The actors on the Wire are magic. As a drooling, parsing, analyzing, DVD-buying freak-fan (e pluribus unum), being in their presence felt something like being four years old and going to the mall to visit Santa Claus for the first time. At the Wire premiere party on Friday, sitting in a seat at the Chelsea Clearview Cinemas, waiting for episode one to fire up on the big screen, Larry Gilliard Jr. (D’Angelo Barksdale, a fave character kilt off in season one) comes bounding down the aisle, to perch in front of us next to Season 5 star Michelle Paress, who plays reporter Alma Gutierrez. And we had a moment of, “Oh shit! Thank god D’Angelo Barksdale isn’t really dead! What joy!” It’s like, you know they are actors, they are real people, but the show is so realistic and intertwined with your (my) personal and creative reality, it’s hard to seperate them from their characters. Even J.D. Williams (Bodie), who I had to thank for hosting 106 & Park like every ten minutes, and repreiving us from the stunningly annoying Rocsi and Terrence.
This is the only thing I’ll tell you about season 5, not a spoiler (watch for my weekly review of each episode starting monday) – there’s a moment in the first episode where Slim Charles (played by Anwan Glover) has a DAMAGING line – the typical kind of Wire line where you’re like “THAT IS SO DEEP AND FOREBODING AND FORESHADOWING, MFING SHIT!” At the afterparty, I asked Glover about it (he is extremely tall and extremely nice, probably the nicest dude we talked to) and he said it was going to set the tone for the whole season. You’ll know it when you see it. Fucking shit. I have to get my HBO re-connected like NOW.

Anyway so David Simon intro’d the premiere, and said everything an avid reader of every interview he’s ever done would expect him to say: “On another network this wouldn’t have lasted beyond three episodes”; “Thank you to the city of Baltimore, the main character.” And he talked about how after the fourth season, the actors’ contracts ran out and they had to talk about renegotiating everyone’s pay and how they couldn’t pay anyone more than what they’d been earning from day one. And he thought maybe it would blow the entire series, but somehow he knew everyone would come back. Because of how things were feeling on the set. And he said everyone did, for the same pay or just slightly above. Then he read off each actor’s name alphabetically, and had them stand up in the audience (every actor was there, notable exceptions being Idris Elba, Wood Harris) as he read off their name. It was truly awesome. Burrell! McNulty! Bunk! Snoop! Dookie! Chris Partlow! Omar! I was like CAN I GET A WITNESS. I mean, straight up, I don’t give a shit about famous people at all, I have interviewed some of the most stupidly (dumbly) famous people in the world and usually their accomplishments are formidable (unless they are Nick Lachey, Jessica Simpson) but not enough to get me shook (unless they are either Barack Obama and/or really, really fine). But seeing David Simon in the movie theater lobby, I got all dumb tongue-twisted. (Embarrassing encounter detailed in a minute.) We were kicking it with this chica who works at a prominent US tabloid and she said the same: “I can be in a room alone with Brangelina and their kids and not give a fuck, but put me in a ballroom with the cast of the Wire and I turn into a starstruck 15 year old.” They are icons! This is the most important work of visual literature of my lifetime! How can you not react to that total awesomeness?!
So after the premiere, HBO had rented four charter busses to drive us to the afterparty, even though it was literally like ten blocks away. It’s in this beautiful ballroom in midtown with giant pillars and the tiniest dancefloor I have ever seen, surrounded by tables and long spreads of booze and hors d’ouevres including, I shit you not, a spread of whole crablegs on ice. So of course Jen Romolini and Ms. Prominent Tabloid and I are all like “LET’S DO THIS” so we let our dudinators fend for themselves and proceed to get our party started, running around, talking to everyone. All journalists of sorts, I feared revealing my awe so basically everyone we talked to, I just bitched about how the DJ super needed to turn up the levels. !!!! “Snoop, this party is on point but homeboy up at the booths needs to get the dancefloor on!” “Andre “Bubbles” Royo, thanks for having us, but what the fuck is up with the DJ?” “Bunk, I am having a terrific time but I’m ready to get my dancefloor on!” “Jamie ‘Marlo’ Hector, what’s good with your boy up in the booth?” “JD “Bodie” Williams, thanks for taking over 106 & Park cause I despise Terrence and Rocsi but yo, can you do something about the DJ? Like get him a subwoofer?” Seriously. In true Esco stylee, I bitched about the DJ to literally every cast member of the Wire. But to my credit, most of them agreed! The only meaningful conversation was of course with Anwan Slim Charles, who was just a dope dude in general.
Which brings us to my moment of truth with David Simon. . So a little buzzed, we finally get up the liquid courage to approach him. I have been plotting my speech all night, like “Do you have any advice for a young Latina scribe such as myself?” “What are you reading right now?” or most especially, “What are your predictions for newsjournalism? Do you really think it’s dead?” Or whatever, because of course I want to sound intelligent but not pretentious so we can actually have a conversation. But I end up being all gushtarded, like,
“Dude, you are my favorite writer everything, you have changed my life, the Wire is a part of my cranial fabric, I am soooo into your shit”
Meanwhile thinking,
!!! ASSHAT !!!
He was gracious and gave me a hug and after that all i could think of was to ask him, “SO ARE YOU DRUNK YET?” which is the advice Pappademas gave me before I sheepishly approached Mr. Simon. And he laughed and then started talking to someone else.
Oh yeah and then after we were BFF’d with our newfound dancefloor buddies from the Wire, we were like “WHERE IS THE FUCKING AFTERPARTY” and we all went to Love fka Luke and Leroy where Aaron Lacrate was DJing the Wire soundtrack release and listened to two seconds of Bmore club and then were like “Fuck this” and went home.*
Anyway I feel like a super fangirl right now, which I am and am unashamed. I would write about the first episode but it airs TONIGHT and I don’t want to fuck it up for y’all. But it’s really good, unshockingly.
* actually we didn’t really go home, we went to Studio B to see Tim Sweeney and Metro Area DJ, but by the time we got there Sweeney was already over and whoever was DJing afterwards was boring the pants off us, despite our every effort to get down. My homeboy was like, “You’re right, rare disco nerds DO throw the worst parties!” because that is a prevailing theory of mine, and we laughed and laughed and laughed. And bounced.

