Volume 12, Issue 32 ~ August 5-11, 2004
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Dock of the Bay

Guys on Harleys sponsor eight-year-old

photo by Louis Llovio
Motocross wunderkind Logan France, front center, with his Tribe Motorcycle Club family, which helps sponsor the eight-year-old racer.

You pull your car off the main highway and take the tiny dirt road, beaten and battered by years of wear, up around the bend, past the tree hung with motorcycles and up the drive. As you come around the final turn and up the hill, you’re welcomed by suspicious eyes.

There are only two reasons for you to be here: You’re invited or you’re hopelessly lost.

Welcome to the home of the Tribe Motorcycle Club.

The compound is two buildings — only the clubhouse complete — surrounded by old cars, picnic tables and a tribe of tattooed big men drinking beers as they stand by their Harleys.

The guys drop their guard, because they know this visitor. It’s eight-year-old motocross wunderkind Logan France decked out in his bright-orange racing jumpsuit and KTM motorcycle that’s nearly as big as he is.

So what’s an eight-year-old kid doing hanging out with bikers named Weasel, Blockhead, Slayer, Alibi, Shotgun, Soldier and Trashcan?

He’s doing what kids across Calvert and Southern Anne Arundel do when the Tribe roars in: Getting help.

The Tribe Motorcycle Club, which celebrated its 29th anniversary Valentine’s Day, is sponsoring the Deale Elementary fourth grader in his races.

Logan’s face lights up athe mention of racing professionally. “I’m going to do it one day,” he says.

“This is what he wants to do,” says Logan’s father Robert of a son who’s been racing at the highest level for his age group since he took his mini-bike out of his backyard and onto the track two years ago. “He tells me he wants to be a pro,” says France senior, so I do what I can to support him.”

In two years, the family has invested $95,000 in Logan’s career. So with the eight-year-old regularly growing out of boots, uniforms, helmets and even motorcycles, sponsors help keep Logan on track.

Enter the Tribe.
“Groups like this get such a bad rap,” says France, who was introduced to the Tribe by his own father, Buzzy. “But they’ve stepped up to help.”

The club has made an initial donation of $300, with more to follow.

Such support is not out of the ordinary for the motorcycle club, which counts as its members two U.S. Capitol Police officers. The Tribe has held a Christmas toy drive and a fund-raising ride for kids in Southern Anne Arundel and Calvert counties since 1989.

“We do this all the time,” says Buddha, who has been a club member for 20 years.

The club has also raised money for flood victims and for local children who needed organ and bone-marrow transplants.

“We’re here to portray a positive image,” says 29-year member Bruno, whose son, LT, is one of two second-generation members.

“I grew up around these guys,” says LT, who gets razzed by the others like a little brother but is looked after like a son.
The brothers, as the Tribe call themselves, are a family. Like other families, the Tribe spends Sundays at the clubhouse barbecuing as kids play, wives visit and the brothers revel in the family they’ve built. They take care of each other, and reach out to their community.

“It’s like we’ve been forgotten down here in Southern Maryland,” says first-year member Slayer. “So we always set aside money from our budget to do what we can.”

It’s not only cash the Tribe gives.

On Sunday, August 8, at Middleford Raceway in Seaford, Delaware, when Logan France blazes around the track at nearly 30 miles per hour, a smile etched on his young face, 20 bikers decked out in leathers and tattoos will cheer him on.

So will everyone nearby — if they know what’s good for them.

—Louis Llovio

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To Save Their Catch, Watermen Enlist Tobacco Lawyers
For the Bay’s sake, they may go to court

As 6,000 Maryland watermen haul in their nets, pots and trotlines, they’re also weighing a heavy question: whether to go to court to protect their livelihood.

The possibility of a class-action lawsuit was posed to them last month in a letter from the Maryland Watermen’s Association. The association represents commercial watermen, from crabbers and the packers who process their catch to net fishermen and some charterboat fishermen.

“We don’t know what else to do,” association President Larry Simns told Bay Weekly. “Nobody else is doing what needs to be done. Everybody’s hands are tied.”

Faced with the continuing decline of most of the creatures watermen catch — rockfish are the exception — Simns is considering the example of an endangered land species, tobacco farmers. Farmers didn’t file the tobacco class-action litigation, but its revenues are helping them ease out of production of a crop on the slide — the same predicament watermen face.

So, says Simns, “We’ve hired tobacco lawyers, and they’re looking into the feasibility. We’re searching whether, what and how. We’re very serious.”

Among those unanswered whethers, whats and hows is who the watermen might sue. There’s no easy target, like the Big Tobacco companies. The pollution that’s suffocating the Bay, and with it the creatures they fish, is generated by all of us. It’s the byproduct of the plants that make our power and treat our sewage, the vehicles we drive, the fertilizer we — and our animals — add to our farm fields and lawns. Also unresolved is how any settlement might come to the watermen.

What is certain is that the whole process is going to take time.

Even before his member watermen give him their answers, “It’ll be a month or so,” said Simns. “Because they’re not much on paperwork.”


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August’s Yuletide Cheer

photo by Louis Llovio
Sue White of Nottingham, England, with daughters Fiona, 7, Lilly, 9, and two-year-old goddaughter, Elicia, step out of the 90 degree day to do some Christmas shopping.
With 143 days left to Christmas, some shoppers are getting an early start

“Oh the weather outside is frightful; but the fire is so delightful; since we’ve no place to go; let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.”

You stop. That can’t be right. It’s August. How can a Christmas song already be playing?

You love “Let it Snow,” but it’s 90 degrees, your shirt is stuck to your back and a moment ago you were kicking yourself for buying the small water bottle instead of the large.

