Send me a man who shops


June 25, 2008|By LAURA VOZZELLA

Sheila Dixon - Baltimore mayor, ardent Sex and the City fan - found something the fictional fashionistas could only dream of: a combination boyfriend-shopping companion.

Talk about Mr. Big. Or shall we say, "Ms. No Name," the feminine code name Ronald Lipscomb's vice president used to buy Dixon a $2,000 gift certificate at Lutherville furrier Mano Swartz, according to a search warrant affidavit obtained by The Sun's John Fritze.

Plenty of boyfriends and husbands out there give pricey presents, especially the gift-certificate variety. But developer Lipscomb and then-Council President Dixon, who supported tax breaks and zoning changes benefiting his company, actually engaged in hot-and-heavy retail congress. Together. In public.

At least they took it out of town.

In Chicago four years ago, in the space of one day and three Michigan Avenue blocks, Dixon and Lipscomb dropped more than $7,000 at Armani, Saks Fifth Avenue, Coach and Niketown.

Sometimes Lipscomb paid. Sometimes Dixon did. He bought the plane tickets, at $1,518 apiece. She picked up the hotel bill, $1,695.

When Lipscomb was paying, it wasn't always clear if the merchandise was for himself, Madame Council Prez or the little woman back home. The $499.71 in toners, brushes, facial cleansers and moisturizers from Saks? Maybe Lipscomb is a metrosexual with his own product needs.

Dixon was the bigger spender, whipping out her own AmEx for $570 Jimmy Choo sandals from Saks. She also spent $600 at Coach and $4,410 at Giorgio Armani. Along with the Saks beauty aids, Lipscomb spent $150 at Coach, $636 at Armani and $237 at Niketown.

The next day, Dixon shelled out $2,273 on clothes and accessories at St. John Boutique. No mention of Lipscomb shopping that day. Even a metrosexual has his limits.

Those Choo shoes were, well, a little pedestrian

Again with the shoes!

Dixon, who brandished a high heel in City Council chambers way back in 1991, seems to have achieved fresh footwear infamy in the form of $570 Jimmy Choo sandals.

Yes, a mayor is entitled to shop. A mayor is entitled to have a boyfriend, assuming that's OK with their respective spouses. But if the boyfriend is a developer getting benefits from City Hall, maybe the public-servant/paramour needs to recuse herself from voting on his projects - and buy her own plane ticket to the shopping spree.

I could have looked to Common Cause for outrage. Instead, I rang up Dannielle Kyrillos, editor at large at, a free daily fashion e-mail. She was shocked, shocked - just not in a good-government kinda way. She found the fashion offensive.

Sure, sure, sure, she said, Armani, Coach and Jimmy Choo make some beautiful things. But they're things you can buy at a mall, a high-end mall anyway.

"Those are really sort of pedestrian choices if you're going to go down in flames," Kyrillos said. "If someone's going to be examining your shopping records with a critical eye, get more bang for the buck and get something that makes a statement. Make people do research when they hear about these expensive things you are buying. Make it intriguing choices rather than things people have already heard of."

Kyrillos' suggestions: smartly tailored suits by Australian designer Brigid McLaughlin, functional-yet-glam handbags by Bird, and for footwear, a convertible high heel by CAMiLEON. The height of the heel adjusts, from 3 1/4 inches to a more manageable 1 1/2 . Handy, Kyrillos said, "if you're running from the law."

Those Jimmy Choos don't always stay put when you're in a hurry.

"I lost my Choo!" - cries Sex and the City's Carrie Bradshaw after running, sans one designer shoe, for the ferry.

"I lost my Choo!" - Dixon after state prosecutors raid her closet.

A little dish of crow for the columnist

I take it back: Bob and Kendel Ehrlich weren't cheering on a caller to their radio show who predicted racial warfare if Barack Obama is elected president.

The Ehrlichs did let that hot potato just sit there until it burned right through their political oven mitts. But I think they really were applauding the caller as an independent voter, not as a race-war seer.

For anyone who missed it the first time: Someone named Dee called the show June 14, predicting that an Obama presidency would get Muslims, Black Panthers, the Klan and skinheads all jazzed up into a hatefest.

Bob Ehrlich followed with: "Dee, I wish I could clone you. I wish I could clone you. [Laughs] I know it's illegal."

Kendel Ehrlich: "You are an informed voter, which is what we were talking about. You have gotten into specifics."

Towson Professor Richard Vatz, a guest on the show: "Exactly."

That's precisely how the exchange went. And I thought, "Gotcha!" So did the state Democratic Party and the Daily Kos blog. Party spokesman David Paulson wrote about the exchange before I did and also cut it off at Vatz's "Exactly."

But there was a bit before and after the race-war stuff that changes how it comes across. At least that's my take now that I've gone back and listened again.

Before she launched into the Obama bit, Dee encouraged Ehrlich to run for governor again and to go after young black voters, who she said were less wedded to the Democratic Party than their elders are. Afterward, if you listen past "Exactly," it's clear Vatz and the former governor are excited about swing voters, not race warriors.

Vatz: "Exactly. And she's also talking about a lot of people who are low-intensity, who, when they look at the specifics and look at the evidence, can change around. The question is how many such people are there."

Bob Ehrlich goes on to praise Dee's point about "generational voting patterns."

Woulda been nice to hear somebody take issue with the race-war stuff, but I'd say the Ehrlichs were only guilty of ducking.

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