A letter-(im)perfect neighborhood


August 20, 2006|By LAURA VOZZELLA

What good is it living in one of fanciest corners of Baltimore if the neighborhood sign sticks it to you? Some wiseacre keeps messing with a quaint wooden sign that should tell Homelanders, in more ways than one, that they've arrived. Instead of "Homeland," the sign sometimes says, "Ho Land." Or someplace else that can't be printed in a family newspaper - not, as Seinfeldians know, that there's anything wrong with that.

This, in a corner of Charm City that prides itself on covenant-controlled taste. ("The fact that all plans have to pass a severe test on the part of the [developer's] architectural committee," reads a 1939 article on the community, "prevents freakish, or even extreme, manifestations of taste.")

"It's just an annoying, dumb thing," said Barbara Stevens, who grew up in the neighborhood and has seen the sign - across the street from the house her parents bought in 1934 - defaced countless times. "Human nature hasn't changed over the years. Kids are just kids."

But even in a place dedicated to holding the line on taste, practical jokers have grown cruder. When Stevens was a kid, "It was just sort of a cute joke, particularly at Halloween, to throw a rotten egg" at the sign. Today's pranksters are "a little more dramatically overt."

Less taste is ... good?

Del. Wade Kach's office e-mailed constituents a photo last week of a woman typing on a laptop while sitting in a bathroom stall. (Only her hands and feet are visible from the outside of a public bathroom stall, but still!) The subject line: "Employee of the month."

"Dear Constituent," the message says. "I apologize up front, but I could not resist sending this out to you! Wade Kach."

What was the Baltimore County Republican thinking? That he shouldn't have left his office computer on when he went on vacation.

Kach says "a minor" who had access to the office - he's not naming names - was behind the e-mail, which has gone over surprisingly well.

"People have sent me e-mails saying they liked it," Kach said. "Three- or four-to-one, I tell you, it's `Thank you' and `We think that's where all the decisions are made by the state anyhow.'"

Sign expansion

How come all the Ehrlich campaign signs I see around say just that - "Ehrlich" - and not "Ehrlich-Cox?" His opponent's signs say "O'Malley-Brown."

"When they ordered the signs, they ordered them before he named her," said GOP sign maker Brian Harlin. (Gov. Robert Ehrlich made state disabilities Secretary Kristen Cox his running mate in late June. Martin O'Malley tapped Del. Anthony Brown back in December.)

Of the "well over 50,000" signs out there for the governor, most have just his name. But Harlin said the next batch - about 20,000 due out this week - will promote the whole ticket.

Connect the dots ...

Martin O'Malley's use of the word "malevolent" to describe Ehrlich last week prompted this musing from a GOP wordsmith: "I don't think I've ever heard that term used by one politician to describe another before, no matter how adversarial the relationship." Think back just one administration and consider, what's worse: malevolent or Rabbit Brain? ... Michael Steele won't fit in if voters send him to Washington, the newspaper Ocean City Today predicted with this headline Friday: "Steele pledges humility, no ego as U.S. senator." ... Why stop at curing cancer? Reader Tom Ponton from Columbia suggests a few more campaign promises for Ben Cardin. Like making aluminum microwaveable by 2010. And forcing the Orioles to finish out of fourth place in the American League by 2020. "Of course, there are the usual other things," Ponton adds, "you know, solving world peace, ending world hunger, seeing Kenny Chesney without a hat and, finally, preventing John Tesh and Michael Bolton from ever putting out any new CDs ever again." ... Late Thursday afternoon, WBAL radio's traffic reporter warned there was heavy foot traffic downtown because fans were leaving Camden Yards, listener-Del. Sandy Rosenberg reported. "The game was in the South Bronx," he said. "She didn't say that the No. 4 subway back into Manhattan was late. She glossed over that."

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