I hear and receive by email a lot of complaints about the Baltimore city government under the administration of Mayor Brandon Scott — that it has experienced too much executive turnover, that it seems too slow to react to problems, that it hasn’t done enough to stem gun violence and support downtown businesses. I agree … Continue reading Complaints about Baltimore’s squeegee guys drop significantly; angry letters to this columnist have tapered off, too.
Discovered: An unpublished short story by James M. Cain
Among the accomplished writers who came from Maryland was James. M. Cain, famously the author of "The Postman Always Rings Twice," "Double Indemnity" and other novels. (That's him in the photo above with actress Lana Turner in 1946 in a Hollywood restaurant.) Now comes news from the Associated Press that a never-published Cain short story, … Continue reading Discovered: An unpublished short story by James M. Cain
The nation could use a Public Service Day, too.
So that Memorial Day does not become “just another day off,” I decided to ponder its origin and meaning. I heard a TV host say Americans will “celebrate” Memorial Day. I found that jarring. The person who wrote that into the MSNBC script picked the wrong verb. “Observe” would suffice because there’s nothing to “celebrate” … Continue reading The nation could use a Public Service Day, too.
Incentivizing food stamp recipients to make healthy choices
In the process of reporting for my Wednesday column in The Baltimore Sun, I learned about (and made a donation to) the Maryland Market Money program, designed to reward food stamp recipients for choosing to buy healthy, locally grown food at farmers markets.My column is about Andy Harris, the state’s generally awful Republican in Congress, … Continue reading Incentivizing food stamp recipients to make healthy choices
A special bond with our postal carrier
I wrote about crimes against postal carriers in my Sunday column, under the headline, "Attention, bad guys, leave our postal carriers alone," because, as Rep. Kweisi Mfume says, for most of the baby boomer lifetime, robbing the mailman has not been a thing. There are certain people you just don't mess with, and the crime … Continue reading A special bond with our postal carrier
Unforgettable: Secretariat and the reason why
I remember certain things from 1973 -- my first car (a red Ford Galaxy); the Knicks upsetting the Celtics in the NBA playoffs; my first job on a newspaper (a summer internship with The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, Mass.), the Senate Watergate hearings, and Secretariat winning the Triple Crown in horse racing. I watched the … Continue reading Unforgettable: Secretariat and the reason why
“Light For All,” 186 years later
The Baltimore Sun, whose pages have chronicled Maryland life and its institution for generations, whose reporters covered every government and conflict and glory of the city since before the Civil War, celebrates its 186th anniversary today. Much of what follows is a previously published history of the newspaper. Ever since Vol. 1, No. 1 rolled … Continue reading “Light For All,” 186 years later
America needs Big Mother Love
This is how my Sunday column begins: If you gathered a million American mothers and asked them what the country needed, I bet this would be the consensus: More doctors, nurses and caregivers; better pay for teachers and social workers; affordable health care for everyone, including a holistic system for treating people with mental illness; … Continue reading America needs Big Mother Love
Trump should never be given access to live TV
Trump, the candidate, should never be allowed on live television again. As his behavior last night on CNN made clear — if it wasn’t clear already — he can barely utter a complete sentence without telling a lie, exaggerating or uttering an insult. The interviewer might try to stop him, correct him and expose him, … Continue reading Trump should never be given access to live TV
This gravely wounded, bleeding giant
I don’t know if this occurs to anyone else — I have not conducted a poll on the issue — but the incessant use of guns by Americans to kill Americans must be having an effect on all Americans. You’ve either become numb to the whole thing or you’ve quietly descended into a state of … Continue reading This gravely wounded, bleeding giant
“First, inflict harm” — the motto of the Republican campaign against transgender citizens
At my high school reunion last year, a classmate I knew as Tom showed up as Vivienne and, while there was some surprise in that, we accepted this new reality and moved on. We told stories and laughed and danced to songs from the 70s. I don’t know where my classmates and I came to … Continue reading “First, inflict harm” — the motto of the Republican campaign against transgender citizens
Mayor Scott, tell them to close the gates at Loch Raven again
For at least two decades and probably a lot longer, Baltimore City, owner of the Loch Raven Reservoir in Baltimore County, had a policy of closing off a section of roadway through the reservoir so that men, women and children on foot and on bikes and babies in strollers could take a hike in that … Continue reading Mayor Scott, tell them to close the gates at Loch Raven again
Cigarettes are bad for your health. So are guns.
