A loss.

This morning brings sad news: David Mills, aka Undercover Black Man, aka writer/producer/whatever on “The Wire,” “Homicide: Life on the Street” and “Treme,” died suddenly yesterday on the set of “Treme.” The story linked above — and I have no idea what the Investigative Voice is, sorry — says it was an aneurysm.

It’s awful when a person this talented is cut down in the prime of life. I didn’t know David, but like lots of people in that orbit, we exchanged a few e-mails from time to time. This detail from the story above should provide a hint as to what we had in common: While attending (the University of Maryland), Mills started a newspaper devoted to George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic. You should not be surprised to learn that one of Mills’ first big splashes in TV writing was “Bop Gun,” an episode of “Homicide” that takes its name from a P-Funk song. It also contains this priceless throwaway detail: A perp confesses to shooting someone over the destruction of a rare Eddie Hazel record, a reference maybe 12 people in the country got, but that’s why you watched “Homicide,” for the chance you might be in that 12. (Why isn’t this show in syndication anywhere? I just learned this morning that episode also features a 13-year-old Jake Gyllenhaal. And I don’t think I’ve seen it since it aired in 1994.)

Mills died barely a week before “Treme” is set to premiere — April 11.

I can’t find it now, but in one of our e-mail exchanges, I told Mills a blog post of his had prompted me to fill out my P-Funk collection via iTunes, and we went back and forth a little about guilty-pleasure pop hits. He said one of his was Diana Ross’ “Remember Me,” and then I downloaded that one, too. It’s fairly cheesy, Diana at her Diana-est, basically a more uptempo version of “I Will Always Love You.” I guess now I have someone to remember when I hear it.

Damn it anyway.

So, a little bloggage:

Google Maps added a bike feature, suggesting the most bike-friendly routes between locations. Here’s the map from my zip code to Belle Isle. I’d say they have some bugs to work out, but it’s a good start.

If you haven’t read the story I linked in the previous post, you are required to do so now. I am reminded once again of Jim at Sweet Juniper’s offhand remark: One of the great things about this city is, frequently there’s nobody around to tell you you can’t do something. Like open a strip club in your house.

Where is Jon Stewart’s MacArthur Fellowship?

If anyone cares, my windshield was only cracked, not broken, and it’s been like that for years, literally. Alan borrowed my car in 2006 and came home with a crack in the windshield the width of my hand, and claimed no knowledge of how it happened. Little by little, it expanded, and now it’s about 18 inches long. Although it’s down at the bottom and restricts my view not at all, it’s the sort of thing that would be an easy add-on ticket for a cop interested in chop-busting. Bonus: In the four years I’ve had it, the ownership of the glass shop changed and the price dropped from $590 to a little over $200. It pays to wait.

And now to think about my windshield not even a little — a bike ride.

Posted at 11:10 am in Television |

24 responses to “A loss.”

  1. LAMary said on March 31, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Hey, we’ve got a 2001 VW Passat wagon with a crack in the windshield that is exactly what you describe. Inexplicable beginning, slow crawl to a larger size over the last three years. I don’t think we have a place here that will fix it for 200 bucks.

    Jon Stewart and team are wonderful. I liked it last night when I watched it and luckily no one else is here in the office so I watched it again. Still wonderful.

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  2. prospero said on March 31, 2010 at 11:51 am

    Wouldn’t kill over an Eddie Hazel record. Hasil Atkins maybe. Parliafunkadelictment Thang, another whole story. Saw them, Bootsy con diaper included, at UGA. Under the influence of LSD. A good time was had by all.

    The Adena Watson and sweating the Araber episode of Homicide was clearly the best hour of TV ever made, and decidedly better than most movies. The Wire was very good, but no Frank Pembleton, so never as good. Sopranos? Not even close. Damages? When Patty’s insanity manifests, pretty close.

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  3. paddyo' said on March 31, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    Just don’t go pulling a Walter White if you DO get stopped by a cop for that windshield, missie. Gives new meaning to the show’s title, “Breaking Bad.”

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  4. LAMary said on March 31, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    I was present at the making of the “Do Fries Come with that Shake?” video a long time ago. What I remember mostly was Anthony Kiedis from the Red Hot Chili Peppers being incapable of moving to the music. He and his girlfriend were supposed to be rocking out to the tune. He didn’t seem to have a clue.

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  5. jcburns said on March 31, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Actually (as you may know) our ancient Ford Explorer has one of those cracks, and has for about 11 years now.

