Some hometown booster, this one


December 10, 2006|By LAURA VOZZELLA

Baltimoreans are rooting for their own Robert Curbeam, an astronaut scheduled to take three spacewalks on his latest NASA mission. So how does he return the favor? By flashing a sign as he boards that reads: "Go Colts."



Is Curbeam riding Discovery or Mayflower?

How did that gesture go over in Ravenstown, where people shrug off brutal street crimes but still rage over the theft of a football club 22 years after the fact?

"I don't think nothing of it," said an elderly member of the extended Curbeam family. The woman admitted to being related to the turncoat space traveler but wouldn't say how, much less give her name. ("I am one of his relatives, but I'm not his aunt" was all she'd divulge.)

So how 'bout that sign, which Curbeam waved last week as he boarded for a launch later scratched because of clouds?

"I don't think nothing of it," she snapped. "We're all rooting for the Ravens."

Curbeam's ex-next-door neighbors on Arlene Circle, where he grew up, had their game faces on.

"He was probably out of Baltimore by that time," said Naomi Phipps, whose children grew up with the future double-crossing space walker, a 1980 Woodlawn High grad. "I think that's what it is, sure."

So no hard feelings? "He's my idol," she said, adding, as if it's any excuse, that she's not a big football fan.

Same story from Hattie Smith-Shannon, the other neighbor. She launched fondly into a story about how as a single mother who worked long hours at a beauty salon, she'd often come home on snowy winter nights to find her front walk already shoveled by the young Curbeam. "He was always so thoughtful, and I'm so proud of him," said Smith-Shannon, 66. "It's like he's my son."

Yeah, yeah, yeah. But doesn't the Colts sign cancel all that out? Not for Smith-Shannon, who, perversely, shares Curbeam's soft spot for the Indianapolis imposters.

"I love the Ravens, but I like the Colts," she said. "I guess when I came to Baltimore they were so popular. I loved them then. You just can't dislike people because they move on and things change."

Give his regards to Broadway

If the votes had gone Steve Abrams' way, he would have been in Annapolis last week, measuring for drapes in his new office as state comptroller.

Abrams found himself waiting for the curtain to go up on Broadway instead. That's where High Fidelity, a new musical he co-produced, opened Thursday - across the street from where Avenue Q, the 2004 Tony Award-winner he also co-produced, was still playing.

Who knew flaming out in a GOP primary was a ticket to Broadway? But Abrams still pines for the staid world of public bean counting.

"Da Vinci wasn't the only Renaissance man," he said in a phone interview from New York, hours before show time. "I'm also a [Montgomery County] school board member. I've studied ADD, and I think I've had it. So I've tried to make my life into a bunch of little bits so it fits my attention span."

Good thing he's got a lot of irons in the fire. Friday's review in The New York Times was about as kind to Abrams as the voters were.

`The cake guy is down'

If you're wondering how Duff Goldman's fireworks-in-baked-goods thing went last week at Baltimore's Washington Monument, it was not a piece of cake.

High winds, a nervous fire marshal and a pyrotechnician who wasn't hip to the whole explosives-in-cakes scene forced the Food Network's Ace of Cakes to scale back his plans for the holiday monument lighting. Instead of fireworks shooting 20 feet into the air, he settled for an "industrial-size sparkler." That meant last-minute changes to cake and fuses alike. While he was assembling his confection, a 2-foot model of the monument encased in fondant, Goldman managed to topple off a catwalk leading to the stage.

"The call went out on the radio, `The cake guy is down. The cake guy is down,'" said Downtown Partnership spokesman Mike Evitts. "I thought he was seriously hurt because he wasn't getting up. Turns out he was laughing."

Goldman got up, wheeled the cake to the stage, and saw the top fall off. But he was able to put it back together.

Narrowly averted cake disasters make for good TV, so expect to see the bloopers from this event played up next season. (The Food Network had tape rolling all the while.)

Said Evitts: "This is probably the teaser they'll use on the show."

First lady holds the door open

Maryland could have Bob Ehrlich to kick around again. Towson Professor Richard Vatz tells me that Kendel Ehrlich approached him at a recent dinner for supporters (the nonfinancial variety, the prof notes). "Kendel came up to me and said if I wanted to go on WBAL on Wednesday and say she doesn't believe the governor is through with public service, that she would stand by that remark. She said, `You can quote me on the fact.'" So he did. ... Vatz has a suggestion for the outgoing first couple: "A new law firm of Ehrlich & Ehrlich would be dynamite."

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