Friday, June 11, 2021

Remembering the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre


Remembering the Tulsa Race Massacre

By Tom Warner

Aftermath of the Tulsa Race Massacre

May 31, 2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, when an angry white mob looted and burned down the thriving African-American Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma, killing as many as 300 residents. It has been called “the single worst incident of racial violence in American history,” injuring over 800 people and leaving 10,000 residents homeless. At the time, the 35-square-block Greenwood District was known as “Black Wall Street,” a vibrant community that had prospered throughout the early 20th century despite rampant discrimination in a highly segregated and hostile environment (the Ku Klux Klan headquarters was located just four blocks away) where Black prosperity made it a threat to white supremacy. Greenwood’s Black entrepreneurs had built and supported two movie theaters, two newspapers, two public schools, 15 grocery and drug stores, 13 churches, a library and several restaurants, funeral parlors, clubs and hotels.

But all of it disappeared after the events of May 31, 1921, when Black teenager Dick Rowland stumbled getting on an elevator at the Drexel Building and grabbed onto the young white elevator operator to steady himself. When operator Sarah Page screamed in response, Rowlands fled. Rumors of what happened on the elevator soon circulated throughout the city’s white community and that afternoon the Tulsa Tribune reported that police had arrested Rowland for sexually assaulting Page. As evening fell on May 31, an angry white mob gathered outside the courthouse to demand that Sheriff Willard McCullough hand over Rowland. He refused and his men barricaded the station to protect the teenager. With rumors of a possible lynching spreading, a group of around 75 armed Black men arrived at the courthouse, where then encountered over 1,500 white men, some of whom also carried weapons. Though the Black Tulsans fought hard to protect their homes and businesses, they were outgunned and outnumbered. By the time National Guard troops arrived in Tulsa on the morning of June 1, most of Greenwood had already been burned down.

Dick Rowland was ultimately exonerated, but an all-white grand jury blamed the Black community for the lawlessness and, despite overwhelming evidence, no whites were ever sent to prison for the murders and arson that transpired. Initially called the “Tulsa Race Riot,” historical hindsight has correctly relabeled the outbreak a “massacre.”
In a testament to the spirit of the community, the neighborhood rose from the ashes and by 1936 boasted the largest concentration of Black-owned businesses in the U.S. 

In commemoration of the centennial anniversary of this dark chapter in American history, PBS is rebroadcasting “Goin’ Back To T-Town,” a 1993 episode of its American Experience series about the Tulsa Race Massacre that mixes archival footage with commentary from survivors and historians. If you are unable to tune in or stream this documentary when it airs, you can use your library card to check out Goin’ Back To T-Town from Pratt Library's Best & Next Department’s video collection.

Another documentary available from Pratt Library, director Rachel Lyon’s award-winning Hate Crimes in the Heartland, focuses on two hate crimes set in Tulsa almost 90 years apart - the 1921 Greenwood massacre and the 2012 Good Friday murders - as it examines the racial animosity and inequality that still defines much of modern American society - as the Ferguson, Charleston, Trayvon Martin and George Floyd cases attest. By exploring these events set in a city forever divided, it reveals the dangerous connection between the media, race and social justice.

Hate Crimes in the Heartland (2016)

Want to learn more about the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre?
Pratt Library has over 20 print books and eBooks on the subject, including a number hand-picked by Pratt’s African-American Department:

If you have a chance, stop by the Af-Am Dept. to check out their Tulsa massacre display; these titles are also available from Pratt's Social Science & History Dept.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Two docs about the real people living in Nomadland


Two docs about the real people living in Nomadland

[This post was originally written for the Enoch Pratt Free Library blog.]

