Of his holiness, the governor, and my devoted fans


Letters, calls and the roar of the crowd:

M. Franklin, Towson: I am sending you the following from the Washington Post:

"[D.C. Mayor-Elect Sharon Pratt] Dixon met yesterday with Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer to discuss ways the two could work together."

What is Gov. Schaefer doing conferring with the new mayor of Washington, when he does not even speak to the mayor of Baltimore?

COMMENT: The story says merely that Dixon met with the governor. It does not say the governor deigned to speak to her. For all we know, she was ushered into his office, knelt, kissed his ring, and was ushered out.


Perry Cocke, Baltimore: My wife Shelley and I were listening to All Things Considered" in the car this evening while our daughter Abby chattered away in the background.

We had just caught the end of a piece on Kristallnacht, when Andrei Codrescu comes on. I tuned Abby out and turned up the volume a notch. He went into this bit about Eastern Europe and how the miracle of last year -- while still a miracle -- has run up against the wall of reality. (I'm not even paraphrasing him well.)

I was digging the hell out of it, this unique combination of great insights and great images spoken in this wonderful accent that makes you concentrate just a little more. After it was over I basked in the afterglow a second and then said to Shelley: "You know, I really like that guy, a lot."

A pretty mundane way of expressing my feelings, but I said it with feeling. Shelley laughed and agreed.

Then I told her how I had really enjoyed your column today . . . and she mentioned how she really liked the previous column and I laughed and agreed and said, "You know, I really like him a lot, too."

Shelley got a kick out of that and suggested that I ought to invite these two good buddies of mine over for dinner.

It didn't actually occur to me to actually invite you to dinner when she (jokingly) said that, but then I started to think about your column just prior to those two when you wrote about the letters you get and about not printing the good ones (usually).

I appreciate that, as I know some people with egos so big that they push every piece of flattery right in your face. Which isn't to say that your ego isn't that big, (though it probably isn't) but you've certainly got better taste.

In the course of thinking about this, it dawned on me to invite you to dinner as a way of really thanking you. I think you'd enjoy it. We're pretty flexible, though right now Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays are out.

So, please, accept this invitation to dinner at our house. Please bring your family (immediate, nuclear-type only) or a friend or come by yourself.

Shelley's a pretty good cook and we're not too boring.

G; COMMENT: You say that, Perry. But what proof do I have?


Albert Izner, Joppa: The names of three actors of today who are better than Jose Ferrer are Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman.

COMMENT: Al, baby, let's take a meeting on this OK? First off, Jack Nicholson is a very fine actor, but he hasn't done much very fine acting lately. What, really, can you say about his recent stuff? What can you say about "Batman" or "The Two Jakes"? And his work has become a little mannered, wouldn't you say, Al? Nicholson's best work was probably in "Five Easy Pieces," but that was a while ago.

As to De Niro and Hoffman, well, they are both very good. (And why not include Al Pacino?) But let's face it: They are not Jose Ferrer. Not yet anyway.

Jose Ferrer (Jose Vincente Ferrer Otero y Cintron), born 1912, has a real body of work to his credit. Let's leave aside his Academy Award performance in "Cyrano de Bergerac", his portrayal of Toulouse Lautrec in "Moulin Rouge" and his masterfully chilling walk-on in "Lawrence of Arabia."

Let's talk instead about "The Great Man," made in 1956, which he not only starred in, but also directed and co-scripted. Now this is a movie. I don't know if you can rent it on videotape, but if you can, you should do so immediately.

And, by the way Al, if Jose Ferrer had played Tootsie, even after he took off the wig, you still would have believed he was a woman.


Donald E. Selby Jr., Charlottesville, Va.: I would appreciate it if you would do whatever you can to get The Baltimore Sun into paper machines in Charlottesville. We are trapped between the Scylla of the Richmond Times-Dispatch and the Charybdis of the Washington Post. Have pity.

COMMENT: You are clearly in dire straits (cute pun, huh, Donald?) and need help. Unfortunately it might take a little while to airlift Sun boxes into Charlottesville and have them bolted to the sidewalks (if we don't bolt them down, people take them home as souvenirs.)

Some people in Baltimore do not realize how lucky they are to be able to read The Sun every day. They take it for granted. They do not realize that in some parts of America, The Sun is unavailable, and people must make do with second best.

The two papers you mention are very fine newspapers in their own limited way. They are not The Sun, but, hey, who is?

Just one other point: Charlottesville is a really neat town. I like it a lot. And I know the University of Virginia has a fine reputation.

But I keep getting the impression that the kids who go there think they are the smartest people who ever walked the face of the earth. And if I see one more University of Virginia bumper sticker that says, "The University", I might have to ram it at high speed.

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