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?