Nomadland swept the Oscars this year, winning awards for Best Picture, Best Director (Chloe Zhao - the first woman of color and of Asian descent and only the second woman ever to win the award) and Best Actress (Frances McDormand). Loosely adapted from journalist Jessica Bruder’s 2017 nonfiction book - which documented how a devastating global recession transformed old-fashioned “company towns” into ghost towns and created a new class of elderly transient workers - director Chloe Zhao’s film version uses the fictional character “Fern” (Frances McDormand) to represent this real-life diaspora. Shortly after the death of her husband, with whom she lived in the now-shut-down mining town of Empire, NV, Fern loads up a van that is now her home and hits what Robert Frost famously called “the road less traveled,” taking an itinerant journey of healing across the American West. Along the way she encounters many of the real nomads who first appeared in Bruder’s book, here playing themselves. Their appearance is important because, though Fern’s journey is financially-driven, not everybody hits the road for economic reasons. For many, the challenging lifestyle is a choice and their road leads to a place where they can enjoy both solitude and community. Nomadland is currently streaming only on Hulu and Disney+, so unless you have a subscription you’ll just have to wait until the DVD eventually comes out to see it. In the meantime, you can use your Pratt library card to check out two rare documentaries in the Best & Next Department’s video collection (yes, we still have video tapes!), Loners on Wheels and Roam Sweet Home, which complement the subject matter of Nomadland as they chronicle the lives of non-conventional seniors choosing to spend their golden years living on the road. While Zhao’s docudrama utilized the star power of Frances McDormand (and co-star David Straithorn) to tell a compelling story about societal drop-outs surviving economic and emotional hardship, the offbeat characters inhabiting these two small-budget films from the ‘90s are even more fascinating and their personalities and stories will hold your attention every bit as much as Hollywood stars like McDormand and Straithorn.

Loners On Wheels

(Susan E. Morosoli, 1997, 53 minutes)

88-year-old road warrior Duchess Grubb

Loners On Wheels documents the life of Duchess Grubb and her friends in “Loners on Wheels” (LoW),  a national, singles-only recreational vehicle organization offering freedom, friendship and fellowship to older adults who prefer to spend their retirement driving across America instead of sitting quietly in a rocking chair. Crediting the organization with providing an active alternative for people that otherwise would have been “staring stupid at four walls,” Duchess recites a poem celebrating “the friendly hello and the nice smiling faces upon your arrival from faraway places” that characterizes the community. Those faraway places include Joshua Tree, Salvation Mountain at Slab City and other scenic vistas. Along the way viewers are introduced to a trio of singing sisters (identical triplets!) whose side-hustle is stand-up comedy, a man who keeps fit exercising on his home-made trampoline, and plenty of campouts and cookouts - even a roadside birthday party for Duchess! (Also available on YouTube.)

Roam Sweet Home

(Ellen Spiro, 1996, 52 minutes)

Airstream trailers: tin chateaus on wheels

Director Ellen Spiro and her dog Sam hop in a vintage Airstream trailer and follow a group of “Geritol gypsies” - elderly drop-outs who have “side-stepped the system” by pulling out of conventional society and into roadside trailer communities. Along the way she captures the spirit of the roamers and the variety of reasons they abandoned the more traditional models of retirement. They range from a love of travel to the freedom from restrictive relationships. There are still challenges to be overcome living on the road: the owner of a pet chimpanzee recounts how she once snuck her chimp into a roadside diner - only to shock customers who saw a hairy arm emerge from under her blouse to grab some morsels! The film is narrated by Spiro's dog Sam, with the voice provided by renowned Southern novelist Allan Gurganus (Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All). Gurganus wrote Sam’s narration, using it to share his perspective on the whims and follies of human nature, as exemplified in this cast of colorful characters. (Also available on YouTube.)

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Meet the New Wave of Charm City Cinema

Meet the New Wave of Charm City Cinema

[This post was originally written for the Enoch Pratt Free Library’s blog.]

The 23rd annual Maryland Film Festival (MFF) took place from May 19-27, with an opening night double-bill, “Balti-Shorts & “Strawberry Mansions,” that showcased the work of young and upcoming local filmmakers. It was part of the festival’s mission to introduce the next generation of homegrown talent while highlighting stories made in and about the city that reflect its “pain, angst, and hopefulness” as it looks towards a brighter future after a year of lockdown and a history of social and racial divisions. Everyone knows Baltimore’s “old guard” directors club of John Waters, Barry Levinson, David Simon and Charles Dutton - but who are the young artists representing the next wave of local filmmaking?

Well, one of them is our very own Gillian Waldo, a Library Associate in the Enoch Pratt Central Library’s Humanities Dept. whose film Diary gets its premier screening May 19 in the Balti-Shorts program. Gillian grew up in Baltimore City and graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a degree in film and museum studies before joining Pratt in 2020. She likes to make what she calls “small films on 16mm.” Diary, shot on 16mm and digitized by Colorlabs in Rockville, documents “a summer without precedent in Baltimore” - the lockdown summer of 2020.


