Dan Rodricks

Rodricks: These Baltimore rowhouse steps need a good scrubbin’, plus a crab feast says the O’s have a winning 2020 season

These white marble rowhouse steps in South Baltimore need a Labor Day cleaning.

Nobody asked me, but if I owned a rowhouse in Baltimore with white marble steps, I would want to keep them clean and bright. It is — or was, anyway — a prideful tradition around here. But it requires work. It requires scrubbing. Newcomers might not know this, so I’m not going to single anyone out. But, in recent travels through South Baltimore, I’ve noticed some dingy steps. Labor Day would be a good day to pick up the tradition. The recommended cleaning agent is Bon-Ami, $1.49 or less at most stores.

Shopping online is great, but if you do it too much and eliminate another reason to leave the house, you’ll miss out on chance encounters with old friends or amusing exchanges with odd strangers, which, after all, is one of the major reasons we live in Smalltimore.


Nobody asked me, but people who try to get through security at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport with handguns — there have been 22 so far this year, according to the Transportation Security Administration — must be among the dumbest people on the planet. And the “I forgot it was in my carry-on” defense makes you guilty, but still mostly stupid.

Nobody asked me, but I’ll bet a crab feast for 10 that the Orioles in 2020 win more games than they lose, an improvement on this season by about 17 percentage points. I like how the Orioles are developing position players and pitchers, and they appear to have a nucleus of talent that, with some deals for new guys here and there, could turn this thing around in a year. So there, I said it. If I’m wrong, I’ll eat crow while the rest of you eat crabs.


Nobody asked me, but it’s one thing to be bullish, quite another to be mule-headed. When Gov. Larry Hogan says that a third bridge across the Chesapeake Bay is the “only option I will ever accept,” he could be missing the boat to the 21st Century. Electric ferries are a thing now throughout the world, as I’ve previously noted in this space. A small fleet of them, crossing the bay from various locations, should at least be considered as an alternative to a multibillion-dollar monstrosity.

It’s great that the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners voted to ban the mass release of balloons. For weddings, funerals, or whatever, it’s a tradition that needs to stop. The Maryland General Assembly should extend the ban (enforced with fines) to the entire state, and there should be a sustained anti-trash campaign to make the oblivious aware of the reason for the ban.

Nobody asked me, because I don’t play golf, but conservatives who hate our kid-coddling, everyone-gets-a-trophy culture should take note: Dustin Johnson and Lucas Glover tied for last (29th) place in the PGA Tour Championship in Atlanta last weekend, and they each took home $400,000.

I just watched “Inherit The Wind,” the 1960 film about the Scopes “monkey trial,” with Spencer Tracey as the defense lawyer, based on Clarence Darrow; Frederic March as the prosecutor, based on William Jennings Bryan; and the ill-cast Gene Kelly as a Baltimore newspaper columnist, based on H.L. Mencken. The film prompted me to reach for Mencken’s 1925 elegy for Bryan, a three-time Democratic candidate for president, and I found many phrases that resonate nearly a century later, including this: “He was born with a roaring voice, and it had the trick of inflaming half-wits. His whole career was devoted to raising those half-wits against their betters, that he himself might shine.”

Nobody asked me, but the financial markets need to stop responding to President Donald Trump. He says or tweets one thing one day — about tariffs on goods from China or about payroll taxes, or about background checks on gun purchasers — then changes course the next. Traders in stocks and bonds should recognize Trump’s erraticism and make a daily pledge to ignore him. The country, and the global economy, would be better off.

Nobody asked me, but if I was mayor of Baltimore, I would order a crew to the intersection of Baltimore and Charles, where the road has rippled, forming a ridge of asphalt that rattles motor vehicles, jars drivers and shocks passengers. The intersection needs a shave, your honor.

And if I was mayor, I’d get on the phone with the developer of the site of the Mechanic Theater, near the same intersection, and ask what’s going on. The Mechanic demolition commenced nearly five years ago, and there’s still nothing there but a hole in the ground.

Taharka Brothers made-in-Baltimore coffee-Oreo ice cream is a stroke of confectionary genius.


The most civilized cup of coffee in the region — offered, tres elegant, on a tray, from an individual pot, with cup and saucer — can be had at Cafe Poupon, 225 N. Charles Street.

And here’s a reminder that the official meal of Labor Day is the peppers-and-eggs sandwich or sub, so declared in this space in 2014. Where I grew up, sliced green peppers sauteed in olive oil, salted and finished with scrambled eggs, then served hot on some form of good Italian bread, with a sprinkle of Parmesan, was a modest but delicious shift-worker’s lunch. Plus, I always associate it with late summer and the last of the peppers from the garden. Give it a try, and help build a Labor Day tradition. I would offer a hotline to answer questions about the recipe, but I’m taking the day off.