Baltimore, the leading location for women in business

Women in business are said to be more successful in Baltimore

By Lawanda Johnson

Digital Content Manager

The ongoing battle for women’s equality in the world of business has been a tough battle to fight, especially within the United States. Historically speaking, men have been more likely to obtain a white-collar job inside of the workplace, than women. Even today, that is still, sadly, the case. You have female candidates who have effectively shown qualities that could very well be beneficial to a company, but, instead, they are pushed to the wayside, solely due to their gender. Though men are culturally expected to lead, where does that leave the women? Overshadowed by the stereotype that men are generally more equipped to adequately drive the wheel of business? Are we saying that a woman doesn’t have the ability to get ahead in the corporate world? What are we basing that on? So many questions are going unanswered. Both socially and politically, women face a level of injustice, and, unfortunately, it’s a harsh reality for a lot of women in today’s business realm, as well. Thus, restraining them from the potential of actually successfully running or even, possibly, owning a business.

However, according to recent reports from ShareFile.com, Baltimore has been deemed the leading location for women in business. The city ranked number one in ShareFile’s Businesswomen Power City Index observation—which evaluated cities’ percentage of women-owned businesses, the amount of executive positions held by women, and, also, compared the wages of men and women, along with the cost of living for women.

 

     Statistics of top cities in America for Businesswomen /ShareFile.com

During the findings, it was discovered that Baltimore holds a high percentage of women-owned businesses and everyday businesswomen who are occupying executive roles, 23% of which are the women-owned businesses and 31% of women holding executive jobs, in the area. The high buying power for women, also, solidified the city’s first place, creating a great milestone for the Charm City and its business professionals.

Baltimore’s ranking exceeded other major metropolitan cities, such as Tampa, FL and Washington, D.C.—with Tampa following in second and D.C. in third. This poses the question, “Why are we number one?” Well, it’s simple; traffic for businesses in Baltimore is considerably rapid. With both D.C. and New York being its next-door neighbors, the possibilities to network with others around the business community—migrating throughout the area, and grow the efficiency of a business are endless.

“Baltimore is a great city to work in because, although it is a smaller ‘big city,’ it is centrally located to other larger metropolitan areas.” Owner of Garnering Change Psychotherapy, Heather Garner, explains. “In two hours on the train, you can be in New York City, forty-five minutes and you can be in Washington D.C., and in an hour, you can be in Philadelphia. With a smaller population than cities close by, and so many unique communities and groups here in Baltimore, networking is super easy, and word-of-mouth referrals are often the bread and butter of small businesses.”

Surprisingly, though one would assume that the working grounds in a city like Baltimore are extremely competitive, Garner says that the business community is actually very supportive and close-knit, which has contributed to the amount of businesses that are still active and why we are carrying the leading title.

Baltimore City Council passes lenient bill for illegal handgun carrying

By Shae McCoy

Staff Writer

Countless debates and heated arguing end with a forced collective agreement. By an 8-7 vote, the Baltimore City Council passed a bill that promises a tough penalty for criminals that are caught with hand guns. Originally, Mayor Pugh’s plan imposed a mandatory one year sentence for anyone carrying a handgun in a public place or setting. As the months went by, the firmness of the plan started to diminish.

While one councilman, Eric Costello, was just satisfied that everyone could finally come to an agreement, stating, “I’m pleased that we got something passed,” (ABC 2). Councilman Brandon Scott who was against the bill believes mandatory minimums do not work when it comes to reducing crime. He thinks that Baltimore will need a smarter and stronger approach to the issue. The confusion seems to be the most prevalent and consistent when it comes to figuring out a solution to the city’s rise in crime. Baltimore City Police Department’s commissioner, Kevin Davis implies that solid penalties caused New York’s homicide rate to drop over time, sending offenders to jail for almost four years for carrying illegally.

