Blazing the trail of an epic gathering of Baltimore legends

Screen Shot 2023 01 31 at 4.33.18 PM
Screen Shot 2023 01 31 at 4.33.18 PM
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Ron Cassie tells Nestor about the epic Baltimore Magazine gathering of local legends and trailblazers for the January 2023 cover.


baltimore, great, trailblazers, barbara mikulski, john, waters, kurt, people, brooks, ron, carla, artists, hayden, brooks robinson, fair, thought, jim, folks, maryland, photographer

Nestor Aparicio  00:00

What about W en s t test a Baltimore and Baltimore positive we are positively in Catonsville, my homeland i ordered something today that I haven’t ordered in like, three years since before the plague. We are at State Fair. We are doing the Maryland crab cake tour. There’s going to be crab involved at all this may be a crabby reporter to journalist as well as a very upbeat sports coach and athlete coach Powell Jeff Brandis is coming over. Ron Cassie is with us. It is all brought to you by two awesome sponsors we have here including our friends at State Fair, I’ve got Maryland lottery holiday cash drops, they’re doing the 50th anniversary run so they’re bringing back the unlucky the wishbone from the old signs I’m going to have those to give away soon. Our friends at window nation 866 90 nation if you’re thinking about getting windows, now’s the time you buy two you get two free five years 0% financing. And Baltimore magazine is going Don’s here he’s holding the magazine or pulling the cards out, giving the subscription cards out and all that. But like I must say full, full full exposure behind the scenes. I follow you guys. This picture that showed up last week, right? Of all of these legends in this dignified, beautiful look like the Family Feud portrait, you know, like when they came on. I said I’m gonna reach to Cassie and get him out here for crabcake and I knew we were coming back to State Fair and doing a breakfast thing. And I thought this is a perfect Baltimore positive football season’s over Lamar Lamar Loomer Superbowl that let’s tell a Baltimore story dude, what did I what an inspired idea? Where did you come up with that? Ron Cassie, you’re a genius.

Ron Cassie  01:44

As I said before, a lot of these ideas kick around for a long time and the idea of our cover search as Barbara Mikulski, Carla Hayden, Kurt Schmoke, Brooks Robinson, Joyce Scott and John Waters all together. You know, I was just thinking there’s there’s a lot of folks who are been really fighters for Baltimore lived here made these enormous contributions to the city. And of course, these folks have made national and international contributions, but they’re like close to retirement age, you know. And there’s also a lot of folks who are still working hard and carrying on busy schedules, and I just thought Koosh rush like dude, like running a university running a university. I mean, uh, Barbara Mikulski is still down at Annapolis when Brooke Lieberman’s getting sworn in and you know, John wars works as hard as anybody Joyce Scott. And so it was a little bit to pay homage to these folks. And there’s a lot of other folks T could include on this list. You know, I think of like Professor Larry Gibson at the University of Maryland still teaching law when he taught Elijah Cummings right. And Stephanie Rawlings Blake, Reverend Alvin Hathway, who’s transforming the Thurgood Marshall Elementary school into a multi purpose space,

Nestor Aparicio  03:01

you bring them together next year, right, you can still do that. Yeah, time still,

Ron Cassie  03:06

you know, Bob Emery the ABLE foundations right? I mean, it goes back to shaver. And so and also just, you know, the idea was to get some folks together, who really knew these people in a personal way to write about them and their contribution. So, as wonderful was such a miracle to actually bring all these people in the studio and see them all interact, which is just surreal to watch John Waters ask for Brooks Robinson’s autograph. It was wonderful to have like Jed Dietz, the founder of American film festival to write about John Waters or a representative John Sarbanes, to write about Barbara Mikulski. Senator Sarbanes was Paul Simon’s was Barbara Coase. He’s great mentor. I mean, she just raves about him to have, you know, our mutual friend, Jim Hedeman, who actually saw Brooks Robinson play when, when Jim was an usher at Memorial Stadium. I mean, well,

Nestor Aparicio  04:00

Jim was at the evening. So when I got there in 86, Jim was the beat writer. And then Ken Rosenthal came in and nobody knew who that whippersnapper was going to be, or who Ken Rosenthal would turn out to be and his contributions to baseball, but I mean, Jim Hanuman was longtime official scorer in the press box, but I mean, I mean, Jim Hanuman is the historian. He’s the Sinatra of historians here, I would say, right, baseball historians, right.

