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Death of a Legend: Tommy “Muskrat” Greene
Deale’s world class oyster-eater and world record holder had a heart big as his appetite
by Bill Lambrecht
At Happy Harbor, the blue door would spring open and Muscrat’s gravelly voice would bring smiles to early morning coffee-drinkers stationed at the bar.
“I’m home, Mom,” Muskrat would say to Barbara Sturgell, owner of Deale’s landmark restaurant and bar. Sturgell was one of dozens of members of Muscrat’s extended family.
Now sadness has settled over Happy Harbor and along the waterfront. Tommy “Muskrat” Greene, 54, of Deale, one of the legends the Chesapeake Bay, died on Friday, September 30, 1994, after an aneurysm.
Greene’s eating accomplishments twice won him a coveted spot in the Guinness Book of World Records and brought international attention to Deale.
His passing will be marked by a party on Saturday, Oct. 8, at 4pm at Manifold’s Bay Harbor Marina along Rockhold Creek, where Muskrat lived. Mourners will bring covered dishes; a procession of boats will cruise out to the Bay for a ceremony.
Dozens of friends will be paying tribute to a gentle, humorous and sometimes misunderstood man who earned the honorific “Mayor of Deale” for his popularity and his amazing feats of eating.
While eating and drinking came to define him, Muskrat was also known for his expertise with boats, his masterful gardening and above all his loyalty and generosity to his many friends.
“He was the most unselfish person I’ve ever met. He was very, very caring and somebody who did not know how to lie,” said Kim Piaskowski, who, along with Bobby Franklin, provided Muskrat a home in his last years.
Deale Gets a Muskrat
It seemed like Muskrat must have been born on a boat or near a bar stool. But he grew up in Prince George’s County and came to the Bay with an uncle, Frank Swain, to crab.
One day, crabbers noticed his uncle’s boat making slow circles in the Bay. When they caught up with it, there was no one aboard. The news reached Muskrat at a bar.
“Muskrat, we thought you was dead,” a waterman said.
“I’m sittin’ here drinkin’, ain’t I”? Muskrat replied.
Four days later, his uncle’s body was pulled up along with a crabpot in12 feet of water; he’d apparently fallen overboard and struck his head.
Muskrat’s taste for crabbing was gone, but not his love for life (in) Deale. He became a trusted employee of the late Warren Hickman, who ran Tracy’s Creek Marina, situated on land that became Herrington Harbour North. It was here where Tommy Greene got his new name after being found sleeping in weeds along the creek.
Over the years he worked at other marinas and gave boat advice to countless people, none of whom forgot Muskrat.
He could fix anything of any size, do carpentry and electrical work. When he died, he was restoring a 25-foot Luhrs. “He used to baffle me with all he could do without knowing how to read,” said Jeff Hickman, who runs a boat repair shop in Deale and worked many years with Muskrat at his father’s marina.
Bobby Franklin, owner of the marina where Muskrat lived out his life, recalled him tearing down a huge backhoe and restoring it to working order. The Lena M, an old Bay-built, had lain sunken in the Bay for months. They dragged it out and Muskrat announced to skeptics that he would have it running in no time.
“A couple days later he turned the key, and if that son-of-a-gun didn’t start the first time, I’ll eat this building,” Franklin laughs.
Eileen Hvizda, better known as J.R. (for Just Right), a popular employee at Happy Harbor, used to get get hand-picked wildflowers from her friend Muskrat.
“He put Deale on the map,” she says.
Few of us will leave this earth able to assert that we were the best at what we did. Muskrat could make that claim even though, sadly, his distinctions had been officially stripped away.
He won his first oyster-eating competition in the parking lot at Happy Harbor in 1977. In 1979, he competed in a benefit against a 360-pound man named “Tiny,” who couldn’t come near the 251 oysters that Muskrat ate.
