Archive for January 2017

A Most Telling Consent Decree

At this writing, we don’t know whether the proposed consent decree between the City of Baltimore and the U.S. Department of Justice will ever be approved and go into force. But its 215 pages are worth a read. Sometimes it’s not so much what a document says as what it presupposes that is most telling.

Destination Wedding in ABBA-Land: Mamma Mia! at the Hippodrome

Many of the songs are barely congruent with the plot at all. Thus the song SOS puts lines in the mouths of both Donna and Sam, one of her three former lovers whom she hasn’t seen in 20 years, that relate the stresses in a current relationship, not one that hasn’t existed for two decades (“When you’re gone, how can I even try to go on?”), and Knowing Me, Knowing You, a breakup song, is awkwardly jimmied into a slot where Sam is giving marital advice to his putative daughter Sophia on the verge of her wedding.

Beyond Big Steel: A Search for Purpose

For a hellish week in October 1948, not breathing that air was not an option. An atmospheric inversion had trapped the emissions from the steel plant and the zinc works in this little pocket of the Monongahela valley, and people started to get sick and die, especially downhill from Mr. Uhriniak’s house. A contemporary map that plots nurse visits tells the story: higher up and further away was safer.