Introduction

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.

Best,

David Simon

 

308 Comments

  • I never thought the day would come when I would at last come across a troll-free blog!

    Hope it isn’t too much trouble keeping the trolls out if they ever do show up though.

    • Mr. Simon, i loved your talk from Sydney last November. In 1975, i was ten years old, one of eight children growing up in South Boston. My life was turmed upside down with the introduction of Forced Busing. Thank God i had a mother who taught me right from wrong and fairness. I was robbed of an education – the one chance to make it out of the poverty i was living in. But for my mother – all would have been lost. My vocabulary may be smaller, my grammar make some snort, my Boston accent have you wanting to tell me ro shut the fuck up – but I won’t! Not all of us get the same start! My start was challenging to say the least. Today I am tne mother of three and whenever i have the chance i tell my babies that the takers may eat better, but the givers sleep better. (Not sure of origin of quote. Too tired to research). All i wanted to say is THANK YOU for acknowledging the differences in the way people are treated. Judy – a real Southie girl. Not a transplant!

      • P.s. I have some pretty funny stories about growing up under the Whitey Bulger regime with videos, letters and jewelry to prove it. Peace

  • Mr. Simon — your comments about “free” content is noted. Unfortunately, since the publishing industry has imploded due to free content (amongst other circumstances), some of us are reduced to writing for widely read publications for pennies at best and nothing at worse. I asked one such online presence if they could double my salary. they did not hesitate and instead of one 0 they have generously awarded me 00 with an imaginary 401(k) to boot. Ah, the trickle from the trickle down!

  • Somebody should explore the Israeli-Palestinian conflict the same way you explored the city of Baltimore with “The Wire.”

  • Greetings Mr Simon:

    I’m sure most fans of the Wire are like me in that the least sizzling storyline throughout the five season run wasn’t paid attention to as much as it should; if you are like me who was young when it show started over 10 years ago, maybe you were naïve or just brushed it aside as if that only happens in Baltimore, not my hometown. I speak of “following the money” as Lester Freamon said…..and with this government shutdown and the hiring of my best friend in a high up state job my eyes have opened.

    My friend works in a state office where when some form of a public entity, be it a city or county government or some “nonprofit” needs funding for some project they go to his office. His office then goes to the governor and he yays or nays before putting together an appropriations or expenditure budget for the state legislature to approve. But here is the thing: the numbers add up TOO much. for example, I saw how the major state university was approved for the current fiscal year, before my friend was hired, for hundreds of millions worth of projects….80million for a dorm here, 40 million for a renovation of some building there??? Im not an expert but a dorm can cost 80 million to build right?

    So my friend schools me, and it is pretty much how it was depicted in the Wire. Who does that university award that 80 million dollar contract to for that dorm? How many phony nonprofits were set up? How much kickback does that school or its officials get? What are the political ramifications of it?

    Would it be accurate to state that this current government shutdown is primarily about who gets rich from the government? Enough people who make gazillions from lets say overcharging medicare can get in the ear of enough loony politicians who im sure they contribute to their election fund can make them see this through even to the detriment of our country and economy? Am I too looking too hard for a conspiracy here? Is all of this ethical, that well connected people get rich off of taxes basically? I hope you don’t mind clarifying or explaining what you can please. thank you

      • You’re right. It certainly was for me when I read about it. I have friends who have already started pointing fingers. I just can’t bring myself to do even that. It’s like there’s no one and everyone to blame at the same time.

        Kind of like The Wire actually.

  • Alternatively (to making davidsimon.com a paid blog site), keep davidsimon.com as a blog, and use some of that HBO money to seed a real online competitor to the Baltimore Sun along the lines of what you’ve described in some of your talks: a small staff dedicated to real news, no more no less.

    Here’s where I’m coming from. I read your recent blog post discussing the spike in homicides in Baltimore this year – 20%. As a major US city, there are lessons that can be drawn from this for everyone, no matter where you live. I do a search for more information on this topic. I get a Baltimore Sun article. It is nothing but a soapbox for the Baltimore District Attorney to talk about how dedicated he is to fighting crime and bringing the most violent offenders to justice. Not a word about why homicides might be spiking. No mention of the change in DA policy with respect to how murder indictments are processed or cases brought to trial. In fact, not even an opposing quote. The entire article is nothing but a series of quotes from the District Attorney. It is extremely frustrating! It’s like the only way to get this information is to call the DA’s office and the BPD myself, because the Baltimore Sun is incapable of asking anyone any questions worth asking.

    If anyone is up to the task, you are the man to do it Mr. Simon.

  • You have spoken before about the appetite among news consumers for real news and a willingness to pay a subscription fee for a site with a small staff dedicated to providing real news. Why not make a test run? Put together a small staff, make davidsimon.com a paywall site. Even if it’s primarily focused on Baltimore, I would be a likely subscriber if the content was regular enough and had the depth that I would expect from a David Simon production, if the price was right – despite being nowhere near Baltimore.

    There’s a prominent blogger, formerly of daily beast, frequent guest on Bill Maher’s show, who has gone this route – Andrew Sullivan. I think there is a future for this.

