Archive for category: Books

DeAndre McCullough (1977-2012)

03 Aug
August 3, 2012

To remember him as we met him, twenty years ago, is to know everything that was lost, everything that never happened to a boy who could surprise you with his charm and wit and heart.

At fifteen, he was selling drugs on the corners of Fayette Street, but that doesn’t begin to explain who he was.  For the boys of Franklin Square — too many of them at any rate — slinging was little more than an adolescent adventure, an inevitable rite of passage.  And whatever sinister vision you might conjure of a street corner drug trafficker, try to remember that a fifteen-year-old slinger is, well, fifteen years old.

He was funny.  He could step back from himself and mock his own stances — “hard work,” he would say when I would catch him on a drug corner, “hard work being a black man in America.”  And then he would catch my eye and laugh knowingly at his presumption.  His imitations of white-authority voices — social workers, police officers, juvenile masters, teachers, reporters — were never less than pinpoint, playful savagery.  The price of being a white man on Fayette Street and getting to know DeAndre McCullough was to have your from-the-other-America pontifications pulled and scalpeled apart by a manchild with an uncanny ear for hypocrisy and cant.

He could be generous, and loyal. I remember him rushing out before Christmas to spend his corner money on gifts for his brother, nieces and nephews — knowing that his mother wasn’t going to get it done that year. I remember the moments of quiet affection he demonstrated when his mother was at her lowest ebb, telling her gently that she was better than this, that she could rise again. And, too, I remember his stoic, certain forgiveness of his father, who moved wraith-like around those same corners, lost in an addiction he could never defeat.

“I really feel like he’s at peace now,” DeAndre said after Gary’s funeral, explaining that his father was too gentle for the corners, too delicate a soul to be out there along Fayette Street. His father was never going to be what he was. Not ever again.  DeAndre said this with no malice, in a voice that was as loving as any words I ever heard him speak.

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Green sheet: Terry McLarney rates the intern

20 Apr
April 20, 2008

Behold the wit and wisdom of Det. Terrence Patrick McLarney, philosopher-king and comic provocateur of the Baltimore Police Department:

Green sheets are the semi-annual performance evaluation forms undertaken for all officers by their direct supervisors.

Halfway through 1988, the year I spent as a police “intern” following one homicide shift, I walked into roll call to find a completed green sheet in my mail box.  My listed duties:  “In-house armchair quarterback.  Kibbitzer.”

It scans poorly so allow me to quote some of the best parts:

“…Intern Simon generally shows up to work though his schedule remains something of a mystery.  He is an avid reader and since he has no actual function or responsibility he has become quite adept at telling the rest of us what is going on around here.”

“Intern Simon never acts as O.I.C. as there are others more qualified.  He has been observed in the company of females on several occasions.  However, the relationship with these women is unclear and his true sexual orientation remains in doubt.”

“Intern Simon has been apprised relative to the department’s alcohol abuse program.”

My favorite year, without question.

Xmas Poem From The Sun Cop Reporters to Homicide, 1984

20 Apr
April 20, 2007

Bunk’s Retirement Ticket

20 Apr
April 20, 2007

Every now and then a drawer or a file cabinet yields some small treasure.   Reproduced here is my ticket to the retirement party of Oscar “The Bunk” Requer, a veteran of the Baltimore Police Department’s homicide unit who, yes, was the inspiration for the character that Wendell Pierce made his own over five seasons of The Wire.

And yes, Wendell went with me to the party.  Bunk squared, as it were.