Review: “Love, Loss, and What I Wore” at the Garfield Center

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Want to watch five women talking about clothes? You might not think so. But don’t jump to conclusions – you may find out you’ve missed a delightful theater experience, We’re talking about “Love, Loss and What I Wore,” Nora and Delia Ephron’s comedy now playing at the Garfield Center for the Arts.

The play is directed by Diane Landskroener (a talented actress in her own right), It brings five of the area’s most talented actresses to the stage to deliver a witty, insightful script that looks at all the myths — and truths — about women’s relationship to what they wear.

By the time she wrote “Love, Loss…” Nora Ephron was already an established novelist and screenwriter, with credits including “Silkwood,” “When Harry Met Sally” and “Sleepless in Seattle.”

The Ephron sisters based their script on a 1995 book of the same title by Ilene Beckerman, with added material from the playwrights’ friends. The play opened in New York in October 2009 and ran for two-and-a-half years. Among the actresses in the run were Rosie O’Donnell, Tyne Daly and Samantha Bee.

The play is set up as a series of monologues, with only occasional interaction between the various characters. The only straight-line plot is the story of Gingy, who reminisces about her life from childhood to grandparenthood over the course of the play. Julie Lawrence plays the role with a warmth appropriate to the character. You may remember her appearances in Short Attention Span Theatre and “Vanya, Sonia, Masha, and Spike.”  She was also Assistant Director for the Garfield’s recent production of “Mr. Roberts.”

The rest of the roles are taken by Jen Friedman, Jennifer Kafka-Smith, Melissa McGlynn and Hester Saches, each of whom portrays several characters. Except for Lawrence, all the actors remain seated throughout the performance, with their scripts on music stands in front of them. And all are dressed in black, a sort of sly comment on the play’s focus on clothes.

In essence, the performance is a staged reading. Staged readings are usually done to demonstrate a play, most often to family and friends and potential backers. But “Love, Loss…” uses the format to bring to the stage a large number of related stories that would otherwise require an impossibly huge cast with dozens of scene and costume changes.

I wondered at first if this kind of staged reading would work. But after the first couple of scenes I realized that as the actors spoke, the scenes came alive. It was like being in a room with five good story-tellers — you didn’t want to miss a word. The actors used variations in voice, accent, facial expressions and gestures to create all the characters. It worked beautifully.

So while there is no action of characters moving around the stage, there is plenty of emotional energy — fond hopes, broken hearts and wild obsessions – not to forget a good deal of comedy.

Much of the comedy stems from good-natured stereotyping of women’s attitudes about clothes. In several scenes, gathered under the title “Clothesline,” four of the women comment on topics from different points of view. The themes include not being able to find anything to wear – despite having a closet full of clothes; not being able to fit into some of the clothes – too fat, too thin!; the importance of black garments; the importance of bras, and so forth.

At the same time, the play deals with serious issues such as cancer and rape, without overdoing it.

Each of the women gets an opportunity to interpret a more developed individual character, too. These include a wide variety of characters who relive the thrills and stresses of  prom dates, weddings, affairs, and divorces. There is even a woman whose husband lands in jail right after the wedding.

Friedman, one of the area’s most reliable comic actors, is especially good here in reacting to the other characters in scenes in which she is not directly involved, yet without overdoing it.

McGlynn gives an energetic performance, particularly in an extended sequence about boots that takes an unexpected turn toward the end.

Sachse did a good job of handling many characters; I especially liked the one about choosing a wedding dress.

Kafka-Smith effectively differentiated her characters, with one strong scene, “I Hate My Purse” that is especially amusing.

A projector displays drawings on the backdrop of some of the important dresses in Gingy’s life, along with the titles of the scenes. Except for an easel that Gingy brings in at one point, there are almost no props.

While the play doesn’t focus on adult activities or language, there is enough mention of sex and bodily functions that you might not want to bring the younger family members. The youngest would probably be bored. But most adults won’t!

