Thursday, November 10, 2005

Looks like the Strip Club is coming to South Laurel

It looks like the Stardust Strip Club is coming to Laurel according to the Laurel Leader today. This is another situation where some parts of our government are pointing fingers at each other and saying that the law has their hands tied. The City of Laurel is the only government institution that is standing up and willing to go on the record and spend their own time and money to fight this thing. And the club isn't even in the city!

I attended the meeting in late August where Chairman Jackson of the P.G. Board of License Commissioners tried to explain his reasoning at the Cypress Community Center. Joe Murchison had a great piece in the Laurel Leader.

Chairman Jackson was brave as he explained his reason for approving the liquor license transition by saying that although his board revoked the Stardust's license for poor management control, the board decided that Laurel would be a better place for them as part of a deal to end an appeal of the original decision. This came about before the judge could rule on the original appeal, so the suit was dropped without a ruling. Not only did they transfer the license, they changed the type of use and the hours of operation to boot.

Seems to me that the fix was in. There are also significant questions about the process that led to the hearing where the deal was made and approved.

Many of our leaders filed letters of opposition but Chairman Jackson said that only personal testimony at the hearing could be considered evidence. There was nobody at the hearing in opposition to this 'deal', so the board had to find for the applicant.

Here is what I think we should do:

1. This is not just a Laurel problem. No community wants a strip club. But we can't just keep schlepping it around the county based on which neighborhood happens to scream the loudest. We need to get rid of it once and for all. We need to ask our state delegates and county council to change the law that allows nude dancing in our county regardless of the sale of liquor. Do we really need nude dancing? Lots of communities around the country have driven out this kind of business with zoning and other local ordinances. Is P.G. county so dysfunctional that we cannot?

2. We need timely information. We must demand that the Liquor board initiate a useful website and an email subscription process to inform everyone of their docket at least 30 days in advance of the hearing. What better way to deal with this kind of crud than with bright sunlight on the process?

3. The liquor board members are appointed by the State Senate therefore Senator Giannetti and Senator Green should be asked to fire this board and appoint members who are willing to think for themselves and who are not so willing to disregard the community's input.

We can beat this thing once and for all if we stick together and work to change the zoning law. It must be more than simply a local fix. We must drive nude dancing completely out of the county, if not the state. We must not settle for anything less.

Here are the email addresses of our local representatives. Please write and offer your support to help them clean up this crud for the entire county. I'm sure they want to get rid of this problem as much as we all do. They just need to know that our community is behind them and willing to help them fight the powerful, well connected, and extremely well financed adult entertainment industry.

District 21 (Laurel City & West Laurel)
Brian Moe (; 1-800-492-7122, ext. 3114
Pauline Menes (; 1-800-492-7122, ext. 3114
Barbara Frush (;1-800-492-7122, ext. 3114
John Giannetti ( 1-800-492-7122, ext. 3141

District 23 (South Laurel)
Leo Green (; 1-800-492-7122, ext. 3631
Mary Conroy (; 1-800-492-7122, ext. 3098
James Hubbard (; 1-800-492-7122, ext. 3103

County Council District 1
Tom Dernoga Phone; (301) 952-3887

Laurel City Mayor
Craig Moe 301-725-5300

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Look Up - It's a bird, It's a plane, Nope, It's competition!

See that? Look closely. It's right up there on that telephone pole at the corner of Montgomery and 4th. Do you know what it is?

It's competition.

That's exactly what good old American competition looks like. That mess of wires on the pole are the best indicator that COMCAST's reign of terror and torture in Laurel will soon be over. That is what competition looks like on the information super highway.

Here's what COMCAST's competition looks like up close.

I'm sure most of Oldtown Laurel has seen the Verizon trucks all over our neighborhood the last few weeks.

Verizon is pulling fiber all over Oldtown. We have it on every pole. Black strands of thick beautiful cable that can carry telephone, internet, television, audio and anything else these information age wizards can dream up to charge us $50 bucks a month for.

