Archive for November 2006

Omar Little, we never know you

November 29, 2006


CC touched on this in her last post, but I’ll say it in my own halting fashion: looking back at this blog, I kind of wonder why we ever said anything. As useful as it might be to draw comparisons and craft systems, The Wire is a program that lives to shatter convenience. Maybe there’s truth in everything we’ve written, maybe the show’s unfolding has rendered it all mistaken crud, or perhaps its the reflection-as-process that makes fan blogs flawed at their most perfect.

As you all pause on the lip of #50, though, I wanted to share a few fairly mundane thoughts about Omar, everyone’s favorite character whom I’ve never connected with. As a mythical being, he’s rousing as all hell. But as I’ve said before, he’s an action hero, a figure who strains the program’s steep insistence on realism. This certainly applies to his professional life, and I’ve realized lately that it’s every bit as relevant a critique of his personal affairs. If you haven’t noticed, Mr. Omar is a hopeless romantic, a serial monagomist, and arguably the most committed lover this side of Cedric Daniels. He risked it all to avenge Brandon, and has consistently chosen beaux over business. His relationship with Renaldo is nothing short of sappy in its tenderness, what with his refusal to let its warmth often overwhelm the discipline a crimer partnership would seem to demand. Though we don’t know what happened to his guy from Season 3, there’s no reason to believe he’s been anything less than a model of chivalry and devotion. At some point, I made a list of things that have gone right in the history of The Wire‘s semi-fictional Baltimore; allow me, if you will, to add Omar’s loves to this list, at least while they last.

While I have no interest in calling this implausible, it’s at odds with the show’s general pyramid of dysfunction. Certainly, the idea that pristine love can flourish amidst the ravages of the drug game is a little screwy. Were it a man and a women, we might be questioning this aspect of the plot, but something about them being homothugs keeps us from squinting at this Clyde and Clyde motif. It also seems like an extension of the same superhuman grace that allows Omar to run through peril unscathed, or the good fortune that landed him an unconditional patron in the form of blind bartender (!?!??!?!?!?!) Butchie. If Omar is fantastic, should I be surprised that this extends to every facet of his iconic existence? Or is that with each aspect of perfection he braves, his character somehow becomes both too cohesive and strangely dissonant?

Slightly related note: Renaldo as lone Latino. I don’t know enough about real life Baltimore demographics to judge how realistic this is, but it seems to resonate with the theme of the city’s isolation and provinciality. Like this country’s in the midst of a major wave of immigration, and yet Renaldo’s the only Latino presence. And despite this, he’s constantly blasting reggaeton and speaking half-Spanish, as if to underscore his ethnicity and make it all the more foreign.

More Melo: Does anyone know if he invited the whole cast, or just the actors who showed up? Interesting to consider the commonalities between their characters, or what it tells us about his affinity for the program.


mile high recap

November 28, 2006

Photos of the cast’s big night in Denver/Carmelo Anthony’s shoe launch are up on YBF, among other places, and you can see the whole set here. Check out the cast with Carmelo’s mom, LaLa’s Missoni maternity wear, the bashful J.R. Smith, etc.

Real, thoughtful posts from shoals and myself forthcoming.

Better Late than Never

November 27, 2006


As the season crescendoes in 48, 49 and 50, it’s harder to know what to post about. So much of this blog has been anticipatory: Will Naymond do X, or when will Herc’s trail of destruction finally catch up to his lumpy ass? Now we’re pretty much in the rush of things, watching it all come together. We’re seeing all our predictions (Michael is the prehistory of Marlo!) fall apart (Michael is the prehistory of Chris?!).

A few loosely related thoughts: It’s clear to me that The Wire is best experienced all at once. I think that some of my problems with this season — the slow pacing; the lack of a crime plot; the fact that basically this whole season is a set-up for the season to come — might have felt different had I watched the whole thing in a week, on DVD, as I did with Seasons 1-3. The Wire is brilliant and bold and innovative and marvelous, but it is not television. Please, fire away.


Two. I’ve said it before and I will say it, say it again. The Wire does not know how to write women. In Kima’s case, this is a problem exacerbated by the show’s abandonment of its original crew. Every time she delivers a line she’s like a completely different character, and I’ve started to suspect that the writers have basically no idea who she is or what is going on with her. Remember her trip back to her ex-girlfriend’s to drop off some money, where she met the new (and affluent) girlfriend? That came out of nowhere, and returned to the nowhere whence it had come.

Hearbreak every which way, and massive frustration. When Marlo’s boy fired at Cutty, I was just floored. It wasn’t just that the streets don’t remember, or respect, the past: it was that they don’t respect anything — and that the first response to anything is extreme violence. There was just no reason to do that, other than just because he could, which was terrifying. But I think there’s some room for debate on this transformation that we’ve seen in Michael. Some of our number here at HH find it believable — an abused kid finding power in violence — some think it was a little rushed. But the level of dysfunction we’re seeing is certainly a product of these kids’ homes — all of their homes. We can talk about how much better it was under Barksdale forever, but it’s been the same for Dukie and Michael’s moms.


Running out of steam now. And hope. Herc showed us how much bad police can ruin a kid’s life; Carver keeps proving that even the best intentioned police can only do so much to save it. Out there in the world, where does someone like Randy turn? What happens to him?


