David Simon Gets Real About The Wire's Legacy And Baltimore Riots

The writer might not love his old show as much as you do

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David Simon gave a candid interview to Salon​ recently, in which he tackles the long shadow of his beloved ​The Wire​, and why that may not be enough for him. The creator says he followed that show up with ​Treme, ​in part, because he feels some viewers misunderstood his aim. Simon has a new miniseries for HBO, ​Show Me a Hero​, premiering later this month, about the real-life Mayor Nick Wasicsko​​​ of Yonkers, New Jersey, ​in the '80s, and the city's fight over public housing. Simon also talks at length about police abuse and the deeper problems that urban centers face. Here are some highlights from the interview.

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Why Simon wants to be remembered for more than The Wire:
I think we told a good story, and it's a story that has resonance. I'm proud of the work. But it isn't everything. The reason we did "Treme" was: A lot of people saw "The Wire" and thought it was an argument against the city. There was a libertarian notion that by showing bad governance, we were arguing against government. It's a juvenile notion, to think that the solution for bad governance is no governance. And yet, that's the temperament of people who watch "The Wire" and are of that political persuasion. For me, "The Wire" presumed, maybe naively, that nobody would be so obtuse as to think that it was an argument against self-governance and the city as the American future. Hamilton and Jefferson had that argument, and guess what? Jefferson lost. We're not going back to some agrarian ideal. Our future is in the city. We need to figure out how to prevail with this increasingly compacted multicultural beast, or we fail as a society.​​

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Why inner-cities are both over-policed and under-policed:
The dynamic is so complicated in the sense that, yes, the drug war allowed the poor to be over-policed to the point of toxicity, but what it's done is destroy all relationship to the community so that nobody picks up the phone when somebody shoots somebody else. Nobody's a witness in front of a grand jury. Nobody wants to testify in court. Nobody wants to be a juror and convict anybody of killing someone else. What's the clearance rate in Baltimore right now for murder? Thirty-six percent, and the only people dying are black males. Same thing in Compton. Or in Florence, in south central [Los Angeles].​

Why people need to stop cheering on riots:
We just stopped losing population for the first time in 40 years three years ago, and you tell me that the riots are a good thing? Fuck you. Come to Baltimore and say that. I live there. I was particularly incensed at the insouciance with which people were proclaiming that the riot – that when it gravitated from being mass civil disobedience, which I admire in every sense and want to see continue, to what we were seeing – was a good thing. Fuck you. You don't live here.​

Read the full interview over at Salon.

This article was originally published on Esquire.com

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