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Wholly Hopkins
Matters of note from around Johns Hopkins


Students: Hopkins Community Grieves Student Murder

Public Health: Sommer to Step Down as Dean

Sports: Blue Jays Fall to Orange in NCAA Semifinals

Humanities: Sex and the Civil Rights Movement

Press: Keane Now Permanent at Helm

Medicine: All the Examining Room's a Stage

Public Health: Gorillas in the Midst of HIV Research

Art History: Museum Liaison Builds Bonds

Students: Mosaic Draws Together Students of Many Faiths

Libraries: Renovated Peabody Retains Elegance

Students: California Trip Hits Notes High and Low

Alumni: Rock and Roll Reunion at Chester's Place

Wholly Hopkins Departments: Bottom Line | JHUniverse | Here & Abroad | Academese | Findings | Syllabus | Up & Comer | Forever Altered | Vital Signs | Vignette | Datebook |

Christopher Elser with his girlfriend, Kyra Appelby Students:
Hopkins Community Grieves Student Murder

More than 2,000 grieving members of the Johns Hopkins community came together on April 20 to share their memories of junior Christopher Elser, who was murdered following a confrontation in his Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house in the early hours of April 17.

The tragic incident, which Baltimore police believe was the random act of a burglar, stunned the Homewood campus. Elser was stabbed by an intruder who apparently entered the building around 6 a.m., through a door left unlocked after a party. Hospitalized and placed on life support, Elser, 20, died the following day with his family at his side.

"This is a day of excruciating sadness for every one of us at Johns Hopkins," said university president William R. Brody, in opening remarks at the memorial service, held on Homewood's Keyser Quad in front of Gilman Hall. Harkening back to the words of poet John Greenleaf Whittier, Brody recited the fitting lines, "For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these: It might have been."

On the sunny spring morning, against a backdrop of flowering trees, Elser's classmates, friends, and family members took turns rising to share their memories of the fun-loving soccer player and economics major from Camden, South Carolina.

Friends recalled a young man with an "absolutely magnetic" personality, who was the life of every party and a best friend to everyone he met.

Pointing to the blue South Carolina flag hanging behind the podium, fraternity brother Cory Wingerter drew chuckles when he told of Elser as a freshman getting a tattoo of his beloved home state. He recalled Elser explaining, "I put it on my dad's credit card. He got the bill. That's how he found out."

Thousands of students, faculty, and staff gathered on Homewood's Keyser Quad on April 20 to pay tribute to slain student Christopher Elser.
Photo by Will Kirk

Elser's father, Kip Elser, is a 1973 graduate of Johns Hopkins. The elder Elser spoke movingly at the memorial, as did Chris Elser's godfather, James P. MacGuire, and Patrick Smithwick Jr., also members of the Class of 1973.

Smithwick told of a teenage Chris who "bounced" through life, building fences on Smithwick's farm and going to late-night horse auctions at Saratoga with his dad. In a poem he created for the service, Smithwick mourned the lost opportunities — of "quiet summer evenings" Chris would have spent with his mom, Rhetta Elser; of kicking the soccer ball around with his younger sister, Taylor, 14, "the sister he always talked about, bragged about, doted on." Continued Smithwick, "We ache for him, yearn for him. We wish he were here."

On the night of his death, Elser had opted to stay at the SAE house, at the southwest corner of St. Paul and 30th streets, so a friend could study in his nearby apartment. After being stabbed, he managed to stagger to a classmate's room. Recalling Elser's final words as, "I tried; I fought," frat brother Brian Kinsella described Elser as a "hero." "He was protecting all of us that night," said Kinsella. "He wasn't going to let us down."

Elser's death prompted some Homewood students to voice concern about their safety in the Charles Village area. University administrators, in response, planned a town hall-style meeting to address public safety for April 26.

Echoing a sentiment voiced by others who spoke at the memorial, Smithwick urged Hopkins students and alumni to turn "the horror, the emptiness" of Elser's murder into something positive. Said Smithwick, "We will most honor Christopher by living every shimmering moment to the fullest." — Sue De Pasquale

Public Health:
Sommer to Step Down as Dean

Talk about going out on a high note.

