Gita Ladd, principal cellist for the Baltimore Opera Company, got her first rave review at the age of 4, then went on to win Grammys with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and perform with Yo-Yo Ma. Now she really has arrived, having been crowned rowdiest fan at the Tioga County Fair Demolition Derby.
Ladd bagged the award Friday up near Wellsboro, Pa., where she was appearing in the Endless Mountain Music Festival. Ladd had a day off, so she and a group of about a dozen fellow musicians decided to take in their first derby.
The classical musicians were instantly taken by the crashing cars.
"One of the drivers was very operatic," Ladd said. She praised his "very demonstrative" antics, such as standing up through his empty windshield, with ramming cars all around, to argue with officials, who eventually ejected him.
Ladd had some antics of her own, which helped her stand out from the crowd. They included a high-pitched call that she inherited from her mother, a coloratura soprano. She also led chants for the ejected driver - "Sharp Tooth! Sharp Tooth!" - which led officials to make to a highly unusual U-turn of their own: Sharp Tooth was returned to the action.
"We actually chanted an eliminated driver back into the derby," Ladd said.
Steve Manciocchi of Total Destruction Demo Productions said he had no trouble picking the best fan.
"Among 1,700 people, she stuck out as my crazy fan of the evening," he said. "She was just on her feet the whole time, screaming and jumping up and down and waving her hat."
Ladd won $40 in cash and a trophy, a foot and a half tall, with wings and a steering wheel on top. She returned to the concert stage Saturday, with the trophy at her feet.
Governing from behind the wheel
Andrey Bundley rolled out his new recreational vehicle the other day, and not because he's decided to ditch the mayor's race and go camping.
The RV is his "Prototype Mobile Mayor's Office." If Bundley becomes mayor, he said, he would use it to take City Hall to the people.
"I want to govern from the neighborhoods," he said.
Of course, he'll have to win the election before he can do that. So for now, the leased RV is being used for Bundley's campaign - one part transportation, one part rolling billboard, with Bundley's smiling face shrink-wrapped around the outside.
How much is the RV costing the campaign? (The lease, the shrink-wrap and, Lord knows, the gas can't come cheap.)
Bundley isn't saying yet. "It'll be in the campaign report."
The example O'Malley was looking for?
While endorsing Sheila Dixon for mayor the other day, Gov. Martin O'Malley said those four little words that send shivers down the spines of political handlers everywhere: "Straying from prepared remarks."
From there, O'Malley launched into an aside about slavery and the country's painful racial history. "Not once," he said, had Dixon "ever taken advantage of historic divisions for her own political gain."
What about Dixon's "the shoe is on the other foot" rant? (Back in 1991, during a racially charged debate about redistricting, Dixon uttered those words and waved her shoe at a white City Council colleague, one alleged to have used a racial slur.)
You can argue the shoe bit is ancient history and deserves to be forgotten. You also can argue that Dixon didn't exactly gain from that move.
But should the governor - even one who, as the white mayor of a majority black city, enjoyed Dixon's support - really hold her up as a leading example of colorblind politics?
This much is clear: You can't blame the speechwriters.
Connect the dots
Minutes before Mayor Dixon got the governor's endorsement, Northwestern High School cheerleaders presented the mayor with one of their midriff-baring blue-and-white uniforms. Cheerleading coach Lynnette Singleton said Dixon was on the Wildcats squad when she was a Northwestern student - back before shirts called it quits way above the navel. Singleton made sure the uniform would fit Dixon just in case the mayor, a fitness buff known to wear a bikini, wanted to wear it. "They said, 'Watch out, because she might actually put the uniform on,'" Singleton said. "They told me she wears a 6, so we got her a small." ... Since she's taken over from Governor O'Malley, Dixon says, she's made Baltimore cleaner, greener - and better-looking. After accepting the governor's nod, she told the crowd, "I hear now you got the best-looking mayor that you've ever had."