Ron Cassie  04:23

Absolutely. Just that Tim is just a treasure, you know, himself and, and we, you know, got Carla do, Kala Dupree, the city lit director to write about Carla Hayden. I don’t want to leave anybody out. Oh, Dr. Peale Peter Beal and sin. You know who wrote about courage smoke for us? I mean, Dr. Beals, who was a young you know, head of the Public Health Department in Baltimore.

Nestor Aparicio  04:46

How many African American mayor’s were there before Kurt Schmoke and other cities Atlanta may be there. May we is Kurt Schmoke top first three sort of like West more first three

Ron Cassie  04:56

on African American. Yeah, I’m gonna We get to Atlanta and Detroit, other places that marries the 70s.

Nestor Aparicio  05:02

Yeah, yeah. And

Ron Cassie  05:07

yeah, I mean, Clarence do Burns was, you know, had followed shave. Immediately when Schaefer went to become governor. Right. But then Kurt’s books, the first elected mayor, but you know, the all these people were trailblazers in their own right. And when it came to like, dealing with the AIDS crisis of Baltimore, you know, 1987 Kurt’s smoke comes in and you know, Ronald Reagan, the administration had barely even mentioned the word at that point and needle exchange programs and treating teen pregnancy and drug addiction as a public health issue. Kurt smoke was way ahead of a lot of people. So all these folks in their own ways were really trailblazers, and we can talk about that too.

Nestor Aparicio  05:50

Ron Cassie is my guest we are at State Fair we’re Kingsville it’s always great in the 21228 I haven’t even shown the Food Dude I mean it’s a you know it’s it’s metal crab cakes represented by the Maryland lottery conjunction with a friend of mine donation I’m not gonna wear the bucket hat because my hair looked my wife’s my hair look nice today if I put it down but I put it back. This is the crab Benedict here at State Fair I want to make sure we get a look at this because I’m going to be eating this while Ron cast he’s telling us we got a hell of a sunlight thing going on here to do it looks like we’re broadcasting in the in some blood Zeplin video from like, into the light or something like that. But it’s gonna be back here. It’s good sort of long form out of football season to sit and talk about things. I do want to tell you this had Tommy Davidson on the show this week. Free plug he was on a red eye he was gonna come by and hang out I’m still gonna get Ben Jealous on so I have some other sort of like non sports related guests. But John Waters is the bucket list of bucket list people that this left on my list, right? Like I sat down with. Well, Jim Palmer won’t sit with me. So it That’s another story altogether, but it’s wacky. But God bless you, Jim. You’re the greatest ever really. And if you want to sit down with anybody get Jim Palmer on the show with me. You’d be doing something so i But John Waters is the last one. I mean, I said we’ve already done event and unite. Isn’t that this down the list all that. I’ve never met John Waters. I’ve been in a room with John Waters once when he was doing his thing at the Lyric for Christmas. Couple five Christmases seven Christmases ago, right. So he’s doing the soundstage thing, and I think there was an illness, and he had to push it off. And it’s this weekend and the guys who stay on stage, Mike and everybody down. There’s just always so great to me. They treat me really, really well. So I want to give them some love. Great venue. Yeah, it’s a great place and good, great people. And it was in my neighborhood. It was six blocks from where I lived. I walked across the harbor all the time. Bands Childsplay last year, saw shaggy there one night ripping it up. Marcus King Bambi is great, great place. So John Waters is there next week, I might listen. I’ve been hidden Ed Brown forever about this, right? But I’m trying to get her working on the Foo Fighters. So I can do it. There goes my hero benefit. So I hit him and I said, Listen, man, John Waters other than seeing the Northern Lights, okay, my wife wants to do Safari, I’m going to places I want to go back to I mean, I wouldn’t mind spend a few days to Seychelles or whatever, right? But bucket list for me, there’s two things, there, see the northern lights. And you gotta be cold to do that. I don’t like the cold. And there’s sit down with John Waters on the show, without knowing him at all. And just talk to him. And I turned him down today. They offered me a zoom. And I’m like, I really want to like sit with him. If you’re gonna give me him. I want to like do this. And he’s not here today. Because I thought maybe he’d be a week early. So I thought wouldn’t that be something if John Waters came in here and sat next to me was Stevie Wonder and quince the funny so the John Waters part of this. Let’s start with that because I love Brooks right. And I and it’s not that I’m not fascinated by Brooks, but I love Brooks sat with Brooks. got on a plane once at O’Hare flying back to Baltimore, late night flight 10 o’clock flight. It’s one of those big wide bodies that they were going to fly to Hawaii the next day or whatever. So it had 350 seats on it. And there were 28 passengers and Brooks and I were on it together. And Brooke says to me, Nestor Come on sit down with me. Let’s spend some time together partner. You know what I mean? So that’s Brooks right look so Joe and Brooks in like two and a half hours in and ya know, like when a flight back was beautiful. You offered me a ride. You know what I mean? That’s you broke, right? Yeah. So Barbara Mikulski. I went to her office, I revere her. She was the first ever guest off of a in in her office with Don and I at the beginning of the beginning of the beginning of autumn or she refused to wear the headset, you know, because she would mess up her hair.

