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.
This is the body
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
This is the second story body
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
Katie Boyts likes to peek into the Dooby’s dining room from the kitchen to watch people eating her baked goods. “It’s such a treat for me,” says Boyts, who also follows her goodies on Instagram under #doobysbreadclub. Here, patrons post photos of their BLTs and brunches. Dooby’s Bread Club was born last year when Boyts realized that customers wanted to buy her fresh-baked loaves to take home. “I didn’t have time to do retail every day,” she says. So Dooby’s started what she calls a “bread CSA.” For $35 a month you get four weeks of bread (one loaf per week), plus “a little accouterment.” The weekly add-ons might include a jar of apple citrus spice jam, roasted garlic olive oil or herbed butter. “Sometimes we throw in some cookies,” Boyts says. The choices generally follow a cycle, with sourdough, focaccia and par-baked baguettes upended by “a wild card.” That may be burger rolls in the summer or challah and hot cross buns during the spring holidays. “It’s funny how bread brings this happiness to people. It keeps me excited about the craft,” she adds. 802 N. Charles St., 410-609-3162, doobyscoffee.com —Martha Thomas
A ‘Seabiscuity’ Brew
In 1979, a year after Affirmed became the last thoroughbred to win the Triple Crown, the Mt. Washington Tavern began an acclaimed run of its own down the hill from the home of the Preakness. Rather than simply having a few beers to celebrate their recent 35th birthday, the bar owners decided to create one: Old Hilltop Amber Lager. Named to honor Pimlico’s original clubhouse and the Tavern’s ties to the track, this smoothly sessionable and mildly malty—one might say Seabiscuity—lager was developed by Heavy Seas’ Hugh Sisson and Joe Gold in conjunction with the Tavern’s owners. They then went the extra furlong and commissioned a one-of-a-kind tap handle for the beer’s permanent spot in the establishment’s otherwise rotating stable of brews. Southeast Baltimore woodcarver Mark Supik—creator of tap handles nationwide—crafted a custom wood base for a cast metal horse created by yet another artisan associate of the Tavern. “We spent months visiting both the brewery and the woodshop to get everything just right,” says co-owner Rob Frisch. Local institution, local brewer, local artist—now that’s the trifecta. 5700 Newbury St., 410-367-6903, mtwashingtontavern.com —Mark Tough
When Shake Shack opened in the Inner Harbor in February, folks lined up in frigid winds and impend- ing snow for the chance to, well, sip a frosty milkshake. If nothing else, this proves that Baltimoreans are as food-obsessed as anyone in Brooklyn or Portland. For their second annual Emporiyum Food Market on April 18 and 19, Mindy Schapiro and Sue-Jean Chun have invited some 75 food vendors and artisans—half local, half from places like Boston, L.A., Charleston and Brooklyn—to offer their wares at the H & S Bakery Distribution Center.
Last year’s Emporiyum, at half the size, was a sellout. Look for gourmet cotton candy from Sky Candy of Orlando, kale-scented candles from Produce Candles in Charleston and Pernicious Pickles from Costa Mesa, Calif. Many of Baltimore’s small-batch stars also will make an appearance, including Haute Mess rubs and seasonings, Hex Ferments, Pure Chocolate by Jinji , along with small bites from restaurants like Fleet Street Kitchen, the Corner Pantry and yes, Shake Shack. Tickets, $15-$40. 600 S. Eden St. (corner of S. Central and Fleet) theemporiyum.com —Martha Thomas
Use Your Noodle
Brian and Larry Leonardi have found their sweet spot in Firenze, their new Reisterstown restaurant designed by Brian Thim of Rita St. Clair Associates. The menu ranges from fresh pasta and panini to meatball sliders, veal piccata and a 100-bottle wine list. Back in the day, the Leonardi brothers (along with sister Suzy Maria) ran two grab ‘n’ go pasta shops for Casa di Pasta, a small wholesale noodle factory in Little Italy with a storefront on Albemarle.
Firenze, too, is a family affair. Brian handles operations while Larry helms the kitchen. On a recent visit, Larry’s wife, Kelly, stood over the pasta extruder coaxing out fresh ribbons of fettuccine and twisted commas of gemelli while their 21-year-old son, Zachary (about to graduate from a local culinary program), oversaw the cooks. Even the elder generation is involved. “When we first opened, my 75-year-old father was in here washing dishes,” says Larry. 2 Hanover Road, Reisterstown, 410-394-5577 eatfirenze.com –Martha Thomas
Unlike the rest of us who tend to go directly from point A to point B with the aid of a GPS, when artist Sara VanDerBeek navigates a city she’s “looking at different surfaces, textures, light and shapes” to wind her way through the urban landscape. That aesthetic plays heavily into “Front Room,” the former Mount Vernon resident’s first hometown exhibit since moving to New York in 1994 to attend Cooper Union college, where she studied using an interdisciplinary palette of film, photography and sculpture.
Opening April 12 at the Baltimore Museum of Art, the installation juxtaposes imagery of dancers, urban details of Baltimore and features a central six-piece sculpture, abstractly fashioned after the marble steps so ubiquitous on the streets of Charm City. VanDerBeek hopes moving through the environment will encourage visitors to “think about the power of observation” as they move throughout their daily lives.
Immersing herself in the BMA archives, particularly the Cone sisters’ Matisse assemblage, this work also is inspired by the details she noted and photographed during regular visits to the museum during the last two years.
VanDerBeek, 38, said coming back to Baltimore was an “interesting dynamic to come up against places that I recognize, but some others like I was returning to them in a dream.” So “Front Room” is “a lot about memory…but also about change, and the movement of time—how your memory can shift and evolve as you move forward in life.”
Learn more at artbma.org
We’re not letting April showers deter us from celebrating spring in style. And what better way to celebrate than by attending The Manor Conservancy’s annual Calcutta and Farm-to-Table fundraising dinner?
This year, the local tradition will take place April 10 at 6 p.m., at the Ladew Topiary Gardens in Monkton. Ladew will also host My Lady’s Manor Steeplechase Races the next day (another seasonal Maryland tradition we love).
While the menu options for the dinner are already making us salivate—highlights include local artisan goat cheese from Charlottetown Farm, wild mushroom ravioli and assorted cupcakes—the real treat of the night will be a painting by artist Meg Page.
The Conservancy will auction off a beautiful, botanical portrait of My Lady’s Manor Iris, a stunning hybrid iris that was created by Philip Remare to celebrate the tercentennial of My Lady’s Manor.
A renowned local artist, Page has painted nature-themed works inspired by places she’s visited, including the Ladew Gardens, Maryland Hunt Country, the Florida Keys and more.
Founded in 1993, The Manor Conservancy is a tax-exempt conservation land trust focused on preserving the rural character of the Manor Area. Ticket packages for the dinner are available for members, new members and non-member guests at themanorconservancy.org.
If your idea of a pizza party is a nightmarish afternoon spent at Chuck E. Cheese, trapped between a horde of sticky children and a gaggle of cranky parents, then get ready for a reboot. My version is a bit more sophisticated and modern—and it’s for adults only. (And no, I don’t mean that kind of adult party.)
I’ve added some fun and flavorful twists to the “stuff on carbs” paradigm that will appeal to a more grown-up palate. White pizza, for example, is often a rather bland and boring affair. Not so my white and green pizza. The garlic beans and gruyere combine to give it flavorful depth, topped off with delicate baby kale and fragrant sage. The mini muffaletta pizzas, meanwhile, are a reimagined version of one of my favorite sandwiches on the planet: the Mammoth Muffaletta at Central Grocery in New Orleans.
Zapiekanka is a popular Polish street food, and I’ve stayed pretty traditional with my version, only substituting barbecue sauce for the more standard ketchup. The ingredient combination might sound a bit strange at first—sautéed mushrooms, smoked sausage, cheddar cheese and barbecue sauce on French bread—but trust me, it’s popular for a very good reason.
Finally, the langos is my re-creation of a dish I enjoyed in Budapest’s Central Market Hall. The potato-based dough is deep fried in lard (though you can substitute vegetable oil), and topped with a very pungent combination of sour cream, Emmental cheese and raw red onion. One word of advice: You might not want to include this one at a pizza party for singles.
makes 4 langos
For the dough:
½ cup milk
2½ teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
1½ cups of potato, boiled, peeled, mashed and cooled
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
¾ teaspoon salt
Enough high smoke point oil (such as canola) or lard for frying (enough to fill your skillet to a depth of 1 inch)
Toppings: (divided among the 4 langos)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup grated Emmental cheese
½ red onion, very thinly sliced
Warm the milk to about 100 F. and mix with the yeast and sugar. Let sit for 10 minutes. Mix the flour with the potatoes, oil and salt. Add the milk mixture and knead for 10 minutes. Place in a bowl and cover; let rise 1 hour. Punch down the dough, divide into 4 equal portions and form them into uniform balls. Let them rest for 20 minutes, covered, on a floured surface. In a deep-sided skillet, heat about 1 inch of oil at 350 F. Rather than roll out the dough, pick it up and gently pull it out into a circular shape (it’s OK if a few tiny holes appear in the dough). Next, gently lay the dough in the hot oil, and press the middle down with a spatula. This is important to ensure that the middle cooks properly. (You may want to wear an oven mitt to avoid oil burns.) Cook for about 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Remove and drain on a rack lined with paper towels. Divide the sour cream among the langos, followed by the cheese and onions. Eat while still warm or at room temperature.
Mini Muffaletta Pizzas
2 ciabatta rolls, split in half
½ cup of a good olive salad,
such as Boscoli’s
2 slices Mortadella, chopped
8 slices Genoa or Calabrese salami, chopped
½ cup shredded provolone
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Evenly divide the olive salad among the 4 rolls, followed by the Mortadella, salami and cheese. Bake until the cheese melts, 9-11 minutes.
2 8-inch slices French bread,
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
½ medium white onion, chopped
10 ounces white mushrooms,
stems removed, sliced
Dash of salt
2 links of smoked sausage (or
approximately ½ of a rope
of kielbasa), cut into ¼ inch coins
1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
Drizzle of barbecue sauce
Preheat the oven to 425 F. In a skillet over medium heat, saute the onions in the butter or olive oil until translucent. Add the mushrooms and a dash of salt and cook until soft and the moisture they release has evaporated. Evenly divide the cooked mushrooms among the 4 French bread slices. On top of this, evenly distribute the sausage coins, followed by the cheese. Bake until the cheese melts, 8-10 minutes. Top each slice with a squiggle of barbecue sauce.
White and Green Pizza
1 12-inch pizza shell (I like the rustic ciabatta from Trader Joe’s)
8 ounces ricotta
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
½ 14-ounce can white beans (such as cannellini or Great Northern), drained
¾ cup shredded gruyere cheese
Handful of baby kale
4 fresh sage leaves, chopped
Drizzle of olive oil
Salt and white pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Spread the ricotta on the pizza crust. Add the garlic slices, followed by the beans, gruyere, kale and sage. Lightly drizzle olive oil over the pizza and bake for 10-12 minutes on a preheated pizza stone or tin until the cheese is bubbling. Top with salt and white pepper to taste.
