I have to admit I teared up this week when I had to take down this Wes Moore cover and replace it with a shiny, new cover for the July/August issue on our social media sites. It will always be a favorite (and the one I hang in my office.) And guess what? Baltimore agrees! We just learned that STYLE’s May/June issue broke our sales record at Barnes & Noble locations—and the final numbers aren’t even in yet. Thank you so much for supporting the magazine—and the inspirational Baltimoreans whose stories we are privileged to tell. Also, special thanks to Wes, who was the perfect guy (and cover model) for this special men’s issue.
If you didn’t get to read his cover story—or either of his books (“The Other Wes Moore” and “The Work”)—here’s another chance!
“Being Wes Moore” (insert link to STYLE story here)
11459 Cronhill Drive
Owings Mills, MD 21117
Eddie and Sylvia Brown first looked at the Inn at Government House in MountVernon with an eye toward adding some office space for Eddie’s firm, Brown Capital Management. But after taking in the elegant carved woodwork, the leaded glass windows and the soaring spaces in the 1889 house, says Sylvia, “We thought we could do a little bit more.” Partnering with Marty and Lone Azola, whose Azola Companies did the painstaking renovation of the office building across the street, the Browns are shooting for the coveted Relais & Château designation for the new Ivy Hotel and its restaurant, Magdalena. “That’s the kind of caliber we want,” says Sylvia of the boutique property that opened in June with 18 lavish rooms, nine of which are suites. There is also a new spa that uses lovely organic products, handmade in small batches.
Chef. Mark Levy, 37, was born in Essex in the U.K. and came to the U.S. to work at Keswick Hall in Charlottesville, Va. “I’d never seen anything like it,” says Levy, whose only experience in America had been two trips to Disney World after his parents split up. “I always thought their divorcewas the best thing,” he laughs. Accustomed to “rough and tumble” pubs, Levy had trouble adjusting to the precision of a professional kitchen.
“I was on my way out the door,” recalls the chef, until he had amoment of clarity and picked up his game. He later helmed the kitchen at The Point Resort—the former Rockefeller summer camp in Saranac, N.Y.—until he was beckoned away by the exclusive Garrett Hotel Consultants, who were working with the Browns and the Azolas. Levy has been in Baltimore for about a year, learning the ropes and sampling the food.
Food. Magdalena says Levy, is a “fine dining bistro, casual with no white gloves,” where he uses “local, rare and obscure ingredients” to craft the changing menu.
Appetizers may include a chilled local crab with balsamic caramel, aubergine chips and coconut lime jelly or potato gnocchi with seared foie gras, peas and aged pecorino. His fish and chips is turbot dipped in aerated batter for a light crisp.
“We want to become the best restaurant in town,” says the chef, even as he recognizes the competition. Spike Gjerde and Cindy Wolf, he says, “have conceptualized what this city is about, from the gutsy butcher to the fine restaurant. I was pleasantly surprised when I moved here and saw what people were doing.”
Drink. The small bar “will have a bartender, not a mixologist,” says Levy, admittedly weary of “having to wait 10 minutes for a fussy drink.” The bar menu will include four classics, four seasonal cocktails and five beers with two locals on tap. “The beer around here is brilliant,” says the Brit. “Absolutely brilliant.” The mostly American wine list numbers 150, with bottles stored in a cellar-level dining room available for special events. And there will be mead—from Orchid Cellar in Middletown, Md.
Décor. San Francisco-based interior designer Joszi Meskan has infused the grand 19th-century spaces of the Ivy with respectful whimsy, channeling an eccentric and well-traveled aunt. The walls of the library are clad in green leather embossed with gilt trim, reminiscent of an antique book, while the music room (which will likely host more roundtables than rondos) is painted in a cubist-style mural that Levy jokingly describes as “Picasso’s Baltimore period.” Local artist Kim Parr has decorated the restaurant walls as a 16th-century garden of vines and vegetables.
Final Verdict. As Sylvia Brown, who never imagined she’d be a hotelier, puts it: “Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.” And delicious. —M.T.
The Phelps family knows a thing or two about looking great in a swimsuit. So we were all ears when Hilary Phelps, Genuine Joy wellness/lifestyle guru and Michael’s big sis, turned us on to this new Cellulite Potion by Longeva—an organic, socially responsible skin care she loves so much that she agreed to become its first brand ambassador. Made from a proprietary blend of juniper and grapefruit oils, rosemary, sage and lemon, the super-luxe serum is designed to help break up pesky clusters of you-know-what (it starts with an “F”) that push against connective tissue to give skin that dimpled appearance. Longeva doesn’t claim the potion works miracles, but with regular use for four to six weeks, thighs (and other body parts) are supposed to look smoother and more firm. We’re willing to give it a whirl! $85. longeva.com –JESSICA BIZIK
Drive across the city and ponder the shells of the old movie theaters that used to be, the little neighborhood dream palaces, the Cinema Paradisos, where Baltimoreans of long ago (and not so long ago) went to escape. Summer is an especially good time to reflect on this—for, in the old days, going to the movies was also about cooling off. Movie theaters pioneered air conditioning in public spaces! They used to advertise how “chill” it was inside with images of polar bears and icicles and Eskimos.
Baltimore was like Calcutta once upon a time (if you believe the stories) and the heat was insufferable. People really did sleep outdoors in the parks. I have met such people, although I’m not advocating that sort of activity now.
The heat was not the only thing that Americans went to the movies to escape. It takes little imagination to see what the movie theater offered during the Depression or World War II. The ghosts of that glorious past are all about us. I often pass the old Horn on West Pratt Street—now doing business in another form of escapism as the Holy Temple Holiness Church of Deliverance. Then there’s the poor old Fulton, burned down a few years ago after a second life in the fields of the Lord as the Gateway Church of Christ. That happens to a lot of old movie theaters, perfect venues for
another sort of illusion. It could be worse. The old Howard was for a time a Dunkin’ Donuts if memory serves.
But some ancient movie houses find salvation, so to speak. Happily, plans are now in the works to reopen the once opulent Parkway Theater on North Avenue. The grand old Hippodrome already has been reincarnated as a real theater. The venerable Patterson on Eastern Avenue has a fine new life as headquarters for the Creative Alliance. The refurbished Senator is up and running and The Charles, owned by the same family, still screens good movies.
My favorite film last year was called “Ida” about a young Polish nun and her drunken aunt. Shot in black and white. No special effects (other than vodka). It had subtitles (I do not speak Polish). It was 82 minutes long and was made for about two million euros. That’s practically a home-movie budget these days.
I regularly pass what remains of the old Boulevard at 33rd and Greenmount with its grand bas-relief exterior. The Waverly was just down the way, and there was the Ideal on The Avenue in Hampden. The Apex on Broadway closed up a couple of years ago, the last dirty picture show in the City of Charm.
Baltimore never wanted for places where people went to dream, whatever those dreams might have involved.
The ruins of the old movie palaces are all about us; melancholic reminders of the world Fred Allen called “only yesterday.” It would take a heart of stone to look at the hulking remains of the once spectacular Mayfair on Howard Street and not sigh. Even with its roof caved in it has a grandeur that you won’t ever find at a suburban multiplex. They just don’t make them like that anymore.
The Mayfair, around the corner from the old Congress Hotel (Marble Bar), is said to date from 1870—that’s five years after the Civil War ended. What will become of it? Its old neighbors are gone now, too. The Stanley. The Little.
I grew up in a grim New England mill town where we sorely needed dream palaces. The movie theaters were the State, Haines and Opera House—and I could walk to all of them. There I studied the works of Edgar Allan Poe under the tutelage of Vincent Price and Christopher Lee, radical departures from the source material but instructive nonetheless. And the Three Stooges. I have a Talmudic familiarity with their work (a thing my wife and daughter disapprove of). These theaters screened double features and triple features—often for as little as 25 cents. Mostly horror films to help us escape from the real horror of living in a grim mill town. Long-ago summer days filled with of Milk Duds, Charleston Chews and Sno-Caps.
Kids snuck into the movies back then. One bad boy would buy a ticket and then run to the back of the theater and open the fire door and a dozen wicked children would stream into the theater while the asthmatic usher, who wore a uniform right out of the Grand Budapest Hotel, chased them. This happened every Saturday. If you’ve never snuck into a movie, you’ve missed part of having an American childhood. In Baltimore, it’s not too late.
Finding the perfect preschool can be as much about the parents as it is about their little ones. Officially, of course, this search is all about selecting the institution that will prepare your child for scholastic success in the years to come. But it’s also about finding the place where kids will be happy—and where moms and dads feel completely comfortable knowing their amazing toddlers can grow into thriving (if rambunctious) 5-year-olds.
After all, becoming a preschool parent doesn’t come naturally.
“Parents are busier than ever and don’t [always] get the support from each other like they used to,” says Elizabeth “Zibby” Andrews, Head of Preschool at Garrison Forest.
Busy yes, but also well-versed on the expectations of preschool. A good preschool class is supposed to socialize children, prime them for the wild and woolly days of kindergarten. The young ones will learn how to listen, to share, to give respect to people, master the alphabet, comprehend numbers and maybe, just maybe, do some independent reading.
She says creating a warm relationship between the teacher and the small student is vital and the rest will follow. It helps, she says, to have teachers who understand that learning happens not in the most obvious formal settings. “They are motivated when they are playing just as much as they are when adults have an agenda,” Andrews says.
Nancy Mugele, assistant head of the School for External Relations at Roland Park Country School, agrees that pre-schools need to be nimble enough to match a kid’s cognitive and emotional growth rate, noting that in the early years especially, little students blossom at different times.
“The structure of being in a classroom— even if it’s part of the day—we feel it fosters not just lifelong learning but a love of learning,” Mugele says.
At Brown Memorial Weekday School on North Charles Street, play and exploration are forces constantly at work on their knee-high students, when answers are not always readily available or sometimes there is strategically placed chaos where the kids have to come up with their own structure.
“We are not the dictators of their learning,” says Allison Bond, the school’s director. “We provide the environment for their learning, allowing the child to make the discoveries.”
The result is that children going through the right preschool program come out with resiliency—the ability to bounce back from obstacles, snafus and problems during the day. It’s the ability to realize that not every day is going to work out but you get another chance come the next morning. Perhaps most importantly, preschool also unleashes a natural curiosity that will serve children well for the rest of their lives.
Bond, who has adult children now, points out that one day, after 18 quick years, you’ll be leaving your child in the freshman dorm. But what should console you during that tearful ride home is that your child has gotten all the tools to deal with life on his or her own. She believes that all starts with preschool. —Charles Cohen
Beth El Preschool
8101 Park Heights Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21208
1427 Light St.
Baltimore, MD 21230
Friends School of Baltimore
5114 N. Charles St.
Baltimore, MD 21210
Garrison Forest School
300 Garrison Forest Rd.
Owings Mills, MD 21117
Goldsmith Early Childhood Education Center
8100 Stevenson Rd., Baltimore MD 21208
JCC Early Childhood Education Centers
Stoller ECE - 3506 Gwynnbrook Ave.
Owings Mills, MD 21117
Meyerhoff ECE - 5700 Park Heights Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21215
Roland Park Country School
5204 Roland Ave., Baltimore, MD 21210
Kitty Davis, Director of the Preschool
St. Paul’s Plus
11232 Falls Rd., Brooklandville, MD 21022
Waldorf School of Baltimore
4801 Tamarind Rd., Baltimore, MD 21209
While the requirements and the competition to get into college continue to ramp up, stress levels can be tamped down thanks to some old-fashioned time management. Encouraging students to focus on the entire high school experience—from the first day of freshman year until the day they graduate—can help make the transition to college worry-free, experts say.
Of course, a mastery of Zen breathing couldn’t hurt either.
Since the beginning of time, the official kickoff of the college application season starts at the beginning of junior year, but the groundwork can and should be established earlier.
“We want to make the most of their education, not building up their stress,” says Jake Talmage, director of college counseling at St. Paul’s School.
Rather than delaying options and obligations, students ought to launch volunteer and extracurricular efforts early in their high school careers. Administration officers realize when students pad their records at the last minute.
Then in January of junior year come the SATs, which prompt the prospective college student to compose that list of preferred places of learning. Here admissions counselors urge caution: Don’t go for status; use common sense. Ignore “reach schools,” universities that students concede likely may be beyond them.
“One of the things I tell students is that you are unique and so should be your college, that it’s OK to be different,” says Heidi Reigel, director of admissions at McDaniel College. At the same time, she stresses that students should not recoil from sticker shock, noting that the majority of incoming freshmen are not paying full tuition.
One more challenge for students will be negotiating the early application deadlines. It used to be a Dec. 1 deadline. Now Nov. 1 is the norm, with some deadlines coming as early as Oct. 15. These are usually binding decisions, meaning that the applicant guarantees they’ll attend the school in return for an early decision.
To combat the sense of dread that comes with the pressure of a big decision, big tuitions and life-changing circumstances, schools like St. Paul’s have established a late summer boot camp application week during which incoming seniors work full days writing essays and filling out applications. That way, says Talmage, students can focus on getting the application done, including the all-important essay, during the dog days of summer, allowing the seniors to relish the full experience of their last year at school.
Christopher Wild, an admissions counselor at Goucher College, says essays still remain an important part of the acceptance equation, and urges students to stay away from composing cliché or laundry lists of achievements, or praising parents and coaches. He says admissions officers are most
impressed by authentic storytelling. For example, one of his favorite stories described a young woman’s encounter with a homeless man in India, who gave her a paper doll. “It was a great essay that told me a lot about this student without overtly saying it,” Wild says.
Then comes the all-important campus visit, which is as much a rite of passage as getting a cell phone or driver’s license. Local college admissions counselors urge students to take advantage of Maryland’s diverse landscape from state schools like College Park to small liberal arts schools like Washington College on the Eastern Shore—these trips provide students a great opportunity to figure out their preferred environment. A special bonus tip, says Wild, avoid visiting a campus during the summer when all universities, big and small, feel more like ghost towns than thriving hives of higher learning.
Wild loves to point to his favorite headline, “High School Students’ Agony,” from a The New York Times article that declares this time is an unprecedented era of study and worry for the pre-college kids. The article was published in 1957, he adds. He notes that acceptances at many colleges make up about two-thirds of the applications. The takeaway, he says, with more than 3,000 colleges, there’s bound to be a right fit. That’s why he suggests that students apply for the schools that will make them happy, and provide a personality fit.
“I remind students that you’re going to have to live there for four years,” he says. —Charles Cohen
1101 Camden Avenue
Salisbury, MD 21801
1313 Pine Grove Avenue
Rosedale, MD 21237
Hot, humid weather is the perfect time to tone down your beauty routine, taking a break from daily makeup and streamlining your skin care regimen. K.I.S.S. stands for “Keep It Summer Simple”—an acronym I developed to describe easy, low-maintenance trade secrets I’ve shared with my clients over the years. Here are some of my favorites.
• Coconut oil is a great eye makeup remover—and it helps your eyelashes grow.
• Keep hand lotion in your purse to tame emergency flyaways. Bonus: It leaves hair smelling great.
• Need a quick pick-me-up? A facial mist with added mint will cool the skin and trigger the cold receptors of the brain.
• Baby powder applied after you step off the beach will remove sand quickly and easily…without clumping!
• Try a white base coat under nail polish to make vibrant hues even brighter. Ditto for white eyeliner applied under colored eyeliner.
• Hate using the blow dryer in the summer? Bumble and Bumble’s new Don’t Blow It styling lotion enhances the texture of fine to medium hair without heat.
• If you must blow-dry, apply clear gel deodorant to the nape of the neck to prevent sweating.
• You can also apply gel deoderant to other, ahem, strategic areas to prevent chafing during outdoor adventures or workouts.
• To repel bugs on a hike or other adventure, rub dryer sheets over clothes and place another sheet in your pocket.
• Dry shampoo applied before bed absorbs oil while you sleep and extends a hairstyle. I love the new one by Moroccanoil, available in light and dark tones, with that famous decadent scent!
• White foam shaving cream removes makeup residue on clothing.
• Mascara doubles as eyeliner in a pinch. Apply with a chisel angle tip brush for best results.
• Eye shadow primer isn’t just for eyelids. Apply a thin layer to the under-eye area to prevent makeup from creasing and eyeliner from running.
• Correct self-tanner streaks with a homemade scrub of baking soda and water turned into a paste.
• Skin experiencing an identity crisis? Cure it with Éminence Organics Balancing Masque Duo featuring a charcoal purifier for the T-zone and a moisturizing treatment for dehydrated cheeks (and other flaky areas).
• When self-tanning at home, shave your legs, then exfoliate with sugar for a super smooth result. A thin coat of body butter on knees, feet and hands will allow for the best blending.
• In lieu of buying a self-tanning mitt, put a plastic bag on your hand then cover with a clean cotton sock for easy application.
• We all know how dangerous the sun can be, but what to do about pale legs and arms? Crush compact bronzer in body lotion and apply for a shimmery glow.
Peter Griffin Sings
“The average person has eight different jobs over the course of their lifetime. You get a little antsy doing the same thing.” —Seth MacFarlane
And now for something completely different… The creator of such raunchy cartoons as “Family Guy,” “American Dad!” and the dearly departed “Cleveland Show,” Seth MacFarlane is taking a break from making grandmothers blush to sing some sweet tunes. Hold your preconceived notions—you won’t find MacFarlane with an acoustic guitar singing songs about farts. The classically trained baritone cites Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin as his major musical influences. July 16, at the Meyerhoff. Tickets, $28-$88. 410-783-8000, bsomusic.org —Shelby Offutt
Misty Copeland—the first African-American soloist in the last 20 years of the distinguished American Ballet Theatre (and star of Under Armour’s most inspiring advertising campaign)—stops by the Reginald F. Lewis Museum to discuss her new memoir, “Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina.” Aug. 1. Free with museum admission. 443-263-1800, lewismuseum.org —IAN ZELAYA
The largest—and hottest—arts festival in the country, Artscape’s 200-some exhibitors and vendors, live musical performances, wacky art cars, the iconic Ferris wheel and much more attract around 350,000 visitors to Mount Royal Avenue and Charles Street. July 17-19. Free. 410-752-8632, artscape.org —I.Z.
In conjunction with Artscape, the work of the semifinalists and finalists of the 10th annual $25,000 Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize is on display at MICA (July 16-Aug. 2) and the Baltimore Museum of Art (June 24-Aug. 9), respectively. The winner of the renowned visual arts competition is announced July 11 at the BMA. 410-752-8632, artscape.org —I.Z.
Dad is Fat
Hot Pocket eater, bacon lover and fat Catholic are self-proclaimed descriptions of Jim Gaffigan. If you love the author, comedian and father of five’s standup routine, catch his new sitcom “The Jim Gaffigan Show” on Comedy Central and TV Land this summer. Aug. 11, at Pier Six Pavilion. Tickets, $50-$80. 410-783-4189, ticketfly.com —S.O.
Rocker-turned-R&B singer-turned country crooner, Darius Rucker’s latest album and summer tour is aptly titled “Southern Style.” Brett Eldredge, Brothers Osborne and A Thousand Horses also will be joining the Hootie & The Blowfish frontman for a night of down home music. Aug. 22, at Merriweather Post Pavilion. Tickets, $40-$199. 410-715-5550, ticketfly.com —S.O.
Whimsy reaches new heights in Cirque du Soleil’s Varekai (which means “wherever” in Romani). Reimagining the Greek myth of Icarus, the aerial acrobatics are sure to stun. July 8-12, at Royal Farms Arena. Tickets, $35-$165. 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com —S.O.
Bursting in Air
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra celebrates America’s independence during the annual Star-Spangled Spectacular, which features a sparkling display of fireworks set to Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” and Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever.” July 3 and 4 at Oregon Ridge. Tickets, $9-$18. Parking passes, $12-$15 or free with shuttle bus. 410-783-8000, bsomusic.org —S.O.
Gold nose rings and ear rods were all the rage way (way) back when. An exquisite mix of science and art, Gold of the Ancient Americas showcases The Walters’ collection of Central and South American ornaments forged between 500-1500 A.D. Through Oct. 11, at The Walters Art Museum. 410-547-9000, thewalters.org —I.Z.
If you want a novel that offers a mix of international intrigue and James Bond thrills, Daniel Silva is your guy. Since his 1996 debut “The Unlikely Spy,” The New York Times best-selling author has written multiple espionage novels and discusses his latest, “The English Spy,” at the Gordon Center. Co-presented by The Ivy Bookshop. July 9. Tickets, $25-$35 (includes book). 410-356-7469, jcc.org —I.Z.
Hailing from Austin, Texas, country crooner Dale Watson has a country outlaw aura that aligns him more with classic Opry than CMT. July 9, at the Creative Alliance. Tickets, $15-$21. 410-276-1651, creativealliance.org —I.Z.
Ladew Gardens hosts Sunday evening concerts as a part of its Groovin’ in the Grass series in the Great Bowl, the centerpiece to 22 acres of gorgeous historic gardens. Through Aug. 2. Tickets sold at the gate, $5-$15. 410-557-9466. ladewgardens.com —S.O.
Stay with Me
An Illinoisan turned Baltimorean, artist Kyle J. Bauer has had installations featured as solo exhibitions in Baltimore and D.C. He describes his latest sculpture show, Don’t Fly Too Close to the Sun, as a combo of “metaphorical references to navigation with mixed media sculptural forms.” Aug. 28-Sept. 25, at McDaniel College’s Rice Gallery. Free. 410-857-2595, mcdaniel.edu —I.Z.
Mission: Implausible!, an interactive comedy written and performed by Sandi Carroll, uses various social media outlets to engage the audience in Carroll’s heroine’s epic mission of saving the world—and eventually one lucky individual is invited onstage to prove themselves. No pressure! July 23-26, at Baltimore Theatre Project. Tickets, $12-$22. 410-752-8558, theatreproject.org —I.Z.
(Not) Adele Dazeem
John Travolta name flubs aside, in the past two years Idina Menzel has seen about as much success as her vocal range—aka she’s been pretty damn successful. From her chart-topping power ballad “Let It Go,” to her triumphant Tony-nominated return to Broadway in “If/Then” (she even had time to squeeze in a holiday album), this summer is the perfect time for the 44-year-old multifaceted artist to show off her voice and virtuosity on a world tour. July 8, at the Hippodrome. Tickets, $50-$123. 800- 745-3000, ticketmaster.com —I.Z.
You know that handsome fella from “Jurassic Park,” the new Apartment.com commercials and the already iconic “12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer” sketch? Just like you, Baltimore art troupe Fluid Movement is obsessed with Jeff Goldblum, which is why he’s the subject of Goldblum: The Water Ballet—the performance art group’s 14th annual swim spectacle, which imagines a fictional Goldblum’s spiritual journey through his own acting career—in public pools with choreographed swimming and lots (and lots) of glitter. July 25-26, at Patterson Park Pool, Aug 1-2, at Druid Hill Park Pool. Tickets, $5-$10. fluidmovement.org —I.Z.
The Baltimore Shakespeare Factory’s Shakespeare in the Meadow series presents two Shakespeare classics outdoors, “As You Like It” and “Henry IV, Part One” (performed by an all-female cast). July 17-Aug. 9 and July 31-Aug. 23, respectively, at the Evergreen Museum and Library. Tickets, $15-$20. 443-921-9455, shakespearefactory.org —I.Z.
Adore her or despise her, Miranda Sings will get your attention. A fan of cat sweaters and bright red lipstick, Colleen Ballinger’s outrageously untalented YouTube persona has amassed more than 60 million views on the video-sharing site. Expect bad singing, magic tricks and dramatic readings of her hate mail. Aug. 20, at the Hippodrome. Tickets, $49. 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com —I.Z.
The Tenderloins Comedy Troupe—Sal Vulcano, Joe Gatto, James “Murr” Murray and Brian “B” Quinn, better known as the stars of TruTV’s Impractical Jokers—bring their reality show brand of practical joke comedy to the stage. Aug. 1, at the Lyric. Tickets, $50-$200. 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com —I.Z.
One Lovely Day
The perfect mix of soul, alt rock, blues and hip-hop, Citizen Cope (with full band) is a joy to the ears and this concert is extra special: $1 of every ticket purchased goes to purchasing musical instruments for middle schoolers in Lame Deer, Mont., a community on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation. Aug. 14, at Rams Head Live. Tickets, $45. 410-244-1131, ramsheadlive.com —I.Z.
In conjunction with the bicentennial of the nation’s first monument, the Mount Vernon Place Conservancy’s $5.5 million restoration of the Washington Monument culminates with its reopening and a day of family activities during the Monumental Bicentennial celebration. July 4. Free. 410-962-5070, monumental bicentennial.org—I.Z.
Tickle your funny bone at the ninth annual Baltimore Improv Festival, which showcases the most amusing local, regional and national improv groups. July 28-Aug. 2, at the Baltimore Theatre Project. Tickets, $10. 888-745-8393, baltimoreimprovfestival.org —I.Z.
Soft indie rocker Howie Day has given us the feels with his soaring emotional lyrics since the late ’90s. So yes, we’ll gladly celebrate the crowdfunded album “Lanterns” at its release party. July 31, at Rams Head On Stage. Tickets, $25. 410-268-4545, ramsheadonstage.com —I.Z. 9
As its name might suggest, Preserve is all about lasting things. Chef Jeremy Hoffman, who opened the Annapolis restaurant with his wife, Michelle, in April, pays homage to his down-home roots with tricked-out classics like pickled bologna, pork and sauerkraut and, yes, authentic
Pennsylvania Dutch potpie. “It’s more like a soup—a whole chicken, a little saffron, served with egg noodles drizzled with chicken fat,” he explains.
The couple met at the Culinary Institute of America, where they were both on the chef track. But when they moved to New York City, says Michelle, “We realized we couldn’t live on two line cooks’ salaries,” so she stepped up to the front of the house—as manager at the Tribeca Grill—while Jeremy worked in such serious kitchens as Nobu 57 and Per Se.
They moved on to the Eat Good Food Group in Alexandria, Va., where Jeremy was chef de cuisine for Eve. Preserve, says Michelle, is not just about pickling and brining. “We’re also about preserving the local economy by putting money in other small business owners’ hands.” The restaurant’s rough-hewn decor incorporates repurposed sails, dishes from an Annapolis company and, of course, Maryland beers.
“For me, that’s the underlying meaning of preserve,” says Michelle. 164 Main St., Annapolis, 443-598-6920, preserve-eats.com —M.T.
New York City
Yoko Ono and Martin Scorsese are sharing the stage (so to speak) at the Museum of Modern Art, which is hosting exhibits honoring both icons this summer. Scorsese Collects celebrates the filmmaker’s commitment to preserving international film culture with 34 works from his poster collection, including “The Tales of Hoffmann,” the 1951 film adaptation of Jacques Offenbach opéra fantastique, along with Howard Hawks’ “Scarface” (1932) and Michael Powell’s “The Red Shoes” (1948). The Ono exhibit has been destined since 1971, when the avant-garde artist announced her one-woman show “Modern Museum of (F)art” that turned out to be just a guy outside the museum wearing a sandwich board stating that Ono had unleashed flies (yes, really) for the public to follow around New York. The current exhibit showcases the work leading up to that odd display, titled Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960–1971, and features more than 100 of her works on paper, installations, performances, films and rare archival materials. moma.org —Ian Zelaya
The only thing that can make ice cream an even sweeter summer treat is the addition of unicorns and rainbows. On a dare, partners Doug Quint (a concert bassoonist) and Bryan Petroff (who worked in corporate human resources) opened Big Gay Ice Cream as a roaming truck almost six years ago in New York City. The bedazzled soft-serve outlet expanded with stores in the Villages (both East and West) and most recently in the heart of Philly’s “Gayborhood,” which stretches from Chestnut to Pine streets between 11th and Broad streets). Order a classic cone like the “Bea Arthur” or “Salty Pimp” (two different takes on dulce de leche delights) or ask for a custom flavor from the new Anthony Bourdain-approved recipe book. If you’re saving room for dinner after dessert, hop upstairs for 1980s-inspired fare (complete with Lionel Richie tunes) at Juniper Commons. biggayicecream.com —I.Z.
Chevy Chase, MD
Ever had that ick moment where you think: “Do I really want to put my feet in this pedicure bowl?” Try a waterless mani/pedi at Varnish Lane, the haute new destination for well-heeled ladies (and germaphobes) in D.C. “Besides being the main source of infection, water engorges nails so they shrink back up after your service, giving your polish less staying power,” says beauty junkie/co-owner Lauren Dunne who opened the salon with her mom last spring. You’ll find no (illegal) cheese graters here! Just 100 percent chemical-free products, including a locally blended oil cleanser that gets removed with a warm damp towel, single-use foot files, all-natural callus and cuticle removers and a chic polish selection, including Archie, Lauren B., Chanel, YSL and Dior. “If you’re stuck on Ballet Slippers for life, we also have Essie and OPI,” adds Dunne with a laugh. varnishlane.com —Jessica Bizik
‘Intimacy Idiot’ by Isaac Oliver
Based on an autobiographical blog turned off-Broadway solo show, Baltimore native Isaac Oliver—dubbed a “monstrous new talent,” by New York magazine—serves up a collection of ultra-personal essays and other laugh-inducing fragments. Over the kooky course, he hooks up romantically with a man who dresses as a dolphin, tries (and fails) to break through an impenetrable ring of beautiful singles at a cocktail party and bemoans the odor of other people’s takeout. Oliver’s perspective on single life, gay life and urban frustrations proves the perfect vacation read, because on your own time you can feel free to laugh out loud and even snort.
‘Unmanned’ by Dan Fesperman
In Baltimore Sun reporter turned novelist Dan Fesperman’s disturbing new novel (just released in paperback in June), former F-16 fighter pilot Darwin Cole finds himself plagued by alcoholism and the memories of the Predator drone he “piloted,” especially the image of an Afghan child running in fear. As hereluctantly joins forces with a trio of investigative journalists searching the identity of the (possibly rogue) intelligence operative who directed Cole’s ill-fated mission, tension mounts, and Cole soon finds himself and his new comrades running for their own lives. Mix an aviator cocktail and hold on tight.
‘Stone Harbor Bound’ by Madeleine Mysko
Baltimore-based author Madeleine Mysko’s second novel delivers an intoxicating sense of place. Soon after the loss of her partner, Bridget, Camille Pickett returns to Stone Harbor, N.J., to make a final decision about her inherited bungalow. Compelled by the lives of two young people she meets, Camille becomes embroiled in sorting their troubles. She meanwhile finds herself unlocking a personal mystery, a mystery tied to her longstanding, unshakable love for Stone Harbor. With prose as pretty as the beach itself, it’s the perfect armchair (or lawn chair) vacation.
‘The House of Hawthorne’ by Erika Robuck
Author of “Hemingway’s Girl” and “Call Me Zelda,” best-selling historical novelist and Stevenson University alum Erika Robuck tackles the life of yet another sexy, sassy, should-have-been-famous female that time forgot. Here, Robuck fixes her lens on the talented artist Sophia Hawthorne, eventual wife of immortal novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne. Sophia’s health problems prompted doctors to advise her against marriage, but her passion for Hawthorne hit her hard. The generous read follows their tumultuous love affair and marriage that crossed continents. As she raised children and stood by her fiction-writing man, Sophia found she couldn’t deny her own creative impulses. Read it—feel like a feminist in your bikini. 9
I’m so excited for the surgery,” the beaming blond teen tells Baltimore plastic surgeon Dr. Michele Shermak as they wrap up consultation for the girl’s upcoming breast reduction procedure that will, in theory, enable her to play a meaner game of high school field hockey as well as improve any back and neck pain related to her chest size.
“This beautiful girl, she’s so comfortable with the idea,” Shermak says later of the same patient, “that even post-op she says to me, ‘I can’t wait to see it.’”
The anonymous athlete, a young woman in her late teens, seems like one perfect poster child for female breast reduction surgery, whose recipients report satisfaction rates of roughly 95 percent, according to Shermak.
In Shermak’s Lutherville practice, such late-teen female athletes represent a growing clientele. “The word Amazon means without breast,” Shermak says, “and those ancient [mythic] female archers had breast removal so they could play better.”
While augmentation is still the much more popular surgery—286,694 women opted for expansion in the U.S. in 2014, while 114,470 women downsized—the rate of breast reduction surgery has grown 140 percent since 1997.
Right now, the average age of the reduction patient in the U.S. is about 40, as many doctors encourage women wait until after their childbearing years, due to potential, extremely low-risk complications with nursing and (such a drag) due to the very real effects of gravity—but also likely due to various bureaucratic, insurance-related hoops the boob owner may have to jump through.
For an average woman who stands 5 feet 5, and weighs 135 pounds, a doctor must remove at least 400 grams total tissue or .88 pound for insurance to cover costs. Incidentally, an A cup weighs about .43 pound; add .44 pound for each additional cup.
“Some insurance programs demand 1,000 grams,” Shermak says. When a teen requests the surgery, her biological maturity may need to be assessed because a girl still in puberty may see regrowth.
“There’s no typical starting size where female breast reduction is concerned,” Shermak says. “D, double D, up to H cups plus.” Shermak, who also provides augmentation surgery, performs quite a few procedures to correct asymmetry of the female breasts as well.
Other advantages to the super satisfying reduction surgery are increased confidence/sense of well-being, fewer headaches (literal, based on posture and circulation, and figurative, based on creepy catcalls), diminished nerve pain, and, well, the ability to buy tops at just about any store. For those few women who deal with macromastia—or medically large breasts, in which the chest accounts for 3 percent of total body weight—the transformation equals a completely different quality of life.
“I feel like it’s a net zero day when I do a reduction and an augmentation,” Shermak says, laughing.
Experts debate the reason for the booming rate of reductions. Certainly, obesity plays a role in the increase in the nation’s average boob size, but so may an increase in “environmental estrogens” (certain chemicals found in pesticides, plastics and hormone-injected meats). More Americans are reaching puberty earlier; of course, more Americans are fatter, too.
The big big-breast picture aside, make no mistake: Shermak’s typical patient isn’t significantly overweight. (For safety and effectiveness, insurance providers encourage obese patients to lose weight pre-reduction- surgery application.) She is looking to reduce her bra size and create more comfortable proportions. And, after the fact, she’s overwhelmingly glad she did. (The outpatient procedure has most women back in regular, if less bouncy, action after two weeks’ time. Usually, the surgeon cuts around the areola and under the breast, creating an anchor pattern, to remove tissue and extra skin. Scarring can be significant depending on a number of factors, but can also fade over time.)
Interestingly enough, he’s glad he got a reduction, too. That’s right, the number of men opting for breast reduction also is on the rise.
Last year, 26,000 men got boob jobs, the reductive kind—that’s 29 percent more than in 2000, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
“I think the Internet has a lot to do with it,” says Dr. Ronald H. Schuster, a Baltimore-based plastic surgeon who performs a great number of male reduction surgeries to remedy the condition officially known as gynecomastia, a swelling of the breast tissue in boys or men, caused by an imbalance of the hormones estrogen and testosterone.
“Girls talk to girls about everything and guys don’t talk to guys about anything [that might embarrass them]. But the gynecomastia bothers them. It has bothered them since high school—it really causes tremendous psychosocial issues. They will not go anywhere they are seen bare-chested, like the beach. They feel self-conscious working out.”
Schuster’s largest male patient got a C cup reduction. In this case—or cup—as well, our thoughts may go to the obesity epidemic. But Schuster says that’s not the culprit.
“It’s not that they’re overweight,” he says. “It’s abnormal breast tissue—it’s like a white rubbery gland. In fact, sometimes what happens is guys lose a lot of fat, then it becomes more apparent.”
Gynecomastia isn’t genetic either, for the most part—it’s 85 percent idiopathic, meaning it just happens. Does that mean insurance covers it? Not often—that’s a bust, boys.
After all the psychic stress and aggravation their unwanted breasts can cause these guys, the 90-minute procedure itself seems like a cakewalk.
Schuster employs a lateral pull-through technique.
“The advantages are that there is only one small scar off to the side of the chest—the approach avoids the scar along the lower areola,” he says. “This procedure includes the use of
liposuction…and can be used in about 80 percent of patients.”
Shermak also performs the male-centric surgery—typically using liposuction paired with what she calls a “3 to 9 o’clock incision” in order to eliminate a palpable bud of breast tissue.
Some men in the U.S. do get peck implants, though Schuster and Shermak don’t see many in their practices. Shermak figures it’s more of a West Coast thing.
“Then there are men getting breasts,” Schuster adds. “That’s a growing area. [Caitlyn] Jenner highlighted it. Those patients gravitate toward surgeons who [specialize] in that.
“Hopefully, guys will read this article and know they have an option for reduction,” Schuster adds. “It’s life-changing for them. With men, they live with this misery but the solution is extremely successful and recovery very fast.”
We all know water is our natural ally for healthy, radiant skin. Less well-known are its valuable contributions to the world of cocktails. Without adding anything unnecessary, water opens up the complex botanicals in spirits where sugar-based mixers can dampen them. Try this light and refreshing recipe for relaxing poolside this summer.
1¼ oz VeeV Acai Berry spirit
¼ oz Art in the Age Sage spirit
¼ oz Fee Brothers Lavender water
Your favorite filtered or sparking water
In a Collins glass over ice combine spirits and lavender water. Top with your favorite still water and garnish with a thin lemon slice.
By Ginny Lawhorn, award-winning bartender at Landmark Theatres, Harbor East and founder of Baltimore Cocktail Week.
As someone who loves the idea of yoga but hates the practice, I’m always searching for a shortcut to inner peace. Labyrinths have been touted as “walking meditation” so I decided to give them a try. The way I understand it, you ask yourself a big question—say, “What’s the meaning of life?”—then follow the path to the center where wisdom and David Bowie await. (Part of that statement is not true.)
According to Gloria Carpeneto, executive director of the Friends of the Northeast Interfaith Peace Garden, labyrinths reflect real life with “peaceful stretches followed by twists and turns.” Unlike mazes, with problem-solving that appeals to the left side of the brain, labyrinths have just one way in and one way out. You can’t make a wrong turn. Carpeneto and others brought the labyrinth to St. Anthony of Padua Parish on Frankford Avenue with support from the TKF Foundation (naturesacred.org), an Annapolis-based nonprofit dedicated to healing through public green spaces.
How it Works: As I prepare to walk the 43-foot brick paving stone beauty, I’m mindful of Carpeneto’s tips. I center myself with a long, deep breath then take measured steps to the labyrinth’s center, pause and
reflect, then make my way out. Rather than obsessing over a single question, I accept inspiration from wherever it comes—water bubbling from a nearby fountain or the hot smell of grass. The whole thing takes 15 minutes.
