A peek at my weekend, which was fabulous, despite a few disappointing moments:
Saturday I shot an event — the American Heart Association walk at Rash Field. Since the pictures don’t technically belong to me, I won’t post them yet…but I did manage to take a snap of my friend Mark, and the inner harbor:
And then today I walked around downtown, and stopped by Articulate:Baltimore to see some of the work — lots of interesting stuff going on in Baltimore, if you know where to find it. More pics from that — will post later. But here’s a picture I took at Howard and Saratoga Streets:
Hope your weekend was a wonderful one!
I don’t know why that song popped into my head today, but it did.
I was downtown today, shooting photos of the Firehouse Expo — a big trade show, of sorts, for firefighters and fire department administrators. This year it’s being held at the Baltimore Convention Center, kind of ironic, given the cuts our mayor and fire chief have made to the fire department.
The IAFF Local 734 was protesting the cuts outside the convention center — Chief Clack was the keynote speaker. As he was rushed into his SUV by a handler, I stood in front and snapped away — at one point, we made eye contact, and he waved. At that moment, he just looked sad, tired, and…human. In no way did he resemble the man who stood before our City Council and justified his closing of three critical fire companies, or the man who, after making said cuts, crowed about receiving a contract extension and a raise.
I almost felt sorry for him, because I’ve seen that look before. The look that makes you wonder how much longer he’s going to be able to endure the hell he’s created for himself.
Nevertheless, the show must go on, and I was really proud of our firefighters today. I love to see people taking a stand when it counts — and this was quite a show of strength.
You can see some of the photos here.
There’s a spreadsheet I created making the rounds on Twitter and Facebook — the document shows the IAFF PAC contributions to Baltimore City Council candidates and the Mayor — both IAFF locals have PACs (and rightfully so, this is not an anti-PAC issue, trust me!) Please note: The link opens a PDF of the original Excel file.
Local 734 and Local 964 PAC funds donated to candidates, many of whom voted to cut fire companies in Baltimore City — a poor return on members’ money, if you ask me. And we’re not talking $50, $500, or even $5,000. When you add it all together, it’s a LOT of money, when you consider the fact that it comes out of peoples’ paychecks.
My source for the campaign dollars and dates is the same source anyone else is able to use — the Maryland Elections Center at the University of Maryland, which distills its info from the State Board of Elections. I use the UMD site more often than the State of MD site because I find it easier to use.
I created this spreadsheet for one reason — to let people know where their money went. Not to malign candidates, and not to tell people what to do with their money. Sometimes, though, it doesn’t really hit home until you start talking about dollars — dollars that came out of someone’s pocket.
Lots of exciting things going on!
In July, I’ll be showing some of my work at Zeke’s Coffeehouse at 4607 Harford Road. Details to follow… They liked my cemetery photos — there will be 10 of them displayed.
Also in July, I’m starting on a year-long photo project…details to follow soon.
And suddenly I’ve decided, along with a friend, to start a PAC. Baltimore City needs better representation — as a taxpayer and 12-year resident — yeah, the current system just isn’t working. So it will be fun to have a hand in changing it.
Oh, and there’s a street art project in the works with an amazing artist who I’m excited about working with.
One more thing…I’ll be speaking on a panel at BNIA’s ” Baltimore Data Day”.
Wow. Looks like I’m going to be busy…!
Of course it just HAD to be hazy and cloudy last night in Baltimore, when I was standing on a pier in Fells Point, trying to shoot the “super moon”. Never saw the moon and experienced its…super-ness, but I did manage to get a couple of halfway decent pics while standing on the pier.
Unlike other cities across America, Baltimore seems to be determined to erase its history — by demolition of buildings, homes, and yes — by the demolition of entire neighborhoods. Either by neglect, or by the wrecking ball, pieces of Baltimore are falling victim to our “red-headed stepchild” status, despite the heroic efforts of organizations like Baltimore Heritage.
I was fortunate enough to visit one of Baltimore’s old industrial buildings last weekend — here are a few photos from my visit:
Look no further than Open Walls Baltimore, the newest public art project in our city. Supported by the PNC Foundation and the NEA, Open Walls will transform a neighborhood surrounded by blighted homes.
Had a fantastic day yesterday — went around downtown with my friend Paula taking pictures, meandering along. Since we had to meet a friend at Hollins Market, I decided to go into the market to take a few photos — I’ve taken tons of pictures inside our public markets, either with my phone or my old point-and-shoot — so I figured this time would be no different, right?
I obviously figured wrong.
No sooner had I taken one photo, when a market police officer (yes, there’s an actual market police force…not rent-a-cops, they’re actual cops..and can arrest you) came over and said I couldn’t take photos in the market, and would have to put my camera away. Then he proceeded to yammer on about my having to obtain a permit downtown to take photos in any of the markets. So we left, and Mr. Big Bad Ass came outside — I guess to make sure I wasn’t trying to sneak back in to take photos.
Public markets are just that — public spaces that should be enjoyed without restriction. (Common sense, please…I’m not talking about total anarchy.) My experience at Hollins Market, along with the disturbing exodus of businesses at Lexington Market exemplify yet another way crime pervades our lives here. Instead of having real public markets where the standard is locally-made/locally grown foods, we have a handful of pitiful produce stands, sketchy meats that come from God-knows-where, and a proliferation of cell phone covers and wigs.
