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how things should be

`If' list shows how things could be different

July 07, 2000|By DAN RODRICKS

IF I were an official with the state police or the State Highway Administration, I'd order road crews to leave Hon Man alone, and allow his "Hon" tag to stay on the welcome-to-Baltimore sign on the B-W Parkway. How many times do I have to say this?

If I were Cal Ripken, I'd get up to bat in the All-Star game, hit a home run and announce my retirement.

If I were William Donald Schaefer and I found it "difficult" to talk about taxing Web sales at a time when the economy is doing well and the state enjoys a budget surplus, then I wouldn't.

If there's one thing that identifies a kid as an aspiring Baltimoron, it's a blue tongue from a blueberry snowball in summer.

If there's one thing I enjoy, it's watching men and women stroll through my neighborhood, nonchalantly eyeballing everybody else's junk, on the eve of bulk-trash day.

If I were AOL boss Steve Case, I'd buy the Montreal Expos and bring them to my base of operations - Northern Virginia.

If I were Peter Angelos, I'd stop complaining about The Sun and just buy it.

If I were Jim Hunter or Fred Manfra , I'd go wild and crazy some night during an Orioles broadcast and call Angelos "Peter."

If you want to start a good argument, go to a barbecue with a Baltimore police officer's family and a Baltimore firefighter's family, and suggest that the cop deserves a much higher pay raise than the firefighter, and that you agree with Martin O'Malley that pay parity between cops and firefighters should end. That discussion could end with a 911 call.

If the Ravens' Ray Lewis keeps passing along life lessons from his experience in Atlanta - as he did recently in a surprise appearance at a symposium for NFL rookies in California - he might become the league's most valuable player.

If there's something in Baltimore I could have lived without, it's that big, dumb, multicolored steel sculpture back in front of the federal courthouse on Lombard Street again. Doctor, my eyes!

If I could get my hands on that compound Hopkins scientists used to get mice to stop eating, I'd drop a dose in my garage. The mice there ate all my grass seed and the strings of an old Jack Kramer tennis racket.

If there's an award for duende in tennis - charisma beyond charisma, true star power - it must be shared by Venus and Serena Williams. They have more duende even when they lose than Pete Sampras has when he wins.

If there's one thing I am not looking forward to this year, it's the opening of the 1.6 million square-foot Arundel Mills mega-mall on what had been 380 rural acres west of BWI.

If I could be allowed one last comment about the now-fallen observation tower at Gettysburg: The monstrosity, a privately owned tourist attraction on the edge of sacred ground, symbolized that which is rotten within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania -- the trashing of beautiful landscape with crass commercialism. Over the years, a state rich with natural resources - mountains, rolling hills, farm valleys, big rivers and small creeks - has allowed itself to become marred with miles upon miles of billboards and some of the worst housing and industrial sprawl I've seen anywhere. Maryland is pristine compared to its neighbor to the north. The Gettysburg tower was an exquisite example of American grotesque, Keystone State-style. Good riddance, but it's only a start.

If I were Jim Ward, developer of Belvedere Square in Baltimore, I'd sell the place to Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse and be done with it.

If I had my way - and if TJI reader Damian O'Connor had his - the state would offer a new series of eye-catching and colorful license plates - featuring the blue crab, a Baltimore Oriole, a wood duck, maybe the Wye Oak, maybe Divine in her "Pink Flamingos" gown, maybe William Donald Schaefer in a Victorian bathing suit - and collect even more money for Chesapeake restoration.

If I had my way, there would be a one-year moratorium on commercial fishing and oyster and crab harvests in the Chesapeake Bay - just to see what good it might do.

If there's one thing in the new millennium for which I'm grateful, it's that I missed that made-for-TV movie about the Three Stooges.

If I had it to do over again, I'd buy Phil Dypsky's saloon in Canton. Not only was it in a great location, offered for sale as the yuppie invasion started, but it came packed with cases of polyester neckties, rug remnants and a hall full of discontinued bathroom fixtures.

If not for witnesses, no one from my childhood - no one who remembers my mother, the former Rose Popolo, torturing me with boiled green leafy vegetables - would believe I actually ate and enjoyed Sylvia's "soulfully sensational" canned mustard greens.

If there's something more unsettling than a damp handle on a restroom door in a fast-food restaurant, I don't know what it is.

If anyone finds my daughter's yellow-and-blue Naval Academy cap - she left it at Planet Hollywood in Harborplace last week - please give me a call, 410-332-6166.

If anyone finds my old Orioles cap - I left it at Hooters last week ... ah, never mind.

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