Johnny the plumber a Democrat with an elephant's memory

THIS JUST IN ...

September 11, 1995|By DAN RODRICKS

A friend needed a plumber. She called J. C. Flood. "But," she says, "as soon as I told them I had an Ikea kitchen, they recommended I call Johnny Waters. I hung up and said to my husband, 'Only in Baltimore.' " So she called this Johnny Waters, and he came out to fix a leaking faucet. It happens that his real name is Christopher Kolb. He started his business three years ago and came up with the name when he was trying to think of a catchy pun on johns and water. Soon he was getting calls for John Waters, our favorite hometown director and the man who gave us "Serial Mom," among other delights. "Someone called from Rolling Stone magazine," Kolb says. "I told her I'm a famous plumber, if you want to come out and interview me." Other calls were from actors and writers looking for work, and industry types L.A. Ya gotta love it.

Killer driver

State police say aggressive driving is in decline. Yeah, right. The other day on the Beltway (outer loop), about 5:20 p.m., rush-hour traffic hit a "slow" stretch at Liberty Road. Guy in a Ford Ranger pickup blew by at 80 in the far left lane. Seeing brake lights come on ahead of him, he made a sudden, homicidal right, directly across four lanes of the Beltway, and onto the Liberty Road exit. Amazingly, no accident. Somedays, I think the cops have abandoned the Beltway.

'Hi, Pete'

State Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Prince George's County, and Delegate Howard P. "Pete" Rawlings, D-Baltimore, attended a ceremony at the White House Rose Garden last Thursday. Miller went to introduce Rawlings to the president, but before Miller could say the delegate's name, Clinton remembered it. "Hi, Pete," he said. "I was awed by that," said Rawlings, noting that it had been seven or eight years since he and Clinton worked together on a national education commission. Rawlings told Clinton that his 25-year-old daughter, Stephanie, is a candidate in tomorrow's primary for Baltimore City Council. Did Pete ask for the presidential endorsement? "I'm presumptuous, but not that presumptuous," he says. "I handed the president a sheet from my memo pad and he signed it, 'To Stephanie, Best wishes, Bill Clinton.' " If not a ringing endorsement, at least a tinkling one.

Rawlings was in the Rose Garden for the release of Vice President Al Gore's National Performance Review of government; Rawlings has been using it as a model for reform in Maryland government. One of the surprises of the review: The Social Security Administration scored high in telephone customer service. The SSA's performance was as good as, if not better, than L.L. Bean's, Xerox's and Federal Express'.

Blame the press

Readers of this column -- exactly 53 of them, and you all know who you are -- jammed up the TJI voice-mail Friday to give me a big, fat nya-nya about a mistake that showed up in this space. They think I don't know simple arithmetic. "Hey, man," said one caller, "what're you smokin'? Twelve minus three is nine, not eight." Added another, "Dan, I'm just a stupid truck driver from Aberdeen. I'm no big shot newspaper columnist. But, where I come from, three from 12 has always been nine." Here's one more: "Hey, Dan, what's with your math? Three from 12 is eight? Come on. Oh, and when I called The Sun switchboard, the operator said, 'Dan who?' "

All right, all right. You've had your fun. The mistake wasn't mine. It belongs to a printing press, though I can't blame the press so much because, after all, last week was Cal Week, and we had the big wheels spinning some serious overtime. Nonetheless, in some editions of The Sun, the bottom line of type in my column was chopped off. As a result, a sentence in the column read, "Then, if you take 12 and subtract 3, you get 8, Cal's number." The phrase "then subtract 1," should have appeared in the

middle of the sentence. So there. And nya-nya.

Dear John Hopkins

Would somebody please tell the Democratic National Committee that Johns Hopkins is dead? The DNC keeps sending requests for campaign contributions to Homewood, addressed to: "John Hopkins, 212 Whitehead Hall, Baltimore, Md. 21218." The most recent one offered to show "how you, John Hopkins, can help President Clinton get re-elected!" The letter contained a "Democratic strategy survey," which Hopkins was asked to complete. "Mr. Hopkins doesn't take mail anymore, being dead since 1873," reports Dennis O'Shea, of the Johns Hopkins University information office in Whitehead. "I doubt he would have given money anyway; he always hated it when people misspelled his name."

Signs of the times

Fells Pointers who've had it with a certain film crew are protesting with dashboard signs that say: "Homicide: Life Without Parking." . . . Who wrote, in big, bold capital letters, the words "GOD POCKET" over the exit sign for St. Paul Street on the Jones Falls Expressway? Give me a ring on 332-6166.

Ninja nut

Spotted in traffic near the Fallsway: A small white sports car arrayed with dozens of toy action figures, mostly Ninja warriors. They were glued all over the car -- on the side mirrors, on the spoiler, under the spoiler, on the trunk, all over. The driver was middle-aged, with salt-and-pepper hair -- obviously a man who has rediscovered the boy within.

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