Conversations

This section has links to the exchanges I have along the way, the most recent at the top.

You can scroll down this page to read short bios of the participants, or jump to the individual Conversations here:

2022:

Ian Nicholas Quillen, Sportswriter, Fan, Punter;

Julie Duval, Veterinarian, mother and committed Georgia Voter;

Alina Utrata, Podcast host, researcher on the political power of technology companies;

Mike Uy, Video game designer, New Yorker, fulfiller of fantasy;

Beth Ely Torres, Military musician with more than three decades of service;

Carol Ott, Tenant Advocacy Director for the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition;

Myles Michelin, Baltimore filmmaker and photographer;

Marc Bona, Beat writer and comprehensive community chronicler at Cleveland.com;

Lynne Sherwin, Business journalist and motivated Ohio voter;

Ken Hornack, longtime sports writer and recent escapee from Florida;

Michael Avila, Bay Area native, foodie and world traveller;

Keith Herrell, veteran journalist who worked on the very last edition of a big-city daily;

Cam Miller, filmmaker, historian and fount of Cincinnati Reds knowledge;

Rev Grey Maggiano, Baltimore pastor, former State Dept employee in Afghanistan.

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Julie Duval is a veterinary surgeon in Atlanta, Georgia, where she’s just voted in the state’s upcoming runoff election for Senate.

She grew up in Kentucky, moved to Texas for high school then developed her love of college basketball while attending Duke, before moving to the college football wasteland of Philadelphia to get her veterinary degree.  Fortunately, she was able to introduce her new (at the time) husband to the world of college football when they moved to Athens, Georgia, for advanced veterinary training.  They moved away for a few years then returned to the peachtree state twenty-two years ago, raising two children (who ultimately shared their love of science) in Atlanta. 

After the 2016 presidential contest Julie became more politically active, canvassing for future senator Jon Ossoff during his ultimately unsuccessful 2017 run in the House special election. She was very surprised when he called her directly during the Covid shutdown in early 2020 to enlist her help in his primary run for Senate. 

Like many other pet lovers, Julie and her family felt the former president’s dislike of dogs (and possibly their dislike of him) was a significant character flaw that should have been disqualifying for the office.

You can read our conversationVote Once, Vote Twice…’ here.

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Alina Utrata (she/her) is a PhD Candidate in Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge. Her research looks at technology corporations, focusing on the political theory of the corporation and how Silicon Valley tech companies may be challenging or affecting the power of the state.

She grew up next door to Silicon Valley in the San Francisco Bay Area and received her BA from Stanford University in History and Human Rights and her MA in Conflict Transformation and Social Justice from Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland.

She hosts a podcast, The Anti-Dystopians: The Politics Podcast about Tech, and is currently writing a dystopian novel about Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk’s space colonization attempts.

You can read our conversation, Musk and Managing the Messagehere.

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For most of his working life, Mike Uy has been in the fantasy fulfilment business.

Before designing video games, he was a teacher, coder, IP lawyer, derivatives trader, and karaoke bar creator / bartender / owner who has lived in NYC three times including currently, SF twice, and London in the middle of all that for a bit. But before all that nonsense, he was a busboy / dishwasher from suburban Baltimore who mowed lawns, shovelled driveways in the winter, and made pizzas for delivery before he was old enough to work legally.

Sports-wise he was raised an Orioles fan, then a Hokie alum, but will be Tottenham even after he is dead. And will support whichever NBA team he can get to without needing a car, which has meant more Knicks games than anything over two mostly brutal decades of watching them up close.

Mike and I have known each other for about 15 years, but we hadn’t gone to a ballgame together since the Mets called Shea home and I used to go with our mutual friends to sing in his very excellent bar. When he was back in Baltimore recently, we had a few beers and went to watch the Orioles beat the Houston Astros.

You can read our conversation ‘It’s All Entertainment, Really…here.

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Beth on duty at the US Capitol in the days after January 6th last year

Born and raised in southern New Jersey, Beth Ely Torres moved to Indianapolis to attend college. With degrees in Horn Performance and Music History from Butler University, she took those skills to the Army Band Program and completed nine years on active duty, culminating in teaching Music Theory and Ear Training at the Armed Forces School of Music at Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base in Norfolk, VA.

Beth finished out her Army career in the National Guard in both New York and Maryland, retiring from the band program after 32 years total service.

Along the way, she picked up an MBA from American University and a Master’s in Strategic Studies from the US Army War College. After moving to Maryland, she worked in the small business office for the US Department of Veterans Affairs based in DC.

When not working or attending Orioles games, Beth plays principal horn in the Baltimore Philharmonia Orchestra and the Greenspring Valley Orchestra. She also plays with Quintessence Woodwind Quintet. To fill up the week just a little more, Beth serves on the Vestry of Memorial Episcopal Church in Bolton Hill, Baltimore, and sings alto in the choir. Fridays are for volunteer work, preparing for community food distribution with Baltimore Community Food.

I was fortunate to go to several Orioles’ games with Beth this season, but the two where we specifically discussed the content for this piece were an excellent 5-1 win over Tampa Bay and a close 3-2 O’s loss to my Chicago Cubs. (Luckily after that game she still invited me back…)

You can read our conversation,About-Face‘, here.