But I think the best thing that will happen is that the spawn of the devil, COMCAST, will finally have some decent competition in Laurel.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Experimenting With Manipulations

I've often seen manipulations of Polaroid SX70 photographs and enjoyed them. While not exactly 'art', I am pleased with this experiment on a picture I took at Jefferson's Monticello garden in early August 2005. Here is the manipulation, the original photograph is farther below.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Off to Albuquerque

An early fall boondoggle in Albuquerque. 

Friday, August 26, 2005

Rock ● Paper ● Scissors

I’ve been thinking about making a whole new start. Chuck everything and start over in a new career. I’ve found the new career for me.

This Sunday night in Washington, DC is the U.S. National Professional ROCK-PAPER-SCISSORS Tournament. A sport that demands the dexterity of a pick-pocket, the nerves of a world-champion poker player and the strategic vision of a young Bobby Fischer.

Don’t laugh, last year’s winner made $10K.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Rules of the Game

This little story was first published in the Laurel Leader in June 1998. I think it's one of the best of my early stories. It got picked up years ago by a couple of Internet Journals. I still find it around the web once in awhile.

The Rules of the Game

by Rick Wilson

It had been thirty years since I cried during a baseball game, but I wasn’t the only one choking back tears at last Saturday’s Laurel Boys and Girls Club Junior Division championship. The emotion I felt was not for the game’s winners or losers because any worthwhile contest must be decided. No, it was because two men and a boy played out a last inning drama that reminded me and everyone else that a baseball game can teach us about so much more than winning and losing.

I need to set the stage and introduce the characters:

It was a hot, sticky, June morning. The coaches arrived early to try to rake Friday night’s rain from the infield. The green team, sponsored by One-Hour Moto Photo, was undefeated. The blue team, sponsored by IQ Systems, had lost to them twice in the regular season. Baseball chatter echoed on the field and in my own memory from games played half a lifetime ago. “Protect the plate, Tyler, ” said Ken Cook who coached the blue team. “Be a hitter, David, ” encouraged Walter Coleman, leader of the green team. Both teams were ready and just a little nervous about the final game of the season.

Walter and Ken are both successful coaches but they brought very different styles to the final game. Ken is a calm, disciplined man with a written game plan and a belief that you win games by sticking to the basics. Walter is a passionate competitor who tells the boys that to win - “You got to want it more than the other team does.” Some people think that Walter’s win-at-any-cost intensity is a little too much.

The junior division is made up of 11 and 12-year-old boys. Everything needed to be just right for the championship game. Even the umpire, Bob Bain, was handpicked. Bob is a big guy with the booming voice of a Senior Chief Petty Officer, which he is. He is also one of the most respected umpires in the club. A 20-year navy career has given Bob a keen respect for rules and raising three children has taught him fair play.

Our last character is the most important. David Silverman is one of the smallest kids on the green team. He loves to play baseball. His coaches said that he attended every practice and has been ready to play every game this season. However, for all of his tenacity and love of the game, David cannot play quite as well as the other boys on his team. David is developmentally disabled.

The score in the early innings stayed close. Good pitching, solid hitting and nervous anxiety kept both teams focused on the game. Every time David got up to bat, he drew a base on balls. Bob Bain might have given him an extra small strike zone. “It’s hard for me to call a strike on him, it just isn’t fair,” Bob said during the game. In the middle innings, the blue team got a healthy lead, but by the last inning the green team fought back to within one run. What happened next caused my tears.

It was the bottom of the last inning and the green team was up for their last at-bat. The score was 12-11 with the blue team leading. Walter was coaching his team from third base. There were two outs. The green team needed one run to tie, two to win, and there were two runners within easy scoring distance at second and third, when David took his place in the batter’s box.

The pitcher fired the first pitch right over the plate. Everybody saw that it was almost perfect, belt high and right down the middle. David didn’t swing. There was a long pause. Bob didn’t say a word, but signaled a strike with a hand motion. The second pitch was a carbon copy of the first. David stood rock still again. A short pause and then, “Strike two” came the call from Bob. This is when David turned away from the plate, buried his face in his arms and began to cry. Bob called time-out.

