George Pelecanos on his characters and finding the humanity in others ~
“I’m frequently down at the DC jail doing reading programs, but also, to be honest again, I get a lot of material when I’m down at the jail. . . I’m down there quite often and when I travel even, when I’m doing book tours, I will visit the local prisons, even in London . . .you just try to locate the humanity in everybody because it’s there.”
Andy Ockershausen: This is Andy Ockershausen. This Our Town. This is special for us to have a world-renowned author, a man who is so well known in the whole country, maybe better known than he is in the greater Washington area. He’s an Emmy-nominated television producer and he’s a writer. He’s written 20 books, and his novels are set in and around Our Town. But instead of plot centered on Washington politics, he depicts the raw side of what goes on in the streets. We’re delighted to welcome the world-famous George Pelecanos to Our Town, although maybe it’s his town now. George, thank you.
George Pelecanos: Thanks, Andy. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Andy Ockershausen: For all you do for Our Town, and you don’t even know it, but you put into words so many things we all live with growing up here, and you’re a local boy and went to high school here. What was your high school, George?
High School, College and the Family Business
George Pelecanos: I went to Northwood in Silver Spring.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh yeah. And then that was close to the University of Maryland and then you went to school there.
George Pelecanos: Yeah, I commuted to Maryland.
Andy Ockershausen: Natural thing for- But as a young Greek boy growing up in the city, you had to take over your father’s business for a while.
George Pelecanos: That’s true. When I was 19 and I was in my first semester of Maryland, my dad got very sick and I had to drop out of college to run the business. Thankfully, I had been working there since I was 11 years old, so I knew what to do. It was easy.
Andy Ockershausen: It was small. You only had like 24 seats in the restaurant?
George Pelecanos: Yeah, it was just a lunch counter-
Andy Ockershausen: Right.
George Pelecanos: -with a few booths. It’s actually, people know it now as CF Folks, it’s right next to the Palm.
Andy Ockershausen: Yeah. Right.
George Pelecanos: It’s sort of a-
Andy Ockershausen: On 19th street.
Jefferson Coffee Shop
George Pelecanos: Exactly, yeah. But it was called the Jefferson Coffee Shop when my dad had it.
Andy Ockershausen: I remember it well because I was involved when the Palm opened because I was one of the contributors, let’s say, to the initial thing with “Peter Palmtree”, and I knew your dad’s place, and I probably knew your dad. We would speak or say “Hi” or “Hello”. I know he knew all the guys at the Palm.
George Pelecanos: Oh yeah, the waiters used to come in before-
Andy Ockershausen: They ate there.
George Pelecanos: -we opened and they all had breakfast, yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: Sure. It was part of Our Town. That’s what’s so great about it. But, George, you began to write after this experience as growing up in the restaurant business and you had to sort of hold your career in abeyance until your dad got well. Is that correct?
George Pelecanos: Yeah, I didn’t start writing until I was about 31 years old. And I continued to work in restaurants and bars and retail. I just kept working those kinds of jobs because it was, well I had to make a living, but also I was having fun.
Ten Years with The Pedas Brothers
Andy Ockershausen: It was good people. The Pedas brothers you worked for.
George Pelecanos: I worked for them for 10 years. They had a little production company and distribution company, in addition to owning all the theaters in Washington.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh yeah.
George Pelecanos: Two of the finest guys I’ve ever known.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh yeah. Wonderful, wonderful. I know Ted. I saw his wife recently. I can’t remember, somebody funeral or something and she was there, I didn’t see him of course. But, so George, that got you into writing and you didn’t have to do too much research because you were part of the city, part of Our Town, so you could make it part of your novel.
A Writer for Life
George Pelecanos: Yeah, I mean ever since I was a kid I liked hanging out in the city, riding the buses, walking around, talking to people, and when I was ready to start writing I had a lot of life experiences, which I think is how it should be for a writer. You know, there’s no rush to get into because it’s something you can do your whole life. It’s not like being an athlete, or rock star, or something like that where you got this small window. I mean, I plan to continue to write for the rest of my life.
