Baltimore's retail renaissance and beleaguered mayor converged this week, two Targets, together, at Mondawmin Mall.
If Sheila Dixon feels like she has a bull's-eye on her back, it didn't keep her from the opening of a store with the circle-dot logo.
Shopping helped put Dixon in her current fix with prosecutors. So the retail setting could have been a little awkward.
But when Dixon spoke about her shopping habits, there was no mention of Giorgio Armani, Jimmy Choo or Mano Swartz, names not found on the shelves of discount retailers, even those as hip as Chez Tar-jay. Dixon didn't even give a nod to Isaac Mizrahi, the poshest name in Targetwear. And his shoes top out, on the store Web site at least, at $34.99, way below those $570 mayoral Choos.
Instead, the shop-happy mayor came off like a coupon clipper.
"I love Target popcorn," Dixon told the crowd, according to The Sun's Lynn Anderson. "It is the best popcorn. And it's high in fiber."
Dixon said she even smuggles the stuff into movie theaters. So that's how a public servant can afford to blow $8,000 on clothes in a two-day Chicago spree!
Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, another fashionista pol, had no reason to mask her retail lust. Not that she could have.
The City Council president began her prepared remarks, then stopped to point out the cool metallic handbags nearby: "I have to take one of those home tonight."
"I know all of the economic benefits, but I am so excited to shop," Rawlings-Blake added. "I feel like my head is going to explode. I just want to run through the aisles."
From somewhere behind Rawlings-Blake, she was told she'd have to "walk quickly" through the aisles.
"Hey, I can run," Rawlings-Blake replied. "I work out."
So that's when the whole thing started
At Target, Dixon told the crowd that back when she was a high school student and cheerleader, she'd worked at Mondawmin Mall - in a shoestore.
So there it is. The birth of the fetish. The one that, in 1991, brought us Dixon's Khrushchev ian moment in City Council chambers. The one that today, in the form of that Choo sandal - charged to Dixon's own AmEx, but after she flew to Chicago on her developer-boyfriend's dime - threatens her political future.
If nothing else, the shoe thing has been a lasting love affair.
Who knew Mary Worth talked so dirty?
A local guy lost on Jeopardy last week, but he would have been a winner on What's My Line.
Josh Fruhlinger of Charles Village has a real stumper of an occupation: comics mocker.
Described on the game show as an "editor," Fruhlinger does some freelance work in that area, correcting computer programmers' grammar for technical publications. But he's also in the business of lampooning comic strips on a blog called Comics Curmudgeon.
Sucking the saccharine out of Family Circus, exposing the raunchy subtext to Mary Worth - all in a day's work.
"Mary Worth talks dirty, and it's as bad as you imagine," is the headline on one of his commentaries, which I can't quote in a family newspaper. A tamer entry pokes fun at the odd way Worth's head is positioned on her love interest's shoulder.
"Mary Worth decides to try putting her head on Jeff's shoulder, a romance technique she learned from a song on the local oldies station," Fruhlinger writes. "A good first effort, Mary, but next time you might want to bend at the neck, not the waist."
Fruhlinger started the blog -comicscurmudgeon.com or, because no one can spell curmudgeo n, joshreads.com - four years ago to entertain himself and a few friends. Now he has 16,000 or 17,000 visitors a day and advertisers, who account for "a not insubstantial chunk of my income." He also picks apart political cartoons for Wonkette.
All this without getting out of his pajamas.
A few years ago, Fruhlinger hosted an "office" Christmas party for other home-office workers. He wore a fuzzy green robe.
Connect the dots
A reader responds to Bob Ehrlich spokesman Greg Massoni's claim that an NBC/National Journal reporter got the scoop on a $70,000-per-couple John McCain fundraiser by eavesdropping on Ehrlich's dad. "They got a scoop from a 70-plus father talking to friends," Massoni had said. "Kind of pathetic." John from Rockville writes: "Does citizen Bob's ageist spokesman know Mccain is 70-plus?" ... A spy in Woodlawn reports seeing a hearse out that way with this license plate: UR NEXT. ... "Vanity Plate of the Day" on Politico one day last week was Maryland tag OBAMA44. Somebody out there knows whose it is. Rat 'em out. A few clues: the plate was on a dark (blue?) Mercedes, and the plate holder came from Sidwell Friends school. ... Robert O'Connell of Baltimore, who recently sent me a ton of names for the (my favorite) Sex and the City Council scandal, snapped a picture of a Dixon campaign sign in the hopper of a city trash truck. "Went out of my way 10 blocks to get the perfect shot, attached," he writes. "First time ever I hit all the lights between The Alameda and Greenmount. I blame the mayor."