Baltimore News: Max Weiss, Dan Keech (aka Height), Baynard Woods

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This week’s news includes: Red Emma’s permit problems, East meets West jazz, no skatepark for Easterwood, and more reporting from Maryland Matters, Baltimore Magazine, Baltimore Fishbowl, and other local and independent news sources.

Header Image: Greg Thompkins performs with his band Olde Skool at Bertha’s in Fells Point. (Credit: Jennifer Bishop)



Red Emma’s operators express frustration over city permit process delaying the opening of new Waverly location
by Ed Gunts
Published September 13 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: “Red Emma” Goldman was a rabble rouser in her time – an early 20th century labor organizer, anarchist political activist and fiery speaker who drew huge crowds wherever she appeared.

Now the owners of Red Emma’s Bookstore Coffeehouse are making noise about the amount of time it’s taking to get the city permits they need to open their new location at 3128 Greenmount Ave.

In a message sent today to people on their mailing list, members of the worker-owned business said they had hoped to be fully open by now to kick off their Fall Events program, but it hasn’t turned out that way.



Big Fish: Max Weiss, Editor-in-Chief of Baltimore Magazine, Tells Almost All
by Marion Winik
Published September 12 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: While Max Weiss was an undergrad at Bennington College in Vermont, studying music and literature, her parents moved from Long Island to Timonium. So after she graduated, she came home to a new hometown — Baltimore. It immediately felt right to her in a way Long Island never had. And as warmly as she embraced her new city, it embraced her right back.

In short order, she scored internships at WJHU (now WYPR) and the City Paper. She started doing movie reviews on radio, then on TV. She was “Media Max.” She was “Max and Mike at the Movies.” She was “Nice Girl” — “it was blogging before blogging,” she explains, a lifestyle column syndicated in alternative newspapers around the country. After leaving City Paper, she accepted a job offer from then-editor Ramsey Flynn at Baltimore magazine.

At the time, to a Bennington girl, Baltimore magazine seemed a bit… mainstream. Bougie, perhaps. Thirty years later, having moved steadily up the masthead to Editor-in-Chief, she smiles to remember it.



Like a ‘kimchi hamburger’: Blues from South Korea meets jazz from Govans
by Rafael Alvarez
Published September 13 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: There was a time when just about all public elementary schools in the United States offered band to their students. Even if all you did was play the triangle, you too could take a place on stage. One of those kids was Greg Thompkins, raised in Anne Arundel County (Chesapeake High School, 1981), a resident of Govans and one of the premier jazz saxophone players in Baltimore.

“I started on a rented clarinet at Pasadena Elementary School when I was 12,” said Thompkins, 58, the leader of a band called Olde Skool. “Two years later I switched to saxophone.”

Like the parents of many young band students once upon a time in Baltimore, Leverne and Rudell Thompkins rented Greg’s instruments from Rosso’s in Curtis Bay. The Thompkins are originally from South Carolina and one of Greg’s aunts went to grade school with famed trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie in Cheraw, S.C.



Start, end, begin again: Baltimore rapper Height reflects on his time in Charm City, the weight of death, and where music has taken him.
by Ed Schrader
Published September 8 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: It’s around dinner time as I sit down with Dan Keech, also known as Height, a Baltimore rapper who’s played every basement, community center, legion hall, and comic book store between here and Santa Monica for the better part of the last 20 years. We ordered a couple pizzas and drinks while waxing nostalgic about the many weird shows we’ve played together.

Well over a decade ago, I joined Height for a full U.S. tour. One night we’re at The Spazz in Greenville, North Carolina, setting up to play in a rowhouse-size living room covered in bugs and broken glass while Johnny from Death Set wails on a busted SM57 in midair clinging to a tenuous chandelier. The next night, we’re at a sports bar in South Carolina, competing with blaring TV sets showing Nascar races and football games right above our heads while bored customers look past us to catch the score.

There were times where the whole thing just felt like one big ego-death-crawl through hell.
I remember one house show we did in Little Rock where a dude literally tried fighting the entire audience until he fell off the porch into a giant Rubbermaid garbage can, yelling “my brother’s on the way, and he’s worse than me!”



Baynard Woods Has Written Several Books, But Never One as Personal as His Latest
by Ron Cassie
Published September 14 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: Baltimore-based journalist and author Baynard Woods, a former City Paper editor, has written several books, among them Coffin Point: The Strange Cases of Ed McTeer, Witchdoctor Sheriff, and I Got a Monster: The Rise and Fall of America’s Most Corrupt Police Squad, co-authored by Brandon Soderberg. But he has never written one this personal.