Andy Ockershausen: It’s in you and it shows. I mean, you write with passion, too-
George Pelecanos: Thank you.
Andy Ockershausen: -which shows to me. When you mention something, it’s so important is riding buses. I think my great experiences growing up in Our Town was riding public transportation. Street cars and buses was my life. We didn’t have cars, we couldn’t afford them, but we had the street car right across the street and it was a wonderful part of Our Town.
Public Transportation Makes a City
George Pelecanos: Well, you know, I always get on a soap box about this, but public transportation is what makes this city. And after the riots in ’68, you had a period in the city, as you know, where the downtown was completely shut down. There was tumbleweeds blowing across the street, department stores closed, movie palaces were closed-
Andy Ockershausen: Awful.
The Metro Revitalized Our Town
George Pelecanos: And then in ’76, eight years after the riots, the Metro opened. And little by little, over time, the city was reborn because of the Metro. Every place where there was a Metro stop a garden grew up around it. And the reason Washington is what it is today, all this redevelopment and people moving back in, is because of the metro. You take a city like Baltimore, which has no public transportation to speak of, and they’re in trouble, because even when people-
Andy Ockershausen: They don’t have that engine to drive them.
George Pelecanos: They don’t have the engine, and even when people, if you get a job, you can’t get to work. And I think that’s the big story of Washington, is the opening of the Metro, and of course, now we have to fix it.
Andy Ockershausen: That’s inevitable. Progress . . . But George, that was good for you because you grew up in Our Town. This experience of working in downtown, being a part of Our Town, and seeing people in and out of your restaurant, and the people you met and worked for gave you all the inspiration to continue your writing because you could write about the things you experienced.
George Pelecanos: That’s right.
Andy Ockershausen: Obviously.
George Pelecanos’ Popularity Began Overseas
George Pelecanos: Yeah. And I felt, when I started at least, there wasn’t anybody really writing about Washington, the real Washington. And long-time Washingtonians, people that have been here for generations, and you know came up from the South or came, like my family, came from another country-
Andy Ockershausen: We all did at one time.
George Pelecanos: Everybody did. I mean, everybody came from somewhere else. So there was a whole, there was a void in that literature and I wanted to fill it.
Andy Ockershausen: And you did it, and you did it in flying color because you kept at it. I’m sure you weren’t an instant success, it took a while to build up a following. And you probably got more writers around the country than you do in Our Town. What do you think of that?
George Pelecanos: It’s true. It took me a while to catch on. What happened was is that my books started getting popular overseas and journalists were writing about me over there and Americans journalists started reading it here and saying, “Who is this guy?”.
Andy Ockershausen: Right.
Writing for Television – The Wire
George Pelecanos: So, that helped me quite a bit, and then the other thing that really helped me was writing for television. Getting involved with The Wire on HBO, which I was on that show for-
Andy Ockershausen: Tremendous opportunity! But before that, you had some involvement with the Washington Police Department, whether as a fugitive. We all grew up with cops in our lives, but you were friends of the local establishment cops, and that helped you in your writing, did it not?
Writer Experiences – Police Ride Alongs
George Pelecanos: You know, I used to ride a lot with the police early on.
Andy Ockershausen: Did you?
George Pelecanos: And I got friendly with people and, to be really honest, I’ve been on both sides of the law. I was in trouble, you know, when I was young and had some problems even in my twenties. I mean, basically, I try to reach out to everybody, whether it’s, you know, citizens, police. I have people in the underworld that I have contacts with.
Andy Ockershausen: Sure.
Writer Experiences – Reading Programs for Inmates – Win/Win
George Pelecanos: I’m frequently down at the DC jail doing reading programs, but also, to be honest again, I get a lot of material when I’m down at the jail. I talk to guys that are-
Andy Ockershausen: Unbelievable experience for you, I’m sure.
