The Baltimore Beat’s Year In Review

The day after the Charlottesville white supremacist attack that killed Heather Heyer, injured many others, possibly cracked the country in half for good, and made it even clearer that our president is totally OK with hatemongers, there was a moment in Baltimore that combined the past few years of protest here and exemplified national ennui en masse: About a thousand people gathered around the Lee-Jackson Memorial by the Wyman Park Dell in solidarity with Charlottesville and then marched through Charles Village.It was a semi-spontaneous procession that recalled the energy and excitement of the Baltimore Uprising.

Marchers at the front held up an Antifacist flag, followed by others sprinkled throughout carrying Transgender Pride flags along with plenty of vital, unapologetic, anti-Trump sentiment. If there is a one photo that sums up the past year for me, it is Tedd Henn’s photo above from that day. It captures all of that. There’s activist and artist Duane “Shorty” Davis in the foreground, holding some anti-Trump art, and the Antifa flag behind him, and the Transgender Pride flag peeking out behind that—and looming over it all, that stupid fucking Lee-Jackson monument, which would be removed less than a week later.

As is often the case, the protest was in part organized by young, engaged activists and older organizers willing to work with them. People showed up and it exemplified the lesson declared post-uprising but then quickly forgotten by most: “Listen to the youth.”

Young people, they know what’s up way more than us olds do.

Joe Biden / Photo by Micah E. Wood

Also, like, literally listen to young people. In this case, youthful political punks Joe Biden, whose album “S/T” is the Beat’s top album of the year. Seen on the cover of this issue (shot by Micah E. Wood), the foursome–Paris Roberts on vocals, Robert Chappell on guitar, Alex Armbruster on bass, and Sean McCabe on drums—have figured out a way to introduce some particularly rarefied menace into their hardcore and oh man, when Paris howls, “fuck your laws!” on ‘Natural Born Killer,’ it is a moment. And let me just quote from Biden’s Bandcamp page:

“THIS EP IS FOR EVERY UNARMED BLACK MAN OR WOMAN MURDERED IN THE HANDS OF THE POLICE. THIS EP IS FOR ALL THE FAMILIES THAT HAD THEIR KID MURDERED IN THE HANDS OF THE POLICE. THIS EP IS FOR BLACK EXCELLENCE. THIS EP IS FOR BLACK LIVES MATTER. THIS EP IS FOR OUR VOICES TO BE HEARD. WE WILL NOT BE SILENCED.”

There were so many painful hot takes that contrived any and every piece of art into being “more relevant than ever” or claimed any dissent however polite or oblique was part of #TheResistance and good on anybody saying anything about the state of the country, but Joe Biden really means it, man. The rest of the issue celebrates others like Joe Biden making great art and restaurants making good food, and even deigns to consider some national—or as I prefer to say, non-local—art and rushes through the past year in news, locally and non-locally, with some help from the The Real News Network, one of our partners in this new newspaper.

Oh yeah, that’s something that happened this year: We started a newspaper. When the Baltimore City Paper was set to be closed by its owners, I worked hard along with Baynard Woods, now of the Real News Network, and the Washington Blade’s Kevin Naff to start a new paper, and we brought in Lisa Snowden-McCray and Maura Callahan and Jen Marsh and, well, we really went and did it.

We were not so vain here as to include the founding of the Beat in our Top 10 News Stories of the year list, though starting a new print alt-weekly in 2017 and getting it off the ground real quickly might be one of the top 11 or top 12 Baltimore stories of the year, no?

Brandon Soderberg, Baltimore Beat Managing Editor

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