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.
At first, he was content with the book we wrote about his world. By the time “The Corner” was published it was something of an epitaph for people who were already casualties. Not just DeAndre’s father, but Boo, Bread, Fat Curt, his cousin Dinky, Miss Ella from the rec center. The book was an argument that these lives were not without meaning, that they, too, were complete human beings in the balance. He liked that someone — anyone — thought the people of Fayette Street mattered.
In time, though, he confessed to hating the last line of the narrative, the one in which he is defined as a street dealer and addict at the moment after taking his first adult charge in a raid on a stash house on South Gilmor Street. There was a burden in that, and he grew tired of its weight.
“That isn’t the end of the story,” he complained to me years later. “You don’t know that the story ends that way.”
I readily conceded that he was correct, that the story was ongoing and that a new ending could and would be fashioned if he provided such. By then, his mother had cleaned herself up, moved the family to the county, doing her damnedest to shepherd his young brother, and all of his nieces and nephews to adulthood, to gainful employment or college admissions. The mother of DeAndre’s son had a master’s degree, in fact, and was thrice-promoted at the downtown hospital where she made a career. Even Blue, whose childhood home was the shooting gallery, had more than a decade clean and was spending what remained of his days counseling others out of addiction.
“If you give me another ending, Dre. I’ll write it. I promise. In a new edition, in a magazine article, anywhere I can. I’ll write that fucking story so hard.”
“Wait on it then. You gonna see.”
He went to work for the television shows, time and again lasting only as long as a paycheck or two. He enjoyed acting, and showed some poise, but the jobs that offered the chance at a real career — the behind-the-camera production work, the path to union wages and benefits — those couldn’t hold him. Several months ago, desperate to get out of Baltimore and to walk away from his ever-more exhausting addictions, he asked for one more chance. He would get clean. He would do what needed doing. And so, we rented him an apartment in New Orleans and a gave him a position with the security crew for Treme. His sobriety lasted until the first payday, and by Thanksgiving, ever more angry at himself and depressed, he asked me for a ticket back to Baltimore. New Orleans wasn’t working; there were corners here, too, and he was lonely. His plan, he said, was to see if he could get his job back at Mountain Manor.
It was there that DeAndre found some time to shine. He worked as a peer counselor for court-ordered juveniles in the Mountain Manor residences. He knew those kids, and he knew the street, and so, he actually had the skill set to bring some truth into the room. He lasted two years — longer than any other gig in his life — before he again faltered.
I saw him on Christmas. We embraced. New Orleans went unmentioned.
On his birthday in May, I got a text: “Hey, Dave. Wassup. I’m 35 today. Never thought I’d make it. How ’bout that?”
I texted him back: “Happy Birthday, Dre.”
By then, I knew he was again struggling, unable to outrun the demons. A couple weeks ago, there was a photograph on the Baltimore Police Department’s webpage: An unidentified young man photographed during the robbery of a Pratt Street pharmacy. He claimed to have a gun, but offered only a note. He wanted not money, but drugs, and he left with pills. The photo was DeAndre. Hollow-eyed, dusty — but, clearly, DeAndre.
Fran was horrified. This crossed a line in a way that was genuinely unlike her oldest son. He had lived his life doing great damage to himself, obliterating the bright-eyed manchild one dose at a time. In truth, I never saw a drug addict so unhappy to be high. When DeAndre was chasing, he was miserable and angry and ashamed, with every better angel of his nature buried beneath an ash-heap of resentment and self-loathing. When he sobered, you knew it immediately; DeAndre emerged, playful and self-aware and once again open to the world and other people. And always, in the past, the damage had been confined to himself and those who loved him.
This was new and ugly. Fran confronted him, telling him he needed to turn himself in to police, that he had gone too far, that he had truly lost himself this time. DeAndre pleaded for the chance to get clean first, to sober up before surrendering and going to City Jail. He did not want to detox in pretrial detention; he couldn’t stomach the thought of being sick in those spartan, unforgiving surroundings. Once sober, he would surrender, and he asked his mother to ask me if I would go with him to court. Ask him yourself, Fran told him. Can’t, he told her. I’m ashamed.
I told her to tell DeAndre that I would, of course, stand with him in court, but only if he surrendered himself. I told myself that even now, the end of the story hasn’t yet been written. Maybe this was a true bottom. Maybe some prison time could pull him from the spiral; nothing else seemed to work, after all.
Fran relented, drove him to Tuerk House, where he cleaned up for the last time and then discharged himself. He did not immediately surrender. Instead, a few days later, he took more pills until he fell over dead in a house in Woodlawn. This morning, when the police came to the county looking for him with a warrant, they learned that they were a day late, that DeAndre McCullough was beyond their powers of arrest.
If I close my eyes, the fifteen year old comes to me. His laughter, his wit, his foolishness and ridiculous rationalization mixed in equal measure with his goodness and honesty. I can forgive the addict who came to dominate that young life. I can let go of all the frustration and exhaustion that came with twenty years of faithlessness and hurt. I see, in the end, a man who was in great, unending pain. And I want him to rest now.
In spite of everything, I will miss him badly. I know because I’ve been here before. With Dinky. And Curt. And Ella. And Gary — especially Gary McCullough, the wounded father who in some awful way was a pathfinder for his wounded son. When you tell yourself you are going to write a story about real people, you say so in the abstract, without any real sense of the beings you haven’t yet met, without any measure of the real cost of addressing actual human realities.