Just one week after the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health celebrated the close of an ambitious 12-year transformation of the school's facilities, the man who shepherded the massive effort announced his intention to step down as dean.

Alfred Sommer, SPH '73 (MHS), internationally regarded for his vitamin A research, will leave the helm of the Bloomberg School in September 2005 to devote more time to his scholarly interests.

"As dean, [Al Sommer] has guided research and education initiatives that are making — literally — a world of difference," noted university president William R. Brody, in a April 26 broadcast message announcing Sommer's intended move.

Alfred Sommer Sommer assumed the deanship of the school in 1990 and almost immediately began an expansion of its East Baltimore campus, originally constructed in 1928. Its main building has doubled its 1991 size and now contains almost 1 million square feet of space. The most recently completed final phase of expansion added 260 new offices and eight floors of lab space at a cost of $55 million.

Sommer's legacy as dean encompasses more than just bricks and mortar. Under his leadership, the school established the Malaria Research Institute in 2001, which brings together faculty experts from around the world whose research is aimed at developing vaccines and other methods to eradicate the disease. He also guided the establishment of the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health, which helps train leaders of reproductive health programs in developing countries, conduct research in this field, and develop and transfer technology and practices.

Across Johns Hopkins, Sommer forged strong partnerships between the school and various divisions. With the School of Medicine he helped put in place a national model for training clinical researchers, and he established joint degree programs with the School of Nursing and the School of Professional Studies in Business and Education.

Currently, the school has more than 1,100 faculty members (501 full-time and 632 part-time) and 1,735 students from 78 nations. This spring, U.S. News & World Report once again ranked it the No. 1 school of public health in the nation.

Sommer, who holds a joint appointment in ophthalmology at the School of Medicine intends to devote more time to his research — primarily related to vitamin A deficiency, child survival, and the epidemiology of visual disorders — once he steps down as dean next fall.

In the early 1980s, Sommer conducted field research among pre-school-age children in rural Indonesia. He ultimately concluded that the vitamin A supplements that cured their eye ailments — at just pennies per dose — also substantially reduced mortality. Sommer subsequently advocated use of the inexpensive "magic bullet" to save the lives of millions of poor children around the world.

Thanks to Sommer's studies and his advocacy, more than 70 countries now have vitamin A control programs, and the World Health Organization and UNICEF are committed to stamping out vitamin A deficiency worldwide. In 1997, Sommer received a coveted Lasker Medical Research Award for his clinical work in vitamin A deficiency and its consequences.

"In working with faculty, staff, students, and supporters, we have blazed new directions that now stand as benchmarks for other schools of public health," he says. "The Bloomberg School set the model when it was first founded. We've now given other schools of public health a new bar to aim for." — SD

Blue Jays Fall to Orange in NCAA Semifinals

Among the maxims of men's intercollegiate lacrosse is this: It is very hard to beat a great team twice in one season. That proved to be all too true for the Blue Jays as they suffered a crushing defeat to Syracuse, 15-9, in the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament before a record crowd of 46,923.

The Jays, who entered the tournament as the No. 1 team in the country, had embarrassed Syracuse early in the season, 17-5, and in last year's semifinal, 19-8. This time, the Orange came out determined to end the Jays' season. After Hopkins took an 8-7 lead early in the third quarter, Syracuse went on a stunning 8-1 run to lock up the victory and advance to the finals.

Top Hopkins scorer Matt Rewkowski
Photo by Rob Brown

In the post-game press conference, Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said, "You look back and wonder what we could have done differently. We did a lot of things uncharacteristic of us. We missed slides. We hesitated a lot. We did not play the way we are capable."

Midfielder Kyle Harrison added, "We didn't take them lightly. They were just the better team today."

