Travel


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Covet
Arm Candy by designer Rebecca Myers...
By Paige Whipple
Covet



At night, Rebecca Myers’ Clipper Mill studio sits beneath sparkling lights strung across the brick rooftops, but during the day, it sparkles on its own. Visible reflections of nature grace the display cases with rings crafted perfectly into the shape of a twig, honeybee-adorned necklaces, delicate flower earrings and, of course, our particular favorite, the Peony Cuff. The piece boasts an 18-karat-gold setting and 22-karat-gold overlay, combined with oxidized silver, ruby and diamonds. “I get most inspiration straight from my own garden,” says the designer. “But we have some other natural elements sprinkled into the collection, like earrings that are cast eucalyptus seeds from Costa Rica.” To view Myers’ luxe designs in person, make an appointment to stop by her showroom at 2010 Clipper Park Road. Peony Cuff, $9,800. 410-889-3393, rebeccamyersdesign.com

November 2014
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Savvy Shopper


Fab Formal

Savvy remembers trying on formal gowns in a women’s store where she had little privacy, which didn’t bother her but did bother the bored men sitting at the bottom of the stairs. (Apparently, they were shocked by her appearance in a bustier.) Such silliness isn’t a problem at Francesca’s Atelier, where women—i.e., the paying customers—can privately try on garments to their hearts’ content. “We understand women,” says owner Francesca Ripple, who’s had years in the biz at her eponymous bridal boutique, “and we know that a 50-year-old is different from a 20-year-old. She wants to look age-appropriate, but still fashionable. She doesn’t want to be smothered in chiffon.” Monique Lhuillier, Paula Varsalona and Theia are just some of the designers whose gowns and cocktail dresses await you in this new glam space. Green Spring Station, Lutherville, 443-841-7057

Finer Things

Savvy is gobsmacked by the swirl of color and texture in the new, 2,000-square-foot space of Samuel Parker Clothier. Twice as big as its former Lake Falls Village location, it still reflects owner Ken Himmelstein’s impeccable style, with English standards like Turnbull & Asser, Seaward & Stearn and Drake’s supplemented with new lines such as Breuer of Paris. Gentlemen, start your engines. Village of Cross Keys, 410-435-5000



Get Your Chic On

When Savvy discovered Canadian designer Frank Lyman in Montreal years ago, she flipped. So imagine her delight to find his vibrant prints and elegant shapes here in Charm City. Newly moved from Kenilworth to Cross Keys, Chic Chic Boutique is the dream child of Rosanna and Dario Sech, a husband-wife duo from Italy. In addition to Lyman’s nonpareil (and wrinkle-free!) clothing, they carry sumptuous watercolor frocks and versatile jackets by Marisamonti, party dresses by Rinascimento and Le Vertige, wool scarves hand-knitted by Rosanna herself and exotic, vintage-looking handbags by m. andonia—the latter spotted on Halle Berry and Jennifer Aniston. Babes from 25 to 75 will be happy shopping here. Village of Cross Keys, 410-435-0090



Man Up

Red chairs hanging from the walls? Vintage bicycle seats as hooks? Where am I? In the new mostly men’s store called Angel Park. Perhaps not the manliest name, Sav thinks, but who is she to question the marketing acumen of Toni James and her husband, Justin, who have made such a success of Katwalk next door? There are a few women’s items here, but Angel Park is full of Y chromosomes. High-end leather goods by Daniel Won, avant-garde Parisian styles by Billtornade, bow ties by Marshall Artist, even facial scrub by Man Cave—all sing a siren song to the guy who wants more than just T-shirts and jeans. 1707 Aliceanna St., Fells Point, 410-669-0600

November 2014
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Mountain Majesty
Foodies, fitness fans and fashionistas all feel at home at this luxe retreat in the farmlands of Tennessee.
By Mary Ann Treger



It’s like discovering a pearl in the wilderness,” says a Versace-clad woman to her dinner companions while I sip a glass of Cabernet and savor a bit of eavesdropping at Blackberry Farm. It is the perfect description. 

Few would expect such refinement in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains in east Tennessee. Don’t bother looking for a sign on the main road to guide you to a place where chic and sheep coincide—gawkers are discouraged. In fact, the average tourist has never heard of this rural retreat and that suits Blackberry Farm just fine. They don’t advertise.

Instead, word-of-mouth, articles in high-end publications, top rankings on nearly every “best resort” list plus awards from the James Beard Foundation and Wine Spectator feed the momentum. Hollywood celebs (rumor has it Oprah and Martha Stewart stayed here), West Coast techies and others in the know frequent this bucolic resort/spa/gourmet getaway for exceptional and very private R&R. 

Even the word “resort” feels wrong. “Experience” is a better description. With only 69 rooms and cottages on 4,200 acres (plus an additional 5,000 acres of private wilderness for fox hunting, horseback riding, fly-fishing or hiking) this Relais & Chateaux working farm and gastronomic mecca offers perks that are far from the usual golf or skiing choices (they don’t have either).

They do have a dairy, creamery, charcuterie and brewery plus a master cheesemaker, beekeeper, chocolatier and preservationist who oversees the jam making. Jams also are sold on the farm as well as to fancy food emporiums through- out the U.S. (The blueberry is to die for.)

All vegetables served are grown on the farm and only heirloom seeds are used. Milk from the sheep is used to make their yogurt and cheeses. A butcher and baker are on staff and, odds are, a candlestick maker is here somewhere, too. The sommelier and his team oversee a 221-page wine list representing 175,000 bottles including rare vintages such as a $8,500 bottle of Montrachet.

The farm is even cultivating truffles.

To hunt for them—assuming they materialize, there are no guarantees for this 10-year project—Blackberry is breeding rare Lagotto Romagnolo dogs imported from Italy. Fall in love with a puppy? They are for sale—$6,000 each, trained with commands given exclusively in Italian, of course. Untrained, the price is halved.

Privately owned and managed by the Beall family since the early ’70s, Blackberry Farm employs a staff of 375 to care for its pampered guests. Room rates include three glorious meals each day and begin at $795; cottage suites from $1,495. For families or groups of friends needing four or five bedrooms, a new Garden House collection includes a main house with a full kitchen so the chef can create private dining experiences plus two charming cottages clustered nearby.

When the Blackberry’s new spa, The Wellhouse, opened I talked my hubby into a three-night stay. On arrival, our car is whisked away. (Our cottage comes with its own golf cart.) If we want a lift, a fleet of new Lexus cars is available, with or without a driver.

From the outside, our brown wood-framed cottage appears unremarkable.

Inside we find all the bells and whistles of a luxury hotel—soaring 17-foot ceiling in the living/bedroom, polished wood floors topped with eclectic furnishings, Frette linens and robes plus a pantry stocked with complimentary snacks. The bathroom is big enough for a family reunion. (With heated floors, natch.)

Despite the temptation to hang out in the fancy digs, we head outdoors, winding our way through pastures dotted with horses and a dozen piglets following their mom. We discover a crystal-clear trout stream, a tranquil lake and we linger at the boathouse before putting a canoe to use. While there are plenty of activities—yoga, fly-fishing, horseback riding and archery for starters—there is something to be said for doing nothing. The only thing on my ‘to do’ list is visiting the spa, which specializes in incorporating wellness and beauty rituals inspired by the region’s mountains, forests and other natural elements.

Face down on the massage table, my dings and dents are tweaked as hot, moist herbal poultices are pressed into my aching muscles. The delicious scent is a combination of ginger, mint, lemon verbena and sage taken straight from the farm’s own garden. I make a mental note to try the Sheep’s Milk, Lavender and Wildflower Honey Pedicure on my next visit, but after 90 minutes of detoxifying bliss, I’m ready for something else hedonistic: dinner! 

“Good evening,” says the tall young man who swoops down upon us, ready to fulfill our every wish. I’m having trouble focusing on menu choices. Instead, I’m fixated on the room, a splendid turn-of-the-century barn with high ceilings and massive beams.

I place the snowy white antique linen napkin on my lap and scan the French china and sterling silver. Given the game plan we anticipate a hoity-toity menu. While there is plenty of haute cuisine, the forward-thinking chef creatively combines fancier fare with southern foothills food. And, he doesn’t take himself too seriously —Guinea Hen Croquettes with White Truffle Sauce are served on a piece of tree bark. My husband’s paté is served on slate at the same time my Swiss Chard Salad is presented on fancy gold-rimmed china.   

Dinner may be the star each day, but breakfast and lunch aren’t far behind. Both are served in a room you would expect to find in a private country estate. In our cozy banquette, surrounded by the owners’ impressive art collection and
antique furnishings, we decide that the most beautiful art (and there’s plenty of it) is the daily vista of fog hanging over the Smokies as viewed from the sprawling stone terrace.

By day three, we’re accustomed to being spoiled. At checkout, a perky young man appears with two boxed lunches for our trip home. Even those aren’t ordinary—turkey sandwiches with scallion mayo on rosemary flatbread, containers of radish and stewed-apple salad and the most extraordinary chocolate chip cookies on the planet. A perfect parting gift for a perfect weekend. blackberryfarm.com

November 2014
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High Roller
By Ginny Lawhorn




Casinos worldwide are known for extravagance in service and decadent offerings. The Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut is a prime example with its $3,000 signature Sapphire Martini garnished with a pair of sapphire and diamond earrings. Here is our luxurious, blue curacao-free interpretation. Earrings sold separately.

4 large ripe blueberries
3 oz dry champagne
1.5 oz Combier Pamplemousse Rose Liqueur
1 oz Perry’s Tot Navy Strength Gin
1 teaspoon fresh grapefruit juice

In a mixing tin muddle the blueberries with gin, liqueur and grapefruit juice. Add ice and stir gently for 30 seconds. Pour through a fine strainer into a coupe glass and fill with champagne. Garnish with a grapefruit twist and a few blueberries.

November 2014
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City Smart - November 2014
Hot Happenings In...
By Ian Zelaya

Washington, D.C

Remember detective Lester Freamon from “The Wire”? Long before Clarke Peters played the smart cookie who solved crimes in the streets of Baltimore, he wrote a hit musical called Five Guys Named Moe—an homage to swingin’ songwriter and saxophonist Louis Jordan—which debuted at London’s West End Theatre in 1990. The story follows Nomax, a recently dumped, whiskey-swilling romantic who finds new hope from five cheerful jazz musicians who pop out of his 1930s-style radio. Jump on the “Choo Choo Ch’Boogie” bandwagon when director Robert O’Hara deftly revives the show for a six-week run, starting Nov. 14, at Arena Stage. arenastage.org

Philadelphia

One of the most innovative design companies in the world, Swiss family-owned Vitra has been creating eye-catching artwork, accessories, furniture and more since 1950. In Vitra—Design, Architecture, Communication: A European Project with American Roots, you can learn the colorful story behind the company’s U.S. connections, inspired collaborations (with the likes of Philippe Starck) and contemporary campus that includes a museum and offices designed by Frank Gehry. Nov. 22 to April 26, 2015, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. philamuseum.org


New York City

Yeah, yeah, we know. A shirtless Bradley Cooper is a sight for sore eyes. But the Oscar-nominated actor’s chiseled figure will be the last thing on your mind when you see him take on the heartbreaking role of Joseph Merrick in the second Broadway revival of Bernard Pomerance’s late-1970s play, The Elephant Man. Based on the true-life story of Merrick—a Victorian Englishman who was given the titular alias at a freak show due to his physical deformities—Cooper follows in the footsteps of David Bowie and Mark Hamill, who’ve both taken on the part. Also starring: the incomparable Patricia Clarkson and Alessandro Nivola, whom we’ve loved since “Laurel Canyon.” Premieres Nov. 7 at Booth Theatre. elephantmanbroadway.com

November 2014
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Dessert Duel
Pumpkin Flan Bread Pudding
Angie Law

SERVES 12
1⁄2 cup granulated sugar
8 cups of sliced day-old brioche
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree
(not pumpkin pie mix)
3 eggs
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1⁄4 tablespoon ground nutmeg
1⁄4 tablespoon kosher salt

Spray an 8-inch cake pan lightly with pan spray. Sprinkle the 1⁄2 cup of granulated sugar evenly in the cake pan. Bake the sugar in a 400-degree F oven until sugar caramelizes and turns amber in color. Swirl the pan if necessary, but do not stir. Let the pan cool, allowing the caramel to harden. Slice the brioche into 1-inch cubes. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together milk and heavy cream. Then whisk in the pumpkin puree, eggs, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, ginger, nutmeg and salt. Toss the sliced brioche in the pumpkin milk mixture. Allow to soak for 8-10 minutes. Pour the soaked bread into the cake pan.

Bake at 350 degrees F for about 35-40 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes and then very carefully, using oven mitts or a dry towel, flip the cake onto serving plate being careful not to get any caramel on you (it will be hot!). Serve warm or cold with whipped cream.

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Dessert Duel
Apple Spice Cupcakes with Caramel Drizzle
Delaney Van Dyke

Makes 24 cupcakes
1 stick unsalted butter, room
temperature (plus more for coating muffin pans if needed)
21⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1⁄2 teaspoon ground ginger
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cloves
1⁄2 teaspoon ground allspice
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3⁄4 cup buttermilk
3 cups grated green apple (about
4 medium, peeled and cored)

For the vanilla frosting:
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons whole milk
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the caramel sauce:
20 Kraft caramel pieces, unwrapped
1⁄2 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 24 muffin cups, or line with paper muffin liners. Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove, allspice and salt; set aside.

Beat the butter, white sugar and brown sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl. Add the room-temperature eggs, 1 at a time. (Blend first egg into the butter mixture before adding second egg.)

Stir in the buttermilk and grated apple after the last egg. Stir in the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin cups.

Bake in the preheated oven until golden and the tops spring back when lightly pressed, 20-25 minutes. Cool in the pans for 5 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack. While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting.

In a bowl, combine all frosting ingredients. Beat on medium speed until smooth and fluffy. Spread over cooled cupcakes or use an icing bag and decorate.

Microwave caramels and milk in large microwaveable bowl on high 3 to 31⁄2 minutes or until caramels are completely melted, stirring after each minute. Using spoon, drizzle sauce over iced cupcakes.

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Small Bite Battle
Savory Sausage StarsKim Wiggins
Kim Wiggins

Makes 48 stars
1 pound bulk sausage (I prefer hot)
7 ounce jar roasted red bell peppers
1 package wonton wrappers
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
8 ounce bottle of ranch dressing
1 can (2.25 ounces) black olives, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Individually place wonton wrappers in muffin pan and bake for 7-10 minutes, until golden brown. Take out of the pan and place on a cooling rack and cool completely. Repeat until all of the wrappers are cooked.

Cook sausage (per package directions), then drain any excess grease and crumble. Drain roasted red peppers and chop into small pieces. Set both aside.

Mix all ingredients except for the sausage in a large bowl. Add sausage and mix thoroughly.

Place wonton wrappers on large baking sheet. Scoop 2 tablespoons of the sausage mixture into each wonton cup. Place in the oven for 10 minutes or until mixture melts. Serve immediately.

Cook’s tip: Wonton wrappers can be cooked up to 3 days in advance and stored in an airtight container.

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Small Bite Battle
BBQ Pork Sliders w/ Avocado Crème & Pickled Red Cabbage Slaw
Marc Dixon

Makes 24 mini sliders
5 lb boneless pork shoulder or butt
4 tablespoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons curry powder
3 tablespoons smoked paprika
2 tablespoons cayenne
3 tablespoons dried oregano
3 tablespoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons onion powder
3 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons ground black peppercorn
24 mini buns

For the braising liquid:
2 cups ketchup
1 quart orange juice
1 quart chicken stock
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Remainder of spice blend (above)

For the red cabbage slaw:
1⁄4 head red cabbage, shredded
1⁄4 cup kosher salt
1⁄4 cup sugar
1⁄4 cup red wine vinegar

For the avocado crème:
1 avocado, peeled and pitted
1⁄4 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 ounce chives, snipped
Salt to taste

To prep the pork: Preheat barbecue grill to max temperature, and oven to 225 degrees F. Cut the pork shoulder into 4 even pieces. Mix all spice ingredients together to make a “spice rub.” Coat pork entirely with rub, using a baking pan to catch excess. Reserve excess.

To make the braising liquid: In a large mixing bowl, add ketchup and leftover spice rub. Mix well. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

To make the red cabbage slaw: Combine red cabbage, salt and sugar. Mix well and let sit for 20 minutes. Strain juices and rinse cabbage well. Mix cabbage with red wine vinegar and let sit for 1 hour. Strain cabbage and place in airtight container. Keep cold until needed.

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Breakfast of Champions
Omnivore’s Delight
Scott Stauber

SERVES 4
4 eggs (your heart’s desire of color)
1 large bunch of thick asparagus, peeled and trimmed
1⁄2 pound pancetta, thinly sliced
Smoked paprika, to sprinkle
Radish, shaved for garnish
Extra-virgin olive oil
Manchego cheese, shaved

For the lemon honey vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon shallot, minced
1 tablespoon honey
1⁄2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1⁄8 tablespoon smoked paprika
1⁄8 teaspoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of kosher salt

For the tomatoes:
Mix of heirloom tomatoes
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper

To make the main dish: Place eggs in simmering water and poach. Remove from water and place on a paper towel.

Toss the asparagus in a little extra virgin olive oil to coat. Sprinkle the smoked paprika on the asparagus. Wrap a few layers of pancetta evenly and snugly around the asparagus. Grill or pan sear until pancetta is crisp.

To make the vinaigrette: Whisk all ingredients together except the oil. Then slowly whisk in the oil until the dressing emulsifies.

To make the tomatoes: First cut the tomatoes into 1⁄4-inch slices, then slice each piece in half to create a half-moon appearance. Shingle the different types of half-moon tomatoes on the base of plate. Season with kosher salt and fresh pepper.

To plate: Place pancetta wrapped asparagus on top of tomatoes. Place poached egg on top of the asparagus, sprinkle with a little paprika and drizzle the vinaigrette over the egg and asparagus. Shave flakes of manchego and garnish with a little shaved radish.

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Breakfast of Champions
Heath Bar Pancakes
Chad Gauss

SERVES 4
2 cups flour
1⁄4 cup sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
4 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
4  eggs
21⁄4 cups buttermilk
2 ounces melted butter 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Heath bar pieces, as needed

Mix all dry ingredients (except Heath bar pieces) well. Mix wet ingredients well. Fold into each other. 

Place a nonstick pan or a griddle on medium heat. Add a small amount of butter to the pan. Pour in the pancake batter and sprinkle a bunch of Heath bar pieces into the batter.

When the mix starts to bubble, flip the pancake and cook on the other side. Serve with butter and maple syrup. Powdered sugar, too.

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Chef Talk
By Martha Thomas

CHEF TALK: Bella Kline, Pen & Quill

After years of wrangling, a massive renovation and grand opening with the mayor and VIPs, the reincarnation of the iconic Chesapeake restaurant never hit its stride. The Karzai family, which owns b Bistro, The Helmand and neighboring Tapas Teatro, pulled out of the original project in 2011, but stepped back in. They reorganized the dining room, freshened the menu and hired chef Bella Kline, 24, who has worked at Chameleon in Baltimore and Chicago’s Michelin-starred Longman & Eagle. Pen & Quill opened in late summer.

What’s your cooking style?
My training has been very French. Things like choucroute garnie (sauerkraut and pork). But here we’re doing it with more of a Korean profile, with fish sauce and ginger, a marriage of sauerkraut and kimchi.

What was it like to work at a Michelin-starred restaurant?
The biggest thing was the expectation for your knife work. There’s only one way to do a brunoise, that’s a small dice. The Longman & Eagle chef, Jared Wentworth, is the kind of guy I love working for. It was like a well-manicured pirate ship. He’s crazy and wants everyone to have fun. But if something isn’t perfect, it’s going in the trashcan. You sit up a little straighter when he’s around.

Is that the kind of kitchen you run?
I definitely want to have the respect from my cooks that I had for him. I want them to be the best they can be.

How did you find out about the job?
My sister, Naomi Kline, is beverage director here. She was long-term bartender at Tapas before Helmand brought her here.

Why do you think the Chesapeake tanked?
All that I’ve heard is, whatever they were trying to do didn’t work. Maybe it was the design of the dining room: A huge wall divided in half. If a server can’t see your table, they don’t know what you need.

How do you make an amazing experience?
It’s not just about the food. We want to be the friendliest restaurant in town. The Karzais are very present. Normally in restaurants, something breaks and you say, “Where’s the duct tape?” Here, if something breaks they fix it. We had a really big flood the first weekend the restaurant opened. It was Quayum [Karzai] cleaning it up in the morning.

You ‘thru-hiked’ the Appalachian Trail with your fiancée, Meaghan. How did that work out?
It was our “Can we spend the rest of our lives together?” test. We passed.

What did you eat?
I started out pretty ambitious. Our packs were the heaviest. But when you’re walking 20 miles a day, you can easily eat everything. So we got more realistic. It became more of a freeze-dried life. Some hikers wasted away to nothing. I was the strongest I’ve ever been. You take your pack off, you feel you could do anything.

November 2014
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Now Serving
By Martha Thomas


Cocktail Culture


The newly opened Bookmakers Cocktail Club, atmospheric by Federal Hill standards, combines the intimacy of a dimly lit speak-easy with an imaginative kitchen and bar.  The team is impressive, beginning with chef Chris Amendola, who came to Baltimore to take over the kitchen at Fleet Street Kitchen after working at Blue Hill at Stone Barns in upstate New York—ground zero for the farm-to-table furor. Ryan Sparks, who worked at Of Love and Regret, Jack’s Bistro and most recently Rye (by the same team behind Bookmakers), is a cocktail techie, compressing ghost peppers into bitters or extracting tincture of nasturtium for cocktails. The kitchen and bar share herbs and seasonal fruits to create eclectic menus that cry out for pairings. The sublime Old Fashioned, made with 1792 Bourbon and an artisanal ice cube emitting orange essence, is calling. 31 E. Cross St. 443-438-4039, bookmakersbaltimore.com 


Celebrity Dish


Chef Bryan Voltaggio says Baltimore’s Aggio, in the rapidly redecorated Tatu space—charcoal walls, mod lighting, painted brick—can be taken a lot less seriously than Volt in Frederick, where Table 21 proffers a 21-course prix-fixe symphony of flavor and texture. The new restaurant located in Power Plant Live! has a high-back banquette they call the “Godfather’s Table,” where you can order whatever you want. “I encourage grazing,” says the chef. “That’s what Italian eating should be.” While influenced by Voltaggio’s heritage and crafted by chef de cuisine Dan Izzo (who’s worked at New York’s Lupa), the food here is a far cry from Little Italy red sauce. Dishes are infused with Voltaggio’s passion for all things Chesapeake. The $95 chef’s tasting (yup, but you don’t have to order it) offers a squid ink pasta with Maryland blue crab. The regular menu boasts creative fare like Berkshire pork with pistachio butter and peach mostarda. “I grew up coming to the harbor and love this area,” says the Top Chef contender, who also plans to open a contemporary diner, Family Meal, in the old Houlihan’s spot by year’s end. 614 Water St. 410-528-0200, volt-aggio.com

November 2014
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Table Manners
By Martha Thomas

STYLE food editor Martha Thomas reflects on the ups and downs, ins and outs, of restaurant dining with children.

Many years ago, Marc Dettori prepared a feast for a friend’s birthday party. The buffet table was loaded with familiar dishes from Dettori’s native France: salade niçoise, quiche, pissaladiere (an onion tart with a pastry crust) and burgers from meat he had ground himself.

There were plenty of guests—both kids and adults—at the gathering, but in Dettori’s memory, one family stands out like a punch in the gut. “The kids didn’t recognize anything on the buffet,” recalls the Petit Louis maître d’. “They took one look and threw a fit.”

The solution? The parents left and “came back with these big buckets from Kentucky Fried Chicken.” To say Dettori was miffed would be a misreading of the situation. “You can’t be mad at children. I was mostly sad,” he tells me. “The parents didn’t give their kids an opportunity to try something different.”

When Dettori, now 63, was a kid growing up in the Beaujolais region, he says “we ate what the adults ate. I don’t remember my mother making special meals for us.” And in restaurants, he recalls, “there was no such thing as a children’s menu.”

I myself am not a fan of special menus for children. What’s the point of raising kids to believe that eating out means eating chicken fingers and mac n’ cheese? But kids’ menus mean parents can find something for their oft-picky offspring. Portions and prices are child-sized.

Petit Louis doesn’t have “quote unquote kids’ food, but they can usually find something they like,” Dettori says. He sees kids eating escargot, foie gras and steak frites (restaurateur Tony Foreman says it’s not uncommon for parents to introduce snails to kids as young as 3).

But let’s be honest. As delightful as an escargot-eating toddler sounds, sometimes kids and restaurants can be a recipe for disaster—and not just when there’s no fried chicken on the menu. Though Dettori has never had to ask a family to leave, he’s packed plenty of dinners in carryout containers after a kid has had a tantrum.

“If you can’t get your child to quiet down in one minute, that’s the line,” says Cynthia Lett, a Montgomery County-based etiquette and protocol expert, and author of “Modern Civility,” released in January 2014. “No matter how cute they are, they’re disturbing other diners,” she says. Sure, outbursts happen, but to allow bad behavior to continue, Lett points out, “is the height of rudeness.”

Her son, now 16, has been going to restaurants with his parents since he was a baby. “My son is autistic and would have true meltdowns. When it happened, we’d march him out—no matter if it was raining or snowing,” says Lett, adding that she and her husband became pros at predicting where their son’s mood would go, so they could determine if it was safe to go back to their meal—or if they should box it up to take home.

The problems parents face when they bring small children to restaurants can be amplified when the tab is high. “If you’re paying $100-$200 per person, you don’t want to share your experience with someone’s small person,” says Lett.

“I understand that many parents are trying their best, but why should everyone in my party be inconvenienced—or have a less enjoyable meal—because your child is misbehaving?” says a fellow media type who prefers not to be named in this article. “I don’t think the ‘It Takes a Village’ philosophy needs to extend to Sunday brunch at Gertrude’s. Find an IHOP and have a rooty tooty, fresh ’n fruity day.”

Indeed, the question of whether kids even belong in fine restaurants swirled across the Internet in the early part of the year, after chef Grant Achatz, owner of Chicago’s famed Alinea (where dinner for two can run upward of $1,000), tweeted about a crying 8-month-old; his shorthand musing included the question, “tell ppl no kids?” The reaction to that idea is, not surprisingly, polarized. Some advocate banning kids altogether—as a smattering of restaurants from Brooklyn, N.Y. to Monterey, Calif., have done—to fierce defense of the parents’ right to expose their children to the world. “People want to take kids to jazzy places to give them an exotic experience,” points out Foreman. In some cases, parents might not have a choice. As the story goes, the couple at Alinea had a babysitter cancel on that fateful night, and didn’t want to walk away from the exalted pre-paid reservation.

While Lett and others fix responsibility on the parents, Foreman says the restaurant staff can step in to help. He remembers two little girls—he guesses they were about 2 and 4—who waged battle in a banquette at Cinghiale. “For the people on the other side, all they knew is there were wild animals next door,” he says. The staff moved the offended diners to a new table and “did a restart.” The couple received fresh drinks and new first courses, says Foreman. “It was like covering moving expenses to put them in a new neighborhood.”

The family-run Victoria Gastro Pub in Columbia offers an adults-only dining area—like a pre-emptive strike for guests who want a predictably quiet, sophisticated dining experience. “We’ve found this actually attracts more families to the restaurant,” says chief operating officer Rachael Mull, who runs the restaurant with her parents and sister. “Our regulars feel more comfortable, because they know people who don’t want to be around their kids will be seated in a different area.” The restaurant also gives out custom bibs with the tagline “Poutine Please?” (one of the restaurant’s must-have dishes) to babes and toddlers.

Jessica and Albert Grosman’s daughter visited her first restaurant “when she was a day old,” says Jessica, a dietitian and consultant. Now Linley, 8, eats stinky cheese in Paris (“the stinkier the better,” according to her mother), baby octopus in Japan and game meats in London—Albert is a portfolio manager who has clients all over the world. “We were just in Italy and I think she ate her body weight in cured meat,” says Jessica, a vegetarian.

Linley’s favorite restaurant is Petit Louis, where she loves mushroom velouté and escargot, says Grosman. “She’s very upset when mushrooms aren’t on the menu. We have to explain to her that you only get them in season.”

Grosman believes that many Americans don’t hold their children to high standards when it comes to food. “We let them eat junk food to make them happy,” an approach that can backfire, she points out, as “additives and sugar probably contribute to their bad behavior.”

Today’s American chain and casual restaurants enable less than optimal diets with kids’ menus of fried foods, greasy burgers, pizza and noodles with sweet red sauce. But plenty of independent Baltimore chefs make an effort to please both kids and their parents. Thomas Rudis has had a dish called “Cactus Flower” on the menu at Golden West for more than a decade. It’s slices of Granny Smith apple surrounding a scoop of peanut butter. Kids also can order plain quesadillas with grilled chicken.

Personally, I love Woodberry Kitchen’s “Carrots and their Tops.” On my first visit to the restaurant, the server set down a plate of braised carrots, glistening with maple sugar-sweetened butter, and told me, “Here are your carrots.” He then poured green sauce—made from macerated carrot tops blended with the braising liquid—from a small pitcher, announcing, “and their tops.”

In my memory, this dish is magical; after experiencing it at an adult dinner, I couldn’t wait to bring my then-7-year-old daughter to try it. Sure enough, she found both the ritual and the sweet, buttery vegetables enchanting.

Woodberry also has a seasonal kids’ menu, with flatbreads from the wood oven, grilled chicken-on-a-stick and miniature steak frites. For Spike Gjerde, the issue isn’t just feeding kids. “Being a kid-friendly restaurant isn’t a passive thing,” says the owner/chef. “You have to engage them.” Woodberry offers a menu with a farm scene for coloring, and a small tin of K-dough, a version of modeling clay, made with flour and olive oil, colored with seasonal berries, greens or even coffee.

Gjerde’s own kids, now 11 and 14, are “both an 11 on the pickiness scale,” he says. But they’re coming around. His son Finn, 14, recently had a birthday party at Toki Underground, Erik Bruner-Yang’s ramen bar in D.C., where Gjerde has “tasted things so good they made my hair stand up.” Even so, he says, “ramen is a good entry point” for kids.

Beth and Eric Laverick—and their kids, Molly, 3, and Connor, 5—are fans of the Middle Eastern food at Lebanese Taverna. “People are surprised when I tell them the kids’ menu is fabulous,” says Beth, a local events marketing guru. Her kids eat falafel, lamb shawarma and hummus with vegetable sticks.

The family lives in Patterson Park, and makes dining out a family adventure. “We might ride scooters to Johnny Rad’s or combine a meal at Red Star on Wolfe Street with a visit to the playground on nearby Thames,” says Beth. But note: There’s always a bailout plan. “Everyplace we go is within walking distance” in case of irredeemable meltdown, she says. “Or we call Über.”

When my daughter was born, we lived in Manhattan, and I wrote restaurant reviews for a neighborhood newspaper. We’d make reservations for the hour she’d most reliably sleep and I’d prepare for her arrival with a soothing supper of mother’s milk. Most of the time, she’d fall asleep on the banquette by my side.

When she got older, I established rules, based on experiences I’d had with friends’ kids. The worst of all, I thought, was getting out of their chairs, roaming the restaurant, or making the table into a fort. If you ask my 15-year-old today the most important rule of restaurant behavior, she’ll quickly tell you, “Don’t go under the table.”




Go Early. Tip well.

When I reached out to a few parents of young kids for anecdotes about restaurant meltdowns, I heard an overwhelming number of stories about diaper blowouts. I also heard about a little boy, told to dress up for a fancy outing, who ran up to his room and put on a red velvet cape and golden crown. Taking a child to a restaurant can be both charming and challenging. We asked some experts for tips.

>> Start teaching manners at home. “We’re raising a generation where sitting at the table is an occasion,” laments etiquette expert Cynthia Lett. If you practice graciousness at home, “it will be second nature when you go out.”

>>Go before 5. “If you take kids to a restaurant after 7,” says Beth Laverick, “you’re asking for trouble.” The marketing maven and mother of two also has found that in some restaurants, the bar is quiet in the early evening. “Patrons are more casual in the bar area,” she adds.

>>No matter when you go, make sure kids aren’t exhausted. For many children, 5 to 6 p.m. can be witching hour, when a long day and hunger combine to make them cranky. As with Scarlett O’Hara, a snack before dinner may keep them chill.

>>Bring along distractions. Even parents who eschew toddlers on iPads swear by electronic entertainment to settle a child desperate to make a fort under a neighboring table.

>>Don’t demand special foods. “There’s usually something on the menu the kids will eat,” says Laverick. “Figure it out.”

>>Tip generously. Laverick remembers a family who regularly came to a restaurant where she worked as a server. “The kids were out of control. The parents let them whine and scream,  tear open jelly and sugar packets, crush Cheerios and cement raisins into the floor. Then they’d leave a 15 percent tip…if we were lucky.”

>>Think economically. If you are blowing big bucks on a meal, wouldn’t it be fiscally prudent to subsidize your peace of mind with the cost of a babysitter? —M.T.

 


       

November 2014
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In Living Color
By Kathy Hudson



Photography by Tony Amador

Kilburn? Kile-burn? Sill-born? How DO you pronounce it? And where is it? That’s what people once asked about Cylburn Arboretum (pronounced SILL-burn, by the way). No more. This once under-discovered treasure on Greenspring Avenue, near Sinai Hospital, today enjoys rising-star status among the green oases of Baltimore City. Hundreds of well-pruned trees, wide lawns, 14 gardens and 3.5 miles of trails greet visitors as they walk, jog, bike or drive through the shiny black gates.

Some 42,000 visitors each year experience nature, educational programs and entertainment on the 207-acre property that once belonged to chromium magnate Jesse Tyson. This year, Cylburn celebrates 60 years as an arboretum open to the public for free. Although the Tyson estate was purchased by the city in 1942, it was turned into a home for neglected children. In 1954, Cylburn reverted back to public park status.

“While Tyson’s brother’s house, Ruscombe, is surrounded today by cement, Jesse Tyson’s home is still gardens and an arboretum. He and his wife were all about the landscape. They had a conservatory that’s gone now,” says Lynda McClary, executive director of the Cylburn Arboretum Association. The nonprofit maintains and installs the plants and trees and organizes public programs and outreach initiatives, from outings and camps for children to yoga classes and art exhibits. The buildings, grounds and plantings themselves are owned by Baltimore City.

On a sunny weekday afternoon, joggers run on the trail by the entrance. A family picnics near the 10,000-square-foot Vollmer Center, a green building with three green roofs, offices for the Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland and the Horticultural Society of Maryland, which recently designed and installed a stylish new entrance garden.

Two children ride a scooter and a trike up to the 1868 Victorian Revival mansion designed by George A. Frederick, also the architect of City Hall. Under an adjacent collection of Japanese maple trees, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) professor and Cylburn’s artist-in-residence Paul Moscatt and his wife paint the sculptural canopy of these 150-year-old trees. In nearby formal gardens, frequently used for weddings, Moscatt’s student paints a Lady Baltimore statue.

Beyond a flagstone patio, a photographer shoots the bountiful, end-of-season All-America Selections display of the latest plants and vegetables. Sounds of schoolchildren carry up the hill from the greenhouses and the Johns Hopkins Aquaponics Project, where fish, herbs and vegetables are raised in 3,000 gallons of water.

Cylburn Arboretum has year-round interest. “It is one of the few mature forests in the city,” says McClary. “Some trees are 250 years old.” Tree collections include the evergreen conifer, holly, magnolia and boxwood, as well as deciduous maple, chestnut, oak, dogwood and Japanese maple. Ancient ginkgos and dawn redwoods are stunning in autumn, as are collections of graceful grasses and flaming viburnums. Six named gardens, some filled with native plantings and berries, attract butterflies, beneficial insects and migrating birds.

“The row of maples between the parking lots catches both early morning and late evening sun,” says chief horticulturalist Melissa Grim. “Their yellow color glows when the sun strikes them.” Even the parking lots at Cylburn have curb appeal.

November 2014
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Mrs. Eddie's
Nancy Cohen, Indie Grocer



It’s the stuff of North Baltimore legend. How in 1944, Victor Cohen opened Victor’s, a small market in the historic Tudor shopping center in Roland Park. How, after buying a grocery franchise from Eddie Levy, Victor kept the Eddie’s Supermarket name for his newer, = bigger store on Roland Avenue. How his loyal butcher shop customers insisted that Victor’s meat was better than Eddie’s, and to keep them happy, Cohen offered two butcher shops in his new grocery. Thirty-five years later, Eddie’s still has two butcher shops, Victor’s Prime Meat and Eddie’s USDA Choice Meat—side by side and virtually identical—a source of wonder and amusement to the uninitiated.

Eddie’s feels like the bar in “Cheers” where everybody knows your name. It’s friendly, old-fashioned. On a cold day, Carl Sanders opens the door for shoppers wearing an elegant, full-length cashmere overcoat. Lengthy and deeply personal conversations are held in the aisles. Flirtation is rife. One Roland Parker, who claims to visit three times a day, fears that “when the bomb hits, I will be in the deli line at Eddie’s.”

On the 70th anniversary of Eddie’s of Roland Park (no relation, by the way, to the Eddie’s of Charles Village or Mount Vernon), we spoke to Nancy Cohen at the second Eddie’s store on North Charles Street, which she bought in 1990. Victor Cohen’s daughter and only child, Nancy reflects on her decision to carry on one of Baltimore’s most beloved brands.

My earliest memory of Eddie’s is sitting on the window ledge at the Roland Park store eating Dad’s Oatmeal Cookies out of a huge gold tin.

