Maestra's home design hits the right note

The Baltimore Sun

It would be a better world if we all could make music like Marin Alsop. Would that we all could move house like her, too.

The BSO conductor was off touring in Spain with the London Philharmonic. Then she was out in San Francisco, planning for a summer festival. All the while, back at the Mount Vernon condo she was soon to call home, painters painted, designers designed and movers moved.

Straight off the red-eye from San Francisco on Monday morning, Alsop got her first look at the place since mid-January, when it was still half-painted. All the furniture was arranged, the beds made, the towels and toiletries in place. Even the fridge was stocked with staples, which for Alsop includes Diet Coke with Lime and low-fat mayo.

Designer Steve Appel of Nouveau Contemporary Goods, who oversaw the move, even did the maestra the favor of replacing her pepper grinder. (Alsop's Bed, Bath & Beyond model wasn't doing it for him. He got her a hand-painted grinder befitting a hipster paradise.)

Alsop was more than pleased.

"Oh, it's just beyond words," Alsop said yesterday. "It's like living in a work of art."

Looking for the pot of gold

Maybe Michael Phelps isn't the biggest dope around.

The owner of the bong Phelps was photographed using tried selling the pipe for as much as $100,000 on eBay, WIS-TV in Columbia, S.C., reported yesterday.

The station also reported that the Richland County Sheriff's Department had confiscated the bong. The station attributed that information to unidentified "sources."

The sheriff's department wasn't confirming the story.

"The reporter who released that story is claiming that he has sources, but we're not the source of that information," Lt. Chris Cowan, the department's public information officer, told the Los Angeles Times. "We're not releasing any additional information."

No sign of the bong on eBay yesterday afternoon. But someone out there was offering the domain name Phelpsbongs.com. Bidding starts at $9,500.

Curt speaks; Curt doesn't

Michael Steele, the RNC chairman accused by his felon ex-finance committee chairman of misusing campaign funds, is trying to clear his name. A spokesman named Curt Anderson is helping him. And Del. Curt Anderson wants no part of it.

"People are calling me and saying, 'How can you be working for Michael Steele?' " said the delegate. "My own aide called me and said, 'Why are you commenting on Michael Steele?' "

The Baltimore Democrat is no relation to the Republican spokesman and political consultant. They don't know each other, though the Republican Anderson does have an Annapolis office.

"Must be a young fella. Must be a smart fella. But he's working for the wrong party," the Dems' Anderson said.

The other Anderson did not return a call seeking comment.

Can I count on your vote, Dad?

State Sen. Bryan Simonaire, who championed legislation two years ago to keep lawmakers from giving state scholarships to their relatives, has found the proper time and place for nepotism. He's pushing a bill dreamed up by his 14-year-old son.

"Isaac Simonaire has been working this bill for the last several months," said a letter Simonaire sent to colleagues on official Senate stationery last month. "Isaac is planning on discussing the bill with you and I would ask that you consider supporting the bill by co-sponsoring the Young Heroes Commemorative bill."

There was a follow-up e-mail this week from Simonaire's office, reminding everyone that SB 216, Young Heroes Commemorative Month, would be heard tomorrow before a Senate committee.

"Senator's 14 year old Son takes the Lead on Young Heroes Bill," the headline read.

The bill calls for designating October "Young Heroes Month." The idea is to recognize young people who are doing good work in their communities - collecting toothbrushes for the homeless, for example - and thereby inspire others to do the same, the senator said.

Simonaire said his son came up with the idea.

"He wanted to work on a bill this year with me," Simonaire said. "He was basically looking to get involved in the legislative process."

The idea was not Isaac's first.

"He came up with the idea of lowering the driving age to 14," Simonaire said. "And I said that wouldn't fly. 'Let's work on a more workable bill.' "

The furniture wars

The last time Sheila Dixon hosted a City Council lunch, her aides threw news photographers out of the public meeting and the mayor herself may or may not have given them the finger. (The Daily Record ran a front-page picture of Dixon with her middle digit aloft, but Dixon's spokesman insisted she was just adjusting her glasses.)

Her Honor again played hostess at a council lunch Monday, and this time, no one was tossed out or flipped off.

But the mayor's office still seemed to find a way to communicate Dixon's feelings for the Fourth Estate: All of the chairs where reporters usually sit had been removed.

Journalists don't eat at the catered, taxpayer-funded lunch, but they do sit. The lunch meeting can go on and on.

Dixon's staff said the chairs were removed to make room for television cameras. None showed up that day. And when TV does show, cameras get set up at one end of the room where there are no seats. The mayor's staff had removed the chairs that usually line another wall.

The Baltimore Sun's Annie Linskey was the first journalist to arrive, and she asked for a chair. Mayoral spokesman Scott Peterson said no. Linskey pointed out her 2 1/2 -inch heels. Peterson was unmoved. But Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke was, even though she's a sensible-shoes gal.

Clarke said she didn't feel comfortable sitting and eating while others were standing. A chair was brought in for Linskey.

Then Baltimore Examiner reporter Stephen Janis arrived to find no seat. After Clarke offered to give up her own chair, another was brought in for Janis. He was stoic about it and opted to stand.

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