"If I think about the future of cinema as art, I shiver" (Y. Ozu, 1959)

SERIAL FILMMAKERS - David Simon

Saturday, 19 November 2016 15:22

Yorgos Tsourgiannis

Documentaries, Journalism and fiction: How real is real in the work of David Simon

 

The fictional worlds that David Simon and his collaborators create whether they are taking you to Baltimore, New Orleans, Iraq or Yonkers, always come off as strikingly real. They are intended “to be used as travelogs” for those who haven’ t been, David Simon once said jokingly. In a similar fashion Bazin had described the 40’s and 50’s Italian neorealism’s films as photochemical indexes of real places and people. And although undeniably works of fiction, it is not unimaginable for the viewer to mistake parts of the experience for a documentary, or a hybrid of sorts, with long takes, use of real people and locations, general absence of a music score and more such usual suspects of cinema verité aesthetics.

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But then again documentaries lately too have bridged their distance with fiction. Especially as successful highly entertaining serialised TV documentaries make their way into our lives (think HBO’s the Jinx, or the Making of a Murderer), more and more these days the formalist’s approach to narrative documentary is all the rage in pitch forums, festivals and co production markets. It has arguably become impossible to pitch a documentary to a decision maker without repeatedly dropping textbook fiction storytelling parlance, words such as “protagonist”, “rising action”, “2nd act climax”, “characters’ arc”, “setting up”, “paying off” and of course “resolution”.

 

The currency of the documentarist storyteller is and has always been of course reality, as opposed to fiction. What she is narrating has actually happened. The choice of camera angle, depth of focus the duration of the take, editing pace and indeed the extent of the employment of classic narrative modes such as a character arc and alas resolution become ways to achieve emotional impact and/or to tell the story better. Or for some to see reality more acutely since -the argument goes- by promoting the dialogue between the real and the fictional, the real is pronounced louder. But in achieving aforementioned impact, reality can also be a limitation. You cannot make say your protagonist die in a documentary, even if that would make the perfect ending to a story otherwise meticulously told.

 

What if one were to reverse the model, and use classic fiction as the point of entry to a narrative experience of making sense of the real with all its nuanced ambiguity and layered complexity? They would still have to examine the facts, the raw data and in their own subjective way they would try to shed light on them, to connect the dots between and assign them meaning. To tell a story of what they believe to be true but with the added benefit of the flexibility that fiction offered them. And perhaps the very process, the methodology itself, of telling a story in such a manner contained even greater truth in it. It would not be far fetched to describe the work process of David Simon and his collaborators in such a manner, the narrative documentary inverted. He has after all admitted to be walking in the footsteps of Frederick Wiseman, the greatest documentary filmmaker in America, and for some the greatest living american filmmaker.i

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Given his background (and professed love) in another storytelling profession dealing with the reality currency, that of the journalist, David Simon is well versed on the code of ethics in reporting the truth to the public. It includes concepts such as impartiality, objectivity, fairness and rigorous fact checking. Again here, and exactly because of the stringent code of ethics, the journalist has only so much freedom as to reading between the lines or connecting the dots, meaning promoting their one subjective synthesis of facts that they believe to be true. To make things worse, fairness, impartiality etc could be maliciously invoked by institutions or individuals and be used as excuses in an attempt to skew the very truth they protest to uphold.

 David Simon

Much in the same way language -an interpretive and thus subjective medium- is our sole means of conveying, even formulating, our thoughts, reality relies on storytelling to be made sense of. The quest for truth then becomes a constant battle for an ever alert, self checking, self referential subjectivity and of course for storytelling aptitude. In the contemporary journalism context this train of thought becomes more relevant than ever. The advent of the social media amateur journalists, the citizen journalists (a plague if you asked Simon), the reign of algorithms in the constant streams of news feeds and aggregators combined with a catastrophic cheapening of editorial quality for the print media in the quest for profits renders, albeit arguably, serious and diligent long form storytelling in journalism more pertinent than ever.

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And then of course there are these real stories and voices to be heard, witness reports by individuals trapped in difficult situations or disclosures about sensitive yet crucial information of the inner (mal)workings of various institutions, disclosures that could not possibly be heard “on the record” in the context of something “serious”, with “real” stakes such as a documentary or a newspaper piece. Offer these individuals the opportunity to say: “look nothing like this ever happened but were it to happen, it would have happened like this” and things will start getting really interesting. Simon thinks so. The cathartic force of letting it out, of finally telling it like it is should not be underestimated either. Fiction, a fable, can offer the right kind or protection cloak for this sort of thing.