Let’s not kid ourselves—we all have a touch of hipster inside that wants to make something nostalgic cool again. Enter the USB Typewriter, which pairs antique typewriters with iPads, laptops, desktop PCs and smartphones, so you can unleash your inner Hemingway, Stein or Kerouac in the 21st century. The company was founded by professional hacker Jack Zylkin, after he rescued an old Royal typewriter on the side of the road. His company has retrieved almost 1,000 once-obsolete typewriters from garages and attics and transformed them into laptop keyboards and tablet dockets. If you’re fascinated by the idea but not inclined to actually purchase a typewriter, the online store also sells USB conversion kits for those looking to put their stowed-away antiques to creative use. Because who wouldn’t want to hear those old-fashioned taps and dings while writing the next great American novel? Conversion kits, $99. Typewriters, $700-$1,000. usbtypewriter.com
With the ability to sync with any Bluetooth-enabled device, Stellé Audio’s new Mini-Clutch Speaker is the world’s prettiest way to party incognito. Available in silver, navy and gold and this “Blue Love” pattern, the chain-strapped little number plays music through a 2.0 stereo system that projects sound in 360 degrees—and doubles as a speakerphone (and charger), so you could have a clutch conference call with your boss then seamlessly transition into a full-fledged office dance party in minutes. Is it just us, or does this modern-day boombox make you want to go all John Cusack in “Say Anything”? We thought so. $149-$199, stelleaudio.com
Annapolis natives and Tessemae’s founders Brian (airborne), Greg (left) and Matt Vetter.
Want to know the secret recipe for creating a successful salad dressing business from scratch? One: Have a mother who makes delicious, homemade salad dressing. Two: Expand on the mother’s recipe to develop products with clean ingredients that are sugar-free, gluten-free and vegan friendly. And three: Make sure it’s run by three outgoing, handsome and business-savvy lax bros.
These factors are part of what make Tessemae’s All Natural the top-selling refrigerated salad dressing brand at Whole Foods and Safeway. Founded by Annapolis natives Greg, 31, Brian, 29, and Matt, 27, Vetter, the company now sells 12 unique dressing flavors, including the original favorite Lemon Garlic, Cracked Pepper, Lemon Chesapeake and Zesty Ranch, and various condiments and spreads such as Slow Roasted Garlic Spread and Chesapeake Mayonnaise. (Also available at Costco and Harris Teeter.)
Predicting $25 million in sales this year, it’s almost unbelievable that Tessemae’s—named after their mom, Teresa—formed because one of Greg’s friends stole a two-liter bottle of his mom’s lemon garlic dressing out of the fridge. “If a man is going to steal another man’s salad dressing, then I’m going to bottle it,” says Greg with a laugh. “I called my mom and said, ‘If I get us into Whole Foods, will you go into business with me?’ She said that would never happen.”
Greg wasn’t deterred. While the Annapolis Whole Foods was still under construction, the Washington College grad cold-called the grocery store’s team leader, Keith Spriggs—and walked in with nothing but a Tupperware container of romaine lettuce covered in the dressing, which got a rave review. Spriggs referred him to the produce coordinator of the Mid-Atlantic region who gave him the go-ahead to start production on a big order.
“I basically had to Google how to become a food manufacturer,” says Greg, who recruited his brothers, who were Towson University students at the time, to help out. The first time the three brothers whipped up a batch together was in the kitchen of a rib joint after hours—it amounted to four cases worth of salad dressing. After some practice, the product made it to the shelves in time for the Annapolis store’s grand opening on May 5, 2009, and set a national sales record for Whole Foods, selling 55 cases of lemon garlic dressing in one store over five days. Despite the initial success, Greg says the company floundered in the first year, as he was doing it part-time and there was no management. A year after Brian graduated with a communications degree, he came on board to become the first full-time employee, carrying out day-to-day tasks to make sure the company grew.
They came up with a plan to grow the company 20 percent a month for six months. To do this, Greg says the basics of the plan involved getting into additional stores, increasing the number of bottles sold in those stores and then introducing new products. It was a “do whatever it takes to not get kicked out” strategy, he says. Soon after, the product skyrocketed to become a top-seller in Whole Foods for the Mid-Atlantic region—and ultimately enabled Tessemae’s to become a global vendor, with products soon to be sold in Target, Fresh Market, H-E-B in Texas, Roundy’s in the Midwest and Whole Foods Canada.
“It’s crazy, but our Achilles’ heel is that we sell too much in comparison to our competition,” Brian says. “We’re always sold out and they’re always in stock. Our goal now with Whole Foods is to always be in stock and have a beautiful set of dressings that’s always there.”
As far as the roles they play in the company, the brothers joke that their official titles are “oldest” (Greg), “middle” (Brian) and “youngest” (Matt), but they are professionally known as CEO, chief of sales and business development and vice president of product life cycle/super chef, respectively. The trio employs 150 full-time and part-time workers in the company’s new Essex-based headquarters, a 36,000-square-foot manufacturing factory dubbed “The Tree Fort.”
“We call it ‘The Tree Fort’ because as kids, that’s where we’d go to plot the next great adventure, to scheme a sneak attack or to simply run wild,” Greg says. “It’s a place where anything is possible.”
The Fort is also where new products come to fruition. Along with the recent French and Italian additions, Matt says coconut milk-based Caesar and ranch dressings will be added to the new “traditional classics” line. But note: No new flavors go on the market without Mom’s approval.
“She’s our official taste-tester,” says Greg. “Before we release any product, we let her try it and she tells us whether it’s awesome or not.” (The brothers launched Poppy Seed Grapefruit and Oil-Free Italian, which Teresa didn’t like —and they both flopped.)
“We used to ignore some of her advice and we were wrong,” adds Matt. “Now we listen. Mother always knows best.”
1. Change your mani in the Uber with Ciate’s tiny Choc Pot polish remover that smells like orange and chocolate. $8, Bloomingdale’s.
2. Get “Kiss Cam” ready with Clarins Lip Comfort Oil, a triple player that plumps, softens and adds subtle shine. $23, Macy’s.
3. Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics’ long-lasting “Beta” nail lacquer goes into overtime. $10, Sephora.
Main Event: Wayward Witches
For those who still haven’t seen Gregory Maguire’s revisioning of literature’s two most extraordinary witches come to life in the stage adaptation (I’m guilty), now is your chance. One of the longest-running and most popular musicals of all time, the national tour of Wicked—produced by Pikesville native Marc Platt—has landed at the Hippodrome for a monthlong run, bringing with it Joe Mantello’s direction and Stephen Schwartz’s soaring musical numbers, including show tune staples “Defying Gravity” and “For Good.” This time around, Alyssa Fox goes green as the intelligent and misunderstood Elphaba, while Carrie St. Louis portrays her polar opposite, the popular and gorgeous Glinda. The show’s depiction of the two iconic “Wizard of Oz” characters’ unlikely friendship, quarrels and evolutions into Glinda the Good and the much-maligned Wicked Witch of the West is a fascinating and timeless before-and-after tale, sparked by Dorothy’s unforgettable entrance into the Land of Oz. April 1-April 26. Tickets, $43-$220. 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com —Ian Zelaya
You betta werk! RuPaul, Dame Edna and Charm City’s late Divine are just a few famous drag queens on display in Ron Anthony’s All Dressed Up, a series of colorful, oil-based marker drawings and paintings that honor a diverse group of cross-dressing male entertainers—and addresses how they’ve influenced today’s high-heeled up-and-comers. Through April 25, at Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower. Free. 443-874-3596, bromoseltzertower.com —I.Z.
Signed, Sealed, Stevie
We just called to say…Stevie Wonder is coming to Baltimore! Catch Motown’s most soulful pop legend on his Songs In the Key of Life tour. With more than 30 top 10 U.S. hits and 25 Grammys to boot, the “Superstition” singer can groove like no other. Grab the sunshine of your life and dance the night away. April 9, at the Royal Farms Arena. Tickets $58-$1,000. 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com —Shelby Offutt
Known for his award-winning essays and short stories that are defined by his self-deprecating wit, David Sedaris’ words on paper may be even more hilarious when he says them aloud. Whether he’s giving us an autobiographical account of finding a pornographic book as a child or describing animals in adult situations, we’re ready to laugh and feel a little uncomfortable. April 7, at the Meyerhoff. Tickets, $45-$60. 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com —I.Z.
Come On Down!
The Price Is Right Live is “big-wheeling” its way on the local scene. Come prepared to play a mean game of Plinko (our favorite!) and win prizes like appliances, vacations or maybe even a brand-new-car! Drew Carey, eat your heart out. April 21, at the Lyric. Tickets, $35-$65. 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com —S.O.
Love’s Great Tragedy
We’ve all had that one steamy romance that just didn’t meet our family’s approval. Its inevitable end was sad, but (hopefully) not as devastating as Romeo and Juliet. With feuding families, passionate midnight rendezvous and sword fights—all set to iambic pentameter—one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies is always a must- see. April 10-May 10, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company. Tickets, $15-$48. 410-244-8570, chesapeakeshakespeare.com —S.O.
Save The Birds
Lights Out Baltimore is collaborating with 17 artists to bring awareness of the dangers migratory birds face while traveling through the city. In Unfriendly Skies: Birds, Buildings, and Collisions, artist exhibitions will explore how a fatal combination of light pollution and glass is to blame for thousands of bird deaths in Baltimore every year. March 31-May 3, at Goucher College’s Silber Art Gallery. Free. 410-337-6477, goucher.edu —S.O.
A Man Like Any Other
The Maryland Ensemble Theatre depicts the difficult life of Joseph Merrick, whose severe—and unsettling—deformities made his existence amid 19th-century London society an extreme struggle. While this run of The Elephant Man doesn’t feature a scantily clad Bradley Cooper, this carefully crafted ensemble is sure to be affecting. April 10-May 3. $6-$25, 301-694-4744, marylandensemble.org —S.O.
A band that has had almost as many members as its name suggests, 10,000 Maniacs was one of the pioneers of the alternative rock we hear on the radio today. With 34 years of performing under its belt, the six-person band led by Mary Ramsey shows no sign of slowing its roll. April 4, at Rams Head On Stage. Tickets, $52. 410-268-4545, ticketfly.com —I.Z.
Break out your worn leather, dystopian armor, chains, fauxhawks and whatever else you need to survive the apocalypse for this year’s “Mad Max”-themed Marquee Ball—just in time for next month’s Tom Hardy-helmed “Mad Max: Fury Road.” Event features a dance party with the ever-charming Bosley, a performance by the Baltimore Rock Opera Society and a curated silent art auction. April 18, at the Creative Alliance. Tickets, $30-$90. 410-276- 1651, creativealliance.org —I.Z.
If you’re a fan of the Oscar-nominated flick “Boyhood,” check out the selected works of London-based photographer Julia Fullerton-Batten, whose surrealistic and dreamlike photo project depicting teenage girls’ transformation into adulthood spans eight years. Through April 18, at Randall Scott Projects. Free. 410-617-0091, randallscottprojects.com —I.Z.
For Baltimore School for the Arts’ multidisciplinary festival, Imagined Worlds, alumnae Nadia Sirota and Katherine Helen Fisher teamed up with composer Marcos Balter and art director David Title to create “Codex,” a 20-minute presentation inspired by Italian artist Luigi Serafini’s cult classic, “Codex Seraphinianus”—featuring orchestral and vocal music, dance and 3-D projection mapping. April 17-18. Tickets, $10-$15. 443-642-5167, bsfa.org —I.Z.
