Friday, March 27, 2009

Gay Stick Up Artist Invades Britain

Courtesy of H-Bomb on Flickr
Hopefully this makes up for that time you sent us The Beatles and we sent you Elvis.

First off, a big welcome to those viewers from across the pond! On Monday, the BBC-2 will begin playing all five seasons of The Wire at "a late time slot." In light of this development, the British media has done some sporadic features with David Simon, Ed Burns, and other Wire related personalities.

The Guardian has a very nice interview with Simon this week (H/T: Baltimore Crime comments section). The interview primary focuses on Simon's (well known) distaste for the current media environment and laments that bloggers won't fill the hole left by collapsing corporate media empires. While Simon's thoughts, nor the article's retread of various media arguments and ideas about micropayments are particularly new, it's quite readable. So I'll give The Guardian some daps for this, and some daps for a series they did on Roanoke, Virginia back during the 2008 Presidential Election (Roanoke is my other obsession).

Also noted briefly this week, The Wire's music producer resurfaces at his excellent blog, Ten Thousand Things. Blake Leyh hits us with a preview of what "Treme" might sound like by covering one of the all time greatest Nawlins tunes, St. James Infirmary. Treme is Simon's next project based on post-Katrina musicians in New Orleans. New British fans of The Wire will come to love Leyh's choice of diegetic music (all music in The Wire comes from sources located in the scene, except for the season ending montages). As a composer, Leyh succeeds wildly with the closing credits music which still echoes in my head. The posted version of St. James Infirmary is equally baaad. A tune that's so slow, yet burns so hot.

Photo courtesy of H-Bomb on Flickr (CC)

Friday, March 20, 2009

"Real Thugz" Make a Return!

The Wire is long over, but Sudhir Venkatesh has brought back his sounding board from the streets (as opposed to The Street) to take on the current economic crisis via open letters to Treasury Secretary Geithner. For those that missed it, Venkatesh wrote several great books on his experiences shadowing a drug dealer and gang leader in Chicago's public housing projects. Venkatesh now resides in NYC and has come to know several former members of that city's august underground. He watched the fifth season of The Wire with "The Thugz" as they liked to go by, and reported their reactions in the freakonomics blog. I would often bounce some reactions to these blog posts on my blog.

The first open letter suggests that the problem of the Treasury was not letting the losers lose. Apparently, capitalism is fun because we get to watch economic losers crash and burn in a public forum. By making every bank, good and bad, take TARP money, the treasury broke the first rule of the streets, "losers must die in full view." Maybe a little harsh, but then, so is the streets.

The second open letter is much more interesting. In this letter, the thugz argue that the folks still around now are "the killers" and they are worth keeping around for when the times get good again. Those that are a dime a dozen, have already jumped ship so the bonuses are only going to the most important people to keeping the business afloat.

So this is the Hip Hop Party that Michael Steele keeps trying to reach out to... It's going to be off the hook.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

New Ed Burns Interview

There's a fantastic and lengthy Ed Burns interview up at the British-based Incidentally, The Wire is now on the BBC. Burns discusses Generation Kill, The Wire, and even divulges that he's submitted a movie proposal to HBO called "Jakarta." His pitch: "The Wire is today, Jakarta is tomorrow." Go on...

The more reticent of the Burns-Simon creative team, Burns has done fewer interviews than David Simon, but has a lot of great information on the philosophy and work behind the shows. Ed Burns essentially "lived" The Wire's Cops-Drug World, Baltimore Schools, and Generation Kill's soldiering while Simon was the more creative voice. Definitely a great team. Burns even discusses my favorite Wire theme- The Wire as urban anti-western. Burns' take on GK is equally enlightening. I really need to read Evan Wright's book.

My favorite one-liner take on President Obama's love for Omar:

LF: Going back to Obama, he said that Omar was his favourite TV character…

EB: Well, I think he said it and then, realising what he said, he backed away from that. As If they thought he were a homosexual black stick-up guy. [Laughs]

[Note the sweet British-ized British-ised spelling]