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David Simon would seem to be adopting the workflow and devices of the documentary: an extensive background research on the world of the stories, a general observational style, minimal exposition or the simultaneous following of many characters and storylines, he then combines it with his well honed journalistic instincts of impartiality and fairness. One of the most characteristic tropes for instance in the work of David Simon is assigning equitable voice (=screen time) to the various stakeholders of the story. Another is his portrayal of all players of “the game” as social equals but also in their entire moral gamut. Everyone has a good side but equally a dark one regardless of the strand of life they are coming from. There are no just sinners or just saints in the Simon universe.

 

He then adds to the mix his equally well honed visual storytelling craft abilities notwithstanding his consumate skill in selecting and working loyally with immensely talented collaborators and proceeds to talk intelligently and with lasting impact about what he cares to talk. He is getting the best of both worlds. He is a fiction storyteller who acts as if he is making a documentary. A novelist who behaves as a journalist. Robert Bianco from USA Today described his work at Generation Kill as journalism turned to art.ii Many others have made similar observations.

 

Lisa Belkin, the original author of “Show Me A Hero”, the best selling book that the recent HBO TV series was based on, worked also as a consultant for the development team testifying to the scrutinising research and the lengths Simon and co went to “putting real voices into their characters, to create something honest” and “…right down to such period details as the lighting of city hall one fateful night in 1988”.iii Such is the texture, care and reflection ubiquitous literally into any aspect of any work of David Simon and his recurring collaborators such as Nina Kostroff-Noble, George Pelecanos, William F. Zorzi, Eric Overmyer, Ed Burns, and the late David Mills among others and such is their implied work ethic.

 

In writing dialogue the audience in mind is certainly not the average viewer. For example when they are writing about a murder scene the audience in mind would be the homicide detective. Simon's main concern, if not his only one would be to not appear as a fool to those who know from the inside how these people speak. Rigorous research and interviews to put real voices to characters will take place. Thus the extensive use of slang and jargon in the Simon oeuvre. Explaining would merely expose the scaffold of the act of storytelling. Not the truth it aims to convey.

 

Exposition is minimal, as exactly is the case in observational realism found in documentaries.

Plotlines are many and they run parallel. Characters, forget about it. They come in casually, they are introduced later if at all. Exposition is not denied for the same reasons it generally is in scripted entertainment, to set up an expectation to the audience and then reward it with a thrilling pay off. Exposition is explaining and this is not how it works in real life. Reality, what actually happened, would generally be favoured to concessions to entertainment or accessibility with a direct effect on every aspect of the crafting of the stories, and of course ratings. The result (and by the way the common criticisms of the shows of David Simon) maybe very complicated and slow plot lines, anti heroes in the classical entertainment jargon sense, dark themes, pessimism, extensive use of indecipherable slang and some sort of closure. Arguably. Proper anti-dramas.

 

 

A brief note on closure

 

Clean cut, unambivalent protagonists that the audience can easily identify with, and closure are big things in scripted entertainment, closure especially. This is how audiences are gratified at the end for having taken the journey of the protagonist(s). Cinéphiles may despise nice, neat, closed endings deeming their restricted interpretative nature microwave food for the mind, the lay audience however can get seriously angry if they are deprived of their rightful entitlement to closure.

 

The showrunners and director Miguel Sapochnik of the beautifully shot Battle Of The Bastards, the penultimate episode of the Game Of Thrones, S6, could (metaphorically speaking) have suffered a similar fate to Ramsay Bolton by the audience mob, had they indulged in the director’s idea to portray the sadistic lord in a more human light during his final moments.iv Meanwhile in the penultimate episode of the first season of Treme, that rare gem of TV fiction, “Wish Someone Would Care” penned by George Pelecanos, Cray Bernette, portrayed by John Goodman, most likely voices Simon’s opinion on the matter. In discussing in class the 19th century New Orleans set, early feminism landmark novel by Kate Chopin “The Awakening”, he urges: “Pay attention to the language itself, the ideas. Don't think in terms of a beginning and an end, Because unlike some plot-driven entertainments, There is no closure in real life, Not really.”

 

For David Simon, life itself is antidrama. v Storylines in life do not evolve in little neat crescendos. The predisposition of the human condition may well be to desire it, to seek it. But closure in life is of the ever elusive variety.

 

Treme’s entire premise, interestingly enough, is about the people of New Orleans seeking closure in the aftermath of the violent displacement in their lives caused by the Katrina catastrophe. Cray Bernette ironically also seeks closure. Past his writer’s block what he perhaps suffers from most is loss, loss of meaning and identity in the post-Katrina New Orleans. His wife Toni (Melisa Leo) devotes most of her professional life to confronting the police in assisting La Donna Batiste Williams (Khadi Alexander) and in later seasons many others in their own deserved quest for closure. Toni, trying herself to make sense of her own recent tragedy unwittingly denies the very same right to closure to her daughter Sofia (India Ennerga), in the name of her protection. The plotlines and character arcs in Treme unfold over the course of four seasons, and they are elegant variations, jazz impro style, on the themes of loss, defiance, reconciliation and closure.

