Dock of the Bay

Volume VI Number 45
November 12-18, 1998


  • Big Vote: Last Tally of Maryland's Charged Electorate
  • Angelic Hosts: Look Who's Flown into Baltimore's Walters Gallery
  • Gov. G's First Act of Official Business: Dogs Have Their Day
  • One Man's Trash: A South African Looks at America's Recycling
  • Deer Here: Better for Both When the Twain Don't Meet
  • Way Downstream ...

  • Big Vote: Last Tally of Maryland's Charged Electorate

    Guess which state showed the biggest improvement in voter turnout compared to the mid-term election of 1990?

    If you said Maryland, you're right. On Nov. 3, 38.94 percent of Maryland's voting age population went to the polls, an increase of 8.42 percent over 1990. That put Maryland ahead of Wisconsin (7.44 percent increase) and South Carolina (7.15 percent increase) and every other state, according to the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate.

    Maryland topped the national rate of voter turnout this month - 36.1 percent - thanks to a highly charged gubernatorial election in which candidates gave people a clear choice.

    Nonetheless, the turnout in Maryland and elsewhere still meant that over 60 percent of people who could vote didn't, observed Curtis Gans, director of the committee.

    "The rule is that the impulse to civic engagement is eroding. Our elected officials are getting elected with smaller and more fragile mandates," he said. "By and large, there is a falling away from the principal political vehicles of cohesion - the political parties - and this trend shows no sign of ceasing.

    "We will, if this trend continues, have an electorate occupied only by those with an interest in policy outcomes and the ideologically zealous," Gans added.

    In Maryland, a lot was made of the unusually large turnout of African American voters. But Gans counted Maryland with a group of states - including North Carolina, South Carolina and Alabama - where conservatives and Christian Right voters turned out heavily to support a candidate. In Maryland, Sauerbrey drew these voters to the polls.

    In nearly every case, Gans observed, hard-core conservatives lost in 1998. He added: "It seems clear that the most conservative elements of the Republican Party are capable of galvanizing sufficient support to win nominations, but also of galvanizing even greater numbers in the opposition

    "We seem to have had an election in which each party, in the pursuit of winning, designed its tactics to pull out its core supporters while leaving the vast majority of the electorate standing on the sidelines," he said.

    Who wins the 1998 prize? Minnesota, where an astounding 59.5 percent of eligible voters turned out to elect the year's most unlikely governor, Reform Party candidate Jesse "The Body" Ventura.


    Angelic Hosts: Look Who's Flown into Baltimore's Walters Gallery

    Believers and doubters alike are in good company in Baltimore's Walters Art Gallery this winter. Visiting the city-owned museum on Mount Vernon Place are so many angels - seraphim and cherubim, archangels and guardian angels plus some non-Biblical genies and winged victories - that you'll think you've gone to heaven. Or at least the Vatican, that small European state inset in Rome where the Catholic Church makes its earthly capitol.

    In truth, it's the other way around. The Vatican has come to us, making Baltimore the fourth of five U.S. cities blessed by angels.

    Angels of the Vatican, explained Fr. Allen Duston, the Vatican's angelic emissary, creams 100 pieces from the Vatican's sprawling collection of 700,000 art works spread over 13 museums, the Papal Sacristy and the private quarters of the church hierarchy. Duston led an early walk-through of the show, which opened November 8 and remains on view through the holidays, closing January 3.

    As you would expect of angels, these are extraordinary.

    "Some have never been displayed for centuries," Duston said.

    Half were removed from storage, cleaned and conserved for the exhibit. About 25 more were borrowed from the Holy Father's private collection. The rarest of all, the Mandylion of Edessa, is honored as one of the oldest known images of Christ. According to tradition, the image was not painted but miraculously imprinted as the living Jesus held a handkerchief - mandylion in Greek - to his face. The cloth image is encased in a reliquary of partly gilded silver; Over Christ's head is a crown held by angels.

    Artists range from Fra Angelico to Rafael to Salvador Dali. Ages range from two thousand years to about 50. Cultures range from the pre-Christian Assyrian, Etruscan, Greek and Roman to Christian. Materials range from bronze to silver to gold - plus wood, cloth and canvas. Angels range from the adorable to the admonitory to the abominable.