I have a master’s in psychology from Loyola. But, in 1981, I decided to switch gears—going into the family business instead of going on for an advanced degree.

There was resistance at first. I’d been hanging around the store with my dad since I was a little girl, and when I began to take charge, some people had a problem with that.

Relying on instinct is something you learn with time. I pushed hard, against my dad’s advice, to buy the Charles Street Eddie’s, which has been a great success. And I made a mistake years ago in not buying a property—I won’t say where, but it’s one I still regret.

It is fun, mostly. I love being in the stores, sourcing new products, talking to customers, finding out what they want. Have you tried the Manoucher bread, by the way?

I found this olive oil in Tuscany and a wonderful cheese up in Vermont. We’ve always supported local vendors—Zeke’s Coffee, Berger Cookies, Vanns Spices—and local growers, too. If only it could just be about picking out the food!

But there’s so much more than supplying the groceries. It’s the real estate, the liquor licensing, the staffing, the training—and there’s more regulation every year. That’s the stress of being an independent.

Real estate is big in the grocery business. I own all the properties in the Roland Park Shopping Center except Tuxedo Pharmacy. How did that one get away?

Employee benefits are something I feel strongly about. We need to do good when we can. I really love my employees.

We look for people who like people. That’s my top hiring criteria. The skill set is second. I want to see a smile.

The customer has changed. People want to know a lot more about their food now, which is great. Personal service is still valued, but customers are in more of a hurry these days. Convenience is a priority.

People tell us they want tables outside of Eddie’s. We do, too. Roland Park is due for a major renovation—and that’s definitely part of our plan. We are starting renovations on the Charles Street store in early 2015.

The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins is a cause close to my heart. And my synagogue, Chizuk Amuno. We support the Roland Park community by providing the local schools with gifts. And we sponsor Little League teams, naturally.

What else? I’m an animal lover. I have an American bulldog named Dylan and a pit bull named Abby. They’re both rescues. And I adopted Siena—a big, beautiful Cane Corso.

I have an old farmhouse in Brooklandville, with some land. Of course it needs work. And it smells like dog.

—As told to Cynthia McIntyre

November 2014
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Neighbor's Pet
By Christopher Corbett

A good pet sitter is hard to find. Once, I hired a dreamy Gilman School lad to care for our cat for a weekend only to find that when we returned he’d forgotten all about his furry friends. (This may be why boys are not the best baby sitters?) The cats were fine, albeit grouchy and hungry.

Then I tried the boy’s father, figuring I might have better luck with an adult. We went up to Princeton to sponge off some old friends at Thanksgiving. We’d only be gone 48 hours. On the morning of Thanksgiving Day he called to report that a car had killed our cat. My wife and daughter were devastated. There was much weeping and rending of garments.

But I was suspicious. I asked my neighbor when he let the cat out of the house. He had not let the cat out, he assured me. Well, we left the cat indoors. So how was he outside and dead? My neighbor was no help. All cats looked alike to him. (He was a dog person, you see.) He’d found this one in the street and naturally, as he was supposed to be cat sitting, determined that he had a dead cat on his hands. He had respectfully placed the remains in a cardboard box from Eddie’s Liquors and put the box in his garage in anticipation of my return and the obsequies.

You can’t really call the police in Baltimore about this sort of thing. The fire department is stretched thin. Animal control is hopeless. There are not many people whom you can ask to get up from the dinner table on Thanksgiving to drive across Baltimore to look at a dead cat. But I know one such person.

I found my friend with his in-laws, an elderly couple that might be described as slightly addled. As it turned out, examining a dead cat was just the sort of digestif my friend needed. He went right over to view the corpse. The deceased was an enormous old tomcat that bore no resemblance to our cat. None. Wrong color, too. Our cat was just fine, still inside our house where my friend fed him.

The best cat sitter we ever had was a matter of pure luck. When we first came to Baltimore, we lived in a three-story rowhouse. And our next-door neighbor was an ancient woman who lived with her nephew, a recluse who rarely spoke. Eventually his sister and her husband moved in, too. I was not yet familiar with the novels of Anne Tyler so it took me a while to realize that some of her characters had escaped from one of her books and moved in next door to me. But they were perfect neighbors. The curtains were always drawn. Property was spotless. Never made a peep. We appreciated this because a block away some high-spirited Johns Hopkins lacrosse players were committing crimes against decency.

The nephew had done something in a factory in Baltimore when Baltimore still had factories. And now in retirement he went for walks, watched television and talked to his cat, Alexander. We called him Boo Radley, in deference to the greatest neighbor in American literature. He told me once that he had never been to the Inner Harbor, which was exactly 35 blocks away. I liked that a lot.

I told my wife, “I’ll get this guy to talk to me.” It took a while, but I’m persistent. And so it was that I became his friend. I do not believe he had any others. We were not discussing metaphysics but enjoyed each other’s company.

My wife and I never worried about going away—for a weekend or a month. Boo would be watching. Federal marshals would not have kept a closer eye on things. And in the evenings, weather permitting, he sat in the back- yard and sang to Alexander. I liked that a lot, too.

Boo never went anywhere so it was impossible to return the favor, but one Sunday (he always went for a drive on Sunday—alone) he called and asked me to help him. His car had broken down on old U.S. Route 1 south of the city. I found him in a pet cemetery where he apparently had been going every Sunday for all the years that I knew him. He was visiting the graves of his best friends. Family members, really. He’d had a dog named Buddy and there were various cats interred there, too. When I saw him at those graves, hearing his recollections of his long-dead companions, I realized: not only had we found the world’s best neighbor and cat sitter, we had become part of Baltimore. 

November 2014
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Picture This
History Repeats
By Ian Zelaya

Never one to shy away from provocative subject matter, J.M. Giordano has shot portrait series featuring everyone from drag queens and death metal musicians to exotic dancers and their doormen. The City Paper photo editor found inspiration for his latest indie project while attending the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington in D.C. last year.

“I realized I hadn’t seen current portraits of the civil rights leaders who spoke that day,” says Giordano, who decided to recreate the poignant studio shots photographer Richard Avedon took of these activists in the ‘60s. “I thought a great way to close the circle Avedon opened would be to photograph these icons today in the same style.”

All photographed in front of a white background, the nearly life-sized portraits remove the subjects from their landscape to create a conversation between the subject and the viewer—with luminaries such as Simeon Booker, the first African-American Washington Post reporter, and Kwanzaa founder (and Maryland native) Maulana Karenga—staring directly into the camera.

“No one is really grinning in the photos. They’re very natural,” says Giordano. “The real portrait is the photograph in between the smiles.”

The Baltimore native photographed several leaders during the Freedom Summer anniversary in Mississippi—an event he drove to on a whim after hearing about it on NPR. It was there he captured 93-year-old Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery, former president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, in his home near Jackson. (“He was an amiable guy,” says Giordano, “but I couldn’t shoot him from the waist down, because he was wearing pajama bottoms.”)

> See Giordano’s portraits at “Struggle: Portraits of Civil Rights and Black Power” on display through January 2015, at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum. rflewismuseum.org

November 2014
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Seasons of Love
Struggling to make the lessons of a bittersweet summer last all year long.
By Jennifer Mendelsohn


I’ve never put much stock in New Year’s resolutions; January doesn’t inspire me as a time for new beginnings. It’s always been the fall, with all those brand new composition notebooks waiting to be filled and the rubbery tang of pristine pencil erasers, that has felt most ripe for reinvention. You could return to school each year with a completely blank slate, creating a new persona to go with your gleaming Trapper Keeper and Holly Hobbie lunchbox.

It’s been 25 years since I last registered anywhere as a student. And even though that means I’ve been out of school far longer than I ever was in it, my internal calendar is still intrinsically calibrated to the school year. Whenever fall rolls around, I feel the urge to take stock and start fresh, to tackle new projects and reorient myself. And summer still feels almost holy: a time of unfettered days of riding bikes to nowhere amidst the droning hum of cicadas and the unrelenting rays of morning sun. Nights chasing fireflies and eating Popsicles, whispering secrets at sleepovers. No homework. No agenda. Rules and bedtimes gone temporarily slack.

The need for a relaxing summer felt especially pressing this year. Last spring we unexpectedly found ourselves needing to leave the school our two boys had called home for four years. We were relieved and thrilled to find them both ideal new placements, but I was impatient for the school year to end so we could officially pull up stakes and move on. I counted down the days till summer began. And once it did, I vowed to let it unfold slowly. I didn’t want to wake up in September and wonder where the time had gone. Instead,  I wanted to be intensely present, to drink in all that good summer zen.

That vow took on an unintended poignancy when, across a three-week period in June, the blissful bubble of summer was pierced by the news that three people close to me had each suffered the tragic loss of a young family member. Ever since my father passed away suddenly in 2012, I’ve been extremely uncomfortable with death. An unfamiliar and unwelcome undercurrent of anxiety had crept into my life as I became hyper-aware of just how fragile we are. It was as if whatever filter had previously allowed me to function in a world where things sometimes went horribly wrong was suddenly stripped away. I became convinced that such an outcome was not just a possibility but a certainty, a rule rather than the exception. I was beset with irrational worry about the terrible fates I was certain would befall the people I cared most about. How was it conceivable that you could love something so much that could one day be taken away? Would it be better to hold back somehow?

But rather than forcing me farther down the rabbit hole of anxiety, that unnerving trio of tragedies pushed me, surprisingly, in the opposite direction. They made clear that there is simply no way to protect against the myriad terrible possibilities that can cross your path, many of them ghastly and heartbreaking. The only answer was to love even harder, to celebrate and appreciate the myriad possibilities that aren’t ghastly and heartbreaking. Sometimes that means being more mindful of the simplest of joys. The wonder of a just-picked backyard tomato.  A hot shower after a day at the beach. The chance to watch your kids ride their bikes down your childhood street.

Just as I was grappling with all of this, I came across a blog post about the death of my friend Sarah’s brother, who was killed in a car accident on his way to pick up his children at camp. In trying to come to grips with the loss, Elizabeth McGuire quoted a passage from Louise Erdrich’s “The Painted Drum” that stopped me in my tracks.

Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on Earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.

“I guess the lesson is that we aren’t here to protect ourselves,” McGuire wrote in a comment. “We are here to be vulnerable.” 

I found myself thinking of those words all summer long, as I savored gorgeous berries, lingered over impromptu beers with neighbors and cheered with my family at Camden Yards. I thought of those words as I spent the umpteenth night eating takeout pizza at our neighborhood pool, watching my carefree boys pretzel themselves off the diving board. The pool is now long closed, the beach boardwalk shuttered for another year. But I’m still trying to remember those words, to embrace my utter vulnerability instead of constantly trying to hedge against it.

I want to be sure I can tell myself I tasted as many apples as I could.

Jennifer Mendelsohn lives in Mount Washington with her husband and their two boys. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, People, Slate and USA Weekend.

November 2014
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Wrinkle In Time
An intrepid editor turns back the clock with Botox and Perlane.
By Jessica Bizik



“TELL ME WHAT YOU DON’T LIKE ABOUT YOURSELF.” Secretly, I’m hoping plastic surgeon Dr. Michele Shermak utters the famous line that started off every episode of the cult-hit TV show “Nip/Tuck.” (Turns out, she was a fan, too.) But on my virgin visit to her Towson practice, she goes softer: “What would you like to discuss today?” I explain that I’m here for Botox—“Something everyone I ask says I don’t need,” I tell her, giving my barely creased forehead a Vanna White finger-swipe. “But I need a great story for the mag.” Also I confess: When I catch my face at rest in the reflection of my computer screen lately, “I look tired and sad—like the world’s bringing me down.” (Cue: “Gravity” by John Mayer.) During the next hour, I develop girl-crush levels of admiration for Shermak, a brainy beauty who explains that time (loss of collagen, elasticity, etc.) and a recent weight loss may account for my newly deflated face. We opt to double down with two different injectables to perk me back up.

BODACIOUS BOTOX: No worse than getting a Novocain shot, the Botox app takes just minutes as Shermak deftly injects the liquid in tiny dots across my forehead and beside my eyes. The results take about ten days to fully kick in—and they are amazing. My forehead is as smooth as a baby’s bottom and my crow’s feet have (temporarily) flown the coop. Originally I was worried I’d end up looking perma-surprised like “Real Housewife” Ramona Singer. Instead, my eyes retained their usual squinty almond shape, but my eyebrows have a microscopic lift—a nice pick-me-up that detracts from the genetic puffiness under my eyes and fits my flirty personality. Only side effects are a faint, pea-sizebruise and a dull headache that goes away quickly. Bonus: I can no longer make my famous “You must be kidding me” face, which is a benefit in dating and business meetings! (No, my face doesn’t feel frozen.) Results can last four to six months, but Shermak suggests first-timers come back in 90 days for a second treatment. “It’s like a one-two punch,” she says—noting this subsequent shot will help “train” the muscles to stay put longer.

PERFECT PERLANE: My new best friend numbs the lower part of my face to reduce the discomfort of injecting the Perlane, a hyaluronic acid-based filler from the makers of Restylane but with larger gel particles for deep folds. It still hurts a bit as she works her way into the corners of my mouth and under my bottom lip, but I chill out when she tells me, “People are going to wonder why you’re so smiley—it’s because I made you that way.” Over the next 48 hours, my usually big, goofy grin is stuck in a lemon-slice shape and my attitude is equally sour. (“I wish my face could cheer,” I complain at the Ravens game.) But I follow doctor’s orders, applying soothing Arnicare gel and massaging the ropey filler into submission. After a few days, the Perlane disperses to where I can’t feel it at all—and I’m convinced I’ve discovered The Fountain of Youth. The filler adds just enough volume to turn my unintentional frown upside down. I don’t look different; just happy and rested. (It’s better than Ambien!) And results can last up to a year.

Final Verdict: After experiencing the artistic precision of this surgeon, I am officially addicted. I will never let any other syringe-wielding human being touch my face. Botox, $300-$750. Perlane, $550-$1,000. drshermak.com

November 2014
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November Get Out
By Ian Zelaya

Grand Entrance

Consider the score settled. In 2004, STYLE contributor Jim Burger declared closing the Baltimore Museum of Art’s main entrance in 1982 one of 10 decisions that changed Baltimore for the worse. Now, 32 years later, it was worth the wait for the grand reopening of the Robert G. Merrick Entrance—still guarded by two striking cement lions that date back to its original opening in 1929. “Visitors can gather on the front steps and enter through the historic entrance to the heart of the museum, just as architect John Russell Pope had envisioned,” says BMA director Doreen Bolger. “The first thing they will see is the restored Fox Court, arguably the most beautiful interior in Baltimore.” Also reopening after two years is the Dorothy McIlvain Scott American Wing, which Bolger describes as a “breathtaking new presentation of American art that demonstrates its internationalism and Maryland’s significant, creative role from the 18th to the 20th century.” Be among the first to see it at the American Wing Opening Celebration, including a ribbon cutting and ceremonial sweeping of the marble steps; plus family-friendly activities and birthday cake. (The BMA turns 100 this year!) Nov. 23. 443-573-1700, artbma.org

Dancing Queen


For an artful evening in D.C., check out the world premiere of Little Dancer—based on the story of Marie Van Goethe, the young ballerina who was canonized by Edgar Degas in his sculpture at the National Gallery of Art. Part fact, part fiction, the musical—directed and choreographed by Tony Award-winner Susan Stroman—follows Marie as she tries to overcome an adverse family life and pursue her ballet dreams. Through Nov. 30, at the Kennedy Center. Tickets, $45-$150. 800-444-1324, kennedy-center.org

Let It Goooo


It’s almost too perfect. Disney’s immensely popular Pixar fantasy musical comes to the ice in Disney On Ice: Frozen, a live-action spectacle that tells us the story of young Princess Anna, who sets off to find her exiled sister Elsa, who gives new meaning to the term “ice queen.” Through Nov. 2, at the Royal Farms Arena. Tickets, $30-$80. 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com

Office Talk


Best known for his role as Ryan Howard on the U.S. version of “The Office,” B.J. Novak will stop by the Johns Hopkins University’s Eisenhower Speaker Series, where we hope he dishes about his on-screen love interest and off-screen friendship (and writing/producing partnership) with Mindy Kaling. Nov. 5, at Shriver Hall. Free to the public; reserved seats, $25. 443-997-9009, jhu.edu

Burns Notice


Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Ken Burns is the next big name to make an appearance at the Baltimore Speakers Series. The Oscar nominee and Emmy winner has been praised for his style of applying photographs and archival footage to documentaries, which include “Prohibition” and “The Central Park Five.” Nov. 11, at The Meyerhoff. 410-783-8000, baltimorespeakerseries.org

Beatles Juice


Come together for the Beatles retrospective that is BSO’s Classical Mystery Tour, which features original arrangements that will have audiences singing along to some of the Fab Four’s iconic hits. Nov. 28-Nov. 30, at The Meyerhoff. Tickets, $35-$90. 410-783-8000, bsomusic.org

An Angel Gets His Wings


Fresh off the heels of last year’s smash hit “A Civil War Christmas,” Center Stage doubles down with another family-friendly holiday delight, It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play. Performed in the style of a 1940s live radio broadcast, Joe Landry’s retelling of the classic Capra film features five actors who take on all the characters of Bedford Falls’ memorable citizens. Nov. 18-Dec. 21. Tickets, $19-$59. 410-332-0033, centerstage.org

Art Lottery


School 33 Art Center’s 22nd annual Lotta Art Benefit incorporates a lottery-style drawing for original artwork donated by more than 100 local artists. Proceeds benefit School 33, which has provided Charm City with art education and exhibits for more than 30 years. Nov. 8, at School 33 Art Center. Tickets, $50-$175. 443-263-4350, school33.org

War Heroes


The 7th annual Cinefest is highlighted by documentary and dramatic films focused on the impact of war on survivors. The final two films screening this month are “Harbour of Hope,” a Swedish documentary about three Holocaust survivors, and “Last Dance,” an Australian drama about a terrifying situation that forces another Holocaust survivor to con- front her past. Nov. 2 and Nov. 6, at the Gordon Center. Tickets, $12-$14. 410-356-7469, jcc.org

Perfect Pitches


Enjoy an a cappella concert of epic proportions as the Alexandria Harmonizers and the Pride of Baltimore Chorus team up to present Harmony on the Harbor, with 10 quartets and three choruses, including The Ronninge Show Chorus and Sweden’s International Champion Chorus. Nov. 3, at The Meyerhoff. Tickets, $33-$103. 410-783-8000, bsomusic.org

Wings of Love


World-class soprano Asako Tamura is renowned for her portrayal of the Japanese geisha named Butterfly in Giacomo Puccini’s tragic opera Madama Butterfly, which portrays the love and loss the titular character endures after a dalliance with an American lieutenant. Nov. 7 and Nov. 9, at The Lyric. Tickets, $57-$190. 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com

Brotherly Love


A collaboration 16 years in the making that features the words of Stephen King, the music of John Mellencamp and the musical direction of TBone Burnett? Yes, please. Together, the dynamic trio created Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, a haunting, supernatural, Southern Gothic musical. Set in a small Mississippi town in 1967, “County” tells the story of the McCandless family, including two brothers who hate each other, and their father who forces them to confront their demons in a haunted cabin. The 15-person cast teams up with a four-piece band to deliver folk-rock melodies that propel this dark tale of jealousy and revenge forward. Nov. 16, at The Lyric. Tickets, $52-$93. 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com

Show Me How You Boylesque


Step aside, Jane Fonda. We’re already blushing thinking about Mr. Gorgeous’ upcoming NSFW take on Barbarella, and we probably won’t think of the alien-friendly sexpot in the same way ever again. The 6-foot-5 Clarke Kent-esque dancer (and Maryland native) oozes charisma and charm during his sexy, comedic “boylesque” performances that might have you asking for an encore. Nov. 22, at the Creative Alliance. Tickets, $22 members, $25 non-members. 410-276-1651, creativealliance.org

Art Space


Inspired by the Space Telescope Science Institute on the Johns Hopkins University campus, BMA presents Front Room: Dario Robleto, an exhibit that features numerous sculptures and prints from the Texas-based conceptual artist, inspired by space exploration, nautical history and early sound recordings. Nov. 16-March 29. 443-573-1701, artbma.org

Giving Trees

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Benefiting the Kennedy Krieger Institute, the Festival of Trees jump-starts the holiday season with more than 600 trees, wreaths, gingerbread houses and numerous gift vendors—along with hourly entertainment at Santa Land, featuring “reindeer” rides, carnival games and more. Nov. 28-Nov. 30, at the Maryland State Fairgrounds. Tickets, $7-$13. festivaloftrees.kennedykrieger.org

Animal Close-Up

Stunning images of animals in their natural habitat are the focus of the annual Nature’s Best Photography Awards, featuring approximately 60 eye-popping photos of wildlife and nature from some brilliant amateur and professional photographers. Through April 20 at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum. Free. 202-633-1000, si.edu

Hot Off The Press


If you have a fascination with the printed word—and what magazine reader doesn’t?—you’ll love From Pen to Press: Experimentation and Innovation in the Age of Print, The Walters’ latest exhibit that explores a time when printing was a new and experimental medium, starting with Gutenberg’s Bible in 1455. Nov. 22-April 12. Free. 410-547-9000, thewalters.org

No Holds Bard


The Maryland Ensemble Theatre presents Twelfth Night, which follows a town marshal who falls in love with a saloon owner, who’s actually in love with one of the Marshal’s men, who’s actually a woman who’s in love with the marshal. Prepare to laugh and be really confused while watching this Western-style version of one of Shakespeare’s beloved comedies. Nov. 1, 2, 6-9, 13-16, at the Maryland Ensemble Theatre in Frederick. Tickets, $20-$24. 301-694-4744, marylandensemble.org

Visionary Gifts


The American Visionary Art Museum’s annual Bazaart Holiday Art Market features original paintings, jewelry, metalwork, sculptures and textiles from more than 50 regional artists and craftspeople. Shoppers also are invited to tour the museum for free. Nov. 29. 410-244-1900, avam.org

Harbor Holiday


Thirteen stores will get a festive face-lift in Window Wonderland, Maryland Art Place’s annual arts competition, where selected artists create elaborate window displays for the holidays in Harbor East. This year’s judges include Bmore Art founder Cara Ober, Bromo Tower Arts & Entertainment District director Priya Bhayana and STYLE magazine’s editor-in-chief Jessica Bizik, who will select a “Best in Show” winner to receive a $1,000 cash prize. Nov. 14-Jan. 2. 410-962-8565, mdartplace.org

Local Flavor

All throughout November, stop by Merritt Gallery & Renaissance Fine Arts in the Village at Cross Keys for a celebration of noted regional artists. The collection will showcase a diverse range of genres and media, featuring the work of Eric Abrecht, Jeff Erickson, Vitali Miagkov, Tina Palmer, Alice Pritchard and John Sills. 410-484-8900, renaissancefinearts.com

Beautiful Lives


Special Olympics chairman Timothy Shriver will discuss his new book, “Fully Alive: Discovering What Matters Most,” which explores the inspiring lives of those with special needs. Nov. 12, at The Church of the Redeemer. Free, with a ticketed reception before the open event at 7:30 p.m. 410-377-2966, theivybookshop.com

November 2014
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Object
Luxe Lather
By Paige Whipple

Get a rock that’s even bigger than Kim Kardashian’s. No, these PELLE Soap Stones won’t fit on your ring finger, but they look like they belong there. Inspired by the shape and color of naturally occurring gemstones, such as rose quartz and aquamarine, and metamorphic rock such as jade and onyx, designers Jean and Oliver Pelle (who met as students at the Yale School of Architecture) hand-cut these stunning soaps in their Brooklyn studio, where they also design modern-chic lighting fixtures, furniture, jewelry and more. The all-natural, vegetable-based glycerin soaps are subtly scented with essential oils (think eucalyptus, lemon basil and camphor) and look even better dripping wet. Not that you’ll let anyone use them. $18 each at The Store LTD in Cross Keys. 410-323-2350, villageofcrosskeys.com

November 2014
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Jump for Joy
Turn up the heat with cardio Pilates
By Jessica Bizik
Jump for Joy

I LOVE HOW Pilates strengthens from the inside out—and gives me peace of mind on the mat. But, sometimes, I want to unleash something more primal. Enter Rhythm Reformer, the cardio-minded, small-group class at LifeBridge Health & Fitness, where you can jump, jive and wail on the “Rolls Royce” of Pilates equipment. “Pilates doesn’t have to be quiet or serious,” says program director Kimberlee Strome, who also teaches an equally fun, time-saving Spin/Yoga fusion class. During my class, I was springing (and sweating) with abandon—propelling backward on the carriage, then landing on the jump board with different foot positions, much like playing hopscotch. It feels like you’re flying, albeit horizontally. And it’s a blast. Another fave: the Full Studio Jump Board class incorporates other Pilates equipment like the tower and chair. 12-week session, $360-$420 (with $89 annual fee for non-members). bestbaltimorefitness.com

November 2014
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About Faces’ makeup master Owen O’Donnell reveals three new faves:





1. Just twist the Telephoto Face Brush by Smashbox to adjust your coverage level (liquid or powder foundation) from sheer to seriously airbrushed, $39.






2. Be Legendary Long Wear Lip Lacquer, also by Smashbox, goes on as a lacquer and adjusts to a stain for eight straight hours of sexy, $24.






3. Divine Oil addicts will adore the new Parfum Divin de Caudalie with hints of rose, cedar, vanilla and spicy pink pepper, $64. All at About Faces Day Spa & Salon.

aboutfacesdayspa.com

November 2014
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Bliss in the Suburbs
By Martha Thomas

AMBASSADOR DINING ROOM


The Ambassador Dining Room, tucked without fanfare into a classic apartment building in Tuscany-Canterbury, has long been revered as one of Baltimore’s most romantic restaurants. Owner-brothers Keir and Binda Singh recently opened a sibling restaurant, Ananda, in the suburbs. Set apart from the grand nouveau townhomes of Maple Lawn, the stand-alone building resembles a castle, with decorative turrets, and 8,000 square feet inside—twice the size of the Ambassador.

Maple Lawn is a planned community in the farmlands of Howard County, close to I-95. The county’s percentage of residents of Indian descent is higher than that of Maryland overall, and the median household income in these parts is more than $100K per annum. Seems like the perfect spot for a chic Indian restaurant with plenty of elbow room for special events. Plus, there’s a parking lot.

Food. Ananda plays copycat to its sib, offering familiar Indian dishes. The kitchen is headed by Keir and Binda’s sister, Kinday Kaur, born in the northern Indian state of Punjab, a region known for its aromatic sauces—think chicken and lamb masala—and tandoori-grilled meats and kebabs, stuffed paratha bread and dal. There’s also a classic pan-fried Goan fish, served whole in a garlic curry.

Décor. The restaurant’s eight fireplaces create winter ambience. Slowly turning fans operated by pulleys overhead, rattan furniture and reclaimed wood walls create a Colonial vibe. Sumptuous textures abound, from velveteen tufted banquettes to fleur-de-lis wallpaper and silk Rajasthani pillows. The Maharaja Room can host up to 180 guests, and the Marigold Room is great for meetings. Even with its high-tech trappings, the room is stately, with leopard-print, highbacked chairs, palatial ceilings and stained-glass clerestory windows.

Service. On an early visit, we were happy to see familiar faces among the waitstaff. Dining room staff, dressed in black jackets and starched white shirts, are friendly while formal. Spot-on service is part of the Ambassador’s charm, and Ananda maintains the tradition.

Cocktails. The Polo Bar offers happy hour daily from 4 to 6 p.m. with $5 cocktails (a rum and fruit Malabar punch, gin & tonic, Spicy Mango with Sriracha vodka) and small plates (lamb kofta, a Kerala cake made with crabmeat, masala fries).

Final Verdict. Did we mention that Ananda means ‘bliss’ in Sanskrit? 

Ananda. 7421 Maple Lawn Blvd. 301-725-4800, anandarestaurant.net



November 2014
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November 2014
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Entrée At Your Own Risk
Seared Maryland Rockfish with Cauliflower, Squid Ink Potato Croquettes and Romesco Sauce
Zack Mills, Executive Chef, Wit & Wisdom

SERVES 4
4 rockfish fillets (7 ounces each)
2 cups multi-colored cauliflower
1 cup fennel, diced
1⁄2 cup black and green olives, chopped
1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄2 cup vegetable stock
1 tablespoon shallots, minced
1 tablespoon chives, minced

For the Romesco sauce:
1 cup charred red bell peppers
2 cups charred tomatoes
1⁄2 cup yellow onion, thinly sliced
1⁄2 cup white bread, cubed
(crust removed)
2 tablespoons garlic, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon almonds, slivered
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

For the croquettes:
2 cups potatoes, mashed
2 tablespoons squid ink
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 cups egg wash
4 cups breadcrumbs, fine
Salt and pepper

For the fennel salad:
1 cup frisee
1 cup fennel, shaved
2 tablespoons fennel fronds
1 tablespoon chives, minced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

To make the Romesco: Coat red bell peppers with olive oil, salt and pepper and place either on a grill or gas burner. Allow peppers to char on all sides. Once charred, move to a mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to steam. Slice tomatoes in half and coat with olive oil, salt and pepper and char the same way as the peppers. Once charred move to a bowl but do not cover.

Thinly slice onions and garlic and place in a pot over medium-low heat with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add paprika and allow to cook for another 2 minutes.

Peel the charred skin from the peppers and separate the flesh from the stem. Place both the bell pepper flesh and charred tomatoes to the pot with the onions, garlic and paprika. Let cook for about 5 minutes until the peppers and tomatoes are softened and have given off most of their liquid. Add sherry vinegar and allow to cook for 1 more minute.

Transfer everything to a blender along with the rest of the Romesco sauce ingredients. Blend on high for about 1 minute until very smooth. Remove and allow to cool. It is best to place mixture in a squeeze bottle to plate.

To make the croquettes: Make mashed potatoes however you prefer and place on a tray in the refrigerator to cool. (My method would be to boil peeled Yukon Gold potatoes in heavily salted water until all the way cooked, then mix with warmed heavy cream and butter. Ratio should be 2 parts potato, half part cream, half part butter.) Once cooled, move potatoes to a bowl and mix with squid ink until they are black. Roll potatoes into spheres just smaller than a golf ball and place on a tray. Move the tray to the freezer for at least an hour.

Make a breading station by using 3 separate bowls; 1 of flour seasoned with about 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 with eggs whisked well together with 1 tablespoon of salt, and 1 with very fine breadcrumbs mixed with a tablespoon of salt.
Remove potato balls from the freezer and begin to “double bread” by first coating in flour, followed by egg wash, followed by breadcrumbs then back into the egg wash and finally back into the breadcrumbs. Make sure each croquette is fully coated, place on a tray and move back to the freezer.

To make the rest of dish: In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, add 1⁄4 cup of canola or vegetable oil. Season the rockfish’s skin side very well with salt and place skin side down in the pan. Season the flesh side and press down on each piece of fish to ensure that all of the skin is touching the pan. Place in a 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes until the fish is cooked through. Remove from oven and allow to rest.

In a small pot over medium heat, add olive oil followed by diced fennel, cauliflower florets and chopped olives. Season with salt and pepper and cook until everything is warmed through but not browning, about 3 minutes. Add
vegetable stock and let reduce to a glaze. Remove from the heat and mix in minced chives and shallot.

Gently drop croquettes in a 350-degree fryer and cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Remove from the fryer; shake off excess oil and season with salt.

To plate: Place the mixture of cauliflower, fennel and olive down on the bottom of the plate, about the same size as the fish. Place fish on top. Mix ingredients for the fennel salad together in a bowl and top each fish. Place 3 dots down around each fish just bigger than the size of the croquettes and place croquettes on top.

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Entrée At Your Own Risk
Seared Maryland Rockfish with Cauliflower, Squid Ink Potato Croquettes and Romesco Sauce
Zack Mills, Executive Chef, Wit & Wisdom

SERVES 4
4 rockfish fillets (7 ounces each)
2 cups multi-colored cauliflower
1 cup fennel, diced
1⁄2 cup black and green olives, chopped
1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄2 cup vegetable stock
1 tablespoon shallots, minced
1 tablespoon chives, minced

For the Romesco sauce:
1 cup charred red bell peppers
2 cups charred tomatoes
1⁄2 cup yellow onion, thinly sliced
1⁄2 cup white bread, cubed
(crust removed)
2 tablespoons garlic, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon almonds, slivered
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

For the croquettes:
2 cups potatoes, mashed
2 tablespoons squid ink
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 cups egg wash
4 cups breadcrumbs, fine
Salt and pepper

For the fennel salad:
1 cup frisee
1 cup fennel, shaved
2 tablespoons fennel fronds
1 tablespoon chives, minced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

To make the Romesco: Coat red bell peppers with olive oil, salt and pepper and place either on a grill or gas burner. Allow peppers to char on all sides. Once charred, move to a mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to steam. Slice tomatoes in half and coat with olive oil, salt and pepper and char the same way as the peppers. Once charred move to a bowl but do not cover.

Thinly slice onions and garlic and place in a pot over medium-low heat with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add paprika and allow to cook for another 2 minutes.

Peel the charred skin from the peppers and separate the flesh from the stem. Place both the bell pepper flesh and charred tomatoes to the pot with the onions, garlic and paprika. Let cook for about 5 minutes until the peppers and tomatoes are softened and have given off most of their liquid. Add sherry vinegar and allow to cook for 1 more minute.

Transfer everything to a blender along with the rest of the Romesco sauce ingredients. Blend on high for about 1 minute until very smooth. Remove and allow to cool. It is best to place mixture in a squeeze bottle to plate.

To make the croquettes: Make mashed potatoes however you prefer and place on a tray in the refrigerator to cool. (My method would be to boil peeled Yukon Gold potatoes in heavily salted water until all the way cooked, then mix with warmed heavy cream and butter. Ratio should be 2 parts potato, half part cream, half part butter.) Once cooled, move potatoes to a bowl and mix with squid ink until they are black. Roll potatoes into spheres just smaller than a golf ball and place on a tray. Move the tray to the freezer for at least an hour.

Make a breading station by using 3 separate bowls; 1 of flour seasoned with about 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 with eggs whisked well together with 1 tablespoon of salt, and 1 with very fine breadcrumbs mixed with a tablespoon of salt.
Remove potato balls from the freezer and begin to “double bread” by first coating in flour, followed by egg wash, followed by breadcrumbs then back into the egg wash and finally back into the breadcrumbs. Make sure each croquette is fully coated, place on a tray and move back to the freezer.

To make the rest of dish: In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, add 1⁄4 cup of canola or vegetable oil. Season the rockfish’s skin side very well with salt and place skin side down in the pan. Season the flesh side and press down on each piece of fish to ensure that all of the skin is touching the pan. Place in a 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes until the fish is cooked through. Remove from oven and allow to rest.

In a small pot over medium heat, add olive oil followed by diced fennel, cauliflower florets and chopped olives. Season with salt and pepper and cook until everything is warmed through but not browning, about 3 minutes. Add
vegetable stock and let reduce to a glaze. Remove from the heat and mix in minced chives and shallot.

Gently drop croquettes in a 350-degree fryer and cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Remove from the fryer; shake off excess oil and season with salt.

To plate: Place the mixture of cauliflower, fennel and olive down on the bottom of the plate, about the same size as the fish. Place fish on top. Mix ingredients for the fennel salad together in a bowl and top each fish. Place 3 dots down around each fish just bigger than the size of the croquettes and place croquettes on top.

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Entrée At Your Own Risk
Slow Roasted Duck with Duck Fat Potatoes
Lauren Schein

SERVES 4
Whole duck, 4 to 5 pounds
2 to 3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes,
cut into bite-sized chunks
6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
Olive oil, for drizzling
Kosher salt
Bottle of wine (this is for the cook,
not the duck)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Thoroughly wash and dry duck. Cut off excess skin from both ends of the cavity (I use this to render more duck fat but feel free to discard). Using a very sharp knife, prick skin all over, being careful not to pierce the meat. Place duck, breast side up, in a deep roasting pan with a V-rack. Using your sharp knife, score the duck’s skin in a diamond pattern, again being very careful not to pierce the meat. Wrap the legs together at the ankle, securing with kitchen twine and tuck the wings under the duck. Season liberally with kosher salt. Pour yourself a glass of wine, and roast duck for 1 hour.

After the first hour, remove duck from the oven, poke skin all over, flip so that the breast is now facing down, return to the oven for 1 hour, and pour a new glass of wine.

After the second hour, repeat the poke-flip-wine routine so that the breast is now facing up. Roast for 1 hour.

During this time, transfer the potatoes to a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil at high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat and allow to simmer for 4 minutes. Drain and rinse the potatoes under cold water, vigorously shaking them in the colander to rough up the edges. This extra step will ensure that your potatoes remain fluffy on the inside with a crisp exterior.

After the third hour, remove duck from the oven. Lifting the V-rack (this may require a second set of hands) add potatoes, smashed garlic, salt and a drizzle of olive oil to the roasting pan, stirring well to incorporate. Return V-rack to the roasting pan and again, poke-flip so that the breast is now facing down. Roast for 1 hour.

After the fourth hour, increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Remove duck from oven, stir potatoes and repeat one final poke-flip-wine. With the breast now facing up, roast duck for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow duck to rest for about 10 minutes before carving. Serve alongside roasted potatoes —and more wine, of course.

