Between The Lines

BETWEEN THE LINES

November 17, 2003

On location, location ...

A character with a reputation for violence marched into the city solicitor's office last week determined to fight City Hall. But city solicitor Thurman W. Zollicoffer Jr. didn't have to worry.

Vivica A. Fox, costar of the movie bloodbath Kill Bill, was in Baltimore to shoot the independent film Beauty Shop. It's the story of Jenny, a beautician whose business is condemned by the city to make room for a parking lot.

Director Bobby T. picked the solicitor's office, City Council chambers and the rotunda of City Hall for scenes in which Fox's character fights bureaucracy. She eventually proves that the building belongs on the National Register of Historic Places and should be saved, said production manager Steve Blair. Her evidence: a picture of abolitionist Frederick Douglass in front of the building in the 1100 block of W. Baltimore St., proving that he once lived there.

Neither Zollicoffer nor any city officials were asked to make cameo appearances. The director was interested in the building, not their dramatic flair.

- Tom Pelton

Sweet persuasion

Rosalynn Carter and Kendel Ehrlich are scheduled to attend a beam-raising ceremony tomorrow to mark a $90 million hospital construction project at Sheppard Pratt Health System.

As if seeing a former U.S. first lady and Maryland's current one wasn't enough to lure a Sun reporter to the event, the folks at Sheppard Pratt sweetened the pot: They sent the news release in a box that contained a small hardhat and shovel - made of chocolate.

- Sara Neufeld

Let him rephrase that

Mayor Martin O'Malley sometimes uses a football metaphor to describe two key economic engines of the city in the Johns Hopkins medical complex on the east side and the University of Maryland Medical Systems on the west. Last week, the mayor tacked an addendum to the metaphor to take into account the situation involving injured Ravens signal-caller Kyle Boller.

"I'm fond of saying this city is blessed to have a wishbone offense," the mayor told a crowd that had gathered for the first demolitions to make way for the east-side biotech park, "with a quarterback with both his legs."

-Eric Siegel

Speed the snowplow

It's been known to snow in Maryland between Thanksgiving and Easter, so the State Highway Administration - not wanting to be caught off guard - began preparing before Halloween for the first storm.

Officials said last week that Owings Mills road crew foreman Brian Gneiting took second place in the SHA's annual "Snow Roadeo" on Oct. 20 and will be showing off his prowess as a plow driver next week at the "Snow Show" at the statewide operations center in Hanover.

"It's never too early," said Gneiting, a 14-year SHA veteran from Carroll County, who navigated his truck through an obstacle course. "I hope it's bad this year. I love the snow."

Gneiting, a former national plow champion, and Kent County highway worker Frank Parks, who placed first in the competition, will go to the regional American Public Works Association Conference and Roadeo in Norfolk, Va., in May.

- Laura Barnhardt

Case dismissed

Walker Gladden III had hoped to have his day in court last week.

The youth counselor had filed a lawsuit in District Court against Martin O'Malley, complaining that the mayor had failed to live up to his 1999 campaign promise to hold the number of homicides to 175 a year. The city had 253 homicides last year and is on track to have about that many this year. He sought $1 in damages; a court date had been set for Friday.

But late last month, Judge Ronald A. Karasic dismissed the case. Gladden got one break, though: Karasic did not order him to pay the mayor's court costs and attorney's fees.

- Laura Vozzella

A display for all seasons

Senior Doug Hitchner of the Johns Hopkins University and two of his housemates decided to get started early with holiday decorations at their place at North Calvert and 32nd streets.

Three Sundays ago, they spent $15 and got the jump on the rest of Baltimore by putting up Christmas lights on their front porch, but they put a scarecrow in one window and a witch in the other, covering Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Three holidays in one display. Sounds like college thrift.

"We got those scarecrows up for Thanksgiving," Hitchner said, adding that "we've got nothing better to do than get lights that are cheap. We just did it because we're not going to be here much after Thanksgiving." Exams begin Dec. 10; he is leaving for his home outside Philadelphia when they're done.

He says his neighbors like the colored lights that wrap the columns and drape the steps of his front porch, but "people are just like, `A little early, a little early.'"

- Matt Whittaker

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