This is not a play for everyone, but if you’re ready for something a little bit different, I heartily recommend “Love, Loss and What I Wore.”

The play runs through April 30, with performances at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays. Performances run well under two hours. Tickets are $20 for general admission; senior citizens and members of the military $15; and students $10. Call 410-710-2060 or visit www.garfieldcentre.org for reservations.

Finding Voices: “The Way We Worked” at Sumner Hall

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I visited Sumner Hall the other day to look at the new Smithsonian exhibit, “The Way We Worked” and its allied display, “The Black Labor Experience in Kent County: Free and Enslaved; Founders and Soldiers; Tools of the Trades and Contemporary Work Stories.

I wanted a break from the interminable news about chemical warfare, battle armadas and the ever-widening divisions between countries, political groups, ethnicities and the kaleidoscope of social classifications that make up the human race.

It was quiet that afternoon in the small building on Queen Street as I walked among the artifacts on the first floor, looking at tools of the trade and read about the lives of some of Kent County African Americans who had succeeded as ex-slaves to build businesses and lives, many within a few hundred feet of Sumner Hall’s location on Queen Street.

I tried to imagine even the faintest outline of the black experience in America. It’s easy to read history or watch documentaries about the past, but easier for that experience to lack a connection to the core of our empathy. If we have it at all. After all, what has the past have to do with us? But a continuum of time and its events is still part of the whole and the voice of the American and world narrative is still being spoken—at least today—in every human activity from Johannesburg to Cincinnati.

It’s there in ‘imagining’ that for me a kind of discordance begins. It starts with the geophysical, sitting in a building restored to honor free blacks and slaves who fought and died for the North during the Civil War, on a block of town that for generations had been the home of African American families, a town that held slave auctions overlooking a river often teeming with sailboats. I doubt a black man or woman in the 18th century would delight as much seeing a white sail on the horizon. We are a long way from the kidnappings in Senegal and the depravity of the middle passage. Or are we? If 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation human bondage is no longer the coin of the realm, its consequences—the constant re-igniting of discrimination against “the other”—still poisons us.

But what is the dissonance, the clattering of voices—not only ours, but the ones we inherited—that keep me listening as if to locate by some magical sonar a clear narrative about the things that divide us and make our lives smaller by suffocating us with prejudice, fear and disdain?

I see my father sitting at a desk in the corner of the room but it’s 50 years ago. He is in his Navy Captain’s uniform and I hear laughter around him as he tells a racist joke. The party fades, the laughter dissolves.

The two exhibits at Sumner Hall are related but different in their scope. The first floor personalizes the black work experience with names and excerpts of historical records of their lives. The second floor is a lens pulled back to a panoramic shot of the wider American work experience. Here, a labyrinth of photo panels has been set up, each panel depicting people at work—black, white, Asian, men, women—all doing their jobs: women switchboard operators and train mechanics, astronauts, watermen. While it is impossible to overlook the photograph of an African-American waiter entering a train dining car filled with well-dressed white passengers, it does not close my self-enquiry.

 

The Smithsonian, by deftly widening the scope shared work, has invited local organizations to share in some of the historical heavy lifting, at least as far as the sharper focus on the African American experience and although the stories reveal many successes of overcoming harsh indignities it should not be lost upon us that, like a good photographic image, negative space defines it.

And there is my father, sitting at his desk behind one of the Smithsonian panels. It is 1965, 20 years after submarine combat in the Pacific and he is opening a letter, reading it, thinking about it. “It’s from one of my torpedoman, thanking me for saving his life. One of the best damn black torpedo man’s mate in the g’dam Navy,” he says. But ‘black’ is not the word he uses.

I’m confused. Praise, derision, and contempt are a bewildering choir of messages. How do we unlearn the voices within us? And where did they come from?

Like a primitive abacus, the brain calculates and classifies the differences: other, not other, good, bad, less than, equal. The book of natural selection and adaption explaining the difference in skin color and nutritional metabolism, tribalism, and in-group trust. The human genome project even points back as far as the Pleistocene era as a marker for human discrimination between the loved in-group and the feared out-group. We have to look no farther than the recent immigration ban to feel the ancient sting of fear of otherness.

