Photo sent to me by an Australian friend at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas there, where I spoke at the Sydney Opera House and the following day in Melbourne. The unbalded gentleman onstage with me is Michael Williams of Melbourne’s Wheeler Center and a genuinely charming, generous and quick-witted man. My quick-and-dirty entry would have been, “Simon In Concert.” Subhead: “How many opinions can one lumpy Jew have?”
Mrs. Simon thought for a moment and bettered that with: “Simon In Concert.” Subhead: “The I’d-Agree-With-You-But-Then-We’d-Both-Be-Wrong Tour. 2013.”
She also declaimed: “Your most dangerous idea is what time we should leave for the airport.”
Australian here. I loved that the attention you received for your recent talk here, particularly as it was so clearly based on merit, as well as interest in the topic. The Wheeler Centre is a very good, but very small non profit organisation, with a very small promotional budget.
As a sometimes traveller to the States, I can’t help thinking that some of the great strengths of America may be also responsible for some of the problems you mentioned. Eg. the great size and energy of the US market produces not only its many treasures (cultural and financial) but also for a highly saturated and necessarily self referential local media environment.
It is less often that an American viewer has to reconcile, say, a French definition of ‘Socialism’ (and hence perhaps recalibrate an American one). The same may be true for views on drug treatment, the concept of freedom, the purpose of prisons, possible democratic options, and so on.
In a sense, smaller countries may trade cultural and economic dominance or energy for the ability to receive, decipher and contrast a wider range of external media, views, and approaches. (I know here we synthesise US, UK, and European laws when approaching major issues. Sometimes this has a beneficial effect, such as a greater ease in making a Keynesian response to the global economic crisis.)
Dialogue is beneficial for both parties. With your caveat that you were only very briefly in Australia, what was the sense you were able to take away from Australian life, and Australian culture? Were there things, even in brief interludes and discussions, that you were able to isolate – in terms of positive or negative?
First there was a bright light….then from the shadows came Wallace, Stringer Bell, D’Angelo, and Snoop walking hand in hand with Creighton, Harley and Felton.
“God Himself descends from heavens to argue with David Simon.”
Subtitle: “Argument lasts for hours.”
My favorite, from my lovely wife: “You argue best when you know you’re wrong.”
Laura Lippman’s Husband And Crowd Of Unbalded Stand-Ins.
Most time you can’t hear ’em talk
Other times the headlines go viral
All the same old clichés,
“who’s the coolest character on THE WIRE?”
And you always Twitter your insults
But you don’t dare make a stand…
Here I am, on the road again
Here I am, up onnnnn the staaaaaage
There I go, your attacks are ad hominem
There I go
THERE IIIIIIIIII GOOOOOOOOOO
(way to bring down the current intellectual level of the thread with a Bob Seger parody, I know, but I had to do it)
I’m glad you did. That caption from Ed O’NYC was way too long.
Plus, I like your name.
Missed that article in SI…my subscription ran out around the same time players went from wearing baseball uniform pants properly to wearing Floridian pensioner’s track suits, making stirrups extinct.
But I read it. I liked it. It read like a story breathlessly & touchingly told, but we know it is ultimately Sisyphean.
However, I think bandwagons should be the exclusive right of Washington transients. Not sure your Senators to Orioles transfer was legal.
Ouch. You are a stone-hearted conservative, to be sure.
Only in a Kenesaw Mountain Landis sort of way.
You’ve mentioned you are non-partisan, but you posted this this summer. Why not just admit you are a liberal, and your comments are from an ideologically liberal point of view?
DAVID SIMON says:
July 15, 2013 at 7:48 pm
I am white and liberal it is true. You might want to pick up a copy of “The Corner,” or maybe the crime and city coverage in the Baltimore Sun for the years 1983 to 1995. Because with regard to my racial isolation, your suppositions are a little bit embarrassing, I think.”
