Addict (drugaddict) wrote,

Wire part 2

Reporting attracted Simon early on. Bernard Simon had started out as a journalist—before he went to work in public relations, he’d been the managing editor of the N.Y.U. student newspaper, and a stringer for the Hudson County Dispatch—and he had friends who were reporters. One was Irving Spiegel, who was known as Pat, because, as a religion reporter for the Times, he spent so much time in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Simon described Uncle Pat to me in an e-mail: “He could play concert piano, and composed verses of the ‘Metropolitan Desk Opera,’ a never-ending farce of the Times that he would perform at parties, goofing on co-workers and bosses. He could recite Shakespeare in Yiddish. He had a way of seizing the floor at parties and ranting comically at imagined affronts and outrages. As a young child, I thought he was typical of newspapermen in his élan and brass. I expected to meet lots of people like Uncle Pat. It was a different place and time, I guess. Between knowing Pat and my father taking me to see a revival of ‘The Front Page’ at Arena Stage when I was eleven or twelve, I was sold a bill of goods.”

David Mills, now a television writer in Hollywood, worked with Simon on the Diamondback, the University of Maryland paper, and remembers that Simon produced great humor pieces. Mills said, “He had a full-blown writing personality as an undergraduate. He was always getting parking tickets, so he did these rambling, profane, angry pieces about the student ticketers, his nemeses.” He continued, “Though people don’t talk much about the humor in ‘The Wire,’ it’s there. You drop somebody into an alien environment—a closed society like the homicide cops or the drug culture—and the key to working your way into that culture is to understand the jokes, which David does. It’s crucial, because, if it weren’t there, the work would be too depressing. It’s crushing subject matter, but not necessarily to the cops—they’re making jokes while they’re looking at dead bodies—and not to the people shooting dope, even. They’re not necessarily walking around saying, ‘Woe is me.’ There’s a grim humor that springs out of that life.”

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