#2 Weekend Lake Trout Special: Open Thread

(click on the thumbnails for larger photos)

We’ll be doing an open thread like this every Friday so readers, commenters, and posters alike can discuss anything they feel like in the comments below: news, favorite quotes or shots, speculation, something critical we haven’t discussed yet in the posts. Continue reading


Namond’s world, by the numbers

There are some stark realities that kids growing up on the Baltimore streets must face. There are certain things that probably aren’t going to happen. And the probabilities are not glossed over on any level by the show writers. I also like seeing the numbers presented to me directly. Let’s start with this statistic:

Baltimore, Maryland, home of The Wire, was 65% Black in the year 2006. Whites make up 32% of the population.

With this in mind, I wonder what things will be like for Namond, our 9th grader from the show who is most likely to succeed in the modern world? Let’s look at a few things he will run up against (using a few Powerpoint slides). It’s still play or get played, man… Continue reading

Uncivilized thuggery



Motherfucker is evil.

Man not only has an old blind man tortured and killed but calls in not one, but two, favors from a man he’s in the process of fucking over, one of those favors actually facilitating the act of betrayal. Not that Prop Joe’s fancy footwork during last season’s heist, to say nothing of the ten thousand propositions leading up to that, hasn’t earned him some bad karma, but damn! Marlo is stone cold.

However, 53 bent over backwards to show us that Marlo is pushing the edge of his envelope. We’ve never before seen him overreaching this far, so much out of his own element that we see he’s still just a punkass chump to the guys on the next rung up. It’s too early to tell if Vondas is going to “rainmake” Marlo, but we know for sure he’s got him licking his boots.

And that’s a lovely shade of bitch to see Mr. Marlo Stanfield wearing.


Gus, Omar on NPR’s Fresh Air

Spurred by this comment to Nancy’s newest post, I dug up the recent Terry Gross interviews of Clark Johnson (Gus) on 1/21/08 and Michael K. Williams (Omar) on 1/22/08. I enjoyed them both immensely.

I might also add that these Fresh Air shows (and other NPR offerings) are available as free podcasts on iTunes.

Mala noticia.

This show is going to kill me yet. How many times have I stood in the crowd during the newsroom-cutbacks speech? Many. The only difference was, our cutbacks were stupider. My scrappy little daily had no bureaus in Johannesburg to close, so our publisher gathered us in the newsroom to announce we were cutting our own circulation. Yes, cutting our own circulation — the “unprofitable routes” at the outer edges of our footprint were being cut, because it cost more to deliver way out there than some bean-counter figured it paid back. If that isn’t the very definition of nose amputation for facial spiting, I’d like to know what is.

I like to say that’s why I knew we were well and truly FUBAR’d, but truth to tell, that was only one in a series. But that’s when I personally threw up my hands.

So I keep reading, here and there, that the Sun storyline is the weakest of the season, and maybe of the series, but I won’t have it. This shit is like reading my diary.

And so we’re back to the lying game. I liked that we’re seeing a bit of how those what’s-the-harm-if-it-gets-me-outta-Baltimore Templeton lies hurt. Twigg’s not the only one with game around here, but Templeton’s killer quote, which he knows he won’t be called on as long as Nerese Campbell is pissed at Gus Haynes (a long time), is still malignant — it could end up bringing down Cedric Daniels, too.

All the buzz this week is about Omar, in…I’m going to say Puerto Rico, but I thought there was nothing more poignant, this week, than the still-too-young-to-drive Dukie and Michael having to hire a gypsy cab to take them to Six Flags? The day offered a rare chance to be a kid again, before the responsibilities of the world came crashing down. I read a David Simon interview years ago where he said one lesson of Season One was: Middle management sucks. Guess it still does.

In the lions’ den


Given that the linear thought plugin for the virgobrain appears to be on the fritz this week, I’m surrendering to some shorter impressionistic posts. Please jump on in with your own riffs if any of my jumble resonates.

