Between The Lines

BETWEEN THE LINES

March 15, 2004

All that city jazz

The latest issue of AAA World Magazine was stuffed inside the seat pockets of a jetliner waiting to take off from Charlotte, N.C., to Baltimore, so why not glance through it during one of those typically long waits to get airborne? It contained some nice ads and featurettes about traveling in these parts.

One about Baltimore jazz singer Billie Holiday caught our eye.

It was a piece about the 15th annual Mayor's Billie Holiday Vocal Competition on April 24, organized by the city's Office of Promotion & The Arts and held at Center Stage.

The writer called Holiday "Baltimore's most famous jazz legend."

While Holiday is undoubtedly one of Baltimore's greatest jazz artists, it would be remiss not to mention other music legends with ties to the city: Eubie Blake, Chick Webb, Ethel Ennis and Cab Calloway.

- Joe Nawrozki

Eye on the ballpoint

Towson has been keeping an eye on County Executive James T. Smith Jr. for signs of political rustiness since the former circuit judge took office 15 months ago. Last week he encountered one of those moments that contributed to his political education: the photo-op.

Apparently judges can sign their orders in the solitude of their chambers, but not so for executives.

"I've been told I'm supposed to look up when I do this," he said, pen poised over an executive order creating a new diversity commission. "How are you supposed to look up and write your name?"

In the end, practicality won out over politics, and he looked down at the paper - but still smiling for the cameras all the while.

- Andrew A. Green

A frank response

Dietz & Watson Inc. sent a delegation last week to the city's Board of Estimates, which agreed to sell a parcel in Park Heights to the sausage-maker for $138,000 for use as a parking lot.

While the company officials were there, City Councilman Robert W. Curran asked whether they would welcome unionization at the company's Baltimore plant.

Caught off guard, the officials hesitated. Then one piped up with a simple response: "No."

Mayor Martin O'Malley broke the awkward silence that followed.

"That was honest," O'Malley said with a laugh. "We're not used to that candor here."

- Laura Vozzella

Law enforcement face-off

Sometimes local police and the FBI have their differences: turf wars, that kind of thing. Nothing that can't be worked out with some good, clean body-checking.

An FBI hockey team faced off with one made up of city police, firefighters and medics in Patterson Park on Saturday.

The outcome: City police won, 12-4.

"It's sort of a good outlet," said Kevin Hagan, a city homicide detective and team defenseman.

The games build rapport between the two types of crime-fighters, who get to see each other "in a semisocial setting, in an activity outside the professional world, to interact with people who more or less do the same jobs we do," Hagan said.

- Laura Vozzella

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