Not blowing in the wind

2b

May 09, 2008|By LAURA VOZZELLA

Seen the wind turbines atop the Inner Harbor's Power Plant? Must admit I'd missed them until someone sent me the link to a video posted on the official city tourism Web site.

In it, four shiny metal turbines that look like oversized egg beaters spin atop the old smokestacks, right behind the giant Hard Rock Cafe guitar. If the guitar symbolizes the Inner Harbor's last transformation, from gritty working waterfront to chain restaurant paradise, could the turbines signal Baltimore's next makeover, from carbon city to green-powered one?

Well, maybe if the turbines were really there.

The video, posted the other day on visitmybaltimore.com, is a hoax, albeit a high-minded hoax intended to spark discussion about making Baltimore greener. Which doesn't mean this duped columnist didn't needlessly burn fossil fuel by zipping down to the harbor to witness the purported wind-power revolution.

"How cool would it be to showcase clean energy and how it could be done in an urban setting?" said Galen Frazer, one of the pranksters. "It looks cool, too."

The 33-second snippet that lured me to the harbor had shaky hand-held camera work and an informal come-on. "Pretty cool vid I took of the new wind turbines at the Power Plant," reads an accompanying note.

But this was not the work of amateurs. Frazer was one of four interactive design types, all employees at a Baltimore PR firm, who spent the better part of a work week on the project. (If the boss asks, they'll justify it as R&D and as a contribution to a companywide environmental campaign.)

The job required making a computer model of the turbines. Sophisticated 3-D animation software allowed them not only to spin, but to jiggle in sync with the shaky Power Plant footage. Then they posted it on the tourism Web site, www.visitmybaltimore.com, which features homemade videos promoting the city.

"It fooled people here, even," said Ryan Smith, Planit's interactive art director, noting that the firm's Pratt Street offices have a view of the Inner Harbor.

"One of our interactive [staffers] ran to the front of the office, 'Oh my God, I can't believe they did this at the Power Plant,'" Smith said. "Our goal really is to dupe as many people as possible so people start flooding the phones at [Power Plant owner] Cordish, 'What's going on?' Certainly pique some interest."

What does David Cordish think of the prank - and the possibility of bringing clean energy to the old coal-power plant? He did not return a message. I'm guessing he was too busy shopping for turbines.

Who are those men with the new teacher?

In a story about Jenna Bush's wedding tomorrow in Texas, the Associated Press reports that the president's daughter "plans to return to teaching" when she and hubby-to-be Henry Hager settle in their recently purchased South Baltimore rowhouse.

The city's public schools could really benefit from having one of the First Twins around. With schools chief Andres Alonso seeking volunteers to help control violent students, Bush's Secret Service detail could pitch in.

But if Bush intends to work for BCPS, it's news to the school system. A spokeswoman says she hasn't applied. No word from the White House on her plans.

Connect the dots

A guy with two lit cigarettes in his hand approached Vinny DeMarco after his Yabba Pot lunch the other day and asked for money. "Not if you're going to use it for cigarettes," said DeMarco, president of Maryland Citizens Health Initiative. "He immediately dropped both of them, so I gave him a quarter." ... Someone has popped the prom question in a very public way in Anne Arundel County. A sign on blue paper stuffed into the chain-link fence on an overpass on Route 32, west of Route 301, reads: "Prom? Joe." Joe, if you're out there, let us know how it worked out. ... If the Maryland GOP and its new leadership are going in a new direction, you can't prove it by the theme for next month's Red, White and Blue Dinner. "Tribute to President George W. Bush."

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