Jenny Jones casts her pathological net over Baltimore


I woke up on the couch at 2 a.m. to a small nightmare -- a particularly bile-inducing edition of "The Jenny Jones Show" on Channel 13.

In the center of the TV screen was this guy who had the looks of John Kruk and the mumbly demeanor of Ratso Rizzo; he was the Stud From Hell.

Amazingly, on either side of this loser was an attractive, handsomely attired woman, each in her early 30s. One was the wife, one the mistress. Each guest was identified with superimposed graphics: "Had affair with wife's best friend. . . . Best friend had affair with husband. . . . Had affair with best friend's husband."

Painful, painful stuff to watch.

If you've ever wondered where these shows get their guests -- Geraldo once came up with four couples for a show themed, Small Men Who Love Large Women -- check out the personal ads running in the classified columns of this newspaper.

"Has your mother started a relationship with your ex?" one of the ads asked. "Or, are you a mother who is involved with your daughter's ex? If so, call our researchers . . ." Another ad, in Monday's Sun, asked: "Did you ever get even instead of getting mad? If you've ever taken revenge on someone for something they did to you, call our researchers . . ." Another ad sought women whose husbands are mommy's boys. Each ad carried an Illinois phone number, a different one for each pathology. I called. I checked. It's Jenny Jones, looking for local talent. Ron Price does Geraldo! Jenny recruits in Baltimore. Who says this isn't a big-league town?

Palermo day

Steve Palermo, the American League umpire who suffered a crippling spinal-cord injury when he was shot trying to foil a robbery attempt in 1991, will be in Timonium tomorrow night at the grand opening of a restaurant owned by friends and named in his honor. Pam and Jerry Schiavino met Palermo through mutual pals 13 years ago. They saw him when he came through town to ump Oriole games. They often dined with him at Sabatino's. "He's a terrific, very generous guy," says Pam. "We met him when he was one of the youngest umpires in the league. We always kept in touch."

Palermo's Grill is located in the Padonia Park Center. The waiters and waitresses wear navy slacks and umpire shirts with Palermo's number, 14, on the sleeve. Palermo's uniform hangs in the main room. The grand opening is also a fund-raiser for the Palermo Spinal Cord Injury Foundation.

Haunted home repairs

I was looking for a Halloween story and, while not exactly bone-chilling, the one I found is at least fresh. It came from a Baltimore home-improvement contractor named Tom. (I won't use his full name, though I have his permission. I don't want you to think he's jinxed. He has three kids to feed and needs to stay in business. How's that for being patronizingly paternal?)

Just last week, Tom had a job at a big house in Guilford. "At first," he says, "I just thought I was having bad luck." Tile adhesive that usually takes a few hours to set took two days. Some tiles mysteriously shifted out of place. When Tom moved a clothes dryer, the electric cord snapped off at its connection to the dryer, bouncing off his arm. "Then," swears Tom, "I was outside the house and, when I looked in, there was this old woman in the dining room window, and nobody was home at the time. I went immediately back inside, and two cans of paint, which I had just opened, had been flipped over. They hadn't tipped over. They had been turned completely upside down. And there was nobody in the house.

When the owner got home, I gave her the bill for the work I'd

done and said I wasn't going back."

Arthritis takes toll

Sorry to hear that Ed Byer, hobbled by severe arthritis, has sold his cheese and gourmet shop in the Cross Street Market. Ed, who lives in Federal Hill, is on the Top Ten List of Nice Guys in Baltimore, one of the most pleasant and well-known merchants in the municipal markets. He really knew his gorganzola from his gouda, too.

We'll miss him.

Carol Chinn bought the business and installed an espresso-cappucino machine, which, if you ask me, pretty much completes the gentrification of Federal Hill.

Terrific tackiana

My call for tackiana, descriptions and photographs of wonderfully strange and inexplicable kitsch that finds its way into our lives, has received a terrific response.

April Seitz's tackiana, an "attempted gift" from her mother, was a flowered hurricane lamp that rotated, flashed and played, "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head."

Bonnie Block's was a plastic flower pot atop a white column. It rotated and played, "Here Comes The Bride." Says Bonnie: "It was a wedding gift from people we didn't even know, didn't even want to invite." Watch for more tackiana, coming to a column near you.

If you've got an item for This Just In, give me a call on 332-6166, or drop me a line at The Sun, 501 N. Calvert Street, Baltimore, Md. 21278-0001. Let's hear from you.

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