One encouraging byproduct of the thirst for coverage of the Baltimore Uprising is that it exposed those in the know to a number of new, young, and daring journalists and photojournalists. Namely, there's Baltimore's Devin Allen, who had the cover image of Time magazine two weeks ago and who City Paper's J.M. Giordano spoke to yesterday. We'd also like to point you in the direction of filmmaker Kenny Holston, who according to his Facebook profile is a photographer for the Air Force, whose short film "Unarmed" has been spreading around Facebook and currently has more than 100,000 views. "Unarmed" intercuts extended footage of the rioting over at North and Pennsylvania avenues with a few photos of the protests and finds two men discussing the rage and motivation behind the violence directly to the camera: "It's not about messing up stores and burning the property or anything, it's about the citizens. It's about the cops killing blacks . . . this negative stuff, that you're calling negative . . . it can come to an end, but y'all got to cooperate." Without justifying the violence at all, "Unarmed" contextualizes the "reasoning" behind the rioting and counters the idea pushed by many that the burning and looting was purely "thug" opportunism and something entirely separate from the protest movement. In that sense, it puts both moderate liberals and anti-protest conservatives up against a wall equally. (Brandon Soderberg)
Dr. Matthew Loftus is a white guy who lives in Sandtown with his wife and baby daughter. He is a good man, deeply Christian, dedicated to the idea of healing. At night when his baby keeps him awake, he writes for conservative and Christian magazines (and one time, City Paper), and what he writes deserves a wider audience. Here he is on the website of Cardus, a think tank trying to renew America's "social architecture." His May 7 essay is titled "Run Toward the Pain." "One of the uncomfortable facts of human nature is that individual virtues alone cannot restrain the sorts of terrible urges in which people indulged in Baltimore. Communal vice of this sort is restrained as much by our social contracts and the moral codes that communities create through social pressures and judgments. If 'The Wire' showed us anything, it was that the official institutions that people deal with every day can be just as corrupt and untrustworthy as the gangs that roam the streets. Unfortunately, the result is that it becomes natural to take what you can get if chaos is going on around you and to respond with rage to the murder of your neighbour by agents of the state. As a young man from Sandtown recently said in a great PBS interview, 'I'd rather call my neighbour than the person being paid to protect us.'" Loftus then talks about these "minor leaders" who build social capacity in a neighborhood—leaders in short supply in Sandown and places like it. Without them, he says, "more people become vulnerable or predatory." Elsewere, in "First Things," Loftus writes about the urban farm in his neighborhood and what it symbolizes. Loftus is not preaching to the choir (read the comments for proof of that), he is evangelizing for something like decency and neighborliness, and it's a wonder that it has come to this. (Edward Ericson Jr.)
Today in "holy shit, this is real?" news, Evander Holyfield is returning to the boxing ring to fight . . . Mitt Romney. Yes, the same Mitt Romney who won the Republican nomination for president and ran against Barack Obama in 2012. Yes, the former governor of Massachusetts and son of George Romney. Mitt "Binders Full of Women" Romney. Unsurprisingly, the match is for charity, meaning it's unlikely the former heavyweight champion will pummel the shit out the former candidate, but the possibility is still there, you know? Mark Leibovich of The New York Times did a quick interview with Romney before the bout, which takes place tonight in Utah. Here are a few gems:
"Will you make like Mike Tyson and attempt to feast on Holyfield's ear?
"I'm staying far away from his ears. I don't for a moment want for him to confuse me with anyone from his past."
"Will you actually wear trunks in the ring?
"I was affectionately known as Bird Legs during high school. I'm afraid the bird legs will be unveiled one more time. But I'm very pleased that Under Armour has agreed to sponsor the bout. They have graciously sent me their apparel items, which I will avail myself of."
"Any prediction for Holyfield? Besides pain?
"I expect to be beaten but unbowed." (Brandon Weigel)