Let's hope for comforts of Bawlmer in new year

January 02, 2003|By MICHAEL OLESKER

HAPPY NEW year! I miss the good old days already. I was just starting to get comfortable with 2002 when it got shoved out the door by that upstart, 2003. What's with this strange newcomer, and what does it hold in store for us?

New years can be scary. Who knows what lurks out there in the uncharted future? Couldn't somebody scout ahead and come back to warn us? In the meantime, before our next anxiety attack arrives, we have certain comforts to which we can always cling.

Or, as we like to call them each year at this time: Reasons to go on living ...

There's still time to buy a belated wedding gift for that cute couple, Jennifer and Parris Glendening.

Three words: "Good Morning, Baltimore." That's the opening number from Broadway's hit Hairspray, and if they don't make the song the Orioles' seventh-inning stretch number next summer, then somebody in the club's public relations department just isn't paying attention.

Two words: cherry pie. They never run out of it at Baugher's Restaurant in Westminster.

We can still buy roses for $7 a dozen at Cross Street Market. We can still bowl at Patterson Lanes, on Eastern Avenue, for 1960s prices in a 1940s atmosphere. We can still stroll about Canton Square and duck into the Enoch Pratt Library there, where it feels like the cozy charms of 1900.

Julie and Tricia, those crazy Nixon girls, are talking to each other again. There's great sledding at Druid Hill Park, and great skating at the outdoor rink at Rash Field, where the kids look like lovely figurines swirling atop a music box. We can finally turn on the TV without the constant certainty of getting trampled by a football game.

It's not too late, if you live in Western Maryland, to call Cas Taylor and apologize. It's not too late, if you live in West Baltimore, to call Coppin State College and ask when the school's going to get a fair financial shake from the state government.

Two words: Hubble telescope. It continues to search for signs of life in the vast expanses of outer space. Who knows? If it can spot life out there, maybe it can spot it somewhere in the vast emptiness of the Democratic Party.

The holidays are over, but you can still treat yourself to The Last Season, Charles Cohen and Joseph Mathews' loving video of Memorial Stadium. You'll laugh, you'll cry. You'll gather the whole family and feel like real Bawlmer.

The Maryland General Assembly opens for business in a few days. We can all wonder which we'll see first: great statesmanship or the return to life of the very late Gov. Albert C. Ritchie. We can all enjoy the splendid new look at the Lexington Market, but mainly revel in the market's old-time constants: its tastes and smells.

C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger's on his way to Washington, where he'll meet with Paul Sarbanes and Ben Cardin. The two old pros like to offer all newcomers tips on charisma.

We can follow the Baltimore Orioles this year - as long as we understand the phrase "lowered expectations." We can wait for next year with the Ravens and know that Ray Lewis wants to make up for lost time.

We can watch newly elected Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Michael S. Steele take Maryland (as they promised, remember?) to places of racial harmony previously unseen - though they sure missed a chance to say something important about the Trent Lott mess.

We can be happy that Bogey was wrong in Casablanca. It's not true that we'll always have Paris - but it is true that we'll be paying for Parris Glendening's financial excesses for a while.

We can call it Towson University or Towson State, and understand that it changes nothing when we still have to spend an eternity looking for parking space there.

We can be gracious about it, and wish Ed Norris well in his new job with the state police - or we can tell the truth. Careerism is careerism. This guy gave up a life's calling of serious crime fighting in a city that truly needed him for a position that simply offers better political connections.

We can take heart in the Cordish Co.'s belief in new life at the Reisterstown Road Plaza. It's a company that specializes in life after near-death restorations.

We can get through the cold winter with warm memories of two pitchers who wore No. 19 who got away from us last year - John Unitas and Dave McNally.

We can relax for a moment. There are still 104 days left until income taxes are due.

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