Thanks for being you, Baltimore!
Sheila Dixon's mink (Sun photo by Karl Merton Ferron)
Mencken had it right when he called news reporting “the life of kings.”
My regal run at The Baltimore Sun comes to an end this week, after 11 years at the paper, nearly six of them writing this column. I am leaving for a job at The Washington Post, where I’ll cover Virginia politics out of Richmond.
That seismic event you felt Tuesday, epicentered near Richmond, was no simple earthquake. It was an omen. It struck just as Sun restaurant critic Richard Gorelick was setting up for the “Junk Food Social” he’d organized in the newsroom in mock honor of my persnickety eating habits.
They tell me Virginia has its share of characters. It will be hard to match the ones who have populated this column over the years. Without further ado, I’d like to thank:
• Former Mayor Dixon, for your passion for furs, Jimmy Choos and a married man doing business with the city.
• Developers A, B and C, for all those gift cards you donated to Mayor Dixon’s favorite charity: Mayor Dixon.
• Olympian Michael Phelps, for taking that Vegas cocktail waitress home to meet mom one Thanksgiving.
• Former Gov. Bob Ehrlich, for installing inflatable Halloween decorations in front of the governor’s mansion, putting busloads of homeless Philadelphians to work distributing deceptive campaign literature on Election Day 2006, and hiring Julius Henson, the political operative who once called you a Nazi, but made up for it on Election Day 2010 with misleading robocalls.
• The Arbutus Roundtable, for forgiving my suggestion that Government House inflatables stemmed from Ehrlich’s Arbutian upbringing.
• Gov. Martin O’Malley, for sporting muscle shirts, having a band, delivering that over-the-top 2004 Democratic National Convention speech (“America the beautiful, whose alabaster cities gleam UN-dimmed by human tears! O! My friends! To govern IS TO CHOOSE!”), and running for office with a “detailed plan to make energy more affordable,” which turned out to be a 70 percent rate hike.
• Molly Shattuck, the Grandma Moses of NFL cheerleading, for proving motherhood and ripped abs are not mutually exclusive.
• Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, for scolding a constituent who called you “Stephanie,” overcoming your Cleopatra-wig phase and managing to always look bored with the family business (politics), even when the job brings you within inches of Barack Obama.
• The mysterious author behind Twitter’s MayorRawlingsFake, for being far more entertaining than the actual mayor.
• Anne Arundel County Exec John Leopold, for whatever you were doing in that parked car.
• Former Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, for too many gaffes to list here.
• A convention of out-of-town bishops, for downing $55 bottles of wine at Cinghiale.
• A Catholic priest Who Shall Not Be Named, for denouncing me from the pulpit of my own church for writing about the aforementioned bishops.
• Daniel “The Wig Man” Vovak, for running for U.S. Senate and many other offices, always unsuccessfully, always in a Colonial periwig. Rest in peace.