Arlo Shakur


Filming at Cafe Hon Starts this Week for TV’s Hell’s Kitchen


The Baltimore Sun reported last week that filming of the Fox show Hell’s Kitchen begins this week at Cafe Hon whose owner Denise Whiting was reviled earlier this year for her “ownership” of the term “Hon.” 

It’s a risky move for the Hampden eatery given that the show’s objective is to show the dysfunction of a restaurant and in one week try to bring the place back to life. Good luck with that.

On the show the volatile, expletive-happy star Gordon Ramsay not only changes the restaurant’s menu, he also changes its theme and presentation. So if he doesn’t like all that “Hon” stuff (or is swayed not to like it to by the guests) he could very well get rid of it for good.  Frankly, haven’t we all had enough of the “Hon” thing?  Maybe Ramsay will do Whiting, and Baltimore, a favor and ditch the tired mascot.

But if you want to be on TV, head to Cafe Hon this week.

Inverse Delirium: LOL Podcasting


The Baltimore Fishbowl isn’t the only site that offers an authentic point of view on Baltimore issues. Check out home to a witty podcast that you have to hear for yourself. It provides a spot on spoof of public radio and particularly WYPR, in all of its self-inflated pomposity. It was created by Geoffrey Welchman an adopted Baltimorean who has worked as a writer and voiceover artist. The show is sometimes silly to the point of corniness, but Welchman’s humor is genuinely inspired. 

Teen Driving Fatalities, Injuries Down


On Oct 1, 2009 a law went into effect in Maryland that restricted the number of passengers that a teen driver can carry along with the age of those passengers. It also increased the amount of time that a teen must hold a learner’s permit before being eligible for a license. This turned out to be an effective piece of legislation, since teen fatalities on the road have dropped 25 percent since 2009 and injuries have dropped 17 percent in the same interval. 

How the Senator Can Save Itself


Former Senator Theatre owner Tom Kiefaber made a scene at a city council meeting last night. He walked to the front of the room, cut off speakers, sat in front of them, and generally misbehaved. All this because he is basically still upset that the city bought the theatre out from under him two years ago.

This is the latest event in the long story of the theater’s battle to stay afloat. The historic landmark (as it was officially dubbed in last night’s meeting) is beloved by people all over the city, including myself. But poor management decisions have kept the place from being the success it should be. To put it bluntly, Keifaber never deserved to run the Senator; he never did anything interesting with it. If the the theater’s new management wants to finally stop talking about this place and help it achieve its ambitious destiny, then they need to incorporate a few changes into the program. Here are my top three recommendations:

1. Play the trailers, like every other theater – I realize men may disagree with me on this one, but the main thing that always bothered me about the Senator is that they never played previews. The movie just begins at exactly the scheduled time. So if you arrive a little late, as many moviegoers do, you’ve missed a chunk of the film. Previews are fun, I enjoy watching and always regret missing them whenever I catch a movie at the Senator.

2. Play more than one movie at a time – I know the theater has one screen, but that doesn’t have to prevent it from playing two movies at different times throughout the day. Typically, the theater will choose to play a major film and run it and it alone for two weeks. It’s not surprising the Senator has had financial trouble when two films equal a full month’s menu. This one is really a no-brainer–if they play more movies and switch the lineup more often than twice a month, more people will come. What they really should do is add more screens which may be in the cards. But until then, they should run more than one film per half month.

3. Choose different movies – The Senator model is not suited to compete with multiplexes like those in Hunt Valley and White Marsh. Because of their size and location in major shopping centers, those theaters will always attract a younger crowd pulled see the latest blockbusters. The Senator can embrace its image as a historic place by regularly showing historic, classic movies. The theater already has a great tradition of playing It’s a Wonderful Life around the holiday season, but I think they should also play great movies of the 70s, 80s, and 90s on a weekly basis. The modern movies they choose should rely less on large-budget events–they should aim to play more movies that are attractive to older patrons. People who go to the Senator are generally older anyway, they would rather see The Bucket List than Twilight. The Senator people should know their audience and play to them.

What do you think? What might the Senator do to finally become an independent success story?

Light Rail Railing: Board it to Better it


Have you ridden the light rail lately? For many in the Baltimore community the answer is certainly no, despite a daily ridership of over 36,000. I’ve recently been taking it more frequently (to avoid drinking and driving, frankly) and I have been appalled at some of the problems with our city’s simple railway. First of all you can easily get away without paying to get on the thing. I have never seen anyone checking a ticket. I know that there are ticket checkers because I have a friend who was kicked off once for not paying but they are too few and far between. The light rail claims to run on an honor-based proof of payment system, but plenty of people still get on without paying, how many no one knows. But this keeps the light rail from making the money it could, which is a shame.

While I was riding the other night some doucher lit a cigar in front of me and about a dozen other people. Really? Who smokes a cigar in a closed train filled with people? While the light rail isn’t as bad as it could be (get off at Lexington Market and see how that other Baltimore property is doing) it could be much, much better. For instance, I admit that I’ve debated getting off before my stop just to escape the smell. And at night there are some predictably shady customers on board.

This all gets back to my original point. None of these things will change unless you start using the light rail more often and pay for it. Support your city. Do that and maybe they’ll able to pay attendants who can check tickets and, I don’t know, keep people from smoking cigars.


Arlo Shakur is one of two our summer interns. 

Fake ID Follies


University of Maryland sophomore and Montgomery County resident Teddy Michaels was federally indicted last month for making fake IDs and selling them to his fellow students. The fact is, the vast majority of young adults between 18 and 21 drink alcohol. At that age, and really throughout all of adulthood, alcohol is everywhere. In my experience, getting a fake ID is critical for most kids under 21. I remember my own desire for one; friends who had one seemed to be blessed with some sort of golden ticket. 

People who don’t have access to a decent counterfeit (like me a few years ago) often settle for the next best thing: the actual ID of a friend or relative who looks like them. That’s great if the person you find actually looks like you, but more often than not you are a peach-fuzzed baby face and that guy with the five o’clock shadow in the photograph looks like he just escaped from Guantanamo (and if you’re mistaken for THAT guy, your troubled cousin Alfred, you’ve got bigger problems on your hands). At the very least, if you try to pass one of those around, you are eventually going to be embarrassed by any bouncer or cashier with an ounce of common sense.

These problems keep quality fake IDs in high demand, which gives upstarts (opportunists) like Michaels the ability to drive up prices and make small fortunes. But people like Teddy Michaels are rare because it’s hard to acquire the equipment to manufacture convincing fake IDs. If you get one it is more likely to be printed on computer paper and laminated with an DIY laminating kit from Learning How than an elaborate copy like the ones Michaels produced. And when someone like Michaels does come around, the excitement around him is so great he draws a lot of attention not only from students, but also from authorities. Unfortunately, poor Teddy (a triple major in finance, accounting, and economics) should have known better than to merge the two things he was learning in school: business and partying.