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Thursday October 8, 1998

First of all, my mother got us lost on the way to the airport. How it is possible that someone who travels as much as she does couldn't find the airport is beyond me. She drove like a toad and missed the exit. We're only 10 minutes away from the airport so it was quite a feat for her to make the trip 30 minutes long.

I had a moment of panic at US Customs when the guy asked me what I'd be doing in Baltimore. Somehow, 'meeting a bunch of strangers from the internet to talk about Homicide' seemed like the answer most likely to get me locked up. So I stammered something about visiting friends. Hee hee hee.

I nearly died when I saw the plane. It was, I swear to god, the size of my mother's Oldsmobile. It had PROPELLERS for Christ sake. Yikes. But it was taking me to Baltimore, so I got on board.

The flight attendant on the plane also had some doubts about my sanity. As we got ready for take off, it suddenly occurred to me: Here I am, a reasonably intelligent 31 year old woman with a good job and a nice home. Today I'm flying to a strange city in a foreign country to meet up with a bunch of strangers over ... a television show? Am I fucking nuts? I started giggling, and couldn't stop. The flight attendant is like, "ma'am, are you okay?" and I'm shaking and snorting, with tears streaming, unable to get out a coherent thought. Eventually I took a deep breath and calmed down. The flight attendant was relieved.

The trip was a little bumpy, but the flying time is under 2 hours. We arrived and I had to negotiate about seventeen miles of carpeted corridor to get from my arrival gate to the terminal. Once there, I gratefully handed my knapsack to a strapping lad named Fabio who seated me in his Town Car and took me to Fell's Point. He kept up a running commentary on points of interest. I told him about my love of H:LotS. Wasn't that a coincidence, he said, my hotel was exactly across the street from where they film that show. He knows because his sister was an extra. Some coincidence, I think.

As we came to the end of Broadway, Fabio instructed me to close my eyes. I complied. When he told me to open them, we were just turning left onto Thames Street. There it was. The station house, looming over the cobblestone street. Fabio drove slowly along Thames and stopped directly in front of the garage archway of the station house. He wasn't kidding about the location of my hotel.

I stepped out in the rain and hurried into Celie's B&B to check in and dump my bags. After a tedious tour of my tiny and outrageously priced room (this here is the bathroom, duh), I hurried back out onto the street.

It was dead. Completely and utterly dead. There were lots of parked cars, but no people. I went across the street and gazed at the station house door. I climbed the steps and peered through the glass doors at the long staircase. It's all real. It's all true. But where the fuck is everybody?

I decided to go for a little walk. I went east along Thames Street to Ann. North on Ann to Lancaster (one block) and along Lancaster to Broadway. I crossed Broadway and turned south to Shakespeare Street. There, I took a picture of the house at the address I assigned to Terri Stivers in Girls' Night Out. Terri has a cute house.

Back out on Broadway, I crossed the street again and found myself standing in front of Jimmy's. Cool. I went in and had a grilled cheese sandwich and soaked up the colloquial speech patterns of the waitresses. Not for the last time, someone in Baltimore called me, 'hon'.

Next door was The Admiral T, the shop that sells H:LotS t-shirts, mugs, etc. I looked around but refrained from buying more than a post card.

I wandered down Broadway to Thames and stood on the corner drinking in the building again. My god, it's huge. But everything else seems smaller. In The Damage Done, when they're having the candlelight vigil, Thames Street seems really wide and vast. It's actually quite narrow. Jimmy's also seemed tiny to me.

It was still raining, so I decided it was time to visit The Waterfront. Talk about small. The place is no wider than my living room. Where do they put everything? I ordered a beer (Oxford Raspberry Wheat, a really yummy local brew) and chatted with the bartender, Gene. Gene is also the co-owner of The Waterfront. He told me all about his experiences with the Homicide people (all positive). He took down all the autographed photos of he and his partner with the cast. A very friendly guy. I was disappointed to note that the olde tyme photo of Munch, Bayliss, and Lewis wasn't up. Gene told me they put that up when they film. He said they spend about 30 minutes transforming the bar before filming. They bring in the jukebox and the pool table. All the bottles remain there, but they bring in fake ones for the actors to use. Hence, Mikey drinks Jim Peem.

All the while I was chatting with Gene, I'm glancing out the window for some signs of life from the monolith. Nada. Just young girls, most of whom had red hair, emerging to walk various dogs. It seems that everyone who works on H:LotS brings their dog to work. I counted at least 7 of them.

It kept raining.

I was beginning to get a bit down about the whole thing. After Pam Rose's encounter, I was expecting miracles. I blamed it on the rain. Then got even more depressed thinking about Milli Vanilli.

It was about 5:30 by this time and I was exhausted. I went to my room, unpacked, got out of my damp clothes and had a hot shower. Then I collapsed for a much-needed nap.

When I woke at about 8:30, I decided to get out of Fell's Point before I got totally depressed. I took a cab to a bar of ill-repute that had been recommended to me by an evol friend. I had ball. I won't go into detail. However, on an H:LotS-related note, I met a guy who said he'd been an extra in Closet Cases. I had a lovely time with him and his friends, drinking Avalanche shooters until closing time. As there were no cabs about, the bartender, Joyce, drove me back to Fell's Point. It was ... an adventure.