Totally wired: the lockdown summer of 2020

“The pandemic forced us to renegotiate our relationship to the spaces we live in and notice how the city had changed,” says Gillian. “The pools were empty, fireworks were set off every night, people marched in the streets daily. This allowed me to reflect on my relationship to Baltimore and highlight the small beauties present in something as small as car dealership streamers or as large as collective action stopping traffic.”

Gillian Waldo’s “Diary” records the small beauties of a city in lockdown

Diary is a visual tone poem that uses a non-narrative framework - skillfully-framed shots and carefully-selected audio (of protest marches, rally speeches, helicopters, fireworks) - interspersed with title cards representing the director’s “diary” observations. The style is reminiscent of Chris Marker and Jean-Luc Godard, with the reflective pacing of Yasujiro Ozu, but with Gillian’s own distinct voice - one that quietly makes a loud statement about a year unlike any other.

Covid calendar: Does anybody know what day it is?

2020 was a busy summer for Gillian; in between filmmaking and working at Pratt, she found time to co-produce a 24/7 public access-style live-streaming channel, QuaranTV, with Thomas Faison. The channel was created as a way for people in Baltimore to “gather to watch things alone together” in the wake of local theaters closing their doors. As if that wasn’t enough, she also made a music video for Ed Shrader’s Music Beat, the local rock duo of Ed Schrader and Devlin Rice.

D.C.’s Tropea Barber Shop: Home of Straight Edge haircuts

Joining Gillian on the “Balti-Shorts” program was documentarian Joe Tropea, who co-directed the short Fugazi’s Barber - about punk rockers from the bands Nation of Ulysses and Fugazi frequenting an old Italian barber shop in the Cleveland Park neighborhood of Washington D.C. in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s - with Robert A. Emmons Jr. The film could easily have been called Ulysses’ Barber, but while Ian Svenonius’ pompadoured Nation of Ulysses had more hair, Ian MacKaye’s Fugazi had more name recognition (unless you were on the staff of Sassy magazine, which adored frontman Svenonius, calling him The Sassiest Boy in America in 1990). Curiously, the owner of the barbershop is named Frank Tropea, but he is unrelated to the co-director. Tropea’s Barber Shop closed its doors in 1997, but not before Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty got his wedding day haircut there - on the house!

Joe Tropea, whose day job is Curator of Films and Photographs at the Maryland Center for History & Culture (formerly the Maryland Historical Society), is no stranger to the MFF, having previously screened Hit & Stay (with co-director Skizz Cyzyk, 2013) and Sickies Making Film with co-writer Emmons, 2018) there. Hit & Stay addressed draft resisters during the Vietnam War, including Baltimore’s famous “Catonsville Nine”; Sickies Making Film looked at the history of Hollywood censorship, with a special focus on John Waters’ one-time nemesis, the Maryland State Censor Board. Both films can be checked out on DVD from the Pratt Library and Sickies Making Film is also available to stream on Kanopy.)

Much closer to home on the opening night shorts program was David Bonnett, Jr.’s The Cal, the Coz and the Streak, which humorously resurrected a notorious internet conspiracy theory linking Baltimore’s “Sacred Cal” of baseball - Cal Ripken, Jr. - with Hollywood womanizer Kevin Costner and a mysterious power outage at Camden Yards in 1997 that kept Ripken’s record consecutive games streak alive. According to the (long debunked) internet conspiracy theory, Junior busted his hand after finding Costner in bed with his wife and punching him just before an August 1997 game against the Seattle Mariners; O’s management then allegedly orchestrated the power outage to keep the streak and the media hype going. For, as the saying goes, “when the legend becomes fact, print the legend." The short was filmed at Brewster’s Tavern on Gough Street near Patterson Park.

MFF’s opening night feature film Strawberry Mansions - the story of a dystopian future where the government records and taxes dreams - isn’t specifically Balto-centric but its director and crew certainly are. Working again with co-director/star Kentucker Audley and featuring a soundtrack by Baltimore electronic maestro Dan Deacon, it is the fourth and most ambitious feature film yet by Gilman grad and former Johns Hopkins University lecturer Albert Birney. Strawberry Mansions finally got its hometown premier after receiving critical acclaim earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival. Birney’s previous film with Audley, 2017’s Sylvio, is currently available to stream on Kanopy. The story of a mild-mannered Baltimore gorilla who becomes an overnight TV celebrity, Sylvio was named one of the ten-best films of 2017 by New Yorker film critic Richard Brody.


