One joy of journalism is the distinctive people you meet. Sgt. Dwight Waldo is among them.
I’ve gotten to the know the good sgt, out of San Bernardino PD lately. He is a national expert on tagging — those incomprehensible graffiti scrawls, often mistaken for gang graffiti. You see it on overpasses or warehouses or flood channels.
The kids who do it possess a drive bordering on obsession for scaling astonishing heights to paint their monikers — and thus achieve Mt. Everest-like renown among the tagger underground. One crew Waldo knew had its smallest member practice painting upside down so they could hang him from his ankles over freeway overpasses to paint their crew name.
Waldo has spent most of his career studying and arresting kids who do this. He’s written a book, taught classes to cops — all about kids who will do almost anything to get to impossible-to-reach places to then paint, etch their names.
A few years ago, Waldo, as a respite from this bleak world, took up music. With a drive bordering on obsession, he learned instruments, six in all.
He now plays his music (violin and bagpipes mostly) in the most astonishing places: strolling his neighborhood (see photo above), atop a rock at Gettysburg, in front of the Queen Mary or the Alamo, and on the roofs on countless hotels.
The similarities here to the taggers he pursues is, of course, not lost on Sgt. Waldo, who sees a little of the kids in the challenge he presents himself of finding the most out of the way, unexpected places to play his Scottish reels and Civil War waltzes.
Story drops in a few days. Had such fun doing it. Like tagging, and his music itself, Waldo was an unexpected find.