Military Man Answers Musical Muse

Route 2 -- A weekly journey through Anne Arundel County

July 10, 1991|By Michael Driscoll Gary Gately

A frequent fish story theme involves "the one that got away." This one's the same, except it deals with a SEAL named Ensign Alec Mckenzieof Sabot, Va.

Mckenzie, a recent graduate of the Naval Academy, chose to attend the U.S. Navy SEAL (Sea, Air and Land) School in Coronado, Calif., to learn special warfare operations.

Like a lot of other mids, Mckenzie had visions of being a flier when he joined the academy. Then along came the SEALs.

"I started coming into contact with more and more SEALs, reading about them and seeing what they were actually doing. I thought the character of the people that I saw in the program were the people I'd probably mesh with the best when I graduated," he said.

So Mckenzie tacked SEAL onto a list of activities that included being a Russian linguist, captain of the academy's rowing team and a black belt in a Vietnamese styleof karate.

Add one more thing. He's also a solo guitarist and songwriter who has been winning over audiences at Mack Bailey's Folk Jams at the Maryland Inn, Middleton's Tavern in Annapolis and Max's on Broadway in Baltimore.

During one of the magazine's recent Musical Showcases at Middleton's Tavern, another admirer, Jan Hardesty, wife of the owner, gave him one more gift: a plaque embossed with a small hook, so that he could always hang his hat in Annapolis.

I finallycaught up with Mckenzie at the recent Annapolis Wine, Food, and Sitting-for-Hours-in- the-Hot-Sun-on-a-Blanket-Listen- ing-to-Music Festival. He's a very nice fellow, with an open, honest grin and an easy manner, tailor-made to win an audience (or motivate a combat team, even).

"I really feel sometimes that I have a dual vision (music and the Navy), and it's tough to walk the line between these two selves of mine. I don't feel torn between the two, it's just that I feel I have to do equal justice to them," he explained.

"I sort of felt, early on, a call to the Naval Academy, and I was lucky enough to get in. Then I started taking Russian."

Now quite fluent in the language, Mckenzie has visited the Soviet Union several times. He says he hopes to use all that he's learned from the experience, and from the Naval Academy, to help bring both countries closer together.

But don't write him off as just some sort of New Age, Aquarian warrior. Mckenzie may be a dreamer, but he has a sense of humor.

As part of his preparation for SEAL training, Mckenzie said that he saw the movie "Navy SEALs," starring Charlie Sheen and Michael Biehn.

"I saw it last summer, the night before I went out to San Diego to train with theSEALs for a month. I knew that all the instructors would really rag on us for going to see the movie and becoming SEAL 'wannabes.' So I had to go see it, because while I was doing push-ups in the desert, I wanted to be sure I knew exactly what I was being punished for."


Power not only corrupts, it can sometimes cloud thememory, too.

Or maybe Al Hopkins just considered himself a vulture for much of his working life.

He certainly would have qualified,this former Annapolis Capital sports editor and former reporter who covered everything from high school ball to the General Assembly.

After all, in Hopkins' current view of the world, the press is a whole flock of vultures.

As Alderman Carl O. Snowden questioned spending for the city's anti-drug efforts at a recent City Council meeting,the mayor cleared his throat, lowered his voice and said this:

"We'll talk about it later. I don't want to talk about this in front ofthe press. They're a bunch of vultures." Then he chuckled. "Just a bunch of vultures, you know."

Kind of makes you wonder how he'll describe politicians after he finds his next calling.

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