What I Love: Each time I try a new labyrinth, I feel a little more relaxed—noticing beautiful details in the moment. Make-a-wish dandelions poke up like silent choruses at the Ellen Morriss Memorial Santa Rosa Labyrinth on York Road. At the Thanksgiving Place Labyrinth at Stadium Place, I read through the entries left in the waterproof journal stored under the bench. The children’s drawings, posts about Baltimore’s unrest and wishes for a better future will stay with me.
What I Don’t: I’m still too in my head but I won’t give up. To find dozens of layrynths in Maryland visit labyrinthlocator.com.
Clavel, the new taqueria in Remington, is a study in DIY creativity. In the name of economy and elegance, Lane and friends did all rehab. For instance, her engineer dad designed bar stools, and they built them. Located in the once green-stucco Corky’s Grill, the place is soothing desert tones inside with plants (including succulents) sprouting from cracks in the raw wood tables.
Outside, picnic tables seat around 24, and an “art wall” will eventually showcase a rotating cast of local talent. The long bar faces the star act: the production of handmade tacos, made by Carlos Raba, a native of the northern Mexican state of Sinaloa. Look for tacos stuffed with braised beef and slow cooked pork, handmade salsas from peppers charred on the grill and ceviche.
Harlan also plans to use the dormant pizza ovens, a relic of the previous space, for whole fish. “We’ll butterfly it and stuff with garlic and chili peppers. A big group can order it, and pull off the fish to eat with tacos,” she says. Smoky mescal will be served for sipping and in flights of .75 and 1.5 ounce pours, so customers can learn about the distilled agave.
“It’s extremely artisanal,” says Harlan.“I want to focus on the pure expression of mescal.” 225 W. 23rd St., 301-848-2849 barclavel.com —M.T.
Though Gia Fracassetti’s eponymous restaurant satisfies just about every craving from fritto misto to short ribs, a light salad to saltimbocca (after all, what is more crave-worthy than classic Italian?), there was something missing.
“We didn’t really have a bar where people could stop in and have a drink,” says Fracassetti, who lives among four generations of family in Little Italy. So when a sliver of space became available next door, she says, “We couldn’t pass on it.”
While Pane e Vino shares a wall with Café Gia, the place possesses its own personality. Where the original is known for its fanciful murals reminiscent of 1920s café life, the new bar shimmers with a contemporary DIY elegance. Large gilt-framed mirrors face the bar counter, which is topped in vintage-pressed tin ceiling tiles that have been burnished and epoxied, trimmed in amber glass.
The simple menu offers small, sharable plates like succulent oversized meatballs, pizza, a bright Caprese salad with fresh mozz and a charcuterie board. There’s a handcrafted cocktail menu and a selection of moderately priced wines. Best of all, it’s a place to drop in and watch the O’s game.
“We don’t want to just replicate Café Gia,” says Fracassetti. “It has to have its own vibe.” 408 S. High St., 410-685-3300 —M.T.
RIDICULOUSLY COMFY. SHOCKINGLY SOFT. INDISPUTABLY AWESOME. That’s how Yellow Leaf Hammocks describes their gorgeous, snuggle-fest-inducing, outdoor “nap” furniture—hand-woven by expert artisans in hill tribe communities in Thailand who earn middle-class wages working from home. Each model is named after a favorite vacation destination—this one’s the “Kilauea” inspired by molten lava entering the blue seas of Hawaii’s Mount Kilauea volcano—and comes in three sizes: hanging chair ($149), classic double ($179) and king-size ($249), which can hold up to a whopping 550 pounds! Free-flowing waves of weather-resistant, color-fast yarn are designed to contour to your bod (and your loved ones) without squishing. We discovered the line at Salt & Sundry, an urban bohemian wonderland with locations in D.C.’s Logan Circle and Union Market shopping districts. shopsaltandsundry.com —Jessica Bizik
Upcycler ExtraordinaireMichelle Barnes dreads tossing anything into a landfill. So she opened ReUP Home in Mount Vernon. That cool 1950s Raleigh bike with the wire panniers on the back? It’s now a glass-topped table. You could pair it with the hippie-reminiscent swivel chair reupholstered in faded denim or the vintage wrought-iron chairs with purply-blue cushions. Savvy has her eye on the devilishly clever, Mad Men-esque pair of old luggage pieces repurposed into medicine cabinets, complete with mirrors and shelves. With items ranging from $2 to $2,800 in this little shop of wonders, how could she ever go wrong? 519 N. Charles St., 410-528-1054, reuphome.com
Ah, the siren song of summer is in full throat! But hey, what about the rest of your body? Let Rebecca Ostroski take care of it at HotWax, her new mini-spa in Hampden offering skincare, spray tanning and, of course, hair removal. Try the 20-minute “On the Go” Facial (with Dermalogica products) for $45. Her quick-as-a-breeze Brazilian is $55. Don’t get lost: it’s inside NV Salon Collective at 861 W. 36th St., 443-794-6729, hotwaxbaltimore.com
Let’s face it, sometimes your feet just can’t take it anymore. The heels, the wedges, the peep-toes, the straps. Sometimes all you want to do is pop on something easy and airy and give your poor hooves a rest. But why should you have to sacrifice style? At Flip Flop Shops, they believe you don’t. Never has Savvy seen such a multifarious collection of casual footwear! From popular basics like Havaianas, Reef and Roxy, to more structured sandals by Birkenstock and Teva, to water-friendly flops by Speedo (called Exsqueeze Me), this shop will have you flipping for joy—even in the middle of Arundel Mills. 7000 Arundel Mills Circle, Hanover, 410-379-5700, flipflopshops.com
Like many a Mexicophile, Savvy has often been dazzled by Talavera pottery, pierced tin mirrors, hand-carved wooden paintings and the gleaming silver of Taxco. Finding them all used to take her to Blanca Flor in Annapolis. But now she can just scoot to the new Harbor East location. Owner Donna De Garcia has been importing handcrafted goods from Mexico for years. In addition to classic Spratling necklaces and bold cuffs, she also carries the work of American designers such as Zina, Baroni and Janice Girardi, along with aluminum housewares (no polishing required!) and colorful paintings by Juan Carlos Breceda. Don’t miss the exclusive line of talismanic jewelry by Pyrrha, beloved by Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner and Taylor Swift. 612 S. Exeter St., 410-469-9118, blancaflorsilverjewelry.com
In my decades of beach trips en famille, I have rented many a vacation house. Perhaps other moms can sympathize with me on the problematic aspects of this getaway format. If you stay in a house with your family, someone is going to be buying groceries, cooking, straightening up and dealing with piles of soggy towels. While the holiday may inspire a more creative division of labor, many of us mothers are born draft horses and if we see a harness, we climb on in. Perhaps with an equine sigh, blown through pursed lips.
This is why, when I planned a trip to celebrate the eighth grade graduation of my daughter Jane and two of her friends, I got the idea of staying in a place where there was no chance of domestic enslavement. The kind of place that has maid service, room service and elevators. Bellmen, bartenders, pool boys and people who schlep beach chairs and umbrellas. In a word, a hotel.
As I surfed around, my gaze fell on Virginia Beach. It was a five-hour drive from Baltimore, with the option of heading down the Delmarva Peninsula and across the 23-mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, which features a restaurant and gift shop halfway across.
Google images of Virginia Beach’s oceanfront depicted a Cancun-like wall of hotels bordering a strip of sand. In my younger years, this corporate tourism set-up had driven me screaming from Cancun to lower-profile beaches on the Yucatan Peninsula. In fact, I now recall, I once rented a casita in Akumal, which was lovely but lacked a staff. Until I got there.
The very layout I once eschewed now looked ideal to me, and to Amy Smith, the mom of one of the girls Jane had invited to join our party. The five of us fit snugly into a room at the Sheraton Virginia Beach Oceanfront Hotel—three girls in the king-size bed, two moms on the sleeper sofa.
With an advance rate of about $200 per night, our fifth-floor room included a microwave and mini-fridge. It featured piles of clean white towels and excellent air conditioning. It overlooked the ocean and the lushly landscaped stone boardwalk, which felt more peaceful than, say, Ocean City or the towns of South Jersey because all the retail—the stores full of flip-flops, saltwater taffy, refrigerator magnets and beer—is located on the land side of the boulevard, behind the hotels, rather than right on the beach.
A hotel is more than just a room where invisible elves make the bed and bring more shampoo and Starbucks coffee packets. From the 13-year-old point of view, the hot tubs, indoor and outdoor pools and fitness center, which they loved to visit late at night, were key attractions. The moms found that the bartender at the lobby bar made a great martini, while the one at the cabana by the pool had a way with a Sea Breeze.
As much as I may be a fan of hotels, I am not big on hotel restaurants: I love scouting the Internet and the tourist magazines for recommendations and deals. We found lots of choices in walking distance; in fact, we didn’t take the car out of the lot the whole trip, a big plus. The one meal we did eat at the Sheraton was lunch: leftovers from a dinner of pizza and all-you-can-eat spaghetti at the nearby Dough Boys California Pizza (doughboyspizza.com). We ordered up salads and place settings from room service, heated our plates in the microwave and enjoyed our view.
My extreme couponing got us a bargain on rental bikes—buy one hour, get one hour free—from Cherie’s Bike & Blade Rentals (visitvirginiabeach.com), which has 15 locations along the boardwalk. In two hours, we were able to go up and down the boardwalk bike path then head through the oceanfront neighborhood north of the hotel district to the Cape Henry Bike Trail, which runs through the woods of First Landing State Park and along Broad Bay.
This 2,888-acre park, the most popular state park in Virginia, commemorates the spot where English settlers first landed in 1607, before moving on to establish the settlement at Jamestown. The day we rode through, the pretty lakefront was filled with picnickers who had anchored boats offshore.
Our last night, we got a $20 deal on a surrey-with-a-fringe-on-top family bike and rode down the boardwalk to the amusement park, where soft ice cream and a Ferris wheel awaited.
In short, I got more relaxation in three days than I ever had during a week in a vacation rental. I’d go back anytime.
WHERE TO SLEEP
Sheraton Virginia Beach Oceanfront. Our hangout just underwent a multimillion- dollar upgrade, including a new fitness center and outdoor pool. sheraton.com
Hilton Garden Inn. This new hotel boasts 167 oceanfront rooms and suites, plus clever amenities like in-pool chaise lounges and a sand castle “setup” service with free buckets, shovels, kids chairs and umbrellas. hiltongardeninnvirginiabeach.com
WHERE TO EAT
Commune Crepes. Kevin Jamison’s new café (opening in early August) will feature 100 percent locally sourced ingredients mostly derived from his nearby farm. There’s even a 1,000-foot garden on-site. communecrepes.com
Pocahontas Pancake and Waffle Shop. Kitschy murals feature the Indian maid, John Smith and friends; the waiting area is a teepee. Once you finally get in, a vast array of carbs and egg specials await you at this local hot spot. pocahontaspancakes.com
Pelon’s Baja Grill. A Cali-style Mexican place serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. The fish tacos, ceviche, guac and margaritas are excelente. pelonsbajagrill.com
Pleasure House Oysters. Sign up for the new Chef’s Table tour, where you’ll learn all about the famed Lynnhaven oyster—and eat ‘em right out of the water. pleasurehouseoysters.com
WHERE TO PLAY
The Surf & Adventure Co. Work off that caramel popcorn with this local crew offering guided kayaking excursions, top notch surfing lessons (they swear, you’ll get up at least once) and bike/camping retreats. surfandadventure.com
When it’s too hot and humid to even think about heating up the kitchen, those of us lucky enough to have a bit of outdoor space begin to look at our grills as necessities rather than luxuries. But, just as with anything else in life, it’s all too easy to fall into a rut. After all, man cannot live by hamburgers and hot dogs alone. (No, really. You can’t.) To help keep your dinners interesting and diverse during these long, sultry days, I’ve put together some alternatives to the burger/chicken/steak grilling paradigm.
First up: beef satay with spicy peanut dipping sauce. Is there anything more fun than eating meat on a stick? These crispy-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside skewers are, in a word, addictive. The marinade—fragrant with lemongrass, ginger, garlic and cilantro—smells so good you might be tempted to devour the strips of flank steak raw, but do wait until the grill has imparted its charred goodness to the meat.
Grilled salads are one of my favorite summertime sides. Here, the kale and radicchio get charred and crispy; the endive’s bitterness turns buttery; and the whole lot is balanced with mild ricotta and tangy, sweet balsamic vinegar.
I tend to prefer savory foods over sweet ones, and because of that I realize there has been a dearth of desserts in these pages of late. To rectify that state of affairs, I made not one but two sweet grilled treats. Pound cake doesn’t really need any help to be delicious, but grilling it makes it even more luscious; serve it up with a dollop of mascarpone and a mixed berry compote, and you’ve got a colorful dessert home run.
Finally, grilling pineapple caramelizes the sugar and makes a piece of healthy fruit seem decadent. As for the butterscotch sauce…it is decadent, and if you can manage not to lap up all of the leftovers straight off the spoon, then I admire your self-control.
Note: All instructions refer to a charcoal grill. For a gas grill, use the same temperatures and times; these dishes also could be cooked on a griddle pan on the stove.
Grilled Pineapple with Vanilla Mochi & Boozy Butterscotch Sauce
4 Slices cored pineapple, about ½-inch thick
Melted butter, for brushing
2 Pieces vanilla mochi ice cream
Fresh mint, for garnish
For the Boozy Butterscotch Sauce:
(makes about 1 cup—you will have extra, and you will be very glad!)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
½ cup heavy cream
Fresh vanilla (from approx. 1-inch
of a fresh vanilla bean)
½ teaspoon kosher salt, or more
2 tablespoons bourbon
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sugar and cook until it liquefies. Whisk in the cream, vanilla and salt. Bring to a gentle boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the bourbon. Allow to cool—if the sauce seems thin when it’s hot, don’t worry, it will thicken as it cools.
Meanwhile, brush the pineapple slices on both sides with melted butter. Grill over medium high heat for about 3 minutes per side, until heated through and grill marks appear. Serve 2 slices of pineapple with a piece of mochi ice cream, and drizzle generously with the butterscotch sauce. Garnish with fresh mint.
Charred Salad with Kale, Endive, Radicchio & Ricotta
4 leaves kale
4 leaves radicchio
2 endive, split lengthwise
3-4 tablespoons ricotta
Lightly coat the kale, radicchio and endive with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. Grill the kale for about 30 seconds per side, until slightly charred around the edges; do the same for the radicchio. Grill the endive cut-side down for about 1 minute. Serve with dollops of ricotta and a drizzle of
Beef Satay with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce
makes 24 satay skewers
1½ pounds flank steak
1 stalk lemongrass (white part only), minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
4 tablespoons neutral oil (such as grapeseed)
Juice from 1 lemon or lime
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Small handful fresh cilantro, chopped
½ cup creamy peanut butter
¼ cup hot water
1 teaspoon sugar
Juice from ½ lemon
2 tablespoons Huy Fong chili garlic sauce (or more, to taste)
Cut flank steak in half lengthwise (with the grain), then cut into 2- to 3-inch strips approximately 1⁄8- to 1⁄4-inch thick. (Note: If you have a hard time slicing the steak thin enough, put it in the freezer for about 10 minutes then slice it.)
Mix the ingredients for the marinade, add steak strips and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for approximately 2 hours.
Meanwhile, make the peanut sauce. Add the hot water to the peanut butter and stir in all the other ingredients. If the sauce is too thick, add water. Cover and set aside. While the grill heats to high, thread 2 steak strips onto each skewer. Brush the grill lightly with oil, and cook the skewers over the hottest part of the grill for approximately 3 minutes per side. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve with the peanut sauce.
Grilled Pound Cake with Mixed Berry Compote & Mascarpone
makes enough compote for 4-6 slices pound cake
For the compote:
1½ cups ripe mixed berries (I used blackberries, blueberries and red raspberries)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon honey
Fresh vanilla, from approx. ¼ inch of vanilla bean
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon mascarpone per slice of pound cake
Pound cake, sliced into 1-inch slices
Melted butter, for brushing
In a medium saucepan over medium low heat, combine the compote ingredients and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently until the fruit has softened and released some of its juice. Allow to cool—it will thicken slightly.
Meanwhile, brush the pound cake on each side with melted butter. Grill over medium heat for 1 minute per side, or until it has crisped slightly. Serve with a dollop of mascarpone and a generous helping of the berry compote.
I grew up in a Long Island tract house— a “high ranch” in real estate parlance— built in 1960. The house has a particularly one-dimensional, mid-century suburban aesthetic: What you see is what you get. There are no gables or transoms, no secret nooks or crannies. It looks and feels
almost identical to every other house for blocks around.
My parents were the first owners of that house on Neil Drive, for which they paid the princely sum of $19,999. They moved in as soon as construction was finished and the sawdust had been swept up. Fifty-five years later, my mother still lives there, making ours the only family to have ever called the house a home.
The neighborhood itself literally didn’t exist before my parents got there. When they drove out to see the lot, there was nothing there but a mound of earth—the streets had been carved out of fallow potato fields. Growing up, I was always aware of a palpable lack of history in our house. The space was ours, and ours alone. No secrets. No ghosts.
Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that I am mesmerized by old houses, the more eccentrically nook-and-cranny filled, the better. When we bought our house in Mount Washington, a 1930 Tudor cottage, I was transfixed by the inspector’s walk-through. There had once been a summer kitchen behind the exterior wall, he told us. There were dormant coal ovens in the boiler room. (A neighbor’s house still had a charmingly old-fashioned “telephone closet.”) I relished the idea that the house bore physical reminders of the unknown people who’d lived there before us. I longed to find some cool treasure—a stash of love letters, or names carved into a beam somewhere—but I had to settle for some rusted old razor blades we found behind a medicine cabinet and a plastic baby bathtub left behind in the attic.
There was something romantic to me about the idea that this structure had stood for 80-odd years, and had been tweaked and transformed as families moved in and out of it, the times changing around them. Our house was there when Seabiscuit raced at nearby Pimlico racetrack. Our house had stood through the Depression and World War II, through the civil rights movement, the moon landing and 9/11. I wondered about the people for whom this space had provided haven during uncertain times, the same space to which I’d brought home both my newborns, the same space in which I was standing when I got the call that my father had died. This space was not ours alone.
You can imagine my delight, then, when in February of this year, a letter arrived in my mailbox bearing an unfamiliar name and return address. The writer—I’ll call her “Nancy”—had seen my column in these pages and felt the need to reach out.
“I want you to know that I can perfectly visualize every corner of your home,” she wrote. “You see, we used to live [there.]”
Nancy had lived in our house from 1966 to 1977. I immediately called her and we talked at length. I invited her to come over, and she enthusiastically accepted. Even though we’d only just met, I felt an immediate connection to Nancy, an intimacy that seemed odd to share with a stranger. She walked nostalgically through the rooms that had once belonged to her family and shared old photos with me. There were her children standing proudly in front of a newly planted tree, one that now stands many feet tall. The living room was a vision in navy blue carpeting, the kitchen adorned with bright floral wallpaper and an old school refrigerator with a latch handle. Her children’s artwork was tacked proudly to the wall.
Nancy’s letter arrived just as we were preparing to sell this house and move to what we hope will be our forever home a few blocks away—this time a house built in 1910 with an especially storied, rich history. I’d been feeling rather sentimental about the move. This is the only home I’ve ever owned, and the only place my children have ever lived. My younger son is now roughly the same age as my husband was when he moved out of his first childhood home, a house he has no recollection of. I feel a catch in my throat thinking Alec won’t remember this place, the very place I learned that I was pregnant with him. I think about all the nights I spent nursing and rocking my sons in the corner of the pale green nursery, the house dark and silent. I think of the countless baths I gave them in the old-fashioned black and white tile bathroom, the wintry days I watched them sled with glee down the tiny hill in our backyard.
But I need to realize that while happy memories are inexorably linked to a house, they’re not embedded in the bricks and mortar. I’d like to think whatever good karma we’ve generated here somehow both moves with us and lingers on. I want the new family that moves in to tell their own story within these walls, just as we hope to do in our new house, and just as someday, another family will do in my childhood house. Because in the end, home is really a feeling, not a place.
Jennifer Mendelsohn lives with her husband and their two boys in Mount Washington. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, People, Slate and USA Weekend.
I HAVE BIG QUESTIONS. Like why would any sane person choose to get their teeth whitened in the middle of an outlet mall? The only reason I can dream up: To escape the guy harassing me to try that Dead Sea salt hand scrub. (You know the one.) Still, seems sketchy. So I decide to ask a real pro—Dr. Craig Longenecker, who practices in an idyllic log cabin-turned-office in Monkton—about the latest (and safest) options for brightening my pearly whites.
“It all comes down to time, cost and controlling sensitivity,” says Longenecker, who dismisses the whitening kiosk fad by saying, “I don’t know what they’re using, but you need to be a licensed, trained professional to access the [medical grade] materials dentists use.” Note: Some states have already banned the pop-ups.
The Rolls Royce of whitening is an in-office session, where a dentist paints a protective rubber dam on your gums, then applies 25 to 30 percent peroxide solution to your teeth—sometimes using a UVB light to “accelerate” the process (though experts disagree whether the light works).
“It’s a lot of chair time, which accounts for the price tag [of $500 to $800],” says Longenecker, who offers Philips Zoom office whitening but regularly steers patients toward take-home kits instead.
The major benefit of an in-office bleach job: instant gratification. You can walk out (in under 90 minutes) with dramatically whitener teeth—up to eight shades—provided you don’t have any fillings or veneers in the front of your grill. (Bleaching won’t help in either case.) What bites? The single session can dehydrate teeth and carries the highest risk for sensitivity. (“It hurts like a mofo,” wrote one unhappy bridezilla on a national wedding blog.)
Drugstore strips are cheaper ($18 to $50) but also wimpier (3 to 10 percent peroxide). That means you need patience—and possibly multiple boxes to get desired results. Plus, the strips only whiten front teeth and won’t fully cover your snaggletooth. (No judging, I have one. Her name is Jewel.)
MY CHOICE: I opt for custom-fitted trays, which Longenecker crafts by taking a mold with blueberry-yogurt-looking paste that turns white when it’s hard. A few days later, he sends me home with a perfect replica of my smile—and a 10-pack of syringes (“we call them dispensers,” he emphasizes) filled with Opalescence 20 percent whitening gel enhanced with desensitizing potassium nitrate—which I’ll wear for one hour a day.
Despite the dimpled dentist’s excellent instructions, I flub the first night—putting in way too much “goo,” which, well, burns like a mofo and leaves me with inflamed gums and a few white spots. Longenecker suggests I wait a few days then start over—and voila!—two weeks later my choppers are six shades lighter with no major ouchies. Oh, and I’ve kicked my “must eat cereal before bed” habit. Bonus!
THE BEST PART: Professional whitening trays average $500, but Longenecker charges just $200, which he donates entirely to Smiles For Life, a global nonprofit that raises money for kids in need. His current charity,
My Neighbor’s Foundation, helps underprivileged Hereford Zone kids participate in school activities. Previously, he designated Casey Cares, where he still sits on the board. “Over the last eight years we’ve raised more than $60k,” says Longenecker, beaming. A good dentist—and a good guy? Too bad he’s married. hereforddentalhealth.com
Ben Lefenfeld fell hard for Basque country cuisine after a visit to Asador Etxebarri, Victor Arguinzoniz’s Michelin-starred restaurant in Spain.
After five years running the kitchen at Petit Louis—and stints at Charleston and Gerard’s Place in D.C.—he has now taken over the Meadow Mill space originally occupied by the London Fog raincoat factory. At La Cuchara, antique red leather chairs, a display of vintage spoons (which the chef collects) and repurposed pine fixtures from the shuttered Smith & Hawken shop in Mount Washington add to the rustic ambiance, all centered around a wood-fired grill.
How did you fall for Basque food? Part of it is the terroir, the ingredients you find there. Part is the grandmother style of cooking: things done simply. I could live roaming the streets of San Sebastian and eating at pintxo bars the rest of my life.
Did you have an “aha” moment? Personally it was at Etxebarri, an asador between Balboa and San Sebastian. It’s consistently ranked as one of the best restaurants in the world. I took a tour of the kitchen and it blew me away. They use different woods for different entrées and appetizers. They do a smoked butter that’s very simple with pane rustica. You smoke the cream from the cow. We’re looking for a raw heavy cream to smoke on the grill. We have a smoked crème fraiche with wild mushroom appetizer on tuille, and have been playing around with smoked vanilla ice cream.
What are the key flavors in Basque cooking? The wonderful olive oil, the seafood—especially the smaller fish, boquerones and sardines. There are a lot of goats milk cheeses in the region. Compared to northern France, where you find more butter and cream, these are leaner foods, but with bold flavors.
How do you decide what’s on the menu? We’re just looking for the best product we can get. We source from local purveyors who go out of their way to give us a good product. Peerless Fish out of Brooklyn, in my opinion the best out there, comes down three times a week. Sardines are flown in from Spain; we have Pacific Northwest halibut and Guinea fowl from Fells Point Wholesale Meats.
Is there anything that people don’t know about you? People always think I’m mad at them, but I’m actually a really nice guy. I’m just focused, trying to get a job done. Even when I was 13 years old, working at Pizza Hut, people asked, “Why are you always so mad all the time?” I’m intense.
Dana Sicko Gundalow Juice
Whether you’re a juicing fanatic or a skeptic of the healthy lifestyle fad, Dana Sicko vows to woo you with her bright and beautifully packaged Gundalow Juice, the first small-batch wholesale cold press juice company in Maryland.
“I’m a big believer that all ships rise with the tide,” says Sicko, the nautical pun-loving CEO and founder of Gundalow, which is a historic New England vessel boat. “My goal with our juices is first and foremost to focus on flavor.”
Sicko, 26, says Gundalow Juice, which launched in 2014, was actually in the works long before she founded Nutreatious in 2011, her personal chef service based in Hunt Valley. She’d always wanted to make healthy food products that didn’t solely emphasize the healthy aspect. In other words, she’s not trying to replicate the BluePrintCleanse craze where folks detox solely on juice for a few days.
“I wanted to make juice that someone like my dad who’s not a health-focused guy might pick up,” she says. “Our juice is definitely approachable. You can drink it just because you like it—and get the health benefits by default.”
Born and raised in South Baltimore, Sicko takes pride in her Charm City-themed juices that include “The Hon” (blackberry, honeydew, lemon, ginger and pineapple) and “The Oriole” (pineapple, strawberry and lime). But she’s even more proud of her all-women team, which she dubs her “Gundalow Girls,” who work tirelessly and efficiently at the hands-on process in their Federal Hill headquarters.
“It’s pretty magical, our ingredients go from being complete fruits and vegetables to being bottled in just about seven minutes,” she says. “We work in a little 10-by-10 room together—and it’s the most organized chaos you’ve ever seen.”
The challenge is that the 1,300 juices her team makes weekly have to be driven to New Jersey to be processed in a hyperbaric pressure chamber, which kills off any possible bacteria while still maintaining the vitamins and minerals, due to Maryland Health Department regulations for wholesaling. “You kind of have to laugh at the irony of it—it takes seven hours roundtrip for a 120-second process,” Sicko says.
While the juices are currently sold for pickup, delivery and at fitness centers including The MAC, Sunlight & Yoga and BeachFit Baltimore, Sicko would love to eventually see her product on shelves in Graul’s, Eddie’s and Whole Foods—but for now she’s delighted by Gundalow’s small but sweet progress. “It’s been cool to get to know people and make an impact in the fitness community, rather than just competing for shelf space where no one knows our story.” gundalowjuice.com
The Cool Girl
KarmaPop ICE POPS | PieCycle Hand Pies
A year ago, Krystal Mack made her dream of KarmaPop—a mobile, vegan, urban farm-to-stick ice pop pop-up shop—a reality with the crowdfunding website Kickstarter.
“$7,000 is such a lofty goal to set for yourself,” says Mack, 30, who was surprised by how enthusiastically her funding needs were met. “A lot of funders were people I didn’t even know, which was crazy to me.” Her Kickstarter fans also gave her the idea to soon after launch her year-round sister project PieCycle, a mobile small-batch pie and cookie bakery.
A former esthetician for six years, Mack would bake treats for her customers, who encouraged her to get into the food industry. After gigs at Le Garage and the Kinderhook snack company in Baltimore, she realized she wanted to start her own venture with her own food ideology.
“I work full-time on Real Food Farm in Clifton Park, which gives me a more well-rounded food experience, knowing where my food comes from and how I can introduce that to people,” she says. “I don’t know very many ice cream vendors that source local herbs and fruits and state that.”
Look for Mack’s giant tricycle all over Baltimore, including regular stops at Trohv, Union Graze and The Exchange, so you can sample her funky ice pop flavors like Holy Basil & Chocolate Mint, Avocado Matcha and Malted Vanilla with Candied Mushroom. Her vegan pastries—including energy truffles made with rolled oats and dates, and a raw apple baklava with cashew crust—are also sold at Grind House Café and Juice Bar in Charles Village.
Mack says her sweet tooth is what first prompted her to start experimenting with healthy choices, but sometimes it still gets the best of her.
“Milkshakes are my thing. I love the boozy ones from Abbey Burger Bistro in Federal Hill,” she says. “A milkshake with some whiskey in it and I’m good to go. It’s totally the opposite of everything I sell.” facebook.com/bmorepopsandpies
Ben and Cam McDonald
If you stopped by Bonjour French Bakery’s table at the Emporiyum back in April, you were probably offered a trendy box of colorful macaroons and a colossal, scrumptious butter bun. (I devoured mine and it was life-changing.) Brothers Ben and Cam McDonald showcased the
muffin-shaped croissant-cinnamon bun hybrid as the signature product of Butter Brothers, their brand new pop-up concept which is an offshoot of the famed Falls Road bakery helmed by their grandfather Gerard Billebault.
The current goal: turning this test concept into a full-fledged, flaky dessert pop-up shop that will roam all around town, once they have the time to craft the business plan. Can you imagine? Complex carbs magically appearing outside your office or front door?
“One thing that will distinguish us apart from the Bonjour is that we’re taking traditional French concepts and adapting them to our palates and tweaking them to make something new,” says Ben, 24, who ditched his original plans for a career in real estate development to apprentice with his grandfather at the family-run bakery for more than a year. Billebault, a third-generation Parisian pastry chef and baker, has shared his craft with his grandchildren since they were kids.
“A big part of the motivation behind this venture was that our grandparents are getting older and at some point, they’ll want to step away from running the shop. It’s been such an integral part of our family life,” says Cam, 22, who is studying entrepreneurship at UMBC. “Growing up we both wanted to do something different than sitting at a desk 9 to 5. To be able to put the entrepreneurial skills I’m learning to work while Ben does what he loves to do has been really cool. We complement each other and maximize our strengths.”
Sure, the bros occasionally butts heads as you’d expect when working together side-by-side every day. But they believe their past experience with sibling rivalry makes them even better business partners.
“Our experience growing up together and fighting the way we did trained us for moments of disagreement and friction,” explains Cam. “We’ve been able to maintain a balanced professional relationship while staying close as brothers and as friends.” 6070 Falls Road, 410-900-5650, facebook.com/liveabutterlife
The Icing Queen
Megon Dee has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. So when she lost her job as a waitress due to pregnancy discrimination, she tapped into her resources and decided to pursue her passion: Baking. Four years later, thanks mostly to word of mouth, the 30-year-old mom is the force behind some of Smalltimore’s most creative artisanal desserts at Corazon Cakery in Pigtown.
Corazon, which means “heart” in Spanish, is dedicated to Dee’s grandmother, Maude, who was a baker for Andrews Air Force Base, and is also the middle name of her son, Mateo.
While Dee’s intricate custom-designed cakes and cupcakes are enticing enough—we’re obsessed with a luxe fashion brands-inspired cake she recently made, complete with an edible Christian Louboutin shoe—her penchant for using out-of-the-box ingredients is what makes Corazon even more unique.
“My background in baking comes from a lot of personal intolerances I have. The healthier the ingredient, the easier,” says Dee, who lists rice flour, quinoa, agave nectar and coconut balsamic vinaigrette as some of her faves. “I will try everything.”
Dee’s passion shines through in every element of her business, but it’s partnering with her customers (and seeing their reactions to her creations) that she considers the biggest perk. “It’s amazing when someone wants to express how they feel about a significant other and we work together to create the perfect [representation] of that relationship,” she says. “I found that I’m truly in the business of love.”
While Dee hopes to expand her City Arts building headquarters to a storefront and add a food truck down the road, her immediate focus is her egg- and dairy-free cookie dough (flavors include classic chocolate chip and white chocolate cherry macadamia), which she sells under the JFX at the Baltimore Farmers Market & Bazaar. She’s also developing the Corazon Culinary Project, which aims to provide underprivileged youth with employment opportunities and the experience of learning business management skills and pastry art. 440 E. Oliver St., 443-990-1090, corazoncakery.com
The Healthy Hippies
Renee and Don Gorman
Restaurant-biz veterans and wife-husband duo Renee and Don Gorman first became acquainted with sourcing food locally in the ’70s when they apprenticed for a Japanese macrobiotic chef at the Seventh Inn in Boston. Some decades later, Renee, 70, and Don, 75, have stuck to that principle—they ran the Pikesville health food restaurant Puffins for 20 years and have sold their locally sourced treats at the 32nd Street Farmers Market for 10.
Their latest locale is Harmony Bakery, a small gluten-free shop they opened in Hampden this past April, which Don says was a great solution to attracting those with celiac disease, health nuts and those curious about the ever-popular gluten-free diet fad.
“A lot of customers we get who aren’t gluten-free are into meditation, yoga and working out,” says Don. “I guess it goes hand in hand with people who are more conscious about every other aspect of their life.”
Forget sugar, eggs and butter: Harmony’s vegan dessert fare has already become a huge hit with the diverse Hampden crowd, consisting of gluten-free doughnuts, cupcakes and power bars with ingredients like brown rice syrup and agave. Those searching for savory cuisine won’t want to miss out on staples like vegetable tarts and polenta pizza.
The tranquil couple also lucked out with keeping the love of healthy food in the family. Their daughter, Lisa, who contributes to a third of the cooking at Harmony, has been helping them out since she was 14. “This is our passion and we love working together as a family,” says Renee.
The two couldn’t imagine running a business with anybody else.
“We all work and get along so well,” says Don. “It’s nonverbal communication in that we never have to discuss who does what. We just know.” 3446 Chestnut Ave., 410-235-3870
JESSICA BIZIK: I’m so happy to meet the man I spend every Friday night with.
BILL MAHER: What a sweet thing to say. Thank you.
JB: It’s great timing. This is our pot issue for Baltimore STYLE. The cover line is “Women on Weed: Who’s really smoking in Baltimore?” Do you perceive a difference in how men and women use pot or react to pot?
BM: That’s an interesting question. I’ve never seen it raised—and it piques the interest of a pothead like me. I certainly know that, putting gender aside, pot affects people differently. I’d break it down into three categories. Some people get sleepy or groggy. I know people who use pot as a sleeping pill. Other people get paranoid. That’s not good. Then about the other third get what I would call “high”—they get energetic. That’s me. Those are the people I think marijuana is really for, because it makes us think better, makes us creative. As for the gender issue, I’ll have to go through my back issues of “High Times” and try to find the answer for you. I’m intrigued.
JB: I love it. I was the paranoid sorority girl in college. Pot and I never really clicked, though people have suggested I try it again now, that it would be good for my brain.
BM: That may be true, but not every drug is for every person. It’s just body chemistry. If it agrees with you, great. If it doesn’t, I wouldn’t force it. How many times did you smoke in college?
JB: Hmmmm…maybe seven or eight? Maybe even 10?
BM: Yeah. That’s probably enough to know. Pot typically doesn’t work the first couple of times someone uses it. They don’t even get high. But if you smoked it 10 times, you probably know how it treats you—and I don’t think that’s going to change.
JB: I do remember one great experience when I got high at a party and laughed my ass off for hours with my best guy friends.
BM: Then give it another shot. You never know. Do it in a safe environment with people you trust. It’s not like you’re dropping acid for crying out loud.
JB: There’s a New York magazine profile where the writer calls you a “cynical stoner.” Do you really consider yourself a cynic? I don’t believe it.
BM: It depends on how you define cynic, right? Oscar Wilde had the best one I ever heard. He said, “A cynic is someone who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.” If you’re talking about that kind of cynic, that’s not me.
JB: Right, definitely not.
BM: If I was a true cynic I’d probably quit what I’m doing. I would throw up my hands. Give up hope. I wouldn’t think I could improve my country—or that it mattered if I spoke out. Obviously I still have a great passion for doing that. I don’t really need to keep doing my show—and I certainly don’t need to get on planes and go and do stand-up; I just like it. I like trying to affect the debate while being funny. That’s always No. 1. I love making people laugh.
JB: Comedy that “nibbles around the edge of activism,” you called it in The Washington Post.
BM: But I do think one of the problems in this country is that we’re not cynical enough. In fact, I once did a special called “Be More Cynical.” I think America’s big problem is that we’re under-educated, we’re naïve and we’re too easily fooled because we just don’t know enough.
I think politicians can say anything because people don’t really know anything. When they ask these Republicans about ISIS they say things like, “Well, I’d take them out!” What does that even mean, “You’d take them out?” That just works on people because they don’t read about ISIS and don’t really know what’s going on there.
JB: We Baltimoreans were emotional after the riots—and I felt like you did a good job of mentioning us in your monologue even if it stung a bit.
BM: What was the joke?
JB: And there it is…the minute Bill Maher puts me on the spot…and my mind goes blank.
BM: It couldn’t have been that traumatic if you can’t even remember what it was.
JB: Maybe that’s why I can’t remember it, Bill.
BM: [Laughs] Yes, you blocked it out. It was like being molested by an uncle!
JB: But, seriously, how do you know when a joke goes too far, too soon? Or, as long as it’s true and funny, is that all that matters?
BM: Yes, that’s it. I’ve been fired. They can’t do anything more than that to me. I wound up at a better place. Not only with a better network, and a show that I like doing more, but with a stronger bond with my audience, which is what’s most important to me. The audience can still disagree with me—and they do—because I’m not pandering to them. I’m not lying to them. I’m pretty much the only guy on TV who’s not afraid to say things that make my own audience boo me.
JB: You’re generous with criticism on both sides of the aisle. I appreciate when you call out the Dems for sleeping at the wheel.
BM: Sometimes I just think Liberals go astray and forget what it really means to be a liberal. So I say how I really feel and take my lumps when I have to.
JB: You’re also pretty even-tempered. Though you had a hot minute a few weeks ago with Fareed Zakaria.
