Omar Little, we never know you


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.

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71 Comments on “Omar Little, we never know you”

  1. packetman Says:

    “you poutin’? dont pout.”

    what a sweetheart. i say this to my girl all the time now. she don’t get it.

  2. Bmore4now Says:

    Had to say thanks for all your work on this website. I’ve loved all 4 seasons, but have watched this season more closely (and repeatedly) because of same great discussions here.

    I agree that Omar seems the least real character on the show. He seems to be the one character that Simon/Burns are exploring the anit-reality theme with–he is the contridication to everyone else in a show that seems to show paralells accross so many different people (cops, crooks, teachers, politocs). Omar stands alone–I love him but he is becoming less bleive-able (it is spelled right, if your from Bmore).

    As for Baltimore demographics, there has only recently been an influx of latino immigrants; much behind what has happened in the rest of the country. O’Malley/Carcetti actually talked about trying to lure immigrants to help resusitate some of the down and out neighborhoods a few years back. Renaldo’s singularity pretty much reflects the Bmore fo the 80-90’s (less true now).

    Keep up the good work.

  3. David Simon Says:

    Just a helpful note.

    Baltimore’s Latino population was almost non-existent until about a decade ago. Slowly, in the area of upper Fells Point, an influx of Central American immigrants have taken root and now bodegas and taquirito carryouts line Broadway and the sidestreets. This is altogether for the good as that area had been faltering prior to their arrival, being as it was once home to the Lumbee native American tribe, who transplated themselves from N. Carolina in the 40s and 50s for the war factory work and had since all but disappeared either through intermarriage or a generalized return to the Carolina reservation. Now, in their place, we have Guatemalans and Hondurans and some Mexican immigrants and they are changing the nature of SE Baltimore. But until their arrival — and only in this one quadrant of Baltimore — this was a city with a very belated introduction to Latino settlement. Renaldo’s singularity reflects this precise demographic.

  4. Kevin Says:

    Omar and the institutions he is involved in are in contrast to everything else in the show. His sexual relationship is a gay one, but probably the most loving and monogamous of the show. Bunk, McNulty, Daniels all have betrayed the institution of marriage.

    Unlike most of the people Omar has a code that he follows. Don’t hurt anyone that isn’t in the game. This contrasts with the drug organizations and the police. They are both willing to screw people not in the game just to keep their institutions thriving. The drug organizations kill witnesses and security guards, while the police will arrest people loitering or for crimes they did not commit.

    Omar steals from the drug organizations not because of the money or the fame, but because he likes to see “the look on their faces” when he steals from them. Omar enjoys screwing with those in power. Omar would be like Ralph Nader taking on Congress and the car companies. All the other characters want to gain power in their institutions and will screw their leaders if it can get them ahead. Of course, they will more likely be screwed by their superiors. Omar would never screw any of his teammates. When that one girl got shot by his boyfriend, he took the responsibility on himself and went after the Barksdale crew.

    Omar makes a great contrast to the rest of Baltimore.

  5. B&B Enterprises Says:

    I also wonder about Melo’s invite list. Seemingly heavy on the “street” side of the cast.

    As for Omar, I agree with Shoals’ points and I’ve found myself losing patience with the character and his improbable way of defying the laws of physics. What goes up must come down. The continued success of his kooky capers seems to imperil one of The Wire’s greateset virtues: unblinking realism and respect for the ever-present function of the principles of tragedy and disappointment in human life. The wise men who write this world don’t strike me as believers in happy endings. I may be in the minority on this blog for not having seen the whole season ahead of time, so I don’t know what happens in episode 50. But I’m thinking Omar’s got to get got before long.

  6. Shoals Says:

    my sense is that most people who commented on here a lot hadn’t watched ahead. i only cheated with #49-50, and look how easy it was for me to slip up. plus why would you want to sit around and discuss theories that were clearly not tenable over the entire course of the season.

  7. Jesse Says:

    I’ve never felt that Omar himself is all that unbelievable, though the fact that he’s managed to stay alive and relatively unencumbered by the judicial system thus far could be argued as stretching the limits of believability quite a bit. He’s always struck me as a dude who has a little bit of a Robin Hood complex, but without the giving to the poor part.

  8. Lono Says:

    Just a quick note…

    I assumed that Omar killed his boyfriend from season three, as he had proven himself to be weak and unreliable by giving Omar up to Mouzone. In their eventual parting, Mouzone handed Omar a gun and said something like “It’s your city, I trust you to do things right.” Was Mouzone telling Omar that he needed to cut ties permanently? Definately maybe.

    All I know for sure is that we never saw boyfriend #2 again…

    If this is indeed what happened, then it puts an entirely different spin on Omar’s romantic devotion.

  9. Philly Says:

    Omar did indeed kill his boyfriend from Season 3.

    He doesn’t have very long relationships, so who knows how he would be if he got “married” or had a truly long term relationship.