Is one year nearly enough for an offender to rehabilitate and come out to be better?  Crime is a manifestation from underlying mental health issues and each case should be taken into consideration from a different approach. Will simply locking up an offender stop them from being released and doing the same thing? No matter how long the sentence is, rehabilitation of these offenders is important.  Mental illness many times is at the root of the criminal activity that occurs in the city.  Along with enforcing stronger bills for gun carrying, there needs to be an effort made toward the mental stability of the offenders.

photo credit: Shae McCoy

The birth, death and rebirth of Spotlight UB

The show must go on: Professor Kimberly Lynne discusses Spotlight’s fate in light of recent budget cuts

By David A. Chiodaroli

Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of Kimberly Lynne

After over a decade of steady operation, Spotlight, the University of Baltimore’s theater program, has had its budget yanked. The troubling news, which was announced earlier this semester, came as a shock to the school’s artistic community, but perhaps no one was more affected by it than Spotlight’s head, Kimberly Lynne. Since 2007, Lynne has overseen Spotlight, turning it from a primarily music-centric program into a multi-disciplinary institution, featuring everything from plays to live readings and, of course, music performances. Throughout her career at the crossroads of artistic life on campus, Lynne has continuously made the case for the importance of art in everyday life.

“I try to encourage my students to have some sort of artistic experience every day, that can help them process this incredibly complicated reality,” Lynne says. “And that’s what I was trying to do as the arts and theater manager of Spotlight UB.”

Over the years, the program, which operates out of the Wright Theater, has featured performances that have covered a variety of issues. On October 12th, in fact, Spotlight is set to feature a performance called Emblems, a live reading of a screenplay about sexual violence, which was written by one of Lynne’s students. However, despite the benefit that Spotlight provides, some members of the school’s budgetary office find it difficult to justify the program’s use of student fees to keep it in operation. Lynne explains that, despite the insistence that Spotlight be financed entirely through ticket sales, such methods contradict her ultimate goal for the organization.

“I always wanted to have the students see shows for free, or pay a minimum of five dollars,” Lynne says. Doing so would allow students, who may not be able to afford traditional theater performances, to see shows that could broaden their creative and artistic horizons.

Unfortunately, such instances of arts funding being slashed, are common in this day and age. As president Trump threatens to pull funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, non-profit arts organizations across the country, who rely on the NEA for funding, are seeing their budgets cut or eliminated entirely. The same goes for many school districts across the country, especially Baltimore city, which has seen its arts programs cut to the point of nonexistence. Thus, Spotlight’s problems are invective of a nation-wide epidemic of budget cutting and overall dismissal of the arts.

Yet, while the road ahead may be rough, Lynne is determined to keep Spotlight alive. In September, she managed to secure a UB Foundation grant to fund Spotlight for the rest of the semester. In addition, Lynne is attempting to find new avenues of funding, while helping to make Spotlight more accessible to the community outside of UB’s student body. In the meantime, future programming is currently in the works, including a performance that uses the classic works of Shakespeare to explain the complexities of the Trump administration. And Lynne is already looking to the spring, when Spotlight will host the week long annual African American Arts Festival. But at the end of the day However, Lynne says, if students want these performances to continue, they need to come and see the shows.

“If you want to have arts programming, attend the arts programming,” Lynne says, adding later, “I want to encourage our student population, and our faculty and staff, to put arts in their lives, because it can help them. It can help them process this reality, this incredibly complicated and terrifying reality.”

 

For more information on Spotlight, including their list of upcoming events, visit their website here

 

Demons of Old Town: Inside the Nevermore Haunt

Located in an old department store, the Nevermore is a haunted attraction to die for

By David A. Chiodaroli

Staff Writer

My photographer and I arrived at our destination, a parking lot behind a block of beaten and worn rowhomes. On the outside, there didn’t seem to be anything unusual about our location, no indication of what waited for us inside the white, roughly four story tall building that overlooked the mostly vacant tarmac. I gave our guide, Joe Hudson, a call to let him know that we arrived. He asked if we were parked below the sign, which puzzled me because I hadn’t seen any sign in the vicinity. That is when I happened to look over my shoulder to see a large, ominous poster that clung to an old fire escape, showing a picture of what looked like a decomposing corpse, and the name of our destination, the Nevermore Haunt, a haunted attraction that is currently in its second season.

