Mayor's second thoughts enhance his third term

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The mayor drops his political pals' law firm (Shapiro & Olander) as counsel for the city's economic development agency, then appoints Jay Brodie, an acolyte from the Schaefer administration, to run it. Pardon our surprise. This could have gone another way; we could have seen that arrogant in-your-face thing that afflicts pols who win re-election big-time. Instead, the mayor (with a little nudge from inside) finally responded to criticism of the S&O; arrangements and sent a holiday greeting to the downtown business suits. I hear he and Henry Rosenberg have made up, too. Smart moves to end the year and begin a third term. Must be that new Kurt Schmoke we've heard about.

A bowl of the blues

On the go with Amalfitano:

"While tending to holiday shopping," Joey says, "Maxine and I accidentally landed at a great spot -- Red Hot and Blue Memphis Pit Bar-B-Que on Reisterstown Road in Owings Mills. You can delight in a great bowl of homemade chili containing chunks of smoked beef brisket while tapping your foot to some great blues. They got Christmas music a la Jimmy Reed, Elvis, Big Mama Thornton and Wilson Pickett. My favorite new seasonal tune, artist unknown, was 'Back Door Santa.' They oughta include the Drifters' version of 'White Christmas,' featuring the great Clyde McPhatter, which sounds wonderful in July. Oh, yeah, I didn't mention the excellent Hootchie Cootchie Hot Sauce. It was excellent. Made me wanna holler and run into the snow with no clothes on."

Live and let live

Sixty-two-year-old Bryan Smith, his daughter, Tina, and son-in-law, Frank Titus, all journeyed to the Motor Vehicle Administration on a mission: Mr. Smith wanted to give Frank and Tina his '89 Chevy Cavalier. "It was a gift," Mr. Smith says. The transfer took five hours. Mr. Smith and the Tituses filled out gift and title forms, waited in lines, waited for their numbers to be called. Finally, the trio came face to face with the MVA clerk who could grant final approval. But there was a problem.

"You can't get this car," the clerk told the Tituses. "You don't have a death certificate."

"But I'm not dead!" Mr. Smith asserted from the rear.

"Oh," says the clerk, "you're still alive!"

) "Well, I should hope so!"

Frozen sodas, Greek Santas

A gas station on York Road in Towson has some great holiday sodas for sale -- they're all frozen solid, white with foam, just waiting for some schlemiel to pop the top. . . . ELLIPSES This will cheer you up: The governor of Maryland has proclaimed February 16, 1996 "Random Acts of Kindness Day." ELLIPSES . . . If you're on the Eastern Shore this weekend, check out the pink flamingos in the Christmas display on South Commerce Street in Centreville. Numerous TJI informers tell me it's a trip, and worth one. ELLIPSES . . . And tomorrow afternoon's community Christmas party at Holy Redeemer Chapel Hall in Southeast Baltimore features a bilingual Santa: English and Greek!

Joys of shopping

What we've been hearing and seeing on the holiday shopping front:

A woman inspecting stuffed animals at a Towson gift store PTC picked up a cuddly-wuddly-widdew bear, gave it a squeeze, then said -- loudly -- "Isn't it cuuuuuuuuute?!" To which a customer in the next aisle added, "Oh, ick."

At the jewelry counter of Hecht's, a woman told her husband: "Honey, I don't know what in the world to get you for Christmas. ELLIPSES . . . Say, why don't I pay for your last dental appointment?"

And then there was the testy woman who sat on the floor in Hecht's menswear department, surrounded by stacks of corduroy slacks. She searched, pair by pair, for that particular size. A clerk approached.

"Are you going to buy all of them?"

"Yes," the woman snapped. "Every damn pair. Whether they fit or not. I'm going to give them to everyone on my list. I'm going to give them to people I don't like! I'm going to give them to people I don't even know! OK?" At that, the clerk retreated.

The shopper image

Outside an entrance to Towson Town Center, TJI reader Tom Gugerty saw a young couple discreetly transfer items from a Hecht's shopping bag to a Nordstrom bag, then leave the Hecht's behind. We figure it was a status thing.

Cross-town cross

We saw that old rugged cross in traffic again. This time, it was hoisted through the window of a green Chevy Blazer that motored along York Road and turned onto Northern Parkway. We've seen this drive-by minister before, aiming his large wooden crucifix at Loyola High students and motorists on the Beltway. This time, the driver pulled the cross in as he passed a cop parked on a side street. Smart move, fella. Remember: The good Lord wants you to drive with two hands on the wheel.

If you have an item for This Just In, give me a call on 332-6166, or write to The Sun, 501 N. Calvert Street, Baltimore, Md. 21278.

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