I found out this morning that one of the most exemplary writers and journalists of our time has decided to open up his laptop and produce a thoughtful (though infrequently updated) weblog, titled “The Audacity of Despair.” The writer I’m referring to is, of course, David Simon, who is best known as the creator and show-runner of The Wire, a show that has already entered the cultural canon as one of the best American works of fiction (in any medium) of the last 100 years. That’s not hyperbole or opinion. That is fact.
However, there are handful of other things you may not know about David Simon, which, I think, make him a phenomenal role model for us aspiring grown-ups. They are as follows.
- He’s OVER The Wire, or at least people who obsess over it now. He recently told the NY Times that he views people who obsess about it “with contempt.” He made the best show ever, but has moved.
- He’s an old union man. At 27, he helped lead a newsroom strike at the Baltimore Sun, the storied newspaper where he was a crime reporter.
- At 28(!), he spent a year with the Baltimore Homicide Department, reporting and writing his first book, Homicide: A Year On The Killing Streets, which is a really good (dark) book. What did you do when you were 28? Check your Facebook 10,000 times instead of working?
- In The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Drug Corner, his second book, which formed a lot of inspiration for The Wire, he’d occasionally give the characters he was following around rides when he was asked, and in the body of the book, he’d refer to them as “hack rides”, as in “Deandre caught a hack ride downtown.” And in the afterward, that a “hack ride” meant either he or Ed Burns, his ex-cop co-writer, were the ride, inserting themselves into a narratvie they were supposed to be documenting. I always liked that characterization, because it it’s like a “hack” in the narrative, it wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t been there, but he acknowledges it and the same time he diminishes it.
- On his new blog, he admits to hating blogs, for destroying the industries he loves (print, newspapers), but says he still likes having an outlet for “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.”
- If you talk about him on a message board, he might just show up on said message board and school you.
So watch The Wire, if you haven’t (YOU HAVEN’T WATCH THE WIRE?!?!?!?!), read Homicide and The Corner, and try and have some of Simon’s sense of outrage and clarity about America and work ethic and principles. It will make you better.
Sources (NY Times, Wikipedia, AV Club, The Corner, The Audacity of Despair).
Photo credit: Pulled from an old Esquire profile.
Henry Goldman is founder of yr an adult. He can feel himself slipping.