No thanks, I'll eat at my desk


December 23, 2007|By LAURA VOZZELLA

Kevin Brubaker is a grown man with a thing for lunchboxes. Not that there's anything wrong with that. He has hundreds of them, on display at home and at his Baltimore advertising office. And no, he is not a bachelor, which is why he also has lots and lots of them stashed in his attic.

"I actually had a dream about lunchboxes," said Brubaker, a creative director at Euro RSCG Baltimore. "I was walking by my old grade school in my dream and there was - remember the old car, the Gremlin? - there was a Gremlin that was just packed to the gills with lunchboxes. I stopped and I looked and I said, `Oh my God, these are so cool.' Literally, the next day I started collecting lunchboxes.

"Almost immediately somebody published a book about them and the prices went from 65 cents to $65," he said. "Some of these things go for $500 to $1,000 if they're really rare and in mint shape."

The lunchbox bug bit Brubaker in the '80s, before eBay and the like made collecting easy. He scoured thrift shops and flea markets for the old 1950s boxes with the Lone Ranger and Tom Corbett, Space Cadet.

"At one time, I turned my nose up at the '70s," he said. But Brubaker, 46, has since embraced the Lidsville, Hong Kong Phooey, Charlie's Angels boxes of his youth. "It roots me back to the '70s."

Now he's only snobby about materials, passing on most plastic. (He has made exceptions for a soft vinyl Barbie and a hard plastic Pee Wee Herman.)

"You have to draw the line somewhere."

He's got a big voice for the Good Book

The Rev. Jamal-Harrison Bryant is featured in a new audio Bible with a big-name, all-African-American cast. Samuel L. Jackson is the voice of New Testament God. Cuba Gooding Jr. plays Jonah and Judas. Eartha Kitt is the serpent in the Garden of Eden.

And the Empowerment Temple pastor? Solomon.

He's having a father-son chat with Ben-Hadad, from the Book of Proverbs. Bryant summed up his speech this way: "Keys to success, on how to be balanced, how to be temperate and how to put things in priority."

Bryant leads a church with more than 10,000 members, so he's no wallflower. But he said he was daunted by the prospect of recording for "Inspired By ... The Bible Experience."

"There's no public. It was just me in a [recording] booth," he said. "But to know millions of people around the world were going to be impacted was humbling and horrifying at the same time."

The hotel doors'll go round and round

The opening of the Belvedere Hotel in December 1903 drew "all the season's debutantes," The Sun reported at the time. "The revolving doors at the Chase street entrance were never idle."

But the doors have been idle lately, for about half a year, and not just because the pool of debutantes has dried up.

The axel and clutch broke beyond repair. Management was at a loss, since Home Depot doesn't stock classic brass spinners. Residents and visitors to the Belvedere - today, it's a condo-bar-office combo - have had to resort to decidedly less swishy push-pull doors.

An aluminum revolving door was installed a couple of weeks ago, no doubt horrifying the grande dame's fans. But hold the preservationist yowls; a replica is in the works.

Tom Stuehler, who owns the Owl Bar and Truffles catering in the Belvedere, eventually found a company to copy the old door. It's being made out in Chicago. He expects it to be installed in January.

Stuehler is not saying how much the doors will cost, but whatever the price, he's paying. (Insert long story here about feuding condo board members and a Stuehler customer who may or may not have gotten his leg caught in the old door.)

"It's been a saga," he said. "The Belvedere's a beautiful old treasure, and we need to protect it and take care of it."

Another Christmas, another tree out back

You know it's the holidays at the Mallonee household when another fir sprouts in the yard.

Lucky Mallonee, a coach and teacher at the Park School, and his wife,Karen Mallonee, who teaches athletics at Garrison Forest, buy a live Christmas tree every year and later plant it in their yard on Winner Avenue in Northwest Baltimore. They've been doing it for about 30 years, said daughter Essie, 23. She and brother Ace, 26, never minded losing yard space to the forest.

"When we were young enough to play, there was pretty much one line [of trees]," she said. Now it's a forest. "We love that they do it."

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