Down to bare bones on 36th Street

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December 09, 2005|By LAURA VOZZELLA

What's Hampden without quirky storefront clutter? Take a stroll down The Avenue these days and you'll see.

The T-shirts that fluttered in the breeze, the antiques sitting by the sidewalk, even the mannequins that struck a pose outside Oh! Said Rose - they're all gone now, thanks to some old city laws that nobody obeyed or even knew existed.

That is, until a few months ago, when a store owner parked some merchandise right on the sidewalk, blocking foot traffic. A city inspector came out to issue a ticket, and while he was at it, he warned other shopkeepers about laws prohibiting the "unenclosed display of merchandise."

Translated from the bureaucratese: no stuff outside. Even on private property, like the front porches that have long doubled as display cases on this offbeat business strip.

"We put out tasteful mannequins with gorgeous outfits on our porchfront. It didn't impede accessibility at all," says Susannah Siger, owner of Oh! Said Rose. "They were more than displays. They were our open signs."

Now that the mannequins have been moved inside, she says, "we've had customers who said, `Are you open?'"

Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, who represents the area, complains that the district looks naked.

"It's a bare-bones Christmas on 36th street," she says.

Clarke introduced a pair of bills on Monday that would, in certain business districts, allow merchandise back outside.

Until the council passes the bills, merchants will have to figure out a way to signal they're still open for business. Siger has resorted to posting an "open" sign in the window.

So conventional. So un-Hampden - except that the sign, in a nod to irrepressible neighborhood style, is neon.

Heat up the crab cakes; we have a candidate

So you're wooing a potential mate over dinner. What to serve?

Well, if it's a weeknight and you're Martin O'Malley, it's gonna have to be take-out. But the foodie vote needn't write off the Baltimore mayor and gubernatorial candidate, who popped the lieutenant-governor question to Del. Anthony Brown Wednesday night.

Katie O'Malley, a city District Court judge and mother of four, knows from take-out. She served Eddie's crab cakes and tenderloin, with sesame green beans, capellini with sun-dried tomatoes, couscous and Caesar salad. (There were chicken wings and pizza for the kids.)

"I still had to heat them up, which I think requires talent," Katie O'Malley said.

Dessert was chocolate cake and down-home Berger cookies.

Forget the crab cakes; it's just football

Keifferwatch continues. Now Baltimore City Councilman Keiffer Mitchell is rumored to be on someone else's running-mate short list - Gov. Robert Ehrlich's.

Mitchell says it's bunk, a story that got started because the GOP Gov invited the councilman to his skybox late last month to watch the Ravens play the Steelers.

"I like being a Democrat," said Mitchell, who really is a finalist to be Doug Duncan's lieutenant, according to the Montgomery County executive's gubernatorial campaign. "Plus, my mother would disown me."

Shareese DeLeaver, spokeswoman for Ehrlich, says we shouldn't read anything into the get-together.

"It's football," she said.

The pairing might seem improbable, but stranger things have happened. The Ravens, after all, won the game.

Not a leg to stand on

Neither one is 90210. But that hasn't stopped 21224 or 21230 from copping attitudes.

Both city ZIPs are in the middle of a braggingrights battle between two neighborhoods, Canton (21224) and Federal Hill (21230). The ZIP codes have been plastered on T-shirts,whose sales are supposed to prove which of the two neighborhoods is better.

(Geez, those people have all that money for expensive houses, and they're still that insecure?) Sales benefit the Living Classrooms Foundation. Info: www.cantonvsfederalhill.com.

Shake, rattle and roll

Johns Hopkins students raised more than $2,500 for earthquake victims in Pakistan by staging a fashion-model search contest Wednesday night. The Pakistanis are sure to appreciate the help, but perhaps not the fundraiser's title: "Shaking it Up for the Quake Victims."

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