A quick follow to my column in Friday's Baltimore Sun about the dangers created by the presence of a gun in the home or just about anywhere . . . . Just for the sake of the argument — or because I hate to think that anything within our control is hopeless — I compare … Continue reading Cigarettes are bad for your health. So are guns.
Jamie Raskin’s brilliant response to Republican know-nothings on the matter of armed rebellion
Rep. Jamie Raskin, Democrat from Maryland’s 8th District and a constitutional scholar, used the anniversary of the deadly Oklahoma City terror bombing to respond to claims from wacko Republicans that the Second Amendment gives citizens the right to armed rebellion against the government. His staff issued these prepared marks on Wednesday, 28 years from when … Continue reading Jamie Raskin’s brilliant response to Republican know-nothings on the matter of armed rebellion
Looking for work? Job fair at Pimlico is April 20
The Maryland Jockey Club will host a hiring fair on Thursday, April 20. You can apply for short-term and long-term jobs with Select Event Group, SAFE Management, The Beadle Group, Battle Tested Security, Ridgewells Catering and the Maryland Jockey Club. Representatives from these companies and others will have information about positions open for Preakness weekend … Continue reading Looking for work? Job fair at Pimlico is April 20
The artist Raoul Middleman at Buzzards Bay
I discovered years ago that the artist Raoul Middleman and I had three places in common -- Baltimore, of course, but also Brittany, from where my French in-laws immigrated, and Wareham, on the Buzzards Bay side of Cape Cod. Middleman produced many landscapes in oils, watercolors and pastels in Brittany. He also spent summers in … Continue reading The artist Raoul Middleman at Buzzards Bay
Remembering Billy Z: Loud laugh, big heart
His sister-in-law, Teresa, thought this photograph best captured Billy Zinkhan's relationship with the kids he coached in ice hockey. He was one of the first mentors of the Baltimore Saints, the program Teresa and Billy's brother, Jim, established 15 years ago for children with traumatic brain injuries or intellectual disabilities such as autism or Down … Continue reading Remembering Billy Z: Loud laugh, big heart
A new musical based on the writings of E.A. Poe
Kay-Megan Washington, who gave a stellar performance as Lula Key in “Baltimore, You Have No Idea” in December, has a role in a new musical play based on the writings of Edgar Allan Poe. Called, “Nevermore,” it is having its premiere run at Area 405 on Oliver Street this month. With music by Matt Conner … Continue reading A new musical based on the writings of E.A. Poe
Thinking of starting a business in Baltimore? Here’s a shot at free rent in the Mural Building, financing and mentoring.
This is an effort to get something going in the Waverly commercial corridor along Greenmount Avenue. My daughter is working on this project. She didn't ask me to, but I’m passing it along: “Root to Success Contest,” part of the Growing Greenmount campaign between 29th and 34th Streets. Winners will receive 12 months of rent-free … Continue reading Thinking of starting a business in Baltimore? Here’s a shot at free rent in the Mural Building, financing and mentoring.