    The objects of all this attention are spiritual beings who appear only, we must surmise, to the inspired eye or heart. Angels have no bodies; even wings are a human conceit, a metaphor representing their defiance of the laws of physics. Faith and tradition put them typically in the company of God, whose perfection they never tire of contemplating in thought and music.

    Make that almost never. The devil himself is the exception. Envious of God's power, Satan and his diabolic gang rebelled, only to be cast out of heaven and cause the creation of hell. An 18th century Italian artist from the circle of Corrado Giaquinto shows us Satan - with his horns, bat wings and pointed ears - asking God's permission to torment Job.

    In the normal way of things, angels leave their clouds only to serve as divine messengers. When such duties bring them down to Earth, they're able to assume human form. When God himself spends time as a man, angels naturally come along - giving artists through the ages a favorite subject. There are Gabriels announcing the good news, assorted angels witnessing the nativity of Christ, and still more angels following his boyhood and ministry, his passion, death and resurrection.

    Godly mortals enjoy a bit of angelic attention, too, with Mary winning the lion's share but enough angels left over to keep company with the saints.

    Though they are clearly made for better things, these heavenly beings have a soft spot for you and me.

    They light our paths, inspire our spirits, pray God to temper his justice toward us and, in all that, assure us that we are linked to a heavenly Father, compassionate mother and company of saints.

    The Vatican's visiting angels fill all those roles and more. Seventeenth century Italian painter Lo Scarsellino show us angels, in the company of Mary, imploring Christ not to punish sinners. Il Ghirlandaio, Bartolo di Fredi and Francescuccio Ghissi call us to see Christ in our own nature. And contemporary Italian Felice Casorati paints an angel guarding one of us through the night.

    Which may explain the resurgent popularity of angels in our own times. More than three-quarters of Americans believe in angels, reports the Chrysler Corporation, sponsor of the exhibit in the United States. Believers are densest in the South-central states, where a whopping 93.8 percent of people say they believe in angels. Our region, the Southeast, is second with 78.8 percent believing. Baltimoreans are a tad more skeptical: only 76 percent are believers. And across the board, women have more faith in angels than men do: 84 percent of women believe, as opposed to only 65 percent of men.

    "It is evident," said Duston, "that angels are an important aspect of people's lives."

    The Invisible Made Visible: Angels from the Vatican shows 10-5 TuWFSaSu and Dec. 31; 10-8 Th & Nov. 27-28, Dec. 26 and Jan. 2. $12 by timed ticket and advance purchase w/discounts:301/808-6900.


    Gov. G's First Act of Official Business: Dogs Have Their Day

    If you count Gov. Parris Glendening an odd duck, here's another point for your tally.

    With the taste of victory lingering in their mouth, many a victor would be pouring over state maps, preparing plum projects for high-vote districts. Or scanning the resumes of big supporters, preparing rewards to match their good deeds.

    Not Parris Glendening. His first official post-victory act seems to have been proclaiming Nov. 14 as "Maryland Service and Therapy Dog Day."

    Our first thought on receiving the Nov. 5 release was to wonder what breed the governor's best friend was. Was he, like Bill Clinton, a Lab lover?

    But we were set straight by assistant press secretary Don Vandrey, who got the Dog Day news on Election Day Plus One.

    "The governor does not have a dog," said Vandrey.

    The proclamation was a purely selfless response to a Marylander's plea.

    In that there's a story.

    You've heard of seeing-eye dogs. Perhaps even hearing-ear dogs. But a dog's work doesn't end there. Service dogs will help you equalize about any handicap, physical or psychological.

    Maryland Service and Therapy Dog day was first requested by a Silver Spring, Maryland resident whose Service Dog's Birthday is on November 14. It was in his honor that the original request and subsequent Proclamation was issued by Gov. Glendening.

    Wait a minute, Mr. Vandrey. Was this woman a good friend or big contributor? Was she a yellow-dog Democrat?

    Not a bit of it, said he.

    Which may illuminate what people mean when they say Parris Glendening is no politician.


