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TCBeth Blevins deals out humor in pocket-sized...



Beth Blevins deals out humor in pocket-sized doses

The rest of the world can think big; Beth Blevins prefers sizing up what's small.

Small, as in A Very Small Magazine, her pocket-sized humor publication that satirizes everyone from Madonna to Marion Barry. More sophisticated than Mad, less sarcastic than Spy, AVSM tries "to help people see the humorous side of things."

Since 1985, she's used parody and "stupid" poetry to sporadically produce 16 editions.

"It's sort of to amuse yourself when there's nothing else to do," says the 33-year-old federal reference librarian, who lives in Greenbelt.

Most of the time, she's a one-woman show -- doing everything from editing to photocopying the $1 magazine, currently sold at the Writer's Center in Bethesda and through the mail (P.O. Box 221, Greenbelt, Md. 20768). Occasionally her librarian husband will pitch in and proofread.

As for the future, she offers just two hints of what's in store for fall: poetry by Emily Dickinson Post and "The Iliad," by Homer Simpson.

Marion Parker Nelson wanted to follow in her father's footsteps. And her mother's. And grandfather's.

Through International Fashions and Treasures, a store showcasing African clothing, artifacts and jewelry, she got her wish. Her five-year-old West Baltimore Street shop is so successful, in fact, that Ms. Nelson has just opened two pushcarts in Kalimba Market in Mondawmin Mall.

"It's our way of letting people know what's going on on the other side of the globe," says Ms. Nelson, 51, a mother of nine who lives in Silver Spring.

Born in Liberia, she grew up in a family of savvy retailers. Her grandparents and parents ran bakeries and general merchandise stores.

Although she was active in the businesses as a child, she didn't catch the retailing bug until attending Howard University in Washington, where she began marketing African items in the bookstore.

After teaching chemistry and nutrition at Howard, she branched out on her own. Today her store serves as a vital link to her heritage, with nearly everything -- from 50-cent cloth bracelets to $3,000 sculptures -- coming from Africa or the Caribbean.

"I wanted to build a place where people could come in and feel at home," she says. "People say once they get in here, they feel like they're in Africa.

Have someone to suggest for Sunday Snapshots? Write Mary Corey, Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278, or call (301) 332-6156.

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