“They couldn’t shuck ‘em as fast as I could eat ‘em,” Muskrat recalled later. “I was takin’ smoke breaks in between.”
More contests sponsored by promotion-wise bar-owners followed. At Middleton’s in Annapolis, Muscrat ate 288 oysters in 1 minute and 20 seconds. At Dominique’s in Washington, he finished off 350 garlic-soaked snails.
Nobody could come close to Muskrat. At 5’9” and about 235 pounds in his prime with a hard, rectangular belly, Muskrat was an eating marvel. A typical lunch was four to eight sandwiches. In Deale at Billy Jac’s one day, he polished off eight barbecue sandwiches and ordered three to go. A snack might be a large pizza and two submarine sandwiches.
Not bad for somebody who weighted just over two pounds at birth. “I lived and the doctor died,” Muskrat would joke.
Immediately after breaking one of his records in a competition at Happy Harbor, he declared to Barbara Sturgell that he believed it was time for lunch. After pouring down 288 oysters from pint jars in less than two minuutes(checkk), Muskrat emptied a plate of two cheeseburgers covered by French fries, all of it drowned by gravy.
Was there anything he wouldn’t eat? In truth, he thought that snails tasted like rubber. And he confided once that he wouldn’t eat eels. “Had one in my freezer once, and when I checked on it, it had flipped over,” he remarked.
In 1985, in London, he shattered the world snail-eating standard, devouring 2.2 pounds of escargot about 220 snails in 2 minutes, 43.95 seconds. Peter Dowdeswell, a Brit who claimed to hold 244 world titles for eating everything from prunes to glassware, didn’t stand a chance against Muskrat Greene of Deale, Md.
When he returned from England, riding into town in a limousine, Muskrat was on top of the world. Feature-writers and photographers trekked to Deale. He was a big-eating, hard-drinking character with a capital C.
Few people knew that Muscrat also was a vulnerable figure, suffering from high blood pressure, a heart ailment and diabetes. He had a speaking impairment that made it difficult for some people to understand him.
Once, at a Department of Natural Resources Office, they asked Muskrat his address. “Bobby’s boat yard,” he said.
Outsiders occasionally mocked him, infuriating his fiercely protective friends. One evening at Happy Harbor, a mouthy young man and several of his boating friends from Virginia teased Muskrat, trying to force a conversation with him. “Speak up, mush-mouth, we don’t understand you,” the jerk said.
“ ---- you,” Muskrat replied. “You understood that, didn’t you?”
A few years ago, the Guinness Book decided to end its records for gluttony. Times were changing; better health, not excesses, had become vogue.
Muskrat didn’t let on that he was troubled by Guinness’s decision. But in truth, he was saddened by being stripped of his records, which brought pleasure to his friends and acclaim to his town.
“It upset him,” says Barbara Sturgell. “I think he took it personally.”
Added Gary Curtis, owner of Deale’s Flaming Pit: “Here’s a guy that didn’t have anything else in this world, and they took his titles away.”
Years ago, when Muscrat was living on his houseboat beneath the Rockhold Creek Bridge, he confided that his fondest hope was to one day live in a trailer. Nothing fancy, he said; just a little trailer or camper that he could call home.
His dream came true in 1992, when Bobby Franklin and Kim Piaskowsi invited him to move into a nifty, 16-foot Prowler trailer at their marina along Rockhold Creek.
Muskrat never married. “I’m married to boats,” he would say. Later, he liked to tell people that his crock pot was his wife. “I can unplug her anytime I want to,” he said.
Despite his disheveled look, Muskrat kept himself clean. And so were his many tools and his trailer, which included the VCR that Barbara Sturgell gave him for his 50th birthday. He was a skilled and meticulous gardener, with no less than three fine patches one of them 40-by-40 feet producing bountifully the day he died.
In gardens that grew bigger every year, he raised tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and much more for that crock pot of his. Now that he had a rototiller, people wondered if he’d plant all of Deale. Why did he grow so much? For his friends.
