Hey, Mfume, Korotki, defilers of 'the cage' . . . get with it


Someone tell Kweisi Mfume that Louis Farrakhan is not worth agonizing over, and that the Baltimore congressman's comments on the most recent example of hate-speech from the Nation of Islam were, shall we say, inadequate.

No more hand-wringing, please. What has happened is not, as Mfume said last week, "a cause of concern." It does not create "a climate of unparalleled concern." And it does not "cry out for clarity." It cries out for full condemnation by Mfume and a complete and final divorce from Farrakhan.

Hot-water bill

Here we go again with the Korotki family. This time, Harry, the son, finds himself in hot water. Last time, it was his dad, Abraham Paul Korotki, who took the bath.

You remember dad. He's the Towson attorney who billed five Baltimore firefighters 75 percent of the $628,000 settlement they won for injuries in a chemical fire. He's also the Korotki who was found guilty of striking a woman on the forehead, faith-healer style, to cure her of smoking. That happened in a Timonium restaurant last May.

While dad did his Ernest Angley imitation, he directed his son to tie the woman to her chair. Weird stuff.

Dad said it was all a joke. Dad got a year of probation before judgment and was ordered to serve 50 hours of community service. Harry was not charged in the incident. However, sonny boy's name just showed up in a restitution agreement with the Attorney General's office.

It seems Harry ran a Towson agency, called USA International Studio, which placed ads in newspapers (including this one) that touted earnings of up to $1,500 a day for models and actors. It sounded like a classic "Baby, I got big plans for ya!" deal. Apparently, a lot of people went for it. The AG's consumer protection division received about 100 complaints. Most said Korotki's studio charged them for photograph portfolios and never came up with modeling work. Harry Korotki agreed to make no future "misleading or deceptive representations," and to pay $32,500 in restitution. I'm told dad put up the money. Good ol' dad.

Crater report

Our search for the Pothole From Hell -- the largest, best-concealed, tire-chewing urban crater -- has commenced, and nominations are flowing in. Boston Street, from Fells Point to Canton, is one giant pothole, with gaping gashes flooded with muddy water, snaring unwary motorists. A woman named Morningstar swears she saw two men step out of a Boston Street bar one night last week and cast fishing lines into a large pothole across from The Anchorage. "They had poles and everything," she said. Other hellholes:

Loch Raven Boulevard exit ramp from the inner loop of the Beltway.

Charles Street, near the St. Paul Street split, south of Cold Spring. "Gave us a flat tire, had to get towed," the report said.

Red Pump Road and Route 24, Bel Air. "There's no way around it," we're told. "All you can do is drown."

An urban monument

"The cage," that strange steel contraption erected over the steam grate on the Fayette Street median strip to keep Baltimore's homeless people from gathering there, has been transformed from obscenity into shrine.

Despite all the official and practical reasons given for its construction a few years ago, "the cage" has stood there as a grotesquely artistic monument to all efforts by the aesthetics police to shoosh street people out of sight and, as a possible bonus, out of mind.

(Too bad we didn't open a homeless colony some years ago and be rid of all these eyesores, eh? Or, as was the case in Los Angeles in 1984, maybe we should have given them second-hand tuxedos to wear.)

Since December, "the cage" has become a memorial to the people who, ironically, no longer can congregate there to warm themselves and who, for various reasons, never found a permanent place to live. Starting on the first day of winter, advocates for the poor and disabled people who wander the streets attached small cards bearing the names of men and women, more than 60 of them, who are known to have died while homeless.

Last Thursday a funeral was held for a man whose name, Barney Bostick, was the one most recently added to the Fayette Street cage. . . . Oddly, I heard, and confirmed, that someone thought it would be funny -- quite a stretch, I'd say -- to place names of some co-workers on "the cage." Not much of a joke. Those phony name tags have since been removed. Here's hoping there will be no further desecrations. The cage is now a shrine.

A pol's life

Not everyone in Anne Arundel County is excited about the prospect of a big Preakness parade coming up Ritchie Highway. Mike Wagner, state senator and honorable son of Glen Burnie, is lukewarm to the idea.

"I don't do parades," he told a Sun reporter, adding that he didn't like the way spectators along parade routes sometimes waved to him with only one finger.

Smoking on the run

Remember William Hurt as the lawyer-taken-for-a-sucker in "Body Heat," opposite Kathleen ("Stupid? I like that in a man") Turner? Hurt's character had a weird habit of jogging, then stopping to have a cigarette.

Now, I'm getting reports of a smoking jogger in Wyman Park. The guy doesn't stop running to smoke. The guy smokes while running. That's what I hear. Anybody see this guy, get a tag number and call me.

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