Forget Gatsby - politics is getting HOT!

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October 09, 2005|By LAURA VOZZELLA

At first blush, and I do mean blush, making a public pitch for erotic novels might not seem like the craftiest political move for an aspiring mayor.

Especially when it's done at a formal groundbreaking ceremony, one of those starchy events where even the shovels are dressed up with bows and the only dirty talk is about the mud clinging to official wingtips and pumps.

But Sheila Dixon did it the other day, at the groundbreaking for a $46 million apartment tower.

Somebody introducing the mayor complimented him on quoting F. Scott Fitzgerald in a recent speech. When Dixon got her turn at the mike, she trumped Hizzoner with a literary reference of her own - to Zane.

For those who don't know, or want to pretend they don't know, Zane is the author of The Sex Chronicles, Gettin' Buck Wild and a bunch of other books about sex and gettin' buck wild.

She has a fan in Baltimore's City Council president.

"I just wanted to share with you that other elected officials do read books, maybe not English authors," Dixon said. "I wanted to turn you on to an author who writes excellent books and she has a book store down in Fells Point and her name is Zane. And I'm going to turn you on to one of Zane's books. You think he can handle it?"

Insert nervous laughter here.

While unsettling, Dixon's literary reference might have been politically smarter than O'Malley's.

He quoted a famous book (The Great Gatsby) and a famous line ("So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past").

Everybody knows the book and the line, and everybody offered instant political-literary commentary. Big fat bummer was the consensus. Which is why, more than a week later, somebody thought O'Malley could still use an attaboy to buck him up.

Dixon had the good sense to drop the name of a novelist who, despite hot sales and apparently hotter fans, isn't yet a household name. And good luck trying to pick apart the text in a family newspaper.

Here's a snippet from the first page of Zane's latest, Afterburn:

"Sometimes I wish that I could place my BLEEP BLEEP of her BLEEP and BLEEP there, feeling her BLEEP BLEEPING around BLEEP BLEEP, letting me know that we are as one."

Unless you're Ken Starr, you can't get that kind of language into polite political discourse. So there's nothing for detractors to parse.

It's like those Supreme Court nominees with no paper trail. And so far that's worked for W.

We wanted to try homelessness, but the weather was just impossible

Like kids at any elite college, Johns Hopkins students are generally a privileged lot.

Some have reached out to the largely poor city that surrounds their manicured campus by building a Habitat for Humanity house.

And some thought it wasn't enough to put hammer to nail. They figured students should feel the pain of homelessness.

So "Boxfest" was born. Undergrads would leave their comfy dorm rooms and take up corrugated quarters for a night on the quad.

The kids would collect pledges, so the event would raise money. But the real goal was to raise awareness, says Audrey DiMauro, a Hopkins senior and president of the campus Habitat chapter.

"You think it's nice outside all day but it's freezing at night," she said. "And you're shivering and you can't fall asleep because you're so cold."

And wet.

At least the students would have been, if Boxfest had gone on Friday night as planned.

But the event was postponed. There was rain in the forecast.

Speaker, congressman, lobbyist - separated at birth?

Jack Flynn, a Washington lobbyist who lives in Annapolis, rubs elbows with plenty of politicians.

Maybe that's why he's sometimes mistaken for one - no, make that two: Maryland House Speaker Michael E. Busch and U.S. Rep. Jim Moran of Virginia.

Built like the ex-football players that they are, all three sport the same kind of "blow-dried hairdo" in a color Flynn describes as "blondish heading toward gray."

Looking like a leader isn't always fun, says Flynn, 60, who has laughed about the resemblance with both men.

"It's so weird being yelled at in Annapolis," said Flynn, recalling a slots supporter hollering from across the street. "He was yelling over at me, 'Hey, Busch - slots, slots.' I just gave him the thumbs up."

But there is an upside.

"I try to pull into a garage and they say, 'We're full.' And then, 'Oh, Congressman Moran.' And they call me in. That's as much as I've ever used it, getting a parking spot in downtown Washington."

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