Out of The Blocks | WYPR

Out of The Blocks

Stories hidden in plain sight

Out of the Blocks is an immersive listening experience built from a mosaic of voices and soundscapes on the streets of Baltimore.  A custom-tailored score embroiders this tapestry of stories hidden in plain sight.

You can get the Out of the Blocks podcast at Apple Podcasts or Google Play

Contact Aaron Henkin

Out of the Blocks is supported by PRX and produced with grant funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Cohen Opportunity Fund, The Hoffberger Foundation, Patricia and Mark Joseph, The Shelter Foundation, The Kenneth S Battye Charitable Trust, The Sana and Andy Brooks Family Fund, The Muse Web Foundation, and the William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund, creator of the Baker Artist Portfolios

This program is supported in part by the Maryland State Arts Council (msac.org).

Um, Now What?

Mar 28, 2020

We’re working through how to best proceed on near-future episodes of the show, and we want to invite you into the conversation.  Got an interesting online ‘block’?  Hit us up on Instagram @outoftheblocks1 or on twitter @outoftheblocks1

Conversations with vendors & market-goers about the past & present of Lexington Market, a look at hopes for (and doubts about) the market’s future, and a talk with the idealistic developer responsible for the big changes that lay ahead 

all photos by Wendel Patrick

Change is knocking on the door of Baltimore’s iconic Lexington Market. Ground has been broken on a new market building, and local vendors are wondering if they’ll have a place in the much-hyped new structure. In this episode, merchants, artisans, security officers, and custodians reflect on their lives and the uncertain future of the market they call home. 

We love it on this podcast when we meet people who are natural storytellers. And it’s an extra bonus when they happen to be talented musicians or poets, too.  This episode, we celebrate some of our favorite musical and lyrical moments from Out of the Blocks.

all photos by Wendel Patrick

Our audio tour through Charleston’s West Side continues with a community gardener, an antique collector, a symphony clarinetist, a deli owner, and a retired pro basketball player. Plus, a visit to a local auto shop, a barbershop, a Girl Scout meeting, and Mary C Snow West Side Elementary.

We take the show to Charleston West Virginia’s West Side neighborhood to visit a family barbecue joint, a country music jamboree, a faith-based after-school program, a women’s drug recovery house, and a bustling Goodwill headquarters. Plus, conversations with an activist preacher, a vacant-home rehabber, an open-eared neighborhood planner, and a retired theater technician who’s projected more than 50 years of movie history.

Scars

Jan 2, 2020

Every scar comes with a story. And if you’re telling the story, it means you survived whatever gave you that scar. In this episode, stories about things that left a mark.

Tales of camaraderie, mentorship, second chances, prosperity, and style, from barbershops in Baltimore and beyond.  Have a seat, grab a newspaper, and make yourself comfortable… the next available barber will take you shortly.

A game hunter consults his conscience, a Native Rights advocate remembers being separated from her heritage, a local chef plays host to TV personality Gordon Ramsay, a widow remembers her late husband’s grace and humor, a Native Youth Olympics coach connects kids to culture through athletics, plus an artist, a musician, a cross-country bicyclist, two roller-derby girls, and a family in a half-built cabin on an island in the wilderness

all photos by Wendel Patrick

A visit with a Chilkat Ravenstail weaver, a rain-forest hike in search of Devil’s Club, the tale of a rudely awakened Black Bear, an afternoon with a fishing boat captain, a mountain jog with a champion ultra-runner, hair and make-up tips with a renowned drag queen, a sound-check at the home-studio of a Juneau-based hip hop musician, and a window into the life of a local poet and her 10-year-old son.

Eastern Ave, East to Highland, part 3: Our Life is True

Nov 7, 2019
all photos by Wendel Patrick

A therapist plumbs his own psychology by creating artistic collages, a Central American kitchen staff cooks the menu at a Peruvian chicken restaurant, a general store sells everything from microwaves to original artwork, a neighborhood handyman makes his living out of a Radio Flyer wagon, a marketing firm gets caffeinated, and high school sweethearts get married, open up a wine shop, and stay in love.

In this episode: The perfectly nice lady behind one of the most menacing overdubs in television history, the tireless purveyor of Baltimore’s most famous pizza, two barbers who’ve each paid their dues to learn their trade, the operators of a make-it-from-scratch ice cream shop, and a tenacious entrepreneur for whom failure is not an option.

all photos by Wendel Patrick

Stories from a Dominican barbershop, a tattoo parlor, a lawyer’s office, a coffee counter, and a collaborative arts hub, all neighbors in the melting pot that is Eastern Avenue in Baltimore’s Highlandtown neighborhood.   

We visit Baltimore Clayworks, where artist Sam Wallace teaches a pottery technique he learned as a kid in Jamaica. We talk with the crew at The Mount Washington Tavern about romance, oyster shucking, and a major fire that put the place out of business for a year. And we drop in at The Village Vet, where the staff cares for ailing animals and the worried humans that come along with them.

all photos by Wendel Patrick

This North Baltimore neighborhood is just inside the city line, but it’s got the cloistered feel of an affluent suburban hamlet.  High-end consignment boutiques, beauty salons, and restaurants bring well-heeled locals to Sulgrave Avenue in Mount Washington Village, a quiet world away from the traffic and sirens of downtown. 

all photos by Wendel Patrick

Our listening tour of West Oakland’s Lower Bottoms continues as we meet the volunteers at a local food pantry, a street ball legend known as ‘the greatest player never to make the NBA,’ a transplant from Compton who’s become a wilderness survival instructor, a former Tesla engineer who’s developing an affordable co-housing living space, a US Army veteran determined to help others get their military benefits, and a pastor who relies on the power of prayer to effect social change.