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Try It

TRY IT: mystery meal



Like an apparition, Dinner Lab mysteriously alights in a place unknown until it’s nearly too late. Those in the know gather for a coveted meal; they eat, drink and post seductive photos of composed plates before departing, to await word of the next secret meet-up. Unlike the parties all your friends on Instagram seem to attend, you can ensure an invitation to these culinary conclaves by joining the club. Dinner Lab Baltimore offers pop-up dinners to its members—who pay a $125 annual fee for advance intel. The subscription buys you access. Dinner details are posted early in the week for member sign-up, with an average event cost (including a multi-course meal and drink pairings) of $60. The concept started in New Orleans in 2012 with a series of wildly popular dinners created by up-and-coming chefs—and now has expanded to 20 U.S. cities. In September, chef Kwame Onwuachi, a Dinner Lab regular from New York, took over Hampden’s old Ideal Theatre to serve up whimsical variations on such familiar dishes as steak and eggs (with jerk beef cheeks and quail eggs) and cornbread pudding. The cherry on top: members have access to events in other cities, so you don’t have to worry about where to eat on your next trip to Austin. dinnerlab.com —Martha Thomas


Whoa, Nalley!

“Release Your Inner Chef” is the motto for create-your-own salad, wrap and bowl joint Nalley Fresh, a fun option for folks who want to go all out with their own, healthy (or not-so-healthy) creations. Similar to the point-and-pick style of Chipotle—but with a wider variety of fresh, made-in-house ingredients—the local chain, which launched in 2011, has become a fan favorite in Hunt Valley, Towson and downtown Baltimore, with new locations in Canton and Timonium set to open in late fall. Founder Greg Nalley prides himself on the restaurant’s international food profile—and the way his fans interact with the brand. “This concept is really hot. Customers take ownership of their concoction and are really proud of what they make,” he says. While the menu changes daily, mainstays include proteins like buffalo chicken, falafel and grilled salmon, which can be mixed with various leafy greens, fruits, cheeses, veggies and dressings, for one-of-a-kind salads, wraps and unique bowls such as brown rice and sweet potato. nalleyfresh.com —Ian Zelaya

November 2014
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Second Acts
Creative Alliance co-founder Megan Hamilton bids adieu to life at the Patterson Theater—and invites performance pro Josh Kohn to take the reins.
By Betsy Boyd

Photography by David Stuck

On a quiet weeknight in 2001, Megan Hamilton was stepping out of the Creative Alliance’s brand-new location at the Patterson Theater in Highlandtown when a pickup truck screeched to a halt and an irate fellow stuck his head out to holler at her.

“I’m like, ‘Hello?’ And the guy goes, ‘Why isn’t that marquee on?’ So I explain, ‘Because we don’t have a show today.’ And he’s like, ‘I had out-of-town guests and I brought them down here the other night to show them that marquee—and it was completely dark,’” Hamilton reminisces with a laugh. “We went on to have a very nice conversation.

”The anecdote tells a story of local pride; it also speaks to the organization’s far-reaching effect on our city’s diverse population. Co-founded as a nonprofit in 1995 by Hamilton (who is the program director), her friend Margaret Footner, who’s still the organization’s executive director, and Daniel Schiavone, the theater’s original artistic director (replaced by Jed Dodds in 1999), the Creative Alliance remains a space dedicated to showcasing—and spreading the word about—Baltimore’s fierce creativity.

In November, Hamilton, 57—the statuesque, self-proclaimed “outlaw by nature” with the wild-and-wavy gray hair and well-worn cowboy boots—plans to take her final bow, as Josh Kohn, 33, a D.C. transplant who leaves his program-officer post at the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, formally steps in. Hamilton has decided to apply her enormous energy far away in the Peace Corps, but her legacy will always light up that marquee.

Back in the early ’90s, the recent Goucher grad and Evanston, Ill., native, was writing art criticism for Baltimore City Paper and luxuriating in what she labels the little-known but ultra-impressive Baltimore art and band scene of the time.

“After Goucher, I moved downtown and immediately got locked and loaded with a really interesting group of young artists that were doing street-based performance and a lot of wild stuff. They went to Three Mile Island when it was melting down,” says Hamilton, who then realized there was a vast chasm between the artistic types who were producing great work and, well, everyone else in the city.

“I knew we’d have an uphill battle,” she says of deciding to launch a downtown venue that focused almost exclusively on homegrown talent. “Back then, ‘local’ was considered a code word for ‘bad.’ People thought, ‘If it’s art from here, it’s going to suck. If it’s not on the cover of Slate or Time, it can’t be any good.”

Fast-forward more than two decades, skipping past the dedicated trio’s temporary residence in several locations, including an old Moose lodge on Highland Avenue and the rat-infested Pep Boys warehouse on Conkling (where they dubbed the hard-to-ignore stench of recently deceased “alley buffalo” Eau du Creative Alliance).

Now we have a hard-won performance space that regularly presents our town’s best musicians, like Todd Marcus, Lafayette Gilchrist, Arty Hill, Caleb Stine and Anne Watts. Plus, so much more—from dance parties to eclectic art exhibits to the lovely Halloween Lantern Parade and other family-friendly programming. And, of course, the infamous burlesque shows that are so popular with young Cantonites. (“We’re not too fussy about what gets people in the door,” says Hamilton, with a laugh.) 

CA also has partnered with Southeast Community Development Corp., area schools, churches and other neighborhood groups to expand its reach. “Our work with the local immigrant and refugee community has been profound,” she says.

It’s a perfect time, in Hamilton’s opinion, to bring her successor onboard, as Kohn is uniquely qualified to help give the Creative Alliance a more global focus.

“What we’re doing in Baltimore is so awesome, but it’s just that—in Baltimore,” Hamilton says. “This community needs to be connected with a broader world. Josh has a solid web of connections—musicians, agents and venues—from all over the country and the world. He can bring amazing people to Baltimore and have them get to know our amazing performers and audiences. And at 33, he can still stay up late and drink beer… how glorious is that?”

Kohn cut his teeth as a tour promoter for the National Council for the Traditional Arts in Silver Spring, Md., an organization founded in the 1930s, where he was instrumental in changing the snoozy programming approach (think: musicals for the early bird dinner crowd) to something much more happening.

“We brought in a lot of hip-hop,” Kohn says of the gig, where he planned many large-scale cultural festivals. “I took D.C. go-go music up to Maine, which was insanity. I brought down Inuit throat singers and a 90-year-old fiddler from West Virginia, who were really embraced by a younger community. I think by the end of my tenure, there was this really strong sense that these festivals were for everybody, not just a single, old-folky audience. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!”

No wonder Hamilton feels so secure entrusting the Patterson to a young pro with such a quirky, crowd-packing history—and a shared belief in the power of live performance to be not only entertaining and thought-provoking, but, in some rare cases, transformational.

“The risk in going to a live performance is higher than going to a film or whatever,” she says. “But the potential reward is exponentially greater. You could make critical friendships. You could change someone else’s life. You could learn a message that you take into your school, your church, your voting booth. That’s a lot of what we’re about.”

“That deeply transformative thing doesn’t always happen,” adds Kohn. “But when it does, it’s extremely powerful. As both a fan and a presenter, I’m always on that quest.”

While Hamilton may be nostalgic for those days a decade or two back when she could rock out till all hours with performing artists, her next role doesn’t sound exactly cushy. Next year, she accepts her Peace Corps appointment. As of right now, Albania seems the likely destination.

So what will she miss most about the post-industrial town she’s called home longer than any other place—and the theater where she has danced and dreamed for decades?

“I don’t think I can even envision that,” she says more quietly than usual.

“I do know that on some rainy, cold day wherever I end up, I will be crying my eyes out missing my home and my people.”

November 2014
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French Connection
Chef Cindy Wolf invites STYLE in for a first look at her new château-inspired home kitchen
By Martha Thomas



Photography by David Stuck

Cindy Wolf is, well, fired up about her fireplace. The fieldstone beauty wasn’t part of the early vision of her new kitchen, but after an incongruous outline of brick was unearthed from beneath circa-1980s, salmon-colored floor tile—and the shadow of a hearth was discovered on the basement ceiling of the 1905 house—the fireplace became her obsession. “It drove the entire kitchen design,” says the Foreman-Wolf restaurateur, sipping on a non-fussy cup of French vanilla coffee. (No, they don’t serve that at Johnny’s.) Once the notion of a kitchen fireplace became lodged in her brain, Wolf couldn’t let go. And Brian Thim, her interior designer, along with contractor Jeff Bayer, of Bayer Construction in Catonsville, couldn’t say no. “It wasn’t the easiest thing to achieve,” says Thim, an associate with Rita St. Clair Associates. “But we were determined to figure it out.”

The fireplace, which dominates what was once a wall of cabinets, drove decisions about storage. Pantry cupboards with roomy pullout bins share a wall with the refrigerator, a scaled-down 30-inch Sub-Zero. Even the stove, from the French company La Cornue, is small—it couldn’t accommodate a holiday turkey or party roast. Going with a smallish oven “was a conscious decision,” says Wolf, who has lived in the Roland Park house for three years. “If I need to cook something large, I can do it at work.” While buying an
industrial grade Wolf was tempting (“number one, it’s a great oven. Number two it has my name on it”), she opted for the brand found in the kitchens of grand homes in the French countryside.

La Cornue stoves come in all sizes and can be ordered in custom colors with matching cabinetry. “I thought about getting baby blue,” says Wolf. “It’s my favorite color.” However, an oven that matches her eyes might not please future homebuyers, she decided, so she went instead with a smoky black, with stainless trim and brass knobs. “I was so excited when it was delivered,” she says. “It sat in the hallway and I almost hugged it a few times.”

In another space accommodation, Wolf’s pots are tucked in an unlikely spot. “I love Julia Child,” she says. “I cooked for her. So I did what she did.” She opens a door with a flourish to reveal a narrow back staircase with walls lined in pegboard, hung with copper and All-Clad cookware—reminiscent of the beloved chef’s own home kitchen, now enshrined in the Smithsonian. Before Wolf redesigned the interior at Charleston seven years ago, she says, “I worked in basements and enclosed rooms for my entire career.” Now she has an expansive view of the restaurant’s dining room, where guests graze on the low country cuisine that has garnered Wolf recognition as a three-time James Beard-award finalist, with Charleston a consistent No. 1 in Zagat, and a top five restaurant nationwide by OpenTable.

Initially, the chef figured her home kitchen would resemble her workplace, with open shelving to keep everything within easy reach and a large stainless steel worktable. “I tried to nudge her toward making it more homey, more warm and inviting,” Thim confides.

Once a fireplace became the focal point, his concerns disappeared. Wolf barraged the designer with photos of fireplaces in French chateaux, stone structures in generations-old kitchens with high ceilings supported by heavy beams and whitewashed walls. She began to fantasize about installing a cast-iron frame so a pot of polenta could hover over an open flame, or fowl could crisp on a spit. “I was at Michel Guérard’s three-star Michelin restaurant outside of Bordeaux, (Les Prés d’Eugènie),” she says. “He has a wood-burning fireplace and does quail in there.”

If her kitchen had been wider, Wolf says she would have installed a center island; “I don’t like cabinetry in my face.” Instead, she faces a plain white wall of tumbled marble bricks, as soft to the eye as a feather pillow. The counter itself is burgundy-colored marble, veined in gray with hints of turquoise. Thim found the stone in a pile of remnants at Universal Marble and Granite Company. “It was probably quarried 30 years ago. You can’t get this anymore,” he says.

The fireplace stone, from Lancaster County, Pa., is laced with shimmering mica, and reminds Wolf of her childhood (“I picked up mica in my driveway in North Carolina,” she says). The thick mantelpiece embedded in the stone was hauled down from the Endless Mountains in northeastern Pennsylvania, and the ceiling beams were reclaimed from a 19th-century Lancaster barn. “It meant a great deal to me to have things from Pennsylvania,” where her parents were both born, she says.

The fireplace represents Wolf’s family in other ways. She envisions sitting around the kitchen table—in this case a charcoal gray, polished soapstone surface with a nickel-colored velveteen tufted banquette—with her mother, sister, niece and nephew, playing board games by the fire. “Our lives have really changed,” she says, “I grew up in a traditional family where everyone would be dressed up on holidays. We’d sit in the living room thinking, ‘Can we please leave?’” Wolf says with a grin. “We’re not like that anymore. We have fun.”

November 2014
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To our fabulous guests and sponsors, thanks for making STYLE’s 25th Anniversary Bash
at Wit & Wisdom a night to remember!


Be sure to “LIKE” Baltimore STYLE on Facebook to tag your pics and receive invites to exclusive events,
enter stylish giveaways and keep in touch with the editors at STYLE mag!

    





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To our fabulous guests and sponsors, thanks for making STYLE’s 25th Anniversary Bash
at Wit & Wisdom a night to remember!


Be sure to “LIKE” Baltimore STYLE on Facebook to tag your pics and receive invites to exclusive events,
enter stylish giveaways and keep in touch with the editors at STYLE mag!


    



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To our fabulous guests and sponsors, thanks for making STYLE’s 25th Anniversary Bash
at Wit & Wisdom a night to remember!


Be sure to “LIKE” Baltimore STYLE on Facebook to tag your pics and receive invites to exclusive events,
enter stylish giveaways and keep in touch with the editors at STYLE mag!


    



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Ones To Watch
By Ian Zelaya


Abdu Ali, recording artist
At 24, the nationally touring UB grad already has two mixtapes under his belt. Influenced by Baltimore club music, his funky, chaotic, danceable jams mixed with rap and punk sound unlike anything else you’ve heard. “I have a lot of energy and I’m not shy about the energy I give out,” he says. “My performances are a soft rage, but that anger is coming from a loving place.” Catch Ali perform Sept. 6 at The Crown (Photo by Keem Griffey)


Nicholas Hersh, BSO assistant conductor
The Illinois native has arranged and conducted numerous orchestral takes on popular music—including a thrilling performance of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which has more than 90,000 YouTube hits. “I’m interested in concerts that don’t follow the traditional format,” he says. The 26-year-old is new to the city, but says he’s obsessed with Faidley’s Seafood crabcakes in Lexington Market.


Blacksage, band
“Creepy, sexy lullaby jams.” That’s how Baltimore duo Drew Scott and Josephine Olivia describe the synth-laden pop songs on their debut EP “Sixtape.” Blacksage’s music goes hand in hand with their live shows, offering minimal lighting and a shadowy vibe you won’t want to shake for a while. Check them out at the Windup Space on Sept. 20 or the Saratoga Toga Party at Maryland Art Place on Oct 25.

September-October 2014
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Ones To Watch
By Ian Zelaya


Danny Gavigan, actor at Everyman Theatre
Everyman’s brand-new company member (and soon-to-be heartthrob) splits his time between Charm City and Los Angeles. Gavigan is excited to play Hollywood star “Jake” in Theresa Rebeck’s three-person play, “The Understudy” in September. “One of my all-time favorite rants is in this play—about relationships and broken hearts,” he says. “I cannot wait to dive into those words.”


Katie Hileman, artistic director at Interrobang Theatre Company
Founded by four UMBC grads, Hileman says the brand new theater company produces professional and contemporary work with the right touch of edge. “I like plays that are a little weird, but grounded in the acting work. It keeps things theatrical and interesting,” she says. Expect to see Interrobang perform “The Aliens” by Annie Baker at the Charm City Fringe Festival in November.


Ryan Haase, artistic/ set director at Stillpointe Theatre Initiative
Unfamiliar with Stillpointe? Prepare to get spooked. “People have been saying we’re like the show ‘Penny Dreadful,’” says Haase, adding Tim Burton and Disney villains as inspiration. “Our new pieces of musical theater fall under dark
comedy.” The theme for the upcoming season is “well-behaved women rarely make history,” with shows focusing on strong women and literary heroes

September-October 2014
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Ones To Watch
Ian Zelaya


Joe Riggs, mentalist
Move over, Benedict Cumberbatch. There’s a new Sherlock Holmes in town and his name is Joe Riggs. The internationally known mentalist and
deductionist, influenced by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous consulting detective, has a knack for reading people just by looking at them. Essentially, lying to Riggs isn’t a good idea, unless you’re at one of his performances where he might wow you and the audience by calling you out on your fib. Raised by psychics, Riggs, 35, has been entertaining and consulting for 15 years and even puts his talents to use at law enforcement agencies. Sound familiar? That’s because Riggs’ story is the premise for CBS’ “The Mentalist,” in which Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) helps solve crimes using his “reading” abilities—and Riggs can proudly say he served as a consultant for the first two seasons of the award-winning series. Did we mention he just moved to Baltimore for love? Let him pick your brain at a free public performance on Thursday, Sept. 4 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Johnny’s in Roland Park. theworldofjoeriggs.com


Abbi Jacobson, comedian/actress/writer/producer
Don’t go to Bed, Bath and Beyond without coupons, because Abbi Jacobson (left) wouldn’t approve. She also wouldn’t approve if you haven’t seen “Broad City,” Comedy Central’s freshest series in recent memory. Jacobson, a MICA alum, and Ilana Glazer turned their web series into a half-hour scripted comedy (produced by Amy Poehler) that premiered earlier this year, about two broke twenty-somethings living in New York City. Portraying fictionalized versions of themselves, Abbi is the well-intentioned, unlucky aspiring artist—a perfect contrast to Ilana, a sexually adventurous free spirit and freeloader. Provocative, relevant and downright hilarious, the show provides one of the most
genuine friendships on TV. (It helps that The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre alumni are also BFFs in real life.) “Broad City” is available on VOD services and has been renewed for a second season.


Noah Himmelstein, theater and opera director
Noah Himmelstein is certainly making a name for himself in the theater world. Having directed numerous plays and operas including “Things I Left On Long Island,” “Positions 1956,” and “Loving Leo,” his latest project is the 12-movement oratorio “I Am Harvey Milk,” which has been a monumental achievement for the Pikesville native and Carver Center for Arts and Technology graduate. Part choral work, part theater, “Milk” follows the life of the first openly gay man to hold public office and has been performed seven times around the country over the past two years—the most recent being a massive reunion show featuring more than 500 men from choruses and orchestrasacross the country at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. “It’s the most extraordinary thing I’ve been a part of,” Himmelstein says. “My mission is to combine opera and theater.” “Milk” can next be seen Oct. 6 at Avery Fisher Hall in New York City, starring its writer/composer Andrew Lippa and Kristin Chenoweth.


Owen Daniels
Baltimore Ravens tight end Owen Daniels can’t wait to take Baltimore by storm. “The fan base here is unbelievable,” says the former Houston Texans tight end who brings his offensive skills to the field—along with meteorological talents. A University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate with a degree in atmospheric and oceanic science, Daniels acquired the nickname “The Weatherman” after delivering a forecast on the local news in Madison, a hobby that followed him to this year’s Super Bowl, where he and Al Roker delivered the game-day forecast on the Weather Channel. “I’ve been interested in weather since I was a kid,” says Daniels, who grew up near Chicago. “I’ve tried to keep my foot in the door for my post-NFL career—seeing what I can do in front of the camera.” Daniels is already in talks to find a community service project in Baltimore. His Catching Dreams Foundation in Houston provides critically ill kids with iPads, PlayStations and portable DVD players to help pass the time while they’re in treatment.

September-October 2014
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Moonstruck
By Betsy Boyd

Sick of stalled zippers? Here’s your fix: The MagZip from Under Armour automatically aligns and locks into place by a magnetic pull. Engineer/inventor Scott Peters-along with his mom, Nancy Peters, and friend Dave Lyndaker-developed the efficient sliding technology to help Nancy’s brother who suffers from Myotonic Dystrophy, which makes zippers and buttons extra tricky. “We would design a concept, get it built, hand assemble it ourselves, sew it into jackets and then test it on friends, family and Uncle Dave,” Peters says. “After many prototypes and a few years of development, we finally had something that worked great!” The device took top honors at Under Armour’s annual Future Show for inventors-and, starting this fall, will appear in more than 15 men’s, women’s and kids’ athletic items by UA, including this ColdGear Infrared Zenith hoodie ($175) in a “Russian Nights” print—perfect for a moonlight run. Also look for a stylish men’s version called the Werewolf. Howl!

Sept-Oct 2014
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Ones to Watch
Highly anticipated books, selected by Ed Berlin of the Ivy Bookshop
By Betsy Boyd


Lila (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), Marilynne Robinson’s fourth novel, tells the sweeping story of her eponymous (and utterly complex) protagonist’s hardscrabble childhood and unusual courtship to a much older man. Why readers enthusiastically await the October release: Robinson’s first book, “Housekeeping,” (1980) remains a critical darling, while her “Gilead” (2004) received the Pulitzer.


The Work: My Search for a Life That Matters (Random House). New York Times best-selling author and Baltimore native Wes Moore’s wildly anticipated December release shares inspiring stories of people who, despite great adversity, have made a profound difference in their communities, including two Iraq War vets and a struggling single mother who started a clothing company that hires single moms.


The Republic of Imagination: America in Three Books (Penguin). In her follow-up to “Reading Lolita in Tehran,” popular Azar Nafisi discusses three time-honored novels, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” “Babbitt” and “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter”—highlighting fiction’s value in our country’s history and in our lifelong roles as citizens. Sign us up this October.

Sept-Oct 2014
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Cool for School
Fun facts about five new education leaders in (and around) Baltimore.
Ian Zelaya


Fred Bronstein, Dean, Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University
With past stints as president of the St. Louis, Dallas and Omaha symphonies, the talented pianist and educator seeks to establish Peabody as a national voice for music advocacy. Last great books he read: “My Nine Lives” by Leon Fleisher and “Life” by Keith Richards.


José Antonio Bowen, President, Goucher College
The former arts dean of Southern Methodist University and author of the acclaimed “Teaching Naked” is also a jazz pianist, having shared the stage with Liberace, Dizzy Gillespie and Dave Brubeck. On his iPod: 20 hours of BBC Radio 4 podcasts and the R&B band Tower of Power.


Kim Roberts, Head of School, Garrison Forest School
Previously assistant head of her alma mater, the all-girls Castilleja School in Palo Alto, Roberts is about girl power—and a big fan of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Anna Karenina.” Favorite fashion statement: Anything but stripes—her 10-year-old daughter said she was overdoing them.


Samuel Hoi, President, MICA
Coming from the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, the arts and design education advocate brings his expertise to Baltimore, along with stylish cowboy boots and a love for Jean Paul Gaultier. What he was like in high school: The quiet type, Hoi says he’s living proof anyone can become a college president. 


Marylou Yam, President, Notre Dame of Maryland University
A nationally recognized researcher on victims of domestic abuse, the former provost and vice president for academic affairs at Saint Peter’s University adores swing jackets and Michael Bublé. Meal she can’t live without: Cheese ravioli. She makes the sauce from scratch.

September-October 2014
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Fall Preview
Summer may be winding down, but culture is just starting to heat up! Get to know some of Charm City’s most creative movers and shakers who are certain to make your fall arts season absolutely fabulous.
September-October 2014
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Chef Talk
Dave Newman, Blue Pit BBQ
By Martha Thomas

A native of Reston, Va., Dave Newman worked in San Francisco for Nancy Hawthorne, Michael Mina and others before coming to Baltimore, with his wife Cara in 2005, with the goal of opening a restaurant. His Blue Pit BBQ on Union Avenue in Woodberry opened in July, though the whiskey bar opened several months earlier.

You moved here from San Francisco almost a decade ago with the idea of opening a restaurant. What took you so long?
When I started at Brewer’s Art in 2008, I told them I wouldn’t stay long because I wanted to open my own place. But I ceased the search because I really liked working for them. It was so refreshing to find people who really give back to their employees.

I understand the restaurant is named after your dog?
Blue Pit encompasses a lot: Blue smoke is the ideal smoke for barbecue. Blue ribbon, the pit is where you cook it. I also have a blue pit bull, Sakai, like the city in Japan. I own a lot of Japanese knives, they’re made in Sakai, where the best steel in the world is made. A lot of knives are made of blue steel.

What kind of barbecue are you serving?
We’re pulling things we like from different regions. We’ll do burnt ends from Kansas City—that’s when you dice it up the point, or the fatty side, toss it in sauce and re-smoke it. Texas is known for brisket, North Carolina for pork. St. Louis and Memphis are ribs.

And the all-important sides?
We do classic sides with a twist: Pickleback slaw, made with brine from our housemade pickles, a loaded baked potato salad with bacon, green onions and sour cream dressing. Collard greens with smoked pork necks and sherry vinegar. I cook them down until they have texture of creamed spinach.

You’re also into whiskey?
Our bourbon program has grown tremendously; we opened with 45 varieties and now have over 100. We try to keep prices reasonable, so people can try things they might not have the wallet for otherwise. We have a 25-year bottle of rye (Jefferson’s Presidential Select 25 Year Rye) that you can try for $13 an ounce.

The décor is fun—rustic and DYI.
Jesse Harris (the designer) built a communal table with wood he salvaged. He stripped the original fixtures and gave them a patina. He hand-built bent copper tubing for light fixtures and used pipe elbows to mount the bar shelves. That’s what we had to work with. People have said, you need to hide that wiring. We say no, we like it. That’s who we are.

Sept-Oct 2014
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Restaurant Deconstructed: Belvedere Square
To market, to market
By Martha Thomas
Restaurant Deconstructed: Belvedere Square

Belvedere Square has been through ups and downs since it was first developed in 1986, fluctuations that align with the economy, management and public tastes. Over the last year or so, the market has sprung into bloom. Atwaters, the soup and sandwich shop, extended its reach within the space, adding a dairy case, beer and wine, and an ice cream shop. Artisan food vendors have been sprouting along the back wall. One day, illuminated letters sprung from the roofline, uniting disparate food and retail beneath an art deco font.

Scott Plank, who had experimented with his interest in sustainable food by creating an employee restaurant at Under Armour (the company he helped launch with his brother Kevin), is deeply invested—with both cash and vision—in the market.

The Back Story.
“Who doesn’t love Belvedere Square?” Plank wants to know. “I’ve been going there since I moved to Baltimore in 2003.” Plank’s three kids, now ages 10-16, especially loved the Friday night Summer Sounds concerts, where they could run and play. Plank’s goal, he says, “is to make the market world class.” Investing in real estate is just part of the picture. The next step, he says, “is to engage the real estate to create community.”

Face Value.
Changes at Belvedere Square have moved incrementally. The management company, Cross Street Partners, began with the exterior, expanding sidewalks and adding the bright umbrellas—with heaters to stretch the outdoor season. “We took down all the signage,” from the front, Plank says, and installed clear, bold, neon letters. The goal was to create the excitement of a 1940s trip to the market. Mary Mashburn, of Typecast Press, chose a vintage font, Streamline Moderne, for the gaint letters.

Real Simple. Plank gets his hair cut at Blue Spark on Harford Road and used to plan his trips to Lauraville around lunch at Toulouloo, the diminutive Cajun café owned by Shawn Lagergren. Newly relocated to Belvedere Square, the menu remains simple, the dirty rice “unbelievable,” says Plank. “It’s very specific. Lagergren does really good fried stuff, like oysters and alligator bites, po’ boys, pizza and that’s that.” Such focus is part of what Plank is looking for in the Belvedere lineup—which also includes longtime tenants like Neopol smoked fish and Greg’s Bagels, as well as newcomers like Hex Ferments.

Maker’s Market.
The market is designed to nurture small, homegrown food vendors, says Plank. “We wanted to make sure we’re a place where people make stuff—and customers can engage with the makers.” He points to chocolates made by Jinji Fraser, a former Under Armour employee. “I’ve known her for years. She was making chocolate in her condo,” Plank says. “We were able to help her with the rules and regulations of
becoming a food vendor.” The bootstrap story is familiar to Plank. “That’s what Under Armour was,” he says. “We founded that company in my grandmother’s basement.” The new Belvedere Square is an opportunity to give small makers exposure “on the big stage.” Even Spike Gjerde’s Shoo-Fly diner was established to manage all the canning and pickling for its fellow Woodberry group restaurants.

The Future.
Belvedere Square is just the fluttering eyelids of Plank’s vision. He’s involved with developing a similar market in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, hoping to replicate the concept in even more cities. “Food and community are the nexus of everything,” he says.

Sept-Oct 2014
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Moonstruck
Sick of stalled zippers? Here’s your fix.
By Betsy Boyd
Moonstruck

Sick of stalled zippers? Here’s your fix: The MagZip from Under Armour automatically aligns and locks into place by a magnetic pull. Engineer/inventor Scott Peters—along with his mom, Nancy Peters, and friend Dave Lyndaker—developed the efficient sliding technology to help Nancy’s brother who suffers from Myotonic Dystrophy, which makes zippers and buttons extra tricky. “We would design a concept, get it built, hand assemble it ourselves, sew it into jackets and then test it on friends, family and Uncle Dave,” Peters says. “After many prototypes and a few years of development, we finally had something that worked great!” The device took top honors at Under Armour’s annual Future Show for inventors-and, starting this fall, will appear in more than 15 men’s, women’s and kids’ athletic items by UA, including this ColdGear Infrared Zenith hoodie ($175) in a “Russian Nights” print—perfect for a moonlight run. Also look for a stylish men’s version called the Werewolf. Howl!

Sept-Oct 2014
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Harvest Moon
By Ginny Lawhorn

Picture this: while every cocktail may not be worth a thousand words, an artfully crafted one always creates the opportunity for conversation. This concoction provides rich autumn color balanced with savory harvest flavors—certain to warm up your family and friends for fireside chats this fall.

1.5 oz Art in the Age Rhubarb Liqueur
1 oz Gabriel Boudier Ginger Liqueur
2 oz cold press apple juice
1 oz organic carrot juice

In a mixing tin combine ingredients over ice. Stir gently for 30 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Garnish with freshly sliced apple and carrot as preferred.

 

September-October 2014
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Bedside Manners
Bedside Manners

When Savvy was growing up, nobody ever talked about thread count in sheets. Now it’s all 500-this and 600-that. Sheets have gone from utilitarian to luxurious. But thread count, it turns out, is a sham. At least according to Carla Wing, owner of Phina’s, the Federal Hill retailer Savvy recently rediscovered. “It’s all about quality—how the sheet is woven,” explains Wing. “I’ve seen 800-thread-count sheets fall apart in the wash, but a 200-thread-count sheet of Egyptian cotton, made in Italy, that’s so sturdy it can last 10 years.” Wing’s Signoria Firenze sheets will have you drifting off under the spell of Morpheus in no time. Also look for classic linen hemstitched napkins by Saro, luxe robes and bamboo towels, pretty bath products and other little luxuries for the homes. Brides will love the Universal Registry. Sweet dreams. 919 S. Charles St., 410-685-0911. phinas.com

September-October 2014
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The People's Photographer
Iconic street art documentarian Martha Cooper has captured the hearts of graffiti fans around the globe. Now she’s turning her lens on Sowebo in Baltimore.
By Deborah Rudacille

98,000. THAT’S HOW MANY PEOPLE follow Martha Cooper on Instagram. A 2013 retrospective of her work titled “Street Signs” at the Palazzo Incontro in Rome drew lines stretching around the block. “In all my years in Rome I’ve never seen an exhibition more crowded,” wrote photo historian Jessica Stewart. A 2014 exhibition of Cooper’s work, “Evolution of a Revolution,” in Lublin, Poland has drawn such big crowds that the organizers are moving the show to Moscow this fall. The 71-year-old Cooper will attend the opening—one stop on a crowded late-2014 itinerary of festivals, exhibits and talks that will take her to the Azores, Istanbul, Switzerland, Argentina, Russia, Poland, Brazil and Art Basel Miami.

At such gatherings, “it’s like the Dalai Lama has been carried in when she arrives,” says Baltimore folklorist Elaine Eff, an old friend of Cooper’s. Fans jostle to have their photo taken with her and ask her to sign copies of her books, notes Eff, who calls Cooper “one of the great unsung photographers of our time.”

Unsung in her hometown of Baltimore perhaps but not amongst those who revere Cooper as the pre-eminent documentarian of what proponents call the biggest art movement in the history of the world—graffiti and street art. Her 1984 book with Henry Chalfant, “Subway Art,” is often called the “bible” of that movement and Cooper herself the matriarch of a family of tens of thousands of artists around the world inspired by it. “She’s an icon,” says Jay “J.SON” Edlin, a 55-year-old historian of graffiti and street art who first met Cooper in the early 1980s when he was a teenager spraypainting subway trains in New York City.

Cooper herself is modest about her fame. “When I’m in that world, I’m an icon. Take me one step out of that world and I’m nobody.”

Others beg to differ. “What’s amazing about Martha is that she has deep credentials, way past graffiti,” says Steve “ESPO” Powers, a friend and a fan, who points to Cooper’s current project, “Soweto/ Sowebo,” which pairs her shots of daily life in the Baltimore neighborhood with similar scenes of the South African township. Like her photographs of kids playing in the streets on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the late 1970s, these images show the joy and creativity expressed by poor and working-class people in neighborhoods often viewed as gritty and depressed.

“Marty’s work resonates with anyone who grew up in an urban environment because they capture the essence of city living, which to me means making the best use of a not always ideal situation,” says Baltimore-born artist Chris Stain, who recently painted an 80-foot-high mural in Brooklyn based on one of Cooper’s NYC photos. “Marty’s work has continuously highlighted a will to survive and be creative amidst the concrete jungle.”
Born in Baltimore in 1943, Cooper grew up in Mount Washington and attended Forest Park High School. She started taking photographs at a young age, encouraged by her father, Ben, who owned and operated Cooper’s Camera Mart in Hamilton with his brother Harry. She left Baltimore in 1959 to attend Grinnell College in Iowa, and after a stint in the Peace Corps in Thailand, studied ethnology at The University of Oxford. Though she had originally planned to become an anthropologist, she decided that she didn’t like working in museums and eventually found her way to journalism, becoming a staff photographer for the New York Post in 1977. It was there that she began taking the photographs that would ultimately make her reputation.

Edlin recalls first meeting Cooper when another young graffiti artist named SEEN invited her to photograph his crew spraypainting subway tunnels and trains in 1980. “We were a pretty wild bunch,” Edlin recalls. “It was dangerous but you got acclimated to it; you learned where the third rail was, how to walk on the tracks.” When the crack epidemic hit New York, just about the time that Cooper was beginning to photograph graffiti artists and their work, “you had to be armed,” Edlin says, “not to defend yourself against police but against other crews.”

Cooper was protected because attention-starved graffiti artists benefited from her photos of their work, Edlin says. “To have someone coming in taking beautiful pictures of your work with an expensive camera was an honor and also a validation of what you were doing.”

Cooper says that she decided to document the subway artists and their work because she thought that it was an ephemeral local phenomenon, an outgrowth of social conditions in the New York City of the late 1970s and early 1980s. “I was documenting that world in the spirit of historic preservation,” she says. “I thought, ‘this could only happen in New York City.’ I was wrong.”

When “Subway Art” came out in 1984, published in the U.K. because Cooper and Chalfant couldn’t interest an American publisher in the book, “there was an initial flurry of interest but then it died down,” Cooper says. Around the time the book was released, Mayor Ed Koch declared war on graffiti; train yards were protected by a double row of barbed wire-topped fences with attack dogs running between the rows, and subway cars were whitewashed and immediately removed from service if they were tagged. As Cooper had predicted, by the late 1980s subway art in New York was finished.

Throughout the 1990s she worked as a freelance photographer for publications like National Geographic and Smithsonian. “Little did I know that graffiti was spreading around the world,” Cooper says—or that it was slowly fusing with the South and Central American mural tradition to produce a new kind of public art, welcomed and sometimes even sponsored by municipal authorities.

In 2004 she was invited to sit on a panel with a group of younger folks who called themselves street artists, rather than graffiti writers, and who worked primarily with images rather than text. “I was 60 at the time,” she says, “and they knew who I was.” Those artists were traveling the world, painting and wheatpasting huge murals in city-sponsored festivals and exhibiting in museums. Some were selling works on canvas for eye-popping sums.
“I thought ‘if this is happening, I’m going to get in on it,’” Cooper says.

Since then, she has spent the greater part of every year journeying to far-flung locales, from Senegal to Stockholm, to photograph artists at work. “Her passion for expressive subcultures and voracious curiosity in spite of her age is truly inspiring,” says the Baltimore street artist Gaia, who curated Open Walls Baltimore in 2012 and 2014. “Marty has adapted with the times as many street artists have made the transition to the tradition of mural production and as many graffiti writers have become institutionally recognized.”

Cooper and Chalfant’s “Subway Art,” which has reportedly sold half a million copies, “undeniably changed the history of graffiti and the surface of the world’s cities,” Gaia says. But the work that Cooper has been quietly and methodically carrying out in Baltimore over the past decade, documenting daily life in Sowebo, may provide an even more enduring testament to her art. “The simple fact that she has recognized the wealth of culture in Southwest Baltimore despite its violent and troubled façade, is a testament to Martha’s courage and humanity,” he says.

Cooper herself believes that her Sowebo photographs, like her images of a now-vanished era in New York City, may need time to gel. “The work I do needs to sit for a while,” she says. “The ordinary becomes extraordinary after a few years.”

September-October 2014
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He's Got Game
INTERVIEW BY JESSICA BIZIK
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JUSTIN TSUCALAS

We get a kick out of Ravens “Renaissance Man” Justin Tucker. He sings opera in seven different languages. He raps freestyle in a Dr Pepper commercial. He does spot-on impersonations of Ray Lewis and Christopher Walken. He geeks out over grammar on Twitter and invites his fans to come “shank golf balls” with him in Patterson Park. He proposed to his fiancée with a finely orchestrated event straight out of an episode of “The Bachelor” (and actually admits to watching Bravo). And by the age of 24, he has already won a Super Bowl and broken the record for the longest kick in a domed stadium (61 yards) among several others. No wonder FOX Sports dubbed Justin Tucker “The Most Interesting Man in the NFL.” And nearly every man, woman and child in Baltimore is crushing on the player who scores bonus “cool” points for his character.

STYLE: You’re just a few months shy of age 25, but you’ve already delivered the commencement speech at your alma mater, the College of Fine Arts at the University of Texas. How was that?
JUSTIN TUCKER: Such a huge honor. There’s definitely a parallel between kicking a ball through the uprights in front of thousands of people in a football stadium and preparing yourself to go onstage and perform a piece of music or express yourself through fine arts.

