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Monday, June 18, 2012

over the wire

I watched and loved the wire a couple of years ago. For me it was almost an obsession, every once in a while I find a piece of art, a story so well told, characters so fleshed out that everything pales in comparison. Real life isn't as real as what has been created, conflicts not as important, drama not as eventful as what's being played out on the screen or on the page. I mull over the events and themes for months, think about the characters and their motivations, ponder their fates for so long I know them as well as I know anyone. Then it ends and all I have to take me back to that magical time is reading about it on the internet, finding people who loved it as much as me and hearing their takes on it. Its like talking about a place we both went to. The Wire had an anniversary the other day, 10 years since initial screening and there was an upward spike in internet articles about it, new articles with fresh insight and the maturity that comes with age, fine ideas are like fine wine in that sense, easier to digest with distance in time. Then i read the following article:

Shared it on facebook and got into a discussion with this guy about it. The discussion will be my blogpost and it contains too many spoilers, way too many on the plot elements of the wire warning done, here is the exchange(on a sidenote i find it very cool that the article i wrote(half wrote) about the wire takes the form of a conversation that's being eavesdropped on, the very basis of the show, I like when the medium mirrors the message. )

Him:  Brilliant! I only just finished watching The Wire. Awesome read.

Me:  you just finished watching the wire, you lucky man. Those characters must still walk around your head full human beings at this point. Feeling like you know them and still sad over the cyclic end it had, I loved that show though (obviously) felt like reality.

Him:  The end was remarkably profound for me... For every character that the show had, there was a replacement waiting in the wings. You want to jump in and stop it all from happening, but it must go on, and you can do nothing but watch on, knowing that the show, as is the case with life, must go on...

Me:  the one that got me the hardest was Bubbles replacement. He had gotten out of the spiral of addiction and all that and then the kid, (the names blur) ss right there to take his place. It makes such a point about the system they had in America it dooms so many to repeat the mistakes of their fathers over and over completely unable to break out. For every child who goes on to compete in oratory meets there's a drug addict, a killer, an orphan. That was a sad ending. But remarkably fitting.

Him:  Dookie... That one hit hard. Especially seeing how he had such promise in Mr. Prezbo's class... Bubbles got out, but only after he accidentally killed Sherrod, another massively sad story arc.
I found it interesting how Marlo Stanfield doesn't become Stringer 2.0, but he goes back to the streets...

Me:  yeah Marlo, there was always more of Avon’s code in him mixed with stringer's Amorality. He wanted a name and respect and didn't care how he got it. Remember when he got Prop Joe in the end? "I wasn't much made to play the part of son." I found that so sad

Him:  Even more of the Greek tragedy... Characters are resigned to their fate. Prop Joe was doomed by his own success, and as such he knew that the means to his end was always there, hovering like a sword of Damocles... I also found Bodie's death to be exceptionally sad. For him, holding out on the corner, to be randomly offed like that... It hurt.

Me:  oh yeah, Bodie. He was one of my favourite characters of all time. I liked the relationship he had with the cops, with Stringer. There was so much potential in him, he looked like he was being groomed for something. Remember the scene where Stringer wants to run the drug meet like a proper business and one of the young guys takes minutes..."are you serious taking minutes of criminal conspiracy?"

Him:  Shamrock... That one had his own jokes, taking minutes and such. And what about D'Angelo's 'suicide'? That one made me want to punch Stringer in the face. But it had to be done, I guess, from Avon's reaction when he found out. Now all the characters are popping up, randomly awesome ones like Brother Mouzone and his bowties and love of magazines, and the disturbingly effective murder duo of Snoop and Chris Partlow...

Me:  Brother Mouzone was amazing, "you know the scariest thing in the world? A nigga with a library card!" and the way they hid the bodies in the 3rd season was amazing. I loved Hunk too, that guy was too funny, the all fuck scene is definitely one of the best things on TV, I like how serious a spin this article up there put on it. Then Omar, everyone who watches that guy for a while gets over their homophobia as they begin to support him. And clay Davis shieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet!

Him:  Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit... That guy was hilarious. Plus his arc is also quite compelling. Like when Lester and Rhonda the attorney built up a case against the guy, and he basically charmed the jury into a not-guilty verdict... That was compelling. At some point, you start seeing a lot of the real world in The Wire, like how Omar wasn't just some random gangster with a shotgun, he has a story. His anguish after his boyfriend gets killed, that was moving. And his relationship with Butchie as well. The Hamsterdam experiment was also interesting, setting up a legal drug zone, and seeing how drug regulation fails to protect junkies from the drugs they seek...

Me:  I liked how they did that, going behind the stereotypes. Like when you see Stringer going to college or that he was reading the wealth of the nations. Lester with his tiny carvings. The character arcs of people like Carver and the Jewish cop who became a teacher, the boxer who was doing all this reform on the street. Ziggy from season 2 also very sad, was cool to hear Swahili in that season though

Him: Yeah... The crewman from the boat unleashes Swahili very randomly... That was interesting. On the whole, The Wire was rather compelling, showing how random things connect and lead to varied consequences... I like how this article points out that the wiretaps are very much like the oracles of ancient Greece, sometimes they give you information that you need, a case is made, only to fall apart later on...

