August 24, 2006
I was just watching the special features from The Wire third season box set featuring a presentation given by David Simon at Eugene Lang College, The New School for Liberal Arts. The event was sort of a casual Q&A between Simon and New School students. At one point, and I can only assume he was swaying way off of topic, Simon went off on the most hilarious Ďeff New York and your New Yorkers holier than thou attitude that I have ever heard.
Now, Iím not what one would call a New York hata. Only on very rare occasions do I feel fed up with or even faced with Manhattantude, but Simonís diatribe was just too beautiful and quintessentially Baltimorean in its outlook not to share. Since this isnít the sort of thing one would typically find transcribed on the internet, I did it myself:
Since Iím in New York, let me say it: there is no city more vain about itís position in popular culture, more indifferent to other realities, more self absorbed than New York City. Iím mean, you guys have a lot going on and there are a lot of wonderful stories to be told, but you literally think you have the end thing to say... the enth degree to what to say on every single one of them; and Baltimore has ten times your crime rate, five times your rate of intravenous drug addiction, five times your rate of poverty. And yet, because all the Wall Street money went here in the eighties and the nineties on that great run... and there is no more hell in Alphabet City and Morningside Heights is being gentrified. I mean, Manhattan is one big pile of money, and so you guys think you know urban America and you donít know shit anymore!
Iím starting to get a little pissed off and I donít mean to be... [laughter]
When Homicide was published as a book, it was the only time they ever... it wasnít because Iím a great guy, itís because they let me in the homicide unit. I was really lucky. But, this book comes out, and the New York Times would not review it at first, because they said it was a regional book. The New Yorker actually did a long review and then they came back and wrote a little brief... but, weíve always had the problem in Baltimore.
... There is a tonality to how you guys accept stories... that cover of the New Yorker where, you know, where itís like New Jersey and then China... that, that is you and an awful lot of really fine story telling doesnít permeate, and whatís going on in Baltimore is that weíve been doing it so long and have so many hours of television under our belt that eventually enough people have found it that we canít go away anymore. But, um, there really is... itís very hard piercing the New York LA access, and itís very hard for anything to be good because everybody that is writing is writing what they know. What the hell do you know if... I mean God bless Richard Price because he lives in Manhattan, but he actually crosses the river to go to Jersey City. Thatís why (indecipherable) is so good, because he left the fucking island; and I gotta say, you know, all the shows that look like LA and New York... Iíve gone off now. Iíve really lost it [laughter]. I mean, here is a fact... an honest to God fact: last year, there were more corpses on the three Law & Order franchises, which were all set in Manhattan... there were more dead people shown on that show than there were actual homicides in Manhattan.