Introduction

25 Apr
April 25, 2012

I’ve had a leasehold on davidsimon.com for years now.  People smarter than I am told me that even if I had no sense of its use at present, I should throw a few shekels down in case.  But until recently, I saw no reason to do much of anything with the site.

My ambivalence rests on a couple basic ideas:

  1. I’m a writer, and while I’m overpaid to write television at present, the truth is that the prose world from which I crawled — newsprint and books — is beset by a new economic model in which the value of content is being reduced in direct proportion to the availability of free stuff on the web. In short, for newspapers and book publishers, it has lately been an e-race to the bottom, and I have no desire to contribute to that new economy by writing for free in any format.  Not that what is posted here has much prolonged value — or in the case of previously published prose, hasn’t soured some beyond its expiration — but the principle, in which I genuinely believe, holds:  Writers everywhere do this to make a living, and some are doing fine work and barely getting by for their labor.  Anything that says content should be free makes it hard for all writers, everywhere.   If at any point in the future, this site offers more than a compendium of old prose work and the odd comment or two on recent events — if it grows in purpose or improves in execution — I might try to toss up a small monthly charge in support of one of the 501c3 charities listed in the Worthy Causes section.  And yes, I know that doing so will lose a good many readers; but to me, anyway, the principle matters.   A free internet is wonderful for democratized, unresearched commentary, and it works well as a library of sorts for content that no longer requires a defense of its copyright.  But journalism, literature, film, music —  these endeavors need people operating at the highest professional level and they need to make a living wage.  Copyright matters.  Content costs.
  2. This stuff takes time.  And those who know me understand that while it is refreshing to meet people with no opinions, I am not that fellow. I like to argue.  I don’t take the argument itself personally — and I am often amazed at so much outsized commentary that assumes otherwise — but rather I delight in pursuing a good, ranging argument.  It’s why I value a writer’s room so much.  It’s why I used to love a healthy newsroom, which I have described as a magical place where everyone disagrees with everything all of the time.  Arguments make the work better; when people stop arguing, or at least arguing intelligently, absent the usual half-assed, rhetorical cheating, the work invariably suffers.  So, for me, any dialectic is a temptation.  And I may find that given so much work I owe already, even a brief sortie into an issue or two or a stray comment on current events will sound as a siren song.  I may want to shut this venue down three weeks after anyone finds it, if they do.  I may, forgive me, find that I need to disable the comments and simply use the blog to highlight stuff and then run like hell.  Apologies in advance if it comes to that.

On the positive side of the ledger:

  1. Every now and then, over breakfast, or in the office, or late at night, I read something or hear something that impresses or infuriates or amuses, or that provokes an interesting back-and-forth between family members or colleagues.  An argument or discussion gets good, a joke ripens nicely.  It’s stuff that isn’t going into a script or into any shard of published prose, and its shelf-life is often short.  Maybe that’s what a blog is for.
  2. It’s nice to have a small billboard with which one can highlight and link to the work of others we admire, to simply recommend the good stuff. And, similarly, it helps to highlight the non-profit affiliations supported by the projects that we’re working on in Baltimore and New Orleans.  Maybe a bit more good comes from such.
  3. In these later years, I’ve come to discover that from time to time, media folk call me to ask a question or two.  Being exactly who the hell I am, I actually haven’t done much until now to filter my answers.  I speak bluntly, but speaking, alas, isn’t writing, and very recently, I had to waste half a weekend swimming through some foment of my own creation.  For lack of clarity, I managed to say something that I not only don’t believe, but that is contradicted by every other interview that precedes it.  The fault was largely my own, but a remedy, I realized, was problematic.

Calling back the reporter who had used what I thought was a specific critique in the most general and absurd way, I found that I was either obliged to continue working through him to correct the record — and trusting in a dynamic that had failed already, or alternatively, I had to offer myself up in another interview to a reporter who I knew for certain would endeavor to deliver my answers in context, but who was more interested in other topics than the one which concerned me.

And in the middle of this, my wife — who uses both words and the internet better than I do — reminded me of the long fallow field of  davidsimon.com. If that thing was up and running, she pointed out, you could simply say, in your own words, precisely and carefully what you intended to say in the first place, without having to rely on a filter.  This is the grand triumph of the internet, after all; there’s no arguing with the democratization inherent.  You could, she told me, simply say what you meant and have that on the record.  The simplicity of this had considerable appeal.

So here goes.

Don’t send screenplays, or manuscripts for quotes, or actor glossies.  Please.  There are professional venues for such and if stuff comes to me correct, I do the best I can.  Promise.  If it comes at me through this venue, I won’t — can’t — respond.  Counterarguments and counterprovocations on any given issue — let’s say that again, issue — are entirely welcome, whether I have time to respond or not. Ad hominem rage, flattery and posted links for cheap timeshares, naked photographs of your ex-girlfriend at a small monthly fee and invitations to a larger penis in just weeks are politely discouraged.

Unless your ex-girlfriend is notably hot, of course.

Best,

David Simon

 

199 replies
« Older Comments
  1. Dea D. says:

    After reading a very compelling article at the guardian about David Simon where they link this blog, I got here. Only to find David stating verbatim in long anguished prose that he is motivated in this blog by 1. Money and 2. Fear.

    Now David, being a human, and suffering, (in a personally documented confession, I might add) from what all humans suffer from, will not have the TOM, because we are not there, we are here, to appreciate the utter irony. Or will he?

    David?

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      Whhaaaat? I am motivated by neither money nor fear in regard to this blog. Indeed, this isn’t even my day job.

      Given the part-time nature of the thing, it could more accurately be said that I am insufficiently motivated at all.

      Reply
  2. WhatMaisieKnew says:

    Just finished reading the interview in the Guardian.uk with you regarding your new HBO program: Show me a Hero. I happen to live in Yonkers (very integrated and great coop on Rumsey Road ) and consider the Wire the most important (and enjoyable) drama created for TV. I just want to pose a question.

    The Guardian headlines your interview “American Politics No Longer Works”.
    While I might slightly disagree in that it rarely ever worked (people had to fight and die to change things especially the labor/capital equation, slavery, women’s rights), I think the main question is: What do we do to change it? Granted people may not yet understand that it does not work, won’t get better, or why it does not work, there are a lot of people who instinctively know something is wrong but have no example on what to do about it other than individual solutions (usually bad ones) that do nothing to change the situation. Or they just blame themselves for the problem — not the social forces at work.

    I think the main obstruction is the faith that labor leaders, Black leaders, women’s leaders, liberals, etc. put in the Democratic Party to bring about change. I mean, I have been following this belief since the 1960’s and have seen it continuously fail – and look where we are now with “change we can believe in.”

    I do not think the solution is the British labor party model or the social democratic parties in Europe but I do think we need to break with both the big business parties whose interests are not with us. They are the instrument of the disastrous changes since 1980, both of them. They cannot be reformed from within. Look at the pathetic minor reform ideas of Elizabeth Warren. And how will minimum wage be increased, she says: thru legislation, electing democrats to Congress and maybe electing her president.

    Legislation may be the mechanism in which the change occurs (like civil rights legislation or the (once) 8 hour day was passed thru legislation), but the real engine of change will be a fight to change the relation of forces as has been done thru out our history. But this time, the changes needed are so great, that nothing less than a political party based upon these struggles, these movements — not just an electoral waste of time– will be needed –I think.

    This can only be done with new leadership in labor and all the sections of society that need big changes if we are to prevent ourselves from sinking further. When, how, who? well things are beginning to warm up a bit. (Ferguson, latest environmental actions, fight against right wing. Maybe not too far away. )

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      We are going to have to fight the great economic and sociopolitical battles of the late 19th and 20th Century all over again. And worse, because of the inevitability of globalization of both capital and labor, we are going to have to do it on an international basis. Is there consensus for such a fight. No. Will consensus be achieved. Only when the middle classes fully perceive the long term threat to their viability and begin to restructure their political commitments accordingly. Will it be too late? Good question.

      Reply
      • WhatMaisieKnew says:

        I thoroughly agree with you. These were the big battles of labor against the injustices of the industrial/capitalist economy on the eve of WWI and thru WWII across Europe and to a smaller extent in the US. Sadly, the US failed to build a labor party but instead thanks to Roosevelt and the workers organizations that backed him, the Democratic Party became the party of workers, minorities, etc. And we see what happened then (though todays European labor parties are for workers in name only..)
        I was surprised to learn in a class on European History that the radical workers parties of the 19th century were huge especially in Germany and was one of the reasons the liberal parties become more in favor of reform (schools, conditions, etc. in Germany for example).

        But as you say, all of that is undone which is why we are loosing all those gains. We are also in a different world as you say. I am not unhappy that this is a global economy (with the bulk of industrialization in China). I sometimes think that for Europe the engine of change is gone (it was a result of industrialization, social and political turmoil) and will pass to the new big industrial enclaves. But one never can predict. But, it is also interesting to see the relationship of the corporations both nationally and globally. They really have broken the national boundaries that they fought for in the nineteenth century against the old feudal structure. They are really global and the workers are global too. Things can happen anywhere and they reflect around the world. like “hands up don’t shoot” has become a global symbol. “Our fights are their fights” etc. And cannot forget instant information world wide. I am generally optimistic barring an environmental or world war catastrophe.

        Reply

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