A Man Must Have A Code

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Seems like I’ve bookmarked dozens of articles / films about The Wire over the last couple of years… Here’s some of the best, including this New Yorker piece which provides a fascinating insight behind the scenes of filming in Baltimore:

“The show’s departure from Hollywood formulas may be nowhere more palpable than in its routine use of nonactors to fill the minor roles. No other television drama, it seems safe to say, features an actor whom one of the show’s lead writers helped put in prison with a thirty-four-year sentence.”

In fact, so much of The Wire’s narrative is based on ‘real life’ people and events, it’s no surprise that a new doc about the life and times of kingpin Avon Barksdale has now been created.

Meanwhile, Charlie Brooker evangelises about how the show is “truly multi-layered… an angry and intelligent show that offers no easy solution to the problems it focuses on.”

David Hepworth discusses how “for African-American actors ‘The Wire’ must be as significant as the advent of sound. It provides them with twenty key characters who are as complex and imperfect as the people their white counterparts have been playing for years. For once not hidebound by the need to present ‘positive images’ they play havoc with the archetypes.”

Nick Hornby and David Simon – a fascinating exchange which highlights some intriguing opinions on both journalism, screen-writing and ‘story telling’:

“My standard for verisimilitude is simple and I came to it when I started to write prose narrative: fuck the average reader… He knows nothing and he needs everything explained to him right away, so that exposition becomes this incredible, story-killing burden… Here’s a secret that I learned with Homicide and have held to: if you write something that is so credible that the insider will stay with you, then the outsider will follow as well.”

And for those who know the story of Omar, Bubbles, Bunk and McNulty, Rawls, Stringer, Avon, Snoop, Marlo, Cheese, Prop Joe, Clay Davis already, here’s the 100 Greatest Quotes:


Great Expectations

Here’s a fascinating Radio 4 profile of Fabio Capello – particularly since we know so little about him (which makes a pleasant change, doesn’t it?).

In it, Gabriele Marcotti talks about discovering the company Capello kept when he was Roma’s manager: “He fell into this circle which included poets and artists. They used to meet in this restaurant in the San Lorenzo arty neighbourhood in Rome, and while away afternoons with them, tasting different productions of olive oil with Capello. This was Capello’s bohemian period.”

When you know that one of his best friends is a Russian conductor, you know that this isn’t the same world that Kevin Keegan and Steve McClaren inhabit… and that he will never get caught by the tabloids with the likes of Ulrika Jonsson.

One thing’s for sure: he’s a man that, according to former cricketer and author of the lucid and thought-provoking What Sport Tells Us About Life, Ed Smith, “conveys a sense of expectation.”

And so, indeed, does England…


At one level, I’ll always associate Massive Attack with the Gulf War…

Back in 1992, when they released their first album Blue Lines, they had to (briefly) shorten their name to Massive as Radio 1 didn’t want to people to confuse their name with updates from Kuwait. Can’t imagine radio having that kind of sway, anymore…

Still, nearly 20 years on (and seven years since ‘100th Window’), it’s great to hear some new stuff, on an album named after a German archipelago. They might not be the force they once were, but Heligoland is a slow burner with stand out tracks including the slow, rippling energy of ‘Girl I Love You’ featuring ‘Angel’ vocalist Horace Andy, and ‘Paradise Circus’ with Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval. The video to which is definitely NSFW as it contains graphic 1970s porn footage and features 73-year-old actress Georgina Spelvin (who starred in the 1973 flick The Devil In Miss Jones) talking about her past experiences…

Never Come Back To A Blank Page

While I’m not sure there’s actually such a thing as ‘writer’s block’, this application (“designed to let you write in a distraction-free environment”) is fantastic.

While the idea of flow can apply as much to sport, music and even cars, Hemingway’s thoughts on the subject – in terms of writing / productivity – really ring true:

“The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day… you will never be stuck… But if you think about it consciously or worry about it you will kill it and your brain will be tired before you start.”

I guess I should stop now then…

Weeping Angels

Don’t blink. Don’t even blink. Blink and you’re dead. They are fast, faster than you can believe. Don’t turn your back. Don’t look away. And don’t blink…”

Without wanting to geek all over your face, this short interview with Doctor Who’s new head writer, Steven Moffat (responsible for some of the best/scariest recent stories including The Empty Child and Blink) offers an interesting insight to his take on the ‘franchise’. As an aside, Moffat’s creation – the Weeping Angels – are set to make a comeback in the next season, and can also be seen in this short film on the Who website.

What Is The Ecstasy of Influence?

“All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated…” John Donne

This blog is an attempt to highlight stuff about brands, culture, technology, media, writing, design, books, music, tv and movies that interests me. It’s named after Jonathan Lethem’s essay in a 2007 issue of Harper’s where nearly every word was taken from another source and put together to form a cohesive whole about cultural borrowing and reworking.