Re: The Wire: The End

1

I didn't like the series all that much. Yes, because I'm racist.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 9:53 AM
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The end of the ending montage, with all the real people, I thought was quite affecting.

I already thought the newspaper subplot tied in pretty well, and having read a couple of interviews with Simon, including the one Ari links to, I like it even more. The characters were a little more one-dimensional, but I wonder if that wasn't partly a product of the short season?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:00 AM
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People and institutions keep doing what they do. If you're looking for the politics, you have to look at the places where someone overcomes inertia, and find what it took for them to do it.

This is really well said. I was really grateful for the Bubbles storyline, not only as relief from the general hopelessness of the game, but because people do, occasionally, find redemption, and how they manage it really is the most interesting question.


Posted by: iancgdi | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:10 AM
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The end of the ending montage, with all the real people, I thought was quite affecting.

Like Schindler's List!


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:11 AM
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I wasn't a fan of the newspaper subplot. And after reading this interview, I'm puzzled by the thinking behind it: Simon says that one of the major points he was using it to make was that the press consistently misses the real stories happening in the city. I understand what he was trying to do, but the result was that the point of one of the season's major storylines was its constant irrelevance. When you're trying to wrap up loose ends for a huge cast of beloved characters in 10.5 hours, that's a strange choice to make.


Posted by: Tom | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:15 AM
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I've been wondering if the shorter season was a way of acting out "do more with less" on a meta-level -- because they really did put a ton on their plate for this season, too.

I've been reading season 5 as the "meta-season," which serves more to clarify what the goal of the rest of the season was. I felt that the montage at the end, with its obvious "reboot" (there's a new Omar, a new McNulty, etc.), supported my interpretation.

In defense of the newspaper plot -- how was it more heavy-handed and one-dimensional than the school plot? There it was pretty clear: we're teaching to the test, it's all bullshit, we're gaming the numbers, etc., etc. Maybe people don't protest that because they already believe that inner-city schools are failures? It admittedly was helped by the fact that there was already a familiar character in the school, Pryzblewsky -- but none of the new characters got any development at all (the academic, the grad student teacher for the special program, the vice principle, the older teacher who happened to have been Cutty's girlfriend...). Maybe the newspaper plot would've been better if Kima (for example) had given up police work to become a reporter?


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:16 AM
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I think you're probably right about the short season contributing to the one dimensionality of the newspapers characters. That, and the 5th season being a bit thin. Overall, I think it was really well done as a series.

It was strange for me to watch at times, since at that age I was parallel-world version of the kids on those corner. Not that it was really the same thing at all, even accounting for the fact that this is a dramatization. Still, it was interesting.


Posted by: Jimmy Carter | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:17 AM
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Also, given that it's the only consistent thing throughout, you could say that the story of The Wire was Bubbles getting clean -- everything else was a subplot to that.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:18 AM
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a new McNulty

Who?

the newspaper plot -- how was it more heavy-handed and one-dimensional than the school plot?

Not the plot, but the characters were less morally nuanced. In the school, you have basically decent people doing what they can beneath the crushing weight of institutional pressure. In the newspaper, you have evil managers and a totally blank fabulist.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:19 AM
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9: Whathisface. Who is sitting in the judge's office at the end complaining that something just isn't right, much as McNulty was when we met him in the very first episode.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:29 AM
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The story of Bubbles getting clean I actually found a bit pedantic and heavy-handed. Maybe there's no way to tell that story that doesn't come off that way, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:30 AM
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In defense of the newspaper plot -- how was it more heavy-handed and one-dimensional than the school plot?

In the school plot, the one-dimensional villains were faceless bureaucrats enforcing a counter-productive testing regime. All of the characters on-screen (except for some bit players from the Mayor's office who wouldn't stick their necks out for Bunny Colvin's program) were believable and sympathetic, including the school administrators. They were all clearly trying to act in good faith to make the best of a bad situation.

Whereas the editor-in-chief/executive editor characters in the newspaper plot were transparently tool-ish in their every action.

> a new McNulty

Who?

Sydnor. His scene with the judge re-capitulated a scene with McNulty from the very first episode.


Posted by: Chris Conway | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:30 AM
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10: Sydnor.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:30 AM
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Pwnage, like urban corruption, is endemic.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:31 AM
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The story of Bubbles getting clean I actually found a bit pedantic and heavy-handed.