 

The owners of the Nevermore, Joe Hudson, Thomas Wingate and John Ratkoff, greet us and take us inside, to the room where guests will enter. In front of us is a model of a bloody, mutilated corpse, lying atop some barrels. From this sight, it’s apparent that this haunt is no boo barn, but a real, nightmarish journey deep into Baltimore’s dark side. As we stand there, taking in the ambiance of the place, we are given the history of the building that houses the Nevermore.

“Almost a hundred and thirty years ago,” we are told, “Isaac Benesch knocked down four rowhomes and built his grand emporium.” Known at the time as The Great House, Benesch’s four story furniture store became a major commerce hub for east Baltimore. This reputation was further cemented by Benesch’s decision to allow blacks, immigrants and other ethnic and racial minorities to both buy and work at the store. The Great House would continue to serve the area for almost seventy years before being bought by Kaufman’s in the 1960’s. But over the years, the area fell into decline, and in 1997, the store closed. For the next seventeen years, The Great House would remain vacant, until Engineered Fear Productions bought the property in 2015 and transformed it into the Nevermore.

After our introduction, our guides take us through a maze of claustrophobic rooms, pitch black hallways, and nightmarish scenes of blood and decay that delve deep into Baltimore’s past for inspiration.

“One of the things that makes us unique from other events is the entire thing is themed, around the late 1800’s early 1900’s,” one of our guides tells us, around the time Benesch opened his store. “We’ve designed some of the scenes to take into account some of the city’s history.” To give us a better sense of what to expect when guests enter the attraction, the lights are shut off, and we are forced to go through the Nevermore in almost complete darkness.

While many of the sets are still under construction and none of the actors are present, I can’t help but feel unnerved as I traverse a series of scenes that would make Edgar Allen Poe proud. Among the many handmade props that are scattered about, including an intimidating army of plaster skeletons that took almost a year to make and assemble, are a number of antiques to nail the Victorian era feel of the attraction. One such specimen, which greets us early on, is a coffin, which our guide tells us is very real, and very used.

Some of the rooms in which we are lead through test our senses and our nerves. The belly of a ship, an ode to Baltimore’s nautical heritage, leans violently on a seesaw contraption, knocking us off balance. Another makes us go through a pitch-black maze, lit only by the occasional flash of a strobe light. During operation, our guide tells us, loud thunderclaps will accompany the flashes to simulate a thunderstorm, while actors wait in the shadows, ready to attack. One of the most disturbing scenes, a favorite from last year’s event, has guests stand before a judge, who proceeds to accuse them of various crimes. The guilty are sent through the catacombs, while the innocent are made to go down a different hallway.

“We split them up,” we’re told, “so if you have a couple here who are holding hands, and one is a little more scared than the other, the judge might assign different sentences.” At this point, I can’t help but think of how my girlfriend, who frightens easily, would feel if we were in such a situation. It was at that moment that I decided then and there to never take her to the Nevermore, if I ever want her to speak to me again.

There are other scenes to explore, ones that pay homage to Baltimore’s industrial past and the great fire of 1904. However, on the bequest of the owners, who wish to keep some of the more terrifying scenes a surprise, I have decided not to go into too much detail and let readers discover them on their own. But should one visit the Nevermore, it is wise to keep in mind that the actors and props aren’t the only things to look out for in the dark and twisted halls.

“We’ve had a couple of mediums come through,” we’re told, “and they all kind of say the same thing.” If the mediums are to be believed, there are two spirits that occupy the building: a caretaker who watches over the place, and an evil entity that dwells in the basement. Right before we leave, the owners take us down into the basement storage area of the building, a damp, musty cave littered with remnants of the Great House’s past. As we walk through the dark, forgotten rooms, I can’t help but think that if any place would be home to a demonic entity, this would be it. The owners might find out for sure very shortly; on September 30th, a paranormal investigation is set to take place in the building, and will be streamed live on Facebook.

While the basement is currently off limits to the public, this may change as the attraction continues to expand. “The long-term goal is to continue reinvesting into the building, expand the events to the other floors,” we’re told. “We also hope to open this space up to other events the rest of the year.”

While these plans are still years in the making, if the guys’ vision comes true, the Nevermore has the potential to become one of the largest haunted attractions in the state. But even at this early stage in the process, the Nevermore is quite a feat to behold, and undertaking that puts other attractions of its ilk to shame, and gives thrill seeking guests an experience that will leave them quivering, traumatized and begging for more.