He’d been having severe headaches of late, but Monday night of last week, Muskrat pedaled his old bicycle with the balloon tires down to Bobby D’s restaurant to bestow fat tomatoes on Melody Petro and the staff.
His generosity was well-known and sometimes peculiar. Friend Alfred Kanney, who Muskrat called “Crazy Al, “ recalled him picking an entire picking an bushel of crabs and turning them into a pile of crab cakes as big as flapjacks. Then he walked out of his trailer and fed them to Port, the Black Lab-Chesapeake Bay Retriever at his marina.
Muskrat started slowing down a few years ago after heart surgery. In recent months, feeling his health problems, he’d curtailed his eating even more. Most of the time he didn’t drink, and they’d quit serving him at Happy Harbor years ago.
His friends kept an eye on the stubborn Muskrat. At the urging of Kim Piaskowski, Melody Petro and Ken Ferguson (whom he called “Dad”), he’d been visiting doctors again. He was taking Percoset for the pain, but headaches persisted.
Last Wednesday morning, he showed up at Happy Harbor at 5:45am, earlier than usual. He couldn’t sleep, he told Barbara Sturgell.
At 11:30, Melody, the neighbor and pal who had taken Muskrat to the doctor two days before, found him lying outside his trailer, as if he’d fallen out the door. He was conscious, but partially paralyzed and gravely stricken. On Friday afternoon, after lapsing into a coma, Muskrat died peacefully at Anne Arundel General Hospital.
Along the Chesapeake Bay, the saloons and CBs are filled these days with tales about Tommy “Muskrat” Greene. Many, like Donna Whittington, recalled how he’d look after them and their dogs. “When I was sick and couldn’t afford to feed my dog, Muskrat paid for his food and fed him,” she recalls.
Back at the marina, Port who Muskrat called Porky still shows up to scratch at the door of Muskrat’s trailer and dream home, missing the old oyster-eater like the rest of Deale.
“We needed him and he needed us,” says Kim who was “Kimbo” to Deale’s fallen friend and most famous citizen.
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Dock of the Bay
Abandoned Boats: ‘Elephant Graveyards’ on the Bay
To some, they’re a sign of days gone by when stately wooden boats lived out their days and then wasted away. They’re an irritant to arriving yuppies.
To most people, though, abandoned boats are tacky; ugly heaps that spoil vistas, clog dock space and spread pollution.
However they’re viewed, derelict boats have become a more frequent sight around the Chesapeake Bay, probably because of the fluctuating economy. So Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources has begun a new program to drag them from rivers and creeks and haul them away.
“It’s a serious problem nationwide, and a serious enough problem in Maryland that this level of resources is necessary,” said Robert P. Gaudette, director of DNR’s waterway improvement program.
A three-member crew has started working full-time on the removal, initially in Talbot and Queen Anne’s counties where about 40 derelict boats wallow. The crew, supplemented by outside contractors, will move around all winter, shifting to Anne Arundel County by spring.
DNR hopes to rid Bay tributaries of what Gaudette calls “elephant graveyards.” He explained: “If someone sees a boat abandoned in a creek, they think that they can just abandon theirs, too. Most are wooden boats, which sink and stay there forever. Then you have debris and you have oil and gas leaking.”
When times were bad, people couldn’t afford to keep up old vessels so they just ditched them. Now, in a better economy, some folks are abandoning for a different reason to buy new boats. Gaudette’s office gets eight times more calls about derelict boats than five years ago.
The bill to the state runs from $500 to $1,500, which often is hard to collect. “Owners change addresses and just seem to vanish,” Gaudette observed.
The new program invites people to have the DNR junk boats for them at a vastly reduced cost. To help the project take root, the state is inviting tips on abandoned boats.
Maryland has spent an average of $100,000 annually in recent years to deal with all the old boats. New spending will be worth it, Gaudette says, because improvement is noticeable swiftly when one of the rotting old hulks vanishes.
