I’m not a terribly tuned-in, worldly person, okay — not so clever about paying attention to what other people are paying attention to. I know this. Allow me to come clean now about some ignorance & prejudice I’ve harbored. I’ve had an image of Prince, from high school days (that’s the ’80s) on, as a doe-eyed little fop who just wanted to have his thing fondled, mostly, and found himself better equipped for making that pay off in media than most do. I was dismissive. In that idea of him there’s something true, of course; but on the other hand, I was also learning over time that people who cared about the music saw more in Prince than I did. Still, I never bothered to really bring my settled mental image up against what I was hearing from others.

Well — my image of Prince has finally had occasion to undergo some correction, lately. Is it reasonable to be somewhat in awe of a guy the preening archness of whose sensuality can cast an unpleasant shadow over everything in your awareness, as you watch, up to & including yourself? Reasonable to hold in admiration a guy whose person you know you’d prefer to keep at a distance, despite the fact his public persona conveys no more threat than a puppy’s? — Yes, I’ve decided. Yes, oh yes. Reasonable enough. What a master of his work the man is.

Briefly observed on the roadside this morning in Silver Spring: a lone figure, sandy-haired, bearded, in t-shirt & jeans, holding out toward passing traffic a small poster-board sign, red & blue lettering, reading,

If you love your MAMA
vote OBAMA

Baltimore Sun reports today that the Chesapeake Bay Foundation‘s going to sue the EPA for not doing enough. Not that the EPA’s the only party to past bay & watershed cleanup deals accountable for lack of follow-through. But the CBF evidently has seen a need now to take on government in the courts, and it’s the feds, they’ve concluded, against whom “the strongest legal case could be made for failure to uphold pollution laws.”

CBF, Annapolis

Starting to fool around with the candidate’s faces just a little.

I’ve wanted to do this for months; I’ve been saving clips here & there from magazines & so forth. There’s been no shortage of inspiration, only of time & attention.

The fun in caricature, for me, isn’t first in send-up but in study. It’s in discovery of a face, a personality, by drawing. (In the case of Obama, a face with all sorts of obvious visual appeal.) Much as I envy great cartoonists their work, I’d really rather essay little things on paper like this for my own interests, though I have no hope of mastering the subject, than be on call as cartoonists are to appropriate public figures’ features for their audiences’ consumption.

Aside from the provisions designed to improve the financial system, I am pleased to report the new law extends a number of key tax incentives for energy efficiency and renewable sources of energy — long-standing AIA priorities. Specifically, the energy efficiency commercial building tax deduction, a critical federal incentive for green commercial building that was set to expire at the end of the year, will be extended until December 31, 2013. The extension of this deduction has been one of the AIA’s top legislative priorities for nearly two years.

From a letter praising the expansive bailout law just put through, sent yesterday by AIA president Marshall Purnell’s office.

I’m pretty sure McCain can’t hope to generate any expression of support quite as warm & communal as this, no matter what he does. Who knows, though? National politics brings out all sorts of weird in people.

(Via Endlessly Rocking, via Boar’s Head Tavern.)

This summer, the veteran waterman steered his workboat to a spot off Point Lookout, near Maryland’s southern tip, where he had set his crab pots. He pulled them up to find they were filled with dead crabs.
   Norris has worked the bay for nearly 20 years, and he has long known about “bad water” — oxygen-deprived swaths where little can live. But this was the first week in July. He had never seen bad water so early, or in so many places.
   “It’s disheartening,” he said, “to say the least.”
   During the past 25 years, several billion dollars in state and federal funds have gone to bay cleanup programs. A large chunk of that — including money from Maryland’s landmark flush tax — has paid for improvements to sewage treatment plants. Other money has gone to farmers to plant cover crops and conserve land.
   Environmental experts say those steps have helped to hold the line — that the bay would be in even worse shape without them. But it has not gotten better.

The Sun has a new two-part look at the sinking health of the Chesapeake and at watershed woes doing it harm — with emphasis on Maryland’s own watershed & river problems. (The Chesapeake watershed covers an area from central New York to southern Virginia.) The first article, run today, details ongoing river pollution problems in Maryland. And it comes with video coverage, if that’s your preferred medium.