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:
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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
As of the current government shutdown, we need voices like yours more than ever.
It’s too astonishing to grasp. This is a vile time in which to be an American citizen.
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.
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
Hey at least the Sun regulates the profanity! Don’t want to offend anyone……
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.
With regard to surveillance, and other things:
“America does not have a functioning democracy at this point in time.” – former President Jimmy Carter at a closed door event at Atlanta, as reported by Der Spiegel.
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.
In light of recent events, I remember what little I’ve read about the era of England’s Bloody Code. I can’t reproduce what I’ve read, but for an outline, refer you to Wikipedia:
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.
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.
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
[…] He discussed some weeks ago with a blog reader about the changes of new era of internet media. “Yes, in the past, circulation didn’t support the paper — it was a loss leader. Advertisin… For Simon wouldn’t be strange that some media joint forces to offer packages. “It will […]
[…] Read it all here: David Simon | Introduction. […]
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.
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.
“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’.
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.
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
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.
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.
*Despite your not being able to define “excellence in media.” Ahem.
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.
[…] my maiden blog might contain some kind of a mission statement. I’d found myself inspired by David Simon’s introduction to his fantastic blog The Audacity of Despair before I ruled against it. So although […]
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.
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.
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?
Hi David, I’m a big fan. The Wire is the best show ever made in my opinion, and holds the record for the show I’ve watched the most time over.
Just thought you’d like to see a thread about the show on Done Deal Pro (a screenwriters forum). A lot of love there.
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.
It was not shot in high-def or letter box. No point. It appears as we intended.
Your statement leaves me perplexed and dumbfounded. You shot on 35mm film, first 4-perf and then 3-perf. Surely you understand that the image information is on the negative and a blu-ray version would convey far more of it than a DVD even truncated to 4:3. So are you making an artistic statement–that you didn’t originally conceive of the picture as higher than SD definition? I bet your DP’s differ with you. Or do you just not want to revisit past history, afraid that you’d be living in the past? Do you have the right to final cut on this decision? Or is it up to HBO?
Look at what Billy and Owen did with The French Connection, reaching back from the ends of their lives to the start of their careers to remaster their masterpiece. Come on man, it’s not so bad!
I saw The Wire converted to HD on BBC in the U.K. Looked awful. Just awful. No documentarian-feel to it whatever.
Since the BBC didn’t have the picture remastered from the negative, and it was not originally scanned in HD, we must presume that they simply up-rezzed the SD version. At best, this process only marginally improves SD, and at worst it looks awful indeed.
Re-scanning and remastering from the negative or its prints is the only way to get good results. In view of the high production values, I think even you would be impressed, especially since you never saw it on film. I hear that even your dailies were on DVD. In good HD, the grit will look even grittier and more realistic.
So how about it? Don’t you owe it to humanity?
But we told that story. Moving on now to new stuff. No rear-view mirror.
You’re suggesting that TV is as ephemeral as theater. I think TV is more permanent than oil paintings since it can be fully captured in digital media. No one is asking you to take your eye off the road and look in a rear-view mirror that reveals sins of the past. All we want you to do is honk the horn at HBO to let them know that you’ll acknowledge paternity of the second life of The Wire, a magnificent life that will go on for eternity.
The stories told by creative works continue to be told long after their authors have busted off their rear-view mirrors, thrown it out the window while speeding past a graveyard (landing on a coffin in an open grave before a shocked audience of mourners dumped in their first spoonful of soil), and reached the end of the road at a warlord’s checkpoint in Somalia. .
So who at HBO is the point person for such a decision on remastering an archival work?
Dunno. But you might start with my co-producer, Nina Noble. She has the responsibility for liaison with HBO production execs.
Sorry to join this conversation almost a year late, but I’ve been looking for a place to agree with what Bernard is saying.
Scanning the original 35mm prints would just increase the resolution of the image, without stripping the documentary-like quality of the show. That lies in the way you guys set up the shots and did the lighting on the show and no matter how high the resolution is, it can’t be taken away.
It’s one thing to shoot video because you want it to look like low-quality, low-budget documentarian work. That’s one of the reasons The Police Tapes was so great, but you knew going in that you wouldn’t (and couldn’t) do that, didn’t you? It was always going to be 35mm film, which looks like 35 mm film, whether it’s SD or HD.
