When I heard Baltimore was named one of the angriest cities in America, I was really ticked off. I was furious, livid, choleric, piqued. I was so riled I could have spit nails. My blood pressure rose. My jaw clenched. I was steamed, splenetic, wild. I had to loosen my collar.
Who in the %@#$ had the nerve to decide that we were volatile?
This news was contained in a recent issue of Men’s Health. The magazine ranked the angriest and least angry cities in the United States based on the percentage of men with high blood pressure; FBI rates of aggravated assault; Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers on workplace deaths from assaults and other violence; and road rage based on traffic congestion data and speeding citations.
Turns out, we were the fourth angriest city in America out of 100 surveyed! Not bad. But I think we can do better. I challenge all the really angry Baltimorons to crank it up. Let’s show those %#@*&?% at Men’s Health who the *c%# is the angriest &#@+* city in this &#$%@ country!
This is like a challenge grant from one of those fund-raising drives on WYPR-FM or WBJC-FM. (You know how angry those fund-raising drives make you? Channel that anger.) I know a lot of really angry people (I won’t use names here because that will only make them angrier) who can rise to this challenge.
Granted, we did rate an ‘F’ on a scale of A to F, only to be bested by three other cities. In third place was Detroit. Know anything about the nation’s auto industry, and you can sense the anger there. But the winner and first runner-up make no sense.
Orlando, Fla., is the angriest city in America? Followed by St. Petersburg, Fla.? Get the %@#* outta here. I guess life in the Magic Kingdom ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. Or in the land of the Early Bird Specials.
The least angry cities were no surprise to me, a displaced New Englander. Manchester, N.H., was the least angry city in America and Bangor, Maine, was No. 2. They got that right. Those places are about as sleepy as it gets. Fargo, N.D., earned the No. 3 spot.
In truth, I believe that Baltimore is a very angry town. Consider the custom of marking off your parking space with an old lawn chair after it snows. Is that angry or what? Remember when Bob Irsay took the Baltimore Colts away in the middle of the night? There are people who’ve NEVER gotten over that.
And we have a tradition of anger, too. In the 19th century this was Mob Town— not Mayberry.
What about Frank Kush, the old coach of the Baltimore Colts? “My way or the highway.” Frank was no Quaker, my friends.
Longtime Orioles manager Earl Weaver certainly had the anger— just ask the umpires.
I’d put uber-lawyer Peter Angelos on my short list of anger’s finest, too. I saw him eating lunch at Petit Louis one day and he looked angry. The guys with him looked scared. I saw him walking a dog one night and the dog looked angry, too. I like that in a man and in a dog. Pure anger. Rage. Both dog and man ready to bite. Grrrrrrrrr…
But William Donald Schaefer is without a doubt the angriest Baltimoron these days. He may be the angriest man in the history of Baltimore. “Do it NOW!” Remember that? Does that sound like a Zen master to you?
Schaefer showed up at people’s houses after they wrote him complaint letters. He followed people. He wrote wacky letters to citizens. He managed to insult Mexicans, women, AIDS patients and Koreans (although not at the same time). There might be some guy over in a Locust Point rowhouse who is a veritable Mount Vesuvius ready to erupt, but we don’t know about him because he’s not a former mayor and governor and comptroller of the Land of Pleasant Living. (There’s another thing that really ticks me off— slogans. BELIEVE what you want, but I believe this is one angry town.)
Alas, the problem with anger is that it catches up with you. And the issue of Men’s Health that rated our little city of charm as one of the nation’s boiling points bears this out. The magazine urges angry men to take a multiple vitamin, which appears to lower the risk of heart disease. Or you could have a couple of glasses of Pikesville Rye. (This does not lower the risk of heart disease but it does make you not care.)
But the real problem with being angry is that anger only harms the angry.
What better example of this than Schaefer? His anger cost him the primary election— not that he was always wrong, because being angry is also about caring about something. Now Schaefer is old, his political career finished. Everyone says he needs to retire, relax, maybe get away.
For Schaefer, that’s a no-brainer. It’s either Orlando or St. Petersburg.