Friday October 10, 1998

The day dawned cold, grey, and wet on my hangover. I will never drink Avalanche shooters with gay men again (shudder). Once more, I charged out onto Thames Street expecting all our boys to be out there waiting for me. Once more, I was disappointed.

I discovered that I'd somehow forgotten to bring a comb with me, so I went in search of one. I walked west on Thames to Broadway and north on Broadway to Eastern Avenue, where I'd seen a CVS from the cab the night before. It was a long way to go for a comb, especially in the rain.

I noticed that Fleet Street seems to be the place where touristy Fell's Point ends and poverty begins. Just a few blocks north you get into gunsmith and bail bondsman territory. Across from the 7/11 at Broadway and Lombard there are touts and hookers around all day and night.

Armed with my comb, I went back down Broadway and west on Fleet St. I passed the Fleet Street laundromat, and recognized it as the place where Ballard and Gharty found that guy who'd been injected with bleach. Cool. I continued down Fleet to Ann, checking out the goods in the antique shop windows. Turning south on Ann, I found number 3129, the house in which the old ladies in my Lost and Found story lived. Once again, I lucked out and this was, in fact, a house and not a cheese factory or something. Cool. I took a picture of it.

It had stopped raining and I decided to sit on a convenient stoop for a bit. I realized that the big building behind me was St. Stanislaus Church, scene of the Crosetti funeral. I went in and looked around. It was a fairly typical, small church. Over on the right there was an area to light candles. Except there were no candles. Instead, you dropped your coins in a slot and a little Christmas-type bulb would light up. I tried very hard not to shriek with laughter. It was very...Coney Island. I kept thinking of that Fortune Teller machine in the movie "Big". I figured, what the heck, I used to be an altar girl, so I dropped my money in and made a wish. "Please, please whoever is listening make this the best trip of my life. Please let me see SOMEBODY from Homicide!"

The evol Jujonic-mojo-Catholic forces worked in concert for once and good things ensued.

Returning to Thames Street, I looked in the window of Miss Irene's (the location of the final Mikey scene in Fallen Heroes 2) and glanced hopefully at the monolith for signs of life. Bubkes. Not even a dog. As I approached my B&B, I noticed a woman lurking about the street. She had that hungry look that I'd felt on my face the previous day. I went inside to dump my coat and my comb, then came back out. "Are you here for Homicide?" I venture, hoping she won't think this is some really lame pick-up line. She says she is. It's our very own Jenn. We shake hands and she explains to me that she really doesn't like people. I tell her I don't like 'em either. We are in harmony. I tell Jenn about my depressing day and point out the coveted stoop.

We stare at the building and wait. We chat a little and wait. We get up and walk around, and wait. Jenn has a smoke. I'm envious. Smoking legitimizes you. All along Thames Street there are people standing around outside their shops having a butt. People who smoke have a good reason to be standing around in the street. People who don't smoke look like wackos. I had been seriously thinking of buying a pack of cigarettes and just burning them to give credence to my continued presence on the stoop. Thank goodness for Jenn. I can bask in the reflected legitimacy of her smoke. And she's just snarky enough to suit my mood. A green SUV comes along Thames from the west. The driver has the biggest head I've ever seen. I am convinced it's Yaphet Kotto. We wait and he emerges from the garage. It IS Yaphet Kotto! It IS Yaphet Kotto! He goes into a little door marked 'Staff Door, key required'. Jenn and I decide it is time to repair across the street.

We lurk about near said door for a few minutes. Before long, it swings open and big, bad Gee emerges. We are stricken with terror. He looks really freaking scary. Perhaps he's not in the mood for fans today (gulp). We stay the hell out of his way for fear that he's going to throw a chair at us or tell us to go chase hubcaps.

WooHoo! Our first sighting (shudder). Kotto gets back in his vehicle and motors away toward Broadway. He tries to turn right on Broadway, but the street is closed for the Guinness and Oyster Festival (Maura died and went to heaven, apparently). I fear for the safety of Broadway since it had the temerity to be closed when Yaphet Kotto wanted to use it. He makes a sharp U-turn (almost a V-turn) and blasts eastward.

We decide to continue to hang out on the station house side of the street. Just in case. Soon, a white non-Cavalier double parks near where we're standing. A formidable-looking Baltimore Police Captain unfolds himself from the car. I am impressed. Man, does he look familiar. Jenn, bless her, knows right off that it's Gary D'Addario aka Lt. Jasper of QRT, aka H:LotS Technical Advisor, aka "Dee" from The Book. On the western steps, he talks with an older tanned man who I later discover is Jim Finnerty, the Unit Production Manager and co-Exec. Producer.

One of the local street people marches up to talk to Dee. Jenn and I just watch. It is a brief exchange. The street guy leaves, Dee leaves, and Jenn and I resume our vigil. Time passes. We decide that it's probably safe to head across the street to The Waterfront to refuel and visit the bathroom. We choose the two stools nearest the door so we can monitor the traffic.

We talk H:LotS and start to relax a little. This is probably not going to be so bad. My anxieties about this whole HomiCon business start to evaporate. After all, if I'm an idiot for travelling from Toronto for this, Jenn must be an idiot for travelling from New Jersey. Since Jenn doesn't seem like an idiot to me, this must be okay.

