Sam and the art of in-your-face alms production

DAN RODRICKS

February 02, 1993|By DAN RODRICKS

Pieces of column too short to use:

Bumper sticker of the month . . . "Happiness is yelling BINGO!!"

Ecumenical panhandler? . . . We've received reports that a man named Sam -- in his late 40s, with thick glasses, hair in corn rows, dressed in two plaid summer jackets, jeans, boots and TC canvas work gloves -- shouted for money during recent church services in Bolton Hill and Hamden. At Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church, Sam, who was believed to be homeless, interrupted the homily and pleaded that all who called themselves Christian give cash.

Sam's in-your-face demand was very specific; he wanted exactly $140. He reportedly demanded $70 from each of three churches in Hamden, two Methodist and one Lutheran, and paid a visit to the Presbyterian church in Bolton Hill. (Sam must be a prophet of ecumenism.) At each stop, he admonished priest or preacher to "tell your people they have to give me money." Some guilt trip, eh? Sam apparently received contributions at each church, though some people were suspicious of his explanation of need. "Oh, well," said a member of the Corpus Christi parish, "I guess it's not against the law to remind Christians to give alms. Anyway, we haven't seen him since."

Sam's approach lacked charm. I remember a priest named Father Ray. He visited our church once yearly to remind us that, in the musical scale, "re came after do, and that's why I'm here, boys and girls: Father Ray is after dough!"

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Good questions . . . A friend of a friend wonders: "Why does the drive-in automatic teller machine at Maryland National's branch at 3121 St. Paul have Braille instructions for the blind?" . . . And a reader asks: "If Bill Clinton wanted to get a rock band reunited for his inauguration, why didn't he choose a theme song from the Beatles instead of Fleetwood Mac?" I would have preferred Cream myself.

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One last Fleetwood Mac insult . . . Stevie Nicks: "You're once, twice, three times a lady."

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Your father's mustache belonged on your father . . . Certain men have no business having a mustache. The whiskers do not come in full and handsome, and the result is a Scraggly Subnasal Distraction (SSD). Some men are dorks with mustaches. There's one very prominent public official in Baltimore County who has a really bad SSD. For now, I won't humiliate him in this space. Besides, you know who you are. You have 30 days to shave it off or let it grow into a full beard . . . or chance the consequences!

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Baltimalaprop of the Month . . . "That Saddam Hussein just snubbed his nose at the U.S."

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Taxman cometh . . . Because of enhanced computer capabilities, the Internal Revenue Service plans to audit "only 0.87 percent" of personal income tax returns in 1993. That's according to a client newsletter from a Baltimore County accounting agency. "Auditors will be told to focus on individual returns with self-employment income," the newsletter says. "The IRS will be concentrating its efforts on the 'misclassification' of employees as independent contractors." So, if you've been fudging the amount of income derived from "self-employment," watch out. And don't say you weren't warned.

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Fate of the Fire . . . Just a week before the 89th anniversary of the Great Baltimore Fire, this "pyric odyssey" comes in the mail. I don't know the author -- it's signed "A.A.K." -- but he (or she) certainly was clever. "Started in the morning at Hopkins Place with German," it goes, "and soon after getting Liberty went to visit Baltimore and Hanover. After meeting Charles further down, it made Light of St. Paul and struck Calvert, making trouble between North and South, going directly across the Sun. It took a Holliday and got Gay and called to see Frederick, where it made the acquaintance of Harrison. Trying to reach the Monumental Theatre for the show, it got hungry and ate up the Marsh Market. So, after reaching the water to quench its thirst, it fell overboard at Jones Falls and got drowned. And then, after reaching Union Dock, it came back to life all over again." Thanks to Freda Flury, of Baldwin, who found the ditty among her mother's effects.

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