Hard Knock/KPFA Radio 94.1FM and Impact Hub, Oakland presents:
New York Times Bestseller
New York Times Editors’ Choice
O Magazine Best Summer Book
Baltimore City Paper Best Memoir, 2016
Reminiscent of the classic Random Family and The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, but told by the man who lived it, THE COOK UP is a riveting look inside the Baltimore drug trade portrayed in The Wire and an incredible story of redemption.
The smartest kid on his block in East Baltimore, D. was certain he would escape the life of drugs, decadence, and violence that had surrounded him since birth. But when his brother Devin is shot-only days after D. receives notice that he’s been accepted into Georgetown University-the plans for his life are exploded, and he takes up the mantel of his brother’s crack empire. D. succeeds in cultivating the family business, but when he meets a woman unlike any he’s known before, his priorities are once more put into question. Equally terrifying and hilarious, inspiring and heartbreaking, D.’s story offers a rare glimpse into the mentality of a person who has escaped many hells.
Growing up during the crack era in East Baltimore, author D. Watkins saw firsthand how the drug destroyed communities. “It trashed my neighborhood,” Watkins tellsFresh Air‘s Terry Gross. “I’m old enough to remember before crack really hit, and once it did hit, it changed a whole dynamic of how drug culture worked.”
Suddenly, Watkins says, teenage kids — himself included — were selling crack on street corners. But the drug wasn’t leaving the neighborhood with each sale. “Everybody’s parents were junkies,” he says. “And all the kids were selling or using.”
Then there was the gun violence, which often sprang from disputes over control of particular street corners. Watkins escaped getting shot more than once. His older brother was shot to death during the period he was selling crack.
Other friends died or were sent to prison. Finally, Watkins says, “I was the last guy left. … I went from not really caring if I lived or died to caring — and I knew if I wanted to live, I had to stop.”
About D. Watkins:
D. Watkins is a columnist for Salon. His work has been published in the New York Times, Guardian, Rolling Stone, and other publications. He holds a master’s in Education from Johns Hopkins University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Baltimore. He is a college professor at the University of Baltimore and founder of the BMORE Writers Project. Watkins has been the recipient of numerous awards including Ford’s Men of Courage and a BME Fellowship. Watkins is from and lives in East Baltimore. He is the author of The Cook Up: A Crack Rock Memoir and The Beast Side: Living (and Dying) While Black in America
View D. Watkins news at: d-watkins.com/#blog
“D. Watkins has emerged as a powerful new voice just when America needs to hear his message. It’s the voice of all those in Baltimore, Ferguson, Charleston, Oakland, New York, Cleveland, and wherever another innocent life is lost. We all need to listen to what he has to say!”
—Touré, writer and MSNBC host.
Davey D is the Host of Hard Knock Radio (airing on KPFA 94.1fm weekdays at 4pm) and Adjunct Professor, Afrostudies Dept, S.F.State University.