November 27, 2006

Hello all and welcome back after HH’s loooong Thanksgiving holiday. Although jetset, shoals, pizzawhale and myself are scattered about, we were all together this weekend and blew our Wire load on watching #49 and, because it was too hard to resist, 50. (Thanks, HBO, for sending me those DVDs — I never wrote the review but hey, this blog’s not so bad.) We’ll be putting up some thoughts on 49 this week and dealing with 50 next week, and no, we will not be spoiling anything for anyone. We don’t play like that.

I’ll be leading the 49 charge this afternoon, but for now, content yourself with some recommended reading. If anyone has thoughts on this article or knows more about the KIPP schools, I’d love to hear it.

goth gun

Rudely acknowledged inversion

November 20, 2006


Stuck on #47, head down here. Now, come go with me for my ideas about #48.

When I finished watching #48 at 1AM, my first reaction was one of speechlessness. Not as in “totally fucking floored,” but more along the lines of “I ain’t got nothing.” This more resembled the old Wire, the caper-laden mischief of Seasons 1 and 2, than any episode yet. And at the same time, it left me a little disoriented. As much as some of us have pined for some action, or at least sustained looks at firearms, it felt cold to suddenly be back in that narrative realm. Things began changing with last season, but it seems like the show has finally severed all of its ties with genre.

Daniels’s ressurecting the Major Case Unit makes that transition seem especially jarring. In Season 2, this move came off as a moderately clunky “getting the band back together” crawl, at once catalytic, sentimental, and predictable. Here, though, we have no fucking clue what this means for our fair protagonists. Jimmy’s reawakening at Carcetti’s speech would seem to point to his triupmhant return, but the Unit will basically have two episodes to turn around a botched case. Barring some drastic pace-quickening–unlikely, since this is the slowest season yet–this will not end on a note of satisfactory investigative reckoning.

What’s really standing out to me about these last few is Randy’s downward plunge. Throughout, we’ve seen the kids act adult-like in adolescent settings, or be selectively delegated moments of maturity. Now, though, they’ve all been thrown out into the real world, and none of them seem to be faring so well. Michael’s discovered power, Namond’s realizing he’d rather affectionately joke with Colvin than stand out on the corner, and Dukie’s none too excited about making it to high school.

Note: I found it pretty amazing that Dukie didn’t get bumped up to a talented and gifted school, which would’ve been the shlocky solution to his character. Also, Cheese=son of Prop Joe’s sister. D’Angelo parallel, though nothing will probably ever come of that.

Randy, though, might have gotten the rawest deal. It’s not a misunderstanding; he implicated Kevin, something that wasn’t just some matter-of-time street-level intelligence. You could argue that, given enough show, the law would’ve eventually heard that bodies were in vacants; Randy was the only person who knew about Kevin, and thusly did, in effect, snitch. Earlier, we talked a lot about whether or not Cutty approved of Randy, whether or not he could surivive, etc. The real issue is that no one should have to be equipped in the way that Michael or Dukie is, that soft-as-hell Randy shouldn’t have to be sucked into a conspiracy to commit murder. No one is less suited for the streets, and more instinctively distant from them, than Randy. That he’s now getting his life ruined by a perfect storm of invidious rumor, police incompetence, and a just plain unfair world around him, might be this season’s signature arc.  

But what’s also frustrating about Randy’s situation is how silly we look saying “dude shouldn’t have sang.” This has been touched on previously, but who the fuck are we to tell this fourteen year-old not to respond to authority figures? To tell the truth and save his own skin? In the grand scheme of the show, we know these are bad moves, as he himself probably did. From an ethical perspective, though, didn’t Randy make the right decision? He was able to start cases rolling on two crimes and in the process keep his life afloat. His snitching only came back to hurt him because of Herc’s incompetence and Marlo’s hyper-genius, which is a long way of saying that there’s no one on The Wire who actually makes truth and justice a viable path.

And so we find ourselves rooting for Michael’s emerging bad-assness, hoping Namond can get adopted by Colvin, and expecting Dukie to go to med school. Poor, ordinary Randy, the most realistic and clear-headed of the bunch, is left out flapping in the bloody breeze. The most hopeful and pragmatic of the bunch becomes, in effect, a study in the perils of trying to be a good kid. Not that anyone needs to be told that Baltimore is fucked up, but it’s astounding that a murderer, a spoiled dope boy, and a spacey savant have more a shot at making it through unscathed than Randy. And the really wrenching thought? He was pretty much more doomed from the beginning than any of his more screwed-up comrades.

You get the passion

November 20, 2006


Hey broadcast machines, here is our run-through of #47. Thoughts on #48 to follow somewhat later in the day.

Shoals on Marlo’s hypothetical past

JSJ and police problematics

CC on a relevant documentary

Shoals with some sports-related links

Back to where I came from

November 17, 2006


As some of you may know, I don’t belong here. The only thing I can actually write about with any authority is the National Basketball Association, which is why a little entity called FreeDarko exists as it does.  Thus, I am both heartened by these two sports/Wire items and somewhat wistfully admitting that soon, very soon, I must return home permanently.

First off, the link to that perfunctory LZ Granderson piece on The Wire, athletes, and a gay amongst both. There’s also a few minutes of the Baltimore Ravens pow-wowing with cast members, though unfortunately not a Pacman Jones in sight. If anyone has access to the pre-edit footage from this, alert me accordingly.

More outstandingly, Sam over at the immortal publication SLAM has determined that it was indeed his fair magazine being browsed through by Michael and Bug in #47. I’m equally intrigued by his analysis of Marlo’s periodicial reading habits, but really, no mention of Mouzone?