FC Baltimore to begin inaugural season in NPSL

By: Kyle J. Andrews


Baltimore has a rich history of soccer within the city and in surrounding areas. Just in July, Christos FC, an amateur soccer club based from a liquor store in Glen Burnie, were tied with D.C. United (Major League Soccer) until the 81st minute of the U.S. Open Cup.

That badge of honor for Baltimore soccer fans could continue with FC Baltimore, a semi-professional team participating in the National Premier Soccer League. The NPSL is in the fourth-tier of the United States’ soccer hierarchy, below Major League Soccer, the North American Soccer League and the United Soccer League. There are 95 teams in the NPSL.

“It’s exciting news that the NPSL is coming to Baltimore,” NPSL Chairman Joe Barone said of the team in Baltimore, in December. “FC Baltimore is bringing a tremendous organization to the city and I know soccer supporters in the region will be thrilled by this news.”

Baltimore will participate in the Mid-Atlantic Division, which includes Charlottesville Alliance FC, FC Frederick, Legacy 76 (based in Williamsburg, VA), Northern Virginia United FC (based in Leesburg, VA) and Virginia Beach City FC. Among the leaders of the program are Project Manager Joe Shargorodsky, Director of Soccer Operations Alex Lubyansky, Director of Community Relations/Goalkeeping Coach William Vanzela (Baltimore Blast goalkeeper), Chief Financial Officer Paul Zlotolow, and Director of Digital Media and Branding Gary Pyatigorsky.

Last but not least, FC Baltimore Head Coach Brandon Quaranta will lead the team onto the pitch during the upcoming season. Before taking the helm of FC Baltimore, he was the head coach of McDonough School in Owings Mills, MD, where he won a state championship in 2015.

“I appreciate the opportunity FC Baltimore has given me and look forward to the challenge of building the club,” Quaranta said, when accepting the position. “Baltimore has always had a rich soccer tradition and produced tons of talent at every level including top college programs from across the nation. We look forward to providing a high-level club option for all these top NCAA players as they look to continue their development of the summer period.”

Before starting the season, Quaranta must select his squad. The team held opening tryouts on Sunday, January 21. Only time will tell who is selected.

What’s playing at Baltimore Center Stage

For over three decades, Baltimore Center Stage has succeeded at delivering quality performances through their classical and contemporary way of bringing innovative and enjoyable theatrical entertainment.

Recently, the theater wrapped up their latest production, a religious-based play, The Christians. The play highlighted different challenges faced within most modern-day mega-churches throughout America, and even featured guest performances from a few local church choirs around Baltimore. The Christians attracted a great crown every night, as it ran from September 7th, all the way to October 8th.

Photo: Lloyd Fox

The Christians specifically examines leadership and faith. Faith is fundamentally what we have all been discussing since 9/11. The church in this play is a metaphor for our communities and our country. What happens when you no longer trust those you have entrusted to lead you?” Kwame Kwei-Armah, Baltimore Center Stage Artistic Director, expressed. “I’m thrilled to bring this production to Baltimore and for Center Stage to serve as a convener of many more conversations about leadership–in Baltimore, in Maryland, and in our country.”

On October 19th, the theater debuted the newest play remake, Shakespeare In Love, which is based on the infamous screenplay, written by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard. The original film released in 1998 and was directed by John Madden. It starred award-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who portrayed Viola de Lesseps, Shakespeare’s love interest, and Joseph Fiennes, as the honorable William Shakespeare, himself. It depicts the story of an imaginary love affair between the two, while Shakespeare was writing the legendary Romeo and Juliet story. Chronicling the film’s plot, Baltimore Center Stage’s version of Shakespeare In Love is sure to command the crowd, as it is proclaimed as a great show for the entire family. Though a fifteen-minute intermission is included, this production is expected to run for about two hours and twenty-five minutes. Shakespeare In Love will run until Nov.26th.

Next up on the list happens to be Lookingglass Alice, which will debut at the theater on November 30th and run until December 31st, bringing the year to a close. Lookingglass Alice serves as a playoff of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland novel, the sequel, Through The Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There. This production puts a new age twist on the classic tale, making it a pleasuring show for all generations. Attendees will get to witness Alice’s thrilling journey of self-discovery after she falls through the looking glass and is taken on an imaginative voyage to remember. “Joyous and smart, playful and wise.” The Chicago Tribune recounted. Lookingglass Alice, the play, is adapted by David Catlin and directed by Jeremy B. Cohen.

Baltimore Center Stage will open the new year with Skeleton Crew, the third play in Detroit-bred playwright Dominique Morisseau’s celebrated The Detroit Projects trilogy. You may be familiar with Morisseau from her work on Showtime’s acclaimed television series, Shameless, which she serves as a writer. However, Morisseau is back to give us a little more of what’s happening in ‘The D.’ Skeleton Crew follows the story of four factory workers at the last exporting auto plant in Detroit, Michigan, and their struggle to survive after their way of life suddenly starts to fade. Set in 2008, as economic adversities arise, affecting the workplace, the workers continue trying to effectively keep the plant running, while true colors are shown, loyalties are tested, and boundaries are crossed. Skeleton Crew is also a part of the Women’s Voices Theater Festival. Contrast to the others, this production is actually recommended for high school-aged audiences and up, as it features explicit language and adult content.

