Sunday, August 12, 2001
Got a tomato that looks like Ira?
You could win a trip to Alcatraz, or, get a toss at his mug
Right about now, those prized Jersey beefsteak tomoatoes are maturing into
plump, succulent fruits ripe for the picking.
We recommend you leave them on the vine just a little bit longer - say,
until Aug. 23 - when they will be finished growing. And ready for throwing.
By then, they should be overripe, thin-skinned, seedy, worm-ravaged, and
perhaps even a little smelly, just like some famous ex-fugitive-murderer we
Ira "The Blade" Einhorn.
He's back in town these days after a 20-year vacation from justice in
Ireland, England, Sweden and, most recently, France.
Following a halfhearted suicide attempt with a serrated steak knife, the
former hippie guru is meditating a life-in-prison sentence at Graterford
after being extradited to Philly to await a new trial for the 1977 murder
of Holly Maddux - a crime for which he was convicted in absentia in 1993.
But if you're not lucky enough to be a guard at Graterford prison, where
Ira is bunking, you can still take a shot at a reasonable facsimile of his
smug mug laid out on a giant billboard.
That's right, the second annual Ira Einhorn "Killer Tomato" contest is less
than two weeks away.
Hosted by Michael Smerconish, of WPHT (1210-AM), this year's fruit fling
will again be at the Arroyo Grille in Manayunk. Owner of the homegrown
tomato that best exhibits the characteristics of the killer - thin-skinned,
ripe-smelling and seedy - wins a trip to Alcatraz. Others presenting
tomatoes get a chance to toss their fruit at the billboard.
Mary Maddux - one of Holly Maddux's three sisters who fought for years for
Einhorn's return - is expected to be on hand as a judge and participant.
Another sister, Elizabeth "Buffy" Hall, can't make it, but sent along some
words of advice and encouragement from her home in Texas.
"I recommend a nice, ripe - bordering on overripe - tomato," she advised.
"Something reminiscent of his personality - thin-skinned and oozing."
Last year's winner, Charles Chumley, of Bellmawr, N.J., relied on a plump
and juicy "Better Boy" tomato to carry the day. He sealed the victory by
attaching two electrodes to the fat fruit to simulate the electric chair.
Of course, there is no electric chair in Pennsylvania's capital-punishment
statute. And Einhorn could not be sentenced to death if convicted in a
second trial, because the law was not in effect at the time of the Maddux
But creative Daily News readers have found other ways to zing Einhorn now
that he's in custody.
Take this "Welcome home, Ira" letter, from Camp Hill, Pa., inmate Kev
"I hope you like your new home," Gallagher writes. "It's been mine for that
past 17 months. Except I didn't run. I took my punishment like a man,
which, by the way, you will have one shortly!"
Remember, this year's Killer Tomato Contest winner gets a trip to Alcatraz.
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