What served as a searing commentary on 19th-century morality, Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts centers on orphanage owner Mrs. Alving, whose late husband’s sins come back to haunt her when her estranged, terminally ill son reappears in her life. April 1-May 3, at Everyman Theatre. Tickets, $34-$60. 410-752-2208, everymantheatre.org —I.Z.
Like A Rolling Stone
Love him or loathe him, it can’t be denied that Bob Dylan’s timeless folk-rock anthems have been massively influential to music since his legendary start playing clubs in Greenwich Village. While we hope for classics like “Blowin’ in the Wind,” the 73-year-old icon also will play numbers from his 36th studio album, “Shadows in the Night,” which features covers of pop standards made famous by Frank Sinatra. April 11, at the Lyric. Tickets, $65-$145. 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com —I.Z.
In Your Head
Stoop Storytelling’s Unquiet Minds presents emotive tales on the themes of mental health and mental illness. Preceded with live music by Baltimore folk duo Naked Blue. April 6, at Center Stage. Tickets, $20. 410-332-0033, stoopstorytelling.com —I.Z.
Up Close And Personal
Whether it’s a colorful close-up of a parking meter or hat-heavy fashion shots, the photography of Charles Jacobs is always captivating. The NYC native’s work is on display at Renaissance Fine Arts’ latest exhibition, Sidebar: A Series Of Observations. April 10-18, at Village of Cross Keys. Free. 410-484-8900, renaissancefinearts.com —I.Z.
Part of MICA’s annual Week of Fashion, MEDIUMRARE: An Experimental Fashion Event featuring more than 250 designers, models and performers—aims to push the boundaries of fashion and art, with individually crafted garment-based works that merge runway, stage and gallery. April 18, at Lithuanian Hall. Tickets, $7-$12. 410-669-9200, mica.edu —I.Z.
Beam Me Up
One of two galleries in the country representing the work of Sergio Sister, Goya Contemporary’s new exhibition features the Brazilian artist’s signature style of work—making Color Field painting three-dimensional by arranging wooden beams to create multicolor sculptural paintings. Through May 2. Free. 410-366-2001, goyacontemporary.com —I.Z.
Time To Jam
Since 1986, the Georgia-based jam band Widespread Panic—which earned its name from co-founder Michael Houser’s panic attacks—has been compared to the Grateful Dead and Phish because of its propensity for outstanding live performances. April 26, at Pier Six Pavilion. Tickets, $52. 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com —I.Z.
Deep Vision Dance Company presents performances that embody the flux of human desire. The works highlight the choreography of artistic director Nicole A. Martinell, with Baltimore-based collaborators including Jamahl Abdul and Tim Nohe. April 24-26, at Baltimore Theatre Project. Tickets, $12-$22. 410-752-8558, theatreproject.org —I.Z.
Carbiter, twiticule and spawntourage aren’t real words, but according to Jezebel columnist Lizzie Skurnick, they may as well be since they describe relevant aspects of life in the 21st century. A self-proclaimed word inventor, Skurnick discusses the ins and outs of crafting her signature brand of jargon featured in her latest book, “That Should Be a Word.” April 30, at The Ivy Bookshop. Free. 410-377-2966, theivybookshop.com —I.Z.
Call your mother! Neil Diamond is hitting up the Verizon Center. At 74, the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Famer—responsible for hits like “I’m a Believer”—is on his 2015 world tour. Performing the classics and songs from his latest album “Melody Road,” this show will be a diamond in the rough. April 4. Tickets, $50-$950. 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com —S.O.
Years ago, as my toddler nephew stooped to pick up a fallen morsel from the floor, his older brother intervened.
“You can never eat food that falls on the floor!” Peter warned knowingly. Then he added an important caveat: “Except at Aunt Marlene’s house.”
He was referring to my childhood home—a place so legendarily spotless and orderly that a friend joked you could actually locate a lost piece of lint there. Nothing in my mother’s house was ever out of place or (heaven forbid) actually dirty. My four brothers and I weren’t allowed to have so much as a messy drawer. After 50 years, the grout on the bathroom tile gleams as if it were brand new. The garage shelves are tidier than most people’s living rooms.
One of two things can happen when you grow up in a house that exceptionally clean and organized and then are left to your own devices: you can internalize and embrace the order, or you can flat out reject it, running screaming in the other direction. I am sad to report that I fall squarely into the latter category. For the almost 30 years since I left my parents’ house for college, never to return, I have cut an enormously messy swath through life.
It’s a part of me I’m not particularly proud of, one that doesn’t really jibe with my overall solid citizen status. I’ve always been the quintessential rule follower; the rest of my life is not even remotely disorderly. But when it comes to putting away laundry? Filing bills? Organizing the linen closet? That’s not—how shall we say?—my strong suit. Call it my one small form of rebellion. Paging Dr. Freud.
For many years I blamed the problem, as unrepentant messies will do, on my environment. It wasn’t my fault that I was disorganized, you see. It was that the places I lived in couldn’t contain my mess. If I just had the right living environment, I was certain that I would miraculously transform into a latter-day Martha Stewart. Though I started to become suspicious when every home I lived in, even as they grew in size, would inevitably devolve into disorder, I held tight to the fallacy. But then I realized that my car was messy. My purse was messy. My computer desktop was messy. And one day, as I surveyed my cluttered bedroom, I had an epiphany. I thought of my good friend Annie, whose house was always spotless. “This place would be neat if Annie lived here,” I realized dejectedly. So much for that excuse.
I don’t enjoy being messy: I hate myself for it. I’m all too aware of what it costs me. Things in my life disappear with alarming regularity, as if swallowed up by black holes, and I spend inordinate amounts of time looking for them. (First rule of messies club: the last place you look for something is the place where it’s actually supposed to be kept. That is, if there actually is a place it’s supposed to be kept.) It has caused unnecessary tension in my marriage.
The problem only got worse once I had kids, who add a layer of chaos to the lives of even the most orderly moms and dads. So I’ve tried to change. Really, I have. Twice I’ve hired professional organizers to try to rescue me from the Sea of Clutter and land me safely on the Island of Orderliness. But it’s as if I am immune to their charms, their systems. They speak a language that my brain just cannot decode. After 40-plus years of living like this, I’m thinking it’s just the way it’s going to have to be.
Or does it?
This spring marks a major milestone for our family. After 12 years in a cozy Mount Washington cottage, we are renovating a gracious American foursquare a few blocks away. It’s a historic house oozing with character. And space! We’ll actually have a full-fledged mudroom to house the backpacks and baseball gloves and shinguards. The master bedroom will have a roomy walk-in closet. I no longer will have to share a bathroom with my 7-year-old, whose propensity for leaving at least 400 times as much toothpaste in the sink as he actually uses on his teeth is truly a thing of wonder.
I’ve spent the last few months in a state of constant excitement, scrutinizing floor plans and perusing Pinterest, dreaming about how things will be in our lovely new home. There’s something undeniably powerful about feeling good about the place you live, a kind of magical inner calm that comes from having your space work perfectly for your family’s needs. I know I am extraordinarily fortunate to be able to turn this house into exactly what we would like it to be.
And part of that is knowing what I don’t want it to be: messy. I am vowing that when we move to the new house, I’m turning over a new leaf. It’s the end of the line for you, messy self. And this time I mean it. No, really.
Maybe one day my kids will joke that they grew up in a house so clean you could eat off the floors. OK, maybe that’s a little too much to ask for. But a girl can still dream, can’t she?
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.
You better believe it, hon. Thrillist recently published an article highlighting 12 of America’s coolest neighborhoods and our very own Hampden was included—alongside Highland Park in Los Angeles and the Alberta Arts District in Portland, Ore. While it’s a no-brainer that Hampden deserves the recognition, here’s STYLE’s take on why it truly is one of the coolest neighborhoods in the country.
Some of the city’s best eats. Be it a winter vegetable pot pie from Woodberry Kitchen, a basket of delicious, thick-cut frites at Le Garage or French toast for dinner at Golden West, whatever you’re craving, Hampden probably has it. And speaking of Golden West, we’re highly anticipating the local favorite’s new late-night and early-morning takeout window—which will offer waffles, chicken stew, breakfast burritos and more.
Eclectic shopping. With one-of-a-kind shops like Trohv, Caravanserai, Ma Petit Shoe and Kiss ‘N’ Make Up (cupcake-flavored toothpaste, anyone?), you can spend all day finding the most unique gifts for friends, family and yourself.
Lights on 34th. One of the city’s biggest attractions, the 67-year-old holiday tradition is always a site for sore eyes. While we’d enjoy some warmer temperatures right now, we secretly can’t wait until December rolls around.
Hipster heaven. Let’s not beat around the bush. If there’s any Baltimore neighborhood known for hot hipsters in coffee shops and book shops (Common Ground and Atomic Books, anybody?), it’s Hampden. Needless to say, we love it. Everyone looks better with a beard and some flannel.
Unapologetic culture. The giant, beehive-hairdo wearing pink flamingo atop Cafe Hon says it all. Hampden full embraces its “Bawlmer” culture, celebrating it with annual festivals including HonFest and Hampdenfest. We already have our leopard-print getups ready.
TO SAY THAT I WAS NERVOUS when I showed up at Reflex Functional Fitness for a 30-minute “Butts + Guts” class that turned out to be a 45-minute “Boxing Plus” class would be an understatement. There I was, eye to eye, with Reese Ashe (Black Belt and four-year NCAA Division I wrestler at Coppin State) who recently ended his 13-year stint as a top trainer at Federal Hill Fitness to open his own no-frills studio in the Southside Shopping Center with his wife (and triathlete/trainer) Amanda Poppleton. But I donned a pair of pink boxing gloves and hit the AstroTurf—not to mention the heavy bags and Ashe, himself, who couldn’t help but smile at my “nice girl” propensity to aim for his gloves instead of his body.
What I loved: After jump ropes and battle ropes, I was losing steam—feeling like I couldn’t push through another round of boxing. Reese cued into my comfort zone (the music: ironically, “Stronger” by Kanye West) and sweetly said, “We’re just dancing,” which helped me pace myself and punch to the beat until I had completed my most challenging workout in weeks. Reese teaches 23 of the weekly classes. (Amanda helms High Intensity Interval Training.) Their philosophy: “We won’t give up on you.” Unlimited classes, $99 to $119/month. Drop-in, $15 to $20. reflexfitbaltimore.com
SHORT PEOPLE. My fave part of working out with my 5-foot-short buddy, Jaime, is the “boost” I have to give her when we belly up to the ballet barre. Listen up, Nugget! There’s a new class in town—courtesy of the sexy, smoothie-swilling stars known as Soul Body (aka Ann Marie Barbour and Stacey Vandiver) whose custom “SB” fitness classes are offered at a growing list of gyms, such as Thomas Moreland Fitness and Merritt Athletic Clubs. Their latest creation: SB Body Barre boasts many of the same muscle-toning, profanity-inducing moves as traditional barre, but it’s performed while holding a 6- or 9-pound “body bar” in your own sweaty little hands. Let’s just say when I tried the class at BeachFit Baltimore, everyone was doing the “modified” version by the end. soulbodyonline.com
If you haven’t been to Sykesville lately, you’re missing Carroll County’s most happening spot. Main Street, charming as ever, is booming with new shops. Savvy lingered at home goods store Revive & Company with its rustic furniture, majestic European wall clocks and Sid Dickens memory blocks; tried on slim silver Aimez birth month cuffs (each adorned with a different flower) at A La Mode, then perused the makeup and tossed a flirty blue scarf over her shoulder at Gypsy Systers.