Well then, amid all of the easy labels and stereotypes that will now certainly apply, let me offer only the following: I once had the privilege to know a boy named DeAndre McCullough, who at the age of fifteen had led a life of considerable deprivation, but who nonetheless was the fine and fascinating measure of a human soul. Everything after, even the very book that we wrote about his world, today seems like useless and unimportant commentary.
Be free, Dre.
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I’m manney man from the book the corner thank all y’all for likening the book an understanding thank y’all so much
Good to hear from you and I hope life has been good to you and yours.
Dav what’s good man y’all forgot bout us
Dav I been good ok staying alive working tasking care of home an my grand kids since the book an the movie came out everyone went there own way but I’m still in baltimore come see me sometime 2828Denham.cir Baltimore md 21225 an I got a facebook under the name manney walker
Dav send me a book of the corner please my info in the comments
Thank you for getting the story out there Mr. Simon. Only a sociopath could watch The Corner mini series and not feel empathy or sympathy for most of the people involved. I have no doubt many people were shocked to learn that many drug addicts are basically good people caught up in the horror of drug addiction. Kids who grow up in environments like that rarely manage to escape or even survive. If I was raised in a neighborhood like that, I have no doubt I would have ended up a statistic.
I am watching The Corner series again and came to this page after wondering what happened to these people who reminded me of many people I have known or still know. I am a huge fan of The Wire and just realized how The Wire has several people from The Corner. I read the above post while searching to find out what happened to the real characters and am very sad to learn that Deandre passed. I probably heard this before but only now while re-watching this series and reading the above post about him personally does it strike me as so very sad. I hope you continue to produce series about our communities. The Wire will always be my all time favorite series ever made. This could have been about my own home town in East Oakland CA especially during the 90’s. These times are gone but not forgotten. While I don’t celebrate the violence at all, there were some happy times worthy of revisiting.
Well I’m manney man from the book the corner thanks for asking bout the rest of us No one never did that but I’m fine well two grandkids still in baltimore doing good thank you so much for asking bout the rest of us that mean a lot .. God blessyou
Hi David, I know its been some time since DeAndre’s passing but every couple months for some reason I come back to read this.
As a 14 year old girlfriend of a crackdealer I was introduced to “The Wire” in ’02 when I was flipping channels and I came across a group of young dudes talking about things that I had never seen portrayed so realistically before. They had the drug slang down pat! Actually I’m lying it was the clothes that I first noticed…wardrobe dressed these guys like real teenagers not in some exaggerated “hood costume” you could find on your average drama. The characters are still a huge part of my life. I of course like many others had to find out who this David Simon guy was and get a hold of his other works. Of course that lead me to your Homicide, The Corner (read the book, watched the mini series) Treme, and more recently “Show Me A Hero” All of which I loved, I mean really loved. These characters are apart of me just as much as scars on my body. ( Can I just say you have the best casting director in the business!)
I’m just wondering with all that’s happened to Fran Boyd, how is she holdin up? I mean she already had a rough go before this. But then with the passing of her charismatic son and her husband Donnie, my heart breaks for her. I tried to see if I could reach her via any other forms of social media and I couldn’t find anything. Of course I want to respect her privacy. I just thought I’d ask. I know she is obviously a very strong woman but the death of a child is unimaginable. As years have passed, I am now a 28 mother of a 10 year old and 6 year old who has faced my own addiction issues, I still think of Fran.
Thank you for introducing DeAndre,Gary, Fran, Donnie and so many other beautiful and complex souls to us.
Thank you for the love deandre was my friend as kids he was a good friend along wit the rest but I’m manney man from the book the corner wasn’t tomuch sad about me but deandre miss him always (bg.gp,mf)
Thanks in support of sharing such a nice opinion, post is nice, thats why i
have read it fully
My name is Melissa . When I got sentence the time in Howard County I was already in Anne Arundel County pulling 9 months the judge ordered me to read the book The Corner I had never heard of that book before he told me that if I read the book and wrote a report on it that he would take back my 18 months so I had to wait two months just to get the book as I begin reading the book to my surprise I found out that I had lived that life in the book I was a 23 year old prostitute what I met dinky and DeAndre on this McHenry Street there were looking for a girl and I was her. I remember how innocent they were even though that they were pedaling a little bit of heroin cocaine I remember them paying a guy so that we could use his place so that they could pay me for sex I had only seen them two times after that as I later read in the book I had been in the shooting gallery it ritas place. I also remember the time when Boo was found shot between two houses on Gilmore Street in McHenry later we found out that a 16 year old girl also Named Boo that shot him I remember one night being at a local bar that was right on Gilmore Street the owner of the bar was a drug addict and her remember praying to God please help me do anything. I got arrested. I left that place when I got out of jail and later moved to Virginia for 17 years I now live in Jessup Maryland 15 minutes from Baltimore I have since went into the city even though the faces of all changed everything is still the same I thank God for being clean. As I leave that earthly hell I can say as I look at the next young white prostitute probably grew up in a nice home in the county “by the grace of god they’re go I.
Keep strong. You’ve seen a lot, but your life is your own and you deserve everything that you are fighting for each day. McHenry Street is now just something you survived.
