Tag Archives: Baltimore

Entertainment Roundup 1.18-24.13

by Arturo Garcia and Joseph Lamour

(Note: NSFW language in the clip above)

R.I.P. Robert F. Chew: Just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of Mr. Chew, best known for playing Proposition Joe on The Wire. But in the wake of his passing, his work off-camera training young actors in Baltimore is also coming to light:

Born in Baltimore, Mr. Chew graduated from Patterson High School and attended Morgan State University where he sang in the school’s world-renown choir. He was working full time in Baltimore area theater since the early 1980s. He continued to teach in the Arena Players Youth Theatre after “The Wire” ended production here in 2007.

“He was a triple threat,” said Catherine Orange, director of Baltimore’s Arena Players youth theater. “He could act, he could dance and he could sing. He was an extraordinary teacher and director for us. He believed in our kids and was a task master.”

In 2006, Mr. Chew helped 22 of his students land parts in Simon’s landmark series.

“Whenever I had to dig deep and find kids who not only had the talent but the reality and the belief, kids who didn’t look like the ones in a Jell-O commercial, I called Robert,” Moran said Friday.

Also recommended is Kevin Van Valkenburg’s tribute to Chew:

He was a teacher who worked really hard to give kids growing up in the inner city exposure to the arts, which no an easy task, especially when you consider that art is always first on the chopping block when people criticize the school system and insist we need to trim the budget to get rid of “waste.”

–AG

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#FacingRace: The Morning After

By Arturo R. García

Fun fact: It wasn’t until this past weekend that I met my colleagues in the flesh.

Thanks to the internet, that’s not quite so weird to say anymore. But I can tell you that it felt great to hang and collaborate in person with Latoya, Andrea, Joseph, and Kendra–on top of contributors Tressie McMillan Cottom, T.F. Charlton, and Caitlin M. Boston–after four years(!) writing here, was a great turning point to reach in our association.

It was also, believe it or not, the first time I encountered not just many of our allies and collaborators, but our fandom in person; for whatever reason, it seems many of our Racializens are based out of the East Coast, so it was interesting to see that flicker of recognition for our work–and, thank goodness, appreciation for it–play out.

In a testament to both the amount of conversation the conference generated and how plugged-in of a constituency it attracted, Facing Race became a trending topic on Twitter both Friday and Saturday last week. At one point Tressie called the whole affair “TwitterCon.” And, over the course of the week, we’ll begin to do our best to retrace our steps for all of you, with Storifys, video, etc. And that’s just from the panels we were able to get to. There’s a whole host of signals out there just waiting to be boosted.

But this morning, at least, I’m going to enjoy the weekend just a little more. Big thanks to the Applied Research Center for putting this all together, and to our readers and supporters who were able to make it out there. If you weren’t, though, don’t sweat–we’ll catch you up soon.

The Wire: The Musical!’ Takes Aim At Pop Culture Reductionism

By Arturo R. García

So a little while back, this happened:

Oh yeah, watching Michael K. Williams as Omar Little smile and dance his way through a jazzed-up version of “The Farmer In The Dell” was definitely designed as a cringe-worthy moment–and that’s why it’s the perfect response to something like this becoming part of the legacy of The Wire:

Courtesy: of Redbubble.com

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Phylicia Barnes and the Black Girl’s Burden

By Guest Contributor Stacia L. Brown, cross-posted from PostBourgie

I was home for the holidays when Phylicia Barnes went missing. My immediate family—all women, now four generations deep, with the birth of my daughter— huddled around the small kitchen TV, listening to local news anchors explain the facts surrounding Barnes’ disappearance: black high school honors student from Monroe, NC comes to Baltimore, filled with excitement at the prospect of strengthening her relationship with a half-sister she barely knew and was likely eager to impress. During her visit, the sister, Deena, age 27, allows Barnes to drink alcohol and smoke marijuana—practices her mother expressly forbade at home. Barnes was last seen alive at her half-sister’s apartment; the only other person in the home at the time was the sister’s ex-boyfriend.

Perhaps the most chilling thing about this incident is how relatable the circumstances are. Family comes up from down south all the time, hoping for a bright lights-big city experience before heading back to the slow-ambling comforts of home. One half-sibling wanting to establish a bond with another, after only just discovering she had half-siblings in the first place? Also pretty common. An older sister who barely knows her younger one not being as protective as she should? That’s a familiar scene. A mother tentatively encouraging her daughter to connect with her estranged father’s side of the family, in an attempt to be a supportive, inclusive parent? Not uncommon.

For it all to end in a disappearance and, as of April 21, the discovery of Barnes’ body floating in the Susquehanna River, is all the more devastating, because we can easily put ourselves in the positions of at least one party involved in this tragedy.

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