George Pelecanos: Oh yeah, I love it. I mean, I’m down there quite often and when I travel even, when I’m doing book tours, I will visit the local prisons, even in London, places like that, I go and talk to the guys and see what’s up.
Andy Ockershausen: Good for you, because then you’re really hearing the full story . . .
George Pelecanos: Absolutely.
Andy Ockershausen: Whether it’s London or some other place, everybody’s got a story, correct?
George Pelecanos: Yes.
Andy Ockershausen: Good, bad, or indifferent.
It’s All About the Humanity
George Pelecanos: And you know, you just try to locate the humanity in everybody because it’s there.
Andy Ockershausen: Absolutely. No question, they’re human beings.
George Pelecanos: Yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: Now George, in your relationship we were talking about Maurice Cullinane because he was chief when you were just really getting started and probably you were still a kid, but Cully is a very good friend of mine because he’s from Northeast like I am, you know, we go back a long, long time. And that’s one of the benefits that has come to me in my life is being local, being a native, and like the man that preceded you here – Herb Miller – he’s a local guy, and he said the same thing you said, “This city was dying. But it’s come back unbelievably high.” Taking time.
Growth and Affordable Housing
George Pelecanos: With all of that, I mean, I’m all for growth and … You take a place like H Street, which was the last riot corridor to come back.
Andy Ockershausen: 13th and H.
George Pelecanos: Right. You know it well. And the reason it took so long to come back is there’s no metro stop on H Street. You know, if you look at 7th Street and 14th Street . . .
Andy Ockershausen: You’re so right.
George Pelecanos: So anyway. Up until 15 years ago, H Street was really still down and out, but now you look there and there’s all these restaurants and business and bars.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh, it’s happening!
George Pelecanos: And those are all jobs. You know what I mean? But the thing that I do want-
Andy Ockershausen: They’re low-end jobs, they’re not negatives. We need workers.
George Pelecanos: Oh yeah, we need the kitchens and wait staff, and we need people working retail and all that and in the hair and nail parlors, but those people also should be able to live in the city.
Andy Ockershausen: Absolutely. Can’t afford it.
George Pelecanos: So, we can’t forget about that, to make sure that we have affordable housing for all the workers here. Because what happens in a city when it’s just for people who are in the upper echelon, who are doing very well is that you lose the character. If you don’t have that full spectrum of people. Not to get on my soap box, but it’s something that we need to make sure that we’re still aware of because that’s the lifeblood of the city, is workers.
Andy Ockershausen: And you’re so right. We’re going to take a break now. We’re going to come back and talk to George. I’ll give him my H Street experience now that he brought it up. This is Andy Ockershausen, Our Town, and I’m talking to George Pelecanos.
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Announcer: You’re listening to Our Town.
Andy Ockershausen: We’re talking to George Pelecanos. He mentioned H Street. I grew up 13th and D, Northeast, but you know, at one time H Street had a lot of vibrancy for Our Town, like Club Kavakos, and things really happened down there.
Club Kavakos | Joe DiMaggio | Billy May | Woody Herman
George Pelecanos: Oh yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: And then it really crashed, you know? I was an investor in some buildings on H Street, and of course we lost everything in the crash, but now it’s restaurant row almost, a really important part of Our Town. If people don’t take advantage of getting to H Street, they’re making a mistake.
George Pelecanos: Did you ever go to Kavakos?
Andy Ockershausen: Oh, very many times.
George Pelecanos: Well, why don’t you just- I mean, I know I’m supposed be being interviewed, but tell us a little bit about it, because it was a wonderful place, right?
Andy Ockershausen: It was 8th and H, a streetcar stopped there both ways. The streetcars that went one way went up H Street, and I had a chance to meet Joe DiMaggio. Bill Kavakos had a group over, and I had a friend who was cooking crabs, and to meet the characters. But also, in addition to Kavakos being connected in the sports world, he had musicians there. I saw big bands playing this little restaurant, like Billy May-
George Pelecanos: Right. Woody Herman?