We drink Oxford Raspberry Wheat and eat the worst club sandwiches ever. How can you screw up a club sandwich? Everyone was right. Do NOT eat at The Waterfront. Refreshed, if not satisfied, we return to 'work'.

Out on the street, we are greeted by the street person who'd been speaking to D'Addario. He introduced himself as Little John. He REALLY liked Jenn. She, who,'really doesn't like people', is somewhat friendly to him. I am polite, but discouraging. He hangs around anyway. I guess you don't get far as a street person if you're easily discouraged. There is a lesson in that somewhere.

Little John is soon joined by his best friend, Cowboy, who had mobility issues and no teeth. Oh goody. Now both of us had dates. We banter with the boys for a time, then decide to take a short coffee break in my room. We're trying really hard not to be discouraged, but what with the terrifying Kotto, and Cowboy pissing on the precious stoop, things were not looking good.

Somewhat revived by the coffee, we return to the street. To our unmitigated joy, our boyfriends were still out there. How nice. My tolerance for Cowboy's ranting and Little John's...flirtatiousness (!) was at an end. I notice a group of women posing on the steps of the station house (Frank's steps, sigh), and decided to go over and talk to them. I'm almost there when I hear one of them say, "One of those Homicide guys went into that bar over there."

WHAT GUY??? WHAT BAR??? I stumble back across the cobbles to grab Jenn and we follow the women to the entrance to Kooper's. I look in as the women cluster around a figure at the bar.

Jesus Christ, it's Reed Diamond.

We are in the doorway of Kooper's, and I say, "Jesus Christ, it's Reed Diamond." Jenn whispers, "Get the fuck out of here."

We stagger through the door and just about die, because it really is him. He's sitting at the bar, just to the right of the taps. He's got about half a pint of an amber-coloured beer in front of him and Jim Finnerty is sitting next to him.

The idiot women, who didn't even know who he was until I said his name, cluster around him for a couple of minutes getting autographs. When they leave, Jenn and I approach. I stick out my hand and say, "I just wanted to tell you how much I've enjoyed your work on Homicide. I'm really going to miss Mikey."

He shakes my hand and says, "Hi, I'm Reed Diamond. What's your name?" Like I don't know he's Reed fucking Diamond. What a wonderfully unassuming sweetheart. And I'm sure he must be able to hear my heart pounding as I melt in that blue, blue gaze of his. I tell him my name and tug Jenn forward and say this is Jenn. He's looking adorable with his hair growing in, and wearing beige shorts. He was wearing some kind of shirt, but I can't for the life of me remember it.

We ask him if he'd mind signing an autograph for us and Jenn gives him her Unofficial Companion. He's intrigued by the book. He's never seen it before. We tell him about all the inaccuracies, etc. and he flips through looking at the cast pictures. He turns to page 78 and says, "Wow, that's a really cute picture of Kyle." I try really hard not to think slashy thoughts, but visions of Wendi's 'Iris' do pop into my evol head.

I hand him my pen (now enshrined as the Reed Diamond Memorial Pen) and he is about to write. Then he turns and gives Jenn a blank look. She starts to spell her name for him, and he says, "You said Jenn, right. Sorry. I'm just a little light headed, I haven't had my lunch yet."

Ooooh! He's just too freaking cute for words.

So he writes in Jenn's book. Like an idiot I'm out without my notebook, so I get a cocktail napkin. He's very careful not to tear it with the pen, and says, "Cool, now you'll have a Kooper's napkin." He tells me he likes my name and says it twice.

By now, Jenn has her camera out and asks if he'd mind if she took a picture of him. He says, only if you guys are in it with me. So he gets up and puts his arm around Jenn and she hands me her camera. I realize that the light from the window is behind them, so I make everybody move so the picture will be lit properly. I can be quite the top at times (G). So I take the picture, then we switch off. He seems quite slight in person, but he's very well sculpted as I discovered when I put my arm around him. I think I may have grabbed his bicep a couple of times too. Slut!

So we tell him we'll let him get back to his lunch now, and I go to shake his hand. He grabs me and hugs me, then hugs Jenn, or maybe he hugged Jenn first. Whatever. We back out of there in a daze and collapse against the side of the building. We start to stagger back to our stoop, but Cowboy and Little John are still at it. Somehow, I got sucked straight into the Waterfront and was found by Jenn a few minutes later, having downed a shot of Wild Turkey, straight up.

Jenn parked herself on the next stool and we had a shot, or was it two? Of Jim Beam to toast Mikey and commemorate our extraordinary experience. Neither of us had ever had Jim Beam straight up before, but it tasted like nectar from the gods.

Eventually, we went back outside and leaned against a lamp post, staring at the station house and saying, "Did that really happen?" Sometime between ten minutes and one hour later (G) we hear a voice behind us. "So, you guys seen the squadroom yet?" It's Reed. Jesus. He gives us one of those wicked Mikey grins and gestures for us to follow him across the street.

We hurry behind him and somehow manage not to break our necks on the cobblestones. He takes us through the little door marked "Staff Entrance - Key Required" which leads up the long ramp on which Mike and Falsone drew their guns. Not being at all athletic (hee hee that's putting it mildly, you'll see the pictures) I had to ask him to slow down in the ascent up the ramp. He's all concerned, worried that I'm gonna drop dead with an asthma attack right then and there. All I can think is, hee hee, he'll have to revive me. This gets me giggling, like an idiot. I manage to convince him I'll be okay, and we continue into the squadroom.

