O.J., outrage, and domestic violence

This Just In...

June 26, 1996|By DAN RODRICKS

Some people are condemning O. J. Simpson because he will hold a black-tie fund-raiser tomorrow at his Los Angeles estate for a group that works to combat spousal abuse. The outrage is understandable. O. J. might claim sincerity, but this kind of stunt's prime motivation is probably the rehabilitation of his image. It's about as repulsive as things get in our repulsive celebrity culture.

Still, there should be no surprise that O. J. found a nonprofit group willing to go along with this rehab job. Despite heightened public awareness of the dark social problems they confront, agencies that deal with domestic violence aren't exactly flowing in public and private funding. As a matter of fact, the opposite is true. Allow me to raise one fresh local example.

The Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Center in Baltimore County just learned that its budget for next year is being cut by $27,000. That doesn't sound like much, but it means this: SADVC will no longer be able to offer legal services to the poor women who come, battered and bruised, to the agency for help. It means Mary E. A. Olivieri, the hard-working attorney who, with a paralegal, advises up to 400 clients per year, won't be around after September.

"Believe me, it would be a major handicap if we did not have counsel available to assist these victims," Baltimore County District Court Judge Patricia S. Pytash, wrote earlier this month. "Our numbers of filings are increasing at a very high rate, and too many victims [of domestic violence] are lost in the system because they do not have any help."

Pytash's efforts to maintain funding for SADVC's legal services were unsuccessful. The Maryland Legal Services Corp. cut its grant to SADVC because Congress sharply cut its funding of legal services for the poor, and because the Maryland General Assembly, while more than willing to provide millions for football stadiums, refused to increase funding for legal services this year.

This is another example of the unwillingness of political leaders, among others, to put their money where they claim their heart is. For all the yapping this country went through about domestic violence after the Simpson episode, funding for services still lags.

Taking a stand, finally

Remember Stanley and Linda Spitalsky? They're the couple who, with their fourth season in the roadside refreshment business approaching, couldn't find a new space for their Royal Hawaiian Snowball Stand. Twenty-five shopping centers in Baltimore, Anne Arundel and Howard counties refused to lease them space for the 10-by-16-foot snowball stand. (And it didn't seem to matter that Royal Hawaiian offers 72 flavors!)

Anyway, to make a long story short -- something we do frequently in This Just In -- the Spitalsky's have a new place. It's in the Southview Shopping Center, which is in Brooklyn Park.

Picture this in Fells Point

Remember Martha Gatewood, the artist whose obstinately senseless works of art -- "Aliens Go Bowling In Utah And Find True Love" -- provoked months of intellectualizing while they were on display at Mencken's Cultured Pearl? Gatewood is back, this time at The Daily Grind in Fells Point, and this time with a three-panel work entitled, "The Dan Rodricks Weather Station and Bottle Opener." I'm so flattered to be included in a Gatewood. I intend to buy the piece (however priceless it is) and hang it in my kitchen. (It has utility, after all.) If you find yourself driven to The Grind, make sure you check out the other Gatewood pieces hanging there: "The Toaster," which is actually a self-portrait; "Invention of the Safety Pin," a nude; and a heretical piece called "Roasting Mickey," which will really burn the people at Disney. I think Martha Gatewood is at the top of her game.

Muffin has new home

The wimp who abandoned his dog because his new wife wanted no part of it doesn't deserve to know this, but Muffin has a new home, and it looks like a good one, too.

I mean, I'm glad to inform all readers of This Just In of this good news, but I don't think the dog's master (Master Wimp!) deserves the satisfaction. We're talking about a guy who left his little dog for road kill.

Anyway, it looks like The Muff might live happily ever after.

The cute 8-year-old cocker spaniel mix arrived at the Carroll County home of Judy and Bill Clark yesterday about noon, having been transported there by Jill Quinley. When Quinley's family found the pooch 10 days ago along Middletown Road in northern Baltimore County, it had a $5 bill attached to its collar, along with a note explaining that Muffin's "daddy" had to let her go because her "new mommy" wanted the animal destroyed.

So far, Muffin's former owner has not stepped forward to identify or explain himself. I'd still like to know what happened. So, hey, buddy, give me a call, and you can tell me all about it. We'll meet at a country-Western place, you can cry in your beer, I'll take notes and let you borrow my copy of "Iron John." Then we'll see about getting you and your wife on "Montel."

Pub Date: 6/26/96

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