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8 Responses to THRU THE WIRE

  1. zach says:

    Epic recap. I would have lost my shit if I was there. I am beyond geeked for tonight’s episode, been avoiding spoilers left and right. Even gonna make some crab cakes, see if I can find some Utz crab chips and grape soda and if I wanna get live, pick up some Jaime at the liquor store.
    Looking forward to the Monday recaps too.

  2. shepdini says:

    you can get utz crab chips at the bodega outside the clinton/washington A stop in ft greene, or if u are in park slope i think that bodega on 8th and 14th, you know the last one you hit if you are walking south toward the park slope pavilion, i think that one has them

  3. Rachael says:

    OMG. So jealous of you right now and so pumped to get TWC to hit me with some HBO in time for the first episode tonight.

  4. Steve Schroeder says:

    that’s David Simon in the middle?
    why does he look SO MUCH like David Gest?
    anyway I’ve been binging hardcore on The Wire in the last month never having watched it before. I’m on S4Ep2 hoping to catch up in the next week.
    small correction, D’angelo Barksdale died in Season 2 not 1.

  5. dee says:

    I’m smilin’ hard right now :-) 50 years from now the wire will be looked at like Billie Holiday today.
    great read and I’m proud :-)

  6. jshep says:

    dee, right? i also forgot to mention the wire is the most important sociological/sociopolitical document of the 21st century.
    steve, david simon is on the left. the person in the middle is a woman, and is the mega-head of HBO programming. the person on the right is Richard Butler.

  7. Steve Schroeder says:

    oh god.
    I take it back.
    HBO please put my new show on television.
    No one affiliated with your fine network looks anything like David Gest.

  8. djbearears says:

    but…but, shouldn’t the festivities have been down here, in Baltimore? My Wire celebration consisted of watching the police helicopter buzz Greenmount Ave. like three times before midnight.

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