Monday, 05 November 2007

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I spend most of my weekends in the desert doing the things people do in the desert like communing with Nature. I do this all the time. Nature and I are practically Communists. (We're that close.) When I'm in the desert I remember being Communists in the desert before: like this one time when I was thirsty and I needed water and saw this cactus and I ate it. Then there was the time I was thirsty but didn't see a cactus and was thirsty for a long time. I remember that time fondly. I walked up a trail and had a vision. It was moving and I was moved and then I moved along. I took my thirst with me. There was a rabbit on the path ahead that didn't look thirsty. It was a fine rabbit. I followed it. Two hours later I saw it commune with other rabbits and a man who looked suspiciously like Michael Bérubé. I asked this man for water and he brandished a hockey stick and said: "What about ice?" I said: "Ice would be fine." "Because I play hockey on ice with rabbits who aren't thirsty." I said: "I envy those rabbits." The man who looked like Bérubé shot me a glance like Ira Glass and I was scared of rabbits and ran away thirsty. The hair on the back of my neck stood up as I ran down the path willy-nilly and very thirsty and then I tripped and fell down a deep magnificent hole. As I plunged to certain death I admired my hole's depth and thought "What a wonderful bottom to splat on!" I fell and fell and then when I felt I could fall no more I noticed I wasn't falling. The rock I'd tripped over had tripped too and landed where my head fell. My ears were ringing and I could see on my laptop that I could not be The Best 2501-3000 this year. It was then that I realized that Chris Clarke should win and that votes for me were taking away from his commanding lead. I looked in the mirror and saw my Inner Nader and pledged something importantly Communist for the common good of the desert and the rabbits and my thirst. (Note: If this makes no sense to you read this and this.)
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The Munch Paradox Frequent commenter Todd. and I spent Saturday afternoon watching [redacted for Todd.'s peace of mind]. The conversation turned to David Simon's Homicide: Life on the Streets, then to the storied history one of Baltimore's (fictional) finest: John Munch. Munch, played by comedian Richard Belzer, will make television history when he appears on an episode of Simon's current show, The Wire , as it will mark the tenth separate program in which he has appeared as a character. In addition to being a principle on Homicide and Law & Order: SVU, Munch has appeared on: Law & Order Law & Order: Trial by Jury The Simpsons Arrested Development The Beat The X-Files Sesame Street What is it about Munch that people find so compelling? The conspiracy theories? The serial monogamy? The counter-culture radical turned cop? Whatever the reason, the ubiquity of Munch obscures an important fact: namely, that Simon's Homicide is an adaptation of his book of a similar name and that he based Munch on an actual murder police named Jay Landsman. I've taught Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets before, so I'm familiar with Landsman, of the sidelong smile and pockmarked face, who tells the mothers of wanted men that all the commotion is nothing to be upset about, just a routine murder warrant. Landsman, who leaves empty liquor bottles in the other sergeants' desks and never fails to turn out the men's room light when a ranking officer is indisposed. Landsman, who rides a headquarters elevator the police commissioner and leaves complaining that some sonofabitch stole his wallet. Jay Landsman, who as a Southwestern patrolman parked his radio car at Edmondson and Hilton, then used a Quaker Oatmeal box covered in aluminum fol as a radar gun. The pockmarked face and sneering at authority is vintage Munch. The drinking and fake radar guns? Reminds me more of this detective from The Wire. His name? Jay Landsman. He looks like this: Who looks nothing like this: And even less like this: Who is that? Why, that would be a retired Baltimore murder police by the name of Jay Landsman, playing a character named Dennis Mello on The Wire. The mind boggles. For those of you keeping score, it's possible that an upcoming episode of The Wire might now incorporate: John Munch, a character inspired by Jay Landsman Jay Landsman, a second character inspired by Jay Landsman the real Jay Landsman I should be able to draw some sort of conclusion from this, but honestly, the situation seems unprecedented. Have there ever been two fictionalized versions of the same guy and the guy himself running around the same television show? There must be a meta-meta-meta-point to be drawn from this—something more sophisticated than "David Simon, he loves him some Landsman"—but I'm at a loss for what it might be.

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