Monthly Archives: March 2010

Gary B & the Notions, Big Big Bucks @ Hexagon Tonight

Sad to say it Baltimore, but this is another post more about what we’re not doing than what we’re actually getting up to tonight, due to a lot of bad information out there on that interwebs. Sometimes it happens that way, but you know what? That’s the great thing about Baltimore. There’s always a plan B. Or in this case, Gary B.

Gary B, Big Big Bucks play Hexagon tonight. 9 pm.

So we were going to head downtown tonight to check out the Baltimore screening of Jameel Saleem’s Cream Soda, but according to the film’s Facebook page and the Landmark Theaters’ schedule, that’s actually not happening. It’s been postponed for ‘sometime in April.’

We were kind of looking forward to it. As far as independent film goes, anybody can make a documentary these days, but you don’t often see truly independent romantic comedies, so Cream Soda might be worth checking out just for that fact alone. When you take into consideration that it seems to be mostly sex-driven and not actually that romantic at all, that’s twice as much reason to watch.

After the Film, we were planning on ditching the afterparty, and heading up to Golden West instead to see J. Robbins’ new project The Office of Future Plans. You probably don’t remember it, but the Chop’s first post ever dealt with OFP, and we were quite pleased. But alas, that show’s not actually happening either.

Fortunately, the Hexagon Space is coming through for us tonight, hosting Gary B and the Notions along with Allston, Mass’ Big Big Bucks, who are touring nationally and are fresh off their SxSW appearance.

These two acts ought to complement each other well, since both are solid, fun to listen to power-pop. If you’re reading this and thinking ‘I’m not the type of person who goes to places like the Hexagon. It’s full of super-indie hipster snobs. I’ll stick to the 8×10 or Power Plant Live.’ then you should definitely come out tonight, because this is going to be one of the most unpretentious, balls-out fun shows you’ll see for a while.

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Bi-Weekly Political Roundup: Raise a Glass to Healthcare Edition

It’s gonna be a good one tonight. That’s an understatement. It’s going to be a celebration three years and three generations in the making.

The Baltimore Chapter of Drinking Liberally celebrates its third anniversary tonight at Joe Squared, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Hell, it might even be warm enough to sit out on that nice patio they have there.

Drinking Liberally meets tonight at Joe Squared. 7pm.

As always, DL meetings are very informal, and open to anyone of a liberal bent. New members are encouraged to stop by and become new friends. And judging by what we’ve seen on the Twitter we’ve got a lot of new friends out there. Come on Baltimore… its time to live up to all that tweeting you did on Sunday. Come on out and give us your take on healthcare, the tea-party wingnuts, and the general awesomeness of Nancy Pelosi.

As for the Chop’s take on it, we saw it coming the whole time. A year ago we were telling anyone who would listen that something would get passed. Sure, we wanted that something to be single-payer. We wanted that something to at least have a public option. But when it all came down at the end of last week, with Kucinich coming to Jesus and the whip count steadily increasing, we weren’t at all surprised. The votes have been there the whole time, and if there was ever a day when congress went through the motions just for show, it was Sunday.

That sounds strange to say, but it’s true. They could have had two hours debate and a 20 minute vote and been done.

All in all though, we think its a good deal. We like the bill. Obama promised Change and this bill is full of changes. The Chop has been generally pleased with Barack Obama (don’t ask don’t tell notwithstanding), and we’re even more pleased now.

We also want to share with you this link we were sent (via the DL mailing list) to the SEIU website. They’ve made it incredibly easy to see how your representative voted on the bill, and added a contact form to voice your gratitude or displeasure. (In Maryland only Roscoe Bartlett (R- 6th District) and Frank Kratovil (D- 1st) voted no. If you live there, give them what for.

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Charles Village Civic Association Meeting Tonight

Here it is… We’re disappointed that there still seems to be no on-the-ground citywide organizing effort to stop the WalMart PUD, even though it’s already been shown that there is citywide interest in such organizing, as demonstrated on Facebook.

After the somewhat embarassing confusion of March 9th in Remington, we decided to do a little actual homework like a grown-up blogger for a change.

CVCA meets at 2801 N. Charles tonight at 7:20 pm. WalMart Will be discussed.

