October 4th, 2010 | Uncategorized

New Haven writ as cable TV

Talking about “The Wire” is the popular thing to do these days.

Fiction writer Lorrie Moore wrote about it for the New York Review of Books. The show’s creator David Simon won a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant.” And now the chatter has reached New Haven.

The New Haven Independent published an epic opinion piece comparing the city to the show. A selection:

The Wire struck a resonant chord with me, a native of New Haven with similar feelings of enthusiasm for and frustration with my city. One-fifth the size and with a slightly lower murder rate, New Haven is not Baltimore, yet it faces a similar tangle of interlinked and apparently intractable problems: grinding urban poverty abetted by an educational system that, despite good intentions, fails its neediest students year after year, on-again-off-again turf-based violence that can quickly claim young lives, a terrible absence of honest work for a large, low-income population lured to the city three generations ago by now-vanished industries, and a political class whose promises of change seem perpetually compromised by the bargains necessary to win and hold power.

Through its threads of individual tragedy, The Wire has much to say about these communal sorrows. In the hope that it might encourage Independent readers who haven’t watched the series to do so, and help illuminate its relevance to New Haven for those who have, I’ll describe a few things I learned from The Wire.

In over 3,000 words the article relates themes in the show to themes in the city. Education! Crime! Mayors! All in the game.