    As for his believability? To rob drug dealers takes an unbelievable amount of guts, and yet people do it in real life. Drug stick-up boys do exist despite how hard it is for me (all of us?) to get our heads around the idea.

    Also, remember Omar gives some of the drugs he steals to the “locals.” And they in turn do him the occasional favor.

  10. Shoals Says:

    i have no idea where you people are getting this from. here’s what the official summary says:

    Omar meets Brother Mouzone at a motel and discovers Dante: incarcerated, bruised and beaten, ashamed that he’s revealed Omar’s whereabouts to the murderous Mouzone. Omar is glad simply to see Dante alive. On the way out, Mouzone, heading back to New York, gives Omar his gun for disposal: “It being your town, I trust you to do it proper.”

    plus while i’m aware that stick-up kids exist, it’s also an even more dangerous profession than standing on the corner or even acting as muscle. and both of these have certainly claimed their fair share of characters on the show. plus it’s not like omar’s consistently playing it safe; quite the contrary, he launches these vendettas against the mightiest players in the land.

  11. eebmore Says:

    What David Simon said (is that the real Simon?), but with an additional note – although Baltimore’s central american population has been growing exponentially in the past decade in the Patterson Park area, we have virtually no Puerto Rican or Dominican population to speak of, which is one of the many ways that Baltimore stands out from Philadelphia and New York. So yes, Renaldo, from a cultural standpoint, is a realistically isolated figure.

  12. Shoals Says:

    for anyone wondering, that is the real david simon.

  13. eebmore Says:

    heh. I had a feeling. Only an expert on the subject would feel compelled to mention the Lumbee population.

  14. eebmore Says:

    Since this seems to be a forum that has David Simon’s ear:

    Mr. Simon, I’ve been dying to know for the past couple of seasons, is Bubbles based, in part, on Mt. Vernon Leroy?

  15. Shoals Says:

    renaldo looks like colin farrell

  16. David Simon Says:


    Bubbles is based on Bubbles, who succumbed to HIV in the early 1990s. Longtime informant for Ed Burns and others, a former Arabber with a gift for remembering faces.

    And with regard to the argument that someone engaged in Omar’s pursuits would eventually be killed or imprisoned, it is true that many Baltimore stickup legends are now dead, and a few took charges here and there. But many more have had long careers and one in fact survived long enough to have his Wire cameo. Another is now clean and sober and sem-retired after more than two decades of robbing dealers.

    The key is great caution, good fortune and most of all, the ability to impart to the offended drug organizations the fact that you are as fierce and committed as their enforcers and that you can find them as easily as they find you. For this reason, many drug organizations write off what they lose to the Omars of the world as a necessary loss rather than risk the attrition of open warfare. Other times, violence ensues.

    But Shorty Boyd, Anthony Hollie, Cadillac, Low, Donnie Anders, Ferdinand Harvin — these are names that were not brief, singular incidents in the history of the Baltimore drug trade. They were careers. Some were also, at points, turned into informants by Burns and others because they are, by trade, always vulnerable to gun charges as they are often armed. And to work off such a charge, they are usually inclined to provide valuable information, since they often know a great deal about their intended targets.

    Sometimes the real is actually more remarkable than what viewers, unfamiliar with the actual street history, might think possible. As Richard Price likes to say, God is not a second-rate novelist.

  17. Eric Says:

    I find it a bit perplexing why so many people here are complaining about Omar. From what I have heard from an Ed Burns interview and what I have read, it was the intention of the show’s creators for Omar to be fantastic, to be the lone individual outside of the institutions that thrived.

    Personally, I think one of the reasons Omar is so beloved by most Wire watchers is while his character is based in some ways on past stick-up boys from Baltimore, people connect to his success in the wake of so much failure, his fidelity when compared with so much infidelity, his code when contrasted with so much dishonor. People like Omar for the very reason some here have complained, he is in fact, unreal. he provides some momentary escape from some of the gritty details of The Wire – though even Omar has run into institutions now and again (e.g. drug deals coming back on him, police officers not living up to their word, etc.)

  18. eebmore Says:

    Mr. Simon, thank you for the clarification on Bubbles. Once Bubbles took up the grocery cart, his story seemed to eerily parallel the life of a friend named Leroy (I should use the word “friend” with caution, as obviously, I never learned his last name.), who I believe succumbed to heroin and diabetes roughly about 3/4 years ago. But Leroy typically sleep on the eastside on Preston, somewhere past Guilford. But never mind.

  19. Shoals Says:

    eric, i don’t really think i’ve complained about omar. more wondered what the significance of his singularity was, and you’ve explained it as well as anyone could. even if his professional exploits are more realistic than i’d thought, i still think that the totality of the character can’t help but point toward some form of optimism.

  20. Kevin Says:

    Maybe Omar’s boyfriend from season 3 just wanted to get out of the game and was not killed off by Omar. First he accientaly shoots one of their partners-in-crime and then he gets tortured by Brother Mouzone. I’d leave too after all of that or get told to leave.