Pedantic? The guy went to 2 years worth of NA meetings and gradually found some inner peace. His big speech in the second-to-last episode may have been a bit Emmy-baitish, but it was hardly pedantic.


Posted by: Chris Conway | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:32 AM
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Sydnor.

Right right, of course. The forgotten man.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:33 AM
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Yeah, how was the Bubbles storyline pedantic?

(Side note: "Bubbles" was a real guy, and Simon met him and was writing about him when he died of AIDS. Simon wound up writing his obituary.)


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:34 AM
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All of the characters on-screen (except for some bit players from the Mayor's office who wouldn't stick their necks out for Bunny Colvin's program) were believable and sympathetic...

Clarification: the characters from the Mayor's office were perfectly believable. They were one-dimensional by virtue of having about 15 seconds of screen time and unsympathetic by virtue of frustrating the goals of a character we admire.


Posted by: Chris Conway | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:34 AM
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On Bubbles: Simon, in the interview linked in 5, makes a big point of how the characters all earned their fates. On these grounds, Simon strongly defends Bubbles's redemption, such as it is, at story's end.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:36 AM
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If The Wire, which has won no Emmys whatever, does not win every possible Emmy this year, including Best Actress in a Comedy, I'm going to BURN SHIT DOWN.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:37 AM
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"Bubbles" was a real guy, and Simon met him and was writing about him when he died of AIDS.

But the fictional Bubbles is alive and HIV-negative. Just another sign of David Simon softening and sentimentalizing everything.


Posted by: Chris Conway | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:38 AM
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So true. The next greatest show ever will tell the truth, and everyone will die in the end.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:40 AM
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I don't think the editors were more one-dimensional than Valchek or Marlo were. I liked the Templeton arc, too: I was disappointed when it turned out he'd made shit up even on the one story it seemed like he'd actually gotten.

I was shocked to learn that not only is Omar modeled on a real person, the jump out of the window really happened, and the real guy is now out of prison and married to the woman at the center of The Corner.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:41 AM
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15, 17: maybe I just find NA pedantic.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:42 AM
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This is the full interview with Simon:
http://sepinwall.blogspot.com/2008/03/wire-david-simon-q.html

Also, trains, man, trains !


Posted by: Willy Voet | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:42 AM
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the jump out of the window really happened

From two stories higher, apparently.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:42 AM
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I'm with oudemia in 20. Also, I'm becoming convinced that the show is the best popular ethnography that we'll ever see. And as with any ethnographic portrait, the more one knows about the subject, the more possible it becomes to spot flaws in the details.

Most of us, I imagine, have very little experience with the game, such as it is. And very few of us, I'm assuming, have experience working as a police. Or on the docks. So it's pretty hard to spot problems with those stories. Many of us, though, have exerpience working in newsrooms or schools. Or in situations very much like those. Which makes it easier to quibble with those storylines.

Not that I'm quibbling, mind you. I think the newspaper story was fine. A bit dull, maybe. But given Simon's explanation, and given what's happening to newspapers around the country, it made sense in the context of the show. The school story, by contrast, I loved. But I loved it because of the kids. Not because of the storytelling or the details. At least I think that's it.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:43 AM
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And very few of us, I'm assuming, have experience working as a police.

Tee hee. Ari's goin' native!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:44 AM
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That was for you, Sifu. Because I'm down.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:46 AM
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27: Why so many sentence fragments? They break up your thought. Which is unnecessary. And even annoying.

I think so many people missed the "Sydnor as new McNulty" thing just because we were so used to ignoring him throughout the course of the show. I read an interview in which Simon mentioned "Sydnor" and had to look up the name on Wikipedia to figure out who it was.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:46 AM
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Thanks, Adam. I need a new editor. Like a hold in the head.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:47 AM
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Or a hole. Either way.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:48 AM
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27: As mentioned, I was in the same game for a while in a different place (and time, really). From where I'm sitting now, sometimes they got it pretty right, sometimes it didn't feel right. But it's more difficult to say what was just wrong, and what was just alien.

The really hard part to convey I guess (and they didn't do this, I think) is the feel of it. It's mostly very boring, but you never know when something will happen fast, so you stay kind of wired up. That's bound to be the same in Baltimore now as it was for me then.