The new patriotism: Being smarter, better informed than those still in Trumpworld
It makes me quite happy to see the U.S. Department of Justice nail hundreds of violent fools and other losers for their Trump-inspired attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. On Friday, a Trump-nominated federal judge sentenced the 25-year-old guy who used a riot shield to crush a D.C. police officer in a … Continue reading The new patriotism: Being smarter, better informed than those still in Trumpworld
Lamentations: A priest and survivor of abuse on what’s been missing in the Church’s response
After the release of the Maryland Attorney General’s depressing report on child sexual abuse by priests and other religious of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, I reached out to Father Gerard McGlone, psychologist, senior research fellow at Georgetown, a Jesuit priest who works with survivors of abuse and a survivor himself.It was too late to incorporate … Continue reading Lamentations: A priest and survivor of abuse on what’s been missing in the Church’s response
What I didn’t know about Dr. Gallo
Until this week, when I looked deeper into his background for my current Sun column, I did not know Dr. Robert Gallo's origin story as a scientist. It was the death of his six-year-old sister, Judith, when Gallo was a boy in Connecticut, that launched his career in cancer and virus research. He went on … Continue reading What I didn’t know about Dr. Gallo
“Those who fought for the Union” essay/oratory contest
This stained glass memorial to those who fought for the Union in the Civil War is in Lansdowne Christian Church - Hull Memorial in Baltimore County. Charles Hull, a Civil War veteran and Baltimore real estate investor, gave the building for the church, and each year on the Sunday before Memorial Day the church honors … Continue reading “Those who fought for the Union” essay/oratory contest
This is US: Death by gun more likely than death by motor vehicle
My Sunday column in the Sun is about that horrific fatal accident on the Beltway on Wednesday at 12:40 pm. In gathering thoughts about it, I read up on the probabilities of death in the U.S., as reported by the National Safety Council. It turned up some interesting things — for one, that we are … Continue reading This is US: Death by gun more likely than death by motor vehicle
Someone hiked through mud and over large piles of flood debris to get to a spot on the river to plant a modest memorial to someone they cared about. It was impossible to miss against the gray-brown tableau of the recently concluded winter. Someone inserted the metal stems of fake sunflowers into one of thousands … Continue reading Riverside memorial
Pardon my pessimism
As I sat down to write today’s column, I heard the most amazing thing: Boccherini’s Cello Concerto No. 3 in G Major, the adagio, performed by Frederic Lodeon. So beautiful and tragic, it fit perfectly with how I felt — sweet air and sunshine in this strange winter/premature spring and horrible news from across the … Continue reading Pardon my pessimism
The worst thing Republicans have done to their own constituents
In their latest collaboration for The Washington Post, Greg Sargent and Paul Waldman suggest political consequences ahead for Republican candidates, such as DeSantis in Florida, who have refused to allow millions of low-income Americans to obtain health insurance through Obamacare. It’s a compelling political point they make, given the popularity of Obamacare and what just … Continue reading The worst thing Republicans have done to their own constituents
Why a Baltimore City Councilman refuses interview with the FOX affiliate here
My column in the Sunday Sun tries to offer context for the decline in student test scores in the wake of the most deadly part of the pandemic, and particularly the distressing lack of math proficiency among Baltimore students. I do this because of what's been airing on the FOX affiliate here and because some … Continue reading Why a Baltimore City Councilman refuses interview with the FOX affiliate here
Just a quick note about this photograph, texted to me from Alan Klotz in Garrett County. They are Evening Grosbeaks. I have not seen them in years, and Alan's photo takes me back to winters in a small Massachusetts town. These amazing birds, colorful as canaries, would show up in our backyard to feed on … Continue reading Winter canaries
The unsolved murder of the five-dollar doc