It's all decorated for Christmas and I can't believe I'm really here. There's the Board! There's the Aquarium! Gee's new office (which is where the Box used to be) the new interrogation rooms. It's just too much. All the detectives desks are covered with personal stuff, family photos, etc. He shows us Timmy's desk, which used to be his, and tells us that he took his fireman's hat with him when he left. The lone crewmember present commented that they had wondered where it went.

We took pictures with Reed in front of the Christmas tree which was decorated with plastic guns and handcuffs. We took pictures in front of the Board. I was really tempted to put my name on the Board, but I managed to restrain myself.

All the while, Reed is bouncing around like a little boy, all excited to be showing us this special place. He points out the door to the roof "where we have all the heart to hearts" and the place that they use for various purposes, Missing Persons, Brodie's den, etc. We ask him what he thinks of the re-decoration, but he grins and says he doesn't want to say anything. I got the distinct impression that he doesn't care for it.

He led us into one of the interrogation rooms, the light was off. He talked about how the old Box was really "intimidating, with the cinderblock walls". He told us that they'd been filming at the real police station all week and that their 'box' was just like the old one. He talked about the fact that with Frank gone, there would be less emphasis on the Box. It was really Frank's room and it shouldn't be there if he's not.

So I'm standing near the mirror, and Jenn is by the table with Reed. She picks up the handcuff and says, "Here, cuff yourself to the table and I'll take a picture." Now she SAYS she was talking to me, but I think she was talking to Reed. I think that was the impression Reed got because he quickly said, "But we don't have the key." I said, "Darn, I left my handcuff key at home." We laughed.

So Reed leads us back toward the ramp and down to the street. All the while we're talking about the show, about who was good in the Box, etc. I am struck by how much he really cares about Mikey. This wasn't just a job for him. He knows and cares for Mikey, just like we do. I tell him that even Mikey had his moments in the Box. He actually blushed and said that Kellerman spent too much time on Admin. duty to get really good at it. Sigh.

So we let him go with profuse thanks and he walks away into the parking garage. Put my name up on the Board in red. I can die happy now.

After watching Reed saunter off into the parking garage, Jenn and I need another drink. Well, I'm not sure about Jenn, but I sure as hell need one. We cross the cobbles on unsteady legs and resume our stools at The Waterfront. Gene, the co-owner, has now decided that we are possibly dangerous, but serves us Jim Beam without comment. We are in a daze. Reed Diamond just took us on a private tour of the squadroom. Reed. Diamond.

We are particularly struck by how NICE he was. Like he'd been waiting all day for some hapless fans to wander in and disturb his lunch. Like he'd really lucked out by having found us willing to accompany him on a tour of the squadroom. For the first, but far from the last time, I say it: I live for Reed. Reed is my god.

I am so glad that Jenn was around when this happened. Nobody would believe me if I'd been alone. It's also more fun to be able to share something like that with somebody else. We both feel bad over the fact that the rest of the gang have missed out.

We notice a woman peeking in the door of The Waterfront. She, too, has the 'look'. We ask and she confirms that she's here for The HomiCon. It's Cheryl, The Waterfront's own BubbazMom. A coincidence that the first 3 HomiConners are also list members? I think not.

We tell Cheryl our tale of wonder and she looks like she's going to cry. This is THE Mikey defender of ath and anywhere else the Mahoney shooting is challenged. We buy her a drink and try to offer solace. Reed did say he'd be in town all weekend. Maybe she'd still get a chance to see him.

Hee hee hee.

We realize by now that it's getting close to 5:30, the appointed hour for the first official HomiCon gathering at Kooper's. I dash back to the B&B to fetch the badges. As a lark, I made everyone these little badges with a Baltimore Police emblem, their screen name, real name, and favourite H:LotS quote. They were a hit.

On the way to Kooper's we meet up with a few more HomiCon-types and start to file in. There are bagpipers in the bar. Just down the street on Broadway, the Guinness and Oyster festival is under way and this group of Irish pipers had stopped into Kooper's for a brief refreshment. Now Jenn and I understood why we'd been hearing the sound of bagpipes as a surreal counterpoint to the sound of sirens wafting across the pier. I must be dreaming.

We get some pictures with the pipers, and they start to play for us. I grab a glass of Cider and move toward the alcove behind the stairs that we'd claimed for our own. People started to arrive amid the strains of 'Scotland the Brave'. Each new arrival was given a badge and ordered to drink something. Impossibly soon, there was a happy buzz of conversation as everyone chatted like old friends.

When the piping finally stopped, Jenn and I told our Story. The crowd was appropriately awed. Jenn and I are getting cocky by this time and assure the assemblage that Reed will be around. Never fear. We order dinner. My first crabcake. I am in heaven.

One of the locals tells us that David Simon and James Yoshimura are at the bar. Cool. I identify them, then trot back to my B&B for my copies of The Book and The Corner. Only the second day, and so many of my wildest hopes for this trip have been realized. Not for the last time, I applaud myself for paying the outrageous room rate at Celie's. This particular convenience is priceless.

I bring my books back to Kooper's and wait for an appropriate break in Simon and Yoshimura's conversation. Yoshimura notices me hovering and smiles at me. I say, "You're James Yoshimura. Fallen Heroes was just brilliant. I've really enjoyed your work on Homicide."