Maybe The Wire would have been even better if you had shot it with amateur video cameras, but ultimately it looks like what it is, a television show shot on film by professionals.
That being said, going back to scan the films and edit everything back together is a very expensive process and only a handful of television shows have had the luck to enjoy this preferential treatment (Cheers, Seinfeld, Friends, The X-Files, Star Trek, shows that were ridiculously successful and justify that investment). That might be
one of the reasons HBO won’t do it, at least for now. From what I read, television shows don’t really sell that well, especially on blu-ray, so the reason these high quality remasters are being done is so that they can be broadcast nowadays when everyone owns an HD television and every network is in HD. It’s one of the reason they
only released the first and last season of The Sopranos on blu-ray. They didn’t sell.
See, that’s one of the great things about having a blog. It increases the number of nobodies who tell you how to do your job better by 1000%.
No, thanks. This is informative.
After seeing The Wire broadcast in some form of HD-transfer on BBC in the U.K. I was entirely appalled. I suppose I’d be entirely willing to look at some better process and consider. But as you note, HBO itself, which owns the property, isn’t exactly looking to incur the expense.
For some weird reason it looks like I can’t post a reply on your comment in the blu-ray/HD comment section.
There’s an HD version of the pilot going around the Internet, which is obviously some kind of upconvert from an SD source, which looks truly terrible.
You more than anyone else could shed some light on this one. The reason those shows were so expensive to convert to HD is that up until the early 2000s, the editing and post processing (adding the credits) was done on video tape so the final master copies of the episodes were in 480p standard definition. The only way to access the huge quality that 35mm has (it’s somewhere around 4K, think 4 times higher than HD), is to go back to the original film elements, scan them in high resolution, and then do the editing and post processing all over again.
On the other hand though, newer shows, like Breaking Bad or Mad Men, which were also shot on 35mm film, were edited in digital format (they scanned the film right after it was shot, and it was edited on the computer), so HD and SD go hand in hand. Was The Wire edited on videotape or was it edited digitally from higher quality sources and just exported in SD quality for broadcast? HBO may already have high quality film scans of the show, making it so much easier to create an HD version. Another question is if your directors framed the shots for an eventual 16.9 broadcast (as oposed to just 4.3, a technique called “futureproofing”). If not, 4.3 HD is also an option, Paramount recently released a stunning 4.3 high definition transfer of Twin Peaks (David Lynch had only framed the show for 4.3)
Anyway, this is what the first season of the Sopranos looks after HD treatment:
I apologize if you didn’t like that show and I keep beating you over the head with it, it’s the only one I could think of to fit the description (dark, gritty, urban look and also remastered from original film elements for high definition tv and blu-ray). I think it only amplifies the feeling you get watching it with so much more detail and picture quality.
The discussion around the message boards was “The Wire will never be in HD, David Simon wants it that way because it looks more real” and I always thought it was so unfair and I really appreciate being able to get this information to you.
I know it sounds like a dumb point to make, but 60 years ago everybody told Lucille Ball she was insane to waste money on 35mm film to do a show nobody would watch again. In the meantime, shows that were shot on videotape are practically dead in reruns nowadays because there’s no way to make them look better on HD screens. In 20 years time, 480p standard definition will really be unwatchable.
Sopranos is great.
We edited digitally. Have done so for years. Not sure I ever edited otherwise.
I know I was offered the chance to go to letterbox and HD by HBO after the third season and I chose to keep the format intact and consistent. And, as I said, I saw HD conversions that were appalling in the U.K. so I steered away. I would not want to go to letterbox as our shot composition was not for letterbox on The Wire. Can you go to HD without going to letterbox in a cost-effective way? Someone told me you couldn’t, that it was a package, but that was many years ago. And again, HBO owns it and has shown no interest yet in converting.
But I’ll certainly take a look at what you say is a good HD transfer, though again, the Sopranos was also in letterbox from jump, as I recall.
Letterboxing isn’t an issue anymore, since most television sets and computer displays are now 16.9 widescreen, instead of the old 4.3. If your shots were framed for 4.3, you can always go 4.3 HD (think Casablanca and
movies from that era, when they were shooting 4.3 http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/screenshot.php?movieid=746&position=6 http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/screenshot.php?movieid=746&position=3). Mark Frost and David Lynch just did it with Twin Peaks, from what I understand the blu-ray is coming out sometime this year or
early 2014 (they kept it 4.3, because they had also composed the shots that way).
