Vacation: All I Ever Wanted

Greetings, amigos, as we take another rest stop on our tour of season five… to my left is Marlo Stanfield, who is so obsessed with putting his hands all over his giant stacks of money that he is incapable of being charmed by a beautiful French woman… (this is a problem that our friend Avon would never have had)… to my right is everybody‘s favorite homothug, wearing a white vest and scheming, as always, to get his hands on more… cereal. Can we just talk for a minute about where on earth — er, in Baltimore — these scenes were filmed? San Juan looked alright, but I swear they just dressed everyone in loud colors, threw a few signs up and filmed Antilles right there on the corner.


Usual disclaimer: Episode 53 spoilers below.

But first: does anyone else find it hilarious that the Slate discussion group is complaining about the amount of media coverage devoted to The Wire? Hey, pot! It’s the kettle: you’re totally the problem. If you guys want to eliminate some of the coverage, you could start by killing the feature you have devoted to the show. Simon’s posting explaining about the Sun plot and his reactions to your reactions was the best thing on the TV club, and he isn’t a member. Also, could you dudes get any more dude-tastic?

Short post today. I’m still getting into a groove with this season — it’s usually a slow taxi, as we all know — and right now I mostly want to make bad predictions (Lester and Jimmy go to jail! Jimmy sleeps with Alma! Beadie never gets any screen time ever again! Daniels becomes mayor!) and keep watching. But I have been thinking about the interplay of the different plots, particularly Marlo and the Sun, which are at two extremes of the show and arousing pretty extreme reactions from viewers. I understand why it is that some long-time fans are having trouble with the Sun plot — a lot of these viewers are journalists themselves, and so it’s not exciting to learn about that which you know all too well (although corner boys didn’t seem to have the problem of over-identification with the show… could it be that journos are just voyeurs?); for those that aren’t, newspapers aren’t that sexy. How many TV shows can you name that are about newspapers? And how many that are about cops & robbers? Open it up to TV news: would you rather watch Murphy Brown or Law & Order? It’s not even a contest. Column inches vs. bodies in vacants…

But what I like about the Sun plot is what I also have liked about the school plot, and Bunny Colvin, and the dockworkers, and the mayor’s office. There’s only so much brutal violence and life on the streets that I can take as a viewer. Simon & co., I think, are purposely pushing people to their limit with Marlo. Watching Budgie die this week was awful. Just awful. He died with dignity — we knew he would — but he died senselessly and brutally. Chris and Snoop and Marlo are as scary to me as child soldiers in Sierra Leone. Is there anything worse than watching a child kill a man? (and no, I don’t think it’s better to watch a man kill a child, so let’s not even get into that.) Whatever charge I got out of it last season, whatever pleasure I got out of their dialogue, their jokes, is over. Chris and Snoop show up on screen and I just want them to leave. After five seasons, we know the corner in and out. What I want to know is how the corner got to be the corner, and how it fits into the city. Shit is fucked, but why? This is why I like the Sun plot. I don’t think the death of the newspaper is “worse” or “as bad” as the prevalence of the drug game. But it’s bad on its own terms, and life isn’t a zero-sum game. I don’t think The Wire is asking “who’s got it worse — cops, dockworkers, addicts, dealers, or reporters?” This is just another room in the house that it’s building.

big tent

I also like little kids dressed in costumes. More Bug, please.

Explore posts in the same categories: Uncategorized

24 Comments on “Vacation: All I Ever Wanted”

  1. Joe-El Says:

    Thanks for calling out all the media ridiculousness in regards to the newspaper plot. As if it couldn’t be more embarrassing to be a journalist, you have these idiots who have been critically praising this show from a soapbox for 5 years all of a sudden look like the biggest pussies over this plotline because its the only thing about the show they can relate to in the slightest. Fucking weak.

    It seems possible Prop Joe could be in some real shit soon. Omar’s first thought of who got to Butchie could be Joe…and if he can somehow get word that Butchie was found through Joe’s camp…it could mean Omar coming after an unsuspecting Joe. Dunno if it was mentioned in 53, but that could be the reason Marlo/Chris found it prudent to force Omar out of retirement as they did. I doubt Omar suspects Marlo as someone who could/would get to Butchie.

  2. Francisco Says:

    More background on San Juan: the Omar scene was set in a very specific part of Old San Juan named La Perla, which is kind of a long-established squatter enclave built on the slopes of the northern cliff face of the isle of San Juan. It is kind of a Puerto Rican favela, with a very rich and interesting history.

    La Perla has long been a thorn in the PR government’s side to some degree, mainly because in recent decades it has pretty much been an open-air drug market, sort of a sui generis Hamsterdam. Back in the 90’s, then-Governor Pedro Rosselló and his police commissioner, Pedro Toledo (who is now once again holding that post) started a program called “Mano Dura contra el crime” (“hard hand against crime”), one of the features of which was that the police started taking over housing projects, setting up checkpoints all over them, especially access points. The program was considered to be successful, and managed to get the crime rate in those places to drop considerably; many of the residents of those projects were very happy that it happened, as it pushed out a lot of the criminal element and let these “citizens” (in Wire parlance) get on with their lives.

    La Perla, though not a housing project, was also raided and occupied, but the interesting thing was that its residents almost unanimously rejected the action. The community is very small and close-knit, and residents did not fear for their safety, as did those in the housing projects. The area was basically happy policing itself through its own methods. The police eventually cleared out of there.

    I can’t be certain, but I am fairly sure that the Omar scene was actually filmed there; the view the shot captured is what one would see from that point, and it didn’t look like an altered image to me. There are pictures of La Perla that you can find online, and there have been other American things filmed there–part of the Gene Hackman/Morgan Freeman film “Under Suspicion” (filmed entirely in San Juan) was set there, and Nelly Furtado filmed a video there recently with Puerto Rican artist Calle 13.

