In The Washington Post last Sunday, the social scientist Charles Murray wrote one of those uncommon articles that manages to intrigue and infuriate all at once. Murray’s thesis is that the America’s elite is out of touch with “the real America.” Writes Murray, “We know, for one thing, that the New Elite clusters in a comparatively small number of cities and in selected neighborhoods in those cities. This concentration isn’t limited to the elite neighborhoods of Washington, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Silicon Valley and San Francisco. It extends to university cities with ancillary high-tech jobs, such as Austin and the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill triangle. With geographical clustering goes cultural clustering. Get into a conversation about television with members of the New Elite, and they can probably talk about a few trendy shows — “Mad Men” now, “The Sopranos” a few years ago. But they haven’t any idea who replaced Bob Barker on “The Price Is Right.” They know who Oprah is, but they’ve never watched one of her shows from beginning to end. Talk to them about sports, and you may get an animated discussion of yoga, pilates, skiing or mountain biking, but they are unlikely to know who Jimmie Johnson is (the really famous Jimmie Johnson, not the former Dallas Cowboys coach), and the acronym MMA means nothing to them. They can talk about books endlessly, but they’ve never read a “Left Behind” novel (65 million copies sold) or a Harlequin romance (part of a genre with a core readership of 29 million Americans). They take interesting vacations and can tell you all about a great backpacking spot in the Sierra Nevada or an exquisite B&B overlooking Boothbay Harbor, but they wouldn’t be caught dead in an RV or on a cruise ship (unless it was a small one going to the Galapagos). They have never heard of Branson, Mo. There so many quintessentially American things that few members of the New Elite have experienced. They probably haven’t ever attended a meeting of a Kiwanis Club or Rotary Club, or lived for at least a year in a small town (college doesn’t count) or in an urban neighborhood in which most of their neighbors did not have college degrees (gentrifying neighborhoods don’t count). They are unlikely to have spent at least a year with a family income less than twice the poverty line (graduate school doesn’t count) or to have a close friend who is an evangelical Christian. They are unlikely to have even visited a factory floor, let alone worked on one. Taken individually, members of the New Elite are isolated from mainstream America as a result of lifestyle choices that are nobody’s business but their own. But add them all up, and they mean that the New Elite lives in a world that doesn’t intersect with mainstream America in many important ways. When the tea party says the New Elite doesn’t get America, there is some truth in the accusation. Part of the isolation is political. . . [b]ut the politics of the New Elite are not the main point. When it comes to the schools where they were educated, the degrees they hold, the Zip codes where they reside and the television shows they watch, I doubt if there is much to differentiate the staff of the conservative Weekly Standard from that of the liberal New Republic, or the scholars at the American Enterprise Institute from those of the Brookings Institution, or Republican senators from Democratic ones. The bubble that encases the New Elite crosses ideological lines and includes far too many of the people who have influence, great or small, on the course of the nation. They are not defective in their patriotism or lacking a generous spirit toward their fellow citizens. They are merely isolated and ignorant. The members of the New Elite may love America, but, increasingly, they are not of it.”

Charles Murray is only about 20 years late in the discovery that pop culture is full of niches, but there are still things that broadly connect. It’s ridiculous to contrast yoga and MMA (that’s Mixed Martial Arts, for you out-of-touch elitists out there) without talking about football, baseball and basketball, the mass appeal sports that cut across all kinds of lines. It’s dumb to contrast Mad Men and The Price Is Right and not talk about mass appeal shows like American Idol or The Simpsons. Has Murray never heard of Star Wars or Halo or Twilight or Avatar? And at a time when most people from every station in life are not reading enough, it’s ludicrous to suggest that Jonathan Franzen‘s fans should read Harlequin romances, just to meet some fusty professor’s expectations of what mainstream Americans read. (I actually think educated people should be snobbier, should take more pride in what they read and watch, and should ask more of themselves than what is offered by mass culture.) And beyond that, it’s just nutty to talk about defining mainstream Americans by such consumer choices.