  • Have you seen the Representative Press Youtube channel? Seems like something you might be interested in:

  • Seems to me you are describing the difference between Nationalism and True Patriotism.

    I have as little patience with the ‘Always blame the West/America” crowd as the most conservative people around, but then again like you I share a real frustration with the “America/The West can never be questioned” crowd as well. As always the truth is in the middle and you make that point excellently above (with a little too much Reagan love for my taste, its all well and good he turned up at the cross burning, but he launched his campaign with clear a Race Baiting states rights speech at the MIssissipi Burning spot, but I digress)

    Just blindly backing your nation is nationalism, true patriotism it seems to me is what you describe above.

  • Hey David,

    I’m loving everything that happens in this blog. Best discourse I read on the internet, hands down.

    Actually discourse is my topic of interest in the post. I’m curious what you think of the comments section of The Sun’s webpage. I understand in the past you have spoken out about how modern local newspapers need to transition into being web -based. I’m on board with this idea 100%. I read the Sun daily just because I’m curious about what goes on i the city and the Sun, even its belittled state, is better than nothing.

    To me, a way their webpage could attract people is via their comments section. And right now, its not pretty. I’m a regular commenter there, and there a group of around 15 regulars who post exclusively nothing but right-wing, anti-city, racist rhetoric. There are a few crazy libs too. The problem isn’t that most comments are right-wing in nature, its simply that the comments are often illogical or inflammatory that people who actually want to debate get turned off to the entire process. I see a thriving comments section as a way to bolster page views to the website. The paper, once its printed, is somewhat final; the comments section can be updated by all people, knowing all sides of the story collectively in real time. The problem is it needs to be filtered.

    Here are two ways I’ve brainstormed that could improve this:

    1) In your blog, you post ideas that you put together to make a point. Basically an editorial. The crucial difference is that you dive head first into the comments. No article, in limited space, avoid logical fallacies , assumptions, and stereotypes while telling the entire story. And when people have a pre-disposition against the idea, they will look at any slight inconsistencies as justification they are right. By defending yourself in the comments section, you really can boil down the argument, and you have a better shot at convincing people ( or not ) that your story is the most representative. By reading your blog posts AND your interaction with posters, I feel more so that I’ve gotten the whole story. All logical ways of looking at the situation will, in the end, have been accounted for.

    2) I’m sure you are somewhat familiar with Reddit. I might guess you have some gripes about reddit as a reliable source of information. Any post or comment can be upvoted or downvoted, meaning the posts/comments that are the best become more visible. Enough downvotes can hide posts from discussion, though you can read them if you want with an extra click. Now obviously, something isn’t based on reality just because it has majority opinion. However, I think it has benefits. It makes posters and commenters sensitive to others reaction. aka getting negative attention (downvotes) causes posts to become hidden, and often commenters delete their comments out of shame. Its not a perfect system, but I think it forces people to refine their argument. I think The Sun would do good if they implemented a similar system.

    So I’m curious. Do you think these are good ideas, and if so, why is The Sun slow to modernize their comments section?

    • The racism on that site is astonishing. So, too, on most unregulated comment boards on the internet.

      Bottom line is these things need an editor, and not merely one to prevent libels and actionable material from being published, but an editor to assert for a certain amount of intellectual rigor on the boards, in the same way that the letters to the editor of newspaper were often edited, with the drivel and screech removed. I can’t tell you what we don’t publish on this board, but some of it is an insult to any right-thinking Neanderthal. It’s more Cro-Magnon than anything.

      If you want to advance the argument and leave the worst rhetoric behind — never mind hate-speech — you need to demand that everyone raise their game.

      • I wondered how this board had managed to avoid being hijacked. The Sun’s comment section sounds a lot like many others I’ve read. It used to make me crazy before I learned that many of the most irrational, vitriolic commenters are paid by interested entities to protect a brand, political platform, or lobbying effort by quashing thoughtful debate wherever it is found, or at least making sure there’s more noise than signal. (See Internet shills, sock puppets). I thought I had just gotten lucky and found this site in that golden moment before the hostile takeover. Great to know it’s the result of good old fashioned gate-keeping. This material is reaching a lot of people–thanks for that.

        • The saddest part of what has happened with these internet comment sections across the web is how cowardice, the fact you can hide behind your keyboard and an fake name has let all the most lizard brained hate and anger fuel the discussions.

          They really could be a place for the public to once again become engaged in the great debates of the day, a return to when people used to stand on Soap Boxes in the park and discussions and debates would break out amongst the citizenry, however instead they have let cowards break loose, hidden behind their fake names and all too often their fake jobs and fake lives. Its amazing the number of people who tell you they are lawyers (usually at a point where you have shown an illogical double standard in their argument) or scientists, or professors. In fact David when I pointed out to someone that maybe David Simon is worth listening too as he got the McArthur grant this person suddenly became a research scientist with huge grants being handed to him.

          Its really quite sad that people are so ashamed of their own lives they feel the need to create fake ones to impress strangers on a board

        • I’m not put off by profanity.

          The real profanity lies in giving credibility to certain arguments and claims. Words are just words.

