The City Council president showed me his underwear. The state prosecutor let me try on Sheila Dixon’s ill-gotten mink. A state delegate swore at me for asking why she’d lied about her age. A priest denounced me from the pulpit. And David Simon sent me lots of angry messages.
Mencken had it right when he called news reporting “the life of kings.”
My regal run at The Baltimore Sun comes to an end this week, after 11 years at the paper, nearly six of them writing this column. I am leaving for a job at The Washington Post, where I’ll cover Virginia politics out of Richmond.
That seismic event you felt Tuesday, epicentered near Richmond, was no simple earthquake. It was an omen. It struck just as Sun restaurant critic Richard Gorelick was setting up for the “Junk Food Social” he’d organized in the newsroom in mock honor of my persnickety eating habits.
They tell me Virginia has its share of characters. It will be hard to match the ones who have populated this column over the years. Without further ado, I’d like to thank:
• Former Mayor Dixon, for your passion for furs, Jimmy Choos and a married man doing business with the city.
• Developers A, B and C, for all those gift cards you donated to Mayor Dixon’s favorite charity: Mayor Dixon.
• Olympian Michael Phelps, for taking that Vegas cocktail waitress home to meet mom one Thanksgiving.
• Former Gov. Bob Ehrlich, for installing inflatable Halloween decorations in front of the governor’s mansion, putting busloads of homeless Philadelphians to work distributing deceptive campaign literature on Election Day 2006, and hiring Julius Henson, the political operative who once called you a Nazi, but made up for it on Election Day 2010 with misleading robocalls.
• The Arbutus Roundtable, for forgiving my suggestion that Government House inflatables stemmed from Ehrlich’s Arbutian upbringing.
• Gov. Martin O’Malley, for sporting muscle shirts, having a band, delivering that over-the-top 2004 Democratic National Convention speech (“America the beautiful, whose alabaster cities gleam UN-dimmed by human tears! O! My friends! To govern IS TO CHOOSE!”), and running for office with a “detailed plan to make energy more affordable,” which turned out to be a 70 percent rate hike.
• Molly Shattuck, the Grandma Moses of NFL cheerleading, for proving motherhood and ripped abs are not mutually exclusive.
• Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, for scolding a constituent who called you “Stephanie,” overcoming your Cleopatra-wig phase and managing to always look bored with the family business (politics), even when the job brings you within inches of Barack Obama.
• The mysterious author behind Twitter’s MayorRawlingsFake, for being far more entertaining than the actual mayor.
• Anne Arundel County Exec John Leopold, for whatever you were doing in that parked car.
• Former Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, for too many gaffes to list here.
• A convention of out-of-town bishops, for downing $55 bottles of wine at Cinghiale.
• A Catholic priest Who Shall Not Be Named, for denouncing me from the pulpit of my own church for writing about the aforementioned bishops.
• Daniel “The Wig Man” Vovak, for running for U.S. Senate and many other offices, always unsuccessfully, always in a Colonial periwig. Rest in peace.
• A. Robert Kaufman, for running for Baltimore mayor and the U.S. Senate again and again as a Socialist, and having no better luck than The Wig Man. Rest in peace to you, too, Bob.
• Annapolis lobbyist Bruce Bereano, for twisting arms on behalf of every conceivable vice: Smoking, gambling, boozing, speeding and, worst of all, consuming steamed crabs on a hot parking lot in Crisfield in the company of state pols.
• Former Mayor, Governor and Comptroller William Donald Schaefer, for being outrageous, witty and confounding — even from beyond the grave.
• Former Schaefer aide Lainy LeBow-Sachs, for arranging a funeral procession that made stops all over Baltimore but blew past the sidewalk tribute assembled by his best friend, Gene Raynor.
• State Del. Jill Carter, for lying about your age in Baltimore magazine’s “Top Singles” issue, cussing me out and not paying your water bill for two years.
• City Council President Jack Young, for trying to prove you really do live in East Baltimore by opening a bedroom drawer to show City Hall reporter Julie Scharper and me your “damn underwear.”
• City Councilwoman Rikki Spector, for living in your boyfriend’s Inner Harbor condo instead of the Northwest Baltimore neighborhood you represent.
• Circuit Court Clerk and mayoral candidate Frank Conaway, for having the best mustache in Maryland politics.
• Del. Jon Cardin, for your police-assisted marriage proposal.
• Everyone in government with a sense of humor: Richard Cross, former speechwriter for Ehrlich; Kevin Enright, spokesman for the Howard County exec; Don Mohler, the Baltimore County exec’s chief of staff; and — well, I think that’s it.
• All the tipsters out there. You know who you are.
• Democratic fundraiser John Coale, for getting bitten in the keister by O’Malley’s pooch, being married to Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren, developing a crush on Sarah Palin and, just last weekend, attending Kim Kardashian’s wedding.
• “Wire” creator Simon, just for being you.
Thanks for all the fun.