But there is an educated, wealthy elite, and to my mind, they do have some traits which separate them from most Americans. For one thing, they are less religious. For another, they tend to overvalue educational credentials and intellect in evaluating other people, and to undervalue other attributes. (It’s why we keep backing candidates like John Kerry in races against candidates like George W. Bush, and then being shocked by the outcome; it’s why we do not understand the appeal of Sarah Palin.) And third, they are very sophisticated in developing rationalizations for acting in their own self-interest. And in this way, they–we–are no different than every elite that has ever existed.

There’s a difference between being elite and being enlightened, between being educated and being intelligent, between being cultured and being just.


According to an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Marvin Olasky of the Christian magazine World, has a new interview with former GOP House majority leader Dick Armey (below) in which the Texas Republican and Tea Party Svengali says that Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton would “bond” over wine and cigars while sharing stories about their respective marital infidelities. “When I heard that Newt had been carrying on an affair for all the years that we’d worked together,” Armey told Olasky, “I went home and said [to my wife], “Honey, I had no idea about this.” She said, “Of course not. You’re the last person in town Newt would have wanted to know about this.” Newt was scared of me. What I discovered: Clinton found out about the Gingrich affair and called Newt over to the White House for a private meeting between the two of them. Clinton said, “You and I are alike.” Which meant, shut up about Monica or I’ll start telling your story. Newt and Clinton actually developed sort of a bond over it. They had many meetings that we didn’t know about where they’d drink wine and smoke cigars and talk about their girlfriends. It’s fascinating; why would you confess to your mortal enemy what you wouldn’t tell your closest friends?”

“Politicians are fascinating,” Armey added. “If you ever want to do developmental psychology, use them. They are much, much, much more skillful at developing rationalizations than developing rational thought.”


The illustrator Zina Saunders is the daughter of Norm Saunders, the prolific illustrator whose work first captivated me in the early sixties when I bought my first pack of the strangely gripping Mars Attacks! cards. Zina has turned out to be a pretty wonderful political caricaturist. As you can see form the cover of the current issue of Mother Jones, Sarah Palin has been awfully good to Zina.


In 1998, when I was editing the Notebook section of Time, I had to find someone to compose a 300 word eulogy for Tammy Wynette, the great country singer who had died that week. I decided to approach a fledgling short story writer named Roseanne Cash; of course, it didn’t hurt that Cash was a brilliant country singer who came from a musical family and who had a number of hits of her own, or that (as I guessed) she had known Wynette since childhood. Cash wrote a moving eulogy that included a number of personal touches, and I had the satisfaction of giving a neophyte some encouragement. Last night I was happy to see Cash, now the author of a bestselling memoir Composed, speak at the Ossining Public Library last night. Among the many interesting things she said was that she didn’t read books about musicians“They make me nervous. I don’t like seeing movies about musicians either. They always get something wrong. I did like the movie Ray, although if you talk to Ray‘s kids, I’m sure they found something wrong. Feel free to extrapolate.” (Obviously a reference to Walk the Line.) Asked to name the musicians she’d like in her dream band, she chose her husband John Levanthal as lead guitarist, John Lennon as rhythm guitarist, Rick Danko as bassist, and the Motown drummer Larry London. London, in fact, has been a member of her touring band; she says he once told her “Your ass is like Diana Ross‘s.” Of Lennon, she said “He had tremendous artistic integrity. He knew he was an artist from Day One, a visionary, and he behaved that way.” The best moment came when she was discussing her song “Sleeping in Paris.” She told us about finding a sheaf of her school assignments that her mother had saved. One was an assignment about similes and metaphors, and one of the metaphors she composed was “A lonely road is a bodyguard,” which is a pretty poetic and impressive line for a tweenager to conjure. Cash told us she took the metaphor and included it in the lyrics to the song, which she proceeded to sing a capella in her strong, beautiful voice: “I’ll send the angels to watch over you tonight/ And you send them right back to me/ A lonely road is a bodyguard/ If we really want it to be/ There’s fascination behind every window/ But I know you really care for me/ And soon we’ll be sleeping in Paris/ And we can set those angels free.” She then read a passage from Composed, which was quite lovely and I’m sure I have failed to write down fast enough. Calling the line “a nod to my little girl self,” Cash said “This one line in this one song is how I know who I am and that I survived.” Lovely.


