News & Politics

The Year in Maryland

Image via iStock.

The immediate popularity of a Maryland-themed bar that opened in DC at the dawn of 2017 was a measure of the depth of admiration DC and Virginia residents hold for their northern neighbor. For local news connoisseurs, Maryland occupies a special place as well. If a live scorpion turns up in a bag of spinach, if a crab predicts the weather, if, as happened several years ago, the Air National Guard accidentally bombs a bar’s parking lot—well, there’s rarely any question where the story took place.  Herewith, a salute to some of the most Maryland-y Maryland stories of 2017.

10. Baltimore police delight world with photo of old-timey gun

Baltimore’s police department handed social media a gift in March when it shared a photo of a weapon seized during a traffic stop. Had the cops foiled a stagecoach robbery? Stepped into a wormhole and arrested John Wilkes Booth? “If it pleases the court, we will ensure we safeguard this firearm and ensure the safety of all in the village of Lord Baltimore,” the department wrote after the image went viral.

Eastern DistrictOfficers arrest man with a loaded handgun during traffic stopOn March 1, 2017, officers from the…

Posted by Baltimore Police Department on Thursday, March 2, 2017

9. Pile of cubed ham mystifies Baltimore

Talk about your mystery meat!

8. Yellow water plagues DC suburbs

People in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties had to put up with pale yellow water coming out of their taps this summer, the result of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission’s decision to reduce the levels of chlorine with which it treated water from the Potomac after a rainy season resulted in what the authority gently called “an increase in organic material.” Less chlorine meant more manganese, which meant water that, while safe to drink, looked gross and could stain laundry. “We had a choice and we chose safety over aesthetics,” WSSC environmental engineer Priscilla To told WUSA.

 7. “Fatberg” overwhelms Baltimore sewer

A gnarly glob caused the discharge of more than a million gallons of sewage in September. It was made of “pretty much anything you’re not supposed to put into the sanitary sewer,” as Pat Boyle of the city’s public works department put it; public works contractors vacuumed the iceberg of yuck out of a pipe near Baltimore Penn Station. “We’re breaking through a wall of wipes and waste,” a department spokesperson told the Baltimore Sun.

6. The very strange story of an unauthorized stage version of The Wire 

In early December, David Simon expressed his surprise about the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club’s plans to present a stage play based on the classic TV show The Wire the following month. Simon hadn’t heard anything about the production despite creating the original show. The supper club canceled the performances after press attention, at which point the new show’s creator, a former actor on The Wire, blasted Simon, saying he had no right to stop Baltimoreans from “staging a stage play about that era and our experiences in that same culture.” Simon called that argument “notably ridiculous.”

5. Men try to rob bar where off-duty police are having a party

Of all the bars in all the towns around the world, Joseph McInnis III and Tyree McCoy walked into the Woodlawn tavern hosting a police retirement party. Police say the pair attempted to rob Monaghan’s Pub, perhaps unaware of the clientele. The story made “stupid criminal” news worldwide, but the next story was a little less amusing: Baltimore County police announced they were reviewing cops’ use of force in McInnis’s and McCoy’s arrest.

4. “Smash space” for teachers costs principal her job

Kensington Parkwood Elementary Principal Barbara Liess resigned after reports she had established an area on campus where teachers could whack a broken chair with wooden and metal bats. Liess had previously been the target of a parent’s complaint that she was taking school employees as clients in her second job as a real-estate agent.

3. Baltimore police officer inadvertently records himself planting drugs

Camera footage showed Baltimore Police Officer Richard Pinheiroplanting a bag of pills in a tin can while two other officers look on,” as Fox News characterized it. The footage came from Pinheiro’s body camera. The Baltimore public defender’s office released another video that purported to show other cops planting evidence, and despite Police Commissioner Kevin Davis‘s suggestion that the cops had merely “replaced drugs that they had already discovered to document the discovery with their body-worn cameras on,” many officers were indicted on federal racketeering charges, and prosecutors have dropped more than a hundred drug and gun cases and are reviewing more.

2. Bethesda man faces jail time after taunting officer via text message

Eugene Matusevitch somehow managed to turn a $50 fine for making a prohibited turn into the possibility of up to 10 years in jail. How? By allegedly harassing the police officer who stopped his BMW in downtown Bethesda. Court documents say Matusevitch barraged the officer with text messages, insulting him and showing that he knew his Social Security number. The officer received 21 phone calls in a day from people returning what they mistakenly believed were his queries about addiction treatment. He sent a Facebook message to the officer’s father mocking his salary. Matusevich, the Washington Post reports, is unemployed.

1. “Girl smashes a beer on her face, then drains it”

There never was really any question of what would land at No. 1 on this list. A couch burns for just one day, but this woman’s stamp on Terp fandom will never fade. Still, you may wonder, how did she perform this feat? Physics holds the answer.


Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.