Volume 12, Issue 2 ~ January 8-14, 2004

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Dock of the Bay

Mayor, Singer, Heartthrob
Will governor be the next title on O’Malley’s resume?

Three doors down from Maryland’s Republican headquarters and a few blocks from the governor’s mansion, Baltimore’s mayor — and perceived Ehrlich rival in 2006 — Martin O’Malley threw down the political gauntlet.

O’Malley came to Rams Head with his band, O’Malley’s March, to win over votes with guitar picks and song lists instead of rhetoric and legislation.

Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley rocked a crowd of fellow democrats as well as republicans at Rams Head.
But the night wasn’t all about politics and music. A large number of the nearly sold-out crowd Sunday night came to see the mayor for more than his leadership and guitar-playing skills.

“Women of all ages come to his shows,” said one Rams Head employee. “This is the third one I’ve worked, and the groupies, from 20 to 65, come and go crazy. And he indulges them with muscle shirts.”

The faithful didn’t get their wish on this night, though. The mayor was more conservative, wearing instead a skin-tight black T-shirt and black jeans that made him look more like a lounge singer than leader of a major city.

His attire didn’t dampen the spirit of the crowd. They sang along to songs like the ode to Catholic school nuns, “Yes Sister, No Sister (Heaven Help Me I thought You Were Hell on Wheels),” “Christmas in the Drunk Tank” and a number of nationalistic Irish folk-rock songs, including a powerful one on the potato famine and Oliver Cromwell.

If O’Malley ever decides to leave politics, a pub somewhere in Dublin would surely offer him a gig.

“I’ve seen him four times,” said a patron who prefered not to give her name for fear of upsetting her husband. “He’s so charismatic.”

During a break, the fan and a friend signed up to join O’Malley’s March on tour in Ireland this summer.

“He looks so much younger up there,” said an equally smitten Jo Selway, who came from Baltimore to see O’Malley. “Don’t tell anyone,” she whispered conspiratorially, “but I’m a Republican and I’d vote for him.”

Though the night was about the music, politics was the 5,000-pound elephant — or donkey — at Rams Head.

“It’s bad to mix music and politics,” said O’Malley at one point, but as the night progressed and the Irish beer flowed, tongues loosened and ambition found words.

“I hope the RNC [Republican Nation Committee] didn’t send a stenographer to take notes,” the mayor joked. “There are just some things this band can’t get away with.”

While introducing the song “The Battle of Baltimore,” a song about Baltimore’s fight during the War of 1812 while Washington lay in ruins, O’Malley laughed: “No homeland security money was coming from Washington that year, either.”

The partisan crowd roared.

From Bowie Mayor Fred Robinson to former delegate Joan Pitkin, every level of local and state politician came to show their support for the man some are calling the savior of Maryland’s Democratic party.

Of all the heavyweights, the heaviest was House Speaker Mike Busch, celebrating his 57th birthday. On stage, O’Malley raised a glass and toasted the man he called “one of the few statewide elected officials that can add and subtract.”

In response, Busch called O’Malley “his favorite mayor in the country.”

— Louis Llovio

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Gustave ‘Gus’ Jackson 1945–2004

Sometimes in Chesapeake country we’re blessed with neighbors who make sacrifices for their community. Occasionally we find someone who tackles global problems.

But rarely do we know a true citizen of the world like Gus Jackson, of Shady Side, who died on New Year’s Day at Anne Arundel Medical Center, of malaria that he apparently contracted last year while conducting research into traditional healing in the African nation of Cameroon.

Jackson, 58, who was born in Guyana on the northern coast of South America, moved to Columbia Beach with his family in 1989. Chesapeake Country immediately became richer.

He was a Ph.D. geologist who made his living as a consultant for clients around the world. But he also worked diligently to preserve the land and water of Maryland and to promote the rights of downtrodden and threatened Marylanders.

Jackson was a founding member of South Arundel Citizens for Responsible Development, known as SACReD, and he helped preserve some of the last open waterfront land on the Shady Side Peninsula from a massive development in the mid-1990s.