Repatriated Russian spy Anna Chapman, posing for Mucovite Maxim. In the immortal words of The Beatles:
Show me around your snow-peaked mountains way down south
Take me to your daddy’s farm
Let me hear your balalaikas ringing out
Come and keep your comrade warm
I’m back in the USSR
Hey you don’t know how lucky you are boys
Back in the USSR


In The Guardian, Rick Gekoski elegantly makes the point that literary culture is disappearing.

“Supposing that we were back in the year 1974, and playing a game of Humiliation (later made popular in David Lodge‘s Changing Places) in which you earn points by naming books that you haven’t read and which you think the other players have. (I used to do well by not having read The Wind in the Willows.) In Lodge’s novel, a competitive young lecturer, playing the game with his English Department colleagues, startles them by announcing that he hasn’t read Hamlet, gleefully gathers a bushel of points, and is fired a few weeks later. How can you employ a lecturer who is this illiterate?

“In 1974, you would have won a lot of points if you hadn’t read these books:

Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex (1953)
JD Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye (1953)
William Golding, The Lord of the Flies (1954)
Herbert Marcuse, Eros and Civilization (1955)
Allen Ginsberg, Howl (1956)
Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving (1956)
Jack Kerouac, On the Road (1957)
Norman O Brown, Life Against Death (1959)
RD Laing, The Divided Self (1960)
Joseph Heller, Catch-22 (1961)
Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962)
Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1962)
Pauline Reage, The Story of O (1965)
Alex Haley, The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965)
Desmond Morris, The Naked Ape (1967)
Eldridge Cleaver, Soul on Ice (1967)
Norman Mailer, Miami and the Siege of Chicago (1968)
Carlos Castaneda, The Teachings of Don Juan (1968)
Arthur Janov, The Primal Scream (1970)
Germaine Greer, The Female Eunuch (1971)
Robert M Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycling Maintenance (1974)

“Mind you, I was lucky: I lived through a time when it was great to read. There were so many books that you just had to read, which would have been read by everyone you knew. Not merely read, though, but digested and discussed. We formed not merely our opinions but ourselves on them. There was a common culture – or, more accurately, a common counter-culture – which included music, art and film. If there was some faddishness in this, and a concomitant homogenisation of taste, there was the palpable upside of having plenty of people with whom to share one’s enthusiasms.

“This is common enough with music: as our parents had Gershwin and Cole Porter, we had the Stones and the Beatles, and our children have garage, or hip-hop, or whatever it’s called. Yes, all of us could sing “When I’m Sixty-Four”, or “Honky Tonk Women”. But what was really uncommon, much more than we would have realised, was that we could all sing from the same books as well. And I don’t mean merely the hottest novels and books of poetry, but philosophy, psychology, feminism, politics, and what is now, alas, called media studies. And there was nothing provincial about the list: the writers come from the US, England, Australia, France, Germany, Canada.

“Of course I realise that what we read in Ivy League colleges and at Oxford was not representative of the general population. But the point still stands: within our middle-class, educated world there was a canon, which wasn’t limited to Shakespeare, Jane Austen and Scott Fitzgerald. You could assume people had read the hot contemporary books; when they hadn’t, it occasioned not merely puzzlement, but disapproval.

“So: let me ask – you’ll have seen this one coming – if we asked a bunch of literate university students today what they had read, what they had all read – what would be the answer? I suspect the answer would be: Nothing. Not that young people don’t read, but they don’t read together. They haven’t got, as we had, a common culture: books to devour and discuss and be formed by.

“Perhaps things happen earlier these days? In my adolescence we had few common reading experiences, just the usual shared TV shows and sports teams to support. Whereas today, while two 20-year-olds might search in vain for a list of books they were both excited by, two 13-year-olds would be babbling away within seconds. Harry Potter? Cool! Stephanie Meyer? Awesome! I don’t wish to sound scornful about this, nor reflexively to regard such reading as dumbing down. Philip Pullman‘s His Dark Materials trilogy, which is very widely read within this age group, is one of the classics of our time, for both children and adults.

“I have read, and quite enjoyed in my superannuated fashion, both Rowling and Meyer. But there is a long way to go from sharing these escapist enthusiams, and entering a complex and demanding literary culture. Indeed, and ironically, such reading might just retard the entry into such a culture, though it certainly doesn’t need to. You don’t have to read fancily, or be unrelentingly highbrow, to love literature and to take it seriously. I wish that the pleasure of reading, across the whole spectrum of literature, in all its variety, were part of a shared culture amongst young people today. But it isn’t.”