Posted by: Jimmy Carter | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:48 AM
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ogged went to high school with Prezbo. (Ok, like 6 or more years later, but still.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:48 AM
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By the way, possibly my favorite moment in Season 5 was when you saw whatsisface from the docks homeless underneath the bridge. I had to go check imdb to make sure I'd really seen him. Up there with Rawls in the gay bar as far as effectiveness per second of screen time.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:49 AM
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Maybe you do need a hold in the head.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:49 AM
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I like to think that Jimmy Carter was a contract killer, and is actually Emerson.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:50 AM
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35: Oh yeah. Ziggy's friend. I miss Ziggy.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:51 AM
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27:

But cops and "hoods" the nation over seem to think the Wire captured inner-city crime very well.

Also, my friends who've participated in "Teach for America" say that season 4 was very realistic.


Posted by: WillieStyle | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:51 AM
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37: Tell me about the rabbits, Jimmy.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:51 AM
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36: It's true, I've been looking for more storage.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:52 AM
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I miss Ziggy.

This is horribly wrong. Ziggy nearly ruins the whole show; even seasons he wasn't in.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:52 AM
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The problem with the newspaper storyline and Simon's justification for it is that it didn't depict the way government and the media interact in an interesting or on point way. It was as if MacNulty were a one man metaphor for the Bush Administration, but that wasn't a true-to-life depiction of government's relationship with the media at that the municipal level of granularity. I don't think government institutions staging massive sideshows to hoodwink the media happens before you get to levels of government with lots of resources at their command. I imagine the stenographers-to-power problem is more of a problem all the way down the chain, and it would have been much more interesting to show the newspaper being spun and used by the mayor's office than by McNulty.


Posted by: a hungry hippo | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:53 AM
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I liked season 2 more than everyone else did. I do not apologize. Just thinking of Ziggy makes me laugh. (It was quite affecting when his duck died.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:54 AM
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Two seasons in, my favorite line comes when Carver gives Herc shit for asking Beadie out for coffee, and Herc says, "I was going to ask her for her panties to make some soup with, but I was afraid she'd take it wrong."


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:54 AM
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I like to think that Jimmy Carter was a contract killer, and is actually Emerson.

Nothing that romantic, I just sold drugs on street corners and stuff.

Ogged, for what it's worth, I once knew a guy very like ziggy, who went down nearly the same way. I wasn't a fan of that arc, but It doesn't ring too false.


Posted by: Jimmy Carter | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:55 AM
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They should do a spinoff show with the least-well-liked characters. Ziggy, Templeton and Herc open a pizza place, something like that.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:55 AM
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Ogged doesn't like Ziggy because he's a racist and can't stand how whites live.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:56 AM
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44: I loved season 2. Of course, it was my first exposure to the show. And I should admit that I read "duck" as "dick" in your comment. Which led me to think, "His dick didn't die, did it?"


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:56 AM
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45: you're two seasons in and you're reading this thread?!? So wrong.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:57 AM
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"His dick didn't die, did it?"

Not before it killed again, sadly.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 10:57 AM
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50: Meh, it's hard not to come across spoilers, and the show is still awesome even if you know how some of the storylines turn out. My idea for a spinoff would be an entire season of Levy getting disbarred and tortured, not necessarily in that order.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 11:00 AM
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Levy was great in the last episode.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 11:01 AM
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One thing that bothered me about the show is how the characters often acted as though Baltimore was so cut off from anything else. I live just outside Baltimore and while watching episode 9 I felt like screaming at Micheal, "Give Dookie some cash so he can get an apartment in Catonsville while he works part time at a pizza store or something."

Living in the area, it's shocking how concentrated the blight is. Baltimore County isn't very rich, but the level of violent crime is so much lower than in the city proper. Also, a neighbor of my parents runs a program where they take in troubled youth, house them in the Suburbs and help them finish high-school. That sort of program seems like it would have been perfect for Dookie, if only he could have gotten out of the city.


Posted by: WillieStyle | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 11:02 AM
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Levy and Clay Davis are both in ad campaigns running now. It was deeply disconcerting to see construction workers whistling at Levy as he carried his Arby's bag around.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 11:03 AM
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54: But that insularity is the point right? The corner boys don't even get that Philadelphia has different radio stations from Bmore. Dookie could no more move to Catonsville than the moon.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 11:04 AM
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56: and when they do leave they can't stay away, like Wallace in season 1.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 11:05 AM
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But that insularity is the point right?