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  6. alex said on March 31, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    My newly inherited 1989 Honda Accord (with only 116K miles, red metallic with gold pinstriping, pristine beige interior, gently driven by a little old lady) has one of those teensy little starbursts in the windshield. This has been there since 1989, when I took mama’s car without permission and made the mistake of following a dump truck on the Interstate and got hit with flying gravel.

    I adore this little car, I tell ya. It’s more fun to drive than either of our newish cars. And kids keep offering $$, but I’m not tempted. At 116,000 it’s barely broken in.

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  7. Julie Robinson said on March 31, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    Our daughter got a similar crack the year she lived in Colorado. Apparently with the temperature changes, huge quantities of snow, and gravel roads, everyone expects it at least once a year. We had it replaced for about $350, and this winter, five years later, it had another one. Like Nancy, it was only $200 this time. Are we getting cheap auto glass from China?

    BTW, all those cheap fixes you can try from the auto stores are no help. One of them actually increased the length and breadth of the crack.

    Woo-hoo, it’s 67 in the Fort! Will this be the day Curtis Smith shaves the black bear fur off his face?

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  8. paddyo' said on March 31, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    Here in Colorado (where, BTW, we broke a 131-year-old record high yesterday with 82 degrees), windshield chips, cracks, stars and more are a regular part of life, whether you go off-road or not.
    Which is why the crack-fix agents hang out at the car wash, with their little bottles of liquid glass and suction-cup devices (they look like miniature skull-neck immobilization rigs, except they attach them to the windshield around the crack) and their triplicate forms for filing with the insurance company. I had one of them do it for my windshield some years ago and it lasted for years before another fresh star broke out into a full-windshield crack before I could get it filled.
    When my “new” (2 years) windshield got another chip a few months ago, I discovered from the fix-it guy, to my surprise, that my insurer (State Farm) no longer covers this service. So the $40 came out-of-pocket.

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  9. Jeff Borden said on March 31, 2010 at 2:02 pm


    I have never had the money to be a regular new car buyer. Our 1999 Acura was my first new vehicle since 1980 and my wife’s since 1977, but my 1980 Accord would have to go down as my hand’s down favorite automobile I’ve ever owned. Probably about the size a Civic is today, it was a bronze metallic two-door hatchback with a five-speed manual featuring McPherson strut suspension, rack and pinion steering and the heart of a lion.

    The drive train was still rolling strong when the motor mount rusted completely through and the transaxle fell onto Clybourn Avenue while my wife was driving it home in 1992. The $600 estimate to fix the car was too pricey for a rusty Honda with 134,000, so we sold it to a mechanic at the local Shell station for $100. He, in turn, fixed it up and sold it for $1,500. I assume it is in its final resting place, but I had seen it maybe six or eight years ago rolling down Lawrence.

    Hold onto that Accord, man. Those cars are like roaches. They’re nearly impossible to kill.

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  10. Rana said on March 31, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Yup, Hondas are pretty much bomb-proof. My Civic is about 14 years old now, and still runs quite well. The only drawback, though, is that repairs tend to be expensive when they finally need to be made. I try to tell myself that it’s better to have one expensive repair every ten years than a cheaper one every two or three.

    That bicycle route function is great – I ran it through our local map, and it correctly identified the route I plan to use for commuting when it gets light enough in the evenings (I work nights). Given that the route includes a bicycle path that doesn’t show up in car directions, I’m even more impressed.

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  11. Julie Robinson said on March 31, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    So paddyo’, it sounds like you need some expertise with the do-it-yourself kits.
    We didn’t, and the crack grew.

    And even though Toyotas have a bad name right now, our 88 Corolla was still going strong when we replaced it three years ago. We gave it to a young couple who are still driving it after investing $200 in engine work. It’s reliability was a major reason we bought our Camry. We test-drove Accords too, but the Camry was less $$$. Mom had her Corolla for 23 years and now is happy in an Accord. It will almost surely outlive her.

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  12. judybusy said on March 31, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    To add to the few weather comments: As it’s now 70 degrees out there, I can safely say we’ve just had our first snow-free March in Minneapolis since they began keeping records in 1884. Now, back to work, so I can finish and get the heck outta here!

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  13. Dexter said on March 31, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    paddyo’ and other fans who, like me, may have missed “Breaking Bad” Sunday (I was simply too engrossed in “The Pacific” to remember BB) , it is on tomorrow morning at 1:30 eastern time, so set those recorders.
    By the way, I have been very impressed with “The Pacific”, in all areas. There was some great acting going on last Sunday.