The problem this approach creates is a thing called pillarboxing, which is basically reverse letterboxing, instead of having black bars above and under your image, they’re on the left and right of the screen, because most screens nowadays have the
16.9 wide aspect ratio. Networks hate that, so what they do is crop a 16.9 wide shot (cut the top and the bottom of the image, so it fits in a wider screen without distorting the picture), thus screwing up the way you guys originally shot it anyway. I’ll post a couple of screenshots to make it more clear:
I just went back to an interview with Dave Insley (http://library.creativecow.net/articles/griffin_nick/hbo_the_wire.php) who says the show was indeed framed for widescreen viewing in the future (“Insley explained, “When the show started 2001 / 2002 they framed it for 16 x 9 as a way of future-proofing”).
He also goes on to explain how HBO made it look like HD (“As a viewer with an HD set I will point out that like much of SD television that makes its way to HD channels, it appears that HBO utilizes state-of-the-art line doubling technology.
It may still be standard definition, but line doubled it looks considerably better on a high definition set than it would on a standard definition set.”) I think that’s what you saw in UK, which is nowhere near to true high definition film transfer and remaster.
Keeping the show SD and 4.3 was obviously the way to go back then to preserve continuity. If Insley is right and the shots were indeed framed for 16.9 viewing, the X-Files, Sopranos, Seinfeld way is the way to go. That is, going back to the original film and using the full wide picture, so that it doesn’t get cropped to prevent pillarboxing.
Since I don’t live in the states, I haven’t seen these shows air on television back then so if Sopranos aired in letterboxing, it means they really wanted to frame it 16.9 for the future and had it that way from the beggining. What I think happened is that they made the switch and didn’t care that much about the continuity of their look, so
that may be why you saw it air letterboxed.
He also mentioned your schedule back then:
“”For dailies while we’re shooting we have a film cut-off at 4pm every day. The film gets driven up to New York where it gets processed and the DVD is back down not the next day, but the day after. If we really needed it we could probably get it back the next day.” If the film, when processed, was scanned at high definition resolution, it means they already have HD masters to work with.
I tried to make it as clear as possible and it became a complicated mess. Sorry. Feel free to ask any questions and I’ll clear everything up for you as best as I can.
Bottom line: they already screwed up your original framing, if you futureproofed it back then (seems like you did after all), you can do HD widescreen no problem.
Sopranos had 16:9 from jump. One of the first television dramas, as memory services. From the pilot.
We had filmed three seasons in 4:3 when HBO offered the same, more expensive opportunity to us. At that point, we elected to maintain fealty to the look we had developed. We did not film protectively in anticipation of any conversion. We served the story in 4:3 with our shot composition.
To answer your original question, HD and 4:3 is definitely possible. Networks are going to crop it to fit the 16:9 frame anyway, the only thing to (really) improve is the quality by scanning the original film and going full HD. People streaming it online on Netflix or iTunes will watch it in its original aspect ratio.
If HBO ever decides to go back and do it HD (and I think sooner or later they will, they pretty much will have to) I guess you have to be around and push for 4:3 transfers instead of full-frame scans.
Well, if they crop it, then we will either lose some top and bottom to manufacture the letterbox size, or they are going to simply put it up there with black space on either side of the image. Both outcomes are inferior to the intended imagery of the 4:3. If we were protecting for later 16:9 we would have framed a wider shot in out blocking and background. We did not do so. Certainly not consistently.
I guess I would need to see a transfer and decide, to be sure. Thanks for the education.
I managed to track what network broadcast the show in HD (the one I sent you the printscreen from):
“On April 13, 2010, American cable provider DirecTV announced that it would air all five seasons of The Wire in High-Definition beginning Sunday, July 18, 2010. This would be the first time the show has ever been shown in the High-Definition format. Considering The Wire was not originally aired in High-Definition, it remains unclear whether the DirecTV broadcast will be a ‘true’ High-Definition transfer from the original 35mm film stock or an upconverted version of the standard-definition broadcast.”
