"You want to see my underwear?" Baltimore City Council President Jack Young was saying. "Want to see my damn underwear?"
Yes, I did want to see it, folded up in a dresser drawer, in a mauve-colored bedroom, in an east-side rowhouse. Say what you will about the wisdom of going into journalism, but one day I'm trying on a deposed mayor's mink coat, the next I'm having a look-see at the City Council president's undies. I think this is what Mencken was talking about when he said that news reporting was "the life of kings."
This regal enterprise took me Wednesday to not one, but two, east-side rowhouses owned by Young.
The occasion was a report by WBAL-TV's Jayne Miller, who suggested that Young did not live in the East Madison Street house he lists as his primary address. Her proof: a measly $65.38 water bill. (Miller has raised questions before about Young's residency, with a report about a Harford County house he owned for 12 years. He sold the place, which he called a summer home, in 2005.)
Since Young refused to talk to Miller about his water bill, viewers were left to come up with their own explanations.
Low-flow shower head? Brick in the toilet?
Then Young summoned the press corps to the Madison Street house to more or less concede Miller's point: He doesn't live there full time. But he took reporters around the corner to another rowhouse, on Central Avenue, where he said he mostly resides.
It's in the city. In the same council district (which matters less now that Young holds a citywide office, but still). If Young really lives on Central Avenue, big whoop.
So he has two houses? He also has briefs and boxers. Can't a man have options?
Young led reporters through the Central Avenue house. There were suits in the closet, food in the fridge, prescription bottles on the dresser. Could have been staged, of course. But if it was a fake, it was a good one.
Young said he uses Madison Street as his official residence to protect his family, claiming that neighborhood drug dealers had threatened him a few years ago. Then he flashed something even more startling than presidential skivvies: concealed-weapon permits. Young said he doesn't carry a gun but that he got permission to do so after dealers warned him to "watch your back."
"I want to keep people off balance," he said. "I'm afraid, like everybody else."
If I needed a safe house, I'd probably find one more than a couple blocks from my known address. But whatever is going on here, I'd say Young has succeeded in keeping us all off balance.
...what they're having Just what did the Republican National Committee order last month to rack up a $2,000 tab at the West Hollywood bondage club Voyeur?
News reports on RNC spending haven't gotten to the food. But after a little digging, I've turned up something stunning, something that proves the GOP under former seminarian Michael Steele still stands for stuffy, old-fashioned values even as it blows two grand at a girl-on-girl strip joint.
Voyeur serves cucumber tea sandwiches.
That's according to an old promotional bit still on the Web. (Thanks, Google cache!)
"Guests will enjoy simple, small-bite hors d'oeuvres from Chef Micah Wexler (formerly from Craft), including smoked salmon and cucumber tea sandwiches, prime beef sliders and a signature crispy shrimp cocktail," it says.
A review on something called BizBash.com sheds a little more light.
"For events, menu options include tray-passed hors d'oeuvres like roasted figs, yellowtail tartare, and risotto balls; appetizer stations like hummus and babaganoush with pita, artisanal cheeses with crackers, and a raw fish bar; and entrees like roasted leg of lamb and steamed Atlantic salmon," it says.
By the size of the tab, and the vibe of the place, I'm guessing the RNC skipped the dainty sandwiches and went with the raw bar.
Tipster remains elusive Greg Massoni would like you to know that he was not the tipster who helped WJLA-TV Channel 7 break the story last week that Bob Ehrlich would announce he's running for governor April 7.
Last week, I speculated that the anonymous source credited in the report could be Massoni, a longtime Ehrlich aide who once worked at the station.
Massoni later called to say it wasn't him. He suggested I call talk-show host Bruce DePuyt, who broke the story for the station. It never occurred to me to call DePuyt beforehand, since journalists typically won't confirm or deny sources.
"I'm not going to get into 20 questions about who it was or wasn't," DePuyt said, "but it wasn't Greg."