Andy Ockershausen: You’re a music man.
George Pelecanos: Yeah, Woody Herman played there.
Andy Ockershausen: Kavakos was a big, big part of Our Town. Billy Kavakos did it and his brothers did it. But H Street was a vibrant place. It was our main street for my neighborhood in Northeast. You know, it had the good and the bad. I worked at a place for 25 cents an hour folding mail for a Kiplinger company. That’s the first Kiplinger- I didn’t know what Kiplinger was, but I got the 25 cents for the hour, though.
George Pelecanos: Yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: But George, you went through the tough times when you ran your father’s business, but that got you in another world. You must have met a lot of great people down there. How does this Baltimore thing happen? How do you go from Georgia Avenue to downtown Balmer?
Researching and Writing – The Wire | Treme | The Deuce
George Pelecanos: I mean, I got a call from David Simon years ago, and David actually is a Washingtonian. You know, he went to BCC, but he had moved to Baltimore to write for The Sun. And he called me up and said he just sold a show to HBO about cops and drug dealers. He didn’t make it, you know, he didn’t aggrandize it or anything like that. And he asked me if I wanted to write for it because he had read one of my books. So I went up there and started working on it became The Wire, and I ended up-
Andy Ockershausen: Did you prowl the city, go to meet people and become part of the-
George Pelecanos: Yeah, I did what I always do-
Andy Ockershausen: Yeah, you got to research.
George Pelecanos: -I go out and I start talking to people, and I rode with police there. Same thing when I lived in New Orleans for the show, Treme. I just started going out at night, walking around, going into bars, talking to people. You get a feel for the city if you get out of your car.
Andy Ockershausen: Gotta get around, that’s what I say about public transportation, it gets you around.
George Pelecanos: Yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: How about The Deuce? The Deuce is set in New York.
George Pelecanos: Yeah, when we’re doing the show, I live up there about eight months of the year. I wish I could sleep in my own bed and work in Washington when I do these.
Andy Ockershausen: You leave your family here?
George Pelecanos: Yeah, yeah. My family’s all grown up, anyway, and actually my sons work with me on the show. They rent a house in Brooklyn, so I have some of my family up there.
Andy Ockershausen: And The Deuce is set in the ’70s, but when is The Wire?
George Pelecanos: The Wire was contemporary when we made it.
Andy Ockershausen: Yes, it goes on now.
George Pelecanos: Yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: Still goes on, correct? Downtown Baltimore?
George Pelecanos: Well, no, we ended that show 12 years ago, but it’s had a life, it’s gone around the world and it’s still a show that people talk about.
Andy Ockershausen: Won every award possible.
George Pelecanos: Yeah, well, almost.
Andy Ockershausen: Did you live through this riot in Baltimore, I mean, with this Freddie Gray situation and what went on?
Documentary Baltimore Rising – Sonja Sohn Director, George Pelecanos Producer
George Pelecanos: I actually produced a documentary about that called Baltimore Rising that’s been running on HBO, directed by Sonja Sohn, who was one of the actors on The Wire.
Andy Ockershausen: And you were the writer for that?
George Pelecanos: No, I produced it. I was just a guy that kind of kept an eye on it, but that was about the year after and the trials and so on. You know, they have problems there. And I don’t know what’s going to happen.
Andy Ockershausen: A sad thing for everybody. There were no winners in that-
George Pelecanos: There’s no winners. The one thing the riots do, though, is they get people’s attention. There are people … Business owners suffer, and there’s a loss of- Let me tell you a good story, while I got you on the radio here. A lot of people don’t realize this-
Andy Ockershausen: Anything you want, George.
George Pelecanos: Okay. During the riots here in ’68, Walter Washington was our mayor.
Andy Ockershausen: Right. Appointed at the time, correct?
