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Beloved friend, bartender, hot-sauce maker, pirate Mick Kipp, R.I.P.

April 29, 2013

That big collective groan you may have heard or felt reverberating throughout the city last night and this morning was for the loss of one of contemporary Baltimore’s most loving and well-loved citizens, everyone’s friend Mick Kipp (City Paper‘s “Best Pirate,” 2004).

I can’t remember the exact moment I met “Mick the Pirate” because I feel like I’ve known him all my life. He had that kind of personality, like a favorite uncle you couldn’t wait to see at the holidays. Most likely it was before or after an Orioles game during my first year in Baltimore in 1999. Mick’s inextinguishable enthusiasm and zest for life made him instantly familiar with everyone he met. I can’t imagine he was more than one-degree of separation from anyone who lives in the city. A long-time bartender at Pickles Pub across the street from Oriole Park and fixture on the city’s culinary/market scene, “Whiskey Island Mick” aka “Mick T. Pirate” Kipp, made a name for himself selling hot sauces and spices of his own creation all over town. You could find Mick anywhere and everywhere peddling products like his famously popular Whiskey Island “Juke Joint Mojo” pulled pork BBQ sandwich, in front of Pickles Pub on Orioles’ game days or at any of the city’s outdoor farmers markets or street festivals. He had a cartoon-character face that transferred well to his products labels and pirate flags that flew above his food booths.

Talk about getting back what you put into life, Mick’s energy was completely contagious. He made any place he was present feel like a party, adding spice to life both figuratively and literally. “Oogy Wawa” and “Eat My Stuff” are two of his signature catch phrases being echoed in Facebook posts by his many friends today. He was a great self-promoter but also completely selfless. Whenever you had a conversation with Mick he always steered the subject back to you. He created happiness wherever he was and had the great ability to make people feel better about their own lot.

A three-time survivor of Hodgkin’s disease, Mick was a frequent fund-raiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. His pirate bandanas were originally adorned after losing his hair to chemotherapy treatments. He died of cardiac arrest the day after completing a 30-mile hike on the C & O Canal at Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. His last Facebook post was in reference to how much he enjoyed the hike: “The smell of wood burning in the fireplace and the sound of Trains running through the tunnel…….must be Harpers Ferry, West Virginia!!! A great way to finish a long 30 mile day!!! It was awesome hiking into Harpers Ferry at dusk!!! Pics will get posted tomorrow!!!”

Mick’s Facebook page has become a virtual memorial gathering this morning with many of his friends posting the sentiment that even though he was a pirate, he was a treasure to those who knew him.