Philip Roth spoke to a similar point in an interview with Tina Brown in The Daily Beast a year ago:
Tina Brown: You said in an interview that you don’t think novels are going to be read 25 years from now. Were you being provocative or do you believe that to be true?

Philip Roth: I was being optimistic about 25 years really. No, I think it’s going to be cultic. I think always people will be reading them, but it’ll be a small group of people—maybe more people than now read Latin poetry, but somewhere in that range.

Tina Brown: Is there anything you think that novelists can do about that or do you think that it’s just that the narrative form is going to die out? It’s just the length of them or what? Is that what’s dictating you writing shorter books now?

Philip Roth: It’s the print. That’s the problem. It’s the book. It’s the object itself. To read a novel requires a certain kind of concentration, focus, devotion to the reading. If you read a novel in more than two weeks, you don’t read the novel really. So I think that that kind of concentration, and focus, and attentiveness, is hard to come by. It’s hard to find huge numbers of people, or large numbers of people or significant numbers of people who have those qualities.

Tina Brown: Do you feel that the Kindle is not going to be that? I mean, when I’m on airplanes now, I now see people with Kindles all the time. And a lot of people I speak have Kindles—you know, I have one, but I don’t read it as often because I still like books—tell me they read more on Kindle than they did on hard copy.

Philip Roth: Maybe. I’m not familiar with the Kindle. I mean, I’ve seen one but I haven’t used it. I read the piece in The New Yorker, by Nicholson Baker, which was very good. He had his skepticism. I don’t think the Kindle will make any difference to what I’m talking about, which is that the book can’t compete with the screen. It couldn’t compete beginning with the movie screen. It couldn’t compete with the television screen and it can’t compete with the computer screen I don’t think. And now we have all those screens so against all those screens I think the book can’t measure up. I may be wrong.”


Our old dog Vicki has been spending a lot of time on the lawn by herself. She did this a bit over the summer, but not this much, and never in her younger years. It’s an awfully nice day here, and we have a canine house guest that Vicki can’t stand. But we’re concerned that Vicki might be isolating herself, in the way some cats and dogs do just before they go.


My cousin Stephanie Bauman sent this to me. It’s a kind of a test (an ungraded one) that evaluates if you’re really from Baltimore (or, to be more precise, if you’re really from Baltimore and from a certain era–mostly the 1950s and 1960s.)

You could only buy a Volvo from Michaelson Motors on Reisterstown Rd, the best place to become a Chevrolet ownah was at York and Bellona, Charlie Irish’s Chevrolet, Johnnys on Harford Rd was the “Walking Mans Friend”
I remember Jerry’s Chevrolet at York and Bellona, the best place to become a Chevrolet ownah. I might remember Michaelson Motors, although I may be thinking of Ingrid Michaelson.

Granny Packer was on Blair Road, and “Hey, Hey Fox Chevrolet” was just as annoying then as the car ads these days.
Yes, Al Packer was in our neighborhood. He flew the biggest American flag I’d ever seen. “Hey, Hey Fox Chevrolet” had the stickiest jingle on the radio.

You rode on street cars and buses operated by BTC (Baltimore Transit Company), And remember when their color schemes went from yellow to green to blue.. How about the old “Red Rocket”, (Number 26) which were double cars that ran to Dundalk , Sparrows Point and also Bay Shore Park.

I remember green buses, especially the 15, which ran along Belair Road back and forth to downtown; the 19, which ran along Harford Road; the 44, which ran down Belverdere Avenue and Echodale Avenue; and the 3, which ran along Loch Raven Boulevard.

We had three Roller Coasters in Town, years ago –Carlins Park , Gwynn Oak Park and Bay Shore Park . Did you get to ride on any or all of them?

I got to go to Gwynn Oak before they closed it, but I don’t think I rode the rollercoaster.

You can sing the phone number for Hampden Moving and Storage.

Nope, sorry.

You remember Royal Parker yelling at kids jumping on furniture that was not Covered in plastic . “What’re ya trying to ruin it?”


You think being called “Hon” by waitresses, cashiers, bank tellers, and complete strangers is perfectly normal.