“It’s something people can see immediately as a Bay clean-up,” he said.
(To report an abandoned boat or to learn how to junk yours, call the waterway improvement program at 410/228-8605.)
Can Annapolis Learn From Long Island?
What do Boulder, Long Island and Newark have in common? Citizens working with government in all three cities have improved the quality of their lives by creating a plan and following through with it.
For citizens in Annapolis, where growth over the last 10 to 20 years has gone wild, Boulder, Long Island, Newark may offer some solutions, according to information presented at the first Annapolis Summit, a conference at the Calvert House last weekend by the Alliance for Sustainable Communities.
Here are some tips:
• Boulder city government has set aside thousands of acres for a permanent greenbelt. Tourists park their cars at the city limits to enjoy its pedestrian downtown.
• In Newark, a two percent increase in the real estate tax supports affordable housing for families and seniors, shopping and day care.
• A trail park on Long Island propels visitors forward with a surprise around every turn.
These towns and many others across the United States can teach us how to keep our open space open, how to reclaim our Bay, how to preserve our “sacred places,” how to aid our small businesses, and what changes best accommodate growth, those who attended the summit learned.
Successful programs start with “shared vision, strategies, policies and procedures, organization, leadership, outreach and a full array of different perspectives,” according to Mary Means, whose consulting firm lends advice to town planners.
Different perspectives abound in Annapolis, Ald. Dean Johnson of Annapolis observed: “Annapolis is a community of neighborhoods. It is characters, young and old, sailors and land-lovers, families and single persons. Every one of them has dreams. Some of those dreams they want to see accomplished this year. Others they hope their children will accomplish. It is our job to help them make their dreams come true.”
Over the next 20 years, 1.25 million people will settle in Maryland. So now before it’s too late is the time to make Annapolis as good a place to live as it is to visit.
What are signs of problems? Cars that barely fit through streets and parking shortages. Run-off into waterways. More business space than businesses. Does any of this sound familiar?
These were among the problems that Anne Pearson and planners of the successful Annapolis Summit will be looking to help solve in the coming months and years.
“We need to work together,” observed Ron Young, of the Maryland Department of Planning. “Good plans will take you further than you think.”
In South County, Peace and Pork
It’s just as Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple said. Look to small places to understand big trends.
Two very small places down in southern Anne Arundel County have been text-book examples of problems afflicting many Bay communities. Now we’re glad to have examples of promising resolutions from Rose Haven and Holland Point.
What to do with their sewage was the biggest problem for the two neighboring communities. Holland Point, a long, narrow double row of houses stretching along the south shore of Herring Bay, has no sewer and depends on septic systems. The community lies so close to sea level that its tempting expanse of green lawns have long been regularly wet with waste water.
Rose Haven, tucked behind the Herrington Harbour marina complex at Herring Bay’s bend, depended on the marina for waste water treatment. There’d been problems in the past, and residents expected them to worsen.
For years the problems here as in so many small Bay communities that just grew up like Topsy in the days when people didn’t worry about anything they threw away remained untractable. Now, a strategy developed over last year with guidance from a New York institute with a record of helping small communities help themselves has cut through the many tangles of this small-town Gordian knot.
U.S. Rep Steny Hoyer and Sen. Barbara Mikulski made the official announcement to the two celebrating communities October 1. The towns will get $6 million in federal funds for water and sewer. A group of residents are working through the Small Town Environment Program to determine the best way to spend the money and reduce the cost, which at one time was estimated at $12 million. About $300,000 more is being held by the county for the project, which lately has been estimated at $9 million.
We think the Miss Marple moral on that one advises perseverance until election years when the party in power holds its seat uneasily.
The next day, Sunday October 2, another knot was untangled.
Every village, Miss Marple’s regular readers are well aware, has its local land power. Steuart Chaney, owner of the Herrington Harbour complex and much of the undeveloped land nearby, fills that bill.
