ENG 269: Introduction to Culture Studies

Recent Graffiti Articles

"Street Art Way Below the Street" by Jasper Rees

More images of Underbelly Project

"Now Everyone Can Read the Writing on the Wall" by Randy Kennedy



Here's a selection from The Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler

and a speech he gave in nearby Hudson, NY.


The Wire links and articles:

new: Interview with former mayor of Baltimore (He has a part in Season 3 and is partially the basis the Bunny's experiment)

new: "Smoke and Horrors" by Charles Blow

new:"In The Life of 'The Wire'" by Lorrie Moore

"A Different Creature" by Bob Herbert

David Simon's Finale Letter

"Obama, the Wire, and Race in America" by Paul Campos

Orlando Patterson's editorial "A Poverty of the Mind"

"Behind the Laughter" by Bob Herbert

"Open Wide: Spoon Fed Cinema" by A.O. Scott

"Blacks in Retreat" by Bob Herbert

"One Classroom" by Susan Jacoby

"Escaping from Poverty" by Bob Herbert


David Simon Rolling Stone Interview

From Sean Woods. "HighWire. " Rolling Stone  5 Oct. 2006: 38‑39. 

Why is the city of Baltimore so central a character on the show?

The Wire had to be in a second'tier city. If you are from a place where people used to actually have to make shit and sell it to other people, those jobs are dead and gone. There are two Baltimores: the one that's being rebuilt and another that got left behind. And that's ‑what the show is based on: that there's an America that America doesn't need. Either the middle class is becoming affluent and voting up to their pocketbooks, or they're slipping into poverty. People are not ascending to the middle class, and that was what used to make the country great. I think that ten years from now, The Wire is going to be seen as soft on America.

 This season is a devastating look at the Bush‑era "No Child Left Behind" style of education.

 The man is a fraud. He was a fraud in Texas. He's a fraud nationally. It's hard to describe how dysfunctional the Baltimore school system is, except that the kids this season represent the honest truth: We do not need ten percent of our population. The economy is fine, and half the African‑American males in Baltimore don't have jobs. So what are we training these kids for? We're training them for nothing. We're training them for the drug corner, and they know it. The corner is the new Bethlehem Steel.

You have created the toughest homosexual character in TV history with Omar, a guy who robs drug dealers for a living. Why make him gay?

 We wanted to reflect the entire world. You might as well ask 'why we made the other thirty‑eight speaking parts straight. Omar is an independent operator, and he doesn't need to appease anybody in authority. Every character, except for Omar, is a prisoner of an institutional malaise that is distinctly American and very typically postmodern.

 But isn't the individual overcoming the institution a classic American dream?

 Yet these stories feel so much more real to me. How many individuals are bigger than the institution they serve? How many devour an institution? I've never seen anybody devour an institution. You know what matters in America? The share price, that's what fucking matters.


from "Revisiting Baltimore's Embattled Streets" by Hal Hinson

For him, ''The Wire'' isn't really about drug dealers and cops. What he wants people to take away from the series is the notion that on both sides ‑‑ in law enforcement and in the drug gangs ‑‑ institutions operate against the best interests of the people who work within them. ''I want them to think about our institutions and what they've become, and why it is no longer possible for people to believe in them and commit themselves to them,'' he said.

The attitude that Mr. Simon and Mr. Burns hope to convey is perhaps best expressed during an exchange between two narcotics detectives as they blow off steam after a successful arrest. When one jokingly refers to ''fighting the drug war, one brutality case at a time,'' the other corrects her. ''You can't even call this thing a war,'' he says. ''Why not?'' his partner asks. ''Wars end,'' he replies.

''I wanted to present a vision of the war on drugs as an institutionalized disaster, and apply a Joseph Heller‑type logic to it,'' Mr. Simon said. ''What this war needs is a Milo Minderbinder to bring it into perspective.''

''The conclusion I came to as a result of my reporting for 'The Corner' is that not only is this so‑called war on drugs we're fighting unwinnable,'' he added. ''But that it, too, has become institutionalized. Not just the drug problem, but the actual war on drugs, which devours man‑hours and resources and humanity at an incredible rate. What's happened is that the people on both sides now have a vested interest in sustaining the status quo.''

What Mr. Simon found perhaps most interesting was that the people in charge on both sides were having the same problem: only a handful of employees knew what they were doing. ''The sergeants and lieutenants would tell you that these guys can't testify in court without perjuring themselves, can't write a warrant with clean cause, didn't know how to use an informant,'' he said, referring to his interviews with Baltimore police officers. ''All they could do was get out of the radio car and yell, 'Up against the wall.' ''

But cause and effect were at work. ''It used to be that the selling of drugs was a furtive business. But when all these open‑air markets opened up, it was like the drive‑through window at McDonald's,'' he said. ''They got stupid, and stupid criminals make for stupid cops.''


"Lets Talk about Legalizing Drugs" by Leonard Pitts

"Albany Reaches Deal to Repeal '70s Drug Laws"

"Good Morning Baltimore" by Devin Gordon

The Wire: power chart

Alessandra Stanley's "So many Characters, Yet So Little Resolution" (spoiler alert)