The Baltimore Sun

Don't trash arena, memories it holds

I think Dan Rodricks' column calling the 1st Mariner Arena "dumpy" is an insult to all the great memories and tradition that the arena holds ("Quit thinking small, people of Baltimore," July 25).

The 1st Mariner Arena (still the Baltimore Arena or Civic Center to me) may not be a high-tech, state-of-the-art arena by today's standards, but so what? Can't we have anything old-fashioned anymore?

Some of my fondest memories as a child are of my dad taking me to Baltimore Blast and Skipjacks games in the 1980s and 1990s. I recently was able to take my own son to see a Blast game and was happily surprised to see that the arena still looked the same as it did back then.

It has character, and holds a lot of fond memories.

It's not "thinking small," as Mr. Rodricks put it, to keep things the same in the interest of upholding tradition, nostalgia and memories.

Perhaps the arena could use some polishing up, but do we really need to replace it with another big-business, money-grubbing arena?

Baltimore already insulted tradition in the early 1990s by replacing the great Memorial Stadium with a big-business stadium that caters to yuppies more than to the average sports fan.

Let's not do that again with the city's arena.

Damon Costantini, Catonsville

Let's not forget that the 1st Mariner Arena, originally named the Baltimore Civic Center, was part of the modernization of downtown Baltimore. And you either loved or hated those long, trapezoidal "things" on the roof that were so modernistic for Baltimore when the building was built in 1962.

The arena's problematic single entrance was a magic portal to me.

In the early 1960s, my father chauffeured me and my friends from Baltimore County to see Peter, Paul and Mary at the Civic Center every year they appeared.

A few years later, I was there to see Otis Redding striding across the stage telling my boyfriend to "Try a Little Tenderness." And the next thing you knew, the Beach Boys were at the Civic Center singing, "East Coast girls are hip, I really dig the styles they wear." (Being an East Coast girl, I was sure they were speaking of me.)

Recently resigned city Planning Director Douglas B. McCoach III says our old Civic Center "doesn't really contribute anything to the life of the city" ("Planners see arena reviving west side," July 26).

I just want Mr. McCoach to know that in its time, it definitely contributed to this fiftysomething's life.

And to Gilbert Thomas, who said the building "tends to be a dead box," I would like to say I knew the building was it was really jumping.

I'll be sorry to see it go.

Kate Moerschel, Port Deposit

Dave Brubeck. The Beatles. Neil Diamond. Frank Sinatra (twice). Elvis Presley (twice). Engelbert Humperdinck. Tom Jones. Luciano Pavarotti. The Baltimore Bullets, the Baltimore Clippers, the Harlem Globetrotters, the Baltimore Blast. Disney on Ice, the Ice Capades and thousands of other sports and cultural events of every variety and stripe. All of them have been experienced at the 1st Mariner Arena, formerly the Baltimore Arena and originally the Baltimore Civic Center, by me and hundreds of thousands of others over the years.

I object strenuously to this venerable place being called old and in need of replacement. Hogwash.

The same thoughtless and silly mindset has affected other buildings in Baltimore, much to the detriment of our urban landscape.

Since when is a building old and in need of replacement when it is less than 50 years old?

If the reckless and disposable attitude displayed regarding the Arena prevailed regarding all public buildings, we would have to tear down City Hall, the Shot Tower, Fort McHenry, the Johns Hopkins Hospital, the State House in Annapolis and just about all the government buildings around the country.

Someone needs to enforce a little prudence and common sense on the talking heads who promulgate such nonsense in the name of progress.

David Manning, Towson

Apology needed for Burns' remarks

"I have learned over the past several months anything I, or individuals in my office, say or do in reference to the Zach Sowers case will in all probability be misstated, misquoted, misrepresented, misinterpreted and/or misunderstood," Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy said in a statement in response to calls for the ouster of her spokeswoman, Margaret Burns ("Move to oust Jessamy aide persists," July 25). "Knowing this, I therefore decline to make any statement regarding past, current or future events related to this case."

I found this comment by Ms. Jessamy totally wrong. She acts as if she is the victim here.

But the victims in this case are the deceased Mr. Sowers, his widow and their family and friends.

Come down from your high horse, Ms. Jessamy.

Ms. Burns was so wrong in her hurtful and tactless comments about Mr. Sowers' condition.

Both Ms. Burns and Ms. Jessamy need to stop blaming the press and do the right thing and at least publicly apologize for Ms. Burns' remarks.

Victims have rights, too, even in this crime-ridden city.

Jay Johnstone, Baltimore

Currie was paid considerable sum

In The Sun's article, "Currie got over $200,000" (July 25), attorney Andrew D. Levy says he doesn't think that the $40,000 a year that state Sen. Ulysses Currie was paid by Shoppers Food Warehouse is "all that much."

He thinks there is "nothing inherently obscene about that amount."

I'm sure it isn't that much money to Mr. Levy. But just ask any citizen making minimum wage (now $6.55 an hour) how he or she feels about $40,000 a year.

That comes to more than $200,000 over five years - and that is inherently obscene.

Bud Von Rinteln, Baltimore

Resign the chair as inquiry unfolds

In light of recent revelations of possible influence-peddling and ethics violations, state Sen. Ulysses Currie should resign his post as chairman of the state Senate's powerful Budget and Taxation Committee while the investigation continues ("Currie got over $200,000," July 25).

While Mr. Currie has not yet been charged with a crime, he has clearly violated state ethics laws by hiding his employment as a lobbyist for a large supermarket chain.

Trust in government is vital, and Maryland citizens need to be able to trust their leaders.

Al Eisner, Wheaton

Obama gives Europe just what it wants

Sen. Barack Obama's trip abroad was a resounding success. The Europeans heard everything they wanted to hear ("Obama calls for U.S.-European unity," July 25).

We live in the greatest country in the world, and Mr. Obama wants to change it.

My fear is that, if elected, he will succeed.

Clinton R. Dembinsky, Perry Hall

Bush also believes he's in the right

In his column "Understanding evil" (Commentary, July 27), Walter Reich writes of human beings' "powerful, limitless and unshakable capacity to convince themselves of the justice of anything they do."

Examples of this type of psychology are much closer to us, however, than Nazi Germany or the former Yugoslavia.

The results of President Bush's war with Iraq include more than 4,000 dead U.S. soldiers and more than 100,000 dead Iraqi civilians.

Thousands have been wounded and more than 1 million Iraqis have been displaced. The war's financial toll could top $2 trillion.

While not personally participating in torture, Mr. Bush has let it be known, through the Department of Justice, that torture is now an acceptable interrogation technique.

And our president, just like Radovan Karadzic, believes in the justice of everything he has done.

Mark Szczybor, Baltimore

Spying rationales far from credible

It was troubling to see a former state trooper try to justify the police spying on peace and anti-death-penalty groups as necessary to keep us safe from "criminal activities or plots against America" ("Police must spy to keep us safe," letters, July 26).

Similar hogwash was proffered earlier by former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

What kind of mind could view such organizations as potentially dangerous?

What possible basis could there be to infiltrate proponents of peace or opponents of executions? Will the Girl Scouts and animal rights activists be next, or have they already been spied on too?

The spying was obviously conducted because these groups were at odds with the politics of the Ehrlich administration. No other explanation is plausible.

The preposterous rationalizations offered by Mr. Ehrlich and the letter writer only serve to underscore the despicable nature of these abuses of power.

Scott Norris, Baltimore

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