"..a bardy view!"

The Wire

I've just discovered The Wire on the BBC, and although I may have missed an episode, I'm hooked. It portrays an ongoing battle between drug gangs and the police in Baltimore, Maryland.

It presents a grim picture of inner city life, with little hope and a grim future for the residents. The-wire-3

There is a greyness and despair emanating from this show.

It's a microcosm of an existence, where the rest of the world is irrelevant. It's hard hitting, doesn't pull any punches, and does not glamorise anyone.

It's a picture of the USA which very few would recognise outside of the leafy green suburbs, the mid-west pristine towns, or the wealthy areas of the big cities.

Yet, walk around certain UK inner-city areas and the familiarity is all very common.

I am drawn to it because I have been to Baltimore. Only a few months ago I found myself accidentally on the wrong side of the tracks. There was flooding occurring and diversions were in place. The cops weren't very friendly – indeed, they appeared tense. Too tense to approach with a kind or civil word of enquiry.

I was on my way to New York via Atlantic City, and Ocean City, and the contrast could not be more evident. Atlantic City is the east coast Las Vegas. The Trump palaces, bright lights, the Boardwalk, the gamblers, losers, and wannabees.

There really isn't anything sadder than watching people spending hours over a fruit machine or gaming table. There are even sections where the punters can smoke.

You can't ban smoking outright when they're spending the dollars! That's why prisoners are allowed to indulge their habit – it's a home from home! It keeps them calm and happy. Likewise keep the punter happy and they'll spend more money!

Anyway this is not about smoking. If people wish to smoke that's up to them!

Throughout my time in Atlantic City, before heading to New York the next day, I saw equally many glamorous and shoddy people in the halls.

Everything exists inside to keep the punter occupied. Cabaret, restaurants, bars – everything to stop you from leaving. In fact, you don't even have to go outside to the real world to visit another casino – linked walkways connect each other!

Once you park your car in the high rise facility, you will never leave. It's Hotel California.

A view from any bar will not offer the coast, only row upon endless row of slot machines as far as the eye can see.

The horizon does not offer a sunrise or sunset. Only people and machines and not one with a single expressive glint. Do not expect a conversation. The noise is deafening!

Back to The Wire. Tough and educational. Perhaps with dramatic license, but without it, the punch wouldn't be packed!

I doubt the Baltimore Tourist Authority is pleased by it, but then again, Is Tower Hamlets pleased with Eastenders? Don't answer that! They probably are!


April 5, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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