Are you under the impression that I am hiding my general political stance? No interest in such. I am quite liberal on most issues, moderate or centrist on some, and conservative on a few. No worries. Ergo, most of the time my comments will be from the left, but sometimes from the center, and occasionally — the recent NSA imbroglio for example and my comments which caused consternation on the left — my arguments will be perceived as copacetic with the right. But I am certainly liberal more often than not. This is undisputed. Who would not claim to be liberal who is proudly liberal?
Does any of that matter to the conduct and relevance of any debate?
If you answered yes, you need to rethink your understanding of both rhetoric and the fallacies of logic — a skill set that is essential to the conduct of intelligent debate. It doesn’t improve anyone’s argument at all to declaim that Simon is a liberal and therefore X or Y. It is primative, and juvenile. Ergo, my contempt for the manner in which Mr. Meyers and the Breitbart website conducts itself. Either my argument is to be challenged, or not. Either the argument — as I offered it, and not some corrupted facsimile — is knocked down, or it isn’t. And it does me no good to declare that strict constructionism or original intent are debased and useless standards for how to interpret our national template merely because conservatives and libertarians tend to embrace those arguments. No, it offers nothing in the way of intelligent debate to malign conservatives or libertarians with mere labels. Instead, I must attack the issue here — which I have, arguing that our original national templates are insufficient to draw the moral distinctions required of a just and viable society, so a standard of original intent and strict constructionism is flawed logically. Which I did. If the original intent of the founding fathers included human bondage, not to mention various other anachronistic thought on other issues, then original intent and strict constructionism is not my idea of a meaningful standard for constitutional theory in our time. Debate that. Not who in fuck David Simon is. Show some rhetorical discipline, for the love of all that is logical.
Go back and read carefully: I didn’t say that those theories I denigrated are conservative and libertarian in their appeal and therefore wrong. I said they are wrong on substance, and merely acknowledged their support in the political quadrants that advocate for them. But in no way was there any casual logic, or ad hominem offered.
Now read this comical jerkfest on Brietbart with the same eye.
And there you go.
Oh, I just happened upon this discussion…
Mr. Meyers laid claim that you called yourself non-partisan. I was pointing out that you are, not that there’s anything wrong with that! In short, I happened upon Mr. Meyers article, and that is when I first visited your blog. Yes, it is childish to say since you are liberal you believe X,Y, and Z. But, it is also true that whether you are a fan of Wm. F. Buckley, Jr or a fan of Gore Vidal, you will discuss a particular issue with a particular focus.
Sam Tanenhaus wrote in his book about Whittaker Chambers that his book “WItness” showed he had no ideology. He was wrong, and later in a discussion of his book on CSPAN Tanenhaus admitted he was wrong, and that Chambers clearly did speak of his political ideology. He almost seemed, to me, disappointed that Chambers was in fact saying his conservative ideology is active, and that it was born from his break with Communism.
But to answer your question, no, one’s political proclivities should not have any bearing on debate, only the facts should.
I often comment in Brietbart on the facts. I am a conservative republican, and the facts support me that Palin, Cruz, and Bachman are media disasters and greatly harm the party. For this I am badgered as a “rino,” a liberal, a democrat plant, and worse.
Your blog is interesting, and I may stick around if I am welcome. Finally, on the issue at hand, I suspect even if you wildly disagree you’d probably have a wonderfully enriching, intellectually nourishing time if you sat down to dinner with Anton Scalia.
Mr. Meyers is in the habit of claim I said any number of things that he feels sufficient to assault. What I actually said has not been discussed, remotely, by Mr. Meyers. Nor will it be, judging from his performance thus far.
But we’ve wasted too much time on nonsense as it is. Breitbart.com is the Vegas of internet sites; hermetically sealed against fact or against those other points in the internet where facts might intrude. Tellingly, from this much smaller website, there are a dozen or so clicks over to Mr. Meyer’s original essay every day. (Strangely, having been censored, his posts remain.) Clicks from the larger Breitbart universe to this one — two that I have counted.