I heard you had a voice professor who was a former pro athlete.
I did. His name is Nikita Storojev and he’s an ex-professional hockey player. Played in Russia for a number of years. He had a completely different way of training his students—and it was pretty intense at times. I’d leave those hour-long voice lessons more exhausted than after a 6 a.m. football workout.

What’s a great first opera or aria to get someone hooked on the genre?
Oh, man. It’s hard to just pick just one. I have a few go-tos as far as performing. I like ‘Nessun Dorma’ from Puccini’s ‘Turandot’— Pavarotti has a great rendition of that one. My favorite is probably ‘The Toreador Song’ from ‘Carmen.’ It’s just such a masculine song. [Makes fist.]

You’ve written about listening to everyone from Frankie Valli to Miley Cyrus.
Yes, a lot of people really like the story of me as an opera singer, but that’s not all there is to me. I listen to every type of that music I can get my hands on—or, rather, put my ears to. I love visual art, too. My fiancée Amanda was an art history major in school and we took a couple of classes together. Ancient Roman art was fascinating.

Would you consider a post-NFL career in music?
Absolutely. It would be great to find a way to combine a business component and a fine arts component, so I could work every part of my brain—left side, right side, cerebral cortex.

So what’s that dream job?
I’d find some land, build a recording studio and manage a record label. Kind of do the Pharrell [Williams] thing, where I’d produce, then hop on a couple tracks, and one will
magically blow up, and before you know it, we will be flying off to the Maldives on a G6.

What car do you drive in this perfect life fantasy?
It would be sick to have a Fisker Karma. They’re totally over the top, but I drove one for a weekend last year and now I’m a huge fan. Mine would be matte white with black wheels.

What’s your personal style? I know you love your custom Indochino suits.
I do. When the pants are just a little too tight to be comfortable, that’s when you know you look good. Around town I like to wear good, clean, raw denim with a white T-shirt and some sweet sneakers. But when we travel with the team, there’s a quiet competition to see who can dress the best.

Do you guys ‘Fashion Police’ each other?
We’ll say stuff like, ‘Yo dog, that’s a sick pocket square.’ Or if somebody’s rocking a mean elbow patch during a game, you let them know. But if one of your teammates is looking real whack, then you’ve got to put it out there, like, ‘Bro, you need to get that suit tailored. You don’t need to wear your daddy’s suit. You’re in the NFL. Buy something that fits.’

You also have great taste in TV—‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘Boardwalk Empire.’ What’s your favorite show right now?
‘House of Cards,’ hands down. Kevin Spacey is my favorite actor. We binge-watched both seasons recently. If I saw him, I’d run up and say, ‘Oh oh oh, Frank [Underwood]—I mean, Kevin—I love you!’ I want to plan a power lunch with him at Wit & Wisdom.

I saw you were geeking out over the ‘National Spelling Bee,’ too. Yes! Gokul is so cool. I thought for sure he was going to win. Those kids are so freakin’ smart.

And you admittedly watch ‘Botched’ [the plastic surgery nightmare show] and follow all the ‘Real Housewives’ on Twitter.
Yep, I’m confident enough to own it. Here’s the thing: we’re around football so much at our facilities, right? We meet and practice for hours. The TVs in the cafe-eria are always set on the NFL Network or ESPN—and it’s the same stories recycled over and over throughout the day. Sometimes the specialists will go in there and eat lunch together. And when it’s just a few of us, we change all the channels. Put on Bravo or E! and catch up on our entertainment news.

Are you telling me the Wolfpack sits there watching ‘Millionaire Matchmaker’ together?  Because that’s like my dream.
Well, usually I’m the one putting on Bravo. Sam [Koch] and Morgan [Cox] will put on something like the Golf Channel or HGTV. We’re all big ‘House Hunters International’ guys. Recently, ‘Island Hunters’ has become one of our favorites.

On the Ravens website, writer Ryan Mink described you as having a “lovable weirdness” about you. Does that resonate?
A label like ‘weird’ isn’t usually desirable but he puts ‘lovable’ in front of it and it’s supposed to be a compliment, right? I’ve always been a bit of a bigger personality. I try to stay happy and positive in everything I do. I think that resonates well with my friends and teammates—and I have an amazing family and fiancée who support me. No situation, whether it’s on or off the football field, will ever change who I am. So I guess if you want to call it my lovable weirdness, Ryan Mink, you know what? I’ll take it.

I saw an Instagram photo of you doing a headstand. Are you into yoga?
Yeah. I started doing yoga this offseason—and I actually quite enjoyed it. Just another way to take care of my body.

And your mind, too?
Definitely. Focusing on how to really center myself. That’s something that’s important to me—having my feet under me and knowing exactly where they’re going. Knowing exactly what the rest of my body will be doing in that 1.3 seconds between the snap, the hold and the kick.

Do you have any pregame rituals for good luck?
Ever since my rec soccer days, I lay out my uniform in front of my locker—helmet, shoulder pads, jersey, pants, socks, shoes, everything—in the shape of a man on the floor. It’s something I borrowed from Deion Sanders, Prime Time. I grew up watching the Cowboys and Prime was one of my favorite players.

You once tweeted a quote from Donald Trump that said, ‘There’s nothing wrong with bringing your talents to the surface. Having an ego and acknowledging it is a healthy choice.’ How big is your ego after kicking a 61-yarder? Does your brain just implode?
It would be pretty easy for that to happen—to fall into that trap. But I try to keep it in perspective. Part of being a pro is knowing that you’re a part of something that is bigger than yourself.

Watching kickers is always emotional for me. I’ve definitely cried for Billy Cundiff.
There have been times where I’ve struggled, myself. Realistically, any game could come down to my foot. It’s a blessing, it’s nerve-wracking, it’s a great opportunity. It is something that a lot of people would probably be scared of. Those are the times when I depend most on my teammates and remember they have my back, just like I have theirs. If I’m going down, I’m going down swinging. More often than not, we’re going to come back with points.

More than 90 percent of the time, in fact. Are fans still jerks sometimes when you make a mistake?
Sure. I can’t tell you how many knuckleheads have blown up my Twitter feed with fantasy football remarks. It’s ridiculous. But, it comes with the territory. It just goes back to the philosophy of ‘never let yourself get too big.’ Even if I was on some level of celebrity like The Biebs [Justin Bieber], you just can’t let it affect who you are, how you behave and your truest relationships.

What was the best perk you got after you won the Super Bowl?
Anquan Boldin and I got to play bubble soccer on ‘Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,’ which was really fun. I’ve always been a fan of his.

I remember! And Josh Charles played with you guys, too. Any other big brushes with fame?
I don’t want to name-drop a long list, but Amanda and I have been lucky to meet some amazing people. My favorites, though, are right here in town. Recently we’ve gotten to know the members of a band based out of Timonium called All Time Low. Jack and Alex. I can say they’re two of my best friends. Love those guys. Baltimore’s just filled with great people.

Fun. OK, last personal detail. What’s the tattoo on your back?
It’s a cross with wings. It has my Catholic confirmation saint name, which is Cephas—that’s what Jesus called Peter—and a reference to the Bible verse where Jesus says to Peter, ‘You are the rock upon which I’ll build my church and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.’

Why is that verse meaningful to you?
It ties in the human element to spirituality. In any major world religion, there’s a human element at play, which some might argue is flawed. I think it makes the whole thing just beautiful. I got the tattoo when I was 18. Looking back on it now, I think 80 percent of people regret their tattoos. The only thing I regret is not doing it way bigger and way more ornate.

I’m a retired Catholic, but I do like the new pope. How about you?
He’s a baller! Pope Francis is the coolest. But I also liked Pope Benedict and Pope J.P.2. But whatever religion you identify with—whether it’s Judaism or Islam or something else—there’s always a unifying component. We were all made by the same guy upstairs. To steal a line from ‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ we should all just ‘Be excellent to each other. And party on, dudes.’

 

September-October 2014
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Christopher Corbett Essays
Flag Waving
By Christopher Corbett

One of the things that surprised me when I came to Baltimore long ago was the peculiar enthusiasm for our difficult-to-sing national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” This zeal is not evident elsewhere in this republic. I don’t believe that I had ever thought about those broad stripes and bright stars before the fates landed me here. Most Americans only know the first verse and there have been many attempts to replace it with an easier-to-sing ditty.

But Baltimore is THE city of the national anthem. It’s our heritage. For here we saw the rockets’ red glare and heard bombs bursting in air in the dawn’s early light. No other place in America can make that claim. (I wonder if any other place cares? But I won’t dwell on that.)

In September, we will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812—which, in Baltimore, was actually the War of 1814 (things happen slowly here). That’s the year when those broad stripes and bright stars withstood the perilous fight o’er the ramparts. (Feel free to sing along now.) The British bombardment of Fort McHenry! The Star-Spangled Banner! Francis Scott Key! You remember, of course? Trust me, Baltimore remembers.

This month, let us put aside our petty differences. Let us not dwell on whether Baltimore is breaking our hearts or the survey that showed nearly half of Maryland’s citizens wanted out of the Land of Pleasant Living. Let’s not brood over 26th Street collapsing or that it will cost at least $18.5 million to fix (it’s only money and we have none). Who cares if Stephen Colbert thinks Charm City is an “uninhabitable wasteland.” He’s wrong. It’s a densely
inhabited wasteland—and we’ve got those broad stripes and bright stars and Poe’s body, too!

Let us also remember that when the British sailed up the Chesapeake Bay in the summer of 1814 they easily sacked Washington. The locals cut and ran. Scattered like chickens. The White House was abandoned. Dolley Madison? Remember her? She saved the portrait of George Washington attributed to Gilbert Stuart. The British actually burned the White House along with many other public buildings. Historians always note that the British were actually amazed to find so little resistance.

After that easy victory in Washington they headed north, where Baltimore offered its would-be invaders a rather different reception. Washington was a small, swampy burg at the time, but Baltimore was the third largest city in America. There were 8,000 souls in Washington, but nearly 50,000 in Baltimore. Washingtonians could not get into their wagons fast enough when they heard the British were coming. But in Baltimore the
natives prepared to fight house-to-house if necessary.

Well, as every schoolchild learns, Fort McHenry withstood the onslaught—and in the morning the flag was still there! So our enthusiasm for “The Star-Spangled Banner” remains robust. Think only of our spirited public singings of that hard-to-sing song. (It has bested many a great vocalist.) Plus, we have the manuscript. It’s up at the Maryland Historical Society. I urge you to visit.

And we have Fort McHenry, an honest-to-God National Park on a tiny spit of land jutting into the water. Let the rest of the country have Yellowstone, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon. We’ve got Locust Point!

The War of 1812 or 1814, or whenever it was, is only yesterday in our memory for not only did Fort McHenry withstand the fabled bombardment, but the locals—a grab bag of volunteers, old men and boys as young as 12, and some defenders lured right out of the taverns—turned out en masse. More than 16,000 heavily armed Baltimorons mustered—much to the surprise (and chagrin) of the Brits.

When talking trash about our homespun forces, British General Robert Ross famously quipped “I don’t care if it rains militia!” Big talk. Ross stopped for breakfast at a farmhouse as he rode confidently toward the city and the locals asked him if he would be back for dinner. The general dramatically assured them that he would “dine in Baltimore tonight—or in hell.” Ross got that right. A sniper promptly shot him off his horse and he bled to death. The British invasion unraveled. Baltimore has always hated trash talk, hon.  9

spet-oct 2014
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The Jazz Singer
We caught up with Molly Ringwald to ask about her first jazz CD (“Except Sometimes”), her international tour (coming to the Gordon Center on Oct. 25) and what it was like to work with beloved “Brat Pack” film director John Hughes.
BY JESSICA BIZIK


By the age of 3, you were already performing on stage with your dad. Do you remember those days?
Very well. All my earliest memories tend to be focused around music and singing. I really thought for most of my childhood that’s what I was going to do when I grew up. Then the acting thing kind of took over.

Tell me about your dad? I’ve always been a real daddy’s girl. He started working in jazz clubs when he was about 15 years old. He grew a beard—which I’ve never seen him without—so he could pass for 18 and play music. He’s blind and raised our family on a musician’s salary.

What jazz artists do you love? I’ve been listening to a lot of Nina Simone lately. I love Blossom Dearie, Chet Baker, Anita O’Day. Also, there’s this 26-year-old French-American singer, Cecile McLorin
Salvant. She’s just fantastic.

When did you really find your voice? When I turned 40. That’s when I gave myself permission to put [my music] out there. When you’re known for one thing, even though you can do something else, sometimes you feel like, “What are people going to think? Am I going to be accepted?” Then you turn 40 and you just don’t care.

I love your Simple Minds cover [“Don’t You (Forget About Me)” from “The Breakfast Club”]. Was that an obvious choice or did you wrestle with it?
While we were recording the CD, John Hughes passed away. One day at rehearsal I asked Peter [Smith], “Is there any way we could do this song as a ballad?” I started singing it a cappella and he put these beautiful chords behind. It was really interesting. I thought it would be a nice tribute to John because music was so important to him and also to our relationship. I have to say, I idolized him. He was a very unique, dynamic person. When we did those movies together, we clearly had a sort of creative synchronicity. He truly loved music and would just give me mix tape after mix tape. He’s the person who really introduced me to the Beatles. Before then, I had only heard “I Am the Walrus” and it freaked me out as a kid.

What’s it like interacting with your fans? Does anyone come up and ask if they can borrow your underpants for 10 minutes like in “Sixteen Candles?” [Laughs] No! But that would be funny. People are incredibly nice. When I perform, I’ll often call out to the audience and ask questions, like “Who is the greatest jazz vocalist of all time?” At the Montreal Jazz Fest, that’s no problem. But a couple of times it’s been dead silent. Yikes. I realized afterward, when I was signing CDs, that tons of people have never heard the Great American Songbook—and now they love it. It was this feeling of “Oh my God, we’re ambassadors of jazz.”

You’re the gateway drug to Ella Fitzgerald. I’m a gateway drug! Yes!

So what’s next? Is there really a “Jem and the Holograms” movie? Yep, I’m in that. I also just started filming another movie—and I’m working on my next novel and starting to think about another CD. Maybe a live concert on DVD.

September-October 2014
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Q&A: The Cat's Pajamas
We asked soul sensation Bosley Brown to shed the ’60s slim-cut suit and stage persona—and reveal what really motivates him to get out of bed in the morning.
By Jessica Bizik

Tell me something totally uncool about you.
I learned early on that I can’t try to look sexy. I did that for my driver’s license and I look like a serial killer.

What was “Baby Bosley” like at Gilman?
A wallflower.

I’m shocked. You’re such a showman.
I grew into it. I was pretty dramatic. Started in theater.

What was your early experience with music like?
Like a dream. I’d just lay in bed and listen to the radio. Make up little songs in my head. I swear to God I wrote a No. 1 hit when I was 8 years
old but I can’t remember it.

Was it a love song?
Yes, I’ve always been a ladies man.

How’d you discover Motown?
My mom had a bunch of cassettes. But my first love, honestly, was Elvis Presley.

Why Elvis?
“Jailhouse Rock.” I heard it when I was 5 or 6 and it was the coolest goddamn song. Still is. Put on some early Elvis and I can’t stop myself from moving.

Your stage name is a nod to James Brown—and the new album [“The Dirty Dogs Radio Show”] is super-funky. Where’d you get your soul, man?
My stock answer is “I’m only white on the outside.” But If I’m being honest with you, it’s a deep question. I’m a white kid from the suburbs. How do I convince people that I’m not just trying to reappropriate something to look cool or knock somebody off? How do you do it? Just being human, I guess. I have a heart inside of me like anybody else. I want to share my vision of the beauty in this world through my music.

I listen to you when I’m Spinning at the gym. The only other man with that claim to fame is Prince.
That’s amazing. What song does it for you?

“American Gurlz.” It just has such a dirty beat and makes me laugh.
That’s a perfect response. I had a great time playing that character—the misogynistic narcissist. Lampooning mainstream rap for fun.

What’s the best lyric you’ve ever written?
I wish more people listened to the words these days. I’d say the last song on this album called “Some Friends of Mine.” That song has no
characters; it’s about personal experience. It’s me taking off my mask at the end.

That one makes me cry.
Yeah, I really like the first verse before it gets too sad. “I’m a lowdown dirty dog and I ain’t proud of how I’ve been, but I can feel a change that’s coming somewhere deep from within. Like a clean wind makes me feel like I can start again.”

What’s it mean to you?
Everybody has suffering, heartache. Even as a young man I’ve been through some shit in my life. I can share that with people.

How much time do you spend obsessing over getting famous?
More than I should, maybe? I’ll see some crappy band on “The Tonight Show” and get envious. I wish I could say fuck the money. But this is what I want to do with my life. It’s not like I’m going to give up tomorrow and become an accountant.

Pretend I’m a record executive. Give me your best elevator speech.
Underneath this very stylish jacket, Jessica, I’m strapped with TNT. I’ll blow this elevator sky-high if you don’t sign my band right now. I could be bluffing, but do you really want to take that chance?

>>Click here for more music!

sept-oct 2014
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Weird Science
Could ‘80s pop icon-turned-Hopkins professor Thomas Dolby be the lightning rod that finally transforms Station North into an incubator of arts, entertainment and technology? Stranger things have happened.
By Sam Sessa

Until last year, Thomas Dolby had never spent much time in Baltimore. But when his “Invisible Lighthouse” tour brought him through Charm City, he decided to have dinner at a restaurant by the harbor, followed by a sunset stroll down the cobblestone streets of Fells Point.

“I was really enamored with it,” he says. “It just seemed like a city that has a lot of possibilities.”

Starting this fall, Dolby could help the city realize some of those possibilities. The man best known for the 1980s synth pop hits “She Blinded Me With Science” and “Hyperactive” is becoming the first Homewood Professor of the Arts at Johns Hopkins University, where he will teach “Sound on Film,” a course that helps students from Hopkins and Peabody craft soundtracks for movies.

The new position also brings Dolby into the heart of Baltimore’s surging arts and music scene. He’s helping to launch a new film and technology center at two sites in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District: the old Parkway Theatre and the building at 10 E. North Ave.—both of which are under renovation. It’s a joint effort among Hopkins, the Maryland Film Festival and MICA, which could be a big step for the neighborhood’s ongoing revitalization.

“Back in the 1920s and 1930s, Station North was really hopping,” Dolby says. “It would be fantastic if it could come back.”

If you’re only familiar with Dolby’s hits from decades ago, this new position might seem like something of a comeback for the mad scientist of music. While Dolby did take a 14-year hiatus from the spotlight, he stayed at the cutting edge of technology, music and film—just behind the scenes.

Born Thomas Morgan Robertson, he grew so interested in keyboards and recording equipment that his friends nicknamed him Dolby, after the audio company Dolby Laboratories. He was fond of silent movies, especially the way their stars (Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin) played the underdog. Later, when Dolby began performing in the late ’70s and early ’80s, he would borrow their vintage trench coats, suits and hats, throw in a bit of what he calls the “academic look” and use it in his music videos.

“It was the age of pin-up boy frontmen in bands—people like Sting, Adam Ant and so on,” Dolby says. “I didn’t feel like I could really compete in the handsome boy stakes. So I thought, ‘The thing to do is set myself apart.’”

Which he did—so well, in fact, that people still come up to him on the street and shout “Science!” or whistle a few lines of “Hyperactive.”

For a time, Dolby popped up all over the music industry. To help pay for the studio time to record his first album, he played synthesizers on the Foreigner hits “Urgent” and “Waiting for a Girl Like You.” Def Leppard brought him in to record parts for their “Pyromania” album, and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters cast Dolby in the 1990 concert of “The Wall.”

In 1992, after releasing four albums in 10 years, Dolby left show business and moved to Silicon Valley, where he developed technology for cellphone ringtones. He became musical director of the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Conference, where luminaries from all different fields came to share ideas. By the time Dolby dipped his toe back into the music scene in 2006, it was a different world.

“I felt a bit like Austin Powers, waking up after decades of cryogenic freezing and there were all these shiny new toys to play with,” he says.

For the past several years, Dolby, 55, has lived in Suffolk, along the east coast of England, with his wife, Kathleen Beller (who played Kirby Colby on “Dynasty”). They also have three college-age kids. In England, Dolby loves to sail and watch shipping boats drift along the distance. He even filmed a documentary about a decommissioned lighthouse by his home, which he took on tour with live music.
Titled “The Invisible Lighthouse,” it won Best Picture at last year’s DIY Film Festival. He’s a “water-oriented person,” so it’s no surprise he and Beller are moving into a new Baltimore home right by the harbor.

But that’s not all Dolby likes about Charm City. He turned down a job offer in Boston to take the position at Hopkins in part because, he says, “Baltimore just seemed to have a freshness to it.”

Once the Parkway is up and running, Dolby plans to host a show similar to a TED talk, where guests from the music industry would come to talk shop with an audience. It would be broadcast live, and focus on composition, production and sound design.

“There’s clearly an appetite for audiences to understand what goes on behind the scenes,” Dolby says. “A few decades ago, if you were a celebrity, you were encouraged to be in a fishbowl, to keep a distance from your audience. Now with blogging, with tweeting, I think we’re in an age where performers are willing to let their guard down and share their process.”

As a child, Dolby was surrounded by teachers. His father, grandfather and great-grandfather were professors at the University of Cambridge. His mother taught algebra. And though all five of his siblings would go on to become teachers, Dolby at first chose a different path, skipping college for a career in music.

“I was the youngest of six kids, so there was never any parental pressure on me to follow in their academic footsteps,” Dolby said. “But it wouldn’t have surprised me if they secretly thought, ‘After a few years of banging his head against a brick wall in showbiz, he might come back to the fold and end up in academia.”

Though it took a few decades (and perhaps a bit of head-banging), he has at last become Professor Dolby—though he’s still getting used to the title.

“Annoyingly, most pull-down menus on the Internet only have ‘Mr.,’ ‘Mrs.’, and ‘Ms.’ They might have ‘Dr.,’ but very few of them have ‘Prof,’” Dolby says. “I have to do something about that. Otherwise, how am I going to get a good table at a restaurant?”

Sept-Oct 2014
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Heart Strings
A writer struggles to find a place in her house—and her life—for a beloved childhood musical instrument.
By Jennifer Mendelsohn


It’s not every day that a music critic for The New York Times makes me cry.

But that’s exactly what happened when I read Zachary Woolfe’s story “After Playing, Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow,” in which he writes about having donated his unplayed cello to a program that provides instruments to underserved public schools.

Much of Woolfe’s account rang eerily, uncomfortably true. His cello, he wrote, had become “as useless and forgotten as my appendix,” gathering dust in a closet, taken out only to move from one apartment to the next.

As I write this, my own cello leans silently against the wall in a corner of my dining room, where it has more or less lived since we moved into this house in 2003. It hasn’t been taken out of its case in months, and the last time it was played with any degree of seriousness, Bill Clinton was still governor of Arkansas. But the thought of giving it up, of having it out there in the world without me, makes me positively queasy.

“These instruments become vessels for so much of our time, energy, care, anxiety and joy,” Woolfe wrote. “To give them away is to admit that there are parts of our lives that are over. For many of us, it is to say goodbye to our childhoods.”

And how.

I first began to play the cello in fourth grade, and within two years I was a serious presence on the local music circuit: All-County. All-State. All-Milky Way. OK. Maybe not that last one. But there was an endless schedule of lessons and concerts and auditions, hours and hours spent practicing and rehearsing. And always when I looked out into the audience, there was my father, my perpetual chauffeur, patiently doing The New York Times crossword puzzle or reading some dense book to the strains of Saint-Saëns and Vivaldi. In one of our family’s most painful episodes, my 50-something father, inspired by the pint-sized talented musicians in my circle, decided to try to learn to play the violin himself. And while his devotion was commendable, let’s just say it significantly dwarfed his talent.

Throughout adolescence, music became my entrée to the world at large, my cello like a trusty sidekick. It went with me on countless bus and car trips and flew with me to concerts in Canada and the Bahamas. I spent four life-changing summers playing chamber music at a tiny camp on the shores of Lake Dunmore in Vermont. In high school, I got my first taste of quasi-adult independence lugging that cello on the Long Island Railroad and the New York City subway to take lessons in Manhattan.

Eventually, though, it became clear that music did not have the utter grip on my soul that it did on some of my fellow players. “Don’t become a professional musician unless you absolutely have to,” I was warned. I decided not to go the conservatory route, but I dutifully brought my cello to college and continued to study. I had always assumed that after I graduated, playing the cello would naturally find its way back into my life somehow. Mysteriously, that never happened, but my long-silenced instrument has stayed with me ever since. In the summer of 2001, it was—quite miraculously —in the one part of my Washington, D.C. apartment that wasn’t destroyed by a freak flash flood. It seemed almost providential.

When I first stopped playing, I was taken aback by how much I missed the physicality of it, the familiar sensation of my fingers against the metal strings and glossy wood. But eventually those cravings faded, as did the hard-won calluses on my fingers that had always marked me as a card-carrying member of the string players’ fraternity. For a long time, muscle memory was strong enough that I could still pull out the cello and sound reasonably legitimate, the way some people can still robotically recite parts of their bar mitzvah haftorah. But now I am so out of practice I can hardly play at all. The cello is like a ghost from my past, a language I once spoke fluently but can now only understand a few words of. 

Of course, the oldest cliché about parenting is that it makes everything old seem new again. And so when my six-year-old son decided he wanted to take up the violin through a program at school last year, I felt a stirring of something essential but long dormant within me. As I watched him hold that tiny instrument for the first time, beaming with possibility, I was overwhelmed.

One Sunday afternoon last winter, I settled into a creaky wooden chair in a school auditorium to watch my son’s very first orchestra rehearsal. As I unfolded The New York Times, I was flooded with memories of my father, who passed away unexpectedly two years ago. So this is what it looks like from the other side, I thought. Zachary Woolfe wrote that over time it “became harder to justify letting my cello accumulate dust, knowing it could be doing for someone else what it had once done for me. I began to imagine life without it.” Selfishly, I am not there yet. I still need my instrument with me, a physical reminder of who and where I’ve been. I’m just not ready to let it go.

In the meantime, I have no idea whether Alec will take to the violin as I did to the cello. I can’t predict whether a passion for music will burrow its way into his soul, whether it will open his horizons and literally take him places he otherwise would never go. But if one day, the thought of giving up a beloved instrument brings tears to his eyes, I know I can call it a win. 

Jennifer Mendelsohn lives in Mount Washington with her husband and their two boys. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, People, Slate and USA Weekend. She also serves as one of Us Weekly’s Fashion Police “Top Cops.”

September-October 2014
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Traveling with the Queen
A culture aficionado gets the royal treatment on the QM2—and gets to schmooze with the “Royal Tenenbaums” director, too.
By Lisa Simeone

“Since the discovery of America by Columbus, nothing has occurred of so much importance to the new world as navigating the Atlantic by steamers.”

I may not have the maritime chops of shipping magnate Samuel Cunard, who uttered those words in 1840 as he was set to launch the first regular transatlantic passenger service, but I can’t help but
concur with his sentiment—albeit with a 21st century twist: Since flying has become impossible, nothing has occurred of so much importance in my life as my discovery of the Queen Mary 2.

I stopped flying in this country in 2010 because of the odious practices of the TSA. Suddenly, my life of travel was over. I lamented never seeing Europe again. And I made an assumption I bet many people make: ocean liners are only for the wealthy. I had romantic notions of Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr in “An Affair to Remember” and thought such a glamorous experience wasn’t for the likes of me.

Boy, was I wrong. Depending on the time of year and location of your cabin, you can do a 7-day crossing on Cunard’s QM2 from New York to Southampton, all meals (excluding alcohol) and entertainment included, for anywhere from $800 to $20,000. We sprang for a private glassed-in balcony for $1,500. Though since you have the run of the ship, you could be just as happy with an interior stateroom for half the price.

At the pier in Brooklyn, the QM2 fills the skyline. Imagine the Empire State Building laid on its side yet still towering. My husband and I drop off our luggage with a porter at the curb and go inside, where security is a breeze. After we get our pictures taken and are handed our Cunard i.d.-slash-credit card (how you pay for
extras on board), we’re given a number, like you’d get at a deli counter. Since we got there early, we’re No. 25, which puts us well ahead of the 2,500 or so passengers still to come.

We pass into the huge hangar that serves as a waiting area, where it already feels like a party. I chat with several people who’ve done this crossing umpteen times. That’s one thing you quickly learn about the QM2: it’s not a cruise, it’s a crossing. No half-naked, sunburned bathers doing belly-flops in the pool or getting drunk and vomiting over the side. This is a Queen, after all, and people respect her.

Each time a number is called, people clap and cheer, and watch as passengers pass through a big door. On the other side, we head straight for the escalator, above which is written: “Leaving Brooklyn? Fuhgeddaboudit!” Then we climb a few ramps, glancing down at the vertiginous views below, until we pass through the longed-for portal. A phalanx of smartly dressed Cunard employees greets us. We’re on the ship.
Tim is desperate to watch the World Cup, so after dropping our stuff in our stateroom, he hightails it to the Golden Lion Pub and I stay behind to unpack. To my delight, I see Phillip, our cabin steward from last year. Miraculously, he’s taking care of us again this year. He’s a sweetheart and, like all of the ship’s employees, works his rump off.

Soon it’s time to dress for dinner. Tonight is “informal,” but that just means not black tie. There’s a strict dress code in the Britannia, the soaring, wood-burnished, main restaurant. Three of the seven nights are formal—gown and tux—though you can always go to the Kings Court on Deck 7 if you’re not in the mood for formality. But before dinner, there’s one big event: the sail-away.

On this brilliant, sunny day, the outside decks are filled with passengers and crew. A group from St. Lucia called Extasea is jamming beside the pool aft on Deck 8, people are dancing and waiters are handing out glasses of champagne while the ship powers away from New York harbor at 25 knots (about 30 mph). As the Manhattan skyline recedes and we pass the Statue of Liberty, the sky suddenly blackens. It starts to rain. Most people head inside, but those of us who know what’s coming wouldn’t miss this for the world: the moment the red funnel of the mammoth ship passes under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge with, seemingly, only inches to spare. Actually it looks like it’s going to crash into the bridge, which accounts for our thrilled screams and squeals.

Though I bring a book on the QM2, I rarely read it. There’s so much to do. My favorite activity each day is attending the lectures—on art, literature, design, architecture, aviation, you name it—in Illuminations, the golden auditorium. This time the standout is the charming, impeccably dressed Giancarlo Impiglia, whose paintings reminiscent of Art Deco adorn several staircases on the ship. If you’re otherwise inclined, there are also trivia games, gambling, computer classes, dance lessons, designer shops, a gym, spa, library and planetarium.

But the pièce de résistance is the Hollywood stardust provided by film director Wes Anderson, actress Tilda Swinton, actor Jason Schwartzman and producer Roman Coppola—who were a post-booking
surprise on this now “celebrity” cruise (not to be confused with a Celebrity Cruise.)

“I invited myself,” says Anderson before the screening of “Moonrise Kingdom.” “I’ve always wanted to sail on the QM2. Then I asked if I could invite my friends.” He and his team introduce his movies, including his latest, “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” and in general mingle with the hoi polloi. Well, not quite. Swinton made it clear this was a private vacation, so I don’t get to ask about her living-art exhibit at MOMA (where she napped in a glass box while onlookers gawked and giggled), nor her formidable fashion sense—especially the sky-high, sparkly green shoes she’s wearing one night. They’re like the Ruby Slippers, only emerald.
I run into the entourage (they travel in a pack) on my way to the Royal Court Theatre. Wes Anderson smiles and gallantly holds the door open for me. “Be cool,” I tell myself. I simply nod and say “thank you.” Of course now I’m kicking myself for not having barged into their filmic retinue just a bit more. After all, they saw that my hand was the first that shot up that morning at the panel discussion, where I was sitting right smack in front of them, and that the otherwise capable moderator never called on me because I wasn’t near one of the microphones on the aisle. Exasperated, I had finally stood up with, “I don’t need a microphone; I can project!”
I also spend my days walking around the promenade on Deck 7, splurging on champagne and caviar in the supremely elegant Veuve Clicquot Lounge and occasionally popping into the Golden Lion to witness the mayhem when somebody scores a goal in the World Cup. Every evening I look forward to dinner at our window-side table in the Britannia, where the food is out of this world and we can watch the endless ocean as we eat. I love getting all dolled up and sashaying to the Grand Lobby down the long, luxurious corridors, bounded by enormous brass bas reliefs depicting the four seasons and verre églomisé panels
depicting the four elements.

One night, we’re invited to sit at the Captain’s Table. Kevin Oprey is as dashing as you’d expect of a British sea captain. He tells us the QM2 is such a feat of modern engineering, she almost steers herself. Though in a gale, it’s all hands on deck—rather, on the bridge, where he and his officers control the computerized navigation system.

And, oh, the music! In the Chart Room, an ensemble of musicians from Juilliard plays the hell out of jazz standards. One night when they’re particularly rambunctious, somebody grabs my hand and I find myself swept up in a conga line. In the Queens Room, the orchestra plays everything from big band to disco, while couples swirl on the dance floor. Since I love to waltz, I ask one of the male dance hosts to take me on. His name is Bob Wall; he’s a retired Air Force pilot and a perfect gentleman. Later that week he’ll spin me expertly in the Hustle. And in the swanky Commodore Club, where a superb pianist named Campbell Simpson does boogie-woogie Bach as well as Harold Arlen, a couple of us sing along to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

Arrival at Southampton, in the quiet, early dark of morning, is magical, as the tiny lights of the coast begin to appear, then grow more abundant, until the ship slowly slides up to the pier. True to Capt. Oprey’s words, the QM2 can practically turn on a dime, so she needs no tugboats to pull her into port. Along with hundreds of other people above and below, we stand on our balcony and watch the dock workers getting ready to receive her. For them, this is routine. But for us, it’s an awakening from a dream, one to which we know we’ll return again and again, for as long as the Queen reigns.

sept-oct 2014
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Candy Bar

Tom Looney was talked into putting a flat screen in his new bar. “I was pushed,” says the co-owner of the Gypsy Queen food truck and former owner of the beloved, now defunct, Helen’s Garden in Canton. “This is not a 20-something sports bar,” he insists. “It’s the opposite of that.”

Bar Liquorice, which opened in midsummer, has a dark and slightly illicit air, a speakeasy with black leather bar stools and chocolate brown walls decorated with posters from 1920s Paris. “I call it small, dark and handsome,” Looney quips.

The menu reflects the tiny kitchen, with pressed sandwiches, charcuterie and bruschetta. But that’s not the point. Looney expects a more mature clientele at his 35-seat restaurant to sip on classic cocktails, craft beers and wine. “It’s a small, intimate place,” he says. “I want it to be about conversation.” 801 East Fort Ave. 443-708-1675, barliquorice.com —MT

September-October 2014
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City Smart - September-October 2014
Hot Happenings In...
By Ian Zelaya

New york city

Hugh Jackman performing onstage is something to behold, as shown by his Emmy-winning turn as a Tony Awards host and a starring role in 2009’s “A Steady Rain.” The Australian heartthrob returns to Broadway in “The River,” Jez Butterworth’s follow-up to the Tony-nominated “Jerusalem.” Also starring Laura Donnelly and Cush Jumbo, the erotic, mysterious and poetic drama tells the story of a man and a woman who encounter each other at a remote fishing cabin on a moonless night. The preview show premieres Oct. 31 at Circle in the Square theatre, with opening night on Nov. 16. theriveronbroadway.com

Philadelphia

Indulging in drinks and dinner before a show is many theatergoers’ favorite pastime. But if you want to do so at Volver, a perfect pre-theater option in Philly, you’ll have to buy a ticket for the restaurant, too. The acclaimed chef Jose Garces has basically eliminated the “no-show” with his new, 34-seat restaurant that requires parties to purchase advance tix at a set price ($75 to $250 per person) with the choice of two nightly seatings. Menu includes innovative plates such as Monterey Bay Squid, Carnitas Popcorn, and the cheekily named Milk & Cereal—rice flakes, quail egg, chicken oyster, truffle, thyme marshmallows and white asparagus milk. Or stop by the bar any time for cavier, champagne and cocktails. volverrestaurant.com

Washington, D.C.