They already cropped the 4:3 shot to fit the “letterbox size” as you called it. Everything is in a tighter shot. Since I don’t anyone who owns an old 4:3 television (do you?) and virtually every network broadcasts in widescreen, the only solution that saves you from black bars on the sides or cropping to fit 16:9 would be going fullscreen HD from the original film. It’s not that big of a stretch from 4:3, someone would have to go through every episode and make sure there aren’t inconsistencies
I was watching a video I can’t find anymore about the Twin Peaks transfer in which they were explaining why they chose to stick to 4:3 – they had a shot of a guy pulling a surgical glove from his hand and, as the glove snapped, they switched to a close-up of another guy getting hit in the face by the glove. If they had scanned the full film frame, the glove falling on the floor would have been visible because they framed specifically for 4:3 and the shot with the guy getting hit in the face wouldn’t have had sense anymore. This is the kind of thing I’m talking about.
I’m happy to help. This is certainly not a show that’s going to be forgotten in the upcoming decades, it really needs the visual boost.
Right. And so to avoid the black space on either side, they ruin our shot composition. I saw DirecTV version. It was a mess.
If the shot is trimmed to fit 16:9 I don’t want to do it. If shown what is possible, I’m happy to look and consider. But we knew what we were showing in 14:3. We didn’t block b.g. for 16:9 and we understood the image that we were filming toward. When the chance came to upgrade to 16:9 HD after three seasons, I decided that we would complete the project, as a whole, in consistent imagery and aesthetic.
Gen Kill was my first project in letterbox.
SO it’s black bars or nothing for me on that score. And I think that is even more the issue for HBO than HD upgrade.
Letterboxing was acceptable on old 4:3 televisions because it looked “cool” and “high-tech”. It was the way they usually had to broadcast movies and it looked Hollywood-ish, even with gritty dark shows like The Sopranos. Reverse letterboxing (with the stripes on the left and right) looks “old”, since old shows and very old movies are stuck in 4:3 and networks, whether they admit it or not, want to be “hip”, “cool” and “sexy” so they will not hesitate to shit on your whole aesthetic and ruin your shots to avoid those black bars. I may be speculating a little, but that’s just my take on it.
Anyway, if you get your chance to ask for a 1080p/1080i full HD version, by all means, do it. The other reason the DirecTV was a mess was because you’re watching a low resolution version blown up to a high definition screen. It’s like digitizing an audio cassette and then playing it on a $50 000 sound system. It’s gonna sound like shit. Doesn’t matter if you recorded the song at Abbey Road, the cassette is still going to have its limitations. As for framing, if there’s a compromise in the composition (and there will always be one if you only did 4:3 back then), you have to decide if you want ridiculously tight shots or an awkward wideness that wasn’t intended.
I just watched Hitchcock’s Saboteur, 1942, stunning in Blu-Ray, and in it’s original 1.37 aspect ratio. Metropolis on Blu-Ray was beautiful at 4:3. at the other end, Ben-Hur looks great at 2:76. There is nothing about HD that constrains aspect ratio.
Regarding your producer, Nina Noble, I posted the first comment on her page here:
It’s still the only post on there. So feel free to nag.
I love you and your work dude, but you just said the very thing about the internet that infuriates me the most from ‘Old Media’ types. You did not get paid at the Baltimore Sun or any other newsroom from the 25 cents it cost to buy the paper, you got paid from the advertising and the Classifieds (the Classifieds then all going to Craigs List and the like was the huge error newspapers made at the dawn of the internet, the should have used their trusted brand in this space to become the dominant Craigslist type site on the web, then the layoffs need not have happened, but I digress). The same goes for the Web, if you drive huge traffic to this site then you will be able to generate income from it via advertising, just like newspapers and TV do. There is no need to charge for it, just build a large audience then charge advertisers to associate themselves with it, this ‘Old Media” business plan will work just as well for the internet as it ever did for the printed word
You come with that three-year-late canard about circulation revenues and I’m the one who gets accused of being the ‘old media’ type? Really?
The media landscape has indeed changed and is still changing, and honestly, you’re missing it.
Yes, in the past, circulation didn’t support the paper — it was a loss leader. Advertising revenues supported the paper. Why? Because of the costs of circulation: Newsprint, presses, pressmen, trucks, gas, etc. It cost money to get a newspaper to a doorstep, regardless of how much coin you could charge for the product.
But now? Take a long breath and think about it.
