Tag Archives: The Wire

This Week’s Best Profile

A bit frazzled over here this week, so we’ll quickly leave you with this David Simon profile in the NY Times magazine. If you haven’t seen The Wire, forget subscribing to HBO, put the money toward a Netflix subscription, and burn through the DVDs. By then, Treme will be out too:

Simon remembers many network notes when writing for “Homicide.” “The notes felt like they were not serving the best possible story,” Simon explained. “Jimmy Yoshimura — Eric worked as supervising producer with him, and I was a junior producer under them — Yosh used to do this notes meeting, call me in and say, ‘Come on, let’s do the antler dance.’ And I said, ‘What’s the antler dance?’ And I swear to God, he would put his phone on the floor, on speakerphone, so you’d hear the voice of the network exec. And with his voice, Jim would approximate a reasonable, ‘Well, that’s a very good note, but if we do that. . . .’ But his body language would begin with his hands up above his head as if he were wearing antlers, like some sort of drum circle, and he would dance around the phone, gesturing obscenely to it, do a little more dancing, but all the while he would be saying, ‘Oh, no, that’s a really good note, we’ll have to consider that. Let me talk to Tom [Fontana], because I think we’re going to do something in another episode.’ Meanwhile, he’d pull down his zipper and stick his thumb through it, and if the guy kept persisting on a note and he couldn’t talk him out of it, Yosh would get down on the floor, close to the speakerphone and. . . .”

Yoshimura claims that there are limits to Simon’s recall. “No, no, no, that was David!” Simon offered the following rebuttal via e-mail: “I will own the origin of this particular gesture if that is Jim’s memory, but in the event that he is trying now these many years later to whitewash his authorship of the sacred ritual of the network-note antler dance, I can only quote ‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’ and John Wayne’s remark to Jimmy Stewart: ‘Think back, pilgrim.’ ”


100 Best Quotes From The Wire

Yes, Clay Davis is there (see 8:39). Lots more:

Note: major spoiler from 5:27-5:37. But if you haven’t watched The Wire yet, well, I have little sympathy. Some favorites:

Bunk: A man’s gotta have a code.
Omar: No doubt. (0:54)

Bunk: It makes me sick motherfucka how far we done fell. (6:10)

Bodie: This game is rigged man. We like them little bitches on the chess board. (7:52)

Omar: Hahaha…all in the game, yo. All in the game. (9:47)

I didn’t know this yesterday

Gbenga Akinnagbe (aka Marlo Stanfield’s right hand man, Chris Partlow) is a travel writer.

I see your Don Draper, and raise you anyone else (Updated)

I’ve been thinking about characters lately. What makes a good one? Heck if I know, but like porn and a good slice of margherita pizza, you know it when you see it.

Which brings me to two filmed entertainments, one a TV show and one a movie [Minor Spoilers To Follow For Both].

First, there’s Mad Men, the deliciously sultry paeon to sex and advertising and the fact that – as Don Draper tells it, but doesn’t live it – sex doesn’t really sell. It’s an entertaining hour, and probably the “best” show on television. Here’s the problem: the characters stink. Even Don. Especially Don.

The problem is that Mad Men’s characters are stuck in a perpetual holding pattern, endlessly circling the runway, making a few small passes but never quite given clearance for landing. They have no perceivable goals – can anyone tell me where Mr. Draper is actually going? What he wants? Perhaps this is intentional, but if it is, it’s stupid. Every life altering event (say , a heart attack, induced by having sex with a young girl out of wedlock) is followed by a change in path (renewed faithfulness to one’s wife) and then by a remission to bad behavior (more sex with young minxes). I’m all for characters that struggle with their flaws. A character without flaws is just the latest John Wayne vehicle. But characters in Mad Men struggle for no perceivable reason – they are flawed simply because Smart Television Viewers demand that our characters be flawed.

This brings me to 500 Days of Summer, a delightful film I’d recommend to anyone – except girls. A straw poll I’ve conducted has suggested that men enjoy the movie significantly more than women. This would be the point to mention we are talking about a romantic comedy.

The reason for this is, I think, quite clear. Tom, the male lead, is a fully formed character, hopelessly naive, yet pessimistic; stuck in a terrible job, but ambitious; talented, yet stifled; in love, yet not; aware, yet oblivious. There is an arc to his story. We begin with youthful hopefulness, and end with hopefulness of a mature kind.

Summer – that’s the girl – is as one-dimensional as any character Jennifer Aniston has played since Rachel. She doesn’t believe in love, and…that’s about it. She has no perceivable ambition, even an ambition for nothingness. She exists in a world for the purposes of Tom’s characterization. One wishes she had a long-held dream of being a pastry chef or toy store owner, or a passion for anything beyond Tom and foiling Tom. Whether or not she actually fulfilled her dream, she must have one.

So that’s that. Go see 500 Days of Summer, if you’re a dude, and all should just start watching Season 3 of Mad Men – you won’t have missed any progression in the first two.

Update: Two things have made me adjust my thinking slightly on Mad Men. First, the second half of Season Two happened (to me, a year late). It’s great. Second, I was told by loyal Meanderings reader KS to think of the lack of change as Mad Men’s genius – that the unspoken, and therefore un-acted-upon, feelings and desires of its characters are what give the show its most emotional heft.

That seems to be about right to me. But The Wire is still better.

Throw away all the keys

We are really bad at fighting crime. The biggest problem is that we lock too many people up. We could stand to pay attention to some alternative strategies. Then there’s the issue of not letting convicted felons vote. That’s real smart:

According to a 2004 study, former prisoners who vote are half as likely to reoffend. If suffrage constitutes even a small nudge toward the straight and narrow, why shouldn’t we grant prisoners the right to vote?…America’s position on voting rights, particularly with regard to former criminals, is the most punitive of any developed nation.

Just watch The Wire, Seasons 1-5, and all will be revealed. And If there was any chance at winning the drug war with our current – or any – strategy, it’s over: the cartels now have sharks.