Holy Mess: The Battle Over St. Stanislaus

Baltimore City Paper, see story Just after a late-afternoon thunderstorm, the corner of Aliceanna and Ann streets in Fells Point is alive with activity. Horns honk. A woman speaks through a PA system. A man dressed in flowing robes and a tall hat impersonates a Roman Catholic cardinal. A woman walks through the intersection dressed in an old friar’s costume. Placards are propped up on the walkers of elderly women—one, dressed in a white T-shirt, oversized black oxford shirt, and a floppy hat, literally hangs onto a lamppost for support. It’s just an ordinary afternoon for the St. Stan’s protesters. Since around the end of March, a dedicated group of community members has claimed this spot periodically to make a point to passers-by. They want to save 1.7 acres of Fells Point history from being razed to make way for 23 $800,000 condominiums. For most of the 20th century, St. Stanislaus Kostka Roman Catholic Church was the hub of the Polish Catholic community in Fells...
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Lifeline: Chase Brexton Celebrates 30 Years

Baltimore City Paper, see story It was a warm Friday evening in 1978. Scott MacLeod and about a half-dozen other young gay men whom he didn't know sat in a cramped basement room. "We all looked at each other and said, `Who wants to go first?'" MacLeod remembers. "And I said, `I'll go first.'" He went into a back room, where a phlebotomist drew blood and a nurse swabbed his genitals. At that moment, MacLeod believes he became the very first patient of Baltimore's Gay Health Clinic for Venereal Diseases. After he left the tiny office, his samples were taken down to the Baltimore City Health Department for testing. Within a week, he would know whether he had syphilis, gonorrhea, or chlamydia. Disco, beautiful boys, and a raging libido put 22-year-old MacLeod right in the middle of the gay men's sexual revolution. He visited the clubs, cruised the parks, and took in peep shows on the Block downtown. "Sex was liberating," he says....
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In Between Days: Baltimore’s Transgender Population

Baltimore City Paper, see story The sign on the bathroom door read ABSOLUTELY NO MEN IN THE WOMEN'S RESTROOM. Cydné Kimbrough couldn't believe her eyes. Wanting to believe the best, she carefully peeled away the Scotch tape from the corners and brought the sign to the front desk at Health Education Resource Organization Inc. (HERO). The receptionist told her what she didn't want to hear: The warning was probably meant for transwomen using the women's bathroom. "I thought, Does that mean me?" Kimbrough says a year later. She's sipping hot tea at City Café, dressed in a T-shirt and jeans. Her round, dark face is flawless, her hair perfectly coiffed. Since August 2005, she had been working at HERO as the coordinator of the AIDS service organization's transgender program. Her job was to encourage African-American transwomen--some of whom were sex workers--to take advantage of the center's services. And she was successful. Her clients felt safe divulging personal information to Kimbrough, who could understand where they...
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Speed Bump: Maryland Doesn’t Have a Meth Problem—Yet

Baltimore City Paper, see story If you’ve read a national newspaper or news magazine lately, you know the story. Methamphetamine use is moving east from the West Coast, where it’s had a stranglehold on states such as Oregon since the ’90s. Backwoods meth labs pose dangerous threats to the idyllic countryside of the nation’s rural regions. "Meth mouth" is a surefire way to detect methamphetamine users, who have forgotten simple hygiene during meth binges and grind their teeth in agitated highs. And gay men in the thrall of sex-driven, meth-induced euphoria spin around on lighted dance floors to thumping techno. Most Americans are probably familiar with at least a few of the street names for meth--crystal, crank, Tina, speed, ice, glass. But do these tawdry details apply everywhere? With a large city already in the clutches of cocaine and heroin and plenty of wide-open rural spaces, Maryland would seem to be a perfect spot for the methamphetamine crisis to make a stop on its eastward...
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Raising a Glass: Leon’s Turns 50

Baltimore City Paper, see story It's a typical Monday night at Leon's. The two front doors are propped open--usual for a spring evening--but the fading sunlight does nothing to illuminate the tiny corner bar at Park Avenue and Tyson Street. At just before 8, happy hour is in its last moments, but no more than 10 men are there. Bartender Celeste Ball is slinging last-minute two-for-one orders for the men sitting around the oval-shaped bar that fills the room. Cans of Bud, rum and cokes, and a drink with fruit juice hit the bar and bills are exchanged. Billy Idol screams "White Wedding" from the digital jukebox--just about the only modern item in the place. Ball shimmies a bit behind the bar. The lights from the jukebox are the brightest things in the place, but when it came in a few years ago, Ball covered them with newspaper. "We don't like much light in here," she says with a grin. "I'm like a...
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Rational Decisions

Baltimore City Paper, see story Courtroom 5 at the John R. Hargrove Sr. District Courthouse in Brooklyn is as nondescript as a courtroom can get. Front and center is the judge's bench, a mammoth desk of dark wood shined to a high luster. A pile of files cascades along the front of the bench. Some of the files are inches thick, some contain only a handful of papers; each one tells the story of one of the defendants who will appear in this South Baltimore court that day. A green chalkboard stands to the left of the judge's bench, a diagram of a traffic accident scrawled across it. As ordinary as the room is, by most accounts extraordinary things happen here--second chances, creative solutions, and even happy endings. Each Monday and Thursday, mental health court is held at Hargrove District Courthouse. Modeled after drug court, it is considered a "problem-solving court." But unlike its larger and older brother, mental health court has not strained...
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