Now, for the first time in the history of prose journalism, every paid subscription to a newspaper operating with a paywall is pure profit, save for the static costs of maintaining the digital website. The world has flipped and slowly, belatedly, the newspaper industry is realizing it. In fact, the reason the industry leaders failed to see it for too long was that they were wedded — as you are still wedded — to the model in which advertising with the god of revenue and circulation was the loss leader. But that isn’t true digitally. Now the future of journalism lies in paywalls and a paid circulation base. Now digital advertising can’t command sufficient rates to support first-rate journalism. (You’re wrong about that, too. Digital advertising on free webpages can only command pennies on the dollar of the print ad rates that once sustained journalism.) But digital circulation can sustain such an enterprise. And is doing so: The New York Times goes to a paywall and now has 700,000 paid subscriptions, and on the strength of that figure is being upgraded by Wall Street analysts. Next quarter they will be back in the black for the first time in many a year.
People always paid to have the paper come to their doorstep. Eventually, they’ll pay to have it available on their digital devices. As they are doing with the NYT. And the Wall Street Journal. And the FT. And even some regional papers and chains are now experimenting. Would it have been easier if they had not let the horse out of the barn for a decade or more? If they hadn’t eviscerated themselves in cost-cutting and ushered so much talent and content out of the newsrooms? Of course.
But they did and now the only road back is to nuture the paid subscription model and use revenues to reinvest in the coverage that people want and can’t get otherwise. And digital subscription revenue — which is now profit, not a loss leader as it was in the days of newsprint — will sustain the news-gathering function of a professional newsroom. The NYT at the top of the foodchain is proving it and most every other newspaper chain in the country is either following them or preparing to do so. This is the end of the beginning of a very dark and misplayed era for professional journalism.
Do the research. You’ll see that your argument is about two years behind the actual trend in the industry. Kind of embarrassing when you label people as Old Media and New Media, but then you go on to miscalculate your argument based on an Old Media model that no longer actually applies.
It pains me greatly to argue with someone who not only I respect so much, but also someone who I 100% ackowledge is about a million times smarter than me, But just a couple of points.
1. The pennies on the dollar thing about internet advertising. This is internet content providers fault. When they think of innovative ways to offer advertising on the sites, the numbers that come to the sites should drive up the cost of advertising on these sites. In a world of DVR’s television advertising on anything other than Live Sport is becoming more and more useless, when I watch Treme for example, I never ever watch the ads, I just start 15 minutes after it starts and fast forward through the commercials. Eventually advertisers will have to wake up to the fact this is happening and then they will see that the one place they can be guaranteed their advertising will actually be viewed is on blogs such as these if the ads can be designed in a way that they are a part of the page that must be interacted with, or at the very least viewed, banner ads and the like are probably not the answer, but someone much smarter than myself will think of a way. It just makes no sense that a TV show that draws a million viewers can charge 10 – 50 times as much for a 30 second spot than a blog or website that gets a million page views can charge for an ad on that site, eventually this has to change when the advertisers wake up, that is not the media (either new or old) fault, it is the fault of advertisers and media buyers who are not moving with the times. When this happens then advertising will provide the necessary funding.
2. The NYT thing is a great experiment and I hope it works, but when it happened I just flicked to reading the Washington Post. I do believe that if my first point holds, which I truly believe it must, again DVR’s will change the entire TV business model in ways much more profound than have even occurred to Newspapers with the internet, and then Advertisers have to find somewhere to get eyeballs on their products, anyway, when this happens aren’t you better off getting a advertising dollars based of 20 million eyes than $7 of 1 million people, and if you are not the NYT good luck getting people to pay for it.
Don’t get me wrong, I am no new-media expert, I just am a person who consumes a shitload of news on the internet and elsewhere, just a normal consumer and I am just going by my experience and how I consume these things and I am convinced that eventually advertisers will wake up, I mean think about Newspaper ads, I never remember doing anything other than flicking past them, I often wondered why anyone would buy a full page ad, I mean a half page ad sort of made sense, because you were on that page to read the story in the other half so you may take notice, but a full page ad was just flicked right past, but with the internet, if it is done in a clever innovative way, where you click and buy (or something actually innovative not as lame as that idea I just stated) surely that has to have a value much higher than the comparable ad in the paper.
You complaint seems to centre on the fact that Internet advertisers dont pay a fair rate, may argument is that will change and when they do pay a fair rate, the whole business model suddenly works.