[…] found that DeAndre died in 2012. Simon wrote a remembrance for him on his website. Fran, well Fran doesn’t turn out like you expect based on reading about […]
very well written and thought provoking. i remember getting the corner from the book store when it first came out and seeing de on the cover was the first thing that made me pick the book up. rip dinky, boo, and r.c. what ever happen to bugsy, the ny cat that took dre under his wing early in the book, aslo scar and drac.
Something was drawing me to this . This piece of work is so appreciated, even in 2016. Thank you for your service.
so I watched the corner and read the book. I was in tears. I said I was never gonna pick it up again because it was so sad. Unfortunately, I find myself reading things about Deandre or watching pieces of the movie again to this day. I just wanna say that it was a must see/read but so so sad. Do you know how any of the real cast are doing like his mom, child’s parent, brother? How is that area in Baltimore now?
I keep looking for articles after watching the movie also – some of my family is in Baltimore. I lived there for 1 year when I was a child. I wish there had been a different outcome for Dre. May he and the others rest in peace. I don’t remember Omar. One article said his mother married him.
How could you write something thats broken me?
Looking back at the two comments posted by Tim, the policeman who proved himself incapable of considering the feelings and perspectives of those who actually did know De’Andre for who he truly was, I feel that they are representative of a greater problem in public society. This is a problem which I feel has been worsening over time. You can see it in the current political landscape, and in so many citizens who choose to verbally attack and insult opposing viewpoints without establishing a solid basis for their own. One cannot help but wonder if there will continue to be enough room for genuine thought and understanding for people in different and in many ways unfortunate circumstances if this many people continue to display similar kinds of short-sightedness. In light of all I have seen surrounding the current election process, I cannot lie. I am scared. I am afraid. I do not know what to do in order to prevent my fear from consuming me.
I read both Homicide and The Corner while I was working my way through the DVD box sets of The Wire (and loved all of them). And I was always surprised, pleased and intrigued when the people I’d been reading about popped up onscreen… People like Jay Landsman and DeAndre McCullough.
The way you wrote about these guys made them so real, so vivid, that seeing them in the flesh always felt a bit like seeing old acquaintances. And I was especially happy to see DeAndre’s appearances in The Wire, as it suggested that he’s done it. He’d got out. Maybe that is why I’m so saddened to have come across this obituary today, even though it was written long ago.
So, thank you Mr. Simon. Thanks for writing about him so eloquently in The Corner. Thanks for giving him a part in The Wire. And thank you for writing this last, heart-breaking piece.
RIP DeAndre McCullough.
I finally got around to reading the corner. I’ve read a fair amount of books that did not stay with me, but this one definitely will. I was saddened to do some internet searching after finishing and finding that many of the people have passed. Saddened, but not surprised.
You guys did a great job chronicling the events, but also putting everything in context. In particular, Fran’s getting clean, followed by the inexorable slide back to the old ways was bleak. It read like someone getting out of jail and not knowing what to do with themselves — surrounded by the same dope fiends, drugs, capers and the rest. What chance do you have in that situation? After all that, it’s great to hear Fran is doing well.
When we see someone up on a court charge for selling drugs or stealing to fund their habit, we instinctively judge the person standing before us, giving little thought to their circumstances. The corner is bleak and unrelenting, but it also showed that most people are decent and likeable even after life conspires to fuck them up from the word go.
David, have you had any second thoughts on whether using real names was the right thing to do? The part about Gary’s parents and their misgivings sounded distressing for both parties. On the other hand, I feel privileged to have known a little of Gary’s story — he was undoubtedly a good man with a kind soul and a fierce work ethic. Without the book, I would’ve never known he existed.
Anyway, thanks to you & Ed Burns for writing such a thought-provoking book.
Yes, there is both human cost and benefit to using the real names.
The cost to the privacy of individual lives is certain. The benefit is to the power and endurance of the story as a whole — the very notion that the story is worth the telling because it is about real lives in the balance. We remember Anne Frank and understand the scale and horror of the Holocaust through her life because she really lived in that attic, she really died in the camps, and that really was her name.
I’d vouch for using real names too. Although the dramatic format is probably more palpable (arguably), the constant reminder of a never-to-be-forgotten reality, i.e. the names, is what makes these people, and their stories, relevant.
Any piece of book or film will usually present only a tiny portion of a people’s life; using real names allows us to dive deep into the entirety of these people’s existence – and to learn the lesson to be learnt.
The Corner (which I just finished watching and now ya’ll know why I stumbled upon this thread) is a gruesome picture for a reality that is really quite far from mine. I know the streets; but I always stayed away from dope fiends, probably because this other-America situation has been moderately rare where I grew up (the French capital).
The point is, I feel like I’m a little less ignorant now than I was a few days ago – and isn’t this the sole noble function of art: to enlighten society in the face of its existential struggle? To investigate reality? And find beauty where there is none?
Do you have any pictures of the real Gary McCollough? And Fat Curt, and any of the others besides, DeAndre, Fran and Blue? When did Gary McCollough die? Did he die before you finished the book or before the movie was filmed? I have not read the book but I bougt the movie (miniseries) in 2001 or 2002, and I just recently shared it with friends for movie night at my house. You guys did a wonderful job. I know it was sad for you as well. I have done a lot of research on the characters and and the real life people. There is nothing about Gary on the internet. Whenever I try to type in Gary Castro McCollough, I just get info about DeAndre and the movie/book in general.