Film buffs can “get shorty” for 11 straight days (and nights) at the DC Shorts Film Festival, the largest fest of its kind on the East Coast. We’re talking 135 films from 25 countries, ranging from two to 30 minutes—from dramas to documentaries and funky experimental films—at five different locations in D.C. and Fairfax, Va. One standout:the 15-minute comedy “Anxious Oswald Greene,” a fantastical flick about a desperate man who seeks an unusual cure for his crippling anxiety. Don’t miss the opening weekend parties and filmmaker Q-and-As after each screening. Bonus: you can also watch 100 curated shorts from the comfort of your couch at dcshorts.com

September-October 2014
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Expect the Unexpected
Two creative forces combine their powers—for good art and design.
By Lisa Simeone

Empty space. New building. Lots of foot traffic. Stone’s throw from the light rail. What to do? You could be forgiven for letting your imagination run wild. Or, if you’re Jeanine Turner and Jeffrey Kent, you could tame that imagination, harness it and put its products out there for all to see. That’s what the two have done at the Fitzgerald Apartments in Mount Royal, where their latest collaboration, Unexpected Art and Décor, is celebrating its one-year anniversary. Turner and Kent are used to putting their heads together. She’s a self-taught artist and interior decorator. He’s a MICA-trained painter. They started collaborating at Silo Point, the luxury condominium complex developed by Turner’s husband, Patrick, of Turner Development Group. When the condos upstairs were first being shown, the lobby downstairs was empty. Turner got to work spiffing it up and engaged Kent to help her. They brought in furniture, sculpture and other artwork to dress the space. Then another Baltimore developer, Toby Bozzuto, asked them if they’d like to do something similar at the Fitzgerald, the eco-friendly, LEED-certified apartment building the Bozzuto Group had built. Though the apartments were quickly rented and a Barnes & Noble bookstore took over most of the ground floor, there was still one empty space waiting for a retail tenant. That’s where Turner and Kent opened Unexpected Art. New this fall, the gallery/shop has now added furniture to its offerings, so if you want a sofa or lamp to go with that mixed-media piece, you can find it here. Turner’s and Kent’s own works are mixed in with those of other artists and artisans, such as Matt Ludwig of Ludwig Metals and Sandtown Millworks, Arman Mizani and Jill Hillman.“We’re very specific in selecting furniture that you don’t find just anywhere,” says Turner. The same goes for the art on the walls. “We like working with young artists,” says Kent, “but not everyone can show here. We’re selective.”With everything from $80 necklaces to $10,000 tables, the variety is impressive. Anyway, says Kent with a grin, “All art is affordable. If you can afford it, it’s yours.” Tues. through Sat., 1 to 6 p.m. 1205 W. Mount Royal Ave., 443-838-8877, unexpectedartspace.com

sept-oct 2014
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Waist Not, Want Not
A lighter approach to comfort food favorites.
Written and photographed by Tracey Middlekauff

Like most people, I am not immune to the seductive allure of comfort foods, especially when the days grow short and the weather turns brisk. There’s just one problem: all of those rich and soothing dishes can fill your belly with a lot more than intangible comfort. Yes, I’m talking about packing on unwanted pounds—I call it the comfort food casualty.

But I am a stubborn woman, and I refuse to give up the foods I like just because they may not agree with my waistline. Instead, I’ve come up with ways to lighten up some of my favorite hearty cool weather dishes, and I’ve not lost any flavor in the process.

This chickpea flatbread, also known as socca, is my new favorite way to make homemade pizza, and as an added plus, it’s gluten free. The dough is made from chickpea—aka garbanzo bean—flour, and it’s a protein-rich, carbohydrate-free treat that feels like nothing short of an
indulgence. I’ve topped mine with a pea puree and fried cheese, but let your imagination run free. Anything you love to pile on your favorite pizza will work here.

Buttery mashed potatoes have always been my No. 1 go-to food when I need a big helping of comfort. But since I can inhale pounds of the stuff in one sitting, I don’t partake as often as I’d like. The solution to this craving conundrum: my root vegetable mash, a healthy and hearty mash of carrots, parsnips and rutabaga, which gets a luscious punch from Greek yogurt rather than butter.

If bulgogi isn’t on your list of comfort foods yet, it should be. This Korean dish of fried thinly sliced beef marinated in, among other things, a sweet and hot mixture of sesame oil, dark soy sauce, ginger, garlic and honey, is usually served with heaping portions of starchy white rice. Here, I’ve made a vegetable “rice” out of steamed cauliflower flavored with sesame oil and black sesame seeds.

Finally, I’ve used spaghetti squash to transform another one of my dietary Achilles’ heels—spaghetti with marinara sauce—into a filling, flavorful and low carb version of the original. Who says you can’t have your cake (or pizza) and eat it too?

Bulgogi with Cauliflower ‘Rice’
serves 2

For the bulgogi:
1 pound skirt or flank steak, cut against the grain into paper thin strips
(Tip: If you find it difficult to cut the meat very thinly, stick it in the freezer for 5 minutes. The meat will firm up and be easier to slice.)

For the marinade:
6 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1⁄4 -1⁄2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper (depending on how hot you like it)
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon sugar
1⁄8 teaspoon ginger powder
1 clove minced garlic
1 large green onion, chopped (green stalks included)
Pinch white pepper

Whisk all the ingredients together, add the meat, stir, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

For the cauliflower “rice”:
1 large head of cauliflower
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons black sesame seeds
1⁄8 teaspoon salt

Meanwhile, make the cauliflower “rice.” Chop the cauliflower into roughly equal parts. Steam until very soft, approximately 20 minutes. Mash with a potato masher until it has the consistency of short grain rice. Add the sesame oil, black sesame seeds and salt. Stir to combine. Reserve and keep warm.

When it’s time to cook the steak, heat a deep-sided skillet over medium heat and fry the meat in batches, stirring often,  until brown, about 4-5 minutes. Serve the meat, along with any juices from the pan, over the “rice” and garnish with sliced green onion.

Spaghetti Squash with Marinara & Fresh Basil
Serves 2 as a main course; 4 as a side dish

Squash:
1 3-pound spaghetti squash
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Marinara:
4 tablespoons olive oil
5 -6 cloves garlic, smashed
1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
1⁄2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
3-4 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
Freshly ground black pepper
Grated Parmesan (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake, face down, on a tinfoil-lined cookie sheet until tender. When cool enough to handle, shred each squash with a fork—spaghetti-like tendrils will emerge. Set aside.

While the squash is baking, make the marinara. In a deep-sided skillet over low heat, gently cook the garlic so that it infuses the oil. Before adding the tomatoes, remove the garlic cloves. Squish each tomato so that the sauce has a chunky consistency. Add the salt and pepper, and cook covered at low heat until the squash is ready. To serve, spoon the sauce over the spaghetti squash stands, as you would with pasta. Serve garnished with the fresh basil, fresh ground pepper and Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Root Vegetable Mash
serves 4 as a side dish

5 carrots, peeled and cut into rough chunks
1 large rutabaga, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 large parsnips, peeled and cut into large chunks
(note: cut all of the vegetables into roughly equal sizes)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1⁄2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1⁄4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Fresh chopped chives, to garnish (approximately 1 tablespoon)

To a stockpot filled with salted boiling water, add the carrots and the rutabaga. Ten minutes later add the parsnips. Boil the vegetables until soft, for a total of 20-25 minutes. Drain and set aside. In
a saucepan, saute the garlic over medium heat until fragrant. Add the root vegetables and stir. Puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Temper the yogurt and stir in to combine completely. Add the salt and pepper, stir. Serve hot with the chopped chives.

Chickpea Flatbread Pizza (Socca) with Pea Puree & Fried Cheese
serves 4 as an appetizer; 2 as a main course

For the flatbread:
1 cup chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour
1 cup + 2 tablespoons water
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄8 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Whisk together all the ingredients and cover. Let sit for 2 hours at room temperature. Meanwhile, make the pea puree. When you’re ready to make the flatbread, add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a cast-iron skillet and heat under the broiler until the oil is just beginning to smoke. Remove and add the chickpea batter, swirling it to coat the pan completely. Return to the broiler and cook until the edges are brown and the middle is set, about 10 minutes. Allow to sit for a few minutes, and then gently slide the flatbread from the skillet.

Pea Puree:
1 tablespoon butter
1 small shallot, minced
1⁄2 pound peas, fresh or frozen
8 - 10 leaves fresh tarragon, minced
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground pepper, to taste

In a medium saucepan, saute the shallot in butter until translucent. Add the peas and tarragon, lower the heat, and cover until the peas are tender. Using an immersion blender, puree the peas to a slightly chunky consistency, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Fried cheese:
4 ounces halloumi or paneer cheese

In a frying pan, fry the cheese on both sides until brown and crispy. To assemble the flatbread, add the pea puree and top with the cheese, and garnish with chopped chives. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Sept-Oct 2014
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Putting Down Roots
Ian Gallanar, founder of the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, has done his share of moving. Until now.
By Martha Thomas

Ian Gallanar had a PROBLEM with Shakespeare. He didn’t connect with the Bard—at least early on. “I thought it was for smart people,” he tells me, pushing his glasses up his nose. In his high school English class, “everyone else seemed to be nodding a lot. They seemed to get it.”

But things changed for the founder and artistic director of the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company (CSC), after he saw the Kenneth Branagh-directed “Much Ado About Nothing,” with Emma Thompson, Keanu Reeves and Denzel Washington. It wasn’t that the star-studded 1993 film was so enchanting. The scene that got to Gallanar was between Michael Keaton, as the bumbling constable Dogberry (“who exists to be funny,” Gallanar notes), and his assistant, played by Ben Elton. “They were terrible,” says Gallanar, who was at the time artistic director for the Minneapolis-based National Theater for Children. The actors “didn’t understand rhythmically how that comic banter should work,” he says. “I thought, ‘I could help this scene be funnier.’”

A few years later, he founded Minnesota Shakespeare in the Park. Not surprisingly, the first production was “Much Ado,” and the actor playing Dogberry was a standup comedian. “He understood comic rhythm.”
It turns out that children’s theater was good preparation for Shakespeare, especially the way Gallanar likes to direct. As in children’s theater, the Bard’s scripts demand an extraordinary suspension of disbelief, often communicated through exposition. “In children’s theater, the actor will say, ‘I’m a dragon and there’s a mountain I have to climb’; you don’t need an elaborate dragon costume or an actual mountain to create excitement and connect to the audience.”

Shakespeare indicates actions and settings in the script—Lear’s stormy heath, the magical forest of Arden, Hermione’s statue coming to life in “The Winter’s Tale,” countless shipwrecks and sprites. “The term that Shakespeare nerds use is ‘original practices,’” he explains. With minimal lighting and sets, and no mikes, the cast takes the audience on a wild ride.

Since its founding in 2003, the CSC has made its summer home at the stabilized ruins of the Patapsco Female Institute in Ellicott City. The walls and columns of the former girls finishing school frame a dramatic plein air stage facing a lawn where viewers can picnic and children don’t have to sit still. The site (rumored to be haunted) also has inspired popular roving productions, in which audience members follow actors from scene to scene.
On a chilly night in October several years ago, my daughter and I stood on a dark hillside as the weird sisters made their predictions about Macbeth, while the murderous Thane himself strode up the hill. We later gathered in a brick-walled cellar to watch Lady Macbeth panic over the killing of the king. Illuminated by spotlights, the actor’s shadow danced menacingly above her slight frame, as the deed itself loomed over her conscience.
Now Gallanar, who received raves for the roving “Macbeth” (and the follow-up production of “Dracula,” directed by Scott Alan Small), stands on the stage of the CSC’s new home. The former Mercantile Bank at the corner of Redwood and Calvert in downtown Baltimore will open its doors this month with the rom-com “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

The CSC purchased the building for $1.2 million in 2012, after searching the region for an indoor location. (They pre-viously “wintered” at the Howard County Center for the Arts.)

“We looked at a lot of old houses with big fields,” says CSC managing director Lesley Malin (who played Lady Macbeth in the moving production). “We looked at auto dealerships on Route 40.”
“We looked at the Enchanted Forest” (a former amusement park in a strip mall), adds Gallanar. “We couldn’t get anyone to return our calls.”

After the Baltimore Shakespeare Festival folded in 2011, Gallanar and Malin expanded the search to Charm City. When they walked into the former bank, more recently the Redwood Trust nightclub, they didn’t expect much. The interior was grimy. There had been a private bar in the basement called the “Bed Room” for its relaxed seating. “It was just icky,” Malin recalls.

But then they looked up. Columns rose through the open atrium to a coffered plaster ceiling with flourishes painted in bright colors that reminded them of Shakespeare’s original Globe Theatre in London.

Working with the architecture firm Cho Benn Holback + Associates, the company has put about $4 million into renovating the building. They built a smallish fixed thrust stage that bears some similarities to the Globe, the London theater that once staged Shakespeare’s newly penned plays. Of course, that theater held 2,600 souls in the 1600s, 10 times the capacity of the new CSC—though, as Malin points out, “people were smaller back then. And willing to be squished.”

Like the Globe, the CSC’s new theater is intimate, with rows of seats stacked vertically; the single row comprising the third tier looks straight down on the stage three stories below and feels like a perch in the rafters.
The red upholstered seats were Malin’s pick (“We learned about them at a Shakespeare conference.”), while the flip-down benches have lumbar support and no armrests to encourage a sense of community.

In Shakespeare’s day, theater was a casual affair; audience members drifted in and out. “If someone wants to get up in the middle of the show and get a drink and watch the rest of the show from the bar, that’s OK,” Malin says. Shakespeare anticipated distractions by building frequent expositions into the dialogue, Gallanar explains. For example, in “Romeo and Juliet,” after a fight takes the lives of Mercutio and Tybalt, “the prince comes on and Benvolio has this long monologue describing the fight we just saw.”

Gallanar has a hard time pinpointing his home of origin. Born in Seattle, he spent much of his childhood in Los Angeles, attending high school and college in Western Pennsylvania. “I’ve had 33 different mailing addresses” in his 52 years, he says. “I’m exhausted just saying that.”

In 1999, when Gallanar was directing Rep Theater of America—a national touring company that could set down roots anywhere—he and his then wife settled in Maryland to start a family. 15 years later (“the longest I’ve lived anywhere”), Gallanar, now divorced, with a teenage daughter, appears to be settling in. The stage is fixed. The chairs are bolted to the floor. That seems unusual to a director who once staged a production atop a plywood-covered swimming pool and used hay bales for audience seating. The physical space “becomes a metaphor,” he says. “But this feels like home.”

sept-oct 2014
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Heavenly Ramen

Mount Vernon’s Joss Sushi bar has made a seamless transition to its new identity, TenTen Ramen—not to be confused with the Bagby property farther south. (By the time you read this, there may have been a kerfuffle; who knows?) The name is an alliteration of Japanese characters meaning “heaven, heaven.” Folks in these parts have been craving ramen since Erik Bruner-Yang of D.C.’s Toki Underground popped up at Artifact Coffee last winter.

“It’s kind of shocking that the noodle trend has skipped Baltimore,” says chef Jason Jiau, fresh from completing the hospitality management program at Temple University. After his parents shuttered Joss last year, Jiau began tinkering with the broth, which boils for eight or nine hours, reducing to one-fourth its original volume. TenTen serves broths in plain and spicy, pork-based and vegetarian variations. There’s also beef noodle soup and a handful of Japanese sides, like fried rice and chasu don (soy braised pork on rice). The wood bar, built for sushi grazers, could just have easily been built for noodle slurpers. 413 N. Charles St., 410-227-2116. tentenramen.com —MT

Sept-Oct 2014
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The Look
Party Girl
By Jessica Bizik

It’s a fact. Everybody loves Audrey Slade. Known for her smarts, style and collaborative spirit, the director of public relations at the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore has brought together some of the city’s finest chefs, fashionistas, philanthropists, wellness gurus and others for events that make the luxury hotel a hot (and haute) destination for locals, not just jet-setters. So it’s no surprise we selected Audrey as this issue’s model citizen—and our planning partner for STYLE’s 25th Anniversary Party at Wit & Wisdom from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 15. To RSVP, visit baltimorestyle.com/25years

Where to buy:

Audrey is wearing head-to-toe selections from Green Spring Station, our fashion partner for the party. Nicole Miller printed sheer blouse, $220, and embellished pants, $495, from Panache. Claudia Ciuti metallic/wood sandals, $355, from Matava. Oliver Weber ring, $182, from Bijoux Inspired Jewels. Marti necklace, $195, from Trillium.Photographed by David Stuck. Makeup by Natalie Sams, Four Seasons.

Sept-Oct 2014
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As the Romans Do
By Ian Zelaya

“The top is really special,” says designer David Wiesand—owner of Baltimore-based custom furniture and decorative arts company McLain Wiesand—in describing his storied PXE Center Table. “It was inspired by a trip to the Walters Museum. The idea was to try to make a tabletop that looked like it had the qualities of ancient Roman glass.” The round top is composed of three, 8-inch-thick glass slabs bolted together, a combination of iridescent blue green, teal and gold metallic shades. The base is hand-forged steel with a gold leaf finish—a collaboration with artist Robert Machovec, known for his work with found metal. “We’ve made them as both center tables—something you’d see in an entrance or foyer—and beautiful dining tables,” says Wiesand. $14,500 for this model. Custom sizes available. 1013 Cathedral St., 410-539-4440. mclainwiesand.com

Septmeber-October 2014
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Spontaneous Combustion
A totally fake, fill-in-the-blanks interview with Baltimore Improv Group (BIG)
By Jessica Bizik

To celebrate Baltimore Improv Group’s big move to the Mercury Theater (formerly the Strand), we asked artistic/executive director Michael Harris to share some fun facts about the theater company. Then we invited four BIG performers to throw out random nouns, verbs and adjectives (a la “Mad Libs”) to liven up the story. In short: Hijinks ensue.

After 10 years, we’re getting rid of our Gypsy shoes and moving into our permanent home on the planet Jupiter. That means, starting this fall, we can commit to performing every Friday and Saturday night. Hooray! The size of our company has grown to somewhere between 14.5 and 3,879,247 people—or roughly the size of President John Adams’ booty, depending on how many peppadew he eats a day. We’re basically one big, happy douche canoe.

If you’ve never seen improv show, here’s the deal: We ask the audience to suggest a theme, character or setting—then we use those details to create a totally unscripted play for them on the spot. Sometimes the best scenes come from the simplest suggestions, like how to marry a unicorn or play shuffleboard. The worst suggestion we’ve ever received came from a bachelorette party. No matter what we asked for, they just kept yelling the word SODOMY! (OK, that’s actually true.) We all have different day jobs, including chimney sweeps, bikini inspectors, pooper scoopers and nostril trimmers. (Not the hair, the actual nostrils. Some people just have too much hole.) We also have a few lawyers, accountants, web designers and waiters (i.e., stand-up comedians).

We perform more than 90 shows a year. If you ask us why we do improv, most of our performers will say something like, “I’m fulfilling a desperate need for attention that was not adequately satisfied in childhood.” (Actual answer.) But, to be honest, we also do it for the sex, since so many of our fans are single. The rest of the time, we like to sit around thinking about taxes, the state of our immigration policy and falling into the sky when gravity stops working.

Here’s the scoop on the people in this photo. Michael Harris is a complete totalitarian who has a pet octopus and refuses to stop singing “I Think I’m Gonna Like it Here” by Little Orphan Annie since we moved into our new digs. Bridget Cavaiola can best be described as promiscuous and ebullient. (Go ahead, “Google” it, we’ll wait.) She’s also our education director. Yes, adults and kids can take classes with us—and we even just added an improv workshop to help folks dealing with social anxiety.

Heather Moyer, who handles our publicity, is a great mom with a unique talent: shooting milk out of her eyeballs. Katie Long believes she’s the secret love child of Rick Moranis and Madeleine Albright. Can’t you see the resemblance? And then, of course, there’s Rasheed Green—a self-proclaimed diva who has been known to walk offstage shouting, “I don’t need this nonsense! Be in my dressing room in five minutes with a freshly poured ginger ale.” Come check out a BIG performance soon, including “The Movement,” a fun collaboration with The Collective dance company, on Oct. 10 at the BMA. bigimprov.org

>>Read the actual interview here: “OFF THE CUFF: Michael Harris”.

sept-oct 2014
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Gambling Man
Meet Chad Barnhill, general manager of Horseshoe Casino Baltimore—the stylish new $442 million gaming and entertainment facility downtown.
By Jessica Bizik

I love Ben Affleck, who keeps getting kicked out of casinos for counting cards. I don’t really understand what it means—or how you can control what humans do with their brains.
Whenever you get down in a deck—meaning you’ve seen enough hands—it’s really just a plus/minus system. So when the cards come out, you’re either plus one or minus one, and when it gets in the player’s favor, that’s when you see the bets jump up. We actually teach our surveillance officers how to count cards because it makes it easy to spot someone doing it.

How do you regulate it? It’s not illegal.
It’s more of a common understanding among gamblers that casinos frown upon it. When a known counter walks in, it’s often an easy conversation to say, “Hey, look, if you want to play blackjack, I’m going to ‘flat bet’ you, meaning whatever your first bet is—whether that’s $100 or $1,000—that’s the only bet you can make the entire time you’re here.”

So you don’t kick them out?
Nope. You can also say, “We’re glad you’re here, but you can’t play blackjack. You want to play a slot machine? You want to have bottle service in our mezzanine level at $1,000 minimum spend? Have at it.”

Are you tempted to count cards yourself?
No. First of all, I’d get caught. But card counting is no fun. You’ve got to be very focused—and it’s incredibly difficult. You’re not out there laughing, joking, high-fiving people and having a cocktail. You’re watching every card that comes out of that shoe.

What’s the most fun you’ve ever had at a casino?
Doing shots with Kid Rock was pretty interesting.

Give me a fun fact about the new casino.
Sticking with that theme, Guy Fieri’s restaurant has a “shot machine” where you get to select your shot—say, a fireball—and it comes out of a gun straight from the freezer at like 2 degrees.

Why else would a non-gambler like me come to Horseshoe?
Sixteen hours of entertainment a day, cool design elements, celebrity chef restaurants and an open floor plan where you can live vicariously through the high rollers.

True or false: casinos in Vegas pump in extra oxygen to keep people awake.
False. Urban legend. Now, I will say, the old school philosophy was to build casinos with no windows or clocks, but we have lots of windows. If you drive by the casino on Russell Street, you can look inside and see all the lights flashing.

Sept-Oct 2014
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Q&A: Faking It
Two local artists conducted the perfect “culture jamming” experiment—hijacking Victoria’s Secret’s identity to create a conversation about sexual consent.

MICA fiber arts grads Hannah Brancato and Rebecca Nagle landed on Fast Company’s “100 Most Creative People” list for an elaborate “panty prank”—where they pretended to be Victoria’s Secret launching a line of PINK consent-themed underwear bearing slogans like “No Means No” and “Ask First”—in support of FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture, the duo’s organization that aims to reduce sexual abuse and help survivors heal.

How did the idea for the hoax come about? We did the prank to get new people talking about consent and avoid preaching to the choir.
Basically we thought, ‘We want to have a conversation with Victoria’s Secret consumers, so let’s pretend to be Victoria’s Secret.’ Your Pink Loves Consent website got more than 100,000 hits the first day—and thousands of people tweeted the hashtag #loveconsent.

Were you scared of getting sued?
Thankfully, we had a very good lawyer. How did you pick the slogans? We contrasted Victoria’s Secret’s actual PINK product line that’s marketed toward middle school and high school aged girls. They use slogans like, ‘Sure Thing’ and ‘NO’ in really big letters followed by ‘peeking’ in tiny letters. You used a diverse group of models for the campaign, including minority and plus-size women. Feeling good about your body, no matter what size or shape it is, is really integral to the idea of consent and pleasure. We want to help reframe what’s considered sexy, so it’s up to each individual to define what that means to them. Did fans feel betrayed when they realized they’d been duped? When we did the reveal, people’s frustration wasn’t directed at us for having done the prank but at Victoria’s Secret like, ‘Why wouldn’t you do this?’ I bet lots of women wanted to buy the underwear. They did, but launching a lingerie company isn’t one of our goals. So we released a DIY guide. Lots of college and community groups have started making their own underwear to raise money for consent campaigns.


How did you two connect on your shared message and mission? Hannah had been working at House of Ruth as a community artist and resident. Around the same time, Rebecca set up an arts therapy program and had transformative conversations about issues surrounding sexual and domestic violence. We both realized this was a private conversation—taking place inside the shelter—and it needed to be more public.

How do you encourage people who haven’t been affected by this issue to get involved? Right now we live in a culture where the burden is on the survivor. It’s asking a lot of that human being to be a mouthpiece for an issue they didn’t even choose to be connected to. It just happened to them. The more we can all share that voice—and remove stigmas or labels for speaking out—the better our society will be.

What’s next for the two of you? The Monument Quilt. Communities across the country are engaging in this public art project by making quilt squares and hosting quilt-making workshops and local displays. We’re doing a 13-city tour through September. The final vision is that the quilt will be displayed on the National Mall—covering a mile of the lawn with thousands of survivor stories to spell, ‘Not Alone.’
themonumentproject.org
—JESSICA BIZIK

sept-oct 2014
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Write On
Poet Kendra Kopelke is director of the MFA program in creative writing and publishing arts at the University of Baltimore—celebrating its10th anniversary this fall.
Betsy Boyd

1. What is your background and how did you find such a lasting fit at UB?
I graduated from The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins and started teaching in local schools. When I landed at UB, I was so taken with the diversity of students—most of whom had full-time jobs in addition to their classes—the unique and abundantly creative faculty from a range of disciplines, including graphic design and digital media, and the urban energy of the Mount Vernon campus.

2. How is UB different from every other master’s in fine arts program?
No other program that we know of has a dual focus on writing and publishing arts. No other program emphasizes creativity as something you can enliven and enrich throughout your life. [Students take “Creativity: Ways of Seeing” in their first semester.] And no other program teaches writers to design and produce their own handmade, electronic and printed books. Many of our students currently run their own publishing ventures.

3. What do students gain by learning to make these beautiful thesis books?
Students learn who they are as writers, artists, publishers—and what they really care about. When asked to create the physical form (or “home” as we call it) for their work, they come to understand their own writing voice. They learn how to push themselves as writers—and how to let go of their work when they publish it.

4. What is your program’s coined catchword “plork” all about?
Play + Work = Plork. It’s the animating spirit of the program—work as a form of play (not its antithesis) and play as a way of working. This is a kind of creativity that’s usually lost or abandoned after childhood. A willingness to experiment, to trust accident, to suspend judgment. So much good work happens when we are playful.

5. What will happen behind the scenes at your 10th anniversary bash?
We’ll recharge everyone’s creativity with workshops, enjoy alum readings and dance the Plork at an after-party. It’s a time to join our voices together and hear the emerging new sound.

Sept-Oct 2014
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Put An Egg On It
By Martha Thomas

Turns out, Hampdenites crave a good runny egg. When David Sherman opened the tiny Café Cito, he put a drippy egg sandwich on the breakfast menu. It was so popular, he’s since added six variations. On offer: Artisinal English-style Flory’s truckle cheddar cheese and spinach—or a mix of mushrooms, or house pimenton and fennel sausage—on a soft, chewy roll. If that’s the first thing you try at Café Cito (“small café” in Spanish) it won’t be the last.

Sherman trained at the Culinary Institute of America, and lived in New York and San Francisco (where he worked for Spanish chef Daniel Oliveira). Locally, he’s worked at b Bistro and Tapas Teatro, and in 2006, opened the short-lived Nasu Blanco, a Spanish and Japanese concept in Locust Point. That venture failed, he says, because “I was trying to wear too many hats at once and couldn’t keep up.”

In June the chef started serving weekend BYO dinner with a menu that included fish cheeks and spicy tuna tempura, vegetarian miso-glazed eggplant, and seared ribeye with roasted garlic puree—and the possibility of adding dinner on Thursdays and Sundays. “We want to focus on doing a few things really, really well,” he says. “This is a passion-over-profit venture.” 3500 Chestnut Ave., 443-682-9701, cafecitobmore.com —MT

September-October 2014
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Soul Siren
Celebration front-woman Katrina Ford continues her reign as one of Baltimore’s indie-rock darlings—but she’s just having fun making music in the basement.
By Bret McCabe


IMAGINE THIS: Katrina Ford,  the statuesque vocalist for Baltimore’s indie-rock powerhouse Celebration, and Sean Antanaitis, her band mate and husband, are sitting at home discussing their evening plans. Since moving to Baltimore in 1998 the couple has carved a singular path through the local music community, first with the intensely potent Love Life, now as Celebration. They’re sought-after collaborators—with Ford lending her indelible voice to records by TV on the Radio, British electronics duo UNKLE and Future Islands’ breakout new album “Singles.” She also fronts the local dream-pop groove machine Mt.  Royal. Antanaitis put his distinctive chops on Scarlett Johansson’s 2008 solo album.

When Ford, sitting for an interview at a Station North coffee shop, candidly talks about what their evenings together are like, the mind begins speculating about how a glamorous creative-class power couple spends its free time. Fabulous party? Hot-ticket event? Checking out the cool nightspot du jour?

 “We’re like—let’s go play synthesizers,” Ford says, followed by an infectious laugh. “Not all of it becomes a Celebration song, it’s just what we do.”

 They’ve been doing that for a decade as Celebration, the band whose name is a statement of purpose. Ever since its 2005 self-titled debut, Celebration has functioned as a euphoria delivery service—distilling organs, drums and voice into a powerful narcotic that soothes the soul. In recent years the core trio of Ford, Antanaitis and drummer David Bergander added keyboardist and backing vocalist Tony Drummond and guitarist Walker Teret to the band’s live settings, creating a powerful rock combo that still agilely handles its rhythmic curves and hypnotic melodies. This lineup yielded the ten songs on the band’s new “Albumin,” released on Aug. 18.

It’s Celebration’s first record with the British label Bella Union, which was founded by the Cocteau Twins’ Robin Guthrie and Simon Raymonde in 1997. Guthrie left to start his own venture in 2000, and ever since Raymonde runs the label like an impeccable small press.

“I can’t believe there’s still people like this making records,” Ford says of the authentic “music lovers” at Bella Union, which has released exquisite albums by Australia’s Dirty Three, American composer Van Dyke Parks and the spectral Swedish indie-pop band I Break Horses. Stylistically these artists are all over the map; what unites them is their outsider iconoclasm. Working on the fringes of the conventional indie-rock industry machine, these musicians refuse to churn out albums quickly just to plug into the 24-7 music cycle in hopes of trending high on social media. They take their time to make the music they want to make.

“We didn’t think we were going to work with a label again after [a less-than-ideal experience with] 4AD,” says Ford. “But when we tried to go at it alone, we realized we needed help to spread the word. We’re not good at tooting our own horns. We just want to play music.”

It’s what Ford and Antanaitis have done for 23 years—22 of those as a couple. Ford is a refreshingly no-nonsense front-woman, the kind of artist who has spent enough time on this planet to recognize how precious it is. Between working to pay the bills and the day-to-day living of being a grown-up, that doesn’t leave a huge amount of spare time to create, so she and Antanaitis take advantage of free time together as much as they can.

They head down to their basement, fire up a click track to provide a rhythm and begin playing off each other until an idea forms.

They record everything. Sometimes those musical ideas end up as Celebration songs, sometimes they become something more personal. “Tomorrow’s Here Today,” a song off “Albumin,” began life as a gift for their drummer Bergander and his wife on the birth of their son, Asa. A skipping beat propels the song along its cheerful way, the melody growing out of a gauzy keyboard wash that opens the song. Throughout Ford coos a collage of lines that hit the ears like drops of overwhelming tenderness—“before you know, you’ll be grown”; “the future will burn bright my love”; “this world needs a face just like you”—before the entire song blossoms into the titular chorus.

That was six years ago; it was Bergander and the band who lobbied for it to become a Celebration track. “We wrote the song as a gift and it kicked around our lives for a few years and the rest of the band said, ‘I think we should make this a rock song,’” Ford says. “And we thought, let’s try it.”

Such is the alchemy of songwriting: songs often start as mere ideas that steep inside the band members’ heads for a while before they mature into songs. Everybody puts in a piece of himself or herself—and what comes out the other side might end up on an album. “When you work with people for as long as we have you have another language, another mythology, and that’s our music,” Ford says. “It moves around and develops and changes. It’s thrown away and resurrected and rebuilt. We just go wherever the excitement is for everybody.”

That’s why sometimes it takes time to put out new material. Though the band is a prolific songwriting unit, “Albumin” is Celebration’s first release in three years. What started as about 25 song ideas eventually ten. Working everything through the band’s algebra simply takes time.

So, of course, when Ford and Antanaitis are home, and the laundry is done and the cats are fed, they’re going to do what artists do: create. She can’t imagine doing anything else with her life. “When I was a little kid, I used to daydream this,” Ford says. “And since we’re a couple, when we have time off together, we do what we love—make music.”

sept oct 2014
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That’s The Ticket

Forno started service last spring, a week before the wildly popular “Book of Mormon” opened at the Hippodrome across the street. While the scenario created a trial-by-fire, the crowds also confirmed what owner Bryan Noto, former manager of Alewife, had suspected. “I felt strongly that the neighborhood could sustain another restaurant,” he says of the area that also includes the University of Maryland Hospital and many highrise apartment buildings. “Some nights at Alewife we were turning away 100 people.”

Noto and his wife and co-owner Emini Dukic, were inspired after traveling in Sonoma, where local wines were served with simple dishes made from “natural, seasonal ingredients,” he says. His father-in-law, Amir Dukic, helped build out the space with wood reclaimed from Pennsylvania barns, recycled brick and window panes salvaged from a church.

Chef Kris Sandholm’s menu features brick oven pizza and small plates, salads and main courses, use such locally sourced ingredients as Big City Farms greens, Virginia rockfish and Springfield Farms chicken.

The restaurant is prepped for the theater season. Menu items are “geared to come out quickly while still having higher quality,” says Noto. “We’ve got it down at this point.” 17 N Eutaw St., 443-873-9427. fornobaltimore.com —MT

September-October 2014
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Animal Instincts
Author and psychoanalyst Mikita Brottman takes (temporary) leave from macabre subject matters to write an intimate love story about human-canine relationships.
By Michael Yockel

Sprawled odalisque-style on a body-engulfing leather and wood camel-back Chesterfield in her condo in midtown’s venerable Belvedere Hotel, Mikita Brottman reaches over its side to play a vigorous game of tug of war with her 8-month-old French bulldog, Oliver.

Outside, an Artscape soundstage throbs a few blocks away, while inside, the strains of Bach drift in from an adjacent room, as Brottman, wearing a little black sundress with sandals, discusses her new book, “The Great Grisby: Two Thousand Years of Literary, Royal, Philosophical, and Artistic Dog Lovers and Their Exceptional Animals” (HarperCollins), available in October.

Composed of 26 short chapters arranged alphabetically by dog name (Atma to Zemire), “The Great Grisby” functions adroitly on three levels: engaging accounts of the relationships between real-life figures or literary characters and their dogs; conversational tract, where Brottman ruminates on the multifaceted human-canine dynamic; and endearing memoir, detailing the intricate bond she experienced with her previous French bulldog Grisby. 

“I was interested in the interaction between owner and dog, because it reminded me of my feelings toward Grisby,” Brottman explains in clipped, measured tones that betray her native England.

With each of the book’s dog owners—poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, artist Frida Kahlo and composer Richard Wagner—among the better-known personages, Brottman says she was “looking for a relationship between a dog and person where the dog is pretty much the person’s primary relationship. Even if they’re married or have a family, the person is still more engaged with the dog on a daily basis than with other people in their lives.”

The dog-person dynamic, Brottman notes, “is more complicated than it seems, and people haven’t really probed it very much psychologically—it’s not always pretty. All dogs represent something in our lives; we can never really relate to them just as dogs.”

And while she readily concedes that humans can bond empathetically with other animals, especially cats—in fact, her two cats, Bartleby and Queequeg, roam through her book-lined study as she speaks—she maintains that dogs respond to us best and “seem to reciprocate your need for them.”

A professor of humanistic studies at MICA and co-director of the school’s critical studies program, as well as a practicing psychoanalyst, Brottman, 47, discovered dogs late in life, obtaining Grisby in 2005 via PuppyFind.com. The two quickly became inseparable: She took him to her classes, to literary readings, to friends’ houses, to the beach, jogging—everywhere.

“When we’re apart, I’m sure I suffer more than he does,” Brottman writes of Grisby in the chapter “Douchka,” about mid-20th century French author/feminist Colette Audry and her tortured relationship with her irksome German shepherd, “missing all the little signs of his presence—his small sighs and grunts, the sound of his claws on the floorboards, his jingling collar, his soft ears rubbing against my knees.”

Born and raised in Sheffield, in north central England, Brottman, the daughter of schoolteacher parents, earned her bachelor’s, master’s and PhD degrees in English language and literature at Oxford. (She later added a PhD in psychoanalysis.) But after teaching in Cyprus and London, she relocated to the U.S. in 1998, weary of both the dismal English climate and what she calls the “parochial nature of life” in the U.K. In 2001, Brottman joined MICA’s faculty following brief teaching stints at universities in Indiana and Pennsylvania.

Now she lives with her longtime partner, David Sterritt, the retired film critic for The Christian Science Monitor, current MICA art history professor and film scholar/author (his “The Cinema of Clint Eastwood: Chronicles of America” is scheduled for publication in November).

Given Brottman’s pronounced fascination with the macabre and transgressive aspects of society and culture, as manifested in her prior books (“Offensive Films,” “High Theory/Low Culture”),  journal articles (“Is the Internet a Portal to Hell? Inner Space, Superstition & Cybersex”) and MICA courses (“Banned Books: The Literature of Controversy,” “Understanding Suicide”), Grisby by comparison, seems positively genteel.

“I’ve written in workshops with Mikita for a few years now, and I’ve seen her write about a fictional twist on the Manson murders, serial killers’ victims, prisoners and, of course, Grisby,” says Baltimore writer John Barry. “Her insatiable curiosity and disciplined and discursive writing style invite readers into worlds they may not be familiar with. You feel like you’re walking into a funhouse, and she doesn’t want you to freak out—just place it in the context of the literary canon.”

About those “prisoners” Barry mentions: Brottman already has completed and sold her next book, “The Maximum Security Book Club,” an account of her two years reading literature (not surprisingly, dark works) with criminals at Jessup Correctional Institution. HarperCollins expects to publish it in early 2016.

While she continues to participate in the prison program, Brottman also is gearing up for MICA’s fall semester and the publication of “The Great Grisby.” Regrettably, Grisby himself won’t attend the book launch; he died this past January at the age of 8 1/2, four months after she finished writing the manuscript.

In the “Douchka” chapter, Brottman muses, “I found myself wondering whether, when Grisby dies, I’ll look on our relationship with sorrow and regret, or whether memories of him will fade away fast as I move on to my second dog.”

As it turned out, both reactions occurred. “I was not as upset as I thought I would be,” Brottman explains. “I think that was because I had spent so much time imagining what it would be like when he died—and imagining all the things that I was going to miss about him—that I felt like I had already lived through it.”