          • Yup agreed. When reality is profane, use profanity.

            I was just commenting on how funny it is that the Sun’s comments section only moderates the use of curse words and nothing else. Racism: completely unchecked. Fuck: the devil.

            This blog a great opportunity to update my troll hunting rhetoric skills. Thanks!

  • I am so disappointed you chose to publish an opinion about the Martin/Zimmerman case. Your show, The Wire, is the most incredible show I have ever seen. It was like watching a classic novel on TV. It inspired me to volunteer more and do more to help people like Bubbles and D’Angelo and Wallace and also to have more respect for the police department and the incredibly difficult job they do. It also helped me understand how desperate the media can get to make a buck. The show does such a fantastic job at looking at things through multiple perspectives. That is why I find all of your assumptions about race in this trial deeply disappointing. You gave your character, Prez, the benefit of the doubt when he accidentally shot a black man but you will judge that Zimmerman is lying about profiling Trayvon Martin? Your whole last season criticizes the media for sensationalizing things and yet you fall for that same sensationalism? This just doesn’t go along at all with how I would expect you to react. It is crushing really. I feel like you just took 10 steps backward for the black people in this country. I really do and I am really disheartened by it.

    • Well, Sarah, I’m disappointed that you’re disappointed. But everyone’s mileage is going to vary. And if you have committed yourself to any effort to reconnect with the other America you have my admiration.

      But my assumptions about racial profiling are not assumptions. If you are working with African-Americans, then surely you are aware that even middle-class black kids endure a different level of scrutiny from authorities, and that routinely, they are obliged to concede rights and liberties that no white youth ever does. This is true not only in the inner-city Baltimore we depicted, but among the children of families that occupy the same social and economic strata as the rest of the middle-class. This happens because they are black.

      That is no assumption. It is the day-to-day in the lives of American black families. And here, in refusing to acknowledge such, I think you are failing to see things from another’s perspective as you credit some of my work with doing. You need to step outside yourself and acknowledge a very different America. And doing so is in no way taking a step — or ten steps backward — for fellow citizens who happen to be black.

      An acknowledgment of the costs of racial profiling and of stand-your-ground laws which are predatory to such profiling is a step forward for white America, and would be greeted with comity and respect by your fellow citizens of color. I think you should rethink your position in that light.

      But thank you for writing.

      • “You need to step outside yourself and acknowledge a very different America.”

        How I ever got lucky enough to stumble upon your writing, I’ll never know. (Well, I do know. My son was watching HBO on-demand showings of The Wire, and I, in turn, got hooked.)

        Thank you, David, for your (com)passion, insight, and hard work. Whatever you do this Labor Day weekend, I hope it’s a labor of love. You deserve it.

    • Not really appropriate to the Introduction commentary. Post this stuff on one of the NSA threads, I would think.

  • Which case were you listening to? What evidence where you looking over? A man/woman has a right to defend him/herself in the case of physical assault and threat of grievous bodily harm. Yes, Zimmerman may have overstepped his bounds when he approached Martin, but that did not give the youth the right to physically harm Zimmerman. If you had been following the case and evidence at all, you would have known that forensic evaluation determined that Martin’s Shirt/hoodie was 4 inches away from his body at the time the gun was fired, which would have put Martin on top of Zimmerman, supporting that in the case of the witness statement of an individual assaulting another individual calling for help, it was Martin physically assaulting Zimmerman. It was sad that it ended the way it did, but this is a case of self defense, plain and simple. And if you’re so ashamed of being an American, by all means, please leave.

    • No corroboration for any claim of aggravated assault. Common assault, misdemeanor, based on the physical injuries, or even more problematic, mutual combat if Mr. Zimmerman laid hands on Mr. Martin’s. You presume to accept the uncorroborated account of a more violence assault but no witness or physical evidence can support you.

    • It’s a great victory for pussies, racists, and child killers. You can pick a fight with any random black kid minding his own business, and when you start to get your ass kicked, you can kill him. What did you call it? Self-defense? Yeah, I’ll go with that.

  • Having journeyed to higher education and a small measure of enlightenment much later in life than I might have preferred, my appreciation for eloquence and well-reasoned arguments is also much greater than it might have been otherwise. I was, until this morning, entirely unfamiliar with your name or your works. I stumbled upon it accidentally, but in the scant 3 hours I have been perusing this site, I believe you may have rocketed to the top of the rather short list of ten or so members of society to whom I feel it is worth applying my attention. In recent years, my level of interest in anything produced for television today and most of what is published for mass consumption has plummeted in direct proportion to the increase in my level of understanding regarding the issues our society is facing, neglecting, and glamourizing, and so I have never seen anything on television that I can knowingly attribute to you. But it is gratifying to recognize a kindred spirit, and I assure you I will make pains to remedy that situation shortly. Whether I ultimately enjoy your productions remains to be seen, but I very much enjoy the knowledge that there is indeed someone out there whose eloquence, insight, and principles are working positively against the forces of rampant stupidity. In a world where it seems that the volume of tripe is only outstripped by the volume of advertising selling that tripe, this is a refreshing experience. Please do continue, for the sake of those of us who aspire to make our arguments not only forceful and logical, but also to imbue them with beauty in their construction. Thank you for restoring a bit of my hope and my faith in the power of the pen.