Russo February 27th was a sad anniversary in Baltimore — the night in 1981 when “the five-dollar doc” of Harford Road, Dr. Sebastian Russo, was shot to death in his office. I covered the story way back when, attended and wrote about Dr. Russo’s funeral at St. Dominic’s. The story gave me a real sense … Continue reading The unsolved murder of the five-dollar doc
The only shame is the shame we bring on ourselves
The woman featured in my Sunday column, Tammy Finci, said something that stopped me: She hoped people would not think less of her because her father, the late David Gibbs, turned out to be a criminal -- in fact, a serial holdup man and convicted murderer who was one of Maryland's longest-serving inmates. (He's the … Continue reading The only shame is the shame we bring on ourselves
Looks like the ‘wild’ Youghiogheny River will stay that way
The Garrett County Commissioners on Thursday dealt another blow to a proposed trail along Maryland’s last official “wild river,” asking the state to use the $4.7 million slated for a Youghiogheny River passage to trail systems elsewhere in the western county.The commissioners – Paul C. Edwards, Ryan S. Savage and S. Larry Tichnell – made … Continue reading Looks like the ‘wild’ Youghiogheny River will stay that way
Coming up: Lunchtime Music at Westminster Hall, Baltimore
Westminster Hall Presents: (Re)Emerge with Balance Campaign at Lunch Under the Pipes Thursday, March 2nd, Balance Campaign | Shifting Landscapes featuring violist Kimia Hesabi Amnieh Westminster Hall is proud to welcome back our free lunchtime recital series Lunch Under the Pipes! Join us the first Thursday of each month: March 2nd, April 6th and May 4th for live … Continue reading Coming up: Lunchtime Music at Westminster Hall, Baltimore
Never rooted for a plaintiff in a media defamation case — until Dominion v. Fox “News”
The great fraud that is Fox “News” — a cable propaganda machine posing as a news channel supposedly practicing professional journalism — has been exposed in a legal filing by Dominion Voting Systems in its defamation suit against the Murdoch media machine. Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Rupert Murdoch — they all thought claims … Continue reading Never rooted for a plaintiff in a media defamation case — until Dominion v. Fox “News”
Cassilly withdraws from consideration for an ethics post. That’s good, and here’s why.
My latest column in The Sun went online before the Harford County Council met on Tuesday evening to consider, among other things, the nomination of Joe Cassilly, the elder brother of the new county executive, to a seat on the county’s Board of Ethics. It would be a fine nomination, if you don’t mind the … Continue reading Cassilly withdraws from consideration for an ethics post. That’s good, and here’s why.
Dates set for two plays by Dan Rodricks
Dates have been set for performances of two plays by Baltimore Sun columnist Dan Rodricks — a second run of “Baltimore, You Have No Idea” in December 2023 and a new play, “Baltimore Docket,” for February 2024. Both plays will be staged in the theater of the Baltimore Museum of Art. “Baltimore, You Have No … Continue reading Dates set for two plays by Dan Rodricks
Two men named Ryan relate their experiences with dangerous drivers and poor police response
Johnson My weekend column is about a young man named Ryan Johnson, formerly of Baltimore and pre-med studies at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and the hit-and-run car crash that, for the time being, has left his dreams for a career in neurosurgery on hold. When he originally contacted me, it was to tell of the accident and … Continue reading Two men named Ryan relate their experiences with dangerous drivers and poor police response
The draft ended 50 years ago. We need a new Selective Public Service.
From The Washington Post: On Jan. 27, 1973, with U.S. involvement in Vietnam over, Defense Secretary Melvin Laird declared the end of the military draft, after 25 uninterrupted years of conscription. “I wish to inform you,” Laird said, “that the Armed Forces henceforth will depend exclusively on volunteer soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.” The decision … Continue reading The draft ended 50 years ago. We need a new Selective Public Service.
Electric Ferries: Not the name of a rock band. A solution to Chesapeake Bay Bridge traffic.
Look at a map of the huge Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay and there are numerous places where you could make a crossing by boat in a reasonable amount of time. But since the 1950s, when the first Bay Bridge was completed — the second span opened in 1973 — we’ve been sending all … Continue reading Electric Ferries: Not the name of a rock band. A solution to Chesapeake Bay Bridge traffic.
