SOMETHING happened. Once upon a time, Baltimore was a shot-and-a-beer kinda town. But not much anymore.
This reality hit like an Absolut bottle to the head when TJI reader William "Wild Bill" Kautz stopped for lubrication at a tavern on South Bentalou Street in West Baltimore recently. The bartender, a woman who looked as if she'd been around the block a few times, asked what he wanted.
"A Natty Boh would be great," Kautz said.
"I'm sorry, hon," she apologized, "but I don't know how to make that one."
All wet under the JFX
As Rocky of "Rocky & Bullwinkle" used to say: "Now here's something you'll really like."
Michael Beer, intrepid Jones Falls Valley hiker and champion of that down-under urban resource, says the city has agreed to increase flows from Lake Roland three times this summer to enhance boating under Interstate 83.
A preposterous notion? It's been done before - during annual celebrations of the Jones Falls sponsored by a number of civic groups.
Beer says there will be more water spilling from the Lake Roland Dam and into the Falls this Sunday, 9 a.m. til noon, and again Aug. 13 and Sept. 16, same hours. Get your kayaks out, kids. Look for me in my Sevylor Banana Boat.
Fixing a floral affront
When the beloved bocce player Lelio Tomasina died, his friends in the Little Italy Bocce Rollers Association ordered a bouquet of flowers.
But when the flowers arrived at Della Noce & Sons Funeral Home, the arrangement was much smaller than what had been ordered, and Tomasina's friends considered it sloppy.
Joe Scalia, president of LIBRA and past champion of the group's summer tournaments, protested. And he sued. And not just to get LIBRA'S $52.50 back. He sued for $2,000 - for the disappointment.
For the principle.
To make a point.
Wait ... there's more.
Scalia ended up on the nationally syndicated television show, "The People's Court," where he squared off against the florist. He won his case, if not the $2,000. Judge Jerry Sheindlin awarded LIBRA the $52.50 cost of the flowers, and Scalia went home happy.
In "The People's Court," as on the bocce court, Scalia says: "I made my point."
Kreme de la Kreme
A friend used to have to make runs across the state line to get Krispy Kremes. Now it seems as though KK doughnut shops are all over the place - just what the nation needs, right? - and the most recent opening was in Owings Mills.
The scene at the Reisterstown Road shop was a classic - two people inside a giant KK box waving at traffic, a juggler, a guy on stilts, a guy playing a tuba and one playing the banjo, a cow chewing hay (to put the Kreme in the Krispy Kremes, we guess) and lots of people in line for freebies. Is this a great country?
It's a great country to Travis
A recent report on big money in sports on ESPN's "Outside The Lines" featured Travis Taylor, a first-round draft pick of the Ravens, on an eye-popping spending spree in Maryland and Florida.
The rookie was videotaped purchasing expensive furniture for his new $650,000 home, three vehicles, including a Lexus and customized SUV, and a diamond-encrusted Rolex - and he still hasn't signed a contract with the Ravens.
Since the spring NFL draft, Taylor has been enjoying a long and fat line of credit because he's expected to nail a signing bonus worth several million dollars.
What was it Zero Mostel yelled out his office window in "The Producers"? "When you got it, flaunt it, baby, flaunt it!"
But why wait till you actually got it?
Is this still a great country?
TJI reader Sue Ashley reports - with a degree of indignation - the loss of those drive-up pay phones due to new traffic configurations on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.
For as long as I can remember, they were set up on easy-off, easy-on rest stops a few miles south of the exits for BWI, and sometimes all of them would be in use at the same time.
At midday, you'd frequently see a line of cars there, with drivers pulled up along each phone, never having to leave their seats to make a call.
"They certainly were a mainstay for many years," Ashley notes, "and a convenience if not a novelty in the before-cell-phones era."
And that was a lovely era.
TJIDAN@aol.com is the e-mail address for Dan Rodricks. He can also be reached at 410-332-6166, or by post at The Sun, 501 North Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.