Leading scorer for the Jays was Matt Rewkowski, with three goals. Harrison and Conor Ford added two more each. Kyle Harrison was named first team All-American; four other Jays were named to the second team. Hopkins ended the season 13-2. — Dale Keiger

Guggenheim Fellow Explores Sex and the Civil Rights Movement

When historian Jane Dailey regards a century of American racial discrimination and civil rights activism, she sees something fundamental that no one has wanted to talk about: sex. After 1865, says Dailey, the cornerstone of post-bellum racial segregation was the outlawing by states of interracial sex and marriage. From anti-miscegenation laws, she argues, came all the other forms of social discrimination rampant during the Jim Crow era: segregated schools, water fountains, public transport, theaters, cemeteries, etc. Yet activists never campaigned to end anti-miscegenation laws.

Jane Dailey
Photo by Will Kirk
Dailey, a Hopkins associate professor of history, has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, which will enable her to take the next year off to complete her book Sex and Civil Rights, to be published by Harcourt in 2005. In that volume, Dailey will state her case: that civil rights activists performed what she calls "strategic avoidance" of sexual issues. Instead of attacking segregation at its wellspring, she believes, they chose to erode it around its margins, concentrating on voting rights and school desegregation. As she wrote in her application to the Guggenheim Foundation, "In a world in which a young black boy like Emmett Till could be murdered for whistling at a white woman, sex was the very last topic supporters of black equality wanted to discuss." Any campaign against miscegenation laws would have incited the most virulent white supremacists, Dailey says, and activists chose to fight on less inflammatory ground. "They wanted to work from the outside in, not at the core," she says. "They expected the core to fall eventually."

It did, but not until 1967, when the Supreme Court ruled in Loving v. Virginia that the anti-miscegenation laws still on the books in 16 states were unconstitutional.

Historians of civil rights also have ignored sex, Dailey says. She notes, for example, that C. Vann Woodward omitted any discussion of laws against interracial sex or marriage in his seminal book, The Strange Career of Jim Crow. "Woodward was the historian of the South," she says. "It's not likely he missed the anti-miscegenation laws." More recent histories also have ignored them. Dailey believes there are two reasons for the omission. First, she says, historians who were contemporaries of the civil rights activists were sympathetic to their wish to duck the topic. Second, historians for decades have dismissed, without due consideration, the ideas and motives of white supremacists. "They've just regarded them as racist stock characters," she says.

Speaking of characters, Dailey notes that novelists, white and black, have done much more to explore the complex terrain of miscegenation. "They talk about it. Historians don't." — DK

Keane Now Permanent at Helm

An interim post became permanent May 1 when the Johns Hopkins University Press announced the appointment of Kathleen Keane as director. Keane had just completed her fourth month as interim director, filling in for James D. Jordan, who left Hopkins to take over management of Columbia University Press.

Kathleen Keane
Photo by Will Kirk
Keane's publishing career goes back 24 years. From 1980 to 1991, she was business manager and vice president for finance at the medical book and journal publisher J. B. Lippincott Co. She next moved to Harcourt Health Sciences in Philadelphia as executive vice president of operations and chief publishing officer. There, she oversaw book acquisitions, marketing, and some journal publishing. She came to Hopkins Press in 2002 to be director of finance and operations. "I learned a lot as finance director. When the directorship became open, however, I felt there was more I could do, in a broader role," Keane says.

Many scholarly presses have had less-than-robust balance sheets in recent years, a problem compounded by the growing reluctance of universities to provide significant subsidies. Hopkins Press is not immune to the pressures. "We need to continue to contribute to the body of scholarly communications with respected, peer-reviewed books and journals. We also need to sustain ourselves financially," says Keane. "As I see it, the two go hand in hand. If our publications are sound, well-presented, important, and useful, customers-or sometimes donors-will buy and support them. — DK

All the Examining Room's a Stage

Tom Wyatt has suffered intense lower back pain for the better part of eight years now. He can't remember how many doctors he's seen, but it's probably hundreds. He also suffers from asthma, religious mania, clinical depression, alcoholism, and a host of other maladies. Tough life, but the pay isn't too bad.

Wyatt, who is actually fit as a fiddle, is one of more than a hundred individuals who work part time for the university as standardized patients at the School of Medicine's Clinical Education Center. There, local talent, mostly actors, pose as patients and family members of the sick in exercises designed to train and assess health care givers, typically second-, third-, and fourth-year medical students.