BM: That’s because Fareed turned it into a personal insult. He said, “You’re saying what you’re saying just to get a cheap laugh.” You know what? After 22 years of doing this and the kind of respect I have in this industry, that was just very wrong for him to say. He should know better. If I was really doing anything for a cheap laugh, I would have said to him, “You know, the next time you want to sell one of your plagiarized books, you can do it on another show,” because that came into my head. I didn’t say it because I don’t want to lower myself to that level; but I guess I just said it to you.
JB: I love when people from Maryland are on your show. Michael Steele always does a great job; Wes Moore was fantastic last year. Let’s see who else…oh, my all-time favorite, David Simon.
BM: Love him! Love his show. Fun guy. We’d love to have him back sometime.
JB: And, of course, John Waters.
BM: John Waters is a great friend. I went to see his Christmas show this year, that’s how much I love John. It’s a great show. Really funny. He’s actually a really good stand-up comedian, not just a guy playing at doing stand-up. We go back many years to my old show. He’s just one of those loose, funny, real people.
JB: If you could spend a million dollars to do anything other than put Elizabeth Warren in the White House, what would it be? [Note: Maher famously donated $1 million to an Obama Super PAC in 2012 and has promised to match it if Warren runs in 2016.]
BM: Well, if I could give a million dollars to figure out how to save the oceans, that’s what I would spend it on.
JB: Do you think Martin O’Malley could ever become president?
BM: You know what? The thing about Jeb and Hillary lately, they look very evitable. Jeb is having way more problems than Hillary. And I still think the odds are overwhelming that Hillary Clinton will be the nominee. But all it takes is one scandal. Look at Chris Christie. He was the golden boy, and now he’s completely out of it.
JB: True. It’s such a long election cycle.
BM: Anything can happen in politics. I tell you, every time I see Martin O’Malley, I’m impressed. This guy’s good. He can really handle it. It’s not this time, but he’s positioning himself. He’s not going away. I think he’ll get there someday.
JB: Very important question: I’m going on my first date ever with a Republican on Friday. Do you have any advice?
BM: Bring your pepper spray? They’re freaks. Look at Dennis Hastert. Crazy. They’re sexually repressed. I don’t know. Some of them are nice, but I’ve never really gotten that whole inter-party dating thing. I mean, I like to think I’ve helped to pioneer interracial dating…[laughs]
JB: Yes, I appreciate that!
BM: But I’ve just never understood the James Carville/Mary Matalin scenario. You can have fun with someone, sure. I have wonderful friends. Ann Coulter is my friend; but I would never date her. Amy Holmes is my friend, and she’s beautiful; but we’ve never dated. I just think if you’re looking for a serious relationship, you have to have the same morality. I come from two Liberal parents who agreed on politics. They were compassionate people. They were Liberals. I just don’t get being with a Conservative if you feel that way.
JB: I know, I feel the same. But this guy has such a good face!
BM: Yeah? Then give him a try. Maybe you can flip him.
JB: I’ll flip that district!
BM: Flip his district. That’s just great.
JB: I know your PR rep is probably looking at her watch right about now, but I loved chatting with you. See you in July.
BM: Yes, I’m sorry we have to go, this was fun. Good luck on your date. Give the guy my best!
>> See Bill Maher at The Lyric on July 11. Tickets, $65-$75. http://lyricoperahouse.com
When you hear the word pothead, maybe a well-coiffed middle-aged woman isn’t the first person who pops into your mind. Maybe you glimpse Wayne and Garth, Beavis and Butt-head, Wooderson from “Dazed and Confused” —or if you’re like me, your big brother sneaking a toke in the backyard with his haircut-averse guy friends. It’s not like Nancy Botwin of “Weeds” was smoking her face off.
But the truth is, right in rising line with a national trend toward the legalization of medical marijuana and recreational marijuana, more mainstream females of various ages are getting high on a regular basis, and in many cases stepping from the heavy smoke to candidly reveal their habits (and yummy THC-infused recipes) to their friends and even magazine reporters.
A Gallup poll from 2013 found that 30 percent of American women had at least sampled weed while 6 percent partake regularly. And a new book by passionate pot activist Cheri Sicard published in April, “Mary Jane: The Complete Marijuana Handbook for Women,” boldly promises to reveal “everything women have been afraid to ask.” Sicard shows her female readership how to throw pot parties, cook with the drug, “garden” it, take it to bed, and—no doubt, most controversially—how to parent as a pot smoker.
Pot Mom, 52, one of my female sources who asked to remain anonymous—because let’s face it, as long as the drug is illegal in Maryland, plenty of people, both male and female, still remain cautious in conversation—has never smoked marijuana herself. But she had no problem figuring out how to set up her college-age daughter with a bowl of weed before bed.
“I bought my daughter a tiny glass bowl,” Pot Mom says. “And I used to buy her weed because I considered it one of the meds she takes, and I pay for all of her meds for anxiety, depression and ADD. The only reason I stopped paying for it is because she started doing pot recreationally as well—although to be honest, I prefer her getting high to drinking. I had a huge problem with her getting high when she was younger because I was naïve. We discussed her smoking with her psychiatrist and she supports my daughter smoking a little weed at night to be able to sleep more easily.”
For California native Dana C., a 51-year-old housewife and mom based in Towson, the drug is likewise both a recreational and medicinal tool, and her habit is something she’s outspoken about. Dana, who has been diagnosed with Meniere’s disease—a disorder of the inner ear—smokes every day to relieve symptoms of severe dizziness and nausea. But she has smoked off and on for enjoyment since her teens.
“I started in high school,” Dana says. “I don’t have an addictive personality. I never waked and baked. Here in cream-cheese Towson, I haven’t met any other women who smoke or admit they smoke. But I don’t give a crap if people know I do. Meniere’s is the main reason I smoke today, but I’d probably still be doing it [to some degree].”
Dana has bought pot from the same male dealer for a long stretch but worries that the connection could evaporate, in which case she’d have great trouble finding the amount of marijuana she requires to manage her symptoms.
“I’m ready to move to any state where it’s legal,” she says. “My doctor could only give me [pot] pills because it’s not legal—these pills probably couldn’t even get my 12-year-old son high. They do nothing for me.”
Timely luck for Dana—well, if she can smoke a bowl and cool her heels for a few—the State Medical Cannabis Commission formed a couple of years ago in Maryland to develop regulations for implementing a statewide medical marijuana initiative. Once the regulations are finalized and the bureaucratic approvals cleared (expected in some months to come) the commission will begin to review applications from licensed growers and dispensers.
Maryland State Delegate Dan Morhaim, M.D., a faculty member at Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, has fought for medical legalization for over a decade now.
“Gov. Hogan signed the latest version of the House bill on May 12. This will make [cannabis] as much like any controlled medicine as possible,” Morhaim says. “He’s signing House Bill 490 in 2015—building on H.B. 881 in 2014 and H.B. 1101 in 2013. All three passed with overwhelming bipartisan support from the Maryland General Assembly. An estimated sixty thousand to 80,000 people in Maryland would benefit from cannabis at any given time. When patients—with conditions like advanced cancer or multiple sclerosis, or children with intractable seizures—use cannabis under their doctor’s supervision, they can get effective relief. There are risks…but there’s no overdose.”
It’s tricky to predict if and when recreational marijuana may be made legal in our state—it’s currently recreationally legal only in Washington and Oregon while 23 states plus D.C. have legalized medical pot, and 17 of those have legalized medical pot dispensaries. Noteworthy stat: In 2013, both Gallup and Pew polls suggested that a majority of Americans now support legalization.
On May 22, adding a twist to the feel-good narrative, Hogan vetoed Senate Bill 517, a widely supported bill proposing to remove criminal charges for possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana. So we wait and we see—and, sure, while we do it, we may also be partaking without hassle.
Fledgling medical studies indicate that pot may offer women in particular certain advantages and disadvantages. Certainly, these early findings have got plenty of people talking about the drug—brainiac doctors especially. An article published last year in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence suggests that women may be 30 percent more sensitive to THC and more likely to develop a tolerance. True, Dr. Rebecca Craft based her findings on experiments conducted on female rats, but soon enough armies of human females will provide further answers.
Ryan Vandrey, Ph.D, a behavioral biology researcher at Hopkins, recently applied for a grant to assess women on pot.
“There’s an increasing recognition that there are gender differences,” Vandrey says. “Research of the biological system shows that the endocannabinoid system responds differently in women. That’s how marijuana exerts its effect on people. THC enters your bloodstream and binds to two brain receptors that affect brain chemistry. Early research suggests that women tend to be more sensitive. If you were to give a male and a female who are equal weight and of the same race/ethnicity the same amount of pot, young science says that the female would have a stronger effect. We’ve also got some data that females have more severe withdrawal. So this could be good and bad.”
If findings are accurate, women may be more susceptible to pot addiction or dependence and find it harder to stop. They may have a tendency to relapse on the drug and may experience worse withdrawal characterized by irritability, sleep disruption and decreased appetite, according to Craft.
“Aren’t women more sensitive to everything?” asks my female Baltimore dealer source, age 20-something, and obviously anonymous, when I meet to interview her and buy a pot vaporizer for my own research purposes. Dealer Girl (I’ll call her) receives significant shipments of cannabis of various strains from a farm in San Francisco and distributes the drug to a team of eight to 12 male dealers who work under her, receiving orders and delivering “like pizza boys.” She earns upward of $5,000 monthly.
“I’m kind of a big fucking deal,” Dealer Girl says, after explaining her steady position atop the pizza-boy pyramid.
“Sometimes it helps to be a woman—I’ve gotten a lot of steady work,” she says. “I’m a good businesswoman. But I have to be careful—I’m a cute girl. If you respect me, we’re both going to make a lot of money, that’s my proposition.”
“Please be careful,” I tell her, and feel like a total mom as she smirks politely. Truthfully, she’s as careful as they come. She won’t return a single text if I ask about drugs explicitly.
Dealer Girl sells me an instrument that looks like an eyeliner pen (actually it’s a “vape” pen similar to an e-cigarette) for $100. The stick contains, she says, approximately 400 small hits of a marijuana strain called AK-47 that’s designed to create “a long-lasting, cerebral buzz that keeps you mentally alert and engaged in creative or social activities,” according to Leafly.com, a site that rates popular and emerging strains. AK-47, an intriguing hybrid, combines Colombian, Mexican, Thai and Afghani varieties. Unfortunately, it’s also named for an assault rifle.
“I don’t want to get too sleepy or hungry, or feel sad later,” I tell Dealer Girl.
My next step is a controlled experiment of sorts, reminiscent of Vandrey’s described identical female-to-male study—controlled in that I twist the skinny arm of my husband into participating. He weighs approximately 120 pounds like me. Sitting on our living room sofa, after our kids are in bed, we attempt to inhale similarly, each of us taking a pretty conservative single puff.
For Michael, the high is gentle, almost undetectable. For me, it’s a fast-acting sleep aid—not that I have much trouble sleeping. But the next day he can’t feel anything, while I have a headache
(reminiscent of that leaden pot headache I encountered in college) that lasts several hours, plus a nagging craving for something salty.
I tell Michael he can keep the vape for his own occasional use, but he says he’s not really interested. I’m bummed that pot isn’t the relaxation key for me either. Even though these new specialized strains are supposed to be much more user-friendly than the pot that boys offered me in college, I’m not convinced I’ll ever find my best bud. I’m also not willing to put in the fuzzy time to find out.
Plenty of other Baltimore women I know—or have encountered since I began this article—have forged regular habits with pot that they don’t consider downer drug addictions but life-affirming lifestyle choices.
Where women are concerned, maybe marijuana either works for you or it doesn’t.
“I love the way the show ‘Broad City’ portrays pot smoking,” says Erin W., 25, a vintage boutique owner and a daily smoker. Donning a polka-dot dress, perching on a stool in her artfully appointed shop, Erin is petite, professional and astute. (By the way, ‘Broad City’ on Comedy Central features two female protagonists who frequently smoke, but the show’s plot rarely focuses on their habit.)
“They don’t [mess] up when they smoke pot. I’ve used pot every day since middle school. You turn 13 and get your period and you don’t know what’s going on. I was depressed. Pot made me feel so much better and gave me something to look forward to. Today pot helps me slow down, organize my looping thoughts and organize my situation.
Meanwhile, Zakiah B., 26, an MFA student in fiction writing at the University of Baltimore—and my student this spring in a memoir-writing class—says she has evolved from being ashamed of smoking pot to feeling fine enough about her very occasional use to write an essay for me on the subject of marijuana and its effects on her imagination.
She has learned over the years not to overdo pot because it hits her pretty hard.
“In college, I smoked at night. It hindered any and every chance at functioning as a normal human being,” she says. “My cousin had this strain called the Christmas Tree that smelled like pine needles. I didn’t like the way it made me feel at all. On my drive home, I didn’t even notice that someone had hit my side-view mirror. I thought my head was bouncing.”
In her early 20s during finals week, Zakiah attended pot parties or “sessions” with a couple dozen other women, she says, each young woman putting down $5 for the chance to smoke out in a group setting. (Their dealer, not so incidentally, was a female coed.) This way they didn’t have to buy the product individually, something she didn’t feel totally comfortable doing. As long as Zakiah avoided the Christmas Tree weed, she says she turned into a hug machine, “a hippy.”
“I am actually very comfortable with pot in my life now,” she says. “I’m not too ashamed to tell my mom. In fact, she says she used to smoke a lot, too. I’ll go into her room high and hug her goodnight.”
Another anonymous friend, age 35—Pot Poet—who works retail and writes, tells me she can’t think of any good reason not to smoke every day, except for the occasional munchies that might mean she takes in too many calories on the odd evening.
Speaking of munchies, why do we get those anyway?
“Because the endocannabinoid system, via interactions with the hormone leptin, helps regulate whether we feel hungry or satiated. Increases in cannabinoid system signaling, which occurs when we smoke cannabis, are a chemical indicator that we need to eat,” says Vandrey.
Pot Chef, another anonymous 40- something source, dabbles in cooking high-demand brownies and cookies for friends (free, by the way)—when she’s not selling real estate. She says edibles that contain THC are less likely to make her munch out.
“It’s more like, ‘Oh my God, this is the best fucking orange,’” Pot Chef says. “I use the edibles almost exactly as I was using my Xanax. Half a cookie an hour and a half before bed. It’s more of an
all-over high feeling. I wake up and I don’t feel hung over.” (See her recipe below.)
Since women are said to be extra sensitive, has Pot Chef found sex to be better on the edible?
“I haven’t tried it—I’m not dating anyone right now!” she says.
My Pot Poet friend confesses she’s often too sleepy to get it on when she’s high. But a 35-year-old schoolteacher I know says “it definitely makes sex dreamy” for her.
Dr. Vandrey backs up the claim.
“The information out there suggests enhanced sensitivity to touch and sexual experience among females,” he says. (Score.) “Effects are less consistent among males, but results tend to indicate cannabis is more disruptive among men, particularly when cannabis reduces testosterone.”
OK, the latter is a bit of a buzz-kill for sure. Maybe it’s a good thing my husband rejected my gift of the “eyeliner pen”—it does fit easily inside my makeup bag.
What do you say, ladies? Want a hit?
Pot Chef recommends her ginger crisps recipe for bakers who want to mask the smell and taste of the marijuana.
¾ cup edible butter (see next recipe)
1 cup sugar
¼ cup molasses
2¼ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
In a bowl, cream butter thoroughly. Gradually add sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and molasses beating well. Add the flour, salt, soda, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Mix well. Chill. Dough will be a little soft. Shape into balls about the size of a walnut; roll in granulated sugar. Place on baking sheets 3 inches apart. Bake at 375 F for 10 to 12 minutes or until firm around the edges. Carefully remove to wire racks and cool.
Butter Me Up
Our anonymous Pot Chef knows what the highest-ranking college kids don’t. You can’t throw straight weed in the pot and expect your brownies to come out tasting great. You have to carefully separate the plant from the THC first!
Edible butter enables this local 40-something to prepare any treat or dish that calls for the creamy, consciousness-altering ingredient—whether she’s in the mood for THC-enhanced shrimp scampi or her famous (at least in the neighborhood) chocolate chip cookies.
Here’s how she makes it (in her own words):
“Take the plant product and grind it in a Cuisinart. Boil it in butter for two to three hours—add water to keep things simmering and to prevent burning. [Use three sticks of butter per half ounce, though the recipes online often say two sticks, unless you’re looking to make cookies that send people’s lights out.] Don’t let your water evaporate over those three hours. The THC separates from the plant and binds to the fat. Strain the plant out of it using cheesecloth. After your butter hardens in the fridge, the water and fat will separate. Dump the water out. You can butter your toast with your new creation—or make endless sweet or savory dishes. But note: It is green.”
**Edibles will last four to five hours. After consumption, wait approximately 90 minutes for the high to begin.
TAKE A MINUTE TO IMAGINE a guy who grew up in New Jersey, lucked into a commercial modeling career, then parlayed his industry connections into building a production studio in Chelsea that serves the most glamorous names and magazine titles in Manhattan. Can you picture the same guy in a saltwater fishing boat named Cookie 100 miles off the Jersey Shore reeling in tuna? How about hunting for a beach house in Ocean City, Md.? (Not fair if you know the best fishing grounds in the North Atlantic are only 50 miles offshore.)
Roy Schwalbach is a self-described visionary, who thinks out-of-the-box every chance he gets, which is why he moved his boat to the “other” O.C. 15 years ago. “It’s only 50 miles to tuna fishing grounds, and the people are nicer there,” he says. “That’s when I discovered the White Marlin Open, the world’s largest bill fishing tournament with millions in prize money.”
So he started commuting to Ocean City and bringing friends along. One day when he was shopping the local marinas for a bigger, more comfortable boat, he met a guy who knew a guy with a lead on some real estate. “I wasn’t sure I’d find anything contemporary enough to suit me here, but why not look?” Schwalbach says. “I thought, ‘I could build a bachelor pad and drive down whenever I feel like it.’”
Reservations about finding something cutting-edge enough to suit his taste evaporated when he saw a spec house David Quillin of David D. Quillin Architecture was planning on paper. “Here’s a house with its long axis to the south for passive solar efficiency, two levels of lightweight concrete floors with built-in radiant heat, a super insulated shell and even concrete countertops,” says Schwalbach. “We’re talking Ocean City 2002—not a place or a time I expected to find a modern aesthetic or green building happening.”
He bought his place half-finished and started working with the architect to upgrade the design elements. Quillin embraced their collaboration. “My original vision for this house on the marsh was rooted in the vernacular Eastern Shore crab shack,” he says. “Roy had a crisper contemporary form in mind and wanted to push the design element.”
They spent a year maximizing what Schwalbach defined as the house’s assets: its airy loft style and views on every level through big windows to the marsh and skyline. Some of Quillin’s “green” solutions were eliminated, among them a kitchen made with Environ materials that wasn’t holding up to the climate. But the upgrades—including super-strong South American ipe wood decking, a pressure sensor-activated lighting system, a standing seam metal roof and structural reinforcement to withstand 200-mph hurricane winds—were value add-ons. Schwalbach took a three-year break to furnish and enjoy the main house before asking Quillin to draw up his ideas for a 3,200-square-foot addition joining the main house via a glass bridge.
Schwalbach’s search for a designer started when he envisioned layouts and furnishings for open plans on the main house’s four levels. “I wanted to live close to the views and feel the light everywhere,” he says. He was partial to sleek furnishings produced in Italy. Trolling the Internet for sources, he discovered Deborah Kalkstein, owner of Contemporaria in Washington, D.C., who represents the Minotti line of Italian-made furniture. What’s more, her training as an architect fed Schwalbach’s desire to respect the open spaces that drew the eye to the views.
Kalkstein’s reductionist point-of-view also earned Quillin’s regard. “Instead of delivering that cold sparseness you usually associate with highly modern furnishings, Deborah gave the house a lush feeling with deep, rich colors and fabrics,” he says. “The art is idiosyncratic and personal, Roy’s choices, and reflects the man in an unpretentious, quirky way.”
The kitchen, formerly an enclosed area between the living and dining rooms, was the most drastic and time-consuming alteration in the house. Schwalbach ripped out traditional paneling and closets to accommodate Boffi kitchen’s custom design, which took a year to build in Italy. Schwalbach was third on a wait list behind the king of Morocco and the model Gisele for its six-month installation.
Schwalbach’s engagement with the house was intense right up to the 2013 completion of its wing, pool and landscaping. He had his own designs fabricated for furnishings and consulted such experts as New York architect Robert Marino for the pool
design—nourishing his creativity along the way.
What’s left for a visionary and a fisherman to pursue? “I won the Cape May fishing tournament,” he says. “I haven’t given up on snagging the White Marlin Open.”
5 Tips from designer Deborah Kalkstein
SKIP THE SEASHELLS. Don’t be a slave to the beach metaphor. “That’s so obvious,”says the designer. Decorate with a sense of organic freedom and originality.
FIND ART IN EVERYTHING. “Furniture is also art,” Kalkstein says, “so you can interact with it in different ways.” Don’t push everything against the wall. Leave the walls open to showcase the art that best expresses your personality—both your beach self and your city identity. Think of your ocean or bay view as more visual art.
KEEP THINGS AIRY AND ACTIVE. Optimize each corner of a large room. Rather than stuffing the space with large furniture, designate one corner for quiet reading and window-gazing and another corner for quiet conversation. Leave enough room for a group of guys to watch the afternoon game.
THINK OUTDOORSY. Choose comfortable furnishings in “simple straight lines and organic colors” that work well in a vacation atmosphere. Choose fabrics that are forgiving of soggy swimsuits. Many companies now offer cotton-based materials that work well indoor/outdoor.
ANY BUDGET WORKS. “A bigger budget doesn’t mean better style,” Kalkstein says. Decorating is like clothes shopping these days—taste is the key.
Late in life, Henri Matisse famously turned from oil painting to scissoring bright paper (and applying gouache) to make his celebrated “cut-outs,” works both large and small that mimic the master’s lithe trademark figurations. Last spring, Baltimore-based abstract-expressionist painter Gina Skelton—at 66, a seasoned pro with a number of national shows under her belt—shifted her focus (at least temporarily) from her own wildly colorful and chaotic landscape paintings to collage. When visiting her Ruxton home studio, the phrase “painting with paper” comes to mind.
Skelton’s end collage result—her finished pieces contain as many as 80 7-inch by 7-inch “paintings”—seems to effortlessly continue the conversation with her earlier works, which, for Skelton, discuss the line of human history as well as the profundity of the individual.
That said, tearing into the paper project did not feel so effortless at first.
“I had no idea at all what I was going to do, only that it was time for a new body of work,” Skelton says. “In the absence of further clarity, I decided to just begin and see what would happen. Over many weeks, I learned to love the not-knowing…”
Why the dramatic materials shift? “Really it’s just an extension of my work over time,” she says. “My process is the same, what I’m after is the same and my commitment to speaking my truth is certainly the same. In the end, the method doesn’t matter as long as it lends itself to my hand and my voice.” —Betsy Boyd
> The artist and her husband, Claude Skelton, own and operate Skelton Design. skeltondesign.com
The Tersiguel family’s restaurant has long been a favorite—not only for those in search of authentic French cuisine for four decades. Founded by Odette and Fernand Tersiguel as Chez Fernand in 1975, Tersiguel’s also has served as training ground for many a local chef. You’ll find the restaurant listed as an early job or internship on chef resumes from Joe Squared to Petit Louis. To celebrate its 40th, the restaurant is hosting a bash on July 11, featuring over 25 passed appetizers and food stations, signature cocktails and VIP extras. Tickets, $75-$100. tersiguels.com
Another summer’s eve soiree not to be missed is chef Jeannette Warne’s five-course spread at Fox Haven Farms in Jefferson, Md., on July 25—the fourth installment of her “Eat the Farm” series ($65). Fox Haven, near Frederick, is a 3,000-acre working farm offering educational programs, eco-tourism and special events with an eye on sustainability. Warne can’t reveal the menu of her July dinner just yet. Past dinners have included the themes “Out of Africa,” inspired by Warne’s homeland Sierra Leone, with African tamales, and a French supper club theme with turkey confit and sour cherry compote on puff pastry. “We’ll just see what is available,” she says coyly. One thing we know: There will be plenty of wine, paired by a guest sommelier, Jessica Nadeau. You can even bring a tent and camp under the stars. foxhavenfarm.org —M.T.
The most exciting race in Baltimore that isn’t Preakness is still on.
The American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM) announced today that the 17th annual Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race has been rescheduled for June 14 at 11 a.m. The Fed Hill museum, which organizes the competition featuring innovative, human-motorized works of art, postponed the event earlier this month in lieu of the Baltimore’s state of emergency. A release by AVAM stated that it hopes the race attracts more people than ever before to its multiple stops on a course that runs through the downtown neighborhood and parks.
The theme for this year’s race is “Out of This World,” in honor of the Hubble Space Telescope, which celebrated the 25th anniversary of its launch in April. For more information, go to avam.org
For those who were looking for a last-minute Mother’s Day gift, Prince may have just saved the day. A LiveNation announcement that was released last night stated that the pop music legend will stop by the Royal Farms Arena on Sunday for a surprise “Rally 4 Peace” concert, following last week’s civil unrest over the death of Freddie Gray.
“In a spirit of healing, the event is meant to be a catalyst for pause and reflection following the outpouring of violence that has gripped Baltimore and areas throughout the US. As a symbolic message of our shared humanity and love for one another, attendees are invited to wear something gray in tribute to all those recently lost in the violence,” the news release read.
Surprise musical guests are expected to join Prince and his 3RDEYEGIRL band, according to the announcement. Prince also will perform his unreleased protest song “Baltimore,” which he wrote last week, at the special concert.
Tickets for the show go on sale at 5 p.m. tonight at livenation.com
Purely anecdotal statistic: 97 percent of dudes who wear boat shoes don’t own a boat. Docksiders remind me of puberty (slow dancing with boys with sweaty palms). Unless you’re a tattooed graphic designer with emotional baggage and a heart of gold. Y-O-U can wear these lorum ipsum typesetting-inspired kicks—an inside joke this mag editor might just adore. Band of Outsiders for Sperry, $150 at Nordstrom.
True confession: Flip-flops turn me on. These classic thongs say you’re carefree, romantic and cute; probably read Raymond Carver and write (bad) poetry while drinking Red Stripe. You may be too young for me. But who cares? You’re great at making out and have front-row tix to My Morning Jacket at Merriweather. Let’s fall irresponsibly in love—and get hitched on the beach. Leather Rainbow sandals, $51 at Cohen’s Clothiers.
Your mom and sisters spoiled you rotten—you grew up reading (and drinking) their Cosmopolitans. Something big made you drop out of law school and start your own nonprofit. And I believe it when you say you’re now less rogue and more Mr. Darcy. As you walk me home, I imagine kittens flinging themselves out of trees into your capable arms. Bethune 3 by Robert Graham, $268 at Nordstrom.
Coral drivers point to a country club type who’ll whisk me away for a weekender in Nantucket. A toe-headed charmer who’s good with numbers, you work in finance but like to play the ponies. Republican? Likely, which may prove problematic. #ReadyForHilary. I’ll end up dating your grown stepson (Marriage No. 2) and doing Pilates with your first ex-wife. Broadway by Marc Joseph New York, $165 at Hyatt & Co.
I should be rolling my eyes, but can’t resist, when a jet-setting foreigner shows up in “flight-risk” loafers. It starts on the dance floor where you sweat just one glorious bead—and ends in your hotel room, which smells like swagger and Tom Ford EXTREME. Staring at your chiseled face in the morning, I can’t help but think, “God, we’d make such perfect babies.” Wait, is that accent fake? Donald Pliner Dacio II, $288 at JS Edwards.
NB man-boys are a little OCD like they just vacuumed the suede and will cry if it’s scuffed. (Don’t you have 47 pairs at home?) You’re playful (if pouty) and give good witty banter. You wear gingham boxers to bed and named your pitbull Manny Machado. I often wonder when you skateboard off to “work”... are you actually at Soundgarden pretending to be a record exec? New Balance 574, $150 at Nordstrom.
>> Read more stories from our summer Men’s Issue.
1. Trafalgar After Shave Balm by Truefitt & Hill will give you royal swagger. $48 at The QG.
2. Baby your baby face with Daily Face Wash by Baxter of California. $17 at Becket Hitch.
3. Never let ‘em see you sweat, with Vaughn V76 Barber’s Powder. $25 at About Faces.
4. Mix it up with Modern Tonic’s Beard Invigorator made right here in Baltimore. $15 at Trohv.
5. Get morning woodsy with C.O. Bigelo’s two-timing Elixer Green Hair & Body Wash. $10 at Bath & Body Works.
6. Release the Kraken with Brooklyn Grooming’s badass shaving soap, $45, in a mango wood bowl, $20 at The QG.
7. Honeybadger don’t care about this Paker shaving brush (but we do). $45 at the QG.
8. Voulez-vous Cade Shaving Cream from Provence? Just say oui! $28 at L’Occitane.
9. Don’t wash your mouth out with this rum-infused soap from Townsend Bay Soap Co. $10 at Sixteen Tons.
10. Backpackers, say “buh bye” to B.O. with Juniper Ridge Wilderness Perfume. $62 at Trohv.
11. Out-cool the Fonz with a handmade comb from Baxter of California. $18 at Becket Hitch.
>> Read more stories from our summer Men’s Issue.
Whether you opt for the straight fold, the winged puff or the two-point—and be sure to Google endless others (with easy directions), because there’s a pocket-size movement at your fingertips, fellas—it’s hard to go wrong pairing the crisp, classic accessory with a handsome jacket. Beyond the fold, which particular square should you land on? “A nice pop of color goes a long way,” says Harbor East tailor Christopher Schafer, who hand-picked these stylish summer looks with his son and business partner Seth. “If you’re wearing lots of solid colors, go for a more adventurous pattern. With a very busy suit, tone it down with a simple square.” OK to wear a pocket square without a tie? You bet, Christopher says. Without a jacket? He pauses. “No, don’t do that—looks like you’re trying too hard.” Christopher Schafer Clothier, 1440 Aliceanna St., Harbor 410-404-5131, christopherschafer.com
To curve or not to curve? That is the question. Shapely TV screens seem to have skyrocketed in the last year with bigger (and presumably better) models coming to market, like the LG OLED TV above. (Wonder if it comes with “Sex Panther” cologne?) Priced at $2,500 to $9,000, curved TVs are giving flat-screens a run for their money. But are they worth yours?
The Pros: “The main benefit is that there’s almost no distortion in the picture from any reasonable viewing angle,” says Kevin Luskin, owner of The Big Screen Store, which has 16 locations in Maryland and Virginia. “If you’re watching it from the center, it’s more immersive. Movie theater screens are actually curved, not flat.” Other fans of the technology say images appear sharper at the edges and have more depth, almost like watching 3D without those annoying glasses.
The Cons: Experts seem to disagree over whether curved TVs exacerbate or reduce reflections. But most say you have to sit in the “sweet spot” (smack dab in the middle) to fully appreciate their technological wonders. (So much for your next “Game of Thrones” viewing party.)
The Upshot: If you’re really geeking out over curved TVs, go big. You’ll notice the seating position issue less on a larger model. And, really, can a TV ever be too big? Luskin, no surprise, says no way. “A 14-by-18-foot room can easily handle a 78-inch set,” says the Samsung dealer—and that happens to be the exact size of his favorite model, the Samsung UHD 4K Smart LED TV ($6,000). Want to one-up him? He’ll by carrying a new 88-inch version sometime this summer. —I.Z.
The Must Binge-Watch List
We’re Emmy-buzzing over Ben Mendelsohn, who plays black sheep to Kyle Chandler’s good son in this addicting (and chilling) Netflix original.
Hell’s Kitchen hath no fury like Ben Affleck when Marvel revived its nearly left-for-dead franchise with a red-hot new Netflix series.
History (channel) fires off a star-studded eight-part mini-series premiering Memorial Day. (Watch for Maryland native Johnathon Schaech.)
Veep: Season 4
We pledge allegiance to Patton Oswalt, who charmed us all when he was filming with our (wannabe) BFF “JLD” for HBO this year.
Mercedes-AMG GT S
Engine: 503-hp 4.0L V8 biturbo
The Sales Pitch: “This two-door coupe is a very low-supply, high-demand car, built on a history of racing cars. It’s definitely going to turn some heads. Since it’s not on the inexpensive side, there are going to be a lot of guys out there who would dream about having it. If somebody wanted to buy a car that could change their lifestyle, this would be the ideal option.” —Rick Astaria, general manager at Mercedes-Benz of Owings Mills
Volkswagen Golf R
Engine: 292-hp Turbo 2.0T 4-cyl
MPG: 23 city/30 highway
The Sales Pitch: “Perfect for the guy who wants to have fun but fly under the radar, the Golf R is an all-out performance car that’s sensible yet satisfies long-forgotten teenage instincts. It doesn’t make a lot of noise or scream, ‘Hey, look at me!’ but says you know what you’re doing. It has lapped the famed Nurburgring in 8:15, but carries groceries, hauls your mountain bike and will get the kids to lacrosse practice with all their gear.” —Ashton Menefee, director of business development at Valley Motors
Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet
Engine: 400-hp 3.8L 6-cylinder
The Sales Pitch: ”The Porsche mystique is the way it sounds when you start it and the way it drives. We get men from all different backgrounds who buy Porsches now because it’s a car from their childhood. I equate it to the poster on every little boy’s bedroom wall. I equate it to ‘Risky Business.’ It’s the iconic, all-encompassing sports car. Most kids don’t want a Ferrari. They want a Porsche. Porsche screams ‘I’ve arrived. Envy me.’” —Frank Greenstein, pre-owned and finance manager at Len Stoler Porsche Team
Guys, if you’ve never tried a yoga class, chances are it’s due to a myth. Like you don’t think you’re flexible enough. (Exactly why you need yoga.) Or you believe it’s not a good workout. (Stop right now and Google “side crow pose.”) Or maybe you’re worried you’ll feel like a creeper in a room filled with Spandex-clad women. We hear you—and so do these local studios that have created specialty classes just for mankind.
YOGA FOR MEN. This six-week course taught by a mortal with XY chromosomes (Ryan Sansing) focuses on flexibility where guys need it most, along with building strength and reducing stress. Sansing aims “to create a non-competitive atmosphere for growth” so students can reach their full potential for both power and sensitivity. $60 per session (or $15 drop-in) at Baltimore Yoga Village in Mount Washington. baltimoreyogavillage.com
STIFF GUYS YOGA. Instructor (and avid runner, swimmer, cyclist) Paul Shapiro designed this class for active men with tight hamstrings from their standard sports routines—with an eye toward improving functional fitness. Hey, it might even help your golf swing. $50 for a 10-class pass (or $10 drop-in) at Yoga on York in Timonium. yogaonyork.net
Just promise us this: Once you feel comfy in your own skin (and Lululemon junk-controlling shorts), pop into a coed class. As our friend Changa Bell from Sunlight and Yoga says, every human being has both masculine and feminine energy—and that gives each class a cool vibration. And if you’re worried about looking silly…or looking anywhere for that matter…keep your eyeballs on the prize (your fitter, more self-actualized self) and strut into beginner-friendly M.Power Yoga owned by two cool bros—The Herd Brothers—who even offer classes with live music. Jam on, man.
Deep down, it’s true: Men can Kegel (KAY-gle) just like everywoman else—helping to keep your pipes in tiptop shape by tightening the pelvic muscles. But how do guys do them exactly? Sit in a chair (or the driver’s seat of your car) and engage the muscles you regularly use to turn off urine flow or hold in gas in mixed company.
“Basically, you’re trying to squeeze your butt cheeks together and hold it for 10 seconds, which is not so easy,” says Dr. Brad Lerner, chief “plumber” at Chesapeake Urology, who advises his patients to strive for 100 Kegels three times a day—say, during commercials while you’re watching TV. The Mayo Clinic asserts these exercises also may improve sexual performance—OK, we’re Kegeling just thinking about that—but our hometown pro thinks that may be more psychological, like a placebo effect. Shhhhhhhh. Dr. Lerner, let’s keep that tidbit just between us.
If the McIntosh MT5 could seduce you, it would sing “Let’s Get it On”—an invitation to place your precious vinyl on the glowing green platter that floats as if by magic, but really magnets (as opposed to ball bearings), which all but eliminates any extraneous noise like low-end rumbles or vibrations from corrupting the audio. Translation: It keeps your music pure as the driven snow.
“It’s uncannily quiet,” says Lee Kirby-Smith, general manager of Gramophone in Columbia—and a longtime fan of McIntosh, which was founded in Silver Spring, Md., in 1949.
This turntable is the total package—complete with platter, Swiss-made motor drive assembly, friction-free tone arm and a high-output moving coil cartridge—all pre-calibrated in the factory for sweet, sweet playback. Plus, it just looks so damn cool.
Priced at $6,500 this bad boy is for the serious enthusiast, but you can check out gateway models starting at about $399 (up to $35k, by the way) at the new “wall of turntables” being built at Gramophone’s Columbia store to accommodate high demand from high-fidelity fans, says Kirby-Smith, who’s currently digging the new Death Cab for Cutie album. (Here at STYLE, we can’t stop listening to “All the Pretty Girls” by Kaleo.) Stop by Gramophone for a special Evolution of Audio event with multiple vendors on May 6 in Timonium and May 7 in Columbia. gramophone.com
>> Read more stories from our summer Men’s Issue.
Drink this. Andrew Geffken and James Boicourt now offer weekend tastings of their fermented-honey drafts at Charm City Meadworks. Try the elderberry. Sweet! (But not too sweet.) Take home a bottle of the Cinnamon still. charmcitymeadworks.com
Read this. Build a coffee table for your man cave using salvaged materials with help from Baltimore DIY dude Will Holman’s new book “Guerilla Furniture Design.” objectguerilla.com
Carry This. We’re exerting our masculine energy using this Buch Commuter Duffle by the local visionaries at Treason Toting Co.—Aaron Jones and Jason Bass—as our work-to-gym bag. treasontotingco.com
Wear This. This Sporting Life’s Arvay Adams handcrafts caps with historical sports iconography (remember the Baltimore Hustlers?) using his grandmother’s sewing machine in the back of For Rent Shoes. forrentshoes.com
To Dye For
Turning into a silver fox before your time? You’ve got options for covering fifty shades of gray—and none of them involve Grecian Formula! The new 18|8 Fine Men’s Salon in the Quarry offers two solutions for kicking your Clooney ’do to the curb.
Beginner’s Luck. To tip your toe in the man-color waters, consider “Gray Blending” that sits on top of the cuticle and fades in four to six shampoos. “It’s a subdued look that helps guys test out color to see if they like the results,” says Adriane Beveridge, head stylist at the local 18|8.
