« Fess up | Main | Optional, not compulsory »

Our chronicler of loons

A few years ago it was commonplace to hear some of the old hands at the paragraph factory reminisce about the colorful types they’d written about and mourn that Baltimore had gone all vanilla. There aren’t any real characters anymore, they’d say, shaking their heads.

Then came Laura Vozzella, whose last column for The Baltimore Sun appears in today’s print edition. I invite you to look at the first paragraph:

“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.”

For that matter, I invite you to read the entire valedictory during the interval that it’s still available on the website. Ms. Vozzella has had an eye—and an ear and a nose—for the detail that illuminates the inner wackiness. I often had the pleasure of editing her columns, and it was a delight to attempt to craft headlines that lived up to the material.*

And now she leaves us to go to work for a newspaper forty miles down the road that does very well in its little way. For them she will cover Virginia politics.

I would almost paraphrase Thomas More speaking to Master Rich in A Man for All Seasons: It would not have profited you to give up Baltimore for the whole world, but for Virginia? Haven’t you firmly established how plentiful the supply of loons is here?


*The delight was evidently reciprocal. When I left Calvert Street on my [cough] hiatus [cough], she wrote a sweet column about how her dictionary had walked out the door.



Posted by John McIntyre at 10:49 AM | | Comments (4)


That column reminds me of the pieces Molly Ivins (may her memory be a blessing) did on Texas characters. As she once said, home is where you understand the sumbitches.

Thanks for making me smile with memories of Molly Ivins, John Cowan. She was a treasure. I will miss Laura. She did a great job skewering those who merited the treatment, and always with humor.

Prof. McI.

As a confirmed birdwatcher, catching today's morning header, "Our chronicler of loons", I was hoping, (perhaps beyond hope), for a commentary on some avid birder w/ a leaning toward that beautiful denizen of wild northern climes, the majestic loon.

Was I way off the mark, or what? As SNL's Gilda Radner's Emily Litella would say, "Never mind."

Chronicling the human foibles, quirks, fumbles, and oddities of homo sapiens, particularly of political wonks of every stripe, and ideological bent, generally makes for a much more entertaining read, than merely reporting 'just the facts, maam'. (Apologies to Jack Webb's Detective Joe Friday. HA!)

Ms. Vozzella sounds like a real treasure---The Sun's loss and 'that other paper down the road' in neighboring Virginia's gain.

I'm sure the sub-species, the Virginia 'loon' isn't on the endangered list, quite yet. Their strident, gurgling, diagnostic calls still resonate through the halls of the State House and o'er the rolling hills of Appalachia, I'm sure.

Good luck in your new gig, Laura Vozzella.


I never think of Virginia as comparable to Wales. This is just sour grapes.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
Baltimore Sun Facebook page

Most Recent Comments
Sign up for FREE local news alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for local news text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
Stay connected