The cover of the July 16-July 23 edition of the City Paper. Sen. Bill Ferguson does not like how some neighborhoods are labeled.
The cover of the July 16-July 23 edition of the City Paper. Sen. Bill Ferguson does not like how some neighborhoods are labeled.

Senator criticizes ‘Scaryscape’ newspaper cover

Sen. Bill Ferguson isn’t happy with the City Paper.

Ferguson took to Facebook to share his displeasure with the weekly tabloid’s cover art this week. The cover of the paper mockingly acknowledges the start of Baltimore’s Artscape festival by breaking down areas of the city with titles such as “Fratscape,” “Drunkscape” and “Whitescape.”

But Ferguson doesn’t find anything funny about how some of the areas he represents in the General Assembly were portrayed. So he wrote a letter to the paper and posted it on his Facebook page. The senator was particularly upset about a portion of South Baltimore he represents being labeled “Scaryscape.”

While there are plenty of concerns to point out in this cover graphic, the one that strikes me as the most infuriating centers on the graphic’s labeling of South Baltimore’s neighborhoods of Cherry Hill, Lakeland, Mt. Winans, and Westport as “Scaryscape.”

While I happen to represent these communities in the Maryland Senate, I write this letter as a citizen of Baltimore City, one who actually spends time with the people and families who live, work, and play in these communities. Haven’t been there lately? Because if you had spent any time in these neighborhoods at all in the last few years, you’d know like I do, just how wrong you are. — Sen. Bill Ferguson

Ferguson also calls the cover racist and accuses the editorial staff of going for cheap laughs and producing click bait.

City Paper Editor Evan Serpick  said that the paper didn’t mean to cause offense and that labeling the neighborhood as “Scaryscape” wasn’t meant to impugn  the area, but rather play on the fact that there’s a South Carey Street in the area, and that when abbreviated on a street sign it phonetically reads “Scary Street.”

He said the cover was intended to to be a light hearted look at generalizations residents make about the city’s neighborhoods, and that it was a play on The New Yorker’s “New Yorkistan” cover.  Serpick said they will be running Ferguson’s letter in next week’s edition.

“I’m very disappointed  to hear people were upset. No offense was meant,” Serpick said

The alternative weekly is known for being the smart aleck of Baltimore newspapers. Last week the Baltimore Police Department released a video featuring officers dancing to the hit Pharrell song “Happy” in celebration of reaching 50,000 followers on Twitter. The paper responded by posting a video parody called “Trigger Happy”  with lyrics like, “I’m a hot headed cop up in your face/ what you think is fair I don’t care baby/ cuz I’m trigger happy.”

After it was announced the City Paper was purchased by The Baltimore Sun earlier this year the tabloid put together a cover replicating the daily’s design as away of expressing anxiety about possible changes as a result of the sale.

Ferguson’s full Facebook post is included below.