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I've been super-busy the past few days, so let's catch up on some pretty decent and/or distressing stories from over the weekend and other stuff I've found, with maybe a short News Hole later.

Charm City Massacre: The fact that 50 Cent's new album, The Massacre, features a song, "A Baltimore Love Thing," that sorta kinda, but not really, glorifies heroin in the city ("Baltimore" is only in the title, not the lyrics) is interesting, and certainly worth noting. But a fairly long thumbsucker in Saturday's Sun, by Rashod D. Ollison and Stephen Kiehl (it took two people to write this?!), about what the song may mean for the city's image, and whether or not it might somehow actually increase the drug trade? No, not needed, thanks. "All of this is an advertisement saying Baltimore is the place to take your stuff to sell, and that hurts us," Chief Anthony Barksdale of the city Police Department's Organized Crime Division told the daily. "This reaches millions of people and it paints this picture of Baltimore to [drug] organizations and individuals, saying, 'Hey, maybe it's safe in Baltimore to ply the trade.'" Now, there's an argument to be made that hip-hop has given a couple of generations of young males an excuse to be disrespectful toward women, homphoboic, and way too materialistic--though I'm not even sure about that--but I'm fairly certain the drug trade takes care of itself. The mayor's office has a much better attitude (and a 50 Cent fan in the house): "It's just a song," mayoral spokesman Steve Kearney told Ollison and Kiehl. "Some media folks have this small-town insecurity that we have to take something like this seriously. 50 Cent did a song called 'Rotten Apple' about how violent New York is, and I don't remember the press up there fretting about its larger cultural significance."

Conduction: As a follow-up to the announcement that José-Luis Novo is taking over the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, read this story from the Capital.

Clash of the Titans: Also from Sunday's Capital, David Abrams details the division that slots have caused between the state's top Democrats, House Speaker Michael Busch and Senate President Mike Miller. Not much new to learn, but a good primer on what exactly is going on, and why, in the General Assembly.

Let's Never Speak of This Again: The Orioles played the Nationals Saturday in a spring training exhibition game (the O's lost), which offered the opportunity for the latest long, boring think piece (this one by the Sun's Jeff Barker), in a long, indistinguished line of such pieces, about the clichéd, boring D.C.-Baltimore rivalry. You know the score: Baltimore is blue collar (since when?), Washington is white collar; D.C.'s mayor wears a bow tie, ours sings in a rock band; blah, blah, blah. Let's all promise to make this the last such story, for at least, say, a year. Can we do that?

It's Only Business: Also from Sunday's Sun, David Nitkin tarnishes Gov. Ehrlich's pro-business reputation by getting a couple of pols and industry types to say bad things about Baltimore port chief James White's resignation last month. Now, Ehrlich did make a royal ass of himself by appointing a former pro figure skater to a well-paid, semi-powerful postion at the port and possibly pushing White out, but I think it's safe to say that, as a Republican, business types aren't deserting the governor yet. Anyway, as UMd government professor James Gimpel tells Nitkin, "Business casts its contributions quite widely, because they want to work with whoever is in office. … Businesses are very opportunistic. What they most want is access."

More sensible is Sunday Sun columnist C. Fraser Smith, who warns us not to get too self-righteous and outraged about politcal patronage in and of itself. Like he points out, everyone does it--R's, D's, liberals, fascists, etc.--and it's not going away anytime soon. The thing to get angry about is when such patronage gets in the way of a smoothly operating bureaucracy, which looks like the case here. Smith writes: "Every governor wants his own team. It's only fair. It's even OK if some members of the team have to be carried. … But it's bad form when the trash doesn't get picked up. It's really bad when big shipping companies say they might not want to do business with you anymore. It's what's happening at the Port of Baltimore. It's a crime, actually, because the port is one of the few remaining economic engines of Baltimore. It almost makes you wonder if letting the port founder isn't part of the Ehrlich administration's sometimes hostile approach to the city."

All Getting Along: Finally, while Stephen Kiehl's Monday Sun story about Remington's Dizzy Issie's is kinda perfunctory, though very sweet, it gets a link because DI's is one of The Third Floor's favorite bars.

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