Volume XI, Issue 4 ~ January 23-29, 2003

<This Weeks Lead Story>
<Dock of the Bay>
<Letters to the Editor>
<Bay Reflections>
<Burton, Sky and Sea>
<Not Just for Kids>
<8 Days a Week>
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<Bay Weekly Links>
<Behind Bay Weekly>
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Dock of the Bay

DNR’s Dentist Draws Toothy Reaction

The likely new secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources — the agency charged with protecting not only Chesapeake Bay but all of Maryland’s waterways, state parks and wildlife — is a dentist.

C. Ronald Franks, Gov. Bob Ehrlich’s choice to head DNR, is also a former one-term state delegate from 1990 to 1994, owner of a fly-fishing business just over the Bay Bridge in Grasonville and an organizer of an association that speaks for the sportsfishing industry. The 60-year-old Queen Anne’s County Republican was also a Democrat until the late 1980s.

But none of that is what Franks is best known for.

His claim to widest fame is a Colt AR-15 H-BAR assault rifle.

Back in 1994, Franks hoped to replace Paul Sarbanes in the U.S. Senate. To raise money for the primary, he raffled off the assault rifle. Advertised on the Internet as well as locally, the $5 raffle raised over $18,000 from buyers in 18 states.

Newspapers around the country wrote about his raffle, but it wasn’t Franks’ winning ticket. He came in last in the Republican’s Senate primary, behind former Tennessee Sen. Bill Brock and Ruthann Aron, the Montgomery County developer who later was convicted for trying to hire a hit man to kill her husband and a lawyer.

During that campaign, a spokesman described Franks as a “moderate conservative” who is opposed to what he sees as big government infringement on individual liberties — in this case, the Second Amendment right-to-bear-arms provision.

When he declared his Senate candidacy, Franks criticized a recent federal court decision that ordered a majority-black legislative district on the lower Eastern Shore. “Much like the results of forced busing, these artificial, so-called ‘remedies’ often cause more division and resentment and are generally counterproductive to improved race relations,” he wrote.

What any of that will have to do with how Franks runs the troubled Department of Natural Resources remains to be seen. Most commentators reacted to the appointment with optimism, however qualified.

“He could potentially do good, but he could also do real harm,” said a conservationist who will have to work with the new secretary and who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Everybody is hoping but shivering underneath.”

Representing commercial interests, Maryland Watermen’s Association head Larry Simns professed satisfaction with Franks and faith in Ehrlich.

“When Franks was in the House of Delegates,” Simns said, “he was straight with me, though we weren’t always on same side.”

Looking ahead, Simns said Franks “represents the recreational, sportsfisherman side” and that he’d “kinda been assured” that Ehrlich would appoint “a deputy that represents the commercial, working side.”

He got that “balance” just a day after Franks’ appointment, when the governor named old DNR hand Pete Jensen as deputy secretary.

“So far, Ehrlich has been true to his promises,” Simns said.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation also had to take Franks on faith.

Hours before announcing Franks to head the state’s lead resource agency, Ehrlich spoke at the foundation’s Environmental Legislative Summit.

“The meeting was good,” said assistant to the director of the Maryland Foundation office Kim Coble, “and the governor seemed to make a strong commitment to protecting the Bay.”

As to Franks, she said, “we don’t know lots. What we do know is that we’ve had good working relationships with secretaries in the past and are looking forward to such a relationship with Dr. Franks in the future.”

Specifically, Coble hoped in Franks to find “strong leadership to maintain and enhance — and not retreat from — the progress made on the Bay.”

But not everybody with a stake in Maryland’s natural resources thought Franks the right leader.

“DNR doesn’t need a goddamn orthodontist who’s a former legislator,” said Bill Burton, outdoors writer for The Sun for 35 years and 10-year columnist for Bay Weekly and also The Capital.

Burton called Jensen’s appointment the “saving grace” of the deal.

“It’s the best move the guv could have made. There’s a hell of a reorganization that will have to go on, and he needed somebody who knows the department, the people and the programs. Pete certainly does as well as anybody.”


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Kentavious Propels Over Punk at High School Battle of the Bands

A crowd of 700 teenage punks and brave parents filled Maryland Hall for Creative Arts for the fifth annual Battle of the High School Rock Bands.

Twelve bands from 10 Anne Arundel County high schools competed in a grueling, six-hour punk-rock slaughter for a chance to play at the 2003 Millennium Music Festival in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and to have a free, one-song demo produced in a Philadelphia studio.

“These kids deserve respect for what they do,” said Nancy Almgren, who designed the event to promote teen fellowship.

There was a lot of talent this fifth year, but there wasn’t a lot of variety. All but one of the featured bands were of the punk rock genre, leaving the event flavorless and teaming with designer-fashion wearing, wannabe punk rockers.

