Jacob Corbin-Beal bought a Hampden rowhouse that happened to have a billboard on one side, and he wasn't sure what to do with the thing. The seller had led him to believe it wasn't quite kosher under city regs, unless he rented it back to the guy, who owns a repair shop and was offering a measly 40 bucks a month.
Then Corbin-Beal had an idea. An epiphany, really, inspired by the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
He bought yards and yards of sump pump hose, a couple of saucer sleds and some spray paint, then created what looks like a giant plate of spaghetti and meatballs. Two Wiffle ball eyes poke out from the pile. Below, in black and white, it says, "Believe Your Noodly Master, Hon."
The obvious message: Keep creationism out of public schools.
OK, maybe the meaning isn't so obvious. Unless you're familiar with The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a spoof religion whipped up in 2005 to protest plans to teach intelligent design in Kansas schools. (The founder threatened legal action if schools did not teach another theory -- that a "Spaghedeity" created the universe -- alongside evolution and intelligent design.)
Corbin-Beal read about the church -- its Web site (www.venganza.org) shows Michelangelo's Adam extending his finger toward the monster's "noodly appendage" -- and became a believer. He created the billboard, on Falls Road just north of The Avenue, and braced for a backlash. It never came.
No wonder we're still wrestling with mysteries of the universe; Hampden alone defies explanation. For whatever reason, it's a place where you can post a wacky billboard and make barely a ripple. The Baltimore Messenger did a piece on it recently. City Paper ran a photo once. A Unitarian minister asked Corbin-Beal, 35, to speak to her congregation. That's about it.
"I was really a little bit worried that I'd get a lot of negative reaction," Corbin-Beal said. "I received practically none. That's kind of half the beauty of it."
Democrat emerges from hiding
Another bad sign for President Bush: Yikes McGee figures it's safe to play Saturday's Ellicott City Fall Festival.
For a while, the singer-songwriter took his anti-war act only to politically friendly gatherings with Dems and demonstrators. His songs are meant to be funny, but not everyone saw the humor.
"In 2003 when I would play somewhere, somebody would threaten to kill me," he said. "People would get up in the audience and leave angry and yell at the proprietor."
Yikes McGee is the stage name for Tony McGuffin of Ellicott City, who's run unsuccessfully for Congress and House of Delegates. He was Howard County's Democratic Party chairman during last year's elections. McGuffin also performs traditional folk songs under his real name, but his bookers got more careful about where he appeared as Yikes McGee.
Sounds paranoid, but a bullet was fired into McGuffin's Main Street home around the 2004 elections, when he had lots of political signs out front.
As the war has grown more unpopular, McGuffin has started testing general audiences, throwing a few Yikes McGee songs into his folk act, albeit with a warning: "If there are any Republicans, you might want to go out for a smoke right now."
"The reactions have changed," he said. "Nobody's threatening to beat me up anymore lately. That's a positive."
Which is why he's willing to appear as Yikes McGee tomorrow, about 3:30 p.m., at the street festival. You also can check him out on Youtube. One of his songs, "Bad President," has been played there more than 40,000 times.
Think global; cancel local
Baltimore yoga instructor Ann Hyland was thinking way beyond the downward dog posture.
"Let's connect our positive energies and unite the world in peace through a global yoga collective consciousness event called Global Mala," she wrote last week in an e-mail to "yogis" at the Maryland Institute College of Art.
But sadly, prospects for world peace are dimmer than ever.
"I am canceling Global Mala at MICA outside Brown center due to minimal response," she wrote in a follow-up e-mail. "If you choose to participate on your own ... 108 sun salutations, 108 minutes of meditation, 108 positive mantras."
Connect the dots
Gubernatorial spokesman Rick Abbruzzese responds to Del. Pat McDonough's unusual tax protest, which involves mailing peanuts to Martin O'Malley: "The squirrels are fatter than ever." ... Lou Davis, a TV reporter who spent 22 years with Channel 2 and now works part time at Maryland Public Television, alerted me that his eldest son has followed in his footsteps. Josh Davis is working part time for WBAL TV. "He just started there a few weeks ago, sort of carrying on the tradition," writes Davis, describing himself as "a proud father." ... From a news release on a rash of auto break-ins: "The Frederick Police Department wishes to remind all citizens, whether they reside in the City of Frederick or not to store valuables in their vehicles during times the vehicles are unattended." What? The correction came moments later. "The Frederick Police Department wishes to remind all citizens, whether they reside in the City of Frederick or not to not store valuables in their vehicles during times the vehicles are unattended."