A singular exit from Curtis Bay, and other tidbits

DAN RODRICKS

January 07, 1993|By DAN RODRICKS

Pieces of column too short to use:

Baltimalaprop . . . Ordered by police to leave her home after a potentially dangerous chemical gas leak, a resident of Curtis Bay told a TV reporter: "We were evaporated from the area."

*

Believe me. I wanted to watch the Buffalo-Houston game last Sunday. In fact, I started watching it. Saw the Oilers' first touchdown. Then Nicholas took over. He's 2 1/2 years old and he calls the shots. He wanted to watch "Mary Poppins" on videotape. He was damn persistent about it, too! Nick won. We watched "Poppins." I heard it was a pretty good game.

*

You might remember hearing about the World War II veteran who petitioned the Navy to have his cremated remains buried at sea by having them shot through a torpedo tube of a submarine.

It was Fred Judd, former Evening Sun copy editor and veteran submariner, who made that request. Fred, who served aboard the USS Bowfin, died Dec. 13, 1991, in Florida. His son, Fred Judd Jr., says the Navy politely refused to honor his father's request, but gave him proper burial at sea, April 30, 1992, due east of Cape Hatteras. The USS Baltimore, a nuclear sub, carried Fred's remains to sea.

*

The prospect of minor league baseball in Baltimore prompts further suggestions for Memorial Stadium: Take off the upper deck. Make it a neat 20,000-seat stadium. Open it up for high school football games, field hockey tournaments, a few Hopkins and Loyola lacrosse games (not to mention the NCAA playoffs), and visiting professional soccer teams. Build a track and host college and high school track meets. Bring in the Frederick Keys for a series or two each summer.

Ditto Hagerstown Suns. Bring the flea market back! Move the Waverly farmers market there. In other words, keep the place. Leave it -- and they will come.

*

Brendan Walsh was found yesterday morning, paintbrush in hand, outside Viva House, the Catholic Worker shelter and soup kitchen he and his wife, Willa Bickham, have been operating in one of the most bitterly poor sections of West Baltimore for 25 years. Walsh was sealing in white paint a four-foot concrete headstone he had planted in the yard adjoining Viva House. Who died?

Three-hundred and thirty-five Baltimoreans. That's the widely-publicized, record-breaking city homicide count for 1992. Several of the deaths occurred within a few blocks of Viva House. The violence is a reflection of the city's myriad social problems. It's a cause for mourning. So, naturally, the tombstone fits.

"But it's not so much a memorial to those who died but a tribute to those who have survived this neighborhood, and continue to survive, all these years," Walsh says. A week from tomorrow, he and the Viva House community will hold a vigil at the monument in connection with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, observed the following Monday. "It's a monument to the living, to those who struggle tirelessly in our neighborhood," Walsh says. "We will call attention to the root causes of the violence -- poverty, greed, unemployment, no housing, bad housing, inadequate food, education and health care." When Walsh is finished painting, there will be a quote on the headstone from King: "We shall hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope." Echoed by Walsh, 25 years after he started this difficult mission, that's a remarkable sentiment.

*

Whenever we attempt, as from time to time we do in this column, to further define the marvelous word "duende" by listing those who personify it, Nureyev and Dizzy certainly come to mind. Rudolf Nureyev? Dizzy Gillespie? They had it -- or were of duende possessed. It is what Federico Garcia Lorca called the "energetic instinct," that which no flamenco singer or bullfighter could be without. Charisma to the nth power -- class and style, but even more than that. "To say that duende is merely charisma or panache or flair is rather to demean it," wrote the late jazz critic George Frazier. "For while it is certainly all those things, it is the nth power of them. It is chemistry." Duende might be defined as the power to transmit a profound feeling from the soul of the artist to his audience. That was Dizzy. That was Nureyev.

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