Even while serving pizza, Julia Roberts wins fans

THIS JUST IN ...

October 21, 1998|By DAN RODRICKS

ACTRESS Julia Roberts made the waiters and busboys swoon Sunday night at Sotto Sopra. She's in town for movie business, of course. Roberts is due to co-star with Richard Gere in "Runaway Bride," already in production. Her director, Gary Marshall, supped at Sotto, along with about 100 cast and crew. (Gere wasn't there.) The pony-tailed "Pretty Woman" was down-to-earth sweet, said Maurizio Pinto, the restaurant's general manager. "She came into the kitchen and served some pizza to her friends, pushing through the crowd with the pizza, very nicely saying, 'Excuse me, excuse me.' She was very nice, very classy. She took a little walk on Charles Street." We heard Roberts was quite friendly, too. "Oh, yeah, a serial flirt," said one who observed JR in action. Che bella! Welcome to Baltimore, hon. ... Meanwhile, Barry Levinson's crew remains hard at work on "Liberty Heights." They had more location shoots over the weekend, staging classroom and playground scenes and a graduation ceremony at a couple of city schools. ... The closing of Mencken's Cultured Pearl Cafe near Hollins Market is a total bummer. Teddy Getzel, the owner who turned off the lights Saturday night, is a great guy who stayed true to his purpose - to provide good and interesting food (did you ever have the SoWeBo Burrito?), a place to celebrate fine and funky art, and to help anchor the neighborhood. He dressed as a Mayan priest (zebra cape, straw headdress, shells, minichilis and black street shoes) and played host to a fabulous hot sauce festival every year, presenting Our Lady of the Hot Sauces to the fun-loving world and raising funds for the Viva House Catholic Worker community in the process. The mayor of Baltimore should run over there, knock on Getzel's door and offer to help him reopen the place. I'll pledge to eat 30 burritos a year there.

Price-busting pasta

As one who advocates a city ordinance against any $20-or-more primarily pasta entree in any Baltimore restaurant, I'm happy to give a high-five to Mangia Mangia on Luzerne Avenue, Canton. Good choice of pasta and toppings, and the people in the kitchen know what they're doing. (And that's high praise, indeed, from the son of the former Rose Popolo.) Here's the good part: They don't gouge you. Two of us had lunch there yesterday for less than $20.

Tongue torturers

Fourteen years after the Colts left Baltimore and three years after Baltimore got a new NFL team called the Ravens, the name "Baltimore Colts" still slips off the tongue easily. Watching a bit of both the Ravens and Colts games Sunday, we noticed that the CBS announcers of each contest said, "Baltimore Colts," stopping themselves and making the correction in midsentence. understandable. Some things might never sit firmly on the tongue. St. Louis Rams, Tennessee Oilers, Governor Sauerbrey.

Personalized pitch

I see where Governor Glendening has been personalizing his campaign pitches. "In recent weeks," reported The Sun's Laura Lippman, "he has started talking more about the brother who died of AIDS and the one who was once institutionalized for developmental disabilities."

How interesting, and ironic.

I didn't think this governor let anything from his personal life affect his public one.

One of the first things he did after arriving in Annapolis in January 1995 was cut a program that made $157-a-month subsidies to poor men and women with AIDS, mental illness, heart disease, muscular disabilities and other illnesses, people too disabled to work and certified as such by a doctor.

That was the Disability Assistance and Loan Program, and for up to a year it provided support for people on waiting lists for federal disability payments. DALP was scrapped by the new governor as "welfare" the state could no longer afford. It was one of his first acts as governor, a cynical effort to appease voters inclined to think of Glendening as too liberal. The mayor of Baltimore called the governor's decision a "man-made disaster." Advocates for the poor and religious leaders predicted more evictions, more panhandling, more sick people roaming the streets.

A year later, after persistent protests, Glendening ran the other way, creating a new program called Transitional Emergency Medical and Housing Assistance Program (TEMHA). The BTC governor restored enough money to support about two-thirds of those who had been eligible for DALP funds. The rock-bottom poor and disabled adults who qualified for TEMHA assistance got a whopping $100 a month for up to a year.

Who could live on such a small sum?

It didn't matter. By "restoring" a program, Glendening presented himself as a friend of the poor. In fact, when he announced TEMHA, Glendening said it was necessary for the state to offset the effect on the poor of federal budget cuts. "With the unfair, punitive cuts of safety net protection programs going through Congress," he said, "we must protect the most vulnerable of our citizens. We will not permit our seniors, children or disabled to suffer."

Of course, he made no reference to the effect of his own decision to eliminate DALP a year earlier.

That was a pungently political decision.

Nothing personal at all, which was the shame of it.

Pub Date: 10/21/98

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