The Wire

Binge watched the last half of season 5 of The Wire this afternoon and evening.  My brain was fried after delivering groceries in the Grays Ferry section of Philadelphia for Philly Thrive earlier in the afternoon.  I’m always touched when people take one look at this red-faced, sweaty, old white man and ask if I want some water. Or, advise me to get out of the sun soon.  I say “people,” but they’re always women.

The Wire is not an easeful experience.  Definitely not escapist.  A couple of weeks ago I started watching the DVD set of the series that I got about 10 years ago from Laura’s brother and his wife, who live in Baltimore, where the series takes place.  Pacing myself to watch no more than two episodes a day.  Today, I just wanted to finish.

I started re-watching the series after reading articles about its 20th anniversary.  It does hold up well to the passage of time.  My favorite season is still the third, where a police commander reduces the crime rate and improves quality of life in his area by setting up blocks where the drug trade can be carried on without police interference.  Needless to say, at the end of the season he gets fired for “legalizing” drugs.  In Season 4 the flaws in the school system are put under the spotlight.  In season 5 the hypocrisy of American media, in this case the newspaper, is rewarded with liars getting a Pulitzer Prize.  All five seasons take us through the insanity and injustice of policing and criminal law in the U.S.

What I could feel the most in this re-watching were the row houses in Baltimore.  They and the their neighborhoods are very similar to large parts of Philadelphia, especially Grays Ferry.  In both cities there are many streets on which there are no trees.  Their absence makes a big difference in quality of life, beginning with intense heat in the summer.

When I’m delivering what slows me down more than the heat are the steps on many of the row houses.  No railings.  Nothing to hold on to, up or down.  Over the last few years it has become very difficult for me to navigate stairs without a railing, carrying something heavy going up, but even more just going down.  Arthritis, balance, fear of falling.  So, what I do with stairs like the picture above is put the bag on the top step and knock on the bottom half of the door.  If people don’t answer before I have to leave, I’ve never had to worry about the groceries being stolen.  I do worry about what the sun and the lack of shade might do to any perishables.


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