A day in the life of the Maryland General Assembly begins in the luxuriously appointed office of the Senate's tax committee boss. There, at daybreak, sits chairman Laurence Levitan, sipping chocolate milk, reading the papers, and meditating amid the soft chairs and colors of his chamber.
It ends some 20 hours later and two blocks away as the last of the cadre of hard-drinking delegates trip on the brick-sidewalk outside Fran O'Brien's bar.
In the hours between, Maryland's 188 legislators follow a zig-zagging course through hallways and tunnels to House lounges, committee desks, Senate filibusters, long conferences and the ever-present arms of lobbyists and demonstrators.
A photographic tracking of the legislative day moves from Levitan's office to the thick carpets and thicker padding of the House lounge, where Del. Paul Weisengoff (D-Baltimore City), is engaged in his usual morning exercise of smoking and smirking.
Weisengoff is rumored to be the original inventor of the sport of House Lounging. In any case, he is its current commissioner. Ten o'clock invariably finds him in a green chair five yards from the entrance to the House floor, ignoring the droning pace of business inside while he gleefully concocts the votes necessary to kill or pass his favorite bills.
"Some people like to come here and be white hats," he'll tell the crowd of admiring fellow delegates and reporters who file past to pay their respects, each of whom knows how many votes or quotes are owed to the man who calls himself "the hammer." "Me, I like to be a black hat."
When the House adjourns, sometime near noon, the day's business moves from the lounge to marbled hallway corners and stairwells, where the lobbyists lurk. A conscientious delegate, like William Horne (D-Talbot), will pause to be instructed on the day's pressing issues by men like Orville Wright, the voice of the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Co.
Wright, who last year collected $45,642 in fees and expenses from C&P for his work, is one of about 400 lobbyists who roam the hallways, stairs, and committee rooms each day dispensing expertise on bills and free lunches, dinners and drinks to all who ask. Needless to say, there are many requests.
Above all these transactions, high on the State House's second floor, is Gov. Harry Hughes, who each week emerges from his office suite to brief the press on his activities.
"What's new?" a reporter asked recently from the jumble of chairs, cameras and cables around the governor's press conference podium.
"Beg your pardon?" Hughes responded.
When the morning is over, delegates cross State Circle to their committee chambers, where they are firmly guided through the afternoon by the assembly's gavel-banging cardinals and role-models, the committee chairmen.
Appropriations Committee Chairman John R. Hargreaves (D-Caroline) takes pleasure in being the sternest of the lot.
"What is the committee's pleasure?" he frequently demands in a voice that grows more gravelly with each passing pack of his nearby Kents. To Hargreaves' satisfaction, the committee's pleasure is rarely not his own.
Even as Hargreaves speaks, the senators convene for their afternoon session back in the State House. There, activity frequently centers on the floor where various long-winded voices widely manage to prolong the day's work into the evening hours, long after House members have gone.
Sen. Howard Dennis (R-Montgomery), is one of the most able practitioners of what he calls "exercises in extended debate." Such exercises, also known as filibusters, do not always impress colleagues like Sen. J. Joseph Curran (D-Baltimore City), the chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee.
Nevertheless, they continue.
The long afternoons in the Senate allow plenty of leisure for two of its most prominent members Harry McGuirk (D-Baltimore) and Frederick C. Malkus (D-Dorchester), to compare strategies. McGuirk, known to his colleagues as "the soft shoe," most frequently accomplishes in whispers what Malkus, "the silver fox," does in shouts.
When they are both done, the Senate adjourns -- often after midnight -- to homes, offices, and Fran O'Brien's. Tuesday morning the ritual will end for another year.