As normal as breathing.

You watched local TV shows: Duckpins for Dollars, The Collegians, The Buddy Deane Show, Romper Room, and Hutzler’s Theatre.
All but Hutzler’s Theater. Hutzler’s was one of the big department stores. The Buddy Deane Show was the model for The Corny Collins Show in Hairspray, although I don’t Buddy was as handsome as James Marsden.

You also saw Stu Kerr star as Bozo the Clown and Professor Cool for the kids, then host Dialing for Dollars for the stay-at-home moms, and later fill-in as The weather man (complete with cloud and sun magnets) on the 6 o’clock news.

Indeed. He was very sober-sided on Dialing for Dollars, where you had to know the count and the amount to win, although I no longer remember the count or the amount of what.

We had milk home-delivered by Green Springs, Sealtest, and Cloverland….but somehow Cloverland was the only who claimed to be “the dairy with cows.” Oh yeah, you can probably sing their jingle “If you don’t own a cow call Cloverland now, It’s (North 9-2222)”. Also Wilton Farm Dairy in West Baltimore. Don’t forget to shake the bottle up to mix the cream (which was always on the top of the bottle) in with the milk — or else pour it off separately to have some cream.

We were a Sealtest Family, although sometimes we stopped by High’s. Once we were out of milk, and my mom ran outside and hailed a passing Cloverland truck and bought a quart directly from the delivery man. I was shocked–shocked–by her extemporaneousness.

How about the pretty young Car Hops who served your order at The Varsity and Hobb’s on old Route 40 in West Baltimore . The “Thunderbird” on Eastern Avenue. Great hamburgers and shakes plus a great hang-out to show off your father’s car.

I wish, but that was before my time, and out of my neighborhood.

When somebody gave their phone number prefix such as MULberry- 6 or ATwater-4, you knew right where they were from.

Our phone number was HAmilton 6-2547, but we only lived near Hamilton, not in Hamilton.

You’ve been on Sunday drives through “Droodle” Park, and watched the submarine races at Loch Raven or Lake Montebello. Also take in the flowers and sites at Sherwood Gardens in the Springtime.

Droodle, of course, is Druid Hill. We did not go there much. We had a lot of picnics at Loch Raven, though, which was pretty. We rode by Lake Montebello a million times, passing part of its edge under a large statue of a waving Martin Luther as we headed towards Memorial Stadium or downtown Baltimore.

How about Baltimore’s own Ronnie Dove?
I still have a Ronnie Dove song on my iPod. “My Babe”, written by Neil Diamond.

You can remember what the harbor looked like before it was THE Inner Harbor. Or the smell of McCormick’s spices. Or the oysters at Conneley’s.
I remember the smell of the spices coming from the McCormick’s warehouse very clearly.

You remember when there was home delivery of the Morning Sun, The Evening Sun, The Sunday Sun, The News-Post, and The Sunday American.

In the summer of 1970 I sold subscriptions to the Sunpapers door-to-door. And I was good at it!

You looked forward to Earl Weaver antics over a bad call…… Okay, over any call.

Sure did.

You remember laughing at bawdy jokes and political comments scrawled in white shoe polish on the front window of Turkey Joe’s Bar in Fells Point.

I didn’t know about the shoe polish, but I actually knew Turkey Joe when he was a regular at No Fish Today and I worked as a bus boy upstairs at Seton’s Habit in the summer between high school and college. He nicknamed me Franklin, because he said I looked like a Franklin. I kind of liked that.

Eating at Pollack Johnnie’s, Lexington Market, Attman’s, Bel-Loc Diner, Ciminos, Little Tavern (buy’em by the bag!), White Castle, the G & A, AJ’s Dog House, Horn &Horn, Oriole Cafeteria, Bickford’s, White Coffee Pot, Hot Shoppes, Ameche’s, Gino’s, Read’s, Hooper’s, Silber’s Bakery.

Sure, Ameche’s and Gino’s, and the White Coffee Pot for french fries with gravy. I bought comic books at Read’s.

You’ve seen the governor (and other dignitaries) standing in line, in the rain, outside of Haussners, because they never took reservations.
Never saw the dignitaries, but my family had a couple special occasion-type dinners at Haussner’s. If it was that good, it was wasted on me.