Get a Perm. Not for curls, of course. The salon’s “Ten-Minute Color” takes just that to permanently tint strands until you cut them off. “This is more opaque, true hair color that penetrates the shaft,” says Beveridge. One caveat, this option will leave a demarcation line (what your wife or girlfriend calls “roots”) as your hair grows out, so it requires maintenance.
Whichever way you go, Beveridge will comb in the color for an organic effect. “You’ll still see specks of gray, but we can adjust the percentages. Men with a full head of gray can go back to salt-and-pepper,” she says. She’ll even comb color into your Brawny Man beard, just ask nicely. eighteeneight.com —J.B.
Male pattern baldness may be a thing of the past now that the iGrow® helmet—which looks like it comes from the roller derby of the future—is on the scene. Evidently, the hands-free, in-home hair growth system uses light to low-level light therapy (LLLT) technology (a combo of red laser and LED light diododes) to energize cellular activity within the hair follicle and stimulate more stud-fast—sorry, we mean steadfast—growth. Some local docs are even recommending the FDA-approved device for both men and women. “The iGrow is an alternative for people who do not want to undergo a hair transplant. It’s only good for for minimal hair loss, it won’t give you a full head of hair. To see results, you have use to the iGrow for 25 minutes twice a week for four to six months” says Dr. Jeffrey Schreiber, a plastic surgeon at LifeBridge Health. Fortunately, the $695 device has built-in headphones so you can listen to music (hair metal, obviously) or an audiobook at the same time. —B.B.
(noun): a naked-as-the-day-you-were-born wax job for men
On a scale of one to 10, how much does waxing hurt?
“Depends on the body part, but if it’s a hairy back, I’d give it a five,” says Jake Kapneck, co-owner of European Wax Center in Pikesville, who also waxes his upper arms (“to prevent hair from popping out under my T-shirt sleeves”) and suggests popping an Advil two hours before waxing to reduce the pain. (“There’s also a liquor store a few doors down,” he jokes.)
We were surprised to learn that plenty of guys are coming in to tame their Andy Rooney caterpillars—European Wax Center offers a free eyebrow wax for all first-time clients—which Kapneck says his aestheticians trim, then wax in a “manly” way so they look very natural.
EWC doesn’t wax below the belt (except for legs, popular with athletes) but Melissa Jacobson from Bare SkinLabs in Green Spring Station has everyone from Millennials to guys in their 70s coming in for downstairs defuzzing. “Some wax because their partners prefer it; others are just OCD types who want to be clean as a whistle,” says the spa co-owner, who can accommodate any desired result from “a clean triangle to a landing strip or the full Monty.”
You may be nervous, but her all-female staff isn’t. “We show zero hesitation,” says Jacobson, who uses the proper word for “testicles” and will patch-test to ensure you can tolerate waxing them. Prefer manscaping at home? Use a hot compress before shaving to soften the hair and reduce irritation, she advises. —J.B.
There’s just something about Wes Moore. The charismatic 36-year-old has brains, heart, humility and strapping good looks—not to mention a gripping back story that reads like a Hollywood blockbuster. Oprah Winfrey plans to produce a movie based on his 2011 memoir, “The Other Wes Moore,” a New York Times best-seller he wrote in collaboration with a young man by the same name, from a similarly tough Baltimore neighborhood, who is serving a life sentence in prison for a botched robbery that resulted in the murder of an off-duty police officer. This striking coincidence, which Moore discovered shortly after learning he’d won a Rhodes Scholarship, weighed heavily on the author—forcing him to ask questions about fate, privilege, personal responsibility and how communities can prevent people from falling through the cracks.
When you meet Moore, it’s impossible not to feel all hopped up on positivity, like you could walk out the door and immediately change the world. He has an extraordinary combination of self-awareness paired with genuine regard for other human beings—plus, the uncanny ability to laser-focus on the person in front of him. (I swear, it’s like the man peers into your eyes and can see your true potential.)
In his latest book, “The Work,” Moore looks at pivotal moments in his life—like serving as an Army combat officer in Afghanistan and working on Wall Street during the crash—and weaves in stories of real-life heroes who’ve inspired him, such as KIND founder Daniel Lubetzky, who turned his health bar business into a social movement—inviting consumers to perform small acts of kindness that the company “matches” with real dollars to benefit wounded vets, people living in poverty and the environment. Moore’s goal in sharing these stories is to remind everyday people that we matter—and so does what we do for a living.
Moore’s resume reads like an aspiring political star’s—and it’s not uncommon to hear folks speculate about whether he could take his gladiator-for-good mojo all the way to the White House. (Or at least become the next Cory Booker.) He has served as a special assistant to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, campaigned for Obama, is a popular guest on political shows like “Meet the Press” and “The Colbert Report” and has hosted a few TV shows himself.
That includes the OWN network’s “Beyond Belief,” which tells stories of wonder like this one: When the town of Phil Campbell, Ala., was obliterated by a tornado, a Brooklyn resident (and the town’s namesake) launched a campaign urging all of the Phil Campbells on the planet to help restore the town that shares their name. (Spoiler alert: It worked.)
Moore is one-half of a power couple. He lives in Guilford with his accomplished wife, Dawn Moore, former chief of staff to Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, and their two young children. To watch this couple interact is a thing of magic; they are madly in love and dance better than the Obamas (though they’d never admit it). Nor, by the way, has Wes admitted the desire to run for public office. In fact, he currently denies it.
Moore lights up when talking about his current gig, as founder and CEO of BridgeEdU, a platform to help reduce dropout rates for college freshmen in Baltimore by incorporating flex schedules, community service and internships. He also runs Omari Productions, which creates content for PBS, HBO and others.
However the social entrepreneur ends up fulfilling his purpose, that “work” is certain to keep inspiring the masses, including this writer. Indeed, if Wes Moore decided to sell Kool-Aid tomorrow, I’d buy a lifetime supply of Big Gulp cups and come back for a daily refill.
JESSICA BIZIK: I was re-watching your appearance on Bill Maher [from Jan. 16] last night. It’s the only time I’ve ever attempted to “shush” Bill. I actually said, “Let Wes talk!”
WES MOORE: That’s the most terrifying hour on television, because there’s no way to prepare for it. He’s literally going to go wherever he wants to go—and he doesn’t care what his producers or anyone else says about it. Bill is Bill.
You had a great panel. I like that actor Josh Gad, he’s hysterical.
WM: So you know the deal with Josh Gad, right? He’s the voice of Olaf from “Frozen.” Can I play something for you? [Pulls out cell phone and plays a giggle-filled voicemail that “Olaf” left for Moore’s daughter Mia, a name he picked out years before she was even born to sound like me amour or “my love.”]
That’s incredible. You just one-upped any parent who’s ever left a fake note or voicemail from Santa Claus.
WM: I didn’t want to be “that guy”—I’m sure everybody asks Josh for something—but I was like, “Hey, man. I have a 3-year-old daughter who lives for you. Can you just do this one favor?”
Since we’re talking celebrities, tell me about the moment you met Oprah.
WM: It was so funny. I met her on the set to talk about “The Other Wes Moore.” The first thing she did was to compliment my shirt. Of course, I had to play it cool—pointing out that we matched. She was wearing the same shade of lavender. [At which point Oprah breaks into her big, booming voice and sings, “The color PURPLE!” which Dawn imitates now.]
After the show, she came backstage to talk a bit more. She said, “Do you like what you do for a living?” And I started rambling off a list of all the benefits and reasons why being a banker was a sensible job. Then she said, “Let me ask you that again. Do you like what you do for a living?” She was the first person to really force me to reconsider my job on Wall Street. I just wasn’t passionate about it.
So you literally had the classic Oprah “aha moment!” In your new book, you say people are happiest when they love what they do, but “the work” can also mean finding a different purpose, like volunteering or being a great dad. How has
becoming a parent changed you?
WM: In every way. Being a dad was the one thing I’ve most looked forward to my whole life—in part, I think, because of my background, growing up without a dad. Parenthood changes what excites you about the world. It changes how you view everyday annoyances. It gives you an undying sense of purpose.
Dawn says your 1-year-old son James takes after you. He’s so gregarious, he has to stop and say “hi” to every kid at music class before he jams out. And Mia is 3 going on 23. I love the video of you two dancing to “I’m the Man” on Facebook.
WM: They’re just the best. Somehow you just reminded me of a time, back when Mia was about 6 months old. Someone asked me, “What do you want your daughter to be when she grows up?” And I realized the only thing that I really want her to be is empathetic. I want for the things that break other people’s hearts to break hers, too. As long as she has that, she’ll be fine. She’ll pick the occupation that makes her happy—and I’ll be proud and happy.
Do you remember your own dad?
WM: I really only have two concrete memories. The first was a time when I was fighting with my older sister. My mom had a big rule in her house—well, she had lots of rules—but the big one was that men do not put their hands on women, because that was part of her past. I was running away from my mom because I thought she was going to hit me, and my dad came out to calm the situation. He talked to me about what I was doing wrong and why I had to protect women. Then he told me that I had to apologize to my mother and my sister, but that he would come with me.
Wow, of all the memories to have, that’s quite a powerful one.
WM: Very much so. The only other memory I have of him is the day he died. [Journalist Westley Moore died of acute epiglottitis when Wes was 4.]
I’m so sorry. I lost my dad young, too. It leaves a big hole in your heart. You say “fatherlessness” played a big role in your younger years. Can you still feel what it was like to be that 11-year-old kid with a spray paint can in your hand when you got arrested for graffiti?
WM: I can. It feels a little embarrassing now, but I also recognize what a dangerous time that was in my life—being old enough to make decisions that could have long-term consequences but not yet mature enough to understand what that really means.
You felt like committing that crime would help you feel more like a man?
WM: Exactly. If you go around Baltimore today and ask 20 kids, “What does it mean to be a man?” you’ll get 20 different answers. They might say when I hit puberty, when I graduate from school, when I become the man of my household, or the first time I get locked up.
They’re winging it as they go along.
WM: It really hit me the first time I was in South Africa. If you ask a Xhosa man in South Africa, “What does it mean to be a man?” you’ll always get the same answer: “When I go through the manhood ceremony.” Every year, all the boys go into the bush to be circumcised, then they spend the next three weeks healing together and learning about their culture and history. When they come back to the village, they’re greeted like heroes.
When I think of boys in Baltimore, I often think of the ones with the squeegees on Pratt Street who incite mixed emotions. There are days when I give them a few dollars and, honestly, days when they really frustrate me.
WM: I understand that. We all have our ebbs and flows. Something that rolls off your shoulders on Tuesday might completely set you off on Wednesday. That’s just human nature. But there’s no damnation there; you’re not passing judgment.
No, but I’m sure plenty of drivers do pass judgment on them.
WM: One of my big philosophies in life is that I think we’re far too quick to castigate—and to congratulate—in our society. We do both so easily without ever really stopping to ask what actually led to that success or failure.
So how do we shift that perspective?
WM: I try to remember that there’s an incredibly thin line between the two of us sitting here at the Four Seasons and the guy outside who needs money to eat or the kid who’ll try to clean your windshield on the drive home.
A friend once asked, “Where are those boys’ mothers?” The answer could so easily be working two or three jobs. As the successful son of a single mom, do you have any insight on how women can best raise their sons alone?
WM: This may be a [controversial] view, but I don’t think they can or they do. The same way that I don’t think single dads can raise girls on their own. I mean, my mom is an angel to me. The greatest gift I’ve been given in life is that Joy Moore gave birth to me. But I also know there are certain things about being a man that she could never have taught me. Frankly, had it not been for my grandfather, my uncle and my older friends and big brothers choosing to step up, my results would have been very different.
The “other” Wes Moore also grew up without a dad. I feel like one of the saddest parts of his story is that he got a second chance. He got out of prison once—got his GED and was all “fired up” for the Job Corps, but he ended up hustling again. Now he’s in prison for life.
WM: You know what we saw with Wes? He worked a series of different jobs—none of them long-term, all minimum wage. At that point, he said to himself, “Look, I’ve got two kids and I need to make something better for them.”
What can we do to help ex-offenders who are stuck in that revolving door?
WM: Of course, you have to look at things like mental health, education and job skills. But we also have to look at the social structures, unemployment—what are these people coming back to?
I can’t imagine the courage it takes to walk in and apply for a job if you have to check the “Have you ever been convicted?” box. And I admire gutsy employers who look beyond it.
WM: Check out Homeboy Industries. They started [as a gang intervention program] in Los Angeles—and now they’re spreading across the country. You’ll walk into a bakery and order a muffin from a guy who has tattoos all over his face. I thought to myself, “I don’t know anyone who would’ve taken a chance on this person.” But they did—and now he’s thriving and taking care of his family.
What’s encouraging in Baltimore?
WM: I like what Safe Streets [a Living Classrooms program] is doing. They get people who’ve been released from prison to work with kids and help keep them out of the system. And look at Hopkins. I believe they’ve now hired 170 people with [criminal] records to work at the medical school and university over the last year. These are very deliberate efforts.
I picture people with compassion and vulnerability at the helm of those efforts.
WM: Everyone knows what it’s like to be the “other” at some point in our lives. To walk into a room and have people start staring. To begin a conversation and know just how low that person’s expectations of you are—even before you’ve opened your mouth.
You’re also an advocate for veterans when they return home. I’ve noticed some of the quirky “vet” behaviors you talk about in a friend. He always needs to visually scan the space when we sit down at a restaurant or movie theater.
WM: Right! He’s controlling the room. I was speaking with a professor who told me he had two vets who always sat in the back of his class. Originally, he thought that they weren’t engaged or interested, but they just liked to sit near the exits.
Did you experience similar issues?
WM: I had trouble with lights when I first got home. It’s like one day you’re in Salemabad [where it’s 100-percent light disciplined] and two weeks later you’re in Times Square. Your mind starts doing tricks. I still have friends who have problems with fireworks.
What’s wrong with the phrase “Thank you for your service”?
WM: Vets greatly appreciate when people thank them. Most of us just don’t want that to be the end of the conversation, like “Thank you for your service”...now let me move on to my cappuccino.
Any good conversation starters?
WM: Ask us “What was it like when you first got to Afghanistan?” “What was the food like?” “What were your soldiers like?” “Are you still in touch?” Some of our stories are funny, some are tough and some are heartbreaking. But sharing them helps us to feel recognized.
My favorite story in “The Work” is of Principal Joe Manko from Liberty Elementary School, where 93 percent of the kids live below the poverty line. He’s transformed it into a high-performing school with a culture based on learning, respect and love—hugs included.
WM: My mom says, “Kids need to think that you care before they’ll care what you think.” That was true for me, too. I got kicked out of every class except one my freshman year of high school. Finally, my Spanish teacher got fed up. I was sitting in the principal’s office—acting like a jackass, celebrating my new record, when she came in crying and told him, “The reason why this hurts me so much is because he’s is the smartest kid in the class and he doesn’t even know it.” I was shocked. She believed in me more than I believed in myself. After that, I started sitting in the front and raising my hand.
I love that you’re a big hugger, too.
WM: I am. I don’t get that whole false machismo thing. I don’t know a single person who would question my manhood. But I hug and wrestle and have fun. I’m all over my wife and my kids all the time. Actually, I think the manliest thing you can do is to show the people around you that you love them with everything you’ve got.
Like you, we’re still reeling, alternating between shock and sorrow in the wake of Monday night’s riots around the mysterious death (and preceding arrest) of Freddie Gray, 25. Reporters have tallied the arrests: 235 (201 adults, 34 juveniles); the number of wounded officers: 20; the car fires: 144; the building fires: 15. One Baltimorean remains in critical condition in connection with a fire. Yesterday morning, 500 National Guard troops were deployed—after Governor Hogan declared a state of emergency Monday night—but that number was expected to reach 1,000 by the end of Tuesday. The first two Orioles vs. White Sox games this week got postponed to a doubleheader and today’s game was converted to an off-limits-to-the-public game that feels like it counts a whole lot less; the Ravens have cancelled their draft party planned for Thursday and promised refunds to all ticketholders. What can’t be counted so easily are the questions on the lips of everyone we know, the broken hearts in households around the city that we love (and well beyond it) and the days or weeks or months it may take till the residents of Baltimore—of every race—feel completely safe again.
As we mourn the misbehavior of hundreds (such a small fraction of our big town)—the tragic subtraction they’ve introduced, by brick-throwing, fire-starting and other force—we want to make an effort to tally hopeful signs around us as well. After all, we’ve received dozens of emails and texts, Facebook and phone messages from friends around town and around the world checking to make sure we’re okay. We’ve learned of many, many local peace marches, cleanup initiatives and free lunch offerings. We’ve read endlessly poetic social media posts from friends and acquaintances articulating the exact way we feel about this senseless aggression—aggression occurring at a time when the vast majority of Baltimore seems to want nothing more than to connect and heal. Even the Bloods and the Crips have come together in a truce to urge everybody toward peace. (See the video here).
Below are some more hopeful highlights—ways to get involved or get inspired—along with some of poignant reflections we’ve found from fellow city dwellers and workers on social media. We’ll keep you updated as we continue to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off (as only true Baltimoreans can). We welcome your constructive comments below.
Listen to the BSO play a free concert today, April 29, at noon outside the Meyerhoff.
Free Eats, Arts and Support
#BaltimoreLunch trended on Twitter yesterday as businesses offered meals to school-age kids stuck at home. Also yesterday, Bagby Restaurant Group offered complimentary meals to officers, firefighters, National Guard soldiers and emergency workers. The White Marsh Volunteer Fire Department is accepting donations to help police and firefighters in need.
The Contemporary, Area 405, Baltimore Design School and Red Emma’s Bookstore Coffeehouse provided a safe place for kids to be productive while out of school on yesterday. Today, the Creative Alliance hosts a free “peace art project” for families and a community dinner from 4-7:30 p.m. You can visit Baltimore Uprising for more information about food donations. baltimoreuprising.org
The city has invited citizens to dial 311 for help with riot-related cleanup, but many citizen groups are pitching in as well. Yesterday, Jim Triplett and Stephanie Barber invited us to a 10 a.m. meet-up at Pennsylvania Ave. and North Ave. “Let’s get together and help affected communities/businesses remove debris. Bring heavy duty trash bags, gloves, brooms, dust pans, trash cans, containers, and anything else that would help!” messaged Triplett. You can visit Baltimore Uprising for more information about cleanup initiatives.
Prayer and Peace for All
“Style” contributor Marion Winik and neighbors held a small peace rally in the Evergreen neighborhood yesterday morning. At 6 p.m. yesterday, a community vigil at the Patterson Park pagoda invited people of all faiths to come together in prayer. Same time: The Creative Alliance sponsored a neighborhood peace march. Yesterday evening Kerry DeVilbiss of the Baltimore Development Corporation Living Classrooms organized an old-school “Stoop Sitting” rally for peace. Oh—and not forgetting the spontaneous drum line that beat victoriously down North Avenue at dusk.
Sunlight and Yoga will host a healing mediation on April 30 at 7 p.m. sunlightandyoga.com
Two local writers we know and admire posted about events in Baltimore in national publications today. Here’s Jennifer Mendelsohn, STYLE columnist, at USA Today.
And Baltimore’s D. Watkins at The New York Times.
Standout Posts and Quotes
“Like many of you, my heart is broken. Baltimore is the city of Frederick Douglass, Billie Holiday, Thurgood Marshall, Eubie Blake, and Bea Gaddy. We are better than violence and destruction. Today is a new day. I keep coming back to some words that Dr. King said in Chicago on April 9, 1967. He said, go out this morning and, first, love yourself. We are commanded to do that. Next, love your neighbor as you love yourself. We are also commanded to do that. Then, above all else, love God. And when you get all three of these together, you can walk and never get weary. You can look up and see the morning stars singing together…and the lamb will lie down with the lion.” —Keiffer Mitchell, Baltimore politician
“For the first time, Julia asked to listen to the news instead of music on the way to school. She wanted to know what was happening now in Baltimore. Last night she asked if this was the start of World War III. Julia is eight years old.” —Brian Kamoie, assistant administrator for grant programs at FEMA
“Baltimore has way more good people, way more hard-working people, way more family-oriented people than not. Mobilize all the good folks, organize and support all who are providing job training and literacy. Good citizens do not want their children in harm’s way, or their homes and neighborhoods and workplaces destroyed. Focus focus focus. Our society can do this. Look at the tragedies around the world. Now look at us. We can unite and focus on education, job training, job opportunities. We have everything to gain and nothing to lose. Going backwards is not an option. Forward and upward is the way. Our society puts people in outer space, surely we can educate and train people for the workplace.” —Mimi Zannino, licensed massage therapist and poet-in-residence, Maryland State Arts Council
“What you are seeing is a flood of howling ghosts from Baltimore’s past. You are seeing what a slave revolt looks like. How long did you expect people to keep asking and begging you nicely to stop killing them? My heart breaks watching this because it’s so damn avoidable. Put a [expletive-deleted] leash on the cops, stop trying to exterminate Black people and I guarantee you will not see scenes like these anymore. —Justin Sanders, University of Baltimore Creative Writing and Publishing Arts MFA student
“If we really want to solve the problem, if our society really wanted to solve the problem, we could. It’s just that it would require everyone saying, ‘This is important, this is significant.’ And we don’t just pay attention when a CVS burns. That’s how I feel.” —President Barack Obama
“Today, when I picked Alex up he said that at school today he had to write down what he wanted to be when he grew up. He said Professional Sports Player (of course), Lawyer or Politician. Well, after we watched some news coverage of Baltimore he said, ‘I decided to be a politician so that I can prevent something like this from ever happening again.’ I have never witnessed something so sad in my life as seeing these individuals with no hope, no future, no care for anything that they will destroy their own neighborhoods. We need to stop the riots immediately but then our politicians need to address the root cause of the problems that are plaguing our beloved charm city. #voteforalex #lovemyson #prayforbaltimore#stoptheviolence #stopthehate #alllivesmatter” —Gina Zuk Gerber, vice president of Abel Communications
“White privilege is being able to choose to not think about the reasons behind last night’s riots and why people of color are targeted all the time; it is being able to comfortably remain silent and hope it all goes away, to put on your blinders; it is being angry about broken windows but remaining silent about brutality and death; it is being able to choose not to talk to your white friends and family about racism, our role in it, and how to end it. Think about and pray for our brothers and sisters of color today and every day, and act. And speak out. I know I will continue to make mistakes, but I remain committed to taking the right path in seeking justice for all.” —Heather Moyer, senior content producer at Sierra Club
“I think it behooves us to remember that teenagers are immature by design; generally have difficulty grasping cause and effect; are fearless to a fault; and tend to sincerely believe that they are invincible. For better and for worse, it is all part and parcel of adolescence. I think we can all agree that being a teenager is confusing and difficult. They make mistakes. I cannot even begin to understand what young people are facing as a direct result of unfathomable systemic disadvantage. We have failed so many of them. And, today, unbelievably, we closed their schools early, halted their public transportation, cornered them in riot gear, sensationalized them in the media, and are now getting ready to serve them to the National Guard. Shame on us.”—Deanna Haggag, executive director of The Contemporary
“Even Governor Hogan (who said Baltimore did not have a problem after Walter Scott) is able to make the distinction between the peaceful protestors and the rioting across Baltimore. He stated the protests on Saturday lasted for six hours and were 95 percent peaceful. Why can’t the national media do this? Too complex a concept??” —Cara Ober, founder of BmoreArt
“Why does the destruction of property get more outrage and media coverage than the destruction of human life? #PrayerWontHelpBaltimore #DoBlackLivesActuallyMatter #FreddieGray#Baltimore” —Posted by Jermaine Bell, MICA grad and designer
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that yesterday’s scheduled Orioles vs. White Sox game was postponed to a private game today. Yesterday’s and Monday’s games have been scheduled for May 28 as a doubleheader. The game scheduled for 7:05 p.m. today was moved to 2:05 p.m.
Cinefiles, take note! STYLE is giving away a Maryland Film Festival poster signed by John Waters. To score the loot: Just head to Twitter or Instagram to post selfies, movie reviews, celebrity sightings or whatever moves you—live from the festival (May 6 to 10) and add the hashtag #StyleLovesMDFF. We’ll post the winner from the closing night party. Stay tuned for our “Must-See List”!
Mare Nostrum—in Latin “Our Sea”—is a modest restaurant in Fells Point with large ambitions. Co-owner Murat Mercan came to the U.S. from Istanbul to study finance at McNeese State in Louisiana, but missed his native Turkish food. After receiving his MBA, he landed an accounting job at Maryland Stone Source in Landover and brought home-cooked food to work each day. His boss, Merter Akbay, who is also Turkish, was impressed with Mercan’s culinary skills and suggested they open a restaurant together. Mercan is also co-owner of Toss Pizza on York Road, but that’s a whole other story.
Sourcing. What makes Turkish food special, says Mercan, are the ingredients— particularly the seasonings. It’s hard to find red Maras pepper flakes, for example, or Isot pepper, made by drying red peppers in the sun each day and rolling them up in cloth to “sweat” when the sun goes down. The process takes about three weeks. Turkish pistachios are smaller, greener and tastier than those found in California; Mercan uses only Italian eggplant for the Saksuka (a meze made with roasted eggplant, tomatoes and peppers), and has the bronzini flown from the Aegean Sea. He travels to New Jersey for manti—miniature meat-filled ravioli, served with yogurt sauce. “We tried making it here, but couldn’t get the original taste,” he says. He met a couple at a market in New Jersey. “They are in their 60s or 70s and make manti at home. I bought 10 pounds to try.” Now he drives up there every couple weeks to buy the stuff, frozen, 50 pounds at a time. Another tricky ingredient was the lamb tail fat, an essential ingredient in adana (lamb) kebabs. Lambs in the U.S. don’t have plump tails like the Karakul breed found in Turkey. “I was searching for over a year, but I found it,” says Mercan, who won’t say where.
Kitchen. The main cooking surface in the kitchen is a bed of hot coals, where sis—or skewers—of varying widths rest on crossbars to cradle chicken and lamb above the heat. There’s an art to chopping the meat with a saber-like blade to achieve the right consistency, to molding it on the sis so it doesn’t fall into the fire, to keeping it from charring when the dripping fat makes the flames leap. Kunefe, a dessert made with shredded wheat, pistachio and mild sweet cheese, is cooked in a small aluminum pan above the coals. Chef Ömer Ademoglu hails from Urfa in southeast Turkey, where he learned to cook from his father.
Decor. Co-owner Akbay, owner of Maryland Stone Source, is responsible for the white Carrera marble tables, porcelain tile floors and bathrooms, clad in the same marble as the tabletops, equipped with elegant blue glass sinks. A Turkish friend provided the oil paintings, one of Bodrum Castle, built in the 15th century on the Turkish coast by the Knights of St. John, the other of the exterior of the Fells Point restaurant—which used to be a Quiznos, by the way.
Meze. Cold meze—a vast selection of small plates including kofte, hummus, pickled vegetables, chopped salads, stuffed mussels and strained yogurt—are wheeled around on a cart. In Turkish taverns, Mercan tells me, waiters carry around trays of meze for customers to select. Is there a name for this—like dim sum? “There’s no name for it; it’s just the way it is,” he says.
716 S. Broadway
Update: The print version and an earlier version of this story mistakenly identified Chef Omer’s home country. It has been corrected online.
We asked some of our favorite pros to chime in on planning the perfect wedding:
I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to shellfish. I don’t get the fascination with steamed crabs, preferring at least a mouthful of meat to emerge from the shell intact; and I prefer drawn butter to Old Bay.
Lobster has always been the key to my August in Maine—from toddler days playing with the empty claw (my father taught me to clean out the fat one carefully, so you can work the pincers puppet-like by pulling on a piece of cartilage) to dockside feasts with a good Sancerre.
So last summer, when I spent the better part of a week sampling the best cuisine from Maine’s current lineup of chefs, I was initially dismayed (and eventually intrigued) by the absence of my favorite crustacean.
Our first stop at the Kennebunkport Festival—an annual celebration of food, wine and art—was dinner at the sometime home of Cindy and Jeff Clarke, who own a liquor distribution company as well as homes in Florida and New Hampshire. The chef for the night was Montreal-born Pierre Gignac, whose Ocean restaurant at the nearby Cape Arundel Inn is known for its stunning views of the Atlantic and the nearby Bush family compound, as well as its menu of updated French classics.
My companion David and I were staying at the Cape Arundel, a luxurious re-appropriated summer “cottage” (the shingled kind with 12 bedrooms and a wrap-around porch) perched atop a rocky cliff. We’d occasionally peek through the blinds at the Bush estate, noting the comings and goings of black SUVs. It turns out, Papa Herbert Walker would celebrate his 90th birthday the week after our visit by skydiving onto a grassy knoll near his Maine retreat.
The main course at the Clarkes’ house was tender lamb, retaining just a hint of the earthy grasses it had fed on, with vinaigrette made from local ramps. There were also fat seared scallops with turnip puree and morel mushrooms, and glasses filled with PlumpJack Cabernet Reserve, which Cindy generously secreted from the household’s private wine closet.
The Kennebunkport Festival is an annual event that showcases a side of Maine that might surprise you—especially if you’re picturing lobster pots on piers, moose-crossing roads riddled with frost heaves and crusty proprietors of country stores asserting, “You cahn’t get they-ah from hee-ah.”
Nope. This is the Maine of superstar chefs and sorrel salads, micro-brewed beer and caramelized milk cake with rhubarb and iced goat milk for dessert. Yes, the latter was a dessert at the event Wood Fired Maine, held in a barn appointed with tables bearing abundant arrangements of meadow flowers and shimmering glasses for multiple pairings.
The backdrop was the Wells Reserve, a former farm set up in a trust for estuarine research. We wandered the grounds at sunset before dinner, sipping sparkling wine and amber ale from Portland’s Bissell Brothers Brewing Co., listening to standards sung by local crooner Lisa Mills. Dinner was, as promised, inspired by cooking on wood, from a creamy burrata with wood-fired cherries and teaberry foam to grilled little neck clams with stinging nettle pesto and spring onions. Melissa Kelly, a two-time James Beard Award winner for best chef in the Northeast, prepared Maine rabbit, grilled of course, with creamy potatoes and fresh herbs.
If the festival sounds like it hops all over like a not yet wood-fired bunny, it does. Close to 4,000—a mix of locals and folks from “away”—converge on the well-heeled coastal town of Kennebunkport for the week. The Sunday-to-Saturday schedule (this year, June 7-13) is a mix of smallish guest chef dinners like the Clarkes’, music events, art openings and stylish after parties. Tickets can be pricy—the Clarke dinner was $150 per person, while Wood Fired Maine was $250—but the whole experience is a gastro-tourist’s fantasy.
David, who hadn’t previously spent much time in Maine, was won over. “When you think of Maine food you think of blueberries and lobster, but there’s so much more,” he said after I pressured him for a good quote.
We returned in August—my preferred month for vacations in Maine—and rented a tiny cottage in Bayside in Midcoast Maine. Bayside is a collection of miniature Victorian-style houses built on the footprints of former platform tents from an early-20th-century summer community. Our sleepy village was a perfect launching point for more culinary adventures.
We tried hard to balance the eating with a modicum of exercise. One day we paddled kayaks the four miles up the coast to Belfast, where we, well, pigged out on pulled pork and brisket at Pig Out BBQ. Another day, we followed a hike in Camden Hills State Park with lunch at the Salt Water Farm in Rockport, a town once known for lime mining and shipbuilding. The spare, light-filled restaurant serves fresh food from its nearby farm and affiliated cooking school.
Though small, Rockport has enough to see and do for a solid day trip. Its working harbor is surrounded by walking trails, and its main drag, Central Street, has a restored opera house with an incredible summer series by the Bay Chamber Concerts.
On another evening, we had dinner at Shepherd’s Pie, also on Central Street, and stopped in at the Ralston Gallery, where coastal photographer Peter Ralston shares wall space with his childhood buddy Jamie Wyeth, Andrew’s son. David admired a
giclée print of a Wyeth painting called “The Wake”—a seagull flying above a wave straight at the viewer.
We’d wisely made a reservation at Melissa Kelly’s Primo restaurant in Rockland a few weeks before our trip. The afternoon of the appointed day was gray and threatened rain, so we decided to visit the Farnsworth Art Museum before dinner. The museum is known for its Maine subjects by such artists as Winslow Homer, Fairfield Porter, Alex Katz and three generations of Wyeths. We saw the seagull print again in the gift shop while I searched for a print of an Andrew Wyeth painting of a girl wearing red boots that I’d seen hanging in the museum. Alas, no luck. But our Primo meal brought its own serendipity.
Soon after we sat down, a group of diners was shown to the five-top next to us. We recognized the mop of gray hair from a photo we’d seen just an hour before at the Farnsworth. If there’s a celebrity sighting to be coveted in Maine, surely Jamie Wyeth fits the bill. We tucked into our amazing meal—which included, by the way, a flavorful stuffed squab and tender, gamey duck, but no lobster—knowing that we were in just the right place. Maine’s slogan, “the way life should be,” seemed apt.
The 2015 Kennebunkport Festival will be held June 7-13 in and around the coastal town. In the last decade, Maine has become increasingly known for its culinary scene, with many, like Fore Street (forestreet.biz) in Portland and Primo (primorestaurant.com) in Rockland, receiving national nods.
The Festival’s offerings include an array of art openings. If your travels in Maine take you farther up the coast, consider stops at the Portland Museum of Art (noteworthy 19th-century European paintings along with American art). The Bowdoin College
Museum of Art (bowdoin.edu) in Brunswick is also worth a visit, and while you’re there, dine at Frontier (explorefrontier.com) in a renovated mill. Farther up the coast is the Farnsworth (farnsworthmuseum.org), where you can see works by three generations of Wyeths.
We hiked in Camden Hills State Park, and rented kayaks from Ducktrap (ducktrapkayak.com) in Lincolnville. Charming Bayside, where we stayed, is about a half-hour drive from Rockport and 45 minutes from Rockland. (Stop at Swans Island Yarn studio and showroom on the way—swansislandcompany.com.) In Belfast (10 minutes by car, longer by kayak), dine at Pig Out BBQ, or The Gothic (matthewkenneycuisine.com), named “best restaurant in Maine” by Eater in 2013. Better yet, buy some farm-raised lamb at the famous Belfast Food Co-op (belfast.coop) and cook it at your cottage—most of Bayside’s rentals are equipped with outdoor grills.
A friend’s father died recently and by way of condolences I said that I believed that one’s father (or mother) was never really dead.
People speak of losing one’s parents, but I don’t understand that. That’s not possible. One never loses one’s parents.
My father and his older brother remain ghosts in my life. They haunt me. I can hear them quite clearly. They were lifelong business partners, lifelong business partners who spoke only through their lawyers at the end of their long lives, but that’s another story and not a very happy one.
I think of them often because I’ll wonder what they would think of something. Wild swings in the stock market, the cavalcade of zanies on the national stage and most recently the men’s rights movement. Like the William Butler Yeats poem, they cast a cold eye on a life.
I thought of them when I saw a recent issue of GQ, which advises “Look Sharp/Live Smart.” What would they have made of an article titled “Are you ready for the men’s rights movement?” The thrust of the piece was that men are angry and resentful of women and feel sorry for themselves. It’s best that my father and uncle did not live to see what the magazine calls “the manosphere.” The men in the article were sad and stupid. Coarse losers. My father and uncle would have cast an especially cold eye on them. They never felt sorry for themselves one day in their lives and they liked women. They could be charming. They always knew exactly what to do. “Talk to the organ grinder, not the monkey.” Wisdom I still carry with me.
Both of them always looked sharp and lived smart. But they did not need a magazine to advise them on how to be a man. They were their very own manosphere. My uncle always smoked a cigar, a good cigar. They wore suits and hats. Good suits. And drove big American cars. Drank Chivas Regal. Tipped well. They were not averse to games of chance. And they were tough. Never blinked. They were also never rude to anyone. And they believed in getting one’s shoes shined, too. They were my role models, for good or ill, on how to be a man. Wordsworth was right. The child is father of the man.
My father and uncle were old school guys. They did not play catch with us. They thought it inappropriate to interact with children on that level. (But they did teach us how to hold a grudge, always more useful.) We were never spanked. And no one raised his voice. Neither of them swore, either. They thought of us (I have two younger brothers) as little men.
Anthropologists might tell you that elder women in a tribe play a role in the raising of children, especially boys. That would be my maternal grandmother. She was an old Irish lady who said the rosary every night, had a glass of whiskey and taught us to play poker. Other kids played Old Maid or Slapjack—children’s games. That would have been a grave insult to the gods of gaming and the gods of gaming were our gods. When my brother Kevin was 6 my mother and grandmother were entertaining the Rosary Sodality, Hadassah for Irish Catholics. Kevin interrupted the holy ladies to ask, “Does three of a kind beat two pair?” Not a question often raised at Rosary Sodality.
We were introduced early to the cup that cheers. A juice glass of beer. Pabst Blue Ribbon. “Old-time flavor.” I can smell that now, too. And the sport of kings. In Ireland, my kinsmen preferred dog racing. But basically I grew up in a world where someone would have bet on two flies walking down a bar. One of my uncles came to a bad end as a result, but that, too, is another story.
My father became even wiser as he aged, stunning us when we asked him how a Roman Catholic friend might get his marriage annulled. His sage advice: “There’s a monsignor somewhere who needs a new Buick.” He was right.
Three years ago, we went to a waterfront wedding on a brutally hot August Saturday in Annapolis. Parking was beyond impossible. The ladies wanted me to drop them off at the yacht club and park many blocks away, but thunderstorms were threatening and I did not want to be a mile from the car. There was another club next door. The attendant, a fresh-faced lad, was standing earnestly out front when I pulled up. “Sorry, sir, we’re full,” he said. Without so much as a beat, I said “Are you full for twenty bucks?” flashing the bill. We parked there and walked next door (avoiding a torrential downpour). Later, my wife smiled and said, “You’re turning into your father.”
I love Philadelphia. So much so, in fact, that this year I packed up and moved to the City of Brotherly Love on a cold snowy day in February. Nothing against Baltimore, mind you, but a girl—especially a restless girl like me—needs a change every now and then.
And so, in homage to my newly adopted city, I present to you homemade versions of four iconic Philly foods.
Before you accuse me of being reductionist, I am well aware that Philadelphia has a sophisticated culinary landscape, and in no way is only about cheesesteak.
But still. How could I resist? I’ve eaten my weight in them over the past couple of months, after all, and in the process I’ve made an important discovery. They’re really, really good with Cheez Whiz (or, as the longtimers say, “whiz wit.”) Trust me on this one. In general I am an admitted cheese snob, and have always turned up my nose at the stuff, but there’s something about the way it melts into the steak that turns it into something far superior to the icky fake cheese product it usually is. I’ve made my cheese steak my favorite way, with onions and long hots, also known as Italian frying peppers.
