, even if they were things that might be mocked in the locker room.
While my friends trained to become expert video-game warriors, I armed myself with my parents’ old Nikon and took pictures. With some luck and some hard work, I caught the eye of a veteran photographer and spent a summer in his studio. I also did not seek to hide my love of food, and preparing it. In my lacrosse-playing days, I was known to cook for my teammates after hard-fought games. And now, I have taken a chance on a year off in a far-away land, working at King’s Academy in Jordan, a blooming, young school in a region marred by violence and strife. This is a risk I know for certain I could not have taken without the courage I amassed through these experiences.
My grandmother used to tell me, “There aren’t many of us, you know. You should feel pretty special.” And I do, because although I’ve flown solo for much of my life, I’ve found that the path that strays from the flock often leads to a world of infinite possibilities.