Call For Papers

HEART OF THE CITY: BLACK URBAN LIFE ON THE WIRE

January 29-30, 2009
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Sponsored by
The Black Humanities Collective
and The Center for Afroamerican and African Studies

CALL FOR PAPERS
Please distribute widely

The Black Humanities Collective (BHC) and The Center for Afroamerican and African Studies (CAAS) of the University of Michigan invite individual paper and panel proposals for our 2009 symposium, “Heart of the City: Black Urban Life on The Wire.

Critically acclaimed and nationally syndicated, HBO’s series The Wire depicts a racialized postindustrial cityscape, marred by the brutal provenance of the drug economy.  In its five seasons, the series is as much a dramatic achievement as it is a complex portrait of a black urban experience.  Featuring a predominantly black cast, The Wire is an exceptional cultural text from which to examine a wide range of urban issues, to be approached from literary, historical, political, and sociological perspectives.

This symposium proposes a critical consideration of The Wire, which treats the show as both a topic and a model of critique. Our aim is to create a space that is open and interdisciplinary. Graduate students, professors, and independent scholars working in the Humanities, the Arts, Social Sciences, Public Policy, and elsewhere are encouraged to join this collective discussion. In this sense, The Wire can serve as a common point of discussion, as a viable vehicle of social engagement in its own right and a text worthy of careful and extended investigation.

Potential paper/panel topics include:

  • Urban Renewal and Decline
  • Race, Place, and Visual Culture
  • The Black Family
  • The City as a Transnational Conduit
  • Critical Masculinities and Femininities
  • Media Ethics and Issues of Representation
  • Sex and Sexualities in the City
  • (Counter-)Public and (Counter-)Private Spheres
  • Pedagogy and Educational Practice
  • City and Regional Planning
  • Performance and Performativity in Urban Space

To submit a paper or panel proposal, please send a 250 word abstract via email to heartofthecityconference@gmail.com. Abstracts and pr oposals are due Monday, December 1, 2008.  Acceptance notifications will be emailed by Monday December 15, 2008.

The Black Humanities Collective is an interdisciplinary graduate student and faculty organization at the University of Michigan dedicated to the intellectual and professional development of those studying Africa and its diaspora.

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?

#9 Lake Trout Special: Going Out of Business Sale

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Last open thread. Anyone got anything left?

Continue reading

Who got the last word?

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Omar: “Marlo Stanfield is not a man for this town.”

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Marlo: “Do you know who I am?”

-30- thoughts

Damn, I miss you guys, I have had a busy period.

I loved the ending. I like the way Simon finished his story

For all of our speculation about who was going to die by the end of the show, there was relatively little blood spilled. And even knowing the substance of the show, knowing people get killed, the bullet-to-the-head scenes over the last few episodes absolutely moved me to my core, they were so fucking perfect.

How is it that the final scenes of Prop Joe, Omar, and Snoop, on a show like The Wire, still manage to be so damn powerful? It doesn’t get any better than this.

If David Simon said at the meeting for the final episode, “We are going to kill one person. Who should it be and why? “, this show is what we should have gotten. I love this proposition, and I love that the answer was “Cheese gets it for doing Joe.” We had typical, predictable reasons for the deaths of any gangster or cop in our loveable lineup. Cheese spilled his own bloodline and by any code of any gangster, cop, thief, hopper, po-po or trickster god, that shit is going to take you down. Period. So I say, ” well played.”

More later…

Half awake in a fake empire

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Snot Boogie died because he couldn’t change things up, even a little. Omar tried changing but it didn’t take. Dukie didn’t even know how to change unless someone else did it for him.

The tree that doesn’t bend breaks.

Bubbles and McNulty both tried and failed more than once, and they lived through it but others paid the price.

Stringer Bell, Burrell, Bunny Colvin. They changed too much, or the wrong way at the wrong time.

Bend too much and you’re already broken.

Continue reading

Attitude problems.

You know what I like about Roger Ebert’s movie criticism? He likes movies. Really. He shares a trait with the best pop-culture critics I’ve known through the years: He walks into every movie with an open mind and open heart, expecting to be entertained. Overwhelming experience has taught him he’s as likely to be disappointed as not — hello, Deuce Bigalow — but he’s hopeful. He wants to like it. It’s like the teacher tells you on the first day of class. “Everybody has an A right now. If you get anything lower, it’s your doing.”

Everyone knows “The Wire” has been one of the most highly praised shows in TV history, garnering the sort of over-the-top plaudits that can make even the person receiving them despair. How does David Simon top “The Wire?” He’s not even 50 yet. “Generation Kill” — now with super-duper, extra double-dog Simonizing genius! You gotta feel for the guy, if only a little.

As one of those people who slung those superlatives, I plead guilty to going into this season like sunny Roger Ebert, expecting to love it. And guess what? I did. I won’t call Season 5 “a rare misstep” or a huge letdown, or anything else. It was a nice package, a little light at 10 hours, but not stepped-on at all. If pressed to single out favorite seasons, I’ll go with the evens — two and four. But five was fine.

So I’m sorry that the series’ final act was such a deep, deep disappointment to so many people who have columns and high-profile blogging sinecures, and could write with a straight face how surprising it was that David Simon, with such a finely tuned ear to the music of the street, could have it all fall apart when he tries to write the newsroom. Oh, please. Like these college-educated white boys supplement their incomes slangin’ on the corner, absorbing the nuances of the local patois. Continue reading

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