Marc Steiner

March 8, 2018

The Black Panther: Academic and Visceral Readings Cont’d

March 8, 2018 - The Black Panther Cont'd - Listen in to the second episode of our series examining the world brought to us by -- and cultural shift created by -- The Black Panther movie.With: Johns Hopkins History Professor Dr. Nathan Connolly; UMBC American Studies Professor Dr. Kimberly Moffitt; and Kalima Young, Lecturer in Electronic Media and Film at Towson University.
December 18, 2017
Annapolis Summit (Credit: Maryland Daily Record)

Countdown to the Annapolis Summit: Beer Wars

December 18, 2017 - The Beer Wars - As we countdown to the Annapolis Summit we are covering issues that will be debated in the 2018 Maryland Legislative Session. One of those issues has been dubbed the "Beer Wars." I talk with Maryland Sate Comptroller Peter Franchot, and then President of the Maryland Public Health Association Raimee Eck.
December 14, 2017

Celebrating the Life of Jimi Hendrix at the Baltimore Creative Alliance

December 13, 2017 - A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix - Jimi Hendrix was a musical giant and genius who left this life much too early. To celebrate the life and work of Jimi Hendrix, Baltimore's own Navasha Daya, Fanon Hill, Matt Chase, and Lafayette Gilchrest produced a musical tribute to Hendrix for a performance at the Baltimore Creative Alliance.
November 6, 2017

The Creative Alliance: Ru-Jac Records & The Legacy of Baltimore Soul

November 6, 2017 - The Legacy of Baltimore Soul - Baltimore boasts a rich musical history, from Billie Holliday to Tupac Shakur to today's thriving music scene. Musician and producer Brooks Long who is the  Deutsch Fellow at the Creative Alliance, stopped by our studio along with  Kevin Coombe (www.DCsoulrecordings.com), who wrote the liner notes for all the re-issued Ru-Jac recordings.
October 27, 2017

Dharna Noor: Corporate Controlled Media and Critiquing Bias

October 27, 2017 - Corporate Controlled Media and Critiquing Bias - Real News Producer Dharna Noor wrote a compelling article for Truthout on the nature of corporate-controlled media and the complex symmetry between the Trumpian attacks on the media and Freddie Gray protesters in Baltimore.
October 20, 2017

Me Too: Confronting Misogyny and Sexism in Our World

October 20, 2017 - Misogyny and Sexism in Our World - In the wake of the explosive Me Too campaign on social media, we begin a series of podcasts dealing with the pervasiveness of misogyny in our world. We open our series today with: Brittany Oliver, Maura Callahan, and Rebekah Kirkman.
October 5, 2017
Jean Albert Renaud

Native American Music Awards: Local Baltimore “JAR” Nomination

October 5, 2017 - Native American Music Awards: Baltimore Nomination - The 17th Annual Native American Music Awards -- Nammy's -- are coming, and for the first time a Baltimore recording artist has been nominated. Jean Albert Renaud, or "JAR" as he is now known, is nominated as Best New Artist of the Year and his song "I Ride Horses" is nominated as  Best Country Song of the year.
September 29, 2017

After the Confederate Monuments Come Down

September 29, 2017 - After Confederate Monuments - The Confederate monuments in Baltimore are gone, so now what? We talk with a group of artists and activists exploring their ideas about what should replace them. We are joined by Sheila Gaskins, Pablo Machioli, Owen Silverman Andrews, Carl Stokes, and Bilal Johnson-Bey.
September 28, 2017
DavidWarnock

Baltimore’s Future: David Warnock’s ‘Pugh Plan’

September 27, 2017 - Warnock's 'Pugh' Plan - We are launching a series of conversations about the future of Baltimore. David Warnock, former Mayoral candidate and founder of Camden Partners, wrote an interesting op-ed on what he thinks should be "Pugh's Plan" to revitalize the economy of Baltimore. We sat down in CEM's studio to explore his ideas.
August 10, 2017

Democracy in Crises: The Fire and The Fury

August 10, 2017 - Democracy In Crises - We hosted the newest edition of Democracy in Crisis! I talked with co-host Baynard Woods about the the now present specter of nuclear war and Trumps latest comments on the situation with North Korea. Democracy in Crisis is produced by Calvin Perry. 
August 10, 2017

Baltimore Ceasefire: What Success Means & Where We Go From Here

August 10, 2017 - Baltimore Ceasefire  - This first podcast delves into the cities ceasefire last weekend as we talk with Erricka Bridgeford who inspired and created Baltimore Ceasefire and community theater activist and Steiner Show commentator Koli Tengella who was not part of the planning but was one of thousands to spontaneously and creatively participate respond to the call of  Baltimore Ceasefire.
July 20, 2017
BPD Planting Drugs (Credit: Baltimore Sun)

National Roundtable: BPD Controversy, and Trump’s Plans For The Middle East

July 20, 2017 - Segment 1 - We hosted a National News Roundtable, where our guests reflected on the latest headlines. With: Dr. Lester Spence, Dr. Ray Winbush, and Dr. Roni Ellington.
January 6, 2010

Mayor Dixon Announces Her Resignation

Mayor Sheila Dixon’s pending resignation is a real tragedy both politically and personally.   

We don’t know the details of the bargain she made with the judge and the prosecutors, although that will all  come out shortly. My guess is that there will not be another trial and that she will fight to keep her  pension. I predict that she may run again in the future.
May 4, 2009

Happy 90th Pete Seeger!

photo by Michael Cantor

Pete Seeger turned 90 on May 3rd. They threw him a 90th birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden. He is an American icon, a national treasure that embodies the heart of the great American soul of liberty and justice for all.

For more than 70 years he has been singing about freedom, justice, civil rights, human rights, for the workers, for the environment. Wherever someone struggled for freedom in America, Pete was there. On Barack Obama’s Inauguration he sang with Bruce Springsteen and closed out the event with every stanza of “This Land is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie. He fearlessly and to the glee of the revelers included the long unused stanza that called for the “breeching of the wall of private property.” He bounded off the stage like a man forty years younger. He was hugged and greeted by the new President.

He lives his beliefs as he sings them. When Senator Joe McCarthy and his dreaded House Un-American Activities Committee came after him, he refused to cooperate. He was blackballed and banned for ten years. He said “I don’t give a shit about my career.” When he returned, the Smothers Brothers brought him back to TV. He sang the anti-war and freedom folk song “Waste Deep in the Big Muddy.”

When he helped make Huddie Leadbetter’s, (aka Leadbelly’s), “Good Night Irene” into a hit, he made sure that Leadbelly got the royalties. He did the same for the family of Solomon Linda who wrote the African Freedom song that everyone sang in the fifties, sixties and seventies that became a rock‘n’roll hit, “Wimoweh.” He could have stolen the proceeds of the royalties and kept them for himself, as so many of the unscrupulous did to Black performers. Not Pete Seeger; he lives his life by his word, by work, by his politics, by his beliefs.

I first saw him as a young civil right worker singing with the Freedom Singers in Mississippi, a young Bob Dylan by his side. I grew up with his folk music because my mother always played him.

They say he has memorized more songs than any performer alive. Whenever he hears of a struggle for human rights in America, for the poor, for the infirmed, for our earth, he is there at 90. On his banjo, that he has had for over 60 years, are written the words “this Machine Surrounds Hate and Forces it to Surrender.”

He has become a sage. When asked why, in the face of so much opposition, of so many backward turns and some say the hopelessness of the causes he believes, why does he keep singing, pushing and fighting for justice, he gives a New Testament parable about a soldier who with his sword slashes open a bag of seeds. Some fall on the rocks and die, some seeds drown in the water, some are crushed under foot, but some fall onto fertile ground. They sink into the soil and grow a thousand fold. That is who we are he says. He knows the fight for freedom, for a just world is endless, and that every song we sing, every word we write, every story we tell, every oppression that is pushed aside brings more people to a better world and one day the fertile soil will win.

Peter Seeger, one of the few heroes I have in life …. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all, and to my Mom, wherever your spirit is floating around.  I am sure you are having a Guinness and shot.   She is the reason that I am so Irish.   Well, she was Irish by immersion.   Maisie Anne Round Steiner grew up in the north of England, the daughter of North Country miners and a Scotswoman of the MacPherson clan.   She was a wild, unruly, alive renegade whose mother sent her to a Catholic convent (though she was Protestant of Baptist/Methodist roots) in the mountains of Wales.  It turned out that the nuns were a bunch of Irish pro-IRA radicals who embraced my mom as she embraced them.

So we were brought up on the legends of ancient Irish warrior kings like Brian Baru, IRA revolutionaries like James Connolly, the first Jewish Mayor of Dublin Robert Briscoe and the great Irish poets and writers who graced our bookshelves.  The nuns imbued in her a sense of social justice.  As a young British woman she embraced the IRA, anti-colonial struggles and love for humanity and human rights.  Her mother sent her away to be disciplined and straightened out, so she could act more like an English lady.  Instead, she came back with the fire, soul and love of life of the Irish.  She passed it on to her children and breathed it deeply with each breath she took.  She found four leaf clovers and had conversations with the leprechauns and the spirits.  Though Eire did not flow in her veins, it lived in the depths of her being.

Thanks Mom, for making me Irish.  I’ll have a Guinness and a shot for you tonight.

January 12, 2009

Marc on Mayor Dixon’s Indictment

I hate watching this happen.  It is no small matter for a sitting Mayor to be indicted.

I have known Sheila Dixon for over thirty years.   We are not close friends.   We have not been in a private social setting together in 32 years. We met when we were both counselors and teachers at Baltimore Prep, a program at Westside Shopping Center for street kids who had just come out of prison or had been kicked out of school, whose lives were on the corner instead of the classroom.   Sheila was committed to those kids. She didn’t take any stuff from them and she knew every game they could play, because she came from the same streets that they did.  Baltimore Prep is also where she met Mark Smith, who later became her husband, with whom she raised her nephew Juan Dixon and his brother.   The boys’ parents had died from heroin addiction.  Sheila and Mark saw those boys to manhood.  This is the Sheila Dixon I know.

I knew her a little in the intervening years.  I remember when she was first elected to the city council.   I remember when she banged her shoe on the table exclaiming it was our turn now.   She was committed to working class black folks. She lived and knew their pain, joys and struggles.   A lot of white journalists, politicians and others thought she hated white people.  I don’t know what her innermost thoughts about race were, but I can say that anyone who came up in a certain way who was from a certain place had historical reasons to have a mistrust of white people.  Whatever she thought then, however, she has grown from that place, as did William Donald Schaeffer from his place of not caring about Black folks before he became Mayor.  She bleeds working class blue in her veins.   That is the Sheila Dixon I know.

So, these indictments are just tragic.  If they are true, they show stupidity and sheer greed.  

