To me, Baltimore is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The combination of 19th century architecture, a clarity and color of light that seems more Tuscan than mid-Atlantic, and its own unique brand of urban decay, make my heart beat faster every time I visit. Behind the crumbling Victorian facades of West and East Baltimore, there is a civil war happening that is very different from the civil wars of Africa. In Baltimore the enemy is within; many of the citizens try to resist the temptations of the gangsta life: money and even a kind of dark glamor, in exchange for selling one part soul and one part crack or junk.

The Homicide detectives, who I spent an intense 5 weeks with in October 2000, do not think of the gangsta life as anything but evil. It's not romantic or glamorous to them in the least. It's greed pure and simple. Trying to turn the tide of a monolithic addiction and murder rate haunts the men and women of the Homicide unit. Among them there is alcoholism, broken familyism, and the blackest humor I've ever witnessed. They’ve seen it all, twice, as they often say. They also say that everybody lies.

 

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