One month later, along came Oliver (Grisby’s original name at Puppy-Find.com), “a dog as close to Grisby as possible,” she admits. “I still think about Grisby all the time, but I don’t miss him. It was a very rewarding relationship, and I like to think that it was mutual.”

Sept-Oct 2014
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Death Becomes Her
After “Nine Years Under” in the funeral business, memoirist Sheri Booker is taking the publishing world by storm.
By Jessica Anya Blau


“Why are we so afraid to have conversations about death? It’s the only thing promised in life but no one wants to discuss it,” Sheri Booker says, as we talk about her book “Nine Years Under,” released in paperback in July. Ms. Booker is as charming in person as she is on the page. I couldn’t help but think of Shirley Temple, had she grown up in Baltimore, ironed out her hair and worked at Wylie Funeral Home handling some of the city’s worst-case-scenario deaths: bullet wounds, abandoned old folks, AIDS and everyone in between.

What did Mr. Wylie and his son, Brandon, think about you writing this book?
We haven’t had a discussion about it since it was published, but they were nervous beforehand. Imagine working very closely with someone for nine years and they know every single thing about you, even how much money is in your bank account. You’d be uncomfortable.

Yes, but everything you say about them is good. Is Brandon still hot?
Yes. But I think he’s scared of me. We go to the same church, but we keep missing each other.

Has your relationship with death changed over time?
I thought I was an expert on death when I wrote this book. Then I realized maybe some of the things that I had rationalized before didn’t make sense to me anymore. Like, you always look at death and say, ‘There’s a reason for this.’ But then my mother passed away and I asked, ‘Why? Why this moment? Why this day?’

Would you ever want to work in the funeral business again?
Yes. I want to own my own funeral parlor. Women aren’t well represented in this business and it’s important to me to break those barriers. This has always been my plan B, if I wasn’t rich by 35.

You may be rich by 35 if you keep writing the way you are. Are you working on another book?
When I left the funeral business, I ran away to South Africa for almost a year. I want to write about that experience. I ended up in a town where I was the only black person; I was considered ‘colored.’ Think “Eat, Pray Love,” the black version in South Africa.

Join authors Sheri Booker and Jessica Anya Blau for a literary chat (hosted by STYLE contributor Marion Winik) on Friday, Sept. 26 at 5 p.m. in the Ivy Bookshop tent at the Baltimore Book Festival theivybookshop.com

Sept-Oct 2014
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Sweat Equity
Teach your downward dog some new tricks at Baltimore BeachFIT
By Jessica Bizik
Sweat Equity

“I JUST CAUGHT ON FIRE.” That was my Facebook status after taking my first PiYo Strength class at the new Baltimore BeachFIT in Harbor East. Like yoga on steroids, the fast-moving class combines sun salutations with squats (and other fitness moves) paired with high-tempo music for a fully choreographed, sweat-inducing workout. “PiYo is awesome for people who get bored in a regular yoga class,” says smiley co-owner/trainer Maggie Binkley, who remembers every student’s name during her classes, which also include Power Cycle, Turbo Kick and Surfset. A self-proclaimed yoga “hater,” I spent my first PiYo session trying not to topple over—or combust—but it was so FUN that I’ll be back soon. Bonus: If you need a breather after (or during!) class, just pop into the in-studio boutique, featuring cute workout wear and beachy keen accessories curated by co-owner Alison Schuch, who also owns Fells Point Surf Co. 1400 Aliceanna St.; 410-753-4354. Sept-Oct 2014

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Charmed, I'm Sure

Who puts the charm in Charm City? Why, the citizens, of course, with a few celebrities sprinkled in. That moniker, incidentally, dates back only to 1975, and no, it wasn’t coined by H. L. Mencken. Still, we wield it with pride. Baltimore is a town that wears its heart on its sleeve. And what better way to complement that sleeve than with a charm bracelet? Enter City Charm. You can sport a sterling silver raven, a B&O Railroad car, a crab, a tugboat, an Orioles ball, even a beehived hon. Better yet, 10 percent of all proceeds go to the Ronald McDonald House Charities. Look good and do good. Online at citycharmco.com

September-October 2014
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Sofa, So Good
Sofa, So Good

Savvy admits it: she’s of the age where she has started to fall asleep in front of the TV. So how delightful to find the surprisingly sleek “My Comfort” furniture line by Palliser at The Sofa Store. Going by the formidable name “Riding Mountain,” the recliner practically transports you to Never Never Land. It swivels, rocks, glides, reclines; and has a USB port, tablet tray and that all-important cup holder. Or opt for its sectional brethren, outfitted with detachable metal connectors and configured any way you like. 1125 Cromwell Bridge Road in Towson and a new store at 851 Cromwell Park Drive, Glen Burnie. 410-346-2400, thesofastoreusa.com

September-October 2014
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Group Dynamics
Solo exhibitions offer a unique opportunity to get intimate with an individual’s work. But we love a great group show—a chance to enjoy the connections, contradictions and energy surrounding a mix of inspired innovators in the art world. So we asked Cara Ober, founder of BmoreArt, to curate a STYLE “exhibit” featuring some of her favorite emerging and unexpected artists. The results are “odd and funny” as Ober puts it. And a great testament to the talent in our town.


zoe charlton
In “Dreamers and Builders,” two nude men struggle under a tower of North American trees, suburban houses, clouds and a little red barn. The image falls somewhere between fantasy and metaphor, and each man, one white and one black, wears a saddle on his back. Although they face away from each other, it’s obvious they must work together to keep the precarious construction intact. Their frustration is evidenced in their bright blue testicles, a tiny detail one might miss in this complicated visual delight. Charlton, an American University associate professor based in Baltimore, is a master of images that hover between naughty and nice, familiar and bizarre. “In America, the suburban lifestyle is seen as a reward,” says Charlton. “These men are bearing all the responsibilities for this landscape, but none of the advantages. Their blue balls represent longing—the things that you desire so much, but don’t get.”


andrew liang
In “Human Anatomy,” Andrew Liang represents organs with cartoon sausage links, Smurfs heads and honey bears; and bones as pretzels, baseball bats and a pepperoni pizza. At the center, where the two figures’ hands connect, one lollipop licks another, while cartoon stars, pancakes, penguins and cats float on the fringes. “That’s their friends hovering around, waiting for a phone call for a dinner party or to go get a drink somewhere,” says the Baltimore transplant from Hong Kong who infuses humor into his work. “I enjoy socializing with other humans, animals and things—and take these inspirations to the studio to maximize the length of enjoyment by making drawings, paintings and sculptures of them.” Although he’s a skilled painter, Liang also has constructed a number of large, immersive art games, including a human pinball machine, a life-sized foosball table and a glow-in-the-dark Whac-A-Mole.


seth adelsberger
After a string of international art fairs and New York shows, critical darling Seth Adelsberger is garnering acclaim for his versatility and prolificacy—cranking out diverse series of paintings in a surprising array of materials and styles. His glowing “Submersion” series, on view in the Front Room at the BMA through Nov. 2, resembles airport luggage X-rays with rich washes of cyan or magenta paint floating over topographic layers of white gesso primer. Also in the solo exhibition: expressionistic designs from rug samples that Adelsberger digitally manipulated to heighten the pattern and pile, then had printed as actual carpet. “My work re-examines the history of abstract painting through the lens of painting’s relationship to technology and the internet,” he explains.


dina kelberman
Dina Kelberman’s online “I’m Google” project has been exhibited at the New Museum in New York, lauded by New York Magazine art critic Jerry Saltz, and tweeted by “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest. However, the longtime Wham City member also produces “Important Comics,” a hand-drawn series that can be as visually arresting as it is funny. “My drawing style comes from my general fickleness,” admits Kelberman. “I like to throw random lines on the page and then react to them, which is more of a similar process to painting than traditional comics.” Kelberman benefits from self-publishing her offbeat mini-dramas in limited-edition runs, so that she can control their aesthetics (described by the artist as “crazy messy nonsense”), nimbly walking the line between comics and fine art.


jo smail
Jo Smail never thinks about beauty when she creates her charmingly awkward compositions. Instead, she says, “I try to surprise myself so concentrating is a kind of forgetfulness of what I think I know about painting.” Although this romantic, blind process can be full of hidden accidents, mistakes and weirdness, Smail embraces it. When paintings don’t turn out, she cuts them up and collages pieces of them into other works. In “Swimming Underground,” Smail combines bits of former paintings with oil, acrylic and monoprint, leaving large swaths of mostly raw canvas as the setting for an abstract shape that references butterflies, leaves and stems—an organic form wriggling underground, poised to bloom through. The iconic image of new life comes directly from Smail’s painting philosophy: “The best work seems to make itself.”


amy sherald
Coming this fall, Amy Sherald’s “Equilibrium” will take on new life as a billboard-sized mural on the west façade of the J. Van Story Branch Sr. Apartments in the Station North Arts District. The painting depicts a woman walking a tightrope, precariously yet elegantly balanced, with a heart locket swinging from one hand. “Embracing an in-between state is an ideal situation in which we open our hearts and our minds and walk the line in a search of equilibrium,” says the MICA grad whose lush, realistic style is characterized by a timeless, dreamlike quality. “Pointing to our own hearts to discover what is true isn’t just a matter of honesty, but also compassion and respect for what we see in each other around the world.”


karen yasinsky
Johns Hopkins Film and Media Studies lecturer Karen Yasinsky won the prestigious Prix de Rome in 2010, and has created original animations and drawings based on popular films for many years—often collaborating with local musicians and composers. In “This Room is White,” actress Shelley Duvall hovers, hummingbird-like, as dark outlines and rainbows pulsate around her. The hand-drawn animation features thousands of drawings (15 per second)—and includes scenes from 1970s movies mixed with the artist’s sticker collection from the same time period. “For some reason I can’t work from real life,” says Yasinsky. “I get excited from parts of particular films I love—a character, scene, distinct images or ideas. These fragments stick in my head like a problem, and in order to solve it, I have to work with it.”

Sept-Oct 2014
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Tool Time
Get your home remodeling fix with help from the folks at the Station North Tool Library.
By Andrew Zaleski

John Shea points out a toothy two-man saw hanging on the wall, amid an array of other intriguing vintage equipment (including one mysterious piece that he suspects rigs to a cow).

“Someone called in,” explains the easygoing 33-year-old artist, who co-founded the Station North Tool Library with his photographer girlfriend, Piper Watson, last year. “‘I’ve got some tools to donate; they’re really antiques,’ the man said. And it turns out they’re a couple hundred years old. We cleaned them up and hung them like they would at Cracker Barrel. Then someone came in and said, ‘I’m gonna need that.’ We put a number on it and rented it out to him.”

While the quirky equipment anecdote’s not the norm for Station North Tool Library—a nonprofit lending organization that’s already logged close to 2,500 rentals to 396 members in its first year—the exchange does illustrate an openness that Shea and Watson strive to embody. Members pay a suggested 0.1 percent of their annual income in exchange for complete access to the library for one year. If a tool they’re seeking is out on rental, they get wait-listed lickety-split. And if they don’t know how to use the tool they’re looking for, Shea, Watson or volunteer Natalia Eacchus will help them find an instructional video on YouTube.

“We try to make the space as friendly as possible,” Shea says. “It’s not like going into a Home Depot that barks information at you. The way we see it: The library belongs to everyone; it’s a service.”

Before the library launched along Oliver Street in the Greenmount West neighborhood—part of the Station North Arts and Entertainment District—Watson, 34, and Shea dreamed they would bring their tools to the people. Buy a van, fill it with handsaws, screwdrivers and the like, then tool around Baltimore—allowing patrons to rent items for little to no money.

The idea had been brewing in Shea while he worked as a studio tech at Towson University, maintaining equipment for the art department. Watson, whom he met in 2011 when the two resided in the City Arts building on Oliver Street, was meanwhile employed at VisionWorkshops’ Crossing Borders Program, an Annapolis organization that teaches refugees in Maryland to tell stories through photography. Shea thought there might be a way to blend that type of outreach with his love of working with his hands.

“How could we use tools and process and empowerment to show people how to work with their hands to control their environment?” says Shea. “In the end, we’re trying to help build a more self-reliant culture—to help beat planned obsolescence.”

The couple soon scrapped the concept of the traveling toolshed in favor of a bricks-and-mortar library, a model that has been in practice across the United States for at least four decades. In summer 2012, Shea quit his job. He and Watson took advantage of her wedding photography gig on the West Coast to visit several successful tool banks. The rest of the year they spent soliciting guidance and opinions from Station North residents, and gathering the tools.

About 80 percent are donated, Shea says, and they have a small budget to purchase bigger equipment, like dollies and ladders. Others—including an industrial-grade sander for finishing wooden floors—were purchased at a discount from a manufacturer who liked the concept and responded to one of Shea and Watson’s notoriously spirited emails.

Fiscal sponsorship from Fusion Partnerships on Guilford Avenue provides support. The Robert W. Deutsch Foundation and Gutierrez Memorial Fund help cover the insurance needed to operate a space that rents out tools quite capable of cropping fingers—no injuries have been reported—and a two-page tool use policy outlines the basic requirements for being a member. Watson sums it up succinctly: “Be cool. Don’t be a jerk.” (Evidently, jerks are rare. Only five of the library’s more than 1,000 tools haven’t been returned.)

The couple recently purchased a fixer-upper just north of Hampden. Watson estimates that they’ve saved roughly $17,000 borrowing tools from the library as opposed to renting them from a hardware store, something they hope will happen for lots more people in the neighborhood. If you have a black-and-blue thumb, don’t worry. The library offers classes on tool safety, furniture building and even making your own kitchen knives. 417 E. Oliver St., 410-347-0850, stationnorthtoollibrary.org

Sept-Oct 2014
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Urban Artist
Landscape designer Jonna Lazarus paints a living canvas on the MICA campus.
By Kathy Hudson

On a grey summer morning, Jonna Lazarus, landscape designer and owner of Lazarus Design Associates LLC, drives through the streets that form the campus of the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). “This is where it all began,” she says pulling over in front of the marble 1908 Renaissance Revival Main Building. “One day in 1984 Fred asked me what I’d do here. Big yews masked the architectural detail.”

Fred, of course, is her husband Fred Lazarus IV, who just retired in May after a monumental 36-year term as president of MICA. Under his leadership MICA
became one of the country’s leading art colleges and revitalized the neighborhoods around it. Early on, Jonna gave him a few suggestions for the Main Building, then soon became not only his armchair counsel on landscape design but also an official MICA contractor instrumental in the transformation of the campus.

While she continued her work with other residential and educational clients, Jonna brought to MICA years of design expertise: a degree in art, interior design and business from Rochester Institute of Technology, three years as home furnishings fashion director at Carson Pirie Scott in Chicago, a graduate certificate in landscape design from George Washington University and eight years with landscape architects Crozier Associates in Baltimore.

In 1984 though, she had no idea that during her husband’s tenure MICA would expand to 28 buildings. She also had no idea that she, guided by master planning by Ayers Saint Gross, would be the one to design and create green spaces and gardens to unify the buildings as a handsome urban campus.

Jonna integrated each building acquisition by adding gardens with colorful but tastefully painted walls as occasional backdrops, lighting, terraces and amenities like fountains, tables, chairs and benches. At a tiny corner garden near the Station Building, she points out modern, U-shaped bike racks. “What started as a few mushroomed. It’s thrilling the racks now are all full all of the time,” she says.

The plantings here—a native serviceberry tree, gold mound spirea, silver sceptre sedge—repeat in other gardens. Three repurposed semi-circular stones function as sculpture and sitting spots. “We do that a lot,” she says of the recycled stones.

The approximate total of five acres Jonna has designed tie together a campus of diverse architecture. Buildings range from late 19th century structures, like the renovated B & O Mount Royal Station, to mid-20th century modern buildings like the Bunting Center (formerly the AAA building) to contemporary structures like the Brown Center, The Gateway and recently opened Leake Hall.

More than two-dozen outdoor spaces carry Jonna’s signature style, plantings and palette. Some, like Sally’s Garden, are as small as large school sandboxes. Others, like Pearlstone Park and Founders Green, are as big as city parks. Together they wind north and south, from Preston Street to North Avenue, east and west from Maryland Avenue to Park Avenue, like green ribbons embroidered with refined and striking colors.

Lazarus’ design concept is simple: plantings that look good all year, especially from September to May when the students are on campus. “And continuity too, now that we have created a broad plant palette,” she adds. Plant continuity and repetition unite a multitude of spaces. Repetition of fixtures and hardscape materials also enhance gardens, buildings, streets and even parking lots. 

“I try to use as many natives as possible, as well as hardy plant material, both drought and city tolerant,” she says. Among hundreds of trees she has planted, most are natives: sweet bay magnolias, serviceberries, sweet-smelling lindens, delicate-leafed willow oaks, sugar and red maples with brilliant fall foliage, multi-stemmed river birches that look themselves like sculpture.

Under the trees, along walls, by entrances and as punctuation in park-like greens, Lazarus layers shrubbery the way residential gardeners cluster perennials. Among her favorites are durable spirea with gold or green foliage and pale pink blooms, chartreuse and red barberry in varieties not invasive in the city, slow-growing yews for texture, disease-resistant evergreen American boxwoods and Japanese hollies, all types of viburnums, even the leatherleaf variety as screening near an expressway ramp.

“If we use perennials, they’re ones that look good a long time,” she says. Hellebores, for example, are in shady spots as under white crape myrtles in the geometry- filled inner courtyard of the Robert and Jane Meyerhoff House. Black-eyed Susans and Russian sage thrive in sunny spots at The Gateway where layered gardens and a fountain showcase Jonna’s artistry.

Perennial grasses waft through the campus. Tall varieties create graceful movement and seasonal interest from the intimate “Sally’s Garden,” to the spacious, open gardens at Founders Green Residential Complex. Low-growing varieties, like mondo grass, work as ground cover in heavily trafficked spots or places hard to mow like the steep hillsides by North Avenue.

Lazarus’ color palette runs from deep crimson and lavender to contrasting and eye-popping chartreuse to pink, silver and white, with occasional flickers of yellows and reds.

“And lighting is important to us,” she says. Besides downwardly directed lamps and period street fixtures, lighting appears in subtle places: the underside of a stainless steel railing, signature short bollards along plazas and sidewalks, directed tubes of light washing walls. All add safety and aesthetics but not light pollution.

“Most of the sculpture was here,” she says driving past Paul Daniel’s turning Babette. “We just added plants.” Plants, like the golden-leaf staghorn sumac by Daniel’s piece, compliment and anchor the sculpture.

Besides giving beauty and continuity, the many new outdoor spaces increase quality of campus life.  Although the college students are gone, city school children pour from the Brown Center and run across the green, garden-surrounded Cohen Plaza, once a parking lot. “See the fountain?” Lazarus asks as children stream past it. “My former partner Julie Higgins saw that it was out of whack. We had to jackhammer it after it was poured and move it, not much, but to make everything look right.” Such is the precision of the eyes that have transformed these urban acres.

And such is MICA’s commitment to landscape architecture. “Luckily, MICA takes seriously the maintenance of the grounds,” Jonna says. Her phone rings constantly. Two calls are from nurserymen, the third about a downed tree limb.  In every area maintained by MICA, trees and shrubs are well-pruned, garden beds are weeded. No trash litters the street. “The only challenge is power pruners,” she says. “We like hand pruning.”

Passing the former Jos. A. Bank factory on North Avenue, now Fred Lazarus IV Center, what makes Jonna spark is seeing the plant-filled spaces used. On the café terrace two neighborhood women chat in the red chairs she pushed for when others feared they would be stolen. “They are not gone yet!” she says.

Neither is she. Although Fred Lazarus IV has officially retired from MICA, Jonna Lazarus continues her work. Next up: a slab of concrete by 1801 Falls Road, soon to be green.

September-October 2014
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Healing Hands
The founders of Mosaic Makers invite grief-stricken neighborhoods to find beauty in art—and themselves.
by Marion Winik

Across the street from Mondawmin Mall, at the corner of Liberty Heights Avenue and Reisterstown Road, a band of teenagers is putting art on a wall—in broad daylight, with no spray cans in sight. Instead, they are adding the finishing touches to a mosaic mural, 15-feet-wide and 5-feet-high, a stylized sunrise with rays of gold, coral, pink and scarlet. The words WELCOME TO GREATER MONDAWMIN arch over it, bordered by sparkling rows of mirror tile.

“It’s not just plain Mondawmin anymore,” jokes Darrian Hernandez, 15, smoothing grout between pieces of tile with a float. “It’s Greater Mondawmin now.”

Beside him work five other teens from the neighborhood, all neatly attired in beige T-shirts and belted pants. “You pull up your pants and you pull up your potential,” opines Sage Tarrant, 15. The belts were handed out earlier in the week by D.J. Horrey and Kliffi Blackstone, their counselors at Parks and People, an organization that employs kids through YouthWorks to spruce up the neighborhoods they live in.

The mural itself is a project of Mosaic Makers, a two-woman nonprofit that practices the fine art of piecing things together, whether it’s shards of ceramic tile, odds and ends of grant funding, or broken lives and neighborhoods.

Lauren Siegel and Pam Stein met at Health Care for the Homeless, where both were social workers. While Pam provided art therapy at the organization’s headquarters, Lauren’s work involved going into the streets. “There was a period when Lauren encountered so much trauma,” explains Pam, “so many overdoses, so much abuse and neglect, clients she cared about, dead bodies left for days, that she was just overwhelmed.”

Knowing Lauren was also an artist, Pam invited her to come spend some time working on mosaics in the art shed in her backyard. “Hearts, windmills, guitars, fish, elephants—I made about 60 mosaics in about four months,” says Lauren. “And I felt a little better after each one. It made me think about how art heals things. If it helped me, perhaps it could help other people.”

“She walked out one day and said, ‘We should start a nonprofit,’” continues Pam, who agreed wholeheartedly.

In April 2012, Mosaic Makers debuted with a workshop for the women’s group at Paul’s Place, a soup kitchen in Pigtown. They asked the participants two questions: Has your heart been broken? What fills your heart? Each woman made a mosaic in response and gave a detailed explanation of its meaning. Many of the women spoke about their children, from one stationed in Iraq to one murdered on the street. “The effect on both the individuals and the group as a whole was so clear,” says Pam. “A talk therapy group couldn’t have gotten these stories out in a couple of hours.”

Since then, Pam and Lauren have taken their buckets of grout, their donated tiles and their come-on-and-try-it attitude to street corners and community centers in dozens of neglected neighborhoods.

In Cherry Hill, they worked with children who had seen an infant shot and killed in a drive-by to make a memorial—then went on to decorate the local shopping center with ten large mosaics, bringing together institutionalized youth and seniors to collaborate.

At Roberta’s House in East Baltimore, a grief support center, they worked with bereaved families to create memory trees, vision boards and memory bottles. Just down the street in Station North, they got a grant to involve existing community members in the changing neighborhood. Their idea: invite people living atthree homeless centers in the area to create a mural on the wall at North Avenue and Calvert Street.

The current Mondawmin project was made possible by a grant from the Sparkplug Foundation, $5,000 that Mosaic Makers stretched to cover three murals on the west side: one at an elementary school for disabled kids, one at a rec center and this sunrise on the neighborhood’s busiest corner.

The teens, proudly admiring their work at the end of the two-week project, all live in walking distance of the mural and look forward to seeing it every day. “They’re gonna remember us by this,” says Malik Keith, 15. “The colors mean a brighter future.”

“Public art can change the way people feel about the place they live,” says Pam. “And collaborating on that art makes it even more powerful.”

With so many blocks, buildings and open spaces in the city shattered by violence and ugliness, Mosaic Makers has its work cut out for years to come. “The biggest challenge is funding,” says Lauren. “We always make do with what we have, but we could do so much more.”

September-October 2014
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September-October Get Out

Main Event: Double Trouble

Husband/wife filmmaking duo Bodine and Alexis Boling struggled shooting their smart and tender sci-fi thriller, “Movement + Location,” which scored the coveted Audience Award for best feature at this year’s Brooklyn Film Festival. During the 18-day February shoot, they endured a blizzard, two fires (no, they weren’t responsible), several near-misses getting run over by a van (yep, they were responsible) and a violent attack by an intoxicated homeless gentleman. “The thing about filmmaking, it’s so horrendously difficult, it forces you to operate on this [superhuman] level that becomes really inspiring and fun,” says Eastern Shore-raised Bodine, who will co-present the film with her hubby at the Chesapeake Film Festival, running Sept. 19 to 21 at the historic Avalon Theatre in Easton. Other highlights: “It’s a Disaster” (a fast-paced ensemble comedy starring Julia Stiles and David Cross), “Nightlights” (a touching drama about a young woman who cares for her twin brother with severe autism) and the documentary “SPAT: Bring Back Oysters to the Chesapeake Bay.” Rumor has it environmentally minded actor Mark Ruffalo may make an appearance. We’ll be camping out at the Tidewater Inn just in case. chesapeakefilmfestival.com chesapeakefilmfestival.com
—Jessica Bizik

Picture This: Golden Rule

“I see these people as wonderful spiritual beings—and I’m not sure black people are used to seeing themselves that way.” Painter Stephen Towns stands in front of a clutch of his latest works, reflecting on why he’s painted so many portraits with brilliant, gold-leaf halos around his subjects’ heads. “I’ve also been influenced by medieval altarpieces,” he adds, saying he learned about them while majoring in art at the University of South Carolina. Having moved to Baltimore five years ago, Towns is hosting his first major solo show at Gallery CA in the newly renovated City Arts Building in Greenmount West. Called “Co-Patriot,” the show examines the complicated relationship black people in America have had with the country and its history. The 34-year-old Towns says his eyes have been opened recently by literature, including Solomon Northup’s “Twelve Years a Slave” and Harriet Ann Jacobs’ “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.” As a child, he says, he had questions he couldn’t answer: “Why am I poor? Why am I not
educated? Why is life unfair?” When he heard the term “networking,” he didn’t understand it. “But these things are social constructs,” he says. “Reading those books helped me understand that. It made me less angry about American history because now I understand.” Through Sept. 12. 440 E. Oliver Street, galleryca.org. galleryca.org
—Lisa Simeone

Sept-Oct 2014
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Off the Cuff
Michael Harris dishes about bachelorette parties, bad jokes and what’s new with the Baltimore Improv Group (BIG) this season.
By Jessica Bizik

In our September/October issue, we wrote a totally fake, fill-in-the-blanks, “Mad Libs” style article about the Baltimore Improv Group. [Read it here!] Following is the actual interview with conducted with executive/artistic director Michael Harris—before his co-performers added their two cents (and then some).

So what’s new with BIG, Michael?
After ten years, we’re getting rid of our gypsy shoes and finally can commit to providing entertainment every Friday and Saturday in one venue—the Mercury Theater, formerly known as The Strand.

What are your numbers like now—how many performers and shows each year?
We have about 50 company members and do at least 90 shows.

Who are your performers? Give me a range of their day jobs.
We’ve got teachers, accountants, lawyers, people who actually act for a living, waiters, students, web designers…

Waiters just means actors who need jobs, right?
In our case, waiter means standup.

And accountants are funny, huh?
Some are. They’re hiding it all behind their numbers. They just need a chance to bust out.

Who knew? In addition to the big move, anything else exciting happening this fall?
We are going to do four shows at the Theater Project on September 5, 6, 12 and 13. We will be doing one of BOPA’s “Free Fall” shows—partnering with a dance company called The Collective for a show called “The Movement” on October 10 at the BMA.

So will you guys be making up dance numbers on the spot? I’m laughing already!
For part of it, yes. It’s basically scripted choreography, but there are also parts that are completely improvised with us dancing—and real dancers reacting to what the audience suggests. The dancers actually become the set.

For anyone who hasn’t gone to an improv show, this is probably a good time for me to explain that you guys ask the audience for thematic suggestions during your shows—then act them out on stage.
Exactly.

Are the audience ideas ever really bad? Like, “Oh my God, did that dude just suggest rock collecting?”
My gut instinct is to say it’s less about what the audience suggests and more about what you do with it. Some of the best themes come from very simple suggestions.

Still, there must have been a few duds or crazy ones.
Probably the worst I’ve ever seen—and I don’t know if this is printable—but once we had bachelorette party in the audience—and, as you can imagine, they were in full bachelorette party mode.

I’m picturing alcohol and penis straws for some reason.
Essentially, yes. They kept giving us [dirty] suggestions, regardless of what we were asking for. So we’d be like, “OK, we need an office setting, a location lots of people will go to.”
And they would just yell the word “SODOMY!” every time. Thank you, that’s awesome, ladies.

I love it.
Also, I once saw a musical troupe in Los Angeles try to elicit suggestion’s from the most boring woman on earth. They tried to get anything out of her. Asked her all sorts of questions about her day—and all she could come up with was like, “I get up. I feed my kids eggs.”

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
But they ended up doing an entire musical about making eggs for her kids and cleaning the house—and it was brilliant. So just you just never know.

What is going through your mind when you’re up there? Are you ever like, “Holy sh*t, I can’t think of anything to say?”
The more experienced you get, the more comfortable you become—both with yourself and with the other performers. The goal is to be totally present and in the moment, to the extent where you will say things that surprise you. If you’re hyper-aware of the audience or if you catch yourself planning, you’re in a bad spot.

What’s the biggest trick to playing so quickly off of your co-performers?
It’s really about three words, LISTEN, AGREE and ADD. Different improv companies have different vocabulary, but it’s all the same idea.

Agreeing seems really important.
Absolutely. No matter what the other person says, agreement means I’m going to treat that information as truth. That’s part of the scene.

So if I say you’ve been impregnated by aliens…
... and I have! Yes, perfect example.  You’d walk in and say, “How’s that alien baby doing, Mike?” And I immediately pick up and say, “Ugh, I’m exhausted. I’m so tired of breastfeeding this kid.”

When Jimmy Fallon was on Saturday Night Live, I was of the camp where my favorite moments were when he started cracking up middle of the scene. But I have friends who are like, “Oh, hell no! That’s inappropriate, he should keep it together.” Where do you fall in that regard? Do you guys ever just bust out laughing on stage?
Yes, of course, everybody does. And sometimes it’s okay when it’s genuine. I think Fallon and Horacio Sanz made that a go-to in sketches sometimes if they weren’t going that well. But there are also famous scenes where actors will change a line to mess with the other one—like John Cleese and Michael Palin doing the parrot sketch for “Monty Python”—and you can say, “Oh look, he got him!” It can be very funny.

Why do you guys do improv?
Desperate need for attention that was not adequately satisfied in childhood.

Obviously.
Joking aside, I think that’s why most performers do what they do. But why else? Because it’s fun. Because we love it. A big part of improv is being in front of an audience and making them laugh. It’s very relational.

Who are your biggest fans?
Hmmm, rough demographics, it’s folks in their 20s to 50s who tend to be engaged in the arts in Baltimore and attend lots of cultural events—festivals, concerts, art shows, theater. The majority of them are single.

I can’t decide if that means I should come there to try and meet men—or if it’s a sad or creepy state of affairs.
[Laughs] I think it has less to do with people’s relationship status and more that they don’t have toddlers running around at home.

Tell me some dirt about the company members who will be “filling in the blanks” for this article to make you look silly.
Sure, OK. Well, Heather Moyer. She’s a lot of people’s improv crush.

I can totally see that!
Bridget Haveola. She’s our education director—and she does improv because she’s completely incapable of memorization.

I would be in the same boat.
She’s also very funny, but by her own admission, should not be doing other types of theater.

Never happening. Got it.
As for Katie Long, despite what many people think…not a Latina.

Really? I’m shocked too, I have to say.
Yes, this is a common misconception. People are always saying things to her like, “Girl, you need to come on over to this Latin church or that Latin festival.” She actually speaks a little Spanish—and she’ll use it to make people laugh.

So basically you cheated when I asked for a diverse range of people for this photo shoot?
I did, yes. I’m so sorry!

And what about Rasheed Green? I loved when he kept asking me if he was “smizing” [smiling with his eyes] like Tyra Banks.
Rasheed is a self-proclaimed diva, as he told you. He likes to put that out there and proclaim he’s a diva, even though he’s really not. He’s actually a sweetheart of a guy.

I have a feeling my next big “BIG” laugh will come from him. Can’t wait for the new season!
Us, too. Thanks so much.

>>Read the “Mad Libs” mash-up here: SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION

September-October 2014
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Prep Work
Forget “A” for effort. Planning the perfect campus visit can be fun—and fundamental to your teen’s college choice and future success.
By Ian Zelaya

Just the thought of planning college visits can be overwhelming for high school students and their parents. How many schools should you see in one day? What are the best seasons and times to visit? And aside from attending an information session and taking a tour of the campus, what else do you even do on a college visit? Thankfully, some experts from area schools provided us with top-notch tips to get you started.

Pre-planning early is the first piece of advice many experts give. Aaron Basko, assistant vice president of enrollment management and career services at Salisbury University, says that starting early—specifically in the spring of junior year and the summer before senior year—is essential. “If students can start and see as many schools in the spring and summer, it gives them a chance to see what they like before they send out their applications,” Basko says.

Ann Marie Strauss, director of college counseling at Garrison Forest School, assures that a summer visit, when most students are absent from campus, isn’t the end of the world. “Ideally, the best time is when the students are on campus, when you’ll get the most authentic feel of the ethos of the community,” she says. “However, if they can’t visit in the spring of the junior year, summer of senior year is when many [visits] happen. Even if it’s not a full session, you can get a feel for campus—architecturally, aesthetically and whether or not you like the location.”

Darryl Tiggle, director of college guidance at the Friends School of Baltimore, also agrees that summer is a good time for students to begin their college search—starting with nearby schools to determine what kinds of college campuses appeal to them.

“In Baltimore, if you want to explore what a small liberal arts college feels like, you can visit Goucher or travel to McDaniel. If you want a college campus in the city [or nearby], look at Johns Hopkins or places like Georgetown, American, George Washington or Howard University in D.C.,” Tiggle says. “If you think you’re interested in a Division I flagship university, visit University of Maryland. Once students have a good idea of what type of college fits them, then they can tailor their search to visit those types of colleges later in the fall.”

Lori Smith-Watson, assistant director of undergraduate admissions and orientation at UMBC, says an ideal time to visit her particular campus is during an open house, which allows for prospective students to sit in on classes and spend time talking with undergraduates and professors. UMBC also offers a “Just for Juniors” day each spring, which recently catered to about 1,500 high-schoolers.

Both Strauss and Basko advise to visit no more than two schools in one day, for at least two hours. Usually, one hour is set aside for an information session at the
admissions office and another hour for a student-guided tour.

During these sessions, Lauren McDonald-Hyland, academic services specialist at the Peabody Conservatory of Music at Johns Hopkins University, suggests that parents let their kids lead the conversation. While parents have a lot of concerns and questions, letting prospective students lead with their own questions may lead to a more productive visit, whether or not they liked what they learned, she says.

While tours and information sessions are the norm, Strauss stresses that it’s beneficial to explore the school outside of the standard visit. “Oftentimes, when you do your admissions office visit, they’re putting on a show for you. It’s very scripted. We want kids to look behind the curtain, look backstage,” she says. “We want them to go to the dining hall and eat there, go to the bookstore, pick up a student newspaper and see what the campus issues are. You can get a lot of information outside of an official tour.”

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Flash Fiction
Edited by Betsy Boyd

Seven Eight Nine

Seven Eight Nine

by Elisabeth Dahl

Alan lifted the pitcher the day nurse had left on the TV tray and filled a plastic cup with water. He put the straw to his mother’s lips, but she turned away, toward the sunroom’s south-facing wall, and continued sweating silently into the rented sheets.

Alan rubbed his eyes. This was like having a newborn again. The nurses seemed to sense his mother’s needs, but he was always—well, clutching at straws.

Once, this sunroom had been his mother’s turf. At her mahogany secretary, the one now shoved into the living room to create space, she’d write notes and make phone calls. On the wicker rocker where the nurses often dozed, she’d once paged through the newspaper every night.

He turned the cotton blanket down toward his mother’s ankles in three neat folds, then pulled a rawhide chew from under her hip. The dog regularly used her as a hiding place now. 

His mother stared wordlessly at the African violets Alan had been tending since moving in six months earlier, when she began a downward slide. The violets’ needs—how much water, and when, and how—were no clearer than his mother’s, and the furry green leaves had dark spots now, just like his mother’s hands.

“I can’t get the watering right,” Alan said. “Got any tips?”

His mother didn’t respond.

The terrier barked from his round brown bed, then ran to the front of the house. Alan’s twins bustled in, dropping their kindergarten backpacks in one dusty corner of the vestibule.

Andie, his ex, wrapped a loose lock of hair behind an ear. “You okay?” she asked, already halfway out the door.

Alan nodded. “The night nurse comes at 8.”

He fed the kids, then started them on Toy Story. Back in the sunroom, his mother’s eyes were closed again. He rested a hand on her wide, heavy knee. Her legs had been saplings once—tapered and narrow, ending in slingback heels. Once she’d had a neatly set bob and five different church hats, kept on rotation. Now she had dandelion fluff that a hat would cloak completely.

Alan washed the dishes, saving the pizza slice Lena hadn’t finished, the peas Kyle had chased around the plate. He looked out the kitchen window, toward the east, where the darkening had begun.
The twins ran in. “Can we talk to Grandma?” Lena asked.

Alan wiped his hands on a dishtowel. “Sure. But remember, she may not respond.”

The kids perched on the hospital bed. “If you need to go,” Lena said, “just count to ten and go!”

“To infinity and beyond!” Kyle exclaimed.

His mother didn’t stir.

“Want to hear a joke?” Lena asked. “Why was six afraid of seven?”

Alan leaned against the opening to the sunroom, looking at the girl’s cheek. It curved the way the earth did, at the horizon. 

“Because seven eight nine,” Lena proclaimed.

His mother opened her eyes. “Ten,” she said clearly.