John Shatzer, assistant professor of health sciences informatics and director of the Clinical Education Center, compares the SOM's now 10-year-old standardized patient program to flight simulators used to train pilots — it's all about realism.

A common scenario goes something like this: A standardized patient (SP), who has been given all the relevant information about the visit, dons a hospital gown and waits in an examining room. The student enters the room and picks up a medical chart that lists the faux patient's symptoms and/or complaints, such as back pain or shortness of breath. Then the exam, unscripted and unrehearsed, begins. The SPs are trained to exhibit their symptoms authentically, right down to winces, moans, and awkward movements. All the exercises are videotaped from a control room down the hall, where faculty and the center's three-person staff can view the simulations remotely.

For the medical students, the objective is not necessarily to successfully diagnose the patient, Shatzer says, but to properly follow all the steps leading up to a diagnosis. "The student's goal in most of these simulations is to think broadly," says Shatzer. "In fact, research in clinical diagnostic thinking has shown that when physicians go directly to what they think it is, it is difficult to extract themselves from that."

The program conducts learning exercises as well as graded assessments. In both, SPs score the students on their interpersonal skills and content, though an assessment is more detailed. Tara Johnson, a third-year medical student and a veteran of four scenarios, says that SP criticism is invaluable. "A lot of times with real patients, they will automatically love you and not know if you are doing something wrong or out of order," she says. "Whereas the SPs are knowledgeable and give you constructive feedback. They pay attention to body movements and facial expressions. As medical students, a lot of times we're thinking about the problems themselves, not what kind of language we should use to communicate with the patient."

The Clinical Education Center also runs end-of-life simulations — funded by a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration — in which SPs act as family members who might be told that a loved one has just died. These exercises, which are typically for practicing physicians and nurses, can get very emotional. "I want to be able to take what the doctors are giving us and receive it naturally, to imagine what it would feel like if my own wife was in an accident," says Wyatt. "I draw upon real pain. If it's not real, it doesn't really serve the doctors or students, or the exercises."

Medical simulation training dates back to the 1960s, when neurologist Howard Barrows began using simulated patients at Columbia University. Hopkins founded its program in 1994, and today similar programs are under way locally at the University of Maryland, George Washington, and Georgetown.

Hopkins has committed to developing in the near future an expanded institutional simulation center, Shatzer says, which would embrace the School of Medicine, the residency programs, and non-Hopkins physicians and nurses in training. The National Board of Medical Examiners has also researched the implementation of SP cases for high-stakes licensing.

"Why not do a simulation?" Shatzer asks. "It's safe, not only for the patient, but safe for the student. Students can make mistakes, but they are not going to hurt anybody, either physically or psychologically. When all is said and done, if participants do a really bad job of examining someone or breaking bad news, it doesn't matter. We'll just do it again." — Greg Rienzi

Public Health:
Gorillas in the Midst of HIV Research

Scientists have known for years that human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) originated in non-human primates. The question has been, how did it get from them to us? A new study by researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests an answer: bushmeat.

Nathan Wolfe, an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology, and colleagues from the School of Public Health, the Cameroon Ministry of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control have found that people who hunt monkeys and apes for food, known as bushmeat, can become infected with simian foamy virus (SFV), which is in the same class of viruses — retroviruses — as HIV. The study, which was published in the March 20 issue of The Lancet, documented for the first time the transmission of SFV from primates to humans in a natural setting.

"This research provides the first real link between retrovirus transmission and hunting," says Wolfe, on a phone call from Cameroon. "It supports the hypothesis that hunting was the mechanism for HIV origins."

Working in nine Cameroonian villages, the researchers tested blood samples from 1,099 people who had reported having contact with non-human primates — hunting, butchering, and in at least one case, keeping them as pets. Ten of the people tested, or 1 percent, showed SFV antibodies in their blood samples. Of those 10, three had evidence of actual SFV genes in their blood cells.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, which says that retroviruses cross the species barrier infrequently, this study suggests that it's happening routinely. The fact that each of the viruses had different primate origins — a gorilla, a De Brazza's guenon, and a mandrill — is evidence that it was three separate transmissions, says Wolfe.

