ANOTHER dispatch from the sidewalks of the city they call Baltimore: Today, a little commiseration on that new bulk-trash removal policy, which requires the removee to make an appointment with the remover and to describe in maybe too much detail what needs to be removed.
When Dan Van Allen, SoWeBo craftsman, artist and neighborhood activist, called the city Department of Public Works to schedule a pickup in front of his rowhouse, he had a telephone conversation that showed how prickly this new policy can be.
"I was asked what items I wanted picked up," Van Allen says. "I said, `An expansion tank.' The woman on the phone said, `What's an expansion tank?' I said, `A small metal tank that goes to a home boiler.' She asked, `What else, sir?' I said, `I'm not sure exactly.' She said, `Sir, the crew cannot pick up your items unless they know what to look for.' So I said, `OK. Some barbecue legs.' She said, `They will only pick up three items, sir.' I said, `They'll be bundled up. ... Also, a box.' She said, `The box has to be recycled.' I said, `It's a box with assorted junk, weighing about 20 pounds.' She said, `They have to know what's in it.' I said, `OK, one washer, one screw, one bolt, two nails, one armature, one rubber stopper. Do I have to go on?' She said, `The crew will not pick up any items not listed.' So I said, `Just put down one box of miscellaneous junk and I'll take my chances.'"
OK, so the new system is a little, oh, annoying. We Baltimorons have been spoiled. Under the old system all we had to do was set out items for bulk-trash pickup on an assigned day. No appointment. No inventory. No sweat.
"How many Baltimoreans have the time, energy or wits to deal with this new system?" Van Allen asks. "Many are taking the path of least resistance and dumping in the alleys."
By the looks of things, I suspect he's right.
Bring back Trashball
The men and women at the city Bureau of Solid Waste have such a tough, thankless job, I hate to bust on them. But I saw a worker the other day who looked like he could use a little spring training.
About noon Friday, at St. Paul and 21st, he hastily hauled a sidewalk trash container to a green city truck and handled it so sloppily gobs of trash spilled from it. He kept right on moving, too, leaving a trail of litter in the street.
Hey, pal, let's work on the fundamentals, OK? Make a clean throw to the truck, or hit your cutoff man.
Money talks: say goodbye
The mayor of Baltimore thinks it's better to grant the owners of the El Dorado strip joint a sweetheart deal and relocate them to a city-owned building than to engage in a protracted legal dispute with the politically connected Jackson family. Seems the mayor is unwilling to take on a court fight because he thinks it might be hard to win. Seems to me the mayor blasted Pat Jessamy for having that loser attitude just a few weeks ago.
What should the city do?
Compensate the El Dorado owners fairly for their real estate, then say bye-bye. The mayor shouldn't feel obligated to help this business find a new home. Really. It's OK not to care about this one.
Bank of America Corp. claims Brian and Elizabeth Weese, owners of bankrupt Bibelot, transferred more than $24 million in personal assets to an offshore trust account last summer. I got a flash: Bri and Liz on beach chairs, slicked down with coconut oil, flipping through coffee-table books, sipping pina coladas brought to them by a man-servant named Tiko.
Pardon that fanciful interlude. I've been reading too much Danielle Steel lately.
Some people felt the best part of Bibelot was Donna's, the coffee shop/nouveau-Italian restaurant. Long may Donna's serve, and soon may she move a couple of small-scale shops into Enoch Pratt Free Library branches; and one in my basement would be greatly appreciated.
The April edition of Yahoo Internet Life magazine examines "America's 50 most wired cities," and there's good news: Baltimore, home of the evolving Digital Harbor, did not finish last. It did not finish next to last. It did not finish next to next to last. It finished 46th. Said the 'zine: "A large city barely hanging on to the top 50; no benefits here from being coastal." Hey, 'zineheads, we're not coastal, we're estuarial. Which makes me think we should drop "Digital Harbor" for "Digital Drainage Basin."
I'd be rich
I'd like to have a dollar for:
Every person I've met who thinks "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" deserves Best Picture Oscar over "Gladiator."
Every Baltimorean I've met who can't remember the names of more than three Orioles.
Every plastic bag I've seen in a tree.
Every piece of e-mail I've received complaining about the cost of heating homes this winter.
Speaking of which ...
Save trees: send less mail