Saturday, November 15, 2008

Precinct House, Northeast Philly, 5 pm

Northeast Philly is a place all its own, straight out of Archie Bunker. One of those rare places where you can still find a substantial population of urban working class white people, Irish, Italian, Polish. Long blocks of forlorn brick and stone row houses, with lone retail establishments at the end of the block. Lots of haircutting place ("Cuts for $7") with the odd deli or lawyer thrown in.

We went there today to claim the property stolen from our house last week, what little of it had not been hocked. The precinct house, as you can imagine, had lots of character. At once down at the heels and institutional, dating perhaps to the immediate post-war period, it was straight from central casting for some verite movie no one would ever fund or shoot. We were let in through a Maxwell Smart-like series of doors to the realm of the detectives, including out detective Crum. In the antechamber to detective land, three disgusting chairs with stained light fabric seats.

Detective Crum sat in a claustrophic cubical across the hall from ancient lockers and had an old desktop machine that I had the feeling wasn't even connected to the internet. Like many of his colleagues, he had a severe buzzcut -- in his case tapering up to a Vanilla Ice like flourish, and went laboriously through all the loot he had snagged from the car of the malefactor (Oleg Namur). He took pride in his work, telling us that the perp had known Crum was on his tale in Philly and therefore had set out to bag some loot in Jersey, but in doing so had made a fatal mistake: "See, Philly here is the home of the Declaration of Independence and all that, so crooks and everybody got rights in the court. New Jersey ain't like that, they wrote laws of their own." Indeed we have.

No comments: