Sunday, March 15, 2015

Governor's Bridge - Bowie, MD

The Patuxtent River is the dividing line between Anne Arundel County and Prince George's County. Governor's Bridge, which just so happens to be located on Governor's Bridge Road, crosses the river and connects the two counties.

According to the State of Maryland, "the site of the bridge has been used as a crossing since the mid-eighteenth century."  The name, they speculate, may come from the fact that Governor Ogle, in the mid 1700's, used a bridge that was previously at this spot to commute between his home in Bowie and Annapolis. That bridge no longer exists.

The current metal truss bridge was built sometime between 1907 and 1912. It is a single lane bridge on a two lane road, so care must be taken when using it.

A simple unassuming little bridge like this really shouldn't attract much attention. Yet rumors about the supernatural have turned this structure into a local legend.

The mysterious Goatman of Prince George's County is said to inhabit the area. This half-man, half-goat beast is thought by many to live in the woods around the bridge. Jimmy Tupper VS The Goatman of Bowie is a 2012 movie about this creature. It was shot in and around the area. You even see the bridge in at least one scene, although it is never mentioned by name. The movie was clearly inspired by the Blair Witch Project and was sort of slow at times. It got much better near the end. A sequel was hinted at and I hope it gets made.

There are also stories about it being haunted. One popular story, recounted by another blog tells of:
a young unmarried teen-aged girl that became pregnant. Afraid to tell her parents, the girl took her newborn baby and dropped it over the side of the bridge. Realizing what she had done, the girl jumped from the bridge and fell to her own death. According to many eyewitnesses, one can see the woman standing in the middle of the bridge, frightening drivers.

Of course, the biggest problem with this story is that while the baby would have drowned, the jump is not high enough to kill a person. I suppose the girl could have also drowned, if she didn't know how to swim. There is, however, no record that I can find of an incident like this ever taking place at the bridge. Crybaby bridge legends are fairly common all over the US and are not to be taken too seriously.

There are stories about terrible car accidents over the years at or near the bridge. It is a one lane bridge on a two lane road that is curvy and not well lit, so the fact that there have been accidents nearby is not surprising. Throw in the fact that teenagers and other young people are visiting the bridge, often at night and under the influence, and, of course, there are going to be deaths. People like to visit the bridge and post videos of it on Youtube. These people got out of their car and walked on the bridge, on a foggy night.



One benefit of these types of adventures is that sooner or later some of the people involved are going to get killed. So if the bridge wasn't haunted before, it will soon be.

Of course, while it is quite reasonable to be concerned about homicidal satyrs  and ghosts, there is another reason to be worried while travelling over Governor's Bridge. According the the Maryland Historical Trust, "When the bridge was surveyed in 1995, it was closed to traffic. However, it has since been re-opened, although no significant alterations are evident." Well, maybe the Goatman fixed whatever was wrong.

Related:
Maryland Folklore - book review
In search of Anne Arundel County's "Midgetville"
Many years ago, a young unmarried teen-aged girl became pregnant. Afraid to tell her parents, the girl took her newborn baby and dropped it over the side of the bridge. Realizing what she had done, the girl jumped from the bridge and fell to her own death. - See more at: http://www.realhaunts.com/united-states/governors-bridge/#sthash.vT4IlVaI.dpuf
Many years ago, a young unmarried teen-aged girl became pregnant. Afraid to tell her parents, the girl took her newborn baby and dropped it over the side of the bridge. Realizing what she had done, the girl jumped from the bridge and fell to her own death. - See more at: http://www.realhaunts.com/united-states/governors-bridge/#sthash.vT4IlVaI.dpuf
Many years ago, a young unmarried teen-aged girl became pregnant. Afraid to tell her parents, the girl took her newborn baby and dropped it over the side of the bridge. Realizing what she had done, the girl jumped from the bridge and fell to her own death. - See more at: http://www.realhaunts.com/united-states/governors-bridge/#sthash.vT4IlVaI.dpuf

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Baltimore County Campaign for Liberty and the war on drugs

In January 2013, I spoke to the Baltimore County Campaign for Liberty about the war on drugs. I am a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). I should also include this disclaimer:
LEAP speakers come from a wide divergence of political thought and social conscience and recognize that in a post-prohibition world it will take time to strike a proper regulatory balance, blending private, public and medical models to best control and regulate “illicit drugs.”  LEAP speakers are free to advocate their view of better post-prohibition stratagems without towing a LEAP “party line.”


Thanks to Rick Saffery for taking and sending me this video.

Related:
Dr. Dean Ahmad, Islam and Liberty at the Anne Arundel County Campaign for Liberty meeting
Graveside Service for H.L. Mencken

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Grain Alcohol in "The Free State"


One of the things that I really enjoy is Everclear Grain Alcohol. I don't drink it often, but I like to have it around for special events. It is a conversation starter. How many beverages do you know of that warn you to keep it away from open flames? And at 95% alcohol, they aren't joking.


Last year, a bunch of busy-bodies petitioned the State of Maryland to prohibit this drink because it is allegedly abused by some. According to the Baltimore Sun:

The grain alcohol ban, backed by a group of university presidents as a safety measure, comes amid a growing focus on rape and drinking to excess on campus. Del. Charles Barkley, a Montgomery County Democrat, said increased awareness of the risks associated with grain alcohol bolstered support for the bill he sponsored.
"Getting it off the market will maybe reduce problems at the college level," Barkley said, adding that students have used it to get "bombed out of their mind," putting themselves in danger.

In the 2014 Session of the Maryland General Assembly, State Senator Richard S. Madaleno, Jr. (Democrat, Montgomery County - of course) proposed SB0075 which stated:

( A ) A PERSON MAY NOT SELL AT RETAIL AN ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE WITH AN ALCOHOL CONTENT BY VOLUME OF 95% (190 PROOF ) OR MORE .(B) A PERSON WHO VIOLATES THIS SECTION IS GUILTY OF A MISDEMEANOR AND ON CONVICTION IS SUBJECT TO A FINE NOT EXCEEDING $1,000.

A great deal of energy was expended by our legislators in this debate. In the end, the bill was passed by both houses in the General Assembly and then Governor O'Malley signed it into law. I suppose that they were proud of their work and believed that they made the State a safer place.

Of course, that is nonsense. I know from my training, knowledge, and experience, that it is easy to get piss drunk off of vodka, wine, or beer. Aside from thinking that the law was stupid and not likely to change anything, I resented it as an infringement on my freedom. I resolved to drive to Delaware, where it can still be legally purchased, to stock up on the banned substance. I was going to be a modern day boot-legger.

All of those plans changed today. I was at Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits and spotted a bottle of Everclear. I was surprised. I assumed it had to be a mistake. I picked up a bottle to purchase, thinking I was going to get away with it. Then I looked more closely. It wasn't 95% alcohol. It was 94.5%! I couldn't help but laugh. Here all those busy-bodies spent all that time during the legislative session thinking that they were doing something good. And by a mere half a percent, they were defeated. The free market won! Then I got angry. The time that they could have spent figuring out ways to fix the budget, or to improve education, or reduce crime, or extend freedom was wasted on trying to ban grain alcohol. And they ended up achieving nothing. Who cares about half a percent?

To end on a positive note, I was happy to see that my State Senator, John Astle (D) and my Delegate, Herb McMillan (R), both voted against this law. I was happy to return the favor by voting for both of them in the last election. They both won re-election.