Right, this is another place we can talk about inertia or "social capital." This is all they know, and they stay or come back.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 11:07 AM
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Why is it that so many people seem to be on precisely season 2? You hear from some people who are just starting, some on season 4, but the majority of the late-comers seem to be in the middle of season 2.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 11:07 AM
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56:
I know. I didn't mean to criticize the show. It's just frustrating to see guys trapped by their insularity in such disturbing conditions.

Also, Wallace's case was different. I've always lived in inner-suburbs of large cities and I'd have been bored out of my mind out in the sticks like Wallace was. But Catonsville isn't the sticks. PG county isn't the sticks. A kid from Bmore can find shit to do in PG county without getting shot (not that PG is without drug problems of its own).


Posted by: WillieStyle | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 11:09 AM
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57: Yeah, like Wallace. And Omar. And Marlo, metaphorically.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 11:10 AM
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If I made fun of 59, would I seem defensive about Adam's unwarranted (and very hurtful) attack upthread (sniff, sniff)?


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 11:11 AM
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I have one more episode to go in season 2, and I just started watching on Friday. Compressing two seasons of The Wire into four days kind of messes with your head, let me tell you. Mos def.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 11:11 AM
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One of my favourite episodes was the one where Michael and Dookie go to the amusement park. At one point they're talking to a bunch of white girls who are so impressed with the fact that Michael and Dookie "have their own place in the city".


Posted by: WillieStyle | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 11:13 AM
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62: Fire away! And make your attack good. And harsh. Which I'm sure it will be.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 11:20 AM
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"That sentimental motherfucker just cost us money" made me laugh and laugh. So did the scene where Rawls asks McNulty if he killed the homeless guys himself.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 11:25 AM
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I laughed out loud when Slim Charles shot Cheese.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 11:26 AM
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67: Oh yes. It felt as awesome as Indy shooting the guy with the whip felt when I was 10.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 11:28 AM
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Another thing: the preview for the final episode was a masterpiece of misdirection, especially their use of the clip from Marlo's random street encounter.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 11:30 AM
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I thought the shooting of Cheese was great because it was, like, justice. It seems like some sort of order was going to be restored to the coop, and to the crime-side of the cops-crime duality (meanwhile, Valcek is the police commissioner...).

If I could recall whether Kenard was finally arrested for shooting Omar, I'd say that adds to this thesis, because it removes from the street someone who could grow up to be worse than Marlo.

But then Marlo's return to the corner, to risk death in that petty fight -- and win -- indicates that he's headed right back to business. So if the coop is to be a functional institution (the only one in the show), it won't be for long.


Posted by: dan | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 11:31 AM
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58: "Why don't they just fly away?"

I don't mind being spoiled and I liked Ziggy a lot but not as much as Frank but so far I like the first season better.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 11:34 AM
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If I could recall whether Kenard was finally arrested for shooting Omar

He was.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 11:35 AM
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Anyone else surprised that Krawcheck was happy to deal with Marlo in the final episode even after his dealings with Stringer had brought him up close and personal with Omar's shotgun? It seems like that sort of experience would scare a lesser man away.


Posted by: WillieStyle | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 11:42 AM
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Hey, I just found out my actor cousin was on episodes 6 and 8 this season!


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 11:49 AM
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I re-watched The Hudsucker Proxy last night. Buzz the Elevator Guy is still annoy--HOLY FUCK IS THAT WHO I THINK IT IS!?! (Yes.)


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 11:51 AM
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Rawls in the gay bar

I haven't seen any of the show, and I only know the names of some characters, so you can imagine that this caught me a bit off guard.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 11:51 AM
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74: that's your cousin?!? He does a great job.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 11:55 AM
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Re: Cheese shooting

As much as I rejoiced about Cheese getting offed (he being one of the single most odious characters on The Wire) I think Slim Charles was *not* exacting revenge for Prop Joe.

The deal that got Marlo sprung was contingent on Chris owning up to all the murders, and Monk & Cheese pleading to the heroin. The big problem there was that Cheese got bail, and as any criminal lawyer will tell you (or at least this one) convincing a guy on the outside to go in is a tough sell. Plus, from Cheese's perspective, why not roll the dice on a trial? There's just no way Cheese is putting up big bucks to be part of the Connect if he thinks he's gonna be locked up for the next 20 years. So he had to fall, even if was sold as justice for Prop Joe.


