Vigilant gardener foils tomato heist

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October 03, 2007|By LAURA VOZZELLA

Given all the violent crime in these parts, it's almost charming to see something like this pop up in The Sun's police blotter:

"Woodlawn. Burglary - Someone entered the rear yard of a house in the 5900 block of Johnson St. on Saturday morning and removed a tomato from a tomato plant. The tomato was valued at $3, police said."

Who was covering cops, Beatrix Potter?

This garden caper is a little darker than the one with Peter Rabbit and Mr. MacGregor. The alleged fruit-napper - veggie-napper for any Reaganites out there - didn't slip away. That's because the real-life gardener "restrained Suspect ... by her hands" until police arrived, a Baltimore County police report says.

Is there a gardener out there who, having weeded and watered all summer, and facing a long, dark winter of mealy supermarket tomatoes, and spotting someone making off with the last of the love apples, wouldn't resort to a citizen's arrest?

The vigilant tomatista, who could not be reached for comment, was well within her rights, said police Cpl. Michael Hill. "If they see a commission of a crime, they absolutely can detain the person until police arrive," he said.

Hill warned, however, that citizen's arrests do not always end happily ever after. He urged caution, noting the "risk of injury not only to themselves but to the other person. ... If she's resisting so much that she ends up breaking her arm or something like that, from a civil perspective, she could be sued."

Even without a civil-suit sort of twist, this story has a surprise ending. After taking the accused into custody, police learned from her son that she has dementia. Told this, the gardener chose not to press charges.

Keeping his dignity, passing on pancakes

Morgan State political scientist C. Vernon Gray proved himself the dream Daily Show interviewee the other night, earnestly sticking to topic even as reporters Larry Wilmore and John Oliver produced silly questions and props.

Gray, a former Howard County councilman, was interviewed about last week's GOP presidential debate at Morgan, which all of the frontrunners skipped. Gray called their absence "a slap in the face."

Wilmore: "Sure blacks may be getting ignored now, but isn't that just getting them warmed up for next year, when they're really going to be ignored?

Gray: "Well, I don't think they'll be ignored ...

Oliver: "As a white person, I have to say it is going to happen. You are going to be ignored. I'm struggling to pay attention to you now."

Gray, continuing as Oliver looks distractedly around the room: "There is some concern that Democrats have taken African-Americans for granted. ... I think that day has long since passed."

Cut to an International House of Pancakes on the other side of the country, where on the day of the Morgan debate, Mitt Romney was greeting what appeared to be an all-white breakfast crowd. Then back to the interview with Gray, where Wilmore and Oliver peruse laminated IHOP menus.

Oliver: "Doctor, I don't think you understand. This is the INTERNATIONAL House of Pancakes."

Gray: "I understand that this is the International House of Pancakes but this is the debate ... "

Wilmore: "Let me describe to you what's actually in a Big Basic. Sausage. Mmm. Wait, wait, Vernon. This is made with three eggs -- ANY STYLE, OK? And three buttermilk pancakes. Tell 'em how much it costs.

Oliver: "I'll guess it costs about $90. That sounds reasonable."

Gray: "This is a missed opportunity. There is more access to potential voters here than Mitt Romney meeting at the International House of Pancakes."

Wilmore: "$6.99!"

The interview concludes with the reporters urging Gray to try their take-out Rooty Tooty Fresh 'N Fruity.

"I'm not a pancake person," Vernon protests. "Just, just a little taste. That's a good pancake."

Drink the wine; skip the pickle

At the Red Canoe Bookstore and Cafe in Northeast Baltimore tomorrow night: "Carrot Cake, a Pickle and an Author."

The author: Baltimore's Jonathon Scott Fuqua, an award-winning novelist who mostly writes for young adults and has a new novel out for adults, young and otherwise. Gone and Back Again is about a boy, Caley, struggling with mental illness. The book just got a great review in Publishers Weekly, and there's a blurb on the cover from Madison Smartt Bell.

So what's with the carrot cake and pickle?

In the book, Caley gains a lot of weight, thanks in part to unfettered access to carrot cake, Fuqua tells me. His father puts him on a strict diet of pickles and Tab. Instead of the diet soft drink, Fuqua will serve wine.

"The wine doesn't really go with the story to be honest," he said, "but because I want wine."

Connect the dots

George Martin, co-captain of the 1986 Super Bowl-champ New York Giants, strolled through Baltimore yesterday - on his way to San Francisco. He is on a cross-country walk to raise money and awareness for his favorite cause: health issues for Sept. 11 rescue workers. ... The folks at 1st Mariner Arena weren't amused by my suggestion that a traffic alert issued last week for an Oct. 26 event was really just a way of promoting the event. The arena always gives the media and city officials a lot of notice, said Jamie Curtis, director of marketing and PR. "A traffic alert is not for hype." ... William Donald Schaefer speaks today at 1 p.m. at the Pikesville Library. His topic: "A Review of Life in Politics."

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