Baltimore’s joyful pirate, Mick Kipp, sails away from us

mick kipp

Mick Kipp’s exuberance was infectious..

Whiskey Island hot sauce maker, bartender, one-time stunt-man and self-styled modern-day pirate Mick Kipp died yesterday, leaving friends and family across the region to mourn the passing of an exuberant spirit and a Baltimore original.

In this autobiographical tale told as part of the Stoop Stories series, stuntman Kipp starts by explaining what it’s like to be set on fire. He moves on from that to morphine, his Hodgkins diagnosis, losing his hair and how out of the Job-like set of ills that befell him he came up with the idea of – ta-da! – making hot sauce. And being a pirate. (The scarves covering the hairless head became pirate bandanas.)

That ta-da! spirit endeared him to everyone he met, from the customers of his hot sauce stands at city farmers’ markets to people like Anne Draddy, who informed us of his passing and writes this appreciation of her friend.

Awake in the World

Mick Kipp had a generous nature, big heart and love of life. Anyone who came into contact with Mick knew his booming voice, enthusiastically greeting each person he knew. Well-known around Baltimore, he was the owner and operator of Whiskey Island Pirate – mixing and selling spices and sauces. He was vending at the Waverly Market for years and more recently at a few other markets around town.

Mostly, I knew Mick as generous man and the fiercely, loving father of his daughter, Matoaka, who is a freshman at Simmons College in Boston. Mick’s life revolved around Matoaka particularly when she was a young girl. For a few weeks over three summers, they traveled  the route of the Lewis and Clarke’s expedition across the U.S.

When the Baltimore fish sculptures went up around town, he and his daughter and my two daughters found each one and photographed themselves with them. Once he and Matoaka went to the Philly Reading Terminal Market and spent $100 tasting cheeses, barbeque, king crab legs and ice cream for lunch. If you knew Mick, you knew he loved food. He used to host crayfish boils – having them flown in from New Orleans.

When Mick decided to do something, he did it all the way and with gusto. Mick lived life. He was a man who was awake in the world.

Thoreau states, “To be awake is to be alive.”

Thoreau’s idea of being awake is his idea of “living deliberately,” that is living each moment to its fullest potential, and appreciating the present for what it is. This is the way I think of Mick.

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  • Nick Sheridan

    So sorry– Mick was a wonderful, heart-filled guy

  • Mary Jo Kirschman

    And once you made that connection with Mick, he never forgot. My heart goes out to Motoaka, who I knew as a little girl, long ago. So many people will mourn the loss of your father. He was loved.

  • Scott Gelinas

    I only met him through the events he supported at the Heavy Seas brewery but he 100% made the events what they were. His passion for what he produced using ingredients from the local area was sincere, the food he made was great, and on top of that he was just a genuinely nice person.

  • davethesuave

    It’s an old saw, but a sharp one nonetheless: it’s not the years in your life that matter. it’s the life in your years. Sail on, Sailor. There’s another shore just beyond the horizon, where no one is ever old, and the beer is always cold.

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