It’s September 11, 2007 and it’s going to be a big day in Baltimore, but here’s my question: what will be the biggest deal in Baltimore today – the city’s mayoral Primary Election, the much-anticipated, head-to-head double-release of the new Kanye West and 50 Cent albums or the ho-hum sixth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01?
Let’s take a closer look.
There is a lot at stake in today’s mayoral Primary Election in Baltimore. Sheila Dixon, who was city council president until former mayor Martin O’Malley was elected governor last year, has been interim mayor of Baltimore and looks to become the first woman ever elected to the office. Also at stake are the membership of the Baltimore City Council and the post of City Council President. Today is actually just the party Primary Election day – meaning Democrats run only against the other Democrats and Republicans against Republicans to determine which candidates will represent their respective parties in the Nov. 6 General Election. Because Baltimore City politics are dominated by Democrats, however, it is very likely today’s winner will be the city’s next mayor. About a half-dozen Democratic candidates are running, but it is largely acknowledged to be a two-horse race between Dixon and city councilman Keiffer J. Mitchell, Jr. While Dixon leads in all the polls, neither candidate has been particularly stellar – Dixon is leading a city on pace for a record-breaking murder rate this year and Mitchell fired his father as his campaign treasurer after more than $50,000 disappeared from his campaign account. While you might not like the options, one of these people, by the end of the day, will be poised to become the next mayor of Baltimore.
There is also much at stake today for dueling rap superstars Kanye West and 50 Cent, who have both decided Sept. 11, 2007 was the day to debut their highly-hyped albums. With the record industry sagging as listeners continue to turn to online sources like iTunes to get their music fix by downloading albums and singles, West and 50 Cent have promoted today’s double release much like a Don King produced heavyweight title fight. Each of the rappers has asserted their sales will be greater than their opponents and 50 Cent (real name Curtis James Jackson) is backing up his talk with…more talk. 50 Cent has vowed to retire from rapping, will quit putting out solo albums and only write and produce music if West’s CD sells more albums today. West, who had a backstage blowup after he went 0-5 and left Sunday night’s MTV Music Awards empty handed, has not countered with his own threat of retirement. The truth is both rappers are banking on fans buying both of the albums today so, regardless of who outsells who, both will be headed to the bank.
Finally, today is the sixth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in which nearly 3,000 people were killed when four jet airliners were hijacked and flown into New York City’s World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field near Shanksville Pennsylvania. No one will forget where they were and what they were doing six years ago this morning ( I was sitting in an empty newsroom watching a wisp of smoke rise out of the World Trade Center and listening to a colleague joke about the goof who must have been blind to crash his plane into the building), but the day, which is not a national holiday, has come to symbolize so much more. The critics and cynics will point out, six years later as troops toil in Iraq while Osama Bin Laden continues to release antagonistic videos from Afghanistan or beyond, more Americans have been killed in the War on Terror than in the terrorist attack on American soil. We are also still waiting for a permanent memorial to be constructed at the WTC and Pentagon sites. I’ve been told by someone who visited a certain field in Pennsylvania that a partial chain link fence and shed with accompanying guest book are the only evidence of the airliner that went down there six years ago after its passengers apparently tried to take control back from their hijackers. We’re told the monuments are coming and while the War on Terror is still in high gear, a partial withdraw of American troops from Iraq is expected within the next year. Six years in the blink of an eye.
It’s a big day indeed, but why?
Whoa. Your photo montage makes it look like we’ve launched right out into Wingnutland. Add this to your list: my dad, likely seasick, flying out of town for a business meeting today. I’m glad to see/hear that the hiphop world is becoming cheesy and starting to drown in its own fat, the way Rock and Roll did (Elvis, chin slathered with peach juice, balls the size of chickpeas, making the backup singers uncomfortable). I was just wondering last night: who, from where, and when will be the next really big thing in music? How long has it been since there was a Big Thing? Nirvana?