No roundup of Philly grub would be complete without a soft pretzel. They’re super easy to make, and nothing beats chowing down on a steaming hot carb fresh from the oven. The tomato pie is another local specialty—and I’m lucky enough to live around the corner from a South Philly bakery that makes one of the best in the city. It’s not a deep-dish pie, nor a thin crust. I used focaccia dough to re-create its unique character—a rectangle of soft dough with a slightly crispy crust, topped with a piquant tomato sauce and, when cheese is used at all, dusted with Romano. It’s typically eaten cold or at room temperature.
Finally, everybody knows that Philly is the home of the hoagie. But not everyone knows that it’s also home to a sizable Vietnamese population, and there’s great authentic Vietnamese food to be found here. So I made a vegetarian banh mi—essentially a Vietnamese hoagie—for my last salute to the iconic foods of a delicious city.
Philly Cheesesteak with Whiz & Long Hots
makes 2 cheese steaks
10 ounces Cheez Whiz
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ small white onion, sliced
2 long hot peppers, chopped
12 ounces rib-eye, sliced paper thin (have the butcher cut it thinly or put it in the freezer for 10 minutes before cutting to make it easier to slice)
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 8-inch hoagie rolls
Melt the Cheez Whiz in a saucepan over low heat and keep warm. Meanwhile, heat the oil over medium high heat on a griddle or deep-sided skillet. Fry the onions and peppers until soft. Remove and set aside. Add the steak, and salt and pepper generously. Cook until brown, stirring and chopping with a spatula. Add the peppers and onions back to the pan. Coat both sides of the hoagie rolls with Cheez Whiz, and fill each roll generously with half of the steak/pepper/ onion mixture. Spoon or ladle the remaining whiz over each hoagie and serve hot.
Philadelphia Tomato Pie
For the sauce (can be made a day ahead):
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large shallot, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
32 ounces canned whole tomatoes
1 tablespoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a large saucepan, saute the shallots in the olive oil over medium heat until soft. Add the garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir to coat the shallots and garlic. Add the rest of the ingredients, breaking up the whole tomatoes with a spoon (or your fingers). Simmer for 10 minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree the sauce until smooth. Simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes until thickened. Taste for seasoning and allow to cool. May be refrigerated overnight.
For the dough:
4 cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons salt
1 packet Rapid Rise yeast
1½ cups warm water
Sift together the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Slowly add the water and stir with a wooden spoon—the dough will be shaggy. Knead by hand for 5 minutes. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled cookie sheet and gently spread to the edges. Make a raised crust around the edges using the flat of your hand. Cover with plastic and allow to rise for an additional 30 minutes. To assemble the tomato pie, generously spread the sauce over the dough, leaving ¼ inch around the edge. Bake at 450 F for 20 minutes, or until the crust is a light golden brown. Dust with grated Romano cheese, cut into equal pieces, and eat hot or at room temperature.
Vegetarian Banh Mi
makes 2 banh mi
2 12-inch hoagie rolls, lightly toasted
1 teaspoon plum sauce
½ cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into (available at Asian markets)
2 small handfuls of pickled daikon and carrot (available at Asian markets)
1 jalapeno, cut into thin rings
Handful of fresh cilantro sprigs
For the strips:
1 4-ounce block fried tofu,
split lengthwise and then
cut into 10 pieces
Generously smear mayonnaise on each side of the hoagie rolls. Drizzle with soy sauce and ¼ teaspoon plum sauce per side. Carefully arrange, in order, the tofu, cucumber, pickled daikon and carrot, jalapeno and cilantro. Eat while the toasted hoagie rolls are still warm.
Homemade Soft Pretzels
makes 8 pretzels
1½ cups warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 packet active dry yeast
4½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
10 cups water
⅔ cup baking soda
1 egg yolk plus 1 tablespoon water
Coarse sea salt
In a small bowl, combine the warm water and sugar. Add the yeast and let sit until it foams, about 5 minutes. Sift together the table salt and flour, and add this to the bowl of a stand mixer that has been fitted with the dough hook attachment. Slowly add the water/sugar/yeast mixture, along with the butter, while mixing on low speed. Increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides. If it’s too dry add some water; if it’s too wet, add more flour. Place the dough ball in an oiled container and cover with plastic wrap. Leave in a warm place until the dough doubles in size (about an hour).
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk with a tablespoon of water and set aside. Bring the 10 cups of water, along with the baking soda, to a boil in a roasting pan or deep-sided skillet.
Meanwhile, divide the dough into 8 equal sections. On a lightly oiled surface, roll 1 section into a rope, approximately 2 feet long. Pull the ends up into a “u” and then bring them back down to make a pretzel shape. One at a time, place each pretzel into the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove to the baking sheet, brush with the egg wash and top with a generous sprinkle of coarse sea salt. When you’ve finished this process with all 8 pretzels, bake for 8-12 minutes, until golden brown. Remove to a rack to cool—but eat while still warm!
David Hynes grew up in Brooklyn, learning to cook from his Italian mother. His first restaurant job was washing dishes at the age of 16, and he eventually ran kitchens for BR Guest, a chain of high-end New York restaurants that included Blue Water Grill, Primehouse and Strip House. He and his wife, Alexandra, who works for the New York-based restaurant group Momofuku, recently moved to her hometown of Columbia, Md., and Hynes took on the job of executive chef at Waterfront Kitchen.
How is it moving from a corporate kitchen to a small place? The company I worked for had more than 12 restaurants in New York City and none grossed less than $5 million a year. So yes, it’s an adjustment. I don’t have the same buying power. But it’s great because I get to be more interactive with guests and the food. I hope to bring a neighborhood feel to Waterfront Kitchen. I grew up in Brooklyn. Your neighborhood defined you. I’d love the people around here who work for a living to identify with what we are doing here.
Some folks think Baltimore is kind of Brooklyn South—people butchering pigs on the roof and growing honey in the alleys…Baltimore seems to be making the turn Brooklyn was making 10 years ago. The food scene started growing. All of a sudden Barnes & Noble and Starbucks wanted to be in Brooklyn. I didn’t know anyone who butchered pigs on a rooftop. My friends and I would roast whole pigs when we had barbecues. That’s the same kind of feel I get in Baltimore, particularly down here in Fells Point.
WK was founded with a strong ethos. It’s not just farm-to-table, but kids’ greenhouse next door to table. I’m looking forward to spring when we’ll have herbs, tomatoes, heirloom carrots, maybe eggplants. We’re about to restart kids’ cooking classes. I’m having conversations with Living Classrooms about potential stages and trails so kids can learn about back-of-the-house. It’s a day in the life type of thing in the kitchen.
When did you become interested in cooking? I cooked by my mother’s side when I was a kid. I grew up Italian/Irish, my mother is the Italian half. To me that means peasant food, keeping it simple, not drowning everything in ingredients.
What is your go-to recipe from your mom? We call them rice balls; everyone else would call them arancini. My family is the only one I know of that makes them this way.
What makes them different? They have pork products, soppressata, ham, prosciutto. If I tell you much more I’ll be divulging a family secret.
I picture nice fat running through it. Do you use a little red pepper? Are you going to put this in the magazine? My mom would kill me.
Whether you love to hate him or hate to love him, Don Draper has been firmly planted in our pop culture psyche for the better part of a decade. As the phenomenon that is “Mad Men” draws to a close, I offer a toast. Cheers to the man who reaffirmed there’s nothing more handsome than a gentleman in a well-tailored suit drinking an Old Fashioned. Here’s my version.
2 oz Hudson Baby Bourbon Whiskey
2 dashes aromatic bitters
1 orange slice
1 lemon wedge
1 sugar cube
In a rocks glass dissolve sugar cube with bitters and a bit of water. Fill glass with ice. Add cherry, orange slice and lemon wedge. Pour in bourbon and stir gently before serving.
There’s an image from my childhood that’s seared in my memory. My father is standing with me in the front yard of our house in Owings Mills, still dressed in his work clothes. I’m about 11 and we’re having a baseball catch.
For some reason, my dad, ever the improviser, liked to make up imaginary scenarios that involved Latin players in the minor leagues.
“Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to today’s ballgame. It’s the Toledo Mud Hens at the Rochester Red Wings,” I hear him saying. “Up at bat is Jose Fernandez, a shortstop from Venezuela…he’s hitting .236 on the season and he’ll lead it off.”
And then my dad would zip the ball on the ground in my direction and keep calling the play.
“And it’s a hard ground ball to second base…”
I’d do my best to field it and throw it back to him.
“Second baseman Chico Rodriguez has got it, he’s up with the ball and…OUT at first!”
My dad had limited mobility (or maybe just incentive). He’d only catch the ball if doing so didn’t require any bending or lateral movement. If the throw was low, and I can see this now, he’d extend his arm down but never, and I mean never, bend his knees. If it sailed by him (and it often sailed by him), so be it. He’d turn and walk to get it as I waited for the next play, fist pounding the mitt in anticipation.
Good times. Vivid memories. But—and I say this without any animosity toward my father whatsoever—baseball is really the only game I remember playing with my dad. Usually he was at work—he ran a pharmacy—or he was just doing something else (although I have no idea what) while my friends and I ran around the neighborhood doing our own thing. He certainly never rode bikes with me, rolled around on the carpet wrestling, sorted Legos or challenged me or my brothers to a Space Invaders battle on the Atari in the basement.
“Go out and play,” went the familiar refrain. And we’d be out until…we came back. My parents usually had no idea what I was really up to; and I was equally in the dark about how grown-ups filled their time.
Such was the way of life and parenting back then in the late ’70s and ’80s. So rare was the occasion that the dads would actually play with us that they stand out in my memory like special occasions. Backyard baseball, football, sledding, riding bikes, all of it happened on our own.
But somewhere between my childhood and now, it seems that the expectations for fathers have changed. I am more in the mold of the modern dad, who gets down on the floor and sets up Hot Wheels tracks and takes part in the occasional FIFA ’15 challenge on the Xbox in the basement. It’s a life that’s a far cry from the stereotypical breadwinner of my dad’s generation, who left most of the nitty-gritty of parenting to the wives.
Don’t get me wrong: I love it. The full-heart joy I feel when I see our boys laughing and having a good time…there’s just nothing better.
But I have to admit I do sometimes wonder what it would be like to be a dad of prior generations. The expectation was that he was the one who made the money, took care of home repairs (or in my dad’s case, called a guy from the Yellow Pages to take care of the house) and, if there was time, taught the boys how to play sports. Let’s be serious, the bar for “good father” was definitely lower back then.
And in my father’s father’s generation, forget about it. I asked my dad if his dad or his friends’ dads ever played with them after school. His response? “No. They were all working all the time.”
There’s a lot of discussion these days about whether women can “have it all”: a balance between their professional lives and their parenting responsibilities. But I think the men of our generation face similar challenges. We long to be there for all the moments with our kids—their school events and sports and backyard games. We also want time for rewarding careers, fulfilling marriages and hobbies of our own.
It’s all about balance, right? I have no desire to be some cold, distant father who’s too uptight to get in the game. And at the other extreme, I don’t want to be one of those parents who is so wrapped up in his kids’ lives that he doesn’t have one of his own.
I know I’m far from perfect. I’ve missed games and parent-teacher conferences.
I march forward, making deals with myself to feel better. I tell myself that my first job is making sure that the family is provided for; and a close second is quality time with everyone in it. And then there are times when you just need time for yourself and say to the kids, “Go out and play!” And live with the guilt.
When I was graduating from college, I remember feeling completely bummed out. I told a friend how much I was going to miss the school, the friends and the college experiences. She looked at me and said something I’ve never forgotten: “Everything in life comes in phases. You gotta try to enjoy each one.”
I guess the problem is that I’m in lots of phases all at once right now; I wear many hats: that of husband, breadwinner, father, baseball coach and disciplinarian. I am also hugger, bedtime story reader, tucker-inner and sometimes, at my own peril,
a friend and playmate.
We are set up to fail, we modern dads. But we play the game, ever striving, ever striving.
Greg Abel is founder and president of Abel Communications. He lives with his wife Jennifer Mendelsohn and their two boys in Mount Washington.
Forget glamping. With this groovy tent modeled after the iconic Split Screen VW Camper Van (which, yes, my own family rocked in the ’70s) you can re-create the Summer of Love at your favorite music festival, campground or even in your own backyard. Hey, the proximity to running water never hurts. Speaking of H20, this polyether tent with fiberglass and steel poles is, indeed, waterproof—and comes with storage pockets on the inside for whatever you’re holding. In my case, that’s likely a cellphone, a flashlight and directions to the nearest boutique hotel for the first moment I hear an owl hoot or a human being (read: serial killer) rustling in the woods. For real outdoorsy types, add this to your wanderlust wish list. Or check out the scaled-down version for sleepovers with the kids. Imported from The Monster Factory. $499 at nordstrom.com
$1,725,000 Suburban Swimming
Bedrooms: 6 | Baths: 6/2 | Square Feet: 5,700
“Located in one of the best neighborhoods in Howard County, this home is ideal for outdoor living. It’s fenced in, but there’s still an abundance of land outside the fence for recreation. The upgraded pool, which is accompanied by waterfalls and a hot tub, is surrounded by a beautiful patio. It’s truly an outdoor extravaganza.” —Creig Northrop, Long & Foster, 410-531-0321
$1,975,000 Indoor Paradise
Bedrooms: 6 | Baths: 5/1 | Square Feet: 12,954
“This spectacular, all-brick contemporary estate has extraordinary entertaining spaces both inside and out. The magnificent heated indoor pool and spa is surrounded by brick flooring, a stunning beamed and vaulted cedar ceiling and skylights allowing natural light to stream into the gorgeous space, which is complete with a full locker room and workout room.” —Jenn Yateman, Long & Foster, 410-583-5700
$1,975,000 Ruxton Treasure
Bedrooms: 7 | Baths: 7/1 | Square Feet: 8,200
“This Queen Anne Victorian is one of the most architecturally important houses in the Ruxton community. Built in the late 19th century, it spans over three acres and has high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows. The outdoor pool is surrounded by old growth planting, including incredible hydrangeas, dogwoods, perennials and roses. You name it, it’s out there.” —Karen Hubble Bisbee, Coldwell Banker, 443-841-1333
$1,500,000 Dive In
Bedrooms: 5 | Baths: 5/3 | Square Feet: 7,778
“The property has the highest level of architectural finish and detail of any home I’ve ever listed. It has enormous character and each room has a special touch to it. It’s a truly custom home, which comes with a library, a two-story glass-walled great room, four fireplaces and an oversized three-car garage. It has great street appeal from the front and back.” —Paul Duncan, RE/MAX 100, 443-250-4637
Although for most of his adult life Rivers Scott Fisher made a living playing music—he was a member of the alternative rock band Foam, signed to Epic Records in the ’90s—it wasn’t until eight years ago that he decided to go full-time into visual art, a longtime hobby.
“It was one of these things when I started to find myself, creatively, going more into the art studio than picking up my guitar and writing a song,” Fisher, 40, says.
Drawing inspiration from his heroes Andy Warhol, Richard Prince and Jeff Koons, Fisher creates abstract expressionist paintings, which he infuses pure emotion versus preconceived notions or messages, he says. His work, alongside that of Jessie Mann—a fellow expressionist painter and daughter (and frequent subject) of the esteemed photographer Sally Mann—will be on display June 13 through July 18 at the Jordan Faye Contemporary gallery in its new location on Saratoga Street.
It will be the first time Fisher’s COVERGIRL series will be publicly displayed. He takes the popular Baltimore-based brand’s logo and repurposes it over photos of famous women who have experienced serious tragedy and hardship. “Actors and actresses are made to look so beautiful, they’re almost inhuman,” he says. Several of those pieces, as well as his contemporary art pieces, are collaborations with Vienne Rea, whose sculpture work is embedded over some of Fisher’s paintings.
Visit jordanfayecontemporary.com for more details on Fisher’s exhibition.
The very first time that I laid eyes on Wes Moore, he was sitting in a Four Seasons Hotel ballroom getting his “man makeup” done for our STYLE photo shoot. Somehow, he sneaked in while I was prepping outside. And in my surprise to see him, I emitted what can only be described as a squeal of teenage “fan club” delight.
As a man who clearly loves the hell out of people, Wes’ natural response was to hop out of his chair and run over to hug me. (Adorable visual: He still had the tissue tucked into the collar of his gingham shirt.) I, on the other hand, was a hot mess. After being down with the flu for two weeks, I had just gotten back my voice—and I was missing at least half of my false eyelashes… all on the left side.
“I bet Oprah had all her eyelashes when she interviewed you,” I joked with Wes.
(Winfrey plans to make a movie out of his memoir, “The Other Wes Moore.”) And while I was reading his latest, “The Work,” at a local coffee shop, a hipster grad student and two 60-something gals in track suits came over to comment, “Oh, I looove him.”
On a day when I felt like 70 percent of my best self, I swear, Wes Moore looked into my eyes and saw the missing 30 percent. At one point, I shared something personal (about losing my dad) and he just tapped my hand twice, in this simple but moving gesture that said “I get you” or “I’ve got your back.”
When I left that day, I wasn’t focused on Wes’ stratospheric exceptionalism—that thing that makes you hear Salt-N-Pepa (“What a mighty good man”) as he walks away. Instead, I was fired up to find even greater purpose and passion in my life—which is Wes’ whole mission in writing“The Work” (run out and pick up a copy).
I hope you enjoy this Men’s Issue, which takes a heartfelt and playful look at real-life “guy” dilemmas. Manscaping, anyone? Plus, don’t miss our fun package on getting hitched (page 96). And, on a serious note, one must-read is “Mood Madness” (page 92), which tackles the controversial topic of anti-depressant use in modern women.
If you think loyalty to Baltimore is only a hallmark of our sports fans, consider the backstory on this O Street townhouse in the heart of Georgetown. Baltimore couple Eric and Karen Dickman inherited the tony address with three floors of vintage ’70s furnishings from his parents. They decided to remodel and add a wing to revamp what had been Eric’s boyhood home for their own use. But, get this, they didn’t choose a D.C. designer for the work. Eric, a rural land market manager for the No. 1 homebuilder in the mid-Atlantic, and Karen, a horse owner and trainer, were living in Federal Hill at the time and found what they needed right in their own backyard.
“We researched The Washingtonian’s online list of designers but they didn’t appeal,” says Eric. “There was a fresh quality to using Baltimore talent that overrode the gloss of D.C.”
The design firm they turned to, Amanda Austin Interiors, facilitated what Eric refers to as “a full gut reno with an addition in back for a new kitchen and master bedroom suite above.” D.C. architect Outerbridge Horsey executed the plans and secured approval from the local historic commission.
Right from the start, supervision from Austin and her associates, Jackie Bayer and Sadie Johnson, ensured there were no surprises going forward. “If we hadn’t anticipated where the furniture would go in every room during the bare bones stage,” says Eric, “we would have messed up the room dimensions and incurred expensive change orders later.” Consistency was just the ticket for the busy couple who could review plans with Austin’s firm only a short walk from where they lived in Baltimore. Key to changing the house from Eric’s predictable boyhood home to something he and Karen loved was creating an open but edited plan from the old rooms. Svelte built-in storage helped keep the look clean.
“I worked with Lyndon Sentz of Lyndon Heath Cabinetry in Lancaster, Pa., to personalize the look and function of the built-ins,” says Sadie Johnson who specialized in space planning and furniture layouts. “We used reclaimed barn wood for flooring everywhere because repurposed wood is a warm addition to crisp, contemporary rooms.”
The project holds a special place in both the owners’ and designers’ hearts, as it was one of Amanda Austin’s final projects before her untimely death two years ago. In finishing the design, Jackie Bayer extended Austin’s flair for unusual textures and furnishings.
“Amanda found a great faux alligator-covered coffee table with Eric and Karen in the D.C. Design Center, which inspired her [to place] a similar pattern on large vinyl tiles for a nearby wall,” says Bayer. That graphic look gave Bayer the idea to assemble black-and-white patterns of varying vintage, among them a collection of Wedgewood Basalt ware for the shelves she acquired piece-by-piece from websites. “We saved some of Eric’s family furnishings for interest in the new rooms,” she says. “As they live with them, they decide what to add or subtract.”
Indeed, a home’s design always evolves over time—as do design firms. Bayer and Johnson recently have changed their firm’s name to Emerald Hill Interiors, where they are committed to carrying on Austin’s legacy of providing fresh style and the highest level of service to their clients.
Emerald Hill Interiors
Artstar Custom Paintworks
Lyndon Heath Cabinetry
Chesapeake Tile & Marble
Timothy Paul Home
Capitol Hill Construction
Update: In light of the state of emergency and citywide curfew that has been implemented from April 28-May 5, we will list updates regarding the status of certain events as they are available.
- The FlowerMart in Mt. Vernon scheduled for May 1-2 has been postponed (new date TBA).
- All three Alvin Ailey shows scheduled May 2-3 at the Lyric have been cancelled.
- The Kinetic Sculpture Race at the American Visionary Art Museum scheduled for May 2 has been postponed (new Date TBA).
- The Baltimore Child Abuse Center’s Be A Hero gala on April 30 featuring Robin Quivers of “The Howard Stern Show” has been moved from Power Plant Live! to Martin’s Valley Mansion in Cockeysville.
- The Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts announced that the Baltimore Farmers’ Market and Bazaar scheduled for Sunday, May 3, is cancelled. The weekly event is expected to return May 10.
Is there a better way to ring in summer than with a musical that weaves together the life and music of Bob Marley? Center Stage’s world premiere of Marley, written and directed by artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah, is set to inspire and fill the theater with the feel-good tunes of the reggae superstar whose posthumous musical impact has resonated with audiences across the globe. Mitchell Brunings of “The Voice of Holland” stardom seems an authentic fit to play the Jamaican-born legend. Kwei-Armah cast Brunings after he came across a viral YouTube clip of the Dutch singer’s critically lauded performance of “Redemption Song” on his country’s version of the popular reality TV show. Brunings will play Marley during his self-imposed London exile in the years after the failed assassination attempt on his life, thus telling the story of how he became a cultural icon—and, in turn, the production pays tribute to Marley’s music with renditions of beloved songs including “One Love,” “No Woman, No Cry” and “I Shot the Sheriff.” May 7-June 14. Tickets, $19-$74. 410-332-0033, centerstage.org —Ian Zelaya
Hozier, aka the definition of tall, dark and handsome—and the singer/songwriter behind the most hauntingly infectious single of the year, “Take Me to Church”—is definitely a top choice for your next girls’ night this summer. The Grammy-nominated, Irish-born musician will feature songs from his first self-titled studio album as well as his latest single, “Work Song.” June 20, at Merriweather Post Pavilion. Tickets, $40-$55. 410-715-5550. ticketfly.com —Shelby Offutt
Catch comedy’s tiniest (and most energetic) hustler. Fresh off the press junket for “Get Hard,” his buddy film co-starring Will Ferrell, and doing a killer job hosting the Justin Bieber roast on Comedy Central, Kevin Hart brings us his “What Now?” tour for two shows on June 6 at Royal Farms Arena. Tickets, $47-$150, 800-745-3000. ticketmaster.com —S.O.
Perhaps the States’ most cherished Canadian comedy import, The Kids in the Hall, a five-man sketch group, rocks an absurdist style reminiscent of Monty Python (think men in drag). The troupe, famous for their quirky television show that aired on HBO in the ‘90s, reunited in the mid-2000s to begin touring and performing brand-new material live—we are all a-boot it. May 7, at the Lyric. Tickets, $45-$90. 800-745-3000. ticketmaster.com —S.O.
Nobody Puts Baby…
The cult classic Dirty Dancing returns in a new stage production of the ’80s dance film. Iconic movie moments and key lines are carefully preserved in this version, which is adapted for the stage by the original screenwriter, Eleanor Bergstein. Johnny is played by Samuel Pergande, who honors Patrick Swayze’s memory with ample sex appeal—and sensitivity. May 12-24, at the Hippodrome. Tickets, $25-$95. 800-745-3000. ticketmaster.com —S.O.
Charles Condomine finds himself happily married to Ruth, but when Madame Arcati, a simple medium, accidentally conjures the spirit of Elvira, his not-so-dearly-departed, at a séance, things get dangerous. Blithe Spirit, the spooky comedy by Noël Coward, is a must-see. May 27-June 28, at the Everyman Theatre. Tickets, $34-$60. 410-752-2208. everymantheatre.org —S.O.
Since his first comedy single hit the radio in 1976, America’s favorite curly-haired weirdo has produced six platinum records and won four Grammys for comedy. “Weird Al” Yankovic’s latest parody album, “Mandatory Fun,” reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in its first week. To start off The Mandatory World Tour, Al dropped eight music videos in eight days, including “Tacky,” to the tune of Pharrell’s “Happy,” and “Word Crimes,” a parody of “Blurred Lines.” Two shows on June 13, at the Pier Six Pavilion. Tickets, $30-$60. 410-783-4189. piersixpavilion.com —S.O.
Skip the showing of “Magic Mike” and check out some real-life hunks in Trouble in Stubble 2: Sausage Fest. Featuring fine specimens such as Mr. Gorgeous, the reigning king of burlesque, this show is going to be hot. Did we mention this “boy-lesque” plays during Mother’s Day weekend? Give your momma what she really wants. May 9-10, at Creative Alliance. Tickets, $20-$26. 410-276-1651. creativealliance.org —S.O.
Shakespearean Parent Trap
In Shakespeare’s far-fetched farce The Comedy of Errors, all hell breaks loose when a pair of twin brothers and their twin slaves, who were all separated at birth, decide to switch places. Pack a picnic and watch the insanity unfold under the stars at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s outdoor stage. June 12-July 19, at Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park. Tickets, $17-$48, 19 and under are free. 410-244-8570. chesapeakeshakespeare.com —S.O.
The Decemberists, the indie-folk sensation from Portland, Ore., are known for their ultra-creative and interactive performances. The Grammy-nominated band’s tour touts their new album, “What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World.” June 4, at Merriweather Post Pavilion. Tickets, $40-$50. ticketfly.com —S.O.
Dance, Dance Revelations
The powerful choreography of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has been called life-changing—and described as America’s cultural ambassador to the world. Featuring Ulysses Dove’s “Bad Blood,” an emotional battle between the sexes, and “Revelation,” Alvin Ailey’s masterpiece, this dance show promises to engage and inspire. May 2-3, at the Lyric. Tickets, $35-$80. 800-745-3000. ticketmaster.com —S.O.
What do “Schindler’s List,” “Star Wars” and “Harry Potter” have in common? The mastermind behind the movies’ soaring music. In A Tribute to John Williams, The BSO plays an array by the Oscar-winning composer. May 29-31, at the Meyerhoff. Tickets, $30-$90. 410-783- 8000. bsomusic.org —S.O.
Pippin, the 2013 Tony Award Winner for Best Musical Revival, is not only a play but a rousing display of psychedelic color and acrobatics. June 23-28, at the Hippodrome. Tickets, $30-$110. 800-745-3000. ticketmaster.com —S.O.
Double Bacon? Yes, please. Kevin and his brother Michael collaborated to form The Bacon Brothers, a rock band in 1995. Since then, the two have been touring the country a couple of times a year. Have no fear, these guys can actually shred. June 12 and 14, at Rams Head On Stage. Tickets, $50. 410-268-4545, ticketfly.com —S.O.
On the heels of reopening its wonderfully renovated American wing and old entrance, the BMA’s Asian Art and Wurtzburger African Art galleries are finally open to the public. The former has doubled its space, with two galleries featuring some 150 works that include Chinese high-fired ceramics. The latter, which houses more than 100 objects that embody African art traditions, has expanded and relocated to the center of the first floor. Free. 443-573-1700, artbma.org —I.Z.
The Baltimore Concert Opera’s sixth season comes to a close with Léo Delibes’ Lakmé, a tragic French-language opera about two lovers caught in the early-19th-century conflict between Queen Victoria’s British empire and subjects of the Hindu faith. Includes costume design by Christopher Schafer Clothier. May 1 and May 3, at the Engineers Club. Tickets, $25-$65. 443-445-0226, baltimoreconcertopera.com —I.Z.
Get Your Preak On
Don your most outrageous hat and place your bets for a timeless Maryland tradition. In its 140th year, the Preakness Stakes features the nail-biting race of the country’s 14 fastest horses and most talented jockeys jockeying for the second title of the Triple Crown. If you’re in the mood to party, stop by the InfieldFest, headlined by Dutch dance DJ Armin Van Buuren and funny guy turned rapper Childish Gambino. May 16, at Pimlico Race Course. Tickets, $25-$135. 410-542-9400, preakness.com —I.Z.
Art Fest Revival
Since its revival two years ago, Art Outside has recaptured the tradition of outdoor art festivals held in Druid Hill Reservoir in the 1950s and ’60s. Local artists shine—and sell. May 17. Free. 410-583-5703, artoutsidemd.org —I.Z.
Arthur Mitchell, the first African-American dancer in a major ballet company in pre-civil rights America, founded the Dance Theatre of Harlem in a church basement in ’69. A traveling exhibition celebrates the company. Through Aug. 30, at Reginald F. Lewis Museum. Free with admission. 443-263-1800, rflewismuseum.org —I.Z.
Joys and Oys
Two upcoming Stoop Storytelling shows revolve around familiar themes that’ll have you laughing, crying and cringing. It’s STILL Complicated focuses on the ups and downs of contemporary Jewish life—and features Baltimore STYLE’s own “Modern Family” columnist Jennifer Mendelsohn; while Family Circus invites locals to share seven-minute tales about kooky family members, growing up and raising children. May 2, at Bolton Street Synagogue and June 11, at the Gordon Center, respectively. Tickets, $65 and $24-$28. stoopstorytelling.com —I.Z.
Now in its 12th year, the CityLit Festival celebrates literature and music and community. This year, WYPR’s Tom Hall talks with Mountain Goats frontman John Darnielle about his National Book Award-recognized “Wolf in White Van”; California punker Frank Portman reads from “King Dork Approximately,” his YA follow-up; and more. May 2, at Enoch Pratt Free Library. Free admission. 410-274-5691, citylitproject.org —I.Z.
The Washington Monument in Mt. Vernon Park gets a burst of spring flavor with the annual (and beloved) FlowerMart. The fun outdoor festival features live, local entertainment and more than 150 vendors selling arts and crafts, garden accessories, jewelry, vegan handbags, standard Baltimore eats (lemon sticks, anyone?) and, you guessed it, flowers galore. May 1-2. Free. 410-274-5353, flowermart.org —I.Z.
Taking a recent tour of every fashionista’s paradise (i.e., Net-a-Porter), we were delighted to find that one-piece swimsuits are all the rage. (After all, we’re women of a certain age.) From skimpy to sophisticated, these bathing beauties ooze Bond Girl
appeal. Sure, we picked some scandalous ones for show, but there’s a black La Perla stunner that’s so hot (“Jantzen Mom” in the front with just enough sexpot strappiness in the back) that I’ve been losing sleep lusting over it. Too bad it costs more than my
summer vacation at $995.) Take cues from above and look for similar styles in town—we’ve spied great finds at South Moon Under (love their Mara Hoffman offerings) and Bare Necessities, which also offers extended sizing. net-a-porter.com
Clockwise: Kube Satellite Cutout Bandeau by Eres, $550. L’Agent by Agent Provocateur, $180. Portsea Belted Swimsuit by Orlebar Brown, $360. Mazzy Popstar by Agent Provocateur, $450. Amalfi Printed Metallic Strapless Suit by Melissa Odabash, $245. Cloudbreak Cutout by Mikoh, $235.
Stacia Smith has never been afraid of renovations. The principal designer and founder of Homewood Interiors was fearless in transforming a centuries-old church into the new location of her company. Providence Methodist Episcopal Church, built in Glenelg, Md., in 1889, was decommissioned in 1961 and transformed into an artsy home in 1974 by an architect and his wife, renowned potter Tatiana Hunter. Smith fell in love with the space when she bought pottery from Hunter in the ‘90s. When the couple moved to New Mexico over a decade later, a new buyer swooped in, but the unique property went to ruin because of poor maintenance.
“It was on its last leg,” says Smith, who purchased the 3,800-square-foot sanctuary in 2012. While she kept many original features—including the ceiling and original hardwood as underlay—she incorporated sleek fixtures and furnishings to modernize the space. Entering through custom mahogany double doors, visitors notice the juxtaposition of industrial chandeliers and antique finishes, as well as a giant glass dome and windows with handcrafted Gothic arches. Smith tried to be environmentally attentive, installing ecofriendly materials and energy-efficient glass. “I kept the original stained glass design and simply replaced the colors with Homewood Interiors’ colors,” she says. “My priority was architectural integrity.”
Leave it to an MIT grad to implement a fitness membership model we’ve been craving for years. (If only we’d invented it first!) Enter ClassPass, founded by dancer and entrepreneur Payal Kadakia. Launched in NYC in 2013, the innovative offering may make gym memberships—or multiple gym memberships (guilty!)—a thing of the past for those of us who really just want to take classes. And now it’s available in Charm City.
Here’s How it Works: For $99 a month, ClassPass members get unlimited classes at more than 40 boutique fitness studios from Harbor East to Hunt Valley. The catch: You can only take three classes at any single location per month—but, really, the point is to “get around” and enjoy the freedom of trying multiple formats and instructors. Currently, that ranges from some of our longtime favorites (are you tired of me mentioning BeachFit Baltimore yet?) and some we’re just learning about, like irresistible sounding Yoga Love in Maple Lawn and The Wellness Scoop, owned by a second-generation Pilates pro in Ellicott City. You can CrossFit at Arenal Fitness in the Quarry, get a ballet-inspired booty at Pure Barre in Annapolis, boot camp outside with Charm City Fitness in Patterson Park and try some kooky-looking Kangoo Jumps at Club De Cycle in Woodlawn.
What We Love: In our one-month test run, we fell hard for the ClassPass iPhone app that made finding, scheduling and reserving classes a snap. We were also delighted to find that some studios include (usually expensive) small-group specialty classes—like Pilates reformer at Coreworks Fitness in Columbia. Travel a lot? You can use ClassPass in more than 30 other cities, from L.A. to London.
Wish List: In its early life in Baltimore, ClassPass feels just a tiny bit yoga-heavy, though the variety is strong and growing. We’d love to see more dance classes—and, if we’re brave enough, we might just try dirty dancing at Pole Pressure or the intro to adult gymnastics at Urban Evolution. classpass.com
What’s really popular at Radcliffe right now?
Casual chic. If you can use the same serving pieces for a fancy cocktail party on a Saturday night and again on Sunday for football game appetizers, that’s hot.
In terms of china, how do you pick a pattern you’ll still want to pull out (and hand-wash) in 20 years?
Luckily a lot of china is now dishwasher safe on a gentle cycle, but don’t let that sway your fine china decision. Go for something that is a reflection of your personality as a couple. If you are lucky and are inheriting your mother’s dishes, maybe choose an accent plate to modernize it.
Conventional wisdom says pick white dinner plates. Agree?
I think the white dinner plate has a time and a place, but so does something colorful and whimsical. Mix it up, have fun. If you do go with white, putting some sexy roses in a stunning vase as a centerpiece will give a different vibe. Or add in a floral salad plate to make things pop.
How about glasses and flatware? What’s cool?
Stainless steel flatware is hot right now. Most companies make a great high-end product that is affordable, dishwasher safe and non-tarnishing. Besides, the price of sterling is through the roof, and no one in our generation wants to polish anything! As far as crystal stemware, get what you like to drink out of and won’t freak out if you accidentally break.
Are cocktail party essentials a big interest?
Absolutely. Barware, chip and dip servers, appetizer plates! If it’s going to make your stuffed mushrooms look good and your cheese plate shine, then it’s an essential. It’s all about the presentation.
What’s a common registry mistake?
Be practical and think of your life 10 years down the road when you are in charge of the holiday dinner table.
Any out-of-the-box items couples don’t think to add?
Cooking classes! They are fun, romantic, practical and something a couple can do together.
See more wedding pro tips.
What are some of your favorite 2015 wedding trends?
We’re still tearing through the rustic feel, but it’s more of an industrial glam. I love a wedding with metallic colors!
Any tips on how to spruce up the menu?
I really like taking artisanal foods and making them kitschy—things like milkshakes, mini-sliders, late-night snacks.
Is there a food that should never be served?
Outdated entrées like the standard chicken and stuffed pasta aren’t appealing. Some people in Baltimore still do the cliché steak and cake—filets and crabcakes. Mind you, I’m not against these when using an extraordinary caterer.
Is it ever possible to make chicken more interesting?
We recently did a wedding for one of my husband’s best friends and served chicken and waffles. It was so wholesome and fun; people loved it.
What’s hot in desserts?
People are putting five tiers of cakes on different pedestals, so it’s like a deconstructed cake with several cake flavors and frostings. It’s almost like a cake bar.
How about the bar?
Craft beer is still big. And the Shandy is a classic cocktail of half lemonade and half beer. Sangria and drinks using specialty lemonade or iced tea are popular—the non-drinkers can enjoy good lemonade and tea. People are still asking for nicer wines. Sparkling wine has made a comeback. Rye whiskeys and house-made things like moonshine are also popular.
Any tips on handling the party guest who, well, parties a little too hard?
The drunk guest is a double-edged sword. Sometimes it’s the person who paid for the wedding! There’s a bit of diplomacy that’s required in trying to diffuse the situation. But we’ve always been able to find a designated driver or take advantage of Uber without anyone feeling embarrassed.
Have you planned many gay weddings?
I’ve planned several. We had a couple of male/male weddings, where one of the partners was a performer and sang at the reception as a surprise. But today, everybody wants to make their day different. There’s no such thing as cookie-cutter clientele.
What flowers are in?
Roses and peonies are always in. Brides want a lot of greenery and herbs mixed in, like sage. We’ve used lambs ear in table arrangements. Right now we love using ranunculus, just because they’re big and juicy. King protea as well. We use it quite a bit for centerpieces.
What about hot colors?
We always look at Oscar dresses to see what’s popular. Of course we see a lot of pastels like blush. Mint is another color that brides want to be incorporated.
Any other trends that you’re loving or not loving?
We’re loving the crystal pedestals. We’ve also picked up a lot of new rose gold—and we like mixing metals, like gold, silver or bronzes together. We’re not loving lanterns. And we’re over Mason jars, submerged flowers and D.I.Y.
Do you have any “just say no” flowers?
Definitely lily of the valley. It’s small, fragile and expensive. Same with poppies. While they’re super cute, they’re fragile. And zinnias totally fall apart.
Do you do suspended flowers?