So we sent an email to the Charles Village Civic Association yesterday stating in plain terms that we live near Charles Village, and are specifically interested in stopping WalMart, and asked if it would be worth our while to attend tonight’s meeting.

The prompt and courteous reply we received was short, but indicated that all are welcome. So if you have any interest at all in stopping WalMart from extending it’s insidious tentacles into Remington, we encourage you to come out tonight. The Meeting is at Ss. Philip and James Church at 2801 North Charles St. (map), and starts at 7:20 pm.

We realize this is in direct conflict with tonight’s Drinking Liberally meeting, so you’ll just have to decide what sort of progressive you are. Or run really fast from one to the other, like we’re tempted to do.

If you’ve not yet signed the online petition against WalMart, you can sign it here.

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Chop Style: Guide to Thrift Store Shopping: Part II

Okay! so now that you know your size, what you need, and everything else we talked about yesterday, we’re finally ready to hit the shops. But don’t run out the door just yet. You can still go very wrong, very quickly if you’re not careful.

The goal here is to go for classic style. We could drink Pikesville manhattans all night and try to talk about what classic style means, but a picture is worth a thousand words. We suggest you stop taking Mad Men as your primary frame of reference, and once again strongly urge you all to check out the impossible cool.

This is how grown-ups dress. Jean Shrimpton and bystanders. (Image courtesy the impossible cool.)

When walking into a thrift shop, there are three ways you can go. One of them is to make a beeline for the racks of your sex and size, which is highly recommended. The goal here is efficiency, and since you already know what you’re looking for, why not go find it?

You can also head toward the “boutique” section that some stores feature near the front. These sections are typically made up of designer clothes in good condition, which are priced higher than the rest of the stock (though sometimes still a bargain). Here’s a dirty little secret though… what ends up in the boutique section is mostly arbitrary. It’s all according to the tastes and knowledge of hourly thrift store employees, who aren’t exactly fashionistas themselves. You’ll see a lot of labels you recognize, but big name designers are sometimes also fuck-ups. There’s really no difference in quality between the boutique rack and the general stock.

You can also stray into the sections that contain furniture, housewares, books and records, etc. Don’t do this! You’re here to shop for clothes today. Come back another time for all the other stuff. It’s entirely possible you’ll piss away an hour combing through Perry Como records while someone else walks away with that Fred Perry cardigan that would have looked better on you.

Not everyone looked dumb in the 70's. (Chet Baker. Image courtesy the impossible cool.

Now let’s get down to the straight dope. You’re standing in front of the rack and looking at a row of about 30 white shirts. How the hell do you know which one to buy? Aren’t they all the same? No. On with the tips:

>>> Fit. We know we already said that you have to know your size and try everything on, but you’re not just seeing if you can get it on, you want it to fit perfectly. Not all clothes are cut to what the tag says, and not all people fit patterns. There are plenty of articles online describing how things should fit, but basically if you’re trying it on and think it’s imperfect, it is. Sleeve length, neckroom, waist, shoulders; it’s hard to get every measurement to fall into place. It takes a lot of patience to find a piece that fits perfectly, but once you do you’ll find yourself reaching for it often, and thinking everything else in your closet doesn’t quite fit correctly.

>>> Material. Natural. No polyester. No rayon. No bullshit. Do you want to look like a cheap set of K-mart draperies, or like this? You should be looking for cotton and wool primarily, and the best quality of it you can find. These clothes will last you a lifetime. How do you think that herringbone jacket ended up here? It’s very possible that it out-lived it’s owner.

>>>Damage. Don’t buy damaged clothing. Ever. Don’t. Don’t try to convince yourself that that stain is too small to notice or that that hole will be hidden by your outerwear. It won’t, and you’ll look ridiculous. The only exception to this is damage that you are absolutely certain you can fix yourself. A missing button isn’t a problem. An off-the-seam tear is.

>>> Alteration. Going hand in hand with fit and damage is alteration. If you can alter your own clothes you’re way ahead of the game. The Chop has successfully altered jacket sleeves and added custom shirt buttons, but we’d fear to try anything more advanced. If you find that perfect outfit that doesn’t quite fit, you can have it altered (also altering the total price) but it’s important to understand what a tailor (read: dry-cleaner) can and can’t do.

>>> Look for tags and labels. Not that you should shop on tags and labels exclusively, but they can tell you a lot about a garment’s history. You’d be surprised how much never-worn clothing hits thrift stores with store tags still on it. Not that store tags make one garment inherently better than another, but they are nice to have. Labels are important to watch also. Most stores (Target, Macy’s, etc) have their own in-house brands. Tons of this shite ends up in thrift stores, and while it’s not all bad, it’s important to know that “Faded Glory” means you’re holding a pair of Wal-Mart jeans. Without resorting to being a label-whore, there’s no denying that big-name fashion houses do hire the best designers in the world, and make clothes that aren’t meant to be disposable.

>>> Shoes and accessories. You need to be very careful about walking a mile in another man’s shoes. You should never look to find boots, casual shoes, or athletic shoes used. You might, however, find a good pair of occasional shoes. Women have it much better than men in this respect, but even the men can find a good pair of brogues or something if you look long enough. The same rules as clothing apply, and don’t forget to look around at accessories. We got our Christian Dior bi-fold wallet at an area Goodwill, and get complimented on it all the time.

>>> Finally, take chances, but manage risks. The best part of shopping in a thrift store is that stuff is cheap. Buying white pants this Spring doesn’t have to mean pissing away half a day’s pay. If you get them home and realize that they actually don’t work on you, you can donate them right back. Always think about the places and events to which you could wear something, and the clothes you can match it to. Buy something you might not normally, but always, always, for Christ’s sake always resist the temptation to buy anything ironic.


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Chop Style: Guide to Thrift Store Shopping

As you may have noticed Baltimore, Spring is here. Like for real. Like actually happening out the window right now! We know you’ve noticed, because we watched you walk around all weekend having weathergasms all over the place; cameraphones in hand, flip flops and the whole nine.

And as such it’s high time the Chop got our wardrobe together for the season. So today we’re making the big circuit, hitting up most of the area Goodwill stores, Salvation Army shops, and even Value Village. We may not be the best dressed man in Baltimore, but we’re always the best dressed in our price range.

We didn’t get there easily though. It takes a lot of work, patience and knowledge to wade through other people’s crap in search of something of quality. There’s also the risk of coming out of the store looking like you shop exclusively at a thrift store. Even if you do, you shouldn’t look the part. Save that for the Hampden Hipster Welfare Queens and MICA sophomores. No, you want to look good this spring, and the Chop is here to help with our two part guide to thrift store shopping.

Shopping at Goodwill doesn't mean you have to look like this. (Image courtesy LATFH)

Half the battle is waged before you even get into the store. If you just dive headfirst into a sea of textiles, you’re probably going to drown. finding quality vintage clothing isn’t like finding a needle in a haystack; its much harder than that. It’s like finding one particular needle in a stack of needles. People who run higher-priced vintage clothing boutiques know this, and they’re skilled at it, and it’s a dirty little open secret that many of them pull stock from the sales floors of the big three. So today we’re going to focus on what you need to know before you go:

>>> Know Your Sizes. This is the single biggest way to save yourself time and hassle when shopping anywhere. It will kill you to find the perfect jeans in your size only to find out that your size isn’t actually your size. It’s the size you were in high school, or the size you wish you were, or the size you guessed at. If you haven’t shopped for clothes in a while, you might not be the size you think you are. Before you bring those jeans to the fitting room, make sure there’s a decent chance that they will actually fit. If you really have no idea what your sizes are, have someone measure you. Failing that, go to Macy’s and have them measure you. Seriously, it’s that important.

>>> Take Stock of Your Wardrobe. The general rule of thumb is that if you haven’t worn it in 12 months, you shouldn’t have it in your closet. There are plenty of articles online about how to clean out your closet. Once you’ve done that you should have a good idea of what you need the most, so that when you get into the store you already have priorities. You’ll also have a bag full of clothes to donate and a good deal of extra space in your closet.

>>> What to Wear on a Shopping Trip. A little thinking ahead about what you’re wearing to the store can save you significant time if you’re trying on more than one or two items. The Chop always makes a point to shop in a v-neck tee, our everyday jeans, and slip-on loafers. This way we can try on shirts right in the aisles, shoes come on and off easily when trying pants, and we know what does or doesn’t work with our favorite jeans.