The Nevermore Haunt is open Fridays and Saturdays, from October 6th to November 4th, from 7:00pm to 11:00pm, and every night from October 26th to the 31st. Tickets are $25. For more information, and a more detailed history of the historic location, check out their website.

 

photo credit: Hailey May Chaudron

 

The best haunted attractions Maryland has to offer

By David Chiodaroli

Staff Writer

Fall is upon us, and you know what that means. Soon, stores across the country will be selling cutesy, cheesy Halloween costumes for children, silly decorations, and candy with cartoon ghosts and witches on their wrappers. Television channels will start airing their usual line up of kid friendly Halloween movies and specials, and radio stations will play Bobby Pickett’s “Monster Mash” until your ears bleed. With all of this kitsch, it’s possible for us college students to think that Halloween is just a kid’s holiday. But fear not, my fellow darklings, because there are haunted house attractions across Maryland with enough gore, screams, and chainsaws to fulfill all of your bad dreams. Forget It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. These attractions will leave you in need of a change of vocal cords, and maybe a change of pants.

Field of Screams Maryland

4501 Olney-Laytonsville Rd, Olney

One of the largest haunted attractions in the state, Field of Screams Maryland has four attractions in one. The Haunted Trail and Trail of Terror are two nightmare-inducing walks through a combined twenty-three different stops. Hades Hayride is a literal hayride from hell, while Nightmares 3D gives visitors 3D glasses to enhance the scares. Tickets start at $20 per person and changes depending on the time of month. The event runs from September 22nd to November 4th.

Legends of the Fog

500 Carsins Run Road, Aberdeen

Another multi-attraction event, Legends of the Fog, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, has four equally terrifying haunts. These attractions include a zombie-themed hayride, a claustrophobic hotel full of ghouls, a circus staring a cast of killer clowns, and a truly twisted corn maze where you’re stalked by monsters. Tickets are $30 per person and cover all four attractions. The event runs from September 23rd to November 4th, and on their last weekend in operation, the lights are shut off and guests are forced to navigate all four attractions in complete darkness. Good luck.

Laurel’s House of Horror

935 Fairlawn Ave, Laurel

Located inside of a historic movie theater, Laurel’s House of Horror opened in 2014, and soon after, it became apparent that the guests and workers were not alone. According to their website, paranormal investigators concluded that the theater was indeed haunted, meaning that that creepy specter you saw earlier may not have been a prop. In addition to the main event, a twisting haunted house filled with all manners of malevolence, there is a new attraction, the Escape Rooms. Each room has a different theme and forces guests to make their way out by solving a number of different puzzles. Laurel’s House of Horror is open from September 22nd to November 4th and tickets start at $25 a pop. The Escape Rooms cost $30 and are open all year round by reservation only.

The Nevermore Haunt,

450 Mott St. Baltimore.

Based out of Isaac Benesch’s historic department store in the Old Town district, The Nevermore has been in operation since 2015 and bills itself as the city’s “most unique and terrifying haunted house.” Though the at- traction lacks the production values of other entries on this list, The Nevermore makes up for it using sheer talent and barebones fear. Inspired by Baltimore folklore, The Nevermore shares its name with a quote from Edgar Allen Poe’s iconic poem, The Raven, complimenting the gothic mystique and turn-of-the-last-century feel that the attraction strives to achieve. The Nevermore is open from October 6th to November 4th and tickets are $25 each.

Ocean City Screams
14 Worcester St, Ocean City

Located just steps away from the city’s iconic boardwalk, Ocean City Screams offers visitors a bit of nautical fright to complement their Thrashersries and funnel cakes. Built to resemble a wrecked cargo ship, guests are assaulted by the nightmarish specters of the dead crew, and the sea monster that killed them. Unlike other entries on this list, OC Screams bills itself more as a summer attraction than a Halloween haunt. It opens briefly during Memorial Day weekend, before adjusting to its usual schedule, from June 9th to November 4th. While its days of operation scale back during the off season, locals and later year thrill seekers can still enjoy all that Screams has to offer, as they are open the last six days of October, leading to Halloween. Tickets are $16 a person.