His new book, Inheritance: An Autobiography of Whiteness, explores his upbringing in the Deep South, as well as his family’s enslaver history. Rather than assuming the role of a reporter investigating the embedded racism of his home state, with Inheritance, Woods examines his own experience in the white culture in which he was raised, and its invisibility to him. Woods is an engaging writer and aspects of his story will resonate with anyone who has grown up in the majority-white cities, towns, and suburbs of America. Especially those who struggle with the political dynamics of family get-togethers in the era of Donald Trump.



Improvements to Easterwood Park no longer include long-sought skate park
by Jasmine Vaughn-Hall
Published September 13 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: Marvin “Doc” Cheatham wants to know what he’s supposed to tell kids in West Baltimore, specifically Easterwood, a neighborhood the 72-year-old has spent his entire life in.

The community activist pursued the idea of bringing a skate park to Easterwood in 2013 after he encountered children in Hampden that traveled from Easterwood to the skate park. Kids in some parts of the city, he said, have to travel long distances on their skateboards to skate parks in Carroll Park, Hampden, Jake’s Skatepark in South Baltimore or Charmcity Skatepark near Brewers Hill. Easterwood borders Sandtown-Winchester and Coppin Heights.

“I’ve given my life to this community to do better for our children,” Cheatham said.



Trial of Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby pushed back
by Justin Fenton
Published September 14 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: The trial of Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby has been pushed back a second time, after a judge on Wednesday agreed the prosecution needed additional preparation time following recent defense disclosures.

“The court regrets that we are in the position that we’re in, for many reasons. We are where we are,” U.S. District Judge Lydia K. Griggsby said.

A new trial date could be set Thursday.

The city’s two-term top prosecutor, who will leave office in early January after losing her re-election bid, is charged with four counts of perjury and making false statements, with prosecutors saying she lied about a financial hardship in order to access retirement funds under a federal coronavirus relief plan, the CARES Act, and then lied on paperwork related to the purchase of two Florida properties.

See also:

Prosecutors push to show jury Marilyn Mosby’s response to 2020 Brew story that first disclosed her travel company
by Mark Reutter
Published September 13 in Baltimore Brew



Councilwoman Odette Ramos responds to NACA’s cease and desist order
by Tashi McQueen
Published September 12 in The AFRO

Excerpt: The Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA) has threatened to take legal action against Councilwoman of District 14, Odette Ramos, for alleged false and defamatory claims against NACA.

NACA provides services that many impoverished communities and lower-income families need like homeownership assistance and foreclosure prevention services. Consumer reviews fall on both sides of the fence.

Ramos has questions about the non-profit organization’s operating practices. Her concerns recently led her to initiate a Buyer Beware notice for Baltimore residents.



Low-income city residents disproportionately impacted by weak stormwater permit, environmentalists say
by Fern Shen
Published September 14 in Baltimore Brew

Excerpt: Two key environmental groups are appealing a judge’s denial of their petition calling on Maryland officials to crack down on Baltimore for stormwater reduction measures they say are woefully inadequate.

Blue Water Baltimore and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation had asked the court to review the city’s storm sewer system permit, which is reissued every five years by the Maryland Department of the Environment.

The permits are intended to ensure municipalities address the pollution and flooding caused by stormwater runoff and exacerbated by climate change.

But Baltimore’s permit, issued by MDE last year, is “over-reliant on shortsighted, ineffective solutions like street sweeping that do nothing to reduce the volume of runoff from rainfall,” the groups said when its petition was filed last year.



Baltimore area transit advocates get first look at potential north-south alignments
by Bruce DePuyt
Published September 9 in Maryland Matters

Excerpt: Two years after the launch of a major push to improve bus and rail service throughout the state, the Maryland Transit Administration has unveiled a list of potential north-south projects in the Baltimore region.

The seven potential alignments released on Thursday were prepared in coordination with Baltimore and Baltimore County. As with the potential east-west projects unveiled over the summer, officials hope the list generates feedback from the public.

The state’s top transit official said local input was helpful in crafting alternatives that have the potential to move people between Towson and Baltimore City equitably.

“MTA is excited to be working with our local partners to improve critical transit connections from Towson to Downtown Baltimore and improve access to jobs, education and recreation,” Administrator Holly Arnold said in a statement.



:: BONUS ::

History calling: Baltimore artist adorns abandoned phone booths across the city
by Julie Scharper
Published September 8 in The Baltimore Banner

Excerpt: Juliet Ames pulled her blue hatchback into a Remington gas station, heading past the pumps to the far corner of the lot. There, scrawled with graffiti and streaked with rust, was her target: a pair of long-forgotten pay phones.

“I do this part in the car so that it’s a quick hit,” said Ames, 42, sticking a thick strip of double-sided tape to a sheet of bright yellow corrugated vinyl. “People don’t usually say anything to me. I’m actually normally a rule follower.”



Header Image: Greg Thompkins performs with his band Olde Skool at Bertha’s in Fells Point. (Credit: Jennifer Bishop)

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