The book itself has photos by Debra Gertler of the folks we came to know. In the miniseries, in the main title and credit sequences, many of those photos do appear as well.
Thanks so much for getting back to me so fast. I’m going to buy the book.
I was just looking at a piece on the news just two days ago Tuesday or Wednesday about the deteriorated neighborhoods in Baltimore and I got so excited because so many of the neighborhoods appeared to be the exact same neighborhoods shown in the miniseries. To touch on the comment left here on October 8, 2014, it looks just the same as in the movie. I must now watch The Wire. I keep hearing/reading a lot about it.
You did beautiful work. Absolutely beautiful. I also watched the interview that you did at the Church. You really are an awesome writer. You captured the personalities of those people so well. This will/should do a lot for raising awareness if EVERYONE would at least watch the movie because not everyone will read as easily as they would watch the movie. I think it should be mandatory reading AND viewing in schools. Every time I watch the Corner, it takes me weeks to recover emotionally. I think about Fran and Gary and DeAndre and Fat Curt and about their painful lives. I was sad to learn that DeAndre had actually died in 2012. Real life …
David what’s up its manney man from the book the corner that use to be with Deandre I’m still in baltimore I stay at 2828 Denham circle my number is 4439913332 it would be nice to here from you have a good day
I am out of town on work, but I will call you when I get home. Thanks for checking in. I’m glad to hear from you. Yes, it’s been a long day’s journey.
What ’bout Dennis Davis, he was in the shooting gallery as this man with glasses when East Side Fiend was talking about East Side dope?
What about Dennis?
Fat Curt is at the end of every episode with Everlast Tshirt and a cane I suppose?
Damn it sad to know the same people you went to school with and grow up with are gone Richard and dre crazy I never knew they were gone I remember sitting on the steps and seeing dre telling his story
[…] O verdadeiro DeAndre morreu em 2012. Você pode acessar aqui o epitáfio que David Simon escreveu para ele (em inglês). Faça essa leitura após terminar de […]
Adore your work. I’ve read the book and watched the series. Now I’m using it as a basis for my housing and community development graduate class. The students love it, and many saw it when it originally aired. Deandre and I are close to the same age, as I’m only two yearsc olderc them he would’ve been. And to see his life so beautifully commemorated touches my heart. But please know your work and the lives of all on the corner are helping build aware, caring community organizers and builders. Namaste.
Read the Corner and watched the series…..loved both. Recently I was in Baltimore so I took a ride to see the actual “corner” you wrote about. I was hoping that since it had been almost 20 years since you spent a year there that maybe things had improved but it didn’t appear that way. Just wondering if there has been any attempts to try and revive that area of the city. I could see potential for those row houses to be restored but was shocked to see such a vast area of what appeared to be abandoned and damaged properties. Do you ever return to see the area and do you keep in touch with anyone still living there?
[…] vrai DeAndre est mort cet été, à 35 ans, d’une overdose. David Simon en parle sur son blog. Son père Gary était mort durant l’écriture de The Corner. Car c’est aussi ça, la […]
DeAndre’s poem has come true …
the angels have set him free from the life of a ghetto child
Hungry for knowledge but afraid to eat..
What happened to the guy who went to sea? Forget his name now……
I haven’t seen Mike in some time. You made me curious. I will ask around.
Thankyou I read the book a while back and it touched me and moved me to tears in places. Also read Homicide which was awesome. Poor DeAndre, I am now going to find the Corner on DVD.
He is actually back at sea!!! He got his life together, got married,has several granchildren and is very active in church..he just recently in the last year went back to sea.
thank you for posting this.
i hope his grandkids are also prospering.
Thank you David, I only heard about this there now, it’s so sad.
Thanks for bringing me their stories.
Dear Mr Simon
My name is Meghan Im 25 and from Baltimore. I have watch the series over and over a 1000 times… I see so much of myself and family members on this this story. I want to write a book about my life story and hope to get it published and be a voice to young people like myself stuck in this “lost generation”. I wish I could tell you the half of my story but don’t want to ruin it. I know I will never get the opportunityt to work with you but I hope one day I will get the same opportunity as DeAndre. You are such a awesome man as well.as your team.. May God bless you and the rest of the Wire and Corner family….. Especially you Ms. Fran!!!!
How about R.C.? Is he still around?
No. Passed last year.
That’s terrible. Having read the 2009 afterword to the U.K. edition of “The Corner,” I had to wonder whether or not he would turn out alright in the end. I am sorry (though not especially surprised I guess) that he too met a tragic end. Along with Gary and De’Andre (and Ella and Fran too I should add) I found him to be among the most engaging figures in the whole book. It must be such a sad feeling to know how many people in your life you have seen succumb to their personal demons. I don’t know what it’s like to lose so many people you learn to care about like that, but I feel for you.
Keep on with the good work you’re doing Mr. Simon. You set a good example for many. And good luck with that Pogues musical. I’m a Pogues fan myself so I’m looking forward to how it will turn out.
Is Dontae still with us?
Dontae was doing pretty well last I saw him. He was out of prison, and working a straight job as a forklift operator. He seemed strong.
