I think that part of what makes the show palatable is the mantra of, "it's all in the game." This is reiterated in David Simon's literary works, especially "The Corner." Everyone recognizes this refrain as Omar's tagline in "The Wire." Whether a corner kid is getting shot or metal piping is being stolen from a vacant, the offenders repeat that what they're doing is all part of the game, and so are the victims. However, this is the one area in which I disagree with David Simon and his characters. The victims of the drug trade and urban poverty are everywhere. In
When I first moved to the city, I moved to the 400 block of
After that incident, I decided to move to
After Pigtown came Mount Vernon. I was working as a messenger and wanted to live close to downtown, but away from the crime. What was I thinking? It's Baltimore...crime finds you. My first night in Mount Vernon I rode my bike down to an O's game. The next morning, I discovered that overnight, someone had broken into my and my boyfriend's cars. They were both parked on the Biddle Street bridge over the JFX. What's on the other side of the JFX? Johnston Square. A public housing area that is also home to the city jail. It looks like this (this is the 1100 block of Barclay Street; one home is occupied):
That is two blocks east of this picture, taken from my front steps at Calvert and Biddle:
My boyfriend's $1200 stereo system was stolen, as was some Percoset that was in my center console (I broke my back messengering, hence the Percoset). Now, I'm pissed at the game.
Four weeks later, we rode our bikes down to Tide Point to watch the fireworks on the 4th of July. On the way back, we got caught in a huge amount of traffic downtown at Pratt and Light Streets. I got off my bike and decided to walk because there were so many pedestrians moving between the stopped cars. Before my boyfriend could unclip from his pedals (he was clipped in and stopped between two cars; he had a hand on one of them to keep him upright), someone crossing the street tripped over his rear wheel. Before I knew what was happening, three young teenaged yos were beating the shit out of my boyfriend. I screamed in the street at the top of my lungs. I couldn't reach him; both of our bikes were between us and we were wedged between cars. They punched him from behind while he was immobilized, still clipped into his bike. As soon as he could unclip, they walked off into the night. They walked. The dozens of police officers in the area stood motionless on the sidewalks. I made my way toward one. "DID YOU SEE THAT?!" I screamed. Chip followed me, bleeding from him face, his eye almost swollen shut, and an egg the size of a golf ball on his forehead. "Yeah," the cop said. "Do you want an ice pack?" "Are you going to do anything?" I screamed hysterically. "I'm just a medic," he said. At that moment, I felt more alone than anyone has ever felt while standing in a throng of thousands of people. My screams fell on deaf ears, and the police, those who should have protected us, did nothing. We walked home, silent except for our crying. Fuck the game, and fuck the ghetto eye for an eye mentality that we see in Namond, Marlo, and everyone else on the corners.
A few months later, I graduated from college and decided it was time to get the fuck out. The city was getting too dangerous. If I stayed too long, I could end up like Zach Sowers. Or worse. I moved to a town in California that hasn't seen a murder in a decade, but not before my neighbor's car was broken into less than a foot outside my bedroom window. When those yos broke Chip's nose, they broke my faith in humanity. In a month we'd had our things stolen and our physical selves violated. Moreover, the police witnessed it, and did nothing. Now I live in suburbia and am still visited with nightmares about the 4th of July. Every ten seconds or so while I'm out walking the dog, I feel compelled to stop and turn around, to make sure no one is behind me. I don't leave anything except trash out on my front porch. I think twice about where I park the car. I still get nervous leaving my bike locked up outside, even though the wheels are bolted on.
So why do I watch "The Wire?" I miss the city. I fucking miss Baltimore fucking City. I don't even want to visit because I'm afraid I won't leave. It's my fucking home, and nothing else feels like it. The first time I heard Tootsie Duvall talk about "meeyath and sahnce" ("math and science" in Bawldamorese), it brought tears to my eyes. I stop every time I hear myself say, "Bawldamore" instead of "Bal-ti-more," when I order a Jamba juice with "prayotein," and when I occasionally punctuate a sentence with "hon." People ask where I'm from and I instantly say, "Baltimore" instead of California. I crave Utz chips, Natty Boh, Nino's pizza, and Otterbein's cookies. The bloody, corrupt heap of shit that is Baltimore is part of me. I don't feel complete without it. “The Wire” shows Baltimore in all its gritty glory.