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Neck and Neck

Posted 1/15/2003

Tom Chalkley is doubtless the most talented and conscientious writer in City Paper's stable, but I am afraid he left the public with a wrong impression of our mutual acquaintance Charlie Doble in his otherwise accurate piece on Waverly ("For Better or for Worse," Jan. 1).

In that piece, while discussing "the hostility that greeted . . . African-Americans" in Waverly in the mid-'60s, Tom states that Charlie was "one of the local redneck punks who harassed the new neighbors." This may be factually true, but the lack of any qualifying words to the effect that Doble has learned, changed, and matured into a very different kind of person does Charlie a great disservice. I know from my work with Mr. Doble in the now-defunct Baltimore Jobs in Energy Project that he is not a "redneck" today, and simply to write that he believed "race was a distraction" back then does not dispel the moral taint implied by the earlier reference.

Many, if not all, men have done foolish and/or destructive things as teenage boys--some of us more than others. But as men, we deserve to be judged by what we are now, not our teenage follies (Tom, for one, hates to be reminded of his). Charlie Doble is a colorful character, but he is living in a real-life majority-black city, not a picaresque novel, and to publicly describe him as a "redneck" without qualifying the statement is to injure his reputation.

I hope that Mr. Doble can excuse my brother's journalistic indiscretion.

Mark Chalkley

As a former Waverly resident (my family lived there for more than 100 years), I would like to correct a few things that my old friend, Charlie Doble, said in your recent Waverly feature.

There has been a longtime inferiority complex in Waverly. Not only between those who lived on either side of 33rd Street, but also between those who lived between 33rd and Gorsuch Avenue and those who lived from Gorsuch south. This existed prior to the 1960s. The Northeast Community Organization did not aggravate the situation by making 33rd its southern boundary. 25th Street was the southern boundary for Northeast Community.

Nor did Northeast Community create the Waverly Improvement Association. It already existed at the time that the Northeast Community Organization was founded. Northeast Community organizers were, however, instrumental in having the Waverly Improvement Association extend its boundaries, for a time, south of 33rd (to Gorsuch). During that same time period, Jim Standifer and others had significant help, not only from the Northeast Community Organization but also from St. Bernard's, in creating the Waverly Block Builders, a predecessor to Better Waverly.

I still have some of the documents from that time and would be willing to share them, if needed, with those working hard to save this historic community.

Jim Kraft

As a Better Waverly Community Organization board member and recent Waverly homebuyer (a 1903 Victorian, about a block from the Giant Food development), I'd like to clarify that Better Waverly's position has always been in favor of a new grocery store, just not the monstrosity that Giant will be building. After many community meetings, neighborhood votes, and lots of input from residents, it's clear that an overwhelming majority want a smaller store, about the size of the 25th Street Safeway. That's still plenty large and would allow the preservation of neighboring historic homes, mature trees, and green space. I think the city could have found a company willing to build it that way, if Giant wouldn't, especially considering the $1,250,000 of city tax dollars subsidizing this project. Instead, we got eminent-domain condemnation to force residents out and massive demolition to make room for a big-box suburban-style store with a huge parking lot. City Councilman Robert Curran and the mayor sold us out to Giant--they'll never get my vote again.

Adam Cooke

Tom Chalkley responds: First of all, I owe Charlie Doble an apology for not expressly stating--due to sheer oversight--that his days as a redneck punk are about 35 years in the past. He's one of the least race-conscious Baltimoreans that I know and has worked hard to make this city more livable, just, and humane. Furthermore, if Charlie misremembered the early days of the Northeast Community Organization and the Waverly Improvement Association, I'm at fault for not cross-checking his version of events. Finally, the Waverly story would have been improved by a closer look at Vanguard Equities, the company that is developing (and will lease) the giant Giant on 33rd Street, particularly Vanguard's stance on the scale of the project. As Vanguard will continue to be a player not only in Waverly but citywide, I expect that there will be opportunities to reopen the subject.

Byrd Brained

Brian Morton's column "Look Again" seeks to explain to the dumber liberals (but I repeat myself) why Sen. Robert Byrd's "past" racism and current portrayal of a Confederate is different than Sen. Trent Lott's alleged racist remark, which was royally distorted and demonized in the leftist media (Political Animal, Jan. 1). Perhaps after this Morton can explain in his voodoo manner why water is not wet, fire does not burn, axes do not cut, Democrats are not often assholes, etc. The liberal's frantic protection of one of his or her own idiots is laughable and sad. But so many Republicans being elected in the recent election is evidence that many Americans are not listening to liberal hypocrites. Americans see the liberal agenda and accompanying rhetoric as bankrupt and vacuous. I am sure many Baltimoreans see through the shallow reasoning in Morton's knee-jerk column.