As I wrote last week, the only difference between the actions of our city officials and indicted power developers, and goings on in Congress between politicians and corrupt corporate leaders, is the thin but sturdy line of legality.  

Politicians are always doing favors for the powerful and their friends.  It is part of human existence.   Nevertheless, it was not the fur coats that bought Ron Lipscomb city contracts, but rather all of his city and corporate contacts.  

I am not excusing anything here.  If Sheila and others broke their sacred trust with us, they have to leave elected office at the very least.   It cannot be tolerated.  

The worst offence would be if she actually took gift certificates that were intended for poor families and children to enjoy Christmas.   I hope that even if the bribery and malfeasance indictments are true, that stealing from street kids and poor families is not true.   That could break a city’s heart.

That would not be the Sheila Dixon I know.   Soon we will know whether she broke the law.  If she did, then the court will decide her fate.  If she is exonerated, she could become one of our greatest Mayors. If not, she will become one of our greatest disappointments and tragedies.

January 8, 2009

City Hall Indictments – Mayor Sheila Dixon Indicted

Update: We just received news, at 2pm today (Friday January 9) that Mayor Dixon has been indicted on 12 counts. Read more in the Sun. We will see what the day brings but the rumor mill has it that Sheila Dixon will be indicted today, just as Helen Holton and Ron Lipscomb were indicted yesterday. My feeling is that if she had just declared those coats she would not be in front of a grand jury. If she had just recused herself from voting for a company her sister worked for there would be no investigation.
November 24, 2008

Marc on the killing at Lemmel Middle School

THE STABBING

In 1962 there was a sixteen-year-old kid who had to survive in the streets of this city, terrified.  

He was a confused kid in a lot ways.   He read Hemingway, James Baldwin, Richard Wright, Langston Hughes, Spinoza, Bertrand Russell and Marx.    He was a non-violent warrior in the civil rights movement who experienced the terror of violence by white mobs and cops.   He was also a street corner boy.   A jitterbug with his 20-inch pant cuffs with pleats, banlon shirts and porkpie hats.    Drinking wine, shooting nine ball, looking for parties, talking shit and sometimes getting into trouble.   All over the place he was, in the midst of violence but not violent, going for bad because you had to and standing up even when you knew you would be hurt.   You had no choice on the corner. 

This kid hung out on the Heights, the next neighborhood over was the Junction.   Now the boys on the corner from the Heights and the Junction knew each other, didn’t war, walked through each other’s zones, intermingled and went to the same parties often but had different corners they owned and different pool halls and basketball courts they played on. 

One day he went into Arundal’s Ice Cream parlor on the Boulevard, that long stretch of street that connected the two corners.   Arundals was in Heights territory.  They always had better spots on the Heights.   Big Hand Bey and Blue Eyed Plu and the some of the boys from the Junction were hanging out there.   As was custom, this kid walked up to Bey, a titular top dog from the Junction, and held out his hand palm down to slap five with Bey.   Bey didn’t offer his hand, just a glare with a broke down mug that signified something was up and it wasn’t good.   The other boys with him just postured and stared.

So, this kid knew something bad was going on and that these guys meant him some harm for some reason.   He remembered just months before when Big Hand Bey beat down Blue Eyed Plu into submission on the corner.   It was a bad beating but Plu now ran with Bey.   At this point discretion was the better part of valor and that ice cream soda could wait a while.

Later that day he went over to the elementary school yard where the boys from the Heights hung to talk, play basketball, shoot craps and do whatever.   When he got there Ronald said he should split because Bey and them had been up here earlier looking for him with a .45.   All the brothers in the yard turned their backs on him, because he was a marked man and no one would stand with him.  

It was a terrifying moment.  He was alone.   He turned to his walking partners Scott and Methu.   They called Phillip Methu because he looked so much older than everyone else. Methu was short for Methuselah.   Even though he was 16 he could pass for 21 and often bought the wine and malt liquor everyone loved. Methu was scared of no one. 

At any rate, he turned to Methu and Scott and to his best friend Little Billy for help.   He knew Scott and Methu would stand, or he hoped they would.  Little Billy had taught him how to dance, fight with a knife, talk to girls and survive the streets.   There was a deep bond between the two.  All three said they would stand with him, as would Taz and Jerry.   Taz was Ronald’s brother.   Where Ronald was mean and a terror, Taz was sensitive, smart but a brave stand up guy and Jerry was cool.  Always dressed cool, knew how win the ladies over and was a damn good boxer and a bit country to boot.   Against Bey and them that wasn’t many guys but you knew they had your back. 

They said we need a war council, so they all met at his house.   To his surprise two of the older heads on the corner who were also two of the baddest boys around, period, Benny Lee and Meathead, showed up at the council that was held in the basement of his house.  

Most of them thought that the only way to avoid a throw down with a much bigger force was to have him fight Big Hand Bey straight up, one on one.   That was a terrifying thought.   Bey was big, strong and bad.   He had seem him fight before and knew that he could not win and would be badly beaten in a face off with Bey.   He knew he may have no other choice. 

If it came down to it on the corner or at a party everyone would throw down with him, come whatever.     He knew they would stand with him, have his back, but his loyalty to them did not want to put them through it.   The meaning of real and true friendship was defined as never before.   That definition would define his life from that moment on.

He couldn’t understand why all this was happening?   What was it?   What had he done to incur the wrath of Bey and those boys!? 

A few weeks earlier everyone had thrown in some money to buy some wine and malt liquor up at the bowing alley.   This boy, Binky, took the money to buy everything.  When he returned empty handed he gave some of the money back to everyone but him.   So he said to Binky, where is my dollar?  Binky said he wasn’t going to give him his dollar.   Fuck you, Binky said.   So, he said, Boy you are going to give me my money back.   As Binky took off his coat he knocked him out with a flurry of punches.   Then took a dollar from Binky’s pocket and walked away.   He thought he was cool but Binky was one of Bey’s boys.

Then there was that night a month or so before when there was a party over on Bentalou.  One of those blue lights in the basement parties.   He was slow dancing with this girl who this other boy wanted but he kept on with her.   He pulled her not the other dude.   They went off together but the other boy threatened to fuck him up.   He payed that no mind, the girl was just too fine, phat and willing to be with him to worry about that threat.  Didn’t know the boy but he might have been one of Bey’s boys, he thought.

Or, was it because he was white?  The only white boy on the corner, there weren’t too many like him.    An easy mark for many … boys who did not like him, the cops or other white folks who saw him as a traitor and a freak.

Probably it was all of that but being white didn’t help … did not help at all …

One night he was going to visit his girl friend.   The same girl he met at the party.  Beatrice, really beautiful girl who was down from Harlem for the summer to visit her aunt.  It was late.  He was walking down a street with few lights but a peaceful, warm, quiet night.   Earlier, he was going to go to a dance at the hall in his neighborhood but Scott and Methu said the Junction boys were there and it be best if he did not go.  So, he split to see Bea.  

As he walked a couple of blocks past the club on a residential street, a car slowed down.  He could feel it sliding slowly over his left shoulder.   He was aware of it, very conscious of everything around him, then a shot rang out, then another.   The boys in that car were shooting at him.  

He took the hat from this head and ran hard.   Through the bushes, leaping a fence, another shot rang out, he leapt another fence was then faced by a Doberman, but he kept running, the Doberman hard at his heals, but he leapt another fence over into an alley as another shot rang out.   He hid, then ran, then crept, knowing they were driving around looking for  him.  He saw them, but hid in the shadows behind a garage in a dark alleyway. 

Then he made a dash for it down the alleys, around the corner and down another alley.  He got to Bea’s crib, banged on the door, she answered, he pushed her inside, panting and out of breath, disheveled, socks falling down around  his shoes, pants torn, drenched in sweat and fear.  He spent the night there in her basement curled up beside her.

Little Billy had given him a switchblade.   He wanted a gun.   He carried the switchblade everywhere.   At night he would walk with it open, up his sleeve.   The handle of the knife rested in his palm, the blade resting on the underside of his forearm as he bopped with that pimp walk that was  how you did back in the day.    He was keenly aware of every shadow, every movement and would walk out into the street when he got to alleyways.    He would turn to look down the alley, always terrified, always nervous and jumpy, leaping with fear at the slightest abnormality or sound.

One night he was coming home from a party.   Scott and Methu peeled off to head in the opposite direction to their homes, Taz and Jerry walked a way but then they too left, walking west to get to their houses.   He was once again alone for the next seven blocks to his house, switchblade open against the sweat of his forearm, head pounding with fear that made the eyes and throat dry and tight.  

As he passed an alleyway he sensed some movement.   A figure darted out, grabbed his left arm, spun him around.  Then another figure punched him hard in the right side of his head, sent him twirling, almost losing his feet from under him.   They were on him.  The switchblade slid down his palm twisting the blade end out,   He lashed out stabbing and slashing blindly as fists swung around him.   He felt the knife hit something hard then soft, it was sickening sensation.    He kept slashing and stabbing, one boy fell to the ground, and a knife skidded from his grasp down the alley.   The other boy staggered back down the alley.   He heard screaming and moaning as he glanced at the scene before turning on his heel to run.   Run, he ran hard, scared, not stopping for blocks until he got to his house.   The knife still in his hands as opened the front door.   He ran to the phone, dialed the Operator, said two boys were stabbed in an ally, then hung up the phone quickly.  He stumbled into his room, falling into his bed.   His hands were covered with blood, his shirtsleeves were red with blood, blood all over his clothes.

What the fuck had he done.   What was he going to do?    Had he just killed someone?   What was he going to do?

I stayed awake all night thinking about those boys.   Did I kill somebody?!   What was going to happen next.   I knew they would find me, my hat was in the alley, they would snitch, one of them would die.   I would go to jail forever, no one could save me, just like no one, not my parents, not the cops and not my brothers on the street could save me from the Junction.  

COMMENTARY ON THE KILLING AT LEMMEL

I could not get this story of my past out of my head after reading about that 14-year-old child who was stabbed and killed at Lemmel Middle School on Friday.   My first reaction was wondering what happened.  What fear drove them to carry weapons?   What madness lived under the reason for the killing?

At first people were saying it was gang-related.   Now, one of the stories surrounding this young man’s death is that he was a bully and the kid who killed him was one of his victims.   The child who did the stabbing turned himself into the police. 

Many people do not understand the fear that so many of our children in the inner cities of America live with every day of their lives.    I would venture to say that the vast majority of young people who carry weapons, be they knives or guns or clubs, do so out of fear and self-protection.   You have to live with a mask of neutrality and fearlessness on your face at all times.   That joy of youth that so many children in our nation enjoy cannot be allowed to blossom for most inner city kids.  When gentleness can be a weakness, the hard cover you are forced to wear keeps the joy at bay.  

