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Michael Olesker's Baltimore

, 192 pages
October 1995
List price:$34.00
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Michael Olesker's Baltimore

If You Live Here, You're Home

In this collection of humorous and poignant newspaper columns written for the Baltimore Sun and The News American over the last two decades, Michael Olesker captures the essence of Baltimore—a big city with the heart of a small town. Here in the closing years of the 20th century is Baltimore, with all its unexpected triumphs, crushing troubles, idiosyncratic characters, and lively neighborhoods.

Michael Olesker's Baltimore offers a front row seat at the daily skirmishes that mark the city's life. Olesker draws intimate portraits of major politicians and local celebrities, of big names like William Donald Schaefer and Kurt Schmoke, Barbara Mikulski and Bea Gaddy, Artie Donovan and Brooks Robinson, Barry Levinson and John Waters. He gives equal time to players along the fringes—Block denizens, professional gamblers, petty street hustlers—and to the generally unsung heroes who keep the city vibrant and kicking. With articles about the price neighborhoods pay over racial conflicts and about the small deals that are made to get communities through a given day, Michael Olesker's Baltimore deepens our understanding of the city's people and their resilience.

Olesker is hard-edged and straightforward but also warmhearted in his portrayal of Baltimore's colorful characters and their settings. In a style that combines police-blotter with Sunday-feature writing, he tells brief stories that show why—to visitors and residents alike—Baltimore feels like home.

"Baltimore is a city of tribal rituals, of neighbors sharing steamed crabs in the back yard, and downtown waitresses who call their customers Hon without worrying about any vast sociological implications, and worshipful football fans who believe the snatching of their beloved Colts was the worst kidnapping since the Lindbergh baby."—from Michael Olesker's Baltimore

Michael Olesker has been writing for newspapers since he went to high school at Baltimore City College and imagined nothing in the world could be more fun than meeting interesting people and writing about them. Nothing, in the ensuing three decades, has changed his mind. He began writing a column for The News American in 1976, and after three years moved to the Baltimore Sun. Since 1983, he has been a nightly commentator for WJZ-TV's Eyewitness News.

"Olesker is a very good writer, enthusiastic, compassionate, and often pretty funny. I especially enjoyed his sketches of Baltimore eccentrics such as Frank (Mr. Diz) Rosenfeld, a life-long gambler; of Alan Murrell, the great public defender; of Dominic Leone, Sr., a City Council member who shot craps in his office and was shot dead in City Hall; of Harley Brinsfield, a native of Eldorado (Caroline County), submarine-sandwich king, and jazz aficionado; and many more."

"A Baltimorean since fleeing the Bronx at age 4, Mr. Olesker has been writing about and affectionately obsessed with Baltimore since he was in high school."