Hey! Hello, Tumblr reader. It might not be obvious on your dashboard, but I am located in a totally different city now. Last week was my last at the Baltimore Sun. On Monday, Ill join Women’s Wear Daily to cover the media beat, a sick, minor obsession of mine for a while. I left the Sun without doing a goodbye note to readers because I thought that would be too grossly self-promotional and self-congratulatory to do on the paper’s own space. But this is what Tumblr was made for. That and riveting cat commentary. If you’ve watching too much ‘Revenge’ instead of keeping up with this scroll, at the Sun, I was covering the business of the music and club industries, which meant writing a lot about Live Nation and music promoters and marketing and all those Baltimore bands you love. Also, youth culture, because Im 25. These are the ten stories I most enjoyed writing/reporting:
- Some people don’t give a fuck about a Grammy, Sunday A&E centerpiece. Thrill Jockey and Carpark don’t nominate any of their artists and Merge claims it doesn’t campaign.
- How iTunes killed the ‘ethnic’ music store, Sunday A1. I’ve been writing about immigration since I was an even younger 20-something punk, but Baltimore’s immigrant population is tiny - there isn’t even a Cuban restaurant for 45 minutes from the city - and I never thought I’d cover it again. This was a story about immigrants’ quality of life, how something they’d relied on to stay in touch with their native cultures is slowly evaporating.
- Marketing woes at the Preakness Stakes, A1. The Preakness Stakes is a 137-year-old horse racing institution and the middle jewel of the Triple Crown. It is, in other words, almost as fancy as the Kentucky Derby. For the last several years, they’ve had a hard time holding on to traditional racing fans, and meatheads. So they’ve tried to sell to both, to mixed results. Then, they tried a stealth campaign that would resonate among millenials (Business section front), except they badly mangled it by an unbelievable degree of sloppiness.
- Craft beer enters its second wave, A1. The main character of this story is a guy who spends his time brewing beer for an upstart craft brewer, but is also a kind of Indiana Jones of beer; one of his hobbies is to recreate the beers of colonial times. He was an exemplar of a new kind of craft brewer, savvier, more invested, than those brewers that joined the craft beer rush - yes, that was a thing! - of the 90s. Beer, to my huge surprise, became a completely engrossing beat for me, one that hadn’t been seriously covered at the paper.
- Planning the next Benihana in Maryland, A1. A place called Seacrets might sound laughable, but this place, more of a theme park than a resort town Senor Frogs, is HUGE, the 11th highest-grossing bar/club in the whole country. Not surprisingly, they want to set up shop in your backyard, and they’re very aggressively protecting their trademark do to so.
- Celebration profile, Baltimore Sun magazine. There was a time when Celebration was signed to 4AD and could have been the next TV on the Radio, or Beach House for that matter; the band has been together since late 90s. But, the main players, lead by Katrina Ford, wanted nothing to do with industry; they left their hip label and marinated in Baltimore, where they’ve become elder statesmen of a scene that keeps splintering. If nothing else, just listen to ‘Battles.’
- Live Nation movers to corner amphitheaters, Sunday A&E centerpiece. All around the country, the live music story is about the scuffle between one behemoth, Live Nation, and everybody else. In Maryland, two goliaths - one significantly larger than the other, I.M.P., the company behind the 9:30 Club - are duking it out while everyone else scrambles to grab a piece of the pie.
- Immigrants alarmed by new federal status checks, Sunday A1. Last month the Department of Homeland Security harshly criticized the Obama administration over a program called Secure Communities that allowed local and state law enforcement agencies to check on the immigration status of anyone arrested, a practice immigration advocates warned would unfairly target Latinos. This story looks at the outrage bubbling up in Baltimore, where the program was piloted, way before, in February.
- Occupy reaches Baltimore, A1. One day, we’ll all look back and we’ll reminisce about all our Occupy stories. This was the first one in the Sun about the burgeoning movement in Baltimore, describing its creation over drinks at a central Baltimore bar.
5i. Follow-up: Consistently marginalized, homeless people find kinship, and free grub, with Occupy protesters (Buried inside).
- On the Mountain Goats’ ‘All Eternals Deck,’ inside Friday A&E section. Interviewing John Darnielle was one of the sincere pleasures of my life. Learning he also adores Judy Garland and Liza was priceless.