The last season.

All your pre-season publicity for “The Wire,” in one place:

The New Yorker profile of David Simon.

An AP story on a news nugget that emerged from the profile: Next stop, New Orleans. I’m sure Ashley’s available as a technical consultant.

Posted at 7:21 am in Television |

18 responses to “The last season.”

  1. brian stouder said on October 15, 2007 at 10:05 am

    Dear David Simon: Kiss my ass!

    The New Yorker piece was interesting and enlightening, although poorly edited (whole sections are simply repeated).

    I never fully grasped what about Simon and his work I didn’t like, and now I do.

    “The Wire,” Simon often says, is a show about how contemporary American society—and, particularly, “raw, unencumbered capitalism”—devalues human beings. He told me, “Every single moment on the planet, from here on out, human beings are worth less. We are in a post-industrial age. We don’t need as many of us as we once did.

    “contemporary American society….devalues human beings”? Has he read any history – about when American society (and particularly Baltimore, btw) REALLY “devalued human beings”??

    So, he (and his more rabid followers) thinks he (and only he) sees and understands the overall truth?

    The novelist Dennis Lehane (“Mystic River”), whom Simon hired to write several scripts, agrees: “When you hear the really authentic street poetry in the dialogue, that’s David, or Ed Burns. Anything that’s literally 2006 or 2007 African-American ghetto dialogue—that’s them. They are so much further ahead of the curve on that.”

    “really authentic” = “created by David”?? Sounds like the rooster taking credit for the sunrise

    I was especially taken by this bit –

    The flip side of his loyalty—he is the kind of guy who will take off work to attend a funeral for the ninety-something mother of a retired rewrite man he used to work with at the Sun—is his tendency to hold a grudge. In April, on a Baltimore public radio show, Simon remarked that he still remembers the name of the girl who wouldn’t kiss him in grade school when they were playing Spin the Bottle, and of the pasteup guy who, back in 1985, excised the last precious paragraph of one of his stories. He went on, “Anything I’ve ever done in life, down to cleaning up my room, has been accomplished because I was going to show people that they were fucked up and wrong and that I was the fucking center of the universe.” It was a joke, but not entirely. Evidence of Simon’s feuds often ends up on “The Wire.” In the fourth season, Simon introduced a highly unpleasant supervisor of the major-crimes unit—someone who is more than willing to close down any investigations that might embarrass politicians, and of whom a sergeant says, “He doesn’t cast off talent lightly. He heaves it away with great force.” His name is Marimow. The real William Marimow, who is now the editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, says that he’s baffled and dismayed by Simon’s “obsession” with what went on at the Sun: “He is as monomaniacal as Captain Ahab pursuing the white whale.” Marimow says that the Sun made great strides in narrative and in-depth journalism—and was acknowledged for doing so in the Columbia Journalism Review and other publications—during the same years that Simon “claims we were destroying it.” He recalls only two conflicts with Simon: one over a raise that Simon wanted, and one over an article that Simon wrote about “metalmen”—people who strip houses of copper piping and sell it. Marimow didn’t like Simon’s use of the word “harvesters” to describe “people who were destroying homes. I thought it glorified them. He disagreed.” Now, Marimow says, “it’s this drumbeat, year after year, of rewriting history.”

    And so on. Anyway – the New Yorker piece got my Monday morning off to a lively start!

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  2. nancy said on October 15, 2007 at 11:04 am

    The proof is in the show, Brian. Trust me. It’s great.

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  3. brian stouder said on October 15, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    Well, I trust you. Presumeably someday I will see the light!

    Meanwhile, speaking of ‘the wire’, check out this

    “It’s like having a mini-heartbeat in my crotch,” she explains, a sensation that arouses her even during yoga and spinning classes, or when she drives along bumpy roads. During sex, Staltare says, she has volcanic, multiple orgasms “like huge waves that keep lifting me higher and higher.”

    I note that the woman who gushes about the $1800 procedure – which lasts for 4 months – keeps getting hers for free…

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  4. alex said on October 15, 2007 at 2:21 pm

    Gushes, does she?

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  5. brian stouder said on October 15, 2007 at 2:23 pm


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  6. Jeff said on October 15, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    What i’ve seen of the show is indeed great TV — maybe not Tolstoy, but as good as there’s been since Homicide went off the air (or The Sopranos went dark).

    But i appreciate Brian’s candor. I went to the link and read half the VF piece, then went off and spent half my day chairing a homelessness coalition board meeting, where our letter of credit is maxed out because the HUD grant keeps coming down for release later and later and later each year, and the “just in time” payments squeeze our underpaid case managers tighter each quarter . . . and we debated which course of begging to which big cheeses could keep us from cracking a new LoC (donations to, sure!).