Our markets should be gathering spaces, the kind of spaces that inspire creativity and community. Instead, they’re spaces of fear and harassment — by junkies, by the “market police”, and spaces of tedium and bad smells.
Here in Baltimore, we talk about crime a lot. Even when we’re not discussing crime, we’re still discussing crime. Much like the way neighbors bond over a blizzard or unexplained power outage, crime brings people together in neighborhoods across the city.
Except when it doesn’t.
I was involved in a particularly unpleasant exchange on Twitter (okay, I totally butt into an ongoing conversation) between Justin Fenton, crime reporter for the Baltimore Sun, a good friend (I’ll call her LR), and a random man who I picture as a puppy-kicker and wife-beater combo. Maybe that’s a little biased, but he wasn’t nice.
A few days ago, a man in Bolton Hill (overall, a nice neighborhood) was robbed outside his home, inside his home, and then driven around the city in the back of his car while the robbers withdrew money from various ATM machines. LR suggested that perhaps the police should have alerted the neighbors — a reasonable expectation — instead of having the news story and subsequent police bulletin show up randomly a week later. Justin Fenton, who I’m sure hears all sorts of crazy crap from the slackjaws who tend to comment on crime stories in the Sun, said that it’s difficult for news reporters to always report on things in a timely fashion, because sometimes the police are less than cooperative when asked for information about crime — hence the lateness of some crime stories. Again, a reasonable assertion.
Then comes the random guy (I’ll call him RG) — claiming that if the police issued alerts every time a crime happened, it would cause “mass hysteria” or people would become “apathetic” to the alerts. Then, of course we were subjected to one of the Common Baltimore Arguments About Crime: LR was simply expecting to be alerted because she lives in Bolton Hill (read: uppity snooty folks think they deserve more than the rest of us) and if this happened in RG’s neighborhood, none of us (especially the snooty lady from Bolton Hill) would give a damn. At which point, LR and I both got off the crazy train and allowed RG the pleasure of tweeting to…himself…and his followers.
But this brings me to the point of this post, in albeit a rather roundabout way. What is it about crime in Baltimore that it overtakes every aspect of our lives? It’s like black mold in Chinese-made drywall. Just when you think it’s gone — wham….here comes yet another aspect of your life that’s affected — usually in a negative, or very odd, way.
Just one example: I have become an expert at stealth surveillance, and can spot a potential pickpocket, rapist, robber, or general ne’er-do-well a mile away. I am also an expert at plotting escape routes on the fly, can memorize bizarre details about what the people around me are doing or wearing, and I wear big rings — not only because I like big rings, but because I’m convinced they’ll make good (and legal!) weapons, if need be. I’ve put considerable time into thinking about this, as perhaps you can tell.
Because I have been the victim of a violent crime. More than once. In Baltimore, two-and-a-half times. I say “half” because the potential third crime never actually commenced, as I (and my 4″ heel) gained the upper hand. Huzzah!
You never truly realize how pervasive Baltimore’s criminal culture is until it directly affects your life, or that of someone close to you. Until then, it’s just a story by Justin Fenton, or something you see on TV as you’re doing the dishes. It’s like being sprayed by a skunk — you never realize how truly mind-blowingly bad it is until you’ve tried (for the third or fourth time, unsuccessfully) to wash it away. Then one day it starts to dawn on you…it’s everywhere. As you may have guessed, this is only the first in a series of posts about crime in Baltimore, and how it affects you in ways you’ve probably never thought of before.
Oh, and the alerts from the police department I mentioned before? There was a program for that — released with quite a bit of fanfare, if I recall. I signed up, and Have. Never. Received. A. Single. Text.
Welcome to Baltimore.
Help me solve this mystery! Today we went to Baltimore National Cemetery to shoot — what an amazing place. There’s an ornate grave statue (above) on a grave marked MCDERMOTT on one side, and PETERS on the opposite side. The statues of Mary and Joseph have been adorned with beads, the statue of Jesus has been adorned with strings of bells…and a candy cane.
Some of the strands of beads and bells are old — you can tell someone has been decorating this grave for a while. Who were the McDermotts, and what’s the meaning of the bells and the beads — and why is the Peters family buried on the rear-facing side of Joseph and Mary?
I did solve one mystery of the day — Jesus is often depicted holding up two fingers of his right hand. Apparently it’s to symbolize the two beings of Jesus — the human and the divine.
I love religious symbols — which is odd, because I’m not particularly religious. Stars, crosses, saints, staues…love them. I guess that’s why I spend so much time in cemeteries. That, and the fact that it’s quiet. But I digress…
If you have any info on the McDermotts, the Peters, and the beads/bells…please let me know. I did find this paper on grave decoration, which was interesting…but shed no light on the mystery.
The Reading List
- Baltimore Brew
- Baltimore Crime
- Baltimore Heritage
- Baltimore Slumlord Watch
- Baltimore Sun Crime Blog
- Blonde Justice
- Boring Pittsburgh
- City That Breeds
- Ephemeral New York
- Gaia Street Art
- Generation JD
- Inside Charm City
- Jim Romenesko
- On The Record
- Pigtown Design
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
- Pop City
- The Atlantic Cities
- The Quinton Report
- The Real Estate Wonk
- WSJ Law Blog
- WSJ Real Estate Blog