MARTIN O'Malley expected to be asked about this one day - whether his recent collegial encounters with the British government (a trip to London for a speech in October 2003, and again last week for a consultation with municipal officials) conflict with his deep-seated belief in the end of British control and the creation of a unified Ireland. In statement and in song over the years, as a brash Baltimore city councilman condemning the appearance of a royal regiment at the Baltimore Arena 12 years ago and as lead singer in his Celtic rock band singing "Give Ireland Back to the Irish," O'Malley has cried out for freedom for Northern Ireland and recalled the long history of British occupation.
The history bears repeating, in song and story, O'Malley says, but though there was a time for loud and angry protest, it seems to have passed, as all parties continue to struggle toward a lasting settlement.
"I think everyone feels good about the peace process that is in place and the progress that has been made," O'Malley says, noting the efforts of former President Bill Clinton to foster all-party peace talks, starting in 1998. "It certainly has taken a lot of people coming together, and there are people of good will in the British government." Ultimately, O'Malley says, there will be long-term resolution. "And I still have aspiration for a united Ireland."
Driving the news
Years ago, four Evening Sun reporters shared a source we called White Car. He was a wealthy Baltimore businessman, a real man-about-town, a politically connected Democrat. We called him White Car because he drove a white Mercedes. Whenever he had "matters of public interest" to pass along, he'd drive up to the Sunpapers building on Calvert Street, pick us up and take us for a ride. This went on for about three years back in the late1970s.
White Car tipped off Sun reporters that there was something foul in the way the city handled certain public works contracts, and he was happy that the feds were finally investigating it. He helped the feds and fed the press.
White Car was president of a construction company that did quite well in carrying out large government projects. But he thought public works contracts, whatever their dimension, should be awarded fairly and honestly - not rigged to benefit those with friends in City Hall or the state agencies. Eventually, several men went to jail as a result of the investigation, and a long-standing bid-rigging scheme was exposed and smashed.
I never discerned an ulterior motive on White Car's part - other than genuine interest in good government.
We never identified our Deep Throat. And he never asked for recognition. I don't think he even told his family about his role as a federal informant or as a source of news stories.
As far as I know, he took it all to his grave - four years ago, at age 69. Rest in peace, White Car.
They rock, he swings
Captain Quint, a trop-rock band based in Harford County, is set to release a new CD with a featured song based on a spooky nautical legend from the town of Perryman. Kevin Johnston, who plays keyboard in this six-man band with the island sound, says "The Swinging Sailor of Perryman" was born of his fascination with the story of John Clark Monk, a Chesapeake Bay captain. According to local lore, Monk swore to never set foot on land again. When he died in 1827, his crew supposedly wrapped his body in cloth, soaked it in rum and suspended it by anchor chains inside a crypt behind a church. Johnston has seen the crypt and peered through a crack to view Monk's swinging casket. "It's a quirky story, great material for a song," says Johnston. The release party is July 8 at the new Cheeseburger in Paradise in Pasadena.
That's a Caribbean-themed place, involving Jimmy Buffett and a steakhouse chain. "Margaritaville meets Outback," says Johnston.
I like it. OK?
I know what this is going to sound like. It's going to sound dandified, like something some British gardener named Nigel would say on the BBC. But here goes: I just love Uncle Rocco's hosta in the spring!
There, I said it. I no longer contain that thought beneath a masculine veneer. I share my excitement about plants, openly and honestly, with readers.
The other day I took a promenade in the back yard, along the lovely flower garden with the little stone edge, and I noticed that the hosta - a hearty perennial of green-and-cream-colored, spear-shaped leaves, commonly used as a border - was in grand abundance. (I had hosta in my vista. Hosta la vista, baby!)
This was hosta transplanted years ago from Uncle Rocco Popolo's house in Bethesda. Uncle Rocco had transplanted the hosta from his mother's house in Avon, Mass., many years earlier. His mother died in 1975. Uncle Rocky died about 10 years ago. But the hosta lives, and delights me so!
Anybody got a problem with that?