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344 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 2001
Strange sat low behind the wheel of his white-over-black ’89 Caprice, listening to a Blackbyrds tape coming from the box as he cruised south on Georgia Avenue. Next to him on the bench was a mini Maglite, a Rand McNally street atlas, and a Leatherman tool-in-one in a sheath that he often wore looped through his belt on the side of his hip. He wore a Buck knife the same way, all the time when he was on a job. A set of 10 X 50 binoculars, a cell phone, a voice-activated tape recorder, and extra batteries for his flashlights and camera were in the glove box secured with a double lock. In the trunk of the car . . .
[Strange] Maybe so but I listen to his music, I picture the way he’s licking his fingers to smooth down his eyebrows, crawling across the floor, wearing the makeup and shit . . . Can’t get past it I guess.
[Quinn] Racism’s bad, but that kind of ism is all right?
[Strange] Just being honest with you. You get to know be better, you’ll see; I tell it straight, whether you like what I’m say or not. All I’s saying is, your generation, y’all can deal with that homosexuality thing better than mine can.
[Quinn] It’s black men in general who can’t deal with that homosexuality thing, you ask me. If you were really honest, you’d admit it.
People came here because they were told to come here, knowing full well that it was a rip-ff, too. Same reason they read the books their friends read, and went to movies about convicts hijacking airplanes and asteroids headed for earth. Didn’t matter that none of it was any good. No one wanted to be left out of the conversation at the next cocktail party. Everyone was desperate to be a part of what was new, to not be left behind.
Half the couples, some of’em had babies in strollers, were interracial. Fifteen years ago, when I was hanging out up at the Plaza, you wouldn’t have seen it. It’s just natural for these kids now. And it made me think, the way my generation is, it’s our hang-up, man. It’s something we’ve got to get over, ‘cause the world’s changing whether we like it or not.
”Two things I would do,” said Strange. “First thing, I’d legalize drugs. …Legalization, it works in some of those European countries, right? You don’t see this kind of crime over there. The repeal of prohibition, it stopped a lot of this kind of thing we got goin’ on right here, didn’t it?” And second “Make handguns illegal, nationwide. “
So why haven’t these changes happened in the U.S.? Derek Strange is glad to tell you. “Cause you put all those politicians down on the Hill in one room and you can’t find one set of nuts swingin’ between the legs of any of’em.”