Yankee Park at Camden Yards?
Before I go further, let me say that I was born and raised in New York, lived much of my adult life in New York, and still have New York in my blood, despite nearly 20 years here in the Baltimore area. I have always hated the Yankees, in large part because of their Arrogant Asshole Fans (of which, sad to say, my brother is one). To allow these AHFs to take over our own park bespeaks a city full of total Wusses-for-Fans, something Peter Angelos should fear a hell of a lot more than a D.C. ball team. It makes me ashamed, and I ain’t even one of yews, hon.
The Dechter Dislexicon
Gadi Dechter made a hash of last week’s review of Edward Albee’s The Play About the Baby (Stage, Sept. 29). I understand that Mr. Dechter didn’t “get” the play, and he is entitled to his opinion, but a reviewer has a responsibility to be knowledgeable about his subject.
Mr. Dechter writes, “The whole experience is a little like watching George W. Bush give a speech.” This is a most revealing comment, as there is no one more like George W. Bush than Gadi Dechter. Like George Bush, he is willfully ignorant of subjects he should know about, he approaches every subject with preconceived opinions and a rigid agenda, he always takes the low road, and he is incapable of admitting mistakes.
Begin with ignorance: Apparently Mr. Dechter’s curiosity about what he reviews doesn’t extend to reading the script. Doing so would prevent howlers like Mr. Dechter’s extended criticism of the cast for having a “hard time memorizing” their lines—when in fact many of the lines are written that way to give that impression as part of the self-conscious theatricality of the evening. Perhaps the cast should have held up signs reading it’s part of the play.
For example, the Woman, played by Debbie Bennett, says, “Really: From the very first week, come dinnertime, he would put the paper under his arm, say ‘Bye, bye,’ or whatever, and . . . no matter.” That’s not flubbing lines; that’s what she’s supposed to say.
As far as preconceived notions, check the archives of Dechter’s reviews. The only type of theater he likes is fluff. There’s nothing wrong with fluff, but there’s more to theater than that. For example, last year he liked The Real Inspector Hound/The Mystery of Twicknam Vicarage (oddly enough directed by Alex Willis, who also directed the Albee play) enough to put it in the Top 10 list. If he reviews a play that isn’t fluff, if it’s a play that has been a critical success in New York and Chicago, etc., and/or is by an established playwright, his consistent agenda is to prove “the emperor has no clothes.” I understand it’s more fun to be negative, and perhaps he feels he is establishing his bona fides by being consistently contrary, but this approach is as predictable as it is boring, and City Paper readers deserve more.
And finally, just like our current president, his response to previous letters to the editor demonstrates that he can neither admit a mistake nor apologize for stepping over the line (as he did by using the vicious cliché of “the real Jew” in his mean-spirited review of Ella’s Song). His childlike response is to simultaneously deny he meant what his words implied while contradicting himself by writing “it was an impression shared by the person with whom I saw the show.” Mr. Dechter needs to grow up and I wish he wasn’t allowed to do it on the pages of City Paper.
CP PC, Continued
James Lutkenhouse is upset that City Paper uses the term “African-American” to describe murder victims in its Murder Ink column (The Mail, Sept. 22). He seems to think it would be more politically correct to call the deceased person a “male” rather than offend anybody’s racial sensitivity.
We can take that a step further; we can be PC about the neighborhood in which the victim died. After all, the residents of Poppleton Street are probably sick and tired of hearing about the carnage on their corners. Also, we wouldn’t want to pigeonhole people due to age, God forbid. Maybe CP can just mention a person died somewhere, sometime in Baltimore last week. Better yet, we can just take the total number of deaths for the week and put them in a box in each week’s paper with no explanation.
Or we can explain who died, how they died, where they died, and whether the police department arrested anybody or if the killer is out running loose in our fair city. I have learned from Murder Ink that if you are a black male between the ages of 16 and 25, you might not want to take a “walk” in Upton at midnight, because your evening constitutional might be interrupted by a gunshot to the back of the head.
Do we want information that can explain what is going on and be able to do something that can stop the insanity, or be happily left in total ignorance, politically correct, and let the killing continue unabated?
Web Site to the Stars
Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily
Yes, the Middle Branch is a terrific place to paddle (“Best Place to Paddle,” Best of Baltimore, Sept. 22)! Members of the Baltimore Rowing Club and college crews who row out of the boathouse in Middle Branch Park these evenings witness mesmerizing sunsets as honkers, egrets, herons, and duck families wing their way across the sky. Rowers can’t gaze too long at the liquid fire lapping at their boats without getting dizzy, though. Better to focus on the massive smokestacks at “Glass Beach,” that brilliant blue heap by the now defunct Carr-Lowrey glass factory, and the abutments under the Hanover Street Bridge, which frame passage as trucks rumble overhead. See our ad on page 30 in the Best of Baltimore issue—it’s our 25th anniversary this year. Sorry you missed including us, but next spring come down to Learn to Row Day. In fact, bring eight staffers down for an unforgettable exercise in teamwork!
As Nature Made Her
Uli Loskot’s exquisitely composed, daringly honest, and inexplicably moving photograph of a nude woman diving into Prettyboy Reservoir (“Best Place You Don’t Want to Know People Skinny Dip,” Best of Baltimore, Sept. 22) was like a gift from the gods. I was stunned. I’m going to frame it and hang it on my wall. At the risk of waxing rhapsodic, it’s a pantheistic prayer to women, the earth, and the idea of the sacred feminine, and ancient concept that still persists in this “civilized” world, much to the dismay of Republicans. It’s also a darn good example of just breaking the rules sometimes.
The sight of the natural human body portrayed simply and unashamedly in a natural setting is something we need more of; there is nothing wrong with it. (And yes, Prettyboy Reservoir was created by the hand of man, but let’s not go there right now.)
Like the title cut of Jackson Browne’s recent CD, The Naked Ride Home, the photo is an easily misunderstood, subtle feminist statement with qualities only an artist could create: symbolic, metaphorical, mysterious, and, in Loskot’s case, wordless.
Thanks to Loskot for taking it and to City Paper for printing it. I’m sure you’ll get flack from uptight, body-fearful conservatives. I feel sorry for them. And for the world.
Your “Best Playwright” article naming Joe Dennison is misleading (Best of Baltimore, Sept. 22). At the recent Baltimore Playwrights Festival awards dinner at Center Stage on Sept. 20, both the Best Play and Best Production awards went to the production of Partners at Fells Point Corner Theatre. Partners was written by Paul Bogas, not Joe Dennison. These were the only awards given out. There is no award for Best Playwright. Given that neither of Mr. Dennison’s scripts received “best” in category, how can you state that he is Baltimore’s best playwright? Paul Bogas also had two plays in the competition, and his other script (The Throne Builders) took second place. So Paul took both first and second place. This requires a correction, I believe, or at least an acknowledgement of Mr. Bogas’ work and achievement.
Editor Lee Gardner responds: With all due respect to the Baltimore Playwrights Festival and the playwrights involved, the BPF makes its awards and we make ours. Congratulations all around.
I wish to thank City Paper readers who voted me “Best Activist” for the second (to my knowledge) year in a row (Readers Poll, Best of Baltimore, Sept. 22). It gave me the opportunity to be the oldest City Paper groupie boogieing at the paper’s annual Best of Baltimore orgy.
Would that it would move the American Friends Service Committee to end its blacklisting of my phone number and name from its weekly Activist Alert calendar listings, because its regional director believes that he must protect the peace and justice community from Bob Kaufman.
On Martin Luther King Day, a half-dozen years back, I was honored for my early (1947 on) civil-rights efforts, whereupon I rushed out to distribute “Crown Boycott” fliers to the existing crowd and was quickly arrested for the same thing I had been “honored” for several minutes earlier. (Crown workers were on strike—we won.)
I remember predicting at the time, “That that’s the last honor I’ll ever receive—at least while I’m alive and still dangerous.” City Paper readers have now proven me wrong—twice—for which I thank you—twice.
The practical, beneficial effect of this award is that it was spontaneous and unrehearsed. No one, to my knowledge, had stuffed the ballot box—yet. It is a clear demonstration that the local population is one hell of a lot more progressive than most of us had ever suspected.
The next step, dear reader, would be to start organizing with me, to join our weekly Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. demonstrations at 2516 N. Charles St. (Republican Party headquarters) to pressure the government to end genocide in Darfur, Sudan.
You might also attend our 10-week “Yes, Virginia, There Is a Class Struggle” film series on Sunday evenings at 7 p.m. at 611 N. Eutaw St. (at the SEIU union hall), running from Oct. 10 through Dec. 12. Not to neglect my 10 weekly Wednesday at 7 p.m. Free University course on “Socialism and the Stuff the Ruling Class Doesn’t Want You to Know,” from Oct. 13 through Dec. 15 at the same location. All are (pass the hat) free. For more information phone me at (410) 728-8611.
A. Robert Kaufman
Editor’s note: Looking for literary immortality? We probably can’t help you there. But this Friday, Oct. 8, is the deadline for CP’s annual Fiction and Poetry Contest. Turn to page 84 for details.
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