David you are truly an amazing person to take the chance and courage to delve in the lives these people face. I’ve seen The Wire and The Corner, you really know how to stay dedicated to these issues in Urban America that are rarely taken noticed of. You tell it like it is, you are a true inspiration.
I’m in tears as I type this. I’m a Baltimore Native who was to young to watch The Corner when it aired and have found it, only today as I research for an audition I have this coming week. Researching a life I knew at a very close distance. Drugs, was always what happened ‘around the corner’ from me. Raised in a single parent home my mom’s efforts seemed effortless in keeping drugs out of our home. I knew dealers, I knew addicts, I knew the demoralizing struggle that friends faced and I also knew I HAD TO LEAVE. I left Baltimore at 18 for school and could never understand why it seemed like my mother was pushing me back on the Greyhound bus on sunday to leave HOME. She later admitted that she ‘worried more about me when I was home, then when I was away at school’ . I was immediately intimidated when I received an audition for a drug addicted parent but knew I had to do it. I’m not sure what my assignment is in this moment but i know i have an obligation to my hometown. An obligation to say at some pt if nothing else, It’s sad when you find the best research for something so hellacious, in your own hometown. There are tons of ‘EXCEPTIONS’ tons of kids I know that don’t want to be in the drug game, that have fought to withstand it and with lil to no options find themselves, if not in it, sitting on the steps in the midst of it. I hate how Deandre and Gary’s story ended and I pray my life becomes a testament for what CAN happen as a product of Baltimore. Thank you for your ‘service’ to his story. “The Proof is in the Sacrifice” Nikiva Dionne
I know you have heard all this before but I cannot help but to comment.
I actually really watch TV (too busy with other stuff!) but a friend told me to watch the corner when it was on in 2000. I was blown away.
Now, I am an executive at a large Fortune 500 company and my work takes me to Baltimore regularly. I was in a cab on the way to Penn Station and was on Fayette (only a couple miles from Mount Street) and remembered ‘The Corner’ and have rediscovered the series all over again (now, unlike 2000, I can carry it around on my Ipad).
Now, watching it 13 years later, I am again simply astonished at the level of excellence in your work on The Corner. Some things that stand out to me
– The casting and acting were incredible. I really believed the CMB crew was that tight (and not just actors), I really felt the manipulative nature of Ronnie Boyce, I really felt the snake sneaking up on Gary. It felt like a one in a million combination of actors, all in the zone at the top of their game undoubtedly in large part due to the direction and production
– The subtleties of how the story was told were excellent. The narration, Charles Dutton conversations with the characters, etc. Also the relationship between Fran and Gary- such a fine balance between ambivalence and still lingering tenderness.
– The flashbacks- the vibrant colors really takes one back in time
The Corner is a once in a generation piece of work in terms of storytelling, acting and direction. Thank you for this magnificent achievement.
Very kind, thanks. Great credit to the real people who let us into their lives to tell that story. We tried to be fair with it.
It’s funny because a lot of people think that there is no were else in the world with a corner, as I watched this film being played out about these very real people it took every thing in me to hold it together; as I wished that all of the characters would be okay! As I watched my heart sunk for de’andre as I could see the pain with in his eyes. I sincerely hope both he and his father are at peace!! And they are able to form the bond; up in the kingdom of heaven the that once 15 year old boy so desperately craved. It’s funny because you never really know how something is going to touch you until your alone, I often shead a tear when I think of that young man and his friends that never made it to 35 years of age as he did. I hope the mother’s of his children never allow them to forget him, and remind the that he was like so many of us a victim of not only his upbringing but his environment too! My De’andre for ever RIP, and he will be someone that is remember to me.
Always wondered what ended up happening.
A deeply, deeply moving story. Very tragic.
no need to post
I found “the corner” to be devestating and inspiring at the same time, I can’t stop thinking about it. For DeAndre to finally succumb to addiction and pass is the cruellest twist of fate, I don’t believe in heaven but sure hope he is in a better place now, able to be the man he truelly was but could never be.
To all his loved ones, he is gone yes and only time can heal that pain, but feel blessed to have the memories of him. I wish I could have met this man who fought through so much adversity, who lived through so much deprivation and fought the worst of demons but still had a true heart full of love for those he knew. Take joy from the time you had.
Rest in Peace DeAndre, and also Gary, I really know nothing about the real you but I will never forget you.
I am a newcomer to the world of “The Wire” and “The Corner,” but can tell you that I am now an ardent fan of your work, both written and televised. Having grown up with an addicted parent and a mother who worked at a drug rehab facility in Newark, I have found your work about the war on drugs and the life of addicts extremely moving and want to thank you for your great body of work. I just finished “The Corner” this week and googled all of the characters so I could get a more complete picture of their progress, and came across this article about DeAndre. My heart goes out to him and his family – I’ve never met any of them but your book has made them an almost tangible presence in my life. Also, I now do legal work for social services in NJ and your work has brought me to a whole new level of compassion for those I encounter through my job, and to be honest, a lot of frustration with a system that dooms many to failure.
Thank you again for your great work and this touching tribute.
Dre is missed. Thank you for writing.