During Marlo and Prop Joe’s visit to Our Lady of Laundered Money, the painting Daniel’s Answer to the King by Briton Rivière dominates the initial shots. The painting depicts the morning after Daniel’s dark night, as he answers those who have come expecting to see him devoured and instead find him delivered by his righteousness:

“My God has sent His angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before Him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.”

While pure innocence is not a widely held commodity in The Wire, we are seeing many of our characters (most of them believing their own actions justified, righteous) facing the test of their lives, thrown to the lions either by circumstances beyond their control or as a direct result of their own actions. That, I think, brings us back to the difference between believing, the act of choosing to have faith in one’s subjective interpretation of events (which may or may not have been manipulated by others), and the objective involuntary act of knowing something concrete, that others agree is also true.

Some of our characters believe that in the fullness of time, they will be vindicated. Clay Davis, for example. Others know better, know they’ve reached the end of the line, their faith in what brought them here now lost. Remember the image of Burrell, who lived by the stats, now likely dead by them as well, staring out the window, the paper on his desk by the ringing phone.

Conversely, there’s Lester, as noted yesterday in Racy’s post:

Now we have Lester acting somewhat out of character, going along with Jimmy and the fake serial killer scam. Why? His people are broke, alone and abandoned in the face of a tragedy. They are on the verge of not being players anymore. They think surely we will be rescued. Surely the Government wouldn’t do nothing in the face of 22 murders? This is America, we shouldn’t be abandoned!

Well, give it up Lester. No one is coming to help you!

What about Butchie? There was a discussion in the comments here yesterday in response to Ashley’s original statement that Butchie was not in the game, and therefore, shouldn’t have been a target. I’m not going to say Butchie was an innocent but I think his refusal to talk wasn’t just him being a good soldier. Butchie was never Omar’s soldier. His exact relation is unclear, but what we do know is that they were family, bound by mutual devotion above and beyond the game, and Butchie kept the faith to the end. We see that borne out by the expression on Omar’s face when he gets the news about Butchie.

Which brings us to Marlo, Omar’s opposite god of war in the impending battle. Who among his crew has that kind of devotion to him, has faith in him, affection for him transcending the game? Likewise, is there a soul on earth that Marlo would shed a tear for, anyone or any ideal he wouldn’t give up if the price was right?


Do What It Takes

Simon in the WaPo today:

At the moment when the Internet was about to arrive, most big-city newspapers — having survived the arrival of television and confident in their advertising base — were neither hungry, nor worried, nor ambitious. They were merely assets to their newspaper chains. Profits were taken, and coverage did not expand in scope and complexity.

In my newsroom, I lived through the trend of zoning (give the people what’s happening in their neighborhood), the trend of brevity (never mind the details, people don’t read past the jump) and ultimately, the trend of organized, clinical prize-groveling (we don’t know what people want, but if we can win something, that’s validation enough), not to mention several graphic redesigns of the newspaper.

I did not encounter a sustained period in which anyone endeavored to spend what it would actually cost to make the Baltimore Sun the most essential and deep-thinking and well-written account of life in central Maryland. The people you needed to gather for that kind of storytelling were ushered out the door, buyout after buyout.

Look. Everybody under 30 isn’t some callow youth, and I’m defensive enough to feel a prickle at those comments; I was that inexperienced 20-something in the newsroom who didn’t know everybody’s history instantly, and I took plenty of crap for it from the older folks. Turning us on each other, making the 50-somethings resent somebody who wanted to learn and do well just because she was younger and made less money, was just one more way for management to keep our eyes off the ball. If we’re all pissed at each other, maybe we won’t notice that while we all get screwed out of raises, the boss took home a six-figure bonus.

But that’s a personal, and probably unwarranted, nitpick. What this eventually comes down to is what you’re willing to fight for, and over and over, corporate owners of newspapers have shown that they’re not willing to fight for the paper. Mouth platitudes, sure, and talk about traditions, but they only ever chase the money, and even that, they puss out on. To use a hockey analogy, it’s trying the Jeff Sauer penalty kill: Circle around the net, tight as you can, and pray your opponent doesn’t get a shot off. You might not lose by as much as you’d lose by if you challenged the forwards coming at you, but one thing’s for certain: You won’t fucking win.