  21. Pooh Says:

    I find it a bit perplexing why so many people here are complaining about Omar. From what I have heard from an Ed Burns interview and what I have read, it was the intention of the show’s creators for Omar to be fantastic, to be the lone individual outside of the institutions that thrived.

    I feel like I’ve had this conversation several times in several places over the course of this season, and to reiterate Eric’s point (and based on repeated statement’s by Mr. Simon), Omar’s ‘success’ is perfectly understandable given that he is not subject to the crushing weight of a larger ‘institution’. “A man got to have a code,” but it’s his code, which gives him a great deal more freedom to do what he needs to do.

    We all see McNulty as kind of a flawed hero, but how many of his “flaws” are really aspects of BPD bullshit that he just doesn’t handle very well? I mean, chain of command aside, he was, uhm, right for most of the first three seasons.

    By virtue of standing alone, Omar simply doesn’t have those concerns. He is unencumbered and unbound, which makes him unusual in the Wire’s universe, but more importantly, outside the realm of our (the viewers’) experience as well – and that is what makes he seem so unreal to us.

  22. christycash Says:

    Unrelated, but for those of you following the police shooting in NYC, here’s a song:
    [audio src="" /]

    Also, speaking of backstories, I woke up today thinking about Marlo. I’ve done a lot of talk on this blog about how Marlo is a maniac, or a homicidal maniac, or some combination thereof. However, thinking about the way that Nay’s character changed over this season (I expected him to be a wannabe dealer, not a not-wannabe dealer), I’m starting to get excited to see what we learn about Marlo in season 5. As it stands, we know almost nothing about Marlo, what makes him like he is, what his story is, where he came from, why he is. I hope that we’re going to learn more.

  23. SHOASLLSAS Says:

    i know that over the last few weeks we’ve settled on “michael=young chris,” and i’m personally a fan of “michael=new jack avon.” but avon had street smartzz, and chris is evil to an end (and with respect); given how intoxicated michael is by power and violence, i still wouldn’t be surprised to find out that marlo was similarly “turned.”

  24. Migoudah Says:

    I’m not getting my hopes up about learning about Marlo next season. They just don’t go in for back story on this show.

    What do we know about Avon and Stringer? Next to nothing; they stole a badminton set; Avon’s got some family tie to Butch Stanford. Beyond that, we’re left looking for their images in Marlo and Chris, Michael and Dukie, etc.

    Marlo’s even more of an abstraction. In fact, the drama hardly hinges on him at all–he’s just this force that everyone has to deal with. I suppose that will change as Lester gets going, but somehow I don’t think Marlo will ever be a fully explored character. It just seems beyond the point.

  25. Jesse Says:

    To me, where Marlo came from is unimportant at this point. After all, how much do we know about Saddam Hussein and what made him the brutal dictator he became? We know many of the specifics of his brutality in coming to that position, and the subsequent massacres and mass murders thereafter, but how much have you ever really heard about how he grew up?

  26. christycash Says:

    They don’t go in for back story? What? We know a ton about McNulty, we know about String and Avon… we know all about Bodie, we knew D’Angelo… we know Michael’s story about Bug’s dad. We know backstory through changes that we observe in characters as well as through dialogue that references the past.

  27. Shoals Says:

    jesse, i’d look for another example if i were you. saddam’s early years were pretty fucking operaticall dysfunctional, and are part of the lore of his villianry

  28. Jesse Says:

    Shoals, I guess I’ve never made it a point to seek those out, so I was speaking more in a sense of what the general public knows about Saddam in an effort to point out how Marlo fits into a dictator archetype. If you went by just what the mainstream media laid out for “backstory” on Saddam since even the first Gulf War, you’re left with little more than a Snidely Whiplash character sketch instead of a full picture of a human being, evil though he may be.

  29. Emry Says:

    My biggest beef with the character of Omar is the way his existence and the aura he exudes contradicts the portrait Simon paints of the fierce youth in Baltimore.

    A stick up kid (or man) like Omar makes for a terrific character but in reality theres no way he would have survived for this long.

    Remember when Slim Charles tells Cutty that, “The game aint change, it just got more fierce”? One of those same fierce individuals would have put the whistle to Mr. Little simple on the strength of the cred they would receive from the deed.

    I predict season 5 will mark the end of Omar and I hope it’s a non consequential character that does the deed. I think this would paint an accurate picture of street justice and put the final brush strokes in the portrait of the anything goes culture of the Baltimore Streets or just ghettos in general.

    I live in Philadelphia and now and again converse about the show with a few people who can relate to the events that take place far better then I. One of the things I consistently here stressed about the program is the way they paint the wild youth and how accurate that is. The fact that a man like Marlo doesn’t respect his old heads the way Stringer and Avon must have. This is re-emphasized by Bay time and time again.

