New year holds hope for the old hometown

January 04, 2001|By Michael Olesker

BRAND-NEW years arrive bearing brand-new anxieties. Just when we had the old year wrapped around us like a security blanket, the chilly new year shows up. It's all uncharted territory out there in the vastness of 2001, and the landscape is filled with pitfalls and potholes.

Fortunately, though, help and inspiration have arrived with ...

Some reasons to go on living:

1. The city of Baltimore didn't set a new homicide record last year. Drug dealers are either getting more civilized, or their aim is getting worse. If that's not a source of municipal pride, what is?

2. Greg's Bagels. The rest of Belvedere Square might resemble a ghost town, but this essential staff of life is still available, the most luscious bagels in all of bageldom.

3. It's 2001, but they're still selling roses at the Cross Street Market at 1981 prices.

4. Bill Struever's just getting started.

5. There's a new sense of meteorological perspective across the land. The next time your favorite weather forecaster calls for a "definite" snowstorm, you'll know better than to make the traditional Baltimore panic run for that all-important toilet paper and beer.

6. Your favorite stores have pretty much restocked the toilet paper and beer shelves since last week's panic run.

7. The city's new housing commissioner, Paul T. Graziano, has had the job for only a month, but he's already accomplished the impossible. His dreadful behavior has almost made us forget the last housing commissioner of the Schmoke administration, Daniel P. Henson.

8. There's a growing sense of energy and enthusiasm on 36th Street in the heart of Hampden. Hampden's cool. It's like Highlandtown without the glitter.

9. Linda Tripp's on the cover of George magazine with a new face lift. Poor Linda thinks it's her looks that are her big problem, and not her ethics.

10. John Paterakis was right. His hotel will help a new generation of tourists discover East Baltimore, and extend the energy and economic windfall beyond Harborplace.

11. Most people with three-digit IQs have stopped saying, "Is that your final answer?"

12. With President-elect George W. Bush's concern for the environment - essentially, none that's observable - those melting polar ice caps will make for great surfing through the Inner Harbor.

13. You can still rent bowling shoes for only a buck at the Patterson lanes on Eastern Avenue.

14. Ellen Sauerbrey might yet be declared winner of the 1994 Maryland gubernatorial race. She's still waiting for those last-minute chad counts to arrive from Palm Beach County.

15. Major League Baseball will not be returning to Washington next summer - but, if a few kid prospects come through, it might finally return to Oriole Park.

16. If you start now, you might find a parking space at Towson Town Center in time for next year's holiday shopping. But, just in case, pack provisions.

17. The law of averages has to click in soon. Any week now, Ron Smith and his telephone screener might allow a caller on the air who actually disagrees with Smith - and then perhaps Smith will actually let the caller express an opposing point of view over the air, and perhaps he will not cut off the caller, or ridicule the caller, thus leading to a remarkable thing called a civil conversation instead of an act of bullying.

18. Whatever Baltimore's sports problems might be, at least Daniel Snyder doesn't own any of our ball clubs.

19. The Baltimore-Washington 2012 Olympics bid is saner than you think. Just because Baltimoreans nurture a municipal inferiority complex doesn't mean the rest of the world shares that view of us.

20. Parris Glendening and Ben Cardin have been spotted together. Probably exchanging charisma tips.

21. Only 11 more months until the folks on 34th Street in Hampden start lighting up the night skies again.

22. There are 101 days until income taxes are due.

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