Ron Cassie  09:58

I’ve just got you know, Um, if you’re a journalist asking Barbara Mikulski political kind of questions, and doing that kind of reporting, she’s a tough cookie. She isn’t the most intimidating person, I think, Oh, listen, and she’s, you know, less than five.

Nestor Aparicio  10:15

You don’t mind if I have a crab Benedict here, it’s a fair job

Ron Cassie  10:17

at all right? And Senator Mikulski is. She does that Brooke fools. You know what I mean? Like she is if you’re not prepared and on your toes, and listen

Nestor Aparicio  10:27

to me sharp let me tell you wrong, Cassie. She’s sharp. She’s sharp. And we went in on her and her office over at Hopkins. And she had like a circle table when you go check it out of Baltimore positive because I mean, it was one of my of all the ones we’ve done. I told Tom, we’re gonna Baltimore positive classic, which are the conversations we’ve had about classic issues. And classic people. We we had Wes Moore sitting at this table for two hours three and a half Christmases ago. And he swears he had no designs on being the governor. And there’s no mention of anything even remotely like that in the conversation. So we’ve had these I’ve had interesting people, but John Waters, I met Chris smoke on the show. I love Kurt Schmoke. You know, I mean, and I don’t really know him, but I love him. And every time I see him in a room and maritime magic, I go up and I say, I love you, man. Like so. And he always offered to come on the show and get him out for coffee one day. But John Waters, let’s go to John Waters, Ron, Cassie bought her magazine. So tell me what the at the issue because Tom would be holding up the card now in the magazine, tell everybody where they can find all of this. And then I want you to talk about John Waters. Right? Yeah, the easiest

Ron Cassie  11:30

ways if you if you go online, you can find the story. If you just Google like trailblazers, and Baltimore magazine,

Nestor Aparicio  11:38

to get a good title on the credit for this for Max, we’re gonna give credit just your idea

Ron Cassie  11:41

that this was my idea. It was a crazy idea. And I’ll give Amanda white, our art director a ton of credit. You know, I mean, Max, our editor in chief, you know, is amazing. She gives you she gives the editors, including myself a lot of freedom to kind of pursue our ideas more

Nestor Aparicio  11:58

than you love. And I know you probably love Max, but I love Max. Yeah, she gives. So favorite, favorite people over 40 years in Baltimore, really,

Ron Cassie  12:05

I know, she feels the same way, by the way. And I know you guys go way back.

Nestor Aparicio  12:09

I just love man, she’s been one of the most compelling. She is an iconic Baltimore figure for me as a journalist as a you know, film critic FOR HER CELLO skills for you know, when she’s spicy, you know what I mean? Like when she and I get together? It’s doesn’t go well, usually.