[…] http://davidsimon.com/deandre-mccullough-1977-2012/ […]
[…] can be seen in The Wire and The Corner (and, to a lesser extent, Treme). In fact Simon recently posted on his blog about the death of DeAndre McCullough, one of the subjects of The Corner. It’s clear how much Simon cared for McCullough, not least […]
Mr. Simon, thank you for giving us a glimpse into these people’s lives. I wanted to watch The Corner with my husband because we had just viewed The Wire and fell in love with the entire series. While we expected to be entertained, we were not. We were emotionally invested in these people and I had to google and find out what they were doing now and it breaks my heart because I had high hopes for Dre. Ms. Ella was a true gem, and I believe she died from a broken heart. Blue passed on, but in peace I hope. Gary’s story hurt the most becaise I just wanted him to get off the dope. He was so smart and brilliant, it was just a huge waste of potential and sad to watch. These characters have changed my life and their endings have broken my heart… I will never forget any of them. Gary and Fran failed Dre in a lot of ways, but I was shocked when he decided to try the hard stuff. I don’t know… this is the reality of the streets and it is ugly. I am going to read your book and I just say thank you again for giving these people, people who would normally be forgotten about in alleys and vacant houses, a voice and a chance for redemption.
So sorry to hear about Deandre. I remember seeing this mini series years ago when it first came on HBO, it touched me back then.Also happened to see it a few weeks ago One thing that I could never shake that really got to me was that very last episode, when Deandre was on the corner by himself, late night, pulled the capsule out of his pocket and actually tried the drug for the first time. I was just shouting at the TV NOOOO!!! NOOO!!! NOOOO!! NOOOO!!! I knew right then and there that that young mans life would never be the same. I guess I just couldnt understand why he would want to even try it, seeing what it had put his mother through, and father, but also everyone in his community, his surroundings. Seems like his friend Boo was already an addict himself by the last episode. So sadden to hear about Blue as well. Watching the last episode when the real individuals came out and talked I knew that he would be just fine, Hoping the Deandre would have a happy ending like his mother. Another thing that I wondered about as well was Deandre’s oldest son by Tyreeka. Im sure he’s a grown man now.Not much coverage with him. Is he still around, hopefully he hasnt gone down that path of destruction. I really appreciate the work that you put into “The Corner”. Its heart-felt, heart-breaking but of all, so realistic of the world that we live in today.
Are you still in touch with W. M. McCullough, De’Andre’s grandfather?
I am not, regrettably. Mr. McCullough and his late wife were unhappy with the book when it was finally published. Not for anything in particular so much as the general discomfort of having Gary’s story told publicly. It is a divided verdict as far as the project is concerned, in retrospect. Some of Gary’s siblings have told me privately that they respect and value the narrative, and our purpose in telling the story. Others remain quite unhappy, specifically because the book notes some of Gary’s own resentments with certain siblings, albeit told through Gary’s subjective point of view, of course.
Charitably and genuinely, it would be hard for any family to read the narrative of Gary McCullough’s last years and be entirely comfortable about everything, and so, I respect what displeasure has been expressed. But of course I stand by the story, our purposes in telling the story, and I hold the McCullough family as a whole — and W.M. in particular — in the highest regard, as does Ed Burns.
I was just wondering if this type of family divide was something that you expected or did it come as a surprise? I do understand how it would be difficult for family members given the subject matter.
As a fan I certainly loved the story that was told. As a writer, did you expect that some family members would be displeased?
I have seen where you have spoke of Gary McCullough as someone you truly cared about and got to know through your research.
Has this changed your attitude about telling stories about people’s lives?
If you make everyone happy with everything you write, you are not doing the work of journalism. Best you can do is be honest and treat everyone with respect, and when people are unhappy, to not take that personally. It is sad sometimes if you genuinely like or care for the person — and with narrative journalism I do believe that you need to begin from a position of basic empathy with the people that you choose to follow and portray. But the outcome is not for you to control. You serve the story and you try to make the story as honest an explication of what people went through, and thought and did as you can.
Not all of the detectives liked everything I wrote about them in that book, either. I am still good friends with some, I am friendly with others. And some had residual distaste for me or the process. But I followed the story where it seemed to lead.
Mr. Simon I want to first say that You are an incredible writer! I was 14 years old when I first saw the corner. I’m now 27. It touch me then and it touch and open my eyes even more to see it now . I feel that deandre was so many things such a wonderful young man . He was so alone and had such a big responsibilty at a young age that I feel that it was just to much to handle we all need someone to pick us up when we are down . And to be in an environment that he was in and was unable to excape it… Can’t move forward … The struggle was just to much for him to handle ..his only excape was drugs he had no outlet … At least that’s what I no he felt… And to no that he is dead it hurt me like I lost a friend. I was hoping he beat the family addiction but instead he feel victim to this nasty scary devil call drugs.. In sha Allah his at peace .. RIP Andre thanks for allowing the world to see your story!
Do you know how WM has been doing in the past four years since Donell originally asked that question?
I am wondering if anyone here knew/knows Ronnie Boice and what happened to her after the book and show? I’ve always wondered about her and how she really looks.
I do not know what happened to her but I believe she had a small cameo in the final epsiode of “The Corner”.
I know that Ms. Boice is still with us, and sometimes I hear that she is doing okay and sometimes less so. I am in touch with her daughter, who is doing well.
