With Michael Phelps' face plastered on the cover of Sports Illustrated and boxes of Frosted Flakes, you've got to wonder: Did he lose the chance to live a normal life when he won all that Olympic glory?
The bouncer at a Fells Point bar provided a reassuring answer to that question the other night, when he turned away the swimming sensation because he didn't have his ID.
Phelps is no underage Chinese gymnast. He's 23.
But all the bouncer at Max's Taphouse knew was that some tall, young-looking guy with a group of friends had come to the door. Some of the friends didn't have IDs either, said owner Ron Furman.
"Hey, guys, no IDs here, I can't do anything about it," Furman said the bouncer told the group.
That stance didn't change even after somebody piped up to note - nicely; no Olympians behaving badly here - that the ID-less lad was the one who'd just bagged a whopping eight golds in Beijing.
"It never got to be a scene, like, 'Don't you know who I am?' " Furman said. The bouncer - Furman calls them "hosts" because it's friendlier - just told them sorry, and they went on their way.
The group didn't have to go far. Just down Broadway, Phelps & Co. - about eight to 10 young men and women, celebrating one of their birthdays - were admitted to The Greene Turtle, where a manager said he recognized the swimmer "right off the bat."
So did customers, who asked for autographs and at least one picture.
Furman makes no apologies for turning Phelps away, even though DJs on 98 Rock, who happen to be regulars at Max's, mocked him on the air this week.
"We're really tough," Furman said. "I try to run a very respectable business. I don't want parents of minors calling me."
(City liquor board Chairman Steve Fogleman said Max's is famously stringent. "Best carder in all of Baltimore" is how he described the bouncer, whose name no one was giving up.)
But Furman said he'd love to have the Olympian, who just moved into a waterfront condo in the neighborhood, stop by again.
Dare he suggest Wednesday night, when Max's is having a fundraiser for the manager's extended family in Galveston, Texas, whose homes and businesses were wiped out in Hurricane Ike?
"I respect the hell out of what he has done. His mother - it's a family to be proud of," Furman said. "And if Michael shows up with his ID, I'll be happy to buy him a beer."
Tell the Journal he's nobody's stand-in
The Wall Street Journal reported this week that Michael Steele was helping John McCain prepare for presidential debates by standing in for Barack Obama in mock debates.
"Mr. Steele, the former lieutenant governor of Maryland and a prominent black Republican, will play Sen. Obama and use many of his speaking patterns, tactics and body language," the paper reported.
Not true, said Steele spokeswoman Belinda Cook. "I don't know where the story's coming from," she said.
The WSJ later posted a correction online - Kill, baby, kill! - but not before sparking a string of one-liners on Wonkette. It linked to the WSJ item under this headline: "Debate Prep: John McCain To Practice With One Black Guy He Knows."
Connect the dots
Gov. Martin O'Malley and Baltimore County Exec Jim Smith issued a news release the other day encouraging pet lovers to participate in Dogfest 2008 on Oct. 4. The pet- and family-friendly event will raise money to benefit homeless animals at the Humane Society of Baltimore County. The release notes that the governor and his family "are the proud owners of three dogs: 'Lady,' a golden retriever, 'Winston,' a tea cup poodle, and 'Rex,' a cocker spaniel." No mention of Scout, the terrier that Maryland's first family "rehomed" after it nipped 5-year-old Jack in the face. The dog had previously sunk his teeth into the behind of big-time Democratic fundraiser John Coale, no doubt the reason for Coale's recent embrace of Senator McCain. ... Speaking of the county Humane Society, the Jewish motorcycle club Semites on Bikes reports brisk sales of its "Kitty Porn" calendar, which benefits the society's cat shelter. The calendar proudly features "12 nude, middle aged, mostly out of shape, Jewish men, discretely covered by cats!" Says Ken Shapiro of Parkville, aka "Mr. January": "We've sold over 500 calendars for the Humane Society's Cat House, raising over $14,000." They're trying to move the last 100 of the 2009 calendars, available for $20 plus shipping at email@example.com. ... On WTOP this week, Governor O'Malley sounded a little anti-leftover, if not age-ist. He called McCain an "older George Bush, warmed over," The Baltimore's Sun's Gadi Dechter reports.