Half-naked and wet, all for the joy of Alma Mater


October 19, 2005|By LAURA VOZZELLA

Johns Hopkins is the nation's first research university, one that brags about advancing not just students' knowledge, but "human knowledge," since 1876. But undergrads don't feel that good about the place. So says a Hopkins committee that thinks it has hit upon the cure for Homewood's inexplicably low self esteem: A campus slip-n-slide.

"We would set up tarps and hoses out on the campus and tell everybody to come with a bathing suit," says John Bader, who has assembled a committee to resurrect old campus traditions and cook up new ones.

"That sounds fun and very silly and easily done, and it's something you could do every year. And you could look forward to a warm day in April when everybody gets half-naked and has a good time. That's the kind of thing we're trying to do."

Bader is not, contrary to what you might be thinking, an undergrad with some Animal Housey frat. He's actually associate dean for academic programs and advising at Hopkins' Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.

He thinks Hopkins students don't take enough pride in their school, but would if they practiced campus rites, old and invented. Like singing the school song at sporting events, just as they do at Yale, where Bader was a Whiffenpoof.

Trouble is, hardly anybody knows the "Hopkins Ode."

"It's a catchy little tune but what's interesting, before this fall, there wasn't a soul on this campus who knew the tune," he said. "They didn't even know there was a song."

Bader found the "Ode" in a yellowed 1920s songbook and asked the school band to start playing it at sporting events. He had them put the words - "Truth guide our university and from all error keep her free," it begins - on the scoreboard so fans can sing along.

"Those are the kinds of things that make you feel connected to the history of an institution and give you sort of instant pride of being affiliated with it," he said.

Slip-n-slide and scoreboard karaoke. Two more advances for humankind.


Doug Duncan might not have the name recognition of the governor he'd like to unseat, or even the mayor he'll have to beat first in the Democratic primary.

But the Montgomery County executive is not exactly an unknown.

So what's that at the end of the e-mail announcing Duncan's big event tomorrow, when he makes his run for governor official?

It says: "Friends of Doug Duncan, 1 Unknown Ave., Washington DC 20009."

(Actually, it reads "1 UnKOWN Ave.," but it looks like that was just a typo.)

There is no Unknown Ave. or Unkown Ave. in the nation's capital, at least as far as MapQuest knows.

So what's the deal? A little self-effacing humor from the Duncan camp?

No, boilerplate from a District "blast" e-mail outfit, according to the campaign, whose headquarters, they want you to know, is in Silver Spring.

Which you gonna believe?

A gray Chrysler Concorde Lxi parked at Belvedere Square bore a black-and-white bumper sticker that's familiar enough in Baltimore, especially in the part of town that Mayor Martin O'Malley represented as a city councilman.

The sticker said "BELIEVE," O'Malley's signature slogan.

But the other bumper bore a blue-and-white sticker that's rarer in these parts. It read "Duncan."

Maybe the driver likes O'Malley as mayor, but thinks the county executive would be the better guy for the governor's mansion.

Or maybe the message is more subversive. The BELIEVE sticker, after all, was on the driver's side, Duncan on the passenger side. Read left to right, it said: BELIEVE Duncan.

It's just something to ride to crime scenes

The Baltimore City Police Department would like you to know that Commissioner Leonard Hamm's Dodge Magnum does not have a lot of accessories.

No oversized wheels. No crazy pneumatics. No fuzzy dice.

Heck, the thing probably doesn't even have floor mats.

"I would like it to be clear he has the base model," said spokesman Matt Jablow. "It doesn't even have leather inside of it."

The department is craving that clarity because my Sunday column could have left the impression that the city's top cop has a thing for hip-hop car add-ons.

By all accounts, Hamm does not.

He does have a thing for the Magnum, at least enough of a thing to pick it as his official department car. And the car has big hip-hop appeal.

But the bling stops there.

The department also wants you to know that the car has drivers other than Nelly, Carmelo Anthony and Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins. (A greater relief to Chrysler, perhaps, than to the citizens of Mobtown.)

"I went to play tennis early this morning before work at the Greenspring Racquet Club, and as I pull in I see a Dodge Magnum. So I figure there must be a hip-hop star or professional athlete inside. So I'm all excited," Jablow said. "So I run into the club, I look all around, but there were absolutely no hip-hop stars or professional athletes. Just soccer moms and businessmen."

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