THB, Banditos, Wayward and more confirmed for Cosmic Cocktail!

Nipper, the RCA mascot, needs money for a home


Keep your fingers crossed and your water dish full. Nipper, the 14-foot RCA mascot who once sat atop a building on Russell Street, could be back in Baltimore for the Thanksgiving parade. In fact, Nipper is slated to be the grand marshal, and Nancy Brennan, departing executive director of the City Life Museums, is hoping for an entourage of real fox terriers to march with him. Brennan says generous donors funded the buy-back of Nipper from the collector who took the city landmark to Virginia in 1976. What is still needed is money for the Selastic (fiberglass) pooch's new home, somewhere within view of motorists on the Jones Falls Expressway. Watch this space.

Case of the 'lost' luggage

Here's one we haven't heard before: A Silver Spring man has been accused of filing more than $30,000 in false insurance claims for lost luggage. "This is a highly unusual type of fraud," says William Bokel, a Maryland State Police corporal assigned to the state insurance commissioner's office.

Divine Elung Nkumbe has been charged with making false reports of lost luggage, most in the range of $4,000 to $5,000, with one about $7,000. To make such claims, Nkumbe had to betray an expensive taste in clothes. "Each time it was for designer suits and the O. J. Simpson shoes," says Bokel, referring to the pricey Bruno Magli's linked to a certain California criminal case.

Nkumbe is alleged to have concocted documents to show that he was on certain flights of Continental or American airlines and that handlers had lost his luggage. Police could find no evidence that he was actually on the flights. Each count against Nkumbe carries a penalty of 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Conflicting signals

Go figure this one. The governor of Maryland cuts millions of dollars in assistance to the disabled poor, then holds an awards ceremony to honor people who have to deal with the mess that results. One of the honorees is Ann Ciekot, acting director of Action for the Homeless. She has persistently warned of increased homelessness due to the slashing of the state's program to aid poor people with medically certified disabilities. "The last thing you want to see, we are seeing: People are becoming homeless," Ciekot said this summer. "Marylanders should be outraged that Governor Glendening balanced the state's budget on the backs of its vulnerable citizens . . ." Last Wednesday, the governor's advisory board on homelessness staged an awards ceremony at St. John's College. Ciekot was among more than 20 honorees from around the state. The governor did not attend.

Smashing shots

Everything came together perfectly the other day on North Charles just below 25th. The sunlight was soft, the breeze was mild and a guy in an old car had rolled down his windows so we could all hear Sam Cooke singing "Touch the Hem of His Garment."

This happened, by the way, right in front of James and Erin Lindsey's Eulipion gallery, where the black-and-white prints of Baltimore photographer Jeff Kliman are on display. It's Kliman's "photography you can hear" series, his tribute to jazz artists from around the world. There are some brilliant shots. Hard to pick the best one, but the drummer in Eulipion's front window is smashing, as is the portrait of pianist Cyrus Chestnut. Check it out.

Apple of my eye

There might be a better apple elsewhere in Maryland this season, but I'm all thumbs up for the yellow delicious out of the Armacost orchard in Upperco. . . . And if you're in the area, check out the flocks of Canada geese at the big ponds on Foreston Road. It's a kick to see 30 of them bend their wings, float through the air, then gently splash down in unison -- and without guys in Cabela's camouflage shooting at them.

Double dare

Dare ya' to walk into Mugavero's place in Little Italy just before noon, just as Mug starts frying up the Italian sausage, and not eat one.

I double-dare ya' to resist a smile when 75-year-old Willie Frison dances in the Harborplace amphitheater. I call what Willie does "jitter-scat." He calls it "somewhere between African and American Indian." Mainly, it's smooth. And Willie will dance with anyone. Friday afternoon, he was smoothin' to the electric guitar-and-harmonica of Charles Solomon, a long, tall blues man in a Panama hat. A couple of young women had a hard time NTC keeping up with Willie The Smooth. "I've been dancing since I was 4," he said, and not even out of breath.

Making begging bearable

WJHU-FM (88.1) has kicked off its annual fall membership drive. Saturday the begging was almost tolerable because Peter Schickele was in the mix. He's the creator of P.D.Q. Bach, and what I heard him saying and doing with classical music (while asking listeners to support public radio) was, as usual, ingenious and hysterical.

Voice in the crowd

Overheard: From the peanut vendor in Section 10, upper deck, Memorial Stadium, at Saturday night's Stallions game: "At $3 a bag, you chew 'em real slow."

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