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“Eventually, someone is going to pick up a brick.”
September 30, 2011 11:32 AM   Subscribe

David Simon, creator of The Wire, delivers the 2011 Frank Porter Graham Lecture at UNC-Chapel Hill.

No transcript is available, but IndyWeek has some coverage.
posted by enn (15 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite

 
I was there; great talk.
posted by gerryblog at 11:41 AM on September 30, 2011


Just hit 36 minutes in; his points on the fact that everyone benefits by things like police, firefighting, roads, railroads, and infrastructure is the key point that seems to always be conveniently ignored.
posted by yeloson at 12:29 PM on September 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


I hate that I had to miss this; thanks for posting.
posted by Rangeboy at 1:02 PM on September 30, 2011


Thanks for posting. Appropriately depressed now.
posted by Vhanudux at 1:07 PM on September 30, 2011


Thank you for the link. I live a block from one of the hearts of the drug trade of Baltimore city (Lexington Market) and I could not agree more with everything David Simon is saying. The prison-industrial complex is just one of the myriad of ways capitalism is destroying American lives. The sooner bricks are picked up, the sooner change will come.
posted by cloeburner at 1:08 PM on September 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Outstanding. Thank you for posting this.

I was speaking to a successful TV writer friend about The Wire recently, and his impression was that people in the industry have very little idea how Mr. Simon and his team created and maintained the truth and substance of the show. This informed, articulate, and thoughtful talk helps explain at least some of the process at work.
posted by dickyvibe at 1:23 PM on September 30, 2011


"people in the industry have very little idea how Mr. Simon and his team created and maintained the truth and substance of the show. "

They wouldn't would they? That's nice that they're aware of it though.
posted by stratastar at 1:38 PM on September 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is amazing everyone who thinks the drug war is a noble enterprise needs to listen to this
posted by lumpenprole at 2:20 PM on September 30, 2011


You know, his analysis is depressing as hell, and I'm sure he doesn't have as wide an audience as he deserves, but the fact that David Simon has an audience at all -- through TV, print and public appearances -- gives me hope that maybe his message will get through.
posted by EvaDestruction at 2:39 PM on September 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd love to hear this in full, but even with a decent broadband connection, it stutters to much as to make that impossible. Can we have an audio-only version, please?
posted by Paul Slade at 4:07 PM on September 30, 2011


The talk was an hour long. All substantive comments started appearing more than an hour after the link was posted. This gives me hope for Metafilter.

Topic? I like that we only need 8.4% of the population to get behind the idea of political action by mistrial to make it effective. This isn't a transcript, but the conclusion of his talk is adequately summarized by The Wire writers' Time magazine article on jury nullification.
posted by persona at 5:25 PM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Simon's jeremiads tend to run together - he's been giving versions of this very talk since at least the Season One DVD commentary of The Wire, never mind the groundwork he laid in his books and on the show itself - and this particular lecture's internal connections are a little more tenuous than some of his others'. But goddamn he is a forceful and brilliant speaker when he gets going.

The last few minutes of the talk before the jury nullification bit - the story about Felicia 'Snoop' Pearson - would make a powerful standalone piece; he does a hell of a job pacing and inflecting the story, unsurprisingly. The nullification plea itself is the most depressing part of the entire talk, for me, and I find myself resisting the idea that we have no other options. But I'd pay good money for Simon to write and shoot a segment for, say, NBC News about Pearson's current situation and the 'scary possibility' of jury nullification - hell, I'd even go so far as to turn on my television and watch NBC if that day came.

@dickyvibe - Rule #1 for writers room success seems to be 'Have at least one genius in the room,' which is the difference between shows like Deadwood, Mad Men, Buffy, The Wire, and Seinfeld on one hand, and shows like Lost, Galactica, and 24 on the other. Though perhaps the more comforting phrasing is 'A great show is about something other than itself,' which won't hurt the feelings of the self-regarding adolescent dilettantes who write so much of our television.
posted by waxbanks at 5:44 PM on September 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


"people in the industry have very little idea how Mr. Simon and his team created and maintained the truth and substance of the show. "

He spent a year doing ride alongs with Murder Pohlice in 88' for the show Homicide: Life on the Street (which is worth a watch if you can find it) also set and filmed in Baltimore.

He's been working that theme, writing on the topic and studying the life of cops and drug dealers in that city for 22 years. Dedication! It's going to get authentic!

How long do you think they spent researching Law and Order LA?
posted by Staples at 4:32 PM on October 1, 2011


"The nullification plea itself is the most depressing part of the entire talk, for me, and I find myself resisting the idea that we have no other options. "

The girding of the Wire, and this talk, is that in the "war on drugs" we've created a self-perpetuating system that moves and protects itself, and is inherently protected from internal change. As Simon says, it's "become a paycheck" which means that many individuals will fight to keep it as it is. Never mind how many million people are incarcerated, never mind the tens of thousands that are dying in Mexico, livelihoods depend on it.

So, without other options. One lever of power is jury nullification, that rests on individuals taking a moral action against the system.

The ESPN documentary "Without Bias", has a nice tangent into the birth of crack cocaine mandatory sentencing laws that I found very interesting as well, essentially congressional lawmakers were tricked by a "DC cop," himself a drug addict, on the dangers of crack cocaine which cascaded into an essential part of the drug war.
posted by stratastar at 5:02 PM on October 1, 2011


Devastating. When I started watching the Wire I could not get over its relentless affective sobriety; it's lack of familiar TV tropes dried me out. And now I realise that watching the Wire was just making me ready to listen to a talk (thanks waxbanks: jeremiad is right) by David Simon.
posted by vicx at 7:58 AM on October 3, 2011


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