For the two exhibits at Sumner Hall to work synchronously, to walk back and forth in our minds between a 19th-century ex-slave and a white woman astronaut—Sally Ride is displayed—is to enter the cardinal inquiry. For a few minutes we can begin to sense that in our endeavor to survive we are the same, building things with our hands, working as mechanics and farmers, physicians and taxi drivers, whatever it takes to get along, to succeed, to advance, Walt Whitman’s universal man.I walk through the gauntlet of the Smithsonian installation and stare into the faces of people at work. They are us. Working to live.

It is 1954, my father, mother and I are driving to Florida. At a rest stop, there is an African American, old to my 6 years. On his bicycle, he has all his worldly possessions wrapped in cloth. My father gets out of the car, talks to the man for some minutes, reaches into his pocket and gives the man some money. He returns, says the man migrates to Florida every year in his bicycle.

Tomorrow he will tell a racist joke but for a moment I saw an act of kindness override his inherited attitude. It gets complicated like that and it’s up to us sort through and re-evaluate our own biases and open our minds to the understanding that we are all passengers. Otherwise, we continue to throw fuel onto the burning cross.

The Smithsonian and Washington College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience exhibit give us a place to have this kind of meditation. It’s a serious gift and Sumner Hall is the perfect place to unwrap it.

“The Way We Worked” exhibit will be at Sumner Hall through May 20th. For the many lectures, exhibits, musical performance and dramatic performances related to the event, go here.

Benchworks, The Peoples Bank, Silver Hill Farm, Phoenix Initiatives, Chesapeake Bank and Trust, The Finishing Touch, Grasmick Lumber and Shrewsbury Church are sponsors of these events. Without this kind of community and local business support, exhibits like these would never give us the opportunity to discover our shared passage of life, the commonality rather than the differences.

I remind everyone that Sumner Hall is now a self-funding private non-profit. We must work together to keep its doors open. For more information, please go here

 

 

The Shadow of Thy Wings by George Merrill

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Driving Rt. 50 the other day, I stopped at a traffic light in Cambridge where the McDonald’s is located. The stoplight was affixed to what appeared to be a large round aluminum arm arching across the highway. The arm swayed while gently rising and falling as if riding on the wind.

My gaze wandered.

I saw two birds behaving oddly. One flew back and forth underneath the arm. It seemed at first to be pecking at the under part of it while flying erratically – first diving under the arm and then flapping up and over it, down again, hovering in place while continuing to peck along the arm’s underside. Another bird joined it and soon both birds were engaged in these irregular sorties. It was fascinating to watch. Fortunately, the wait for the red light was substantial so I had time to enjoy their antics while trying to make sense of them. What were they doing?

Occasionally I’ve seen birds behaving oddly at my house. In certain morning light some go for the windows, even though they’ll crash into them and be stopped cold in flight. Some, bruised, might still persist. Sadly, a persistent bird or two may get knocked out when striking the glass or even kill itself. I once watched cardinals as they attacked the rear view mirrors of my parked car. I figured in both cases they were curious about their reflected image.

Waiting at the light I noticed the two bird’s beaks held either string or twigs of some sort. I knew then they were building their home, but the question remained, where? Their erratic flight patterns seemed exploratory, as if they were still checking out real estate and looking for permanent property rather than having already decided. If that were the case, carrying around building materials while still deciding where to build wouldn’t make any sense.

After the light changed, the driver behind me honked to get me moving.  I accelerated slowly taking one last look underneath the traffic light’s arm and sure enough, I saw two small holes along the bottom of the arm. Then I knew the birds had been busy building their new home inside it.

One of them quickly entered a hole.

It’s spring, Easter, a time of hope and a time to build. No better time to birth and raise kids. I felt pleased for the birds. If they have no problem with the relentless traffic moving just below them – imagine summer traffic with folks from D.C. and Baltimore going ‘downee ocean,’ then building inside the traffic arm was probably the most readily accessible, cheapest and the safest building site imaginable.  Overall, a wise choice.

