A guy stopped me on an MTA bus in South Baltimore a few years ago and said he recognized and appreciated my homage to Jimmy Cannon, a sports columnist back in the day and a favorite of his dad’s in one of the New York City papers. His father had read Cannon in the Post, and that made sense because the other newspapers Cannon wrote for — the Journal‐American and the short-lived World Journal Tribune — were gone by the time the guy on the bus would have been a sentient being.
I mention this only because my occasional “Nobody asked me, but …” columns come directly from Jimmy Cannon. “Nobody Asked Me, But …” was his thing. From time to time, they appeared as a series of one-liners, and Cannon was known for packing a lot into one sentence about sports and life.
When I first started using this form, I acknowledged that “Nobody asked me, but …” came from Jimmy Cannon. With today’s column, I thought I should mention it here again.
I’ve been writing a column — first for the Baltimore Evening Sun, then the morning paper — since 1979, and, like Cannon and other columnists, have found columns of multiple items useful once in a while. Some days, you just want to make a brief observation about politics or blurt out a goofy opinion about bacon. I might write one line about the Orioles, maybe seven or eight about gun violence. Today’s column contains observations about Mayor Brandon Scott, some new developments in Baltimore and suggests a secondary use of an olive oil can. So there you go.
I had earlier formats for columns of items: Pieces of column too short to use and Things I’d like to know, things I’d like to see, things I’d like to do. I take inspiration from not only the late Jimmy Cannon but the late George Frazier, who wrote scathing zingers in The Boston Globe of the 1970s, and from The Doghouse diner in Baltimore.
The Doghouse stands near the city’s prison gulch, across the Fallsway, its credo: “Our meatloaf is made, not accumulated.” I love that statement. It says, “Our meatloaf is intentional, not an accident of leftovers.” You might say my “Nobody asked me, but …” columns are just the opposite: Not the regular fare, but an accumulation of thoughts and observations, baked about once a month, and offered as a breakfast special.