When Savvy noticed her boots weren’t made for walkin’, she moseyed into the expanded western-themed clothing store Cowboys and Angels, where co-owner Annie Kennedy assured her, “The boots pick the person.” Seeing dozens of styles from Stetson to Tony Lama, all made in the USA, she could well believe it.
Afterward, at Unwined, she tiptoed over boxes of donated wine bottles, which owner Dave Neith expertly cuts to contain his handcrafted candles. He can even custom-make one for you (spring lilacs, anyone?). At that point it was time to sidle up to the elegant English walnut bar at Market Tavern (formerly Salazon Chocolate Co.) and decide whether to have wine or tea with her cheese plate. Craft beer fans, they also sell growlers to go! sykesvillemainstreet.com
Next trip to the farmers market, Savvy will leave the canvas tote at home. Why rely on such a thing when she can carry a glorious hand-woven basket instead? At Charm City Baskets, she has her pick of blond-and-brown Nantucket styles in cane, Eastern Shore carryalls in oak, even smart handbags such as “Joni’s Opera Purse” topped with scrimshaw. Though Savvy has her heart set on an Appalachian Egg Basket ($325). Made in a sensuous saddle shape in rainbow colors, this is one basket she’d be happy to put all her eggs in. Owner and master weaver Kathleen Beauchesne also mounts historical exhibits and teaches classes, which fill up fast. 248 S. Conkling St., Highlandtown, 410-967-3585, basketresearch.org
Sweet! That’s what Savvy exclaimed when she heard Cupcake Boutique was moving from Fells Point to Green Spring Station—solidifying the center as a dream destination for gals looking to find the perfect LBD and other fab frocks (with retailers like Francesca’s Atelier, Panache and Trillium also in the mix). After nine years downtown, spirited store owner Lisa Schatz says she hopes to reconnect with many of her longtime customers who’ve relocated to the county after getting married and starting families. As for the young fashionistas who love Schatz’s well-edited selection of flirty Elliatt blouses, Central Park West sweaters and preppy chic Fornash ponchos, clutches and bracelets? She believes they’ll drive north for great taste. “It’s a short hop up 83, parking is plentiful and free and there are so many other cute places to shop,” she says. 2360 W. Joppa Road, Lutherville, 410-337-5255, cupcake-shop.com
Ditching sweets in preparation for swimsuit season? Then chances are you haven’t dived into Fractured Prune Doughnuts, the beloved Ocean City, Md., franchise that recently set up shop in Towson—with another due in Owings Mills later this year. Not to worry: STYLE’s staff writer took it upon himself to sample a dozen hot-n-fresh flavors off the specialty menu, which boasts 19 glazes and 13 toppings for a colossal 155,648 possible combinations. Here’s what came to mind after each (glorious) bite.
French Toast: The world’s best hangover cure in convenient doughnut form. Ask nicely and owner Valerie Aburn will top it off with extra bacon.
Cookies and Cream: Can they just sell these in bulk? Oreo would surely go out of business.
Morning Buzz: A mocha-glazed victory better than the day that piping-hot barista finally spelled your name right.
O.C. Sand: Who needs sex on the beach when you can just eat this cinnamon-sugary treat? Give us some privacy…
Black Forest: A big bad wolf’s worth of raspberry glaze, chocolate chips AND coconut. [Licks chops.]
Strawberry Shortcake: As sweet and innocent as Lindsay Lohan in “Mean Girls.”
Key Lime Pie: Remember those green lollipops you used to get at the doctor’s office when you were a kid. Say ahhhhh.
Salted Caramel: Like getting mouth-to-mouth resuscitation from a retainer-free lifeguard at summer camp.
Carnival: Enough sprinkles to cure any man’s (legitimate) fear of clowns.
Blueberry Hill: I’m blowing up like Violet (from “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory”) —and that’s a good thing.
Dulce de Leche: Powdered sugar perfection. All I can picture is Bradley Cooper dancing on a cloud.
S’mores: Like an impromptu camping trip…with Bradley Cooper. Do I have graham cracker crumbs in my goatee?
Fractured Prune Doughnuts. 3 West Chesapeake Ave., Towson.
I don’t play golf. (I was forced to take up the ancient and honorable game as a small boy and it turned me against it forever.) Tennis, anyone? No, thanks. As for messing about in boats, I understand the rudiments of watercraft, but having been before the mast I know that sailing is hard work and expensive and you could always drown. That keeps me ashore.
Spring comes and I am not dreaming of fairways or forecastles. Spring means that I can move out on to my front porch. It will be open for business.
Theodore Roosevelt was in the White House when the Roland Park Corp. or its minions built my house. They made mistakes. The house was not insulated. Without central air conditioning, which I now have, the interior was like a pizza oven in the summer. To compensate for that in a time when air conditioning was inconceivable the builders added a sweeping porch that runs across the whole front of my house and around to the side. It’s a grand porch, like the deck of a ship.
On my porch there is none of the work associated with being under sail. Here I am master and commander, although I occasionally shanghai a deckhand. And all my voyages are in the pleasant land of counterpane. My house sits up away from the street, a full story above the passer-by, an outdoor room that a lazy man may laze away on.
To this indolent purpose I have a roomful of ancient wicker furniture, some belonging to my wife’s late grandmother and dating to before Teddy Roosevelt was in the White House. I keep the wicker in top shape. An old lady who knew about wicker once told me that I had some beauties in my collection, which includes two long couches, ideal for napping—or resting my eyes, as I prefer to call it.
We use the porch to entertain. I can tell you that it is possible to have 34 Frenchmen on a porch this size. I know this because we had a rehearsal dinner for the daughter of a friend who was getting married (they are French) and a large contingent from France showed up. They declared the porch—which looks great under candlelight (don’t we all)—magnifique. It was a perfect late spring evening, warm enough to dine al fresco, but not humid nor threatened by thunderstorms or mosquitoes.
Rain and wind pose none of the problems that a turn in the weather would for a sailor or a golfer limping down the back nine. We remain underway, high and dry, no matter the weather, the roof overhead ample and sheltering.
Saturday mornings my old friends gather on the porch to drink coffee and discuss the vagaries of life in Charm City. We never lack for material. We have solved all of Baltimore’s problems on my porch. Several times.
When we bought this house there was a little birdhouse on the porch hanging from a wire. My wife took it down. (Don’t ask.) I went out and bought a better birdhouse (with a copper roof) and put it up in the same spot and am happy to say that the birds returned. I share this porch with Carolina wrens and starlings, not exotic feathered friends but my friends. A half-dozen huge Boston ferns hang on the porch and every year one bird makes a nest in one of the ferns and lays some eggs. It requires great care to keep the plant watered, but I do not disturb the mother or her eggs. So the porch can be said to have brought out the best in me.
I can use this porch eight months of the year—more than any sloop. I do not have to rent a mooring or slip. Nor do I have to drive any distance to get there. There are no greens fees. No one is asking to play through. As for membership, I am the chairman of the membership committee.
The porch is a powerful symbol in American life. Stories get told on the porch. Gentleman callers show up. When my daughter was young, scruffy teenage swains would come to see her on the porch. At Christmas the porch is draped with fresh greens and lights. At Halloween I put out five carved pumpkins.
Once my porch is open for business I feel obligated to use it. I’ll sit out in a peacoat to drink my coffee if need be. I like to watch the passing scene. It’s an observation deck. I see the neighbors charging off to play golf or tennis. I see the fierce cyclists. Someone is going camping. Yes, I know this is shockingly idle, but an elderly relative in Ireland, who spent his days at the dog track, used to say that it’s a poor town that cannot afford a gentleman of leisure.
What’s an entrepreneur and mom-of-three to do when she wants to drop a little baby weight? Develop her own line of athletic wear, natch. “I’m a fan of lifestyle brands with lots of color, like Trina Turk and Lilly Pulitzer, so I was bored to death wearing black stretch pants every day,” says Devon Mish, the USC grad who co-founded M-Edge—an Odenton-based company specializing in fashionable tech accessories that skyrocketed as soon as the Kindle took off. Her preppy-chic line, Devon Maryn, features workout wear with strategically placed prints that manage to be both playful and flattering. “In other words, I’ll never put some crazy geometric pattern across your entire booty!” she jokes. In addition to these “Stripe Down” running shorts ($55), we love the “Butter Me Up” yoga pants ($85) accented with adorable lobsters. devonmaryn.com
Walkers along the Stony Run Trail in Roland Park always comment on the adjacent gardens and prodigious berm of plantings by the park. Among a series of fine gardens along this section of the trail are two that belong to avid plant collectors, Tanya Jones and Margaret Wright. Jones and Wright live one house apart, each in a 1910 Dutch Colonial duplex known as one of the “railroad houses.”
The houses are so named because the Ma & Pa railroad (Maryland and Pennsylvania) ran parallel to their street until the late 1950s. With the tracks gone, and Stony Run and the park around it refurbished, the area still feels like a piece of countryside within Baltimore City. Wright, Jones and a neighbor in between merge their three front lawns into one large green bordered by low drystone walls and gardens. The three lawns are mowed together and fed and aerated by the same company. This creates a lush, green space at the center of intense planting at either end by Jones and Wright. These two women also share plants, seeds and horticultural information, go together on planting-buying trips and volunteer together at Cylburn Arboretum.
Jones, whose garden is featured here, is a dietitian and emergency room physician assistant. She and her physician husband moved to Roland Park with their two children in 2002—becoming fast friends with Wright and her physicist husband who purchased their home, two doors down, in 1965. (Stay tuned for their fine garden to be featured in the April issue.)
Both women are rabid plant collectors. “Margaret is more artistic than I am,” says Jones. “Her collections are spread throughout her garden. I like to group mine together and see them all lined up.” A licensed nutritionist, Jones focuses on soil composition and preparation for growing success.
“Succession gardening is also what Margaret has taught me—when you have something blooming January to January,” says Jones, who grew up in Portland, Ore., (a city known for its gardens) with a mother who had a green thumb. “Also, if something isn’t working, you move it or get rid of it.” To that end, the two regularly pot up plants they can no longer use and set them out in the berm for others to take.
When Jones, her husband, Bruce, and sons moved from Atlanta to Roland Park, the first order of business was to clear the overgrowth around the house. That included a high euonymus hedge in front with Leyland cypresses, a chain-link fence, dog run and deck in back. “We had major drainage issues,” she says nodding to a steep slope in back and the houses and lane above.
Bruce Jones and his father spent more than three years building a rock wall in front and terracing the back with more low stone walls that still serve as hardscape for the garden and a diversion for a stream that runs around their house when it rains.
“Next, I reconditioned and sifted the soil,” says Jones, adding that soil preparation is much like baking with ingredients like fresh yeast. “As my mother said, ‘You can’t put a $20 plant in two buck soil.’”