At this point, SFV has not caused harm in humans, nor has it been shown to spread person to person. Though the researchers are trying to determine those risks, the bigger issue may be what this tells us about HIV — or the next retrovirus emergence.

"There's a bit of a game-of-chance quality to this," says Wolfe. "As the frequency and diversity of virus transmission from animals to humans increases, so too does the probability that one of the viruses transmitted will have the ability to spread or cause disease."

Donald Burke, professor of international health and epidemiology at Public Health and one of the study's authors, points out that it's not just retroviruses that we need to worry about. Viruses such as avian influenza emerge when they jump from an animal to a human, then swap genes to adapt and become a human virus transmittable to other people. "Hopefully over the next decade or two we can get smarter about that process and not give [viruses] quite as many opportunities to emerge," says Burke.

According to Wolfe, one way to do that is to decrease the killing and butchering of bushmeat. Cameroonian villagers are subsistence hunters, and bushmeat is the only protein available to them. The demand for bushmeat has increased in urban areas, and logging roads make primate habitats more accessible — both factors that make exposure to retroviruses more frequent. Supplying Cameroonians with other forms of protein, says Wolfe, not only will protect endangered monkeys and apes, it can help prevent retrovirus emergence. "If you think about the lives and the billions of dollars that HIV/AIDS has cost this planet," says Wolfe, "the investment of a few million dollars to help provide alternatives to bushmeat in these populations seems like a very minimal investment." — CP

Art History:
Museum Liaison Builds Bonds

Johns Hopkins, the Baltimore Museum of Art, and the Walters Art Museum have never been strangers. For years, Hopkins professors have visited the museums with their classes, and more than a few curators have taught courses at the university. In recent years, this trio has gotten even friendlier, creating internships for students, co-curating exhibitions, and generally providing scholarly support for each other's activities.

Now the three institutions have given their collaborations a new boost. Hopkins, the BMA, and the Walters have jointly hired Elizabeth Rodini to the newly created position of museum liaison for Johns Hopkins University. Beginning July 1, it will be her job to create a more formal collaborations program, developing interdisciplinary and inter-institutional projects in a range of fields and across departments and bringing in faculty and students to work with the museums' collections. Rodini, a scholar of Renaissance art, will also be a lecturer in Hopkins' Department of the History of Art. She will teach her first course this fall on Italian Prints at the BMA.

Elizabeth Rodini "I'm really excited to be coming to these big museums with rich and diverse collections," says Rodini. "There are lots of resources to draw on and lots of resources that are not even on view."

Though hired jointly, Rodini will report to BMA director Doreen Bolger, who says she hopes the appointment will encourage more students and faculty members to become involved with the museums. "Most of the universities in Hopkins' cohort have university museums," says Bolger. "Since Hopkins doesn't have a full-blown university museum, it's particularly important for it to take advantage of the cultural resources here in Baltimore. It takes students a little out of campus and gets them to focus on cultural opportunities that will be meaningful for them throughout their lives."

Rodini is a perfect fit for the museum liaison job, Bolger adds. "Elizabeth is a wonderful scholar, but she's also had tremendous experience in this field."

Prior to coming to Hopkins, Rodini was the coordinating curator for Mellon Projects at the University of Chicago's David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art. There she curated and co-curated with faculty a series of exhibitions and contributed to and edited the catalogs. She received her doctorate in Italian Renaissance art and architecture from the University of Chicago.

"This appointment allows us to bring this collaboration to the next level," says Daniel Weiss, A&S '82 (MA), '92 (PhD), James B. Knapp Dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. "It allows us to coordinate our activities more effectively." — Maria Blackburn

Mosaic Draws Together Students of Many Faiths

Sharon Kugler always knew that Hopkins students were smart. But one night this winter, the university chaplain found herself wondering: Can they color?

With crayons and oil pastels at the ready, Kugler invited the 28 members of the student Interfaith Council to draw and color designs for a mosaic commemorating the fifth anniversary of the Bunting-Meyerhoff Interfaith and Community Service Center. She worried about how students from more than a dozen faiths — including Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Bahàis — would fare with such an open-ended artistic assignment.
Once the crayons came out, her fears disappeared. "All of these science heads really loved coloring," Kugler says, laughing. "I couldn't get them to leave."

