From Charm City to the Mini Apple


March 29, 2006|By LAURA VOZZELLA

The moving van pulls away today from novelist Sujata Massey's Roland Avenue house, and the driver had better step on it. The author of the Rei Shimura mystery series has set books in Tokyo, San Francisco and Washington. But her latest work, a short story included in Baltimore Noir, hits closer to home. No telling how it's going to go over with the folks who live around the corner, on Goodwood Gardens.

Named for that street, "Goodwood Gardens" is all about "nouveau riche social climbing," Massey said.

"It's a very dark look at Roland Park. It's probably a good thing I'm leaving," Massey told me earlier this week. "I'm writing from the point of view of a misunderstood trophy wife."

Is Massey really leaving Charm City to escape her neighbors' potential wrath? Sadly, from the perspective of a good yarn, the plot thins here instead of thickens.

The real story behind the move has to do with Massey's psychiatrist-husband, the realities of managed health care and job opportunities for managed-care psychiatrist-husbands. The tale ends in South Minneapolis, where Massey, her husband and two children have found "another historic neighborhood" to settle in.

Baltimore's literary loss could have an upside: Massey said she'll be more likely to set future novels in Charm City once she's gone.

"I really prefer to write about a place where I don't live. It's really challenging [to set stories where you live], because people will call you on the carpet if you make a mistake or misunderstand something," she said. "Now that I'm leaving Baltimore, I probably will do something sooner or later."

Prudence is next to continence

When you're a judge and somebody in the courtroom asks for a bathroom break, what do you do? Depends. (Ba-da-bum!)

A certain Baltimore City Circuit Court judge will probably think twice about telling people to hold it. Because last week, a lawyer who couldn't get the judge to let him go to the john failed to hold it. Right there in the courtroom.

(I'm usually all about naming names here, but there's a good reason in this case to keep them under wraps: To protect the incontinent.)

The judge says he had to go, too, but was trying to get through jury selection.

"I shouldn't have gauged his ability to hold it by mine," Hizzoner said. "It resulted in a miscalculation."

And a big hug for Mike Tyson

If you missed Michael Steele's big spread in The New York Times magazine Sunday, here are the highlights:

No word on what ever happened to Steele's race-and-death-penalty study, but there's insight into a related high-level confab. "Can I take a look at this [death penalty issue], and I'll let you know what I find?" Steele recalls asking the governor. "And the governor said, `Cool.'"

New twist on the alleged Oreos incident: Steele says he noticed the cookies "at his feet when he stepped on one and heard a crunching sound." A Nexis search turns up more than 100 Steele-Oreo hits, but no prior references to "crunch" or "crunching." "I just happened to look down and see them," Steele told WTOP in November. "Otherwise, I probably wouldn't have even noticed."

The Ex-Factor: Steele has high praise for his ear-chomping, convicted-rapist ex-brother-in-law, boxer Mike Tyson.

"He [Tyson] is one of the most engaging and smartest guys I have ever had a chance to go toe to toe with in a debate," Steele says. "The first conversation I ever had with him, you know what we talked about? The philosophy of Mao Zedong.'"

Steele says he'd welcome the boxer's help on the campaign trail "in a heartbeat." "He may be divorced from my sister, but I can't cast him aside. You embrace. You love.'"

And, sometimes, you bite.

Now it's Doug `Just Folks' Duncan

Doug Duncan takes the warm-and-fuzzy route in his newest gubernatorial ad. Coming a few weeks after his first Web spot, which hammered on Baltimore's urban woes, this ad is heavy on one-of-13-kids biography. The only urban decay to be seen is in the Silver Spring "before" shots.

The kids are all right

Good news for Peter Angelos: The West Wing twins are Orioles fans. Not so Toby Ziegler, the fictional dad and White House communications director. He'd given the kids Yankees gear, but they were dressed like O's Sunday, when it was unseasonably Halloween on the show. Ziegler got the last word, when the kids were asleep and their orange-and-black caps sat on the bedposts. He put a Yankees cap over top and assured them they'd be happier that way.

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