A little bit of Jersey by the harbor


May 31, 2006|By LAURA VOZZELLA

Just as Charm City unfurls a new slogan for out-of-towners, some smart alecks from Jersey come to town, park their truck in tourist central and pull the old human terrarium schtick. It happens today at Lombard and Light: A man and woman in swimsuits making sand castles, lounging on beach chairs and otherwise pimping the Jersey shore in a Plexiglas-walled box truck. (The top is open, in case you're worried about heatstroke.)

"We like to think of it as a living postcard," said David Biss, a PR guy for the New Jersey Office of Travel & Tourism, which is behind the "beach on wheels."

There will be a little chunk of boardwalk and - sure to hack off local slots backers - a one-armed bandit made out of sand. "It's certainly visually evocative of the shore," Biss said.

And evocative of the competitive tourism business.

"It's aggressive out there," said James Mathias, mayor of our Ocean City, pointing to recent ads for New Jersey beaches on Maryland TV. Mathias said he's not afraid to go toe-to-toe with the alleged Garden State.

"You go in and you get a bucket full of Jersey sand and you get a bucket full of Ocean City sand, and I'll tell which one is the cleanest, which one is the finest," he said. "And we're one of the four cleanest beaches in America, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council."

Mathias also praised Ocean City's superior saltwater taffy, caramel popcorn - and slacker career options.

"I came here 34 years ago and got a job at the pizza place on the boardwalk and never went home," he said. "If you don't pay strict attention, you could become the mayor and you still don't have to wear socks to work."

But can The Times tell a jimmy from a sook?

In a front-page story on Rep. Nancy Pelosi, The New York Times reported yesterday that the Baltimore native, who might be the next speaker of the House, won't be the next Great Communicator. But her real deficiency was revealed deep in the story, in the part where Pelosi described a meal on the run.

"`I had these strange things,'" Pelosi told the paper. "`I realized they were French fries.' She made quick spiraling gestures with her fingers to show what they looked like.

"It was apparent," the Times concluded, "that she was not familiar with curly fries."

Back off, Bob; we meant no harm

A. Robert Kaufman, the Socialist Senate hopeful, demands a correction from The Sun for describing him in a news story as a "pacifist." Though he is opposed to the war in Iraq, Kaufman says he's no pacifist.

"I'm not out to start fisticuffs with anybody," he says. "But in the real world, there are irreconcilable differences between the exploited and the exploiters. I can hardly ask the exploited to turn the other cheek. ... So anybody who calls me a pacifist, at least psychologically, I'm ready to punch them in the nose."

Connect the dots

Anne Arundel County Executive Janet Owens, on WBAL's Ron Smith Show this week, said telling William Donald Schaefer that she was going to run for comptroller was like having to tell grandpa it's time to give up the car keys. ... The other - he says the only - Democrat in the comptroller's race, Peter Franchot, joins the breakaway Arbutus Roundtablers at noon today at the Beltway Motel Restaurant. ... Meanwhile, Clem Kaikis, co-owner of the restaurant where the political gabbers used to meet, has shelled out $9.50 for a state trader's license in the name of "The Arbutus Roundtable." No matter that the rebels, who split after a Bob Ehrlich-related rift, still claim the name. "It should be called the Lansdowne Roundtable," Kaikis says of the Beltway crowd. ... Doug Duncan's campaign has taken to signing off e-mails with a quotation from an unlikely source: Martin O'Malley. "O'Malley, in Montgomery County, June 2005: `And, really, to all of you who do so much to make a quality of life which is the envy of the nation here in Montgomery County.'" ... Del. Catherine Pugh threw her hat in the ring yesterday for state Sen. Ralph Hughes' seat.

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