Mayor Walter Washington, Gentleman and Visionary, Said No to J. Edgar Hoover and Saved Lives During 1968 Riots
George Pelecanos: He was appointed. He was the first African American mayor. A lot people thought Walter Washington, because he was a reserved gentleman that he was some kind of sellout, or … Because he wasn’t young-
Andy Ockershausen: Correct.
George Pelecanos: -he wasn’t a guy who was loud or anything like that. So during the riots he was called to the FBI building by J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover said to him, “You got to start shooting these looters.” And Walter Washington said, “Sir, you can replace buildings, but you can’t replace human lives.” And he walked out of there. He refused to shoot on these people that were rioting. Consequentially, only 12 people died in these riots and that’s really miraculous when you think of all the-
Andy Ockershausen: It could have been hundreds, easily!
George Pelecanos: It could have been, easily. Most of those people, except for one, they all died in the fires. They got trapped in fires, they weren’t shot by police.
Andy Ockershausen: Right.
George Pelecanos: And the city survived.
Andy Ockershausen: Well you mentioned that, CVS went right back and rebuilt that-
George Pelecanos: In Baltimore.
Andy Ockershausen: Yeah.
George Pelecanos: Yeah, they did. They can rebuild their CVS-
Andy Ockershausen: They put their money back in the city.
George Pelecanos: Yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: I hope that helped the residents realize these people care, CVS.
George Pelecanos: They do. I mean, they’re going to patronize it. But the reason I tell the story about Mayor Washington is that he was a real gentleman and a visionary, in his own way.
Andy Ockershausen: Well, I had a great opportunity to spend some time with him over the years because of WMAL and our relationship, and even when he got married and Bennetta. What a wonderful, wonderful mayor, great mayor for Our Town. And his timing! Timing is everything. Marion was right for his time-
George Pelecanos: Exactly.
Andy Ockershausen: -but Walter was right to the beginning. He started it off and did so much for Our Town. But now you’re in Baltimore, but you’re a part-time resident in both cities?
George Pelecanos: No, on The Wire I commuted every day. I would drive and sometimes in the middle of the night come home. I just wanted to come home and sleep in my own bed, basically, you know? That was a while back, but I just commuted and now I live in New York part-time until the show is done, which will be another two years.
Andy Ockershausen: It’s going to take two more years, so maybe you’ll have a sequel.
George Pelecanos: I hope to come back here and do some television here in Washington.
Andy Ockershausen: That’d be great.
George Pelecanos: I just made a movie in DC called DC Noir. It’s based on my short stories. My son directed one of them. It’s four short films. I directed one.
Andy Ockershausen: Who’s going to distribute that?
George Pelecanos: Well, we’re going to take it out to festivals and try and sell it. So you should be able to se it next year some time, but one of the reasons I did it was to show the city council and the mayor and everybody, who have been very supportive and cooperative who’ve said, “We can make movies here and television.”
Andy Ockershausen: A million stories in our city.
George Pelecanos: Absolutely. I mean, I would love it. And I’d love to end my career making television or film about Washington DC.
Andy Ockershausen: About Our Town.
George Pelecanos: Yeah, yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: Now, what about your restaurant? Your dad still alive?
George Pelecanos: My dad’s passed, yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: Well, he was a veteran of the South Pacific, correct?
Pete Pelecanos, World War II Marine Veteran
George Pelecanos: He was a Marine in World War II.
Andy Ockershausen: We won that war, I do remember.
George Pelecanos: We did win it, yeah, definitively.
Andy Ockershausen: This is Andy Ockershausen on Our Town. I’m talking to George Pelecanos, and we’ll be right back.
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Announcer: You’re listening to Our Town with Andy Ockershausen. Brought to you by Best Bark Communications.
Andy Ockershausen: Talking to George about his career in the restaurant business. He must have met a lot of characters and you found out that . . .you started working when you were 11 years old working with your dad.