Posted by: McKingford | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 11:56 AM
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He plays Terry Hanning, says IMDb. (I haven't watched it yet -- just started season 2.)


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 11:57 AM
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Hey Newspaper Folk -- Can you enlighten me as to the meaning of "-30-"?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 12:00 PM
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80: end of copy.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 12:01 PM
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So he had to fall, even if was sold as justice for Prop Joe.

If that were the case, wouldn't they have gotten his money first?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 12:02 PM
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80: end of copy.

From "XXX" apparently.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 12:03 PM
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80, 81: This may be a myth, but the etymology I know is that stories would come over the teletype, and that the end of a story would be marked with "XXX". Which then mutated into '30' as the value of the Roman numerals.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 12:04 PM
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Damn you.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 12:04 PM
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79: Hanning's the vet with a role in the Templeton story. (Sorry, trying to explain without spoiling.)

But he gets a dialogue-title-thingy: "A lie ain't a side of a story. It's just a lie."


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 12:05 PM
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Thanks, all!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 12:07 PM
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83, 84: The internets suggest it was from telegraphy shorthand, but who knows.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 12:09 PM
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I've only skimmed this thread, but for someone who's just watched season one it doesn't spoil much. I already knew there's something about Omar and a window, because that was written about everywhere.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 12:11 PM
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If that were the case, wouldn't they have gotten his money first?

If you're Marlo, and Cheese is what's standing in the way of getting out from under a beef worth 10 years, you don't think you might cut Slim Charles some slack?


Posted by: McKingford | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 12:16 PM
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I wasn't clear on whether Marlo really cared about selling the connect -- it seemed like it was just a bonus to him and he was taken care of regardless.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 12:47 PM
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Yeah, I think he mostly just wanted to squeeze the rest of them; one last reminder of the control he had.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 12:50 PM
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Or a matter of principle: Never give away something you can sell.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 12:57 PM
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Marlo: not a linux developer.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 1:03 PM
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I'm loving the principles: Never give away something you can sell. And: inertia, social capital. Is The Wire a microcosmic representation of the social whole, or no? I really don't know, having seen only 2 seasons or so.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 1:15 PM
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I watched the last episode last night. I think every storyline is summed up by the exchange between Marlo and Avon in prison.

Marlo: [shrug] The game is the game.
Avon: Always.

Which is sorta Ogged's #4, but I think the distillation of that is that the only people who succeed are the ones who leave the game(s), because individuals can't beat the system.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 1:17 PM
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but I think the distillation of that is that the only people who succeed are the ones who leave the game(s),

no argument.


Posted by: Jimmy Carter | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 1:23 PM
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Wasn't Cheese taking 20 in Ronnie's original offer, not Maury's counteroffer?


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 1:34 PM
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96: Thanks, Apo, since I hadn't read ogged's #4 before. But this:

because individuals can't beat the system

confuses a bit: it's that individuals can't beat the system as long as they're still in it? That is, the system = the game = institutions (narrowly construed).

Presumably that's it.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 1:38 PM
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100

Kobe could have played Cheese, whatever Simon says about Method Man's audition.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 1:44 PM
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99: Yes, that's what I meant. And it applied to every institution that got covered. The one exception seemed to be Prezbylewski and the school system.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 1:49 PM
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there's a new Omar, a new McNulty, etc.

And, in the final montage, a new Bubbles. So, so sad.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 1:51 PM
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103

There is always a new Bubbles, apo.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 1:52 PM
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104

So since Daniels becomes a defense lawyer, is he a new Levy?

I wish we'd found out what happened to Randy after he got out of the group home.

Also, did Poot ever get promoted to manager of that shoe store?

Okay maybe I don't care so much about that last one.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 1:53 PM
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There is always a new Bubbles, apo.

Of course, but I meant the specific character's storyline (trying not to spoil for the crazy people who haven't made it to the end but are still reading this thread).


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 1:58 PM
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104: Sifu, if you continued watching after the credits finished, you would have seen that Randy was adopted by the Carcettis and given a puppy.

(Ugh -- there was only so much more Randy could break my heart. Mostly it was fully smashed at the same time Carver's was in Season 4.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 1:58 PM
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105: dammit it's not our fault they're reading the spoiler thread!

