Culture

Martin Luther King, Jr Takes His Place Among Founding Fathers and Presidents

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The northwest shore of Washington, DC’s Tidal Basin is the site of the city’s newest monument: a thirty-foot memorial statue of Martin Luther King, Jr set among Japanese cherry trees.

The memorial employs visual metaphors lifted from his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech—visitors to the site enter between two rough hewn boulders representing the “Mountain of Despair,” while Dr. King’s likeness abuts the “Stone of Hope”—but the fourteen quotations engraved along the outer wall are culled from lesser known addresses and writings.

Recently, King’s name has been invoked in association with such politically divergent personalities as Barack Obama (mostly by his supporters) and Glenn Beck (mostly by himself). Ironically, travesties like these can be blamed on the wider acceptance of much of King’s message. In today’s mainstream, King is an almost universally beloved historical figure, and that kind of popular adoration begets politically convenient revisionism.

In his own day, King and the movement he represented were seen by many as dangerous to the status quo, even seditious. (Remember, he was assassinated!) In the decades since his death, King’s legacy has been by turns reduced to polite buzzwords like “peace” and “equality” or truncated to include only his part in the black civil rights struggle, ignoring both his uncompromising condemnation of the war in Vietnam and his efforts to mobilize the nation’s poor, a move which took the civil rights movement beyond issues of race.

The incorporation of literal quotations from a variety of speeches ought to help present an authentic picture of the man and his message, something that’s sorely needed amid all the opportunistic MLK-hijacking.

The dedication ceremony for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial will commence at 11 am August 28 on the National Mall in DC. For more information, visit mlkmemorial.org

BALTIMORE QUAKE 2011!

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It’s been all anyone can talk about online, on the phone, in person. Earthquake 2011: 5.8 magnitude! Jokes aplenty have kept us texting, and laughing. Check out buzzfeed’s funny photos of “damage.” And Gawker’s deliriously detailed, Obama-centered earthquake meditation. Love the photo we re-posted from FamousDC.com of one plastic lawn chair…knocked down. (Go there to see/hear Carole King’s “I Feel the Earth Move.”) To calm your mildly rattled nerves the Windup Space recommends the Earthquake Cocktail:

1 oz gin
1 oz bourbon whiskey
3/4 oz absinthe

We even heard of one 20-percent-off earthquake sale. Crabplace.com’s coupon code? 20 shakes.

But the most entertaining quake conversation remains: Where were you when it hit, and what were you thinking? Baltimore Fishbowl writers weighed in. Please do the same below and be sure to see the videos on our video landing from Baltimore Quake 2011!

“Standing in Matava shoe store at Bellevedere Square–shoes were falling off the shelves and we ran outside because I refuse to be found dead in a shoe store!” –Cynthia McIntyre

“In the dining room cleaning up the Goldfish [crackers] bag that my dog chewed up. I first thought the rumble was my bad dog running around.” –Krista Smith

“I was at the office…with my dog. My dog is awesomely welcomed at my office–he had been sleeping on my desk before he was startled by the rumbling, and immediately barked his displeasure that the room was moving. My first instinct was to pick him up and stand, ready for action. But then I just stood there, staring at my swaying iMac silently. Then one of the engineers, who were all in the next room having a meeting, yelled over the partition, ‘Sara have you been jumping up and down again over there?’ To which I replied, ‘Hey! That’s SO not nice!’ And he said ‘I SO didn’t mean it that way!’ Most fun office ever, even during an earthquake.” –Sara Lynn Michener

“I was driving around Litchfield County in Connecticut when the earthquake happened. Surprisingly the radio said it actually reached Litchfield County all the way up from VA and DC. I only found out about it when my friend called from Baltimore right after it happened. I was shocked, but relieved when he said nothing got destroyed and no one was hurt.” –Kristin Hughes

“I was doing my piano practice. My first thought was, ‘Are the chandeliers going to fall?’” –Mikita Brottman

“Sitting by the Gunpowder River, eating home-made cookies, laughing. The group of moms I was with all looked around, and said ‘Did you feel that?’ We counted heads of children, and reached for cell phones. Verizon network totally failed me, and it took 20 minutes to find out the rest of the family was okay. We stayed in our seats for a couple more hours.” –Elizabeth Frederick

“I got calls from friends and family in New York, California and Spain asking if we were okay.  You could hear the disappointment in their silence when I told them we were not in Baltimore today and missed the earthquake.” –Susan Dunn

“Alas, I am in Cape Cod, so I heard about it through text message and was jealous that I missed all the fun!” –Rachel Monroe

“I was home editing copy when the house began to vibrate. First brilliant thought: ‘Those are some big squirrels running the roof!’” –Betsy Boyd

“I was at my computer on the second floor of my apartment, when the construction team that has been working on the neighboring row house began operating a monstrously heavy piece of machinery. It was in fact so large and powerful that my walls were beginning to shake. I was going to have to go over there and tell them that they better turn off that impossibly thunderous watchamacallit right now; I mean it’s just unbelievable. It’s like a damn earthquake. Wait a second…” –Bob O’Brien

We’re Number 33!