George Pelecanos: Yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: And all those years, and then you took it over yourself. The characters that you knew must have been part of your life, and they must be in your book somewhere.
Celebrity Sightings in the Early Years Before Writing
George Pelecanos: Everybody I’ve met is in my books somewhere. You know, one of the things I did, one of my first jobs not working for my dad was I worked at the old sun radio at Connecticut and Albemarle.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh, I know it.
George Pelecanos: -which is right across the street from your studios.
Andy Ockershausen: Absolutely.
George Pelecanos: I used to see you guys coming in and out, and a big thrill for me one day was Isaac Hayes was in town and doing an interview at your studio. He walked out on Connecticut Avenue, bare-chested with chains on-
Andy Ockershausen: Oh my!
George Pelecanos: -which was from his album cover, Black Moses, I think. And you know, for a sixteen-year-old kid, it was a big kick to see that. So I used to see the celebrities coming in and out of your studio all the time. Of course, everyday I’d eat at the Hot Shops right there.
Andy Ockershausen: With a lot of famous people, they all stop at the Hot Shop on the way downtown.
George Pelecanos: Why not? It was delicious. C’mon!
Andy Ockershausen: I’m glad you said the Hot Shop. It was great growing up there and a part of my life was spending that- You know we had a bowling alley in that studio for a while, at WMALTV. But George, tell me about your restaurants and your career, and you’re not going to be in the food business again, but what is your plan for the future? Continue writing, of course. You say The Wire’s got two more, I mean The Deuce has got two more years.
The Deuce – Heads Into Season 2
George Pelecanos: Yeah, I hope so, yeah. I mean, we’re getting ready to shoot the second season and we hope we get a third. We got a three season arch to tell. And we jumped forward in time so we want to get, at the end we’re going to get to the mid-80s in New York when everything sort of fell apart.
Andy Ockershausen: Yeah. Giuliani came in after that, right?
George Pelecanos: Koch was in there.
Andy Ockershausen: Yeah.
George Pelecanos: They tried to clean things up, but what happened was AIDS came in New York and sort of shut everything down, shut the sex industry down. Pornography industry moved out west to California. Then the real estate hit bottom and once that happens, people swoop in and they start buying things up and that’s why Time Square looks like it does today.
Andy Ockershausen: It sounds like Donald Trump’s family. They scooped it up.
George Pelecanos: They did buy some of that and Disney did as well. But you know, my plan is just to keep working for the rest of my life.
Andy Ockershausen: How about your interest in music. You talk a lot about the music you listen to when you’re writing your books. You really like and enjoy music of certain jazz and artists and so forth.
Chuck Brown Go-Go | Uniquely D.C.
George Pelecanos: Yeah. DC music has been a big part of my life. You know, Punk Rock when I was younger and we had our own scene here and go-go and-
Andy Ockershausen: Hip Hop.
George Pelecanos: Hip Hop, too. Yeah, we have our own local acts. Yeah, I still listen to a lot of music and it’s a big thing for me.
Andy Ockershausen: Well, great. I think Washington’s always had some great music stations. Don’t we get credit as a community for starting Hip Hop? Wasn’t that a Washington phenomenon?
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: Go-Go.
George Pelecanos: Go-Go.
Andy Ockershausen: Go-Go.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: Chuck Brown.
George Pelecanos: Yeah, Chuck Brown. I mean there’s nobody else that does it. It’s almost like you can’t do it outside of Washington because it’s a live experience. It doesn’t translate well to records and CDs, but if you go see it you understand it.
Andy Ockershausen: Right.
George Pelecanos: And you have to be a Washingtonian to understand it.
Andy Ockershausen: Be part of Our Town. It put us on the map around the world, of course, as you have with your writing and your TV work.
George Pelecanos: Thanks.
Andy Ockershausen: Around the world knows George Pelecanos.
