The dark clouds may soon be mobile
I wrote this blurb about David Simon for CP's Artist of the Year issue, which is slated to come out on December 27. Unfortunately someone else had already penned a tribute to Ed Burns, so my piece got shitcanned. But I figured I'd post it in this long neglected space so as to further disappoint the porn-blog surfers of the world.
The Wire is not an easy show to watch. The sheer number of characters--some five dozen, ebbing and flowing in their importance across the seasons--can make it bewildering. The dialogue, often salted with vernacular unique to the streets of West Baltimore, can make closed captioning seem like an appealing option. And the dense tangle of plot strains, from politics to drug cartels to public schools, can initially be overwhelming. But anyone who takes the time to soak up the rhythms of David Simon's unflinching dissection of life on the streets of Baltimore will be profoundly rewarded. The fourth season, which concluded last month, focused in part on the lives of four public school students on the cusp of joining the corner life. While this scenario is fraught with the kinds of saccharine cliches associated with after school specials, the execution was sublime. When Randy, the babyfaced kid who gets tarred as a police snitch, realizes that nobody--not his doting foster mom, not the police--can protect him, the impact is devastating. When Michael, the brooding, resolute guardian of his little brother, crosses the line from minor hoodlum to hitman, it's shocking. The borders between criminal and clean are constantly blurring on The Wire. At times you have more sympathy for Omar, the gay stick up man who stalks the streets wielding a sawed off shotgun, than you do for Tommy Carcetti, the white politician whose reform agenda is trumped only by his ambition. To quote Prez, the idealistic cop-turned-teacher: "No one wins. One side just loses more slowly."