You listen closer and there it is again, the unmistakable silky voice of Dean Martin.
Either you’re hearing things or your mother was right when she said your brain would melt if you didn’t wear a hat in summer.

The jury is still out on your mother’s theory, but you’re not hearing things.
Hiding in plain sight on Main Street in downtown Annapolis — with candles, red ribbon and wreaths in the windows — is the Christmas Store.

Something is not right about three floors of colorful ornaments, thousands of yards of tinsel and more Christmas trees than a high school parking lot in December while the dog days of summer are just heating up.

But the most familiar carol of the holiday season, the mechanical toiling of a cash register, tells a different story.

“We’re busy year round,” says Marjorie Burns who has worked at the store for 26 of its 27 years. “You can never get tired of Christmas.”

With 400 suppliers, the store is packed floor to ceiling with ornaments ranging from the traditional to St. Patrick’s Day to nascar, hundreds of Santa Clauses, walls of ceramic villages, advent calendars and Christmas trees. The store is mecca for those who have the Yuletide spirit more than a month a year.

“Everywhere I go I buy ornaments,” says Sue White of Nottingham, England, who has a collection of more than 300 and needs an eight-foot tree to hold them all. “Everyone of them has a story.”

Daughters Lilly and Fiona share their mother’s enthusiasm.

“My favorite,” says Fiona, seven, “are the Frosty and the Humpty Dumpty.”

“I like the hand-painted Chinese ornament,” says Lilly, nine, of a decoration bought in Hong Kong.

White is getting her two-year-old goddaughter Elicia into the action. “I want to start her off early and remind her of her trip to Annapolis,” she says of the sailboat with Annapolis hand-painted on it that will join the tree back in England.

“You can never get tired of Christmas,” White says. “I would have the tree up year-round if I could.”

When tree time comes each year, the family goes out into Sherwood Forest — the original one, as in Robin Hood — to cut down the perfect tree. “We have to take two cars,” says Lilly. “One for the tree and one for all the kids.”

Not everyone is thrilled with the idea of year-round Christmas, though.

Dan Moffett of Glen Burnie shakes his head when he sees the store. “It’s bad enough that the malls and the department stores start putting up decorations in October,” he says. “This is overdoing it. You get burned out.”
Not so says store employee Emily Batson, 17. “I’ve been coming here since I was little, and I never get tired of Christmas.”

As for Burns, she says that the only crimp to her holiday spirit is putting up her Christmas tree, which she does at the beginning of November, right before the busiest time of the year.

She does admit, however, that Christmas songs can wear on you.

But the advantages of year-round Christmas outweigh a little monotony. “This is such a happy place,” she says of the store. “If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t have been here so long.”

Back out on Main Street, the Christmas spirit quickly bakes away in the reality of August in Maryland, and you find yourself praying along with Dean Martin: “Let it snow; let it snow; let it snow.”

—Louis Llovio

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Ask the Plant Professor

Tomato Wisdom for Tomato Season

Q Why shouldn’t tomatoes be planted close to a walnut tree?

A The roots of black walnut trees (and other walnut trees to a lesser degree) exude a toxin known as juglone, which inhibits others plants or kills them outright. This is a survival technique for the walnut tree. Some plants can tolerate the juglone with little problem; however tomato is not one of them. For lists of tolerant and intolerant plants, call us or use an Internet search engine.

Q Does it help to trim off tomato suckers or should I leave them on to produce fruit?

A This is a hotly debated topic. Suckers are the axillary shoots that emerge between vertical plant stems and horizontal branches. Eventually, they produce flowers and fruit. Removing suckers improves air circulation and hastens drying of leaves, which helps prevent disease problems. Like any pruning, it concentrates the plant’s energies in the remaining stems and produces bigger and earlier fruits.

On the other hand, you will get fewer fruits. If you have many plants, pruning can be laborious and spread disease from plant to plant. At a minimum, it’s a good idea to remove suckers that emerge at the base of the plant.

Ask the Plant and Pest Professor is compiled from questions sent to the website of the Home and Garden Information Center, part of Maryland Cooperative Extension, an educational outreach of the University of Maryland. Ask a home gardening or pest control question and find other help: 800-342-2507 (Mon.-Fri. 8am-1pm) • www.hgic.umd.edu.

Way Downstream …

In Pennsylvania, Lancaster County comprises just 1.5 percent of acreage in the Chesapeake Bay watershed but contributes 12 percent of the nitrogen pollution, says a report by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. The group wants Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell and the legislature to set up a $10 million pilot to improve cattle-feed efficiency …

In Kazakhstan, the Olympics-bound boxing team is staking its success on an unusual training regimen: horsemeat and fermented mare’s milk. Yes, fermented mare’s milk has a kick to it, but judging from the 2000 Olympics, when Kazakhstan placed third behind Russia and Cuba, it helps in the ring to kick some butt …

In Germany, the newest reality television show from down on the farm has critics in a snit. In Die Alm, which translates roughly to Alpine Meadows, models and TV pretty boys are living without electricity, butchering turkeys and wading through manure. Animal-rights advocates are upset, and so are high-brow types who decry shows aiming for the lowest common denominator. But with three million viewers, the show is staying on …

Our Creature Feature from Liverpool is a tale of love, sports and squirrels. Squirrels? Yes, into a colony of rare red squirrels is where the ex-fiance of Britain’s 18-year-old soccer phenom, Wayne Rooney, tossed his $50,000 engagement ring, the Sun, a London tabloid, reported.

If you’re thinking about becoming a treasure-hunter, so are a lot of Brits.
But it could be the 300 squirrels at the Formby Point Nature Reserve who are the richer for this lovers’ spat. Reserve spokeswoman Debbie Pears told Reuters: “We don’t allow metal detectors on National Trust land, and we are asking people to stay away so they do not disturb the squirrels.”

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