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Late at night

Someone I should learn more about
    I'm watching David Simon, creator of The Wire, talking to Charlie Rose, and I'm struck by how deep his sadness, and anger, and frustration about America's future run.
    First, I have to say I never watched The Wire during its very distinguished run, because I don't get HBO. I might not have watched it, even if HBO were in my cable package, although I have no doubt it was as good as everyone said, because I am a bear of very little emotional backbone. The real world breaks my heart enough, thank you very much. For much the same reason, this middle-brow female will probably not watch Simon's new seven-episode show about soldiers in Iraq, Generation Kill.
    But that doesn't change the fact that I was impressed with Simon. His intensity, his humor, and his righteous ire and heartbreak struck me as a reflection of his deep patriotism. Only people who love their country intensely, and believe in it deeply, can get that sad and angry over what they see as its mistakes.

Comments

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
doclnghair
Jul. 17th, 2008 02:59 pm (UTC)
As someone once said A Cynic is really a true ideaist with a broken heart.
kaffyr
Jul. 17th, 2008 05:26 pm (UTC)
And it's even more so when one is talking about a former journalist, which is the case with Simon.
laurel
Jul. 18th, 2008 12:51 pm (UTC)
FWIW The Wire is also flat-out entertaining with humor and drama and all that as well. Definitely a story well told, though of course given the subject matter it's depressing in some ways. One of my favorite shows and Simon is one of my favorite writers (his nonfiction books Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets and The Corner are great; his writing for TV is as well).

And yeah, he's definitely an interesting person. I wish the TV listings for Charlie Rose were more reliable, I would plug the guests on his shows more if they were (kinda gave up years ago, should try again). Sorry to have missed Simon on there as he's one of my fave people in the biz.

Here's a link to a piece in Time: The Wire's War on the Drug War.

This archive links to pretty much every webpage that includes coverage of all things Simon & The Wire; obviously there are spoilers a-plenty in the linked pieces and even on the page, but lots of links to interviews with Simon.

kaffyr
Jul. 18th, 2008 03:38 pm (UTC)
Hi there! Thanks for the information. So he's the person behind Homicide: Life in the Street, she asked, being completely oblivious before this moment...must go and investigate your links!
laurel
Jul. 18th, 2008 07:33 pm (UTC)
Ayup. He wrote the nonfiction book Homicide that the TV show was based on. He took a year off from working as a reporter for the Sun and spent the entire year shadowing a shift of homicide detectives in Baltimore and wrote about it. Award-winning fabulous book. Lots of cases and scenes on the show were lifted from the book. Later on Simon ended up writing for the show and serving as a producer and that's where he learned about TV.

If you've not seen Homicide: Life on the Street, I'd say it's lighter in subject & tone than The Wire. They're my two favorite TV shows of all time, though I think Homicide wins because I've been a fan for the longest and it has the most variety and more humor.

Later Simon co-wrote a book with Ed Burns (a former cop and schoolteacher) that was about a year on a single drug corner in Baltimore. He and Burns made that book into a miniseries called The Corner for HBO. And then he created The Wire (and Ed Burns worked with him on it as well).
kaffyr
Jul. 18th, 2008 09:33 pm (UTC)
I adored Homicide, particularly the first season, but I loved it all. . The adventures of Bayliss and company (particularly the magnificent Andre Braugher, but there were no cripples on cast, especially early on) were gripping. The finale was heart-breaking to me because the relationship between Braugher's character and Bayliss had been so fantastic, and it came to...what it came to. The ending aside, there are so many scenes that I can still remember with remarkable clarity.
laurel
Jul. 18th, 2008 10:46 pm (UTC)
I'd say the early seasons were truest to the book; season one and the very short season two (which I kindof think of as part of season one) are my faves as well.

I'm sad about what they did to both Bayliss and Kellerman; it seemed a bit much to have them both endure the arcs they did, though I suppose Bayliss was doing pretty well 'til the very end there.

I love Andre Braugher (well, in the healthy way you can love an actor/artist); he's going to be in a comedy this coming season, which should be interesting. Now there's a man whose smile lights up a room. When he's done other TV I've come close to requesting an interview from publicists when they're offered because I know his career backwards and forwards, but I also just felt perhaps I shouldn't make him my first celeb interview lest I screw it up.

Kyle Secor's parents emailed me once. Seriously! Or at least she claimed she was his Mom and that she wished she could attend the party I was throwing when the Homicide reunion movie aired! It was cute. I had some Homicide fans over to my apartment to watch it live. We had a cake with the outline of a body painted on it in frosting. And we had grilled cheese sandwiches because of a memorable Bayliss/Pembleton sequence (and honestly, you can't get good crab in MN).