Kicking off the show, as hordes of high schoolers went ballistic, was Fatal Dreams from Southern High.

Without a bass player, they sounded thin, with too much treble. Lead vocalist Steve Sansburry’s easy-going demeanor clashed with his attempts at metal growls and screams. The band’s synchronized head banging was perfect; too bad Dreams didn’t perfect their music.

Next was Blackberry Crush from Glen Burnie. The Jolly Roger backdrop proved to be an omen for the band as their first two songs were ruined by technical difficulties. Frustrated, the band stopped playing a minute into their first number, complaining of no sound in the monitors and feedback through the PA system. Despite the muddle, Crush’s beat-keeper, Steve Wooteon, tied for the best drummer award in judging by a quartet of promoters and music writers.

The third band, Fallen Sunday from North County, did little to razzle-dazzle the audience but leap around the stage like chimps with guitars. For Tyler Shay — who nearly jumped out of his over-sized trousers — the acrobatics worked. He took home the best guitarist award.

The winning band Kentavious, from Annapolis High School: Benjamin Bays, Winship Wheatley, Danny Jauredgey, Joel Bays and Nick Welker.
Fourth playing Kentavious from Annapolis High School, the only non-punk band to perform, ruled the evening. From note one, it was obvious they’d take first place. Their sound was different, rich and full of texture. Their songs were multi-dimensional and had interesting tempo and melody changes. Their combined stage presence and positive energy won them the best performance award.

The band’s percussionist, Benjamin Bays, put on a stellar bongo performance, earning him the best “other” category. Lead vocalist Danny Jauredgey — who also played trumpet — took home the best singer award. Kentavious showed that it was okay for teens to laugh, have a good time and not to be angry for no reason.

Arundel’s A New Hope offered some hope. Ben DeHan played a good guitar almost his size. The four-boy group looked very young, and, if you closed your eyes, sounded like girls. Nevertheless, this quartet was entertaining.

Nothing Past Tomorrow from Old Mill lead into intermission. Musician Laurie Huebschman wo-manhandled her PRS guitar, leading the group through a collection of songs she wrote and arranged and filling the void left by an absent second guitarist away snowboarding.

“I just think it’s amazing how a young girl can put together all of these songs and play them in front of such a large audience,“ said Huebschman’s mother Linda Currie.

Nothing Past Tomorrow’s drummer, Tommy Hallek, was smooth enough on the skins to have won the best drummer award, though he did not.

Backstage, Include 32 was nervously preparing to open the second set. “We’ve got that feeling, like, you know, when you almost … like … get into like … a car accident, or something,” they … like … explained unanimously.

Lead singer Brandon Boldyga — who shot a stuffed monkey into the crowd with a giant slingshot — announced that Include 32 “weren’t your stereotypical rednecks from Southern High.”

They didn’t looked like rednecks, but their twangy “thanks, ya’ll” closing definitely had a good-ole’-boy sound. The band took fourth place overall.

The sound technicians got their acts together shortly after the Zen took stage, making it easy to hear the mistakes from this Severn/St. Mary’s/Spaulding amalgam. The trio played as best they could, but failed to stir much reaction from the audience.

Next came Severna Park’s Orange County East, who took the second place spot.

They were the best punk band of the night, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a former Falcon. The group had a ton of energy. Their synchronized pogo dancing stirred the crowd into a frenzy. The rockers leaped with so much fervor that they yanked the plugs out of their instruments and nearly crashed through their amps. All members of Orange County East were solid musicians, especially pink-haired bassist Andrew Freeman and lead vocalist Charlie Estberg.

Next Day Flight from South River took the stage beneath a giant dragon backdrop. The band breathed little fire, however.

South River had a second chance when The Broken Puppet Show hit the stage. Dressed in black suits, The Show’s five members looked like they stepped out of the Quentin Tarantino film Reservoir Dogs. Lead vocalist and guitarist Julian Schmied even looked like Tarantino.

The Show made a strong showing, taking third place honors with Mike Dunn winning the best bassist award and Matt Hammond tying Wooteon for the best drummer accolade.

The final act was Trial and Error from Key School. Lead singer Augie Praley was cool, looking like a Generation Y Meatloaf with his mullet hairdo and red pleather jacket and matching tie. Trial and Error was fun to watch. They bagged their teenage angst and anger, and they didn’t take themselves so punking seriously.

But at show’s end the buzz was all about Kentavious.

“They’re just different from all of the other acts,” explained Alie Feldman of Annapolis. “They have so much energy and remind me of so many different bands,” added Feldman’s friend Anna Blake.

“The event was so fun and we’re very grateful for those that helped make it happen,” said bassist Nick Welker.

