Cops tell me it's common, but we'd never heard of it before. This year we heard it big-time. July 4th fireworks in Columbia, Towson and the Inner Harbor -- and probably just about everywhere else -- set off a bunch of car alarms. It was maddening, I tell you, maddening! From Federal Hill to Columbia Mall to Luskin's parking lot at Cromwell Bridge Road, vibrations from the booms tripped sensitive alarms, and the overall acoustic result was astounding -- like a P.D.Q. Bach-arranged medley of a Berg woodwind concerto mixed with Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, as performed by Megadeath. If you know what I mean.
A fish out of water
Pleased as we are to know of the rockfish's resurgence in the Chesapeake Bay and as astounded as we are at its ubiquitousness -- I know fisherpersons who've hooked them in the Inner Harbor -- I was still surprised to hear of one showing up as road kill. But that's exactly what Jean McHale reports from downtown. "Heading south on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard at about Lombard Street, I passed a belly-up rockfish," she says. "It is obvious to me that the poor thing was hit by some cold-hearted driver as it was crossing the boulevard to get to Lexington Market. When will these careless drivers learn to respect these helpless fish with whom we share our roads?"
Mayors, past and present
Before he changed his mind yesterday, the mayor had said he wouldn't divulge the amount of money Baltimore's quasi-public agencies paid to Shapiro & Olander, law firm of his pals, Larry Gibson and Ron Shapiro. He had said he was following a precedent set by William Donald Schaefer, which was the first time I ever heard Kurt Schmoke model himself after that guy. (And it was amusing for its irony since the mayor's political guru, Gibson, likes to dismiss Baltimore's resurgence in the early 1980s as "the Schaefer myth." . . . Which reminds me that I've been meaning to ask: If what Schaefer did as mayor was a myth, then what do we call what Schmoke has done since then? A mystery?)
Top Six Remaining Functions of Baltimore City Law Department (staff of 78, budget of $10 million):
(6) Make a lot of copies of stuff for law firm of Shapiro & Olander. (5) Negotiate conversion of Pulaski Highway incinerator into mega-bar. (4) Provide timely legal opinions law firm of Shapiro & Olander doesn't have time for. (3) Argue for protection of Mary Pat Clarke's City Hall parking space under Endangered Species Act. (2) Provide crowd-scene extras for Larry Gibson press conferences. (1) Look for ways to divert even more legal work to law firm of Shapiro & Olander, then lunch, lunch, lunch!
A victim remembered
All along lower Broadway in Fells Points are posters in shop windows seeking help in finding the killer of 21-year-old Keri Ann Sirbaugh. (The family is offering a reward; the Metro Crime Stoppers hot line is 276-8888.) At Louie's on North Charles, there's a shrine to Sirbaugh now -- the Sun obituary between two candles. Sirbaugh had been a waitress and bartender at Louie's.
The Dypsky nonissue
Mary Pat Clarke says she smells Schmoke behind the decision of East Baltimore gadfly Phil Dypsky to get into the mayor's race and siphon voters who might support her. What a joke. As far as I know, Phil Dypsky has never done anything anyone ever told him to do, and you can ask his brothers. Hey, Mary Pat, drop the kid's stuff and get on with the campaign. . . . Nasty Nestor Aparicio, motor-mouth sports talker at WWLG (1360 AM), was motoring south on Route 97 Wednesday afternoon when he noticed the following: A young woman driving a blue Hyundai while throwing chicken bones, wrappers and a plastic cup out the window. Hey, little darlin', Nasty scribbled down your tags. He's going to be looking you up. . . . I like this bit of Zen-to-go on a bumpersticker on an old blue Toyota cruising the Beltway: "I'd Rather Be Here." . . . Guy from Dundalk says, "Hayfields is just the rich version of 'There goes the neighborhood!'" . . . I like the bagel with everything -- sesame and poppy seeds, salt, onion and garlic -- at Sam's on West Cold Spring. I like it toasted, no butter, no cream cheese. It's the Everything With Nothing. . . . Now here's something you'll really ,, like: The Community, Communication, Creativity Committee of Manchester, Carroll County, is sponsoring a July 18 trip to the town sewer plant. Says here: "This is a treat for anyone since there are so few in the United States and no two for treatment are the same." No two what are the same? . . . The new TV commercial for Helix Health, the one in which a hand-held camera tries to follow a talking head as he scribbles all over poster paper during some sort of classroom lecture -- it ought to die a quick one. Really. Somebody should shred that tape.
Fantastic scene on the Susquehanna River just above Deer Creek last Sunday, about noon: Great blue herons, one to a rock, on almost every rock within eyeshot. . . . The Department of Natural Resources will release a Canada goose, rehabilitated from an injury over the last several months, tomorrow afternoon around 3 o'clock at the Hammerman area in Gunpowder Falls State Park, Route 40 and Ebenezer Road. Folk music concert by Magpie follows. Admission to the park is $2 per person.