Me:   yeah that was an interesting connection to make, and Lester was like a wise old priest tinkering and seemingly doing nothing while holding the keys to interpretation in his head, making it possible for mortals to understand what was going on and eternally frustrated that despite the access to all this awesome power he did nothing to shape events, chained by due process and the inadequacies of his superiors.

Him:  Even as Bunk claimed that it was him that gave Lester the bowlegs... lolol. 
The Pulitzer guy is another one I wanted to punch... How do you manufacture a story over and over again? I also liked how he led to a lot of the developments on the 'homeless murders'. Classic causality. The homeless case led to the return to full capacity of the Baltimore PD and the guy got his award...

Me:  yeah, that story line, McNulty really went off the rails. And it presented an interesting question, the same one asked in episode 10 of the second season of game of thrones. if you could walk away from the thing you were really good at, from your calling and talent and that meant you would be happy(McNulty in the 4th season, Tyrion if he listened to Shae) would you still do it?

Him:  McNulty's situation is odd, because the one thing he is good at is the very thing that leads him to self-destruction. He's an alcoholic because of his cop-work. He becomes a beat cop and moves in with Beadie in an attempt to salvage himself, but that comes undone...

Him:  finally watched 'Game of Thrones' all the way to the end of season 1 to get what you meant by the Tyrion reference... I'd stopped on episode 7 for some reason I can't remember. Yeah, that's why the last comment didn't acknowledge either him or Shae. But it's pretty much the same. Change yourself completely or lose everything...

Me:  oh yeah? there was a risk of that so I tried to couch the statement in as spoiler free a way as possible which is a break from the trend of all previous comments but the wire ended quite a while ago and no one who hasn't watched it is ever interested enough to read about it at least on fb comments. Yep McNulty's situation was sad, all the drinking was a part of all the working, he's happier in uniform but his destiny, his calling in life isn't to be happy. it’s strange how much I bump into this thing in art now, finally reading the Brothers Karamazov and there's a scene with the devil watching Jesus resurrect into heaven and all he wants to do is say hosanna and join in the praise of the angels but he stops himself, he says nothing can happen on earth, no events without the great minus and so " I am sulking and fulfil my destiny though it’s against the grain."

Him:   The whole concept that people don't live forever is old, but it's fallen out of favour. People want the bad guy to die, for the good guy to triumph in the end. Haven't read The Brothers Karamazov myself. I really should. I wouldn't say McNulty was happy as much as he silenced the beast within, the monster that drives men to do ridiculous things, that on one hand pushes people to kill, and on the other hand to pursue the killer. In the perspective of both, they want justice done. I like what you said there, his destiny is not to be happy. His destiny is tied to the very thing that is destroying him.
I may have found something to write about... A review of The Wire...

Me:  do you really think people still want the bad guy to die and the good live forever? Now with the focus on all these gritty remakes cue the dark knight returns in a short month... we'll have another remarkable example of the whole world falling in love with a story about a hero who has no idea how to be heroic, who has to give up much more than he ever wanted to and who (even if he doesn't physically die) sees a version of himself slip away as he's pushed more and more into a corner that he wouldn't let himself be found in. The soiled hero or the villain with grace, the fact that all these definitions just depend on the point of view is much more popular now(game of thrones as another great example.) And life is too short for stories about life being short to get old. Silenced the beast within I like that expression (and its application here) now that I think about it maybe am confusing happiness with contentment. He was probably content with Beadie, satisfied. But contentment is boring challenge even if it destroys us is what we really love. It wasn't working that was given Adam as a punishment it was the exhaustion that comes of it. At my graduation I remember my dad said "life is struggle" maybe some people just need that friction, that striving, that lack of contentment to be ok, maybe we all do unfortunately it bites you in the ass.

Me:  because am lazy sometimes and because I think this was a really cool discussion, am tempted to just copy paste it and use it as a blog post, maybe you want to do the same too?(am also asking for your permission cos of copyright and all these things

Him:  Copyright... Yes. Go ahead. I think I shall post it as well, because it's quite awesome
Me:  copy pasting that was a lot of fun by the way. Gaggles of giggles


  1. I know a lot of people who are mad about The Wire.I thought about watching it, and I did what I always do - checked the plot on Wikipedia, found out about the cyclic ending, and figured I'd be depressed for weeks about the futility of it all. I get that way when I attach to characters (it's why I don't watch soaps or read Robert Ludlum)so I never bothered to start. I might now though, after watching you two discuss it like this =)

    1. cool, you should, its more than the cyclic ending it was so amazing to see them build it up like that from scratch, a whole society it felt, like actually seeing a city