  • I’ve never sen any of the shows you’re associated with, and after reading your views on the Martin case you handed down from the pink cloud you reside on, am determined never to do so.

    When was the last time you walked through the “hood” st night? The last time you walked down the street at night as were surrounded by blacks? When was the last time you wee in the company of all blacks and heard them talking about whitey? And did you join in and yell “Death to whitey” too?

    Never. I’ve been there though. Blacks are much more racist than whites.

    Why don’t you suck a pistol? Nobody will miss you, certainly I won’t, and TV will be much the better for it.

    mr_zuzu

    • In answer to your questions, it would have been Tuesday of last week in West Baltimore. No one yelled “death to whitey” though. That sounds like something out of some fool’s fevered imagination. I know from your comments who you think you are addressing, but you might google up a resume or a wikipedia entry before you say some more dumb shit and embarrass yourself again.

    • Ah, the dulcimer tones of reverse racism. Two observations: 1) The essence of this perspective is, “they hate us, too.” Too. 2) It actually IS the reverse of racism: it doesn’t result in more incarceration, substandard education, or poverty for whites.

      If you ever do spend time “in the company of all blacks” or in the “hood” (is that where they live?), you’ll be ashamed of the paranoid, fetishistic, Fox News-fueled fantasy you depict. But I can see why you’d expect them to hate you, to hate white people. Because it would be unreasonable to expect them not to be angry.

      It would be like saying you shouldn’t get mad when a stranger comes after you, out of nowhere, in your own neighborhood, for no apparent reason. Like saying you shouldn’t stand up to that stranger, or try to repel him before he follows you to your home and family. Like saying he has the right to put a round in your chest if you do.

      Fuck that. I’m slamming his head on the concrete ten out of ten times because that’s what he’s asking me to do.

      So I can see why you’re scared. But somehow they’ve found uncommon strength in self-restraint. You couldn’t expect them to patiently demand, yet again, to be embraced by a system that goes out of its way to hurt them. But that’s what they’re doing. Despite history, despite your feelings toward them, they seem to believe in your potential. They seem to think you have it in you to set everything aside and treat their families like you treat your own. Lucky you.

      Give it a shot. Give them more help than you think they deserve. Not because you should, but because it might be the right thing to do. The worst that can happen is you prove yourself right.

  • Mr Simon

    I´m Swedish(the “socialist” country with killer elks) and i love your shows and non-fiction work “Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets”. I sincerely hope that you and Mr Burns will be able to make a series about the CIA.

    “The Wire” is one of the best American shows ever produced. I recommend it always to friends when they are lost in the bullshit of modern day television. I come out as a pusher of the wares of David Simon I admit.

    I think with your critical eye hopefully we can for the first time see an American show about the agency that´s not all gunfights, MMA or climbing buildings. A realistic one with real sharacters with flaws that make them more human. I am always amazed about the good looks and make-up of the people in Hollywood-movies thats about field-work. To show the soul of bureaucracy (and as a former student of political science it´s more funny, tragic and dirtier than any Bourne movie). Soldiers versus Kings and sacrifices.

    Legacy of Ashes is a excellent piece to start from as you already signed under “projects”.

    And a series that does not underestimate the intelligence of the viewers with a story arc of substance over style.

    My best wishes for the project

    /J

  • The news rooms are virtual now. The news rooms are every where, as the should be. Information is mostly free. Accuracy and a good reputation come from the same place they always have. Reading and writing should not be an extortionist activity. Remember the dark ages and the churches iron grip on literature and reading. Get over it! Wake up! how many ways can I say it before you realize how bad paying for news and information is. People are smart enough to know when the information is false and the news is bigoted tripe, and the won’t come back and read more-money or no money- Best of luck to you! ‘Eat well, Sleep well, be still once a day, be active once a day, Sing! edeichinger2005

  • Sorry – I seem to have to send these in finite blocks of text rather than comments for as long as I want to write. Anyway, yeah the stories confined in the book are, for want of a better word, finished, at leqst as far as MY access to them is concerned. So now, years after first reading the book, to find out that something so shocking has happened all this time LATER, was gutwrenching. I feel the sadness & guilt (as though by my own addiction, I am complicit somehow) as though this was someone relevant to me. I never saw him act (I have never seen your other works, just The Corner) so this isn’t someone whose career I’ve followed. Maybe it’s simply that you immortalised him as a lively 16yr old in the pages of your book, & it’s painful to realise he wasn’t. (Immortal that is). Perhaps he was always doomed, I dunno. Maybe we all are. Thank you for taking the time to read this piece. My own life is a mess, but I felt this with a rawness I didn’t know I still had. Thank you for writing the story of The Corner. That way somewhere, for someone reading, DeAndre will always be sixteen. Anna x

    • Anna, I don’t believe in doom or fate. DeAndre made choices, or more honestly, he failed to believe that he was making choices even as he made them. He was a worthy, vibrant and interesting young man who blamed that which was denied to him — correctly, he had some right to be angry at some things — and who failed to credit anything that was offered to him. He was trapped by a place and time he did not choose and at the same time, his own decisions locked him inside for good.