That is so good to hear that she’s still with us. I’m also very intrigued to find out who she played on the final episode. Thank you so much David and Kimberly. xo
Ronnie was at the Narcotics Anonymous meeting and she portrayed the woman who was given a token for having a first day clean.
THE CORNER was one of the most powerful mini-series in HBO history. When I first watched it I was interested because it was based on real people. After watching it I wish it would have been fiction. Most of the people were just too likeable to know the ugly reality of their all too real and ugly world. One of the most memorable scenes was when Gary was shooting up with” People Get Ready” playing on the radio and remembering playing basketball with his son. When he looked up at the goal it was like he was looking up in the sky and saw angels. After what happened to him he very well may have saw angels. With Gary’s ability to only find peace in death I can’t help but think DeAndre was forever haunted by that and it seemed to seal his own fate. I was heart broken to hear of DeAndre’s death but not at all surprised to hear how it happened. Gary and DeAndre I hope and pray you both found the peace in death you couldn’t find in life.
THE CORNER was one of the most powerful mini-series in HBO history. I looked forward to watching it because it was non-fiction and after watching it wish to God it would have been fiction. Most of the characters portrayed were just too likable to envision how drugs destroyed their lives. A very ugly reality in a very ugly world. One of the most unforgetable scenes was when Gary was shooting up and “People Get Ready” was playing on the radio. When he was remembering playing basketball with his son he looked up at the goal but it also looked like he was looking up at the sky and saw angels. As it turned out later he very well may have. I can’t help but think Gary’s ability to only find peace in death haunted DeAndre to the point it seemed to seal his own fate. I was heart broken to hear of DeAndre’s death but not surprised to how it happened. Like Gary I hope you found peace also DeAndre.
The way that you mentioned George “Blue” Epps in this article seems to imply that he is also no longer alive. I read your 2009 afterword to the U.K. edition of “The Corner” and it seemed that he was still doing well at the time. But that was the last I knew of him. I haven’t found any obituaries for Blue. I just want to ask if it is true that he is also deceased now.
Mr. Epps passed away a few years ago. He is greatly missed.
Real shame.. Loved him playing Lemar in The Wire. Great little character that DeAndre played brilliantly against Michael Potts’ Brother Mouzone.. A real joy to watch
I also came to this site from watching all of the episodes on HBO. It’s really disheartening to discover that he developed an addiction and succumbed to his demons, and I hope that his family is doing well. I lost one brother to an OD and my other brother is currently in and out of jail for a variety of charges related to his addictions. I found myself in tears watching this miniseries again and confronting the despair and hopelessness of heroin addiction. Thank you David for sharing the McCulloughs’ story and for your advocacy against the drug war.
I remember the HBO miniseries & was surprised to see it airing again after all these years. I am watching all of the episodes right now. My curiosity got the best of me & I Googled Fran & found out about DeAndre. Sad. Very, very sad.
I just finished watching The Corner and came across your beautiful tribute to Dre. His story, along with all of the others weigh heavily on my heart. Showing the flashbacks of the origins of the characters really impacted my outlook. You were able to show that every addict matters and everyone has a story. Essentially, we are all only a few steps from the Corner. I will be thinking about the people in the story for a long time.
How is Fran’s younger son doing?
I also want to thank you for giving us The Wire and Treme. You are a storyteller like no other and I am extremely thankful.
DeRodd is doing well. He’s learned film editing. He’s a father. He’s a good young man all around.
Deandre story broke my heart because he had so much potential.hows everyone doing now? i just finished reading the book the corner . and i was wondering are you thinking about writing just a part two detailed about what happened to everyone afterwards or even making another mini series of the corner. that would be sooo great.
Have you ever considered writing a new afterword for your book “The Corner,” like you did for “Homicide,” seven years ago? Speaking as a fan of your work in general I was sad to read your (beautifully written) article about the death of De’Andre, though I also wonder if you have considered writing more about what has happened to some of the others you depicted in that book since it’s original publication, like Ronnie Boice for instance, or maybe a more detailed discription of the deaths of R.C. and most of the rest of De’Andre’s old gang. Forgive me if you have in fact already written about these things but I just never found anything dealing with those particular subjects. (Just for the record I am not trying to enroach on anyone’s privacy and if you read this I hope you understand that was not my intention.)
Actually, I did so a couple years ago for the release of the book in the U.K. and subsequent editions in other countries have this later afterword. The American publisher has shown no interest in putting the book back on the presses with the new afterword, but perhaps I will inquire again. Thanks for your interest and perhaps you can lay hands on the Canongate (U.K.) edition of the book.
Mr. Simon how are you. Just 2 start off: Im from Newark New Jersey and a very big fan of your work (TV & as an author) and like Im reading now (& see that my feelings are shared across America) Im sure it’s no surprise to hear that Im mostly a fan b/c of your extravagant way of portraying REALITY – from life situations down to the way certain area’s slang are pronounced. All of these reasons do make an impact on the viewers impression & draw them much closer. From watching & reading the corner, the wire, etc. it was as if I had a great feel for how other hoods in other states move & operate. I could hardly blink as I was reading about one of my favorite David Simon characters passing on (RIP ‘Dre) that was just truly a devastating surprise. My love & condolences go deeply out to the fam & friends of Dre. We hear that life is much better on the other side, but still it hurts to let 1 go there. I have a much deeper appreciation 4 you & your work Mr. Simon I honestly do. Especially seeing that you are able to be reached by fans & followers. If possible, are you able to give me an email or any form of formal contact. There are things I would really like to get your advice & suggestions about. This would be greatly appreciated Mr. Simon, honestly. Thanks again & please keep up the good work educating the urban society. We love it man…. #RIPdre
I’m sorry, but this is the extent of my contacts with readers or viewers. To go beyond this, I would be overwhelmed by the responsibilities of correspondence, not to mention deluged with story ideas, actor glossies, unsolicited screenplays. As it is, I have to fend a pile of that stuff off when it reaches me through inappropriate conduits. I think it’s enough that I try to maintain and service this site, frankly.
