Wired

Lately, I’ve got a new bedtime ritual. Bath, brush, floss, all the same. But as I hit the lights and slide under the covers, I roll over and face something new in my bed: a portable DVD player. It’s a loaner from a pal, but I’m having trouble giving it back. Mostly because suddenly every night, I’m not getting into bed alone, I’m getting into bed with Dominic West and Idris Elba, stars of HBO’s “The Wire.” We are having a full-on hot threesome, a consensual two-dimensional love affair.

Nothing much new to add to the chorus of universal acclaim for “The Wire”: it’s a great great great show that follows both the cops and criminals of Baltimore, telling the story of drugs moving through a city from an omniscient point-of-view. It’s TV’s version of a novel.

What I love most about the show is that none of the cops are trying to be heroes. They drink. They fuck. They hate the bullshit of the job, the endless forms to fill out, the multiple asses to kiss, the way it wreaks havoc on their personal lives. A homicide is called in and the detectives fight to not catch the case; when 14 dead bodies sail into the city, they are passed around for episodes until they finally land on someone’s desk, someone who’s been strong-armed into taking them. At a potential crime scene, one of the detectives literally talks to a body on the floor, “Don’t you dare turn into a murder.”

And yet, these are people who can’t walk away from whatever truth they seek. You get the feeling they would do anything else, if they could. But they can’t: “He’s got this case in his gut like cancer.” They are terminal detectives. They do not describe themselves as “police officers,” but as “police” as in “I am police,” as in they are all part of a force, if not the force. When an officer goes down, “a police is shot.” And there is a difference between “police” and “real police,” with very few having the courage or the stubbornness to be “real police.”

The dialogue, written mostly by David Simon, is delicious. To a body that was found, tortured, on the hood of a car, a detective diagnoses: “This is the worst case of suicide I’ve ever seen.” A detective seeing a pretty girl at a bar: “I would love to throw a fuck into her.” An entire phone conversation between a seller and his stash house: “You get me? Hollaback, you hear? That’ll do.”

And maybe because of how and where I’m watching, these people have seeped into my subconscious. Detective McNulty is a real police played by Dominic West (who is no relation, sadly); I dreamt we were hot on a lead, ransacking my childhood home. I lived on Morningside Drive until I was five, when my parents split. It was a simple Albuquerque 2-bedroom house. McNulty and I were working together but running out of time – racing through the living room, past the view of the Sandias. Quickly, we were down the hall, and BOOM! breaking down the door into my room with black carpet and a yellow writing table – where we found nothing except a stripped bed. BOOM! we broke through the door of my parents’ bedroom, which was overturned – signs of a struggle. We searched the sheets, under the bed – nothing. We looked at each other and relaxed our guns a bit.

“What happened here?” McNulty said to me, angry we hadn’t found anything. Or anyone. “I don’t know,” I shrugged. I was starting to sweat. We ran through the house again. There was a bloodstain under the grand piano, where, when I was four, I had stood up and cracked open my head. Blood spilled all over my mother’s white carpet, a stain that never came out. McNulty ran through the den – past my father’s chair in front of the TV – but nothing. No suspects. No bodies.

“Goddamnit,” he said to me, “this fucking case.”

I awoke, thinking of my childhood as crime scene, a case that wouldn’t be solved in a day. I rolled over and looked at McNulty in my bed. His hands were on his hips, waiting for me to press play.

14 responses to “Wired”

  1. Dave says:

    Dominic West (who is no relation, sadly)

    Sadly? You wouldn’t want your hot, hot love to be incest, would you?

    I want McNulty in my dreams, too.

  2. loved the twists and turns and spitfire sentences in this post!

  3. Taryn says:

    This is such a great post. I’m a television lover, and I so get the description of how tv characters can enter you subconscious. Really nicely written.

  4. jeremy says:

    ok, ok–i gotta watch the wire. i keep hearing all these amazing things about the show, and even though it doesn’t really sound like my thing, i’m gonna bump it up on my netflix right now.

    there’s something deeply sad (yet oddly fitting) about looking at your childhood as a crime scene. i’m not going to be able to get that thought out of my head for a while.

    great post, ww.

  5. Dave says:

    Jeremy, you haven’t seen the Wire? IT’S SO GOOD! Maybe the best television series ever.

  6. jeremy says:

    ever? ever?!

    better than freaks and geeks, six feet under, or diff’rent strokes?

  7. Stephanie wells says:

    Yeah, the fact that you associate the cracked head more with the guilt about the stain than the trauma of the pain is really troubling, and poetic too.

  8. Miller says:

    I recently started netflixing The Wire and have been completely hooked since. I’m currently in the middle of season 3, and though it’s sooo good, it can’t beat Six Feet Under for me. Best. Show. Ever.

    Wendy, your description of the show as TV’s version of a novel is perfect… the plot itself isn’t what hooked me, but the way the stories are told. I do have to say that I prefer Idris Elba (have you heard him in interviews? He’s brilliant, with a sexy British accent to top it off) over Dominic West since West was just way too good in 300; I can’t help but get the creeps every time I look at him.

  9. lisa t. says:

    Holla!! I’ve got Season 4 on my queue even though it hasn’t been released yet. Anybody got the bootleg?

  10. AW says:

    I loved the interpolation of these characters into your dream–and as others have said, both love and am haunted by the images of your childhood as a crime scene. I wonder if this is the magic of art (and really good popular culture)–that it interrogates our lived experience, enlightening us in the process.

  11. ruben mancillas says:

    Wendy, we are only the middle of season one but I am hooked.

    Try out this admittedly biased Mr. Hand analogy that I can’t get out of my head while watchin the show: the police brass = school administrators-onetime cops who actually knew what happened on the street but are now all about politics and career ambition, street cops = teachers-some are good, some are bad but they are in the trenches with the students and have to work around rather than with their superiors more often than not, the dealers = the students-I don’t mean to condescend or scare people but the relationship can be similar.

  12. Jeremy says:

    ok, just wanted to say that, when WW wrote this post, i had not yet seen The Wire. I’m now halfway through season 3, and i’m totally, like, crazy-hooked.

  13. stephanie wells says:

    shocker