New England rooted for the Ravens, Patriotically

This Just In...

January 21, 2002|By Dan Rodricks

FRIENDS AND relatives all over New England told me they were rooting for Baltimore yesterday, in the hopes the Patriots would get to face Elvis Grbac and the Ravens in the American Football Conference championship game Sunday. Cousins, in-laws and old friends in Massachusetts - I'd never heard them so supportive of anything associated with Baltimore. And, after watching yesterday's playoff game against the Steelers, I understand the reason for the warmth from the north --- if you're a Patriots fan, the Ravens would have been your ideal opponent.

But look on the bright side. ...

Well, OK. Maybe there's not a bright side just yet.

For one thing, this is the start of the post-Siragusa era in Baltimore. Yesterday's was Tony's last game and, while Lional Dalton is a very able replacement - both as defensive heavyweight and entertaining team character - we're going to miss the Goose. He's been wonderful for newspaper columnists in the construction of similes and metaphors - "Tony Siragusa is like Baltimore County: Large, prosperous, oddly shaped and retaining water" - a walking-talking punch line of a human being, crude and funny and stunning in Spandex. What are we going to do without him?

On council, less is more

Interesting thing about my modest proposal to reduce the size of the Baltimore City Council from a total of 19 members (18 district representatives and a president) to seven (six council members, plus Le Prez): No one telephoned or mailed in protests. No picket lines formed outside The Sun on Calvert Street. I received one e-mail in disagreement - from a woman in Canton, who feels the more voices in a democracy, the better. I agree with that. We just don't need 18 vocalists pulling down $48,000 a year in the City Council. And, judging from the reaction to my proposed downsizing, other citizens of Oz on the Patapsco agree.

More tobacco fee heat

The attorney general of Maryland, J. Joseph Curran Jr., is the man who struck - or got us stuck with - the original agreement to pay Peter Angelos 25 percent of any damages the state managed to get from Big Tobacco. When, in relatively short order, it looked like the state would get more than $4 billion, the legislature cut Angelos' fee in half, bringing it to about a half-billion bucks. Angelos - and various Angelos apologists - kept insisting that a deal is a deal, and the state should pay the outrageous and exorbitant fee of $1 billion.

Now, The Sun reports, Angelos has been proposing a settlement of a mere $250 million.

But a national arbitration panel in New York thinks $132 million would be fair, and that would still make Angelos' legal fee the largest in Maryland history, a nice piece of change for a guy who ended up second chair in the massive class action, and certainly enough to sign slugger Juan Gonzalez to a long-term contract with the Orioles. (Oops. I forgot. Juan decided to join ex-Bird Raffy in Texas.) The $132 million fee comes to about $3,800 an hour for the Angelos law firm. Peteo should take it. Not even my plumber makes that.

Angelic tune in Essex

TJI's cultural correspondent Joey Amalfitano reports:

"I visited a pal down Essex last week, and we bopped over to his favorite drinking spot, the Commodore on Old Eastern Avenue, near where the fancy shirts from Towson want to build a riverfront tourist destination.

"I got to talking to Patti Zajdel, who owns the joint with her husband. First thing I notice, Patti's from Dundalk, and that made me feel right at home. She tells me the bar's been in her husband's family since the '50s, and the meeting hall next door showed movies in the '40s. The jukebox was playing in the bar, and I just happened to ask Patti what the most popular tune was. You will never guess. Never!

"I was expecting something off the country charts or a rock anthem. The juke box has a device that counts the times a song gets played, and turns out that the No. 1 tune at the Commodore in beautiful Essex is `Johnny Angel,' by Shelley Faberes, a song with a cha-cha beat that made it to No. 1 in 1962, when Johnny U. was the Baltimore quarterback and the only Elvis we knew was the one with the hips and the lips. Beautiful."

Courting the right approach

Though she endeavored to explain her position to me on the phone the other day, I still don't get why Barbara Hoffman, the state senator from Baltimore, would be "flabbergasted" that Pat Jessamy, the state's attorney of Baltimore, would go to Annapolis and declare Early Disposition Court, the pet project of the mayor of Baltimore, a failure. I thought we liked our city officials to be blunt-spoken, or maybe only the mayor is allowed to mouth off.

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