Anyway the last thing I want to do is upset the person who gave me The Wire and The Corner, I spend half my life forcing people to borrow the DVD’s off me, so please, I did not mean any offence with the ‘old media’ thing, its just that as a consumer I know this is how I think things will play out, for example I live in Sydney but listen to a Miami Sports Radio podcast every day, now if they charged I would probably stop, but doesnt the fact I do listen mean that now that radio show can start advertising global brands and not just the local shopping centre, that is really my main point.
No one is upset at anything here. Argument is welcome on this blog.
Fact is advertising only commands what it does digitally because that is the market itself. Those selling and those buying those ads have concluded that a web-hit on a free page of the internet is worth X, where a page of an actual publication delivered into someone’s house or office and maintained there throughout the day to be seen, perhaps, by multiple readers is worth Y. Blaming the seller because rates of the new model aren’t sufficient enough to pay the costs of journalism seems beside the point.
The NYT is more than an experiment at this point. Nearly two years in and it is transformational for that company. And yes, what is the Washington Post waiting for? That company is leaking revenue and its product is getting weaker with every buyout. Either the Post will make the jump to a paywall, or eventually they’ll bleed out to the point where they will no longer be even marginal competition for the NYT’s national and international coverage. At this point, they are much less than they were five or six years ago.
This revolution had to start from the top down. When the national papers take their coverage behind a paywall, then and only then will it it will become plausible for regional newspapers to follow suit. And those papers are already planning to follow suit. Every major newspaper chain — every single one — is now planning to eventually maintain paywalls. Again, it is end of the beginning.
You are used to a world that is unsustainable. News organizations have realized they must find a way to create a revenue stream through digitized delivery, and they are engaged in doing so. Your ability to get the best journalism for free is going to become less and less and at some point, if you want to have professional journalism, you’ll pay $10 or $15 or $20 a month for it. As readers did when it landed on their doorsteps every day.
And if the industry really gets their shit together down the road, it will get to the point where you’ll sign up with a consortium for digital access to your choice of various national, regional and local media. As with your cable bill. You want the NYT and the local regional paper and SI.com or ESPN and the WSJ, check those boxes and send the monthly bill. Sound crazy? Don’t see why it would be. We all once got television for free. Eventually, they ran the cable into our homes and now we spend $40 or $50 or $100 a month for television. And that revenue supports a multitude of programming that didn’t exist a couple generations ago. Same thing can happen with journalism. But job one is having the major papers get behind the paywall. NYT, LAT and WSJ are already there. WP is the last national paper outside and they are struggling as a result. They’ve screwed the pooch on this moment and eventually, they’re going to have to follow suit to stop their own bleeding, revenue-wise. Right now, the industry as a whole is looking to paid digital subscription as the future.
Well David it looks like you were right, I finally bit the bullet today and paid for an on-line NYT subscription to get through the paywall, now in my defence I only did it because I have become addicted to Krugmans blog and I only became addicted because they had the 10 free articles a month deal, so I still think you have to have a mixture of pay and free, with the free used to lure you in, and also I only bit the bullet because they have a $5 for 12 week special offer, but I know what I am like, now I have done it, I will not cancel after the 12 weeks, I will keep letting it renew, so yeah, maybe Pay isnt a totally bad idea. However I still believe that the big issue is that in this DVR world that TV advertising is MASSIVELY over-priced and Internet advertising is massively under-priced and when those prices rationalize then I really believe free content will work as a business model as the advertising will drive revenue, especially when companies start doing smart ads where you can one-click purchase the product that is being advertised in front of you.
But they are all rationalizations I was saying that I would just choose other content rather than pay, but I have just proven myself a hypocrite, and I figured seeing as went back and forth on this you deserved to know you won.
P.S. rewatching The Wire for about the millionth time at the moment, I know Season 4 is universally regarded as the best season, and I do truly love it and always thought it the best too, but I am really coming to view Season 3 as my favourite (i.e. 4 is the best but 3 is my favourite if that makes sense) do you have a favourite season?
I just found your blog. I read the introduction. Do you mean that I CAN’T send you my 1100 page TV script for a musical version of “War and Peace?” Libretto is fantastic, since I use my own musical scale: 6.5 notes per octave, meant to be played on a Tibetan “lohosa,” a 13 stringed, palm sized instrument.