>>> Watch the Sales. A little clicking around on the links above will tell you when the sales are going on, or you can be sure to ask a clerk when you get there. The last Saturday of every month is Goodwill’s Super Saturday, when everything is half price. the only thing better than a $4 shirt is two shirts for $4, but beware; little old ladies come out of the woodwork. Super Saturdays and midnight madness can spawn hour-long lines, trashed sales floors, and ugly fights over crappy garments. Our advice is to shop just before the sale starts, or right at the tail end of it. A YSL necktie isn’t worth civil unrest.

>>> Go back often. Thrift stores rotate stock much more quickly than department stores or even discount stores. It’s worth your while to ask the clerks when stocking days are, and to check the stores closest to you as often as once a week. If you follow the advice here it will only take a few moments to scan the entire store.

Tomorrow: How to tell trash from treasure. The Chop talks Labels, material, tailoring, accessories and more!



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David Bazan, Headlights @ Ottobar Tonight

Well Baltimore, you finally came through for us on a Sunday. The Chop was content to spend Sundays at home, waxing philosophical and drinking wine on the balcony, but yeah, we’d rather go out.

And we wouldn’t miss this one. Pedro the Lion is playing the Ottobar tonight. Okay, it’s not actually Pedro the Lion. It’s David Bazan, but it’s no great leap in logic to say that Pedro was David and vice versa. In fact, there have been few other bands in recent history who’s frontman has stood so far out front. Pedro the Lion’s sound was always so personal and intimate that it was entirely clear it was the David Bazan Show, and it wasn’t far off what you can expect tonight; downbeat rhythms and haunting melodies interwoven with iconic imagery, high-minded ideas, and crying-in-your-room-alone lyrics.

David bazan and Headlights play the Ottobar tonight. 8pm Doors.

Much has been made over the last 15 years about Bazan’s religion or lack thereof, but the Chop has always considered him to be an artist first; an artist who happened to be Christian. Just as we now see him as an artist who happens to be a former Christian. Throughout it all, it’s been fascinating to watch Bazan grow both as an artist and as a man. Few performers, or even people for that matter, are willing to struggle so earnestly with their beliefs, and no matter what our own faith may be about the next world, Bazan has something terribly poignant and essential to teach us about being alive in this one.

We’re also looking forward to checking out Urbana/Champaign’s Headlights, who are touring extensively with Bazan, and whose Wildlife LP on Polyvinyl sounds like an updated and underproduced Anniversary record, and we mean that in the nicest way possible. As much as we love just about everything else Polyvinyl ever put out (Braid! Ranier Maria!), we’re sure we’ll wake up Monday morning loving headlights just as much. You should too.


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Squaaks Madness at Metro Gallery Tonight

The Chop doesn’t particularly like March Madness. While we suppose it’s better than the whole crooked-corporate-BCS system, we just can’t bring ourselves to care much about college basketball.

We do however like springtime. And friends. And beer in red plastic cups and front porches and backyards and nachos, veggie platters, and pizzas. So we’re going to be spending the better part of today at a March Madness themed party… officially mourning the loss of the Morgan State Bears, and unofficially spending most of the day talking about Sarasota and Opening Day.

This story has a happy ending though, because after a full day of listening to people pretend to be experts in, or even care about basketball, we get to go to a place where no one cares about sports and fill our head with the noise we want to hear: Squaaks!

Squaaks play the Metro Gallery tonight. 8pm Doors.

Squaaks turn the Metro Gallery into their own personal garage tonight along with The Courtesy Line and A Cat Called Cricket.

For the unfamiliar, the band often likens itself to acts like T-Rex, the Kinks, and the Beatles, and we say they’re not far off in that description (Okay… maybe they’re no Beatles, but whatever.) The band also features Elena Fox of Ace of Cakes fame, who was recently endorsed by Daisy Rock Guitars.

Who knows? Maybe that’s just the next rung on the ladder of fame. Bottom line, come out and see them tonight and in ten years’ time you can say “Oh yeah, I was into them way back when…”

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