I can’t imagine any snake who would care to go out to eat over a highway where one slip would dispatch him for sure, leaving as his legacy only a dark stain on the highway left in the trail of some SUV. And the same holds for raccoons and other predators whose own lives would be jeopardized by trying to gain access to the bird’s nest underneath the arm’s slippery slopes. I commend these birds for the care and thoughtfulness in providing a safe space for their progeny. My own children tell me that their greatest concern in today’s dangerous world is keeping their children from harm as they grow into adulthood. Today most parents escort their children almost everywhere.

Still there’s one mystery in this scenario I’m not sure I’ve fathomed. The birds had obviously staked out their claim and were in the process of building there. So, why is it they had to fly all over the place first rather than simply homing in directly on the entrance holes to commence building? It’s as if they’d left the site to get building materials and couldn’t remember how to get back. I can’t imagine birds drinking and flying much less under the influence while working on a construction job just above moving traffic.  Does short term memory account for their apparent forgetfulness? Since they’re of childbearing age that makes it very unlikely.

I have read that some birds cannot see directly ahead. One eye sees what’s on the right, but the left eye only the left. Birds must turn their heads to get the whole picture, which also limits depth perception. This might explain why, when birds light anywhere, they’re constantly turning their heads this way and that to gain a clear sense of where they are. They accept their limits and do what they have to.

Birds are remarkably creative, superb craftsmen and environmentally friendly. They can transform the most unlikely places into practical and unobtrusive home sites, like the one I saw at the stop light in Cambridge. They use only recyclable materials in all their home construction. Ever inspected a bird’s nest up close? You’ll find a potpourri of leaves, old cellophane wraps, pine straw, shredded paper, small twigs, yarn, Styrofoam scraps and in one nest I once saw a paper clip – all skillfully woven to create security and comfort for the whole family without harming the environment in any way. Christians believe God does the same thing; takes the world’s throwaways and castoffs and transforms them.

Bird watching is immensely popular. Why, I’ve wondered, is it that nothing quite captures the imagination as watching a bird in flight? Birds have always been a universal symbol for divine messages and the motions of our souls. When the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus, John the Baptist thought it looked like a dove.

Crossing on the Bay Bridge, I have often watched gulls in flight riding effortlessly on wind gusts. Their wings barely move as the birds soar this way and that. They don’t flutter and flap. It’s like some invisible agent had carried the birds aloft, and the birds, finding themselves centered in just the right confluence of forces, let go to be safely borne along by the breath of God. It is a graceful sight.

In a troubled world like ours is today, a psalmist, mindful of birds, once offered this tender supplication: “Hide me [Lord] under the shadow of thy wings.”

Cover Illustration by Jo Merrill

Columnist George Merrill is an Episcopal Church priest and pastoral psychotherapist.  A writer and photographer, he’s authored two books on spirituality: Reflections: Psychological and Spiritual Images of the Heart and The Bay of the Mother of God: A Yankee Discovers the Chesapeake Bay. He is a native New Yorker, previously directing counseling services in Hartford, Connecticut, and in Baltimore. George’s essays, some award winning, have appeared in regional magazines and are broadcast twice monthly on Delmarva Public Radio.

 

Spy Profiles: Chesapeake Harvest with Deena Deese Kilmon

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There seems to be a good bit of nostalgia about the traditional family farm on the Eastern Shore as of late.  Going back centuries, the idea of a self-sufficient, agricultural enterprise that’s focused on locally grown produce has had a minor renaissance as consumers continue to seek out healthy alternatives to commercial grown “fresh” fruit and vegetable sections.

That’s the good news. The not so good news is that in order for those local farmers to be competitive they are increasingly asked to certify their agricultural practices in order to qualify in the wholesale and retail markets.

This is not an easy undertaking. And that is why the work of the Chesapeake Harvest project formed by the Easton Economic Development Corporation is so critical to this important transition.