Whoops, I didn’t mean “libretto,” I meant score. The Song book..(in Russian) is quite ordinary…
If you wrap it in fifty-dollar bills, I’ll accept delivery.
I saw you and Anna Deveare Smith a few days ago at the Public Forum here in New York, and I have to say that it’s one of the most fruitful events I’ve ever been to – hearing you two talk about the contemporary state of the American city was a real treat! I’m very glad that you were wrong about your plans for the blog and expect to be posting with a bit more regularity – while I don’t always agree with what you say, I always find myself provoked to thought by it, which is far better in my book.
I watched your guest spot on Bill Maher and I need to tell you that you are a breath of fresh air in the arena of political debate. I loved how you spoke of the fantasy of the “Great Man” whom many Americans believe actually exists. It saddens me how Americans have chosen their politicians throughout my lifetime (48 yrs). Does he have nice hair, does he love his Mama, was he in the military, is he a church going Christian, will he (hopefully) lie to me and tell me he has all the answers. I’m at the point where I’m beginning to hate the political process. Ours is certainly flawed (the electoral college is a joke). Although I truly believe you are right about the correct approach to selecting our politicians I don’t think average Americans are independent thinkers with regard to public policy or intellectual enough to think about the points you made on Maher’s program. Yes I am a cynic. As a black woman I never thought I’d live to see a black man in the White House. Certainly not before a white female. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe there are more misogynists in this country than racists. See where my mind goes? Please keep blogging and writing novels. I love the way your mind works.
I’m happy to have come across your website after being a fan of your work for so long. I would gladly pay for access.
dear mr. simon,
thank you for this most post, my initial exposure to your most recent foray.
to the extent that it greases the wheels of your own skepticism, posts like this pay dividends long past the point at which they are remembered to people you will never see, meet, or in all likelihood, hear from.
it is the ultimate act of faith, the writer’s equivalent of “if you build it, they will come”–if you write it, they will read. as i am sure you are well aware, yours is not to worry who they are or what they derive from reading.
trust me: your intentions will carry the day.
speaking strictly for myself, they already have.
until next time, all the best and then some,
I understand the dilemma of free content, but i hope you don’t decide to charge for access to your thoughts. Perhaps you could try an invitation to voluntary contributions first.
I suggest this because there are a lot of people out there who will enjoy reading your blog. Some, like me, are older and have had some limited economic success. I would gladly subscribe, but I would also donate voluntarily. Others, and I’m thinking of one of my kids in particular, are struggling artists who care deeply about your ideas but have very limited cash. They would probably be shut out by a subscription model.
Or alternatively, if you have a subscription price, allow people to either avoid it or pay a truly nominal amount if they declare themselves either students or struggling artists — in public. Would this open the door to cheats? Of course, but I pity the a**holes who would publicly post their names on a lie to read your website.
I once was at a bookstore in a remote town and I found myself short of cash. The proprietor told me to take the books and come back the next day with the rest of the money. I asked him how he got away with running a business in such a naive manner. He responded that over the years he found that people who buy books, especially books other than trade paperbacks, tend not to steal from bookstores. Of course I came back the next day. Not only did he make a sale, he bought a tremendous amount of goodwill with his attitude. I don’t claim that everyone who goes to your site will have the same ethics, but its worth a thought.
Best wishes, and can’t wait for your next project.
Simon:television as Dickens:newspapers
David when you get a chance shoot me an email. I am still close with the whole crew that you encouraged to do better in life and better in our community..Thank you so much for always encourging me to do better. David, you are a truly a blessing..From Kevin..You are a blessing to me
Would this be the young man formerly known as “Little Kevin” who was the best dancer in the bunch? I am glad to hear from you if so. And glad that you seem to be doing well. I could have guessed as much as I remember your people kept you more on those rowhouse steps than out on those corners. You were a good kid.
You’re being kind. Ed and I were there being ordinary and taking careful notes. What you accomplished, Kevin, is your own.
I’ve been looking for a book titled, “The Art of the Box”, by David Simon. I want a BOOK. Not a blog or a nook book or a CD. I have been looking for this book since I watched episode 2 of The Wire with the Clark Johnson commentary. During the interrogation of D’angelo Barksdale, he made reference to the title, but I’ve never been able to lay hands on it…any help for a huge fan and voracious reader?
I know of no such book.
