I FEEL a need to go over the news of the week. Work with me here. In Baltimore County, people were upset at the prospect of a developer building a 250-unit high-rise rich-cat condominium, with some units priced as high as $2 million. At the same time, Baltimoreans were upset at the prospect of poor families moving into 10 houses scattered through the northeast part of the city. I got an idea: Bring the rich-cat condo to the city and send the poor families to Baltimore County. Can we all agree on that?
Kindness of neighbors
Larry "Hoss" Harris, an old friend and Evening Sun colleague, is at home in Northeast Baltimore recuperating from cancer surgery but he went out of his way to make sure we know about something his neighbors, Vanessa and Rudy Harman, did for him last week. Hoss thinks there should be a Good Neighbor Hall of Fame, with the Harmans as charter members.
This happened on the day Kathy Klein, Hoss' wife, brought him home from Johns Hopkins Hospital. About 5 p.m., there was a knock at their door on Alta Avenue. It was a neighbor with bad news: Kathy's uncle, John Benda, 88, who lived a few doors away, had collapsed on his front lawn.
"Enter Vanessa Harman," Hoss reports. "She's a nurse. She was just pulling up to her house, dashed to the scene and gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to Uncle John until paramedics came. Then, my wife went with her uncle in the ambulance."
Hoss says his 13-year-old daughter, Sarah, was distraught. "Vanessa took her into her home, stopped her hyperventilating and then came back to check on me," he says. "I could do nothing but stand on the porch clad in a sheet like some antique Roman senator while the emergency was going on."
Rudy Harman, an auto mechanic, arrived home and kept tabs on Hoss and Sarah while Vanessa scrambled off to the hospital to be with Kathy.
"Vanessa stayed with Kathy until, unfortunately, her beloved uncle was declared dead due to a ruptured aorta," Hoss says. "She drove Kathy home, tucked the entire Klein-Harris family into bed, and she and Rudy went home.
"In a time when `Love thy neighbor' seems only an echo of some idealistic past, the actions of Vanessa and Rudy stand out as acts of respect and consideration which are rarely matched. Their selflessness and charity surely will not be forgotten. ..."
Therapy and chicken pot pie
Hoss Harris' story reminds me to ask TJI readers: When was the last time you made a chicken pot pie? Suggestion: Make yourself a chicken pot pie and make a second one for an elderly neighbor. You'll be pretty darn pleased with yourself if you do. There's nothing quite like the smile on an elderly neighbor's face when presented with an unsolicited chicken pot pie.
Be still, you attorneys
Defense lawyers dismiss as a feel-good gimmick the new Maryland law that allows people to sue heroin and cocaine dealers for drug-related deaths. Victims' families will never be able to collect damages, they argue, because drug dealers are skilled at hiding their assets.
The lawyers never seem to have any trouble getting paid, do they?
A big fan of Sandler
Our old friend, Uncle Yankel, likes the writing of Gilbert Sandler, nostalgia connoisseur and author of "Jewish Baltimore: A Family Album." Says Uncle Yankel of Sandler's work: "It keeps you abreast of what went on years ago."
Albert Belle, the writer
Did you read the essay by Albert Belle in The Sunday Sun Perspective section? It was an interesting, if superficial piece about Belle's choice of a baseball career over a shot at professional football. I liked the effort, but thought it could have used a few cuts - Belle's tone of martyrdom in comparing himself to Jackie Robinson seemed a bit over the top - while some of the transitions could have been smoother. I encourage Mr. Belle to continue writing, but with some expert advice.
(Yeah, right. What editor is going to tell him he needs to improve his writing? He doesn't take batting tips from Terry Crowley.)
Enough already, Delaware
For such an inconsequential state, Delaware is hugely annoying, starting with the $5 in tolls it extorts from drivers on Interstate 95 for the short trip between New Jersey and Maryland. I think the whole state suffers from a Napoleonic complex, perhaps a result of all those DuPont chemicals. I'd like to put up a sign at the border: Now Entering Delaware: The State With The Little Man Problem.
The on-hold music challenge
TJI reader Joe Heaycock thinks he's found the worst telephone on-hold music in the western hemisphere - that of the state of Maryland's Division of Vital Records. I checked it out, and I think Joe has a pretty good case.
After dialing the division's main number, you punch certain buttons to get to "corrections or changes to birth certificates." If you then find yourself on hold, you'll hear a Bach-inspired thing that pop music aficionados will recall as "A Lover's Concerto (How Gentle Is The Rain)." It's a slow, distorted computer-chip recording; it's the sound that might be produced by a music box after being thrown from the 13th floor of the Belvedere.
Joe Heaycock dares other TJI readers to top his nomination for Worst Telephone Hold Music In The Greater Patapsco Drainage Basin. So the game is joined. Contact us with your nominations at This Just In, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278, or by e-mail at TJIDAN@aol.com. I'll enlist a panel of judges to review the nominations and vote a winner.