      That sounds judgmental and maybe it is, from a distance. From a spot closer to DeAndre and his personhood, he was a friend and his loss is grevious to those of us who knew him and knew the whole story.

      You are responsible for today, or tomorrow, for one day at a time. If you are in recovery, take stock and take pride in your journey and be unrelenting in demanding the most from your life. You deserve it. I promise you. From your comments alone, I am sure that not only do you need a meaningful existence from this world, but the world needs you just as much. If you are not in recovery, find a meeting today.

      Much love,

      DS

      • David, thank you so much for replying to me. I was surprised and flattered to find you (and somebody else!) had taken the time to respond to the things I said. I was venting really, I was saddened to hear about DeAndre, and my own life is a self-inflicted Hell, so in many ways I was speaking from the heart because this is an anonymous forum in which to do so. So I was touched to find your answer awaiting me today. No, I am not in recovery, my life is an unmitigated disaster. And no, I don’t believe in fate and doom either, at least not in the pre-destined sense. I meant more that we (some of us, addicts perhaps) doom ourselves. The inevitability comes with the choices we make, which although not pre-ordained, in some people at least, seems nonetheless sadly predictable. I have none of DeAndre’s excuses (for want of a better word) for falling into that world, I have loving, stable, educated parents, and never suffered any early trauma thst might have provided if not an excuse, then an explanation. I was an extremely bright child from a happy home, so there were certainly no paths that I was “fated” to take, no footsteps I was “doomed” to follow in. Just my own fuck-ups, that have been increasingly easy to predict with each new wrong choice, each bad relationship, every bad judgement, until now I have to reach for a sheet of foil before getting out of bed every morning. I cried when I came to the end of your reply to me. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt I deserved (and therefore allowed myself to accept) any of the myriad wonders and possibilities that the world has to offer, and longer still since I bekieved I had anything to offer in return. I thank you deeply for reminding me that not everybody agrees with my damaged, self-loathing and perhaps skewed self-perception. Even if I don’t believe it, I believe YOU meant it, and from somebody essentially “random” to you (to quote Gordon here) I am very touched that you a) see that in me, and b) took the time out of your busy life to tell me so. X

        • Get that first day.

          There has to be a meeting near you. It is one of the few churches I’ve been in that seems to work for people. Don’t try to do this alone. Go listen to some other people talk.
          You aren’t the first and you will not be the last. Just go and listen to the others talk.

          Much love,

          D

          • “Tie me down, Crack and brown, Wrap me up in a hospital gown. Curl in a ball, learn to love your restraints, And cry in the dark with your hurt and your hate.”

          • “I was once, a child of God, until the Devil kissed me. And in my ear, he said ‘My Dear, God will never miss thee’.

        • Anna,
          Years ago I found that my life was beyond my own control. My initial attempts to change floundered. The more I struggled to control my addiction the more it seemed to flourish. A 12-step program eventually put root the bit of hope that I needed. I too felt unworthy, incompetent and irredeemable. A vision of my own death, along with that spark of hope propelled me forward.
          -em

  • Sorry – sent that too soon. A) for his charm & humour & charisma, & b) for his story – so painful & tragic & inevitable. It was only a few years later that I was given the book version & connected even more with the stories told there. For me, there were ghosts in that book. I have read it many many times since then, & picked it up again two days ago. When I finished it last night I typed in DeAndre McCullough online, more out of curiosity than anything, perhaps I wanted more of a resolution to the tale, perhaps I thought I’d write to him, I don’t know. I was horrified to read about his death last summer. I was shocked at my own reaction in fact, it was unusually visceral considering the news concerned someone I had never met. I felt a real sense of loss that I hadn’t felt with the deaths of any other people whose tales are outlined in the book. Perhaps that’s for that very reason, their tales are (as far as I’m cobc

    • Hey Anna, I know you want to hear from David and not some random, but, for what it’s worth, I don’t think addiction and tragedy are inevitable for you. Tragic inevitability can only ever be seen from a distance, from where you can see all the factors and causes. Meantime, even the most idiotically stubborn hope and faith can be the deciding factor in your favour.

      It’s hard, these days, to say what should be the basis of hope and faith, but it doesn’t have to be anything moral or metaphysical anyway–just that life can be better and that you’re equipped to make it so.

      • Gordon, thank you for your words. Yes, it was David that my comments were intended for, but just as you self-deprecatingly entitle yourself “random” to describe your relationship with regards to me, I am equally “random” to you, and as such, am very touched that you took the time to respond to anything I said.