Residents boiled over when they learned of his plans to build houses on a rare, bare elbow of Bayfront land in the critical area. Some of the 700-foot parcel is wetlands.
“Very few times on roads in southern Anne Arundel County do you get a chance to travel parallel to Bay with an unobstructed view,“ said Sheila Stout of Rose Haven. This is such a place. What’s more, it’s a place people in both communities think of as their own.
Irritated and well organized by their long drawn-out waste water campaign locals fought back. Ire rose and feelings suffered on both sides as the dispute escalated.
“We’re being asked to forgive critical areas law to benefit a developer,” said Stout.
Chaney protests: “I’m suffering from small-town syndrome. I was unjustly represented and greatly misrepresented. We’ve been on the leading edge and even ahead of agencies in enforcing environmental standards.”
Many sighs of relief were breathed on Sunday, when Chaney announced his intention to sell the property to the Trust for Public Land, who intend to make it a park.
The moral is, Miss Marple might say: Land trusts are good for everybody in this day and age.
Sailor-Authors to Dock in Annapolis
Elizabeth M., a 38-foot motor sailor with an engine “twice as powerful as it looks” has gone the distance for author-adventurers Paul and Emily Keller of Portland, Oregon.
Paul Keller, 64, wrote his first book, Sailing the Golden Sea about the whirlwind honeymoon cruise around the world he gave his wife, Emily, in 1992. Now the couple has set sail with his pen again. The result: Sailing the Inland Seas, a new book by Paul illustrated by Emily.
The Kellers, who have sailed the Chesapeake for many years, will be appearing in Annapolis this week to sign books and talk about their adventures. Their schedule:
• Oct. 6 7:30-8:30pm at Barnes & Noble at Annapolis Harbour Place
• Oct. 8 8:30-10am at Fawcett Boat Supplies 110 Compromise St. on the City Dock; 2-4pm at Waldenbooks in the Annapolis Mall.
• Oct. 9 1-3pm, again at Fawcett’s
The Kellers began their two-year voyage into the inland waters in Fort Lauderdale, cruised up the Intercoastal Waterway into the Chesapeake Bay and on to the Hudson river in New York.
They sailed up the Erie Canal and over to Chicago via the Great Lakes, where they entered the rivers Chicago, Illinois, Mississippi and Tennessee and headed back down to the Gulf for the last leg of their circular journey.
Keller has fond memories of his time along the Chesapeake. The Kellers docked in St. Mary’s City but spent more time in Annapolis than any other stop. He remembers the crab pots and the Naval Academy commencement with its fly-over by The Blue Angels best.
“There are so many places you can go and places where you can just anchor quietly,” said Keller. “The Chesapeake is very different than my home in the Pacific Northwest. You’re more apt to see a whale than you are a crab out there.”
Better Than a Better Mousetrap
They’ve grown a better tomato. Better corn and beans, too.
What’s better about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s veggies and field crops is that they’re grown without pesticides. USDA’s Beltsville, Md. farm didn’t need commercial fertilizer, either, to get luscious vegetables and hearty corn and beans in astonishing abundance, a new report shows.
They shouldn’t have been able to do it, conventional wisdom said. Corn worms should have eaten tunnels through the ears. Bean beetles should have feasted. Tomatoes ought to have succumbed to blight.
Instead, chemical-free vegetable crops made conventionally grown crops look like this season’s Washington Redskins, according to the end-of-the-season tally.
Take tomatoes. For four years, researcher Aref Abdul-Baki has studied growth and yield in tomatoes planted three ways. Tomatoes planted in conventionally bare fields yielded 22 tons per acre. A second conventional mass farming method, covering tomato rows with black plastic, yielded 32 tons.
But sustainable tomatoes planted in a field with no chemical fertilizer or pesticide but where hairy vetch was grown and cut to bed the tomatoes in “green mulch” beat the rest with an astonishing 41 tons per acre.