There is a chapter in “Homicide” that is devoted to The Box and interrogation tactics and strategy. Not sure if that is what Clark meant.
Love your writing style and I agree with everything!
Are you still filming? Saw this little kid on the New Orleans morning show. James Craig as part of the New Orleans Urban Music M(inistries?) He is wonderful! He might make a good student for Mr. Baptiste. .
David, Please. I want your advice. I saw with my own eyes how the local press knew the truth of the disaster in New Olreans years before the national press picked up on it. Heck, we are still fighting the meme of the “natural disaster” that destroyed our city. What do I do? New Orleanian sknow how to fight for our culture. How do we fight against our own pape that spoke the truth to us post Katrina?
Thanks for the links. I PAY for a subscription to the a Times Picayune just for that reason. New is not free. I do not know what I will do in September when it goes to 3 days. Do a cancel the subcription in protest or do I support the remaining reporters??????
Any comment on the gutting of the Times Picayune? I would be interested in your reaction.
Thanks for setting this site up. I really value your work.
I work for a jobs/education program for the City of Boston working to support court/gang involved youth. I was also lucky enough to be a production runner for an event last fall for the Boston Book Festival called “The Art of The Wire”. In the two days I worked the event I got to have some great conversations with Jamie Hector, Robert Chew, and Trey Chaney about the show’s impact and social work in general. It was really interesting for me to see these Boston/Cambridge elites linger at the book signing to talk with the actors and share their anecdotes about the work that they do. Most explained how they work for non-profits, and were talking at the actors rather than conversing. All the actors (Donnie and Fran too!) were gracious, but the whole affair was unsetlling to me. Not many people cared to ask about the actors’ own social work endeavors.
The actors seemed baffled that all these rich, mostly white, people cared about The Wire all these years later. Some of the actors confessed to me that they didn’t really understand the reception.
I loved The Wire because it worked to get at not only broken systems, and the individuals running them, but also how they can wear down even the most well-meaning, intelligent people. I feel the show brilliantly showed the ironies and tragedies of our time. As a student who attends a public university that is no longer PUBLICY funded, and a social worker that is seeing so many beneficial public programs being gutted and spliced into a thousand private agencies that divide up the work to the point of being ineffective, witnesseing this event felt like an ironically tragic episode of the show. Most of the people at the event run pet non-profits that are more about congratulating themselves for “helping those poor black kids out of the ghetto” than actually affecting change for these kids who are literally dying miles away from them. Nearly none of them work with the kids that actually need the help (violent, gang involved youth) because it’s too scary. And if they do, they squander the money on silly things that don’t even directly help the kids (like $60,000 for subway ads for a Facebook page that preaches non-violence. Most of the kids i’ve worked with don’t even use Facebook). It was just interesting to see these people get “Marlo’s” autograph when, if they saw Marlo on the street, they’d clutch their purse and look for a cop.
As a young person doing this work, I’m always seeking advice and support as to how to not get too discouraged by all of this. I’m not trying to be overly negative here, I guess i’m just looking to vent and hear any words of hope you, or any readers, have to offer. Any thoughts/advice are welcomed from anyone reading here.
Keep up the great work Mr. Simon. It helps me remain curious, open minded, vocal, and angry.
Mr. Simon, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. It is frustrating when the middleman muddies your quotes in sensationalist press releases.
As a twenty-something myself, I feel implicated by this “guilt by association” by people my age stealing content online. I respect copyright A LOT and I was appalled at what other people in college were doing seemingly on a whim. Their excuses range from “the copyright laws are flawed” to “it is not a big deal”. Then again, I was also tempted and felt really awful afterwards. (Buying physical media is the way to go!)
It makes it harder for people like myself to be taken seriously online when this crime is getting more attention than the poverty that most college graduates are finding themselves in. This has allowed the internet commentators to turn them into hipster soundbites to back up the assertion that young people of this generation have been compromised. Their problems are irrelevant when online theft becomes a defining trait.
There needs to be more education, not cynicism, unless the selfish generation owns up to what they are doing that is hurting all of us. The comments page can be alluring to hurl insults at a scapegoat, yet I think we can do more to discuss this issue without turning it into another generation fight. I am certainly willing to try to engage without brushing off an entire group of people. Of course, this issue gets lost in the media’s love of “Who is the lesser asshole?” that Mr. Simon is talking about, and that almost makes me give up the internet.