Baltimore native Elisabeth Dahl is the author-illustrator of “Genie Wishes,” a novel for children (Abrams/Amulet, 2013). She writes for both children and adults. Her stories, poems, and essays have appeared at NPR.org, in Johns Hopkins Magazine, at Baltimore Fishbowl, and in other outlets.


MORE STORIES >>

Swimming Lessons by Timmy Reed »

Death at the La Brea Tar Pits by Jessica Anya Blau »

Pan-America by Jen Michalski »

The Reunion by Jen Grow »

PLUS: New Books by Baltimoreans »

July-August 2014
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Flash Fiction
Edited by Betsy Boyd

The Reunion

The Reunion

by Jen Grow

Brenda talks to the mirror.

“Why, yes. I’m a floral designer,” she says to an imaginary acquaintance. “I create arrangements for some of the most high profile weddings in town.” This is only partially true, but it makes her feel good to say it.
“How creative,” someone will comment.

“I bet you see some interesting places,” someone else will marvel. “Old mansions and cathedrals.”

“After a while you get used to it,” she answers herself. “All the brides, how beautiful everything is, knowing that you had something to do with it.” She puckers her lips to check her lipstick in the mirror. She curls her hair, draws sparkling shadow across the hoods of her eyes, puts on her best padded bra. She’s dressing for her 20th high school reunion, trying on different outfits. Brenda smiles at herself and winks.

She plans to avoid all direct questions about her own state of marriage by standing next to the food table and eating hors d’oeuvres. “Excuse me,” she’ll say if someone asks. She’ll chew her teriyaki chicken wing and look around the room with a napkin to her mouth. She’ll excuse herself to get a drink at the bar and ask someone, “Have you seen Clyde?” Clyde sat in front of her in her ninth grade science class. She imagines he will remember her with the same crush of fondness she has for him. She hasn’t seen him since graduation. If he’s there, if he remembers her at all, she knows she’ll look good.

Then, when it’s time to leave, she hesitates. She doesn’t want to be early, she says. She sits on her sofa in her dress clothes for a moment and turns on the TV. Old humiliations float around her like ghosts. She was shy and graceless in high school, always embarrassed. A half hour passes. There is still time to go to her reunion, but something holds her back, and for the time being, it’s a program on TV about a woman who believes her husband was wrongfully accused of a crime and is being framed. The investigative reporter seems to have evidence to the contrary, and Brenda is interested to see how it turns out. She’s hoping the husband isn’t lying. She’s almost crossing her fingers about it. This suspense is why she tells herself she can’t leave just yet. She’s waiting for the commercials to be over so she can find out more.

When the story ends in a predictable way, Brenda scolds herself for thinking it might’ve been otherwise. She stands and checks herself in the mirror again. She knows she could still change her mind and go, but she changes the channel instead. She gets absorbed in something else. More time passes. I will leave just after this, she tells herself. But she doesn’t move.

If Brenda had gone to the reunion, there’s this: a mirrored bar, carrots and dip, teriyaki chicken wings, people gathered in a dark room trying to recall faces. They squint at each other’s nametags made of old photos from the yearbook. They secretly note who has aged and gained weight, who’s improved, who’s gray, who appears to be alcoholic. Some of the wives pack leftovers from the buffet to take home and make meatball sandwiches. Near the end of the night, a woman wearing gold lamé skids across the wet floor as she exits the bathroom; she falls and sprains her wrist. A few husbands bend to help the woman off the floor. The deejay stops the music for a moment, but no one was dancing anyway.

Jen Grow is the fiction editor of Little Patuxent Review. Her writing has appeared in Other Voices, The Sun Magazine, Hunger Mountain and many more. Her story collection, “My Life as a Mermaid and Other Stories,” was the 2012 winner of the Dzanc Books’ Short Story Collection Competition and is forthcoming in 2015.


MORE STORIES >>

Swimming Lessons by Timmy Reed »

Death at the La Brea Tar Pits by Jessica Anya Blau »

Pan-America by Jen Michalski »

Seven Eight Nine by Elisabeth Dahl »

PLUS: New Books by Baltimoreans »

 

July-August 2014
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Restaurant Deconstructed: Le Garage
Restaurant Deconstructed: Le Garage

In the Bordeaux region of France, garagistes shook up the red wine world in the 1990s with their nontraditional blends. Named in part for that movement, Le Garage opened in Hampden in April with its own take on French and Belgian beer-with-food. Chris Spann, founder-owner of The Wine Market, stands in the background as “partner-consultant” while Brendan Kirlin, who trained as a beer buyer for Spann’s Locust Point bistro, mans the front of the house and stocks the bar. The kitchen is commandeered by Sarah Acconcia, whose credentials include helming 13.5% Wine Bar and the defunct Kettle Hill as well as working as sous chef at Maggie’s Farm.

Menu. While the menu is inspired by flavors French and Belgian, Acconcia dabbles in Southeast Asian flavors, possibly influenced by her previous gig with Andrew Weinzirl at Maggie’s Farm.

Specials include a Maryland rockfish, bouillabaisse with lobster, mallard duck breast and ribeye steak frites. Acconcia is most jazzed about the chef’s blind tasting menu, five courses of inspiration, du moment.

Frites & burgers. Le Garage’s Frites shop, in the entry vestibule on the Avenue is a first for Baltimore. Thick-cut fried potatoes, creamy inside, crispy out, come in cones with a choice of 18 dipping sauces—ranging from a sharp red chili gochujang aioli to Old Bay ketchup to sweet pea and ginger— though missing is classic Belgian mayo. Try them all. The restaurant menu boasts a delicious burger, a Roseda dry age topped with cheddar, arugula and fois gras.

Bar. Kirlin has stocked the taps with a mix of Belgian, French and local craft suds, designed to complement the beer-friendly food, and available for transport in Le Garage-branded growlers. There’s a cocktail list with classic drinks featuring local spirits, and familiar French elixirs—think Lillet and Chartreuse—in new concoctions. Wine drinkers can turn to what Spann calls “the smart, efficient little all-French wine list.”

Décor. The former Dogwood has been divided into discrete bar and dining sections by open shelves stocked with empty growlers, vintage cookbooks and assorted bric-a-brac. The basement space has a garage-y feel; SM+P partner Charles Patterson (who also designed the nearby Food Market and Mt. Washington Tavern) chose dark hues and industrial chic touches—like a window with arty tinted panes looking into the private dining room—to create an informal vibe. 911 W. 36th St., 410-243-6300. legaragebaltmore.com
—Martha Thomas

July-August 2014
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Auramé
Auramé

Savvy never did quite understand why it’s “holistic” and not “wholistic.” After all, the idea is to make one’s life fully integrated. Still, she does appreciate the sense of serenity she gets when she steps into Auramé, a new alternative health shop brimming with positive energy. That’s thanks to owner Belinda Schroeder, who, in addition to being a retail maven, is a color therapist. Need a pick-me-up? Let Belinda diagnose you. In the meantime, succumb to the sweet scents of Aura-Soma color therapy oils sold in bright, cheerful bottles, soft bamboo wraps by Angelrox, labradorite necklaces by Bittersweet and one-of-a-kind Art Deco cuffs from Paris by Lotta Djossou. Toss a Hobo bag over your shoulder, grab some bath salts and B.Witching Organic Muscle Rub for hubby, and you’re good to go. 836 W. 36th Street, Hampden. Summer hours vary.

July-August 2014
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It Takes a Village
Locals Turn to Crowdfunding to Pay for Overwhelming Medical Expenses and Other Financial Hardships.
By Jennifer Walker


Jon Fogg near his office at the Baltimore Sun

Jon Fogg didn’t give a second thought to the man he saw on a bicycle. It was around 1:30 a.m. on a Tuesday in January, and Fogg, 31, a Baltimore Sun sports editor who had just left work, was eager to find parking in Canton and get home. He grabbed a spot, got out of his car and began walking to his house. That’s when the cyclist rolled up beside him and asked for a light.

“I felt very panicked, but I’m a calm person, so I tried to play it off,” Fogg says. He politely said no, then turned away. In that moment, the guy “somehow jumped off the bike and tackled me, just in a split second like it was nothing.”

After pushing Fogg between two cars, the attacker jammed something up against him through his sweatshirt, saying it was a gun. He took Fogg’s wallet, keys and laptop—and grabbed a brick from the stack that surrounded a small tree nearby and hit Fogg in the head with it. The entire episode was probably only a minute long, but “it felt like an eternity,” says Fogg. The attacker took Fogg’s car and left him with six missing teeth, broken bones in both hands and six skull fractures.

Fogg’s subsequent medical care has led to mounting bills. Along with a three-day hospital stay, hand therapy and psychological therapy, Fogg, who has a high-deductible health plan, needed extensive dental work, including dentures, bone grafts and implants. Doctors estimate his dental bills alone could reach $20,000.

To help, Fogg’s sister, Melissa Fogg Castone, turned to crowdfunding. She started a website on GoFundMe with the goal of raising $1,000. Three months later, Fogg’s campaign has raised $37,461 through 869 donations. The response “has been way beyond anything I could have imagined,” Fogg says.

In the last few years, crowdfunding has expanded beyond creative projects. In 2012, 21 percent of families who were fully covered by public or private insurance still struggled to pay medical bills, according to a recent survey by the National Center for Health Statistics. Sites like GoFundMe that allow people to fundraise to cover medical costs—as well as funeral expenses, adoption costs and other financial stressors—seem like an ideal solution. In 2013, campaigns on GoFundMe raised a combined $128 million; this year, the site is on track to surpass $600 million. Similar websites have done well, too: FundRazr, YouCaring, and GiveForward raised $23 million, $62 million and $45 million, respectively, last year.

Fogg, who has since returned to work and relocated to Baltimore County—a move he had planned with his girlfriend since last year—continues to use the GoFundMe money to pay for his therapy sessions and ongoing dental work. “These sites are a great way to help out people whose situation you might hear about,” says Fogg, adding that many of his donors are strangers.

The sites do come with a downside though: the fees, says Columbia resident Wyntre Denne, whose GoFundMe campaign has raised more than $20,000.

Although fundraising pages are free to set up, the websites often take a 5 percent fee per donation, while their online payment processors, such as PayPal, take an additional 2.9 percent plus 30 cents per transaction. YouCaring only charges PayPal or WePay fees, while GiveForward gives donors the option of covering its fees.

Still, Denne, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012, says that without her campaign, “I would be paying the hospital…until I die.”

Denne, 44, a real estate agent and mother of four kids, ages 11 to 21, has faced many medical issues since her initial diagnosis. After having a hysterectomy and being cleared of ovarian cancer, she began having pains in her side. Doctors found a large tumor on both her colon and her bladder and dozens of tiny tumors across her abdomen. She’s had surgery to remove the large tumors and three months of chemotherapy to attack the small tumors.

Over an egg sandwich at Cracker Barrel, Denne is lighthearted about her diagnosis, even making jokes about how she has a runnier nose since losing her nose hair during chemo. (“Just call my nose the slip and slide,” she says. “Nothing is stopping it.”) But she also admits that the physical pain and mental anguish can be overwhelming. During chemo, she crammed about 20 pill bottles on her nightstand for hot flashes, nausea and other side effects. She’s had surgery on her port six times. And she sometimes feels like a burden on her family, in part because of the financial challenges.

“You think that you can’t take it anymore,” Denne says. “Then [you find] the strength to take it to the next day.”

Although Denne doesn’t want to think about her “final bill,” she has already paid $6,500 to cover last year’s medical procedures and expects to pay a few thousand more. This year, her deductible has gone up to $3,000, and her coverage has gone down. With another surgery planned for June followed by a second round of chemo, Denne, who will have two kids in college this fall, expects higher bills.

A private person uncomfortable with asking others for money, Denne says that her friend Jennifer Swales suggested starting the GoFundMe campaign. Swales, who has since raised the campaign goal to $27,500, monitors the site and approves the financial transfers to Denne’s account.

Denne’s eyes fill up as she talks about the campaign. “It’s humbling to know that there are a lot of people who are willing to help you when you’re down and out,” she says.


The Gardner family outside of their fire-damaged home

Others like Lisa Gardner, whose house burned down earlier this year, have used crowdfunding to rebuild their lives after a disaster. Although they didn’t own the house, Gardner, 41, her husband, Chris, and their two daughters, Elizabeth, 9, and Sara, 7, lived there as caretakers of the property. During an ice storm in early February, a tree crashed into power lines, knocking out the Gardners’ power. Embracing the situation, the family was huddled in the living room next to a burning fire.

At around 9 p.m., the room filled with smoke. The Gardners opened the door for air, and the upstairs and outside smoke detectors began beeping. When Gardner tried to go upstairs, “the smoke was so thick,” she says. “It got my throat, it got my nose, it got my eyes.” Without socks or shoes, the family ran outside to the car in their pajamas, leaving everything but their wallets and keys behind.

Later, the Gardners learned that the chimney mortar had crumbled and smoldered, causing a backdraft when they opened the outside door. Half of the house burned down in six minutes, destroying the living room, the master bedroom and the attic. The next day, they salvaged only the girls’ baby blankets, a few photos and glassware pieces and some paperwork.

For Gardner, seeing the destroyed house was surreal. “You’ve got a coffee cup on the table and stuff in the fridge,” she says. “There was this life that was taking place in this house, and [we’d] been plucked out.”

The family spent the next 11 weeks in a one-bedroom suite at the Hilton Garden Inn in Owings Mills. Although their renters insurance paid for part of the hotel fees, the Gardners still had to pay a portion for their room while doling out more money to eat many meals in restaurants. They also had to buy new clothes, shoes, kitchen supplies, cleaning products, furniture and more—all at once.

Turning to FundRazr, Lisa Gardner’s ministry, The CREW Ministries, raised more than $10,000 for her family in four days. Friends raised an additional $2,000 on YouCaring.

“Without those fundraising pages, we would not have been able to keep afloat during our time at the hotel, and replace everything we lost,” Gardner says.

They also put some of the money toward a down payment on a new home in Reisterstown. Sitting on her new beige carpet on move-in day, Gardner says that the fire has given her family a fresh start. A couple of days earlier, she decorated the girls’ new rooms. Later that night, Sara was sprawled out on her own floor playing with pink and purple Legos.

“It’s something she hasn’t been able to do in a long time,” Gardner says. Seeing her like that, she adds, “I know we’re going to be OK.”

July-August 2014
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Go Wild
Fine jewelry gets a little more fun with flowers, creatures and other earthly delights.
Produced by Kim Van Dyke
Photographed by David Stuck

Go Wild

Titanium, 18k yellow gold and diamond flower ring, $4,150, at Bijoux in Green Spring Station. 18k white and yellow gold frog pendant with diamonds, $450, at Welsh International in Catonsville. 18k white gold Jenny Perl Design Studio butterfly pin with pink sapphires and diamonds, $7,950, at J. Brown Jewelers in Pikesville.

NEXT»

Note: Some featured pieces are estate jewelry and may have been sold after publication.

July-August 2014
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Idle Worship
To do something…or nothing…on summer vacation? That is this mother’s question.
by Jennifer Mendelsohn

A couple of years ago, the night before we were supposed to leave on our annual beach trip, I nervously drove myself to an urgent care clinic. I’d been coughing for a few days and running a fever, but as I struggled to catch my breath lugging baskets of laundry up our stairs, I had an intuitive inkling that something wasn’t right.

A nurse confided that I looked “terrible” and suggested a chest X-ray. She scanned the shadowy films and tut-tutted at me. “You need to wait for the doctor to talk to you, but you’re going to be verrrry glad you came in tonight,” she said knowingly.

The X-rays showed I had pneumonia.

I explained to the doctor that we were supposed to be leaving on a long-planned week’s vacation. Could I still go?

“Well, where are you headed?” she asked. “Someplace you’re going to be very active, like Disneyland?”

No, no, I told her. We were about to spend a week in an Outer Banks rental house with my husband’s family.

She looked at me and asked the question every mother longs to hear. “Do you think you can do nothing but lie on the beach with a book and relax for a week?” she asked with utter earnestness. “That means no cooking. No cleaning. You really need to take it easy if you want to get better.”

Lie on the beach with a book for a week? Uh, no problem, Doc. I think I got this one. Could you write that down on a prescription pad?

The doctor had no idea that she had unwittingly hit on a hot-button issue for me. I find the world of vacations very thorny. Lying on the beach with a book and doing absolutely nothing? That’s a vacation I can get behind. Museums and anything vaguely educational I understand. But in truth, places like Disneyland—places designed for people to do nothing but have fun—actually terrify me. Rides make me incredibly anxious. Water slides? Uhhh…no. I don’t know how to ski or surf or hang-glide or climb mountains. I can kinda sorta be down with hiking because, well, isn’t it really just walking? But the world of pure amusement is an utter mystery to me.

I know, I know. The First World-iest of First World problems. But let me just say I come by this weirdness honestly.

Let me back up for a moment. I come from a family steeped in lore. And in the Mendelsohn family mythology, few stories loom as large as that of The Ocean City Vacation. It was August of 1967. And my parents packed my four brothers into their trusty Chevy station wagon—I didn’t make my debut until the following fall—and drove to Ocean City for a few days, to join friends who lived outside of D.C.

The story looms large not because of any terrible mishap that happened along the way, or because of a run-in with a famous person. It’s not that it coincided with an important historical moment, unless you include the airing of the final episode of the TV show “The Fugitive,” which my brother Andrew fell asleep and missed, much to his chagrin. It looms large because it was, in our family’s entire history, the only time we ever went on a family vacation. (Cue the youngest kid stomp-fest: I ALWAYS MISS ALL THE GOOD STUFF!)

We lived an otherwise unremarkable, middle-class lifestyle. My father was a research scientist for an aerospace company. My mother, a teacher, stayed at home full-time until I was in high school. We wanted for nothing truly crucial. We traveled occasionally as a family, but always, it seemed, to the brisket-scented homes of elderly relatives, and never to anything even remotely resembling a ski lodge or the Magic Kingdom. With five kids to keep in sneakers and braces and college educations, going someplace just for fun was pretty low on the agenda.

In retrospect, I think it was less about money than it was about leisure. My parents simply weren’t idle types. Both the children of hard-working Eastern European immigrants, they weren’t particularly comfortable indulging the urge to be unproductive. Neither had any particular interest in seeing the world. I would always look at the tanned faces of other kids at school after Christmas vacation with a mix of envy and wonder. You just…went to a hotel in the Caribbean? Just…because?

Now that I’m the parent, though, I’m determined that my kids’ experience will be different than mine. We’ve dutifully taken them to plenty of fun places “just because,” places like Great Wolf Lodge (Oh, the humanity!) and Hersheypark, where I politely declined to ride the roller coaster that begins with riders on their backs, in roughly the exact position of an astronaut about to launch into space. And while I’m still a Disney holdout, this past Christmas, we officially took our first major family vacation, just the four of us on an impromptu jaunt to a paradisiacal resort in Puerto Rico. Just…because.

It was every bit as wonderfully indulgent as I imagined. My older son went down a water slide so tall it gave me hives just to look at it, but there was no denying the joy on his face when he popped back up out of the water, triumphant. My kids were the ones who came back from Christmas break with those tans I always marveled at.

But while lying on a raft in the Puerto Rican sunshine, I came to the very important revelation that in the great water park of life, I’ll always be a lazy river kind of girl. And I’m OK with that. Just let me sit with a book and do nothing. I’ll happily look up and wave as my boys go squealing down the slide.

Jennifer Mendelsohn lives in Mount Washington with her husband and their two boys. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, People, Slate and USA Weekend. She also serves as one of Us Weekly’s Fashion Police “Top Cops.”

July-August 2014
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Beauty Queens
As the old adage goes, “pretty is as pretty does.” meet three spirited entrepreneurs who are building their own beauty empires—one face lotion, foundation and fabulous hair product at a time.


Mally flashes her signature smile on the QVC set.

THE GLAMOUR GIRL

Mally Roncal, Founder, Mally Beauty

“WAKE UP. KICK ASS. BE KIND. REPEAT.” That’s the “Mally Mantra” celebrity makeup artist-turned-beauty mogul Mally Roncal posted on her Facebook fan page the morning of her interview with Style—and it’s a perfect description of her carpe diem attitude.

An only child and second-generation Filipina American born to two doctors, Roncal learned early on not to take life for granted. When she was just a year old, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and given six months to live, but she fought back—and thrived to see her daughter’s 17th birthday.

“We had so much fun,” shares Roncal, 42, who says her always impeccably put-together, Chanel-clad mom inspired her “drag-queen-level obsession” with beauty, which included playing with makeup before she could even talk. “We lived by seizing every single moment together. I think that’s why I am the way I am now—very positive and sensitive. I’m lucky to see life as one big play date.”

Roncal’s boisterous personality (and big smile) shine brightly on QVC, where she launched Mally Beauty—a full line of professionally inspired cosmetics and beauty tools—in 2005.

“It’s like the Olympics of television,” she says of the circus that is appearing on the shopping network, where she has become famous for her Mallyisms, including calling everyone and everything gorgois! (Yep, it rhymes with “moi” and is a fancier way of saying gawgeous.)

Imagine standing there with two monitors in front of you—one live and one that’s going live in a few minutes. You’re trying to articulate the benefits of a product, while looking fabulous, being funny and approachable, and simultaneously dabbing makeup on models and interacting with the program’s hosts. A ticking clock tells you how much shrinking time remains to sell an item and there’s a producer buzzing in your ear with comments like your hair is scratching your mic” or “move to the left, we can’t see the product” or “this is good, you’re doing great” or (the dreaded) “we’re going to move along”—all based on real-time data about whether viewers are flooding the station with calls…or changing the channel.

“People might laugh and be like, ‘How hard could it be?’” says Roncal. “But there are 4 billion things going on at the same exact time. Whether you watch QVC or not, you can’t deny what those people do on the air is an art.”

But plenty of people are watching.

“Since our first sale in 2005, we’ve grown to more than $70 million in retail sales worldwide. Six of our products won QVC’s customer choice award last year—beating all other similar items out of hundreds of options on the channel” says Don Pettit, CEO of Mally Beauty, which is headquartered in Towson and boasts a staff of talented expats from other beauty companies, including Noxell, CoverGirl and jane cosmetics. The team recently celebrated another magnificent milestone: Mally Beauty’s retail launch at all Ulta Beauty locations in May.

“It is a joyful journey for us all,” says Pettit. “Mally has an appreciation of people that is infectious and uplifting. She’s also the single best makeup artist I’ve ever seen in 30-plus years in the beauty business. She knows how to make women feel wonderful about themselves.”

Indeed, Roncal has developed a loyal and passionate following of “Mallynistas” that includes everyday moms and working professionals—just like her. (She and her model-turned-photographer hubby have three young daughters and live in West Chester, Pa., not too far from the QVC campus.) While she can’t pinpoint this group down to a specific demographic as her fans span all ages, races and geographic regions, Roncal does see one common thread: All of them lead busy lives and respond to her openness to try (and teach them) new things—like, say, how to use an eyebrow pencil.

“My fans tend to be women who need a girlfriend, cheerleader or a partner-in-crime to give them permission to do something beautiful for themselves,” she says. “I’m very unapologetic about being who I am when it comes to makeup. Wanting to feel pretty doesn’t make you inferior, less strong, less smart. It makes you confident.”

Of course, women aren’t just responding to Roncal’s “schtick” so to speak, but also to the quality of her makeup. Around the Towson office, she is renowned (and revered) for being lovingly “psycho” about testing, testing and testing her products. (Hint: she’s not afraid to say, “Take this crap back and start over!” if she doesn’t like a new mascara or foundation.)

“There’s a difference between throwing a product on the shelf and saying ‘if you like it, you like it, if you don’t, you don’t,” Roncal says with a laugh. “But I have to stand up on national TV, essentially face-to-face with a customer, and tell her my mascara is going to give her longer-looking lashes or this eyeliner won’t budge. The only way I can do that is to believe it.”

Not budging (or smudging) is a big part of the Mally Beauty brand, which was inspired by Roncal’s work as makeup artist to the stars, including everyone from Angelina Jolie, Hayden Panettiere and Maggie Gyllenhaal to Rihanna, Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez—one of our faves.  (“She has this confidence that’s unlike anything you’ve seen before,” confides Roncal. “It’s electric.”)

After working as a design assistant for Tracy Reese in the Big Apple, Roncal started doing makeup for fashion shows and editorial features—and got her big break when her agent called her to work on an Us Weekly photo shoot with a young Emily Watson. She spent the next decade traveling the globe and doing makeup for some of the world’s most famous women, as the celebs-on-magazine-covers trend took flight. But after meeting her future husband, she decided to cool her jet-setting ways and settle down to start a family…and a beauty empire.

“I call my makeup bullet-proof,” says the former Sephora spokeswoman who had access to every cosmetics brand on the planet but couldn’t find a single line that worked perfectly for the likes of J-Lo and Queen Bey. “Nothing had the staying power that could stand up to the singing, dancing, sweating, the whole nine yards. So I decided to create my own line that gives people a celebrity look, but won’t come off until you take it off.” (Her 4:30 a.m.-applied “face” was still flawless when we interviewed her in the afternoon.)

Roncal has worked an extraordinary list of famous faces, but—if given her druthers—there’s at least one “dream celebrity” she’d still love to get her hands on: Dolly Parton.

“She’s my idol. Back when I first started a million years ago, she was going on the cover of Out magazine. They had her sitting on hay bales with a bunch of naked guys laying around her—and they asked me to do the makeup for the men. Dolly had her whole team there, but her presence was amazing. I also love Barbra Streisand. Anyone who has a look and owns it, that’s my definition of beauty.”

These days, of course, Roncal is the celebrity—with fans asking for her autograph or to put on their lip gloss in line at the grocery store.

“It’s humbling and amazing,” she says, noting that she even loves those rare moments when she gets caught without makeup in public. “The Mallynistas have no problems calling me out on it! But, truly, there’s nothing more special than when somebody recognizes me and says, ‘You taught me something that helped me to look and feel better.’ It melts my heart.”

As for her detractors who say that Mally is just, well, too damn perky?

“Between you, me and the lamppost, there are customers who can’t stand me.

I don’t read negative stuff online anymore, but I used to get hurt by comments like, ‘Nobody is ever that happy. It’s complete bullshit,’ she says. “Now I’m just like, ‘Sorry, honey. Wish you could come over to the sunny side of the street—but, feel free to stay over there.’ I’m incredibly grateful for my life and I’m never going to pretend that I’m not.”

—Jessica Bizik

Mally Beauty

Available at QVC, Ulta Beauty and the Mally website. mallybeauty.com


Believable Bronzer, $50. Melted Lipstick Duo, $38. Effortless Airbrush Nourishing Eyeshadow, $29. Perfect Prep Hydrating Under-Eye Brightener, $35.



Jamyla Bennu

THE MIXOLOGY MAVEN

Jamyla Bennu, Co-founder, Oyin Handmade

Sitting at her store counter, surrounded by her wares, Jamyla Bennu looks every bit the beaming self-made woman. But something’s wrong with this picture: She’s not mixing up her luscious bath and body products. Instead, she’s cutting up a lowly T-shirt, albeit in an artistic way.

“What can I say?” she comments. “I’m a crafty chick.”

Indeed. She started out almost 15 years ago at her kitchen table in Brooklyn, N.Y., mixing batches of honey, shea butter, lavender, rose petals, flaxseed and other ingredients into skin and hair care products that she then tried on herself and friends. Slowly refining her recipes over the years, she developed several successful mixtures, started selling them by word of mouth, and voilà! A star was born. So was a name: Oyin, which is the Yoruba word for “honey.”

Bennu launched Oyin Handmade on-line in 2003. It has since expanded to brick and mortar. Tucked into a modest basement storefront on Charles Street a few blocks above North Avenue, Oyin sells dozens of products festooned with colorful labels and cheeky names – “grand poo bar” “hair dew,” “no ash at all,” “funk butter” – all of them made by hand by a team of workers in a warehouse just a few blocks away.

Bennu, 38, is joined in her endeavors by her dapper husband, Pierre, a writer, filmmaker, visual artist and general dynamo who encouraged his wife’s fledgling business and pushed her to make something more of it. From the do-it-yourself gamble at the kitchen table, it has turned into a successful company with projected sales of $1.2 million in 2014.

“This is a milestone for us,” says Jamyla. “It’s been 10 years. First, Whole Foods, and now, Target.”

She is referring to the fact that the grocery chain started selling Oyin in a few select stores a couple of years ago, and the retail behemoth is stocking the products in 140 of its stores nationwide. “Target pioneered the multiethnic market,” Bennu says. “They realized there was a need.”

While most of her customers, says Bennu, are black women, often looking to tame their tight, curly hair, other women are starting to discover Oyin as well.

“Yay!! I love my #oyinhandmade products,” raved one recent commenter on the company’s Instagram feed. “I’m a Caucasian woman with very thick and curly hair, and they’re the best!”

Bennu’s own hair is a short-cropped mass of curls and coils, framing a high-cheekboned face sprinkled with freckles. She’s got a model’s good looks. Could that dewy glow be attributed to her products? And if so, which are her favorites?

“I don’t have a lot of time anymore,” she says with a laugh. “I have two little kids. Mostly, I just get up and go.” But she says her proudest recent accomplishment is a new styling cream called boing!

“It took forever to develop,” she recalls. “About six months. It’s got shea butter, coconut oil, Irish moss, so it fights frizz and is also very moisturizing. It was a lot of fun.”

Even more fun are the hilarious videos that accompany boing! and its brethren on the website. The brainchild of Pierre, the videos feature a crowd of people in goofy wigs and fake noses cheering on an Oyin employee who extols the virtues of a product. It’s not enough that a pomade works on your hair, for example; it also “helps in the kitchen” and “fights crime.” (In the video, an Oyin worker appears to smash a tomato. Cut to a scene of perfect slices. Wild applause. For the crime-fighting bit, the employee hurls a jar of boing! to the side. Off-camera, you hear a man crying out in mock agony. The worker then returns to his hair spiel.)

Though Bennu calls herself the “Grand Mixtress” of the operation, she credits her husband with product development and naming. Neither of them has a background in this kind of business. After she earned her master’s in anthropology at New York University, Jamyla dropped out of a Ph.D. program to pursue her love of creating body products—“the magic of emulsification,” she calls it. Pierre stopped working in banking to focus on his art. Together, they turned their talents to the labor of love that is Oyin.

“Love” is a word that comes up often in conversation with the Grand Mixtress.

“It’s a great thing to do for a living,” she says. “I love meeting customers, seeing the impact these products have had on their lives.”
—Lisa Simeone

Oyin

2103 N. Charles St. | 410-343-7020 | oyinhandmade.com


Funk Butter all-natural deodorant, $6. Grand Poo Bar solid shampoo, $7. After Bath blended body oil, $12. Boing! curly hair styling product, $15.



Kara Brook

THE BUSINESS BEE

Kara Brook, Owner, Waxing Kara

When many people think of honey, they think of that hipster-foodie version of syrup that needs to be specially requested from your local diner to pour on pancakes. For beekeeper Kara Brook, honey is much more than a sweet treat.

Brook’s Waxing Kara business specializes in Bee Inspired Goods, which range from, yes, things you can eat—like organic Eastern Shore honey and lollipops—to household products like candles, “bee bling” jewelry and beeswax art. Plus, she has partnered with experts around the globe to produce a hive’s worth of haute beauty products.

Take, for example, her signature face mask—a “Botox alternative” with Manuka honey and a small amount of bee venom (stay away if you’re allergic!) imported from New Zealand that’s used to give your face a tiny lift.

“There’s just enough of venom to trick the skin into thinking it has been lightly stung, which stimulates circulation as it tightens and smooths the surface,” Brook tells Style from inside the Honey House, the main venue for her product line, which serves as both a retail space and warehouse in Owings Mills.

Fret not, nature lovers. No bees are harmed in the making of this product. A glass-covered electronic device is installed beside the hive. The bees gently secrete venom on the glass as they attempt to sting the surface, which they can’t penetrate, so their abdomens remain intact.

Brook’s other notable beauty products include a honey-based body scrub that can exfoliate your face and keep your skin moisturized, and a body scrub that’s 100 percent pure, crystallized honey. (You could eat it, if you wanted to.) The Honey House also sells a trio of organic, tinted honey lip balms, along with a collection of handmade soaps that serve as natural humectants and antibacterials.

With Brook’s knowledge and the wide array of products, you might assume she’s long been queen bee in the honey trade. Surprisingly, she got her start only three years back. No doubt her artistic identity helped her claim this quirky new territory with confidence.

“An artist is just something that you are. You’re born that way,” says the Baltimore native and MICA grad, who feels particularly well wired to take creative risks. “You’re always a little different from day one—and that’s me.”

In her earlier career, Brook worked as a graphic designer for a then-fledgling AOL and loved it, but she still missed creating art.

“I made a deal with myself,” she says.

“I said that by the time I was a certain age, I was going to go back to it.”

At first, Brook would just paint with acrylic on snow days. But then she fell in love with an encaustic (wax) painting, which inspired her to take workshops on the art form.

She set up hives at Chesterhaven Beach Farm on Maryland’s Eastern Shore to get wax. After the first harvest, she “realized the glory in honey,” and was hooked—or perhaps stuck on the ritual. From there she committed to her sweet new life.

“I really like the idea of Eastern Shore honey,” she says. “There’s something so tranquil and peaceful about it.”

In reality, the process of putting these lovely products on the market has involved endless hard work. Beekeeping isn’t some ethereal and elegant process. It involves suiting up, sweating and being prepared for the worst. “It’s natural to be afraid,” she says.

Brook’s fearless best friend, Joyce, accompanied her the first time she ventured into the hive, which proved easier than Brook expected. Physical danger actually seems to be the least of her worries. A stickier problem: A Varroa mite issue has been killing her bees off, which puts a hinder on her efforts to keep organic.

But it’s all worth it for the entrepreneur who thrives on her collaborations with other beekeepers, seasoned artisans and beauty experts across the country. She’s also having fun experimenting with unique honey recipes for a future product. And the proceeds of her business have allowed her to continue her support of VisionWorkshops, a nonprofit that teaches at-risk youth the art of photojournalism.

“I’m really not trying to prove anything anymore,” she says. “This work is very meditative in a way. As soon as I can track inventory and not be a week late ordering lollipops, I’ll be golden.”
—Ian Zelaya

Honey House

10989 Red Run Blvd. | Owings Mills | 410-415-3027 | waxingkara.com


Peace of Mind Bar Soap, $9. Bee Venom Mask USA, $70. Strength Bar Soap, $9. Sweet Lips Organic Tinted Honey Lip Balm Trio (Plum), $24.

 

July-August 2014
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Flash Fiction
Three quirky, well-wrought short stories by Charm City writers. Plus, our local summer reading list.
Edited by Betsy Boyd
Illustration by Sophie Casson

Swimming Lessons

Swimming Lessons

by Timmy Reed

I was the only boy in Baltimore that had to go to summer school for Sexual Education. I knew nothing and had mostly avoided the class. I hadn’t expected to meet any girls.

Girls were far away, impossible. I’d never really touched one. I’d been riding the same fake kiss from summer camp for the last four years.

Summer school was in the classroom of a lower school in Hampden. There were ducks and the letters of the alphabet on the wall. An old man with a big orange afro was my teacher. I forget his name. I thought of him as “Ronald McDonald.” He was a nice man. He taught me awkwardly, alone, about the ways of a woman’s insides.

I had a girl in mind though: Harriet Hurtt. Not for sex yet, that seemed so far off and impossible. For whatever romantic options boys think of when sex is off the platter. I dreamt of those options. I dreamt of what they might be.

Harriet was the toughest person in summer school. She was there for every class, all day long, except Sex Ed.

It was July, boiling, and they shut the school down for our safety. We were all given bus passes so we could get on the MTA and go home. I bought an egg custard snowball first, then went to my stop.

Harriet was across the street, headed south on the same line.

“Hey, Kid!” she called across, looking all sweaty and important. I had never been called a nickname by anyone that mattered. “I’ll trade you a cigarette for some of that snowball.”

The ice melted off her spoon as it touched her mouth. I would follow her anywhere.

“Let’s go swimming,” she said.

We wound our way down Falls Road until we hit the waterfalls left over by the mills. My father had shown them to me once on a hike, but warned me against touching the water.

“Dirty,” he said. “Keep yourself clean as long as you can.”

The falls were a postcard, half-round like a horseshoe, gushing toward the harbor in a sweet, liquid song. There was garbage stuck to the banks. Harriet went in fully dressed. She eased herself into the water. I pushed sick-yellow foam away with a stick.

She flicked her wrist.

“On my way,” I told her.

Now we were next to each other. We paddled back toward the falling water, holding hands, treading. The falls tried to breach us, but couldn’t. We were pushed forward, but held strong. I tasted love like filthy water in my mouth.

Our exit was too soon. I could have stayed in that brown stream until fall, holding this bad girl’s hand. It was a new kind of classroom. There was still so much to learn.

Timmy Reed edits fiction for What Weekly.com and recently self-published a collection of stories called “Tell God I Don’t Exist.” His debut novel, “The Ghosts That Surrounded Them,” is forthcoming this winter from Dig That Book, Co.


MORE STORIES >>

Death at the La Brea Tar Pits by Jessica Anya Blau »

Pan-America by Jen Michalski »

The Reunion by Jen Grow »

Seven Eight Nine by Elisabeth Dahl »

PLUS: New Books by Baltimoreans »

July-August 2014
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Summer Cooler

Move over Margarita! The Spa Cooler has arrived on our summer scene. Simple and delicate, this cocktail has all of the flavor of a punch with only natural fruit sugars and sparkling delight. Mix up a carafe to share. It will rejuvenate on a hot afternoon by the pool or refresh during an evening on the patio by the grill.