    Omar’s survival and ultimate triumph (or so it seems after episode 49) in season 4 seems like a fairy tale in contrast the the events in the lives of the other characters on the show. I realize he represents honor and the code of the streets but I think for the show to maintain absolute integrity Simon and company must write in the death of Omar Little by a youngin hungry for some street credibility.

    BTW, great site. If Cheese were reading I’m certain he would comments that, “Yall are some scholarly mothafuckas”

  30. Pooh Says:

    One of those same fierce individuals would have put the whistle to Mr. Little simple on the strength of the cred they would receive from the deed.

    “You come at the king, you best not miss.” They may be fierce, but so is Omar. And he is smarter than they are. Plus he doesn’t have a day job on the corner, so he has greater freedom of action.

  31. PostmanE Says:

    I’m pretty sure I just posted near identical comments twice. So my apologies.

  32. PostmanE Says:

    Or didn’t post them at all. Shit!

  33. PostmanE Says:

    Anyway, here’s a Slate piece I wanted to link to. Enjoy, everyone.

    There’s plenty of good discussion about the show, as you could imagine, as well as a lot of talk about the Central American influx into Baltimore. (It was almost Season 6!)

  34. Tito Landrum Says:

    Mr. Simon,

    I don’t know if you’re still checking in on this discussion, and I don’t mean to be an ass, I have the utmost respect for you and Ed Burns. I do, however, have one question that I need answered.

    Why did you choose (or allow) the song “We Are Family” to be played during Carcetti’s acceptance speech? I can tell that you are a big baseball fan by reading many of your interviews (I am as well), although you may not be much of an Oriole fan (did you grow up in the DC suburbs? I’m from Silver Spring, myself but was born after the latest Senators had left town, so it was all about the O’s for me). Anyway, was there a reason for playing that song? Were you aware of how sickening that song is to so many Marylanders? I mean it still bothers me to hear that song to this day and I was 4 years old at the time of the 79 series. It would seem out of touch for any Baltimore Mayoral candidate to touch that song. Or am I just that much of a baseball nerd?

    I realize this may seem like a petty question. But I love every detail of your show. And I’ve got to say, this is the one detail that has left me scratching my head. I’ve read a few other comments sections where I’ve read comments you’ve left (What’s Alan Watching, House Next Door, etc.) but this is the first time I’ve had the nerve to butt in and ask you about this, figured I’d take a shot before the season is over.

  35. eebmore Says:

    Titi, Simon on the Orioles and DC. Not to NOT let Simon speak for himself, but, like you, he is originally from Silver Spring. This is beside the point, but I’m also from the DC suburbs. Most former DC suburbians I know who have moved to Baltimore typically go native and dislike DC more than genuine native Baltimoreans. So, eff the Nats. ;-).

  36. David Simon Says:

    We blew that one.

    I came to Baltimore to work at the newspaper in 1983, the last year the O’s won a series. I was not into it then. I went to Game 1 and rooted for neither the O’s nor the Phillies. At the time, I was still refusing to enjoy major league baseball in angry protest at the loss of my beloved and beshitted Washington Senators, who had moved to become the Texas Rangers in 1972. My hate of the Orioles was residual to the time when they used to pound the Nats into sand routinely.

    I did not become an Oriole fan until 1988, the year that they lost 21 in a row to start the season. At that moment — I was in the homicide unit at the time, reporting my book — I began to love the local team, perhaps because they reminded me of the long-lost tragedians of East Capitol Street. My Senator-love is rooted in a childhood of going to RFK to see a weak, but charming team struggle against the rest of the American League. Howard, McMullen, Casanova, Brinkman, Darryl Knowles, Dick Bosman, Camilo Pasqual… Though I now root for the Orioles with my son, I confess to going back to RFK for opening day the year before last and I was there again this year when Ramon Ortiz took a no-hitter into the ninth inning. RFK is still a pit, but that team had a piece of heart when they adopted the old red-and-white ballcaps of the late 1960s team. Mike Epstein was my favorite player, by the way. Super Jew! Thirty HR in 1970.

    So, We Are Family did not immediately strike me as local apostasy until it was too late and we had already shot out the scene. Nina Noble — also not a Baltimorean in 79 — suggested the song and we found that it worked for the mood of the election night sequence and for the Carcetti message. Ed Burns, Bill Zorzi and other lifelong Baltimoreans have, I suppose, less excuse for not raising a stink.

    I will mention one other baseball memory in this regard. In 1971, I was in Philadelphia for a national B’nai B’rith convention, where my father was the public relations director for the Jewish service organization. And it so happened that Milton Schapp, then the Pennsylvania governor, had announced his forelorn candidacy for president and was in attendance at the convention. At some point, with TV cameras rolling on Gov. Schapp, he reached down and shook the hand of some not yet 11-year-old Senator fan and asked — a politician trying to make small talk with a kid with cameras rolling — where I was from.

    “Maryland,” I said. It being the truth even though I lived several hundred yards from the D.C. line.