Then, in 2006, came the fun. “I like plants,” says Jones in an understatement for one whose alphabetized plant list now is 21, single-spaced typed pages. In her half-acre, densely planted garden thousands of plants ring the house and fill gracefully planted beds in front. Jones specializes in spring blooming bulbs, including many varieties of snowdrops and winter aconites, species daffodils and tulips; unusual dianthus; trilliums, miniature rhododendrons and azaleas, as well as Alpine plants grown in rock gardens and pitcher plants that are carnivorous. Stone troughs are full of these bug-eating plants.
After years of establishing her plant collections a major challenge arose: an old and towering oak tree in the back garden died and a neighbor’s equally large beech had to be removed. The once shady garden became one in full sun. “I quickly learned that growing sun-loving plants is harder than with variable sunlight,” says Jones. “They are a lot more work.” The back garden has now been rearranged to include sun-loving plants with some of the shade-lovers moved to the side and front.
Jones is already at work on her next project: expanding the back patio, making the path beside it wider, thinking about what plants will surround it and adding a walkway to the top. “We have always used the top of the stone walls as paths up into the gardens, but we aren’t always going to be able to do this,” says this vibrant, middle-aged horticulturalist, who finds digging in the earth and being outside in her garden every day, all year, the way she wants to continue to live. “You really experience the seasons this way. It is a nice way to live. You see things grow, there’s always something to look forward to.”
Cheers to mixology guru Ginny Lawhorn for spearheading Baltimore Cocktail Week (March 22-29), when Charm City’s finest bartenders will serve up signature drinks to benefit local charities. Join us on Sunday, March 22, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Pen & Quill, where STYLE’s editor-in-chief will help judge the inaugural cocktail contest. Plus, try making Lawhorn’s crafty concoction below. BaltimoreCocktailWeek.com
2 oz Pig’s Nose Blended Scotch Whisky
.5 oz Yellow Chartreuse
2 oz Fever Tree Spring Club Soda
2 oz Blood Orange Italian Soda
Combine spirits in mixing tin over ice, shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Strain into chilled cocktail coupe or in rocks glass over fresh ice. Top with equal parts club soda and Blood Orange soda.
They say moving is the third biggest life stressor. Possibly because it requires dismantling so much IKEA furniture. Jokes aside, I’ve moved a lot. And one year ago, I decided to do it again. It was a vulnerable time when I was conflicted about where I wanted to be. I just knew I needed a place where I could chill out and truly feel at home.
Though I was drooling over all the new top-dollar apartments downtown, I took a chance—answering a Craigslist ad from a woman named Noreen, who had turned her historic Mount Washington mansion into a five-unit residence, including a brand-new 1BR that was modern, chic, adorable and…within a few hours…all mine!
Turns out I was the first person to respond to the ad. And while my friend Deb and I went to Starbucks, Noreen interviewed the second: a doctor she said resembled a young George Clooney. “But I just have a feeling about you,” she said. “I pick you.”
Being a bit overwhelmed back then, I’m not sure I fully articulated how much Noreen’s kindness (which went well beyond the lease) meant to me. Ditto for Deb, who immediately started ordering me a food processor, soda maker, cocktail napkins and other single-girl essentials. (Thank you both for giving me a beautiful new start!) Noreen has since sold the property to a kind man named Stan, a retired dentist who takes great care of me. While communal living has its drawbacks—can we all just agree to clean out the lint filters in the laundry room?—it also has moments of epiphany. Like the summer nights when I come home and hear the musician upstairs playing Billie Holiday on his old school record player, or the time I noticed the following note taped to a cute, hippie couple’s front door: “Were you the person you wished to be in the world today?” (My heart melted.)
I hope you’ll be equally inspired by “The Stream Cleaner” (page 82), Irene Smith, who decided to clean up her life after divorce by collecting more than a year’s worth of trash from the Herring Run. It’s amazing what you can learn about yourself while sorting through what the rest of us leave behind. And I have a major crush on Bryan Voltaggio and his adorable brood in “Family Style.” (page 78). If the “Top Chef” celeb can find work/life balance, surely there’s hope for the rest of us, too.
Designer Charlene Petersen shares fab tips for decorating your home in “Country Chic” (page 72). And green thumbs are certain to envy Tanya Jones’ gorgeous garden (page 64). I love how she orders snowdrops from a nursery in Upstate New York with no phone or website. Just send $3 for a catalog. That seems like a detail our “Back Page” columnist (page 126) Chris Corbett will enjoy. Hopefully he’s reading this issue on his infamous front porch with a nice cup of coffee…or 34 Frenchmen.
Every year about this time I come down with a serious case of wanderlust. I begin to fantasize about various global destinations and the sights, sounds and, most importantly, the foods that I might encounter there. But sometimes fate has not seen fit to dovetail my wanderlust with opportunity, and at such times I turn my thoughts to past destinations and all of the culinary marvels I devoured there.
Hands down, one of my favorite places to revisit in my mind’s eye is Mexico City. The teeming metropolis of nearly 20 million people is an embarrassment of food riches, all to be had for mere pesos. And while some (misguided) guidebooks will steer tourists away from Mexican street food with dire warnings of digestive disaster, I ate my weight in the stuff and lived to tell the tale. Here, I’ve taken a culinary trip back to that amazing city with four of my favorite street foods: tacos, tlacoyos, shrimp cocktail (not always a street food but that’s where I had it) and potato chips with hot sauce.
Cochinita pibil is actually a dish from the Yucatan Peninsula; traditionally a baby pig is buried in a pit, smothered in piquant achiote paste and slow cooked in banana leaves. Don’t worry: I’m not asking you to make a pit in your backyard, but I do ask that you take a trip to a Mexican grocery to pick up some banana leaves and achiote paste. The juicy pork is to-die-for shredded and served in a taco topped with spicy
Tlacoyos are essentially football-shaped, thick tortillas stuffed with beans or meat. Here I’ve stuffed them with refried black beans and topped them off with Mexican crema, radishes and hot sauce.
If you’re used to the wan shrimp cocktail you may remember from your 1970s fine dining experiences, this Mexican coctel de camaron will be a pleasant surprise. It’s spicy, a little soupy and packs a nice kick. And finally, as I learned in Mexico City, if you haven’t been slathering your potato chips in hot sauce, then you’ve been doing it wrong.
Coctel de Camaron (Shrimp Cocktail)
4 - 6 servings
2 cups pico de gallo (I recommend the homemade pico de gallo available at Cinco de Mayo market)
1 cup V8 juice
Juice of 1 lime
1⁄2 cucumber, peeled and chopped
Handful of fresh cilantro, torn
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped,
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 avocado, chopped
1 pound cooked medium (40 count) shrimp, shelled
Combine all of the ingredients except the avocado and shrimp. Add salt and pepper to taste. Gently fold in the shrimp and avocado. Serve in chilled glasses accompanied with tortilla chips.
Cochinita Pibil Tacos with Pickled Onions
makes 8 - 10 tacos
For the cochinita pibil:
1⁄2 cup orange juice
Juice of 2 limes
11⁄2 ounces achiote paste*
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Mexican oregano*
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1⁄2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
2 pounds cubed pork shoulder
4 banana leaves*
*Available at Mexican groceries, such as Cinco de Mayo [1312 Eastern Ave.]
Whisk together the orange juice, lime juice, achiote paste, apple cider vinegar, oregano, garlic, cinnamon, cumin and salt in a bowl. Add the pork and stir to cover thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 6 hours.
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line the bottom of a Dutch oven with the banana leaves. (The leaves are large, they should hang well over the edges of the Dutch oven.) Pour the pork, along with all of the marinade, into the banana leaf-lined pot, and fold the excess leaves over the pork, tucking in the edges to make a packet. Cook, with the lid on, for 3 hours. Carefully open the banana leaves and shred the pork with 2 forks.
For the pickled onions
1⁄4 cup sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 serrano chile, seeded and chopped
Cilantro and lime for garnish
In a small jar or bowl, mix together the sugar and vinegar. Add the onions and chiles; allow to stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour. To assemble the tacos, place a handful of cochinita pibil on a warm corn tortilla, and top with pickled onions. Garnish with fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime.
Papas Fritas (Potato Chips) with Hot Sauce
makes 4 - 6 ounces chips
1 pound Yukon gold potatoes
2 cups lard
La Botanera Hot Sauce (available at Mexican groceries, such as Cinco de Mayo; you can certainly use your favorite sauce but I urge you to try it with La Botanera—it’s muy autentico!)
Slice the potatoes very thin (less than 1⁄8 inch) using a mandoline Heat the lard in a heavy bottom pan, such as a Dutch oven, to 350 F. Fry the potatoes in batches, being careful not to overcrowd them, until light golden. Remove with a mesh strainer, lay on paper towels and sprinkle with sea salt.
To serve, generously douse the chips with hot sauce.
Black Bean Tlacoyos
Makes 4 tlacoyos, with black bean filling left over
For the black bean filling
1⁄2 small red onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded
1 14-ounce can refried black beans
1 tablespoon oil or lard
Salt and pepper, to taste
Saute the onion and jalapeno in the oil until soft. Add the black beans, stir to combine and add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside while you make the dough.
For the tlacoyos
1 cup masa harina (corn flour),
available at many grocery stores
and Mexican markets
3⁄4 cup water
Stir the corn flour and water together until completely combined. Work the dough for 2-3 minutes until it comes together. If it’s too dry, add more water. Form the dough into a ball and divide into 4 equal portions. Roll each portion between your hands to form smaller dough balls. For each tlacoyo, place 1 dough ball between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Using a cast-iron skillet or other heavy pan, press down firmly on the ball to form a disc, slightly thicker than a tortilla. Place a spoonful of black bean filling in the center of the disc, and gently fold the disc in half, into a half moon shape. Press the edges together and gently press down to flatten the disc into an oblong football shape. Repeat with each dough ball. Fry in a dry nonstick skillet over medium high heat for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until crispy.
To serve, top with Mexican crema (a sour cream and cream mixture available at Mexican groceries), chopped radish, hot sauce and fresh cilantro.
I’m a sensitive girl. Allergies are my Achilles’ heel. While shopping at Anthropologie, I have to mouth-breathe (so sexy!) because the store’s signature candle gives me a sneezing fit. Your new puppy? Adorable. Until I pet him and swell up like a blowfish. Three sips of the wrong cocktail turns my face fire-engine red. And twice I used body lotion by a famous eco-friendly brand (you know the one) and ended up with a week’s worth of bumps and “itchies” that nearly drove me clinically insane.
After the Rosemary Mint Incident as my (somewhat judgmental) dermatologist calls it, she leveled with me: “Look, you need to give up the fancy products and go fragrance-free on everything, from face wash to fabric softener.” How very…blah.
So I went cold turkey for a year—using only Cetaphil products from face to feet—and it worked! My skin calmed down even in the moisture-sucking months of winter. But I have to admit, my complexion looked as dull as my beauty regimen. And I started freaking out: Without any high-octane TLC, wouldn’t my face end up aging faster than Benjamin Button’s?
So on New Year’s Eve, I took a chance—heading to The Still Point (410-715-3030, thestillpointspa.com) to test-drive a gentle facial peel that could supposedly deliver profound results without angering my dormant epidermis.