So, if it is true that the poor boy who died was a bully, and this kid who stabbed him then turned himself in was in a corner with no where to go but slashing his way to escape, then what should our response be as a society who judges actions of others like this?  

What do we do with this boy who took a life perhaps defending his own in a world where no one can protect you but yourself?   What are we as a society and our government willing to do to invest in these children to be able to learn, live and find joy in their schools?   Will we send an army of counselors and therapists into that school to help the children and their teaches cope with what just happened?   Will we teach alternatives to violence?  Will we invest in recreation centers staffed with counselors to reach out to street kids?   Will we invest in the green economy to put their parents to work so we can build stable families?

Can we show we care?   Can we build a society that cares enough to put people to work, to eliminate poverty and invest in our children the way we do highways, McMansions and prisons?  

We can if we have the will.  We can’t lose another child to the streets.

November 5, 2008

Day After the Election by Marc Steiner

Last night, I went to my daughter Chelsea’s home to watch the returns.   She was having a watch  party.  It was the perfect venue for that night for many reasons.     Chelsea’s mom, Sayida Stone, my first wife and a dear friend, is African American.   Chelsea is a Black woman, a mixed race child of America.   She has three children, my grand children.  Their father, Ebon, a schoolteacher, martial artist and musician, is Afro-Italian-Puerto Rican.   From the beginning, Chelsea was deeply moved by Obama’s candidacy.  It was their time, it was their day, and it is their time now. 

Chelsea’s sister, Alana, her mom’s daughter with her husband who is Jamaican, is 21 years old, a brilliant artist and a junior at MICA.   I call her my daughter once removed, she calls me Saba, which is Hebrew for grandfather.   Alana was there with a dozen of her classmates.  Young, African American, Latino, Asian, mixed race and white who worked for this campaign, who believed in this message of hope.

Chelsea’s friends who were there ranged from 28 to their early forties, every color of the American rainbow.  Her mom, her husband Jenel, and others of our generation were there, as well.

The feeling in her home was electric and explosive, but explosive with peace and hope.   When Obama was announced the next President of the Untied States of America, there was a pandemonium of joy, screaming, shouting, hugging, singing and champagne corks popping.  

I looked around realizing this was their day.  These young people believed so deeply and were so full of what the future might bring to us all.  

While watching television it was hard not to notice the contrast between the Obama supporters in Grant Park in Chicago and the McCain supporters.   Obama’s in a public park with thousands of people of every generation and race in America and McCain’s in a private club for the wealthy and all, well not all, but almost all, white.  

This was an election of the two Americas from which we were born and in which we still live.   Our great nation has no state religion.   Our state religion is our democracy, our belief in freedom and liberty.   The USA was founded on liberty and slavery in the same breath.  Imagine that and think about that for a moment.   Liberty and slavery are the foundations of our nation.   The roots of the contradiction and the hope that dwell uneasily together in our nation’s soul were alive and palpable last night in this election.  

Maybe the tenor is about to change.   Race and racism hurt America.   It is a deep wound in the Black American spirit.  It is a burden of pain in white America, as well.  

The man who was voted in to become the 44th President of the United States of America may be changing the tenor and tone of our nation.  In the spirit of the civil rights warriors, he was unbowed and non-violent in his stand against his tormentors in this campaign.   When Barack Obama was faced with lies and low blows dealt by his opponents, the Republican Party and their independent advocates, he responded with dignity, strength and love.  So many of his supporters screamed that he should fight back, blow for blow  and spit in their eye.  Barack Obama chose to hold his head and his sense of morality and ethics high, so he kept walking straight ahead amidst the verbal blows and lies.  He set a standard for his supporters and the America he believes in.  The roots of that way of responding politically come from Martin Luther King, the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee, Fannie Lou Hamer and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 60’s that they gave birth to and that gave birth to them.   It bodes well for what we may be able to do in America together.

I am not naïve about the difficulty that lies ahead of us.  Barack Obama is not the savior; he is the embodiment of hope for many Americans.  The struggle is now on to define our future.  We can now fight for something rather than against it.   We will have a seat at the table for the debate on our nation’s future.   We have serious work ahead of us.

Good gumbo, too, last night... A gumbo of America in the room, a gumbo of America who voted Obama,  and a great gumbo in the pot.

October 1, 2008

Marc on the Bailout

It is interesting to read the New York Times columnists and editorial writers, among many other papers, ridicule the Neanderthal Republicans for voting against and killing the bailout package negotiated between the Democratic congressional leadership and the White House. They seem to forget that 40% of Democrats in the house (90) voted to kill the package, as well.

 Click "READ MORE" below!

August 11, 2008

Marc on Obama and Race in America

Last week I wrote a blog about Obama. I originally wrote in my essay that 30% of the people in America would not vote for a Black man for President. Jessica Phillips, one of my producers, challenged the stat, asking me where it came from. Well, I could not pin point the source, if there ever was one.
August 11, 2008

Marc on Legalizing Pot

It is such a beautiful, unseasonably cool August morning, crisp, cool and a tad cloudy.  I picked up the Sunday papers on my way back in from walking our dog, Charley.  I opened the Times, put it down and glanced at the front page of the Sun, below the fold on the right hand side.  “Community in shock over Harford man’s drug charges … Ecologist, decades long teacher revered by residents.”

 

My gut told me this was not some heroin dealing, gun toting, cocaine smuggling outlaw swaggering through the Harford County landscape posing as a mild mannered teacher of our children.  I was sadly right, as I read the story.  Sadly right and really, really pissed off.  

 

A sixty-two-year-old man who spent his life teaching kids about nature, our environment and love of life.  He smokes marijuana and it appears as if he might consume some psilocybin mushrooms sometimes.  He must really be an evil man.  Pretty soon, all the kids in Harford will be smoking dope, dropping acid, snorting cocaine, having sex and god knows what else.  Known as Ranger Bob to all the kids, why, if there ever was a contrived name, Ranger Bob is it.  Look, he even has a beard and plays Santa Clause on his Christmas tree farm.   That’s how he snares all those kids.  The devil in disguise.   You think he is really teaching about the earth, nature and our history, respecting life and the planet we live on...

 

OK, enough with the sarcasm, but this is just madness.   I don’t think anyone should go to jail, or have their home or children threatened with seizure, or livelihood taken away from them for smoking, growing or even selling marijuana.   Most Americans who are 62 and lived through the counter culture world of hippies, slogged through a rice paddy in Nam, were active in the anti-war movement, in some non-combatant military role or alive in 1968 smoked a joint.  Presidents did it.   Some folks still do it that lead functional, successful and productive lives.  

 

Most people I know, at some point in their lives, smoked dope.   There is a reason why we call it dope.   So, most of us don’t do it anymore.   Most of us don’t get drunk anymore.   We have more important things to deal with then people’s personal behaviors. 

 

People should not go to jail for using marijuana.  We should legalize it, tax it and let it be.   Grow hemp so we can stop cutting down trees for paper, and let marijuana bloom like we grow tobacco for cigarettes and hops for beer and barley for whiskey.    Many Indian reservations want the chance to grow hemp for industrial uses.   It could help our environment, create new jobs and new industries.  

 Every 45 seconds someone is arrested on a marijuana charge, and most of those for mere possession.   In 2003, the last statistics I could find, there was an all time high (no pun intended) of 755,186 with 88 percent of those arrests were for possession, not the manufacture or distribution, of marijuana.  The cost in imprisonment of these offenders’ amounts is conservatively $1.2 billion each year.   If you are arrested for growing over 100 marijuana plants you go to jail for a minimum of five years.  That is longer than for manslaughter or for grant theft auto.  Conservatively, it costs $1.5 billion a year to incarcerate these folks.  If you add in law enforcement and courts along with imprisonment, it may be as high as $15 billion a year. We could have spent that money to build new schools, to open homeless shelters or veterans' hospitals, to preserve the environment or even to fund anti-drug programs in schools. 

Harvard Economist Dr. Jeffrey Alan Miron produced a highly acclaimed study, "The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition," which was endorsed by hundreds of economists, including conservative leaders like

Dr. Milton Friedman of the Hoover Institute, Dr. George Akerlof of the University of California at Berkeley, and Dr. Vernon Smith of George Mason University.  He concludes that “replacing marijuana prohibition with a system of legal regulation would save approximately $7.7 billion in government expenditures on prohibition enforcement -- $2.4 billion at the federal level and $5.3 billion at the state and local levels for a combined savings of $10 to 14 billion dollars."

 Everyone has statistics.   This argument has been going on for a long time.  The bottom line is that chasing down pot smokers is a waste of our time, energy and money.   People should have the right to have as they wish, consume what they want and pursue their pleasures as long as it does not infringe on the rights of others, harm our children or the environment.   

Bob Chance, by all accounts from the former Mayor of Bel Air to the head of their county library, is a good soul who loves children and a defender of our environment who loves teaching.  He should not have his life destroyed because he likes to smoke pot on his own time.  He should be able to wake up on this unseasonably cool August morning not worrying about going to jail or losing his beloved farm.

August 1, 2008

Marc on Wal Mart and Unions

When I opened the Wall Street Journal this morning, that centerpiece article Wal-Mart Warns of Democratic Win:

 

"Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is mobilizing its store managers and department supervisors around the country to warn that if Democrats win power in November, they'll likely change federal law to make it easier for workers to unionize companies -- including Wal-Mart.

In recent weeks, thousands of Wal-Mart store managers and department heads have been summoned to mandatory meetings at which the retailer stresses the downside for workers if stores were to be unionized."

Wow, I just read it and sat there stunned for a minute.  Then I woke up,
and wondered what I was so shocked about. 

Here we have Wal-Mart, a store, that despite its new green image and it’s pronouncements about the Green economy with SEIU boss, Andy Stern, has a history of abusing its employees, paying low wages and few benefits.  

Wal-Mart says they are not telling any employees how to vote or who to campaign for. Right, I am working the cash register at Wal-Mart wearing a big Obama button.  Oops, is that a pink slip floating after me?!  Who’s to know, who’s to protect my rights.   Oh yes, that would be Papa Walton. 

Let me be clear about my past.   I have been a member of union.   I have
been a union organizer.   I am one of those who believe that if had not been for unions we would have had no middle class in the numbers that we have in America.  They fought to ensure that their working class members had a decent life.  

Now, unions have become increasingly irrelevant to life in America.   Partially of their own making by becoming lethargic corporate giants themselves.  Union leaders got too far away from their own members forgetting what it means to work hard to pay your bills and take care of your families.   They stopped organizing.  Yes, unions were victims of this economy and of the erosion of the industrial base of America.  But they have done little to fight it, to change with the times, to organize new workers, to speak up for the unorganized and to enter the 21st century.   They became lethargic dinosaurs. 

They became easy targets for onerous laws to destroy or curtail or cripple their power to organize.   Unions became the media demon and the business
the clean good guys in white shirts that knew how to run a nation. 

