Is such a splendid misery to the...


March 11, 1991

IF THE GOVERNORSHIP is such a splendid misery to the fellow who once reveled in the marvels of mayoral office, let us suggest a solution: The presidency or, as a booby prize, the vice presidency.

Once either nomination is secured, the fellow could stop having to battle with budget deficits, obstreperous legislators, ungrateful constituents and parochial journalists. He could turn his duties over to his lieutenant governor and travel the country, giving Americans everywhere the benefit of his shrewd and experienced insight into what makes the country tick and how it can be made to tick better.

Then, if all fails, he could return to his duties in the State House refreshed from his sabbatical in national politics to face his final years in public office. No longer would the slings and arrows of mere provincials drive him to paranoia. He could take the wider, loftier view of things, putting his critics in their proper microscopic perspective.

Of course, if the fellow becomes president or vice president, he can afford to be magnanimous. With only the slightest touch of condescension, he could deign to check in at old urban haunts in between summit visits to Moscow and Beijing and there regale adoring admirers with tales of the days of pot holes and ribbon cutting.

What satisfaction there could be in letting the world know that this is one president who never lost his love for City Hall, and never lost his loathing of the State House.

ODETTA IS NO household word these days. But for many years in the 1960s only Joan Baez was more popular than this sassy, Alabama-born folk singer/civil rights campaigner.

Odetta, 60, recently came back for a concert at the University of Maryland at Baltimore. Ever an activist, she suggested that instead of just songs perhaps the audience might want to discuss the gulf war.

Though many in the audience remembered her from the civil rights struggles in Selma, Ala., and the 1963 march on Washington, on this gloomy Sunday afternoon they said they would rather hear her warm, vibrant contralto.

For the next couple of hours this survivor of musical changes sang everything from Southern sharecropper ballads to a suite centered on "The House of the Rising Sun." In the end, everyone linked hands and joined her in "We Shall Overcome" and "Amazing Grace." Just like the old days.

Odetta said she was on her way to Alabama to learn more from her relatives about her black family's native American roots.

SIGN OF THE times: A dry-cleaning establishment in the Baltimore County community of Hereford proclaims that it will clean their customers' American flags free of charge.

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