But yeah, that arc was absolutely heartbreaking. I had such high hopes when he went back to the school.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 2:01 PM
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105; Yeah, I know. But that was always looking to be likely. He only lucked out in Michael for a while.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 2:01 PM
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109

107, 108: I'm such a loon that I just cheered myself up immensely by looking at the pix of the kids all super snazzily attired at the Wire premiere. Duquan -- so cute!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 2:04 PM
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109: url?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 2:07 PM
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Oh -- Go to the IMDB page and there is a whole passel of pix from the Season 5 premiere.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 2:12 PM
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112

Wait. This is better.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 2:17 PM
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101: 99: Yes, that's what I meant. And it applied to every institution that got covered.

Am I not understanding correctly that the drug-dealing game is also a game/institution/system? And that any situation in which one accumulates social capital and is susceptible to inertia is such a 'game'? This would be institutions not narrowly but widely construed; that was my question, then, whether The Wire is speaking only to official, civically-sanctioned institutions, or to the realm of communal games writ large.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 2:21 PM
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Oh Lord. It is super cute. They are all flashing the West Baltimore "W" sign. Dominic West seems to be enthusiastic about foppish neckwear. Why is Kima all hoochied up and grinding on Omar? Worlds are colliding . . .


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 2:21 PM
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The final deal was Monk and Cheese pleading to the drugs.

96 is wrong. There are plenty of winners who stay inside the system. They just were at the top to begin with - "everything stay who he is." Avon, Marlo, Levy, Rawls, Carcetti are all clear winners. That's why, as I mentioned in a previous thread, that D'Angelo's explanation of chess to Wallace and Bodie is so important. David Simon has said that the show is about "the crisis of middle-management." Middle-management - i.e. them little bald-headed bitches - "in the game, get capped quick, they be out the game early."

http://youtube.com/watch?v=S1HUlTKvDUI


Posted by: Willy Voet | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 2:21 PM
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Also here.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 2:26 PM
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Oh, and I forgot more winners: Whiting, Klebanow, Templeton, Clay Davis... the list really goes on.


Posted by: Willy Voet | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 2:27 PM
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Well, it's impossible to "win" if winning means keeping your integrity. "I remember clean" as Gus says.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 2:27 PM
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119

Avon, Marlo, Levy, Rawls, Carcetti

Yeah, let me be more specific. The ones who "win" (though it isn't clear to me that either Marlo or Avon really wins) are the ones who leave their integrity behind. The ones who try to keep a sense of honor and do the right thing end up out of a job or with a bullet in their heads.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 2:29 PM
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120

O-pwned.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 2:30 PM
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121

You can't play this game without getting pwned a little bit.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 2:34 PM
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You two are absolutely right. Omar's rebuttal to Levy's cross-examination is telling. Lots of people (winners) live off the despair and violence of the drug trade.


Posted by: Willy Voet | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 2:35 PM
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There's also a thread that seems to me to be saying that some people, rather than `winning' in their own right, are almost emergent properties of the institution they are working within. It doesn't matter if it's Avon or Marlow or whoever, someone wears the crown for a little while ... but for that while their choices are pretty limited. Someone comes along to try and change it, Stringer, then Prop. Joe, and they can nudge the direction. But then they'll get chewed up and momentum carries you back to the original path. It doesn't matter who is at the top of the heap really. There is a mirror image in the police force. City-level politics absolutely requires a corrupt commisioner and a pliable command structure. The ones who tried to shift it, Bunny, Daniels, are spat out. You're left with who will play along. The only ones who survive long in a system like this are the ones who let the system dictate exactly who they are. That's a funny sort of winning.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 2:37 PM
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Lots of people (winners) live off the despair and violence of the drug trade.

They aren't winning. They're marking time. That's also basically what Omar was saying.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 2:38 PM
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I don't see Levy as "marking time." More like "making lots of money."


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 2:40 PM
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123: Exactly. "Everything stay who he is." It's funny because String and Marlo have similar problems. String wanted to be someone else. Marlo has to be someone else. String falls. Marlo will too.

But yes, you are right they are emergent - and temporary - winners.


Posted by: Willy Voet | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 2:42 PM
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112: Wow, Chris Partlow smiling.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 2:44 PM
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Wow, Chris Partlow smiling.