Unions are only here because so many employees get screwed.    It is
interesting I can think of five friends who own companies that don’t have unions.  Their workers don’t want or need them.   These owners run the gamut from libertarian to progressive to conservative to liberal.   They don’t have unions because they treat their employees right.  They offer health care, take care of people, worry about their families and take human beings into consideration.  They are small companies, too, from 50 to 200 employees.  They do it right. 

If business leaders don’t want unions, then treat people right.   Meanwhile,
America’s laws should be union friendly.   Unions need to be protected while organizing and have the freedom to do so.  The Employee Free Choice Act that Wal-Mart and others are so worried about is the least our government can do to protect an employee's right to organize and better their lives.

Senators McCain and Obama, what say ye?   We are waiting here.

July 28, 2008

Marc on Mayor’s Control Over Baltimore Schools

 Psst!  Looking for Marc's blog post on legalizing marijuana?  Click here to read it!  We sent the wrong link in the last email!  Sorry!

 

Yesterday's Sun carried a story about Mayor Sheila Dixon's desire to
reclaim control of Baltimore City Schools. She was always troubled
by the state takeover, as were many of us. She is being encouraged by all the other Mayors who have taken control of their city's schools.

I remember when State Superintendent Dr. Nancy Grasmick made her move
to control the management of city schools. We aired a number of
conversations in this debate. I was very doubtful then of the logic
of the move. More importantly the state's bureaucracy was no more
nimble or creative in its work, or willing to take the risks necessary
to change the city schools than the city school's entrenched
Paleolithic-minded bureaucracy.

It was not until the Baltimore City Board of Education's leadership
and direction changed that things began to move. More importantly it
was not until parents, students and teachers started to demand charter
schools that any movement took place. Ultimately, it was when Dr.
Andres Alonso arrived that our city schools began to make the
radical leaps needed to shake the lethargy out of aging special
interests. Now our schools have begun to blossom. Students,
parents, teachers and principals are beginning to be heard, held
accountable and be made part of running our schools.

The Board and the new CEO and our schools seem to be operating almost
independently of the state or the city. Things are changing. The
state needs to get out of the way. The city should not get in the
way. Maybe an entirely new partnership has to be created between the
city and our schools. Perhaps we have not invented the next step, yet.
The Mayor and the School CEO need some quiet time together to think
this through. City officials, the CEO, the school board, parents,
teachers, students, and our business and philanthropic leaders need to
spend some time thinking calmly and clearly about the future.

There is no going back to old paradigms and designs. There is no
handing pack power to old models of control and management. We need
to be moving forward to new ideas, not stuck in 20th century power
politics playing with the lives of our children.

We have a unique opportunity here. Let's build it not blow it.

July 23, 2008

Marc on Baseball

 

That was some game last night at Camden Yards.   Hard fought between the Toronto Blue Jays and the O’s.  The crowd was on its feet, people did the wave over and over.  It was the bottom of the 9th,  2 outs,  bases loaded,  men walked standing on base, full count three and two, just two runs away from winning the night that was a see saw battle.  People were chanting go O’s … then the pop fly … out … it was over.  Three men left standing.  Oh well, it was beautiful night in our lovely Camden Yards.  We had great seats, six of them right down by third base. I bought ‘em at silent auction for Young Audiences, it was a steal.  Well, it was a contribution.

But I looked around and the stadium was empty. I was shocked at how empty the place was. It struck me that the more expensive the seats, the more people were in them . The bleachers, such as they are in Camden Yards (I mean by that they are still pricey but there is not a bad view in the house)  were the most empty.

The price of a ticket to a game and the cost of having a beer or a soda and some food is astronomical. My daughter Maisie and our friends’ daughter Jahia went down for some food.    I bought a beer, two waters, a crab cake, shrimp and box of popcorn.  It cost almost fifty bucks. It could have been a $200 night.

No wonder it was empty.   The economy is sinking, people are stretched paying for gas, groceries and the essentials. Who can afford baseball or football? To watch on TV you got have cable and that ain’t free either.

The time when you could turn on local TV and watch a game, or go to a game with your family of four or five, buy some food and drink, and have money left over, is gone, long gone.

I sat having another beer, eating some peanuts with our friend Sherrilyn and my lady, Valerie.  I remarked how long the game was taking.   There used to be just a seventh inning stretch. Now everyone was stretching between every inning. What was that?  Well, that was the big screen entertaining while baseball and television made their multi-millions selling advertising on television between each inning. So, a long game is even longer. Have another beer!

With all that money flowing and public money to build private stadiums, why is this simple entertainment costing us so much?   It's more than just the huge salaries.

Maybe the owners should open up the park sometimes for less money. Go out to the middle class neighborhoods, the Latino community and inner city. Put some baseball back in the lives of people . Build tomorrow’s lovers of the game.

When the game was accessible on the tube, in your home, it belonged to everyone.   I saw a man walking down to his seat with his son. He had on an Orioles jersey with the number 34 on it and the name Hagy above it.  Remember him? Wild Bill Hagy, the Dundalk cabbie who led the cheering section in section 34 up in the bleachers of Memorial Stadium on 33rd street…. It was a people’s game then, wild, raucous, safe, and fun. And affordable!

He died not long ago.  An era went with him. 

It was still a great game, though.  Great baseball being played. We had a blast.   The girls holding up their home made Go O’s signs in orange and black trying fruitlessly to get the camera to see them so the world in Camden would see them waving on the big screen...it was fun.

Beautiful, beautiful stadium, great weather, good friends, good night …

But it ain’t the people’s game no more.

July 18, 2008

Marc’s take on spying on peace groups

Spying

July 10, 2008

Marc on Keswick and the media

 

Keswick

When I got back from Cape Hatteras last week, I was driving down Roland Avenue and saw all these signs saying “Stop Keswick.” I thought maybe all the retirees and senior citizens who live at Keswick Multi-Care Center had run amuck in the streets or became merry senior pranksters.

June 10, 2008

06/10 Marc on Larsen’s resignation from the PSC

 Steve Larsen's Resignation

I am not surprised that Steve Larsen resigned as the head of the Public Service Commission. When community activists railed against him and O’Malley as sellouts to Constellation Energy, I always defended Larsen as a man of integrity and honesty. He believed in using the tools of the government to make the public sector more responsive to the citizens. He was a quiet, diligent and intelligent crusader on the inside, whether it was health insurance or regulating energy.

I think he resigned not to go back to the public sector to make more money but out of frustration. When the state reached the deal with Constellation Energy that ensured that the PSC would have no subpoena power, it took the teeth out of the PSC. Larsen would not be able to get to the bottom of any sweetheart deals between the Constellation and its subsidiary BGE to unearth whatever potentially unscrupulous deals were made to purchase energy at the consumers’ expense.

I wondered aloud how long Steve Larsen would stay after this. He was crusader for the people who had his cape destroyed. He chose to walk away rather than plummet to the ground.

Given the price of oil, the cost and real crisis we are facing with electricity generation and looming public wars over our energy future we need more caped crusaders or this secure world of ours could be in trouble. -Marc

Related blog posts:

04/09/08 Looking back at the session

03/28/08-Marc's argument against the settlement

03/03/08 Marc on what is missing in the investigation

 

Banning Little Cigars

What would it really accomplish to ban the sale of small cigars in the city of Baltimore? What I am writing about is the Mayor and Health Commissioner wanting to ban the sale of individual little cigars that many young inner city folks use to make into blunts. Blunts are cigars stuffed with marijuana. Many young people and young adults buy the individual cigars because they can’t afford to buy a whole pack. They come in flavors that are very enticing to some such as watermelon, sour apple, and grape. Some people just like to kick back and have a smoke to relax. Much like more well off patrons who go to cigar shops and throw big bucks for a wannabe Havana cigar. I never did like them even when I smoked though I do like a Havana a few times a year.

 

Let me admit, I always have an initial visceral response to the banning of most anything. Outlawing substances that people choose on their own to ingest does nothing but increase criminalization of what is otherwise activities of individual choice. Tax products, go after unscrupulous manufacturers and distributors, and find creative ways to combat it. Don't ban it.

 

If you ban the sale of cheap cigars by corner stores in the inner city then some enterprising young hustlers will buy them up and sell them on the street. I understand what the city is trying to accomplish, it is just the wrong way to go about it.

 

As some City Council representatives said to me “What do we do about the young people on the corner who terrify the older neighbors … it really is a generational thing . .lack of respect for the elders….” The response has to be much more profound than banning little cigars.

 

Take this to the state legislature, ban the sale of individual cigarettes state wide, tax the cigars, put warning labels on them, take on big tobacco, their Annapolis lobbyists and friends in the legislature, start an education campaign about health and smoking theses little flavored cigars. Open recreation centers, work programs for youth and hit the streets with street workers to challenge the street culture.

 

Banning cigars sales… a waste of time, money, energy and it is just the wrong thing to do.

 

-Marc

 

June 6, 2008

06/06 Marc on 1968

"Where were you when...?"

Resurrection City, June 1968. Photo by Ollie Atkins.  See more.

 

I remember clearly where I was for all the horrible assassinations of the 1960's.

 

I remember my quiet walk with Adrienne Cooper (who later died from a back alley abortion) around Stockbridge Bowl the day of John F. Kennedy's assassination. We walked and reflected on the world we lived in light of that horrible event.

 

I remember two years later standing in line to view Malcolm X’s body as it lay in state in Harlem. I had taken a bus to New York as soon as I heard about the assassination.

 

I was living in the heart of the D.C. Ghetto, and pulling up to my apartment in my old VW bug when I heard the news on the radio that Martin Luther King had been assassinated. I was in the heart of the city, our nation’s capital, and within hours the city was burning all around me. I walked through that rebellion in the wake of his death.

 

When Bobby Kennedy was killed I was living in a plywood shack between the U.S .Capital and the Washington Monument with thousands of others in a place called Resurrection City.

 

Resurrection City was an encampment of thousands of poor people-Black, White, Puerto Rican, Mexican American and American Indian. They came from mountain hollers, the rural south, Indian reservations, small mill towns and inner cities. The Poor People’s Campaign, one of King’s last acts before he was assassinated, was an amazing movement because of its racial unity and its class-consciousness. It was led and driven by the poor themselves. They marched on D.C. from a dozen routes from across the nation. They took over the mall, built the city out of plywood. We slept there, cooked our meals there, had meetings, studied, played and created theater. This movement went beyond notions of white power or the new slogan of Black power. This was the people’s power, the power of the poor united across color lines. There were many in both Black Nationalist and white conservative movements who despised the interracial power of this movement and many wealthy supporters of civil rights were put off by the class demands of this group. I think this march may have heralded the end of the civil rights movement. Right now the mainstream media is doing story after story about the magical, mad, terrifying and glorious year of 1968-but in all that reporting, almost nothing has been said about the Poor People's Campaign. A notable exception is the public radio program Weekend America which did a great piece on Resurrection City as a part of their series This Weekend in 1968.  Click here to for their interviews and multimedia slideshow.

