Another hot wet Sunday…

chez UD.

Early Morning Web Hunting

The bright blotch to the right is the web-weaver.

It’s in the early morning, with the sun just up and everything still wet from evening rains, that you can really see, in UD’s woods…

… the webwork.

How to Kill a City.

Go out of your way to attract violent people. Add innocent bystanders and shake well.

This recent blow to the town’s reputation may be the latest setback for residents and businesses who rely on a tourism industry that has already been hard hit by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

[Danielle] Keithley, her cousin and … three children didn’t end up staying the night in Ocean City.

They were trapped on the Boardwalk for no more than eight to 10 minutes trying to break through [a violent] crowd.

In that time, Keithley’s phone and wallet were lost when her bag was knocked from her shoulder, her 4-year-old nephew got a small scratch to the face and her 6-year-old niece ended up with a knot on her forehead that left her dizzy, Keithley said.

Her small group was finally able to escape down a side street, but she was forced to return to the Boardwalk to track down her missing items.

“It was just so many people. There were so many people sitting on the benches. They were crying. They couldn’t breathe. They had water. They were just like putting water bottles all over their faces, trying to clear their eyes … The whole entire town stunk, you know?” [The police sprayed chemicals.]

She was able to find the individuals who picked up her phone and wallet, but her cash was already gone.

Although their hotel room was already paid for, Keithley said she and her cousin decided to pack the children up in the car instead and head back across the Bay Bridge at about 1:30 a.m.

She’s a 33-year-old Maryland native who’s been to Ocean City for everything from senior week to car shows, but says she’s never cut short a trip. 

Despite crowds and busy events, she’s only ever extended her stays. Keithley expects it will likely be years before decides to return — if she ever goes back at all.

She was frustrated by the fighting, but also by the police response, which to her seemed “absolutely unorganized.”

She acknowledges handling that kind of chaos is no easy task, but wants to see a more structured plan to deal with it in the future — especially when there are elderly people and small children on the Boardwalk.

“I hate to say it because who doesn’t love Ocean City? But we won’t be going back,” she said. “We won’t be going back, not anytime soon, not anytime in this season or probably the next season.”

UD‘s father graduated from Ocean City High. Generations of her father’s side of the family have lived and worked in Ocean City. The place was never upscale, but had a pleasant rackety energy to it. In recent years, though, politicians who see only money have allowed it to become ugly and dirty and dangerous. This is about drug cartels, gun markets, gangs. Climbing out of this calamity will take a long time; it will take a deep cultural change. I doubt it will happen. Ocean City is devolving into a skeezy police state.

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Mayor Rick Meehan and Councilwoman Mary Knight said cheap hotel rooms needed to end immediately.

Listen to the cynical idiots who destroyed Ocean City; listen to them say things like cheap hotel rooms need to end immediately. Yes, tell the miles and miles and miles of cheap hotels that are Ocean City that a very few people in the political establishment have decided that you need to close. Now. Or hey maybe we should stop hosting major asshole events like H20i. Oh wait! We did! But they’re still coming every year, cuz there’s no place like Ocean City for cheap hotel rooms, cheap bars that never close, scads of other assholes just like us for us to fight with, and … I dunno… Just that ineffable history, that legacy, of town-trashing night after night, decade after decade, that makes it so special.

“I feel like a prisoner in my own home…”

“… there have been an overwhelming number of cancellations…”

“… everybody from the western side of Maryland and the north and south of Maryland come[s] here and it seems like their sole purpose is to destroy the town.”

The fate of Ocean City, Maryland, where UD’s family has had a business presence for over a hundred years…

… is appalling. Keep in mind while reading this short chronicle of the last few days that the city has itself to blame for the escalating violence. (It’s sheer dumb luck no guns have been involved; but that luck will certainly run out.) It has done little to make the place unattractive to violent people. No curfews; plenty of late-night bars with cheap booze; insufficient police patrols.

Boardwalk violence used to be about crowds of drunk frat boys (see my posts about OC sister-city Myrtle Beach); but while that of course still goes on, the really scary stuff now is about gangs.

Around 4:30 a.m. on Sunday, June 7, the OCPD responded to a fight involving multiple people on the Boardwalk between 6th Street and 7th Street. During that incident, one unnamed individual was stabbed and was taken to Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury. The victim’s status in unknown.

