For years now, politicians and developers have tried to squeeze the sleaze off The Block by replacing the bars and peep shows with office buildings. The men and women who work on The Block know all this. They tend to be tight-knit and protective of each other because of it -- and because they know the rest of the world judges The Block harshly, and often hypocritically.
Go there and you find a small neon planet with a hard outer shell.
Get inside a little this week and you find people stunned or weeping over the death of one of their own: Tina Williams, whom everyone called Frosty. She was 25, lived in Dundalk, worked as a dancer at The 408 Club. She has family back in Milwaukee -- two kids living with her mother. She worked seven days a week, sent money home.
Someone killed her the other night in East Baltimore.
"It had all the hallmarks of a contract killing," says Detective Bob McAllister, who got the case Tuesday just before 10 p.m. Frosty was shot seven times by a man in dark clothing as she strolled down Ashland Avenue, near the corner of North Bradford, with a girlfriend. The girlfriend was not harmed.
"There was no warning," McAllister says. "Nothing said. The guy just opens fire at close range. There was no robbery."
And there are no leads today. That's why McAllister needs help -- from either inside or outside The Block.
Here's how Bonnie Antwarg's incredible, coincidental pain-in-the-neck developed. First, she decides to order satellite TV service for her house in Randallstown. The company runs
TC credit check. Everything's fine, the company says, except Bonnie failed to disclose a $250,000 loan through a mortgage company in Iowa. Bonnie hears this and says, "Huh?"
It seems an Illinois woman, also named Bonnie, mistakenly used Bonnie Antwarg's Social Security number on a mortgage application. "And this other Bonnie's Social Security number is only one digit different than mine!" booms Bonnie Antwarg. Back in March, she asked the mortgage company and the Social Security Administration to straighten things out. The mortgage company acknowledged the mistake and cleared Bonnie Antwarg's name for credit purposes; she got her satellite dish. But the two Bonnies are still joined in Social Security records.
"I finally located this other Bonnie," says Bonnie Antwarg. "Her mortgage company contacted her about the problem back in March. Oh, and that $250,000 mortgage is now $420,000. And it's on my credit report!"
Both Bonnies agree that a few taps on a computer keyboard at the SSA probably could separate them forever. "But it hasn't been done!" says angry Bonnie Antwarg. "This was a 15-minute problem that has now turned into a seven-month problem! I'm calling Donahue! I'm getting Gelfman!"
The pullet surprise
After Russell Baker, two-time Pulitzer Prize winning writer, delivered the annual Mencken Memorial Lecture at the Pratt, library officials sent a tape-recording of his remarks out for transcription. When it came back, the transcript included the introduction of Baker and referred to him as the "pullet surprise willing author."
Just saying no
Congrats to the community association for voting to keep McDonald's out of Hereford. More semi-rural areas should just say no to the Arches. America has reached critical mass in fast-food drive-thrus. If a restaurant is needed in Hereford -- I don't know why, with the Wagon Wheel and Pioneer House just up York Road -- the community association ought to recruit a genuine diner operator who'll wear an apron and serve gravy on fries.
Through a cloud of cigar smoke -- no baloney; the guy had a William Penn in his mouth -- I heard this political scenario: "Schaefer supports Steinberg. I know that's the unbelievable part, but stranger things have happened with Don Donaldo, and apparently Mandel's fine hand is at play in this. Seat opens up on the Supreme Court, and Sarbanes gets the nod from Clinton. Schmoke runs for the Senate. Schaefer runs for mayor." I don't know what made me gag more -- the cigar smoke or some of those possibilities.
Big matter of taste
Danny Dickman, the Charles Street restaurateur who died the other day, knew well the tastes of his customers. Once, Artie Donovan came into Danny's and Dickman promised to make the former Colt something special. "He came out with a 4-pound cheeseburger, all garnished on a platter," Artie recalled, a big smile in his voice.
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