        • Unfortunately, whilst “stubborn hope and faith can be the deciding factor in any situation” conversely, the flipside of that statement also applies, and I think it’s my LACK of hope & faith that keeps me where I am. It’s been so long that I’ve ceased to believe I can change the circumstances that keep me in the vicious circle of addiction, and it becomes cyclical, the less you believe you can change things, the less you try to do so, because why try only to fail, when you are so certain that is theoutcome? Certain, because it’s just beyond you to imagine you have the strength and stamina and emotional energy to

          • I’m sorry – I’m sending all this from a phone, and it keeps breaking my writing up into blocks of separate messages

  • Hey. I don’t really know how to begin this, nor (given the previous comments left) if this is really the right forum for my thoughts & feelings. I am a 31yr old heroin addict living in the UK. I have been on it since shortly before my 16th birthday. I discovered “The Corner” by accident in my early 20s, turning the TV on late at night & encountering the second episode in the miniseries. I immediately fell in love with the piece, largely because every one of those characters I have met or known or been. It is probably the most real portrayal of the chaos & desperation of addiction that I have ever come across. I particularly fell in love with DeAndre, a) for

  • David,

    Thank you for sharing your gift with the rest of us.

    I’d like to ask one question, if I may: what was your experience like breaking into the field of journalism?

    • It was the most vivid and glorious time of my life. A byline! Front page! The Baltimore Sun! Immortality!

      I’ve had a lot of fun doing a lot of different things. I was never more elated than that particular morning, however.

      • I have more than a few things to add, but I teach writing at a big state university, and I need some sleep this week, one night or another. Also, I had the pleasure of teaching a you man last year wbo is the son of one of your friends. His name is Ian, and his mom just became the US ambassador to Turkey. He’s a good kid, and don’t be surprised one day a few years from now when you and his mom are catching up of drinks and he tells you he promised his freshman writing teacher some Simon paraphernalia and hands you a postcard or something to sign. Anyway, I write. I write stories that matter and my only allegiance is to the truth of what I discover. Language is my artistic medium, and I know damn well how to bend and shift and use image and rhythm to reach that part of a person where the subconscious responds to those things and people can be manipulated. Here is the problem I have. I wrote a piece a couple years back that uncovered some things about the military’s choices as to how to best handle the C-123s from Operation Ranch Hand left over when the Agent Orange issue finally became too hot in 72. The piece is in Orion and available online so I’ll spare you details. Anyway, eventually it became clear I’d been blacklisted. The audit and withdrawal of the Fulbright started opening my eyes. Govt money for art is not in my future. Some activists were really fucking happy though, and a few had and still do serve as patrons of a sort. But their money doesn’t come without strings. They want PR and if you feel like it is not morally acceptable to ignore the increasing number of Vietnamese friends either using pseudonyms or being thrown in prison for pissing off The Party, that well runs dry pretty fucking quickly. The Americans dump poison, refuse to help with any cleanup other than symbolic photo-op bullshit and the Viet leaders show absolutely no respect for press freedom. And people who call themselves liberal and protest Gitmo and Bush and Monsanto, people too smart not to see VN is rated the second worst country to safely cover news, that 20 writers, some of them known to these folks personally, sit in jail on bogus charges, don’t say a word. What the fuck. At the university the big new idea is gender neutral bathrooms. That shit will get you tenure. Meanwhile, the College of Social Science is thrilled the Koch brothers just donated a couple million dollars for a libertarian think tank. And a few hundred brown people will die in the desert this summer. Hyperthermia. The body cooks. And along with the local military contractor–Raytheon–the private prison industry is looking like a real positive economic driver for the next few years and the mayor is thrilled. And these aren’t things you study if you value job security. Identity politics applied to literary theory–if your politics and identity follow a certain pattern–that is where really groundbreaking scholarship is happening, and it is happening around circles of desks in safety zones free from gendered pronouns, egalitarianism at its finest. And after class the progress keeps right on moving into the bars on 4th Ave and Congress where a few martinis help bring even more life to an incredibly thoughtful deconstruction of the patriarchy and unacknowledged privilege. And the drinks keep flowing.

        Meanwhile, in the locker room where the men’s team is washing up after sprints, white men still can’t jump. And nobody takes it personal. The seven-foot farm kid from Texas laughs his ass off as his teammates tease him about how much he looked like the ghost of Shawn Bradley back in the day when Jefferson posterized his ass.for the third time. Fuck it, he says, that fucking Mormon dude got all the pussy he could handle. And Jefferson has to admit it’s probably true.

        Where is Alfred McCoy these days, David? Actually I know where he is–Madison. And he’s not getting younger. Or maybe he’s off in the Turkish poppy farming country this week, and he’s having to make do without gender neutral toilets, just like Keema had to all those years. What I want to know the most desperately is where the fuck am I going to get money for a plane ticket to Saigon so I can finish my book when I refuse to pose naked for the Disability Fetish Freaks magazine favored by the Hollywood donors? The dioxin did a bit of a number on me, you see. I have some pr value as a result. Anyway, I know you know what I mean. Despite the effects my drowsiness might have had on my choice of words.

        Take care,
        Ben

  • Hi, David. I had the pleasure of hearing you speak this week* at the Paley Center – I’m a fan, and I wanted to thank you for bringing up the subject of copyright. As a writer who remembers when there was no internet, copyright is a subject of growing concern.