Sustainably grown field crops such as corn and soybeans are expected to show equally high yields when they’re harvested later this month.
From tomatoes to eggplants, cantaloupe to sweet corn, peppers to green beans, USDA’s whole sustainable market basket would sweep away the competition at the State Fair. These are plump, sweet, baby-skinned vegetables, good to look at and good to eat.
Which means more people will be eating them. A new poll for Rodale Press in Pennsylvania, where sustainable and organic growing has been pioneered, shows that one in three shoppers now seeks out organically grown produce. More say they would follow if organic produce cost less and looked better.
Nowadays, chemical-free veggies look like they’re good for you. Traditionally, their biggest selling point has been health. In the Rodale poll, 59 percent of organic buyers say they’ve switched because of health concerns. Chemical fertilizers infiltrate the Bay and every other body of water with deadly effect. Pesticides, scientists are slowly acknowledging, are poisons to people who handle and eat them as well as to bugs.
Personal and environmental health is a big reason for USDA is going sustainable by which they mean reducing chemicals as far as possible without sacrificing yield.
“USDA is looking at low-chemical farming and gardening in response to the growing public concern over pesticide residues in foods and the environmental impact of fertilizers and pesticides,” says Don Bills, chairman of the sustainable agriculture committee at Beltsville.
Sustainable agriculture not only builds health but also saves money. USDA’s research shows that sustainable tomato growers, for example, can increase their profits by more than $3,000 an acre. Their profit comes from money they don’t spend on fertilizers and pesticides.
That means we can enjoy economy, health and beauty. Which sounds like having your cake and eating it too.
Big Bucks for Chesapeake Rivers
The green tide has turned. Environmental issues are now a turn-off, we were told by Times Mirror’s big, trusted poll last month.
Nobody apparently told The Nature Conservancy. The Maryland branch of that international organization announced this week that they’re well on their way to raising $10 million in their nicely titled Campaign for the Chesapeake Rivers.
“We’ve bucked the tide,” said the Conservancy’s national president, John Sawhill. Contributions are climbing as national membership has risen to 800,000 and Maryland membership to 27,000. “People like what we do. They like it that we’re non-confrontational and science driven,” he explained.
Very well on their way: above $6.5 million and rising so fast they can’t keep track, according to Wayne Klockner, state director for The Nature Conservancy of Maryland.
Of that hefty sum, $2.6 million is garnered from such state and federal programs to preserve environment and species. Much of the rest comes from big donors philanthropists, foundations and corporations. John Smale, chairman of the board of General Motors and a director of Procter & Gamble, also sits on The Nature Conservancy’s board of directors. General Motors has committed $5 million in cash and cars over five years to the national conservancy, Smale said. With friends like that, who couldn’t raise millions?
We hope a big Suburban-full of that money makes its way to Maryland. A name like Campaign for the Chesapeake Rivers ought to be worth big bucks.
More than a pretty name is promised. It’s aimed at “the last of the least and the best of the rest,” Klockner says. Specifically, the Conservancy plans to protect four entire watersheds “while they’re still pristine.” “The last of the least” are the endangered species many of them apparently insignificant hanging on in those watersheds.
The biggest of the four is the Nanticoke River watershed. It encompasses 370,000 acres on the Eastern Shore rich with rare species 120 achieve that status and home to the Northeast’s largest nesting population of bald eagles.
Also on the Eastern Shore is Nassawango Creek, one of Maryland’s cleanest rivers. It boasts a 15-mile corridor of century-old bald cypress and 15 types of orchids.
On the Western Shore is Nanjemoy Creek, off the Potomac River, with its vast heron rookery.
Farther afield is Sideling Hill Creek, in western Maryland, one of the few pristine streams left in Appalachia.
What’s big about this project besides its bankroll is its thinking.
