Reading Generation Kill

My first thoughts on Generation Kill, after reading about the first eight chapters, is that it’s a perfect Simon vehicle…a huge cast of characters who are hard to tell apart, have alien vocabularies and customs which you must learn before you can figure out what’s going on, and they cuss like sailors. Or Marines. Same diff in some instances.

It wasn’t hard to figure out which character Ziggy is going to play.

It’s also an excellent book in describing the fog and boredom and frustration of war, as First Recon zips from canceled mission to canceled mission, not really knowing what they’re supposed to be doing and where they’re supposed to go next, because their command structure is completely in the dark about the situation on the ground in the first days of the war trying to establish a bridgehead across the Euphrates at Nasiriyah. A much clearer sense of confusion than I’ve seen in any other war writing, including any of Stephen Ambrose’s books. Possibly only the German film Stalingrad manages to convey the utter lack of control and information vacuum in which the typical grunt operates.

One difference I notice between this book and, say, The Corner, is that Evan Wright leaves himself in the book as a character (albeit largely in the background), whereas Burns and Simon completely elided themselves from their coverage of the Baltimore drug trade. I don’t see Wright in the GK film credits, which makes one wonder, who sits behind Sgt. Colbert in the humvee?

Also, IMDB shows that the beautiful health- and fashion-conscious gayest straight Marine ever, Rudy Reyes, plays himself. This tickles me to death for some reason. It also gives Davis Rogan hope that he’ll get to play himself on the New Orleans pilot, but, heh, I think they should get a really short guy to play him.

Anybody else already read or currently reading GK before the show airs?

Ashley Morris is a committed motherfucker

Last winter I wrote my post, Rigorous Honesty, after watching Bubbles struggle and stumble his way through an NA meeting and then after talking for a long time about the episode over lunch with another fellow Wire addict and former drug addict, the charming Ms. Hiromi. Like most of my half-decent writing, the idea was not even half-formed when I first sat down to write it and then it just barfed itself all over the page in one long non-stop blast. I posted it, then packed up my computer and headed to the Austin airport to come home to New Orleans.

I’m at the airport, and H. calls me up and says, “Dude, you are not going to believe the comment you just got on that post”. We were ten minutes from boarding but I went and paid the $9.95 for wifi to read the very humbling praise that David Simon left me, and I was admittedly kind of giddy. And the first person I called was Ashley. Ashley who, like me, had loved the show from the very beginning. But Ashley who, unlike me, had helped drive the “Save The Wire” movement when it looked like it might be cancelled by HBO; who had read and watched and rewatched Homicide and The Corner; who could quote off the top of his head more trivia and quotes and little known Wire facts in five minutes than I could dig up in an hour of Googling.

I immediately called Ashley, and he answered the phone, not with “Hello”, or “Hey Ray”, or “Ashley Morris”. No, he picked up the phone and yelled “Motherfucker! You piece of shit! Goddammit, you lucky fucking asshole!” All in good fun, of course. (We were close, this is like whispering sweet nothings between us.) “I guess you read it then, huh?”, I said. “Yes! I read it. Fuck you.”

And for most of the history of this blog, my post was the most read post, and one of I think only two posts that got some DS love in the comments. I didn’t gloat, but yeah, I check my stats.

Well, no longer. The most read post on this blog, ever since four weeks ago, has been Open Thread for Ashley, and the most DS love I’ve ever seen doled out for anybody not actually on the show is there in the comments.

I tell you, that fat fucking loveable bastard was committed, man. You do not FUCK with Ashley on his turf and expect to stay on top.

Motherfucker will do ANYTHING. “My name is my NAME!”

The last time I saw him, at the Maple Leaf Bar, I was giving him my brain-dump on single malts (one of my former weaknesses), and I pointed at the Highland Park on the top shelf and told him about the Orkney Island distillery, the northernmost distillery in Scotland, almost at the Arctic Circle, and I said “Highland Park 18 year old. When I relapse, it’s gonna be a pint of Guinness and then a bottle of that,” and he said “Like hell.”

“Like hell what?”

“Over my dead body. I’ll kill your dumb ass before I let you relapse.”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever. I need another cranberry and soda, you want another Abita or you switching to Jameson?”

Committed.

Indeed.

Tomorrow it will have been a month, y’all. I think Ashley would want us to start writing about what comes next, ya know?

So…McNulty

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We’ve been discussing the fate of McNulty. From the path the show is taking, and from the looks of the previews, McNulty hasn’t got much of a future. He’s permanently fucked things up with Rhonda, Beadie, his ex, and his kids. His secret is out within the department and looks like it gets out into City Hall next week too. There are more homeless bodies turning up, meaning maybe, what, a copy-cat killer who got his ideas reading about McNulty’s fiction in the papers?
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Bubbles

Man.