Donald Holland

It's a Black Thing

I just read your magazine's review of Antwone Fisher (Film, Dec. 25 ) and Drumline (Film Clips, Dec. 18). I am an African-American who recently moved to Baltimore and I just knew that when two very well-done films about black people emerged that white critics would simply miss the point.

You did with both films. Both of these films revealed aspects of African-American life seldom seen by a white public. It prefers Denzel Washington winning an Oscar for playing a psychotic police officer or rap artists getting high at Harvard because they reinforce the worst stereotypes of black males. I know you didn't "get it" by the reviews you gave because rarely are black males viewed as sensitively as they were in Antwone Fisher, and black college life has simply never been on film before in the manner presented in Drumline.

I'm a "heavy" moviegoer--two to three films a week--because I speak to a host of audiences and film can be a point of discussion about life in the United States. This week alone I've seen four films--the two mentioned above, Gangs of New York, and Catch Me if You Can. Ironically, I think I could better identify with the Irish in Gangs than your reviewer could with the African-American man in Fisher. Difficult though it may be, white film critics ought to try and understand African-American points of view, as we are often forced to understand "white" points of view because of the sheer ubiquity of white supremacy. Perhaps then I'll have more confidence in white reviews of black films.

Raymond Winbush

The Art of Inclusion

I was pleased to see Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme appear on your list of the 10 best films of 2002 ("The Year in Film," Dec. 18). The film had its East Coast premiere in May at the Maryland Film Festival, and I knew from two enthusiastic sold-out screenings that the film went over well, but films without conventional distribution often get overlooked in these kinds of lists. Every year there are numerous exceptional films that do not get bought by one of the various distribution companies, and they must seek venues other than the normal theatrical release to be seen. (To my knowledge, there were only three screenings of Freestyle in Baltimore: two at the Maryland Film Festival and one at the Creative Alliance Movie Makers). Kudos to City Paper for looking beyond the films with traditional releases to recognize this worthy film with a spot alongside the best of 2002.

Dan Krovich
Programming Administrator, Maryland Film Festival


Stage Freight

Not to plaster bah-humbug all over Christmas, but is there any way to say oh so nicely to all regional theaters for the next year, "We adore all your Christmas/holiday spectaculars, but enuff already." One more City Paper calendar announcement about a heartwarming, kiddy-friendly-tho'-adult-oriented seasonal black-comedic original musical featuring Belle's Uncle Scrooge's Red Hot and Blue Technicolor-Coat-Wearing Reindeer, in conjunction with late-night/all-night caroling (featuring who else but Carol), and I shall hurl in seasonal hues. Same goes for productions all year 'round, actually.

How about a contest, or at least a New Year's resolution list, for things we desperately do and do not want to see in Baltimore theater next year? For example, an enforced moratorium on productions of: Joseph, Godspell, Hair, Fiddler, Annie, 1776, Guys and Dolls, The Foreigner, anything by Neil Simon, anything by Ray Cooney, anything involving two-member casts (pre-cast, of course).

Wishes: Bring back Axis. Bring back true open auditions. For those big stages (Dundalk, CCC, Chesapeake, Cockpit) to use their wonderful spaces for something other than another musical. How about Shakespeare? (Mobtown does it beautifully--let them do it in a glorious space.) Moliere, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, David Hare, David Ives, Caryl Churchill, Alan Bennett, Christopher Durang, John Osborne, Tennessee Williams, and Arthur Miller. To name so very few.

Theater is about exploration and innovation and risk-taking. Baltimore has become same-old, same-old. We--audiences and actors alike--deserve Enrichment and Excitement.

Anyone out there willing to add to the wish list? Anyone? Anyone?

Mary Nisbet


Letter writer Daisha Lyell asserts that if Marciana Ringo had been white, the police would have not released the "No. 1 suspect:" the boyfriend of the mother (The Mail, Jan. 1).

Right, like the police have not been burned on this before. Like the ACLU wouldn't be called in. Like Jesse Jackson wouldn't show up for another photo op. Maybe Johnnie Cochran will suggest that the mother be sued for her lousy choice in boyfriends as he thinks Baltimore should be sued for misleading the Dawson family. Then again, Marciana's mom doesn't have any money. Come to think of it, neither does Baltimore City.

Not that it matters, because Jamal Abeokuto will get off. How do I know this? Because, city juries always let everyone off--or hasn't Daisha noticed. I have. Believe it.

April Smith

Fucking Shit

This is about Mr. Joe MacLeod's "Automatic for the People, Right?" (Mr. Wrong, Jan. 1). In one short article, he uses "shit" 12 times and "fucking" 31 times.

Am I the only one who thinks he overuses these words?

Bella Chou

Correction: Jazz reeds player Yusef Lateef was incorrectly identified as a pianist in our tribute to the late painter Mati Klarwein ("People Who Died, Dec. 25, 2002).

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