« Archives in January, 2013


I was a small boy the first time my parents took me to the movies. The theatre was on Washington Boulevard, once a vibrant commercial venue of Baltimore’s Pigtown neighborhood. Back in the early ‘50s, going “up the boulevard” was special, the Crown Theatre having been one of its prime attractions for more than thirty years. Originally built to accommodate vaudeville and minstrel shows, the old structure had played host to the best. It was said that even the great Al Jolson sang for his mammy there—in blackface, of course. Now, black faces appeared in the audience, albeit within certain parameters.

The theatre’s downstairs was especially crowded that night, so my parents headed for the balcony in search of three seats together. I excitedly climbed the plush, carpeted staircase ahead of them. I was sorry that I had. Reaching the top, instinct thrust me back like a stiff wind. I was terrified, but I couldn’t tear my eyes away. Smoke hung like a shroud over a sea of tawny eyes looking out from muted blackness. Breathless, I stared at the “Colored Section,” and it stared back at me.

I imagine it now like entering Louisiana’s Cajun bayous at night, the big gators languishing in the sluggish, slimy creeks awaiting the arrival of prey to make opening their lantern-like eyes worth the effort. You should not be here, their eyes say. You will pay dearly for the mistake. »Read More

“LITTLE MAN ON THE COUCH”…On Sound Machines & Drill Sergeants

Little’s therapist returns from break.

TP: Happy New Year, Little. How’d the holidays treat you?

LM: Not bad, doc, considering.

TP: Considering?

LM: You know the drill. The family blitzkrieg, too many kids, wrapping paper flying all over the place, “sound machines”…like these kids need help making noise.

TP: What are sound machines?

LM: You must’ve seen ‘em…little things look like cell phones with a bunch of buttons that sound out everything from applause to belching and farting. Guess which buttons the little sweetheart grandkids pushed about a thousand times?

TP: Annoying?

LM: Ya think? Plus this year we got a double dose of holiday fun. When Christmas night finally (mercifully) ended, I figured the worst was over. Wrong! Next day, the New Jersey contingent showed up, everybody else returned, and they did it all over again. Who coordinates scheduling for these people?

TP: How about you? Any good stuff?

LM: A few catnip-loaded tchotchkes and, you’ll love this, a tie.

TP: A tie? »Read More