Hate the words? Look at the pictures


May 28, 2006|By LAURA VOZZELLA

Martin O'Malley used last week's trip to Las Vegas - home of the widely acclaimed "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" campaign - to defend "Get In On It," Baltimore's new $125,000-a-word tourism slogan. (Math courtesy of a Sun letter-to-the-editor writer.)

"I asked local residents what they think of their city's tourism motto," O'Malley wrote in his weekly "Taking Care of Business" e-mail. "It may be strange to hear, but those that lived there didn't much care for it. And there's a reason for that: It was designed to appeal to tourists."

Is he saying we're just too Baltimore to Get In On It? Maybe the problem's with the accompanying logo. It's a collection of little pictures that stand for touristy things - a baseball cap (for Orioles games), a shark (for the aquarium), a crab (for the classic visitors' dinner; just don't tell the out-of-towners they're shelling out for Asian crustaceans).

How about some symbols that only a local could love? You know, like a Berger cookie. Or a chalk outline. The folks who dreamed up the logo unveiled it with a stern written warning: "Logo must be used in its entirety." Surely they won't mind if we add to it.

The winner's Ben. Bye, George.

Washington College handed out one of the nation's most generous book prizes last week, complete with fireworks, a $50,000 check and the school's long-gone founder spinning in his grave. The second annual George Washington Book Prize honors a work on Ben Franklin - sworn enemy of the guy who started the college, the Rev. William Smith.

The prize - awarded by the college, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History in New York City and the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association - went to Stacy Schiff for A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America.

Franklin was no fan of Smith's, calling him, in the trash-talk of the day, "a common scribbler of libels and false abusive papers." The feeling was mutual, said college spokesman John Buettner.

"Smith was once a protege of Franklin's, recruited by Ben to help him get the school that would become the University of Pennsylvania off the ground," Buettner said. "As often was the case with Franklin, their friendship turned into a bitter rivalry, and Smith fled Philadelphia to Maryland to escape political opponents and founded Washington College as a result. The odd fact is that if it were not for Ben Franklin's prickly personality and `the clashing founders syndrome,' Washington College would never have been."

The college dreamed up the George Washington Book Prize "to give more prominence to this Founding Father." Not that prominence should be a problem for a guy who has his name on the nation's capital and his mug on Mount Rushmore.

But it hasn't done much to boost GW's image. Buettner noted that the prize, awarded to books on the "founding era," has yet to go to a work on Washington. Ron Chernow won it the first year for Alexander Hamilton.

Connect the dots

They called. They e-mailed. But the committee investigating hirings and firings under Gov. Robert Ehrlich wrapped up last week without word one from Joe "Prince of Darkness" Steffen. "We're thinking milk cartons now," said David Paulson, Maryland Democratic Party spokesman. ... With the psychiatrist out of the race, Daniel Ellsberg throws his support behind U.S. Senate hopeful Allan Lichtman. The anti-war activist, whose shrink's office was burglarized by Richard Nixon's "plumbers," appears at a fundraiser for Lichtman in Bethesda this afternoon. Poet Carolyn Forche and Pulitzer Prize winner Kai Bird also will attend. ... No shame in Doug Duncan's camp about trumpeting that endorsement from the no-member Fraternal Order of Correctional Officers. The campaign bragged about it again Friday in an e-mail wrapping up the week's achievements - complete with a link to the Hagerstown Herald-Mail article that notes the newly formed union "has no members yet."

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