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Read John Kelly's E-mail

My life is pretty much an open book, what with five columns a week, at least five blog postings, a Friday online chat and my MTV reality show, "House of John." Until now, however, my e-mail has been pretty much private.

Why should it be? I get lots of factual questions from readers -- about old columns, mostly -- the answers to which might benefit other readers. So today I'll start periodically posting a few e-mail exchanges.

Mr. Kelly,
Frankly, I found it appalling on reading in your column in re
John Howard Payne
, that, "... he does sport a porn star-style 'stache."
Is this the King's English as taught at Oxford these days? Why must all be reduced to the "lowest common denominator," pray tell? For shame!

And my reply:

It's a funny thing about the King's English: Commoners speak it as well. Interestingly, when I alluded to Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" in a column earlier this week, and used 50-cent words such as "simulacrum" in another, I didn't hear from a single person accusing me of trying to appeal to the highest common denominator. My aim is to entertain and inform even if, apparently, I sometimes enrage.

Here's another one:

Mr. Kelly, I was enjoying your article "Moving Forward in Time -- or Moving Backward"? It's been done many times before but still it was cute until you wrote "I stare hungrily at women's chests." I stopped short, thinking surely no one would say such a thing in the newspaper, especially not a newspaper with the reputation as sterling as the Washington Post. Yet, there it was. Did you think that was funny? That you wouldn't come across as some sort of a letch? Does no one critique your articles for content? This is a family newspaper, your comment was extremely inappropriate. Does this reflect on the Washington Post? Yes, it most certainly does. You are not a child and if indeed you are reverting, some thoughts are better kept to yourself! Do you really think the women in your social circle are going to feel comfortable the next time you get together thinking your staring at their chests? If you are married or have daughters how do you think this made them feel? I think you should make an apology to your readers, the Post and the women in your life who won't feel your comment was in the least bit funny!

My reply:

I'm sorry you were offended by my language. I was trying to be funny. I thought it was humorous to think of ways in which a grown man might resemble a baby. The bit about women's chests combined the hunger of a baby with the furtive actions of a dirty old man.

I don't usually stare at women's chests -- at least, not hungrily. And neither do I really have to fight the urge to fling dishes to the floor. Again, it was a joke.

You might say that there are certain things that shouldn't be joked about. I think that in the context of the article the joke was fine and, I hope, rather harmless.

And finally:

Dear Mr. Kelly: I very much enjoy reading your column, "John Kelly's Washington." A few weeks ago you did a story on Brian Kraft, who is collating D.C.'s building permits. As a historian, I find this project fascinating. I was wondering if his database could be accessed online from a home or work computer or only at the MLK Library?

Ah, finally an easy one to answer:

The database is not accessible online, though there are plans to put it on the Web. The best thing to do is contact the Washingtoniana Room at Martin Luther King Library. The number is 202-727-1213. If you go, you'll probably run into Brian Kraft himself, who is there most days.

I try to respond to all my e-mails, but sometimes I fall horrifically behind. (As I am right now. I received more than 100 e-mails after yesterday's PB&J column and I'm still digging myself out.) My e-mail:

Don't forget my chat, today at noon. See you then.

By John Kelly  |  March 6, 2009; 9:38 AM ET
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Next: BritNews RoundUp: What's That in Your Pants?


Has anyone ever told you that you're the most embarrassing personality at the Washington Post? Jeez. So little talent, so much ego.

Posted by: zachh | March 6, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Speak for yourself, buddy. Plenty of us like John's musings and missed them when he was away. If you're not interested, then don't read his column or blog.

Posted by: Janine1 | March 6, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Some people would complain about anything. I have no complaints about the JK column. Au contraire, reading it every morning and checking the blog daily are part of my daily wake-up procedure. This dose of humanity gives an excellent start to the day.

Posted by: OldLady1 | March 7, 2009 7:16 AM | Report abuse

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