Yeah, I was thinking "cut that out!" He's awesome in that role.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 2:47 PM
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125: True for Levy. He's a parasite on the trade, not in the trade itself. Omar wasn't winning, just going day-to-day. The same with most of the players ... they accumulated lots of cash, but it was a form of counter in the game. It's not like they'd likely use it for anything else.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 2:51 PM
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Incidentally, the moral calculus mentioned in 119, no matter how much Simon claims the fireplace of greek tragedy, reminds me of nothing so much as a John Woo movie. Gritty, realistic, urban, utterly melodramatic.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 2:52 PM
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127: and Michael smiling! What the?!?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 2:56 PM
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It's not like they'd likely use it for anything else.

That's true. I think Stringer was the only one who was different. (Where the hell was Slim Charles living?? -- assuming that's where Omar attacked him.)


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 3:05 PM
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Gritty, realistic, urban, utterly melodramatic.

A couple of those adjectives don't apply, and have never applied, to the work of John Woo, who is a poet of the solitary man, regardless of institutional scenery (e.g., Inspector Tequila).


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 3:09 PM
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133: I didn't mean them to apply to John Woo. Also I would argue he is the poet of men who love men, but I suppose that's a different question.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 3:11 PM
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Matt Zoller Seitz has an interesting take:
The brilliance of this season -- particularly the last two episodes, which excuse a hell of a lot of missteps, miscalculations and instances of overclosing -- is the way that it stings the viewer. It's like what my English teacher used to call, "a poem that turns on the reader." For five seasons, "The Wire" has been saying, "Let's look at what's wrong with our institutions, how ossified they are, how unimaginative, how corrupt, how easily manipulated for personal gain, how paralyzed, how useless." And we sit there in the audience going, "Yes, yes, it's awful, just awful -- somebody should pay for this; somebody should do something." Then at some point we get so frustrated at the sight of talented and/or hardworking people ground down by institutions that we start to demand answers. "Why are things so bad? Why is change so difficult? Why to the same problems perpetuate themselves over and over in so many different institutions, so many social strata, so many walks of life?"

On answer to this, Simon holds up a mirror and says, "There's the problem right there. Look in the mirror, motherfucker. It's you. It's me. It's human nature. We as a species do not have the courage to take our medicine, to do the hard work that really needs to be done, to really expose corruption, stupidity and selfishness even when, especially when, doing so costs us something."

It's that last part that's really crucial. Almost every major character got tangled up in some sort of deception, or moral shortcut, in this season (or in some cases chickens from other seasons came home to roost). And their response -- even the "good" character's reponse -- has been, "What do I need to do, what do I need to give you, the accuser, to make this go away?" The answer is invariably, "Give me what I need to make MY problem go away."

That's the problem in a nutshell. It's not democracy. It's not the failings of the school system or city hall or the police department or the media. It's a moral failure that becomes an institutional and societal failure. Simon confronts his characters with the choice between doing the right thing and doing the expedient thing. Almost to a man and woman, they go with the expedient thing.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 3:15 PM
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I think Stringer was the only one who was different.

Stringer was a medium-scale crook who wanted to become a big-scale crook, but rare in that he understood this would involve a change of paradigm. He saw clearly enough to try and emulate what he wanted to be, but not clearly enough to realized he was being screwed.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 3:17 PM
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Also I would argue he is the poet of men who love men, but I suppose that's a different question.

Yes, the exploding Virgin Mary statue obviously subverts the heterosexist paradigm.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 3:21 PM
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Didn't Stringer want to go legit?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 3:21 PM
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138: he wanted to be the bank, but I don't think he was particularly concerned with only making money through legal enterprises.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 3:23 PM
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138: All the biggest crooks are `legit'. That's part of the point.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 3:24 PM
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Given how much of it Simon says (ha!) is based on things he saw, has he ever commented on whether Stringer taking econ and business classes is based on real life?


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 3:26 PM
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Didn't one of the higher-ups Venkatesh encountered have an MBA?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 3:28 PM
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Didn't Stringer want to go legit?

By giving briefcases full of cash to Clay Davis?


