Big girls find a home here

The Baltimore Sun

Rain Pryor was getting divorced and looking for change nearly two years ago, when she left LA for Baltimore, home to two good friends.

"Best move I ever made," the Charles Village resident and daughter of the late comedian Richard Pryor says today.

Why is Charm City such a good fit for the actress, comedian, author and singer (who, by the way, will give a jazz cabaret performance to benefit the Maryland Center for Multiple Sclerosis at the Hippodrome on Friday)?

Demographics? Pryor also does a one-woman show, Fried Chicken and Latkes, that's all about being Jewish and black, and Baltimore has lots of both cultures, if not lots of double dippers.

Love connection? She met Yale Partlow, a nursing student and meditation teacher to whom she is engaged and with whom she had a baby, Lotus Marie, two months ago.

Sure, sure. But the really big appeal? Big bodies.

"In LA, I'd have to be on the starvation diet," she says. "Baltimore is a city of big girls. Here I can eat my fried chicken. And you can quote me on that."

Aiming for a leaner city government

One Baltimorean intent on not getting big: Sheila Dixon.

"I'm on the South Beach Diet," the mayor announced at a news conference Friday.

Her Honor did not assemble The Sun's John Fritze and other reporters to make this announcement, but the subject came up. Dixon had biked from downtown to Druid Hill Park and back that morning and mentioned that she'd felt sluggish during the ride.

"I'm on the South Beach Diet, and when you don't get any carbs, you're, like, blah," Dixon said.

Spokesman Sterling Clifford would like to assure citizens that Dixon has plenty of pep for her mayoral duties.

"Her day starts before mine and ends after I've gone home," he said. "So whatever she's doing, it gives her plenty of energy."

Ashes to ashes, dust to tchotchkes

Something new will be for sale in the Contemporary Museum gift shop as it opens its Cottage Industry exhibit today: dust.

Not just any dust, like the tiny tumbleweed that collects under your couch. This is museum dust, harvested from the Contemporary, put under a microscope, photographed and transposed onto a coaster, of all things.

I don't know what regular dust looks like under a microscope, but the stuff on the coasters is a cool-looking, multi-textured mix of green and red. The paper coasters sell in packs of six for $10.

It's the creation of Sean Miller of Gainesville, Fla., a lecturer at the University of Florida's school of art and art history. Over the past 12 years, he's gathered dust from more than 50 museums, including Russia's Hermitage, Berlin's Altes and New York's Met. Sometimes he collects the stuff himself, using a small plastic bag. Other times museum officials mail it to him.

He's fascinated with the idea of dust intruding on the "pure, white, objective space" of a modern museum. Museums are "always trying to get rid of this stuff" but he thinks the dust represents interaction between art and audience.

"One of Frida Kahlo's eyelashes could be lying around, a piece of different art administrators, could all be mixed together," he said.

Just the thing I'd like to rest my drink on.

Give me another word that means 'cheap'

Howard County Exec Ken Ulman called Jim Smith his "mentor" and "adviser." Then the whippersnapper went on to zing his "father figure," "grandfather figure," no, make that "great-great-grandfather figure."

At a roast the other night that raised money for the Marine Trades Association scholarship fund, Ulman seemed to have a cough or tickle in his throat. He asked, from the podium, if someone could bring him "a soft drink or cola."

"I'm sorry," Ulman said, "Jim Smith doesn't give out COLAs."

Ulman also poked fun at the Baltimore County exec's use of the word austere to describe the county budget. "What kind of fancy word is that? Why don't you say you're a cheap [BLEEP]?"

Ulman admitted that he was subtly kissing up to Martin O'Malley when he made Kevin Enright his spokesman. (He's the kid brother of the guv's chief of staff, Michael Enright.) Then Smith went out and made the guv's brother, Peter O'Malley, his chief of staff.

Ulman said Smith let him know, in a phone message, that he'd been one-upped: "Checkmate, punk!"

Maybe a little more than he disclosed

Banker Ed Hale, another roaster, recalled meeting Smith in the 1980s. At the time, Hale was getting divorced and the county exec was the judge presiding over his case.

"I just wanted a fair hearing," Hale said.

What he got, Hale claimed, was the biggest alimony bill in Maryland history. "I beat out Henry Rosenberg."

Hale complained to the judge when they met again years later. Smith told him it could have been worse, and Hale had to agree.

"I think that my net worth was a little bit bigger than I was saying in court," Hale said. "I'll say that now."

Connect the dots

State Sen. Ulysses Currie, the Prince George's Dem and - who knew? - supermarket consultant, expressed confidence after agents searched his home. Confidence in the FBI, that is. "You've got to be realistic to know they can always find something." ... Fun awaits Governor O'Malley when he returns from Israel. His public schedule for Tuesday: "Governor O'Malley to Attend the Unveiling of the Official Portraits of Former Governor and First Lady Robert and Kendel Ehrlich." Jet lag and the Ehrlichs. Oy vey!

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