Using the students' designs, community artist Cinder Hypki created the final mosaic design — a stylized tree whose roots curl around a sphere symbolizing the world. Emanating from the center of the tree and reaching toward the sky is a rainbow of fiery orange, bright teal, red, yellow, and indigo representing the center's many faiths. With Hypki's help, the students picked up some glass-cutting tools and goggles and set out to craft the mosaic. Now completed, it hangs in the interfaith center.

"Mosaics are all about putting pieces together as part of a whole," says Andleeb Khan, a senior on the council, who is Muslim. "Our idea of interfaith at Hopkins is not to make everyone the same but to keep everyone's identities distinct and to bring them together in a place where they can make friends and become acquainted with people who happen to be of different faith backgrounds." — MB

Photo by Will Kirk Libraries:
Renovated Peabody Retains Elegance

After two years and $1 million in renovations, the George Peabody Library reopened to the public last month looking stately and polished, though only slightly different from when it closed at the end of the 2002-2003 academic year.

The library (at right) — with its 61-foot ceilings and signature neo-grec ironwork — didn't need a new look. But it did need a new heating and air-conditioning system to protect the 300,000-volume collection. Some of the books date back five centuries, and the upgrade could make all the difference in the library's preservation efforts. "We were trying to bring the 19th-century building up to 21st-century standards," says Winston Tabb, dean of university libraries and director of the Sheridan Libraries at Hopkins, which includes the Peabody Library. "Having the right temperature and the right humidity is the single most important thing for taking care of books." Last August, an air-conditioning drainpipe blocked, causing water to trickle down into the library and damage 8,000 books. All were restored and returned to the library in January.

The renovation, paid for with a $325,000 federal matching grant through the Save America's Treasures program and private and foundation funding, also made possible a more noticeable change: the transformation of the former reading room outside the library into a gallery. The familiar green linoleum floors have been pulled up, revealing narrow boards of golden pine. The century-old card catalogs and the 12-foot walnut tables have been moved inside the stacks room. In their place are a dozen cases, which now hold the exhibition "A Cathedral of Books: Rediscovering George Peabody's Gift to Baltimore," which includes highlights from the library's collection. The book-oriented exhibitions in the gallery will rotate about every three months.

Built in 1878, the library was established by philanthropist George Peabody. Its holdings include 15th-century books printed just after the invention of the printing press; works by Shakespeare and Cervantes; and maps, manuscripts, and years' worth of such periodicals as The Illustrated London News. The collection consists mostly of 18th- and 19th-century books on the decorative arts, English, science, literature, sports, and local histories of European cities and towns. "This is a real slice of a Victorian scholar's library," says Cynthia Requardt, head of special collections for Sheridan.

The Peabody Library has between 12,000 and 15,000 readers and visitors annually. Prior to the renovation, people studying in the library's reading room were often disturbed by visitors who came in to see the building's architectural details. By moving the reading area into the stack room and making the gallery more of a public space, the library is better able to serve the needs of both constituencies, says Amy Kimball, assistant curator of special collections. Besides, she adds, "the books are very happy now." — MB

California Trip Hits Notes High and Low

It's been years since senior Curt Gabriel watched The Price Is Right regularly. Nevertheless, when his co-ed a cappella singing group, the Mental Notes, decided to mount a California tour during spring break — its most extensive tour to date — he knew a stop at a taping of the popular television program had to be on the agenda.

"I've always wanted to be at a game show," says Gabriel. "And it's a lot easier to get in as part of a group than as an individual."

The Mental Notes in sunny California
Photo by Grace Moniz
The 13 singers bought their own $315 plane tickets to California, scheduled a couple of paying gigs at Los Angeles-area high schools, even sang at a convocation for Hopkins alumni, which was attended by president William R. Brody, at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Of course, one of the highlights of the eight-day trip was their game show experience. "Basically we were just screaming for an hour straight," says junior Jessica Yeatermeyer.