    “Oh, so you’ll be rooting for the Orioles then.” The 71 series between the Pirates and O’s being imminent.

    I looked up at this goofy sonofabitch and gathered myself with what I supposed passed for dignity and gravitas. “I hate the Orioles, ” I spat out. “I’m rooting for the Pirates.”

    “Son,” he said, to all the laughter of the gathered media. “You should go into politics.”

    I didn’t know what was so funny. I was a Senator fan, goddammit. The Orioles were only slightly more human than the Yankees. And in 1969, when the Mets went up against the O’s, I was a Met fan for a couple weeks.

    But times change and the O’s now resemble the Senators in so many ways, and I have learned to bleed orange and black. I am a Baltimorean now, though there are a few D.C. traditions that I still respect. The Nats. Sonny Jurgensen. Riggo running to glory off left tackle. Crisfield Seafood on Georgia Avenue. The Chili Bowl. The Nighthawks. Chuck Brown, Trouble Funk and EU. George Pelecanos. The Tastee Diner (Silver Spring branch, not Bethesda) Beyond that much, and maybe a bit more, fuck ’em.

    But an important point to note: Thomas Carcetti is a scion of the 1st District of Baltimore, but who knows if his whole childhood or schooling was spend in East Baltimore. He might have come there after college, or after law school, or by marriage. I know a certain white insurgent candidate who embraced the Irish precincts of N.E. Baltimore and ultimately captured Baltimore’s mayoralty but who actually grew up in Montgomery County. That man’s memories of 1979 might be devoid of pain, as mine so clearly are.

    Hope that helps, Mr. Landrum.

  37. Tito Landrum Says:

    Wow! I know you’ll hate reading this, just like you must hate being called “Mr. Simon”, but I am honored that you took the time to respond to me.

    Both of my parents were born, raised and worked in Washington (I was born in DC too, my dad was Metropolitan Police – hey I wonder if Pelecanos (I’m assuming he’s Greek) went to St. Constatine and Helen’s, my grandfather was one of the founders of that church) but, like I said, there were no Seantors when I came along, and we did technically live in Maryland, so when I took a liking to baseball I suppose my dad’s hands were tied. It was my mom who stayed up with me back in 79 to watch those games. In 83 I remember jumping up and down like an idiot when Ripken squeezed the last out while my dad and older brother sat prone on the couch. You mentioned the 88 season, the failures of the 88 team surely made the 89 season probably my all time favorite baseball season – so much better then the talented but colorless O’s teams of 96 and 97. I could give a crap about the Ravens though, I’m a Skins fan. But honestly, I don’t even watch the NFL anymore. Terps (like you, I’m a UMD grad) and Georgetown when it comes to basketball.

    I live out in Western Washington now and I find myself missing Ledo’s and Cluck U quite a bit, damned if you can’t find chicken wings out here. When I attended Montgomery College in Rockville I had a study group that met at the Silver Spring Tastee Diner each week. Fugazi for free at Fort Stevens, that’s one of my better memories of Washington. Through a good friend of mine I once got into weekly softball games with Ian McKaye and friends! I remember as a kid growing up near North West Park and attending St. Camillus, EU was real big and often playing in the backgroud.

    Let me mention one more detail, once again tying in your show with Baseball. Herc – he can’t be from the Bronx if would’ve fucked Gus Triandos. I remember once in the DVD commentary you mentioned that you were going to have to figure out a way to explain Herc’s Bronx accent and how he came to be in Baltimore by way of the Bronx. After his Gus Triandos line there is no way he can be from anywhere other then Baltimore, if you ask me – which of course you didn’t. So, I beg your pardon. Since Herc’s back story hasn’t been fleshed out yet, I’ll assume you decided to squash that.

    As for the topic. Your point is very well taken. Carcetti definately could’ve gone to Churchill or some shit. O’Malley, I believe, went to Gonzaga (even worse? seeing as it is actually inside the District?).

    That being said, I won’t accept that you “blew that one” concerning “We Are Family”. Instead I’ll assume that the whole ordeal is foreshadowing. Like the 79 series, Carcetti’s administration starts out so promising, so optimistic, but eventually turns to shit and you end up feeling like you’ve been punched in the stomach. Perhaps I’m internalizing just a bit. And I guess I shouldn’t be so quick to assume that Carcetti can’t turn things around.

    Anyway, I’ve taken up too much of your time, or anyone else who reads Shoals. For that I apologize. But thanks for giving this transplanted Marylander some fun thinking back on my home and formative years. You were very gracious. Now I promise to leave you the hell alone.

  38. Tito Landrum Says:

    Oh yeah. eebmore, thank you very much for your response too. It was greatly appreciated. You must have felt bad for me, there was no way to know if Simon was going to write back, I certainly wouldn’t have blamed him if he ignored me. It is funny how much Baltimorians hate DC, when people from DC are generally indifferent – or atleast that’s my impression. Although David Simon’s comments tell me it does go both ways more then I ever thought. I hate to dissapoint you, especially after you took pity on me, but to be honest, I don’t hate the Nats. The O’s are my team, but I kinda like having a National League team too.

