Tag Archives: Baltimore Events

How to Stage a Boycott, Hon

Most of you probably well remember the Great Hontroversy of December 2010, in which Denise Whiting trademarked the term “Hon” in various forms, and crowed about it in the media in an attempt to drum up publicity for her newly opened tacky souvenir shop, just in time for stocking stuffer season.

Ink was spilled and the fat was chewed (and not just in the restaurant), Facebook groups were formed and street protests organized, but in the end all it really amounted to was a collective “Yeah, fuck that lady.” Fast forward to June 2011: Honfest is upon us again, and Whiting has managed to piss people off even further by banning the sale of cat’s eye sunglasses and cans of hairspray and telling people that their political opinions and religious beliefs are not welcome. Everyone shall worship at the altar of HON, and all hail the mayor of Hon Town.

A visual approximation of our sentiments toward Honfest.

So we’re Skipping Honfest this year. This isn’t really news, since we’ve never actually been to any of the previous Honfests. Shitty grandpa music and overpriced Heinekens aren’t really our cup of tea, and we’re put off by anything that’s so cartoonishly self-referential and clichéd, especially when it’s organized by one of Baltimore’s most hated people. Honfest is not so much a festival to be enjoyed, but a product to be bought, paid for and consumed.

We wouldn’t call it a boycott though, and we bristle when we hear other people use the term. Most people in the modern age have a poor understanding of what a boycott actually is, let alone the skills or wherewithal to organize one successfully. Before you go calling for a boycott this weekend, or anytime, it’s a good idea to know what the keys to a successful boycott are:

  • Fight a grievous wrong. It’s difficult for any boycott to be successful without broad public support. It helps if what you’re fighting against is universally seen as an injustice. Child labor or unsafe working conditions are good grounds for a boycott. While Hon, Inc. has shown an incredible amount of hubris and alienated the community many times over, it’s hard to argue that there’s much actual injustice being done here. Some, but not much.
  • A pre-existing organizational structure. Some of the most successful boycotts in history haven’t been carried off by people coming together, they were won by people who were already together. The Montgomery bus boycott was only possible because churches and civil rights groups were already well organized, and were able to mobilize their members. Ditto with the California grape boycott, the core of which was the United Farm Workers’ Union. A Facebook group by itself is not an organization. It’s merely a tool for disseminating information among an organization.
  • Strong Leadership. At the head of every successful boycotting organization, there’s strong leadership. MLK. Cesar Chavez. Gandhi. Leading an actual boycott is a full time job. It’s not something to which you dedicate half an hour of internet time a few nights a week.
  • Dedicated foot soldiers. A true boycott of Cafe Hon, if it were to have any economic impact at all, would require people standing out on the Avenue morning, noon, and night wearing tee shirts, carrying signs, handing out literature, and making a case to the general public of the grievous wrongdoing we mentioned before. Any volunteers?
  • A manifold boycott strategy. You don’t just send an email blast, show up on a streetcorner and yell boycott. Who are you anyway, Jesse Jackson? A successful boycott requires a lot of advance planning. Even with something as small scale as a restaurant or a festival, if success is expected, there are enormous organizational, logistical, fundraising, and public relations challenges to consider. Do you just want to skip the festival, or do you want to boycott its sponsors as well?
  • An attainable set of goals. Part of that strategy should be a set of goals or reasonable demands. The idea of bringing the big bad evil corporation to its knees by crippling it economically is as cartoonish as the beads and beehives that are about to take over the Avenue. The goal of a boycott isn’t bankrupting anyone, it’s getting your target to change its behavior, e.g. integrating buses or paying farm workers minimum wage.
  • A viable alternative. Key to any boycott is not just saying “Don’t buy that” but saying “Buy this instead.” Fortunately, in the case of Cafe Hon, we’ve already got that covered.

Organizing a legitimate boycott is a lot of work, and can be a very long-term undertaking. When the faux-Hons invade the Avenue this weekend, we won’t be boycotting. We’ll be protesting in a truly homegrown Baltimore way- talking shit, holding grudges, and counting down the days to Hampdenfest.

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Temporary Home @ Guest Spot’s Inaugural Opening Tonight

There’s a new art gallery opening tonight. From 7-10 pm, Guest Spot will open its doors to the public for the first time with its inaugural show, Temporary Home, which is curated by Carl Gunhouse and features the work of Becky Alprin, City Blossoms, Jason Hughes, John Lehr, and Christine Rogers.

Early buzz has it that this will be a fine show and an exciting gallery.

John Lehr's 2008 piece, Nuggets, is an example of the work on display in the Temporary Home exhibit.

We’d love to tell you more about it, but reading through some of this gallery’s copy left us pulling our hair and yelling ENGLISH MOTHERFUCKER! DO YOU SPEAK IT?! If you’d like to know more, you can go over to the Guest Spot website (which is actually a very well designed site) and sift through many paragraphs like this:

“The unique curatorial program focuses on ideas surrounding impermanence and liminal context within a home dwelling. Artists and curators will have the opportunity to install work in a mixed use space, thus challenging the singularity of commercial space and exploring the delicate relationship between space and purpose.”

or this:

“Guest Spot’s focus is to create a new curatorial program that addresses current ideas of exhibiting art through rehabilitation of spatial contexts. The core programmatic theme is a re-appropriation of rigid societal norms of space utilization to more thoroughly examine the concept of the ”American Home”. Its program will include artists whose works deals with concepts relating to impermanence, ephemerality, and liminality.”

We suspect it may just be easier to go down there and have a look-see for ourselves. By the end of tonight, we may not understand the mission statement, but at least we’ll know what Marcellus Wallace looks like.

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Guest Spot is located at 1826 Fleet Street in Fell’s Point.

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Secret Mountains, Dangerous Ponies @ Golden West Tonight

We were sad to hear the news a few weeks ago that the Hexagon Space was closing. We’re sad to hear about any venue closing up, even if we don’t go there very often. Fletcher’s, The Supreme Imperial, even Hal Daddy’s; we may have gone there pretty seldom, but any venue is better than no venue in our eyes.

That said, we weren’t exactly losing sleep over it. The law of supply and demand has always governed underground music venues in Baltimore, and sometimes it almost seems as if one space needs to close before someone else will take the initiative to open a new one. Every time we hear about something like this, we’re sorry for it, but more than anything we’re excited to see what new thing the future holds.

Secret Mountains plays Golden West tonight.

So it is with the Hexagon. The way that City Paper article reads, the thing that takes the Hexagon’s place might even literally take its place, and another DIY venue is not out of the question for that address. The room is a great place to watch bands, but Joy Martin is right… there had to be more shows there in order to make the space live up to its potential. The last time we were there was actually more than a year before the closing.

In the meantime though, the shows must go on, and the scene is none the poorer for losing Hexagon. For instance, tonight the Golden West is hosting a show which is nearly the exact same bill as one of the better Hexagon shows in recent memory. Local favorites Secret Mountains are rejoined by their Philly friends and contemporaries Hop Along and Dangerous Ponies.

If you’re the type who likes taping shows or taking photos of them, this one would be a good choice to document. Three great bands for five bucks on a Wednesday, after all the real-job-having nine to five types have packed it in for the night. This show will be one of those little things that makes Summer so Summery, and if you’re serious about getting your Summertime fun on, this one’s not to be missed.

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SnoBaltimore Zine Release @ Atomic Books Tonight

No lie Baltimore, we’ve been craving a snowball lately. Like bad. Like a real one, that stains your teeth and tongue and comes in a giant styrofoam cup- none of that fake-ass Rita’s junk. We’ve yet to find one either. It’s still only May. Schools have been in and it’s just now Memorial Day weekend, so what snowball stands we have chanced to come across have been closed. After this weekend though, it’s officially snowball season.

Atomic Books hosts a release party for two local publications tonight. 7 pm.

Most snowball stands have something less than what you’d call a comprehensive internet presence. Many of them are such small small businesses you won’t even find them in the yellow pages. This was the necessity that mothered the invention of the Baltimore Snoball Collective, and the publication of the first edition of their SnoBaltimore Zine, which along with the Baltimore Time Travel Anthology will be the subject of a release party at Atomic Books in Hampden tonight.

Since the Chop has already time-traveled in Hampden once this week, we’re going to focus on snowballs. More specifically, grownup snowballs. As we said recently, Tequila and Key Lime is a winning combination, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

We can’t have our readers just will-nilly mixing liquors and snowball flavors! That would just end in toothaches, stomachaches, and heartache for everyone involved. It’s with this sentiment in mind, and in honor of tonight’s event that we’re proud to release our Guide to Snoball Flavors and Liquor. There are thousands of workable combinations, and many of them really are very good, but if you’re new to the idea of mixing a childhood favorite with a staple of adulthood, this is a good starting point:

The Baltimore Chop Guide to Snoball Flavors and Liquor

Tequila… Key Lime, Kiwi Lime, Papaya

Brandy… Blackberry, Black Cherry, Black Raspberry

Bourbon… Peach, Butter Pecan, Lemonade

Light Rum… Cherry Limeade, Strawberry Mango, Mai Tai

Dark Rum… Pina Colada, Guava, Banana Daquiri

Gin… Sky Blue, Watermelon, Pink Lemonade

Orange Liqueur… Tutti Frutti, Dreamsicle, Egg Custard

Vodka… Anything. You can’t go wrong with vodka.

(All flavors chosen from the 2011 Southern Snow list of flavors.)

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Bi-Weekly Political Roundup: More Sex Scandals Edition

Well, the forecast for this week has not been good. It may not be Joplin-esque, and we may be a whiny pussy of a blogger for complaining about it, but we’re getting sick of rain. To hell with rain. Seriously. We want to do outdoorsy things, like go to festivals and swing golf clubs and most especially, enjoy the outdoor seating at Joe Squared tonight during the regular meeting of the Baltimore Chapter of Drinking Liberally.

Hell, we might even like to walk there, you know? At any rate, we want to stay dry long enough to gossip about political sexytime. As you know, these things come in threes, and so there must be one more shoe soon to drop.

Baltimore's Drinking Liberally meets at Joe Squared tonight. 7 pm.

The news recently has been dominated by the sex scandals of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dominique Strauss-Kahn. The GOP primary field is as boring as can be, and the Rapture was never a real story anyway, so sex and storms and sexstorms are all we’ve been getting lately. It’s all sort of boring, really. Most natural disasters all look similarly horrible on the news, and we’ve had so many sex scandals in recent years that you’ve got to try pretty damn hard to top Eliot ‘Raw Dog’ Spitzer, Mark ‘Appalachian Trail’ Sanford or Ted ‘I-only-tried-meth-once-and-just-asked-him-to-jerk-me-off’ Haggard.

As far as Schwarzenegger goes, we LOL all day long. Arnie oversaw the bankrupting of California, and now Maria Shriver is going to oversee the bankrupting of Arnold. Fair Enough. Most politicians leave office to ‘spend more time with their families,’ and we guess Arnie is no exception.

DSK, on the other hand, deserves not just jail, but a few good jailhouse soap-drops of his own.

Here is a man who claims to be a Socialist, but was more or less in charge of all the money in the world. We don’t know of many true Socialists who favor $3000 per night hotels, although the hotel itself is just the tip of the iceberg. You can believe that real Socialists aren’t staying in such luxury when they gather by the hundreds of thousands to protest the IMF and WorldBank meetings. They aren’t arriving at those meetings in limousines either. They’re marching together, as Brothers and Sisters should.

The thing about Socialism though, the thing that its detractors can’t quite wrap their fat heads around is that at the end of the day Socialism is about Equality. It’s not about tax rates or countries of origin or business regulations. It’s about respecting the rights of Workers, and respecting the Workers as human beings. Socialism is about protecting and elevating those among us in the lowest station, not dragging down anyone else.

Strauss-Kahn has made a habit of preying on precisely those in the lowest station. Time after time, and in this case especially, he has shown a plutocratic hubris and a sense of entitlement which would be disgusting in any man. As far as we’re concerned this is not a sex scandal of any sort, but is in fact a case of sexual assault and attempted rape. These are violent and serious crimes, and are unforgivable no matter who the assailant or the victim may be.

We expect that American justice will be served in this case, and we’re glad of it. This crime was not just a brutal and personal attack against an innocent woman, an American, and a Worker, it was an act of class warfare, and we regard it as such.

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Drinking Liberally meetings are held on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month. They’re free to attend and open to anyone interested in progressive politics or causes. The opinions expressed above are those of the Baltimore Chop blog, and are not sanctioned by Living Liberally, Drinking Liberally, or its Baltimore Chapter.

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The Dating Game @ Ottobar Tonight

You read that headline right, Choppers. The Dating Game is at the Ottobar tonight. Not some obscure touring indie rock band called the Dating Game, but, you know, a homegrown version of the old seventies TV show. Their website is short on specifics, but presumably a handful of moderately attractive 20-somethings will get on the stage and answer some corny questions about dating, a girl will pick a guy, and they may or may not go on an actual date some time in the near future.

Second suitor: if we were making whoopee, what sounds would you make?

We are in full support of the staging of live game shows in local bars. It’s a trend we can get behind. We would have organized punk rock Jeopardy long ago if, you know, we weren’t just plain lazy about organizing stuff. We’ll be the first to come out and watch it though, as we were with the RTV ‘talent’ show and the Chatroulette Knife Throwing Contest.

The Dating Game at the Ottobar seems especially appropriate though since, well, who among us hasn’t met someone there? We’ve been on plenty of dates to the bar itself, and as for running into exes- well, there’s simply no better place in Baltimore for that.

We expect that tonight’s production will fall somewhere in that misty gray area between the dating show from Mallrats and some bona fide real life Hipster Wife Hunting. If nothing else, watching a bunch of awkward contestants stammer through embarrassing sex questions will probably make us feel pretty damn good about being single after 30. That is, as long as we can avoid getting the stinkpalm.

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Flowermart, Kinetic Sculpture Race, MD Film Festival Today

Today is a big red letter day in Charm City. It’s the second day of Flowermart, the third day of the Maryland Film Festival, and Kinetic Sculpture Race day.

What does this mean to you? It means if you’re going to any one of these, have fun. If you’re not, you probably shouldn’t leave the house at all, because you’re going to be looking at the biggest traffic clusterfuck since Baltimore Marathon day. Charles Street and Monument will both be closed in Mount Vernon all weekend, traffic will be slow through Station North, and South and Southeast Baltimore will see staggered delays and parking problems from spectators and moving sculptures, and those things aren’t fast.

God help us, we’re going to try to cruise through flowermart on the way to see some sculptures, if it doesn’t rain. As you can see from the photos, the race looks like more fun in the sun.

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