With the help of a federal grant, Chesapeake Harvest has made it its goal to work with 30 of these family farmers over the next three years to prepare them for USDA gap certification, the most common and well respected endorsement, while at the same time branding and marketing the notion of being “Bay-friendly” through the adoption of these production conservation standards.

Leading this marketing and outreach effort for Chesapeake Harvest is Deena Deese Kilmon who has not only had the invaluable background of coming from a family farm background, spent time in the wholesale food world but also owned restaurant in St. Michaels before joining the organization.

We caught up with Deena in Kent County a few weeks ago before she and her team of volunteers worked with the local farmer to do a risk assessment of that farm’s practices and make recommendations that will move that farm into a gap certified agricultural center.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about Chesapeake Harvest please go here

Food Friday: Better with Butter!

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I am wandering around our new garden this year, playing CSI, Suburban Garden, identifying new shoots and leaves planted by the former owner. I am remembering my mother’s garden, which was complicated and themed, as my gardens will never be, but the early training has paid off in that I can still recognize the plants that herald spring. For example, my mother had a woodland corner, with jack-in-the-pulpits, Dutchman’s breeches, bloodroot, trillium and bluebells she had transplanted from our former little house in the woods. Later in the spring there would be ferns and hostas (and slugs) and bleeding hearts. There was never anything so banal as a hydrangea in her garden. Everything needed to be vetted and researched and carefully chosen. And so knowledge was imparted.

I was a pesky child, because I wanted to pick all her flowers and bring them indoors, and she was horrified at my brutality. She had just spent a long winter, cooped up with kids, waiting for the moment that the jack-in-the pulpit finally emerged from under the layers of wet leaves. Who could want to pick daffodils after their long journey up through the frozen ground, when they blazed in golden yellow triumph? Look at those violets! Aren’t they cunning in their little niche under the lilac bush? Are there any white violets this year? There were some in the corner by the mossy steps last year.

I have wickedly enjoyed picking a few handfuls of daffodils from my late fall bulb planting. Exhibiting adult restraint, I cut only a few at a time, to have in a vase on the kitchen table, where daffodil scent would waft through when a breeze came through the window. I left enough to make me Google Wordsworth and the Lake District, with my modest first year display of 200 daffodil bulbs bobbing and weaving in the back yard. The previous owner had planted a paltry patch of daffodils near the front stoop, but not the impressive sea (small ripple of a pond) of yellow, nodding heads that I proudly surveyed.

I have planted some peonies in a bed near the front door because my mother had peonies, and some day lilies, too, so I tippy toe around looking for signs of growth every morning. Luke the wonder dog despairs. And near the corner of the garage I have found other peonies sprouting near an ancestral (and hopefully vulgar and florid) hydrangea, and yesterday several spears of amaryllis poked through the ground like small green blades. The shoots of what I thought was wandering jew have turned into little mounds of blue flag, and there is an iris bed in another corner of the back yard that is packed and teeming with plants. I guess I will be learning how to thin irises this spring. Mr. Friday takes my word for all these CSI discoveries. His family didn’t garden. Luke just wants to play ball, and so has no interest.

I found lily of the valley rhizomes in the produce section grocery store a few weeks ago! My mother would be amazed. I haven’t figured out where to plant them in this garden yet. When I was growing up there was a lush squeaky and fragrant bed of them on the west side of the house, just under the dripping hose, so that should give me a clue about where to transplant my own. Right now they are nesting in a little clay pot while I get to know the lay of the land.

But it is spring, and we are all finally emerging from out little huts and caves and cottages, blinking in the light and reaching for the sunscreen. Can life on the porch be resumed? And who is bringing the snacks? Thank you, New York Times. https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1018678-radishes-with-sweet-butter-and-kosher-salt

I cannot believe that I have careened through life this long without trying radishes, salt and butter. I have always been a big fan of bowls of icy radishes, scored to form petals (or not), waved under a salt shaker and consumed in loud munching rabbit bites. The addition of butter has been a revelation. This is the perfect snack to enjoy on the back porch, wrapped in a light sweater, as you perch on a damp porch swing, looking out on the back yard, and contemplate all the possibilities that a spring garden can bring.

