Spoilers for the latest, beneath.
I just tore apart my office looking for this book. Colin Harrison, writing in “Manhattan Nocturne:”
I sell mayhem, scandal, murder and doom. Oh, Jesus, I do, I sell tragedy, vengeance, chaos and fate. I sell the sufferings of the poor and the vanities of the rich. Children falling from windows, subway trains afire, rapists fleeing into the dark. I sell anger and redemption. I sell the muscled heroism fo firemen and the wheezing greed of mob bosses. The stench of garbage, the rattle of gold. I sell black to white, white to black. To Democrats and Republicans and Libertarians and Muslims and tranvestites and squatters on the Lower East Side. I sold John Gotti and OJ Simpson and the bombers of the World Trade Center, and I’ll sell whoever comes along next. I sell falsehood and what passes for truth and every gradation in between. I sell the newborn and the dead. I sell the wretched, magnificent city of New York back to its people. I sell newspapers.
And so the city goes, humming into the night, and this one’s gonna take some time to get my hands around. My grandmother became a nurse in a hospital on the South Side of Chicago, I think it would be in Bronzeville now, after the end of World War II. She told me about how every Friday morning on her way to work she’d step over drunks, passed out exactly in the gutter. Guy managed to heave himself in to the emergency room, they’d treat him, but they couldn’t just pick them up and carry them bodily inside. Couldn’t, weren’t allowed to, it meant the same thing: guy slept in the gutter, pretty young nurses step over him on their way to the job.
It occurs to me that in the world of The Wire which is our world, really, what we’re basically deciding on is what we’re willing to step over, ignore the smell of, pretend doesn’t exist. What problems we’re willing to pretend we can’t solve, what limits we’re willing to place on ourselves and then blame for inaction. The level of self-betraying suck we’ve decided to tolerate today. The lies we’re all ready to believe, at any given moment, so we can eat and sleep and move our little chits around, run for one office after another, win a prize or two, accept a buyout, but you know, the drunk’s still in the gutter, and just because everyone around you says it’s okay not to look doesn’t mean he isn’t there.
It will surprise absolutely no one that the newsroom’s what’s got me this season. My love for Gus positively chokes me, and not just because he did the right thing and always has and always will; it’s because even though he’s on the copy desk by the end, even though he has to watch that slimy little useless not-even-good-for-the-show fuck Templeton, he knows who he is and that is unshakeable, that’s the source of all his strength, his courage, his decency. He knows where he fits, too; somebody else might have quit in a huff, but he’s still there, because those are his people, might as well be the Towers or the Terrace or the corner he can’t get off of. It’s a series of tribes, on this show, it always was: the gangsters and the cops and the dockworkers and the teachers and the reporters, too, it’s a series of schemes into which you fit, families in which you belong, and in the end, who’s more moral? Just because Whiting and Klebanow don’t shoot anybody in the head on the street doesn’t make them innocent; shove a story about a family killed in their home to the back because it’s from the wrong zip code and you’re practically an accessory. I’m a writer, nothing exists unless we tell a story about it afterward, and you look at the numbers and erase them from your notebook? I’m not forgiving of them just because they wear ties.
It’s not that they made the wrong choices, Whiting and the like, it’s that they set things up so that there are choices at all. Make it okay to ignore the wrongs done under their noses. Stop selling the city back to itself, all of it, good and bad. We used to say, my tribe, my people, sitting in a bowling alley bar getting shitfaced after some unholy nightmare, that what we do is shove reality in people’s faces: LOOK AT IT. Nobody likes that, but somewhere along the line we started thinking our point was to be liked, instead of to be necessary. Stories like this, the one we’ve been watching, give the city back to itself, in all its wretched, magnificent glory.
Quick hits: Oh, my God, Lester in the suit with the pink tie? Mrowr. Kima: “Quit whining like a bitch.” The Most Awkward Elevator Ride Ever. Ronnie’s a judge, can’t she brush her hair? I want to introduce her to the lovely 14-year-old who cuts mine; if she can make mine behave she can deal with Ronnie’s scraggly self. I worry about McNulty, long-term, of course, and I wish I knew how things turned out with Kima and her kid, because the “good night, fiends” scene …
Still chewing on the rest. Title from Deadwood, of course, speaking of great HBO shows that are now sadly no more. Sorry I’ve been absent from the discussion of late.
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.