Monday, January 26, 2009

Combat Jack Salutes David Nuttall

Summer of '86, I had just graduated from Cornell University. My aim was law school, but things were kinda tight. I had been rejected by Brooklyn Law, and my #1 school Georgetown had me on the wait list. 9 outta 10, this was not a good look as the wait list meant you wasn't getting in and had to try again next year. Fortunately, through a series of mad hustling, wheeling and dealing (I might tell you about that in another post), I received a Western Union Telegraph (do they even do that these days?) through the mail informing me that I had been accepted to G-town, literally two weeks before classes started. Mission accomplished, it was time to get my shit in gear, especially since I had no dough, not a single connect in Washington, D.C. and no where to rest my head once I got down there. In speaking to one of my bourgie homeys from Harlem, he let me know about one of his former classmates from University of Pennsylvania, David Nuttall, who was about to start Georgetown Law as well. I cold called Dave with the quickness and explained to him that this BK dude was just accepted and needed a place to rest in Washington until I got on my feet. Immediately, Dave told me it was cool, I could crash at his joint, face unseen. A coupla days later, with no time to waste, I packed my meager belongings, some snacks, my $300, hugged my moms and started out on my journey.

My ride dropped me off at Dave's crib like around 2am in the morning. Dave greeted me and was like, "yo I got some cold cuts and brew in the fridge, make yourself comfortable. Here's your room, tomorrow I'll show you around D.C. and the school." The next day, Dave did just that, and as the following days turned into weeks, months, then three years, here's what I learned about Dave:

- Dave grew up playing basketball, and dude was incredible. He also played varsity at U. of Penn.
- He grew up middle class, his father owned a software company which had just started to blow up
-His parents were divorced, hence his father was divorced from him, leaving Dave with some deep emotional scars.
- Dave loved his moms deeply, even though she took a lot of the hurt she had from her divorce and aimed it at him. They had a great, but tough relationship.
- Dave was one of the coolest and most level headed people I've ever met, but on occasion, this nigga would flip out on some Sam Jackson from "Pulp Fiction" ish and get really really dark and gully. It was important to never ever end up on the dark side of Dave's wrath.
- Being a DC native, Dave was very popular and was able to feel comfortable around everyone, from the South East thugs to the nerdy white boys that were our classmates.
- Dave had major chicks in the DC and B'more area on lock and had them light, long haired ones throwing panties his way on the regular.
- Because he was an athelete and had a wicked temper, Dave was also nice with his knuckle game. I seen him put down a coupla dudes just on gp.
-Dave was one'a the most loyal dudes I've ever met. Once he claimed your set, it was ride or die til the wheels fell off, blood in, blood out.

The first year of law school was one of the most intense things I've ever experienced. We were responsible for ingesting between 150 - 300 pages of law for homework on the nightly. Fuck around, you might get called up and tortured by your law professors at any given moment. Your class might consist of 200 - 225 students, 98% white, with you front and dead center. Your boy CJ never stumbled nor stuttered though. Still and all, the pressure was inhuman. I seen chicks, black and white, having real ass nervous breakdowns. This other Hatian kid, Phillipe, caught a case of the breakdown, as I saw him crying in broad daylight up in the cafeteria one day, nose a bubbling, with him moaning about how, at the end of the semester, he was never coming back, like on some "G.I. Jane" shit. Nigga did eventually "ring the bell' and broke for ghost like he said he would. Me, I stayed on point, but the stress had me having some serious ass headaches. Dave never shook though, and handled all that classwork like a champ. Dude always stayed looking out as well. If he sensed I was low on paper, Dave would let me hold some. Fridays, man made sure we took a break and he had me and a coupla other students staying zoned out on some fine drank and burning on some choice trees. He occasionally kept us skiied out on some a that snow white as well. Sheeit, if my President can claim it, I'ma claim it too! One night, I damn near cried to Dave that since shit was too hectic, I hadn't been able to get laid by NOBODY for damn near 120 DAYS!!! Me being in my prime, my shit was so backed up that whenever I sneezed, I snotted out babies. That very next Friday, my man Dave came through (I had my own place by then) with two purty birds from Howard University and an 8 ball of that raw. He let me hold alla that too!

Our second year at Georgetown, Dave's mom had a severe stroke that left her partially paralyzed. Dave was now forced to play full time student AND caretaker for her. On top of that, his mom's stayed giving him mad shit. His sister wasn't around as much to ease his load, his pops, much less. To numb the pain, Dave stayed with snow white more often. I started dating a fellow student whose pops was Ambassador to a foreign state, so I was whipping the Benz through our nation's capitol, diplomatic plates on blast. I'd pick Dave up now and then, and drive through that beautiful city with no worries in the world. Dave's eyes though, they started looking a bit lost. He kept his g.p.a. high, and was applying to all of the nation's top law firms, but because he was mad competitive, he would go ape shit whenever one of our white peers landed the jobs he was going for, even though he had the superior grades. That shit right there stayed driving him crazy.

Our last year of school, shit got worse. Three months before graduation, Dave's mom died. That shit there took the wind out of his sails. He ended up failing Ethics class, which is the easiest "gut" class one takes when going through law school. So easy that it was easy to not pay attention to it and easy to fail. He pleaded with the school administration to give him a break what with all he was going through, especially since he had done well in all of his other classes. The administration decided they were going to break him instead, requiring him to have to redo another semester. Law school ain't cheap, people. Hearing about that shit damn near broke me too. I graduated in spring of '89, came back to my beautiful New York City and ended up working at Def Jam Records. I also lost track of Dave, even though I tried to contact him several times. Word on the street was that Dave left snow white alone for her younger, faster sister, crack rock. Damn.

Winter of '91, when I was working at a small law firm, I got a call from Dave. He told me he eventually graduated, and was in New York for some interviews. I told him to drop by the office for some lunch. When he showed up Dave. didn't. look. right. That lost look in his eyes was more prominent. A look I'll never forget. Plus, he had on a long coat, dress shirt, a pair of cotton sweat pants, dress socks and some dress shoes. No jokes, no lie. I still embraced dude like my brother. During lunch, he told me how hard shit was, but how he maintained and was successful in getting his mom's affairs in order. He was also very interested in how Denise, my ex's sister was, especially since she was the one Black who was hired (and eventually made partner) at this exclusive Park Avenue law firm. I told him she was doing well as we chopped it up. As we parted, he shared with me how, on his way down from DC on Amtrack, he was pick pocketed for his wallet and he needed to hold something, just so's he could get back to DC. Without question, I pulled out $2oo from the ATM, we dapped and he bounced. Two hours later, I get a hot call from Denise, pissed the eff at me for "telling" Dave to roll up to her office. He went there and hit her up for like $500. I explained what took placed and she backed up off me. By the end of the week though, we found out he had "hit up" several other of our former classmates for money, white and black. Shit was looking bad for my man. That was also the last time I saw Dave.

Three months ago, I was talking to my lawyer about some business. She asked me if I knew her girlfriend Claire, who attended Georgetown around the time I was there. I remembered Claire because she was one'a the fine joints Dave used to smash back in the day. Me and Claire connected and we immediately jumped onto the subject of Dave. Claire also being from DC let me know that by the mid '90s, Dave was officially a crack head. He had lost all property and belongings passed on to him by his mom's and was out for dolo on the streets. No one had heard nor seen from him since, although the belief was that by the turn of the century, he had died of unknown causes.

They say that shit like that ain't supposed to happen once a brother gets up out of the hood. I say they full'a shit. The streets is always talking, always calling too, waiting to pull back another brother under the bullshit. Barack said it himself, when questioned on 60 Minutes as to whether he feared for his life and he responded how easy it was for a Black man's life to be snuffed out by doing something as mundane as going to the gas station. Shit like that ain't supposed to happen, but it did, and it does.

So, on account of me not being able to do it back then, to my nigga, my friend, my comrade David Nuttall, thank you for being there for me through thick and thin. An official Combat Jack salute to you. Twenty one shots on your behalf. Let the effin doves loose, and rest deeply in peace my dude, rest deeply in peace.


  1. Sad shit right there my man....but great read. Streets are always watching

  2. yeah some real sobering shit there. but man, what a great post. good on ya.

  3. Damn, why is it the brother's that have it all who seem to fall in love with the sweet smell of that bitch. I tasted her, but I didn't love her. It be the fly niggas that LOVES her.

  4. ^ D, she was like a jump off to me. Fun while it lasted, but knew deep to her core that she was an evil one. Her Jamaican cousin Cannabis is way sweeter, knows how to take care of a knicca, wash his drawls, loves to entertain guests and NEVER stresses a dude out.

  5. Dave Nutall, what a hell of a dude. Rest in peace. CJ, way to share such a poignant, sobering story.

    As a product of two parents who graduated from Snow White, to her uglier, chunkier, darker sister, I have never indulged in the stuff, for fear of something like Dave's story taking place in my own life. I have partied with some chicks who dig the snow, and man, they are/were fun to party with. Not for me though, based on how it ran through my family.

    In general, I have a deep sense of extended family with all my black people from the coke ravaged pockets of the country: Bmore, Oakland (Cokeland), LA, DC, NYC, Miami, etc.... For real, so many of us are a part of a lost generation.

    Shout out to my Uncle Dave too, aka Ragnar, RIP. Essentially gone via unknown causes but he dated the ugly sister heavy for a while.

    You are so spot on in how you are never fully away from the streets, specifically the street narcotics.

    As usual, great writing. (Noticing that the only two posts I have glossed over are the comic related ones.)

    Word to DP^^, the jamaican girl treats me just fine.


  6. That's why I never fucked with Snow White. I like her Indonesian cousin best.