As for Baltimore, the recent Sun story on loss of hope gave me bile. What will it take? Why are we willing to fight for freedom in far flung locales, but we aren’t completely fed up by the fact that drug dealers and murderers can knock out street lights and take over playgrounds. Why do we not stand together and shout, “No! That is not how we do things in this country!” Who makes you feel more oppressed: Religious zealots strapping into suicide vests (8000 miles away), or thugs who beat innocent folks into comas (10 miles away). The pale candidates in Baltimore today reflect and reinforce that lack of hope.
Scene: Driving in September 2001 to a gig in Alexandria with a car full of guys, sitting next to my then-girlfriend. As we came around a curve in I-395; the Pentagon, architecturally larger than life, turning like a giant, granite star; revealing blinding stadium lights, a massive American flag half-covering the gash cut by the airplane. Talk in the car fell dead to the floor. Six years later, and Habib just released a new flick, supposedly wearing a fake beard. Will someone tell me what the hell is going on?
With the final precincts reporting, here’s how Sept. 11, 2007 went down in Baltimore.
– Shiela Dixon garnered 63 percent, or roughly 50,000 votes, to crush her closest political challenger Keiffer Mitchell by nearly a 3-to-1 margin. Mitchell got about 24 percent of the vote with nearly 19,000 ballots cast in his favor. The incumbents won in almost every contested race in the city Primary Election, which saw less than 28 percent of Baltimore’s registered voters participate. The city’s General Election, largely a formality in Democratically-dominated Baltimore, will be held Nov. 6.
– It looks like 50 Cent’s solo career may be just a fond memory as fellow rapper Kanye West appeared to lead the way in first day album sales. Amazon.com sales figures put West’s CD as the top seller for Sept. 11, 2007, while 50 Cent’s simultaneously released record ranked just #6. Similarly, iTunes had West’s CD as the second best seller and 50 Cent falling to #9. In the much-ballyhooed grudge match, 50 Cent threatened to retire from releasing solo rap albums if West’s CD outsold his own. The dark horse in the race is country singer Kenny Chesney, who also released an album on Sept. 11, 2007. Billboard charts indicated Chesney’s new record was anticipated to run neck-and-neck with 50 Cent’s album in first week sales figures.
– Finally, as Gen. David Petraeus continues to present plans to Capitol Hill regarding the war in Iraq, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was reported in the Baltimore Sun to have have described his plan, which is strongly supported by President George W. Bush, as such: “It seems to me that Gen. Petraeus is presenting a plan for at least a 10-year, high-level U.S. presence in Iraq.”
Happy Sept. 11. We’ll see you next year.
ISN’T IT IRONIC:
On an International (and much more positive) note, see CNN story, 5-year-old Youssif from Iraq arrived in the United States on 9/11. It’s exciting to see Americans reaching out to an Iraqi child who was severely disfigured by masked men outside his home in central Baghdad months ago.
Pictures of Youssif showed a boy with a brilliant smile that could have captured the hearts of dozens of young girls, adjacent to a boy with a melting, oversized lip and pulled cheeks. If not for an article explaining the images, it would have been impossible to compare the two. Thanks to CNN readers who donated to a fund set up by the Children’s Burn Foundation, Youssif will undergo plastic surgery in hopes that he will one day be able to live a more normal life without fearing how the world looks at him.
This act of kindness (like so many that came from volunteers following the September 11th attacks) helps balance humanity. For every wrong, there can be thousands of rights, if we only remember to look at our neighbors as human – not American or Iraqi.
Damn- I missed the local election. On the sixth anniversary of 9/11 I was lucky enough to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity in the St. Bernard Parish in Louisiana. I worked side by side with the Casanova family as they rebuild their home after losing nearly everything.
Talk about needing balance. Bringing balance into that devastated area are the thousands and thousands of volunteers who locals give all the credit to for getting things done. The government, at all levels continue to show their ineffectiveness while contractors/capitalists are getting fatter and fatter off the devastation. You would not believe that after two years so much work remains. So much. It is sad really. These people are still in the trenches of such a catastrophe.