Highway photographer snaps lots of hysterical drivers


August 15, 1994|By DAN RODRICKS

Strange things happen in this world. You should have seen what Donna Zaimis saw on Interstate 95 near White Marsh during rush hour last Wednesday morning.

"This 30ish guy driving the bronze car in front of me, in the slow lane, started swerving all over the place and hitting his brakes suddenly, making his speed extremely erratic. In order not to hit him in the rear, I passed him on the right side."

As she passed the bronze car, Donna saw something she hadn't seen before. "This guy was driving with a camera up in front of his face and taking pictures of the cars in front and around him. Apparently he had to apply the brakes every time he snapped another shot and since he was holding the camera with both hands, it is a miracle he was only swerving and not killing someone."

Attention, all photo labs: Be on the lookout for snapshots of hysterical people trying to avoid an accident with a highway nutball. If you see such pictures, seize them as evidence and call 911.

Spotting a trend

Spotted in downtown morning rush-hour traffic, on the back side of a white Nissan Maxima:


(and just below that)


This peculiar juxtaposition inspired speculations and, rush hour being rush hour, there was time for such. First, we considered the possibility the driver was a dermatologist, or possibly a regional sales rep for Desenex, indulging in a little subliminal advertising.

Then we thought he could have been a deeply conflicted pyromaniac, warning society of his compulsion to start fires. Or perhaps the driver of this car was offering a '90s version of Allen Ginsberg's "Howl," a boldly anti- establishment counter-offensive to the treacly and ubiquitous bumper bromide, "Commit random acts of kindness . . ."

Or maybe -- and mind you, as a professional trend-spotter I am loath to entertain this possibility, and only mention it out of a commitment to objective analysis -- just maybe, the guy bought the car at RITCHIE Nissan, in Glen Burnie, and this was all that remained of the logo.

The crown question

We've been over this before, but we'll go over it again because a lot of people keep asking.

Those ornate plastic crowns often seen in the rear windows or --boards of automobiles and four-wheel-drive trucks and Jeeps -- they're air fresheners. Air fresheners. So don't believe it when friends tell you they are symbols of cults or souvenirs from commemorative brandy bottles. And don't believe the crowns denote the drivers are from former crown colonies. They're just air fresheners. If you don't believe me, ask Manny, Moe or Jack.

Still cooking

George Basil, the owner and constant presence behind the grill at the fabled Sip & Bite, is back in Greece for his first visit in almost five years. That's a long time not to see your mama, George!

But listen now, the daily fare suffers not in George's absence. Ingmar Burger and I checked. I had the shish kebab with rice and a side of chopped kale and, mama-pajama, was it good. Ingmar called the meatloaf glorious.

Signs of the times

Sign at church, Loch Raven near Taylor: "Under same management since 33 A.D." . . . From the menu of a Chinese restaurant, Greenmount Avenue: "You are always welcome to feast with us in our specious dining room treasure." I appreciate the lack of pretense about the cheap decor, don't you? . . . Neon sign in store, also on Greenmount Avenue: "Human Hair." Not Hunan. Human. [Let's not ask and say we did.]

Memory mail

In the mail comes a memory of youth from Gary F. Suggars of Baltimore: "I grew up in a small farming town in central Pennsylvania. There was just one radio station. Nothing but country music was played on Saturday. However, I remember when Broadway tunes were being played -- high-brow stuff for that area -- and the host announced one song as 'music by George Gershwin and lyrics by his lovely wife, Ira.' "

The Girken log

Michael Girken, who runs the Holiday Restaurant in South Baltimore, has been collecting malaprops and other amusing phrases that slip off the lips of his many patrons. "My bookkeeper and I are always getting laughs from the things people say," he says. "I've managed to keep a small diary -- and, I might add, a straight face -- as I listen to conversations with and between customers." Some entries from the Girken log:

"I don't hold any amnesty toward anyone."

"Somebody ordered wong tong soup."

"Give me a minute to medicate on that."

"Oh, my God, who aren't in Heaven, Howard be thy name."

"My parents are in a nursery home for old folks."

"That guy should take a short vacation off a long pier."

"It's so hot in here my anti-present is melting."

"Does anybody ever confidence you on your cole slaw?"

"You oughta put arson in his sandwich."

Which brings us to one other restaurant malaprop, something overheard by Alice Anderson, Ocean City: "He died even though they gave him the Hemlock maneuver." Yup. What arson couldn't do, the Hemlock did.

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