I am told that Anatoly A. Sobchak, the mayor of St. Petersburg and leader of the Russian Movement for Democratic Reform, is one of the movers and shakers in Russia. So it was exciting to meet him at a luncheon-reception in his honor at Burkshire Guest Suites, the hotel complex that belongs to Towson State University (TSU).
TSU President Hoke Smith had a party for the mayor, who was at the school to receive an honorary degree of doctor of humane letters from the College of Fine Arts and Communication. The school's relationship with his city began in 1989 with an exchange program with the St. Petersburg Conservatory.
Mayor Sobchak, also the chairman of the St. Petersburg Organizing Committee, is very proud that it was successful in luring the 1994 World Games to his city. From July 23 through Aug. 7, nearly 2,000 athletes from more than 50 countries will compete in 24 sports. We can catch the action on TBS cable and ABC News.
Among those who came to meet the mayor in Towson were Jim Holthaus and William Washington, Westinghouse executives who are -- to put it in my lingo -- working with the Russians to install a national radar system to make them compatible with the rest of the world; Jean Van Buskirk, director of the Maryland Sisters Program International Division; Greg Barnhill, Alex. Brown Sons; Victor Novosselov, the Washington general manager of Aeroflot, Russian International Airlines; and members of the TSU hierarchy, including provost Robert Claret; Don McCulloh; Michael Stanley; Dean Esslinger; Joanne Glasser; Helene Breazeale; and Alexander Sidorowicz, dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication, who welcomed the visitors. Sidorowicz told Mayor Sobchak that maestro Mstislav Rostropovitch, the renowned Russian cellist and conductor, who retiring from the National Symphony Orchestra, called him that morning to confirm that he would join them for the afternoon convocation ceremony.
Mayor Sobchak, with the help of his translator, Saryana Kostovetsky, was a most entertaining speaker. One of the jokes he told was about a long line of angry men waiting to buy a bottle of vodka. One man finally ran off shouting, "I am going to kill Gorbachev for this." When the man returned later, he was asked if he had been successful, and he replied, "No, that line was longer than the vodka line."
Speaking of lines, there were two cooking stations at the buffet luncheon, which caused quite a backup of hungry guests. One Russian visitor quipped, "Wonder if they did this to make us feel at home?"
Nan Rosenthal, WJHU-radio community affairs director, was not only seen having lunch at the Polo Grill, but she was overheard singing, "Right this way, your table's waitin'," as the hostess showed her and Broadway star Joel Grey to a table.
Mr. Grey was in town promoting his show, "Borscht Capades '94," which opens at the Mechanic Theatre Tuesday. Nan says he's absolutely delightful and was amused when Polo Grill owner Lenny Kaplan said to him, "You look just like yourself." . . .
Susan Obrecht, CEO of ESS Ventures, which owns Baltimore and Mid-Atlantic Country magazines, is telling anyone who will listen that Baltimore recently won five 1994 William Allen White awards, given to city and regional magazines . . .
Catherine Bayly, a Charlestown Retirement Community resident, was named the 1994 Volunteer of the Year by the Maryland Association for Adult Community Continuing Education. . . .
Columbia chiropractor Dr. Del Rosso raised more than $1,000 for the Grant-A-Wish Foundation at his third annual "Patient & Community Appreciation Day," where he offered free spinal screenings, chiropractic adjustments and computerized muscle and nerve testing. Local merchants helped out by donating refreshments and door prizes . . .
Now that Baltimore's two major-league teams, the Baltimore Orioles and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, are working together, the BSO Fanfare '94 Sept. 10 is a sure winner. The gala will celebrate the orchestra's fall tour of Japan and Taiwan. Co-chairs Phyllis Brotman and Richard Hug are happy campers to have Peter Angelos and the Baltimore Orioles as a sponsor. Tickets to the gala range from $350 to $1,000 a person; and you may call (410) 783-8000 for information.