The Wire

There’s an awful lot that has been written about The Wire this year, as it should be. The show is one of the great creations of popular art, and in terms of its ambitions and success, I place it even above The Sopranos.

And now, it’s over. It’s only this morning I’ve really been feeling the emotional hang-over. I imagine that will linger, because the show has a tremendous emotional impact. The fourth season is one long tragedy, but beyond that the show conveys a clear-eyed view of humanity and our institutions. I call it a show about failure, but it’s really a show about how some things work out and some things don’t, in spite of intentions on all sides. So Bubble literally rises up out of the basement, while the space for an additional junkie on the street is taken up by Duquan. And McNulty is off the force, and seems to understand how he screwed things up for so many people, by Sydnor is now learning the worst kind of lessons from him, and the best. And people still live their lives. What is so moving and wonderful about the show was demonstrated again, a montage of real people in the real Baltimore, poor and black, living their lives. That’s America and it’s a part of America that most of us – white, middle-class – never see. Good for those guys. I’m missing them already.


I'm a composer and musician, and I write about music—I do that here, for the New York Classical Review, at the Brooklyn Rail (I edit the music section there) and any place else that will have me, like New Music Box and Music & Literature. I also wrote the Miles Davis' Bitches Brew book in the 33 1/3 series.