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Nero the Pict
The Cryptically Redacted Autobiography of a Serendipitous Small Town News Hound
© 2015 Nero the Pict
AUG/18/15
The following is taken from a series of redacted e-mails from a Baltimore expatriate who is now living in the York-Hanover-Harrisburg-Gettysburg-Lancaster-Lehigh-Reading cluster-muck in south central Pennsylvania, where many of my pale-skinned Baltimorean brethren have migrated to.
I've been reading your stuff now for the past couple weeks. Amazing: the most realistic portrayal of Baltimore—especially the NorthEast to Dundalk quadrant—I have ever seen in print. I am 36 grew up between way Western MD and were the land where wiggers roam in their natural habitat—Loch Raven, Parkville, Perry Hall. Lived for years in the city without a car. I never walked, always road a bike though. Did you ever go to the old Mindbridge Comics in Overlea or that gaming shop that used to be on York road in Towson??? We might have crossed paths. I actually went to Jim Frederick's Kenpo once...Alas I was 18 and into partying hard. Didn't have the discipline. I used to go to the Baltimore Boxing Club for a number of years. I went to spar and workout....
I moved out of Baltimore to Pennsylvania about 2 years ago.
I share your vehement dislike for the police in general. I do have two friends who are cops. These two break the mold. They are an actual asset to the community that they operate in and frankly just solid men that possess a wealth of knowledge on the area and hilarious company to boot. It might be that I know them in the twilight of their years as officers; the last of a generation that were not automatically part of the military-to-police pipeline.
You expressed interest in your last email in small cities in the central PA region. If you need any more info on places like York, Lancaster, Harrisburg (and the depressed little towns to the north and west) I do find myself in these areas. My lady is originally from the area so I have local sources to go on…
...I get a read on the area. When I first got here I was apprenticing as an industrial electrician. Got to see a whole bunch of places that most people don't see and work with the vestiges of blue collar trades—stuff that is still hanging on by a thread here. It isn't pretty, and it isn't heroic like some sort of Studs Terkel screed or WPA era poster of the "workers"....Anyway if you need any info on Cumberland, MD (or the little towns surrounding it) or the aforementioned areas of PA (and then some) look me up. Heck, I might be headed on a quick road trip with a friend to Erie Wednesday to help him pick an old motorcycle...
I have been reading the Arch Druid Report for awhile now...I find the writing pretty solid, sometimes a little too PC, maybe too self-assured, always thought provoking stuff though. The writer Johnathan Michael Greer is a big Sci-fi geek who actually moved to Cumberland, MD from Washington State to escape the apocalypse!!! Crazy because my family is all from the area. Most of my people left in the early to mid 80's because all of the jobs dried up (no heavy industry or big coal to support the town). Cumberland is slowly sliding into oblivion. A concentrated pocket of meth heads and members of the Baltimore criminal class (a state and federal prison now sit on the site of the factory my great grandma retired from).
That last paragraph about Cumberland Maryland, hits at the plight of much of America, the America that is never seen on the media banner. Mescaline Franklin has told me similar things of small towns in New Jersey and Dominic has sketched a few ugly urban blight scenarios for me from Upstate New York. Inspector Ratchet works in a small city like those described, and assures me that the oppressed youth of such places fantasize about being Baltimore or Detroit hoodrats with much the same fervor as I wanted to be GI Joe or the Lone Ranger as a boy. Dozens of pint-sized Harm Cities dotting the idyllic landscape!
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Phillip Alford     Aug 19, 2015

Sounds like some parents need to get ahold of some kids and bring them back down to earth. A good, solid ear twist while giving the lecture works well.
Walter Cromwell     Aug 19, 2015

That seems to be a universal phenomenon. I went thru the Ozarks a few months back. Beautiful country but the area's obviously economically depressed and overrun with drugheads. Apart, that is, from the yuppie/collitch-town areas of Springfield and Arkansopolis, which seem to have attracted enough investment and probably people fleeing the abortions of larger cities in the South. But that's it, the rest of the countryside was in sad sack shape. Good people probably are mixed in there but there is also a lot of hopelessness and poverty. It seems now that anywhere you go in this formerly great nation has these same problems, the same ugliness and decay and dysfunction. We have the misfortune of living at the end of civilization, and it ain't pretty.
James     Aug 21, 2015

Yes, Walter, but it is interesting, and we have a once-in-a-nation's lifetime chance to learn something from it. I hope to be around to see an upswing, at least in spots.

Take care, and thanks for checking in.
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