Jump into your kayak and paddle off to work


July 26, 2006|By LAURA VOZZELLA


An item in the "2b" column published in Wednesday's Maryland section did not fully attribute a remark made by radio host Rush Limbaugh in which he called Maryland "a far-left kook fringe state." He made the statement on his show, which is broadcast on WMAL-Radio. It was repeated on DCRTV.COM, an Internet site for political commentary, where it was picked up by The Sun.

The Sun regrets the errors.

Coming to an airplane seatback near you: 36 glossy pages celebrating a place where downtown is booming and cultural attractions abound, where schools are topnotch and people kayak to work. Sound like the next hipster boomtown? You bet. Sound like Baltimore? Well ... yes and no. Baltimoreans might wonder where all the great schools and kayaking commuters are, but business and tourism leaders are more than charmed by U.S. Airways Magazine's take on Charm City.

About 3 million readers - a captive, "very affluent audience" on U.S. Airways and America West flights - will see a package of upbeat articles on Baltimore in the magazine's August issue, said editor Susan Weissman. It's hardly a warts-and-all portrait of the city - but it's not supposed to be, she said. The magazine talks about the high quality of education, meaning the likes of Johns Hopkins, not struggling public schools. Weissman said business travelers with their eyes out for places to relocate are mostly interested in the state of higher education, because that's where they'd recruit employees.

"It's not an investigative piece," she said. "We're trying to be realistic, but it is a consumer publication primarily for business travelers. We're trying to present an attractive picture."

No complaints from the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore, a nonprofit group that tries to attract business to the region and credits its PR firm, Stanton Communications, for getting the magazine's attention. (Weissman said she wasn't sure why the magazine chose to focus on Baltimore, but she said she was interested in the city because she once lived in the area.)

The spread could help Baltimore recast its image, "sort of like how Seattle changed its image from fishing town to a tech and culture hub," said Morgan Wallace, the Alliance's marketing coordinator. Nothing like a photo of a Baltimore kayak-commuter (no matter that developer Bill Struever might be Baltimore's only kayak-commuter) to chase away gritty images from The Wire.

"You have someone from L.A. on a plane reading about this who just was stuck in traffic for a long while coming to the airport, and he reads how one of the top developers in Baltimore is able to kayak to work," Wallace said. "That's a quality of life that you can't find in a lot of other cities."

Yeah, kid, we've got your bear

The Land of Enchantment's political machine has reversed itself, and Bill Richardson is coming clean about Popeye: The New Mexico guv has the missing bear.

The peripatetic teddy bear set out from a Howard County elementary school as part of a geography lesson last fall. He popped in on politicians around the country before mysteriously disappearing on his way to meet Richardson. His staff told me last week they'd never heard of him.

Well, surprise, surprise: Richardson had him all along - but in his campaign office, not his state office. Popeye arrived there in early May, about the time he was due back at Tridelphia Ridge Elementary. The campaign was supposed to take a few pictures of Popeye with the governor, then send him home.

But Amanda Cooper, Richardson's political director and campaign manager, said staffers got a little carried away. The gave Popeye a ride on the governor's horse, Sundance; took him watch American Indian dances; and had him visit U.S. Rep. Tom Udall in northern New Mexico.

No matter that bear-napping allegations could cloud Richardson's political future. Even yesterday, his campaign was squeezing in one more adventure: trying to get the bear onto the set of a Tommy Lee Jones movie filming there. After that, they promised to get Popeye, along with a handwritten note from Richardson, in the mail to his owner, Branden Murphy of Clarksville.

Said Cooper: "We'll probably overnight him."

Connect the dots

Town & Country Driving School in Towson has plywood covering the glass windows - because a driver plowed into it. It would be a better story if it had been a drivers' ed student, but I'm told it wasn't. Still, a vivid illustration of the need for cautious driving that students may take to heart as they come and go. ... Monday was a big day in the Ehrlich household. Drew turned 7; Bob and Kendel celebrated 13 years of marriage; Bob Sr. turned 76. ... Rush Limbaugh today, via WMAL: "Maryland is not a Democrat state. Maryland is a far-left kook fringe state."

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