And also returning to this year’s MFF is Theo Anthony, a filmmaker who splits his time between Baltimore and New York. Anthony’s new film All Light, Everywhere is an exploration of “cameras, weapons, policing and justice” in a time of surveillance technology and features a segment on the use of body cams in Baltimore’s police department. And, like Albert Birney's Strawberry Mansions, it features a soundtrack by Dan Deacon. Anthony previously screened Rat Film, an acclaimed experimental documentary about Baltimore’s “3 Rs” (Race, Red lining, Rats) at MFF 2017. Rat Film, which also featured the music of Dan Deacon, is available from Pratt on Kanopy and DVD.

But wait, there’s even more homegrown talent in the Pratt Library's Local Film Collection! Create your own Maryland Film Festival at home by using your library card to watch these “locally-sourced” films about Baltimore people, issues and institutions:

  • Native son and JHU film studies teacher Matt Porterfield’s Putty Hill and Take What You Can Carry are available on Kanopy and Sollers Point, I Used To Be Darker, and Putty Hill  are available from Pratt on DVD.

  • MICA grad Lofty Nathan’s 12 O’clock Boys (2013) follows the exploits of a notorious West Baltimore dirt bike pack as seen through the eyes of an impressional adolescent.

  • Park School grad Amanda Lipitz’s Step is the story of three high school students at the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women as they work hard at their studies just as much as their “step team” dance moves.

Friday, March 12, 2021

"Elysium": Lincoln F. Johnson's 1961 film about Baltimore painted screens

I only recently discovered this film in the Pratt Library's 16mm film collection. It is an early celebration of Baltimore's rich painted window screen heritage, then at its height before the advent of air conditioning and changing times shuttered the tradition. - Tom Warner

Elysium (1961) (Directed by Lincoln F. Johnson,14 minutes, color, 16mm film)

This study of the painted screens found in the windows of East Baltimore explores, with sympathetic irony, the contrast between the idyllic imagery of the screens and the metropolitan environment in which they appear; investigates the life of the streets; suggests something of the beauty and humor of the ordinary; and witnesses the painting of a screen by Richard Octavec (also spelled as “Oktavec”).

Richard Oktavec painting a window screen

Richard was the son of William Oktavec, who founded Baltimore’s painted screen tradition in 1913 and passed it down through three generations of his family (as documented in “Oktavec’s Painted Window Screens”). A fixture in Baltimore’s Northeast Bohemian (Czech) community, William Oktavec initially sold screens at his Collington and Ashland Avenue corner grocery before opening The Art Shop (which is shown in the film) at 2409 East Monument Street in 1922, where he sold paintings "by the thousands" and taught art classes. (One of his students was Baltimore native Johnny Eck, star of Tod Browning’s 1932 film Freaks). 

The film also includes a narration in verse adapted from Michael Drayton's The Muses' Elyzium (1630), which is set against a background of street noises and the improvisations of a jazz combo (The Furys), which at one point plays "Madison Time - a Top 40 hit for Ray Bryant (uncle of The Tonight Show With Jay Leno bandleader Kevin Eubanks) that in 1960 became a national dance craze rivaling The Twist after the “Madison steps” (which ranged from tracing an M on the floor to mimicking Jackie Gleason’s “and away we go” gesture) were popularized on Baltimore TV's The Buddy Deane Show - as young African-American girls are shown dancing the steps on the sidewalk.

Young girls dancing "The Madison"

Two local Black DJs, Al Brown and Eddie Morrison, released separate recordings of the song in 1960 and The Buddy Deane Show version, called "The Madison," featured Al Brown and his Tunetoppers calling out instructions to the teenage dancers. The Madison was later featured in both Jean-Luc Godard’s Band of Outsiders (1964) and John Waters’ Hairspray (1988).

Al Brown calls out "The Madison"

Al Brown's Tunetoppers featuring Cookie Brown

Skillfully edited scenes also offer commentary on the verses and contrasting images: a shot of flowers is juxtaposed with one depicting the metal petals of a window rotary fan; a window display of brassieres is followed by an image of teat-shaped balloons at a festival; a painted screen of a bucolic horse-drawn fruit vendor is followed by footage of a Baltimore “Arabber” cart slowly making its way down a city street. Verses about rural landscapes are recited over scenes of Baltimore’s Block. Formstone, another Baltimore tradition, is seen everywhere, framing the painted screens.

