Introduction to the Best of Baltimore 1996
When we were looking for what—or who—epitomizes the best of Baltimore for the cover of this issue, various tired ideas came to mind. But in a final flip through our mental Rolodex, a searchlight shone down on “Boppin Buzz” Nasdor.
“Lounge lizard” is not an appellation by which Buzz likes to be known, although, he admits, he does like to frequent the Club Charles an awful lot, when he’s not at the Depot or Club Midnite (if you’ve been to le Club, you’ve probably seen him). And it’s true, Buzz does not exactly lounge—he’s always moving, a symptom of Tourette’s syndrome, an illness he sees not so much as a handicap as the source of his nonstop energy. (His is not the variety of this affliction that causes sufferers to mutter obscenities.) And his edginess, his constant motion, may be the first thing you notice about him.
The second thing you will notice about him is his sartorial sense. His closet has seen the likes of leopard-print vests, pink Western-style shirts, two-tone shoes, and string ties. “I cultivated this look over 20 years,” Buzz, 35, says. His greatest thrift-store find: “a pink-and-black zoot suit. I paid, like, eight bucks for it.” A crooner in search of a band (his day job is working with developmentally disabled folk), his tastes run to rockabilly, the blues, and early R&B.
And you only need to glance at Buzz to know he’s an Elvis fanatic (fave movie: King Creole). He even saw the Great White-Jumpsuited One perform in 1977, the year the King passed on. “Every time I tell this story, I get chills,” Buzz says. “His voice was fantastic.”
Buzz is something indefinable—he’s that playful, idiosyncratic creature lurking in the back room of your psyche, about to come into the light; he’s that swingin’ cat in a red smoking jacket who materializes before your eyes; he’s a true Baltimore iconoclast, just hanging out and being himself, waiting to enter your mental field of vision. He’s, well, Buzz, and he’s the best.
A passel of other Bests follow in this, our lucky 13th Best of Baltimore issue, which also includes our Readers’ Poll and what we call Personal Bests, in which we asked a sampling of the citizenry from Hugs the Clown to Stephen L. Miles to name their three favorite things about Baltimore. Contributing writers include Michelle Albert, Michael Anft, David Barranco, Gina Bittner, Gina Coffman, Charles Cohen, James D. Dilts, Fred Elburn, Mark Evans, Lee Gardner, Michelle Gienow, Mike Giuliano, Ronald Hube, Joab Jackson, Brennen Jensen, Heather Joslyn, Andy Markowitz, Joe MacLeod, James Morrisard, Sono Motoyama, Eileen Murphy, Molly Rath, Benn Ray, Tom Scocca, Melanie Scott, Van Smith, and Vincent Williams. Carl Davies, Frank Diller, Brennen Jensen, Buffy Razavi, and Melanie Scott provided invaluable research assistance. Andrew Campbell, Michelle Gienow, and Jefferson Jackson Steele shot the photographs; the Reverend George Dobson and Jason Pippen drew the pictures. And thanks to Dreamland and the Zone, who know what it takes to outfit a rockabilly cover boy, a guy who we hope will turn up often on a bar stool next to ours.
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