Located inside Haven on the Lake (the glorious new 27,000-square-foot wellness mecca in Columbia), Still Point’s third location specializes in massage therapy, integrative medicine and holistic spa services—many of which incorporate the TOMA Skin Therapies line developed by co-owners Tori (“TO”) Paide and Marla (“MA”) Peoples, who met in acupuncture school.
What’s so special? “Well, everything,” says esthetician Kathy Williams, who chooses from 18 different tonics made from wild-crafted essential oils to customize treatments and take-home products to address her clients’ skin care woes. (For me, she picks the Harmonizing Tonic with lavender, ylang-ylang and cape chamomile to reduce inflammation and soothe sensitivity.)
During my 60-minute Rejuvenating Facial ($195), Kathy uses an ultrasonic wand to remove dead skin cells and perform ultra-gentle pore extractions (I don’t squirm once). The Signature Peel—featuring just the right amount of glycolic acid—tingles a bit, but Kathy quickly calms my skin with aloe vera-infused Refining Mist, then applies a luxe mix of seed-oil serums, antioxidant creams, even botanical lip balm.
“I can’t believe I love how these products smell,” I say, explaining that most scents make me “snarfy” (stuffy nose, watery eyes). Kathy surmises that synthetic fragrances may be to blame—noting that TOMA partners with a certified aromatherapist. Bonus: these products contain none of the dirty rotten scoundrels of skin care, like parabens, petroleum, sulphates or GMOs. The only preservative? Honeysuckle extract. And did I mention they’re batch-tested for purity by independent labs? Consider me a convert.
FINAL VERDICT: Before I leave—with dewy, plumped-up skin ready for a night on the town—Kathy gives me a few final tips, like washing my face with cool water to reduce redness, and using my new fave Exfoliating Fruit Scrub #11 (it smells just like a lemon stick) as a purifying mask once a week. And I’m convinced TOMA’s neroli-infused Reverse Luxury Night Oil actually helps me sleep —tomaskintherapies.com
In need of a film fest fix? The annual Baltimore Jewish Film Festival features 11 English and foreign language films that touch on themes such as Israeli/Palestinian relations, the Holocaust and its aftermath and contemporary Israeli culture. For its 27th year, the festival presents five Maryland premieres, including last year’s World War II documentary, “Above and Beyond,” and the powerful “Strangers,” a past Sundance Film Festival winner for Best Short, about two young men attempting to overcome their racial prejudice. Don’t miss the festival opener, “Hannah Cohen’s Holy Communion,” a funny yet touching international short about a spirited Irish 7-year-old whose excitement for her Christian rite is hindered by the fact that she’s Jewish. March 22-April 28, at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts. Tickets, $12 in advance, $14 at door. 410-599-3510, gordoncenter.com —Ian Zelaya
Get your jazz hands ready, folks. Chicago’s sexy and satirical tale of fame and crime will put you in the mood to release your inner bad girl—and not-so-inner dance moves—with classic numbers like “Cell Block Tango” and “All That Jazz.” March 3-March 8, at the Hippodrome Theatre. Tickets, $38-$128. 800-745-3000,ticketmaster.com —I.Z.
Who doesn’t enjoy a good love triangle? Or rectangle? In Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, lives become tangled as Jack Worthing decides to off his fictional brother to live life—well, earnestly—and marry his city love, Gwendolen. Be sure to pack your petit fours for this delicious Victorian farce. Through March 22, at the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company. Tickets, $17-$45. 410-244- 8570, chesapeakeshakespeare.com —Shelby Offut
A recipient of both a Guggenheim Fellowship and a “genius grant” from the MacArthur Foundation, Aleksandar Hemon learned English after he emigrated from Sarajevo to the U.S. when he was 27. Meet the accomplished fiction writer, essayist and critic when he speaks at the Johns Hopkins University President’s Reading Series: Literature of Social Import on March 31 at the Homewood campus. Free. 410-377-2966, theivybookshop.com —I.Z.
Attractive, brainy Millennials who can play string instruments? Sign us up. The Yale-founded Ensoō String Quartet, a Grammy-nominated quartet, performs pieces including Hugo Wolf’s “Italian Serenade” and more. March 21, at the Evergreen Museum & Library. Tickets, $10-$20. 410-516-0341, museums.jhu.edu —I.Z.
The work of one of America’s most vibrant young playwrights, Amy Herzog, comes to Baltimore in After the Revolution, revolving around an ambitious and politically leftist young woman— and an uncovered secret about her beloved grandfather that causes her and her family to grapple with their legacy. March 18-May 17, at Center Stage. Tickets, $10-$59. 410-332-0033, centerstage.org —I.Z.
Love is a Battlefield
Based on real-life interviews conducted by playwright Lynn Nottage, the poetic Ruined transports you to the Congo where a shrewd and business-savvy matriarch, Mama Nadi, struggles to hold on to her single refuge (a brothel) as war breaks out around her. Through March 8, at Everyman Theatre. Tickets, $34-$60. 410-752-2208, everymantheatre.org —I.Z.
The Kids Are All Right
The University of Maryland, in partnership with Big Ten Theatre Chairs, explores casual sex in the millennial era in its first commissioned project. Good Kids by Naomi lizuka plays out the many perspectives involved in a single night of passion gone wrong and the public aftermath that follows. Through March 7, at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. Tickets, $10-$25. 301-405-2787, theclarice.umd.edu —S.O.
Damon McMahon, who began recording as Amen Dunes while curled up in a Catskills cabin, brings his brand of atmospheric folk to Baltimore for a must-see show for all the cool kids (of any age). His previous records have been first-take improvisations, but his intimate 2014 full-length record “Love” is the product of more than a year’s worth of collaborations with diverse musicians. March 26, at Metro Gallery. Tickets, $10-$12. 877-435-9849, ticketfly.com —I.Z.
As part of Goucher College’s theme semester on civil rights, the school will screen Yoruba Richen’s The New Black (2013), which focuses on the black community’s reaction to the gay marriage movement. Local minister and community activist Rev. Meredith Moise will lead a follow-up discussion. March 11, at Kelley Lecture Hall. Free. 410-337-6000, goucher.edu —I.Z.
Crystal Moll takes portraits to the extremes in Size Matters, an exhibition of works smaller than 100 square inches and larger than 900 square inches. Artists featured include Moll, Tim Kelly, Jill Basham, Bruno Baran and Beth Bathe. Through April 4, at the Crystal Moll Gallery. Free. 410-952-2843, crystalmoll.com —I.Z.
Black Box: Sharon Hayes presents the Baltimore-born artist’s 38-minute film “Ricerche: three,” a 2013 Venice Biennale entry that questions attitudes of 36 students at an all-women’s college in western Massachusetts on sexual and gender identity issues. March 15-July 30, at the BMA. Free. 443-573-1700, artbma.org —I.Z.
Chatham County Line, a four-man band hailing from Raleigh, N.C., is bringing bluegrass to Baltimore. Featuring songs from their sixth studio album, “Tightrope,” these accomplished musicians stay true to classic stringband instrumentation—using banjo, mandolin, fiddle, piano and harmonica and more—while infusing creativity and heart into their arrangements and lyrics. Opener: The Herd of Main Street. March 6, at the Creative Alliance. Tickets, $15-$21. 410-276-1651, creativealliance.org —S.O.
Touch Me, Digitally
The Contemporary’s first solo commission since 2013, Bubble Over Green—featuring California -based artist Victoria Fu—uses neon installations and multi-channel video to depict performers interacting with layers of digital effects, referencing our nonstop commitment to the digital image and touchscreen. Through April 3, at the former KAGRO building in Station North. Free. 410-756-0397, contemporary.org —I.Z.
So, this is epic. A colossal and trippy online experience, Malcolm Lomax and Daniel Wickerham’s Boy’dega: Edited4Syndication presents a fictional Baltimore that fuses TV crime drama tropes into a cast of 20 original characters, whose “Wire”-esque stories unfold across interconnected, simultaneously active screens. March 21-April 18, at the Springsteen Gallery. Free. springsteengallery.com —I.Z.
It’s an exciting time to work with clay. Juried by Jason Bige Burnett, Graphic Clay surveys everything happening now in studio ceramics, from sgraffito and mishima to china paint and image transfers. March 14-May 9, at Baltimore Clayworks. Free. 410-578-1919, baltimoreclayworks.org —I.Z.
Shots Ring Out
Three-time winner for Best Play at the Baltimore Playwrights Festival, Rich Espey has once again crafted an emotional portrait of life on stage. In The Revelation of Bobby Pritchard, Marta revisits her claustrophobic hometown with her wife, while her estranged brother faces his own demons—leading to an explosive conclusion. March 13-28, at the Iron Crow Theatre. Tickets, $17-$22. 443- 637-2769, ironcrowtheatre.org —S.O.
With more urbanization, planting might seem harder—unless you know the secrets of naturally occurring plant communities. Writer and landscape architect Thomas Rainer explains this phenomenon and gives strategies for more lush and layered greenery in his lecture, Planting in a Post-Wild World. March 18, at Ladew Topiary Gardens. Tickets, $25-30. 410-557-9570, ladewgardens.com —I.Z.
March is Women’s History Month, and the National Aquarium celebrates it with international flair, including live performances from Dance Baltimore, the Barakaat Middle Eastern Dance Company and the Lincoln University Concert Choir. March 6. Activities included with admission. Cash bar. 410-576-3800, aqua.org —I.Z.
… It Pours
Don your wellies and get ready for the quintessential movie musical experience, when the BSO performs the score from Singing in the Rain right alongside Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds on the silver screen. March 27-29, at the Meyerhoff. Tickets, $50-$110. 410-783-8000, bsomusic.org —S.O.
Al Dente Dentist
“Broad City” fans are in for a treat. The hilarious Hannibal Buress, who plays Ilana’s on-and-off love interest (and sometimes dentist) on the hit Comedy Central show, brings his smart standup routine to Charm City. March 13, at The Lyric. Tickets, $38. 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com —I.Z.
We’ve long loved Ruth Shaw’s super-fly glamour. But can we confess a crush on her new little sister store fittingly named The Girl Next Door? Where Ruth is uptown chic, GNS is downtown real—side by side in the heart of Cross Keys. Girl is trend-driven, gamine, everyday elegant (and a little less expensive). Get your youthful fix—whatever the real number, darling— with a Jet jean jacket, Sundry slouchy tee or Iro cropped trousers for a casual-chic spring.