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Gawker, the New York-based online newsmagazine, has named Maryland the 33rd worst state in the U.S. Overall, the state is praised for it’s beauty, but Baltimore is singled out for derision.

“They like made a whole television series about what a scary and miserable place it is!” the website reads, adding, “Other than Baltimore, Maryland is basically just the Mid-Atlantic’s Connecticut — all suburby sprawl dotted with occasional crumbling cities.”

Last week, the website began it’s “Worst 50 States in America” series, naming eight new states each day.  Gawker staff members were asked to rate the states on a scale from 1-10. The averaged scores provides the rankings.

Expect a Stylish Arrival

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Ericka Wilson

Ericka, spotted at Cross Street Market, gets our respect and admiration not just for looking great in the latest styles–long, strapless dress, dangly earrings, bejeweled sandals–but because she does it all while extremely pregnant.  It’s tough enough to look good on a sweltering day without baby on board. She looks cool, calm, collected and chic. Bodes well for baby.

 

You look so great. How far along are you?

Eight months. The due date is August 31st. It’s a girl.

Do you have a name picked out? 

Her father picked out Amirah. It is a Muslim name.

Is your dress a maternity dress?

No it is just a regular dress.

Where are you from?

I am from Baltimore.

"Will You Marry Me?" in a Baltimore Bookstore

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Last Sunday, a handsome bearded young man strode inside Charlotte Hays Murray’s Bookstore Next Door in Hampden, and explained to the owner that he hoped to propose to his girlfriend in the next few minutes, inside Hays Murray’s shop. She was all for it. The young man carried with him an old book on Baltimore, inside which he tucked a tiny note popping the life-altering question. Hays Murray and her parents looked on–they were excited but tried to act nonchalant, so as not give away the surprise.

“We decided to set the book in a prominent place in the center of the bookstore on a rustic federal slant-front standing desk, so it was visible as they walked in,” Hays Murray says. “[The young man] chatted and fussed a bit. My dad offered some sage advise from a man who has been married to the same woman for over 40 years to a man about to embark on this new adventure. Dad said, ‘You know if you do this you might be stuck with her for 40 years,’ and the guy said, ‘Oh, I hope so.’ My mom laughed.”

The Bookstore Next Door is a rare and unique books shop, new to the area, attached to Hays Murray’s seven-year-standing Charlotte Elliott antiques and vintage clothing store.

The cute bearded man, whose name Hays Murray did not catch, explained that he and his fiance (she said yes) were originally drawn to her shop by the family atmosphere, the comfortable and happy vibe. The bookstore is one of his future bride’s favorite places.

“When they were here during the Christmas parade, we apparently offered them food and warmth, and let them use the restroom (which no one else would do),” Hays Murray says.

Maybe indie bookstores are quietly becoming the trendy new place for thoughtful people to plot lifelong-narrative bliss.

A few years ago, Rachel Whang and Benn Ray, who own Atomic Books–and who happen to be engaged to each other–helped orchestrate a carefully staged marriage proposal in their shop.

A local comic artist Michael Bracco planted an engagement ring inside the pages of his own specially designed graphic book–by end of story, his gal Shawna Pincus was in tears. She said she would.

More recently, a newly betrothed couple asked to visit Atomic for an engagement photo shoot.

Why are some couples-in-big-love drawn to the aisles of bookstores rather than the candlelit restaurant corner?

“Because it’s a good place to find sex guides,” Ray says. “Because proposing while surrounded by Kindles is just sad. Bookstores are about community. Weddings are a community’s celebration of love between two (at least currently) people. So it makes sense. Books offer promise. Knowledge. Escape. Journey. They transcend time. We connect to them. We love writers. We love stories. We love books. We love each other. So why not take the first step of a life’s journey while surrounded by things that mean all that.”

Adds Hays Murray, “It does make me wonder if I should keep a bottle of champagne on hand just in case this happens again.”

Current Gallery Commodifies Fine Art

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Eighty plus artists (mostly from Baltimore) are showing their work as part of CART at the Current Gallery. CART is a novel gallery show that recreates the atmosphere of a mini-mart. Shelves and magazine stands are filled with affordably priced works that parody items found at a grocery store.

The show’s curators sought to explore the effect of taking something typically seen as an unnecessary luxury (fine art) and selling as if it is a weekly staple. At CART you will find neatly packaged bread tags, fake pies and plastic wrapped “Bob Ross style” paintings among other items. If something catches your eye, it’s likely very affordable. If not, it’s worth the experience of browsing around a bizarro fine art supermarket.

CART is running until Sept 4 at the Current Gallery and can be viewed on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4.

Snoop From the Wire Tied Up in Real-Life Wiretap Case

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In a case of life imitating art (that had previously imitated life), Felicia Pearson — best known for playing Snoop on HBO’s The Wire — pled guilty to a heroin charge, after getting caught in a joint federal-state operation that used (you guessed it) a wiretap to gather evidence.

