City in TroubleThis is a moment of deep frustration...


January 29, 1995

City in Trouble

This is a moment of deep frustration. Recently, at 4 p.m., we took delivery of a new car. Later that day, in a burst of cultural enthusiasm, we decided to attend a film at a mid-town art theater.

We parked the car in what appeared to be a well-lit, active area. When we returned to the car, we found a door destroyed by an attempted forced entry; obviously an effort to steal the car.

We called the police and the investigating officer efficiently filled out the required forms and reports. There was clear evidence that fingerprinting would have been productive, but no fingerprint unit was available to respond to his request. Simply a routine matter for us to sort out with our insurance company. If only it were that simple.

The psychological process that followed is what was most frightening. First, we were angry and frustrated. That quickly gave way to being grateful that we were not assaulted. Then we were appreciative that the car was not actually stolen. Finally, we felt guilty for being so stupid as to park the car on the street and for assuming it would be safe.

Is it really any wonder that people don't want to live in the city? Won't come downtown? That restaurants, theaters, galleries and other businesses struggle to survive?

We live in the city. I have a business in the city. In my business activities I have assisted the city in economic development projects and have participated in efforts to bring nonprofit organizations to Baltimore.

In the earlier days of the ''renaissance,'' I worked on Charles Center and then on the Inner Harbor projects. I am no stranger to the city's story of opportunities and its economic impact on the region.

Perhaps it is the mood of the moment, but I am seeing a city knee-deep in trash, waist-deep in economic and social problems, and neck-deep in big trouble.

Here we are. Sitting in the glory of being an Empowered City, on the threshold of spending $100 million in solutions. Is it too late? Have the problems of the heart and soul of the city become so burdensome as to be fatal?

I hope not, but it is getting harder to be optimistic. I would like it if we could invest one dollar, in one person, for one minute of peace and tranquility, in the city. Perhaps then, if I could talk with that person, my faith that the city is still actually habitable, would

be restored.

Fred E. Worthington


Less on Art

Linell Smith points out (article, Jan. 20) that Maryland art groups are going to lobby Congress to continue funding for National Endowment for the Arts.

Another assault by a special interest group to defeat the pledge of both parties to reduce the federal budget. Another lobbying effort to maintain a federal expense which contributes to the deficit and benefits a minority of citizens.

Tax payers voiced their choices in the November election: Less or no taxpayer money to be spent on federal programs which do not benefit the majority of citizens.

Reading through the list of grants to Maryland, I find few of the programs which are necessary to the lives of the general population.

If I want to see any of the programs which NEA sponsors, I am willing to make a judgment if I should spend my money to see them or if I have other more pressing priorities.

That is my personal choice. My federal tax dollars should not be spent except to protect my rights as a citizen, not to entertain me or others.

I'm sorry if some beneficiaries of these NEA endowments are going to lose their employment if funding is cut, but these are my

tax dollars.

Charles D. Connelly


One More Song

I would like to add a coda to Fred Rasmussen's fine memorial to Mickey Fields.

His passing is truly a loss.

The Monday night sessions at the Bird Cage were both a school for aspiring jazz players and a gathering spot for all musicians.

In my own case, Mickey and Johnny Polite provided a validation which led to my wife being the only suburbanite who spent her election days at the band table at the SSBBD Club on Rutland Avenue.

It is true that no one ever had a bad word for Mickey. Of course, he never spoke ill of anyone else.

I once won an informal bet with Ray Gaskins on that score. Ray said that Mickey didn't like a certain saxophonist. I said that might be true, but we wouldn't hear it from Mickey. We asked, and his response was, "Oh yeah, he's doing good stuff."

I would like to close with another family story. My wife and I used to eat dinner on Friday nights at Martick's -- a piece of jazz history in itself -- and then walk up the alley to The Closet, where I would sit in with the band.

A couple of years later, she took a jazz history course at the college and was discussing the rather blah response of her classmates to it.

She commented on the fact she was the only one who had actually been around the genre and mentioned the night at The Closet.

What she remembered was a woman refusing to leave with her group and her reason. She said, and I remembered it also, "I want to hear Mickey play one more song."

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