“I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.”
-William Wordsworth

The Theater of the Absurd by Al Sikes

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Park Geun-hye, South Korea’s disgraced ex-President, “now lives alone in a cell, eating $1.30 meals, washing her own tray and sleeping on a foldable mattress on the floor……..Ms. Park will have access to none of the stylists, personal chefs, plastic surgeons, skin-care specialists or physical therapists who used to regularly visit her at the Blue House.” New York Times

As I read about Ms. Park’s stark circumstance, my mind went from personal crimes to political corruption. And especially to America’s rapidly growing mortgage on her future: the national debt and associated annual budget deficit.

If politicians could be penalized for, let’s call them “fake debt promises”, by confinement and $1.30 a day meals, would America’s finances be healthier?

It will immediately be said by discerning readers that “fake promises” are to be sorted out at the ballot box. Ventilate no more, I agree with you. So then how do voters, compromised by self-interest, big numbers and short attention spans discipline candidates? Is it possible in the selfie era to live beyond the moment?

Jo Craven McGinty, a Pulitzer Prize winning data reporter/analyst noted in a Wall Street Journal article: “Big numbers befuddle us, and our lack of comprehension compromises our ability to judge information about government budgets, scientific findings, the economy and other topics that convey meaning with abstract figures, like millions, billions and trillions.” The shadow that increasingly envelopes America is in the trillions.

Every single candidate who runs for office lip syncs “we need to balance the budget.” But when the curtain goes up, the characters of the moment act out the theater of the absurd—national interest is whispered, self-interest is screamed.

The latest projection by the Congressional Budget Office reports that our national debt is on track to double in the next thirty years. It is criminal to be on trajectories that will double $20 trillion—gifted mathematicians have a hard time with this calculation.

So let me end with a semblance of what might be done. But first, what I do know is that current party leaders are incapable of bi-partisan leadership. Also there is nothing in the Trump playbook that will unify the Republican coalition on a coherent debt plan.

If you run as a Republican, you must have a whole list of taxes you intend to eliminate or reduce. So much for the revenue side.

If you are a Democrat, you must pay homage to the public employee unions, among others, who want to spend more not less. So much for the cost side.

Current generations are enriching themselves to the detriment of their children and grandchildren. It is not likely, but certain, that if this does not stop, servicing the debt will consume discretionary spending while undermining the dollar as the world’s currency. So much for our progeny.

There is now a sequel to Bowles-Simpson, the last bipartisan attempt at a debt solution. It is called the Moment of Truth Project and is largely peopled by retired politicians. Retired politicians will attempt to seize the day but they won’t win it.

Irresistible energy is all that will overcome. And, it will need to be organized by generational self-interest animated by a unifying principle that regards compromise as an essential good in a pluralistic society. I am reminded of President Kennedy’s call: “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” Is this just an antique thought?

Park Geun-hye went from the Blue House to jail; the absurdist conspiracy to commit fraud on the American public must not go unpunished.

Al Sikes is the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission under George H.W. Bush. Al recently published Culture Leads Leaders Follow published by Koehler Books. 

 

 

Out and About (Sort of): The Third Bay Bridge—No More Waiting by Howard Freedlander

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After years and years of studies and discussion, the 2017 General Assembly finally said: enough’s enough.

Working mainly out of sight—meaning away from the sneaky, ever-watchful media—a joint legislative committee, meeting for months in a back room at Harry Browne’s on State Circle, decided that the third Chesapeake Bay Bridge span will be an underwater rapid transit system. It will go from near the eastbound span to Claiborne in Talbot County.

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, Talbot County will no longer evade the masses of people traveling from the Western to the Eastern Shore. And, to add insult to injury, Talbot County taxpayers will be on the hook for accommodating the beach-anxious visitors. In other words, the county will provide rapid transit to Dorchester County, also under the Choptank River.