George Pelecanos: Well, thanks. That’s nice of you to say, but-
Andy Ockershausen: Well, it’s true! I know it and I feel it, and I know the Pedas boys do. You’re almost like a son to them, probably.
George Pelecanos: Well they are like fathers to me.
Andy Ockershausen: I know that.
George Pelecanos: Yeah, they’re great guys.
Andy Ockershausen: I grew up with the Greeks, as we talk about the guys that I knew well like the Kalamarises and so forth, they all started at the bottom here in Our Town, and they grew with it, as the Pedas boys did and Moshovitis , we call him the Spike, he was picking up things all over Our Town. It’s been so great to know that you’ve elaborated on these people and they’re in your book somewhere, all these people somewhere that you have relationships with.
There’s a New Hard Working Immigrant in Our Town
George Pelecanos: I’ve put them in there. And now in Washington you see the new immigrants, the Hispanics and the Ethiopians and the Eritreans, they’re all doing the same thing. They’re starting businesses.
Andy Ockershausen: And they’re working hard!
George Pelecanos: Working hard to try to make things better for their families.
Andy Ockershausen: Right.
George Pelecanos: It’s nice that we’re embracing them as well.
Andy Ockershausen: I think in a lot of areas, if we didn’t have these immigrants, I don’t know who’d run the businesses because they’re the sweepers and the washers and the driers and they’re working and they’re bringing money home.
George Pelecanos: There would be no restaurant business in Washington without the immigrants working them. Any restaurateur will tell you. That’s who’s running those places.
Andy Ockershausen: I got that same experience from a man, you may remember the name, Auger. Blackie Auger?
George Pelecanos: Oh, yeah, I knew Blackie.
Andy Ockershausen: Well, Blackie, the IRS, or the INS immigration raided his restaurant, they took out all the cooks and all the people out of the kitchen, and he went back to bail them out. He said, “I can’t operate my business without these people, so you guys gotta lay-“. I don’t know how he did it, but he got them to lay off and stop arresting his people.
George Pelecanos: Right, and that’s the labor engine for-
Andy Ockershausen: For restaurants and bars.
George Pelecanos: Exactly.
Andy Ockershausen: He cleans the buildings at night. In Our Town it’s very busy part of Our Town. It’s a new, what do you call it? Lifestyle, these people work all night to clean.
George Pelecanos: Right.
Andy Ockershausen: But most of them are working two jobs, too, or three jobs.
George Pelecanos: Yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: Make ends meet.
George Pelecanos: It’s tough out here, but you got to keep working.
Andy Ockershausen: Almost everybody did at one time. The Greeks, the Irish, the Germans, the Jews, they worked two or three jobs to get ahead.
George Pelecanos: Yep.
Andy Ockershausen: Because that’s the way it was at one time. George this has been so great to know you and to appreciate you so much.
George Pelecanos: It’s an honor to meet you finally. Been listening to you my life.
Andy Ockershausen: Thank you for that! My honor is WMAL, my wife. She is WMAL. She started here 40 years ago working at this radio station.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: This month, yeah.
George Pelecanos: Wow.
Andy Ockershausen: And made a career out of it and made a career out of my life, but George, good luck to you and good luck to all your dreams and plans for the future.
George Pelecanos: Thank you, sir.
Andy Ockershausen: There’ll always be a place for you at WMAL.
George Pelecanos: Thanks. Appreciate it.
Andy Ockershausen: Maybe not for me, but for you there will be, George.
George Pelecanos: My pleasure.
Announcer: You’ve been listening to Our Town, Season 3, presented by GEICO, our hometown favorite, with your host Andy Ockershausen. New Our Town episodes are released each Tuesday and Thursday. Drop us a line with your comments or suggestions. See us on Facebook, or visit our website at ourtowndc.com. Our special thanks to Ken Hunter, our technical director, and WMAL Radio in Washington, DC for hosting our podcast. And thanks to GEICO. 15 minutes can save you 15% or more on car insurance.
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