Last Tuesday, OCPD officers responded to two simultaneous serious assaults on the Boardwalk, one at 11th Street and another at 15th Street. Around 11:20 p.m., OCPD officers responded to a reported stabbing that had just occurred. The victim was transported to PRMC for treatment and severity of the victim’s injuries are not known.

Just after midnight last Wednesday, the three-day spree reached a crescendo when a fight broke out on the Boardwalk between large groups of young adults. At least one young man was punched repeatedly in the face while sitting on a Boardwalk bench to the point it appeared he fell unconscious. Other skirmishes broke out during the larger altercation which carried over to the beach area. A video of the incident captured by a witness and posted on social media went viral and left many in the community with more questions than answers…

Just after 5 p.m. last Thursday, two individuals entered a West Ocean City restaurant and were asked by employees to leave because they were not wearing masks or face coverings in violation of state COVID-19 directives. The individuals did leave as directed, but returned a short time later with a third individual and allegedly confronted employees and threw bottles and other items around the restaurant before fleeing on foot. One individual, identified as Roger Ja’Mil Brown, 19, of Severn, Md., was arrested a short time later and was charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and disturbing the peace.

Around the same time last Thursday, another man was reportedly attacked randomly while shopping at the outlets in West Ocean City. The victim and his girlfriend were allegedly attacked from behind by five unknown assailants in broad daylight. The victim reportedly suffered multiple facial fractures including a broken cheek and a broken eye socket.

Back in Ocean City, the violence erupted again on Friday night with multiple altercations up and down the Boardwalk throughout the night. The situation reached a crescendo on Friday when law enforcement was forced to deploy pepper spray or a tear gas-like substance to break up the crowds.

On Sunday around 2 a.m., police broke up a fight among a group and apprehended at last two suspects on the Boardwalk.

On Sunday afternoon, the Alaska Stand on 9th Street announced on social media it was closing its doors early due to customer problems. Additionally, some other downtown businesses, such as the Crabcake Factory Poolside, did not even open Sunday due to concerns over safety.

In its social media message, the Alaska Stand wrote, “We are closed! … we have had more than enough this weekend dealing with a whole new level of disrespect to our staff, our business and our town and we are tired of being the brunt of undeserved verbal abuse by the public when ordering and picking up … we will regroup and try again … get it together OC … we apologize to our beloved and well mannered customers, we cherish and appreciate you to no end.”

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By some measures, Ocean City has for some time been the most dangerous place to live in Maryland. Fixing the problem will make the place feel even less carefree and vacation-like: Extreme police presence; curfews; huge numbers of new rules; a general air of suspicion and threat. It’s sort of like what has happened to soccer (feast your eyes) in certain European countries: Organized gangs were allowed to proliferate, and now the game setting is one hundred percent male (women and families have abandoned the arenas; it’s only police and young male fans now) and way violent. Ocean City is getting there.

New Garden Update

At 5:55 this morning, I watched from the bedroom as a hummingbird buzzed my new, just-blooming, red bee balm. Looked like this.

Ten minutes later, from the kitchen window, I watched a large red fox just there, just in front of me, in the middle of the garden, tiptoeing along the irregular-stone path. But then it suddenly cringed, looked at our bedroom sliding doors, and ran away.

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“I saw a fox from the bedroom,” said Mr UD five minutes later, as he made his coffee; “and I pounded on the window to make it get out of the garden.”

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If you’re a fox, you definitely want to be in our garden. Chipmunks abound; and of course birds and rabbits (though the rabbits prefer the large wild patch I’ve established on a nearby hill) and probably a raft of other rodents…

Taking the “I’m Nuts” Approach in ‘thesda.

“I am committed to making amends by addressing, through counseling, the underlying issues that led to my abhorrent behavior,” announces a close neighbor of UD‘s here in Bethesda, Md. Having attacked college students holding Black Lives Matter signs on the Crescent Trail (Les UDs walk it all the time), this guy would, you know, prefer not to go to jail; so he’s going to pay some psychiatrists to attest to his attacking-innocent-people-while-cycling problem… A behavior rooted in the abuse he suffered from Mad Mom, Drunk Dad, Perverted Priest, etc.

I mean, not to make light of it; everyone’s got legitimate problems. But consider the fact that rich people with good lawyers routinely avoid jail for … forget abhorrent, illegal behavior… by seizing onto a psychosis or two for which, certes, they will be receiving counseling if you will just leave them the fuck alone.