Yes! It’s absolutely beautiful. However, the flowers need a water source. It takes planning.
How are you using succulents these days?
They’re great for floral jewelry. So brides and their moms may have a necklace or a bracelet made of flowers. That’s a big trend. We’ve even made cuff links out of succulents and flowers!
How much of the wedding budget should be spent on flowers?
Between 15 to 20 percent. But here’s a sneaky tip: repurpose the flowers from the ceremony to the reception to get more bang for your buck.
What’s the most interesting custom ring you’ve seen lately?
We restyle a lot of inherited rings. The ring might be yellow gold and we can actually convert it to platinum or white gold. Recently we worked on an old platinum and sapphire diamond bracelet that five daughters had inherited. We took it apart in sections and made two rings out of it and three different pendants.
Have you seen trends with gay weddings?
In the past we’ve seen couples wear the same plain bands without diamonds. Now we’ll see one female might want a diamond engagement ring, and the other female might want a band with diamonds going across the top. Couples are getting creative in expressing themselves.
Is anyone in Baltimore following the celeb trend of colored diamonds?
We do a bunch of different colors. Last year we sold a five-carat pink. It was absolutely gorgeous. Yellow tends to be the biggest trend that people ask for—and, since it’s less rare than the pink, you can get more yellow for your money.
What is the most expensive ring at Smyth?
That pink diamond was more than half a million, but we don’t really put a ceiling on it. We could sell a ring for $1 million.
Presuming most of your customers aren’t millionaires, what do you say to a gal who has a $25k dream ring but a $5k budget?
Usually women have a vision of the ring versus the diamond. She could either go with an extravagant ring with tons of detail or go with something basic and put the money into having a larger diamond.
Have you seen people who get divorced do anything interesting with their rings?
Absolutely. A lot of times guys will trade a woman’s ring in for a timepiece. If a female brings it in, we’ve done different things from putting it toward a different purchase to renouncing it with something they’ll wear on their right hand.
What’s your top advice for wedding dress shopping?
Keep an open mind. It’s good to have a list of things you love and don’t love, but try some things that might surprise you. The perfect gown is the one that makes you feel like the most fabulous version of yourself. It is OK if that doesn’t match the vision you’ve had since you were a little girl.
What are your fave trends of 2015?
We love the soft fabrics like tulle and chiffon. We’re seeing a lot of detachable overskirt options. Beaded dress options. Romantic off-the-shoulder necklines are great now. Still on trend is the illusion back and illusion neckline, as well as low back options. Some brides want shoes they can wear again? Yes, wedges are great for comfort and height. And don’t be afraid of color. Break out! You can wear them to the rehearsal dinner, too.
How do you feel about color for gowns?
I love it. Blush, champagne, blue and gray. Metallics, especially gold, are huge right now.
Do you think mixing and matching bridesmaids’ dresses is a good thing or a bad thing?
It’s a great thing. It allows each girl to show her own personality—and also adds texture and dimension into your wedding photos. When in doubt, go long. I’m a big advocate of that trend because I’m not a fan of kneecaps in pictures. A longer look is flattering for girls with different shapes and sizes.
What do you think of the new wedding shorts?
You know, these are girls who are really owning their look. Would shorts go with a Catholic ceremony? No. But for the right wedding, they could be cool. We’re seeing some wedding pants now, too.
Tell us your best “Bridezilla” story.
I swear, I don’t have one. We’ve definitely had clients who’ve watched “Say Yes to the Dress” and bring in their little doggie paddles to judge the looks. But usually family and friends help ease the bride’s jitters. We’re all about popping some bubbly and enjoying the teary- eyed moments that happen.
See more wedding pro tips.
Savvy just loves a well-dressed gent. Alas, they’re often few and far between, what with the modern penchant for T-shirts, shorts, flip-flops and a backward baseball cap. So Sav can be forgiven for feeling a little lightheaded when she walks into Citizen Frederick and immediately gets a strong, masculine vibe. Shelves of impeccably folded jeans, rows of shirts both rustic and elegant, wooden boxes stacked with ties and leather accessories, an array of enticing grooming products, vintage trunks and typewriters—they all add up to an atmosphere that is insouciant and enticing. No surprise the store’s charming owner Antonio Rico just won a $20,000 grant in the Microsoft Small Business Contest. Look for sumptuous wingtips by Rancourt, versatile classics by Grayers and surf- and motorcycle-inspired pieces by Iron Resin. American-made is the name of the game. 112 E. Patrick St., Frederick, 240-578-4058, citizenfrederick.com
Out Of Africa
In some stores Savvy simply wants one of everything. Yes, maybe she’s a greedy guts, but what’s not to love about Alice Jane in Bare Hills? With so much perfectly curated fashions and accessories, how could owner Melissa Becker possibly top it? By returning from South Africa with a bag full of beads. Glass beads, plastic beads, stone beads, beads of blue and red and yellow and black and green and pink. Flat discs that look like Necco Wafers and round pebbles that look like they were plucked from a riverbed. Becker combines them with diamonds, cubic zirconia, even fabric tassels to create one-of-a-kind bracelets and necklaces she calls her Love Africa line, from $28 to $950. 1407 Clarkview Road, 410-296-2233, alicejanejewelry.com
A little bit of the City of Brotherly Love has come to Charm City, with the recent opening of Free People at Harbor East. The Philadelphia-based company leased a 2,545-square-foot space at Aliceanna and Exeter and filled it with its signature bohemian look—festive frocks of linen and cotton, tribal prints, jeans, rompers, lingerie and accessories. Macramé and fringe are especially all the rage, but it was the brilliantly colored FP One Quilted Tie Jackets that caught Savvy’s eye. Woodstock meets the Hamptons. 1001 Aliceanna St., 410-779-4700, freepeople.com
Shop For Good
Savvy often waxes rhapsodic about local-gal-made-good Danielle DiFerdinando, who sells fab bags under the name Danielle Nicole. Anointed by none other than Oprah, who went gaga over her Sydney Shopper Tote, Danielle has created a new handbag line in honor of Claire Marie Wagonhurst, a Notre Dame Preparatory School student and aspiring designer who died at age 17 of a rare cancer called adolescent melanoma. The Claire Collection will be revealed in May in support of the Claire Marie Foundation, which will also host a shopping fundraiser at Lilly Pulitzer in Towson Town Center on May 23. clairemariefoundation.org
Psychiatrist Julie Holland has a simple prescription for today’s overworked, over-scheduled and in her view, overmedicated American women. Make a goal to go natural over time. Jettison your plastics and your iPads and start to reduce your pill’s potency little by little. Turn off the TV, toke up and make love. Eat vegetables, preferably raw. Sleep more. Take a walk in the woods. Tune in to your body and rock your natural hormonal ebb and flow rather than aiming first to flatten it out with pharmaceuticals.
Holland’s just-published manifesto, “Moody Bitches: The Truth About the Drugs You’re Taking, the Sex You’re Not Having and What’s Really Making You Crazy,” promotes the traditional view of women as caregivers and nurturers. Women are hard-wired to respond to the needs of others and are moody by nature, Holland says.
But the 1 in 4 American women she says are currently taking antidepressants, anxiolytics and sleep aids are not mentally ill. They are just overworked and exhausted, frazzled and burned out by the competing demands of contemporary life.
According to Holland, too many are popping pills to numb out and get through their hectic days and restless nights, aided and abetted by aggressive pharmaceutical marketing and harried primary care physicians. But not everyone is buying Holland’s diagnosis or her prescription for a more natural life.
Elizabeth Hazen, a 36-year-old private schoolteacher and writer in Baltimore, has been taking antidepressants since she was 19. As a freshman at Yale, “I stopped eating and got really depressed,” she says. She went to the university health center, staffed by graduate students in psychology, who were not helpful. “My first psychiatrist said, ‘You’re so smart and pretty. Why are you sad?’”
Another psychiatrist wrote her a prescription for the antidepressant Prozac that she’s been using ever since, save for the nine months of her pregnancy.
“It was a really tough time for me,” Hazen says of her college days. She started on Zoloft, after her son was born, “because I read that it was safer for nursing,” before returning to Prozac after he was weaned. She also has a prescription for the anti-anxiety drug Ativan though “I rarely take that now because it makes me tired,” she says.
Hazen compares her use of anti-depressants to people who take statins to regulate their cholesterol or antihypertensives for high blood pressure. “I’m not conflicted about it,” she says. “I’m a firm believer in better living through chemistry.”
Her strong family history of depression plays a role in Hazen’s unfazed acceptance of the fact that she may need to be on medication for the rest of her life. Hazen’s severely depressed maternal grandmother was hospitalized and underwent electro-convulsive therapy on multiple occasions. “I remember two or three times when she would go into deep depressions,” Hazen says. “It’s like she wasn’t even there.”
Hazen’s mother, Margaret, says that her mother, a brilliant introverted woman, had her first depressive episode in college but “it really kicked in after the birth of my brother. Time didn’t heal it. She was periodically suicidal.”
Those who have never experienced depression think that you can talk yourself or a family member out of it, she says. “But you can’t. Trying to distract her didn’t work at all.”
Like her daughter, Margaret Hazen is grateful for modern psychopharmacology. She herself suffers from mild depression, for which she takes Zoloft.
“My brother has it too, but he’s determined to tough it out,” she says. Given that four of her mother’s grandchildren are affected as well, “I’m sure there is a very strong genetic component.”
Dr. Jennifer Payne, director of the Women’s Mood Disorders Center at Johns Hopkins Medicine, backs that assessment, pointing out that “psychiatric illness is a marriage between biological vulnerability and environment, with stress being one of the big environmental factors.”
Life these days is extremely stressful for everyone—men and women, Payne says. But she hasn’t seen any evidence that the prevalence of mood disorders is increasing.
So, what explains the jump Holland identifies in the number of people, especially women, who appear to be using psychiatric medications?
In “Moody Bitches” Holland points to two catalysts for medicated conversion: pharmaceutical companies and primary care physicians. Direct-to-consumer advertising by Big Pharma encourages women to see their natural moodiness as a psychiatric problem, Holland says in the book, and handing over a prescription is “the easiest, quickest way for doctors to get someone out of their office so they can see their next patient.”
Payne finds that assessment a bit harsh. Though it’s possible that on occasion internists and other primary care providers might prescribe antidepressants for “what I would say is an adjustment disorder or being stressed.” It’s also likely that increased use of prescription medications may simply be due to better screening and diagnosis of the disorder, she says. “It’s true that a lot of people are on meds these days. But that may be because more people are aware of depression and are aware that there is help for it.”
Some states have now mandated screening for postpartum depression, Payne also points out, and both primary care providers and OB/GYNS are urged to be on the lookout for symptoms of
depression in their patients.
In addition, we talked with women who’ve had trouble finding psychiatrists in Baltimore who accept their insurance and are accepting new patients. So out-of-pocket expenses can be a deterrent from seeking a specialist.
“Certainly there are some people on meds who shouldn’t be, but there are a heck of a lot of people who should be on meds who are not,” says Payne. “Most people who could benefit from psychiatric care are not getting it.”
Last year Payne reviewed a study that found that only 6 percent of pregnant women diagnosed with depression in regular OB/GYN care were treated for the disorder. Like Hazen, many women choose to go off their medications during pregnancy, fearful of negative effects on the fetus. Payne is currently seeking grant-funding for a study of the effectiveness of light therapy—exposure to daylight or specific wavelengths of light—as an alternative treatment for depression in pregnant women.
“Doing studies of pregnant women makes people really anxious but that’s really where you want to have good data to know how to manage patients,” she says.
Large-scale epidemiological studies have shown that 10 to 20 percent of women will have a major depressive episode during their lifetime, a rate that is double that of men. The reason for women’s higher rate of depression remains unclear. Hormonal fluctuations can affect levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood. But other neurotransmitters are also involved in mood regulation—in particular dopamine and norepinephrine.
This is the reason that some people may require a “cocktail” of psychiatric medications to get relief, says Payne. “What we call depression is likely multiple diseases. We know that serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine are all involved, and different medications affect those neurotransmitters in different ways.”
There is some evidence, she says, that certain medications may be more helpful than others at various stages of a woman’s life span. A recent study found that before menopause, women on average respond better to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs (e.g. Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Lexapro) while after menopause an older class of antidepressants called tricyclics seem to be more effective. That study needs to be validated, says Payne, but the findings make sense to her.
“For symptoms of PMS we know that you have to affect serotonin,” she says. “If someone is having PMS symptoms, wake up and realize they are moody, and take an SSRI, they feel better within hours.” There’s also some evidence that SSRIs may be more effective in treating postpartum depression, she says.
Women who experience two or more major depressive episodes will likely have to take some sort of antidepressant throughout their lives to prevent recurrence, Payne adds—and that’s OK in her view. “There is no evidence in the literature that taking antidepressants long-term causes any sort of problem,” she says. By contrast, “recurrent mood disorders are bad for the brain.”
What about women who don’t have a strong family history of mood disorders or multiple episodes of depression? How does someone who has run into a bad patch and started taking habit-forming anti-anxiety drugs like Ativan and Xanax or sleep aids like Ambien get off those medications?
Dr. LaShaun Williams, a psychologist in private practice in Baltimore, says that about 60 percent of her clients are not on medications at present though they may have a history of using medications.
“A common story I hear is that they got their first prescription from a primary care provider when they presented with complaints of anxiety or trouble sleeping,” Williams says. “My experience is that psychotherapy helps them to develop alternative coping skills and increased tolerance or acceptance of stress.”
Williams says that she has seen many clients who don’t have severe disorders come off their meds over time by making changes in their diets, exercising more and improving their sleep hygiene in addition to psychotherapy.
“The length of time you should be on medications depends on the disorder,” Williams says. “A lot of time the medications are a bridge. Initially people are overwhelmed by their symptoms and the meds can help them get through.”
Williams uses cognitive behavioral therapy to help her clients identify and challenge the kinds of thought distortions that fuel panic attacks, and the ways that current interactions mirror childhood patterns. “Psychodynamic interpretations can be helpful in developing insight,” she says. Working with clients on problem-solving also can be helpful. “The whole process is empowering. You become a more functional adult.”
It can take time for psychotherapy to have an effect and for a client to make the type of changes that will alleviate the life stressors that are causing them to feel depressed or anxious. But Williams has seen even patients with serious diagnoses like post-traumatic stress disorder lower their dosage over time as they learn to manage their symptoms.
Women who would like to wean themselves from their medications should work with a psychiatrist to lower their dosage and encourage collaboration among their health care providers, she says. “I wouldn’t suggest that someone do it on their own.”
Abrupt withdrawal of anxiolytics and antidepressants can lead to a host of negative effects including irritability, insomnia, decreased memory and concentration and in rare cases, psychoses and seizures. Also, some women (and men) experience withdrawal symptoms that can last from weeks to months—even when following the suggested titration plan suggested by their doctor and the pharmaceutical companies.
Integrative health practices like yoga and acupuncture may help ease the transition and help women regulate their moods in general. “Mindfulness, acupuncture, yoga—all help relax you and make you feel more in control of your emotions,” says Payne. “They are incredibly helpful as adjunctive treatments and if you are trying to get off antidepressants, it’s a great time to do them.”
Mary Lauttamus, director of the Master of Science Yoga Therapy program at the Maryland University of Integrative Health in Laurel (formerly the Tai Sophia Institute), has worked with many women using medications for anxiety and depression. Some choose to work with their psychiatrists to wean themselves from the medications after developing a committed yoga practice and experiencing a reduction in symptoms, she says. “We hear from our clients that they have improved outcomes when they practice yoga regularly.”
She and other yoga therapists help clients increase self-awareness through daily meditation practice, daily posture practice and daily breathing exercises. “The breath tells a story,” Lauttamus says. “With fear and anxiety, the breath is shallow and rapid. Yoga teaches us to notice the breath and use it to calm the body by engaging the parasympathetic nervous system. Longer breaths, more extended exhales.”
By contrast, people with a diagnosis of depression may need to be energized.
“If I’m working with someone with low energy and we want to lift energy, I teach a more warming, energizing breathing practice,” Lauttamus says.
Yoga also can help people who’ve been in talk therapy for a long time, “and are ready to stop thinking and start doing,” she says. Massage therapy too can encourage relaxation and help people develop an increased awareness of what’s going on in their bodies.
“We spend so much time in our heads that the somatic practice—bringing a person into their body—is a gateway to opening up an understanding of all sorts of integrative practices,” Lauttamus says. “It really is about self-care and feeling empowered—and learning how to understand the mind-body connection on a deeper level.”
Women who have used integrative practices like yoga and acupuncture, and made other lifestyle changes to wean themselves from medication or to avoid taking meds in the first place, strongly endorse these practices.
J., a 38-year-old homemaker and mother of two, says that she developed severe anxiety after giving birth.
“I started experiencing panic attacks and sleep problems. I’d be up all night,” she says. A psychologist recommended that she go on antidepressants and anxiety meds and wrote her a prescription for the sleep aid Ambien. “It helped me to go to sleep if not stay asleep,” she says, “but I didn’t like the way it made me feel.”
After about two months her doctor again recommended antidepressants and anxiolytics. “That time she actually wrote a prescription and that scared the shit out of me,” says J. “I didn’t want to be that woman. So I spoke to my GP and she recommended that I change my diet, exercise habits and pretty much my whole way of life.”
J. put the prescriptions in a Mason jar in her kitchen to remind herself every day of the alternative to making lifestyle changes. “I started running, joined a gym and weeded some people out of my life,” she says. “It made a huge difference. I’ve also started yoga recently even though I’ve never been a spiritual person. It took almost a year for me to get to this place but I don’t even use the Ambien anymore. I’m a completely different person.”
Although J. was able to pull herself out of a bad place without using (much) medication, V., a 40-year-old professional who experienced her first bout of depression in her late 20s, believes she absolutely needed psych meds at that time. “When I see depression commercials today, I totally empathize because that’s the way I felt. I wasn’t suicidal but I had uncontrollable crying, reclusiveness. I just couldn’t get myself out of it.”
Lexapro and psychotherapy helped. But she didn’t like the side effects, including inorgasmia. “There were sexual side effects, but that wasn’t my motivation for going off it. It was more the general apathy and feeling neutral,” she says. Her primary care provider recommended Wellbutrin, an SSRI with fewer sexual side effects, and as an added bonus, weight loss. “The first time she offered it, I didn’t take it. But around 2011, I could feel that I was getting depressed again so I took it.”
It helped, but once again she was bothered by the emotional blunting she experienced while on the drug. “I wasn’t a zombie but I didn’t feel like myself,” V. says. “So I talked to my doctor about getting off.”
Working together, they slowly decreased her dosage around the same time that she discovered community acupuncture.
“I’d done acupuncture before and found it helpful during a very stressful time in my life, but community acupuncture is much more affordable,” she says.
Instead of a private room, clients sit in an open room with six to eight other clients, paying $15 to $20 per session. “At first I went once a week but now I’ve tapered off,” V. says. “It’s made an enormous difference for me. It’s so nice not to take a pill.”
Both V. and J. asked not to be identified by name, a measure of the stigma that still prevents some people from seeking help for mental health issues. But Dr. Tamara Sobel, an internist in private practice in Owings Mills, says that stigma may be lessening. “I’ve seen an increase in both men and women complaining of symptoms of anxiety and depression. People may be more inclined to mention symptoms to their doctors.”
About 25 to 30 percent of people coming into her office present with symptoms of anxiety and/or depression. Some definitely need antidepressants and anxiolytics—“and thank God we have them,” she says—but she will not prescribe medications for stress alone. Instead, she recommends reducing stressors, increasing exercise, a healthy diet, and yoga and meditation.
“A lot of people are looking for a quick fix these days,” says Sobel. “They think ‘I’ll take a pill and I’ll feel better tomorrow,’ but it doesn’t work that way. You need to change your lifestyle.”
Want some not-so-nutty advice on improving mood—with or without modern pharmacology? “Moody Bitches” author Julie Holland recently cribbed a few tips from her new book. Here are a few we’re willing to try.
EAT CLEAN. One study showed people who ate processed foods were 58 percent more likely to feel depressed. Holland says: Opt for whole foods and eat more lean protein and avoid complex carbs (choose fruits, veggies instead).
GO FISH. All hail fish oil, salmon, halibut and flaxseeds—or however you get your omega-3 fix. Holland isn’t alone on this one. Many integrative docs say these healthy fats improve brain functionality and improve mood. Also mix in some anti-inflammatory treats like dark chocolate and red wine—in moderation, naturally.
SUNNY D. Sure, you’ve got a gym membership. But do you get outside for 20 minutes (or more) at least three days a week? If not, start walking the walk. In fact, rip off your Ray-Bans and let the sun sink in for a bit. Holland says the rays have to reach your retinas to kick in the anti-depressant effect.
RUNNER RUNNER. Research says doing cardio can be as effective as antidepressants for some patients. Holland suggests getting your heart rate up at least three times a week for at least 30 minutes.
SLUMBER PARTY. You’ve heard this before—sleep seven to nine hours nightly. But here’s a twist: If you’re craving a nap, snooze for 25 or 90 minutes. “Nothing in between,” Holland says, “and try to be done napping by 3 p.m.” so you can doze off easier at bedtime.
MILK IT. Did you know that calcium can reduce irritability? Whether or not you do dairy, that’s one more reason to incorporate the bone-building phenom. More insights from the author/doc: L-tryptophan, L-hydroxy-tryptophan and B6 can help boost serotonin production. And taking a magnesium supplement before your period may make for less anxiety, better sleep and less bloating.
TALK TO YOUR DOC. If your PMS remains intractable, Holland says you might want to try Lexapro—or another Rx. Don’t feel better once your period starts? You may be clinically depressed. Then the conversation changes. —BETSY BOYD
When on Facebook, Nan Rehfield—a network “friend” to her two teen boys—has learned to play by her sons’ rules for acceptable (read non-embarrassing) familial interaction.
“I’ve been told by my 15-year-old not to ‘like’ his posts because that’s pathetic,” says 40-something Rehfield. “The 18-year-old hides his posts from me.”
Rehfield’s friends-with-family experience links to a widespread cultural phenomenon. It seems like such a no-brainer that embracing family (and any related baggage) online could be socially awkward. Yet the majority of adult Internet users—71 percent, according to the Pew Research Center—happily hop online with their offspring or parents.
Underage kids aren’t the only ones getting embarrassed by Mom and Dad—the blush spreads to children of all ages. A friend of mine recently told me that her Facebook friendship with her 70-something mom has been a bit of a struggle.
“Early on, I had to say, ‘Mom, I’m a single woman in her late 30s! I cannot have my mother posting greeting cards on my wall every day! It’s so dorky.”
Also, my friend reminded me that social media goes both ways.
“Facebook gave me a window into my newly retired mom’s daily life,” she says. “I used to feel stressed or guilty, like, ‘Oh my God, my mom is playing FarmVille and friending strangers all day long.’ But then I realized she’s an adult and she should do whatever makes her happy.”
Since family-friending can often feel too close for comfort, why do we, in these reportedly growing numbers, fail to resist the “friend request”?
“I think it’s because these are the people who actually know us best, who’ve seen us naked, drunk, sick on the toilet, giving birth, and that scares us,” says Baltimore-based author and psychoanalyst Mikita Brottman. “So we try to regain control of our lives through Facebook, where many of the images we show each other, as everybody knows, are curated illusions, masquerades of the way we really live. When the illusion of perfection is broken, and too much family truth is revealed, we don’t like that.”
Sarah Reback, a 26-year-old graduate of Loyola University Maryland, has been friends with her mother on Facebook for about eight years, a decision whose timing could have been better.
“It was probably a mistake to friend her going into freshman year of college,” says Reback with a laugh. “She’s seen some pictures that I definitely didn’t want her to see.”
In the beginning, Reback says, she’d field complaints from her mom about the clothing she wore on a typical Friday night, all of which was fed to her mother weekend to weekend via Facebook.
“I remember [one] Friday night, what I was wearing was not appropriate,” she says, referring to a brown mini-dress, loose up top, tight down below. “We were coming back from the bar, and [my mom] called me and said, ‘I have something to discuss with you about that dress,’” she recalls. The ultimate fashion problem in Mama Reback’s eyes? Brown isn’t her daughter’s best color.
“As the years go on, it’s not as bad now,” the younger Reback says. “She just writes completely embarrassing things on my wall: ‘I love you so much. You’re the light in my eye.’”
Full disclosure: This reporter is also age 26—and I decided a long time ago not to friend my opinionated Italian mother. We discussed it and she understood. (Thank goodness, my dad let his account dry up.)
Most people who do choose to connect with their parents online start young. Numbers Facebook crunched in 2012 show a consistent pattern: Starting at age 13, around 65 percent of offspring initiate friendship requests with Mom and Dad.
By our early- to mid-20s, our tendency for doing so drops: Only about 40 percent of Millennials make friends with their parents on the social network. But as we get older, more of us are likely to reach out to our parents online.
“This overall trend follows the rough arc of children seeking distance from their parents as they prepare to leave the nest, and then gradually gravitating back as they accomplish their own milestones in life,” wrote Facebook in a blog three years ago, which seems to confirm Brottman’s theory in a sense. Maybe we just want Mom and Dad to see us at our best—to make them proud in a public forum. We want them to be thinking the cheesy compliments they aren’t allowed to post.
“I think we all use Facebook to feel a bit more connected and have a couple of laughs,” says 22-year-old Jenn Ruckel, who is friends with both her mom and her dad on Facebook. As a reporter and radio producer in Nome, Alaska, Ruckel says being friends on Facebook closes some of the emotional distance of being so far apart geographically.
“It’s really touching when my mom or dad will share something I wrote or produced for work and say how they enjoyed it and want their friends to listen. … It’s like the adult equivalent of hanging my report card on the fridge.”
Of course, social media also allows aging folks to feel connected to their loved ones—and the world.
“As adults get older, their networks get smaller,” says consumer-tech expert (and former Baltimore guy) Mario Armstrong, a contributor on NBC’s Today show. “Parents’ ability to connect and socialize becomes more limiting—and that shouldn’t have to be the case because there are all these tools that can connect people.”
So why not bask in the glow of sending passive warm fuzzies to your parents (and maybe even grandparents) if you’re lucky enough to still have them? Just remember it doesn’t replace the responsibility of occasionally picking up the phone to call your mother.
Borrowing glam designer dresses from Rent the Runway is a well- known trick of well-heeled gala girls. But it always takes a bit of luck and guesswork. Will the dress fit perfectly? Will that color actually look as good on you? No worries—the company’s largest showroom is now up and running in Georgetown, settled in Cady’s Alley alongside other contemporary fashion retailers. Not only will you be able to try on Theia, Badgley Mischka and Christian Siriano gowns with guidance from in-house stylists; you can also rent out the store for wedding styling packages and for private events, be it your next birthday party or business meeting. And since it’s on M Street, grab a sweet treat from Georgetown Cupcake—we won’t tell. renttherunway.com
New York City
The New York Botanical Garden is about to get an artistic makeover courtesy of Frida Kahlo. A solo exhibition of the late Mexican artist’s work, Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life focuses on Kahlo’s interest in botanical imagery, as it transports visitors of the renowned tourist attraction to Kahlo’s studio and garden at La Casa Azul (Blue House)—reimagined with a flower display— where she grew up and resided in her later years. Kahlo’s gritty, feminist self-portraits are more relevant than ever before, and more than a dozen of her paintings and illustrations will be featured in LuEsther T. Mertz Library’s Rondina and LoFaro Gallery at the garden. Visitors can learn more about Kahlo’s sensational life and cultural influence through lectures, Mexican-inspired shopping and dining and hands-on art activities for kids. May 16-Nov. 1.nybg.org
The most fascinating family in U.S. presidential history, the Kennedys have graced virtually every medium in America’s cultural spectrum. If you’re looking to satisfy your Kennedy obsession with something new, go see Creating Camelot: The Kennedy Photography of Jacques Lowe at the National Constitution Center. The exhibit showcases more than 70 iconic and intimate photographs of President John F. Kennedy’s public and private life taken by his personal photographer. Photos depict everything from Kennedy’s election campaign to his home life with Jackie O. and their children, Caroline and John Jr. An original film about the German photographer’s relationship with the Kennedys is also on view, as well as a touch-screen monitor that displays Lowe’s contact sheets, which point out images he selected for media publication. Through Sept. 7. constitutioncenter.org
Chef Robert Wiedmaier grew up in Germany and speaks the language fluently. “But I don’t have a drop of German blood,” he says. “Go figure.” Instead, the owner of the new Mussel Bar and Grille in Harbor East looks to his father’s background for inspiration. “My father was born and raised in Antwerp,” says Wiedmaier, who says Baltimore reminds him of that place. “It’s a port city—you’ve got boats all around. Baltimore’s got some soul.” That’s one reason Wiedmaier, who owns two restaurants in D.C. (Marcel’s and Brasserie Beck) as well as Mussel Bars in Arlington, Bethesda and Atlantic City, decided to open his fourth outpost here.
Mussel Bar is, as you might guess, devoted to the mollusk, mostly prepared Belgian-style in broth with fries. But there’s also classic bistro food, like steak frites, charcuterie and a burger made with meat from a local farm. “You can trace your burger back to the exact cow,” he says. There’s a selection of Belgian and Maryland craft beer on 43 taps. The restaurant took over the space formerly occupied by the short-lived Townhouse, and Wiedmaier says he didn’t have to do a lot to move in. “It already had the feel of a mussel bar,” he says. 1350 Lancaster St., 410-946-6726, musselbar.com —Martha thomas
Teddy Folkman opened Granville Moore’s on Washington, D.C.’s H Street in 2007 before the neighborhood had settled into gentrification. “The place has a worn-down rowhouse look,” says Folkman. “It looks like it’s going to be condemned.” Though he hopes that his new restaurant, Baroak, shares some of the atmosphere that defines his D.C. place, he admits, “There can never be another Granville Moore’s.” Located in the posh Loews Annapolis Hotel, the new space features rustic decor. “We want to bring a neighborhoody feel to Annapolis, maintaining a down-home vibe,” Folkman says. The menu is easygoing, too—the most expensive item is the $23 catch of the day.
Taco appetizers are filled with braised brisket, coriander and radishes, and the Belgian onion soup is one part beer to two parts beef stock. There’s also a Sunday brunch, featuring a griddled chicken and ham breakfast sandwich and lobster hash with Old Bay hollandaise. But Folkman is perhaps most proud of the moules frites—it was, after all, his mussels that beat out Bobby Flay in a 2008 Food Network “Throwdown.” Belgian food is the theme here, dominating the menu as well as the beer. 126 West St., Annapolis, 410-295-3225, baroakannapolis.com —M.T.
Several years ago, Johns Hopkins’ Evergreen Museum invited John Shields to plant a garden. “The place was a mess,” says Shields, who was nevertheless grateful for a space substantially larger than the plot outside his kitchen door at the nearby Gertrude’s Restaurant. Since then, the garden has been put to good use, producing kale, radishes, heirloom tomatoes and herbs. While the output is not prolific enough for permanent menu items, says Shields, “we’ll do a special with some wonderful tomato, or fish peppers.”
Each year, he and Jon Carroll, Gertrude’s bar manager and an avid gardener, put on a five-part class called Edible Evergreen from March to October to educate would-be growers. Sessions include planting, tending and eventually harvesting—with a field trip to the 32nd Street Farmers Market and a “graduation” lunch at Gertrude’s featuring all the class has grown. “My dream would be to run the Chesapeake School of Cookery and Home Tending, where you can learn all the lost arts,” says Shields, who is hard at work on his new book, “The New Chesapeake Kitchen,” Shields describes growing food as “a radical act.” He says: “I tell people, even if they get one pot and grow parsley or basil, they’re making a difference.” 410-516-0341, museums.jhu.edu —M.T.
When Doug Atwell stepped up—No. 7 in a lineup of 14 esteemed bartenders competing in the inaugural Baltimore Cocktail Week face-off—he didn’t put on a show (read: no fire, no ice shaving, no song or dance). He just smiled at the judges and confidently got to work mixing and serving—ladies first, by the way—our fave drink of the evening: the Viking Daisy, a Preakness-inspired concoction named after the surrogate species used to create the floral blanket draped over the winning horse each year. (Fun fact: Black-Eyed Susans don’t bloom until June, so they fake it by daubing the daisies with black lacquer.) Atwell, a former video game developer turned craft cocktail pro, has added the refreshing pink concoction to his spring menu at Rye Fells Point, named one of “America’s Best Bars” by Esquire last year. Also look for him at Cocktails at the Conservatory on May 14, where he’ll serve up botanical-infused beverages in support of the Rawlings Conservatory in Druid Hill. —Jessica Bizik
Your Pixilated tag line is “We bring the fun” (to more than 300 weddings last year), so let’s start with the eternal question: Band vs DJ?
Ideally, we’d say have both! You could have a really awesome jazz trio at cocktail hour and an incredible DJ for the dance party. Then switch it up to karaoke for the after-party.
Any local DJs or bands you love?
Chris Riddle of Beat 2 Beat DJs is doing some really cool stuff with new social media integration products—you can have a live Twitter feed that runs through his software. DJ Al Graham is great, too.
Do you have any out-of-the-box suggestions for wedding themes?
One time we sourced real people to be photo booth props. There was a tie-in to benefit the Maryland Zoo, so we hired a high-end body painter to come in and paint actors to look like zoo animals—lions, tigers and flamingos. There’s also a guy in Catonsville who has a bunch of wild animals. You can walk down the aisle with a peregrine falcon.
I just imagine that falcon flying off with someone’s toupee. What else is trending these days?
As far as photo booths go, a lot of people are getting into gifs and animation. Experiential, slow-motion type stuff. We also know a couple of people who are doing drone video for weddings, which is pretty cutting-edge.
Any tips for the budget-minded?
We talk more about doing research to find out what a good photo booth company offers. There are definitely things you can get for a $200 Groupon. We just developed a guide you can download to help people pick out their wedding photo booth, whether that’s us or someone else.
What was your favorite wedding?
Torrey and Chanel Smith’s wedding is the biggest one we’ve done. It was cool to attend a wedding with a bunch of pro athletes and agents.
What’s the funniest moment to ever happen in a Pixilated booth?
Obviously anytime anyone exposes themselves. Some of the lewd poses get a lot of cheers, but they end up getting deleted. We’ve had some conga lines, too. And one time Kevin Spacey ended up in our booth. That was pretty surreal.
See more wedding pro tips.
In its final week at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts, the 27th annual Baltimore Jewish Film Festival, which Baltimore Style featured as a past “Get Out” highlight, will include two Maryland premieres.
The first premiere on April 26 the U.S. documentary “Stateless” (2014). Directed by Michael Drob and co-presented by the Jewish Museum of Maryland, the Russian-language documentary follows the thousands of Soviet Jews who fled the USSR in the late 1980s only to get stranded in Italy because of American policy changes. Drob will also serve as a guest speaker.
The festival closes on April 28 with “The Art Dealer,” (2014) an intriguing French thriller directed by Francois Margolin. The film, in French with English subtitles, follows a Jewish woman who sets out to recover family paintings that were stolen by the Nazis—and during her search, she discovers some unanticipated family secrets.
For screen times and ticket prices, go to jcc.org.
The Baltimore Museum of Art director Doreen Bolger announced yesterday that she will retire from her position on June 30. Serving as director since 1998, Bolger is known for initiating large-scale travel exhibitions, getting rid of general admission fees, broadening education programs and, perhaps most notably, redefining BMA’s artistic focus by emphasizing its esteemed international collection and focusing on modern era art.
During Bolger’s 17-year tenure, BMA developed a series of traveling exhibitions that were accompanied by a scholarly work, including “Joyce J. Scott: Kickin’ It with the Old Masters” (2000) and “Pissarro: Creating the Impressionist Landscape.” (2007-2008) Also under her direction, the museum acquired numerous works by Henri Matisse, along with significant additions to the African, American and contemporary art collections, as well as a wide range of works by African American artists including Henry Ossawa Tanner and Nick Cave.
Bolger’s most recent accomplishments included her leadership in initiating the museum’s physical transformation—BMA is currently in its final phase of a $28 million renovation. Last November, at the start of the museum’s 100th anniversary celebration, Bolger was present for the reopening of the Dorothy McIlvain Scott American Wing and the Robert G. Merrick and Zamoiski East entrances, a milestone she discussed with STYLE. On April 26, the museum will reopen its renovated and expanded African and Asian Art galleries.
“It is wonderful to leave the museum at such a high point in its history. I am honored to have served this amazing institution with such dedicated colleagues, trustees, and volunteers, with so many generous and loyal supporters and patrons,” Bolger said in a press release. “I look forward to the BMA’s continued success—and to my own pursuit of projects I feel passionate about, in this community and in the field.”
An enthusiastic supporter of Baltimore’s art scene, Bolger has served on the boards of the Maryland Citizens for the Arts, Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance, Charles Street Development Corporation, Design Center Baltimore, and Station North Arts & Entertainment District. Before joining the BMA, Bolger held positions at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas, and ended her 15-year tenure at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as curator of American Paintings and Sculpture.
Bolger was included in our “Women In The Arts” feature in September 2013.
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Alerting all tween girls: Grab your closest group of friends and practice your poses, because it’s your time to shine at Green Spring Station. Wee Chic children’s boutique has enlisted local photographer Kakki Morrison to capture the memorable “tweenage” years, made even more special when you consider the store’s fashionable selection of kid’s clothing.
On April 18 and April 25, Wee Chic will offer 40-minute sessions for groups of up to four at its in-store photo studio and surrounding Green Spring Station hotspots. Sessions are scheduled by appointment and cost $40 for prints purchases.
“This is a fun and unique opportunity to capture the beautiful, sometimes awkward, period in a tween girl’s life and to celebrate her individuality,” said Bridget Quinn Stickline, Wee Chic’s owner. “Kakki Morrison has a wonderful eye and a knack for capturing tween and teen girls, and we are very excited to partner with her for this opportunity. At Wee Chic we are about empowering young girls, cherishing their uniqueness, and creating outlets for them to shine.”
Offering a unique array of accessories and kids clothing up to size 16, Wee Chic offers lines such as Kate Spade, Desigual, Splendid and Mayoral.
To ensure a mini session with Morrison, schedule an appointment at weechic.com/room
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In the age of social media, when parenting has become a kind of performance art, it seems we’re often made to feel inadequate over all the things we don’t do.
I don’t feed my kids all organic food. I don’t cut the vegetables in their lunchboxes into magazine-worthy shapes. I don’t craft adorable homemade Valentines. I don’t prohibit SpongeBob.
