Thursday, February 20, 2003

A matter of words


Language has its own kind of power

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In Cincinnati, words speak louder than actions.

It doesn't matter if the words appear on the wall of a ballpark, are read in a play atop Mount Adams or are uttered by a rapper in Over-the-Rhine.

If these words pack enough power, they can start a war or keep the peace.

This week, in three instances, peace prevailed - so far - because of words.

Seven words - "And this one belongs to the Reds" - could have launched a protracted battle between Cincinnati's ball club and Hamilton County officials.

The words are the signature phrase of Reds radio broadcaster Marty Brennaman. They were supposed to appear on a sign outside Great American Ball Park.

Marty's catchphrase would complement the neon sign on the stadium's offices announcing "Rounding third and heading for home." That's the sign-off of Joe Nuxhall, Brennaman's sidekick for 29 seasons.

A country representative suffering from literalism nixed the idea. The ballpark "belongs" to the taxpayers. Not the Reds.

News of this snafu broke in Tuesday's Enquirer. Reds fans were incensed - 2,700 viewers responded to Channel 12's instant poll on the matter. Brennaman won by a landslide, 86 to 14 percent.

In this town, Marty and Joe are twin gods. Can't have one quote without the other.

By close of business Tuesday, the county said it had no objection. The team said it still might put up the sign.

Brennaman only says those words when the Reds win. So, here's a suggested solution where everyone's a winner.

The team pays for the sign. Then it belongs to the Reds.

Hang the sign on the Reds' still-to-come Hall of Fame. Marty's already a Hall of Famer, in Cooperstown's broadcasters wing. There's a word for that: Appropriate.

Words of paradise

Glyn O'Malley's anti-war school play, Paradise, survived its Tuesday night reading at the Playhouse in the Park.

Tempers did not flare in Mount Adams' Marx Theatre. The audience remained reserved. And respectful. The place was so hushed the heating ducts could be heard expanding and contracting.

Quite a change from the Dec. 16 reading. That resulted in heated exchanges, charges of censorship and an indefinite postponement of the play's tour of area schools. The audience for that reading, concerned citizens from the Muslim and Jewish communities, split along the lines of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Following Tuesday night's reading, questions were politely raised - via 3-by-5 cards - and answered by a well-mannered panel on stage.

Four hours after the reading of Paradise, rapper 50 Cent performed to a sold out crowd at the Next Level in Over-the-Rhine.

He outdrew Paradise, 1,250 to 421.

50 Cent's lyrical vocabulary consists of filthy words and themes about sex and drugs.

Talk-radio callers ate up air time Tuesday expressing outrage over his lyrics. Yet, no groups of concerned parents stood outside the club and carried signs protesting his potty-mouth glorification of violence and disrespect of women. In fact, one mom brought her daughter to see the show.

Tickets cost $35, $50 and $100 to see 50 Cent. Paradise was free.

Well-chosen words

Bill McBride took his 12-year-old son, Max, to Paradise.

The Anderson Township residents described the play with the words "thought-provoking" and "balanced."

They were ready to discuss the questions the work raised about "hatred'' and "violence."

They also felt Paradise offered a message.

It's called "hope."

What a wonderful word.

Call Cliff Radel at 768-8379; or e-mail cradel@enquirer.com.




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