But that system is covered in another Spy article.

Staging the final, momentous summit at Harry Browne’s, a convenient venue for hungry and thirsty power-brokers, was a shrewdly counter-intuitive choice. As the select group of senators and delegates performed their legislative magic on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, their peers, lobbyists, media representatives and assorted political junkies were reveling during the festive day of the Green. No frivolity for these clever transit-masters.

So, you may ask, what will this underwater transit system cost? A conservative estimate is $2-3 billion. And, to top it all, this figure will be in a supplementary budget proposed in the waning days of the 2017 legislature by Gov. Larry Hogan. There will be little or no time for public input. The normal give-an-take of the democratic process will be short-circuited.

Just the way it is sometimes.

The die is cast. Endless talk about a third span will cease. Kent Islanders are saved; these hearty folks will simply have to tolerate existing motorists furiously eager to Reach the Beach (as former Governor William Donald Schaefer termed his ambitious effort to expand the lanes to Kent Island).

You might wonder how this Spy columnist learned about this impressively massive transportation project. How did he insert himself among unnamed state legislators as they spelled out an incredibly bold public works project? I can’t disclose why I received this unusual invitation to enter a secretive and powerful sanctum.

Suffice it to say that I know people in high places. They trust me for reasons completely unclear to me. They knew I would appreciate a preposterous scheme such as this one. They knew only I could communicate clearly and credibly to my many friends in Talbot County.

How does this innovative project benefit Talbot County? Now that’s a very good question. Simply, it enables the county to be part of a grand solution to deal with the increasing traffic over the existing Bay Bridge, the prestige factor is undeniable. No longer aloof and seemingly uncaring about the problems plaguing our state, including significant transportation logjams, Talbot County is becoming a major player in the resolution of a long-simmering dilemma.

It feels so satisfying to be part of the state team.

I learned something else in the inner sanctum, dominated by good cheer and a distinct sense of destiny: the underwater transit system may have a rest stop for visitors, a place for dining as the Bay’s bounteous creatures circle about. Approximate cost of this radical creation: probably another $100 million.

If readers can discern my excitement about this incredibly innovative (and, yes, expensive) solution to increasingly overwhelming traffic congestion, it’s because I can see an exciting future for fast transit across the Chesapeake Bay.

And, of course, I could take pride that Talbot County would be an integral part of this cutting-edge transportation technology.

I know my fellow county residents would feel equally joyful.

Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland.  Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He  also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer.  In retirement, Howard serves on the boards of several non-profits on the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.

Editor’s Note: For our less observant readers, it is important to note that this is an example of what fake news looks like. Happy April Fools Day.

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Leslie Raimond and John Schratwieser on Transition and Saving the Fine Arts Building

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There will be a very important transition taking place in Chestertown at the stroke of midnight or thereabouts on December 31, 2017. A significant changing of the guards at the Kent County Arts Council will happen when Director Leslie Prince Raimond will formally step down and turn the organization over to her successor, John Schratwieser.

If this were just a time to celebrate Leslie’s achievements during her tenure in promoting the arts, it would be reason alone to justify a major community celebration of gratitude. But, in many ways, that is only half the story.

For it was Leslie, and her late husband, Vince, that were directly responsible for the creation of the Kent County Arts Council thirty-five years ago. And during their time at the wheel, this county saw an explosion of art creation and performance in the visual arts, community theater, music, poetry, dance, and creative writing. It was the combined forces of the Raimond family that have has lead to the region to an unprecedented level of maturity in arts programming to make it one of the Mid-Atlantic’s “go-to” rural arts scenes.

So it was for that very reason that the Spy was all the more eager to talk to Leslie and John about this important transition, and just as importantly, how they plan to use it as an opportunity to bring back the Fine Arts Building on Spring Street as a hub for the arts in Kent County and create studio space for local and visiting artists.

This video is approximately six minutes in length. For more information about the Kent County Arts Council please go here.