He thanks me and I introduce myself to David Simon and ask him if he'd mind signing my books. He smiles shyly and takes the Reed Diamond Memorial Pen. Yoshimura introduces me to the blond woman sitting with them. She has a little dog. It's Julie Martin, one of the co-exec. producers. I'm getting a bit dizzy as all these familiar H:LotS credits come to life. I'm struck by how young Martin seems. Does this make me a 31-year-old loser??

Simon finishes inscribing my books and I thank him. I tell him what Saundra said on IRC one night, that we have decided he must just spend his life writing books about different aspects of Baltimore society. He tells me that this is pretty much what his plan is. I tell him to carry on, and let them get back to their conversation.

This is just too cool. I finish my divine crabcake and Teddy (Tedfilm) and I giggle like a pair of 13-year-old girls at a Menudo concert. Reed Diamond and David Simon on the same day. Oy vey! I'm so meshuggenah I could plotz.

I'm thrilled at the celeb schmoozing, but I'm also really touched by how well this gathering is getting along. Demographically, there are a lot of similarities. The group are mostly white women, all over 30; most are over 40. The conversation pops and hisses with a life of its own. Over here is a talk about survival outside of New York; over there is a Mahoney shooting redux; in this corner, a re-telling of the Reed adventure; beside me a discussion about Harrison Ford.

It couldn't possibly get better than this.

Eventually, the party breaks up. The bill comes and, by some miracle, there is too much money on the table. This single fact says more than anything else about the kind of people that gathered in Fell's Point that evening. Some of the group head across to the station house to see if they can find a way to break in. I watch David Simon wander down the street. He looks lonely. I hope he has someone nice waiting for him at home.

Slowly, people trickle to their respective beds. Jenn and I return to Celie's with the other Maura (this is too weird for me to have someone else around who bears my name). I really want to report back to the list, the ng, and maybe visit IRC. I so want you guys to share in this thrill with me. The three of us are up until 3 am trying to hook up Maura's webtv unit but have no luck. We stagger off to our rooms.

I'm exhausted, but too stoked to sleep. I flip on Law & Order, and get out my notebook. This would be my habit for the rest of the trip. I couldn't get my brain to shut down sufficiently to sleep until I'd disgorged the day's events into my notebook. Once the day was cast in ink, I rested, but didn't really sleep.

Saturday October 10, 1998

I was up by seven the next day. I showered and grabbed a bagel from Celie's dining room, then headed out for a walk. It was cool and damp, with the promise of a sunny day to come. I cross the street and look out over the water. I love this place. It feels like home. It feels like Dublin, only ... better. I wander toward Ann Street and gaze longingly to the north. I've heard that Kyle Secor lives up that way. I know, it's really too much to ask, but if I could just catch a glimpse of him ... greedy bitch.

I go back to Celie's and bring a cup of tea and my notebook out to the courtyard next to my room. The other Maura appears and we have a nice chat. I tell her, very seriously, that I want to live here. We talk about careers, (we've had similar employment experiences), and life in different parts of North America. It's nearly eleven by now and it will be time to meet the gang at the Daily Grind soon.

I go back to my room to change into something more suitable for the rapidly warming day. I don my sunglasses, pack my satchel with necessities (camera, notebook, pens, The Book, regular glasses) and stroll down to The Daily Grind. I am still amazed, even as I write this, that I did not fall and break something in The Daily Grind. As you walk in, the floor is all uneven cobblestones, then uneven wooden beams. Coming in from the sunlight, in my sunglasses, I am particularly cautious about where I place my feet. Several of the HomiCon folks are sitting at a table just inside the door.

They're all giving me these odd looks. "Maura, you should get a coffee," they say. I say, "No thanks. Really, I'm fine. I just had a cup of tea."

"Maura. You REALLY want to get in the line for coffee!" I look toward the line. Clark Johnson is paying for two large coffees. Eeek!! I dump my bag on the table, and grab my notebook. I wait for him to get his change and set the coffee on the counter.

"Excuse me, Mr. Johnson? I just wanted to tell you how much I've enjoyed your work on Homicide." This is apparently the only thing I can think of to say to any of these people. He turns from fixing the coffee, smiles, and shakes my hand. I am dying. He asks my name. I tell him. He says, "Maura from Toronto?"

WHAT????

I know the jokes about all Canadians knowing each other, but this is just too bizarre. Then I remember. The letter. He got my letter! In preparation for the HomiCon, I had contacted TPTB and asked for a tour or a meet and greet, something. They turned me down flat. In a last ditch effort, I wrote to Clark Johnson, explaining what we were after and asking if there was anything he could do to help us. I really never expected a response. I figured I might get an 8 x 10 glossy from his publicist.

So Clark says, "Oh man, I'm really sorry. I got your letter. I was gonna call you."

HE's sorry. HE was gonna call ME.

He explains that he forgot the letter in his desk before he went home (i.e., to Toronto). He hasn't been on call for the last week or so and is just getting back in town today. He says he'd be happy to take us over, but he can't do it today. The place is locked up on Saturdays and he's on his way to a charity golf tournament.

He says, "Me, golfing. Heh heh. I do not golf."

