The Greatest Ever? “The Wire” or “Breaking Bad”?

NEW SLAUGHTERIn the pantheon of great, conclusion-defying debates this one ranks up there with “Who’s Better, Willie Mays or Mickey Mantle?” from my Little League days,  “The Beatles or The Stones? ” from high school, and, shifting criteria a bit to contemporary matters, “Who’s More of an Embarrassment to Their District, Steve King or Michele Bachmann?” There are no definitive answer. Everything is subjective. The only thing to agree on is that in each case peerage is close enough to warrant a discussion.

So too is the argument over “The Wire” and “Breaking Bad”, the latter of which begins closing out its run as “the best show on television” this Sunday night.

The case I make for “The Wire” is that like anything aspiring to art it made a conscious decision push beyond established convention. It pulled its audience into places, points of moral perspective and reflection that others of its type had not, could not and would not. Specifically, the authentic, unhygienic, street-level culture of the black inner city.

The running joke is that “The Wire”, created and frequently written by crusty, cynical, ex-Baltimore Sun reporter David Simon, is every white liberals’ favorite series, mainly because it is as close as any of them will ever get to scoring crack in the hood and the way it confirms everything we/they’ve ever wanted to believe about why hellholes like that exist. I.e. massive, chronic corruption up and down the political system, resulting in futile-to-non-existent social services, wretched schools, little to no community investment, counter productive police work and a gangland hierarchy that maintains its control by mimicking white-collar criminality.

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Let It Bleed, Bud

Good PR move, Bud Selig. And bless the fans in Chicago.

Bud has flung out suspensions for a dozen players who cheated the game, but he leaves Alex Rodriguez on the field to represent the absolute worst in baseball for the rest of the season.

Crisis management 101 — get everything out and get it behind you. Don’t let a wound slowly bleed.

A-Rod deserves to buried up to his nose in a vat of mustard for the rest of the season and the rest of his career — see how long his testosterone lasts treading mustard.

Baseball is busy congratulating itself for being tough on cheaters. Right. Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, who somehow missed that players like Bonds and Clemens and Sosa and McGwire were juicing and ruining the game’s grace and history and spirit, is trying to reclaim his reputation by being tough on the current crop of cheaters. Dozens of players have spoken out saying they’re tired of the cheaters winning pennants and MVP awards and lifetime records while honest players plug along. Fans are sick of it. Every exciting performance by a new home-run hitter or mow-em-down pitcher comes with the question — is he juicing?

Selig could have bounced A-Rod for life. Could have bounced him for the rest of this season and next, not letting him play while he appealed. But, apparently fearing a lawsuit or trouble with the union, Selig took the easiest way out and gave a suspension that allows the arrogant sniveling thief to still play, likely for the rest of the season, while a slow appeals process drips on.

You thought a lawsuit or union troubles would be bad for the game, Bud? How about the spectre of one of the most dishonest disgusting disingenuous hypocritical greedy bastards to ever pull on a jockstrap slouching into stadium after stadium modeling how well cheating works from now until October? How good is that for baseball?

Our only hope is that what the fans in Chicago started Monday, when they riotously booed every step Rodriguez took out of the dugout, will continue for every inning of every game the lying crook plays the rest of the season. Let’s take it upon ourselves to shame this creep under a rock.

Reach in your suit pants and find a pair, bud. Rid the game of this shameful imposter.

Or watch the great American game bleed to death. On your watch.

My brother David and I have watched Class A minor-league games the last two nights in gorgeous little ballparks in Iowa. Baseball remains a beautiful and amazingly difficult game to play. But when cheaters are chemically inflating their performances, there’s nothing on that field of dreams that we can trust. So we’ll turn away.

Unless you stop the bleeding.

— Bruce Benidt
(Image from epicurious.com)