    Then the second half of the day to what pays more reliably than free-lance scribbling, if quite modestly: our county juvenile court where i’m a mediator. Spoke to some fine young citizens and their parental stand-ins, etc. while we figure out how to not send kids to lock-up, or how to get them eased into society on their way back from said.

    And with all that, i still gotta say — David, lighten up! Our national failure — compared to what? How well you can imagine it working? OK, but decline — from what? End of America? Not bloody likely. A darker skinned, multi-lingual, less suburban-sprawled America, yes, and i’ve got your back on that one, but massive systemic failure?

    The best counter i have is my too-oft typed rant about discussions of American education. In 1900, we educated through high school graduation 10% of the nation’s youth. By World War II, 2 in 5, say 40%. In 1955, a high school that graduated over 50% of their ninth grade matriculants got awards. Around 1970, we said mentally and physically handicapped kids must get equal access to public schools — it wasn’t a right before that, just a nice thing some schools did when they could work it in the budget — and we made a bigger change for the average school administration than integration, in terms of the nation as a whole.

    Now, in 2007, we require that high schools keep in the classroom and get to graduation 95% of their student bodies, and keep 95% of them in class daily, or baaaaad things will happen. We have never done this before, and no one has ever done it in all of human history — attempt to educate all kids in a society. Is it working well? Heck no, but we still are figuring out what we don’t know, let alone what we need to know to keep active youths and tactile learners and college bound and skilled craftspeople all in the same system making comparable progress.

    Whatever we’re doing wrong, we as a society are teaching more to more students than ever before, but David Simon says we’re facing a disaster. Yes, urban high schools are the second worst institution to work within in society (first place — urban middle schools), but even they are doing amazing things. As Brian already said, if you really look at history, and make apples to apples comparisons, these are the golden days.

    What is hard to explain to older people is their insistence that “everyone graduated when i went to school in 1934/1949/1952.” Yes, everyone you knew did, but many kids were turfed out so early in the process you never missed them. And when those same folk ask why the disciplinary methods or classroom management of that era “just can’t be tried today,” i’m close to throwing up my hands, if not my lunch. But this is not a collapsing empire; it’s just our illusions and delusions that are collapsing. Teaching 30% of a class with migrant family kids and marginal English is a challenge for the 70% with (theoretical) language skills, as well as the teacher, but we are getting it done more often than not.

    Meanwhile, to work effectively in juvenile justice in central Ohio, i may need fluency in Spanish, and a working knowledge of Somali and Urdu. I can complain about that, as many do, or say, “i understand why they want to come here — let’s make it work.”

    How to speed up HUD re-imbursements, that one stumps me.

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  7. nancy said on October 15, 2007 at 2:29 pm

    And here we thought cell phones were the worst thing to happen to distracted drivers. If I’m run down and killed on my bike anytime soon, someone please check out whether the driver had recently had G-spot surgery. I always wanted an obit that would make people laugh.

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  8. LA mary said on October 15, 2007 at 2:34 pm

    I was nearly run over by an idiot texting while he drove his SUV through a red light last Saturday. He never looked up.

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  9. brian stouder said on October 15, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    If I’m run down and killed on my bike anytime soon

    Note: stay off bumpy roads!

    (and when boating, watch out for ‘huge waves’)

    What would the obit header be? ‘Bicylist killed in climactic accident’?

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  10. ashley said on October 15, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    Brian: ‘“really authentic” = “created by David”?? Sounds like the rooster taking credit for the sunrise’. All I can say is: read “The Corner”, and you’ll see exactly what Lehane is talking about. Simon and Burns spent the better part of every day for an entire year on a Baltimore open-air drug market, doing research for “The Corner”. It’s authentic, yo.

    Jeff: So it used to be that 50% of the kids dropped out to take blue collar jobs. Now, the schools are training them to do the blue collar jobs. Hell, the colleges are, too. Now, everybody is getting ‘an education’, but nobody is learning how to think.

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  11. ashley said on October 15, 2007 at 2:49 pm

    Oh, and yes, Mr Simon, I am available as a technical consultant, if you need some white boy’s vision of New Orleans authenticity.

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  12. Jeff said on October 15, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    Ashley —

    Nobody? Or not as many as once larnt to think? Or not as many more as we might wish? That’s a discussion worth having, not “why are schools today filled with so many disruptive kids,” which is the one i get my ear bent about.

    I do think “No Test Left Behind” is blunting the critical, creative edge of education as we’ve had it for college-bound populations for the last fifty years. The relentless focus on how to keep the lowest achieving third in the building and not acting out is taking major energy from physics, life science, and comp & term paper type classwork. Those last three are slowly dropping from schools that just got them in the last twenty years, and we’ll regret it sooner than later.

    But we don’t write off the kids in wheelchairs, the kids with cognitive disabilities, or the ones who don’t have parents in the home the way we did not that long ago, too, and that’s a victory i don’t want to throw back in order to get Latin back in the curriculum. I’d like my Little Guy to take a year of Latin, but i lost it so two other kids actually get an education, which is a fair trade; he can learn Latin from cornerstones and watching his dad badly translate ’em.

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  13. ashley said on October 15, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    OK, not ‘nobody’.

    When I was teaching at U of Idaho, we were ‘strongly encouraged’ by HP, the leading employer of our grads, to teach a certain programming language, which was used by HP. Forget the fact that another language would have helped them better understand how to think algorithmically, this was all about filling slots.

    I interviewed at the U of Nevada Reno, and they used a particular proprietary programming environment. Why? Because that was what was used in slot machines, which a donor so benevolently provided.

    What I wouldn’t give for an entire class who was schooled in critical thinking.

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  14. LA mary said on October 15, 2007 at 3:06 pm

    My younger kid is in a charter school that requires Latin, as well as music theory and dance, every year. Unfortunately, the Latin teacher is awful. Admission to this school is by lottery and it’s free. It’s a fairly new school, and I admit I’ve been less than pleased quite a few times by how it’s run, but this year they seem to be getting it together.

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  15. Jon said on October 15, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    this is the funniest obit i’ve seen in a while (from the Dispatch)

    STEIN Dick Stein, of Columbus, passed away Friday, August 24, 2007. He was 91. Mr. Stein’s band (“Dick Stein, Music So Fine”) played in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s at countless social events, weddings and bar mitzvahs in the Columbus area. He was known for his love of jazz, his velvet singing voice, good looks, and interludes on the clarinet and saxophone; also, for his frequent sexual quips. (“Gettin’ any?”) He and his wife Shirley were very active at Temple Israel where he sang in the choir and,..

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  16. brian stouder said on October 16, 2007 at 8:33 am

    Following NN.c’s link to Laura Lippman will take you to an interesting discussion of the New Yorker article; Ms L loved it….but one wonders whether Mr S did. (I think Ms L purposely mis-states the Baltimore Sun guy’s response to her husband’s “going for prizes” riff – but whatever)

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  17. Laura said on October 16, 2007 at 8:44 am

    David usually uses the word “individuals,” not “human beings,” a subtle but important difference. (And before you start harping on precision in language, please consider what it’s like to talk to someone for hours, off and on, over ELEVEN months of reporting, and consider how likely it is that you will nail every word, always say exactly what you mean.) Americans like to believe that individuals count; we’re still enamored of the Horatio Alger myth. But it doesn’t work for kids in West and East Baltimore because they can see that people who work hard don’t necessarily get ahead. I volunteer in a soup kitchen and we see men from local work crews, splattered with plaster and paint. They need a free lunch to stretch their paychecks. And the kids come in after school and see these guys.

    Lehane didn’t say that David “created” authentic speech, simply that, as far as Lehane can tell, David gets it right, is closer to the source and is therefore less likely to commit the cringe-worthy errors we’ve all heard.

    Lighten up? I can’t remember the stat, but a staggering number of black men are unemployed in Baltimore, at least thirty percent. And, in a city of just over 600,000, someone is killed every eighteen hours. It’s hard to lighten up. At least, it should be. Some folks are doing just fine.

    By the way, I was the last poverty reporter at the Baltimore Sun. When I left the beat in 1994, it was eliminated because it was just too much of a downer, writing about all those poor people. Instead, the beat was shifted to “non-profits” — stories about the good-hearted middle-class people who helped the poor. The Sun also hasn’t had a decent housing reporter for years, even as the city has torn down the high-rises and failed to create new housing, in part because it doesn’t want to deal with outraged neighborhoods that don’t want scattered site low-income housing and the feds now take a dim view of forcing all the public housing into poor, minority neighborhoods.

    (By the way, in another section of the story, the editors say the made it better, and use the yardstick of Pulitzers to support this claim. From 1979-1989, the Sun and Evening Sun won three Pulitzers, and that was without an activist member on the Pulitzer board. From 1991-2003, which encompasses the Carroll-Marimow era at the Sun, the paper won . . . three Pulitzers.)

    So, feud or no feud, there is an argument to be made that the local newspaper hasn’t been particulary vigilant in covering problems that are affecting the quality of life in this city. Hey, maybe that’s unique to Baltimore. But I doubt it.

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  18. nancy said on October 16, 2007 at 9:20 am

    Yay, Laura.

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