MODEL CITIZEN: Tobi Thompson may not look like the girl next door (we wish we were all so lucky), but she did come up with the shop’s super-friendly name. No surprise the Baltimore native—who has worked at Ruth Shaw for seven years, and is now a buyer-in-training—once dabbled in modeling (she walked the runway for Christian Siriano’s School for the Arts show). Thompson’s fiancé, Charlie Chiampou of cW Design/Build, came up with the idea of using a big steel “G” for the store’s cash wrap and designed custom tables for the space. “He created a downtown feel that is very open—it’s urban and industrial without being contrived, which mirrors the clothes,” says Thompson. —Betsy Boyd
$4,207,500 | Classic Beauty
Bedrooms: 6 | Baths: 5/1 | Square Feet: 12,000
“This four-level property, minutes from downtown Annapolis, is surrounded on three sides by the South River. Some of its striking features include a detached, winged eight-car garage, two boat barns and a large dock. Until we sold it to a gentleman from California last year, it was owned by the same family since 1941, and was originally part of a 250-acre farm where tobacco was grown and cows and horses were raised.” —Michael Moore, TTR Sotheby’s International Realty, 301-967-3344
$4,250,000 | Grand Estate
Bedrooms: 6 | Baths: 10/3 | Square Feet: 16,955
“Pen-y-Bryn is one of the fabled estates of the Green Spring Valley, sitting atop the hill on Golf Course Road on a 14-acre site. It’s unique to find an estate property of that scale, scope and architectural stature, let alone one with an in-home movie theater.”—Karen Hubble Bisbee, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, 410-821-1700
$3,350,000 | Serene Splendor
Bedrooms: 4 | Baths: 5/1 | Square Feet: 5,268
“Located on the beautiful Spa Creek, the lushly landscaped property has the feel of Nantucket in downtown Annapolis. There’s a serenity of being on the creek year-round, from a snowy day to watching paddle boarders and kayakers in the summer. Another plus? The Annapolis Boat Parade comes right by the house during Christmas.”—Constance Cadwell, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, 410-263-8686
$3,550,000 | Waterfront Wonder
Bedrooms: 4 | Baths: 3/2 | Square Feet: 4,196
“Built in 1927, this house in a quiet cul-de-sac on the Chesapeake Bay has been painstakingly renovated, including a luxurious outdoor pool and an in-house elevator. The second-highest sale on Gibson Island in the past several years, we hope it continues the trend of the higher-end market gaining strength since the tough economic times of 2008.” —Corey Burr, Gibson Island Corp., 410-255-1341
Every day for more than a year, Irene Smith has been collecting garbage from the Herring Run in northeast Baltimore. Her die-hard stream cleaning started as a service project in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but when her marriage fell apart, she threw herself more deeply into the work. “Every time trauma happens to me, I find refuge in nature,” she says. “When my life is chaos, I take a walk in the woods.”
Nominally employed by the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks, she is officially a “park steward,” and she takes the definition of “steward” — someone who cares for something important — to heart. Working for a very slim wage, she doesn’t haul a thousand pounds a week, expose herself to pollution and suffer snakebites for the money. “When you clean up trash, you are benefiting,” Smith says.
A mother of three girls, soccer coach and constant force for good in Herring Run Park, Irene’s had a varied career, from civil rights lawyer to owner of the Souper Freaks food truck and the Women’s Industrial Kitchen. When her marriage collapsed, she could only walk away. “I read ‘Eat, Pray, Love,’” she says. “But you just can’t go to an ashram when you have three children. I would love an ashram. My ashram is a garbage pile.”
Because of her work in the stream, she’s been stung by bees in the face, punctured by heroin needles and she contracted a rash from a fungus on a rose bush that gave her hives for a month. She’s bled a lot, and she’s been mugged, too. “I think I’m able to do this job because I have a lot of energy and I’m optimistic,” she says. “For me, it’s a pleasure and a joy to come across trash because it’s an opportunity to make a difference today.”
What she pulls from the stream, she says, tells us a lot about who we, the citizens of Baltimore, are. Every day she finds and bags diapers, condoms, fast food packaging, cigarillos, juice box foil pouches, pedicure toe grippers, miles of Styrofoam and a shameful number of plastic water bottles. More unusual finds include shopping carts, pianos, baby dolls, mountains of tires and nine cars abandoned in the Armistead Gardens section of the stream.
“I’ve learned so much about our community at the stream,” she says. “Our addiction to heroin. Our consumer addiction to fast and easy. I’ve watched joggers take one sip from a plastic water bottle and toss it.”
One of the more rewarding benefits to Irene’s work is that she’s gotten to know her community, and they’ve gotten to know her. “There’s a driver for Solid Waste—his name is Antoine—he’s put every single one of the garbage bags I’ve left for him on his truck. I’ve gotten to know the basketball kids, the people who have sex by the stream, the people who smoke pot there, the stroller moms. I say to the kids, ‘Honey, I love you. Would you please put your condom in the trash?’”
Working six hours a day, seven days a week, Irene has noticed that there isn’t nearly as much garbage to clean up at the Run anymore—but she can still guarantee four full 55-gallon contractor bags every day. She sorts everything that can possibly be recycled, and sells about 800 pounds of metal per week to Owl Metals, the profits from which replenish her supply of contractor bags and rubber gloves, which get worn through from pollution at a rate of about one pair per day.
Irene laments that the job of keeping our streams clean gets lost in a bureaucratic shuffle. The Department of Recreation and Parks, she says, wants the Department of Public Works to clean up the trash, but at DPW the Water Division only works with potable water (so not the stream water), and the Solid Waste division only works with the garbage in garbage cans.
“Parks should be where we showcase best practices for ecology and conservation,” she says.
How does she keep her chin up through it all? “It never, ever, ever gets to me. If I don’t pick up the Styrofoam, a turtle chokes. I wear a St. Francis of Assisi medal around my neck, and his prayer goes through my head. There are the moments with a fox, with a family of deer. Dog walkers and joggers look out for me. The miracle is there every day.”
Let’s face it, you’ve got game. And so does Oomph, the Connecticut-based furniture maker whose colorful casegoods are quickly becoming a designer favorite. The company’s new chess table boasts a tournament-size reproduction of the set used during the “Match of the Century” when 1972 world chess champion Bobby Fischer spanked Russia’s Boris Spassky. European-trained artisans construct each table from plantation-grown poplar, so no matter which of Oomph’s 16 high-lacquer shades you choose (this one is “Oceanfront”), the result will be green. Oh, and for mere mortals who’ve never caressed a hand-carved king or queen, they make an equally stylish backgammon table. $3,850, oomphonline.com
A promising design project always presents a puzzle at the beginning: a mishmash of elements until the perfect colors and shapes emerge. In sizing up the redo of a century-old farmhouse in Sparks for a young couple looking to create the perfect country getaway, Baltimore designer Charlene Petersen of Cashmere Interior didn’t wait for the usual visual patterns to emerge. As soon as she got a sense of their different styles, she knew the challenge was bigger. “If a home reflects a marriage,” she remembers thinking, “then I’d better find ways to marry their styles and make a home that suits them both.”
Call the country retreat she made from their various preferences and personal collections “eclectic” but that would be too predictable for the clever melding she engineered. “He’s an entrepreneur who loves the rustic beams, plain wood cabinetry and age of the house,” Petersen says. “She’s a former magazine photo editor and quintessential New Yorker who’s always on-the-go and loves entertaining with a touch of glitz.” The key to a design that worked for them both was grounding, and in some places showcasing, feminine furnishings, such as a crystal chandelier and furniture with flamboyant curves, in the solid wood-and-stone architecture of the farmhouse.
With only 18 months allotted from start to finish, Petersen divided the project into thirds and worked around the couple’s visits from their Baltimore condo home base. The largest piece of the puzzle was the great room they designated for extended family, as many as 15 relatives visiting on holidays. The wife was eager for a cozy, easy-care gathering spot beneath a vaulted ceiling and three walls of double-height windows. She acquiesced to Petersen’s suggestion for plaid curtains and beige walls and then watched, delighted, as patterns and textures came together to tame a huge central seating area.
Petersen channeled plenty of feminine vibe for the living/dining rooms in the house’s oldest section where double parlors probably once stretched across the front. She found the perfect area rug in a collection the husband bought on his Mideast travels, a Boccara that looks deeply brown in one light and tantalizingly purple in another. Aside from providing Petersen with the perfect yin-yang color palette for the couple, it fit perfectly under the dining table.
In the dining room, Petersen smartly centered fabric with a bold, embroidered medallion on the chair backs. “That enabled us to use a less expensive fabric on the seats where you get stains,” she says.
In the living room just opposite, Petersen gave a nod to that age-old fabric of country elegance, French toile. On closer inspection, though, the sofa pillows aren’t the usual French derivative. “It’s a Manhattan scene,” Petersen says, laughing. “Our fresh take on tradition.”
Pulling shades of lavender or pink through the master bedroom and the wife’s office was a no-brainer given how much it romanced the house’s earthy roots. The husband’s study and a home theater are deep-hued and weighty by contrast. To switch from water buffalo horns, rustic wooden shelving and leather upholstery in his study to pink upholstery and mirrored cabinetry in hers was not a stretch for Petersen. “You walk into the house now,” she says, “and you immediately sense personalities not bound by rules but celebrating the life they share together both in the city and country.”
5 Great Ideas From Designer Charlene Petersen
Ground Yourself. Rugs and window treatments create the foundation of a great room design. Start with these two elements and, if possible, splurge on them—don’t make them an afterthought.
Edit the Extra. Many rooms are crowded because we just don’t know when to stop. Upon supposed completion of your room, take a step back, look objectively and delete at least one thing.
Change Your Pattern. Scale is the most important thing to get right when mixing patterns. Same-size patterns will get too busy. So put some thought into mixing styles and sizes.
Remain Neutral. If you like to buy home accessories or change them up seasonally, stick with a neutral palette for your backdrop. Shifting pillows, throws and accessories can splash new color and activate style shifts.
Furnish with Care. Do not buy furniture unless you a) love it and b) it fits perfectly in your home. More often than not, clients ask me to make a room design around a piece of furniture they regret buying but feel too guilty to change.
We all know that traveling involves a bit of role-play, an escape, of sorts, from the mess of one’s real life. At home, most of us are encumbered—necessarily cluttered—with well-worn belongings and quotidian responsibilities (dishes to wash, oil to change). When we travel, we can borrow a sleek place to stay (just plunk those dirty dishes in the hall) and, if we choose, a sporty new car to take on the drive.
That’s precisely what my boyfriend and I had in mind when we got an irresistible offer last fall: the chance to borrow, free of charge, the brand new Audi RS5—a compact five-speed, turbocharged bruiser—and test it out on the open road for a whole weekend.
The RS 5 is no sweaty, eager boy-racer, but a luxurious rocket for grown-ups. Such design! The automatic transmission appears to know what you want before you do—it never fails to shift at just the right moment. The steering is precise, delivering detailed road-feel. The challenge, of course, was to find the right destination. A place worthy of the vehicle’s combination of luxury and function. We chose Fallingwater, the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house in western Pennsylvania, where we could continue to revel in the freedom and order embodied in great design. And for the hotel? We picked the Stone House Inn, a recently renovated roadhouse about 20 minutes away on Route 40.
I love to unpack when I travel (metaphorically and otherwise). It’s satisfying to place just the right number of socks and underthings in a drawer, lay neatly folded cardigans on a cupboard shelf like a pristine display at the Eileen Fisher boutique. (As we return to the chaos of real life, wouldn’t it be nice to bring back the essence of those perfectly stacked sweaters?) So first thing, I did just that; then we headed off to meditate on the modern beauty that is Fallingwater.
Well-designed spaces don’t have to be grand. This one is not. More than shape and style make the home a work of art. There’s also a sense of serenity, enhanced by the constant gurgle of water flowing around its walls. Fallingwater was built in 1935 on top of a waterfall, the three levels of living space (and the adjoining guest house) a sleek amalgam of glass, concrete and steel.
