Musicians welcome to fly high -- on the ground


SOUNDS LIKE Yuri Temirkanov got his O.O. (Other Orchestra, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic) up to speed for its first concert after the musicians were kicked off that international flight at Dulles for drunken, rowdy behavior. The Russian orchestra, having apologized to United Airlines for "our unpardonable conduct" last Monday, arrived in Los Angeles in time for a performance Wednesday night, and L.A. Times critic Mark Swed called it "magnificent."

Wrote Swed: "Temirkanov, who is also music director of the Baltimore Symphony, loves to micromanage, which can make him seem fussy in some music, such as the Prokofiev symphony. But he loves thrust, which sweeps the listener along. When he can achieve both at the same time, as he did in the Shostakovich, the effect is riveting.

"Details took hold, yet the orchestra played with gripping unanimity."

I'm a sucker for such critic-speak. But I'm not quite ready, in this post-9-11 age of air travel, to agree with Swed's end-justifies-the-means view of the in-flight waadka party: "This is in fact an orchestra that can fly sober, and the momentum throughout the symphony was astounding. ... Let them have their vodka; they earn it the hard way."

Nyet. Let them have their vodka on the ground. For this view, I believe, there is gripping unanimity.

Water watch

Conservatives being proud of their conservatism - and generally more willing to mention it to anyone who happens to be standing there - they ought to be willing to conserve water in the midst of this drought by, say, not washing their cars for a few months. Can we count on you for the sacrifice, friends? Will you show some civic-mindedness? Will you call Rush or Ron and mention it to the vast conservative radio-listening audience?

And my brothers and sisters of the more liberal stripe - could you pass up all but the we-recycle carwashes for the greater good? Can you let some of that social guilt translate into a filthy Hyundai?

How about all those huge, chemically enhanced lawns in the suburbs and exurbs - do you think their owners will be willing to let them go brown while we're waiting for rain? I certainly hope so. We're all in this together, right? Everyone has to pitch in. Can we all just get along?

Heard about this big, scary drought? Seen the dry banks of the reservoirs? Noticed that we're having one of the driest winters in history? (Only 2.3 inches of snow this winter, and Baltimore hasn't seen a snowfall deeper than 4 inches in more than two years.) The East Coast is 10 to 15 inches below normal rainfall for the last year, and this dry spell is more than 3 years old.

I know. It's a little spooky.

But what can we mere humans do? I mean, besides placing a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the window. (That's what my mother, the former Rose Popolo, always does when she desires saintly intervention in weather patterns.)

Summer might be too late for conservation efforts. I'd feel a whole lot better if we all got earnest about this now. Y'all down with that?

So here's something from the Baltimore Department of Public Works, manager of the region's vast public-water resources. It's a partial list of tips to conserve water in the household.

1. Ask yourself: Does my toilet hiss? "Toilet leaks are some of the worst," says the DPW tip sheet. "A leaky or running toilet can waste about 200 gallons of water every day. If you can't hear the water running, test your toilet by adding a couple of drops of food coloring to the water in the tank. If it shows up in the bowl, your toilet leaks." (If an anaconda shows up, call that crazy Australian guy on Animal Planet.)

2. "Don't run the faucet when you're brushing your teeth or shaving." Right. I've long advocated this stop-and-brush method. It not only saves water, but it's a great exercise for building hand-teeth coordination.

3. Take showers instead of baths, and make your showers snappy. Here's a tip some of you are going to hate: "If your shower has a single-handle control, turn off the water when you're soaping up or shampooing your hair." You know the risk involved in this one, especially if you're the type that gets goose-bumpy in a matter of seconds, or if you have plumbing capable of super-shock with wild fluctuations in water temperature when you turn it off and on. No one said this was going to be easy.

4. Here's my favorite tip. It will make many of my fellow guys feel vindicated: "Don't rinse your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. You don't need to. It's a waste of water."

5. "Don't run your water for a cold drink; keep a container of water in the refrigerator." Or, if by summer water is no longer available, something from Clipper City Brewing Co. will do.

The thrill of the chase?

From a reader in upstate New York: "I'm following the Townsend-O'Malley stuff, and I'm confused. Maybe it's the distance. But, is O'Malley thinking about running for governor because he thinks he's completed his job as mayor - as in accomplished the mission - or because he can't handle or stand the job? Not that I'm a KKT fan - far from it - but who does this guy think he is?"

Dear Confused and Distant:

It's simple. Martin O'Mayor thinks he can beat Kathleen K. Townsend. That's who this guy thinks he is, and I got five bucks right here says he's correct. O'Mayor is in no rush, either. He can hang back, like a cat in the grass, and get in the race when the time is good. Did that when he ran for mayor. is the e-mail address for Dan Rodricks. He can be reached at 410-332-6166, or by post at The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

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