But in the end, we’re probably obsessing over minutiae. That’s why there’s some- thing perversely reassuring about seeing a parent who really messes up—well, at least as long as no one is seriously hurt, that is. It’s a special brand of schadenfreude: I may be doing things wrong, but at least I’m not as bad as that mom…
That schadenfreude revved up for me this past winter when a couple was arrested for leaving their two toddlers unattended in a parked car in northwest D.C. for an hour while they went to a wine tasting at a restaurant around the corner.
The story read like a parody of clueless, entitled parents, with the father explaining to police that he was using an iPhone— an iPhone!—to monitor the kids, aged 22 months and 2 1/2. Perhaps the parents might have elicited more sympathy if they’d left the kids while, say, delivering meals to the homeless or checking on an elderly shut-in. But wine tasting? Seriously? The pair was charged with two counts of attempted second-degree cruelty to children.
No matter where you sit on the parenting spectrum, from the hovering meddlers known as helicopter parents to the hands-off “free rangers” who believe children need to exercise more independence, I think we can all safely agree that using a smartphone to babysit two toddlers in an unheated car so you can attend a wine tasting is just…not OK.
It was harder to find consensus about the case of the Meitiv family of Silver Spring, however. Last December, someone spotted their children, 10 and 6, walking alone along a busy thoroughfare and called police. Alexander Meitiv acknowledged he’d let the children walk home alone from a park about a mile away, prompting a Montgomery County Child Protective Services investigation. In March, the Meitiv parents were charged with unsubstantiated child neglect. The case has generated heated national headlines, with many saying the family was unnecessarily reprimanded.
“How have we gotten so crazy that what was just a normal childhood a generation ago is considered radical?” Danielle Meitiv asked in The Washington Post.
My own brush with this issue came last year, when I headed up to my childhood home on Long Island with my boys’ bikes in tow. Living as we do in Baltimore City, where large swaths of flat, untrafficked road are at a premium, I thought the boys could take advantage of riding up and down the sleepy suburban street where I had learned to ride almost 40 years ago.
The bikes turned out to have been an inspired idea. My younger son crossed that all-important threshold from tentative rider to fully confident one. And the sight of my two boys pedaling down my childhood street was pure magic. But then my 9-year-old son wanted to start riding his bike around the block by himself, something I am absolutely certain I did countless times the summer I was 9. The streets of Old Bethpage were certainly no more dangerous last year than they had been in 1975, which is to say not at all.
But I was suddenly frozen with uncertainty. Did people…still do that? Was I supposed to follow him in the car? Would the neighbors look askance at me, that woman who swooped in from Maryland and let her kids ride their bikes unsupervised?
I could argue that we keep a closer eye on our kids at home in Baltimore for all the obvious reasons: we live in a major metropolitan area with its share of urban troubles. But here we were, in one of the safest places in America, and I was still torn.
What really bothered me, though, was that I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that the only thing that had objectively changed was not the real risk of letting my son ride around the block, but rather parental attitudes toward that risk. I wasn’t actually worried that something untoward could happen to Ethan; I was mostly worried what people might think of me.
I was reminded of a moment a few months earlier when we were on vacation in Puerto Rico. While in the hotel lobby, we realized we’d forgotten something in our room. Ethan asked if he could go back by himself to retrieve it, a trip that involved riding an elevator and then a cable car down to a different part of the resort. My natural instinct was to say no, but I acquiesced. I held my breath, a nervous wreck until I saw him bounding back through the lobby, beaming with pride at his independence. I realized that I needed to sacrifice those five or 10 minutes of feeling uneasy, because what it brought Ethan was far more valuable than what it had cost me.
The early years of parenting are all about literally holding your children tight: nursing, swaddling, harnessing in car seats. As they grow, parenting becomes about a graceful letting go, about finding that elusive sweet spot between being reckless and being over-cautious, between satisfying your own need for control and meeting your children’s need to explore the world on their own. I’m sure I’ll make mistakes along the way. I just hope you don’t end up reading about them in the pages of a national newspaper, tut-tutting while you say, “Well, at least I’m not as bad as that mom.”
Jennifer Mendelsohn lives with her husband and their two boys in Mount Washington. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, People, Slate and USA Weekend.
Sofa So Good
Nouveau Home and Interior Design has moved back to its old stomping grounds in Mount Vernon. You can still get everything from elegant to kitschy to trendsetting, but co-owners Steve Appel and Lee Whitehead also are offering personal decorating services. Appel describes the shop as “reclaimed meets glamour.” Go Home champagne glasses are etched with toasts in six languages, Uttermost mirrors sparkle and you’ll even find retro typewriters and telephones re-purposed for the digital age. “I want the store to be like nothing else in Baltimore,” says Appel. Welcome home.10 W. Eager St., 410-962-8248, nouveaubaltimore.com
At the Boxwood Collection in the tiny hamlet of Glyndon, owner Sandi Kroh can’t wait to show off the colorful, intricate Polish pottery by Boleslawiec that’s become a signature of her newly expanded store, which just moved around the corner. Other standouts include metalware by Beatriz Ball, cheeky Words With Boards cutting boards made here in Baltimore, botanical-inspired bracelets by Michael Michaud and beach-inspired tote bags by Spartina (the Kiawah pattern is darling). Has Savvy dropped enough names yet? Not nearly; you’ll see. 15 Railroad Ave, Glyndon, 410-526-2220, theboxwoodcollection.com
Spa Week Specials
Savvy will never forget the spa experience she had in Calistoga, Calif.; the masseur was so superb she almost married him. So how come she doesn’t treat herself all the time? It’s expensive. That’s why she’s thrilled over Spa Week. From April 13 to 19, select beauty services at participating spas and salons are only 50 bucks. At Glow to Go Skin Bar in Federal Hill try the Fitness Facial, laser teeth whitening or eyelash extensions. And here’s your chance to get the 50-minute Signature Stress Melter at Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spas in Cross Keys for less than half price.spaweek.com
I Dream of Jeans
It’s the perennial quest—on a par with “I’ll never find a bathing suit that fits!”—the search for the perfect-fitting pair of jeans. Well, mourn no more. At Liquid Blue Denim (one of our perennial faves in Fulton), they’ve got your number. You can now Skype a staff member with your measurements and preferences (don’t worry; they’re discreet) and get guidance on which cut, style and color will best suit you. Shipping is free and if you don’t like what you get, you simply send it back. For men and women. Or schedule an in-person consultation by appointment, so you can reach out and touch the store’s new spring arrivals, from boho-chic embroidered blouses to BCBG jumpsuits. Other savvy stops in the same spot: Bra-La-La (for lovely lingerie) and Hyatt & Co. (upscale menswear). 8191 Maple Lawn Blvd., Fulton, 301-317-0241, liquidbluedenim.com
Looking to celebrate like you’re Peggy Olson who just landed that coveted Burger Chef account? Or just drink in style like Joan Holloway? Embark on City Food Tours’ Mad Men Era Cocktail Tour, an Old City excursion that gives you the chance to sip on some tasty cocktails with ties to the era of the critically acclaimed AMC drama, which begins its final season April 5. Be it a sweet, sour and bubbly French 75 at Stratus Rooftop Lounge, a Tang-y Astronaut at the Continental Restaurant and Martini Bar or a refreshing mojito at Cuba Libre, the tour will introduce you to (or help you revisit) the groovy libations of the 1960s. Sure, these drinks are a far cry from Don Draper’s go-to whiskey on the rocks. But who wants to drink like him, anyway? Select Saturdays through April 25, at 2nd and Market streets. $49, per person. cityfoodtours.com
New York City
We’re still scarred from the way Peter Sarsgaard discarded Carey Mulligan in “An Education,” the 2009 film that introduced the English ingenue to mass audiences. Now the bona fide Hollywood A-Lister is pairing up with another older gentleman—Bill Nighy (“Love Actually,” “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”)—on Broadway in David Hare’s Skylight. Mulligan plays a badgered schoolteacher living in a freezing London apartment who’s paid a visit by her former lover—a charismatic and arrogant restaurateur—which ignites an evening of heated (and humorous) banter that brings both characters’ past to light, along with commentary on society, politics and our sexual appetite for old flames. Don’t go hungry; rumor has it Mulligan actually cooks spaghetti on stage during the performance. April 2-June 21, at John Golden Theatre. skylightbwy.com
Shopaholics can already smell the fine French leather at Longchamp, one of the first luxury retailers to open shop at the District’s chichi CityCenterDC, a 10-acre development, set to become a mecca of chic, from swanky condos to adventurous restaurants and, of course, shopping galore. Spring day-trippers can score sleek, fashion-forward finds at Rodeo Drive darling Zadig and Voltaire, classic footwear at Salvatore Ferragamo and Allen Edmonds, high-tech outerwear (perfect for April showers) from Arc’teryx and more before dining at chef Daniel Boulud’s DBGB Kitchen and Bar or eating frozen treats at Rare Sweets. Coming in future months: CH Carolina Herrera, Hermes and the famed Momofuku noodle restaurant and Momofuku Milk Bar. citycenterdc.com
When I was about 9 or 10, I fell in love with feminist movies. “Silkwood,” “Norma Rae,” “The Color Purple.” Basically, if you were a woman who fought against adversity, I wanted to be you.
I vividly remember nearly going to fisticuffs with a third-grade boy over how “Nine to Five” was way better than “Caddyshack”—with or without a dancing gopher. “Don’t you get the subversive humor?” I probably said, while pretending to pull out blond strands from my Dorothy Hamill ’do.
So you can imagine my joy when interviewing Lily Tomlin (page 84), who’s coming to town on May 7, the night before her new Netflix series (co-starring Jane Fonda) premieres. Lily and I gabbed for almost an hour—and bonded as fellow movie cryers. In fact, she told me a cute story about how her mom took her to see “Imitation of Life”—a 1959 tearjerker with racial undertones—starring Susan Kohner, whose son Paul Weitz just directed Tomlin in the new Sundance flick “Grandma” due out in August.
“Before the movie started, my mom opened up her purse to show me she’d brought three washcloths [to use as tissues],” said Tomlin with a laugh. “I CRINGED, but they came in handy. I’ve been waiting my whole life to tell someone that story.”
You may need a washcloth after reading about 13-year-old Mekhi Ferguson, a brave and funny kid who’s received amazing care at Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital (see “Modern Miracles,” page 64). He should become a professional happiness guru. I’m also a big fan of Changa Bell, who revives tired souls at Sunlight & Yoga (page 46).
Is being constantly connected to your boss (and everyone else on the planet) stressing you out? Be sure to read “Driven to Distraction” (page 68), where tech writer Andrew Zaleski goes “off the grid” for 48 hours. Well, almost 48 hours. Plus, we pick 12 smartphone apps—ironically enough—to help you chillax.
I suffer from tech perfectionism. I put off sending emails/texts because I want to craft a Pulitzer-worthy missive that makes the other person feel like they just won the lottery. Unfortunately, sometimes that means I don’t write back at all. (I’m working on it, promise.) That’s why I love getting out of the office to scout for stories like “She’s Gotta Have It” (page 72). It’s fun to see friends at all the local boutiques—such as Hannah and Martha from JG Sassy (a preppy-chic wonderland in Ruxton), who came back to unlock the shop at 9 p.m. after I left my keys on the counter. (Thank you, ladies!) After all, spring trends may come and go, but kindness is always in fashion.
$3,395,000 Delightful Deception
Bedrooms: 4 | Baths: 4 | Square Feet: 4,410
“Located on a steep grade on the water, the v-shaped house is four times the size of the front in the back. It was intentionally designed to not look like Versailles from the street, offering a discreet glimpse of what’s to come. Thanks to an enormous dock, the property fits right in with the Annapolis boaters’ lifestyle, as owners can sail right out of the Severn River into the Chesapeake Bay.”—Ron Mangas Jr., TTR Sotheby’s International Realty, 703-298-2564
$589,000 Canton Cove
Bedrooms: 2 | Baths: 2/1 | Square Feet: 2,180
“Many condos are pretty to look at and perfect for entertaining friends, but they aren’t actually ideal to live in. This condo in downtown Baltimore is perfect for hosting a cocktail party, but it’s not all for show—it truly is a home. Another plus is it comes with two free parking spaces and it’s pet- friendly.”—David Curtin, Henslee Conway Real Estate, 443-803-8175
$1,445,000 Suburban Style
Bedrooms: 4 | Baths: 6/2 | Square Feet: 7,384
“This magnificent Pikesville home is very open—the interior is extremely bright and there is a lot of light, thanks to the floor-to-ceiling windows. Even with that, it still maintains a private atmosphere. Other perks include a four-car garage and the gorgeous waterfall in the rear.”—Libby Berman, Long & Foster, 410-978-4920
$1,780,000 California Dreaming
Bedrooms: 6 | Baths: 4/2 | Square Feet: 6,800
With expansive decks, a pergola, an outdoor pool and a hot tub, it’s hard to believe this stylish and stunning home is nestled within city limits. “This contemporary California-lifestyle home is located in the heart of Green Spring Valley. The outdoor living setup will have you craving summer all year long.”—Heidi Krauss, Krauss Real Property Brokerage, 410-329-9898
An old horsewoman who came here from Ireland on the cusp of World War II told me once that she remembered riding a horse from Monkton to what is now the traffic circle in Towson. Imagine doing that today. That’s an easy 20 miles—and you’d have to ride back, too—and some of it was hard going. I tell you this chiefly to remind that someone still remembers a world before the Beltway or Interstate when it was possible to ride a horse over a landscape little changed from Colonial times.
Once upon a time everyone rode a horse even if they did not ride very well. No question about it, the horse knows the way; our history tells us this. Over the hills and through the woods to grandmother’s house or across the Great Divide. Some of our noblest national heroes are four-footed—Seabiscuit, Man o’ War, Dancer’s Image, Kelso, Citation. Paul Revere was in the saddle (even if Henry Wadsworth Longfellow made up a lot of his ride.) Lewis and Clark would have never crossed the country, a journey of some 8,000 miles (they were occasionally lost), without horses. The Pony Express (they were not riding ponies) moved mail across America in 10 days or less at a time when it took a letter six months to travel from Boston to San Francisco by ship. Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders. And let us not forget cowboys. The image of the rider on the horse is a powerful one (hooray for Hollywood).
The image of the horse in the national imagination remains powerful even if most Americans are no longer sure which end kicks. And so it is spring and steeplechase season in the Tidewater.
The Grand National is the second of three major timber races, sandwiched between My Lady’s Manor and the Maryland Hunt Cup. But it is my favorite because old friends host a luncheon at their farm on the race course (and I am too old to sit in a field with drunken prep school students).
The road to the races is a bit melancholy for the lush green countryside containing what remains of the hunt country is fast-vanishing despite efforts to preserve it. Once a traveler gets past what H.L. Mencken called America’s “libido for the ugly”—strip malls and clusters of Targets and Taco Bells, Bedding Barns and Bob’s Big Boy and the warrens of townhouses—the road snakes across a landscape largely rural and mostly agricultural. It just seems to take a little longer each year on the way to the race course to finally reach open countryside.
Soon suburbia slips away and there are open fields rolling off into the distance, lush and soft spring green, dotted with flowering dogwoods and cherry and apple trees. The roadsides are a riot of forsythia and a tangle of bright yellow daffodils. But there are fields of McMansions now, too, in what was not long ago farmland; badly sited and poorly landscaped, like pieces from a child’s board game. Revenge of the Parker Brothers.
But it is still possible to glimpse a rapidly vanishing world that may be gone in another generation and gone for good despite efforts to preserve it. Soon, many of these fine fields could be dotted with developments—Tally Ho Estates, Fox Trot Garth, Huntsman’s Glen. Developers like the words garth and glen. Nice, cruel touch, that.
Steeplechases are mostly just a good excuse for a lawn party, or a picnic, and they are not nearly as exclusive as they once were, but what harm is in it? Many of the race-goers never bother to even walk up to the course to see the horses run. But the turnout for the steeplechases is greater each year and if the weather is good, so much the better.
Another tiny restaurant—26 seats in all—opens in Hampden, and this one is a Fabergé egg. Clearly a driven man, Arômes chef/owner Steve Monnier puts together complex small plates with whatever the market offers on a given day, supplemented by exotic flourishes from a collection of tins above the stove: dried chamomile, bottarga he made himself from dried Maine sea urchins, curry powder, matcha tea.
Food. If you’re a fan of tasting menus, this is your place. On an early visit, options included cauliflower risotto with lemon balm jus and a crunchy scallop chicharrones, tender lamb with curry butter and sweet carrot ravioli, a crispy potato nest with a scoop of dulce ice cream sprinkled with bottarga and lemon ash—a midflight mix of savory, salty and sweet that could have been dessert. Dessert reversed the stunt with white chocolate ice cream surrounded by sweet parsnips and tonka beans—topped with a sheet of caramelized milk skin, sweet and crumbly. Fussy but not overdone. “This is minimal,” says Monnier of his six-plate format. “If I were only cooking for 10 people, I’d do more.”
Chef. Monnier, 38, grew up in France’s Champagne country of Reims and started cooking at 16. Stints in Cannes and Paris included working under highly regarded chefs like Philippe Braun and Michel del Burgo at Michelin-starred restaurants. He moved to Los Angeles in 2002 and cooked at French restaurants there (including L’Orangerie) before becoming a personal chef to the likes of Jerry Bruckheimer, Goldie Hawn and Charlie Sheen (“a great guy,” Monnier assures). His training with “modern” chefs in Paris taught him to move the vegetable to the center of the plate. “A lot of scientists are saying that by 2050, we won’t have meat and fish,” he points out. “Why not treat vegetables the same way you would lobster or foie gras?”
Location. Monnier and his wife, Florence, moved east to be closer to her family in Pennsylvania when their son (almost 2) was born. They looked at D.C., he says, but real estate was too expensive for a self-financed undertaking. He’s impressed with the Hampden camaraderie. After he had trouble with a contractor, he says, “Everyone stepped up. It was amazing.” Besides, he enthuses, “Baltimore has everything—great farming, the soil is so rich. You got the ocean, the forests.” He’s enlisted a forager to bring him mushrooms, fiddleheads and indigenous wildflowers and herbs.
Sourcing. The meat comes from Liberty Delight Farms, the dairy from Trickling Springs Creamery. Even the elegant space, like the menu, is locally sourced. Tables hewn by Josh Crown from reclaimed wood and a parquet floor pieced together from Brazilian cherry found from a supplier in Timonium. Hampden designer Jesse Harris’ minimalist lighting design has wires cascading like Maypole ribbons from the center of the ceiling to illuminate each table with a single Edison bulb.
Drinks. It’s a BYOB place with a $5 corkage fee per bottle. A selection of nonalcoholic drinks, created by front-of-the house manager, Gilles Mascarell, includes aromatic concoctions like lavender and Meyer lemon; ginger, turmeric and grapefruit; and hibiscus, mint and lime.
Final Verdict. An early surge in reservations and one look at the gorgeous plates on the restaurant’s website indicate that a seat at Arômes will be coveted. Make a reservation. Soon.
3520 Chestnut Ave., 410-235-0035
Stop, Breathe & Think.
Skip the therapy sesh and find inner Zen right on your smartphone. Created by Tools For Peace—a nonprofit dedicated to emotional and social intelligence, as well as professional success—this app is designed to enliven the mind through meditation and emotional guidance. It asks you to assess your current state of mind, then provides relevant meditations to bring you to a place of equilibrium. Available free in the App Store, Google Play and via web for your computer. stopbreathethink.org
Consider it spring cleaning for your inbox. Created by Baltimore-based 410 Labs, this email management service enables you to clear out clutter (one gleeful reviewer boasted deleting 22,000 duds in 30 minutes) and successfully unsubscribe from junk email lists—shrinking your inbox to…wait for it…ZERO. Worried about privacy? We feel you. Mailstrom doesn’t read your personal emails, or sell your data. It sorts emails by finding patterns in subject lines. Free trial (up to 5,000 emails). After that, $5 per month. mailstrom.co
Prepare for some gross self-awareness. This app keeps track of how many times you check your phone a day—and even points out, via GPS, where your phone-checking habit (i.e., addiction) occurs most. The bathroom? Maybe. Another great app in this category is Moment, which boasts a family version that can track your entire household’s screen time across multiple devices—and helps you schedule down times for family dinners or game nights. Moment, available free in the App Store. Checky, available free in the App Store and Google Play. checkyapp.com
1 Minute Desk Workout.
This app allows you to de-stress during office hours, featuring more than 45 exercises and a “secret mode” that keeps things discreet. Did we mention it will remind you when it’s time to take a breather and stretch? Perfect for those die-hard desk jockeys who never take a break. Available free in the App Store.
Officially the smartest jewelry ever. These 18K matte gold rings—featuring precious and semi-precious stones (we love the Black Onyx) —sync to an app on your smartphone, so you can decide which notifications are worth knowing about in real time—and which to ignore. So when your babysitter texts you during dinner, the ring vibrates softly, but when your old college roommate invites you to play Candy Crush, you won’t be bothered. Hallelujah. $195 to $260. ringly.com
Procrastinators, meet your new best friend. This simple-to-use app enables you to create a to-do list, then set up a timer for completing each task. When time runs out, 30/30 moves on to the next task—and hopefully you do, too. Plus, you can schedule in much-needed brain breaks after serious crunch times. Our favorite feature? The “gesture-based” interface. Just keep it clean, people. Available free in the App Store. 3030.binaryhammer.com
Make the airport your happy place, seriously. Created by Trip Advisor, this app keeps you updated on the latest info about your flight. We’re talking gate changes, delays, layover adjustments, even security wait times. The app also allows you to navigate through the airport using maps, and check out the amenities closest to you. Just say no to the Cinnabon. Available free in the App Store, Google Play and Windows Store. gateguru.com
My Migraine Triggers.
Like MyFitnessPal for headaches, this Excedrin-funded/neurologist-developed app helps identify what leads to migraines by tracking daily activities, diet and stress levels. The most unique aspect of this app is its ability to email or print out charts of the collected information to share with your doctor. Available free in the App Store.
A hands-free app we’ve been waiting for. Originally created to reward employees for safe driving practices, it’s great for personal use, too. When you and your friends and family install the BRB app, you can customize an automated message to be sent while driving to let others know you’re occupied (and not giving them the silent treatment). It also turns off incoming alerts and calls so you aren’t tempted to peek or answer while on the road. brbapp.com
Find a home for you—and your car. Local real estate agents Ronald Monk and Nick Hardisty created this brand-spanking-new app that only shows you urban homes with off-street parking spots on the market. (Where was this guy when we moved to Canton?) Filter results according to your preferences—home type, price, location, etc.—then score turn-by-turn directions so you can take a peek at each property. Plus, request more info and schedule viewings effortlessly from your phone. Available free in the App Store and Google Play. parkre.com
Now available in 37 markets, the Charm City-born food delivery app lets you score naughty treats (think Chick-fil-A waffle fries), haute hangover helpers (say, the Scrappledelphia sandwich from Shoo-Fly) or even a romantic dinner for two (from the likes of Fleet Street Kitchen or Bond Street Social) without even leaving your couch. Our current go-to: Sofi’s Crepes for our weekly “Scandal” watching party with the girls. Delivery fee, up to $4.99. orderup.com
For $10 you can “ground” yourself from the Internet for up to eight hours a day. A favorite of authors Zadie Smith and Nick Hornby (which makes it good enough for us), this productivity-focused software temporarily blocks your computer’s Internet access, so you can lay off Facebook-stalking your ex and (finally) finish that big business report or your first novel. And, yes, if there’s an emergency, just reboot. macfreedom.com
When I was a little girl, I fell in love with all these great feminist movies, like “Silkwood” and “The Color Purple.” I’m pretty sure I was the only kid who dressed up as Norma Rae for Halloween in 1979! But “Nine to Five” was my absolute favorite, it was just so smart and subversively funny. Do people still come up and thank you for that movie?
Lily Tomlin: Oh, that’s great! Yes, people still love it. I think the moment I realized it was catching on was the day I got a call from my Aunt Ellie May who was married to a pig farmer in Kentucky. She said, “Well, your Uncle Wallace put on a suit and tie and drove all the way to Paducah last Saturday night to see “Nine to Five.” He laughed so much he said he’s going back again next weekend.”
Way to show ‘em! Did you know “Nine to Five” was magic when you were making it?
You always hope you’re making a meaningful movie. But at the time, I remember they kept editing the film down to the last minute. Everybody’s agents and managers were very nervous and kept asking for changes. The first weekend, I think we came in third. Female-driven movies just didn’t go over well back then…they still don’t. But it caught on big and turned out to be one of the highest grosses of the year.
Have female friendships been important to you in your career?
Wow, I’m thinking back 45 or more years now, I’d say my earliest friendship was with Madeline Kahn. She saw me at the Improv one night and helped me get my first high-visibility [gig]. And, of course, I made a major friendship with my partner, Jane Wagner. The first thing we worked on together was my Edith Ann album.
I saw that you two finally got married after 42 years! Any wisdom you can share for making a relationship last that long?
Golly, I can only think that you have to come to terms with not being in a power struggle, as people in many relationships are.
You have a less harmonious relationship with Jane Fonda in your new Netflix series “Grace & Frankie” [set to release on May 8].
Right. In the show, she’s kind of uptight, very Republican and conservatively dressed. I’m a painter and very Bohemian and much more relaxed and easygoing.
I like you better already.
Our characters have been thrown together, because our husbands [played by Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston] are partners in a law firm, but we’ve never really gotten along. Then one night, the guys take us to dinner and announce that the two of them have secretly been having an affair for 20 years. They’re going to divorce us—and marry each other.
I can’t wait. So is it truth, rumor or fantasy that Dolly Parton might join you two for an episode?
Jane and I would like that. We don’t know whether Dolly should play herself, like she finds us backstage at a concert and we all become friends—or maybe she’ll work at a beauty shop and give us makeovers.
What if she performs the wedding when your ex-husbands get married? [laughs]
Yes, they could be obsessed Dolly Parton fans! Perfect.
I’m familiar with [co-creator] Marta Kauffman’s work from “Friends.” Does this show have a similar tone?
Maybe somewhat similar, but there are episodes that have more drama since we’re in a pretty dramatic situation. Seems like a scenario wrought with humor but also heartache. Yes. In fact, one of the last words I say in the first episode is “heartbroken.”
Being a Netflix show, I’m guessing we can expect some edge, too?
Definitely. It’s so fun for Jane and I to have a new series at this age—and to explore how these women rebuild their lives, find out what’s still viable and embrace what’s in store for them. We really want to honor the situation and keep asking, “Are we getting close enough to the bone?”
Of course, you’ve been doing groundbreaking work since the early days. I’ve read about your 1973 “Lily” special on CBS where you and Richard Pryor performed the “Juke and Opal” skit. Apparently, it blew people’s minds and was never shown on TV again. So what was all the hubbub about a kiss?
At the end of my specials, I used to thank all my guests with a kiss. Well, on the day of the show, the network sent down word for me not to kiss Richard.
[groan] I hate that. But you did it anyway?
I did. Of course! How embarrassing for them, right? I was really mad; it was just insane.
It’s interesting how perceptions of what’s “shocking” change over time. What did it feel like to do something so controversial back then? Lots of your work must have taken courage.
Sure. But in some ways it didn’t even feel like a choice. Certain things just seemed correct, inevitable. I just so believed in my sensibility—the way I saw the world—and my sensibility just happened to be a little ahead [of some other people’s] at the time. I didn’t see any other option but to stay true to myself.
Plus, you kept people laughing the whole time.
Yes, that’s the best part!
See Lily Tomlin at “Night of the Stars” at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation on Thursday, May 7, at 8 p.m. Tickets, $65-$200. bhcong.org
In 2013, in his grandfather’s workshop in Annapolis, Andrew Guthrie, now 24, was about to push a wooden board across a planer, a machine with two exposed blades on top that flattens the wood’s surface. The board would become part of a desk that he was building, his third woodworking project. But when Guthrie began to guide the board through the machine, he says, “my hand was too close to the blade.” It shaved off his middle finger, ring finger and pinkie finger on his right hand, the hand he writes with. In pictures, it looks like an ice cream scoop was dragged along the length of his fingers, digging up arteries, veins, bone, tendons and skin on the palm side but leaving the skin on the back of his hand somewhat intact. Despite the horrific nature of his injury, Guthrie says in the instant that it happened, he felt “absolutely no pain.”
By the time he was in the ambulance, however, the pain was so strong that even painkillers weren’t much help. When he arrived at Union Memorial Hospital’s Curtis National Hand Center (CNHC), a medical fellow looked at his hand and said he was likely to have his three fingers amputated. “I was prepared to accept this,” Guthrie says. Because of the capabilities of modern medicine, though, Guthrie has 10 fingers today, and miracles like these are happening at hospitals across the Baltimore region.
In Guthrie’s case, he made an extraordinary recovery, but the type of procedure he had done—known as a toe-to-finger or toe-to-thumb transfer—is not new. It’s a treatment that is often available at specialty centers like CNHC, and is most commonly an option for patients who have amputated thumbs. For Guthrie, Dr. Ryan Katz, along with Dr. James Higgins, chief of CNHC, took tissues from two toes to reconstruct his middle and small fingers. (They covered his ring finger with a skin graft-type product.) “The toes have everything that the fingers have,” Katz says. “We [could] basically provide all the tissues that [Guthrie] lost by going to his feet.” Known as a “flap,” this procedure involves transferring tissues that come with their own blood supply from one site to another. (This is different from a graft, such as the bone graft that was done on Guthrie’s ring finger, which does not come with a blood supply.) During surgery, Katz and Higgins detached Guthrie’s second toe from each foot, leaving at least one artery and one vein protruding from each toe. Using a microscope, micro-instruments with fine tips and sutures that are “thinner than a human hair,” Katz says, they sewed the artery from the toe onto an artery from the hand, and a vein from the toe onto a vein from the hand. When the surgeons released the clamps that held everything together, the new fingers “turned pink immediately, and [they were] alive from that point on,” Katz says. Compared to a graft, “the bone will heal faster; the nerves will start feeling.”
Today, Guthrie, a Ph.D. student in computer science at Stony Brook University in New York, has even regained some range of motion in his two fingers: The middle finger can bend 90 degrees and the smaller finger can bend 10 to 15 degrees, both at the first joint. (His compromised toes, of course, will never function the same.)
Having resumed woodworking just four months after his surgery, Guthrie also finished his desk. It’s a beautiful, gleaming structure with a flattened hexagon top, and a base comprised of five panels with walnut trim, arches of cherry wood and molding everywhere, “even on the edges of the shelves,” Guthrie says with obvious pride.
Like Guthrie’s love for woodworking, Mekhi Ferguson, 13, has a passion, too: “I love airplanes so much,” he says of the interest born from the yearly trips he takes to Chicago to visit family with his great-aunt Priscilla Giles, his caregiver here in Baltimore. (Mekhi’s mother died when he was 6.) He wants to own a large airport someday.
It’s a big dream, especially for a kid who has faced many medical challenges throughout this life. Part of the 0.5 percent of children in the U.S. who are considered “medically complex,” according to the Children’s Hospital Association, Mekhi was diagnosed with diabetic embryopathy at birth. This condition affects babies whose mothers have severe diabetes, as his did. He had a cleft palate and a skull that fused too early, and he still has arthrogryposis, or frozen joints, meaning that he cannot bend his left knee.
Providers have opened up his skull so his brain could grow and performed around 20 surgeries, four of which required year-long inpatient rehabilitation stints at Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital (MWPH). Today, Mekhi, who has written a book about his experiences at MWPH that he hopes to self-publish, still walks with two Lofstrand crutches and has to sit on the edge of chairs because he is not able to keep his balance when bending his hips.
Children like Mekhi can face longer hospital stays and an increased risk of medical errors because so many specialists are involved in their care. But Mekhi’s providers have always worked together to coordinate his treatment plan. He goes to MWPH on Fridays, for example, for physical and psychological therapy. His two providers, Sonya Johnson-Branch, physical therapist, and Dr. Bradley Schwimmer, pediatric psychologist, coordinate their schedules so they can see Mekhi back-to-back and “make things easier on the family,” Johnson-Branch says. “If he has a bad therapy session, we can [also] meet and talk about how to get over a barrier he is facing.”
More recently, Mekhi has mainly needed orthopedic surgery, so his orthopedic doctors, physical therapists and teachers from his public school have worked together to make sure he has appropriate therapy afterward. “I’ll call his gym teacher, and we’ll talk a lot about the equipment he uses,” Johnson-Branch says. Then “we all meet Mekhi’s needs.”
Mekhi loves school, where he is the “fun guy,” says Dr. Virginia Keane, his pediatrician since birth. “When you see him, [he looks] like this little old man. He walks with a cane; he’s bent at the hips. [But] he’s got this incredibly
wonderful spirit, this can-do attitude. He wants to be the best he can be.”
Providers say the same thing about Jimmy Poleto, now 30, who was hit by a drunken driver in an SUV while riding his motorcycle on Harford Road around 1:45 a.m. in the summer of 2012. “He always had a lively spirit, even through his recovery,” says Alexis Lucas, a certified brain injury specialist and his occupational therapist at Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital, one of the LifeBridge Health Centers. “He was a go-getter before the accident, and he never lost that.”
Diagnosed with a slew of injuries—traumatic brain injury, an open book pelvis break, a shattered femur and kneecap, a broken tibia, a lacerated liver, broken fingers and more—Poleto was given a 3 percent chance of survival. He was in a coma for 96 days. Then, one Tuesday, his wife Kathryn noticed that he was nodding as she talked. He couldn’t speak, but “I knew he was awake,” she says.
Poleto stayed in the hospital for the next few months. “He was basically starting over,” Kathryn says. “He had to learn to feed himself; he had to learn to dress himself; he had to learn to go to the bathroom.” Poleto credits Lucas, his therapist,
for getting him to where he is today. Through daily, intense therapy sessions, the two developed a lighthearted, almost comedic, rapport. When Poleto started using a computer to type, for example, Lucas asked him what he thought of her and the other therapists. “He definitely typed a bad word,” she says, laughing. When he had to do range of motion stretching for his tight muscles—“which he couldn’t stand,” Lucas says—she made deals with him, such as offering to let him hit her after the stretching.
“He was like, ‘Deal. Let’s do it,’” Lucas says. At the time, “I’m more dying of laughter than anything else. He was trying to hit with such force, but it felt like when kids hit you: It doesn’t hurt at all.”
Poleto left Levindale in December of 2012 to go home. Then, in November of 2014, he moved into a VA hospital in Richmond, Va., where he is learning to be completely independent. As of February, he was still working on his speech—“Sometimes his mouth can’t coordinate fast enough to how his brain is working,” Lucas says—but his sister had raised more than $12,000 on GoFundMe, a crowdfunding website, for him to enroll in intensive speech and occupational therapy programs.
On the phone from the hospital, Poleto, who speaks slowly and carefully, says that Lucas is a “very caring person.” Later, he sends a text: “Alexis was more than good,” he writes. “She’s like a sister.”
As lead singer of the ’90s tribute band Rollerblades, Jim Dickinson, 35, has made a less dramatic but still significant recovery. Last spring, after a busy week, “I was losing the falsetto in my voice,” says Dickinson, who at the time played 35 to 40 shows a year on weekends and led leadership trainings during the week. “It was feeling like it was cracking, feeling fatigued. By the end of the second gig, I was really having a lot of trouble hitting the high notes.”
About 30 percent of people will suffer from a voice disorder at some point in their lives; for people like Dickinson—singers, trainers, teachers—that number leaps to 60 percent. A voice disorder or dysphonia could be characterized by roughness or changes in pitch; it could also mean a person is working harder to use their voice, says Dr. Lee Akst, director of the Johns Hopkins Voice Center, which has four locations.
Last year, the Hopkins Voice Center at Greater Baltimore Medical Center unveiled a new treatment space for people with voice disorders: The Fender Music & Voice Studio, the only space of its kind in any of the Johns Hopkins Voice Centers. The studio is stocked with guitars, a piano and other instruments, making it “great for musicians with performing voice complaints because we can allow them to perform as part of their therapy session,” Akst says. “It feels like a little bit of a rehearsal studio or a music room they may have in their own house.”
After Dickinson was diagnosed with a hemorrhage, or ruptured blood vessel, on his vocal fold and a polyp, or bump, on his vocal cord, he had about six voice therapy sessions in the new studio space. Dickinson sang while his voice therapist played scales on the piano, and she gave him tips about how to improve his posture and relax his muscles so he could decrease the wear and tear on his voice. “I would also pick up a guitar and run through some songs because it’s a really different experience to sing properly while you’re also playing an instrument,” he says.
Through the sessions, Dickinson’s voice healed. Though he did lose his voice again last fall after playing an extra long gig, “I kept from doing any real damage, probably because of the techniques I learned [at the center]. I took it easy for a couple of days and was able to sing again the next weekend.”
Adolf Levi, 83, of New York City. Diagnosed with Usher syndrome, an inherited condition characterized by deafness and blindness, Levi has been deaf since he was a young boy; later in life, his vision began fading as well. Known as retinitis pigmentosa, this visual defect causes the eyes’ photoreceptors or cells to gradually lose the ability to detect light. “There’s a tunnel vision effect,” says Dr. James Handa, the Robert Bond Welch Professor of Opthalmology at Johns Hopkins Hospital. “There’s first loss of peripheral vision and then it closes down on the central vision.”
When Levi lost his vision completely, “he felt like his life was being taken away from him,” says his daughter Judy Mazon. He couldn’t drive anymore or go outside alone. He couldn’t use sign language on his own; instead, his family had to bend his fingers into the signs they wanted to communicate to him. “He was very depressed and all he wanted was to see again.”
In the last couple of decades, a new treatment option has emerged, for retinitis pigmentosa: the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis Device, or the bionic eye, an implant that allows patients to see moving shadows and spots of light by electronically stimulating the secondary cells that still remain in the eye after the photoreceptor cells have degenerated. In December of 2014, Levi became the first patient at Hopkins to receive the bionic eye following the FDA’s approval of the device in 2013.
The actual device isn’t really an eye at all, but a chip that is surgically implanted into the eye. To do this, Handa makes an incision in the sclera, the white of the eye, then places the chip over the macula, “the sweet spot of the eye” in the center of the retina, and secures it with a tack. Underneath the device are 60 electrodes that touch the retina. “Those 60 electrodes make an image that the patient perceives,” he says. The device also includes a pair of glasses with a video camera, and a box or a computer—patients clip this on—that captures the images and converts them into nerve impulses that the brain and the eye can understand.
“[Patients] have to scan their head so the camera goes across the image, and then they interpret what they see,” says Dr. Gislin Dagnelie, associate director of the Lions Vision Research and Rehabilitation Center at Hopkins. But “it takes a long time for them to learn exactly what they are looking at.”