As it turned out, though, watching a game show on TV is vastly different from seeing it in person. The set was small, garish, and threadbare. Host Bob Barker's face was caked with orange makeup. And they all had to be schooled in the fine art of enthusiastic applause. "We had to clap for Tidy Cat cat litter," gripes senior Tom Mansell.

Senior Michelle Moniz did get called up to Contestant's Row. She had the closest guess at the actual price of a set of crystal glasses, and, clad in her blue tie-dye Mental Notes T-shirt, got her big moment on stage. But host Barker misread her T-shirt as "Mental Nurses" (and quipped that if she was on a psychiatric trip she had come to the right place). He called the school John Hopkins. And as a final insult, he told the group during a commercial break that they couldn't perform the show's theme, which they had prepared.

Though Moniz didn't win her big game — she missed out on a new Ford Tauras LX sedan when she was $1,822 off in guessing its price — and she didn't make it to the Showcase Showdown, she and the rest of the Mental Notes weren't disappointed by the trip. "You spend four years of your life devoting eight hours a week to singing with a group of people," Moniz says. "We wanted to do something we'd never done before. This was a great way to bond with people and to get the word out about Hopkins."

At press time, Moniz's crystal glasses were in the mail, and the Mental Notes were looking for ways to work their Price Is Right experience into a skit. Says Gabriel, "This is very fertile ground for comedy." — MB

Rock and Roll Reunion at Chester's Place

Band reunions are legendary — the Stones did it, the Boss and his E-Street Band did it, the Pixies are now doing it. And on Friday, April 30, during Hopkins Homecoming weekend, Levering Hall was home to its own rock-and-roll revival, Chester's Place Revisited.

It all began in the 1960s, when the student union in Levering Hall opened a coffee house and music venue known as The Room at the Top. It was later renamed Chester's Place after Chester Wickwire, the longtime Hopkins chaplain and honored social activist. By the 1970s, Chester's Place, with its elaborate floor-to-ceiling murals by Bob Heironimus, was the backdrop to a thriving live music scene on the Homewood campus. It was here that Hopkins student bands The Reason, Ocean Rose, Rodeo Rick, and Zumbuzi first played to crowds of screaming friends and fans.

With members of the various bands celebrating their 30th and 25th reunions this year, bandmates decided to pick up their instruments once again and reopen the doors of Chester's Place for one more night. National music critic J.D. Considine ('79) traveled from his home in Toronto to rejoin The Reason with Tom Chalkley, John Ebersberger, Craig Gendler, and Craig Hankin. After 25 years, Considine remembers his days playing Chester's Place fondly. "There was a lot of energy to rock and roll at that time," he says.

The Reason developed a simple high-energy set of original songs with a punk rock approach. They collaborated occasionally with Ocean Rose members Jimmy Owens, Milt Reder, Bruce Katz, Kurt Hammond, Steve Jones, Bruce Landolt, and Chuck Swartley.

Chester's Place not only served as a meeting ground for these Hopkins musicians in the '70s, it also served as a springboard to the local music scene. The Reason was booked at the now-defunct Marble Bar in Baltimore, where national acts like The Talking Heads and REM played. Ocean Rose developed such a dedicated following in Baltimore that many fans firmly believed lead singer Owens and lead guitarist Reder would lead the band to fame and fortune. "Ocean Rose was the greatest rock-and-roll band of the '70s that never got a record deal," claims Hankin, now director of the Homewood Art Workshops. He blames Reder for choosing medical school: "What was he thinking?" Hankin quips.

When the bands took the stage in April, they played to a packed house. Many of the Homecoming revelers and former fans brought their skeptical kids, who cheered along with their parents once the bands kicked into their lively sets. Commemorative T-shirts marked the occasion. The program began in the early evening and rocked well into the night, and many commented that it was like time had stood still and the musicians had never been apart.

With a few exceptions, of course. "I get low blood sugar now around 5 p.m., and I wasn't sure I'd get a second wind," laughed The Reason's Gendler. "I don't remember that happening last time around." — Elizabeth Evitts

Return to June 2004 Table of Contents

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