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Greenmount Avenue
Nero the Pict, Only White Boy in the Hood

I still had a car but it was slowly dying on me. I was cagey enough to know that my white ass driving round these areas I’d pull cop attention. On foot you have to worry about one thing, but in a car you have to worry about cops. I remember when fat Larry got killed down on Barclay. A cop rolled up on him and shot him in the back of the head execution style. The fact that I wasn’t living with them anymore after a while was because their relationship imploded.

Miss Thelma was a neighbor who was a great grandmother—never beat those kids. At first she thought I was some kind of white supremacist but she warmed up to me. I used to lend books to her one grandson. Years later I met him and he was in college and thanked me.

Rudy and Sin, he was a black drug dealer and she was a big white girl. They were very good to me, but he was fuckin’ all kinds of other chicks and the relationship was not set to last. I lived in the back room of a row home and they lived in the front. There was this weird little middle room. They were the nicest people to me. Rudy was sober. I used to take him to his NA meetings in West Baltimore. In The Wire they really nailed the NA scenes and that weird fellowship, a kind of Darwinistic sorting process. These are people who watched their entire stable community eat itself. They were like the blueprints for what is now directed at Whitey. They were the black canary in the coalmine.

Rudy told me all about what it was like when he was dealing. Rudy pretty much scoped out the white people. He said he never wanted to deal with “any fuckin’ brothers,” and the white people that were coming into Baltimore would be more suburban whites and therefore less dangerous. He was a chubby black dude that was a nerd, one of 12 or 13 kids. Other than women, he wasn’t impulsively dishonest. He was a smart guy. Selling to white people he wasn’t going to get ripped off or shot and he might be able to pull a piece of tail on the side. He was also a hack-cabbie on the side out of Mondawmin. When he was selling drugs—before he met me—he had been Miss Toni’s cabby, she was black drag queen and she’d pay like a $100 dollars and found Jesus just before she died of AIDs.

Rudy was an interesting cat. Rudy was probably one of the best line cooks there was. He was a workaholic, replaced dealing and doing drugs with working insane hours and ate junk food and ice cream and watched stupid TV. We would go to the Lexington Market like once a week for about a year and buy music and grab something to eat.

One day he just up and split and rolled out on Sin and she was completely beside herself. I come home and she’s rocking herself in a rocking chair and this went on for like a month and I had to get out of there, leave Miss Thelma and all the kids who had been a real anchor for me. I basically just moved all my shit out one day at work because I couldn’t deal with it. I gave her a bunch of rent—two months out—and left. The life had been sucked out of the place, the happy stuff that had been going on, just dead.

Let the World Fend for Itself

Big Ron's Baltimore: A Working Man's View of Urban Blight

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