 

Bobby Kennedy was one of those who supported the idea of the poor marching on the capital. His death brought a pall over our encampment. His body passed us on the way to the Rotunda. The mourning was palpable, soulful and deep among the thousands who camped on the mall that summer.

 

It has been forty years since a politician like that captured the imagination of America. Bobby Kennedy was loved by all the communities camped out on the mall that summer and by working and middle class people across our country. You can’t help but ponder what America might have become had he become the President of the United States.

 

Do we have another running now like that? Do we?

 

What do you think?

-Marc

May 14, 2008

5/14 from Marc

 

Lou Cantori 

Lou Cantori was a force to be reckoned with.  We lost him this week to a heart attack at his home on Monday.

Lou appeared on our show dozens of times over the last fifteen years. He was just a lovely and wonderful  human being with a powerful mind.

 

He was every bit of the Marine sergeant that he was as a young man in the fifties. He was a patriot who continued to teach not just at his academic home, UMBC but also at our US military and intelligence academies.  He taught them reality of our world, not just what they wanted to hear. He was no one's parrot. He spoke fluent Arabic and defied America's academe by trying to enlighten us to the true nature and soul of the Arabic and Muslim worlds.

 

He was that unlikely combination of a military and intelligence analyst who was a champion of social justice in America and the world.

 

Despite all his work, his first priority was the love he had for his family. As his son Greg Cantori said to me this morning, Lou was the best father in the world.  He was always there for them.

 

Greg also told me the story about when they lived in LA  during the mid-sixties. Lou was the head of the West Side Housing Association, fighting racial discrimination in housing at a time when you were allowed to have "Whites Only" and "No Colored" signs in your advertising.  The great Carroll O'Conner, Rob Reiner and others were fixtures in their home, as board members of Lou's movement.  It was there that Greg first learned about fighting for social justice.

 

He is a beacon for all of us. He was a tough guy and gentle caring soul, he was a patriot, a progressive, a jarhead (Marine) through and through, a fighter for social justice and deeply devoted father and husband. Lou Cantori ..  I love you and will miss you forever. I will carry your spirit in my heart.

From the Cantori Family

 There will be an open house to celebrate his life on Sunday, June 8 at Nadia's home near Laurel, Md. We would be honored to have you attend. Please RSVP by responding to cantorifamily@gmail.com.

 

Exact details on time and directions will be available soon on our memorial blog/website:

 

http://rememberlou.blogspot.com

 

Please check back soon. We will be updating and checking this site frequently.

 

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to either of the following:

 

UMBC Foundation, Lou Cantori Scholarship Fund, C/O Kim Robinson

8th Floor, Administration Building

1000 Hilltop Circle

Baltimore, MD 21250

 

or

 

Kidsave c/o Lou Cantori Memorial Fund

PO Box 277587

Atlanta, GA 30384-7487

http://www.kidsave.org/

 

Lou touched many lives: personally, professionally and in his community and it's been quite a job contacting so many people.  Please feel free to forward this message to others that knew Lou.

 

Our family would like to thank everyone who kept Lou in their thoughts during his illness.

 

The Cantori Family
May 12, 2008

5/12 from Marc

Juvenile Justice

The Sun story on Saturday May 10, 2008 of the Juvenile Justice Center being out of control is not new news (read it here). The teachers are fearful and have had enough so they stepped up to the Governor.

Last year, we reported on the Marc Steiner Show about the potential for an explosion and the loss of control at the center. Ray Cook, who works with gangs and inner-city kids in trouble with their lives and the law, through his program On Our Shoulders, was hired by juvenile services after meeting Secretary Donald DeVore on my program earlier in 2007. Ray is one of those unique figures who can walk into a situation and can instantly demand respect and trust on the toughest corners, with young people deeply involved in Bloods, Crips, and other gangs. He is from those streets. He has hustled, led criminal operations and been jailed on those streets. He turned his life around. Now, he’s obsessed with saving the children of our city. He is a father figure to kids around Edmondson Avenue and now down in Cherry Hill. At any rate, Ray took a job with DJS because he thought he could make a difference. Secretary Donald Devore, who I truly believe wants to and is trying to change the system, hired him because he knew Ray could make a difference. Ray, and another man he brought in to the Juvenile Detention, Dante Wilson, who runs Reclaiming Our Children, (ROCAP,) had the hardest cases in that joint listening, weeping and talking and on the move, the slow grueling move, to come face to face with their emotions and turn their lives around. Ray and I spoke everyday that he worked at the detention center. It was tearing him up inside. He kept saying to me “Man, it is out of control. They won’t listen (talking about the bureaucrats.) It is off the hook.” He quit in frustration.

Ray Cook is not a company man but an effective man who knows how to move children who are deeply damaged by the streets and poverty, in a way most with all the graduate degrees in the world cannot. This is not to disparage all the teachers, social workers, counselors, and therapists working with our kids who have been busted, detained, arrested, and jailed. It is a process where all parties and skills are needed to work together to salvage our collective future. It is to say, this is not new news. They would not listen to Ray and the others.

The solutions are right in front of us. Maybe the Juvenile Justice system ought to turn the school and therapeutic sections of that institution over to men and women who can run it successfully. Bring in an independent non-profit designed to do the job right. Give them the independence and power to do it right. Hire people who come from the streets themselves, who have track records of successfully working with children in trouble. Don’t be afraid to hire ex-cons and others who can make a difference. Maybe the state should think twice before building more maximum-security juvenile institutions. Maybe we should start investing in community programs, halfway houses and community corrections facilities instead of prisons. Maybe we should put money into recreation centers and after school programs, turning our neighborhood schools into community schools that operate 24/7. Maybe we should invest the resources we have now in new directions. Maybe spend a little more in the right and most effective places. Maybe the state government and bureaucrats should start listening to and heading the advice of the Ray Cooks of our world.

Then maybe we can start to turn this thing around.

-Marc

May 8, 2008

From Marc – May 8

VIOLENCE AND OUR SCHOOLS

On May 19th, from 6 to 8 PM, I will be hosting a special two-hour, live call-in with Baltimore Schools CEO Dr. Andres Alonso on WEAA, 88.9 FM, your community radio station.

One of the issues we will talk about is violence in our schools. In many city schools, it is palpable when you walk through their halls or when you talk to students and teachers who are in them every day.

It is fine to give more control to individual principals and schools, but there needs to be a system-wide policy to address what is in their control to address. Violence cannot be tolerated. Students who attack teachers and other students have to be dealt with firmly. Students have to know the limitations. The response can be therapeutic and healing, but it must be swift and with consequences.

Then you can talk about what individual schools can do.

So, please, join us on the 19th; it will be great being back on the air with you and taking your calls.

THAT RADIO STATION WHERE WE USED TO BE

So, I wandered over to the WYPR website yesterday. Don’t do that often. Actually, this may the second or third time I have done it since they kicked us off the air. I thought I would take a gander to see what was going on.

The Board of Directors meeting scheduled for May 20th at the Learning Tree has been turned into an internet meeting to be streamed live. Apparently, so many folks still outraged by the senseless cancellation of our show called in to say they were coming to attend the meeting. So, the folks at the top at the station said we could be in compliance with Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) open meeting rules by streaming it on the web.

It is amazing they really have no respect for the people of this community or their station’s listeners and members. It is outrageous and very telling when the leaders of that station are afraid to face and listen to their listeners.

For a while a few years ago, I was excited by how much underwriting was being brought into the station. It was to be a model for the nation’s public radio stations on how to address the dwindling federal support for public broadcasting. Then I realized that while underwriting grew, funds for expanding and building membership were being eviscerated at the station. Underwriting accounted for over 53% of funds and membership was down to the thirties. Underwriting by large corporations has steadily grown at WYPR since the station's founding. The influence that the corporate money buys is significant, but that is clearly to the liking of the management.

I now realize that this is not the salvation of public radio, but the bells chiming that could be its death knell. Public broadcasting is supposed to be adventuresome, where opinions outside the mainstream are heard and given voice, where creative experimentation is unleashed, where members and listeners actually participate.

We are losing control of our public airwaves and we must demand them back.

THE LIGHT RAIL

I was reading in the Sun about the MTA light rail dilemma, which got me thinking about mass transit. So, more people seem to be using light rail because of high gas prices. That is a wonderful thing. Most seem to believe we can’t get people out their cars into public transit. Well, I think over the long run we can. Keep gas prices high, stop building new developments, squeeze the auto industry to make hybrid/electric/hydrogen vehicles, and for god's sake put money into mass transit and stop building so many bloody highways. Life can change. It takes, it takes patience …… it takes money.

In the meantime, MTA has to get its act together. The state should take some of that highway money (those highway contractors and developers are powerful lobbies in Annapolis) and put it into MTA and the MARC to buy more cars, high speed (give them a lane) hybrid alternative diesel busses, and more maintenance workers and inspectors. In the long, they should build more rail (so MARC runs faster and the Light Rail has at least two tracks with more routes.)

That is the answer. Short term - buy more cars and busses. Long term - give us more rail.

It can be done. Am I nuts? What do you think?

DEMOCRACTIC PRESIDENTIAL RACE

The common wisdom has been, and primary election vote analyses tell us, that higher income people with more education, African-Americans, and younger voters are voting for Obama and that older voters, white women, Latinos, to a degree, and working people with less education are going with Clinton. No matter what happens, a portion of the Hillary voters will never vote for a Black man and a portion of the Barack voters will never vote for Hillary or a woman. The majority of primary voters, many of them new or voting for the first time in many years, could be Democratic voters in the fall.

It means that the two candidates have to come together and convince their supporters to support a new tomorrow together or they may once again lose despite Americans' frustrations and anger over the state of the economy and the war in Iraq.

They have to ignore the demagogic demons of cable talk TV, these so-called pundits with nothing to say but divisive viscera of mistrust and hate. Democrats have to stop talking about Reverend Wright, ignore and rise above the media’s obsession with their “bittergate" and dividing people with emotionally charged rhetoric over race and class. Sure, race and class are at the core of our fears, our mistrust, and the most horrendous parts of our history.

They have to speak forcefully, passionately, persuasively and intelligently about those things that concern Americans. You have to speak to people’s hopes and fears about the future. There is no reason why the wealthiest nation on the planet cannot guarantee a decent income, health care, and schools that we want our children to go to. Someone has to make sense of immigration and our relationship to the world economy honestly and clearly. People will hear it. Americans want us out of Iraq; we did not want to be there in the first place. Now it has to be clear that the Republican mess has to be cleared up, and it won’t be easy. Say it clearly; it will be heard. Most Americans want large corporations and the financial investment industry to be regulated and allow small business to flourish. People want immediate help and a vision for the future. Most folks don’t mind paying if they know where they are going. That is as long as the paying for is equitable where the wealthiest and the major corporations are carrying their weight and then some.