If you ask UD, crazed assholes willing to assault strangers on a bike path should indeed spend a little time in jail. We will see if this one – even though a rich ‘thesdan – gets there.

Woke up just now (2 AM) and stood for a moment on my chilly deck.

Suddenly a jet engine thundered; and I looked up in a starry sky to see low overhead the bright-lit intricate underbelly of a massive military aircraft. It passed at an enormous rate of speed.

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Things gather themselves into something more than unsettling. Cities are aflame – corridors of my city, Washington, are aflame, and a protest is scheduled tomorrow in Bethesda. Layers of surreality: the pandemic; the riots; the storming president.

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When I, the other day, heard for the first time the phrase immunity passport, I thought, That’s what I’ve always had, and I still hold one now. The world does its chaotique, effrayant, thing, and UD sits way back here, amid the shady woods, fragrant flow’rs and crystal floods, taste, my soul, this charming seat, love and glory’s calm retreat, and now there’s a helicopter out there — I just stepped outside to watch it from the other deck — and it’s circling.

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In front of me, as I stood on the decks, gleamed what I’ve come to call The Overdetermined Garden. Our new garden. We ordered up a bee, bird, and butterfly attractor, and boy has it been at it, all abuzz the live-long day… But it means too much to me; my work in it (and beyond it, in our established garden and woods and woody paths) has become too big a part of my buddha-noons, too much an act of belligerence against what is happening to the Isle of the Immune.

Of course no one who lives eight miles from Washington DC really thinks she’s immune. But there’s knowing and there’s realizing.

A box turtle eyes UD shyly…

… from beneath a bush in her new garden.


Soundtrack: Deafening early morning birdsong.

A student of Jerzy Soltan’s …

… (Soltan was UD‘s father-in-law) includes a sketch in the style of Soltan in a collection of the student’s work.

“I’m reduced to log-hopping,” says…

La Kid, of her covoid existence.

Margaret’s Nature Journal

All day long, amazing moments in UD‘s woods.

Early this morning, raking some paths, I watched the red fox with the enormous tail glide by behind the honeysuckle bushes.

This afternoon, I discovered bear corn under some old logs. Here it is.

This evening, back at the top of the property to finish clearing paths, I watched a pileated woodpecker go at one of our dead upright trees. It took its time, letting me stand ten feet away gawking while its powerful beak easily tossed off large chunks of bark. The moment was much like this, except this woodpecker works on deepening a hole, while my woodpecker (what a big bird!) moved from one area of sheared trunk to another, gulping bugs as it went.

Oh, and then I found a large deer antler – not an unusual event around here. I tossed it to the dog, who added her teeth marks to the many already on it.

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Update: Who knew the woodpecker’s tree was called a “snag”? The New York Times pats UD on the back for keeping lots of dead trees around.

The relentless green and black of…

UD‘s back deck. The deck features the newly-stained brown that both UDs, on seeing it completed, decided looked like diarrhea. They had already made preparations to have it redone when the virus postponed things.

In the time she’s been living with it, UD has gradually become fond of it… What wonderfully adaptive beings are human beings…

On a high branch in one of the very big trees in the distance, UD watched, yesterday afternoon, with her green and black binoculars, a Cooper’s Hawk. It perched there a long time. Good call. The name of the ground game chez UD is rabbit/squirrel/vole.

‘thesdan must-haves.

SPA WITH INFRARED SAUNA AND STEAM SHOWER, GLASS ENCLOSED WINE CELLAR, BUILT IN LOWER LEVEL BAR, INDOOR GOLF SIMULATOR ROOM AND INDOOR SPORT COURT WITH SYNTHETIC ICE

Svensk Buddhism

UD is not the first to notice something strange and soothing about the simple singsong flow of the Swedish accent.

She has lately, under plague conditions, also noticed that long sessions of Swedish (a language totally unknown to her) piped into her ear on clear quiet self-isolated evenings while she lies abed generate calm, and even occasional flashes of Bergmanian life wisdom…

The film she streams the most, however, isn’t one of his — it’s The Emigrants, which not only features infinite accent (the movie is interminable), but also, when you open your eyes and take a look at a scene, offers either Liv Ullmann’s childlike passive Swedish peasant eyes, or Max Von Sydow’s horse-heavy plough hopelessly working its way around boulders. Pure Ambien.

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