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Weighing “Scales”

Posted 8/4/2004

I cannot possibly describe my level of indignation. In the July 28 feature “Scaling Back” by Eden Unger Bowditch, we read the woes of the Baltimore Zoo with specific regard to the Reptile House and some of the determining factors leading to its demise. Unfortunately, I feel the article failed to make clear exactly where the blame for this loss belongs. It belongs with us.

I am not a Baltimore native, but I moved here three years ago. One of the first places we were advised to visit was the Inner Harbor, which, aside from the U.S.S. Constellation, was a disappointment. Before too long, we found out Baltimore had a zoo and trekked to Druid Hill Park to check it out, where we immediately fell in love with the facility, the animals, and the warm-hearted staff. When we asked Baltimore natives after our first visit what they thought of the zoo, we were shocked to hear most people don’t go and have not visited in decades. With the National Zoo so close by, why bother? Frankly, having been to both, I can answer that question: The Baltimore Zoo is better. In fact, I have visited zoos from Chicago to New York to Frankfurt, Germany, and I enjoy Baltimore’s zoo the most. Easter egg hunts, microbrew festivals, Halloween camping, and even a black-tie gala are some of the annual events held among the animals. Behind-the-scenes tours are available and inexpensive; there is nothing better than being able to pet a giraffe.

But the demise of the Baltimore Zoo rests with all of us. It rests with the people who don’t go and support one of the best attractions this city has to offer. It rests with the government officials who chopped the $700,000 of annual support. It rests with those who have not done enough to make the Druid Hill Park area a safe and appealing area to visit. And yes, it rests with the zoo, which will ultimately cut off its nose to spite its face. The zoo is simultaneously downsizing even its popular exhibits (the gibbons, which bring a crowd of 12 to 20 people around the clock and appear to breed regularly, and the babies are quite an attraction) and buying three trolleys for people who complain about walking a steep hill. Last time I looked around Baltimore, people could use a good walk. I’m angry because I love the zoo, and like an ailing family member, when you hear the death rattle you wonder at the injustice of it all. If the gates to the nation’s third-oldest zoo close for good, we will only have ourselves to thank.

Marc-Oliver Wright

I was surprised to read that “nobody wants to see” the Baltimore Zoo’s Reptile House close. I was delighted to hear of its closing, and I only wish the entire zoo would close down, along with every other animal prison (to call “the zoo” by a more accurate name) in the world. As for John Waters’ question about where else “weird, little children” can “go to be inspired,” I would suggest that instead of watching kidnapped, caged animals, kids might be better off watching Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, or Desperate Living.

Jon Swift

Nathan’s Famous

I thoroughly enjoyed the article written by Christina Royster-Hemby on Dr. Nathan Carter (Arts and Entertainment, “To God’s Ears,” July 28). I never met Dr. Carter but I’ve seen his concerts, as my mother was a well-respected musician, Mary Lacy Moore, who died in 1996. Keep up the good work, Christina.

Mertine Moore
Washington, D.C.

I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed reading “To God’s Ears” by Christina Royster-Hemby. Royster-Hemby captured “the spirit” of Dr. Nathan Carter and all that he stood for—perfection. As Royster-Hemby interviewed the previous students, she seemed to let her readers know the respect and dignity this great man embodied. I’ll look forward to reading more from Royster-Hemby and anticipate the same in-depth coverage she provided in this article.

Maria Williams

Want to Sax U Up

As a sax player and jazz fan, I greatly appreciated Geoff Himes’ July 21 article “Sax and the City,” especially his focus on the late sax great Mickey Fields. People interested in jazz or just open to new sounds should realize what a wealth of talent we still have in and around B’more.

Recently at Artscape, many of the people who stopped by our booth were amazed at the number and location of live jazz venues in and around Baltimore: more than two dozen in the city and about an equal number in the surrounding counties. Our Web site,, lists them all on a two-month calendar.

Bob Jacobson

Jacobson serves on steering committee of the Baltimore Jazz Alliance

No Trial Needed?

As a nurse, I sympathize with Angelina Ware and the plight of her daughter in the Baltimore City Detention Center, but my true sympathy lies with the victim, whom her daughter is accused of attempting to kill (Mobtown Beat, “Miscarriage of Justice,” July 21). Where was Ware when her 16-year-old daughter was out getting pregnant and committing this horrific crime? I am so sick of these mothers seeking help for their children after the fact, such as Ware trying to get the Public Defender’s Office to advocate on her daughter’s behalf. Ware and the rest of the parents like her need to grow up, act like parents, and stop allowing jails, juvenile detention centers, or mental institutions to raise their kids.

Shirley Hopkins-Thomas
Owings Mills

Green on the Scene

In the July 21 issue of City Paper, Erin Sullivan incorrectly identified a Republican candidate as the only challenger to 17-year incumbent Rikki Spector for a seat representing the 5th District on the Baltimore City Council (Quick and Dirty, “From the West Side to the Middle East”).

Voters in the 5th District may have already noticed another (active) campaign for City Council being run by Dr. Terrence Fitzgerald, an addiction medicine specialist at Baltimore City drug rehab clinics like Man Alive! Many in the 5th District have already met Dr. Fitzgerald, talked with one of his campaigners, or read about his campaign in the Baltimore Messenger or The Sun. Those that haven’t will see his name on the ballot under the Maryland Green Party.

I agree with assertions that Sullivan makes in the rest of the column, that “we need different leadership . . . willing to stick around a little longer,” and Dr. Fitzgerald has lived in the district since 1984. He has also sent his children to public schools like Mount Washington Elementary and Fallstaff Middle. In short, he is running a serious campaign and is in Baltimore City to stay (apparently unlike the absentee Republican Elliott Cahan). More information can be found at

It’s important to remember that there are more than two registered state political parties, and the Green Party, for one, is actively running for office in all levels of state, county, and municipal elections.

Nicholas Creamer

Erin Sullivan responds: We were quickly informed by Republican candidate Elliott Cahan himself of the incorrect assertion that he was the only candidate challenging Spector. We ran a correction in last week’s issue of City Paper, and we fully intend to cover the city’s Green Party candidates in our upcoming elections reporting. As for the initial error, mea culpa.

Abhor In The Floor Review

It might be sharing too much to admit that I blew shrimp salad out my nose, reading your critic’s thumbnail review of The Door in the Floor (Film Clips, July 21). Laughter and deploring make a hard sneeze.

If you must send sniveling kids to review serious films, choose someone with heartier literary chops. One could hear the poor thing’s eeuuuw.

It’s not a great film, but the adaptation of John Irving’s A Widow for One Year beautifully gets the story’s veritas, and Jeff Bridges is wonderful as the dissolute husband Ted Cole.

I’ll put Bridges’ description of the plow cleaving the family sedan up there with anything Marlon Brando did. As pimply, hot-dicked Eddie listens, mortality’s horrors fairly bleed out of the ruined father.

In loco parenthes(es),

Peter Chapman

Editor’s note: This week we say goodbye to Assistant Editor Waris Banks, who is leaving City Paper to pursue other endeavors. We wish him the best of luck.

Address letters to The Mail, City Paper, 812 Park Ave., Baltimore, MD 21201; fax: (410) 523-0138; e-mail. Only letters that address material published in or policies of CP, are no more than 500 words long, and include the writer’s name, address, and daytime phone number will be considered for publication. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

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