Talk about those issues and bring our future into the clear light of day and most Americans will go..."Reverend WHO?”

The Republicans have their vision and their candidate(s). The Democrats better see to theirs unless they want to sit by the gates of the White House panting like a thirsty dog for the next four years.

ABOUT TOWN

So, one of my favorite spots to eat near our new Hampden office is Soup's On, located on 36th Street in Hampden. They're closing this Saturday for three months. Just two days left to get your favorite soup, salad, chicken pot pie, iced coffee and dangerous cupcakes. The lovely Cynthia, proprietor and creator of Soup's On, is going to have a baby. Get her wares while you can, or wait till the end of the summer.

Also, went to Luca's Café in Locust Point, on Fort Avenue across from the Phillips Seafood HQ. The food was just phenomenonal and prices, well, four of with a few drinks was $96 bucks. Great wine list too. Check it out.

At the Baltimore School for the Arts, students and faculty are putting on four one-act Moliere plays. It runs through Sunday. Don’t miss it. The plays are really well acted by adults and students. My old friend Tony Tsendas is hilarious, right in his element (I think he channels the Marx brothers.) Richard Pilcher directs it all. Don’t miss it. Our School for the Arts (and Carver in Baltimore County) is among the best in the nation.

May 2, 2008

5/02/08 end of the week

I am sitting here at my computer; I have not blogged all week. I have really wanted to write something. The week has been taken up with planning the future of the Center for Emerging Media, so we can become the new public media for our community. It has taken time to raise money and plan productions. I am lucky that despite the uncertainty, Jessica Phillips and Justin Levy, my producers, left WYPR to work with me and build CEM.

So, this morning I was all set to wax forth on Presidential campaigns, Obama and Wright, the property tax wars in Baltimore City, and the future of the bay and the crabs that are trying to survive in it, but I am just not there right now. I will be, though, in the coming days. Right now, I keep reflecting on how this has been an interesting two weeks of lecturing at colleges and emceeing. It has filled me with a joy and hope for our future.

And this morning, I was all set to write, when I went outside to look at the field across from our home. A family of foxes dug its den across the road. The mama fox gave birth to five kits the other week. So instead of writing I went outside with my binoculars to watch the kits cavort with one another, leaping in the air and wrestling. Some wandered over to suckle on their mother, who sat calmly watching over her offspring to ensure their safety.

Then, just as I had my fill of my new neighbors the Foxes, Valerie called me outside again. Her hands were cupped around a baby finch that had left its nest too early. It was huddled up on the windowsill of our den. She called the wild animal rescue lady and now has the baby in one of the carrying cases she keeps around to rescue small things lost or injured. My lady is a reiki master and performed her reiki healing on the young bird. We will see how the young, downy-covered boy fairs today.

The spring is full of life and new birth, as I’m witnessing with the exciting and creative growth of the Center for Emerging Media.

We will be sending our fund drive letter out to you all soon, so you can support your new public media meeting ground in Baltimore. CEM will be doing some interesting things for and with you in the coming months.

Last night, I was the emcee for a Baltimore Green Week event at Morgan State University. The keynote speaker was Van Jones, who is the founder of Green for All. WEAA recorded his talk. It was so inspirational. He is working to bridge the gap between social and environmental justice. His thrust is that building a green economy creates jobs and is the way to start ending inner city poverty in America.

He is right. We have to build industries in this country based on solar and alternative energy technologies. Just retrofitting all the buildings in America can create millions of jobs. He calls for a Green New Deal to stimulate this economy, government stimulus that will release the entrepreneurial spirit to create new jobs and new industry. He is right we have to dream big and push for a new America. Our country needs to be the world leader of the new Green Economy. The earth and our future will not wait. It has to happen now and we have to make it happen.

This week, I also lectured to a graduate communications class at Morgan and moderated a panel of actors, a writer, director and producer from The Wire at the Baltimore Museum of Industry. You can hear The Wire panel right on our site.

Two weeks ago, it was Goucher, this week Morgan, and I continued to be inspired by this generation of twenty-somethings in our midst. They want to do the right thing, are socially committed, and the graduate students I met at Morgan want nothing to do with corporate media. They want to create their own and say what has to be said.

So, all in all, it has been a good week. And next week, well I promise to write more…and want to hear from you.

Have a wonderful weekend…see you at the Flower Mart in Mt. Vernon.

-Marc
April 24, 2008

4/24/08 Youth Violence and More

Youth violence seems to be in the air now.   At least it is all over the news.   Fifteen-year-old Nakita McDaniels was sentenced to the juvenile system for leading the attack on a woman on an MTA bus.   From accounts discussed in court and published, she seems to have a history of violently attacking people who she feels have disrespected her.    Disrespect - that is a key phrase. When I got home late last night from my speaking engagement with Goucher students, I got on the web to look at the latest KAL cartoon videos.  When I got to You Tube I noticed videos commenting about an earlier video of eight young people who invited another teen to a friend’s home, so they could beat her up for a comment she made.  The idea was to tape it and put it online.  It made me think of the teacher who was beaten up recently at Reginald F Lewis High School in the city.  A young person taped her beating and put it up on the web. It seems that it has become a badge of honor to commit an act of violence, videotape it, and put it online.      When I interviewed the students from the Algebra Project yesterday (available for podcasting on our website later today) they spoke about the hopelessness of stopping the violence in our schools.    They said it comes from the street and carries over into the schools.  It is a matter of respect they say.   You have to respond if you are disrespected.   The communities are a dangerous place they said.   They seem to be critical of the violence but accepting of the moral rightness of “defending yourself if you are disrespected.”  What we face here is more than implementing policy to address violence in our schools and among our youth.  We are facing an issue of major ethical and moral consequence for our world.     Violence is nothing new. Mob violence and gladiators are age old, as old as humankind.  This nation was built on violence. Lynch mobs and mass beatings resound throughout our history.    But it is different now.   When I was in elementary school and junior high school, we had fights.  I remember one big one in the 6th grade between a good, tough guy and the school bully.  It was the biggest fight I had ever seen, up to that point in my life, which is why it has stayed with me all these years.   I went to Garrison Junior High, known as little Alcatraz, I suppose, because it was where middle class/poor blacks and whites met for the first time in a school setting.  My second day there I got into a fight defending another kid who was being picked on.  I got the stuffing beaten out of me by another kid who later became my friend.  Those were fights.  But what are happening now are mass beatings.   There is a confluence of social events that is exacerbating violence in our world.     First, violence is in our face all the time.   Media saturation has changed the way we live and think.   One of the reasons that the Vietnam War was ended by protests was because it was in our living rooms every night on the evening news.   Our soldiers killed, wounded, and in distress were scenes America could not get out of its collective mind. Now with cable and the Internet and the market demanding its profit, the media is pervasive, with us 24/7.   So, the sex and violence that has always titillated us as human beings draws us in constantly through the television and our computers.  Once we had boxing and wrestling; now it is extreme fighting.  Sex was something we did or had to go to a foreign film or porno theater to watch.   Now, just click it on… any kind of sex, from joyful to perverse, is a mouse click away.  We are like kids on sugar.   Humans love sugar, but we had to search for the fruit to get it until we packaged chocolate and candy.   Now, look at us.  Put that access to violence with the culture of violence we breed in America and you have an explosion.  Those who live in the direst of inner city poverty in America absorb that violence like no other part of our culture.   It is reflected back out at us liking a blinding beacon.  Since the turn of the last century, America’s oppositional culture has come from or been reflected out of Black America, from blues to jazz to being cool and hip, to challenging the established order and world, and now on to hip hop.   We have kept Black America imprisoned and that prison culture has taken over the street and that street is the mirror America must face.  We have to recognize what we have done to ourselves, so we can figure how to fix it and mend our country.  We can do it. 

THE OTHER SIDE 

Last night I spoke at Goucher College.   I left so inspired by the young people I met there.  I met students who had gone to New Orleans to rebuild the 9th Ward, who were studying Chesapeake Bay grasses to save our environment, who were working with the Latino community in East Baltimore to tell their stories and start a low power AM station, who wanted to join Teach for America when they graduated…  An African American woman, a little older than the students, came up to me after my speech saying she read about it in the Examiner.  She was concerned about these kids being so naïve but wanting to do good.  She herself was trying to find out how to get involved in social change to lift up her community.  These were the Obama kids full of hope.   They want to use their minds, their skills, and new technology to change their world, to make it a better place for all of us.  I am meeting young people like this everywhere I go, in Baltimore’s public high schools and in private schools like Park and Friends.   They are at University of Maryland Law, Medicine and Social Work schools.   Undergraduates at UMBC, Coppin, and Morgan.      Students from UM and Baltimore law schools going to New Orleans in droves to provide legal services for the poor and incarcerated of Katrina.   The Albert Schweitzer scores from UM that are more interested in humanitarian work than raking in the bucks.  In this world, the positive and the negative dwell side by side in the dialectic dance.   These young people and the countless thousands like them in public, parochial and private high schools, in our communities, wealthy, middle class and poor, and in our colleges and universities, are our hope, are our future, are the beauty and joy in this madness we live in.  More about them in a later blog. marc

 

April 21, 2008

4/21 from Marc

Welcome!

Our new website is born. So please spend some time with us here. Our endeavor is to create a new public media that crosses all the platforms and makes you part of all that is going on around you. We have archived our Peabody Award winning series, Just Words and the documentary series we produced on the Vietnam War that we taped here in the states and Vietnam. Our new programming, like conversations with folks from the Wire, Phil Donahue, Andre Codrescu and others is here, as well. There are also video, still photography, and places for your comments.

Speaking of places for your commentary, we opened forums for you to comment on anything that is on your mind. It's sort of like open phones on the web. Please join us there and send us some story and interview ideas. Tell us what is happening in your communities and things of interest you think we could share with everyone.

Politics and the Media

The Pennsylvania primary is tomorrow. Thank God, at last, we thought it would never get here!

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama debate in Philadelphia.  Photo Credit: AP Photo

I don’t know if you saw last week’s faux debate between Hillary and Barack on ABC. I do mean faux, it was just horrible. What is wrong with major media in our country? Is it just them or are we all becoming that shallow, uninteresting and banal? They are shirking their duty to all of us. Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos were pushing Barack Obama on his relationship with Bill Ayers, former SDS Weatherman who went underground in the sixties. They're focused on Hillary and her claim that she had to run under sniper fire which turned out to be false. The media created “bittergate” as they call it, and are pushing the capital gains tax! Well that fits, most of the big media stars are so well paid and run with such wealth that I guess they are worried about capital gains. What about the rest of us?!

