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Marketplace plan perils East TowsonYour July 2...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Marketplace plan perils East Towson

Your July 2 story, "Towson mall face lift would boost security," fails to mention that the Towson Marketplace developer's security plan, with cameras "strong enough to detect a wart on someone's face half a mile away," was offered only in exchange for community associations' support of unwanted midnight movies, not as a gesture of good will.

And nothing in the developer's security plan addresses the late-night noise and litter his entertainment center would bring to the residential community which surrounds it.

But your coverage of the security plan did bring one thing to light. It exposed the magnitude of trouble anticipated with this outrageous plan for the largest theater complex in the Baltimore-Washington area -- a complex which, if a special exception is granted by Baltimore County, will be situated, ironically, in the center of a county-designated Community Conservation Area.

Another shortcoming of the piece was the minimal coverage of the widespread, growing opposition to the plan. Quite simply, a majority of residents in the area do not support a plan which will transform a closed-and-quiet-by-10-p.m. community shopping center into a late-night regional entertainment center.

And opposition has organized and intensified as residents are considering not only the quality-of-life impact of the plan, but also the ongoing political process and the inconsistent, often secretive, usually unresponsive actions and inaction of a few out-of-touch community and county representatives.

Surely the East Towson neighborhoods would be best served not by an "elaborate" security plan, but rather by a new Towson Marketplace redevelopment plan -- with an emphasis on retail, not entertainment -- which would improve an ailing shopping center without forever altering the character of our neighborhoods and sacrificing our quality of life.

Don Vovakes

Towson

Sophisticated lady

Her music awakened my latent expression of love. It forged a voice and an action to my desire of embracing the result of that expression.

Moreover, it soothed and appeased the savagery of the beast until the music's last note.

What will happen now?

Now that it's all over, is the world, again, susceptible to the crisis that threatened it 45 years ago, which gave birth to the soulful, stylistic, sophisticated lady as it does a prophet during times of adversity?

Was her unexpected surrender to death an omen that further misfortune will curse the world? But what else could top that except Earth's self-destruction, as it's rumored was Phyllis Hyman's.

True indeed, I was a fan of the voluptuous Phyllis Hyman. She was an escape to ecstasy.

Being taken to the places she journeyed with jazz was an arrest from reality when all felt too painful.

When her flow was freed with the kiss of the stylus to vinyl, then made an exodus through the audio emitters to permeate the senses of the listeners, it mimicked the blossoming of a rose with sound -- and it got better than that.

When she sang, "Meet Me on the Moon," it was a trip we all were thrilled to make until the sun showed up.

And when, "I Can't Stand This Living All Alone" graced the jazz clubs, record stores, then my CD player, there wasn't a place with her presence that mine was absent.

To me, no one could do it better. People loved to compare her with the late jazz singing great Sarah Vaughan -- the comparison was the utmost compliment -- but Ms. Hyman herself authored a style to be compared and paragoned. That's why she's called the Sophisticated Lady.

I'm not going to ask why and I'm not going to assume why Ms. Hyman may have brought an end to her own life. Answers to that question are none of my business. But I would like to add, it was her music that prevented others from doing the same.

She was an Amazon, but not Amazonian enough. Rest in peace, Ms. Phyllis Hyman. We love you.

Thomas N. Pointer Jr.

Westover

Wrong message

The recent publicity given to the draft of University of Maryland sophomore Joe Smith by the National Basketball Association will inflict irreparable damage to countless black students.

They will neglect serious scholastic and academic efforts, which guarantee future economic security, in favor of frivolous athletic activities that offer only a very remote chance of financial reward.

Paul Slepian

Baltimore

An encounter with Charlie Eckman

I am an independent proprietor of a small production company in Towson. The pathos and purpose of much of my written and visual work stem from my personal experiences, living my life with severe cerebral palsy.

Three years ago, while producing a promotional video for myself which featured quite a few Baltimore media celebrities narrating my script, I was able to arrange a thrilling encounter which I had anticipated since my early childhood, and the memory of which I can relish for the rest of my life. I got to meet and work with Charlie Eckman.

I'll always remember that Saturday afternoon. Because of my imperfect speech, I needed my father to dial the number to Charlie's house, which had been obtained for me by my co-producer. It was a Glen Burnie exchange; thus phoning him at home seemed simple enough.

"Eckman." I would later learn that this was the greeting he always gave whenever the rotary phone next to his 30-odd-year-old easy, easy chair rang.

Well, it was definitely him who Dad and I had effortlessly reached and to whom we were about to introduce ourselves and my project idea. My dad is no shy guy, so he proceeded, "Charlie, hi. I'm Bud Peroutka, Paul's father."

"Who are you again?"

"Paul is my son. He's a handicapped kid [I was 31 at the time.] And he writes a lot of poems and funny stories. He let me know that you'd be expecting our call."

Mr. Eckman misses no beat. "Oh yeah, yeah. Yesterday I got a call about your boy from some radio gal; I forget her name. But sure! Your kid wants me to read something into his movie. I'd be glad to.

"Does he know how to get down here to my house? What time can I expect him? It sounds like you've got yourself a fine young boy there.

I heard that he got [Artie] Donovan to do something for his film, too. Gees, I hope he didn't charge the kid too much."

That conversation between my dad and Charlie lasted for over 20 fun-filled minutes. It got more personal, endearing and, from exchange to exchange, downright hilarious. I heard the whole dialogue on my speaker phone.

It would come as no surprise to anyone who knew Charlie well and loved his wit that most off-air conversations with the outspoken Santa could not be transcribed to print unless one should boldly decide to document his quick-tongued talent for frank vulgarity.

But I'll never forget that wonderful phone chat between two of the most cherished and meaningful voices which I've kept in my ear ever since I learned my love for communicating: my Dad's and Mr. Eckman's.

I did get to Charlie's humble, charming house off of Georgia Avenue later that day. It was a marvelously intimate visit for my attendant Jim and me with Wilma and Charlie.

Mrs. Eckman never stopped bringing cans of beer and crackers from the kitchen. Mr. Eckman never left that easy, easy chair of his, and he never stopped filling his living room with laughter.

During my time sitting in front of the Coach for more than three hours in his home, I multiplied my education about Baltimore radio more than I ever dreamed possible.

I also recorded his voice reading my humorous script about the thoughts of a physically challenged baseball manager attempting mentally to talk his players into accomplishing a shut-out.

The result was a beautiful marriage of a fan who was brought up to listen with reverence to a broadcaster who gave his career to communicate with honesty.

My testament is that Mr. Eckman touched the heart of everyone who listened to him.

Paul Peroutka

Towson

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