  39. eebmore Says:

    Tito, after pushing “submit” I actually felt more like a jerk than anything else. Certainly a subject I didn’t have much reason to answer – other than being a know-it-all. Yes, you’re right about the DC/Baltimore dichotemy – DC is indifferent, baltimore hates. Although I was happy when washington got its own baseball club, despite the financial difficulties Baltimore’s team will eventually suffer after Angelos’ eventual pay out stops paying out (loss of fan base, etc… although Angelos is doing far more to eliminate a Baltimore fan base than Washington having its own team ever will), I’m generally supportive of everything that eliminates the lie of a consolidated market. But, I always root for a Nationals loss.

    Although I grew up an undeniable DC suburban, I was raised by a father with somewhat divided allegiances. He was a loyal ‘skins fan, mostly because he was loyal the Jergenson since playing high school ball against him in North Carolina in the early fifties, but lived in Waverly and walked to O’s games throughout the sixties. I personally went completely native in Baltimore after living here a few years. Not even Gibbs could make me root for Burgundy and Gold anymore, regardless of my childhood memories of him. I’ll even root for Dallas over them. This I’m sure causes my father to spin in his grave.

    Unlike you, though, Ian McKaye and his sanctimonious humorlessness is one of the things that made it easier for me to slice the old umbilical chord. Despite my fond memories of harDCore, I have no love for Positive Force.

    David Simon, I loved your response about that mayor guy who is actually from Bethesda and his probable unfamiliarity with the “We Are Family” song (ouch). When he is alone and nobody is watching, I wonder what baseball or football teams he is actually rooting for? My guess is the ones that are most advantageous to his own ambitions.


  40. eebmore Says:

    David Simon, *gasp!*:

    “But an important point to note: Thomas Carcetti is a scion of the 1st District of Baltimore, but who knows if his whole childhood or schooling was spend in East Baltimore. He might have come there after college, or after law school, or by marriage”

    I’m so confused. I thought Carcetti was a legacy of a first district italian political family? season 3, episode 2: “Buddy and my old man go way back… made their first communion together at St. Leo’s.”

    “He might have come there after college, or after law school, or by marriage” Heh. I thought only Wire FANS would get Carcetti and O’Malley mixed up. Now I don’t feel so stupid when I do it. 😉

  41. Tito Landrum Says:

    eebmore, good catch on that line from season 3. I remember that now myself. David Simon, Ed Burns and the others involved in this show have to be amazed at how committed thier viewership is.

    Ultimately, I just think Mr. Simon was trying to make me feel better by offering up a possible back story for Carcetti and by drawing a parallel to O’Malley it makes his offering very humorous since everyone in the media insists that Carcetti IS Marin O’Malley and Prez IS Ed Burns when it’s not necessarily the case.

    already seen tonight’s episode On Demand but will most likely catch it again tonight. If you haven’t seen it yet…. man oh man….

  42. eebmore Says:

    Tito, shamefully, I sometimes feel like a Wire version of Trekky. Let us pray that in twenty years I don’t end up in going to conventions in a Holiday Inn off of route 40, paying hard earned money listening to Michael K. Williams reminiscing about his old days working on the show.

  43. David Simon Says:

    True, true. I guess Carcetti just didn’t feel the pain he should have as a native Baltimorean when he picked that song. Better to say we blew it, I think. Although, I like the notion that maybe the song choice reveals something about Carcetti’s disconnect from the life of the average man in the street.

    Either that, or maybe, Carcetti is a child of divorce. His old man stayed in Baltimore; he grew up with mom in Mogo. Went to Sidwell Friends. Came back to Baltimore for UM law. Reclaimed his father’s ward-heeler, first district heritage. See? We can always slip the knot if your force us to.

    As to Herc, I will point this out: Richard Price is born in the Bronx and raised in NYC. He is as Yankee as they come. And it was Price who came up with Gus Triandos — a memory that resulted not from any Oriole love, but from his baseball card collection and his love of the game in general. It would have to be Herc’s older brothers card collection, inherited by Herc when Donald G. Hauk left home to join the Marines, as Herc is too young to have been collecting cards when Triandos was playing. There — another slip of the knot.

    By the way, I was the one who had to locate and call Mr. Triandos, bothering him in his retirement to get his okay for that dialogue (“No, no, sir. No one is saying that you are gay. It’s the character on the show who is making a fool of himself…”) To his great credit, Mr. Triandos, after being mailed the script pages, got the joke and was willing to play. We wouldn’t have done it otherwise.

    And yes, you guys are getting close to Trekkie at this point. But nothing brings out the gab in me like baseball esoterica.