Where were the questions about Iraq, the economy, health care, our infrastructure, home mortgages, the financial market, No Child Left Behind and our schools, veteran's benefits, Afghanistan, global warming, the environment and the future of this nation?

It is all about selling product and the drivel they think will sell to the masses. Well, give the masses some credit. Those who are involved and voting deserve better.

In Pennsylvania, they could have devoted the debate to the economy. What are their ideas about the financial markets? Do they believe that hedge funds and speculation of billionaires need the same oversight as banks? What role does the federal government play in stimulating this economy? Can we create a green economy and rebuild the infrastructure of America the same we did in the 30’s or in the 19th century when the federal government stimulated growth by building the canal system and then later the railroads?

Give us something! America is at a crossroads with wars, the economy and a 21st world that will be very different that the last century.

WYPR

One small tidbit that I would like to share. I heard that management will be spending considerable money for an advertising firm to rebrand the station. It feels it must clean its tarnished image of the last several months. It must purge the identification of Steiner with WYPR.

They tried that before, spending at least $20,000 on the 5th anniversary for WYPR.

Oh, well…join me, join us at the Center for Emerging Media as we create a new public media for our community, for all of us, for the 21st century.

-Marc

April 18, 2008

4/18 Blog Today

Random Thoughts..

First, where is everybody? It seems that very few of you have questions or comments for Mayor Sheila Dixon. So, is that disinterest in city politics, or more who could care what she says, or this kind of stuff is just ho hum? Well, we will be in her office at 4:30 on Monday. Hope to have it up on our site when we get back from City Hall.

Next, we will be focusing some of our work on school violence, talking to the CEO, teachers and students. So, if you have thoughts on it, send them in. If you are a schoolteacher or student maybe you can be part of the interview. Comment here or email justinlevy2@gmail.com.

Your responses to WYPR Board

Someone asked if Martin O’Malley ever voiced his support. I heard he did from a third party. I also received calls from many elected officials outraged by what happened, including Senator Ben Cardin, Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith, Congressmen John Sarbanes, Wayne Gilchrest and Elijah Cummings, Delegate Jon Cardin, State Senator Jamie Raskin and many others. I heard there was a lot of outrage from many within the Baltimore Metropolitan delegation.

I wake angry and frustrated many days thinking about what happened. Usually, once I say good morning to my little one, walk my dog Charley, and have coffee with Valerie, I am over it.

We keep up the good fight with them where it needs keeping up, but we are moving on. We have so many stories we want to do, interviews we are waiting to produce, town meetings to organize, and a new public media we’re working to create to worry about their board and management too much. They are a distraction.

Presidential Election

I have been thinking a lot about Obama’s comments and the continuing ad nauseum conversation about what he said. How much can we talk about it, over and over and over. The other day when I was in Hagerstown for our Maryland Humanities Council performance of Martin, Malcolm and Marc, we were in a hotel bar. Fox was on. It is amazing to me that all the discredited political professionals, like Dick Morris and angry caustic commentators of new like Geraldine Ferraro kept going on and on saying so little of any substance. Is there no other news to be covered by our major media than what Obama said at his fundraiser? Their choice of commentators tells us everything about what they are attempting to make important in this election. Their base of thought is so limited, yet has the broad power to define the discussion. We can end that with new media and new conversations.

American elections have always been contentious. I have been reading the book 1800 about the election that swirled around Adams and Jefferson and others. If you just look at that election along with the elections of 1860, 1912, 1928 and 1960, you can see that the venal and the vicious has always been at the forefront. It is bare knuckled. Part of the bare knuckles of 1800 and 1860 and 1912, besides the vicious personal attacks, was actual deep policy differences. Candidates were unafraid of speaking to their visions of America, and they had them.

So, I could put up with all viscera, silliness, nastiness and meanness if candidates would just declare their visions honestly and with the passion of conviction.

I believe what Obama said about what motivates people’s distrust is true, and what McCain said to Michigan workers about their jobs not returning was real and true. They were both eviscerated and trashed for being straight.

Instead of backpedaling, candidates, tell us the reality as you see it and what you think we as a nation need to do.

That would be refreshing.

NOW

I gotta go, my 10 (almost 11 year old) only has a few more days till she is gone and back to school, so we got some Daddy/Daughter time that is calling.

Have a wonderful weekend.

-marc

April 18, 2008

4/09/08 from Vietnam, to Annapolis, to the Movies

This has been an interesting week. First, the Peabody Award comes for our work on the series we produced called Just Words. It was funded by the Open Society Institute and aired on WYPR for a little over a year. We submitted the work for the prestigious Peabody but had no expectations of winning one.

April 3, 2008

4/3/08 More on Iraq War

Yesterday in Washington DC, we interviewed Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro, who co-produced the documentary on the Iraq War,

LISTEN NOW
March 28, 2008

3/28/08 Constellation Deal

So, what is up with this deal between O’Malley and Constellation? Where are the voices of dissent? Where are the voices in our state legislature, in print, on TV and in radio who are raising questions about this so-called settlement?
March 20, 2008

Nina Noble, Executive Producer

Nina Noble, Executive Producer for The Wire, spent the past several years doing all the behind the scenes work that is required for a successful show. She joined Marc to share her stories and experiences from the past few years.
March 19, 2008

3/17/08 An Iraqi American view on the Iraq War

Iraqi Americans in Michigan celebrate execution of Saddam Hussein. Not all Iraqi Americans were so happy. Photo Credit: Associated Press

Imagine you are a person who left your native country because you didn't want to live under its government.  Imagine several decades later, your adopted country chooses to invade your native country and topple the same regime you left under.

What do you do?

Do you celebrate, thrilled that the regime you disliked is now gone? Or do you mourn as you watch your country, which despite the dictatorship was a vibrant safe place, turn into a place you can barely recognize? Such is the circumstance of many Iraqi Americans.  Most of the Iraqi's living in the United States disliked Saddam Hussein.  But that doesn't mean they were happy to see U.S. tanks roll into Baghdad to topple his government. The fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq is upon us.  Over the next couple of weeks, we're bringing you interviews with scholars, veterans, peace activists, and more.  Today, we are bringing you an interview with Dr. Adil Shamoo.  Dr. Shamoo grew up in Iraq, in the Chaldean christian community.  He came to the United States in the 1960's, and he a professor of bioethics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Click here to stream the interview.  Right click here and select "Save Target As" in order to download this interview onto your computer. Want to get this and other podcasts on iTunes?  Click "Read More" below to find out how. Running time is 25:30.  The music heard at the beginning and end of this interview is "Second Baghdad" by the Iraqi musician Rahim Alhaj. Click Read More to get resources and information on how to get this podcast on iTunes. It’s easy to subscribe to any podcast using iTunes, even ones that aren’t available in the iTunes Store. To subscribe, find and copy the podcast’s feed URL. In the “Advanced” menu, select “Subscribe to Podcast” and paste the feed URL into the dialog box. The URL for the CEM podcast is http://www.switchpod.com/users/cem/feed.xml This way, your ITUNES should update whenever we add a new podcast. Most recent articles written by Dr. Adil Shamoo Other links of interest
March 18, 2008

3/17/08 Iraq and the Presidential election

Yes, it has been quiet in here over the past week but that's only because we've been so hard at work!  We've got lots of new content that will be coming your way this week, so make sure to check back everyday for something new. IRAQ: FIVE YEARS LATER Can you believe that on Thursday, March 20th, it will have been five years since the United States led the invasion into Iraq?  Sometimes it seems like the conflict has been dragging on so much longer.  Other times it seems like just yesterday that we were watching American troops help Iraqis pull down that statue of Saddam. Does it seem that we are talking about Iraq a lot less than we used to? Has the mainstream media totally abdicated responsibility for covering this story, choosing instead to talk about super-delegates and shocking caucus results?  Have the candidates refused to discuss it?  Are we just so relieved that the violence is below pre-surge levels that we feel we can ignore it ?  Are we just bored with it-and misinformed about it?  Why is there not major mainstream media coverage of the winter soldier hearings? Whatever it is, we know our audience still cares about Iraq and what is happening there, so over this week and next we are bringing you a series of podcasts talking about Iraq.  We're going to hear from scholars, journalists, Iraqis and Iraqi Americans, veterans, peace activists and more.  If you have any ideas for points of view you want us to investigate, let us know! First up, we wanted to take a look at the intersection of the presidential election and Iraq.  Where do  Senators McCain, Clinton, and Obama stand on the war (click on their names to read their campaign platforms on Iraq)?   What is their history in terms of the Iraq war (Go here for Clinton, here for McCain, and here for Obama)?  What can the beliefs of their advisers tell us about their agenda?  McCain has a reputation for being a maverick-does he have a maverick agenda for Iraq?  Does the fact that he is a veteran give his agenda more credibility? Some people say Hillary and Obama agree on most major policies--is that true for their Iraq plans?  To get to the bottom of these questions, we talked with UMBC history professor Brad Simpson.  He is an astute observer and analyst of U.S. foreign policy. Sure, he's got a point of view and he isn't afraid to voice it, but he's got criticism for both sides of the aisle and he dishes it out with a real knowledge of the issues. Click here to stream Marc's interview with Brad Simpson.  Right-click here and select "Save Target As" to save the mp3 onto your desktop.  Transcript coming soon. Running time is 27 minutes. Check back everyday this week for more interviews.  We've got more podcasts about The Wire, and we'll be talking with other folks about Iraq. Let us know what you think... -Jessica
March 6, 2008

A Visit to Viva House Soup Kitchen

I have a lot of friends from out of town who love The Wire. I always kind of feel sorry for them because I feel like they aren’t getting the whole picture. Only someone really familiar with Baltimore can get all the inside jokes, references, and cameos that pepper the series. But sometimes the reference is arcane enough that not even Baltimoreans quite get what they are looking at. For example, how many people know that the soup kitchen Bubbles worked at in season five is a real place?
March 5, 2008

Robert Chew, the Character “Proposition Joe”

Last week Marc sat down with Robert Chew, the Baltimore native who has portrayed the east Baltimore drug lord Proposition Joe for the past several years on the hit HBO series The Wire. Prop Joe, as he came to be known, was an iconic figure that represented a time in Baltimore where the drug trade was less violent and bloody, when word was bond, and “The Game” was something very different than what it is today.
March 4, 2008

David Simon, Series Creator

Our Wire podcast series continues with a forty minute interview with David Simon!  Sunday is getting closer.  In the meantime, hear what The Wire's creator has to say about the show.
March 3, 2008

