Bloomsday in Baltimore

Joyce’s Martello Tower, Dublin

By Peter Honig

June 16 is Bloomsday, the unofficial holiday celebrating James Joyce’s epic masterpiece Ulysses. The entire action of that novel takes place on June 16, 1904, and so on this date, Joyce lovers from all over the world celebrate in a variety of ways. Some go to public readings and performances while others travel to Dublin to reenact the events of the novel. Last year, a Twitter feed was developed to tweet the entire novel over the course of the day.

The Boys Get Their School Supplies

backtoschoolFirst day of school coming up, right? So you all need like school clothes and shit?–Monk

From my first viewing of The Wire Season 4, I have always been struck by just how quickly Simon and Co. make us care about the four boys. It is no easy task to drop four completely unknown characters into an already densely-populated world and expect the audience to connect to them.

And yet, by the time the boys step into Edward Tilghman Middle School to begin their Eighth Grade year, I already feel I know these boys, and I already feel invested in the paths that they will take over the next two seasons.

4.1 “Boys of Summer”: All the Pieces

4_1pieces“Not a goddamn thing in here works like it should.”

I am currently teaching Season 4 of The Wire to my four 12th Grade English classes. This means that I am watching each episode four times over the course of two days. It is a testament to the greatness of The Wire, that I continue to gather a great amount of information and enjoyment out of each new viewing.

As part of the process, I am cataloguing the major concept patterns in each episode. It is sort of like Prez’s corkboard, where I can lay out all of the pieces and see how they fit together.

Coming to The Wire Blog: Season 4 and all the dinks

dinksI’ve been schooled, dog. I’m trying to tell you, for real. –Snoop

I think it is about time I get back up on The Wire.

Since December, this site has been as quiet as the wire after the Season 1 stash-house raid. In fact, I haven’t written a word since September. All of this site’s content came from two months of focused writing from last summer. I had the time required to write over 100 pieces on Season 1 (including many that I have yet to post).

Then a new school year began.

Avon Falls Off The Map

1.9hustleThat’s not how the game is played!–Avon

The Wire’s ninth episode is called “Game Day,” but it’s always game day in Baltimore. The street side of the show revolves around the “game” metaphor (I am still waiting for “drapersayswhat” to do a supercut of characters in The Wire saying “it’s all in the game”), and while this metaphor is just as present in this episode as in any other, the title refers to a literal game as well: the Eastside vs. Westside basketball game, an annual contest for “bragging rights to the projects.”

Games Without End

Herc: How do you figure all of these little pebbles get up on top of the roof?
Carver: Where’s everybody at?
Herc: Maybe the whole thing is over and no one bothered to tell us. Maybe we won.

A confession: I am a Philadelphia sports fan. I was too young to remember the 1983 Sixers, so the city’s epic 25-year title drought was pretty much my entire life as a sports fan (I won’t even go into my college team, a certain birthplace of college football that has experienced nothing but abject failure ever since). Then, finally, in 2008 the Phillies won the World Series, and the streak was over. It was pretty exciting.

Dumpsters and Garbage Bags

That’s how they do–Kima

In the morally-ambiguous world of The Wire, there are few truly-noble characters, but there is no doubt that Shardene, the stripper from the county, is one of them. From the beginning, she is presented to us as an honest soul in a world of players. She pays back one disgruntled customer even though she didn’t actually take his money, and later she reveals her blissful ignorance of her true employers and their business. Perhaps that is what keeps her noble–she exists outside of the game (even more so than the arguably-noble Omar). She lives by a simpler code of honesty, fairness, and simple human decency. As Freamon puts it “she’s a citizen.”

The Wolf at the Door

Omar: “Y’all need to open this door now before I huff and puff. Come on, now, by the hairs of your chinny-chin-chin.”

At the start of “Game Day,” Stringer describes Omar as a modern Robin Hood who steals from the rich dealers and gives to the poor fiends. By the end of the episode, however, Omar proves to align with a very different character type. When he strolls into Prop Joe’s shop bearing a bag of Avon’s heroin as an offering, he tells Joe “we free.” Suddenly, this seemingly-noble folk hero is stealing from the rich and giving to the rich. Not exactly the socialist equalizer he is made out to be.

An Easter for Dopefiends

Bubbles: Mr. One day man. Wasn’t even that.   
Walon: Stood up, though.
Walon: He ain’t anywhere near his bottom. Got to see that bottom coming up at him. Hard, too, cause he’s young, 24. Most people don’t get tired till they’re 35, 40. How old are you?
Bubbles: Young at heart.

Testers are out, and everybody is having run-ins. First, Bubbles recognizes Walon from the NA meeting he attended in “One Arrest.” Johnny, thinking Walon is there to get high, mocks the big man for his hypocracy. But then Bodie arrives and Johnny recognizes him as the boy who put him in the hospital. Johnny shuffles off to find a less-traumatic source for his next blast.