I didn't know the Undercover Black Man, but I wish I did. I was only vaguely familiar with his blog, but I've been going there reading the archives quite frequently after learning that UBM, an alter ego for TV writer David Mills, died from a brain aneurysm this past week.
His name didn't ring any bells with me as I read the various obituaries and tributes that ran in different newspapers. It's surprising that I wasn't familiar with him, since he did go to my alma mater, worked with David Simon, another distinguished alumnus, and was a writer for both Homicide: Life on the Streets and The Wire, which was one of my favorite programs. He was also set to work with Simon on Treme, an HBO show that seems to deal with life in post-Katrina New Orleans. He wrote his last blog post about the show, along with several others.
I'm ashamed to say that I've only been perusing the blog after learning about his death. But I do have some favorite posts, like the one where he lists recording artists who were convicted of murder; 'Run, N-gger Run', where he lists the lyrics of a catchy old time tune; and one where he calls out folks for pretending to be Indian. He also provided little known historical data, like giving a bio on the country's first non white vice president.
I've been late in discovering greatness before. I was an adult before I read 'Go Tell it On the Mountain' and 'Giovanni's Room', the latter helping me realize how much I loved James Baldwin. And just last year, my guitar teacher has got me playing songs by the Beatles and their tracks are in constant rotation (John Lennon was THE TRUTH). I'm now learning 'Don't Let Me Down', which faces stiff competition from 'My Life' for being my favorite Beatles song. (I've become so enamored with them that a friend has nicknamed me The Ladybug)
I had already known I was going to watch Treme when it premieres in a few weeks. But now I'll do so with the UBM, or David Mills, in mind. Rest in peace, Mr. Mills.