No one needs to actually contend with an actual argument when they are busy pretending with whatever hollow arguments of their own manufacture they can vanquish. It is a delight to watch from a distance, but not the sort of thing I want to waste any time on.
You are welcome. And you are welcome here to argue read, or post, or argument. And if you can bring debate and argument on the merits, you will be contributing, to the very purpose of the blog. Argument will come back at you. Do not take it personally. It’s what passes for fun around here.
Oh, I like fun.
As long as nobody pulls a Vidal and calls me a “crypto-fascist,” I won’t pull a Buckley and threaten to punch anyone in the nose.
I was recently called a crypto-fascist for my defense of metadata-trolling by the NSA. It was exciting, and I quickly mounted it in my collection next to all the anti-liberal labels I collect routinely. It’s like a stamp collection, when you finally get hold of some 1938 air mail postage after months of the usual stuff and you feel like the collection suddenly matters.
Not that I was a stamp-collecting dweeb or anything…
Here your characterization under political labels will only occur if you self-identify — and if you consistently cite specific political ideology as argument. Short of that, we eschew name-calling. Unless, of course, your behavior online involves crude personalization or basic dishonesty with quotes and facts, in which case someone might finally call you an asshole. But only non-denominationally and non-ideologically, of course. You wouldn’t be a conservative or libertarian asshole. Just a garden-variety asshole, which is a title open to anyone on the political spectrum. And to earn even that here, you’d have to travel far and work hard. Mr. Meyers, for example, has done his level best with all of his seeming faculty, but he is, as of yet, providing arguments too trifling and absurd to earn such a blunt and definitive sobriquet. His rhetorical behavior has been ridiculous, true. But we generally reserve assholedom for raving anti-Semites, homophobes, overt racists, repeat liars and Yankee fans.
This is a small island in the overbuilt and tottering archipelago of the internet, and by standards of activity, a quiet one. But we do try to pick up after each other and at least pretend to paradise.
Welcome, Mr. Ed O’NYC.
I am steering clear of your debate with Mr. Meyers for one simple reason, I didn’t start it. I’m a starting pitcher, not a mid-reliever.
Don’t worry, I am neither raving, nor overt. However, you will not get a rise out of me regarding the Yankees. I like Mr. Weaver, Mr. Palmer, and Mr. Robinson. Mr. Powell I’d love to drink with, but not every night. Mr. Dempsey is a stud, used to live down the street from me, and as a favor once signed two dozen balls for my clients in Baltimore. However, even as a Yankee lover (both raving and overt) I don’t hate the Orioles. They pose no danger to my fandom, nor the Yankees at full strength, and when they do get close, on rare occasions, we employee 12-year-olds in the outfield stands to dispatch with any discomfort.
Finally, I have a drawer full of “liberal, commies” hurls, and a chest full of “I can’t believe you are a Republican!” from half of the Upper West Side.
My favorite was in a dank, smokey, socialist college bar in Munich. “I want so badly to hate you, but I can’t.” It was 2003, and while gently, calmly, and politely defending president Bush to the Finance Chairman of Munich’s Social Democrats over steins of heaven, she hated the fact that I knew more about German politics than her husband, and guests, and I exhibited none of the ugly-American stereotypes.
But, I have a policy when traveling overseas. I always fly wearing a sport jacket, never wear jeans, nor baseball caps, and always, always defend my president on foreign soil, regardless of party. I’ve defended Clinton in London, Bush in Germany, and Obama in Spain.
I will tell you a funny story, because I can tell you will enjoy it.
I supported our overseas intervention in Afghanistan, felt it was a forced move when Mullah Omar would not extradite OBL and close the Al Qaeda camps. I opposed the Iraq War, thinking it a war of choice and an opening to Iran that would destabilize the region and increase Tehran’s influence in unintended ways. In any event, as an opinionated fellow, I was ready to argue with any Americans about the mistake of going to war in Iraq.
Shortly after the war began, I found myself in a French bistro on Ventura Boulevard in L.A. I mean, a real French bistro, where my beloved French cousin, Franck Vialy, would hang out with all his ex-pat French friends, sipping Poire William and Ricard, talking about how Americans can’t even begin to fathom what makes a cassolet. Fine as far as it goes, until late that night, when I was surrounded by Frenchmen explaining that the trouble with America is that we’re thoughtless cowboys, or we don’t know what it is to have a war on our own soil, or that we don’t understand the nuance that comes with having a significant Muslim population, or…
And suddenly — maybe it was the Ricard talking — but there I am telling these French bastards, including Franck, that we sure as shit don’t know what it’s like to have a war on our soil — other than a fraternal fight — because there isn’t a country with balls hairy enough to try, and yeah we’re cowboys, but who wouldn’t want to ride horses and shoot guns in the street if the alternative was riding Vespas and arguing existentialism in nasal voices, and oh yeah, did you hear the one about how many Frenchmen it takes to defend Paris? (French accent here: Je ne sais pas. It has never been tried….)
You’re better than me. When provoked, I plant myself at Ugly American and work from there. But the next morning, among my own, I was trashing Mr. Bush and his leadership as if my whole life depended on it. What is it about the French, especially?
Certainly NOT the first time I heard a similar story! I’ve seen rabid, unwashed, Berkeley Sociology majors come back from a semester at Sorbonne handing out John Burch Leaflets in Laguna Niguel.
But, I really can’t answer your question, the last three French waitresses I shagged were Le Pen fans….and I mean the old man, not the squishy, vichy-like Marine Le Pen variety.
To bring it in a circle, look up the Sports Illustrated piece on the O’s that is posted somewhere on this site. Your reference to the Mayer brat is noted.
Simon in Concert
Disagree and watch him picture you naked.
Simon does Australia 2013: The Way Down-Under in the Hole Tour
I was also at your Sydney Talk and wanted to say it was great: I’ve bored all my friends raving about it. Hope you might come back some time soon – Australia needs you.
Can I ask who interviewed you for the Melbourne event? Hoping there’ll be video of that too, so I can compare!
Thanks – and keep writing!
It was Michael Williams, again. The second fellow in the photo, of course.
And we were even better in Melbourne, having grown accustomed to our rhythms. But also because that guy is genuinely quicker and funnier — yet at the same time very charitable — as an interview. We were loose in Melbourne. Or at least it felt that way.
Thanks! I hadn’t seen him before – think he’s a Melbourne person – but thought you two were great together.
Hurry back to Australia.
And lo, God spoke and said to David, “Do you ever see yourself creating new episodes of The Wire?”
“…and then they all saw the light.”
Ha. I looked at that picture and wondered if those dangerous ideas culminated in some sort of supernova.
And, lo, the angel appeared to Simon and said, “Fear not! I bring you glad tidings of comfort and joy!”
My deities deliver messages like don’t eat shellfish and hey, what’re you doing scheduling a poker game on Friday night. The Old Testament’s Yahweh doesn’t trifle with tidings of comfort or joy. If he sends an angel, it’s tsooris. Something about sacrificing my first born, or going to Nineveh and telling them to repent….
Hahaha! You totally need more glad tidings of comfort and joy. The Wire might have looked a lot more like The Wire: The Musical from day 1.
My daughter is a runner on a junior high cross country team. Before they went to the state championships a few weeks ago,our parish had a Mass to bless them and wish them well. One of the coaches did a reading (preassigned by the powers that be) and instead of being one of those nice inspirational ones about perseverance and keeping faith, it was an Old Testament mean one about smiting and meting out justice by chopping enemies into little pieces with swords. It was all the team could do not to laugh. You’re right – that OT Yahweh is a total bad ass.
Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your talk at the Opera House. I somehow found myself in the second row (so I saw you very close up) and your talk was both entertaining and thought-provoking.
Was sort of hoping you might have debated someone…. looking at the overall attendee list I could just imagine what a debate between yourself and Peter Hitchens on the drug war might have looked like!