I still sometimes look back at the archives of alt.tv.homicide, which was my fave newsgroup evar. Hilarious group of regulars. That page of links to news stories about The Wire was compiled by Jim King, who also runs the Homicide Links site (SF fan Dave Locke started it, but Jim took it over during the original run of the series). Anyway, that's my fave place to go for news on what the folks who did Homicide are up to and it's also fun to peruse the archives (even though many articles have gone dead by now I suppose).

I should really update my Homicide page and the Video/DVD FAQ.
laurel
Jul. 18th, 2008 10:50 pm (UTC)
Oh-- Clark Johnson, who was Meldrick on HLotS, is a regular in the final season of The Wire as an editor for the Baltimore Sun. City desk, I think. He is Awesome and just seeing him on screen again was so thrilling to me as a Homicide fan-- he's mostly just been directing TV and features since Homicide ended.

Clark Johnson directed the first episode of The Wire and the last one, plus a few others during the course of the series (mostly in season one).

They also gave Richard Belzer a tiny scene in the final season of The Wire as Munch at a bar in Baltimore just 'cause.

(Must stop commenting, but Homicide is one of those things I can go on about and on and on and on . . . )
kaffyr
Jul. 19th, 2008 03:03 pm (UTC)
I adore Belzer, too, and only watched Law and Order SVU, or whatever it was called, to watch him. He didn't show up enough, so I stopped watching...I'm a fan of procedurals, but that one didn't hold me.

And Clark Johnson's Meldrick was amazing. I still remember the episode in which he was trying to prove, at least to himself, that his first partner didn't commit suicide.

Is Johnson Canadian?
laurel
Jul. 19th, 2008 03:58 pm (UTC)
Clark Johnson is Canadian, his sister is singer Molly Johnson. IIRC he went to Concordia University in Montreal, I think he also may have been in the Canadian Football League before he started acting.

The episode you mention is "Crosetti" and is a fave of many HLotS fans-- I actually own props that were used in the episode . . . I have the baggie of personal effects that belonged to Crosetti (though sadly not his badge 'cause they weren't allowed to sell those). I have biz cards for some of the characters from early seasons. A notebook that belonged to Melissa Leo when playing Kay Howard (IIRC it has a grocery list in it). And one of Beau's shirts and one of Munch's ties. All stuff sold in Baltimore after the series ended, purchased for me by other fans.

I also have a videotape somewhere (wish I could find it) of alternate takes of the scene where Meldrick breaks down in "Crosetti". They filmed that sequence a few times and edited it down from there. Really the sort of thing that should've been on the DVD sets, I acquired it from a fan and that tape is the reason I'm not just chucking the boxes and boxes of VHS tapes I have because I need to search for it (and fear the tape itself might not be labeled or labeled very obviously).

They recently cut down Belzer's time on SVU; he was only in 13 of the 22 episodes this last season. Extremely lame and some fans are crying ageism and have been writing to the network, etc. I think they promoted him to Sgt and then brought in a new partner for Ice-T. Dumb. I think SVU has improved as the series wore on, I really didn't care for most of season one (save for the episode Johnson directed, oddly enough). It's nothing special, but it's a solid show. Just needs more Munch!

Bonus vids: Munch on Arrested Development) (one of my fave TV comedies). Law & Order: Special Letters Unit on Sesame Street (I love the Muppet version of Munch).
kaffyr
Jul. 19th, 2008 03:00 pm (UTC)
Wow, to have Secor's parents email you about the party is amazing! And I think you should interview Braugher; I don't think you'd screw it up at all. As for crab in Minnesota? Wouldn't tuna hotdish work instead? Heh.
bibliofile
Jul. 21st, 2008 02:42 am (UTC)
I'm looking foward to everyone's take on that Braugher comedy, thought mostly I'm happy that he'll have a nice & steady paycheck for at least a few weeks.

Laurel, did you go see Braugher when he and his wife performed together? I don't remember what it was; I only learned about it on closing weekend, myself.
mjlayman
Jul. 18th, 2008 10:46 pm (UTC)
BTW, I've watched the first four eps of Jeremiah (taped the next four last night) and am going to watch it for a while. The mystery is not strong, and I worry it will turn out like Sliders did, where every new jump was just one more thing -- no progress. And why would so few young kids know about science?
kaffyr
Jul. 19th, 2008 03:06 pm (UTC)
Ah, you haven't covered education stories, have you?

Seriously, while many school districts try to do a good job teaching science, and sometimes succeed, in too many cases, the effort is nullified by the total lack of interest parents, and society in general, shows in encouraging kids to bring science out of the classroom and into their hearts. And by hearts, I mean, no one encourages them to love it enough that they want to learn more than the basics. And the basics then disappear from their memories.
mjlayman
Jul. 19th, 2008 11:31 pm (UTC)
I've never been a reporter! And I didn't go to school until ninth-grade. I taught myself until then and Mother was usually able to get me little intern sessions with the military science people. I don't get how people don't want to know how things work.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )