Archive for category: Essays/Opinion

A forced move, actually

18 Jan
January 18, 2011

It had been three years since The Wire stopped airing on HBO, and in Baltimore, a certain settled tolerance for the drama had become the norm.  So I was surprised when the current police commissioner asked a question about The Wire at a public forum, vented openly.  This was a sleeping dog; let it lie, brother.  Instead, the commissioner insisted that we had smeared the city and that the slander would “take decades to overcome.”  He said those of us who worked on the drama owed Baltimore an apology.

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Introduction: Paths of Glory by Humphrey Cobb

16 Apr
April 16, 2010

I was honored to be asked to write an introduction to the Penguin Classic edition of a reissued “Paths of Glory,” one of the great literary legacies of the First World War and a novel that remains essential reading, I believe, in this new century.  I also had the chance to meet and shake the hand of Mr. Cobb’s lovely grand-daughter.  What follows is reprinted with the permission of Penguin’s editors. —DS

Humphrey Cobb gave us our last, failed century in a single, basic narrative. He told us of men devoured by the very institutions they served, without recourse, and for purposes petty, mechanical, and abstract. Indeed, given how little mankind truly learned from the charnel house that was the twentieth century, Cobb may have given us a blueprint for human suffering that will carry us through the next hundred years as well.

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“Treme” primer: Curtain-raiser, New Orleans Times-Picayune

11 Apr
April 11, 2010

From The Times-Picayune Sunday, April 11, 2010
Reprinted with permission.

In the first episode of “Treme,” to be broadcast tonight on HBO, a character will reach into her purse and produce an apple-flavored Hubig’s pie. She will do this in late November 2005. With the rest of her dessert menu no longer available, the character, a local chef, will then serve the local delicacy to a patron of her restaurant.

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Obituary: David Eugene Mills

31 Mar
March 31, 2010

From the Times-Picayune,
Reprinted with permission.

David Simon, co-creator of HBO’s “Treme,” first worked with David Mills, a “Treme” writer and co-executive producer who died Tuesday (March 30) at age 48, when they both wrote for the student newspaper at the University of Maryland.  With “Treme” aiming for an April 11 premiere on HBO and the production aiming to wrap its 10-episode first season in late April, Simon wrote his friend’s obituary Wednesday.  It was distributed, unsigned, by the network.  Here’s the complete text:

David E. Mills, an Emmy-award winning television writer who worked on dramas as varied as “Homicide,” “NYPD Blue,” “E.R.” and “The Wire,” died suddenly Tuesday after collapsing on the New Orleans set of his new HBO drama, “Treme.” He was 48.

A former journalist who worked for the Washington Post, the Washington Times and the Wall Street Journal, Mills was on the set of the post-Katrina drama as it filmed a scene at Café du Monde in the French Quarter when he was stricken.

He was rushed to the downtown Tulane Medical Center where he died without regaining consciousness. Doctors there said he suffered what appeared to be a brain aneurism. Mills was on the film set as a writer and executive producer, monitoring filming of an episode of the series, which is slated to premiere on HBO in little more than a week.

Cast and crew of “Treme” held a memorial service in Washington Square park this morning and then suspended filming for the day.

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Build the Wall

31 Jul
July 31, 2009

Note the date that this ran in CJR – and even that was late for the industry to come to a reckoning.  The New York Times has now embraced a pay model as its future and is beginning to see a profit from its subscription base.  True, the NYT is a unique entity, in terms of content, but that’s why it needed to jump first.  The next step is for other papers with a national presence  – The Washington Post, the L.A. Times – to follow suit.  What they are waiting for, I have no clue.  If you can’t charge for your product, you have no product – a freshman marketing major can tell you as much.  And again, content and copyright have value.  They matter. –DS/em>

The Columbia Journalism Review, July 2009

Reprinted with permission.

Most readers won’t pay for news, but if we move quickly, maybe enough of them will. One man’s bold blueprint.

To all of the bystanders reading this, pardon us. The true audience for this essay narrows necessarily to a pair of notables who have it in their power to save high-end journalism—two newspaper executives who can rescue an imploding industry and thereby achieve an essential civic good for the nation. It’s down to them. The rest of the print journalism world is in slash-and-burn mode, cutting product and then wondering why the product won’t sell, rushing to give away what remains online and wondering further why that content is held by advertisers to be valueless. The mode is full-bore panic.

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