Back for a burger and on to a wedding for a slice of naughtiness

THIS JUST IN . . .

September 19, 1994|By DAN RODRICKS

Some of you might have noticed that this column did not appear for the last two weeks. Readers of This Just In were told that I was "taking some time off," and I know how that cryptic statement might have sounded to many of you -- as though I had been admitted to a clinic or something. Thanks to those who called to express concern or who mailed in get-well cards. But let's get this straight. I wasn't undergoing anything but vacation. Unfortunately -- and I think many readers will agree -- that vacation is now over.

Plastic comes to Alonso's

This Just In: It is now possible to buy "the fish thing" on your credit card. This is stunning news along Cold Spring Lane. Alonso's, the popular North Baltimore bar/restaurant with the luscious shrimp salad and juicy burgers, is going to start taking plastic for the first time in its history. Alonso's has been around since the Depression and only now, 30 years into the age of plastic, has managment decided to get on-line for major credit cards. A cash business as busy as Alonso's is an anomaly today. "My father founded the business in 1929 and he was a stickler for cash-only," Leroy Alonso says of the late Isaac Alonso. "He didn't go for [credit cards]." And Leroy Alonso kept the cash-only policy until the next generation -- his daughters, Dawn and Deborah, and son, Gregory -- talked him into taking credit cards. "My father was the hardest working man I knew, and he operated the business out of a little book in his back pocket," Leroy says. "Now my daughters want to put in computers. I say, well, if you want to do it, do it." Fans of "the fish thing," a menu staple involving a filet and melted cheese, say they're happy about the change. But Alonso's nonplastic policy never stopped them from going there for dinner and brews. "We just always had to make sure we had cash," one of them said. (The mention of Isaac Alonso reminds me of the way he fixed bluefish. No one I know could make bluefish taste as good as he could. He caught the fish himself, cleaned it and broiled it, and the whole thing did wonders for a fish that fishermen love to catch but few like to eat.)

Genius steps to the plate

With all due respect to Ken Burns -- yes, yes, you are a genius, you are a genius -- my pomposity detectors went on red (or at least pink) alert when I saw his "Baseball" video, all 18 1/2 hours of it, hyped as a classic and advertised in advance of its PBS broadcast for $175 in a mail-order catalog. Personally, I'll wait to actually watch this opus before declaring it a masterpiece worthy of a video library. Tell you this, though: If I hear George Will waxing on and on about the American game -- and I'm told the documentary is crowded with Will and other baseball thumbsuckers -- then I'll be taking a pass. You want a baseball video? I've seen "Bull Durham" advertised for a fraction of the cost.

Good heavens, doctors!

The room was festooned with yards and yards of white tulle, small sparkling lights and fragrant gardenias. On one table sat a stately, multitiered wedding cake. On another, two ice sculptures -- a pair of obstetrician's forceps and a gynecologist's examination table, complete with stirrups.

Say what?

You got it -- ice sculptures shaped like medical instruments. That's how two OB-GYNs celebrated the formation of their medical tag-team in Baltimore recently. The two docs took the plunge in a formal ceremony at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation, and then strolled across the street to the Preston Room in the Annunciation Orthodox Center to celebrate their union at a gala reception. The ice sculptures stood above the glitter of the white, black and gold decorations, and they quickly became the centerpiece of conversation. They were the first things guests saw when they entered the reception and picked up their place cards. The examination table was carved from a 300-pound block of ice and was strikingly authentic (though the stirrups appeared to be inspired by crab claws). The forceps looked like oversize wishbones, about 3 feet tall. Dozens of photographs were snapped (though none have reached This Just In yet). Said a guest: "People took to it quite well and appreciated the sense of fun it added to the event." Just what OB-GYN needs: A sense of fun.

Bits stuffed with chuckles

Sign among stuffed animals in window of Grrreat Bears & Childhood Delights in Fells Point: "Our birds are not on strike." ... From computerized sales slip at Tower Records, Annapolis: "Tower's open 368 days a year." ... Bumper sticker spotted on a white Toyota Corolla: "My karma ran over my dogma." ... Sign on the women's restroom at the Baltimore County Board of Elections, a former elementary school: "Girls," and under it a hand-written note, "Those were the days."

Every story needs a heron

Seen making a final approach over the Jones Falls Expressway, near Northern Parkway: one great blue heron. The bird splashed down into the Jones Falls and struck its classic RTC hunting posture, presumably for a late-morning snack.

This Just In appears each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If you have something to tell me -- a story of woe, a story of virtue, a story of a horse and the boy who loved him -- give me a call on 332-6166 or drop a line at The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278. Please, no salesmen.

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