Mencken doesn't live here anymore. The current Sage of Baltimore resides at Odorite, the janitorial supply and pest control company at 1111 Maryland Ave. The sage is always treating passers-by to trenchant commentary posted on a street-side sign. The Wise One had a particularly good one the other day: "Jet lag is nature's way of making you look like your passport photo."
A Jeff Davis original
There is a significant amount of Civil War correspondence in private hands, a lot of it framed and hanging in dens and libraries. But this one jumps off the wall: Jefferson Davis' three-page letter asking his sympathizers in the Maryland legislature to join the Southern cause in the Civil War. The letter is moving through private hands toward a possible sale next month. Davis, president of the Confederacy, wrote the letter in May 1861, about a month after the attack on Fort Sumter. In part, the letter states: "The people of the Confederate States, not withstanding their separation from their late sister, have not ceased to feel a deep solicitude in her welfare and to hope that, at no distant day, a State whose people, habits and institutions are so closely related and assimilated with theirs will seek to unite her fate and fortunes with those of this Confederacy." The letter is in good condition, signed in full, no folds on the signature. The seller is asking $50,000.
Take the moral line
The lobbying for casino gambling in Maryland has been going on for more than a year. It's going to get hot. This might be the biggest schmooze job of all time. And we're all going to need a shower afterward. . . . I'll be conservative for once; I figure at least two years before indictments. . . . Be prepared to hear a lot of that "economic development" jazz. Casino opponents will be hard pressed to come up with numbers to counter all the suits and lobbyists with all their revenue estimates. So the anti-casino crowd should go with a simple, direct and old-fashioned moral argument -- this state has no business encouraging more gambling among its citizens. I'm hunching that's how most Marylanders feel anyway, and that a referendum would show it so. . . . Here's another hunch: Casinos lose and we end up with slot machines at race tracks.
Pitching from above
I put off asking this question, figuring my good friend, Milt The Sports Geek, would come up with the answer. He didn't. (Milt spends too much time on The Net these days.) So let me pour my query in the saucer for someone else to lick up. Goes like this: Two weeks ago tonight, Baltimore's Ben McDonald, 6-feet-7, and Seattle's Randy Johnson, 6-feet-10, were the starting pitchers in the Orioles-Mariners game. Was that the tallest starting matchup in baseball history? A nice big bowl of milk to the trivia freak who delivers on this.
How's that again?
Why, the noive . . . Skip Kolaja, Dickeyville painter and videographer, was standing in line at the drugstore checkout. The guy in front of him bought a tube of toothpaste and some condoms. The cashier just couldn't resist comment. "Ah," she observed, "just the essentials, I see." . . . Speaking of drugstores, there's a sign, commercially printed and encased in plastic -- a real professional job -- in Rite Aid that says: "After 3 p.m. no more than two students aloud at one time. No bikes or students aloud in the vestibule at any time." (Emphasis mine. Error theirs. R. L. Sherman of Baltimore should get a year's supply of cough drops for pointing it out.) . . . Marty Bass tells me Baltimore magazine asked for time on Channel 13's popular morning show to talk up its July issue -- the perennial best and worst of everything issue -- even though the magazine picked another morning show as Baltimore's best.
Seeing is believing . . . On U.S. 29, south of Columbia: Some dude playing the steering wheel with a pair of drumsticks, steering the car with his knees, hot jazz blasting on the radio. . . . Coming out of the Colonnade, University Parkway: Two middle-aged women pushing one of those little yippie dogs in a streamlined stroller. . . . Off York Road in lower Govans (some people call that neighborhood Radnor-Winston; others call it Winston-Radnor): A ceramic lawn pig wearing some way cool sunglasses.
Leftovers point the way
I might be wrong about this, but I doubt it: The Baltimore metropolitan region is experiencing a glut in rug remnants. I've seen them on sale at the curb from Ritchie Highway to Belair Road to Eastern Avenue to U.S. 40 West. "Rems" are everywhere. I'm no economist, but I think this is a significant indicator: Lots of people getting their tax refunds in the mail, lots of people loosening up the ole purse strings, lots of people buying new wall-to-wall, lots of remnants, lots of remnant sales. If this trend is a national one and continues into next year, Clinton should be re-elected. (Aren't you glad you read This Just In? You won't get that kind of analysis on "Wall Street Week," I'll tell you that right now.)
Your views welcome
We've received (and plan to publish) several descriptions by readers of their most memorable dusks and sunsets. More are welcome. I don't care where you live -- the Eastern Shore, the Western Shore, Howard County, Western Maryland, Arbutus, Fulton Avenue -- drop me a line at The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St. Baltimore 21278.