Scandal translates from Greek tragedies


September 14, 1998|By DAN RODRICKS

I have heard it said more than once in the past week that the Clinton scandal seems to be playing out like a Greek tragedy. But which one? Something by Euripides? ("Hey, Monica, look what you did to my pants! You rippa deez!") Sophocles is more like it. Here's something from "Oedipus Rex" that might apply: "The tyrant is a child of pride who drinks from his great sickening cup recklessness and vanity, until from his high chest headlong he plummets to the dust of hope." (Hope, Ark.) Or this one: "How dreadful knowledge of the truth can be when there's no help in truth!" Here are a couple of lines from "Antigone" that might apply to Kenneth Starr: "Nobody likes the man that brings bad news," or "How dreadful it is when the right man judges wrong!" And I found a line from "Tereus" that might play nicely in an impeachment debate: "A remedy too strong for the disease."

So, it's a Greek tragedy. Maybe. To me, it sounds more like an Arthur Miller play directed by Larry Flynt.

Public won't be crabby

I don't know if the politicians around here will act to save the blue crab, but they shouldn't worry about public condemnation if they do. In fact, they might feel the heat if they don't. My mail on this subject - and it's considerable - indicates that Marylanders are convinced crabs need a break. A significant cut in the harvest, even a moratorium, gets the nod from just about everyone who has written or called in reaction to columns on this subject. Here's what David S. Ray wrote one day while sitting in Allen's Book Shop, Baltimore: "My wife and I have a cottage in southern Dorchester County and we see the decimation of the crab up close. ... The local piers were piled high with the crabbers' pots in August. This is a time when they traditionally catch some of the biggest crabs of the season. The sad truth is that unless there is some restraint on the part of everybody, there will soon be no crabs left. Personally, I have not eaten any steamed crabs this summer and I don't intend to have them any time soon."

Unworshiped stadium

From the Rev. Lowell Thompson, St. Stephens and James' Evangelical Lutheran Church, South Baltimore: "The inside of the Ravens stadium might be state-of-the-art, but the outside, art it sure ain't! Can't we Formstone the monster? And maybe put some marble steps out front?" Yeah, and ceramic Elvises in the windows.

Movie's set

Don't you believe those bluffs about how that Richard Gere-Julia Roberts movie might be made here. It's happening. If I'm wrong, hon, you can spray-paint my loafers pink on the Tomb of the Unknown Wino in Fells Point, and I'll give you 20 minutes to draw a crowd.

Neighborhood buzz

TJI reader Joanne Tetrault, a Hampden resident, claims a helicopter - she thought, at first, a city police helicopter - buzzed the area between 34th and 37th streets in the middle of the night several times last week. Oddly, says Tetrault, the copter had no searchlight. "It buzzed the entire perimeter of Hampden, then headed downtown along the Jones Falls Expressway, and made the rounds again about 20 minutes later," reports Tetrault. "If the police are searching for a most wanted, let us know. If not, let us get some sleep!"

Hey, Hampdenites, haven't you noticed? The TV stations have choppers now. That Rite Aid honcho has one. The skies are hell.

Most-stupid criminals

Only in Baltimore: A would-be bank robber actually started a stickup note with, "Hon." It happened more than a year ago - May 8, 1997 - but it happened. "Hon, Let me have all the money, and don't do anything stupid." (Don't you love it? A guy tries to rob an Eastern Avenue bank outfitted with surveillance cameras and he tells the teller not to do anything stupid.) The dope must have had second thoughts. Within seconds, he asked for the stickup note back, reached over the counter and grabbed it, then ran out of the bank. He didn't get any money, hon. He hasn't been caught yet, either. If you want to see what he looks like, check out the most-wanted page of the Maryland Bankers Association Web site,

Rejuvenated falls

Once before I die: I gotta canoe the Jones Falls and shoot the pilings under the expressway. Why? Because it's there, to quote Edmund Hillary, or was it Hillary Clinton? Other adventurers have already done it - some by kayak, some by canoe - from Lake Roland to the cavernous stretch under the highway in Woodberry. If the Department of Public Works can swing it, extra water will flow from the lake again next weekend for the two-day Jones Falls Celebration. The Trinidad & Tobago Steel Drum Band plays Saturday "under the arch" at the Wyman Park bridge, and Mambo Combo performs Sunday at the Greenmount School field. This sounds like a hoot and a half - hikes, rock climbing, kids' stuff, all to celebrate a river that looks to most people like a drainage ditch. Only in Baltimore.

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