January/February 2008 Atlantic Monthly
The Angriest Man In Television by Mark Bowden
[ How David Simon’s disappointment with the industry that let him down made The Wire the greatest show on television—and why his searing vision shouldn’t be confused with reality. ]
This article is interesting for three reasons: 1) it does speak to the deeply critical view Simon has about our current capitalist system that devalues everyone except the fortunate few; 2) the criticism that the show is 'too dark,' which leads one to suspect, at least to a degree, that the journalists, who are getting theirs this final season, overtly presented as a systemic part and cause of the inter-system problem, most deifinitely not part of the solution, are feeling a need to counter that by criticizing Simon; and 3) an analysis of why one should never confuse fiction for reality, no matter how many elements of realism the author successfully transfers to his work of creation -- and why, then, an author who is deeply involved with the evil of the real world, may then, need to turn to fiction, to best present her argument, worldview, vision.
Esquire, January 11, 2008, 5:02 AM
A Newspaper Can’t Love You Back by David Simon
This article too, is about writing, about reality, about getting it right, and the difference between reality and getting right in journalism and fiction. Most of all, it's about the thrill of getting all the information, getting right, and making that information public. That's the thrill of journalism, and there seems to have been nothing else quite like it for Simon, and he's not forgiving journalism for taking that away, for becoming a whore for the systemic national degeneration, lies, and corruption.
One of the peripheral interesting developments for me, re The Wire, is that Richard Price has been writing for the show. He initially made his reputation as a writer with a 'youth gang' novel, The Wanderers, back in 1974. It was also the first novel of his I read, sometime at the end of the 80's, I think. Price had the great fortune that this first novel was turned into a film within a couple of years of publication, which allowed him to flounder around, fictionally speaking, for a while. I say 'flounder' because I read the books he published after that, as I was working for Penguin USA by then, and Plume-Signet-NAL I think, was re-issuing them all. Those next books lacked the snap and the sense of being in the world, so to speak, that you got immediately out of The Wanderers.
Fictionally confused and blocked, with alimony, child support, mortgages, etc., he fortunately displayed an authentic talent for writing movies himself. Among those movie scripts was The Sea of Love, which I liked very much, even if mostly motivated to do so because of the sound track, built around the great "Sea of Love" song, written back in the day by John Phillip Baptiste (aka Phil Phillips) and George Khoury (released in 1959), was performed by many artists throughout the movie, including Tom Waits. Ellen Barkin was in the movie, with Al Pacino, but best of all, John Goodman. The only thing I didn't like about the movie was a sex scene between Barkin (well, her body double) and Pacino -- it went on forevah! which is always a dull time if you aren't one of the principals yourself.
Price also has the rare and lucrative writing talent that works well in the slick magazines, of which there were more then, and they paid very well. In 1992 came the magnificent Clockers.
You might say Price is one of my favorite writers, and I wouldn't argue.
That Price's turned up writing for The Wire is exactly right. The corner boys needing to 'clock' -- Price created that term for his Clockers (which wasn't a bad movie, but which didn't approach the brilliance of his novel) -- which the corner boys from all over picked up, once the movie came out. The Wire's corner boys have to 'clock.'
It's all about the reserach, how good, how true, how real. It's also about not confusing writing journalism with fiction. The world, at least in this country's establishments seems to have given up the true and the facts in favor of 'different information,' if the facts don't suit. Simon and people like us still call that fiction at best, and lying at worst. This is why people like us think The Wire is the greatest writing you're going to find on television.