The fact that you respond to your fans and readers via this forum is greatly appreciated. I agree, and would further state that what you are doing is more than enough.
Deandre story broke my heart because he had so much potential.hows everyone doing now? i just finished reading the book the corner . and i was wondering are you thinking about writing just a part two detailed about what happened to everyone afterwards or even making another mini series of the corner. that would be sooo great.
I wish I had known that sooner. I’ll look into it. Thanks, and good luck with your future projects.
Like Jay, I too happen to be a huge fan of your work, including your ability to describe real people in such detail. As such I also share Jay’s curiosity about a certain “lady” in your book “The Corner,” named Ronnie Boice. I have read the U.K. edition that you described above and though I appreciated the updates I was more than a little surprised to see that there was no thorough mention of Boice. For me, she is one of the book’s most compelling figures precisely because of how unsympathetic she turns out in both the book and the mini-series (Tasha Smith played the part superbly IMO.) I do wonder if you might have any insight into what has happened to her since the death of her target “Gary McCullough.” After all the torture (and appalling double-standards) that she put him through, to read about her being moved to tears at Gary’s burial was a major surprise to me. I thoroughly admire how you are able to explain a person like Gary (R.I.P.), or Fran or De’Andre (R.I.P.) so thoroughly that the reader can appreciate them as real people.
Like Jay, I wonder if you know what has happened to her since then, but even more than that I wonder if you can answer the following question:
How do you explain a character like the selfish, scheming (and hypocritical), Veronica Boice?
I know this is a little late but I just thought I would share that I just purchased a copy of the 2009 edition that includes Mr. Simon’s forward from Amazon.co.uk.
I am so excited, I can hardly wait until it arrives. I was not able to purchase a Kindle version but you can have a hard copy shipped.
Thank you for your input. Actually, I purchased my own copy of the U.K. edition last month from the U.K. version of Amazon.com. Also just so you are aware, the newer section is an afterword not a foreword, as Mr. Simon and I discussed in our exchange of words two months ago. I have read it and although we all know certain things have happened since the afterword was initially written it still serves as a satisfactory update to the book’s initial publication in 1997. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.
All the best,
I just found this. How heartbreaking. What a horrible, horrible waste. These children deserve so much better. Bless you for giving him a voice in the world, and letting his name be known so that he can be missed as he deserved.
I have been showing the corner to my high school classes, mostly seniors. Next week for their semester final, i am showing the sixth hour. I am sitting here almost in tears, thinking how can I tell them this? I really have to be ready for some emotional fallout, because the kids are very invested in De Andre…..
As was anyone who got to know him. It is very hard for me to watch him at the end of The Corner.
It’s been a hard, hard year for Fran.
Just found your blog through a friend. I was tearing up by the end of your piece on D’Andre. I read The Corner years ago, and strongly urged my friends to read it, too. I wanted them to realize the folks we see on the corner are human beings, with hopes and dreams and shortcomings. Just like us, although perhaps their demons are harder to keep at bay.
On a different note, I thoroughly enjoyed Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets. I remember buying a copy as soon as it became available, and reading it eagerly. At that time, I was a Pretrial Release Investigator and I remember ed the cases you wrote about. I also interviewed the suspect that ran over his woman passenger in South Baltimore. Dave Brown’s statement of charges on that case was brilliant.
Hope you and your family have a great holiday.
I’m manney man from the book the corner we did have hard lives coming up as kids I miss dre an the rest of my home boys
I heard about Donnie passing away. Donnie had a chance to redeem himself and I am at peace with that. But I just heard about Dre. It hurts more than I thought it would.
I Finished reading “The Corner” last night. I read Homicide last year. Loved them both. Brilliant work by the both of you. I cannot begin to praise you and say how inspired and impressed I was with both books.
Half way through reading “The Corner” I decided to google DeAndre and some of the other characters to see if the picture I created in my mind was close to what they actually looked like, when I googled them I leaned of DeAndre’s death and stumbled upon this site. I booked marked this particular blog to read after I had finished “The Corner.” reading the book from then on knowing Dre’s fate was a strange feeling but didn’t change the way I felt about him or the other characters.
Gary’s death in the book was a huge shock to me and actually made me kick out in frustration, but what really got me was Ella’s death. This amazing woman who put her life and soul into making other peoples life’s nicer suddenly dies, really stuck me as, well, sort of unfair. Your book, and this article brought tears to my eyes. I have never set foot in Baltimore I am from The UK but I feel this connection with Baltimore and the characters now thanks to your books. Thank you for writing these books and I hope everyone is doing well especially Fran, that woman is a huge inspiration.