Random mail: questions and other stuff from readers

February 20, 2005|By DAN RODRICKS

TIME NOW for "Dear Dan," in which far-flung readers submit an array of questions and random thoughts. The first three doses of randomalia - my word, and I'm sticking with it - come from Ms. Joanne Stato of Hampden:

"Dear Dan: Have you driven past the Washington Monument in Mount Vernon Square in the last few weeks? Have you noticed that there are red lights projected on it, making it look like a lurid, blood-soaked tower?"

Dear Ms. Stato: No, I've only been there during the day. Next.

"I want to know why it is taking so long to do the construction on Charles Street near Saratoga. It is so unattractive and yet it is taking them about a year to finish it. And it does not look that different from before."

Ms. Stato: Please, be patient. You're talking about Charles Plaza. It's going to be fantastic, and I hear it will include something badly needed in downtown: a supermarket. Why so long? One can only speculate: Perhaps the construction crews enjoy lingering, light lunches at Sascha's. Or maybe they've been distracted by the lurid, blood-soaked tower up the street.

"I want to mention that when they installed that giant, so-called sculpture in front of [Penn Station], I was really personally offended and I mourned the loss of the view of a venerable train station. But after all this time, I don't feel angry anymore. I don't exactly `like' it but I am getting used to it."

Me, too. As G. Gordon Liddy said, as he held his hand over the candle until the flame burned his flesh: "The trick is not minding."

"Dan," writes Mr. Dan McNevin, "Imagine the number of priests who would be in jail if the bishops had called the police instead of shuffling them around!"

Of course, had they done that, the bishops wouldn't have had enough priests for the parishes that paid all the bills, and there would have been scandal, outrage and huge financial losses. Of course, that's exactly where the church is now, and it's going to get worse before it gets better.

"Morning, Dan," writes Mr. George Gipe. "The Sun reported a few weeks ago that there was a crackdown on the number of illegal advertising signs on the side of the road. But the retailers have come back with a solution - have people stand on the side of the road and in the median with the signs. We've traded an eyesore for a safety hazard. Add this to the people in the median selling newspapers, and the fund-raisers and the homeless, I'd say we have just too many people hanging out in the middle of the road."

I dunno, George. If you go by talk radio, no one's in the middle anymore.

"Dear Mr. Rodricks," writes Ms. Beth McSweeney, financial aid counselor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. "I am writing to inquire if you might be interested in a celebration that we have each year [on] the birthday of the late Theodor Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss). Each year we invite the 3rd grade class - approximately 100 children - from a local school to UMB (this year it will be Samuel Coleridge Taylor Elementary). We provide some musical entertainment [and] one of Dr. Seuss's books is read to the children. ... I have participated in our Dr. Seuss celebration for the last five years, and love it to the point of dressing up in a mascot's costume. (If you've ever done this, you know that it is a sweaty, awful, exhausting thing to do - I love every second of it!)"

Dear Ms. McSweeney: May I call you Beth? Seuss was larger than life, even bigger in death. We'll come to your party, all dressed in ascots. Just please keep your distance, I get weird around mascots.

"Hi Dan," writes Ms. Laureen Brunelli about last Sunday's column on my recent experience with Maryland's motor vehicle emissions testing program. "Are you sure you were really four months late with your test? Do you remember getting the very first notice that your car was due for an inspection? Or was the first notice you recall the one that said you were already a month late?"

Dear Laureen: You've created a picture with words, and it's a Salvador Dali painting. I can't possibly answer you. That's real Alice-In-Wonderland stuff, woman. Right down the rabbit hole! Plus, I can't remember.

"Mr. Rodricks," says a woman on the phone. "I'm an investigator with the Maryland Motor Vehicle Adminstration, Internal Affairs, investigating a complaint. Could you please call me at ... ?"

Sorry, inspector. I'm not speaking to those in state government until those in state government speak to Nitkin and Olesker.

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