Though Snoop (it’s her real-life nickname, too) is definitely getting the most attention of any of the 63 people charged in the wide-reaching East Baltimore drug/violence/conspiracy case after a March 10 raid, police say she played a relatively minor role. That — plus her guilty plea the day before her trial was scheduled to start — is one reason why her seven-year sentence was suspended with credit for time served. The judge also ordered three years of supervised probation.

Pearson hasn’t had an easy life — far from it, actually. According to the New York Times, “Ms. Pearson was previously convicted of second-degree murder in a slaying committed when she was 14. She served five years of an eight-year sentence and was released in 2000. She was arrested on a drug charge in 2008 when police went to her home to pick her up for refusing to cooperate as a witness in a murder trial. She was found not guilty.”

According to Pearson’s Twitter feed (BmoreSnoop), she had a meeting with BET earlier in the week; then, four days later, tweeted “I’m FREE” after her sentencing. Seems like things are looking up. We wish her the best!

Drawing by Blake Hicks

Inverse Delirium Podcast Takes on Baltimore Fishbowl!

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It was Baltimore Fishbowl’s distinct pleasure to lend our voice to funnyman Geoffrey Welchman’s latest Inverse Delirium Webisode this week–have a listen right here.

While some of Welchman’s questions proved double-daunting–his deep-voiced schtick sends up the more self-important side of NPR–and we couldn’t answer his intricate fish-related queries to save our life, we happily learned a lot about the art of podcasting that day.

Welchman’s operation is one-man, and rather one-man-band-like, actually: A trained musician turned corporate tech pro, he completes the show’s entire process from his souped-up basement, writing material, conducting and taping scripted bits with local folks of interest, adding his own music, perfecting his deep delivery. Welchman’s wife, Betty Witzman Welchman, supplies lines now and then, her voice as mellifluous as Welchman’s is voice-over imposing.

We asked him a few important questions of our own!

What do you enjoy most about doing the podcast?

One of the nicest aspects of the show is meeting people and learning things about Baltimore. I’ve contacted complete strangers and asked them to read from a script I wrote, sometimes even playing themselves…

“Hi, I have a podcast. would you like to be on it?” seems to intrigue people–partly because many aren’t really sure what a podcast IS.

Do you feature your friends’ voices more often than strangers’?

At first I started with my circle of friends and musicians, but when I wrote a sketch about bird songs, I reached out to the president of the local Bird Club, Karen Morley, who agreed to read the part of a Super Birder (Webisode 15, The Oriole). And that marked a shift towards not simply including my circle of aquaintances but expanding it.

Why do you do what you do?

I really just want to have a laugh. I want to have fun, and I want guests on the show to have fun. In the process, I get to turn listeners on to new people or topics that interest me, and poke fun at myself and everyone involved.

What’s the next step for the Inverse Delirium?

I’d like to see the show reach out to more local personalities, even celebrities (as long as they take part in the humor), while continuing to do pieces on big Baltimore institutions like the Aquarium and smaller Bal’mer stuff like the Streetcar Museum or Great Blacks in Wax.

I’m a huge comedy nerd and hope to reach out to more comedians and actors and improv’ers.

 

 

The Berman Institute Tackles the Bioethics of Summer Blockbusters

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Johns Hopkins’ Berman Institute is one of the largest centers of research and education in the field of bioethics in the world. Located in East Baltimore, the Institute studies the ethics of clinical practice, biomedical science, and public health. Issues some of us would be happy never to be asked to form opinions on, such as euthanasia, stem cell research and genetic engineering, are the bread and butter of the Berman Institute.

Surprisingly, amid their quandary ridden bulletin of bioethical news are occasionally sprinkled whimsical film essays.

In an article on the remake/prequel Rise of the Planet of the Apes, research program coordinator Ishan Dasgupta discusses the ethics involved in bestowing human traits on non-human animals.

Even better is the one about Captain America, in which research scientist Dan O’Connor considers whether Steve Rogers’s participation in the Super Soldier program counts as “therapeutic misconception.”

If your regular movie critic isn’t digging deep enough, you could try out the profound treatments of mostly shallow films available in the Berman Bulletin.

Harris Teeter to Toast Baltimore

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Good news for grocery shoppers: Southern supermarket Harris Teeter is coming to Baltimore! The grocery chain will be setting up its two-story shop in McHenry Row at Locust Point this December. Doors are set to open on December 7, 2011, just in time for the holiday season. 

To sweeten the deal, rumor has it that the new downtown location will also be the first major supermarket in Baltimore to sell wine.  

With Harris Teeter’s low prices and commitment to broad organic selection and local produce, we’re sure Giant and Whole Foods aren’t thrilled about the news. We, on the other hand, cannot wait to get lost in the 61,000 square-foot location and bask in our savings, and our wine-stocked cart. We just hope parking isn’t a nightmare!

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