On the Wire

Ideas and Issues Personal Writings

New Orleans        For several years now “The Wire” has been the best show on television.  The gritty realities of life in Baltimore resonate to anyone working these streets.  

    This year in the final season of the David Simon piece we are watching the continued collapse of institutions without resources:  the public sector forces of police, schools, and city are out of money and the local newspaper is slipping down the same slope.  If you haven’t watched the show, and many haven’t, if for no other reason than it is on HBO, this is just one of those things, but it makes you think.

    It makes you think of whether or not “overtime is the blood that the police run on,” as the B’more cops continue to say in a thousand different ways.  Studies that show that the drug traffic produces crazy money at the top but hardly minimum wage at the street level for so many of the rank and file workers would seem to indicate a mismatch.  

    Watching the honest stiffs at the local newspaper try to keep up without the staff to man the posts and while half the rats are being pushed off the ship and another bunch of them are jumping on their own, or at least trying to do so, also brings to mind the simple realities that for those who believe that the press is part of the “checks and balances” of public life. There is a new reality that has them pretending, but unable to play that role.  I don’t even want to think about not having police.  Somehow the rest of the city may go to dust, but if there is a city, there will be cop cars rolling.  The press is another thing though.  They are at the mercy of advertising that is moving to the internet and Google-world on one hand and a readership that has moved to TV, the internet, and the rumor mill as often as not.

    What will happen when there is no one left but citizens to keep an eye on what is happening downtown and here and there?  We don’t have the resources for sure.  What happens when no one really does?

    “The Wire” is asking that question.  On one hand they are saying that people will just start making it up.  But on the other hand there seems to be no clue what might be next.