So, the sick irony of my off-handed comment regarding our favorite Big Box store yesterday has just settled in. But moments ago, I heard this absurd piece of news relating the tragic death by trampling suffered by one Walmart seasonal employee yesterday morning at a Walmart in Valley Stream, NY. The anxious crowd of shoppers apparently grew so out of control that the police had to be called in and even they could not assuage the near-rioting people. See, kids? Rampant capitalism is dangerous! Now it has claimed yet another life.
And in such cynical holiday spirit, I happened to watch the end of Season 3 of the Wire last nigth and man. Much as I feel like a chump for writing about television here, I make exceptions for things exceedingly relevant and exceedingly worthwhile. And frankly, if you haven't seen this genius show yet, I feel it my duty to persuade you: this show is one of the greatest things television has ever seen.
Since relocating to the West coast, I am constantly grasping at things to remind me what its like back east. I am terrified I will forget what a Philly accent sounds like. Watching the Wire not only takes me right back to the mid-atlantic, but its portrayal of Baltimore is so close to our bedraggled and beloved Philadelphia that it's pretty much a one stop shop when I'm feeling homesick. I'd go so far as to say that if you have never had the pleasure to visit one of America's decaying urban centers--Philly, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Cincinatti--watching the Wire will get you at least half way there. Now don't get me wrong, they're each unique cities with very different landscapes, but our country's B-list cities share certain similarities. And the intricate complexities of Baltimore that play out in David Simon's show are many of the same things I associate with the FH home court. I'm no spoiler and it's not worth it for me to even begin to describe the infinite substance of the show. But recent history is on my side; the Wire isn't the only awesome thing lately to come out of Baltimore. And not to brag, but I got to see David Simon speak recently and it was hands down, one of the top ten things of my year.
Broken cities are more than just affordable. Frequently the cracks in the foundation, so to speak, create the very spaces for innovation. See: Braddock, PA
FH thrives in a creative community, a city of passion with relatively low cost of living because Philadelphia is a dysfunctional city. And we love that about it. A good friend of mine said recently that his own upbringing in a de-industrialized city may explain why he now calls the broken city of New Orleans his home. For the same reason, I find that I flock to other people, artists, writers and filmmakers who draw on the same multi-dimensional interest in understanding imperfect places. And it's no coincidence that David Simon's upcoming series, Treme is set in New Orleans.
It's often helpful to learn context, I find. And I'm offering up David Simon's cop drama as a facet of context for this little company. You may not understand what I mean until later, but that's okay. So long as the ball gets on rolling.