You had plenty of friends who worked at Sparrows Point, and each had an ugly old “point car” to drive to work. Everybody else (it seemed) worked for GM on Broening Hwy. Western Electric, or National Brewery. You remember going to see the fabulous Fire Department Christmas Train Garden at the Fire House. House 28 on Guilford Avenue had a very big display.
My dad worked at Western Electric for 35 years. And yes, I’m sure I saw that Christmas garden at least once.

You remember when Fort Holabird was alive and thriving.

Not clearly.

You love to see the Domino Sugar sign reflecting across the harbor.

Yeah, it’s nice.

You remember seeing the Four Seasons perform at Painters Mill or at Club Venus. You saw the Beatles, The Beach Boys, Dave Clark Five, The Rolling Stones, The Monkees, and Peter, Paul & Mary at the Civic Center. You saw Emerson, Lake, and Palmer at the Lyric. You saw Otis Reading, the Four Tops, and the Temptations at Calvert Hall.
I saw Simon & Garfunkel and Andres Segovia at the Lyric. And although I attended Calvert Hall, I didn’t see these acts.

More Parks sausages Mom, Please!
Bring ’em on!

You remember the rotating restaurant on top of the Holiday Inn on Light Street.

Very sophisticated.

You’ve had the monster “Powerhouse” burger at one of four Ameche’s Drive-ins.
Sure, at Loch Raven Boulevard and Taylor Avenue.

A few years later you could also have a 15-cent burger at Gino Marchetti’s.

You know B&O is not body odor.
A railroad. Duh!

You remember when the Baltimore Civic Center was home to The Baltimore Bullets, The Baltimore Blast,The Baltimore Clippers, rock concerts, car shows, horse shows, civil-service exams, circuses, ice shows, and graduations.

I saw the Clippers play ice hockey there, and attended the car show where I saw Craig Breedlove, who momentarily set the world land speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Every kitchen had a can of Old Bay and every Frigidaire a case of Natty Boh.

For sure.

You remember when Baltimore rated a “Playboy Club,” and no, it wasn’t on the Block.
My friend Paul Sorrentino’s father had a photo taken with a bunny there that made a big impression on us 13 year olds.

You and your Mom shopped at Braeger-Gutman’s, Hutzler’s, Stewart’s, Hochschild Kohn (right, on Howard Street), Robert Hall, The May Company, Hecht’s, Peck & Peck, Dacks 5 &10, EJ Korvettes, Two Guys, Cooks, Caldor, Hechingers, and of course …. Shocketts on Broadway or Eastern Avenue.

Some of my best memories involved going shopping downtown with my mom, and her taking me to lunch at Hochschild’s.

You know that an Arabber is really a guy who sells fruit and vegetables from a horse drawn cart.

Doesn’t everybody?

You remember when the city po-leece cars went from black and white, to blue and white, then to all white with red and blue stripes.


You know live crabs are at their very meanest right before steaming, and that if one gets you …… he WILL NOT let go!

I left the steaming to my dad.

You always knew where to find Blaze Starr.

The Two O’Clock Club. Is she no longer there?

You remember a very green, but not very Irish, Hyman Pressman marching in the St. Patrick’s Day parades, and Louis L. Goldstien with his immmortal “God bless you all real good” blessing.
Sure. Plus Tommy D’Allesandro Jr., Spiro Agnew, George Mahoney and Donald Schaeffer.

You’ve remember special deli shopping trips to Stone’s Bakery, Jack’s Corned Beef, Weiss Deli, and Attman’s Deli on Lombard St., right in the heart of the high rise projects. (This was called “Jew Town ” and the sandwiches were tremendous.)
Dad preferred the bagels at Levin’s.

You know where to park for the Preakness.
Never went.

You don’t think that Assawoman Bay is a strange name.
But I do.

You were confused for a few years after they swapped one-way directions on Lombard and Pratt Streets.


You miss the RCA dog.
Where the hell’s the dog?!?!?

You are an expert crab picker that always volunteers to teach visitors the only (and best) way to pick a steamed crab. Of course everyone else around you will interrupt the lesson to show your new student their best way, and confusion will reign.
I am not the picker that my dad was, or my brother or my sister is, but I will do my best to help a neophyte.