    I thought you might be interested in a related comment by Author’s Guild president, Scott Turow I heard in a Tribeca Film Fest screening of a documentary called Out of Print (fyi, I have no association with the film, but I am a member of the Author’s Guild). Turow was quoted saying something to the effect of: No class of people should be expected to give away their labors for free. I thought it was a great way to position the argument and thought I’d share, since you’re obviously a passionate advocate.

    An aside… I wish you especially well with your Yonkers project development. I grew up in Yonkers during the Son of Sam years (and graduated high school with former mayor Nick Wasicsko) and have strong ties there though I’m now in Manhattan. I was unaware of Belkin’s book and am now anxious to read it in advance of seeing your project come to fruition.

    Again, thanks so much for your appearance at the Paley Center and, especially, your words about copyright.

    Best,
    Valerie

    *Despite your not being able to define “excellence in media.” Ahem.

  • Hi David,

    After reading your words above, I guess I’m responding a bit from my own ‘Audacity of Despair’ on this one. Does this mean that I can’t ask you to read the first issue of my graphic novel, LIFE OR DEATH, when it is finished in hopes that you might say a good word about it here? I spent 18 months on this story years ago after being inspired by your work on THE WIRE, and after four times now of being a hair away from actually getting the funding to make the film, I’ve decided to create a graphic novel with it on my own. One good word from you to your fans about it, and it probably changes this struggling writer’s life. For your fans, a word from you would be like a word from Oprah on high with her book club.

    Now in fairness, you didn’t specifically say “I’m not reading anyone’s indie comic book either, no matter how great it may be.” But that statement probably falls within the scope of your sentiments. You probably don’t have a half hour to read a graphic novel, especially from some strange professing THE WIRE fan who claims to be inspired by your work.

    But then again, after reading this, you may desire to perform a random act of kindness – even if it was nudged by the one who stands to benefit from it; thus, I submit my request to you. Please read the first issue of my graphic novel, LIFE OR DEATH, when I have completed it. My hope is that you enjoy it so much that you recommend it to your fans.

  • David, I was wondering what you thought about the viability of ‘newer’ publications such as VICE (which seems to have other businesses and advertising to support it’s journalism) , NSFWCorp (which is behind a pay wall) and others.

    Also I’d like to thank you and your team for making ‘The Wire’.

  • I gave the book Resistance, Rebellion and Death by Camus to a friend who is going on a trip to France along with your quote about the book in Sports Illustrated…the day after the Boston Marathon bombings. Timeless.

  • Hi David,

    My wife and I are just finishing up the 5th Season of The Wire. We both think that it is the best TV series we have ever seen. We say this for many reasons. First, you told a compelling story and created a series of interesting and well drawn characters. Second, you did something that I have rarely ever seen done in TV, you showed us the interplay of various institutions and systems as they affect individuals and other institutions. However, you did it in a non-preachy, non-polemical way. Too often, movies with messages in them go over the top to make their point but you allowed the story to always carry the day and left it to us to make the inferences. In other words, you respected my intelligence. I thank you for that. Third, you used a very clever device of showing us parallels and the constancy of human nature playing out at different levels. Thus, for example, we witnessed the consolidation of newspapers by the Chicago Tribune buying the Baltimore Sun and the laying off of employees in parallel to Marlos take over of the entire drug trade and his own way of ‘laying off’ former employees.

    For me, the greatest impact of the series is how it has affected what I notice happening around me. For instance, this morning I opened our local paper and found that they are starting a 4 part series on the state of mental health programs in our State. After watching the episodes regarding what gets into the Baltimore Sun, it was easier for me to make the connection between the Sandy Hook shooting, the efforts at gun control and the appended issue of mental health, and the series as it is now appearing in our paper because there is now public interest.

    Thanks for the show. It was a great series. I will be recommending it to others and it will be living on in the continuing discussions that I have with my friends and family.

    Next time, I’ll write a little about my disappointments with the series but for now, just know that overall I loved it for what it portrayed and how it educated. (No bracketing conversation here.)

  • I just want to say, Treme persuaded me that you need to pour yourself into what matters to you.

    People are always saying this, but seldom convincingly, and their actions contradict them.

    To pick up a trumpet and try to emulate the jazz greats may seem arbitrary and ridiculous in the beginning, but it becomes worthwhile to the degree that it develops a human being’s powers while effacing their narrow selfishness.

    The lifestyle that predominates at present is spiritually lax or rudderless, and alternates between cynical drudgery and ready-made ‘consumer’ entertainment. Even the lowest level of worker becomes corrupted and selfish, because they are used selfishly and not called to anything higher.

    Because of the state of society, people (who are naturally full of energy, talent and concern) become indecisive and stagnate, and everything good in them sours. And their actions take on an ugly, sluggish, compulsive character. Is this why culture is so taken with zombies right now?

    Merely prodding people to be enthusiastic and engaged – maybe this can have value at times, but it also makes people revolt, especially when they detect something untrue or saccharine in the argument. What they really need is to understand their situation.