Recently, he did a popular, Saturday morning radio show on SACReD’s low-frequency radio station, WRYR-FM, devoted to another of his passions in life, promoting environmental justice.

Few people understood better than Jackson how minorities and low-income whites suffer disproportionately from pollution. He was involved for several years in helping Baltimore inner-city dwellers contend with poisoning from lead paint. He helped Eastern Shore poultry workers receive compensation they had been denied.

He was stricken in his native Guyana in November while trying to help native populations there contend with cyanide poisoning from gold mining, said his son, Mighel.

“When he got all of his degrees and became a geologist,” Miguel said, “he could have just said, ‘I’m going to make a lot of money.’ But he wanted to help as many people as possible and wanted to make sure that everybody he could touch had a voice.”

Amanda Spake recalled how Jackson taught many people the value of wetlands in environmental health and how, a decade ago, he correctly predicted our changing weather patterns from global warming. “When I first met him, I thought, this guy sounds sort of extreme. But it wasn’t extreme; it turns out to have been absolute truth,” Spake said.

Jackson did his undergraduate work at Northern Illinois University, received his Master’s degree from the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. from Union Institute.

He is survived by his wife, Megan, his daughter Gea, 24, and sons Javan, 33, and Mighel, 22.

He will be remembered in a memorial service in Washington at Howard University’s Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel, at 11am on Saturday, January 10. A gathering at the university’s Blackburn Center follows.
— Bill Lambrecht

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Here’s to 350 More
Calvert County kicks off its sesquicentennial

Calvert County kicked off 2004 much like 1654, with a proclamation from Cecelius Calvert and his wife Anne Arundel, Lord and Lady Baltimore II.

It’s hard, however, to imagine Lord and Lady Baltimore navigating the web site launched to mark the 350th anniversary of the county.

The county actually turns 350 on July 3, but like a child unable to wait, it will hold its party in April, with a parade and street festival on the 17th. All year long, there’ll be festivities to celebrate and relive what Calvert County must have been like 350 years ago. In the sesquicentennial year’s first meeting of the Board of County Commissioners, Calvert’s five commissioners dressed up in their 17th-century best to highlight upcoming events:

photo by Louis Llovio
Calvert County libraries will sponsor a year-long series of lectures on the culture and history of Calvert, beginning in January with African American Community Life. Check Bay Weekly’s 8 Days a Week for speakers.

Calvert County from Time to Time, a pageant written specifically for the anniversary celebration, will follow the history of the county from prehistoric times through today. The show will run May 21, 22 and 23.

On July 3, the county’s actual date of founding, there’ll be a second countywide picnic.

In September, the county will reenact the War of 1812, with battles and camp life.

A time capsule from Calvert County at 350 years old will be buried. Send your suggestions for what to place in the capsule. The capsule will be entombed July 6 and opened in 2104 on the 450th anniversary.

Visit www.calvert350.com for all the celebrations.

— Louis Llovio

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Way Downstream …

In Florida, it was another bad year for manatees: 361 died in 2003, 70 as a result of boats collisions despite new speed limits in waterways where they live. The biggest culprit was red-tide algae, which killed 71 of the gentle creatures in one toxic outbreak on the Gulf Coast…

In Boston, the Catholic Church is demanding the removal of a billboard depicting the Virgin Mary as a vegetarian. The giant ad by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals features Mary cradling a dead chicken. The church said the billboard was “offensive at any time,” particularly during the holiday season…

Our Creature Feature comes from a newspaper in Johannesburg, where the headline read: Former Miss South Africa Attacked by Hippo. And by golly, that’s what happened when Diana Tilden-Davis, runner-up in the 1991 Miss World contest, was canoeing in the swamps of Botswana. Hippos, among Africa’s fiercest creatures, often attack boats if they feel their territory is being invaded. Ms. Tilden-Davis was airlifted to safety, and was reported in stable condition …

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Last updated January 8, 2004 @ 1:27am.