    One Man's Trash: A South African Looks at America's Recycling

    photo by Sandra Martin Americans have 'plenty of waste,' says recycling entrepreneur Casper Venter, 'and I am absolutely dying to get my hands on it.'

    If there were more Casper Venter hereabouts, America Recycles Day - which Maryland celebrates Nov. 15 - would have a different theme.

    The South African émigré, now of Arnold, counts plastic bottle caps in his sleep. He'd rather have an empty PET bottle than one full of two liters of Diet Coke. He can't let lie a piece of plastic roadside trash. He'd rather have reject computers and telephones than working ones. The bigger the better. The more the merrier.

    "I am an impulse buyer, but invariably at the end of the day, I would create a market," says Venter, a recycling entrepreneur in Johannesburg from 1984 to 1997.

    Here at home, so we learn from the Maryland Recyclers Coalition, "buying recycled products is the weakest link in the recycling loop."

    Especially plastics, Venter's special treasure.

    "The market has softened so much that plastics are a negative nowadays," explains Calvert County's recycling coordinator, Steve Kullen. "Many areas dropped their plastic recycling because it weighs nothing and it's the most expensive item per pound to recycle. A glass bottle weighs seven times more than a plastic one of the same size."

    Recycled materials earn by the pound.

    As an independent recycler in South Africa, Venter had recycled a million-plus pounds per year. Waste products from local governments contributed to that poundage.

    That's the kind of stuff Anne Arundel and Calvert counties gather from their environment-minded citizens. The two counties accept much the same products, but they describe them differently.

    Anne Arundel says it takes narrow-necked bottles - the kinds of bottles that hold your shampoo, dish and laundry soaps, your soda and cider, water and milk. Motor oil bottles won't do, because the gunk won't come out.

    Saying nearly the same thing in a different way, Calvert accepts any #1 or #2 plastic: the #1 polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, that held water, soda and juice as well as the #2 high density polyethylene of plastic milk and apple cider jugs and washing products. Calvert's slightly wider definition lets in wide-mouth tubs of the sort that hold margarine and Cool Whip. The tubs are a little different from #2 plastic jugs, but they're a small enough percentage of Calvert's recycling that the buyer counts them as tolerable contamination.

    Most dairy cartons - the kind that hold your cottage cheese, sour cream, yogurt - are #5 plastic and fail both counties' recycling standards. The exception is California's Brown Cow Dairy, which uses the more costly #2 plastic just so its containers can be recycled - at least in Calvert County.

    But recycling is a business in which volume counts. So what Casper Venter liked best were low density sheet plastic and high-density plastic in the form of take-away grocery bags. Even better were pre-consumer wastes. Telephone mistakes were a favorite.

    "Goods that seem to have been redundant or unusable or unsuitable, we'd work on it, we'd process it and add additives, and make it work some way," Venter told New Bay Times. "As they came out of the grinders and pelletizers, they'd be ideal for remarketing."

    Venter began his career in virgin plastics; the amount of available waste led him to switch over. "In the early 1980s, running with a two-ton truck, we could live off the dump sites," he remembers. A second factor in his success was South Africa's ouster from good standing in the world community. Isolated by sanctions to punish apartheid, South Africa was cut off from suppliers of raw materials.

    "We had become a fourth-world power," Venter says. There, the alchemists' dream came true: dross was transformed to gold.

    Venter is still thinking that way in his new home. Give him your #2 plastic tubs: tons and tons of them.

    "It's ideal," he said. "It's one of the products in short supply in South Africa."

    Thus one man's trash becomes another's treasure.

    "With your population of 360 million as opposed to our three million, you've got a lot more than we have. You've got plenty of waste, and I am absolutely dying to get my hands on it," says Venter.

    Think of that as you take your recycling pledge November 15. Shape the laws of supply and demand by buying recycled.


    Deer Here: Better for Both When the Twain Don't Meet

    Mick Warfield was having a hectic day. In one autumn day, the Chesapeake Wildlife Sanctuary's 'Deer Man' handled three of his 100 annual deer rescue calls.