Posted by: Chris Conway | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 3:33 PM
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Means to an end, man. Seriously, I could have sworn he mentioned going legit in the balcony scene with Avon.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 3:37 PM
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144: You really see a bright line? Why? I always read it as Stringer seeing how badly this game was stacked, and how there were better games to be in. But he still wanted to play.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 3:40 PM
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Not a bright line, but he wanted to leave "the street" behind.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 3:49 PM
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146: Right, he wanted to leave "the street" because he understood it was a mugs game. But he identified another game, and who the players in it were. And he tried to learn himself about how that one worked. He still got played.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 3:51 PM
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Yeah, I thought Stringer definitely wanted to be "clean" -- not clean as in morally upright, but stuff like living in an apartment under your own name.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 3:52 PM
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addendum: I don't know that he ever saw it as fundamentally different. I don't know why anyone would.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 3:52 PM
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126, etc...: "The king stay the king"

Just finished watching the final. Great final three episodes, but I felt like they had to make up for the other seven, with no room for the iconic moments that earlier seasons had so many of (with the exception of "Your hair look good, girl"). It was very impressive how they managed to pull off the basically bullshit plot device of the serial killer, but I wish they hadn't crippled themselves so.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 4:34 PM
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Oh, and they still managed a little bit of subtlety. When Carcetti was horning in on Namond's speech, Carcetti apologized afterwards to Colvin. Carcetti thought he was apologizing for the Hamsterdam business ("I respect you, but it could never fly", or something like that), but Colvin could only take it as referring to his S4 program, which never reached the Mayor's desk. So Carcetti's offering a personal and an institutional apology, both of them empty.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 4:51 PM
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135:

That's the problem in a nutshell. It's not democracy. It's not the failings of the school system or city hall or the police department or the media. It's a moral failure that becomes an institutional and societal failure. Simon confronts his characters with the choice between doing the right thing and doing the expedient thing. Almost to a man and woman, they go with the expedient thing.

Do you agree with this? That institutional and societal failures are a function of (personal, presumably) moral failures? Sounds right, but for the fact that it's surely not a straightforwardly linear causal relationship; personal moral failures likewise follow upon institutional and societal ones, not the least of which involve money, or perceived need. A feedback mechanism.

Were it only the need for basic, essential capital, rather than the perceived need for more of it, people could be forgiven for a lack of courage.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 5:27 PM
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(Plaigarizing myself from The House Next Door. I just watched it today; between Gramma's funeral and DSL fun, it took me until after everybody was done talking about it.)

It's a little late, but let me plug this Dissent magazine article, which I think adds a needed criticism of the Wire's critique of American society.

In Simon's world, virtually no level of social organization larger than the individual can function. The two strong exceptions I could point to are the AA meeting and Bunny's adoption of Namon -- the first a completely voluntary organization that bolsters individuals' choices, the second a voluntary reimagining of an otherwise--within the Wire--dysfunctional and irrelevant institution, the nuclear family.

The authors point out that collective action is never addressed on The Wire, and that in Baltimore during the same time as the show is set, working-class and inner-city people pursued collective action successfully: to pass a minimum-wage law, to win a janitors' union contract, and to win the construction of affordable housing.

The article is hokey when it expresses disappointment in The Wire, but it's valuable to point out that the show missed collective action entirely. There is individual action and bureaucratic action. But the show -- which at least Simon poses as a totalizing critique of American institutions and the possibility for change -- leaves out an important argument about social change.

(The labor union plot comes closest to a collective-action setting, but for Simon, labor is industrial, dying, and the province of white ethnics. That's an appropriate critique of a huge swath of American industry, but it ignores the energized service worker unions. Not coincidentally, their leadership is disproportionately female and Latino when compared to the rest of the labor movement, or to the milieu of The Wire.)


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 4:50 PM
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Thanks, Wrongshore. I guess the issue of how important an omission that is depends on how much of a difference you believe collective action can make.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 5:18 PM
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Y'know, I wonder what the chances are David Simon will have a "I used to be a brain-dead liberal, but now I know better!" moment down the road?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 5:20 PM
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I think it's at least important enough for to merit an argument that it can't make a difference, like just about every other avenue.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 5:53 PM
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Fair enough.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 5:56 PM
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Also, no one I've read in my Wire-blogging-blitz has pointed out the one character whose future remains unlimned by the montage-to-end-all-montages: Jimmy McNulty. We know he leaves the force. We know he cleans up his domestic arrangement. Lester retires. What's next for McNulty?

I'm okay with that; the series started with McNulty as the center. In some ways, he's the Simon surrogate, moving from an institution he has problems with to outside of it.

So I guess he's going to write his HBO series.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 6:52 PM
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