West Oakland, Lower Bottoms, Part 1: Self-Determination

Aug 14, 2019
all photos by Wendel Patrick

West Oakland’s Lower Bottoms neighborhood is home to the historical headquarters of the Black Panther Party. It’s also one train stop away from San Francisco, and escalating real-estate prices are quickly changing the character of the neighborhood.  This episode, we meet locals who find themselves living at the intersection of heritage and gentrification.

One of the great bonuses of documenting Baltimore is that we happen across lots of incredible kitchens. This episode is our love letter to all the hard-working cooks behind the pots and pans and fryers and grills in those kitchens, to the food they make, and to the personality they put into every dish. 

Parenthood

Jul 16, 2019

An older couple inherits two unexpected sons, an ex-offender regains custody of his daughter, an entrepreneurial mom teaches business smarts to her child, recovering addicts try to stay clean for their kids, and a son takes over for his father at the family restaurant.

all photos by Melissa Gerr

Do you have any privacy when you live on a sailboat with another couple? What happens when you try to raise kids on a motor yacht? How does it test a marriage when you share a small space? What do you sacrifice to live on a boat? What do you gain? And is it worth the trade-off? Field producer Melissa Gerr brings us more stories from the eccentric live-aboards of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

From minimalist millennials to well-off retirees, some 300 people live year-round on floating homes in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Their vessels range from small sailboats to luxury motor yachts, and their offbeat stories are captured beautifully in this episode by Out of the Blocks field producer Melissa Gerr.

all photos by Wendel Patrick

  In Southwest Baltimore’s Hollins Market neighborhood, a barber survives a shooting and goes back to work the next day; two young artists support each other in life, love, and business; a clothing entrepreneur talks about the power of style; a puppeteer ponders his relationship to his audience; and a CPR instructor recalls the first time she needed to use her life-saving skills. 

all photos by Wendel Patrick

Neighborhood elders take it upon themselves to step between warring gang members, a mother-daughter duo produces a DIY feature film about gun violence, a restorative justice mediator helps lawbreakers to repair the harm they’ve caused, and a bee-keeper goes from homelessness to running his own business. Plus, conversations with local politicians past and present, an activist science teacher, and a young motivational speaker with an inspiring voice.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lived in North Lawndale on Chicago’s West Side in 1966, and he galvanized the neighborhood in a campaign against redlining and housing discrimination. Two years later, he was assassinated. In the wake of his death, riots erupted in North Lawndale. Local industries abandoned the neighborhood, population plummeted, unemployment ballooned, and today the area is still trying to rebuild from the ashes of ‘68.  In this episode, we meet elders who remember the turmoil of that era, and we hear from a younger generation that’s seeking to breathe new life into North Lawndale. 

Introducing Theo

Mar 25, 2019

Theo Hill drives a truck for a living. On the job, he often catches Out of the Blocks on his radio. One day, he got inspired to call us with an idea. He asked, “Would you guys would like to help me make a podcast of my own, a podcast about addiction and recovery?' Theo brings an interesting background to the table. He's been in recovery himself for 19 years now, after struggling with a heroin addiction for much of his life. Theo’s podcast idea has now come to fruition. He’s spent the past several months hosting candid, personal conversations about the lure of addiction, the toll it takes, and the strength required to overcome its grip. This week, we launch the first four episodes of his new podcast, One Day at a Time, in Recovery in Baltimore. We want to introduce you to Theo on this special episode of Out of the Blocks.

700 Fallsway: Masterpiece in the Mire

Mar 12, 2019
all photos by Wendel Patrick

One man spent more than half his life in prison. Another fled his country to avoid religious persecution and ended up on the street. One was left to live alone at age 12. One relapsed after 18 years clean. And one carries the burden of a lost sister. These men live together in a long-term residential program called Christopher Place Employment Academy on the 700 block of Fallsway, one block south of the Baltimore Jail. In this episode, we listen to their stories, and we meet the staff supporting them as they attempt to redefine their lives.

If you heard the last episode of the podcast, you’ll remember we spent some time on the block where the release door of the Baltimore Jail lets out onto the street. We met some guys who’d been locked up in the jail multiple times, we talked a lot about the jail, but we didn’t talk with anyone who actually works in there. Well, that’s what this episode is about: Conversations about work and life with the warden, two correctional officers, and the commissioner of pretrial detention and services at the Baltimore City Detention Center.

all photos by Wendel Patrick

The release door of the Baltimore City Jail opens out onto this otherwise abandoned block, empty except for the presence of a mobile medical office that posts up there 5 days a week. The PCARE Van, as it’s known, is operated by the non-profit Behavioral Health Leadership Institute, and it’s there to prescribe the opioid addiction medication Buprenorphine (Suboxone) for those in need. Oftentimes, people will walk directly out of the jail and directly onto the van. In this episode, we meet the staff of the van and the clients they serve.

Pages