A computer or cellphone would be comprised of around 1 million dots of light, but Levi is only able to see 60 dots in a 6-by-10 rectangle, about the size of a small letter. “It’s like learning to see all over again with a very limited amount of vision,” Dagnelie adds.
Three months after his surgery, this has been Levi’s experience. “He’s not sure what he’s looking at, so he’s upset about that,” Mazon says, adding that Levi practices getting used to his new vision by studying white shapes on a black magnetic board he got from Hopkins. Soon, the hospital also will set him up with a vision rehabilitation therapist. Still, “he expected to see more and understand more,” Mazon adds. “But he’s trying so hard. It’s a learning process.”
But once patients have adjusted to the eye, which can take three to six months, it can have a profound impact on a patient’s quality of life. Handa tells stories of a man who was able to see Christmas lights for the first time in more than 25 years and a woman who could finally marvel at the moonlight bouncing off waves.
Levi had his own profound reaction about two weeks after his surgery, when he went back to Hopkins for a follow- up. The team tested the 60 electrodes in his implant, programmed his computer with the correct currents for each electrode and turned on the camera for the first time.
“As they were flashing lights, he could see those lights,” Mazon says. “It was amazing. He was tapping my hand [as if to say], ‘Yeah, I can see.’”
Artist/chef Irena Stein is set to open Alma, her Latin American tapas restaurant serving comfy street food and artisanal drinks at the Can Company, in April. Stein, 61, the striking visionary behind all-natural Café Azafrán at the Space Telescope Science Institute—one of Baltimore’s best kept secrets—and Alkimia, a second locally sourced lunch spot on the Hopkins Homewood campus, was born in Venezuela. The daughter of a Polish father and Venezuelan mother, Stein grew up in Caracas and Brussels, both of which influence her diverse recipes.
You morphed from social worker to jewelry designer to chef—how did that evolution occur? I found myself in a very fragile situation economically after Sept. 11, and everyone encouraged me to open a place where people could enjoy my food. Eventually, friends started spreading the word that I was a caterer (I was not; I just adored cooking), and a number of clients started asking me to cater their parties. I said yes.
What sparked your passion for organic, locally grown food? I grew up in countries where buying local is normal because people cook seasonally and go to markets to buy fresh food. My mother cooked like that, so I never knew anything else. Never packaged, never canned. But it was not just our family. Most people followed a lifestyle that included pretty much a Mediterranean type diet—very balanced.
How did you choose the name Alma? Alma is a very beautiful name that represents the soul and the heart. This is a place where I can share everything I believe creates comfort and delight for the community. The menu will highlight Venezuelan and Latin American cuisine. It will include the famous and beloved arepas (crispy corn patties), empanadas, ceviches, stews and fish and meat dishes of the vast surrounding region. We have chosen to cook those popular foods with a contemporary approach.
Tell me about your duo chef team at Alma. I have the enormous good fortune to have two Venezuelan chefs with exceptional, award-winning careers: Enrique Limardo and Federico Tischler. Both have trained in the culinary schools in Spain, have worked in several Michelin-starred restaurants and have had rich careers in our home country as well. Together we will introduce a whole repertoire of flavors entirely new to Baltimore.
At Azafrán and Alkimia, you serve lots of scholars. Who do you envision as your clientele at Alma? Canton is a very diverse population in age and professions. We hope to seduce everyone with our full-flavor small plates and our bar.
Do you see a connection between your art and your cooking? Yes! Food is the biggest privilege in life, and the ingredients are beautiful. When you share it with your community, it is a pretty fantastic experience.
Photographed by David Stuck
Support for Victims of Sexual Assault.
Funded by Mercy Medical Center’s Forensic Nursing Program, bMOREsafe, a GPS-enabled smartphone app, helps victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. The app is organized as a list of questions—“What if I have been forced to have sex?” for example—that link to resources, including an explanation of what will happen during an exam. It also explains that Maryland is a blind reporting state. “People assume that hospitals are automatically going to call the police,” says Debra Holbrook, a forensic nurse and the app’s co-creator. “But no one will know about [the assault] until someone wants to report it.” As of February, bMOREsafe had been downloaded more than 60,000 times worldwide. —Jennifer Walker
Telemedicine Sweeps the State.
At the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, doctors and critical care nurses use telemedicine—i.e., computers and accompanying equipment—to remotely monitor patients’ test results, X-rays, vital signs and more in ICUs at 11 rural Maryland hospitals, including Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin and Union Hospital in Elkton. The program has been shown to decrease patients’ complications and reduce their hospital stay. Providers at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital also give remote consultations to sick kids at five Howard County schools, while Sheppard Pratt Health System’s telepsychiatry program provides 66 hours of mental health services weekly to children, adolescents and adults. —J.W.
Catching Lung Cancer Early.
Early diagnosis of lung cancer, which represents 28 percent of cancer deaths, has been shown to reduce mortality rates by nearly 30 percent. So Saint Agnes Hospital uses early detection technology to locate nodules on the lungs that were previously difficult to biopsy because they could only be reached with more aggressive surgical techniques. Called Electromagnetic Navigation Bronchoscopy, the technology “is akin to a GPS for your car,” says Dr. Kala Davis-McDonald, chief of pulmonary medicine. “It generates a path through the airways to get to a particular nodule so we can do a biopsy.” Saint Agnes performs about 40 early detection procedures each year. —J.W.
Hope for Hep C.
It’s the most common blood-borne viral infection in the country, but around 75 percent of the more than 4 million people affected by the liver-damaging Hepatitis C—the majority being baby boomers—have no idea they have it. Past treatment involved injections of an immune stimulant, Interferon, which came with nasty side effects like severe anemia. Thankfully, research by physicians, including Mercy’s Dr. Paul Thuluvath, Dr. Hwan Y. Yoo and Dr. Anurag Maheshwari, has led to the development of a new class of Interferon-free drugs with very few side effects and a 95 percent cure rate—as long as patients take one pill a day for three months. All the more reason to screen today. —Ian Zelaya
Help for a Baby Born 17 Weeks Early.
Born at 23 weeks gestation and weighing 1 pound, 6 ounces—the size of a Coke can—baby Camilla would never have survived 20 years ago, says Dr. Carolyn Moloney, a neonatologist at Saint Agnes. Spending a total of four mouths in the NICU, Camilla was on a high-frequency ventilator for the first three weeks of her life. IV lines in her umbilical cord supplied her with nutrition, hydration and medication. She was placed in a special isolette to maintain her body temperature and humidity. Despite this, Camilla, who will be 4 in September, has no physical or developmental disabilities today. “That’s Camilla’s miracle,” says her mom, Shanna Evering. —J.W.
CEO and co-founder of 410 Labs, TEDx curator, and recipient of the world’s best text message: “Dave Troy lassos stork” (when his wife informed him she was pregnant).
Will technology save or ruin our civilization? The fact that Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey has been named by ISIS as a target suggests that these tools are very powerful. I think we’re just starting to get a sense for how [impactful] technology will be in reshaping society. I’m optimistic about the future. Favorite app: Hotel Tonight. Being able to get a room in Manhattan on a moment’s notice is really freeing.
Program Manager at DreamIt Health, foodie, fashionista, political nerd, startup advocate.
How do you chill out? Once a month I go digital-free: no Twitter, no TV, no laptop. These offline weekends allow me to mentally recharge without interruption. I get reacquainted with my non-tech loves like painting, reading and biking. Fave tech feature: The “Undo Send” option in Gmail. Social media mantra: Don’t feed the trolls. Social media is a great communication platform, but for the sake of your own sanity sometimes it’s best just not to respond to comment bait.
CEO and founder of Groove Commerce, who cringes when adults use text slang and combats tech exhaustion by traveling to beaches where English isn’t the first language spoken.
Advice for managing phone addiction: I think hypnosis may be the only answer. Techie pet peeve: A salesperson not respecting my “Out of Office” message during my wedding, then calling my cell that same day. Clearly, he didn’t get the sale. Example of whether technology is good vs. evil. The poo emoji. Why did they put that power in front of me?
Community and Program Manager at ETC Baltimore and Loyola University alum.
Productivity survival tip: If it’s something you can do in under three minutes, like respond to an email with prepped materials or send a tweet, do it while it’s in front of you. That will cut down on some of the backlog through the day. I also love to schedule out. I will spend 30 to 40 minutes a day getting posts ready to deploy. Favorite app: Bodeefit! It gives you short, intense work- outs you can do anywhere, just using your body weight. They’re always a challenge.
When Margaret Wright, her mathematician husband Tim, and their three children moved to their 1910 Dutch Colonial house in Roland Park in 1965 she says, “There was one border in the back and bright, screaming red azaleas around the foundation.” A lot has changed in 50 years on the one-eighth acre around their spacious duplex.
The house facing Stony Run and the trail that follows the old Ma and Pa (Maryland and Pennsylvania) rail bed has a decidedly country ambiance. In the family’s early days there, it felt even more rustic. “The park was wild then, more trees and vines,” Wright says. “The kids fell in the stream once a day for 15 years. We used manure from a horse down the street in the garden.”
Wright started her garden in the backyard with no plan. She dug and planted favorite plants like hellebores transplanted from her family’s home in upstate New York. Little did she know that one day she’d have a prized hellebore collection that
includes many unusual varieties and some grown from seed.
In the mid-1970s, the family spent a year in Cambridge, England—a trip that would inspire fond memories…and plant the seed for a major garden transformation. “We rented a house with a big back garden, and that’s when the bug bit,” says Wright.
After returning to Baltimore, she called Kurt Bluemel, a young, rising-star designer and plantsman, who by the time of his death in 2014 was nationally renowned for his naturalistic use of grasses and perennials.
“I asked him to come make my backyard more interesting,” Wright says.
In 1976, Bluemel set about transforming the hardscape so Wright could begin the next stage of gardening on good “bones.” He moved the bike shed and back patio, outlined a curvaceous side garden, moved some trees and installed boulders in the back (a novel idea at the time). He sited a natural-looking pond and fountain in a spot that connected the side and back gardens. A neighbor’s mature oak tree continued to make it a shade garden, but Bluemel opened up the space, created movement and a graceful sweep around the house.
“The pond is still the main focus,” says Wright, who adds that Blumel also installed fine plants like long-stalk holly, sweet bay magnolia, autumn blooming camellias and a white crape myrtle, which was new back then. All still thrive today.
These plants set a benchmark for Wright’s intensifying passion. She joined the Horticultural Society of Maryland, where she learned from lectures, other gardeners and gardens. “We traveled so much with Tim, because of his work, so I started visiting nurseries and gardens during the days when he was at work.”
In the late 1980s, in an effort to reduce the lawn and grow more plants on the sunny front of the house, Wright and Andreas Grothe of New World Gardens, Inc., turned half of the front yard into a garden. This time she created more beds and a feeling of space with a winding flagstone path that connects in two places to the front sidewalk. Grothe also added a low drystone wall and more boulders to unify the front and back gardens.
Then, after her husband’s 1991 sabbatical in Oxford, England, the couple returned and built a family room/kitchen addition overlooking the back garden—bringing more of the “outside” into their home.
By then Wright’s plant knowledge and expertise had expanded to the point that she started her own garden design business called Great Gardens. “I’m interested in how plants grow and the different environments they like, so I advised clients on what sorts of plants would grow best in various locations.”
Although her plant collections are many, they do not look jumbled but like an artistic mosaic. They weave through the gardens and range from many varieties of cyclamen, epimediums, ferns, hellebores and species peonies to ephemerals like unusual wood poppies and mayapples. She also adds in numerous native, drought-tolerant, bird- and bee-attracting plants, plus many unusual bulbs, including some fellow plant-collecting neighbor, Tanya Jones, has given her.
“Tanya has taught me so much about amending the soil,” says Wright, whose focus is finding just the right spot to tuck an addition to an ever-growing collection.
With plants she can no longer use, Wright plants up a green strip by the Stony Run Trail. “With permission of the city years ago, I started planting what I needed to delete,” she says. She also pots up extra plants and sets them on the berm for others to take.
Fully planted gardens keep Wright’s maintenance down and lawn mowing to about 10 minutes. Her biggest challenge is: “Fitting in more plants. That’s why I’ve become very interested in small plants.” And instead of planting in groups of three, five or seven plants, as many gardeners do? “I plant in drifts of one,” she says, borrowing a phrase from esteemed North Carolina nurseryman Tony Avent.
“I see spirituality in your eyes.” That observation from Sunlight & Yoga owner Changa Bell lit a fire in me when we met at a Lululemon goal-setting party. I committed to trying yoga one more time—in hopes of reducing stress and feeding my soul. This time, it clicked. For three months, my friend Jen and I have taken Changa’s playful House Yoga class, which starts with a meditation then transitions into challenging poses set to funky music. We’ve gotten over the “ick” factor of touching other humans (read: planking on a stranger’s back) and just mastered headstands. (OK, Jen did.) The small, friendly Woodberry studio is ideal for folks seeking individual attention and authentic inspiration. Changa has seen some darkness in his life, but for his lucky students, the filmmaker-turned-yogi is a ray of light. sunlightandyoga.com
When designer Lauren M. Levine was asked to set the stage for a Silo Point model home overlooking the water in Locust Point, the sales director urged her to go big with color. No problem for the young designer, who gravitates toward bright, happy hues in her own home and many client projects.
The dining/living space’s dramatic centerpiece is the watermelon-red acrylic table, an element that anchors the open floor plan with a sense of Matisse-ian aplomb, but which might be scary for the civilian decorator to commit to. What does Levine recommend for such staging stage fright?
“Go with your gut,” Levine says. “If you see a piece in a bold color, and it scares you, just do it anyway. If you’re not ready for a pink table, then pillows, accessories, framed posters and paint are great options. Paint is the most inexpensive way to bring color into the house. And you can fix it if you don’t like it—it’s just paint.”
What else was critical in bringing life (and cohesion) to the chic, industrial space?
“Flow,” says Levine, pointing out the way the sleek, smooth surfaces echo each other—countering the effect of the rough natural rug—and the pop of pink in the pillows on the couch subtly refers back to the dining table. “Colors and textures should be carried through, though not necessarily shouted in your face.”
Lauren M. Levine Interiors
Couch, Dining Table and Chairs:
Home on the Harbor
Phina’s for the Home
Metal sculptures by Michael Enn Sirvet; paintings by Todd Gardner; cutouts by Sherill Anne Gross.
Some of the best aspects of modern living are simple innovations on a classic. Your grandmother’s armchair reupholstered to match your décor, an antique suitcase reimagined into a side table. Cocktails have a similar life cycle. Here’s an update on your dad’s Blood and Sand cocktail, named after Rudolph Valentino’s 1922 bullfighter film by the same name.
Blood & Sand
¾ oz Sailor Jerry rum
¾ oz Combier rouge cherry liqueur
¾ oz sweet vermouth
¾ oz fresh-squeezed orange juice
Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake well for 10 seconds, then strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice and garnish with an orange zest.
Are you the type who tidies up before the maid arrives? (I can relate. Not that I’m saying I have a maid.) Or are you embarrassed to admit you employ a helper at home? Or maybe you’re undeniably drowning in dirt, but don’t know where to start—or whether having a maid even works for your personality, lifestyle and worldview. If so, keep reading.
There’s no denying the word maid is loaded—with baggage emotional and societal, even historic. Especially in 2015, when many of us middle- and upper-middle-classers are striving to be evolved and egalitarian, or at least look that way. Let’s face it—or Facebook it—we’re also trying to look camera-ready.
“We treat having a housekeeper like a luxury, but for many families it’s kind of a necessity,” says Baltimore-based therapist Luna Hammond. “Everyone’s supposed to work and have kids and have houses that look like Pinterest. But it’s impossible to do everything.”
Maid is, of course, an oft-used but quite old-fashioned term for housekeeper, derived from maiden, a word first used in the 13th century to denote a young woman of virginal, unmarried status. These “clean” young women, some of them anyway, became the earliest housecleaners and ladies’ attendants. (What else to do whilst waiting around for the dude on a bright white steed?)
“Maid sounds to my ear like someone who’s expected to wear a uniform!” an anonymous homeowner in Guilford tells me. (She also admits to cleaning ahead of her cleaner.)
“Maid gives me ‘Entitled White Lady’ hives,” says a friend in San Antonio, Rachel Doyle, who has used the same independent housekeeper for eight years.
Yes, the housecleaning trade is alive and well—more robustly in the last few years—if not more elegant and politically correct in its terminology. (Until I began this article, I didn’t refrain from using maid, common speak in my native South and by my friends in Baltimore.)
“Thirty-five years ago, dual incomes became the thing,” says Debra Johnson, home cleaning expert for Merry Maids, a national corporation based in Memphis, who started as a housekeeper for the company 17 years ago. “Now it’s pretty standard [to have a cleaning person]. People are house-proud. Part of protecting that investment is having a clean and healthy home.”
Given all of the cringing around the m-word, our psychological baggage seems pretty standard, too, when we hire a cleaner.
“We do have real baggage from the ’50s and ’60s on this topic,” Hammond says. “There’s a race issue and a class issue. Then there’s: Am I spoiled? These overlap. There’s something about having a corporation come in that feels distant—and establishes a boundary. But still we want to be nurtured. And that in itself is emotional. Your house is your personal space.”
A busy co-worker of mine recently started using the newish corporate service Handy to clean her apartment.
An online company founded in New York in 2011 by two brainy 30-something buddies, Handy employs a roster of freelance staffers. My friend loved the idea of a rotating cast of (hopefully qualified) characters coming in, so she didn’t have to worry about creating a personal relationship with one maid—which she feared could lead to a sense of obligation, engage her tendency to over-tip or end up taking more time. What she got was a mixed bag.
“I found that some of the women were working for Handy temporarily while they looked for other jobs, so I got my heart broken when a few professionals I loved ended up breaking up with me,” says my colleague, noting that she’s also had a few maids come in who weren’t up to snuff. “One woman showed up acting like Crazy Eyes from ‘Orange Is the New Black’ and did a horrible job, but the company happily reimbursed me. But the next time, an amazing woman showed up. She took out the recycling, made my bed [without my asking], left a thank-you note on my pillow and even color-coordinated my magazines on the coffee table. It was so great to have someone take such special care of me. I immediately sent her a text saying she’d made a huge difference in my life.”
After I gave birth to twins last June, I felt overwhelmed and hired a housecleaner for the first time. My husband and I make an effort to clear tables and countertops so that our cleaners, Fiorela Belteton (referred by a good friend) and her revolving assistant, can work more effectively, but beyond that we don’t have time to help her much nor energy to worry. As Belteton leaves I do find myself shoving a protein bar in her hand —“You’ll need extra fuel!” I enunciate awkwardly because her first language is Spanish.
I always vowed I’d hire a self-employed housecleaner if I hired anyone. And I simply assumed that cleaners employed by a corporate agency were being exploited. Belteton, 40, an independent, hires one female employee at a time to assist her as she cleans houses in the Baltimore area. As two, they can tackle more territory in less time and earn more.
While I take comfort in knowing that Belteton will keep—and pay her assistant from—my biweekly check, without a middleman, I’m also distantly aware that I’m sacrificing any sort of insurance coverage for property damage, theft or injury by opting for an independent. I don’t care—I trust Fiorela. But for those, like my colleague, who prefer a more distant relationship with their housecleaner—plus, the guarantee of bonded employees—the mainstream corporate service option may not be as grim as I presumed on the pay-scale front.
Merry Maids, which is franchised, sends a sales rep to assess cost per household size and personal homeowner’s needs. Once the pricing is set, the service assigns a trained and vetted cleaner. Products are provided to the cleaner; eco-friendly options are available upon request. While the corporation won’t share payment details, Johnson says, “The cleaners wouldn’t come back if they didn’t enjoy it, and if it’s not meeting financial needs. At Merry Maids, we give vacation pay and holiday pay.” Certain Merry Maids employees even receive health insurance depending on the market and the given franchise, she says.
These details sound sunny—and make me think I might possibly opt for corporate someday. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, in 2013, housekeepers earned a median salary of $19,780—or roughly $9.51 per hour. The highest paid earned about $31,900, while the lowest earned less than $17,000. Too low for comfort in either case. But do any off-the-books independent cleaners fare better?
I pay Belteton $80 every two weeks for one 90-minute cleaning session, plus modest tips at holidays. She cleans the bathroom and kitchen thoroughly and vacuums every room of our two-bedroom rowhouse. (One week, I asked her rather apologetically to wipe off the microwave, and she has added the service.) Anything beyond these basics will cost extra. She brings her own products about which I’ve never inquired. She must make pretty good money provided she stays busy with houses, but I have wondered about her helper’s earnings. Belteton told me that she pays her assistant $400-$500 weekly, a sum that she grants would be somewhat tough to live on. (Not as low as Moppin’ Mommas, a well-respected small local cleaning company started in Baltimore in 1990, which pays cleaners between $60 and $80 daily, according to co-owner Raylene Wase.) When I did the math, I saw that Belteton, if she can book a full-time load, is earning about double her assistant’s wage, or $1,000 weekly. Not exorbitant by any stretch—but livable, lots better than 30K, the high reported figure from the BLS. If only her hire fared more happily in this equation.
“The Maids [another national franchise group] are paid hourly—no nights; no weekends,” says Wayne Phillips, a Baltimore-based franchise owner since 2002, when I ask about the appeal of a maid career at this point in time. “The alternative could be restaurants and retail—but most of our employees are family people.” He says that each franchisee follows a pricing/payment system handed down from corporate, but on average the typical Baltimore housecleaning costs $157 per session—the highest tag I’ve come across. The Omaha-based company was founded in 1979, the same year as Merry Maids. (If the slightly pricier rate didn’t stop me, Phillips’ strict reluctance to disclose his own franchise’s workers’ wages might prevent me from using this service myself.)
Handy pays its cleaners between $15 and $17 hourly, and they were perfectly comfortable telling me so. While all workers are freelance—and submit a 1099, earning no outside benefits—the flexi-bility is there. So is an earning potential greater than others. Maybe you’ve spied Handy on Facebook, where they’ve recently offered a $29 first-time cleaning offer. After that, the rate climbs, but most cleanings cost between $55 and $70 on average. Handy wants to be a cleaning service for a newish millennium—like Uber for cleaning, as they themselves note. They also employ men and women cleaners, as do all the other corporate services I spoke to. (I’m guessing no men work for Topless Maids—maybe you’ve spotted their highly “visual” vans downtown recently?—but I didn’t call to ask.)
Buffy Buchanan, 25, who has a 4-year-old daughter, became a freelance cleaner for Handy after working in Baltimore as an independent maid. She works a second job at a bakery part-time and appreciates that Handy will assign her work whenever she’s free to take it. (Clients book online, pay online and request repeat service or different maids online as well. Handy’s “professionals”—that’s what they call them—also are background -checked online, then interviewed and given a corporate orientation all via telephone.)
“The more houses you do, it goes up,” Buchanan says. “Every 28 days, they rate you. After the first 10 houses, if you get a good rating, you go into another bracket. If you clean 25 houses in 28 days, you can go up to $22 an hour.” (Buchanan is expected to buy her own cleaning products after Handy provides her first-time kit.) Twenty-two an hour isn’t too shabby. But Buchanan, who says she’s enjoyed cleaning since childhood, finds that her clients do sometimes strike her as feeling guilty.
“I went into a customer’s home, for example, and when I was cleaning, he was cleaning. Some people just feel bad. It’s not a burden for me. It’s like going to the doctor—look at me as a service.”
Brian Pelisek, 51, who has employed various cleaners from White Marsh-based Total Maid Services for nine years, says he has never felt guilty for having someone come in to clean his 900-square-foot house (he pays $65 per visit, the lowest rate I’ve come across). Nor does he clean ahead of the appointment.
“They wipe down every surface, cabinets, countertops, furniture and shelves,” Pelisek says. “They clean the microwave, sinks, toilets and bathtub. They vacuum and scrub bare floors by hand. They clean ceiling fans and change bed linens. Usually it’s the same three or four people. There’s no interaction beyond cleaning.”
Many more of us don’t find the experience so, well, emotionally neat.
“I think it had been instilled in me by my parents that you don’t hire someone to do something that you can do,” says Steven Hanna, 40, a Los Angelino who rehired his former Merry Maid, Ana, on an independent basis after the local franchise shuttered. He pays $160 per single monthly visit. (He admits to straightening his “slob” space before Ana arrives, which he calls an extra advantage.)
Maybe the ongoing emotionality is the price we’ll always have to pay—in addition to the hourly rate—for getting ourselves spic and span. On my end, if I arm myself nerdily with data on fair wages—and stick around for the appointment and express my gratitude—I’m more OK with the process. If my current pro Belteton ever finds greener (if not cleaner) pastures, I’d feel perfectly good about trying my luck with Handy now that I know their competitive hourly pay rates. I like the idea that I can book a maid (shiver) at a moment’s notice and change employees with the click of a button (and no awkward apology). But I’d probably still insist the new hire take a protein bar on her way out.
I had made plans.
In early February, STYLE magazine asked me to embark on an experiment: Spend 48 hours, an entire weekend, totally disconnected—no Internet, no laptop, no phone, no texting, no television, no device of any kind with a backlit electronic display. What might I discover, the editor wondered, if a technology journalist spent a weekend not distracted by technology?
For reference, this is antithetical to how I live my life now. While I don’t have Facebook installed on my phone any more (gave that up a few years ago) and I don’t use Instagram, I am a freelance writer, so I’m constantly connected to my work and email either through my laptop or phone. I type words for remuneration. I bookend my days with Twitter. I carry my phone into the bathroom. What I’ve found over the last year is that I’ve become increasingly groggy, twitchy and agitated by small things. If a website doesn’t load quickly enough, for instance, I grab hold of my laptop screen and start shaking it. I fight with my devices, which would be a mildly humorous scene if not for the fact that I sometimes find myself verbally scolding inanimate objects.
Think about your own usage, for a moment. Do you Instagram your meals when you’re out with friends? Do you record video at concerts, taking in the performance behind a tiny screen? Do you swipe Tinder faces at the O’s game?(Yep…Nope…He’s Out!) Or maybe you spend more time taking pictures of your kids playing than actually playing with them?
Our inability to separate from our devices is only growing. Consider numbers mobile analytics firm Flurry released in March 2014. The average smartphone consumer opens up apps 10 times a day, but mobile “super users” open apps 16 to 60 times a day, and mobile addicts open apps at least 60 times a day. Worldwide, Flurry concluded, there are 440 million super users and 176 million mobile addicts—totals that grew 55 percent and 123 percent, respectively, over the course of one year. And these figures cut across age ranges. Teenagers, college students and middle-aged people between 35 and 54 are becoming more and more intimate with their Internet-connected phones.
Studies over the years have begun delving into the effects of this sort of technological devotion. A study published in February in the Academy of Management Journal found that people become more irritable if they answer emails after the workday is done. “People who were part of the study reported they became angry when they received a work email or text after they had gone home and that communication was negatively worded or required a lot of the person’s time,” said the study’s lead author Marcus Butts. An associate professor at the University of Texas at Arlington, Butts surveyed 341 working adults over a weeklong period and found—counter-intuitively, one would think—that “people who tried to separate work from their personal life experienced more work-life interference.”
Another study, this one published by the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing in 2013, indicated that college students who might be classified as addicted to the Internet display similar traits: neuroticism, psychoticism (being aloof, anti-social or even aggressive), and greater “life stress.” And new studies examining the effects of electronic device use on sleep demonstrate that lack of sleep induced by hours spent staring at tiny, illuminated screens is biological, not psychological, in nature: A paper published last December in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that participants who spent four hours before bed reading on an iPad took longer to fall asleep and slept less deeply, specifically because they
generated lower amounts of the hormone melatonin, the production of which increases in the evening and helps you nod off.
Companies are popping up all over the globe to offer respite from (and make money off of) our thumb-tapping, cyber-addicted ways. Camp Grounded in Mendocino, Calif., promises four days of digital detox and activities designed to pull adults away from their precious Internet: Yoga! Archery! Non-violent Communication! Creative writing…on a typewriter! All that and more, including sustainable/allergy-friendly meals, accommodations (read: bunk) and live music, can be yours for between $445 and $645, depending on when you book. You could buy three iPad Minis for that amount of money, which prompts the inevitable question: Why the hell don’t we just unplug from our devices?
Maybe it’s because we wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves.
So before I embarked on STYLE’s assignment, I planned out my weekend, trying to ensure that I wouldn’t succumb to the Internet. On Friday night I tucked my iPhone away on a bookshelf.
Saturday started out triumphantly enough: I awoke without my alarm, and during my scheduled 11 a.m. haircut, I drank a local microbrew as I boasted to my barber I was getting paid to not check email or my phone. When I returned home I did the laundry. I made it 75 more pages through a James K. Polk biography. Later that day it started snowing and, after several inches covered the sidewalk, I went outside to shovel. This is going well, I thought.
It’s cliché to say, but I really did feel as though a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. The world wasn’t as foggy as I had remembered it. And then I started getting anxious. I tried reading again, but couldn’t make it more than a couple of pages before I put the book down and impulsively reached for an iPhone that wasn’t there. Eventually I found myself lying on the couch, aimlessly, just staring at the ceiling.
This wasn’t the first time a journalist was dispatched to live Internet-free for any period of time and then write about the aftermath. In the last couple years, Paul Miller and David Roberts each spent a full year offline. (Miller, formerly of tech news website The Verge, in 2013; and Roberts, still a reporter for environmental news website Grist, in 2014.) The general premise in all these experiments is roughly the same—that by going off-line, one is more mindful of and connected to the actual world, not some digital parallel universe, and better off for it. By eschewing the immediacy of the Internet, we free ourselves from what researcher Linda Stone calls continuous partial attention: paying a little bit of attention to a variety of things without interruption. “I was never completely where I was, never entirely doing what I was doing,” wrote Roberts of his 24/7 online lifestyle—and yearlong disconnect—for Outside last November. “I always had one eye on the virtual world.”
“The thing about the Internet is you grab whatever you want whenever you want it, and that’s just not good for our monkey mind,” says Christopher Mims, the personal technology columnist for The Wall Street Journal. Mims, however, is the exception to the rule: He doesn’t have an Internet connection at his home in Bolton Hill, a consequence of living in a top-floor apartment cut into an old rowhouse where running wires for broadband access was complicated enough to the point of being impractical. He does have a wireless hot spot available, since he files columns over the weekend, plus a smartphone at his disposal. “But I’m still peering at this tiny screen and I feel like an idiot,” he says.
And there’s the rub. More and more I’ve come to feel increasingly stupid for being unable to break my habit of trying to be connected during every waking moment, an impulse that has thrown off my focus—on both work and life—innumerable times. Although I try to cut off my Internet consumption once the workday ends, there’s always one more email to answer, or one more tweet to read. For Christ’s sake, my phone follows me into the bedroom by default: It’s my alarm clock. (Wonder how many marriages suffer from that alone?)
I couldn’t even make it through a rather meager, limited experiment to live Internet-free for a weekend. Truth be told, I piddled around on Twitter late Friday afternoon, so I didn’t finish a weekly tech column I publish for Philadelphia City Paper every Monday, and so I had to get online Sunday afternoon. Guess I didn’t fully prepare for this experiment after all.
The previous night, however, determined to thrust myself into a public setting without an iPhone as a companion, I walked to a nearby restaurant for dinner. I found a stool at the center of the bar, ordered a stout and a cheeseburger, and sat there alone. I felt weird and friendless, as if losing the opportunity to check Twitter was keeping me away from a joke, or a story, or an event the rest of the world was in on, even though I knew that wasn’t true. To my left and right were two groups of people—as well as two televisions, suspended from the corners. I tried not to cheat. I tried to keep my eyes facing forward. I wound up watching a college basketball game.
When it went to commercial, there was a telecommunications company shilling the reach of its wireless network. A family on a camping trip was using a small projector to watch a movie against the lining of their tent. Pretty cool—until you realize what they’re missing. Outside of that tent is a seemingly endless patchwork of stars aglow in a brilliant night sky. (And, of course, a giant corporate logo. How fitting.)
Since my weekend foray into living a disconnected life, I’ve tried to make small adjustments. Instead of scrolling through Twitter while lying in bed, I set my alarm before I walk into the bedroom and then place my phone on the floor. I keep my phone in the pocket of my jacket while out at a bar, whether I’m with anyone or not. I’m still yelling at the computer screen. But I’m hoping small adjustments over time will eventually lead me to where I need to be—that moment when the clock strikes 5, my laptop screen closes, and I just turn off my phone.
The first time I visited Scottsdale, Ariz., I was in my mid-20s and catering for the rock band Tool (yeah, I know that dates me). One of my oldest friends, Sonia, and her husband had just relocated there from Los Angeles. I escaped work for a few hours to explore the city with them and I was immediately struck by the contrasts. The arid Sonoran desert and soaring mountains bumped up against vast swaths of cultivated, urban sprawl. Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece house/school Taliesin West, built in 1937, seemed forged from the very landscape, while elsewhere, so many shopping centers resembled Lego sets plunked down on a child’s play table. It was a place of raw and natural beauty, but also of highly tailored fashion and a preponderance of plastic surgery. I concluded that Scottsdale could be summed up with three S’s: sunshine, silicone and strip malls.
Fifteen years later, and the three S’s hold true, but on a recent visit I was impressed with how much Phoenix and its tony twin, Scottsdale, have matured into their own. Bonus: Direct flights out of Baltimore from carriers like Southwest mean that even a quick jaunt is doable.
In February, I hopped a flight to meet my four oldest friends, including Sonia in her adopted hometown. I first met these women growing up in Baltimore. We realized recently—to our joy and middle-aged horror—that we have known one another for more than three decades. Now, we’re scattered across the country and living busy lives, but we try our damnedest to meet up whenever we can.
Sonia suggested we make Camelback Inn Resort & Spa our home base for the trip. Located on 125 acres between Mummy and Camelback mountains, this is the kind of place where you could spend the whole weekend without leaving.
Individual sachets of dried lavender grown on the property greet you at check-in, and that’s just the start of the sensory overload. Orange trees, herbs, cacti bursting with flower all scent the property, while local ingredients, like Arizona prickly pear and dessert honey, find their way into cocktails or the treatments at the wellness spa.
Guest rooms are scattered throughout adobe-looking villas. All offer at least 500 square feet of living space, and a few come with their own private pool. JW Marriott recently invested more than $70 million to upgrade this 1936 resort, and it shows. Rooms are modern yet retain their Southwestern charm. There’s a range of restaurant options, like French chef Laurent Tourondel’s popular BLT Steak. For golfers, two new courses opened in 2013, including one called Ambiente, which offers native desert landscaping instead of the usual expanses of water-fed grass.
Into this desert paradise stumbled five overworked, overtired souls. Three of us had traveled from the East Coast, including our friend Erika who had stopped tallying the snowfall count in her Boston backyard at 80 inches. Now here we were in a place averaging 330 days of sunshine.
The first thing we learned at Camelback was that the orange trees dotting our veranda were “ornamental.” The fruit is incredibly bitter. “We use it for lemonade,” Sonia explained. Sonia knows food. She is the general manager of The Mission, one of the area’s best restaurants, and it became clear in our planning that this weekend would be less desert exploration and more culinary adventure.
Our first night, we drove into downtown Scottsdale for dinner. The Old Town neighborhood is one of the few walkable destinations in this car-centric city. You can take a guided 60-minute walking tour and see things like a historic mission built in the 1930s from over 6,000 adobe bricks. If you’re here on a Thursday evening, there’s a weekly ArtWalk. During spring training in March, the town is taken over by baseball fans ready to watch the San Francisco Giants, Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks at the nearby stadium.
We headed to The House Brasserie, one of three restaurants in Scottsdale from chef Matt Carter, a Phoenix native who trained in Paris and cooked at the famed French Laundry in Yountville, Calif. At House, you feel like you’ve stepped out of the Southwest and into a cozy Parisian bistro. We dined on charcuterie of smoked Burrata cheese with black truffle vinaigrette, black kale salad with orange, feta and plum, and delicate pasta and seafood.
The next morning we half-heartedly debated a hike up nearby Camelback Mountain, but decided that a leisurely walk along the Mummy Mountain Trail at the resort was more our speed. Afterward, we lounged in the shade of a cabana by the spa pool. Elizabeth Arden opened a celebrity spa in Scottsdale in the 1940s and now the city is a destination for wellness retreats. We ate poolside from Sprouts, the healthy spa restaurant, where you can take your cocktail with a side of denial and order the hilariously dubbed “Detox Margarita.”
After a spa massage and steam, it was time to re-tox with dinner. We’d been directed to the latest trendy spot in town called Sumo Mayo, but as soon as we walked in, we knew we were in trouble. Daft Punk blared from the oversized TV above the bar and the vibe was more Forever 21 than fine dining. So we walked a few doors down to Vivo Ristorante for a delicious Italian dinner.
The funny thing about Scottsdale is that some of the best dining often happens in a strip mall. You can have a glorious meal across from a neon sign advertising the LunchBOX, where you can get your privates waxed on your lunch hour. (A 15-minute Brazilian? Wrong on so many levels.) The food at Vivo was nice, but the wine! We lucked into a 2008 “Super Tuscan” red from Umbria recommended by the restaurant’s wine supplier.
Sunday night we hit The Mission in Old Town where we sampled several of the 10 varieties of classic margaritas. The guacamole, made tableside, is also a must.
The gluttony continued right up until my flight left Phoenix on Monday morning. Next to my gate was an airport outpost of Chef Carter’s other French restaurant, Zinc Bistro. I returned home to Baltimore sated and sun-soaked and grateful for a satisfying weekend away with dear friends.
WHEN IN SCOTTSDALE…
Hike. Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve offers 120 miles of trails and excellent rock climbing. Camelback Mountain, located in the center of the Phoenix Valley, has an elevation of 2,704 feet and affords beautiful views. mcdowellsonoran.org
Spa. The lauded, four-star spa at the Sanctuary resort sits perched on the edge of Camelback Mountain. Chill in the Zen meditation garden—hit the spa tennis courts amid the mountains for a dramatic view. sanctuaryoncamelback.com
Stay. Massive resorts abound in Scottsdale, but boutique offerings are on the rise. The brand-new Bespoke Inn in downtown Scottsdale is a gem of industrious hand-built design. Hosts even lend out—free of charge—handsome (hand-built) British Pashley bikes for guests keen to explore. bespokeinn.com
Shop. Frances Vintage is hidden in a non-descript building on Camelback Road in Phoenix, but it’s a must-shop. Stocked with local jewelry, vintage and new clothing, it also carries beauty products from the local Flora Apothecary. francesvintage.com
Drink. There are some great vineyards in the region and the wines from Arizona Stronghold are a favorite of local chefs. azstronghold.com