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SATURDAY

Not that he isn’t dedicated to his burg—his debut work, thaBloc: words, photographs and baltimore city in black, white and gray, is rooted in Baltimore’s Belair-Edison neighborhood—but it’s a safe bet that photographer and poet t.p. Luce isn’t rallying behind Baltimore’s official self-description, “The Greatest City in America.” Suspicious of empty mantras and facile collective narratives, Luce’s collection questions another earnest municipal program, the city’s anti-drug “Baltimore Believe” campaign. Baltimore’s Web site (quoted by Luce) tells us that “[T]he people of Baltimore…are lending their support to the vital cause of freeing Baltimore’s neighborhoods from the scourge of drugs and reclaiming the glory of this once proud and beautiful City.” But Luce’s lens shows how the program looks from tha bloc: Five shots of the “BELIEVE” logo, affixed to a bumper sticker, a school, a garbage can, the side of a truck, and a church, are collectively captioned “making Mao proud.” Or, as Luce’s pen puts it, the program’s earnestness feels like “encroaching public delirium” peddled by the “cheery popular type,” those “to whom irony is mystery/and satire contemptible.” Similarly, the closer, “White Noise,” bemoans the safety of the standardized consumer world, where folks “wander the contrived terrain/knowing the right answers.” Luce embraces tha bloc for connecting him with other people rather than “instruments/of success, of prosperity, of affluence.” Similarly, the closer, “White Noise,” bemoans the safety of the standardized consumer world—where folks “wander the contrived terrain/knowing the right answers”—and its effect on all Americans. Luce embraces his neighborhood for connecting him with people other than “instruments/of success, of prosperity, of affluence.” But cataloging the underside of the American Dream makes his collection resonate far beyond tha bloc. Luce reads at 7 p.m. Saturday, February 19, at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Joe Dempsey)