I tell him about Reed taking Jenn and I on the tour ("Reed's a great guy"). He apologizes again for not getting back to me. I assure him that it is perfectly okay, and that the letter was a long shot. I know how busy he is. He says, "No. It's not okay. I really liked your letter. Someone takes the time to write to me and I don't even pick up the phone? That's just rude. I'm really sorry."

I die.

He tells me that if anyone is around on Tuesday or Wednesday, he'll make sure they get a tour. They won't be filming again 'til then. He says he's actually not on call on Tuesday, but he'd be happy to come in. I explain that most of us are leaving Sunday and Monday, but thank him profusely for the thought.

He shakes my hand again, and takes his coffee out the door. Oh. My. God.

He was gonna call me. Can you imagine?

Me: Hello?

CJ: Hi. It's Clark Johnson from Homicide, can I speak to Maura?

Me: (swoon, thud)

CJ: Hello? Hello?

I think I'll have that coffee, now. Make mine a double espresso.

After a restorative double espresso, I step back out of The Daily Grind and into the sunlight. A crowd of HomiConners is gathering in preparation for the afternoon bus tour. There are even more people now than there were last night. Where have they all come from? I'm handing out badges and shaking hands and telling my tales of wonder and delight, when I hear Jenn chanting. "Reed's on the sidewalk. Reed's on the sidewalk." Reed was, indeed on the sidewalk, holding hands with Michelle Forbes.

The crowd went wild.

Reed and Michelle were as gracious as could be. Again, one got the sense that they'd left their hotel in hopes of finding a gang of mad Homicide fans to chat with. Reed was stunning in a black crew neck sweater and baggy beige pants and --- cute little GLASSES!! Yes! I said GLASSES. How adorable is this? Michelle wore a really nice long, tailored black coat and slacks, and had sunglasses on her head.

Once again, several people asked that they sign their page in the Unofficial Companion. It was Michelle's turn to chuckle over the outdated photos and lurid prose style. She called, "Reed, Reed, you have to see this," and the two of them broke up over a passage describing how she and Reed have formed "a tight bond". They signed autographs and posed for innumerable pictures. Reed noticed our badges and thought they were fun. My quote was "I live for fun. Fun is my God." Reed noticed it while Jenn was getting ready to take our picture. So I asked him, "Do you think Kellerman really meant this when he said it to Frank?" Reed gets this very serious look on his face and says, "No. I don't think he really felt that way. I think he said it to get a rise out of Frank. He also thought that was the way Annie wanted him to be."

What was incredibly cool about this was, that was exactly what Jenn had said about the quote the previous day. Too freaking cool. Jenn rules.

Cheryl was incredibly excited to see her boy. She'd met him once before at Homicide Live and ... HE REMEMBERED HER!! What a doll!! Reed re-iterated that he'd be happy to take the gang on a tour of the squadroom if anyone was around on Tuesday. I decided then and there to change my plans.

After about 30 minutes of schmoozing, I began shooing the chilluns toward The Admiral Fell where our bus was supposed to be waiting. Reed and Michelle were on their way out to lunch. I apologized for holding up Reed's lunch for the second day in a row and Michelle hugged me. (swoon, thud)

At the Admiral Fell, it turned out that our bus was delayed. We hung out for a bit, then I realized that one of our confirmed attendees was still missing. Jenn and I headed back to the Daily Grind to see if she was there. Eventually, the bus arrived and, minus our missing comrade, we boarded.

Cheryl had arranged with Harbor City Tours to customize a bus tour that would include significant H:LotS sights. We saw Luther Mahoney's boys and girls club, the house where Tim got shot, Gordon Pratt's building, the B&O railroad museum where Megan and Beau broke up, the Poe Grave site. It was amazing, but by the end, we were all tired and hungry.

We got back to Fell's Point and visited the Admiral T to use a discount arranged by Harbor City Tours. Then there was some discussion about dinner. I was content to stay in Fell's Point and graze at the Guinness and Oyster Festival, but the majority wanted a sit down dinner. We took the Harbor Shuttle to the Inner Harbor for dinner at Phillips. A word of advice ... don't show up at Phillips with a group of 17 on a Saturday night and expect to eat with any expedience.

Fortunately, I ordered a Bloody Mary and was able to snack on the celery until my crabcake appetizer arrived. The appetizer was really enough to keep me going, so several of us elected to head back to Fell's Point while the rest stayed for dinner.

We found ourselves in Miss Irene's. Location of the final Mikey scene in Fallen Heroes 2. We sat at the bar drinking Jim Beam and making each other giggle by saying, "Oh yeah, princess, you terrify me."

The place closed up at one, relatively early, and the three intrepid ones...me, Jenn and Cheryl, wandered down Thames to banter with our street people boyfriends. Did we go into the Waterfront or Kooper's again? Did we catch a glimpse of Reed and Michelle? Possibly. I really can't remember. I do remember sitting up yakking with Jenn in the courtyard at Celie's until some ungodly hour.

Sunday October 11, 1998

I woke early (and painfully as usual). My feet were really beginning to hurt. Nonetheless, I determined that I would stay an extra few days. I called the airline and decided I could live with the $75 fee to change the flight. I checked with Celie, but she was booked on Monday and Tuesday night. I figured something would come up. If not, I was sure Little John would share his stoop with me.

