Celebrity baker Duff Goldman appears at Baltimore's Washington Monument tomorrow night to kick off the holiday season and, perhaps, precipitate a constitutional crisis.
Surrounded by Gov.-elect Martin O'Malley, Mayor-to-be Sheila Dixon and City Council members, the host of the Food Network's Ace of Cakes will unveil a big cake that looks like the monument - and shoots fireworks 20 feet into the air.
At least that was the plan until late last week, when a light bulb belatedly blinked on.
"So here we are planning in the abstract about how great this is going to be to have this cake thing happen, and what great TV it will make, and somebody said, `Shouldn't we talk to fire marshal?'" said Downtown Partnership spokesman Mike Evitts. "Say you've got the mayor, and the incoming mayor, and their families, and City Council members and other luminaries from around town. You want to make sure you know where this thing's going to go. This could be like our version of the State of the Union. Does Stephanie Rawlings Blake stay in another part of town?"
Acting city Fire Marshal Bob Doedderlein was skeptical. Goldman might know how to handle buttercream and fondant, but Class C explosives?
Now Goldman is no ordinary baker. At Charm City Cakes in Remington, he has broken confectionary ground with cakes shaped like brains, BLTs and Gene Simmons' tongue-wagging head. He has folded fireworks into desserts before, though the pyrotechnics and crowds (5,000 are expected tomorrow) were smaller, said Mary Alice Yeskey, Goldman's manager.
"Duff has certainly proven himself adept at the niche media market of cake explosions," Evitts said.
But to set off fireworks in Maryland, Doedderlein said, you need to be a licensed pyrotechnician and have a permit from the fire marshal.
As of yesterday, organizers were still working out the details. They were trying to get a technician, already lined up for a conventional fireworks display to follow the monument lighting, to agree to set off the one in the cake. And just to be on the safe side, the mayor and other dignitaries will probably stay off the stage.
Even better than real life
Who says The Wire is ripped from the headlines? Sunday's episode showed the fictional Baltimore Mayor Thomas Carcetti going to Annapolis to ask the governor to help bail city schools out of a $54 million hole. After waiting for hours on a bench outside the governor's office, the mayor gives up and heads for the door. A state trooper - played by real-life Gov. Robert Ehrlich - speaks up: "Mayor Carcetti, the governor's office says he's ready to see you now."
That might ring a bell, but the real deficit was $58 million. And oh yeah, the real governor never did grant an audience to Martin O'Malley.
There was some buzz in Annapolis this week because the State House scenes weren't shot in the State House. If you're wondering, they were filmed in Baltimore's Mitchell Courthouse.
Connect the dots
At a farewell party yesterday for outgoing members of the state House Appropriations committee, John Leopold was presented with a life-sized cutout of his favorite politician: Abe Lincoln, holding a Leopold campaign sign. ... Now that he's Anne Arundel county executive instead of a delegate, Leopold doesn't have to answer anymore to House Speaker Mike Busch. In fact, Busch has to answer to him, since the speaker's day job is assistant county parks director. ... Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Your Support Gratefully Accepted: "Celebrate the holiday season. Ken's exploratory committee invites you to spend time with the councilman and other special guests." The Ken in question is City Councilman Kenneth Harris, who says he's mulling a run for mayor, council president or comptroller. "We're looking at all three options," Harris said. "We're leaving no stone unturned." ... Whatever he runs for, Harris says he has the support of Maryland's junior senator-to-be. During the primary and election, Harris was Ben Cardin's campaign coordinator for Baltimore City. Cardin is one of the "special guests" at the Dec. 14 party at Eden's Lounge. Says Harris: "I was with Ben from Day One."