After a moment, Walter walked down the line and knelt close to David. On another day, in another place, the easy thing might have happened. It would have been easy to pull David out of the game at that point and substitute another player. A sub would have made it easier on everyone. David would not have any more pressure. Walter and the green team would have a better chance to win the game and Bob would not have to call David out. I don’t know what Walter said, but David’s tears stopped. Then the intense competitor and the little boy who loved baseball hugged each other for a long time.

With his tears dried, David took his place in the batter’s box. Walter took his place in the coach’s box. Bob crouched low behind the catcher. David held his pose as another perfect pitch crossed the plate. “Strike three,” came the soft call from Bob. The game ended. The blue team had won. David and Walter’s green team lost the championship.

In this rare moment, through all the tears, we won something much more important than a baseball game. David showed us that it’s ok to be afraid and that getting back into the game with two strikes on you is often the most courageous thing you can do. Bob taught us that playing by the rules is what makes a contest worth winning. Walter showed us that competitiveness doesn’t come from needing to win at-all-costs but from loving the game and the simple joy of playing.

Sometimes in life as in baseball, we need to dry our eyes, dig in and wait for the next pitch, even if we think we might strike out.

Rick Wilson - Laurel, Maryland - June 1998

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Conflict of Perspective

Many people worry about eliminating conflicts of interest in government officials. I worry more about reducing their conflicts in perspective.

While our interests can change easily from this to that depending on the particulars of the situation, once we see something from a new perspective, there is no going back.

Conflicts grow in beds of narrow self interest. A new perspective will trump a conflict of interest every time.

On the road in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Kalmar Nyckel in Annapolis

The Kalmar Nyckel was in Annapolis this weekend. Put the kayaks in at Truxton Park and paddled down Spa Creek and took these pictures. The Kalmar brought Sweedes and Dutch immigrants to live in Wilmington, DE.

As another Kayaker said today, "this is the boat that brought Volvos to the New World."

Hot as hell for the whole 3 mile paddle. See: for all the details.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Bring Back Hats

In Front of Oliver's Saloon

I was admiring the hats that men wore at the turn of the century. The photo above shows a large group in front of the Laurel Trolley Station, now called Oliver's Saloon circa 1901.

My hairline is no longer quietly receding, it is now in full retreat to my ears. Wouldn't it be great if hats came back into style?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Laurel's Long Traffic Nightmare is Almost Over

Citizens of Laurel, it is time to celebrate. The often delayed, incredibly frustrating, Route 1 Southbound construction project is almost over.

Tonight I heard the rumble of heavy equipment out on Washington Blvd, better known as Rt 1 South. After a short walk from the house I saw the blacktop crew laying down a fresh layer of an automobile's best friend, smooth and steamy blacktop.

The picture above is a Google Earth image showing the long suffering project extending from the Patuxent River to Laurel Ave. Click on the image to enlarge. (Google Earth is a free application; see for more details.)

This construction project is being managed by the State Highway Department. The next big project in Laurel from our friends at SHA will be the deck replacement of the Northbound bridge. This will require shutting down one lane. Trips to Howard County via Rt 1 will be tough for a few months

Laurel is getting better and better!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Dinner at the Stinky Rose

I had dinner at the Stinky Rose on Columbus Avenue this evening. I had the pork chops and mussells for an appetizer. I thought it was very good.

Had a wild cab ride in the rain to get over there. Crazy Russian cabdriver. He kept apologizing about the traffic.

Went with Steve R, Jesse N. and Ed G. We walked back to the hotel. It was about 15 blocks but in SF there are lots of hills, so the going is tough.

Big day in the morning. Check out my email for the story from AP.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Answer - $17 Billion Dollars!

Question - How much did Americans spend on self storage last year?

Maybe we all have too much stuff.

The Allure of Traveling

"It is well that this is terrible, or else we might grow fond of it."

- General Lee to Stonewall Jackson as he watched wave after futile wave of Union troops get cut down by dug-in Confederate forces at Fredericksburg, Virginia, early in the Civil War.

This is the same thing I think about traveling...

- posted from SF

My Motto

When I get all excited about exercising, I lay down until the feeling passes. - posted from somewhere near Union Square in San Francisco, CA