And when you’re outside of Maryland, you can only laugh when you see signs saying “Maryland Crab Cakes!”

I scoff.

You had to pull out the BS sign when Robert Irsay declared that he had to move (steal) the Colts from Baltimore … because the city would not support a team. We didn’t get to be the world’s largest outdoor insane asylum for nothing. The names of Johnny Unitas, Raymond Berry, Bill Pellington, Art Donovan (left), Tom Matte, Jim Parker, Alan Ameche, Gino Marchetti, Jim Mutscheler, Lenny Moore, John Mackey, Big Daddy Lipscomb, Jimmy Orr, Bert Jones, Bobby Boyd, Lydell Mitchell, John Dutton, Mike Barnes, Joe Ehrman and many others are held in reverence to this day.
Indianapolis can have all the success it deserves, but the Colts belong in Baltimore.

Everybody knows what a ‘zink’ and ‘payment’ are, and just how important it is to “warsh them marble stoops.”


You yell out “O” during the Star Spangled Banner.
No, but I am amused by those who do.

You say ‘Blare Road’ for Belair Road’.

I never did. No do I, nor did I, say Balmer or Merlin

There was Kirby Scott, Johnny Dark, Jack Edwards on WCAO, Jay Grayson and Galen Fromm on WBAL, Lee Case on WCBM, Mike March, Johnny Walker, and The Flying Dutchman on WFBR, and Joe Buccheri on a variety of Classic Rock stations.
Some of them, sure. Jay Grayson hosted the Harley Show, a jazz show, that came on at night after Oriole games. He used hipster inflections and it seemed very exotic coming through my transistor radio under my pillow, at least for a few moments until I fell asleep

You actually admire someone named Boog.
Damn right!


At the start of the financial crisis in 2007, my friend Chris Napolitano noted that the from the public’s point of view, the Indispensable Man had taken himself out of the battle. He was talking about Eliot Spitzer, whose work as Attorney General in exposing misdeeds on Wall Street certainly had certainly positioned him as the public’s most reliable watch dog. Spitzer, alas, destroyed himself.

Now he’s fighting back, and in his most recent article in Slate, he has illuminated a path that could lead to invaluable reform. “Since the early days of the current economic cataclysm,” he writes, “I have believed that we would, with some investigation, find the Rosetta stone that would demonstrate that the banks knew that the toxic mortgages they were packaging were, in fact, not viable financial instruments. . . .Some of these documents have emerged, and they tell quite a fascinating and appalling tale: These documents, from Clayton Holdings, a due diligence company retained by the banks, reveal that Clayton, after analyzing more than 900,000 mortgages, told the banks that about 30 percent of the loans being packaged into securitized products did not satisfy the banks’ own underwriting standards. This meant that the securitized products were almost bound to blow up.

“So what did the banks do? They essentially ignored this information. We all know why: The process of securitization shifted the risk to others, and the banks were making too much money by continuing to push the deals through the pipeline. But the critical aspect to this information is that it puts to rest the banks’ argument that they merely fell into the same econometric mistake that others had made in believing that the housing market was bound to keep rising. It wasn’t just that the banks were wrong about their forecast of the housing market; it is that they intentionally ignored critical information given to them by the very people who were supposed to perform due diligence. And then they apparently withheld from investors that critical information about the quality of the bonds they were selling. . . .

“[M]assive investigative resources should be put behind simple questions relating to the Clayton documents: Who saw these documents, and when? What was said about these documents to those up the chain of command at the banks? What efforts were made to verify the conclusions Clayton reached, to evaluate what the consequences would be if their conclusions were correct, and to notify federal authorities of the risk posed by securitizing so many substandard loans? What lawyers and investment bankers were told of this information, and what rating agencies had access to this information? And were major banks shorting their own securitized products after seeing negative due diligence information that they had not shared with the market? . . .

“It is not too late to use the Clayton information to claw back bonuses and hold the banks, rating agencies, and government enforcement agencies accountable.”

One more thing: answering these questions would go a long way to soothing the massive anger that is so disturbing American voters these days. They are lashing out in every direction. This is because they believe a massive crime has been perpetrated, that they are its victims, and that they, and not the perpetrators, are being asked to absorb the fallout. As we know, where there is no justice, there is no peace.