  44. Shoefly Says:

    I too had initially considered Omar a flight of fancy or a gesture toward the mythological, but I have come to be swayed by the sheer caution and obvious knowlege and wisdom of the man. Mr. Simon points to real life counterparts to Omar, but over the course of the show Omar has been convincing in his caution and planning. Really, over the course of the program how many of Omar’s caper’s been overly dangerous or less than well thought out? The only times I can come up with off the top of my head are Mouzon’s trap, (understandable given their co-equal status.), his attempt at Barksdale where only slight overconfidence and ill luck imperilled him, and the heist gone wrong leading to the shootout, the one occasion where he was truly at fault and miscalculating. Other than that his rigorous, almost monastic existence has made even his most daring capers exercises foregone conclusions before the first shot was fired. He’s much more Harry Houdini than Dirty Harry, with the breathtaking and death-defying acts prearranged with the flair of the showman but the caution of an insurance agent.

    Now perhaps this is all my justification for his continued success, even when all my instincts as a story teller scream to me that he can’t stand much longer before toppling over. There is a reason Luca Brasi dies before we see him in action in the Godfather, and there is a reason I fear Omar is fated to fall eventually. Yet, to me, Omar’s only true exceptionalism is his patience and planning, and that is what has distinguished his run of success from all the others.

  45. lukeoneil Says:

    I’ve always had a problem with the Omar character, even though he is one of my favorites. Perhaps it’s because he is my favorite that his seeming invincibilty has bothered me. Of course, I know next to nothing about life on the streets, Baltimore or otherwise (I am from Boston) so the veracity of Omar’s dangerous exploits are alien to me, but I am consistently suprised that DS and co. allow us as fans to to revel in this sort of hero worship, particularly on a show which seems to make every effort to avoid heroism.

    One more thing, like everyone else I have the utmost respect for DS and am consistently in awe of the program (although it’s sort of lame that a lot of us feel the need to proffer such comments before saying something negative) but his answer to the Omar question on this thread reminds me of something that always bothered me in writing workshops throughout college and grad school: when a student’s piece was criticized as being unbelievable, they almost always resorted to the excuse that the thing they were describing ” had actually happened.” Of course it doesn’t matter if something happened if it comesoff as false on the page or on the screen.

  46. BreeZe Says:

    omar in himself is almost comedic relief- he’s a homothug super hero stickup kid

    all of which contradict themselves

    i also think what omar is doin is quite possible but not probable but Simon (what up!) & the writers/creators back up this point by illustrating how Omar is arguably the SMARTEST character on the show

    also mouissier simon’- why hasnt anyone picked up on Renaldo’s cab & how it immediately follows major dealers or is this somethin that only i noticed/am annoyed by

  47. Andy Says:

    Speaking of baseball esoterica: I just had to say – *awesome* S/N, Tito. 🙂

  48. Gavrilo Says:

    Mr. Simon; B. Shoals; ladies and gentlemen:
    While we have the ear of He Who Would Know–Mr.S, can you clear up the ambiguity regarding Dante from Season 3? Are we to assume he’s dead or are we supposed to be confused?

    My credentials–born and raised in Montgomery County; first and (so far) only World Series game I’ve attended was game 1 at Memorial in ’79. The O’s won, making a young boy believe (incorrectly, as it turned out) that dreams could come true.

  49. Gavrilo Says:

    P.S. re: “but it actually happened”–it is helpful to know that there are/were real-life Omars. I’ve always found the character plausible within the internal reality of the show but was wondering if he had any basis in Bodymore fact.

  50. eebmore Says:

    I’m not sure why everybody needs closure with the Dante character. Now, to those who think Omar killed him, I think you’re being completely ridiculous. How could that possibly fit into Omar’s character? Is it too difficult to consider that these two characters went on two divergent paths? One was crucial to the Wire universe, the other was, well… not. After all, they are both men. It’s like that old joke “What do Lesbians do on a second date? Rent a U-Haul. What do gay men do on a second date? What second date?” Not to say that old joke isn’t a stereotype and that there aren’t exceptions; but male nature is generally one way and female nature is another. If you have two men in a relationship, the likelihood of them still being together after over a three years is, to put it bluntly, unlikely. I have no idea why Dante disappeared to the viewer, but considering that over a year passed between the action of season 3 and season 4, the one thing that it is is realistic.

  51. Gavrilo Says:

    I’m asking because it seemed as if Omar had no choice *but* to kill him. Dante gave Omar up, and according to the rules Omar couldn’t let that slide. A man got to have a code. Plus, the last we see of Omar at the end of Season 3, he’s alone.

  52. David Simon Says:

    It’s kinda wrong if I leech all the intended and in many cases unintendend ambiguities out of the thing. That defeats the need for good discussion groups such as this one and several others, so forgive my absention from further debates.

    Baseball brings out my interventionist streak, apparently.

    All best,

    And thanks for being part of The Wire experience this year.

