Pieces of column too short to use:
Gotta be kidding . . . In preparation for the Major League All-Star game in July, those cash-starved Orioles are looking for "volunteers" to help put on a good show. A "Volunteer Opportunities" form has been in circulation, and the one that came my way said volunteers are needed for "meeting and greeting VIPs at the airport and working information booths." They're also looking for volunteers to work as "managers" of attractions during Upper Deck's All-Star FanFest in the week leading up to the game. Volunteers are expected to work a total of 25 hours between July 8 and 13. There's no compensation, of course. But the Orioles, pressed as they are for funds, will thank their volunteers with an "All-Star shirt and cap" that "you may keep . . . as a memento."
No escape . . . Imagine the long, wide beach on the Outer Banks of North Carolina just after sunrise. You are on vacation -- spiritually a million miles from real life, newspapers, television and talk radio. You are alone at the edge of the Atlantic, nothing before you but the rising orange sun and crashing waves, nothing to the south or north but empty beach. Soon, however, a lone figure appears from the direction of Cape Hatteras and walks steadily toward you. Finally, he arrives. He stops to chat. And what does he want to chat about? Gays in the military. (This actually happened to me; made me wish I carried Mace.)
In the mail . . . After vacation, the newspaper columnist never knows what he'll find in the mail. Among dozens of letters from across the country was one from Chicago. It began: "Toilet paper -- an important part of all our lives -- is often taken for granted." I would share the rest of the letter with you, but space does not allow. But keep reading, folks. Someday we'll explore this at length.
Live by style, die by style . . . His defenders say Bill Clinton didn't deserve the cheap shots over his $200 haircut, that reporting such trivia distracts public attention from the really important issues of the day.
I say Clinton invites the derision. The wire service photo last week of Bill with a cigar in his mouth, waiting up in the Oval Office for results of the House tax-package vote, provides further evidence that this president is obsessed with style. (Anybody for touch football? A walk in the sand dunes?) We all know about his affection for the legacy of John F. Kennedy. But, between the haircut and the cigar, Clinton looks like a guy playing president. Gore Vidal called Ronald Reagan the Acting President; at least Reagan's was an original character. Clinton's imitations play out phony and cheap. It's as if, on his senior class trip to the White House, he broke into the Oval Office and jumped in the big chair. He's like an Elvis imitator who breached the gates at Graceland. Yo, Bill: Give us a break!
Clinton's problem . . . It's my hunch that the man Time magazine calls "the incredible shrinking president" is bored with deficit reduction. He's an ambitious guy, a Baby Boomer inspired by the activist politics of JFK. He isn't content to count beans. He wants to get something done! But getting something done -- creating new programs that define his presidency -- requires either spending money the government doesn't have or convincing Americans you can do something new without new money. National service for college students is a prime example. It's a great idea -- for Clinton's third year in office, not his first. Of course he's president, not comptroller. But the 1992 election was about "the economy, stupid!" What the nation wanted was a fiscal hawk in the Oval Office. If Clinton doesn't understand that by now, he's in the deep stuff.
Baltimalaprops . . . A man talking about an argument with his sister said: "One thing led to another and, when she mentioned my mother, boy, that spurned a whole 'nother conversation."
A guy from Rosedale recently described a great meal he enjoyed in a local restaurant: "I had whiskey sours, pinto coladas, scallops, chicken and festachinni."
A Baltimore businessman reports that an employee's wife called to say her husband would not be coming to work because of pain in his wrist. She referred to the malady as "Harbor Tunnel Syndrome."