Jell-O revelation, and a horse tub runneth over

DAN RODRICKS

October 08, 1992|By DAN RODRICKS

Pieces of column too short to use:

So whaddaya want for 95 cents? . . . The sign at the counter of always-busy Jimmy's Restaurant, 801 S. Broadway, exclaims: "New Dessert Sensation! Strawberry Jell-O!" All due respect to the person who penned that advertisement, but Jell-O isn't exactly new. For the record, gelatin powder was patented in 1845, and by 1925 Jell-O was a $647 million business. The rest is history. Somebody tell the sign-maker at Jimmy's.

Great moment of the month . . . I house-sit a friend's farm in Harford County. He has large horses. I am supposed to water and feed the horses each day. I open the spigot to fill the horses' bathtub. I go to collect the mail. In the mail is the latest Victoria's Secret catalog. I become distracted. I take leave of my senses. I leave the water running -- for 18 hours! The well runs dry. Great. Just great.

Cheap thrill of the month . . . Step into the psychedelic lava lights awash on the sidewalk in front of Turner's bar, 12 E. Cross St. "People dance in that light, they pray, they meditate in that light," says barkeep Jim Turner.

Mugged in Fells Point . . . Stopped by the Daily Grind, Thames Street, for a cup of coffee. Not just any coffee; coffee from a funky coffee shop -- an altogether trendy thing to do. (Look where this recession has taken us, folks: Just five years ago, trendy was ordering a Mondavi cab, special reserve, during dinner at the oh-so-pricey Conservatory; now trendy is just a good cup-o-java.) I liked the Grind. Coffee was served in a rugged old white mug, the kind that lasts 50 years in a diner; the Italian almond biscuits were tasty and crunchy; ceiling fans were twirling; the other customers were reading and writing; Stravinsky was on the radio. Very nice. Kind of Bohemian. (Or, as they say in Baltimore, kind of Boh.)

Spreading the word . . . Greg Novik, the hairy, manic and friendly proprietor of a terrific bagel shop in Belvedere Square, handed out a flier to explain the increase in price of his flavored (pesto, raspberry melba, caviar, etc.) cream cheese spreads. "Our bulk price on Kraft Philadelphia cream cheese went up by more than 20 percent six months ago, and we can no longer absorb the extra expense," Greg told customers. "In addition, we've actually decided to pay Heath, the kid who mixes the cream cheese. Finally, our fleet of 17 yachts is sorely in need of a barnacle cleaning. . . . What will we do with the extra revenue? We'll cover the high price of bulk cream cheese, give raises to several members of our hard-working staff, and get an oil change for [my] '73 Mustang." Blue Cross & Blue Shield should be so candid, eh?

Rubbering it in their faces . . . In the front window of the Fells Point shop Jeanne Brown wants to use for a condom store called the Rubber Tree, tourists will find some trenchant social commentary. Just above a window box full of flowers are blow-ups of Sun stories about Brown's plan and the controversy it has stirred. There is also a list of the other Fells Point merchants who oppose the store's opening. And next to that list is a chart containing the latest number of AIDS deaths in the

25-to-44 age group. Nothing further need be said.

Concrete cowboys compete . . . The Mounties sent regrets, but officers from 26 different police departments in the United States and Canada will compete in an equestrian competition Saturday on the Pimlico infield. The annual competition originated in the District of Columbia nine years ago. This time, Baltimore is the host city, and local mounties are preparing for a big weekend. Competitors will be judged on their appearance and horsemanship, of coursemanship. But the highlight of competition will be an urban obstacle course that includes construction cones and Mylar balloons, a water hazard, a noise hazard (rocks dropped on metal to imitate construction sounds) and a garbage truck. The obstacles test the nerves of both horse and rider. Opening ceremonies are 9:30 a.m. Public is invited at $2 per person. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Many of the horses and riders will appear Sunday in the Columbus Day Parade, too.

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