Elysium was written and directed by Dr. Lincoln F. Johnson, an art historian and teacher who chaired the fine arts department at Goucher College until his retirement in 1985. A painter himself, Johnson championed film as the 20th Century’s major artistic medium and in the 1960s helped organize the Maryland Film Festival (later the Film Forum).
Johnson was the author of the book Film: Space, Time, Light and Sound (1974) and in the 1970s wrote art criticism for The Baltimore Sun and introduced films shown at the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

"My ideas lead in the direction of poetic documentary, as far as educational films are concerned,” he told the Baltimore Sun in 1968. He explained he was interested in making films about Baltimore that examined “vanishing aspects” of its culture and contrasted the different levels of society in the city.

One of those different social levels in the city was its African-American community. That’s why the film segment showing young Black girls dancing the Madison was significant. As Mary Rizzo observes in Come And Be Shocked: Baltimore Beyond John Waters and The Wire (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2020), “The Madison symbolized the complicated cultural politics of race in Baltimore.” Though it was created by Black Chicagoans and popularized by two Black Baltimore DJs, it was only after “it was featured on the segregated Buddy Deane Show that ensured that white teens in Baltimore and, soon enough, the rest of the country, would be dipping and swaying in Madison time.”

Elysium is also a wonderful time capsule capturing the architecture, fashion and culture of the city before the many changes that were to come in the turbulent 1960s. But many traditions have endured the winds of change: Formstone, painted screens, Arabbers, street cars (now called “light rail”) and even the notorious Block have stood the test of time. Dr. Johnson died in Towson in May 2001, age 80; the Baltimore Sun's Jacques Kelly wrote a touching obituary. Elysium was photographed by Roland Read; the music was composed by Sherodd Albritton, then a Goucher music professor; and the verse was narrated by Hilary Hinrichs, whose rich, drawling intonation reminds me of Hermione Gingold if she was a poetry professor. In a clever touch, Elysium's opening and ending credits are superimposed over painted screens.

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Monday, November 30, 2020

Murder In the Stacks

Remembering Pratt's Star Turn On Homicide

[This post was originally written for the library's blog page.]

A pen, like love, is "A Many Splendored Thing"

The Enoch Pratt Central Library has enjoyed an impressive acting career, having played itself in a number of television and film appearances, from a 1961 supporting role in CBS’ popular television series Route 66 to a cameo in the 2017 Netflix mini-series The Keepers. But its greatest role was as the crime scene of a bizarre murder in the 1994 Season 2 finale of NBC’s Homicide: Life On the Street. That episode, “A Many Splendored Thing” - about a man with a pen fetish who shoots another man at the Central Library after arguing over a $1.49 pen - was based on a real-life killing that took place at a donut shop in Severna Park, MD on August 25, 1993. “A Many Splendored Thing” is available on the Homicide: Life On the Street - Seasons 1 & 2 DVD and may be checked out from Pratt through their Sidewalk Service or Books-by-Mail services.

Pratt Central stars in "Homicide" Season 2

“A Many Splendored Thing” was nominated for a 1994 Writers Guild of America Award for Best Screenplay of an Episodic Drama and The Baltimore Sun rated it one of the ten best episodes of the Baltimore-based series - based on the book by David Simon and executive-produced by Barry Levinson -  that ran for seven seasons from 1993-1999.

As in the board game Clue, the plot featured a “Mr. Boddy” discovered in the library - specifically, Pratt’s Social Science & History (SSH) Department - shot to death by a gun. There, detectives Meldrick Lewis (Clark Johnson) and Steve Crocetti (Jon Polito) identify the victim as a Mr. Max Zintak, with Crocetti cracking, “Either it's murder or this library has a very strict overdue book policy.”

Mr. Boddy in the Library, permanently checked out

A number of past and present Pratt librarians remember the famous Homicide "shoot."

"I was there that day," says Special Collection's Davetta Parker, now in her 40th year at Pratt. "I remember them setting up downstairs in the stacks and working their way up to Wheeler Auditorium."

"My memories of that shoot are more a matter of what I did not see," recalls retired Pratt librarian Bob Burke, a former SSH Department head who in 1993 was working in the Sights & Sounds audiovisual department. "No Frank Pendleton down in the stacks, no sign of Munch in the photocopy room, no Gee slamming the door to Wheeler, not even Kay Howard or Tim Bayliss interviewing potential suspects in the staff lounge. But the one item of interest that I did see was a fully dressed, splayed-out dummy on the stage in Wheeler - definitely not something you would expect to see during a typical day at Central!"

