John Plummer has been driving through central Maryland in an 11-year-old Nissan Sentra with Pennsylvania tags and a bumper sticker that says: "Will Pray For Papal Tickets." Plummer says he'll scrub floors for a couple of passes to John Paul II's big Mass at Camden Yards. But he'll get on his knees and pray, too. "If someone really needs my prayers, I'll pray for them," says Plummer. "They can just slip me a note telling me what's wrong and I'll pray." Credentials? You want credentials? Sorry, Plummer is not a member of the clergy - a "professional," as it were. "But," he quickly adds, "I was a theology major at St. Joe's."
Out of clip with city
Next month is the last one for Current Rage, once one of midtown Baltimore's most popular clip joints. The proprietor, Rose Nathewitch, is closing up Nov. 1, ending a stretch of urban hairstyling that goes back to 1973 and Read Street. Allison was her nom de couper back then, and she worked at the fabled Hair Garage. In the late-70s, she announced her departure from the Garage on a Howard Street billboard. Customers followed her to a rented shop in the Charles Apartments, near the Hopkins campus. But in 1987, when Rose bought her own building at St. Paul and 24th, on the southern end of Charles Village, she started to lose customers. As of yesterday, Rose had lost 80 percent of her business. "Twenty-five years ago, they were all city people," Rose says. "But they've all moved to the 'burbs. ... In 1987, I decided to buy my own place and stop paying rent. I accomplished that by moving here. But I've lost my clientele. My clientele was so large it took five years for me to notice they weren't coming anymore. ... It's this block [2400 block St. Paul]. The way the other properties look. The city didn't care about it - the trash, the peeling paint, the drugs and prostitution - and only started [See Rodricks, 4b] past year. It was too little, too late for me." She says the Charles Village special benefits district hasn't benefited her business much. And she's not waiting around. She's going to where her customers went - the burbs. She'll style hair at Bruno's, her brother's shop in the Yorkridge Shopping Center, Lutherville.
Beauty contests have a rep for competitive tension and back stabbing, but such was not the case when eight tiara-wearers met in New York for an appearance on "The Late Show With David Letterman." Sara Cross, the 17-year-old Miss Crustacean of Crisfield, reports that when she and seven others holding equally quirky titles gathered for the taping, the show's producers said only four could appear. The eight contestants - Misses Black-Eyed Pea (from Texas), Snake Charmer (Texas), Peanut (Georgia), Drumstick (Arkansas), Collard Green (North Carolina), Tobacco (South Carolina), Foliage (Pennsylvania) and Sara - discussed it among themselves, then decided they'd settle for very brief appearances. That way, all could be seen on national television. The producers agreed. "They said they could fit us all in if we were really quick," says Sara. Each girl got a half-minute walk past the Letterman desk, no dialogue. Although they didn't get to meet Letterman - the big gap-toothed guy was too busy to stick his head in the green room and say hello - each had a gift for him. Sara brought him a little plaque with the keys to the city of Crisfield on it. A "Late Show" staffer promised to forward the gifts.
Chow and waterfront stories
My official food taster, Joey Amalfitano, reports: "Me and Maxine stopped off at the Caddyshack Cafe on Back River Neck Road where I ate the best grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup lunch. I LOVE tomato soup. And you want to meet the proprietor, Walt Kwarta, a former Highlandtown guy, longshoreman and president of Local 333. He knows all about the Baltimore waterfront. Stories, phew! And the chow is top-notch. On Tuesdays they serve up sour beef and dumplings. They also have a mean crab cake. But let me tell you about the unusual homemade pies - peanut butter pies, Mallow Cup pies, peppermint pies, triple-chocolate pies. And when you get done, there's a spacious rec/bar area where you can work off the calories on the pingpong table. ... One more thing: The Bengies-Chase Rec Council's family festival is this Sunday, noon to 5, at Miami Beach, down Middle River. Pit beef and sausage, country music by a guy named Billy Bob. If you've never been, you should go. They even have white sand on the beach."
Beans & Bread needs help
Today's charity suggestion, in honor of the pope's visit: Beans & Bread, soup kitchen and outreach program of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, 402 S. Bond St., Baltimore. Sister Eleanor Noll says she needs volunteers to serve meals from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., especially Mondays and Tuesdays, throughout the year. Five days a week, up to 350 of Baltimore's poorest men, women and children show up for a meal, and that number nearly doubles the end of each month as public assistance checks run out. The wish list: rice, coffee, canned tuna, sugar and dishwashing liquid. Call 732-1892.