Need a new slogan, Baltimore, look to light-pole thefts

November 10, 2005|By KEVIN COWHERD

So now the big shots who run this town are looking for a "branding" slogan? How about "Baltimore: Who's Stealing Our Light Poles?"

OK, we'll get to the whole slogan thing in a minute.

But is this light-pole-stealing story wild or what?

A gang of thieves is going around stealing 30-foot aluminum light poles?

You don't think that makes Baltimore stand out? You don't think that sets us apart from other cities?

Look, in other cities, the lowlifes are stealing cars and plasma TV's and expensive fur coats.

Here, they're stealing giant light poles right off the street!

Apparently in broad daylight, too!

And here's the beautiful part: they haven't just stolen, you know, one or two light poles.

They haven't just stolen five or six light poles.

No, they've stolen 130 of them -- apparently to sell for scrap metal.

One hundred thirty huge light poles!

Gone. POOF! -- just like that!

How exactly do you do that without being noticed?

I stole two pieces of bubble gum from Woolworth's when I was 8 and half the employees in the store were leaping over cash registers and running down aisles to catch me.

Here, someone steals 130 giant light poles off busy city streets and no one sees a thing!

How is this possible?!

C'mon, you can't exactly throw a 30-foot light pole in the back of the Subaru and blend in with the traffic on Northern Parkway.

You need trucks, traffic cones, sophisticated metal-cutting equipment -- the whole nine yards.

And if you're the bad guys, how do you get these poles down without frying yourself on the electrical wiring? Or having the pole topple across the street and block traffic and attract the attention of the cops?

What's that, officer? This big pole? Oh, we're just putting up a 30-foot basketball hoop, that's all.

The fact is, these guys work so fast, I'm tempted to hire them the next time I need some trees taken down. Look, if they can cut down a 30-foot light pole in seconds, they won't have any problem with the 10-foot Douglas fir we're trying to move.

Anyway, it makes for a great story, these light-pole thefts.

And I hope they catch the bad guys soon so we can send Jayne Miller over for a jail-house interview to find out how they did it.

Oh, believe me, they'll talk to Miller, WBAL-TV's hard-nosed lead investigative reporter. Don't worry about that.

If you're in the slammer and a guard bangs on your cell and says "Jayne Miller to see you," you're going to crack like a soft-boiled egg.

I ran into her at a function once and almost copped to stealing that gum from Woolworth's.

In the meantime, getting back to a "brand" for this city, why not incorporate this saga of the missing light poles into a slogan?

How about something like "Baltimore: Is It Me or Is It Dark Around Here?"

Or "Baltimore: You Save Energy Your Way, We'll Save Energy Ours."

Or "Baltimore: Leading the Fight Against Light Pollution."

According to the story in yesterday's Sun by reporter Jonathan Pitts, the Baltimore Opera came up with a snappy slogan years ago by acknowledging the negative perception of opera, then dispelling it.

The result was the clever, self-deprecating "Opera: It's better than you think. It has to be."

All I can say is, if the key to a memorable slogan is self-deprecation, we shouldn't have any problem coming up with one here.

Are you kidding? Baltimore is the home office for self-deprecation. We do self-deprecation in our sleep. Heck, we do self-deprecation in the womb.

With that in mind, how about "Baltimore: Good Luck Finding a Parking Space."

Or, with the Orioles and Ravens in decline, "Baltimore: No Messy Victory Parades Tying Up Traffic -- Ever!"

Or, alluding to our infamous humidity "Baltimore Is Best -- But Bring an Extra Shirt."

Still, with this story about the light-pole thieves getting national play, I can't help feeling there's a slogan in there somewhere.

Maybe "Baltimore: Guess Which Utility Crews Are Legit!"

It's a little wordy.

But we can tighten that up later.

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