Ron Cassie  12:30

And she’s a big sports fan. And she’s a big sports fan. Well, movie time now she’s all locked in with us. Yes. But Amanda, what our art director, I had the idea and like we but bringing all these people together. I’ll just say get in. If you Google. Baltimore magazine and trailblazers are Kurt Schmoke and John Waters that will come up. The issue is not on the newsstand right now anymore, but you can also order it through if you want that cover ordered through the website, but it’s so it’s on our cover. We have Barbara Mikulski. Carla Hayden Kurtzberg Brooks Robinson, Joyce Scott, John Waters, we brought him on to

Nestor Aparicio  13:05


the studio to make a list because like, there’s so many you have to write it down. Well,

Ron Cassie  13:09

I don’t want to forget the people who wrote about them, as I mentioned, which was really like the whole other kind of beautiful part. Like, just the idea that, you know, it’s kind of a crazy, do you get these people on the studio once right? I mean, in fact, everybody asked Teitelbaum and Max and like myself, like, did you like really realistic that you’re really going to you’re really right. Everybody’s assuming very ambitious, very ambitious, and everybody is assuming that you’re going to have to add some people in Photoshop some people in right for these kinds of covers. But everybody, this is the thing about

Nestor Aparicio  13:40

the picture that it looks a little bit like the cover of Clue, or like Family Feud, right? Has that family portrait feeling? I love that.

Ron Cassie  13:48

Yeah, it does. I mean, partly they, they’re not just all trailblazers, but their personalities are all unique and different. And, of course, the careers they pursued are, are wildly diverse. But they all if you take him as a whole, I think really kind of represent Baltimore. Yeah. Yeah, take each aspect of each person. But the,

Nestor Aparicio  14:07

the picture and I just kept saying, all right, man, this is gonna be a story. How’d you get them all together?

Ron Cassie  14:14

Well, I gotta give these folks that credit. I mean, they were super generous and onboard, like right away, you know, you send that email out to John Waters. And I’ve interviewed or known all these people, at least a little bit, some more than others. So I had so I sent an email to everybody and, and, you know, you don’t know the response you’re gonna get, but immediately everybody wants to work it out, want to work at a time and a date? And really, honestly, it came together first. It was like a little iffy. And then all of a sudden, it speaks to who they are listening with John Waters is as busy as can be, says, Well, this day we’ll work with this well, Barbara Mikulski then so then I met I, you know, it’s like another email goes out. Well, we had this date now we have these folks on board and everybody was enthusiastic and me Can you work and which so it came together as a wild hair kind of idea is a crazy idea. You know that usually I get these women like jog around Patterson park in the morning right I have an idea for discovers not Montebello. No. Well I just do I overall I live by Patterson Park

Nestor Aparicio  15:19

by the pond where the ducks are no,

Ron Cassie  15:21

you know I love the pond where the ducks are. I know you brought it up when they leave I miss them like Tony Soprano. If people know that we’d be I get weepy when they migrate. But yes, it was a crazy i scheme kind of and Chris myers is a great photographer. You know, had this had the studio over over in Woodbury in the mill and it was you know, like it was fun to is Carla Hayden brought her mother to the shoot. And you know, John was doesn’t have a big entourage he shows up drives himself. He’s right on board. He says relaxed and unpretentious. You know, he’s

Nestor Aparicio  16:00

there’s no pressure. There’s no pressure on this, right? It’s just you’re just getting together, right? What did you ask them to do your

Ron Cassie  16:09

photo, the photo shoot, there was a lot of pressure on me for the photos you put on the photographer and the videographer. This if you go to our website, there’s a great behind. It’ll

Nestor Aparicio  16:17

look better than this video does online where the sun is coming right through the solarium here. Yeah, just bang and right on the camera. And it’s hilarious, but keep going,


Ron Cassie  16:24

if you will, if you check out the story online, Baltimore trailblazers. Amanda’s husband, Kurt did a great behind the scenes video where you can see everybody kind of interacting arriving together. And backstage materials house. Yeah, I do a little like kind of voiceover thing. But it was pressure on on on a photographer, of course. And because you have only a brief amount of time to shoot, first of all, the group shop would do everybody’s individual portrait. And they’re, like I said, these people are in their 70s and 80s. But they keep schedules that are much tighter than mine, to be honest with you. I mean, they’re like write their books and handlers. Well, why Joyce Scott is going to immediately afterwards is going to do a lecture at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Right, Kurt smoke, as you notice is running into university still, right? Barbara Mikulski came and she’s got a full plate as well, in her ad so and you know, it was it was that one of the interesting things in that interaction is, you know, they, of course, Barbara Mikulski knows like Kurt Schmoke, right, because they’re in politics, but you you didn’t realize that Barbara Mikulski would know Brooks Robinson, because he’s a lifelong Royals fan and