    Warfield is on call 24 hours a day to rescue deer and provide first aid. Local police, veterinarians and citizens in 12 counties call on him to get deer out of trouble. That trouble can range from a hoof caught up in a toy tire to a fawn in a swimming pool. Deer walk into stores and jump through plate-glass windows.

    The job does not always end happily.

    Warfield lost the buck found on the side of the road with severe head trauma and a gash to the hip. Despite immediate care, "the deer went through a lot of stress and expired," lamented Warfield.

    As with this buck, most of Warfield's calls involve vehicle collisions. "Deer are always crossing roads and people are not conscious of them," says Warfield.

    During the fall months, shorter days urge Maryland's white-tailed deer to breed. In this active time, the chances of deer/vehicle collisions are highest.

    "All of this natural white-tailed deer movement increases the number of deer crossing highways. This in turn increases the chances for motorists to strike deer," says John R. Griffin, secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

    Deer/vehicle collisions have increased from 1,900 in 1995 - when the state's deer population was estimated at between 200,000 and 235,000 - to 3,600 this year, when 270,000 to 300,000 deer roam the state.

    "A lot of people blame deer," says Warfield. "When you build a neighborhood, they have to leave. People are building too fast for any wildlife to comprehend."

    The Chesapeake Wildlife Sanctuary, a nonprofit wildlife rehabilitation hospital and education center in Bowie, provides assistance to thousands of orphaned, sick, injured and oiled wildlife creatures annually. Consulting veterinarians, wildlife rehabilitators, student interns and caring residents make up the sanctuary's volunteer staff of 500.

    "We are called all the time," says the sanctuary's executive director, Diane Pearce. "We've already had a busy season."

    Young animals are often mistakenly thought to be orphaned. "Many people find baby deer that should be left alone," explains Pierce. In fact, mother deer leave their babies concealed in grass for hours, safe from predators, while they search for food.

    But fawns may be orphaned if they have been in one spot for more than 12 hours, appear to be weak or have flies hovering around them. "Always call us first, regardless of whether you think a deer is injured or orphaned," said Warfield.

    To make Maryland roads deer-safe, Chesapeake Wildlife Sanctuary is working with local police departments on testing a deer alert device. The gadget is a small whistle deer can hear. Attached to the bumper of a vehicle, it emits a sound to frighten deer away. Humans and pets inside the car cannot hear the device, which activates when speed climbs over 30 miles per hour.

    If this whistle proves effective, the space between Maryland drivers and deer will be protected. Until then, the Department of Natural Resources suggests these tips for avoiding deer:

    To report an injured deer or other creature or to learn more, call Chesapeake Wildlife Sanctuary: 301/390-7011

    -Darcey Dodd

    Way Downstream ...

    In Virginia, the U.S. government has purchased 825 acres of land on Fisherman's Island at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay in an effort to forestall development. The island is home to bald eagles, peregrine falcons and Virginia's largest nesting colonies of brown pelicans and royal terns. The $1.6 million purchase will be part of the Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge ...

    The West Virginia skyline may be about to change. Authorities have issued the largest mountain-top removal permit in state history for Arch Coal Inc.'s massive coal-mining plan. The U.S. EPA had blocked the stripping, but the state caved in after Arch threatened to lay off 400 workers at other mines in the state. The federal government may yet have the last word ...

    New Jersey's newest environmentalist is billionaire Donald Trump, and we'll leave it to you to decide if he's pure of heart. Trump said he will file a lawsuit challenging water-pollution permits awarded a new Atlantic City, casino, the Mirage, a competitor for Trump's gambling halls. Trump says the Mirage permits threaten the city's water quality ...

    Our Creature Feature comes to us from Norway, where people were lining up recently to see the star of Free Willy, Keiko the whale. But not everybody was allowed in: Whale hunter Steinar Bastesen, who is a member of Norway's Parliament, was turned away from meeting Keiko after he complained that the exhibition unfairly stacked public opinion against whale hunting.

    But the comment from Bastesen that really upset people was this remark about Keiko: "He would have been more suited as hamburger on a plate."

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    Volume VI Number 45
    November 12-18, 1998
    New Bay Times