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Good Shootin'

Posted 9/13/2000

I just wanted to drop you a line and let you know how much I enjoyed the "Shooting Baltimore" piece by Christopher Myers (9/6). I moved away from Baltimore a few years ago and miss the unique nature of the city. I check in with CP Online each week. Seeing this story really let me visit the odd moments of a one-of-a-kind place. Man, it's good and strange to be home. I hope to see more of this kind of work.

Bryan Hartman
Charlotte, N.C.

To Illegit to QuitWhile we were glad to see such venues and secret societies as the Small Intestine and the Laff 'n' Spit mentioned in Anne Ray and Anna Ditkoff's "Where's the Party?" (8/23), many of us in Baltimore's underground community felt dissatisfied with the overall tone of the well-intentioned piece, and the manner in which it assessed the "all ages" music scene in our city. The ultimate suggestion of the article seemed to be that "all ages" shows are only of concern to those too young for an eventful evening of bar-hopping; that the only reason to work at building an independent community is to pass the time until one is "of age" and can consume the entertainment provided by "legitimate" businesses. This notion is incorrect. It does not explain why many of the groups that performed in these spaces, and many in the audience, chose to participate out of preference and not necessity, or why the three young women who organized the Laff 'n' Spit events bothered, since all of them were old enough to go to bars. The "do it yourself" approach carries much more meaning than your article implies.

While Memory Lane and the Ottobar (both worthwhile venues, home to many great shows) function as business endeavors, the Laff 'n' Spit and Small Intestine (along with last year's cooperative Manhattan Project) were created to directly service cultural and social needs. They were, and similar projects will continue to be, empowering and substantial efforts to take control over the conditions of daily life--efforts that, regardless of one's age, prove to be rewarding on many levels. These spaces are about creating an avenue for expression, not merely steppingstones on the way to "legitimate" cultural settings. (Today's teenage bands are tomorrow's Ottobar headliners.") On the contrary, they sidestep and reject any question of legitimacy. The do-it-yourself program, as a core ethic of punk rock, has always had little to do with age and everything to do with the revolutionary desire to change the world, starting with one's own surroundings, with what one loves. In our case it is music, and we require no stamp of approval to be sure that our efforts have been worthwhile and, above all, appreciated as more than just a way to withstand the boredom of being young.

Guy Blakeslee

Come on Now, Hon, This Joint Is Pretty GoodAs a customer of Showalter's Saloon, I think the "Wet Bar" review was inaccurate for the most part (Belly Up, 8/30).

You start the article by saying that your eardrums were assaulted by a pounding Abba beat. Showalter's has a jukebox that has top hits from the '70s, '80s, and '90s as well as older classics. As far as the color green goes, at least the place is color-coordinated and doesn't have neon blinding your eyes. And for the server, you make her sound like she is one of those purple-haired people who have rings growing out of her eyes, ears, and nose. Actually, she is a well-respected college freshman (with no tattoos or body mutilations) who is going to Villa Julie College and just trying to earn a little bit of spending money. The menu was revised over the summer, and prices have only risen a small amount--no more than $1 per entrée, if that. If you have eaten steamed shrimp before, you would know that it is served hot--your hands usually get a little messy.

Sorry you didn't enjoy the crabmeat on C.C.'s chicken Chesapeake--Showalter's is known for its crab cakes, and they are made with the same crabmeat that goes in the chicken Chesapeake.

As far as the lamb chops and broccoli go, if they weren't cooked all the way or were overcooked, you should have sent them back to the kitchen, and the cook would probably have prepared them to your liking. And while Showalter's, a saloon, may not have homemade desserts, at least Ms. Dessert's cheesecake is the next best thing to being homemade.

Showalter's isn't just for neighborhood regulars. People have come from as far away as California, Florida, even Guatemala, and have enjoyed the food and the atmosphere tremendously. Maybe you should take all the negativity out of your head and give it another try.

Lissa O'Connor

Eye PollutionI must send kudos to Department of Public Works (DPW) spokesperson Kurt Kocher for his campaign against vandalism of public property and for his very effective photograph of a tourism sign plastered with stickers (The Mail, 8/16). However, I could show Kurt several photographs that I took during the last two political campaigns that show my garage full of illegally placed campaign signs that were removed by myself and others after getting zero response from the DPW. And I could drive Kurt around the city and show him the hundreds of signs advertising concerts, CDs, and strip clubs currently gracing the light poles, trees, and switch boxes of our fair city.

Perhaps these illegal signs are not the top priority of a cash-strapped city (although if DPW director George Winfield wants to deputize me, I would be happy to inform the offenders that they are breaking the law); however, I hope that with a new mayor, a new director of public works, and a "new" Kurt Kocher serving both, existing laws will be used to crack down on commercial as well as artistic vandalism.

Dave Desmarais

Editor's note: There's just too damn much that's best about Baltimore to leave much room for anything else, even when the issue's a double-wide. All your favorite CP features will be back next week in their usual places. The ones you don't like will be back too.

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