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Down In The Hole with David Simon January 10, 2010

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
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I don’t usually write about politics here because I try not to think about it much. That’s a part of my life that’s behind me, my years working the phones and the street in New Orleans, my time on and around Capitol Hill. I don’t even watch the cable news anymore because it makes me absolutely crazy. If I ever got it into my head to buy a gun it would have to be a choice between the gun and cable television, because if I had both it would just be a matter of time before I needed a new set.

On that note, this from David Simon: “I guess what I’m saying is that the overall theme was: We’ve given ourselves over to the Olympian god that is capitalism and now we’re reaping the whirlwind. This is the America that unencumbered capitalism has built. It’s the America that we deserve because we let it happen. We don’t deserve anything better. The Wire was trying to take the scales from people’s eyes and say, ‘This is what you’ve built. Take a look at it.’ It’s an accurate portrayal of the problems inherent in American cities.”

One thing I tried to do in the months after the Federal Flood was turn a hard eye on what this country had become, using New Orleans as case study. That was not a pleasant exercise, and when I started referring to the United States as “the central government” I knew it was time to step back. When the last piece on that blog wrote itself, I knew it was done.* I am anxious to see how Simon and his team turn the hairy eyeball of a thoughtful camera on New Orleans. After watching part of The Wire I was a little scared that the show is going to turn me into Jay Arena, the sectarian communist blowhard we had to toss out of Rising Tide a couple of years ago. Until I read this interview, that is. Simon says: “New Orleans has created such unique cultural art in terms of music and dance, and it’s a very idiosyncratic culture, it shows the value of what the American melting pot is capable of. It does it in a way that is visual and musical and demonstrable, and it does it in the fucking street every day. Somehow this city is trying to find a way to endure while the political essence of the country doesn’t give a fuck. That, to me, is a fascinating dynamic.”

I guess I’ll be keeping cable to get HBO and passing on the handgun, which is probably a good thing. The dead are with us enough in this city, and I don’t think I would ever want to add to that number.

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* A related thought from Simon: “nobody wants to write endings in television. They want to sustain the franchise. But if you don’t write an ending for a story, you know what you are? You’re a hack. You’re not a storyteller. It may not be that you have the skills of a hack. You might be a hell of a writer, but you’re taking a hack’s road. You’re on the road to hackdom and there’s no stopping you because stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end.”

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