    I plotted a Google Maps bike route for my brother , from his home in Wauconda, IL to U.S. Cellular Field on 35th Street, Chicago. By car, it is 44.2 miles, by bicycle, 53.4 miles. Too much street traffic for him…when he makes the ride happen, he is going to pedal straight east to the Lakefront Path and then down into town. This got me thinking—just how far can a town be from center-city and still be called a suburb? An exurb? When he lived in Griffith,Indiana, no one called that city a suburb of Chicago, but it is a helluva lot closer than Wauconda, which I guess is called an exurb.

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  14. Joe Kobiela said on March 31, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    just ordered helmet for my pillow and with the old breed. Those are the books Pacific is based on. I am enjoying the Pacific but for me so far Band of Brothers was better. pacific is still good, My Uncle Jack was on the Okinawa landing but Dad and Uncle bill were both Airborne.
    Pilot Joe

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  15. Michael said on March 31, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    I cannot believe I am the first to post about UBM. I would have to guess that NN.COM sent me to him the first time, but once there I was hooked. His site has been a daily stop for years.

    I know that my days will be less joy filled without his unique eye on the world. I notice that his site is unchanged, and I hope it will stay that way, the archives are a brilliant source of material.

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  16. Sue said on March 31, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    Dexter, I don’t know about true definitions, but they don’t really apply in the Chicago area. Chicago’s northern burbs stretch about to Wisconsin it seems, in the mindset of the area, and Cook County is so huge that in my opinion if you pay taxes in that county or have to drive from the Cook County side of Barrington to 26th and S. California for jury duty you can say you’re from Chicago. Once Palatine secedes they can call themselves a suburb but until then it’s all Chicago.

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  17. Dave K. said on March 31, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    I haven’t made the upgrade to my Dish Network sub which would include FX and AMC (plus 100 other channels I don’t need), so I still am missing “Breaking Bad”. I assume this week’s episode was another good one. I got a text from my son which said,”‘Breaking Bad’ makes ‘Justified’ look like ‘Jersey Shore’!”

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  18. jcburns said on March 31, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    In an unsigned obit, David Simon remembers his friend. Sorry for your loss, Nance. Even if you didn’t “know” him, there is a strange kind of “semi-knowing” that comes from this internet-connected life.

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  19. brian stouder said on March 31, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    Dexter and Joe – on Direct Tv’s channel 101, I watched an installment of Pacific; it was centered on Guadalcanal, and was rough television.

    I don’t think I’ll ever watch any more of it. For me, brutal re-enactments of war, packaged in a 90 or 100 minute movie, with a beginning and a middle and an end is quite enough. Past that, if it is well-made, one has to ask oneself “Why am I subjecting myself to this?”

    As for the Google bike trail – it looks to me like the place to bike to is the Henry Ford Museum!

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  20. Dexter said on March 31, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    brianstouder: The Guadalcanal episodes were harsh, but last Sunday’s show had lots of lovin’…those Melbourne girls really appreciated those Yanks.

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  21. Dexter said on April 1, 2010 at 3:14 am

    I fell asleep in my recliner and missed most of the re-run of Breaking Bad, damn it. Now I’ll have to watch the recording I made of it.
    I skipped the first thread which linked the Jay Thunderbolt story until now…I see JMMO mentioned David Lynch, too, as I did on nance’s Facebook page.
    This story is amazing, and for the topic alone would score big at Cannes.

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  22. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 1, 2010 at 7:48 am

    At Quantico or Parris Island, Leckie & Sledge’s books are effectively required reading, have been for years. Little known fact about Marines is that they actually do quite a bit of reading — there’s a “standard” if non-reg list out there, rank by rank, of strongly recommended reading, from slick sleeve right up through stars on your shoulders. I’ll have to look that up, but “Helmet for My Pillow” & “With the Old Breed” are almost as harrowing to read as it sounds like they are to watch.

    On the other hand, some of you might find this of interest:

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  23. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 1, 2010 at 8:11 am

    Found it —

    Granted, not much Dickens or Thackeray on it, but some of the titles, especially as you go through the ranks, might surprise you.

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  24. crinoidgirl said on April 1, 2010 at 9:33 am

    Jeff (tmmo) –

    You linked to a pretty old list. Here is the latest version:


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