Letters, calls and the roar of the crowd:
Thomas J. O'Donnell, Towson: In your article about Victor Frenkil you were in error when you said our current mayor was the only mayor to ever say "no" to Frenkil.
The late Mayor Thomas D'Alesandro Jr. used to tell the story that on Mr. D'Alesandro's first day as mayor in 1947, he came to City Hall and found Frenkil, who was a close friend of Mr. D'Alesandro's predecessor, Mayor Teddy McKeldin, sitting in the mayor's chair, behind the mayor's desk.
Mr. D'Alesandro's first action as mayor was to throw Frenkil out and for the next 12 years of Mr. D'Alesandro's three terms, Frenkil made himself scarce around City Hall. I can attest to that because I was there for 10 of those years.
Incidentally, if you happen to run into "Ole Melon Head" please pass along my best regards.
COMMENT: Well, I did as you requested. And Sally Thorner says she is never speaking to you again.
Frances C. Miller, Baltimore: There are many times when I take issue with what you write in your column. Often you try to be clever/flip/outrageous and totally miss the mark.
However, regarding your article on Lisa Olson and the locker room harassment, I totally agree with you.
Women's lib has gone too far when it invades men's locker rooms.
COMMENT: I hate to disagree with somebody who just agreed with me, especially when they are agreeing with me for the first time, but I am changing my mind about the Lisa Olson incident.
Olson, a sportswriter in Boston, says she was sexually harassed in the locker room of the New England Patriots football team. There was a huge hubbub -- the media sensed they could knock off the owner of the Patriots like they knocked off Andy Rooney -- and the matter is now being investigated by a former Watergate prosecutor.
At the time, I thought my solution was a fair one: All reporters, men and women, out of the locker room. Interviewing naked men is not a worthwhile objective for either group.
But then, when I was in Chicago to promote my new book (Have I mentioned that I . . . oh, never mind), I read a column by Bob Greene in the Chicago Tribune.
He suggested that if reporters wanted to interview unclothed players, the reporters also be required to take their clothes off.
Obviously, the reporters would object. It's not dignified! they would say. We are doing an important job!
But the players are doing an important job, too, and it's not dignified for them to be interviewed while naked either.
So I am now leaning toward Greene's idea. I know what you are saying. You are saying that this plan favors men, since they would be much more likely to take their clothes off to gain an interview than women reporters would. But I think you are wrong.
Next time you go to a sporting event, look closely at the men sitting in the press box.
And then ask yourself: Would these guys be willing to reveal their bodies to anyone?
Edward Caldicott, Westminster: In one of your recent columns you write: "The Mason-Dixon line fixed the southern boundary of Maryland and Pennsylvania."
I believe you mean the northern boundary of Maryland and the southern boundary of Pennsylvania, right?
Another recent beauty I remember reading in the newspaper: "The man was injured while mixing chemicals with his son."
What a way to treat a son. I would use a spoon or stick!
My wife and I read such garbled sentences to each other and laugh.
COMMENT: Who says you can't have fun without spending a lot of money?
Stephen Green, Woodlawn: I cannot figure out what we are celebrating when we celebrate Columbus Day. Why do we celebrate a man who "discovered" America, when, in fact, he never got to America? And how do you "discover" people who are already there? Where were the people before Columbus discovered them? Were they lost?
COMMENT: An excellent point. While Columbus should be honored as one of greatest navigators and seamen in the history of the world (though his math was a little off; he thought the world was a whole lot smaller than it is and, therefore, thought Cuba was Japan), we should keep in mind that his "discovery" of the New World was the European discovery of peoples and cultures that had been in place for centuries.
Today, we celebrate Columbus Day to honor his accomplishments and so that the banks can shut down and take one day off from losing money.
Robert Baker, Baltimore: Let's say a poor person who earns a year spends 3.7 percent of his income on booze. That means he spends $370 annually on his vice.
Let's say a rich person who earns $100,000 and spends "only 1.7 percent" of his income on booze. He has spent $1,700 on his vice.
Following this train of thought, the rich would bear the brunt of the alcohol tax increase, not the poor as you erringly represent.
COMMENT: I don't think so. The rich would pay more in dollars, but the rich have many more dollars to pay. The poor would still be hit harder as a percentage of their income.
But I am against this class warfare that the politicians are encouraging these days. I am a believer in the flat tax.
I think everyone in America should pay a flat percentage -- say 10 percent -- of their incomes as income tax. This would mean no deductions, no tax shelters, no loopholes. Just 10 percent.
That means a person earning $10,000 a year would pay $1,000 in taxes.
A person earning $100,000 a year would pay $10,000 in taxes.
A person earning $1 million a year would pay $100,000 in taxes.
Yes, the rich would pay more than the poor. That's because the rich have more.
But everyone would pay the same rate. And we wouldn't be trying to turn class against class and poor against rich.
Also, we could do away with all these tax "experts" and about half the IRS.
In fact, the only person at the IRS I would keep for sure is Baltimore's own "Mr. Tax," the incomparable Dominic LaPonzina.
And we would need him to tell us how to figure out what 10 percent is.