I grinned from ear to ear the whole scene until I cried.

…like a train that is nearly always late

Speculation, not spoilers.

In 58, while Sydnor is doing surveillance on Marlo and Monk, a train passes by on the el in the background. (Dunno if they call it an el in Bal’more. So shoot me. No, wait, don’t.)

We’ve talked a lot about trains foreshadowing death in The Wire. Was this Omar’s train? But Omar died a lot earlier in the episode. Monk? Who cares? Marlo? Maybe, but maybe not.

So I’m thinking about Sydnor, and the repercussions of McNulty’s hubris. We all know that fate will deal McNulty a big steaming cup of remorse by the end of the season, and it’s not just going to be some trivial shit like getting put back on harbor patrol.

What’s the worst thing that has ever happened to McNulty? Not losing touch with his kids. Not fucking up every relationship he’s ever had.

No, the worse thing that we’ve seen happen to McNulty was when Kima got shot and McNulty thought she was going to die and it was all his fault. Like Winston Smith and his fear of rats, the thing that scares McNulty most, the thing that would tear him right in half, is to be responsible for getting a police killed.

Which brings me back to Sydnor. Who has been out doing surveillance in unfamiliar neighborhoods, in plainclothes, stopping at intersections to peer into a map…in a rental car, courtesy of McNulty’s shadow department. They made a big deal about the police getting rental cars, but as anybody who lives in a carjacking kind of city knows, stopping at an intersection in a rental car in a sketchy neighborhood to focus on a map is like wearing a sign that says “Please shoot me and steal my car.”

The camera shot from the passenger seat, showing Sydnor with his nose in his map and the open driver’s side window next to him, I expected him to get popped right then.

And then there’s the train, which Sydnor got a good look at through the binoculars.

I wouldn’t put money on Sydnor catching a bullet, but at this point I am pretty much expecting it.

Marlo ain’t owning up to shit

Just to clear up some confusion in the comments…Marlo did not own up to killing Prop Joe.  He said “I know what you’re thinking, so let me put it out there…I did it” (as in “I know you’re thinking I did it.”).  He then went on to blame Omar for Hungry and Joe’s murder, and upped the bounty on Omar’s head. Going into the meeting, Rick and one other guy said “you’ll know who got the connect, that’s the one that did Joe”, and in the meeting, Marlo says he’s got the connect taken care of, and Rick and pal trade glances.

Later, after Omar sticks up Rick with a beer bottle, Rick asks him if he did Hungry and Joe, and Omar just laughs.  Rick responds “didn’t think so”.

Marlo still publicly maintains that Omar killed Joe and Hungry to get at Marlo, and that’s what he led the co-op believe.  He ain’t admitted shit.   He’s playing the game of kings, of dictators, of Hitler and Stalin.  Dissolved the Reichstag, had his own men burn it down and then blamed outside agitators for it to consolidate loyalty under himself.

Simon, New Orleans, and the Davis Rogan connection

First, to set the stage, the standard NuPac head shot. Davis Rogan, Ben Franklin High School yearbook, 1982:

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Herc: Stupid, corrupt, or truly evil?

In the first episode of the season, we got the beginnings of a plot development with Herc and Levy, and (speaking as a social Sunday-night watcher, not some On Demand dope fiend) thus far we haven’t seen anything further on it. VirgoTex and I chatted about it in email a little a few weeks back, then events got in the way and I never blogged about it, but let me think out loud about it and see what you think.

It’s become clear to me so far this season that the Barksdale crime family is alive and well. Even with most of their soldiers dead or in jail, the family is still in The Game. Avon (and presumably Wee-Bey and others) are tight with the Russians in prison. On the outside, they’ve got Slim Charles temporarily affiliated with Prop Joe. And most importantly, they have Levy.
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Of interest only to me

Last night, while peacefully lining up to march in my Mardi Gras parade for Krewe du Vieux, somebody came up behind me and started whistling “The farmer in the dell“. I turned around, scared out of my skin, and lo and behold it was fellow New Package writer Ray.

That ain’t right.

Some pig

Templeton was the name of the rat in Charlotte’s Web. Greedy, sneaky immoral, loathsome. Yet by the end of the book he performs several critical actions for the Good…maybe still motivated by greed, but doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. Sort of an anti-hero. He also, ironically, goes to the dump searching for bits of old newsprint that might be useful for Charlotte.

Is our Templeton going to contribute similarly? He gets an awful lot of screentime, more than you’d expect somebody to get just to make the trivially obvious point that “newsrooms contain ladder-climbers who will cheat to get ahead”. What is Templeton’s real role here? He’s a wild card. Like Dukie, I think the simplicity of his character early in the season is a feint to throw us off the trail of what is really going to transpire.

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