FROM THE world of show biz: My people tell me that Bud Hash, proprietor of Le Triolet, the premier beauty salon of Highlandtown, and a prize-winning ballroom dancer, appears with his partner of 10 years, Carol Weinberg, in the inaugural ball scene in tonight's episode of NBC's West Wing.
The producers obviously wanted no klutzes fouling up the dance floor -- Bud and Carol were among many excellent ballroom dancers who got a casting call and were placed in close quarters with the stars of the show, including Martin Sheen and John Spencer. Buddy will be wearing -- duh! -- a tuxedo. Look for Carol in a black sheath thing with a beaded, flesh-colored top.
Bud Hash is also a prizewinner at beautician conventions, with his elaborate and imaginative coiffures. And, if I may say so, Stockard Channing, the West Wing first lady perpetually in a bad-hair state, could use some of Buddy's artistry.
Wait, there's more show-biz news this morning ...
Jari Villanueva, one of Baltimore's most talented horn blowers and a historian of military music, gets bugle duty in Gods and Generals, opening at theaters Feb. 21.
Not only does Jari, an authority on taps who has experience as a Civil War re-enactor, appear in the film as a bugler, but he served as the assistant to the movie's music producer, David Franco, making sure that bugle signals matched the action on screen, coordinating musicians and ensuring the music they played was historically accurate. Jari also lined up a brass band from Philadelphia, Maryland fifers and drummers, and singers from Morgan State University.
One of the musical highlights, Jari says, was "Steal Away to Jesus," performed by eight male Morgan singers. It didn't make the cut for the movie but should make the longer director's cut on DVD next summer.
Jari's word on the film: Stephen Lang gives an Oscar performance as Stonewall Jackson.
Lost, found, rewarded
In early December, Carol Allen and her husband flew to New Orleans for a five-day conference. The trip started off grandly -- with Carol leaving a tote bag containing meds, toothbrush, reading material and makeup in the independent cab she and her husband had taken from the airport to their hotel.
"Lucky for me," says Carol, "the taxi driver's wife tracked me down from the mailing label on the New Yorker in my bag and contacted me [by telephone]. She realized that there were important items that needed to be returned and promptly sent me my bag."
Mr. and Mrs. Taxi Driver turned out to be Deloris and John Williams. "They should be applauded as ambassadors for New Orleans," says Carol. "They went the extra mile for me, a stranger."
Carol wrote letters of commendation to the tourism bureau of New Orleans, and she sent the couple a token of gratitude from Baltimore -- two boxes of death-by-chocolate Berger's cookies and a tin of Old Bay.
Not to be outdone in good will, the Williamses sent the Allens a Mardi Gras King Cake, along with some New Orleans coffee and Mardi Gras beads and tokens.
The Allens did not reciprocate -- this kind of thing could go on forever -- and ate the cake.
At last, a reason to live until spring:
"Dear Dan," writes TJI reader Dan Schiavone, "the Highlandtown Community Association and Di Pasquale's is organizing a wine festival to be held April 5th from 1 to 4 p.m. to celebrate the tradition of home wine-making, to foster wine appreciation and bring positive attention to the community. We will be holding a Homemade Wine Competition with home vintners competing for prizes, fame and fortune. Would you be willing and able to act as one of our judges?"
Is Mama Mannetta's homemade limoncello still in my refrigerator? Does my Uncle Arturo's homemade zinfandel work faster than a double martini? I'm there.
Baltimoreans are desperately nostalgic, but who knew that a story about horse manure could stir sentimentality? Andrew A. Lioi, a native of Little Italy in the days of horse-pulled wagons and carts, got all choked up at the TJI tale of the stranger who cleaned up after the Baltimore police mounted patrol during the King Day parade Jan. 20.
"My mother, upon seeing a horse relieve itself, would send me out to the street to secure the manure," Lioi recalled, his words steeped in tears. "With great embarrassment, I would go out to the street in full view of my friends and neighbors and sweep the still-steaming manure onto a dustpan. Upon returning to my second-floor apartment, I would turn the pan over to my mother, who would then open the window that led to a steel fire escape. She would climb out and place the manure into pots where basil and rosemary were growing. Talk about healthy plants!"
I'm sure. But, as Frankie Monaldi of the Monaldi Brothers Band will tell you, nothing compares to elephant droppings. He gets the stuff when the circus is in town, and, if you want to see some big tomatoes come summer -- mama mia! -- you should see Frankie's.