    • Tai Says:

      Hi, I’m doing a project on La Perla representations and I’m trying to find the episode of The Wire showing La Perla, but can’t seem to find it. Do you know what season/episode it might be? Thanks for your help!

  3. jdg Says:

    Snoop & Chris are still good for some witty banter…
    “fuck all those west coast bitches…here in Bmore we aim to hit a nigga, ya heard?”
    ha! QOTY!

    ps. the newspapermen aren’t that bad, but Michael deserves more time…I mean he’s the new Jedi, you know? isn’t that more compelling than some bitter old fucks?

    ps. I thought about Snoop today when Lord Sear (on the Sirius radio) mentioned this “lesbian gang” in Memphis that allegedly rapes girls and shit like that…

  4. pizzawhale Says:

    What was better though, Bug’s mask or Dukie’s “nice dolphin”?

  5. dsl Says:

    Just had to share this – the ‘more with less’ newspaper guy (the one who gets to finish the ‘buyouts’ speech & then calls everyone into his office) is Doug from Flight of the Conchords. It’s hard to take him seriously, considering how he gets treated at home. Ha

  6. neil Says:

    daniels for mayor!!

  7. ml Says:

    surely Omar won’t come after Prop Joe, especially seeing as he will likely hear that it was snoop and chris that killed butchie. Also, wouldn’t you think that after all you’ve seen, that
    he’s not likely to go in guns blazing anyway?

  8. zenbot Says:

    @Joe-El: Chris told the dude he left alive to tell Marlo exactly what happened, and Chris appears to have a street rep rivalling Omar’s. Omar has to know that Butchie’s hit came from Marlo.

  9. zenbot Says:

    Sorry — replace Marlo with Omar in that first sentence.

  10. Matt Says:

    Let’s not forget, Cheese sold out Butchie, so maybe Omar’s revenge takes him to the East and Joe falls as collateral damage.

  11. The Marlo scene was probably not intended to be any real place — there are no big offshore banking islands in the Caribbean where French is the main language spoken (Martinique and Guadeloupe are part of France and are subject to French tax law, with no special situations that makes it advantageous to bank there; same goes for the French collectivities of St. Martin and St. Barthélemey).

  12. Max Says:

    It was Antilles, wasn’t it? Where Marlo went?

  13. Ben Says:

    Marlo was in the Antilles, it said so on the bank’s wall. Also, lest we forget, Omar gave Bunk his word he wouldn’t kill anymore. And Omar lives strictly by a code and his word is everything. No cursing, no robbing on Sunday, and since he gave Bunk his word, the idea that he’ll come in guns blazing is completely counter to Omar’s whole persona.

  14. Phil Says:

    ben, but Omar was not to know that Butchie would get killed?

  15. Ben Says:

    Omar could have gone after Marlo for putting him in jail but he didn’t. If it were any other character or if they hadn’t been so strongly showing Omar’s dedication to “the code” then I’d be inclined to think all bets are off, but it doesn’t seem like Simon would set up Omar as this pseudo warrior with a samurai code just to have him forget all about it because his friend was killed. Omar may still fuck everyone up, but there should be a scene of him contemplating what doing would mead to his code of honor.

  16. Ben Says:

    Omar could have gone after Marlo for putting him in jail but he didn’t. If it were any other character or if they hadn’t been so strongly showing Omar’s dedication to “the code” then I’d be inclined to think all bets are off, but it doesn’t seem like Simon would set up Omar as this pseudo warrior with a samurai code just to have him forget all about it because his friend was killed. Omar may still fuck everyone up, but there should be a scene of him contemplating what doing would mead to his code of honor.

  17. christycash Says:

    OMG i didn’t even realize that flight of the conchords connection. that rules.

  18. Melocoton Says:


    I liked that info Francisco gives us about La Perla. The self-policing that you mention is a common feature of a lot of third-world slums, particularly the “squatter” settlements built by their residents and ignored, at best, by their governments, utility companies, etc. As opposed to the slums of a city like Baltimore, which despite their own versions of self-policing (see Omar, on the show) and their own economy (see the game, on the show) are patrolled by police, served, sort of, by public services, exploited by the political machine, and so on.

    Anyway, I think it’s interesting that Omar takes refuge in a place like La Perla because it would seem to offer him an environment fit for his character–independent and self-sufficient. Whereas W. Baltimore, while offering him numerous business opportunities in the drug market, is otherwise full of dangers and constraints. So, anyway, before arriving at an actual point here I guess I’ll have to see where the season takes us–but at the moment it looks as if Omar will be a pivotal force in this season. This would be exceptional for the program, given that Omar’s rogue persona is as far removed from the other characters as the ideal vision of an autonomous La Perla is from W. Baltimore. He has been a somewhat fantastic outsider up until now, so what if he is a driving force this time?

    Also, where the fuck is Cutty?

  19. Allen Says:

    I think Joe gives up Cheese to appease Omar mainly because Cheese violated Joe’s request to leave Omar the fuck alone.

  20. Ben Says:

    Cheese is Prop Joe’s nephew, he can’t give him up like that.

  21. Tai Says:

    Can anyone help me find this episode of La Perla? What season/episode? Thanks!

    • christycash Says:

      I wish I could! But I have no idea….

      • berkowit28 Says:

        You know very well what he means. He means “which season and episode of The Wire contains these scenes of La Perla that everyone here was discussing”. He already asked once above (of course, months after everyone else had left).

        Just in case you’re still looking, Tai (which I doubt), the references here are all to what they call Episode #53, which is Season 5, Episode 3.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: