Saturday night, way past my bedtime, I counted 11 Elvis impersonators on the Channel 2 telethon for the Johns Hopkins Children's Center. If ya'll missed it, I'm terribly sorry. It was goofy. It was weird. It was precious. It was thoroughly remarkable -- bloated Elvises, skinny Elvises, tall and short Elvises, Elvises with not-of-this-earth toupees, all answering phones and playing off Don O'Brien (in Elvis jumpsuit), Mary Beth Marsden and Stan Stovall (not in jumpsuits) while a colony of hairy Klingons filled in the telephone banks in the background. Pretty amazing stuff. When the Elvis segment ended, O'Brien sighed and the big board flashed with more than $115,000 in pledges. To all Elvises: Thank you, thank you very much.
Stolen bikes, lost innocence
All Susan Stewart wants is to get something off her chest -- she says it'll make her feel better -- so I agreed to let her do it here. She lives on Rockrose Avenue in Woodberry, and here's her gripe:
"This message is to the people who stole my two boys' bikes from our back yard on TV Hill. They were Christmas presents from my ex-husband (their father). Unfortunately, he never got to give them the bikes personally. He died of a heart attack three days before Christmas at age 37. My present husband and I would love to buy them new bikes. However, my husband has been unemployed for three months and with three kids to feed and cloth -- we also have a four-year-old together -- we don't have any extra money. My boys have been so great about it even though I know how much they wanted those bikes. They had been asking for months. And my ex-husband was so excited about buying them. And they weren't the most expensive ones, but they were nice. . . . So, whoever you are, I hope you enjoy the bikes, and I'm sure you'll sleep well. My kids will get over it. But they just lost a little bit more of their innocence and a little bit more of their trust in people. They weren't just a couple of bikes. They meant a lot to my two teen-age sons." I hope Susan feels better now. I know I don't.
In the latest issue of Elysian Fields Quarterly, the baseball review, writer and graphic designer David Freedman floats "The All-Time Water Team," and we're happy to find the name of our all-time favorite Oriole aboard:
Steve Lake (C); Ernie Banks (1B); Larry Raines (2B); Brooks Robinson (3B); Freddie Marsh (SS); Curt Flood, Mickey Rivers and Harry Bay in the outfield; Ernie Shore and Steve Waterbury, right-hand pitchers; Jack Spring and Don Eddy, left-hand pitchers. Dave Orr is the manager ("To keep all that water moving").
Dusks worth remembering
In the same issue of EFQ, a short stream of prose from George Yatchisin, professor of English at Penn State, recalls sunset at the old ball yard in an earlier Baltimore. I'll pick it up in midstream: " . . . the way we smuggled plastic milk gallons filled with beer into Memorial Stadium and drank it by the third inning before it went flat. It's that plum dusk light that descends on Baltimore houses, the white-siding ones you can glimpse out over the fence from the upper deck, where we always sat, knowing Three Buck Night was a good thing, and that poetry was everywhere and random, like foul balls arcing into the stands."
Nice stuff. Dusks have a way of burning into memory, don't they?
I recall one of antique gold over a marsh in Maine. I still can envision some huge, purple, almighty thing falling upon Baltimore on Holy Thursday a few years ago. I liked the way the curtains closed on Memorial Stadium in October 1991; the angles of light and shadows were perfect for the occasion. I remember looking west out of a window at Church Hospital one hot summer evening and seeing a bizarre, orange and vaporous glow over the city, then hearing a man cough heavily and horribly, and somehow connecting the two things. I'm pretty sure I saw in the sky a massive silver hand reaching over the horizon, then sinking behind it, at dusk last September as we crossed the Bay Bridge. That was a stunning moment -- the hand appeared to be trying to latch onto the bridge. I recall some lovers watching a sunset from Federal Hill, and at the finish, a guy yelling, "That was a 10!"
"For the most part this is a question of memory and season," says Sean Connolly, a Charles Village writer who finds dusks as interesting as I do. "Perhaps this could be a matter for debate, with dusk checkers reporting in from around the city from various elevations, both topographically and spiritually."
I like the idea: Reminiscences of dusk in Baltimore, or anywhere. Send them to This Just In, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.
What's in a name
If your name is Jim Beam, you could be in for a cut of an "inheritance." To celebrate its first 200 years of making brown spirits, Jim Beam Brands Co. is offering to divide $100,000 among persons who legally bear the name, according to Country Weekly magazine. (I'm not sure, but I get the impression that "James Beam" doesn't count.) If you're a Jim Beam, call 1-800-4-JIMBEAM.
Free concert alert
I like the sounds of this -- another free "Concert In The Park With George," this one featuring jazz and pop singer Aleta Greene. Mark the calendar for June 16, 7 p.m., Mount Vernon Park, near the Washington Monument. My advice: Arrive early, with a picnic.