"It was before my time at Pratt," John Damond, Manager of Pratt's Business, Science & Technology Department, adds. "But the one thing I remember about that episode was the detective interviewing the librarian and calling her 'Miss.' 'It's Mrs,' she replied, holding up her wedding ring. 'Everyone always assumes all librarians are old maids!' I thought that was funny."

Lewis and Crocetti interview Mrs. Newdow in the SSH Department

It is indeed a great scene. When detectives Lewis and Crocetti interview the librarian, Mrs. Newdow (Jane Beard), about the shooting, she explains that the suspect asked to borrow a pen from the victim and they had a friendly conversation (“I even had to tell them to shush once.”). But when the shooter offered to buy the pen from the victim, he refused, saying “It's just a $1.49 pen and it's the only one I have. You can buy one anywhere.” Then, according to Mrs. Newdow, “The man who shot the man who got shot took out a gun and he shot him. He just kept on firing. It was very noisy!”

SSH Librarian Mrs. Newdow: "I even had to tell them to shush!"

As the victim is wheeled past him on a gurney, an incredulous Lewis says, “There's gotta be more to this than a lousy five-and-dime ink pen.” Crocetti thinks not, recalling another local killing over a pair of sneakers. “Yeah, sneakers,” Lewis sighs. “Baltimore, home of the misdemeanor homicide.”

"There's gotta be more to this than a lousy five-and-dime ink pen!"

The killer is later identified as Mitchell Forman (Sal S. Kousaa), a former Spring Grove hospital patient. "Insane asylum," Lewis snorts, to which Crocetti replies, "You don't say insane anymore, Meldrick. You say mental health disorder...and you don't say asylum anymore, you say diagnostic center." Lewis dismissively concludes the discussion with a single word: "Nutcase!"

Lewis stands by his assessment after a visit to Forman's apartment, which is furnished from floor-to-ceiling with nothing but pens. But Lewis later comes to understand the pen fetishist's obsession when he talks him down from a rooftop suicide attempt by promising to write his life story. "What pen will you use?" Forman asks. "This one," Lewis replies, holding up his own prized gold pen, given to him by his dying grandmother. "Oh, very nice!" says a transfixed Forman, who then surrenders.

Lewis promises to write Forman's story with a good pen

But all that glitters in life isn't gold. In the episode's coda, Lewis, sensing the futility in being overly attached to material possessions, gives his coveted gold pen to detective Beau Felton (Daniel Baldwin). After all, as he earlier confided to Crocetti, "I love this pen, but not enough to die for it." Or, to kill for it.

"A Many Spendored Thing" is notable for a number of reasons besides its "Central casting" of Pratt Library.

  • This episode was the final appearance of Jon Polito as detective Steve Crocetti (1993-1994). 
Julianna Margulies as Linda

  • The episode featured guest appearances of future TV star Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife) and indie film darling Adrienne Shelly (The Unbelievable Truth, Trust, Waitress). Margulies plays Linda, the violin-playing waitress girlfriend of Stanley “The Big Man” Bolander (Ned Beatty), while Shelly portrays Tanya Quinn, the owner of The Leather Chain, a S&M fashion store that seems to be modeled after the old Leather Underground boutique on Read Street. At one point, detective Tim Bayliss (Kyle Secor), concerned about the risks Shelly takes in her S&M role playing, asks “If you know you could be killed, then why keep doing it?” The scene is eerily prescient, for the Homicide actress later became a homicide victim when she was strangled to death in her Greenwich Village apartment in 2006.

Kyle Secor and Andre Braugher interview Adrienne Shelly
  • Local connections abound in this episode and the series as a whole: the casting director was none other than Pat Moran, most famous for her work on John Waters’ films, The Wire and HBO’s Veep. Another John Waters regular, Vincent Peranio, was production designer. Both worked on Homicide for its entire series run. And filmmaker Mark Pellington (Arlington Road, The Mothman Prophecies, Henry Poole Is Here), son of legendary Baltimore Colts linebacker Bill Pellington, created the series' opening title sequence. The St. Paul’s School for Boys graduate is perhaps best known for his award-winning music video for Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy” (1992) and his portrayal of an irate director in Jerry Maguire (1996).

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