We all met on the station house steps and chatted with the security guard until it was time for our trip to The Bay Cafe in Canton for brunch. It was a pleasant trip on the Harbor Shuttle and brunch was excellent. I was SO tired, though. I could barely stay awake. I'm not as young as I think I am, apparently. Nobody's that young. Returning to Fell's Point I called my mother and the Boy to tell them I was never coming home. They were not surprised. I napped for an hour or so, then woke refreshed and prepared for the next item on the agenda.

One of my ng buddies, Donna, was going to be in Baltimore on business just for the one night and we had arranged to get together for dinner. She had been a bit leery about meeting all the HomiConners (who could blame her?) I took a cab to her downtown hotel and we started walking toward the Inner Harbor for dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. We were about halfway there when I convinced her that, instead, we should take the Harbor Shuttle back to Fell's Point and eat there. I was feeling a bit panicky about being away from where Kyle might be. Now that I'd met Reed and Clark, I wanted the whole set.

We barely stepped off the Harbor Shuttle when we saw the HomiConners, gathered once again on the steps of the station house. I offered Donna the option of avoiding them, but since she'd come this far, she figured, what the hell. As I approached they said, "Oh Maura! You missed it!" NO, I thought! Please don't tell me you met Kyle!! Seeing my stricken face, somebody said, "No, it was a good thing, not Kyle." I started breathing again and listened to the story of how Reed and Michelle had waved Cheryl and Melissa over to their car. They had stopped traffic for five minutes while Reed and Michelle insisted that we stay until Tuesday to watch filming. Insisted. Michelle said,"Just stick your head in the production office and ask for me." What fine people.

So Cheryl had changed her reservation, and Melissa agreed to put the pair of us up at her apartment in Bethesda. Jenn was staying with her father in Columbia, and the other Maura was staying with her daughter about an hour away. It was set. We were never leaving.

We had dinner at Kooper's. I love those crabcakes! Then went to The Waterfront for drinks. The young bartender let us stand behind the bar for pictures. I was in heaven.

Donna, Maura, and Kathy left just before the Waterfront closed at 11. The three lushes were still a-rarin' to go, so we headed down to Kooper's for another Munch Manhattan ('allegory in a glass'). We'd been there for about an hour. I noticed that they had the Barenaked Ladies CD in the jukebox so I played, "What a Good Boy". On cue, just as the song ended, our favourite couple arrived.

Michelle immediately came over to our table and scolded us for being out drinking again. I accused the two of them of stalking us ... after all, we were at Kooper's first. Michelle bought us a round of Manhattans and called Reed over excitedly when she found out that we'd changed our departure plans.

To add to my collection, I now have the Michelle Forbes Memorial Cherry Stem. What incredibly cool and down to earth people. (sigh)

 

Monday October 12, 1998

Once again, I'm up ridiculously early and slightly hungover, but happy to think that Michelle Forbes contributed to my delicate condition.

I have to check out of Celie's today, so I pack up my stuff, carefully enshrining all of the Memorial Items for posterity. As is my custom, I head over to The Daily Grind for coffee. I'm leaning on the counter, hoping that the pounding in my head will let up, when I hear someone call my name. It's Reed. He stands up from the last table where he's been sitting with David Simon. There are what look like script pages all over the table. Oh god ... they're WORKING. Cool!

I catch my breath at how deliciously tousled Reed is looking. He obviously just rolled out of bed. His hair is sticking up in all directions, he's got the glasses on, baggy grey sweats and a rumpled t-shirt in that very Mikey shade of blue. My head clears.

He favours me with that morning after smile and I weave to a table with Cheryl. Soon Jenn arrives. David Simon says goodbye as he leaves and we watch as Reed gets coffee and muffins to go. How sweet, he's bringing Michelle her breakfast. On his way to the door, he stops by our table and grins. "You guys nursing moons this morning?" We hotly deny being in any such state. He says, "C'mon, Kellerman knows." He tells us again how great it is that we're staying for the Tuesday filming. He says, "You'll see Richard...and (eye roll) Seda." Hee hee. What a sweetheart.

He leaves us giggling.

We stay at the Grind for awhile, then repair to the steps of the station house to sit in the sun. We allow some mere tourists to take pictures on the steps and tell them that if they're lucky, they might see Reed and Michelle.

Eventually, Cheryl and Jenn decide that they need to go shopping. I am content to stay on the steps and write. I want to be David Simon when I grow up.

The rest of the day was fairly uneventful. Dinner at Kooper's again. Reed and Michelle were there for dinner, too. Thankfully, Kathy, one of the locals, was with us this time and got to meet our buddies.

We made it an early night and arranged to meet at Jimmy's for breakfast at 6am the next day. Melissa drove Cheryl and I back to Bethesda with her. Cheryl nearly got eaten by Melissa's killer futon. I laughed a lot.

We made it to Jimmy's around 6:15. I went straight to The Waterfront to see if anything was happening yet. Nada. The street was dark and empty. I went back to Jimmy's and had some toast and coffee with the gang.

By around 7am, some activity started, truckloads of equipment were being unloaded as crew members swarmed over the street. Baltimore Police cars and white Cavaliers were parked in front of the station house, plastic Christmas lights were strung over the archway of the parking garage. It was a sight to behold. Gene, the co-owner of The Waterfront arrived. He was a little disturbed, having envisioned one or two of us sitting in there during filming. Not a whole crowd. We promised to stay out of the way and leave if asked.