Ed Burns, Writer and Producer

As we promised last week, this week we are bringing you a series of interviews with folks from the hit HBO series The Wire.  The series finale of this show is airing on March 9, 2008.  Marc is a huge fan of the program, and we know a lot of you are as well.   So for our first podcast series we decided to concentrate on this television show and talk to writers, producers, actors, security guards and crew to ask them about their experiences in making The Wire.  We wanted to find out what they think the message of the show is.  What does it have to teach us about urban America?  What lessons can we learn from the five seasons?
March 3, 2008

3/3/08 Monday Morning Thoughts

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO TODAY Fifteen years ago today the first Marc Steiner Show aired.    Tuesday March 3rd, 1993.   It was a show on Norplant.    There was a huge controversy in 1993 on the use of Norplant as a contraceptive administered by the city health department to mostly inner city teenagers.   Some argued that the long-term effects of the drug were not known, others that the city had to do something to respond the rates of teen pregnancy in the city. So, there I was, bathed in fire on the air.    Four guests, all women, an hour and a half with no breaks.   We started the show with a short documentary that we produced on the subject.  We did that a lot in the first year of our show.    I miss that. Becoming a public radio host was total serendipity.    In 1990 after three years spent producing, directing and casting radio commercials for an ad agency I longed to get back to something with some substance. It was time to leave the world of selling white bread, beer, BMWs and the lottery. I had learned a lot about producing and mixing sound, music and voices for radio. I had this idea for a thirteen part series on the History of Jewish Music.  I knew it was an idea that could work.    So did David Creagh, the General Manager of WJHU who gave me office space to work on the idea.   Well about a year later with some promises in hand and great board of advisers, the project went belly up when the station ran into some financial difficulties.    It is still a great idea and I have the proposal waiting in my files. A couple of years later, in late 1992, I ran into Denis Kita at my dentist's office.   Dennis had been Assistant General Manager when I first met him.   He was now the new GM of WJHU.     We sat there in the waiting room of Dr. Charlie Stine, who at that time was producing and hosting a short program every week on the wonderful natural wonders and histories found in our back yards.   Charlie, besides being my and Dennis's dentist, had been my Dad's best friend and my natural history mentor since I was a young lad. At any rate, Dennis Kita and I were talking in the waiting room when he said to me "We are thinking about launching a public affairs program at WJHU.    You know this city so well from the street corners to the corporate board rooms, I thought you might have some ideas." Well for some reason the first thing that blurted out of my mouth was "You should let me be the host!"   Dennis said but you don't know anything about radio.   I said, " What do you have to know?   You read, you talk and ask people questions.  I do that at my dining room table all the time." Well, poor Dennis, he opened the door.   I would not let go.  I hocked him for months.   Finally, one day when I was at the station, after bugging him for months, he said "OK, here is your desk, here is your phone, no money, no producer, I will take off All Things Considered every Tuesday night from 7 to 8:30.    That will be your time slot. See what you can do."   I took it.   And the rest is history.   Well there is much more to that history, but we'll leave that for another day. TEXAS OHIO VERMONT AND RHODE ISLAND Tomorrow is a very critical primary day.  Not for John McCain, he has the Republican primary all sewn up.  Well, then again it might be important for him because what happens to Democrats internally, how they behave towards one another and how they do or do not support one another could have a profound effect on the November general election. If they split Texas and Ohio or if Hillary Clinton wins them (lets not forget Rhode Island and Vermont) then the race for the Democratic nomination is still on.   It could get quite volatile and nasty. Texas with its weird primary/caucus blend might well not be decided by tomorrow night.    Lawsuits could erupt.   The Democrats could commit fratricide.  You never know, it has happened before.    The Democratic front runners could easily decide it is not necessary for their party to win the White House when they can let their egos rule the day instead. If Barack Obama wins then the Democrats would hope that Clinton would not only bow out but also come out supporting Obama in a big way.   If she doesn't, then the wound could fester and hurt the Democrats in their quest to regain the White House.   If Barack wins, I hope she and Bill Clinton can bow out gracefully with class, putting their party and its beliefs ahead of personal animosity and ego. The New York Times over the weekend had some very interesting stories about the race.   On Saturday, Jeffrey Rosen wrote an op-ed on civil liberties and the Democratic candidates.   The article was making the point that Barack Obama was able to forge a working coalition in both the Illinois and US Senates between liberal civil liberties advocates and conservative libertarians on everything from police harassment actions to the far reaching aspects of the Patriot Act.   Rosen made the argument that the Clinton administration and Senator Clinton's record on civil liberties was, by comparison, questionable. While the article said only about 20% of American voters care deeply about civil liberties, it does not say how many care about their liberties, or how many conservatives care about libertarian values. I did not read how the question was asked in the polls but my sense is that Americans have a visceral response to the ill defined notion liberty.   Civil libertarians and libertarians have much common ground. ENERGY SUITS WHO? So, the state government beat Constellation Energy to the punch with a lawsuit.   The state says Constellation still has to reimburse citizens for the rate increase.    Constellation thinks that since the legislature did not approve its merger with Florida Power and Light then there is no deal to ameliorate the rise in rates. While the state and the Constellation battle this out in the courts there is a question that going unanswered by anyone.    Steve Larson does a great job.   He wants to protect the consumer, but neither he nor Constellation's representatives ever answered the question I think is the most critical when I posed it to them on my former show. Is it true that Constellation Energy sold its energy cheaply out of state then resold it back to BGE for a huge profit?     What are the inner workings and relationships of these two companies?    One is owned by the other yet we as citizens of this state reap no rewards from this alleged economy of scale.    There is a serious investigation both in public hearings and state investigations that must be had here.   Where is it?  Is it going on? LOCK EM UP AND THROW AWAY THE KEY It is unbelievable, but then again maybe not, that 1 in 100 adult Americans are in jail. This has its roots not just in Reagan and Bush the first but also in Bill Clinton's eight years.   Clinton's administration maxed out the time to be served for crack cocaine, but not powder, remember?    Who snorts it and who smokes it? That is not even the most important issue.    People like Governor Martin O'Malley have the power and the opportunity to do something about this.   We need to radically reform our juvenile and adult justice systems.    Put money at the front end, create a responsible system of community corrections for non violent offenders, stiffen sentences for violent offenders, create a prison system where non violent offenders and those addicted are separated from violent offenders into a system that offers job training, drug rehabilitation and hope America can become the leader in the new world green economy.    In the process we can transform our inner cities with work building the new green economy and our infrastructure. One in 100 is a frightening commentary on the future of America in the 21st century. Your thoughts? -Marc
February 26, 2008

3/12 BOD meeting cancelled

Hello friends. Just got this message in and I thought it was important to share with you.
Dear Guests,   WYPR's March 12 Board Meeting has been rescheduled for April 15 - it will still take place at 3pm.  A location will be posted on the website by March 15.    Thank you! ~ Alex   Alexandra Price Associate Development Director WYPR 2216 N. Charles Street Baltimore, MD 21218   ph. (410) 235-1446 fax (410) 235-1161 www.wypr.org aprice@wypr.org
February 21, 2008

2/21 Child Brides; Stolen Lives

afghan-bride.jpg

Sunam is only 3 years old. She is dressed up in her bridal outfit as she prepares to marry her 7 year old cousin. Photo Credit: Farzana Wahidy/AP. We have brand new content for you from the Center for Emerging Media! Stream the podcast here. (Or just right click on that link, and choose "Save Link As."  This will download it onto your computer.  Thanks to our intelligent reader Ron Counsell for figuring this one out!) Program length is 39: 21. Female genital mutilation. Sex slaves. Human trafficking. These are the topics that journalist Maria Hinojosa thought of when she was deciding which global women's issue to focus on for a special episode of NOW, the acclaimed PBS program. But a phone call to a source set her straight. The biggest issue facing women globally is not genital mutilation, or slavery. It is the millions of women that are forced to marry as children. 51 million girls under the age of 18 are married. According to a report by the International Center for Research on Women, that number will rise to 100 million by the end of this decade. Marc and Maria sat down and talked about her documentary Child Brides; Stolen Lives which premiered on PBS in 2007. You can stream that interview here. (Program length is 39: 21) Want to watch the documentary? Visit the website of Now on PBS. Under the cut...resources and pictures! Here are a couple of the girls you will meet in this documentary and interview Habi habirecovering.jpg Habi lives in Niger. She will tell the story of how she came to be incontinent as a result of being married as a child. Mamta mamtaupdate.jpg Mamta was only 7 when she was married to a man she had never met. She is afraid of her husband. Other resources
Child Brides from New York Times by Stephanie Sinclair
Several months ago, the New York Times Magazine published a stunning series of pictures of child brides in Afghanistan with their husbands. Here is a link to that article and slideshow. One photo is above. Ghulam Haider, 11, is to be married to Faiz Mohammed, 40. She had hoped to be a teacher but was forced to quit her classes when she became engaged. Photo Credit: Stephanie Sinclair for the New York Times The International Center for Research on Women has a wealth of information about child marriages. Visit their online exhibit Too Young To Wed: Child Marriage in their Own Words. Let us know what you think of the interview.

-Jessica

February 20, 2008

2/20 A few words from Marc

Hello everyone,

I have a few short reflections after seeing what I wrote last night. I don’t want to fall into the trap of he said/she said quarrel of inconsequential detail. On some levels I have allowed myself to do that.

First, I realized when I spoke of the $750,000 raised that I inadvertently left out that $70 some thousand dollars of that amount was really contributed or in a sense forgiven by Johns Hopkins University. I realized after I sent it in to my blog that I left that line out.

Second, I want to be clear how grateful all of us should be to the original guarantors. Bill Clarke, Jonathan Melnick, Anne and Jane Daniels, Tony Brandon, Charlie Salisbury, Earl and Darielle Linehan, Tom and Barbara Bozzuto and Albert Williams. Without their guarantees we could not have saved the radio station for Baltimore. I just want to be absolutely clear about that.

Finally, the problems boil down to certain things that leadership of the station just doesn’t get.

  1. This should have been a partnership between guarantors, contributors and members to create a board to oversee the fiscal and fiduciary responsibilities of WYPR

  2. Martha Rudski, WJHU Marketing Director, came up with the name Your Public Radio because we believed we could create a truly powerful and unique institution that belonged to this community.

  3. When we first started, the story around NPR was the amazing marriage between this conservative Republican corporate executive and a community activist talk show host known for his progressive leanings coming together to build a community radio station. My belief in the myth hurt us all.

  4. All this is madness. There was never any concrete reason for it to happen. They keep changing their story as to what led to the end of my show because they are grasping for straws. There is no reason other than a deep personal and political dislike for me from Tony Brandon and a few others. They could not stand what I stood for, or that I was the face and voice of the station. Ray Blank, the station consultant, has said to me more than once that they see you getting all the recognition. They feel they deserve some. I always gave it to them.

  5. So, all this is for what?

 

I have nothing left to say unless they come at me or at the public with more specious comments.

See you tonight.

-Marc