Hon Man signs in, making rare median appearance

This Just In. . .

January 07, 1998|By DAN RODRICKS

HON MAN has returned. We spotted his "Hon" placard recently on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, attached as an addendum to the welcome sign on the median strip near the city line. We hadn't seen evidence of His Hon'er for a long time. Three or four years ago, Hon Man was a regular on the B-W Parkway median, adding his cardboard love tap to the official city greeting whenever he had the urge. But police and highway crews put a damper on his civic-spirited fun, tearing off the "Hon" placards, sometimes just minutes after they were stapled to the wooden sign. We haven't heard from Hon Man in a while, though his wife, Hon Woman, calls from time to time with comments on life here in the Greater Patapsco Drainage Basin. But we're happy to hear he's up to his old tricks. ... New signs in the Sinai Hospital employee parking lot: "Speed Limit 10 mph - Enforced by Radar." (And probably from aircraft!) ... I'm a fool for kitsch. I love wacko. So list me as a supporter of the burning "sports kebab" on the exterior of the new ESPN Zone at the Power Plant. Burning balls on a skewer, high over Pratt Street at the Inner Harbor. It's genius, I tell you, pure genius! ... One more thing on signs: Did you notice Vinny Testaverde's face appearing on those striking, cooler-than-cool Pepsi billboards toward the end of the NFL's regular season? They popped up in prominent places just as VT was losing his starting QB assignment with the Ravens. Ouch.

Anthem abuse

Anybody else find it depressing to hear politicians and their disciples singing "We Shall Overcome" in demonstrations for Larry Young? They did it again yesterday in Annapolis, trivializing the anthem of the civil rights movement in an effort to make a martyr of a state senator whose own actions forced this inquiry.

Branch on King

Taylor Branch, Pulitzer-winning author of "Parting the Waters," has finished the second volume of his rich and compelling history of the civil rights movement. He tapped the final words of "Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963-64" into the computer in his Baltimore home over the Thanksgiving weekend. The book should be out by Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 19. Branch will speak and sign books at Bethel A.M.E. Church that weekend. He'll also be the featured speaker at the Pratt Library's King program Jan. 24. His national book tour starts a few days later. Branch will be teaching a couple of history courses at Goucher College this year. In his spare time, he'll be contemplating volume three.

Chinese delight

TJI's chief food taster and cultural correspondent Joey Amalfitano called in from his part-time job at the service station to give this definition of a noontime rhapsody: "That would be the steady stream of piped-in Broadway show tunes, the glass chandeliers, the hot bowl of noodles, with chicken and steamed vegetables, followed by a warm and soft washcloth, all for $5, at Szechuan House in Lutherville. What a break from lying under oil pans all morning."

Pathology puzzle

Time for a brain game.

Be first to determine, based on the clues I provide, the subject of this year's Historical Clinicopathological Conference at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and you can have my front-row seat at Davidge Hall. The conference takes place there at high noon Jan. 16, with Dr. David Mallott, associate professor of psychiatry, center stage to provide the report and conclusions on his "patient."

Mallott has been challenged to review the case of an American historical figure who played a central role in a violent event. Some have alleged this person, many years dead, was mentally unbalanced to the point of personal recklessness. It is Mallott's assignment to look at the psychological profile and determine what, if any, pathology affected his patient's behavior.

Mallott, of course, has not been told his subject's identity. But he's been given some facts - medical history, family background, a report on his subject's childhood development, adolescent adjustment and social history, even the results of a psychological test taken, in loco persona, by a historian last year.

During the next week, I'll provide some of the facts as they appear in the challenge to Mallott. If you can determine the identity of this year's historical figure, contact This Just In and claim your prize. (Faculty, students and staff of University of Maryland, from Greene Street to College Park, are not eligible, and everyone else is asked to do the honorable thing and refrain from obtaining copies of the case study.)

Today's clues:

"As a child, the patient was active (perhaps hyperactive), athletic, daring and mischievous."

The patient "is direct, honest, decent and proud ... also frequently pompous, impatient and flamboyant."

"Old bullet wound of left lower leg."

"The patient's mother, although slight of build, is a strict disciplinarian who has dictated a stringent moral code within the patient's family."

More clues to come. Watch this space.

This Just In appears each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Contact Dan Rodricks at 410-332-6166, by mail at The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278, or by e-mail at TJIDAN aol.com.

Pub Date: 1/07/98

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