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More than many of its residents, Carol Ott knows what makes Baltimore tick. She has been writing about housing and advocating for fair and safe housing since 2008, focusing on the city’s most vulnerable communities – most of which have been plagued with issues like lead paint poisoning, vacancy, and substandard rentals for more than half a century.

As Tenant Advocacy Director for the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition, she advocates for affordable moderate- and low-income rental housing, code enforcement, blight eradication, and economic development in low- to moderate-income neighborhoods. 

She also assists low-income renters in Baltimore with substandard housing issues, rent escrow, and other issues. In addition to her award-winning advocacy work, she works with tenants and neighborhood/community associations to bring problem properties and landlords into compliance. 

Carol has regularly featured in local and national media, including the CBS Evening News, the New York Times, the Washington PostNPR, and the BBC.  When she’s not working, she can be found gardening, travelling, cooking, and being a mom. But not, it turns out, at the baseball park. 

Carol and her son Myles Michelin kindly agreed to come to an Orioles game with me but I ended up having to leave early, so we got together later for a longer, enjoyable chat over dinner. 

You can read our conversation: ‘PrioritieshereI couldn’t change her mind about baseball, though.

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Myles Michelin is a 22-year-old filmmaker and photographer from Baltimore. A couple of years ago, he was driven by negative comments about the city to go out with his camera and try to change some perceptions of his community. The result was a short film series called “My Block Doc” and the success of his initial work has inspired him to continue filmmaking and using his camera “to change the narrative for Baltimore”.

I took Myles to his first ballgame for a while to see the Orioles play the Red Sox. We didn’t get much time to chat during the game, but we met up for an interesting dinner later.

You can read our conversation,Talking Pictures’ here.

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The corner of Michigan and Trumbull (pic by Historic Detroit)

Marc Bona and Lynne Sherwin met in 1993 on the Copy Desk at the Detroit News.

“I saw the new guy’s name on the schedule and thought it was cool that someone had the last name ‘Bona’, since I went to St. Bonaventure where “Bona” is an all-purpose abbreviation,” says Lynne.

“Since we worked nights, some of our early dates were day games at the old Tiger Stadium. Years later, after it was torn down but the diamond remained, we went back to pick up a fragment of brick and Marc got to stand where his favorite player, Ty Cobb, used to take his swings.”

After an impressive combined career covering many years – and countless managerial upheavals – at several papers, they moved to Akron, from where they’ve observed goings-on in the greater Cleveland area since the mid-1990s.

Lynne now works at a business magazine title and Marc – who has probably the most impressive sports memorabilia mancave I’ve ever seen – covers pretty much everything about the local community for Cleveland.com, formerly the online offspring – now more of a parent – of the Plain Dealer.

We had a couple of days recently to talk about the current state of journalism, as well as politics in Ohio and nationally. In the middle of it, we went to see the Guardians blow the second half of a double-header against the Chicago White Sox.

You can read our conversations here:

Marc Bona – Embracing the Shiny Penny

Lynne Sherwin – Baseball-as-Metaphor and the ‘Mistake By The Lake’

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Glen Infante’s new mural at Progressive Field of Cleveland’s legendary “barrier breakers”

Ken Hornack recently came back to live in his hometown of Cleveland after working in Florida for most of his career. He was a sports writer at the Daytona Beach News-Journal from 1983 to 2008, and was the paper’s beat writer covering the Orlando Magic from the time they joined the NBA in 1989. He has also written for Fox Sports Florida and Cavaliers Nation.

As if illustrating the schizophrenic nature of Cleveland sports, we watched his Guardians blow the second half of a double-header to the Chicago White Sox – missing out on a pitching gem in the day game. Whatever the outcome, though, Ken would be the first to tell you that Cleveland Rocks. And he’s not wrong.

You can read our conversation, Money, It’s A Hit… here.

Napoleon Lajoie. Ironically, the reason players had to wear white socks…

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Oakland Coliseum pastel – AndyBrownStadiums.com

Michael Avila grew up in the Bay Area and has been travelling the world for most of his adult life. He recently returned from a trip to Moldova as the Russian invasion of neighboring Ukraine was entering its third month.

He moved to Northern Ireland a few years ago and has been working with local community and reconciliation groups, as well as victims of hate crimes. He’s also a media entrepreneur and runs a number of online ventures that reflect his wide-ranging interests.

Despite being out of the US for so long, he hasn’t lost touch with baseball and we recently chatted while watching the San Francisco Giants come up just short against the Philadelphia Phillies on MLB.tv.

You can read our conversationNot All Who Wander Are Losthere.

(The win didn’t help Phillies manager Joe Girardi, who was fired the next day – the first MLB boss to lose his job this season)

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Veteran newsman Keith Herrell was on the staff of the Cincinnati Post when it closed down for good in 2007. He talks here about his career, the effect on the city of losing one of its daily papers, and politics in the key state of Ohio.

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Cam Miller is a Cincinnati writer, filmmaker and baseball historian and produces content for the Reds Hall of Fame. We chatted by email about why Opening Day is so important to the city. Read that conversation here.

And you can watch Cam’s latest film project, Riverfront Remembered, here…

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On Opening Day, the Yankees-Red Sox game was rained out so the Cubs-Brewers became the first game of the brand new season. I watched at a local sports bar with my friend Grey Maggiano, who since 2016 has been Pastor at Memorial Episcopal Church in Baltimore.

You can read our conversation ‘If You Build It… here.

Grey Maggiano (Pic via Marketplace.org)