The Guitar Center of Towson and Evolve Board Shop of Annapolis both lent helping hands again this year with sound equipment and ticket sales.

Ticket sales and proceeds benefit the music departments of the top four schools. The top four acts will perform in Annapolis at First Night, New Year’s Eve, 2003. The top six acts will perform at an all-ages show at the Thunderdome Club on Sunday, April 6.

As for the good vibration boys from Kentavious, they will be heading to Harrisburg this summer.

— Matthew Pugh

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At London Town, Holding on to the Past

Nothing much is new at the Annual Annapolis Heritage Antique Show.

The location is not new. On January 16, for the 33rd time — with 33 vendors — showcase lighting and temporary walls transformed the Armory into the Historic London Town Foundation’s Annual Annapolis Heritage Antique Show.

All but four of the 33 dealers were the same, too, transporting their wares to Annapolis from Eastern seaboard states, Louisiana Purchase states and even England.

Dealer Paul Phillips, here for a second year from Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, is a little new. “This is a very pleasant show,” he remarked. “It’s small. The atmosphere among the dealers is very intimate.”

Phillips waits for someone to buy, passing the time by answering a non-buying reporter’s questions. “What is my most valuable antique? Which one is most expensive, or which is most personally interesting?” he reflected.

Towering over the collection, the most expensive antique is a grandfather clock, made in about 1760 by Providence, Rhode Island, clock-maker Edward Spaling, and now worth $17,000. But Phillips’ personal favorite is a “rare, unusual” wooden box estimated at $1,100. Phillips face glowed with excitement as he revealed that his treasure was used in the 19th century to store and lock up cones of sugar.

Antique dealers Jerry Brill of Newport, Virginia, left, and Paul Phillips of Philadelphia were two of 33 dealers at this year’s Historic London Town Foundation’s Annual Annapolis Heritage Antique Show.
Down the aisle idled coffee-drinking dealer Michael Malley of East End Galleries out of Pittsburgh. “I’m one of the veterans,” he said, a participant since 1984. “I have a little bit of everything,” pointing on the one hand to a set of medieval andirons and on the other to a red cast iron elephant that is really a nutcracker.

“The rules keep changing of what an antique is,” Malley explained. “The previous cut-off date was 1830. Thirty years ago I couldn’t sell many of these items as antique,” he said gesturing at his inventory, including a New York train stepping stool from the early 20th century.

That nothing is very new suits the hundreds of visitors over three days to the Armory seeking antique treasures. Among them is Al Lukenbach, Anne Arundel County archeologist, a connoisseur of things old. Eyeing a set-up of ceramics, he said, “this event draws colossal support to London Town and the town’s rescueable antiques.”

Last year, in the depression following September 11, support to London Town was less than colossal. This year, early hopes were bouyed by a full house.

“It was mobbed on Saturday,” said Susan Dodds, co-chair of the Antique Show Committee.

Early receipts surpassed last year’s all-time low profit of $4,000. Perhaps, exhausted organizers hoped, this year will climb toward 2000’s all-time high of $20,000.

All that money will be invested in little new. Much of it will help plant an African American garden to demostrate the crops brought to America by way of the slave trade and to show the contribution they made to our culture.

“We’ll be installing the garden, developing a program for school children and cooking up collards, cow peas, sorghum and the West Indian gherkin as well as Carolina black peanuts, which were adopted by Africans to substitute for ground nuts,” said outdoors education director Mollie Ridout.

But even at Historic London Town, which recreates an 18th-century tobacco port, not everything should be old.

“We’ll be adding two new bathrooms with this money,” said deputy director Lee Butler. And about that bit of novelty, no visitor to Historic London Town is likely to complain.

— Sara Kajs

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Way Downstream …

In Virginia, a state legislator introduced legislation limiting the number of fishing licenses Virginia gives to Maryland charterboat captains in hopes of pressuring Maryland into dropping its own restrictions on Virginia boats. Once a Maryland bill passes, said Del. Albert Pollard (D), “This will fade quietly into the night”…

In the Atlantic Ocean, overfishing has driven several species of shark to near extinction, according to a new report from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia. After examining log books of fishing boats for 14 years, the researchers tabulated that hammerheads, white sharks and thresher sharks had declined by over 75 percent during that time…

Our Creature Feature comes from Malaysia, where a plantation owner named Zitun Arshad caused quite a stir this month by driving around in his open Jeep with a huge tiger riding in the back seat.

He said he had caught the 18-month old tiger in a trap last year and it had become his pet. But last week, knowing he or the tiger could be arrested, Arshad turned it loose in the wild — just after he and his son were photographed for the newspaper stroking their feline friend.

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Copyright 2003 Bay Weekly
Last updated January 23, 2003 @ 3:13am