Touring the house, one can’t help but envy the Kaufmann family, owners of the eponymous department stores. Liliane Kaufmann no doubt had plenty of gowns, furs, books and knickknacks back at home in Pittsburgh. Maybe she collected dolls or cigarette cases. I picture her husband, Edgar, returning each day from his job— which was all about the accumulation of stuff—to his own stockpiles. And for all I know, their son, Edgar Jr., made model airplanes or was obsessed with baseball cards.
In my fantasy, the Kaufmann family left all that behind when they came to their weekend house, where Wright left the boundaries between nature and human habitation famously blurred.
The architect added an organic-feeling reading corner, breakfast nook and low built-in bench with deep rectangular cushions for reclining or chatting. He designated low upholstered hassocks and coffee tables carved from tree stumps for extra derrieres or trays of strong coffee. He even left specific spots—between steel shelving, stone pillars and all those windows—for the art collection (about which Wright also expressed a strong opinion).
Frank Lloyd Wright designed these rooms with such meticulous plans for their use that the Kaufmann family probably didn’t have to make many decisions when they came to Bear Run. They showed up, lit a fire in the hearth, poured whiskey and watched the sky darken while they waited for dinner to appear.
Fallingwater is in Fayette County in the Laurel Highlands section of the Allegheny Mountains. It’s a popular destination for architecture buffs, but also for outdoor lovers. The Youghiogheny River runs through Ohiopyle State Park, great for whitewater rafting. There are also plenty of opportunities for cycling, on the south section of the Allegheny Passage, and hiking on the Laurel Highlands Trail. Along with campgrounds and motels, local lodging options include the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, a luxury hotel with a spa and golf course, about 20 miles from Fallingwater.
A required addendum to the Falling-water tour is a peek at another Wright home, Kentuck Knob, about seven miles away. Like its more illustrious neighbor, this usonian (or middle class) house seems to bloom organically from its setting on the side of a ridge. Isaac N. and Bernardine Hagan owned a dairy company in western Pennsylvania, and, friends with the Kaufmanns, enlisted the then-famous architect to design their home. Wright created the plan for the house, but was so busy with other projects—notably the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York—that he designed from a distance.
Never mind. His mark is clear in the open floor plan, expansive windows and native materials of red cypress and sandstone. The owner, Lord Peter Palumbo, collector of both art and architect-designed homes (he once owned Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House outside of Chicago), opens the house for tours when he isn’t in the U.S. Palumbo has installed a sculpture walk adjacent to the house, where you can wander among Andy Goldsworthy’s Wall, a circular construction of carefully placed stones, Claes Oldenburg’s giant apple core and Ray Smith’s Red Army, a regiment of more than 1,000 red steel silhouettes blanketing a meadow. There’s even a graffiti-scrawled remnant of the Berlin Wall.
We experienced an elegant (and, OK, ultimately unrealistic) merger of form and function throughout our stay at Fallingwater—and our ride home kept pace. You can throw the Audi RS5 into corners with authority, confident that the all-wheel drive and stability control will have your back. Acceleration is instantaneous. Don’t tell, but when David took the wheel, he had the car up to 115 mph on I-70 and the engine wasn’t even breathing hard.
Neither was I. In fact, I barely looked up from my book.
Stone House Inn
Stone House chef Jeremy Critchfield.
Spirit: We happened to show up at the Stone House at the tail end of co-owner and chef Jeremy Critchfield’s 42nd birthday festivities. We sat at a picnic table, sampling barbecue from the smoker he’d set up in the parking lot and helped him work on his birthday bottle of Jack Daniel’s. “That was the first National Highway,” he said, gesturing to busy Route 40. “All the settlers moving west passed right here.” The 197-year-old inn, according to Critchfield, “is one of the birthplaces of American hospitality.”
Space: The 12 guest rooms and one three-room suite in the newly renovated inn are comfortable and reasonably priced; they’re named for historic figures, like Lincoln and Harriet Tubman (whose room has a Jacuzzi). We unpacked in the Titlow room, with its pencil post bed, private bath and ivy-printed wallpaper, named for a local landowner from days gone by.
Taste: Critchfield, who has run massive kitchens from The Greenbrier in West Virginia to the nearby Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, became a partner in the Stone House Inn in 2012. He’s designed a comfort food menu to appeal to travelers and locals alike. “The folks who live around here won’t go to the Nemacolin,” he told us, “but they’ll go to Olive Garden.” His goal is to compete at the fast casual price point with high-quality home cooking done with local ingredients. stonehouseinn.com
When John Hufnagel was 20, his mom gave him an ultimatum—go to college when he turned 21 or get (lovingly) kicked out of the house. Building on his creative eye and connection to food (the Jarrettsville native’s family owned a local candy shop), he enrolled in what was then the Baltimore International Culinary Institute. Ten years after graduation, the 31-year-old Highlandtown resident has served since May as the executive chef of the Bagby Restaurant Group’s Ten Ten American Bistro, a contemporary farm-to-table spot in Harbor East.
I hear your wife is Thai and that has influenced your cooking. I met my wife about eight years ago and now I have a love for Thai food. I have Thai red curry mussels and Korean tacos on the menu. Last fall, I hosted a five-course, authentic Northern Thai beer dinner with Tim Riley, our beverage director. But usually when I do Thai food, I don’t like to mix it up too much because my wife gets mad at me.
Does she cook, too? She never really had to cook her whole life. When she lived in Bangkok, her mother did all the cooking. She knows the flavors and I taught her some skills, like how to sear and how to dice an onion. I let her taste my Thai food: She critiques me and that’s what makes me better.
Your previous gig was sous chef at Cunningham’s. How has your transition gone? Working in a big kitchen like Cunningham’s is great because you have everything to your access. But it takes more chefs to run an operation like that. Ten Ten is smaller and you have to utilize all your space. It’s actually the perfect sized kitchen. I can be a better chef and mentor to the cooks.
What’s one dish a first-time diner has to try? The Cunningham Farms pork, because it’s almost always a special. Every week we get different cuts of pig from the
pig farm. I can get tenderloin, pork shoulder or beautiful racks of pork chops. I play with different cuts and I add a delicious Parisian gnocchi.
Bagby Restaurant Group restaurants have a collaborative reputation. What is it like behind the scenes? You have Fleet Street Kitchen with fine dining. Ten Ten is casual, contemporary American food. I get pizzas from Bagby Pizza all the time. And Cunningham’s, of course. It’s nice that we can collaborate. For example, we’ll lend each other employees or a pork belly if it’s needed in another restaurant. We’re a bunch of young professionals trying to help each other out and make ourselves better.
What is your guilty pleasure meal? Pizza and chips. I love junk food, sometimes. Especially after work.
Amy Herzog wrote her first play sitting on the floor of a laundromat waiting for her clothes to dry. At the time, as a recent college graduate, she thought she wanted to be an actor. That’s precisely why she found herself traveling city to city stuffed inside a van with the cast of a children’s theater production (and doing her laundry on the fly). A 10-minute play festival got her writing mind spinning, and gave her an excuse to try something new. By the time her wash cycle had lurched to a halt, she was completely engrossed in the endeavor that’s brought her plenty of success already at age 36.
Herzog’s acclaimed “After the Revolution” (2010) and her 2011 Obie-winning play, “4000 Miles,” will be produced at Center Stage this spring as two halves of what’s been billed as the Amy Herzog Festival (March 18 to May 24). Though Herzog hasn’t spent much time in Charm City, she says she’s especially excited about collaborating with Center Stage Artistic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah.
“I think Amy’s at the vanguard of young, energetic and—this word may seem weird—butsoulfulwriters in America today,” says Kwei-Armah. “I also wanted to send a message out to the Jewish community in Baltimore that they, too, are part of the family, and that their story is part of the quintessential American story that I find myself fascinated by. The immigrants who did well, whose kids went to college. I also love the political nature of Amy’s work, and how that links to the Jewish story in America. That’s worthy of investigation.”
Both fest plays borrow significant autobiographical subject matter. Vera Joseph, based on Herzog’s real-life grandmother, Leepee Joseph—a radical, dedicated Communist—bridges the two works. “4000 Miles” imagines 91-year-old Vera’s nighttime dialogue with her grief-stricken, 21-year-old grandson Leo, while in “After the Revolution,” Vera contends with her granddaughter Emma’s solemn political doubts. Each play’s lens watches two generations genuinely interact, without sentimentality or condescension, just as Herzog says she could with her own grandmother who died a few years ago at 96.
“I think my grandmother stopped playing tennis when she was 91,” Herzog says. “She was a force to be reckoned with. She saw Vera Joseph onstage.
She saw ‘After the Revolution’ at Williamstown Theatre Festival, where it premiered, and all the incarnations of ‘4000 Miles.’ She had political qualms [about ‘Revolution’]. It was not positive enough about the legacy—much the same way Emma disagrees with the protagonist. My grandmother said to me, ‘You’re very talented but you’re a reactionary.’”
Maybe you could call Herzog a reactionary—at least a reactionary artist. She adores the experimental Louis C.K. sitcom “Louie,” calling it “better than most theater,” because it’s unpredictable and ignores conventional plot restrictions. And, as noted, she’s a writer who often takes the hottest realities of her life, questions them and transforms them into textured and nuanced dialogue.
“I guess my answers are largely about family,” Herzog says. “I grew up with these politics. Communist was a friendly word. It described a lot of people in my family and a certain utopian vision. But in 1999, we learned [my grandfather] was a spy for the Soviet Union, and blacklisting him maybe not such an injustice.”
While the subjective complexity of family lore keeps Herzog riveted, the repetition of memorized lines left her cold. Back in her collegiate acting days—she studied at Yale as an undergrad and a graduate playwright—she realized she found it tedious to say the same thing, the same lines, over and over again, performance after performance.
“Having acted and finding it so difficult, I have huge respect for actors,” Herzog explains. “The idea that they find a way to repeat their lines every night for months. I think about that when I write: People have to say this a lot.”
Perhaps it’s this admiration—or empathy—that reminds Herzog to keep her actors’ talk on the script page as lively as possible, as real. As surprising.
Husband Sam Gold, an in-demand young director who’ll helm the stage version of “Fun Home,” Alison Bechdel’s beloved graphic novel, this year on Broadway at Circle in the Square, contributes to the process now and then.
“He brings a good dramaturge and leader whenever I need one,” Herzog says. “He reads my early drafts. And I understand better the director’s process. I go to his dress rehearsal. It’s immersive. I love having that level of shorthand.”
Herzog pauses for a beat and adds this disclaimer: “But you have to make sure that your marriage exists out of the professional sphere, too,” she says.
What’s been Gold’s most helpful influence?
“One of the biggest is thinking about design,” she says. “It’s a major weakness. I didn’t think of the physical stage and designing it as I began writing. Now it’s an early thought. What is the physical environment?”
Perhaps the couple’s most important collaboration would be their two daughters, Franny, 2, and Josephine, 6 months —and Herzog wouldn’t disagree, though she admits she sometimes pines for the pre-baby writing days.
“Having the two is pretty brutal,” she says. “Things kind of get done. I have a baby sitter some days of the week. With kids, you write as you can.”
Does she expect her kids will be theater people, too?
“We joke that we hope they’ll be neuroscientists,” she says, a laugh waiting at the back of her throat.