  53. Gavrilo Says:

    So now I’m the guy who drove DS out of the conversation. Great. For my next trick, I’m heading north to poison Donner and Blitzen.

  54. Simonsbitch Says:


    Welcome to the club. I got bitch slapped for asking about the pacing of this season. For those of you interested, Jim King has posted the third interview with David Simon over on his site. It’s another good ‘un.

  55. lukeoneil Says:

    To my mind there is no way Omar kills Dante. He didn’t seem to be angry, more relieved when he saw him. I think it’s a pretty big jump to assume this man who has no taste for murder killed his lover.

  56. Gavrilo Says:

    The interviews Simonsbitch mentions are, I think, these:

  57. Simonsbitch Says:

    Right you are, Gavrilo. I’m so obsessed, I’ve got every Wire related site bookmarked, so I don’t remember the URLs. Thanks, and sorry about not posting that.

  58. Lovin_Omar Says:

    I am certainly not a expert on “The Wire,” but I do enjoy Omar’s character. I’m thinking that maybe Omar would be a good boyfriend (one would certainly not be bored).

    My belief is that Dante’ and Omar parted company. I think Brandon gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect Omar and became the perfect lover–one who would lay down his life to protect the other. Now with that as a standard to measure a relationshp by, Dante fell painfully short. Omar couldn’t continue to be in a relationship with Dante. If you recall the slight bruises and cuts Dante had in comparison to how butchered Brandon was.

    The little exchange between Brother Mouzon and Omar about “returning what was yours” gives the hint that Brother Mouzon in ashamed of Dante’s behavior and let’s Omar know that he should rethink it. And, I detect (read in) just a little disgust in Omar’s expression when Dante tries to justify his giving up Omar so easily. Plus, once Dante’ is untied, Omar does not show him any affection.

    It’s just my two cents worth. With that and $5.00 you can get a cup of coffee.

  59. mike ronis Says:

    The questions about Omar’s validity seem silly to me. Even in this modern climate the exception still exists. I loves the scene where Omar was walking through the hood in electric blue silk pajamas. All sovereignty and swagger. Beyond the mathematics governing this world. Sometimes the painters explain what the literary critics cannot.

  60. matt bird Says:

    I like the way Omar defies the show’s otherwise “unblinking realism” and agree that this is probably deliberate — he’s some sort of counterpoint to the realism of the rest of the show and the corruption of the other characters, maybe. Simon (I think) talks in an HBO interview about Omar not cursing and how this symbolizes his freedom from the corruption of institutions — he’s uncompromised, living solely according to his (to echo another post here) monastic code. It makes sense to me that his being an exception in this way would be reflected formally by his not obeying the same generic rules, i.e. the rules of realism. That might be the beer talking, though.

  61. Hunter Says:

    Just happened to stumble across this blog as I was trying to google some of the names that came together to be parts of Omar.

    I don’t think Omar defies the realism of the show. He seems to be one of the pillars that The Wire is built on and his successes and stumbles are just the reality of who he is. There have been plenty of ‘other’ stickup kids on the show but they have, in many instances, met a violent end. Omar is like Avon or Marlo or Prop Joe. In fact, I would suspect that if many of the stickup kids who were ‘successful’ had been on the other side of the game, they could have risen to high level and not just been someones muscle. Omar is, seemingly, an organization in himself (though referring to him in the same breath as an organization does him a disservice because he is ownly beholden to his code). He is the brains and the brawn and has the forsight, usually, to see the game unfold a few steps ahead of him. His success is just as believable as the successes of a kingpin — it only seems ‘unrealistic’ because he is a single entity. The character Omar happens in real life on so many different levels. It is really refreshing. Bodie reminds me of Omar but Bodie was beholden to the game and couldnt step away — hence his fate (which I honestly felt like Baltimore was getting killed itself when he died).

  62. Crimson Says:

    I miss the wire. I cant wait for the next season. My favourite of all the characters there is Omar combined with his new boyfriend. I usually watch the show for that reason only. I also like cheese and tall man slim. lol That scene in the Joe’s shop was the greatest! The simultaneous looks from them when Joe said, “My sister’s boy.” LOL

    Personally I have no idea what life is like for Americans in that state, but it’s a good fictional television show. I am just pleased that someone recognises there are gay men out there who are not all feminine.

    P.S. Biggup all West Indians (Caribbean people for you all who don’t know)
    Puerto Rico, you reach baby!


  63. Matt Says:

    Pretty big blooper. Last week Omar is gimping around on his home made crutch. Seems like he can barely stand up for too long on that leg. Brown coat wrapped around the top of his home made crutch.

    In one week he’s cured. Sashaying into the store wearing his unwrinkled brown coat. No more gimp leg. No facial or vocal signs of pain as he walks in. If it ain’t a blooper.. maybe that ain’t Omar. Couldn’t get a clear look at the face to see that scar.

  64. Jordan Says:

    Matt – omar was walking with a limp the rest of his life. I am not sure what you are talking about.

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