    For me, this is a special merit of Treme. The show’s notable for its focus on how people are defined by what they do. Some of these doings are overtly useful, like Antoine the teacher and Toni the lawyer & mother; some of them are less obviously useful, like Antoine the musician and Janette the chef. But they all make life better to the extent that they truly pour themselves into what they do. They make life better on the horizontal dimension of better civilisation, amenities and pleasures, and on the depth dimension of life having subjective essence and sincerity; not being a collection of alien objects & objectives.

    I feel like Nelson Hidalgo is a good devil’s advocate character rather than the usual hunchback villain. You see that his way avoids a lot of the risks and pains of the other way, and is in tune with major power structures. He is even vital and expressive in his way, but his life is mostly a bubble, like a social cyst. And he can’t entirely avoid the risks and battles of life; the universe doesn’t allow any part to detach and live independently.

    So for me, the right choice is entirely clear – once you understand the situation.

    These are my thoughts and impressions. I hope my praise doesn’t offend by misreading your intent; maybe you’re genuinely unsure whether there’s hope or a point to it all. I find this thought unconvincing but I was rather struck by your blog’s title! I think Paul Tillich said, “Doubt isn’t the opposite of faith; it’s an element of faith.”

    I just looked that up to be sure; I also wanted to share this from him: “Neurosis is the way of avoiding non-being by avoiding being.” I’ve never been a junkie like Sonny, yet this describes half my life and half of what I see around me.

  • David,

    Found your back and forth regarding the future of journalism on the Internet of more than passing interest and feel no need to repeat the points. As a 25-year veteran of daily newspapering now disabled I’m not a money guy, but a former reporter who finds myself despairing for the future of quality journalism in any form. Yahoo and other sites of dubious quality are free and easy to find, and that seems to be enough for what once would have been an audience for the traditional newspaper. Which means they are settling for shit because it’s what they have. Those looking for more can be found in the daily comments section, where they can vent all day but ultimately find no satisfaction. You can make a convincing argument this began with USA Today, which basically killed the idea of the 30-inch deadline stories Gus off cried out for in The Wire’s newsroom scenes. Those 30-inch jumps off 1B are too often now 10-inch hold-to-the-page pieces — if that. Often they are simply ignored. The Wire portrayed Gus as willing to give a reporter time to develop what may turn into nothing as opposed to the sure thing of a three-car wreck on the bypass. My first day at my final newspaper, my AME hit me up for three budget lines by the end of the day. I began on a Christmas morning. I doubt this is a unique experience in today’s newspapers, and I can’t honestly blame him given the “more with less” expectations that you hit on the nose in The Wire. We heard it with every staff consolidation; I doubt if anyone believed it, including those who had to deliver the news to us. The New York Times, as is often the case, is the example for just about anything having to do with the future of journalism. That it’s running in the black is positive, but as we both know, it is the gold standard and one of the few if not only newspaper in the country with the weight to pull this off without a significant loss of quality. And the it’s not as if the bodies have not dropped there. With retirements and buyouts shrinking newsrooms to levels unfathomable a couple of decades ago, writers at smaller venues are either missing or untrained to withstand the heft or history of an in-depth story. You are filming and living at least part-time in a major American city that no longer offers a daily newspaper operated by a chain that made the same move with roughly a half dozen other smaller but hardly insignificant papers. You cannot go to your doorstep on Monday morning after a Sunday Saints game and pick up a paper recounting the game. The move to a Web-based product, which is not turned over among readers like the newsprint version, also has presents difficulties not necessarily recognized by casual readers. Where I would once take my notebook, brain and eyes to the scene of a story, I now find my successors are carrying video cameras, iPhones and the yoke of immediate deadlines for Net editions that allow them neither the time nor space to adequately develop a story. Immediacy has always been TV’s gig; we were there to provide depth and context. We both know that a good reporter who’s paying attention might have a five-minute window to catch what appears to be an enlightened source before he or she hops in the car not to be seen again. This is not to say today’s reporters work any less hard than any of generation’s. The battle has become technology v. news gathering. It is hard to work a source with a video camera in one hand, pen and notebook in a second and a phone connection to your editor in your third and even pretend to develop the immediate rapport you need and need quickly to follow a breaking story. Worse still, Net news seems to have followed TV into the right-wing, left-wing categories designed less to inform than draw viewers of a certain ideology. MSNBC and Fox News may send reporters to the same event, but the similarities in stories will end there. Seems to me if we can’t report accurately and with at least a modicum of depth economic models seem moot. I’ll pay something for something to get something and expect to get nothing for nothing. But I will be damned if I’ll pay something for nothing of what’s next to it. None of this is exactly headline material, but the slippage becomes more noticeable daily as I sit here as a reader instead of at my station as a reporter. Asking solely your opinion, what is the catalyst that that will steer the business back to its primary goal of informing its readers? Or, should I ask if that catalyst exists? How long am I going to stay with the New York Times and by what manner will it pick up new readers when I can’t even get substance from my hometown newspaper?

  • David. Huge fan here. I know this isn’t the right place for it, but I just have one specific question that I think only you can answer: will The Wire ever come out on blu-ray? If you don’t think so, then I will go out right now and buy the DVD set, but as of now, I’ve been paralyzed by the hope that it might be reissued.