According to New York Times, it is ‘warm-blooded, astute, and a very fine new play.’ One that is, without a doubt, a sure must-see. Skeleton Crew will make its introduction on January 25th, 2018; the ending date is March 4th.

Get your tickets, today, by visiting https://www.centerstage.org

Lawanda Johnson was the web content manager for the then-known, The UB Post, in 2017.

Charm City Fringe Festival returns to Baltimore for its sixth year

By Liz McMahon
Staff Writer

Looking to expand your theater palate? Maybe branch out from your regularly scheduled weekend Netflix binge? Fringe theater is calling your name. “It’s indie performing arts,” Zachary Michel, co-founder of the Charm City Fringe Fest (CCFF), tells the UB Post. “It’s anything that is off-the-cuff, away from your run-of-the-mill theater.”

This November, Charm City Fringe Fest will take over the Bromo Arts District of downtown Baltimore, showcasing 26 original acts and more than 90 performances. “This is our sixth year,” Michel says. “My business partner Michael Brush and I are the founders…we were in marching band together,” he remembers with a laugh. Michel and Brush have known each other since 7th grade, and walked a similar path as self-proclaimed “theater nerds” and as well as musicians.

Perhaps the largest motivation for creating the theater festival is to give artists on the fringe, both in Baltimore and around the country, a platform to showcase their work. “One of the challenges is that there aren’t a lot of avenues into theater unless you’re already in it,” Michel says. “We want to celebrate the artists and celebrate the culture that’s going on here.” To further this goal, 80-100%
of ticket sales go directly to the artists themselves.

Another tenet of Charm City Fringe’s mission is to create a space for everyone, from seasoned theater-goers to fringe novices alike, to explore and discover performance art out of the mainstream. By making each performance affordable, CCFF invites viewers on any budget (ahem, students!) to get a chance to open their eyes and minds to new, unconventional artistic expression.

This year, CCFF will kick off on Nov. 2 with a launch party at Le Mondo (406 N. Howard St.) from 7 to 9:30 p.m. With the purchase of a $15 ticket (available at charmcityfringe.com), you’ll have the chance to preview performances and meet the fringe artists, as well as enjoy a dance party and refreshments.

As for shows to look out for, Michel is particularly excited to see Emil Amok Guillermo’s Amok Monologues: All Pucked Up, Michael Burgos’s Yum, and Fluid Movement’s Druid Hill Haunt: A Chiller Thriller Roller Show(though he had a hard time choosing just a few favorites).

CCFF is staffed almost entirely by volunteers. Each shift worked earns you a free ticket to your performance of choice. If you want to get involved in more than just the viewing process, sign up to volunteer on the CCFF website.

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

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

Conquest at Mondo Baltimore

Author, Ricardo Santiago Rodriguez, transcending the movie-going experience at Mondo Baltimore.

By Ricardo Santiago Rodriguez

Staff Writer

Ever watch a movie so horrible the only thought running through your head is, “I need to make everyone else watch this too”? Many of us want to share a terrible experience with the people around us for entertainment. In 1988, a show called “Mystery Science Theater 3000” gained popularity by hosting cringe-inducing films. One reason for its success stemmed from the entertaining commentary drizzled throughout the movie. Imagine that.

Mondo Baltimore started in 2009 in a basement full of friends watching a horrendous feature. One made the comment of making this a social event to share around the community, and the group of friends not only agreed, but also put that answer into action. Setting up shop at The Windup Space on 12 W. North Ave., Mondo Baltimore is a free event that takes place every month highlighting a film decided by the council. The council is the original group of startup friends from the basement.

The first film ever shown by the council’s decision was “The Room” (2003). Ever since their first showing, it’s been gaining a community of B-movie fanatics. These events have also been popular among indie filmmakers with the students from arts campuses here in Baltimore. Mondo Baltimore has been successful enough to expand into larger venues including The Fringe Festival.

To keep events entertaining, great commentary and incredible hosts are required. Enter in Dr. Acula and Aurora Gorealis. Acula has been doing this from the start of it all, almost six years ago. Gorealis is a newcomer to the events. Conquest was her second hosting appearance. Acula and Gorealis have been friends for many years. They once co-stared in a film called “Call Girl of Cthulhu” (2014), rated a 4.7 on IMDB. Both hosts bring amazing characters and charisma to the stage. The hosts not only make the beginning of the movie enjoyable, but the intermission as well with challenges for the audi- ence. Now the hosts are only partly responsible for the fun. It also falls on audience participation, which is highly encouraged in the show.

The audience is not just allowed, but encouraged to have fun during the entire event. True to form, hosts gave a brief synopsis of the film with great comedic lines about the making of the film. The film was rushed and confusing, contained a non-linear storyline, and the camera seemed constantly blurred. This led to everyone laughing at this golden turd.

Cracking jokes at every scene of the film, drinking with friends while making new ones, Mondo Baltimore brings many communities together. As Dr. Acula has said, “Mondo is based more for the community, like finding that gem of insanity.”

For more information, check out their Facebook page. Search for Mondo Baltimore.

Special thanks to Dr. Acula, Aurora Gorealis, Shawn, and Mark for letting me interview them on this incredibly entertaining event.