A tour of the weirdest store in Baltimore

By David Chiodaroli

Staff Writer

The community of Hampden in North Baltimore is a fairly Bohemian town. Art galleries, coffee shops, and homely ice cream parlors abound. But tucked away in a corner of the neighborhood, behind the walls of a neon-green row home on Chestnut Avenue, is something seemingly out of a mad scientist’s lab. The name of the little store is Bazaar, a shop of curiosities and collectibles that has provided the Baltimore-Washing- ton area with its fix of the weird and wonderful. From quack medical implements to the many taxidermized animals that cover the walls, Bazaar has something for everyone.

The co-owner of Bazaar, Greg Hatem, took time out of his day off to show us around his boutique of madness. Upon entering, my photographer, Shae McCoy, and I, were taken aback by all that Bazaar has to offer. When asked how Bazaar was born, Greg tells me that it was something that he and his co-owner, Brian Henry, “sort of stumbled into.”

“My partner and I were bored with our other jobs,” Greg explains. “We loved the neighborhood, and we’ve always been weird people.” When the building became available, Greg and his partner pounced on the opportunity to open the shop of their dreams, and Chestnut Avenue was never the same since.

The store’s stock of unique items come from a variety of sources. “We’re always going to estate sales, auctions, private collections, and some things we make ourselves.” Other items, such as the taxidermy specimens, are made by companies that specialize in that sort of work. Still, a buddy of theirs occasionally comes to the store to hold taxidermy workshops, which are held every few months. They do, however, make the wet specimens in-house, small animals that are submerged in liquid and stored in test tubes.

One of Bazaar’s most unusual items is a notorious horse sculpture, made entirely of pig intestines, which is displayed prominently atop a book- shelf. It was discovered in the attic of an old farm house in Carol County by a guy clearing out an estate. To this day, its origins remain a mystery.

“It was the only thing in the attic, staring right back at him, and it freaked him out,” Greg explains. “He was pretty eager to get rid of it, so he brought it right to us.” The horse is accompanied by a second abstract sculpture, also made of pig intestines, that was found in a box on the property. Both sculptures are held in high regard by the owners, and neither of them are for sale.

Other interesting items include a pair of funeral hair wreaths from the Victorian era, skulls from just about every animal on earth, and medical implements from the advent of modern medicine.

“A lot of what we deal in are medical antiques,” Greg says. “There are a lot of collectors who are focused on that, so we cater to them.” Among the medical antiques are a variety of quack devices, including a wine bottle that once held cocaine. “I don’t think they would sell that these days.” Greg laughs.

Spiritual and religious items are also very popular with their clientele. Among the artifacts on display include a needlepoint of Jesus, dated from 1926, that was created by nuns at the nearby St. Michael’s School. In addition, pieces gathered from fraternal organizations, such as the Freemasons and Odd Fellows, are prized by collectors. “[The Odd Fellows] would do reenactments of stories, a lot from the Bible, so they would always need costumes, masks and props, and they’ve all become ex- tremely collectible a hundred years later.”

Other than collectors, Bazaar’s clientele consists of artists and scientists, who come from all over to shop and look for inspiration. The shop also attracts families with children, and according to Greg, most customers are female “usually between the ages of twenty-five and thirty-five”. The owners are also heavily involved in the community and host a variety of events to get the word out.

“Once a year, we do a show at the Walters,” Greg says. “It’s a one night only taxidermy competition, and this year we had twenty-five different artists from around the country.” In all, over nine-hundred people turned out for the event, which was held on September 7. The owners also take part in Hampdenfest, held two days later. And of course, there are the taxidermy workshops, where participants learn to skin and stuff a rat carcass—and bring it home.

Before we left, I decided to buy my girlfriend a Jackalope sculpture, made from discarded rabbit fur from the pet food industry. As of this writing, I have not presented it to her, but I think she would like this special keepsake that only Baltimore’s weird- est store can offer.

If you want to visit Bazaar, visit their website at www.bazaarbaltimore.com or visit them at 3534 Chestnut Ave