The Chop’s Guide to the 2012 Baltimore Book Festival

We said in this space recently that Baltimore’s premiere cultural festival, Artscape, was highly overrated. The whole experience is such that some years we skip over it entirely and don’t even show up for a single day. This weekend the coin flips, and the city is gearing up for its best and most underrated festival, the Baltimore Book Festival.

Far from sitting it out, we’re probably going to make at least two visits to Mount Vernon Place this weekend, and might just sneak down there on Sunday too if we’re feeling a little restless after the final Orioles’ game of the season.

And why not? There’s certainly enough on the bill to keep us coming back. This year’s program has something for every type of book lover, and more than enough events to hold our interest. You can find out the full details on the Book Festival website or pick up the City Paper’s annual Big Books Issue for more information.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for the Chop you’re likely to find us at several of the events below. Here are our picks for this weekend’s festival. (Some of these events occur on multiple days. Check the full schedule for more details.)

Music in the Peabody Library. 6 pm Friday.


E-Books, I-Books, and What-might-be-next Books 5 pm
Folks from JHU press get you up to speed on the present and future of digital publishing, and if and how it can coexist with print.

Pratt Library Tweetup 5 pm
You know how much we like the Twitters right? Saying stuff to those same people with your actual mouth is almost as much fun.

Rob Kasper, Baltimore Beer: A Satisfying History of Charm City Brewing 5 pm
Rob Kasper retired from journalism to be a full time beer dude. Few people in Maryland know more about suds than he does, and in the Fall especially we all need a little help navigating the thousands of Octoberfests and pumpkin ales vying for our attention.

Literary Happy Hour 5:30 pm
All that talk about beer is bound to make you thirsty. Head over to the CityLit stage and grab a cold one from the Brewer’s Art.

Smile, Hon, You’re In Baltimore 6 pm
We love Smile, Hon. You should too. It doesn’t get much more Bawlmer than that. Come see some smiles in person.

Music in the Peabody Library 6 pm
The Peabody Library is one of the most iconic and fascinating buildings in the city. The institute trains some of the world’s best musicians. Enjoying both at the same time for free is kind of a no-brainer.

Alex Ott, Dr. Cocktail 6pm
” organic chemist and master mixologist Alex Ott teaches readers how to create homeopathic beverages for every occasion.” Umm. Okay. Sounds kind of dubious but it involves drinking fancy booze so we’re on board 100%.

Bill Fletcher Jr Debunks myths about Unions. 3 pm Saturday.


Single Carrot Theater 1 pm
There will be a lot of theater going on this weekend, but the Carrots are always a favorite. Catch them outdoors on the 50 Fest stage.

Charles Mattocks, Eat Cheap but Well 2 pm
There’s also no shortage of food/foodie themed presentations at this year’s festival, but this one is far and away the most interesting to us. You can check your foodie cred at the door.

Bill Fletcher, Jr., “They’re Bankrupting Us!” And 20 Other Myths About Unions 3 pm
The Chop is a proud union member. Union training and union job security have given us a better life than we thought we would have and we appreciate that every day. Unfortunately that makes us part of a small minority which is more and more under attack each day. This event is our top pick for this weekend.

Nonfiction Presented by New Mercury Reading Series 4 pm
Nikita Brottman, Tim Kreider, and Michele “Wojo” Wojciechowski. Not too shabby, huh?

Poetry Presented by Smartish Pace 5:30 pm
Smartish Pace has been around for a long time now. It’s been consistently good for all that time. It’s like the Baltimore Chop of poetry magazines.

Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan
7 pm
The Left will be very well represented again this year, but this session is perhaps the most approachable political talk. Meaning it probably won’t make you roll your eyes and hold your nose and feel guilty about being a more or less regular American.

Iconic photos from the Sun will be displayed and discussed. 1 pm Sunday.


JHU Press Book Sale 12-7 pm
Gotta pop in and see what’s on offer from JHU Press. There’s always some bit of fascinating local culture or interesting work of scholarship.

Steven Galloway, The Cellist of Saravejo 12 pm
Heavy, well renowned literary novels don’t come along as often as we might like. Fortunately when they do they tend to stay around for a long, long time. This was a good get for the festival. Check it out.

Literary Walking Tour Hosted by the Maryland Humanities Council 1 pm
There are several start times scheduled for this tour. Check the website for the other times.

Days Remembered: Iconic Photography of The Baltimore Sun 1 pm
Featuring the work of A. Aubrey Bodine and several others, when they say iconic they really mean it. A presentation like this is worth about a zillion tumblrgrams.

Peter Beilenson and Patrick McGuire discuss Tapping into ‘The Wire’ 2 pm
Kinda wish Peter Beilenson was the mayor.

Rory O’Connor, Friends, Followers, and the Future: How Social Media are Changing Politics, Threatening Big Brands, and Killing Traditional Media
3 pm
Fairly self explanatory. You can even check in on foursquare and live-tweet it if you want.