Maryland skins muskrats, but Texas is even worse

This Just In . . .

April 12, 1996|By DAN RODRICKS

Spy -- the most talked-about magazine in America once upon a time (like, seven years ago) -- is still published. (I mention this because a lot of Baby Boomers and Gen Xers might have moved on to hipper magazines, believing Spy had spun out of style -- and jokes -- by now.)

But just to let us know it's still out there -- and I'm glad it is -- Spy has come up with one of those surveys magazines publish to stir up the provinces. This time, it's a survey of the "most annoying states" in America. Maryland ranks eighth. How did the Free State get to be the Eighth Most Annoying State?

We have towns called Crapo and Boring, David Hasselhoff is a native, we have a civic dislike for Randy Newman, we celebrate )) muskrat skinning, we're too close to the District of Columbia and "in Baltimore, it is illegal to scrub sinks, no matter how dirty they get."

I don't know where they get this stuff. Still, I like the concept of listing states on this basis.

Texas got Spy's vote for most annoying.

But I move to have Delaware (inexplicably 26th on Spy's list) designated as Numero Uno Annoyo. It's small, full of chemicals, a refuge for credit card companies, and it costs you an arm and a leg in tolls to drive through it. Do I hear a second?

'My brother's keeper'

A recent column on the death of a 33-year-old man on the Jones Falls Expressway struck a chord with several readers. The man, a manic-depressive who had been receiving psychiatric treatment, apparently ran onto the expressway and into an oncoming van during the afternoon rush hour of Monday, March 18. What bothered many readers was the suggestion that no one had stopped to help the man (or alert police by car phone) as he ambled along the JFX shoulder; one witness had spotted him there some three hours before his death.

Several readers warned against stopping to help strangers on highways. Others scorned the idea that JFX motorists should feel guilty for not having reported the man (and questioned whether we can assume that no one had). Then there was this letter, from a reader named Gale:

"I, too, am a manic-depressive. Thankfully, the medication I take controls my illness. Over the Memorial Day weekend 1995, I took my car and a packed bag of clothes and spent the entire weekend hallucinating, including hearing voices.

"The one voice I listened to instructed me to park my car, take my belongings and walk south. I was in Norfolk, Va., at the time. When I got to a main thoroughfare, the voice told me I was invincible, that nothing could harm me, and that I should walk against the traffic -- walk toward the traffic and dart in and out of traffic.

"I thank Jesus because someone called the police, who in turn called my family, and I was placed in the psychiatric ward for almost a month before I was well enough to come home.

"I'm not trying to make anyone feel guilty. This letter is just about someone in Norfolk, Va., one night in May 1995, who saw a strange sight, someone in distress, and decided to help. In my case, someone out there knew he [or she] was their brother's keeper."

Less law is preferred

One of my favorite quotes of the year -- the kind you rip out and stick to the refrigerator -- comes from Nathaniel Oaks, state delegate out of West Baltimore. Six years ago, Natty O was convicted of stealing more than $10,000 from his re-election fund, as well as perjury and misconduct in office.

Of course, since then, the voters of the 41st District have forgiven him and returned him to office. Once again Natty O gets to go to Annapolis to help write the laws of this land. But not too many laws. When it was proposed that police be allowed to use hidden cameras to catch motorists who blow red lights at certain intersections, Natty O opposed the idea. Said he: "I don't want to give law enforcement one more tool to come after me."

Bag some trash

High-fives to Del. Mike Finifter of Baltimore County for organizing a community trash pickup on April 21 along Reisterstown Road, between Pikesville and Owings Mills. It's needed there -- and just about everywhere else -- after the miserably long winter left a residue of trash along city and suburban streets. (The city is really a mess this spring.)

The February flooding carried gobs of gah-bahge into stream valleys, too. If you're headed to a state park -- Patapsco Valley, in particular -- take a lawn bag with you. No one should walk out of a state park without a full sack of trash.

One more "Think Globally, Act Locally" suggestion: This Sunday, from 9 a.m. till 3 p.m., the Reservoir Anglers Association is staging its annual cleanup of the Loch Raven watershed. If you want to help, show up at Merrymans Mill Road and Poplar Hill, north of the Warren Road Bridge. Trash bags will be provided.

Paternal police

Maybe my ears are going on me. I could swear that radio commercial blasting Anne Arundel County Executive John G. Gary ends with the tag line, "Paternal Order of Police." ELLIPSES Then there was the local TV anchorman who referred to Passover as "an age-old holiday." And I thought it was something new! ELLIPSES A Baltimore obstetrician tells us that some paramedics he knows frequently have been asked to give instruction in the "hemlock maneuver." (Please hold. That would be Dr. Kevorkian.)

Pub Date: 4/12/96

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