Carafe (32-40 ounces)
8 ounces Edinburgh gin
1⁄2 cucumber thinly sliced
1⁄2 pound of diced strawberries
1⁄2 large navel orange thinly sliced Lemon Perrier

Fill carafe halfway with ice. Add gin and fruit. Fill carafe with lemon Perrier and gently stir.

By Ginny Lawhorn, award-winning bartender at Landmark Theatres, Harbor East and founder of Tend for a Cause.

July-August 2014
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Lush
Lush

Ask any woman—can you ever have enough beauty products? Silly question. That’s why the opening of Lush at Harbor East is divine. Sidle up to the cosmetics bar, for an array of fragrant soaps with names like Karma, Porridge and Sultana, or perhaps a colorful Bath Bomb called Secret Garden, Honey Lumps or Twilight. (Sorry, sexy vampire not included.) The handmade products are organic, vegetarian, not tested on animals and come with little or no packaging so you can feel good about feeling good. 1001 AliceannaStreet, Harbor East. lushusa.com

July-August 2014
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Nature & Nurture
On your next beach trip, dump the junk food— and feed your body and soul with an array of new health and wellness options
By Betsy Boyd

Beach season is upon us. And maybe that means the same lazy traditions we have always held dear: boardwalk browsing in A.C. while munching caramel popcorn, cooking a sunburn while scarfing Grotto Pizza in Rehoboth, or enjoying an afternoon beef-and-beer at Abbey Burger Bistro in Ocean City. And that’s OK! We’re not here to judge (just writing that paragraph made us hungry). But we think it’s worth noting that numerous health and wellness options are popping up throughout the region’s beach communities—part of a growing trend toward scenic fitness, organic fine dining and body-pampering treats so delicious we sense a new beachgoer tradition on the tide. Here are a few of our favorites.


Atlantic City Surf School and Club

Atlantic City

Feeling core-confident upon arrival? You might sail straight to surf school. Run by a national surfing champ and a two-time NSSA national team member, the Atlantic City Surf School and Club (acsurfschool. com, 609-347-SURF) offers lessons for all levels, including intensive Weekend Warrior camps designed to get you hanging 10 in three days or less. Also look for kids’ programs, including the brilliantly titled Teenie Wahinnie camp for ages 9 to 13. Really, can you imagine a cooler Facebook pic than you standing upright, catching a sky-blue wave? (Yes, the pros say they can at least get you to stand on the board, but often more.)

Or ease into your beach exercise routine with free boardwalk fitness classes starting (not that early) at 10 a.m. Work up a light sweat dancing Zumba amid the amazing Étude Atlantis installation on the A.C. boardwalk at California Avenue. An optical illusion of painted stripes, the “walkable mural” designed by John Roloff, serves as a fun and trippy backdrop for music and stage acts as well as fluid aerobic
exercise. Classes offered June 21-Sept. 1 and also include a regular AC Beach Body Boot Camp starting at 9 a.m. Visit atlanticcitynj.com for the full schedule.


A treatment room at Spa Toccare in the Borgata Hotel and Casino

Sore muscles deserve luxurious TLC, so reward yourself at Spa Toccare at the Borgata Hotel and Casino (theborgata.com), where you can choose among mega-rich facials, massage and moisturizing body floats. The Egyptian Milk and Honey Cocoon Float, which lasts 50 minutes, results in two perks: velvety-soft skin (at least for the night) and a new level of relaxation (at least until your cell rings). Then again, Table Thai Bodywork’s tempting too, especially for those on the wellness wagon. Nicknamed “assisted yoga,” the 50-minute practice walks each client through individually tailored stretching and breath work aimed at achieving spiritual invigoration and a state of “profound rest.” Sounds downright, well, heavenly.


The cool pool at The Water Club at Borgata

Sidestroke note: The Water Club at Borgata, the immense luxury hotel located steps from older brother Borgata, houses its own spa called Immersion, which features many of Toccare’s spoil-me services plus a gasp-worthy infinity lap pool and whirlpool overlooking the Atlantic. Here, taking a dip is more like taking a tranquilizer. Spa cuisine by celeb “Iron Chef” Geoffrey Zakarian is also potentially addictive—happy guests gather in the Sunroom Lounge nightly for cocktails and not-terrible-for-you tapas.

If retail therapy is your bag, visit the nearby Tanger Outlets (tangeroutlet.com), where you can take a bite out of the kids’ back-to-school shopping budget with savings at Lacoste, Abercrombie & Fitch, J. Crew and Puma. Tanger also has outlets in Ocean City, Md., and Rehoboth Beach, Del.—perfect for reducing road rage after a bout with traffic on the Bay Bridge.


Lums Pond State Park in Bear, Del.

Delaware

If you’re looking to get back to literal nature on your summer getaway, good news: the newly launched Delaware Trail Maps website (destateparks.com) makes it extra easy to snag an immediate overview of the more than 150 walking, biking, running, paddling, canoeing and swimming options sewn throughout the striking nearby state.

At Trap Pond State Park in Laurel, Del., for instance, did you know you can canoe past rare bald cypress trees, picnic under a canopy of natural shade and then consider a game of horseshoes? Check the site. There’s also kayaking, fishing, hiking, bird-watching—and more. Meanwhile, the Junction and Breakwater Trail, another camera-ready, non-commercial option, offers high-steppers a lovely lighthouse overlook. You’ll follow a section of the former Penn Central Rail Line, marching past mature hardwood and conifer forests and inspiring open fields. This trail is user-friendly for hikers, bikers and babies in strollers, so feel free to bring the kids along for the communing.

Later, wake your taste buds with fresh, organic dishes from critical darling Planet X Cafe (302-226-1928, planetcafe.com) in Rehoboth. (Keep your eyes peeled for the precious pink, blue and green house with a wraparound porch.) Both meat-lover and vegetarian menu options abound, and here, natural does not mean simple or plain. The popular Zen Bowl with scallion stuffed chicken thighs with red Thai coconut curry quite simply rocks—as does the stacked eggplant with creamy herb Boursin cheese and tangy Italian Puttanesca sauce. The moderately priced restaurant’s Buddha Bar also features organic wine—salud! Reservations suggested. 


Sunset paddle with 48th Street Watersports

Ocean City, Md.

From 9 a.m. ’til dusk, test some new waters by standup paddle boarding (SUP, man), one of the fastest growing workouts on water. For the $20/hour price of a board rental, coaches at 48th Street Watersports (410-524-9150, 48thstreetwatersports.com) will guide you through the strategic basics of the sport. At the end of the day, the popular Sunset Paddle class puts training travelers to the test with muscle-toning moves made less intimidating thanks to the darkening, romantic setting of the Isle of Wight Bay. Perfect for couples, cohorts and singletons, but interested paddlers should call ahead for reservations.


Ocean City Brewing Company

New arrival Ocean City Brewing Company (443-677-3075, ocbrewingcompany.com), native Joshua Shores’ family-owned, all-organic brewpub, is a fitting and festive place for fitness-centric visitors to indulge in a natural craft beer (or two) after a long day on the water. “We call it clean and green,” Shores says. “We don’t use preservatives or chemicals. All spent grains are recycled to farms for feed or made into dog biscuits, which we sell in our gift shop.”  (Cute, non-cliché gift idea for friends back home.) Twelve to 20 craft beers are on tap on any given day—from light beers to dark ales—and the bar features 15-foot Oktoberfest-style tables to encourage communication among locals and renters alike.


Frontier Town High Ropes Adventure Park

Assateague Island

Wild horses are usually the draw at Assateague, the 37-mile-long barrier island located off the eastern coast of Delmarva, spanning both Maryland and Virginia. But now you can also go on a zip-lining escapade at Frontier Town High Ropes Adventure Park (800-228-5590, frontiertown.com). Not sure what zip-lining consists of? Picture wooden platforms built in trees, linked by cables, ropes, bridges and various fun obstacles to heighten your senses as you climb, swing and “fly” (wearing a helmet; attached to cables, natch) through the air with the greatest of ease. Choose your degree of difficulty based on fitness level and comfort. The park is situated between Frontier Town Water Park and the Wild West Theme Park—so package deals are available. Kids under 10 are not permitted. And if you really want to rough it (we rarely do) consider the family campground. Yee-haw!


Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina

Cambridge, Md.

When you’re simply looking to hole up in a nice hotel, but still keeping health and wellness foremost in mind, the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina (410-901-1234, chesapeakebay.hyatt.com) offers deep pampering and ample outdoor activities in balanced measure.

Nestled on 342 acres, the resort’s sporting opportunities (beyond the award-winning, championship golf course) are divided between land—such as bike touring, tennis, volleyball and working out in the StayFit gym with views of the Choptank River—and water, where you can kayak, water-ski, crab/fish, go tubing or take a cruise with official Chesapeake Bay watermen.

The newly renovated Sago Spa and Salon, named for an underwater grass indigenous to the Chesapeake region, now features locally inspired treatments, like the Eastern Shore Remedy massage and the Old Fashion Back Tonic, a hot massage using steaming towels infused with rosemary, basil, bay laurel and arnica gel.

Heck, you can even book a hypoallergenic room at this we’ve-thought-of-everything resort, which for the first time this summer, is offering all-inclusive getaway deals, starting at $479 per night, based on double occupancy. If you’ve got kids on board, ask for the Family Petite Suite, which features bunk beds for the gang (and a king bed for Mom and Dad).

Get a sitter for dinner, though, because the resort’s new summer season restaurant, the River Marsh Gastropub, provides an ideal spot to drink and de-stress, just the two of you. Menu highlights—cheddar beer soup, Chesapeake crab hush puppies, Guinness-braised short ribs, crispy pork belly tacos and sticky toffee pudding—are decidedly bad for you. But no one’s watching. And, hey, sometimes bad-for-you can be divinely good for the hungry traveler’s soul, too.

July-August 2014
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Keep Calm, Nava On
A chic integrative wellness center opens in columbia.
By Ian Zelaya
Keep Calm, Nava On

HOLISTIC CURIOUS? Nava Health & Vitality Center in Columbia is the one-stop shop for Eastern-Western integrated wellness. Visit the contemporary spa retreat-inspired environment and locate your inner Zen via acupuncture, massage, chiropractic treatment, IV micronutrient therapy (B12, anyone?), hormone optimization and nutrition plans for total wellness. They even offer hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which involves slipping inside a human-size duffel bag.

Expect your ears to pop, like on an airplane, but otherwise your muscles will breath easier. (It’s a common recovery strategy for athletes.)

Founded by Bernie Dancel—CEO of its parent company Ascend One—Nava opened in February. A health-oriented businessman, Dancel saw the benefit of Eastern-Western practices when a Florida-based holistic doctor healed his wife, who had fallen ill and wasn’t benefiting from the specialists she saw beforehand. Afterward, Dancel wondered why that doctor’s treatment, which tied all of his wife’s symptoms together, wasn’t on the map.

“My wife and I made it our mission to do something about it,” says Dancel, who believes the problem with seeing multiple specialists is that they don’t share patients. “We’re able integrate care—and maintain objectivity, because Nava is not run by our medical professionals.”

Prospective clients come in for a wellness consultation and receive diagnostic results from a Nava physician. Nava’s pro team then devises an individualized plan with the option of monthly memberships to help keep you on track.

Side note: We tried acupuncture with Steve, who aimed to help us release our “inner tiger” (which we interpreted to mean repressed stress). Not sure if the tiger came out, but after a few gentle needles to the inner ear and feet, we purred the whole way home. navacenter.com

July-August 2014
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Big Red
Forget juicing. Make the most of summer by serving juicy, ripe tomatoes at every meal.
Written and Photographed by Tracey Middlekauff

Growing up near the bucolic farmland of Western Maryland as I did, it would have been difficult—perverse, even—not to have developed a taste for the juicy, meaty tomatoes that my mother bought by the bushelful from roadside stands all during the hot, lazy months of summer. During tomato season, it didn’t matter that my mother was no great shakes in the kitchen; after all, the plump, fulsome tomatoes needed next to nothing to shine. We ate them with everything: on top of salads, alone with just a bit of salt, and, to this day, my favorite way—in sandwiches with plenty of mayonnaise.

It’s true that a proper summer tomato can stand entirely on its own, but I’ve played with it a bit in the following four dishes, while still allowing its essential tomato nature to shine. The fried green tomatoes are a classic of Southern cuisine, and the sweet heat of the Creole remou-lade works perfectly with their pleasantly bitter bite. The tomato and eggplant gratin, meanwhile, makes a fabulous side dish at a cookout, or works as a light meal on its own on a steamy summer night.

The tomato candy tartlets take just four basic ingredients—grape tomatoes, arugula, fresh cheese and pastry—and combine to become so much more than the sum of their parts. These addictive bites work either as a first course, a cocktail party hors d’oeuvre, or—if you’re feeling extra puckish—you could down them all in one sitting for a satisfying yet light meal.

Finally, the baked tomato eggs with blue cheese and bacon are the ultimate (slightly decadent) brunch dish. However you fancy your tomatoes, one thing is certain: with these four dishes at your fingertips, you’ll never again complain that you planted too many tomatoes in your garden.

Baked Tomato Eggs with Blue Cheese & Bacon

Fried Green Tomatoes with Creole Remoulade

Tomato Candy Tartlets

Tomato & Eggplant Gratin

July-August 2014
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Booby Trap
One editor’s adventures in strapbless bra shopping.

IT’S LIKE UNICORN HUNTING. That’s the feeling I had after trolling endless department stores and mall-based lingerie shops for the perfect strapless bra. Having lost a little weight this year—how shall I put this?—my cups no longer runneth over. And I’ve settled somewhere in the vicinity of a 38B (aka the “mythical creature” of bra sizes).­

“Girl, your shoulders are sexy,” explained the perhaps-too-honest gal at Victoria’s Secret, as she wraps a tape measure around my torso. “But your breasts just can’t keep up.”

Translation: You and your miniscule boobies might want to consider a clothing-optional community, because you’re never going to find a bra that really fits you.

Turns out, she was wrong. I took my broad back, shrinking “girls” and bad attitude straight into Bare Necessities at Green Spring Station, where owner Lynn Fram straightened me out.

“Every bra fits differently—even in the same line—so it helps to have lots of styles and sizes under one roof,” explains Fram, whose personal mission is to save women from the indignities of back fat, side lumps, over-boob and nip slips—not to mention ugly bra syndrome. Her store is brimming with beautiful brassieres from 30A to 52L, including more than 20 strapless options. (Other stores I visited had two or three.)

After hand-selecting some boulder holders for me to try, Lynn and I agreed on two gorgeous little numbers—including one black “plunge” bra that rivals my favorite from my 20s—that cost about $50 each. The key: selecting a strapless where the support comes from the band with added silicone lining to prevent slippage. (She also suggests washing after every wear to remove oils and prevent stretching.) Here are some other tricks of the trade I learned.

SMALL BUST: Go for a bra with padding only on the bottom to give you a little lift without looking like you’re wearing Madonna cones.

FULL FIGURE: Consider a bustier with boning in the bra and a waist-slimming corset. (Yes, you can find one that’s comfy.) “If you get a little mush at the bottom,” says Fram “just add a pair of Spanx.”

BETWEEN SIZES. Fram staffs two full-time seamstresses who can quickly (and affordably) customize any bra for the perfect band/cup ratio. “We just move a tab or add an extender in the back. It’s not magic, but it’s pretty close.” 410-583-1383, necessarysecrets.com

July-August 2014
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July-August Get Out

Justin Timberlake

bringing sexy Back

Ladies and gentlemen, get ready to swoon. Pop music superstar Justin Timberlake is bringing his 20/20 Experience World Tour to the Baltimore Arena, where fans of the former ’N Sync lead vocalist can sing and dance to his plethora of recent and throwback hits from his four platinum-certified albums, including “Rock Your Body,” “Cry Me a River” (sorry, Britney Spears) and the latest, “Not a Bad Thing.” So smooth. While Timberlake has been deemed one of the most commercially successful solo acts in the past decade, it should be noted that Jessica Biel’s hubby is also a businessman and philanthropist and has become a well-versed actor and comedian. (We love his stints on “SNL” and recent performance in “Inside Llewyn Davis.”) But all this begs one burning question: Is there anything JT can’t do? We plan to be in the front row on July 14 to find out. Tickets, $59-$195. 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com
—Ian Zelaya

Snap Out of It!

What could be better than spending a hot summer night viewing a classic Italian-inspired movie under the stars? Probably eating a hearty bowl of spaghetti while you watch. Since 1999, Little Italy has provided the Italian-inspired cinema spirit with the Little Italy Open Air Film Festival (aka “Cinema Al Fresco”), which screens films both kid- and adult-friendly every Friday night in July and August. Located across the street from the rowhome of the late “Mr. John” Pente, films are screened onto the outside wall of the Ciao Bella Restaurant in the Di Mimmo’s Ristorante parking lot. Films this year include our all-time favorite, “Moonstruck,” “Gladiator” and “Silver Linings Playbook,” along with the cherished Italian-language classic “Cinema Paradiso” (a closing night tradition). Before every 9 p.m. screening, viewers can enjoy live entertainment and treats from Little Italy’s restaurants. So bring your appetite—and your own lawn chair. July 11-Sept. 5. Free admission. promotioncenterforlittleitaly.org
—Ian Zelaya

Iron Ladies

It’s time to break out the visors, designer shades, khaki capris and golf shoes. The inaugural LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) International Crown will be held at the Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills. The biennial, team match-play competition will feature some of the leading players in the sport, hailing from the U.S., Australia, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Chinese Taipei, Sweden and Thailand. July 24-27. Tickets, $25-$185. lpgainternationalcrown.com
—Ian Zelaya

Bret Michaels

Rocking Out

If you’re looking for an old-fashioned, head-banging time that’s just a wee bit trashy (in a good way), look no further than MD Live! Rams Head Center Stage, which will host the one and only Bret Michaels. First gaining fame as the lead vocalist of the chart-topping metal band Poison, Michaels has dabbled in other genres, including hard rock and country rock, and made some infamous forays into reality television. Yes, we’re talking about VH1’s “Rock of Love,” that dating show in which all those—how can we put it?—memorable contestants competed for Michaels’ hand. July 17. Tickets, $35. 443-842-7000, marylandlivecasino.com
—Ian Zelaya

Takin’ It Easy

Singer-songwriter and social activist Jackson Browne will bring just himself, his guitar and piano to the Hippodrome as part of his national solo acoustic summer tour. Since the 1970s, Browne has sold more than 18 million albums in the U.S., spawning classic hits such as “Take It Easy,” “The Pretender” and “Somebody’s Baby.” Known for merging personal life stories with personal politics, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee is sure to garner even greater affection during this rare, intimate performance. Aug. 23. Tickets, $62-$117. 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com
—Ian Zelaya

It’s 9 O’Clock On A Saturday

Admit it. You’ve heard “Piano Man” at one point in your life when you weren’t quite sober, and you sang along and it made you a little teary-eyed. OK, maybe that was just us. But you’ll have the chance to hear the iconic tune live when Billy Joel plays Nationals Park as part of his 21-concert national tour. So put on your Uptown Girl (or guy) summer best and make the trek to D.C. for this event—our “worth the drive” pick for the summer season. July 26. Tickets, $99-$124. tickets.com
—Ian Zelaya

Hot and Heavy

It’s not called the Hot August Music Festival for nothing. Hats, sunglasses, plenty of sunscreen and cold beverages will be necessary for the blues and roots musical festival, celebrating its 22nd year in the area. Featuring a list of bands including Old Crow Medicine Show, Dr. Dog, Tab Benoit, Elm, Nickel Creek (not to be confused with Nickelback) and more, the daylong festival is held at Oregon Ridge Park in Cockeysville. Aug. 16. Tickets, $49 to $148. 877-321-FEST, hotaugust­musicfestival.com
—Ian Zelaya

The Voice Tour

Sing It, Honey

Fans of NBC’s “The Voice” will have the chance to experience their favorite reality singing competition live onstage. The Voice Tour is coming to The Lyric, and will feature Season 6’s top finalists and past favorites, including Season 5 winner Tessanne Chin (pictured), runner- up Jacquie Lee, Season 1 runner- up Dia Frampton and a yet-to-be-determined fan favorite. July 8. Tickets, $46-$77. 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com
—Ian Zelaya

Medieval Times

Medieval painters often filled their manuscripts with scenes of everyday life that included charming illuminations of people and animals playing musical instruments and dancing. Many of these images, however, functioned as sophisticated symbols, as musical harmony and dissonance were thought to mirror the perfection of heaven as well as the disorder of evil. Seeing Music in Medieval Manuscripts, an exhibition of 20 manuscripts and other objects at the Walters Art Museum, will explore music in its relationship with philosophy, religion and the arts during the Middle Ages. Through Oct. 12. Free. 410-547-9000, thewalters.org
—Ian Zelaya

Art Free For All

It wouldn’t be a complete summer in Baltimore without the city’s annual Artscape, the largest free arts festival in the country. Attracting around 350,000 people throughout its three-day run, the outdoor festival features more than 150 artists, craftspeople and fashion designers, a diverse collection of on- and off-site visual art exhibits, an array of live music, performing arts and family events (including a Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performance) and an international food and drink menu. Artwork by the Janet & Walter Sondheim finalists will be featured at the Walters Art Museum for three weeks, starting the day after the fest ends. July 18-20 at Mount Royal Avenue and Cathedral Street, Charles Street, Bolton Hill and the Station North Arts & Entertainment District. Free. artscape.org
—Ian Zelaya

Smooth Crooners

American singer-songwriters Gavin DeGraw and Matt Nathanson—both recognized for their signature brand of contemporary pop-rock—will join forces onstage at Pier Six Pavilion. Best known for his hits “In Love with a Girl,” “Chariot” and the “One Tree Hill” theme song, “I Don’t Want to Be,” DeGraw has sold more than a million records in the U.S.—and in 2012 showed off his dancing skills (and charm) on “Dancing with the Stars.” Nathanson is best known for his platinum-selling single, “Come On Get Higher.” As a special treat, the two will also be joined by Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin vocalist Andrew McMahon. Aug. 12. $29-$65. piersixpavilion.com
—Ian Zelaya

Baltimore Summer Antiques Show

Something Old, Something New

Experience Charm City’s version of “Antiques Roadshow” during the 34th annual Baltimore Summer Antiques Show, the largest indoor antiques show in the U.S. Held at the Baltimore Convention Center and produced by the Palm Beach Show Group, the four-day affair attracts numerous collectors and dealers from as far as Beijing and Dubai, to scope out the more than 200,000 items offered by over 575 expert exhibitors. With merchandise ranging from Asian art, European silver, porcelain, American folk art, textiles and more, the event is sure to quench any antique fan’s thirst. Aug. 21-24. Tickets, $15. baltimoresummerantiques.com
—Ian Zelaya

Virtual Reality

Let’s be honest. Video games wouldn’t be nearly as exciting without the intense musical score in the background. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will bring some of those famous tunes to life at Video Games Live, an engaging concert experience featuring music from some of the most renowned video games ever, including “MegaMan,” “Mass Effect,” “Final Fantasy” and “World of Warcraft.” Dress to impress, as there’s a costume contest before the performance—not to mention a “Guitar Hero” challenge, where the winner will be featured onstage during the show. July 26 at The Meyerhoff. Tickets, $28-$68. 410-783-8000, bsomusic.org
—Ian Zelaya

For Whom It  Stands

Flag-Making History

Not all of us are looking to go on outdoorsy adventures this summer, which is why museums are here to enlighten us and give us air conditioning. Consider, for example, For Whom It Stands—named one of USA Today’s Top 10 must-see exhibitions of the season—at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture in Baltimore. The 3,200-square-foot exhibition is home to more than 100 pieces of artwork, documents, photographs and artifacts that represent American experiences. The exhibit is highlighted by the little-known contribution of Grace Wisher, a young African- American indentured servant in Mary Pickersgill’s household—on the same block as the museum—who helped create the original star-spangled banner during the War of 1812. Through Feb. 28, 2015. Tickets, $1-$8. rflewismuseum.org
—Ian Zelaya

July-August 2014
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Flash Fiction
Three quirky, well-wrought short stories by Charm City writers. Plus, our local summer reading list.
Edited by Betsy Boyd

Death at the La Brea Tar Pits

Death at the La Brea Tar Pits

by Jessica Anya Blau

L.B. could sense the kids on the bus glancing at him, whispering. He was on the backbench, his arms spread wide like wings, his legs open in a giant V. His posse, Ethan and Jack, were on either side of him. L.B. was the tallest kid in the eighth grade, skinny as a rope, but muscly, dense. “A bullet couldn’t make it through that,” his mom liked to say, and she’d punch at the top of his arm, right near his shoulder. It’d hurt a little, especially when she landed him with her chunky, gold and silver rings. But he wouldn’t even wince. He’d just stand there, The Man, his stomach muscles clenching and his balls instinctively tucking up like a hiding rodent as he took the crooked blows.

At school, the boys who weren’t L.B.’s friends were afraid of him. Not because he bullied them, more because he ignored them, walking by as if they didn’t exist. And the ones who weren’t too afraid to be his friend still believed he was The Man.

L.B. liked watching people watch him, although what the kids were doing now on the bus—their glances as hard to capture as darting birds—didn’t make him feel watched as much as it made him feel observed. Just yesterday, most of the eighth grade had gathered around him as if he were a street performer, screaming and whooping as he stuck a lit firecracker in a lizard’s ass just to watch the animal explode.

The bus was taking the class to the La Brea tar pits. There were 60 middle schoolers and only two teacher chaperones. It was a field trip L.B. had made every year since the fourth grade when he and his mother moved to Los Angeles from Baltimore.

Who knew where his dad, Big Bill, really was. His mother said Big Bill was a no-goodnik who was in prison. But if he were in prison, wouldn’t he email? Or call? They have computers and phones in prison; L.B. had seen them on TV shows and in movies. One day L.B. would track down his dad, and they’d sit on a couch together, drink beer and watch TV. L.B. loved beer and his mother let him drink it as long as his homework was done, which it always was as he was able to rip through it—math, English, everything—in the amount of time it took to ride the bus home.

Sometimes, when his own homework was finished, L.B. would do the math homework for someone else on the bus. “What dumbfuck wants a perfect score on their math?” he’d ask, then L.B. would look down at all those waggling arms, like perfectly arrayed snakes popping up, and try to pick the person who was in the highest math class. The harder, the better—it got boring when things were too easy.

The kids were still whispering and they were looking at L.B. with different eyes: not scared, and not daring. Curious. Or nervous. He couldn’t really tell.

“What the fuck?” L.B. said to Ethan, and Ethan handed him his cell phone to show him a text.

L.B. Collier’s mother OD’d. Chloe’s mom works at the hospital and said they brought her in already dead.

“Don’t tell the teachers,” L.B. said, although he wouldn’t remember saying this until later, when the social worker asked him if he had any idea why no one, including L.B. himself, informed the chaperones.

L.B. turned his face away from Ethan’s and looked out the window. It felt like thick, bulletproof glass was sliding down over each side of his brain. He was walling off the information. Encasing himself.

When they walked off the bus, L.B. stared at the glaring sunlight through the imagined bulletproof wall that was opaque and smudgy from fingerprints and smog. There were people around him, L.B. knew that to be factually true, but he couldn’t hear them and couldn’t make out their forms. As the class lined up at the fence of the biggest tar pit, L.B. felt so alone he had to gasp, just once, to make sure he was really there.

Once upon a time, L.B. had loved the tar pits. He liked envisioning a saber-toothed tiger approaching the sheen of water on the black surface, stepping in for a drink and then being sucked down into the oily, darkness. If the tiger’s head was above the tar line, another meaner saber-tooth would pounce on him. They’d ravage each other in a fight, ripping out chunks of fur with meat attached to the back in the shape of icebergs. Eventually, they’d spiral down together, deeper into the muck. With each breath, they’d pull in a hot, dense stream that would fill them like molten copper being poured into a mold.

L.B. had often tried to imagine death, the emptiness, the nothingness. It was as hard to fathom as the idea of himself before he was conceived; L.B. before he was growing in his mother’s body; L.B. before his father was called Big Bill in contrast to him; L.B. before L.B. How can nothing exist when everywhere you look there’s something? How can a person be completely gone when everywhere you go, you feel them?

Jessica Anya Blau’s newest novel, “The Wonder Bread Summer,” was picked for summer reading lists by CNN, NPR, Vanity Fair and Oprah’s Book Club. She is also the author of “The Summer of Naked Swim Parties” and “Drinking Closer to Home.”


MORE STORIES >>

Swimming Lessons by Timmy Reed »

Pan-America by Jen Michalski »

The Reunion by Jen Grow »

Seven Eight Nine by Elisabeth Dahl »

PLUS: New Books by Baltimoreans »

July-August 2014
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Ready, Set, Summer!
New spas and beauty treatments to get you ready for the pool, the beach or just a hot night by the harbor.
By Jessica Bizik

I don’t know about you, but I tend to hibernate in the winter. My DVR becomes my best friend and my beauty philosophy hovers somewhere between “but moisturizer is so cold” to “why bother to shave if I’m just wearing leggings every day?” (No wonder “The Walking Dead” is my favorite show.) In the spring, I get a little less lazy, thanks to an influx of vitamin D, outdoor happy hours and the beginning of Orioles season, where looking cute in direct sunlight has its advantages. But summer is my season! From strapless dresses to sun-kissed skin, this is the time when I get my flirt on and feel totally fab about life. If you’re on the same seasonal roller coaster ride, here are seven beauty strategies to help you get your groove back.


Jennifer Drumgold makes waxing comfortable (and even fun!) at European Wax Center.

Wax On, Wax Off. I have to admit, I was slightly taken aback when the person checking me in for my Brazilian at the new European Wax Center was a hot guy with hypnotizing golden-brown eyes. Turns out that’s general manager (and owner’s son) Jake Kapneck, who moved to Maryland to open the first of several local franchises for the national brand. “Our concept is to combine efficiency with intimacy,” explains the young entrepreneur who books clients every 15 minutes in the bright, modern space with six treatment rooms. Now, before you get too excited, he’s referring to the center’s customer service philosophy where you can come in for a quickie (wax, that is) and still get highly professional service, education about the house products (I recommend the Brow Enhancing Serum), plus an invitation to join the center’s loyalty program where you can buy several months of waxes at a discounted rate.

Stylish and sassy aesthetician Jennifer Drumgold delivers all-star service during my bikini wax, which includes a proprietary four-step system—cleanser, pre-wax oil (to ensure only hair—no epidermis—comes off), organic beeswax that hardens on the skin (no strips!) and a final rejuvenation with ingrown hair serum and calming cream. This was my maiden voyage with the center’s trademarked Comfort Wax infused with lavender oil. I can’t say it hurt that much less than a traditional Brazilian, but I experienced zero post-wax irritation—a first for my sensitive skin. Another first: at the end of my session, Jennifer handed me a mirror to check out her work. Let’s just say I left with a bump in my self-esteem—and an appointment to come back for an underarm wax the next week. Brazilian bikini wax, $47. 1809 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville 410-415-6500, waxcenter.com

Play Footsie. “This isn’t going to be one of those relaxing pedicures,” says Mary Villaluz, nail department manager at About Faces in Canton, with a mischievous grin. But I actually relaxed more than usual at my first “Medi Pedi”—a therapeutic spa service designed to cure whatever ails your tootsies, from cracked heels and calluses to even athlete’s foot and more serious issues caused by diabetes. The magic comes from integrating a line of pharmaceutical-grade Footlogix products featuring “Dermal Infusion Technology” that enables active ingredients (think Spirulina microalgae for moisture) to penetrate faster and deeper into troubled skin. 

While the treatment was thorough, as promised, it was never uncomfortable (maybe ticklish!) and I could literally see dead skin flying off in the sunlight as Mary sloughed my “flip-flop heels” into submission. This beach girl loved the lightweight, mousse-based formula, the fresh smell of the seaweed scrub and the luxurious leg massage. Bonus: the products are oil-free so I left with super-soft, “lubed up” legs and feet—without the risk of slipping in my yoga class. Medi Pedi with Footlogix, $60. Six area locations. 410-675-0099, aboutfacesdayspa.com

FACE PLANT. When our inside source at the Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore tells us that something is a “game- changer”—we listen. And my 80-minute HydraFacial MD lived up to the hype. Billed as a medical-grade, noninvasive “power peel” with no downtime, the four-step service involves deep cleansing, exfoliation, extractions and hydration—all delivered with a magic “wand” that feels like having a nubby electric toothbrush run across your face. “The key is using antioxidant-rich serums with peptides and Hyaluronic acid that are potent but won’t aggravate the skin,” says aesthetician (and one of my all-around favorite humans) Natalie Sams, as she basically vacuums my soon-to-be-blackhead-free nose without a single wince … from either of us!

I have to admit, I was floored by the results. I’ve never experienced a facial that delivered instant improvements (in my case, a complete reversal of skin dehydration with a dramatic reduction in rosacea symptoms that has lasted for several weeks) without any side effects (usually a few stretched out pores, blotchiness and a reactionary blemish or two.) If I was a celebrity, I could have walked the red carpet that night. Instead, I made kissy faces at myself in the rearview mirror, enjoying the (temporary but glamorous) plumping effect the HydraFacial gave my previously parched lips. I’m in love. Available in 25-, 50- and 80-minute sessions, $175-$350. 200 International Drive. 410-576-5800, fourseasons.com/baltimore/spa


Stephanie Casey (left) and Melissa Jacobson, co-owners of Bare Skinlabs

Get a Perm. No, not the tragic ’80s hair variety. At the new Bare Skinlabs in Green Spring Station, permanent makeup is all the rage. “Before this, I was basically trying to pull off a comb-over,” says one forty-something client, as she proudly shows off her newly tattooed eyebrows—a great solution for women with thinning brows or bald spots from bad wax jobs.

“I gave her a natural look by using two different needles—one that’s more powdery and another that allows me to do hair-like brush strokes,” says co-owner Melissa Jacobson, who also offers permanent eyeliner, lip tint, areola restoration and even hairline fills for the balding and beautiful among us. It’s true, these are not Groucho Marx’s eyebrows—they’re lovely. I spend the rest of my visit invading the staff’s personal space to inspect their ink. Jacobson’s perfectly pink lips slay me—she actually tattooed them herself to closely match her own skin tone. “As a working mom, having a little color helps me wake up without looking like a zombie,” she says. Results can last several years—then you might need a touch-up. I’m not brave enough to take the leap just yet, so Jacobson tints my eyebrows instead. It’s like an instant eyelift. Permanent makeup, $100-$300. Eyebrow tint, $30. 10751 Falls Road, Lutherville. 443-469-0591, bareskinstudios.com


Jars of Candied Lashes at Baltimore Spa and Salon

Lash Out. If you’ve read my “Beauty Explorer” column, you’ll know I’m already sweet on NovaLash eyelash extensions—individual falsies that are applied with formaldehyde-free adhesive (no wig glue here!) to your own lashes, which naturally grow out and fall off in a month. (Hint: you can get “refills” and stay mascara-free all year-round.) But now Baltimore Spa and Salon at the Ritz-Carlton Residences offers Candied Lashes—colorful extensions that are hand-dipped in crystallized glitter, from hot pink to emerald green to indigo blue.

“Oh come on, just try it,” says delightfully bossy Emily Horwath, who received advanced training with celebrity lash stylist Sophia Navarro to do the honors. She adds just two chocolate brown singles to the corners of my usual curlicue-style lashes—and they look adorable. Barely noticeable in this shade, they give off just a little “pop” when the light hits me just right. Most popular with Horwath’s older clientele in their 40s, 50s and 60s, everyone from attorneys to grandmothers are asking for the special treat. “Sometimes you just need a little sparkle in your life,” says Horwath. Indeed. Candied Lashes (three to four on each side), $40. Glamour set (up to 100 lashes), $185. 801 Key Highway. 410-625-2427, baltimorespasalon.com.

Sun cather. After a firm talking-to from my dermatologist, I’ve decided to be more protective of my skin this summer. Thank heavens, then, for the new Infinity Sun airbrush tanning at Soirée in Cockeysville. Co-owner Sarah Weiskittel hand-picked the L.A.-based organic line—enriched with antioxidants and botanicals, plus an instant bronzer made from walnut shell extract—to dovetail with her Aveda salon’s dedication to natural beauty.  What’s unique? “We can choose from 30 different shades to customize the perfect tan for every client,” says Weiskittel, who not only offers streak-free, total body tanning (with or without the use of disposable undies) but also a la carte options for the face or legs. “Since you wash your face twice a day and shave your legs, tanning only those areas can help you keep your faux glow longer.” Just brilliant. Face, $20. Legs, $30. Total body, $45. 9832 York Road. 410-628-6061, soiree-salon.com


The rainfall shower in the sleek, new Tuscan Suite at Spa in the Valley

Deplane. De-stress. Ever feel like you need a vacation after your vacation? I do. Every time. The antidote: come back one night early, organize your life for the week, then zip off for a serene Sunday treat, like the new Aveda Stress-Fix Massage at all Salon by Debbie locations (Hunt Valley, Abingdon, White Marsh). The 90-minute treatment combines Swedish and deep tissue massage along with foot reflexology, acupressure point treatment and guided meditation—all the while incorporating Aveda’s proprietary Stress-Fix aroma blend of lavender, lavandin and clary sage. These scents are clinically proven to calm—in fact, I keep a rollerball of the stuff on my desk to apply when I’m feeling deadline-frantic.

Consider trying the service at Spa in the Valley, which boasts a newly renovated Tuscan Suite, including an aromatherapy sauna, dry steam room and Swiss shower featuring a rainfall shower head and 360-degree body jets. “Come an hour early to enjoy the space,” suggests redheaded spa manager Beth McHugh. “Just relax and remember to breathe.” Aveda Stress-Fix Massage, $138. 118 Shawan Road, Hunt Valley. 410-771-0200, spainthevalley.com

July-August 2014

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