“For years, we’ve gotten by without our neighbors, buying a piece of land with something special here, another piece there,” explains fieldworker Linda Kramme.
That’s how the Nanjemoy heron rookery and the Nassawango cypress swamp came under Conservancy protection. Then the Conservancy found they hadn’t done enough. Some of the state’s greatest biodiversity existed in those areas. Nanjemoy was also one of just 10 places in the world where dwarf wedge mussels still lived. Such rarities weren’t likely to long resist the tides of change.
“The only way to protect thousands of acres is by knowing our neighbors and working with them,” Kramme says.
With neighbors and rich friends, many a tide might be turned.
A New Meaning For The Word ‘Airlines’
My knowledge of physics and all things technological rivals that of a turnip, so I'm always amazed when I look out an airplane window and find that the wings aren't flapping. Yes, I've read the scientific explanations, but I still think the only thing keeping the plane in the air is that I hold my breath the entire way. So don't expect me to say anything to you if you sit next to me on a flight we'll fall out of the sky if I do.
One thing I do know, though, is that the air inside the plane is as important as that outside. I only mention this obvious point because those wacky practical jokers who run America's airlines have been funning with us again. In the happy-go-lucky deregulation days of Reagan-Bush, these pranksters quietly cut the amount of fresh air in the passenger cabins from 100 percent fresh outside air to half-fresh/half-recirculated air. "Recirculated" air, for those not familiar with airline jargon, means "already used" air, including sneezed into and belched-up. The technical term is "icky air."
Flight attendants and we frequent fliers are complaining that "icky air" causes headaches, nausea and other health problems, especially on long flights of more than, say, nine minutes. Airline execs say it's just our imagination as they hop aboard Amtrack.
Well, "icky air" is better than being sprayed with insecticide, I guess. I am not making this up. Several foreign governments require that all airlines arriving in their countries must 1) turn off the plane's ventilation system 30 minutes before arriving, then 2) have flight attendants walk down the aisle spraying "aerosol d-phenothrin" in the cabin to kill pests like us passengers, I guess. This is the very same spray sold here as Black Knight Roach Killer, which warns on its label: "Avoid breathing vapors."
Airline executives say they don't like spraying us, but they can't make the foreign countries mad, and as one put it the spray has been "approved by the EPA."
Great, I'll put that on my tombstone.
Jim Hightower, for AlterNet wire service
A notice last week in New Brunswick, Canada is a reminder of how good we have it in the Chesapeake Bay. Health officials told people that they should no longer eat fish longer than 29 centimeters (under 12 inches) from any of the lakes and rivers. Why? A serious problem from mercury, which damages the nervous system, has been found ...
This may be far too important to bury so deep in the paper, but here goes: Ecological problems were a cause of the horrific strife in Rwanda and problems in other parts of the world. Now, it seems, India’s plague has an environmental cause.
Here’s what happened: hundreds of cattle were killed in a flood when a local dam was opened, and then people didn’t properly dispose of the carcasses, which drew the rats. When large tracts of forests are flooded by dams, plague-infested rats move to cities ...
In Germany, why are they letting researchers dump 100 gallons of crude oil into the ocean? To see if the radar that will be launched into space on the shuttle Endeavor in April can track oil slicks from high above ...
Our Creature Feature this week is quite a tale from Florida, where David Van Buren has quite a tail in his home.
Van Buren, of Miami, has been fighting to protect his pet alligator, Gwendolyn, from the insults of neighbors and the nets of state regulators. And quite a reptile Gwendolyn is.
According to Van Buren, Gwendolyn plays with a toy football and believe this or not sleeps in his bed. Unsentimental authorities slapped Van Buren with a second-degree misdemeanor and have threatened to destroy Gwendolyn.
Gov. Lawton Chiles, who’s running for re-election, has offered to get involved. Van Buren is consoled, since Chiles was a Gator himself once at the University of Florida.