Maybe the managers of Towson Commons thought they were...

salmagundi

December 23, 1993

Maybe the managers of Towson Commons thought they were doing a public service by putting a huge TV screen at the rear of the upper-level food court. Pick up a pizza or Hunan chicken, then settle in front of the big screen to enjoy some viewing while you chow down, something like that.

It might have seemed like a good idea originally (although we think more people should try leaving their homes without having the crutch of a blaring idiot box ever near).

But now we're having serious doubts after a colleague told us of the unpleasant experience he and his 4-year-old daughter recently had as they walked past the screen on their way from the parking garage to the Pizzeria Uno restaurant. As they went by, our friend says, he and his daughter were bombarded by the gigantic face and booming voice of a TV news anchor describing the latest Baltimore homicide in the sort of gruesome detail that our friend feels is best kept from little ears.

Only two customers sat at the tables facing the screen, watching with the typical TV viewer's slack jaw and glazed eyeballs. Our friend says he was tempted to cover his daughter's ears with his hands or break into very loud song in order to drown out the news report. Instead he just hurried her along.

Later, as they left the pizza restaurant, our colleague and his daughter passed the screen again. This time, shock-jock and author Howard Stern was being interviewed on one of those syndicated tabloid-TV programs and painting word-pictures of his own glorious anatomy, private parts and all.

Towson Commons' management likes to sell the mall as a fTC family-friendly place. For the most part, that's true, except in the case of this TV screen. If the screen is really necessary -- and we consider that a big "if" -- couldn't the managers program less offensive TV fare? Or yank the screen and play music -- classical, jazz, pop oldies -- for the table-sitters at the back of the hall?

Or, perish the thought, why not leave people to converse with each other or be alone with their thoughts, and see what comes of it?

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