Overcoming a childhood stutter helped Ben Jealous write his new book about getting past racism
In answering questions about his new book for my Sunday Sun column, Ben Jealous mentioned, as he has on occasion, that he was a stutterer. I remember him talking about this during his unsuccessful run for Maryland governor in 2018, after the incumbent, Republican Larry Hogan, released a negative campaign commercial mocking Jealous for speaking … Continue reading Overcoming a childhood stutter helped Ben Jealous write his new book about getting past racism
Watching people fight: From Brockton to Baltimore
My two most recent columns for The Baltimore Sun are about boxing, and while reporting them — interviewing amateur welterweight Courtney Feldheim and her trainer, Warren Boardley — it occurred to me that I don’t follow the “sweet science” as much as I once did. I am not a sportswriter, but over 44 years of … Continue reading Watching people fight: From Brockton to Baltimore
Ed Goldstein, RIP
Ed Goldstein, founding member and director of the Peabody Ragtime Ensemble and Baltimore’s annual Tuba Christmas, was a wonderful man and a great talent, a tubist and humorist. I was fortunate to be in his congenial company many times, usually on my radio shows and television show. He died the other day at age 68. … Continue reading Ed Goldstein, RIP
In the wee hours, the wee party elects a wee Speaker
In the wee hours of Saturday, the wee Republicans finally voted in a way that the wee-est of them all, Kevin McCarthy, could become Speaker of the House. Having made extraordinary concessions to the crazies and government saboteurs on the extreme right, McCarthy got what he wanted on the 15th ballot after midnight. But McCarthy … Continue reading In the wee hours, the wee party elects a wee Speaker
Andy Harris and Half a House of Half-Adults
Maryland's Andy Harris and other Republican members of the House Freedom Caucus are engrossed in an adolescent game in Washington, sabotaging Kevin McCarthy's quest to succeed Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House just for the hell of it. Watching Republicans in a silly schoolyard brawl would be amusing if not so bad for the … Continue reading Andy Harris and Half a House of Half-Adults
The two Baltimores
Here are the two Baltimores on display in the current editions of The Sun, as maddeningly stark as ever: Our reporters Cassidy Jensen, Darcy Costello and Alex Mann write about the despondency in the city’s deadliest neighborhood as Baltimore marks its eighth consecutive year of 300 or more homicides. Meanwhile, my colleague Jacques Kelly reports … Continue reading The two Baltimores
A good year of birding in Baltimore parks
The photograph atop this post -- a Common tern in flight with food near Fort McHenry -- is one of many from the camera of Nico Sarbanes, the subject of my last column of 2022. I thought reporting on Nico's year of birding in five Baltimore parks -- he recorded more than 200 species -- … Continue reading A good year of birding in Baltimore parks
There’s a lot you could do
There’s a lot you could do. You could buy some blank stationery, or just get some good paper, and block out quiet time to sit at a table and write letters to 10 people you care about. Hand-written notes of encouragement, thanks or praise reach people in a profound way, and more than ever in … Continue reading There’s a lot you could do
George Santos: Whatever happened to shame?
George Santos, the New York Republican who was elected in November to Congress, has confirmed some of the key findings of a New York Times investigation that he lied about almost everything -- his education, his employment history, the sources of his income, his ethnic background -- but tried to downplay the misrepresentations and vowed to take … Continue reading George Santos: Whatever happened to shame?
Christmas wish: A room full of memories
My Christmas column in The Sun is a list of holiday wishes for anyone who reads it -- all friends, known and unknown. A college professor once told me that wishing was silly, even at Christmas, that you can’t wish away a difficult or bad situation or wish for the impossible. Of course, any rational … Continue reading Christmas wish: A room full of memories
The humpback Croustille Croissant
Let me just say that, when it comes to the croissant, I have by now logged the requisite number of sampling hours to be a full-fledged expert. I have tasted croissants from numerous bakeries in the U.S. — those produced by Bonjour and Patisserie Poupon right here in Baltimore are excellent — as well as … Continue reading The humpback Croustille Croissant