Be beaten to death," read the tiny perky...


March 18, 1992

"SHOPLIFTERS WILL be beaten to death," read the tiny perky yellow signs planted here and there at a new Fells Point shop that is called Beadworks.

The delightful shop, which sells beads and things related to the craft of beading, hasn't had much problem with crime in its seven months, but owner Bronwyn Thompson-Henry thought the signs might inject a little humor into a touchy subject for a small business. She believes the signs have also made shoppers feel more friendly toward the shop and has even led them, she thinks, to police other shoppers.

One especially inquisitive boy had many questions about the signs: the beatings' location, who administered them, how they were done, etc. His father returned the 8-year-old to the store an hour later: To fess up for shoplifting.

No doubt, the youngster would be even more shaken by the warning hanging at the China Sea Marine Trading Co. next door: "Unattended children will be sold as slaves."

* * *

PAT BUCHANAN was threatening to eat the president's lunch in the South by attacking federal funding of "dirty art." President Bush responded that he hates the dirt as much as the next man, especially if that fellow's name is "Bubba." We can't recall any politician paying so much attention to the fine points of what constitutes good taste in art since, well, since the last election.

Thus we were a little startled recently to see a new book of Robert Mapplethorpe photographs in the stores. Leafing through the volume, entitled "Flowers," we were aghast to find picture after picture of delicate blossoms so artfully depicted one could almost smell their fragrance -- an entire book filled with hard-core photographs of the sexual organs of plants!

This is the kind of shocker Buchanan and Bush needed to crack down on hard if they really wanted to win Bubba's vote down in the Magnolia State.

* * *

USEFUL ADVICE from Paul Dickson: "Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig."

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