Some of the folks stayed outside and watched a scene between Falsone and Stivers on the street. We sat in the bar and watched as they removed the autographed cast pictures and hung the famous olde tyme police photo up behind the bar. I found all of this completely fascinating. They brought in the pool table and the juke box, they changed the handles on the taps, they turned the bottles so their labels wouldn't show and brought in the prop bottle of Jim Peem.

When it was time to hang the lights, several of our group decided to head outside. Teddy, Cheryl, and I moved to the back room, behind the pool table and continued to watch the set up. Soon, Cheryl and Teddy decided to go outside as well, but I was hooked. They were going to be filming largely at the end of the bar closest to the pool room. I found an inconspicuous spot to sit and drank it all in.

Jon Seda arrived. He is much better looking in person. This from a confirmed Falsone-hater. His hair looked like it had been sculpted from black vinyl. I worried that it might melt under those lights. He introduced himself to me and we shook hands.

I got to stay for 8 or 9 takes before the director asked for all the extraneous people to leave. The scene involved Falsone talking to Munch about an upsetting case. Then Ballard comes in and starts ragging on Falsone for breaking a date with her. Ick.

After I got tossed out (very nicely, I might add), I sat on my favourite stoop next to some kind of techie guy with a monitor. He angled the monitor so we could watch what was being filmed in the bar and hear the sound on his speaker. This continued until Belzer let forth a string of obscenities and the techie decided we should probably not be hearing this.

The scene finished and Reed arrived in his Kellerman garb; jeans, and a blue striped crew neck sweater. He took us up to the squadroom. Unfortunately, the lights were off, and people were worried that their pictures wouldn't turn out. Reed commented that it had been a heck of a lot easier to 'sneak' two of us in.

It was a quick tour as Reed was needed on the set. I followed the crew down Thames to a pub called The Horse You Came In On. We spent most of the rest of the day watching Falsone open the door and go into the pub where, presumably, he has a conversation with Kellerman. At one point, we saw Kellerman slam out of the door and had high hopes that this would lead to a street fight scene in which he whups Falsone's ass. This did not materialize.

During lunch break, Reed came over to say hi. Teddy had given him a copy of an article he'd written for his paper about Mikey's departure. Reed thanked Teddy for the article and said, "It was great to know that someone gets it, what I've been trying to do." I thought Teddy was going to faint. I took a picture of the pair. It's very cute.

Since they'd been so amused by the Unofficial Companion, we presented Reed with a copy for him and Michelle "from the giggling idiots of HomiCon 98" He thanked me for it and said he was glad we'd had such a great visit. I told him it was all due to him.

Seda also came to see the assemblage. We felt sorry for him, so several of us got his autograph. The woman who owned the shop behind us asked if she could take Seda's picture. He ran into her shop, grabbed a candle, and let her take his picture in the shop window, surrounded by her wares, with a goofy smile on his face. It's too bad he's such a lousy actor, cause he's a very nice man.

It was getting on time to go. Cheryl's flight was at 6:30. I wasn't leaving 'til the next morning, but I was dog-tired. We trudged back down Thames. I insisted that we hit Kooper's for a last drink. Jenn and I had been toying with the idea of drinking a Martini to honour Crosetti, and that memorable scene between Stivers and Lewis.

The Martini was excellent. Even the olives (shudder). We stood on the street outside Kooper's. Reed was on the pier, looking at the sunset and looking very Mikey and broody. We watched as he walked back to work.

I stopped in to the Waterfront to thank Gene for his hospitality. We took some nice pictures behind the bar all decorated for Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.

Out on the sidewalk, I was getting all verklempt about leaving when I noticed Toni Lewis coming out of the Production Office. I figured, what the hell, I might as well say hi to her, so I crossed the street. My God. What a beautiful woman! Her smile transforms her whole face. For a brief moment, I wasn't even sure it was really her. The rest of the gang joined us. We told her how much we liked her character. She signed autographs and posed for pictures.

I'm standing there slightly freaking, thinking, 'Oh gosh, I made you have sex with Ballard in my story. Sorry!' At this point I realized how glad I was that I haven't yet written any Mikey slash. That would have been...uncomfortable. (giggle)

She seemed a little overwhelmed by our enthusiasm for the show. A man who was standing nearby asked us why we didn't sign up to be extras if we loved the show so much. I explained that the commute from Toronto was a bit much. He was amazed that all of us had travelled from such distances for this.

He saw someone's copy of the Kalat book and told us what an idiot the guy was. Then, he looked around and said, "C'mon, I'll take you up to see the squadroom." I looked at Toni and we giggled. She knew we'd already been up there, but she said, "Hey, go for it."

So off we went with this very knowledgeable crew member for yet another visit to the squadroom. Free from the dazzling presence of Reed, I could concentrate on the details and take pictures of people's desks and stuff. Our guide, who asked me not to use his name on the net, told us all kinds of fascinating stuff about how they can remove the wall in Gee's new office (which used to be the Box, sniff). What a wonderful note on which to end our visit.

We said good bye to each other, and Thames Street at the foot of the steps near the water.

As Melissa turned from Thames onto Broadway, I looked back at the station house looming over the water. I felt like I was leaving home.

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