Nestor Aparicio  17:41

yeah, she I thought about that when you first mentioned all these things that that I bet Brooks Barbara Mikulski probably know each other. Well

Ron Cassie  17:48

didn’t know Brooks, he’s a little bit like Kurt Schmoke was married. He recruited Carla Hayden here, Carl is now the Librarian of Congress. Right? Right. She was at the CEO of the Pratt library for 26 years. Kurtzberg recruited her here, of course, Barbara kolski, the US Senator put her forth to be the Librarian of Congress. So there was a lot of more okay, and like Carla Hayden was saying, you know, this Listen, we look out for each other here. That’s the deal. Kind of thing. I love that, which is cool. Yeah, we do. Yeah, absolutely. And, and so it was, you know, a little bit of pressure to keep the timelines and he couldn’t have everybody there for two hours. So you kind of try to stagger when when Brooks is gonna run. It’s

Nestor Aparicio  18:31

not a cocktail party. There’s no fanfare this is like, yeah, it was a business convention, sort of a gathering of photography, and conversation, right? A little bit. And they’re

Ron Cassie  18:43

sitting around a, you know, kind of coffee tables in this kind of like, what’s a one warehouse studio? Dream Team? It really was? Yeah, it was it was

Nestor Aparicio  18:53

John Waters me and what’s Sean waters really like, what am I? What am I going to find out about him when I say what should I talk to him about? If I if I hit you the night before and say, What should I really what would be John Waters? sweetspot? Well, I would just talk to him about Baltimore. Like literally in the Baltimore. I would I would try

Ron Cassie  19:09

when, when Pink Flamingos came out in 72 Right, so I did a story and talk to John at length and stuff. But the 50th anniversary of pink flamingos right is kind of like the breakthrough midnight movie.

Nestor Aparicio  19:21

I mean, I made him the pope Patrasche

Ron Cassie  19:23

was a moot point. I movies were not really a thing. It became a thing through you know? Well, you know, Pink Flamingos was like the second was really one of the first big midnight movies that helped them become a thing by the time Rocky Horror comes a few years later

Nestor Aparicio  19:39

it’s a little before my time you know, it’s a little before my title. Rocky Horror was not before my time Rocky Horror with the rice midnight running around. We did that one time and I and I didn’t get it. I mean, like you I mean, I had at that point. I had discovered girls I just had other things to do after midnight.

Ron Cassie  19:58

I was in high school. I mean My buddies, and these are the guys that played football with. We would we would go to midnight movies, right? We drink some beer first maybe get like, you know, that was our thing. The midday movies was total there was a problem. I made it through the popcorn and the rice and you know it was a blast but but to talk about the John war is about that time, he’s in this transition kind of from like hippiedom to punk. Right. And he and his friends are at that time in Baltimore when they all come together, you know, is really unique. And, you know, talks about that, but he’s a tremendous writer. I mean, he’s one of the best writers of Baltimore, John John wars. He’s a he’s a great stand up performer as absolute as you know. And he’s a great filmmaker, and he’s a great artist and our collector curator, so he, you know, he’s donated recently, large portions of his works to the of his collection. I’m sorry to the BMA. And which is

Nestor Aparicio  20:59

awesome. Yeah. That’s what you were born a local art. I mean, that’s what makes local art thrive. Right. Keep it here. Yeah, I think, you know, John was the next one years people going to want to go down there and see this, this work, right.

Ron Cassie  21:13

Yeah. And it’s it really speaks to John’s love of Baltar. And he is anybody knows, could live anywhere in the world. And he has homes in San Francisco, New York, and I think Providence, but there’s something that’s, you know, gritty about Baltimore, there’s, there’s, it’s still a haven, it’s still a lot of artists come out of Baltimore still. And it’s, it’s one of those places that where people still struggle and fight kind of, you know, the, in the city, things can be difficult, but it’s also, you know, it’s kind of that that fire that makes artists and creative people right, like if it’s, you know, people great artists are not coming out of Napa Valley, right? Like, maybe great winemaker, great wine. And so he’s chosen to stay

Nestor Aparicio  21:59

his whole Cisco’s from Baltimore, she didn’t really even know that, ya know, just thinking about, you know, things that come from here. People that come from here, yeah, phelps’s and, you know, what, that we have this? You know, I guess, pipeline to another generation of great things and great people as well, right. Yeah, literally, right. I mean, Wes Moore is on to something good right now Dan Annapolis. Right. So there’s a Baltimore we’re not we’re not dead and buried. That’s all I would say.

Ron Cassie  22:28

We have great you know, we have great streetcars. We have great painters like Terrell Gibbs. And, you know, Derek Adams, you know, is a great painter for Baltimore, Amy sherald, kind of like, you know, really got her start here. I mean, we have some great, you know, visual arts great writers, creditor, Tanisha, Coates de Watkins, right. So great photographers like Shira Devin Allen, right. So you have I think John’s waters is still attracted to that part of Baltimore. That’s, that’s gritty, that’s diverse, that’s creative. That that’s, you know, there’s still people struggling to make it still, it still attracts artists was really cheap, but you have to spend time. You have to spend time here.

Nestor Aparicio  23:06

See, I love when you went wrong, Cassie from Baltimore magazine here, at some point, I’m gonna take a quick break. We’ll come back. We’re gonna talk about a whole bunch of other things. But and maybe I maybe I should break with this and let you come back and talk more about it. But Ron’s Baltimore magazine, Game Changers Correct. Game Changers go find the magazine. trailblazers, trailblazers, I so I’m trailblazers. I got the wrong words. I’m sorry. I don’t have in front. It’s why you write things down. It doesn’t say Trailblazers down here. Where’s my producer? My production? We’re at State Fair in Catonsville. No, I just it’s one thing for me, to be from Dundalk and love Baltimore. And you talk about Patterson Park and we can talk about love of Baltimore. You’re not from here. And I think that that makes it even more interesting that I’m already bass across three, two. I hope he comes by and says coffee but guys that come here Rodricks and I talked about this at length that a fatal is people that come from other places. And even the most completely ardent supporter of Baltimore, who is completely provincial, completely you ain’t from around here, kind of guy that when people like you when John eyes and I’m just thinking of people I know who’ve made a life here, a long life you’re receiving, you know, from other places. I often think to myself, what is it about this place that us guys like, you know what I mean so much. And you talk about a very eloquently, but I don’t think yeah, and every person I’ve talked about are a little bit of a journalist to settle here, artists, people that want to capture what they’re seeing around them. I just want you to think about that what you hear all right, okay. You do love Baltimore, though.

Ron Cassie  24:45

Absolutely. I mean, I wrote a book called if you love Baltimore will love you, but I know

Nestor Aparicio  24:49

that’s why when you started going down that aisle of artists and Ron’s here he’s got trail blazers. I’m not going to forget that now. You’ve told me what state fair I am having the Delicious crab Benedict for breakfast here. I love being here. We’ve been over no guapo a whole bunch eat nachos. We did that with Jane Miller join us over there Rob Roblin I was over at the Beaumont with dear friends of mine Howard share Bill yurman other guests. Lou wine can join me that day. We’re here at State Fair today we’re gonna be joined by my pal Jeff Brandis as well a little later on fellow 513 Raven, PSL season ticket holder, an athlete coach and a really good man as well. But I want to do at least one more segment with Ron. I’m gonna take a break and get my coffee together from ROFO gonna get settled here. It’s all brought to you by our friends at window nation and our friends at the Maryland lottery. The holiday cash drops. I have a handful of these left. I have a couple of ravens scratch off still left here. Even the Ravens season is over. And we are up on Super Bowl and the offseason. We call the Lamar season around here. We’ll come back we’ll ask Ron Cassie what he thinks is going to happen. Will you ever Lamar opinion or do you not?

Ron Cassie  25:56

Know I’m already looking for baseball and I’m so excited for the Orioles season. All right. You

Nestor Aparicio  26:00

know what I’m going to ask you about the John Angelo’s press conference and how you would feel if that was you he was yelling at I am Nestor. We are wn st back for more state fair Maryland crabcake tour Ron Cassie, one of my favorite guests. I mean great foods. Stay with us.

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