Links to interesting articles I’ve read

For a brief time, there was one television drama about the other America

The escalating breakdown
of urban society across the US

Well, there are about 350 television shows about the affluent America, the comfortable America, the viable and cohesive nation where everyone gets what they want if they either work hard or know someone or have a pretty face or cheat like hell. That America is available every night […] For a brief time, there was one television drama about the other America.

Mr. President. I know you’ve said you’re a fan of The Wire…

I meant this, not that. But yeah, I meant it.

From the blog of David Simon, creator-writer-producer of The Wire

He might swallow hard, seize the moment and say something along the lines of, “Mr. President. I know you’ve said you’re a fan of The Wire. Well, one of that show’s basic critiques is that the drug war is amoral. More Americans are now in prison than ever before, and the percentage of violent offenders in prison is lower than ever. We are now the jailingest society in the world, incarcerating

more of each other than even totalitarian states. How can we go on supporting this?”

Balls out like that. Truth to power, brah. Get some.

Instead, to use a sportswriting cliché, Simmons choked, throwing up an ugly brick at the buzzer: “Who’s the best character in The Wire?”

The Wire’s War on the Drug War

What the drugs themselves have not destroyed, the warfare against them has.

If asked to serve on a jury deliberating a violation of state or federal drug laws, we will vote to acquit, regardless of the evidence presented. Save for a prosecution in which acts of violence or intended violence are alleged [...] No longer can we collaborate with a government that uses nonviolent drug offenses to fill prisons with its poorest, most damaged and most desperate citizens.

Fuck the average reader

Interview with David Simon, creator of The Wire

My standard for verisimilitude is simple and I came to it when I started to write prose narrative: fuck the average reader. I was always told to write for the average reader in my newspaper life. The average reader, as they meant it, was some suburban white subscriber with two-point-whatever kids and three-point-whatever cars and a dog and a cat and lawn furniture. He knows nothing and he needs everything explained to him right away, so that exposition becomes this incredible, story-killing burden. Fuck him. Fuck him to hell.

Why so many colleges are teaching The Wire

Professors from Harvard, Berkeley, Middlebury, Duke, Syracuse, Loyola New Orleans & WSU Spokane offer courses based on the show.

The classes aren’t just in film studies or media studies departments; they’re turning up in social science disciplines [...] Some sociologists and social anthropologists, it turns out, believe The Wire has something to teach their students about poverty, class, bureaucracy, and the social ramifications of economic change.

Recaps for veteran viewers of The Wire, aimed at fans who have watched the entire series: Season 1, Season 2, Season 3

Spoiler alert. These reviews touch on how scenes connect to & impact future events on the show. An excerpt about the chess scene in Episode 3:

Bodie and Wallace using the chess board to play checkers — a fine game, but a simpler one [...] are standing in for every TV crime drama that preceded “The Wire.” They had the same pieces at their disposal, but they chose to play an easier game with more instant gratification.

During our post-finale interview, Simon and I talked about how all 3 characters in the chess scene eventually wound up dead — and at the hands of their employers, at that: “We knew that if we got a long enough run, all 3 of the chess players would be out of the game.

I’m sorry! I’m not really a drug dealer!

Cast, creators, writers & crew recall the making of The Wire

10 years after the series permiere. (Many spoilers in the article)

It was real to the point where crackheads would come up and try to cop [...] and I’d make the exchange. Then security would come around and be like, “No! No! No!” and break it up. I was like, “Oh, shit! That’s really a crack-head! I’m sorry! I’m not really a drug dealer!”