 

In the final episode of Show Me Hero, Nick Wasiscko, the youngest ex mayor of New York, is now merely a council member, having paid dearly with his political career his decision to not appeal to the public housing mandate of the federal courts. Wandering around the neighborhoods where the beneficiaries of his courageous stance now live he is seeking his own kind of closure. He hopes at least that the new black residents of the newly built public housing will recognise his heroic act.

 

In the hands of a less unflinching storyteller here indeed would be perhaps the moment of some acknowledgement of the hero’s heroic deed by his community. It wouldn’t need to be something loud like an applauding crowd in the middle of the street, you know, the students of the classroom on their desks exclaiming “oh captain, my captain”. It could be something ever so discreet. A blink, a gentle approval nod. Someone gesturing something like “I know what you did for us Nick Wasiscko”. A single such gesture would be a fitting hollywood ending for the hero’s arc.

Wasiscko however is denied it. They don’t recognise it, how could they and why should they? Did he really do it for them ? Will this minor victory erase the years of segregation, or the challenges and struggles ahead of them to make their lives work in this alien and not particularly welcome territory? No. There are no saviours here. Simon, Zorzi and co have the real hero firmly in mind, with all his real pain, not the archetypical one. vi

 

There is not necessarily a glorious closure, if there is one at all, for the Simon heroes at the end of their journey. Some small victories perhaps, some tiny gestures that reveal the human potential (and Simon’s belief in it) to strive for something better but with the danger of regression lingering ever present. Exactly as it happens in life. Such seemingly anti-climactic choices have to be informed by an embedded sense of integrity towards what Simon knows, or believes to be the real. A desire to be honest to what is real. There is that word again. Honest.

 

 

The quest for verisimilitude

 

It would perhaps be tempting to read into Simon’s healthy obsession with verisimilitude and his infamous defiance in conforming to the average viewers expectations as him adopting a position, a political gesture against the very institution of TV entertainment. Such a stance could be hazardous for one’s longevity as a creator in the TV medium. Serialised TV fiction is expensive to produce and needs to have a market. A sizeable audience or at best some other form of convertable in the long haul (preferably in monetary terms) value. It is a business and besides, the capitalist world is notorious for not producing stuff that would merit existence independent of their market value.

 

There must surely be moments when David Simon marvels at the thought that he has been getting away with it for so long. Kudos to HBO for that. But giving the finger to the entertainment industry could hardly be motivation to him. Besides the same institution that allows gratifying entertainment to thrive and be consumed en masse, allows David Simon and his anti dramas to exist. No, this cannot be it.

 

Another great american storyteller before him, Robert Altman, also pre occupied with institutions, their failings and shortcomings and the human agency within them, had also found a workable production model for his work. He was producing modestly budgeted, nonetheless great, work which was successful enough to allow him to keep finding funding to do it but small enough to allow him to retain his uncompromising artistic vision.

 

David Simon also admires cities, he too is preoccupied with the institutions in them and like Altman he seems less concerned with the story itself, the three act narrative but cares much more for the world of the story. He prefers to highlight the hows of this world. The nuts, the bolts, the wheels, the cogs. How things work. How is the game played. How do things connect to each other, where do actions by individuals trapped inside failing institutions, or broken cities lead. The smallest of details even. But not in the self referential way this is done by a lot of the high profile television drama and even hollywood lately (think franchises). The latest trend in entertainment, on cable TV especially, has been towards building complex worlds -narrative universes-, creating intricate albeit masterful plot lines that live in these universes and then inviting audiences to discover the rules. This is indeed a thrilling and gratifying experience and it has arguably on one hand led the audience to a certain hyper-narrative fluency and sophistication, yet conversely has pushed the medium, for better or worse, to keep reinventing itself. Simon’s worlds too, offer similarly addictive discovery challenges but his invitation to the deconstruction of the complex systems represented within them, with little information or navigation is driven by a very different need. Noblest I d’ argue. Understanding how the system works in its finest details, how things come to be will lead you to the ultimate adverb, the why. Why do institutions fail? Why are entire classes being marginalised? Why is the drug war in the US being perpetuated? Why was the US invasion in Iraq necessary? Why does racism prevail? Why hasn’t incarceration helped the crime problem in the US?

 

David Simon has often said that great journalism is the “Why” journalism. The whos, whats and wheres are a child’s game. In his relentless quest for verisimilitude it is his “journalistic impulse that motivates him to do television in this way”, and this verisimilitude is not simply the coating to the story, to make it anaglyph, persuading and intriguing or to merely emulate the aesthetics of realism. The means to get to the why is the story itself. In their first week in the writers’ room, he, his co-creators and collaborators will not be discussing character or story, they will be arguing about and eventually agreeing on what it is they want to be saying, why are they telling this story. Charting the plot lines, coming up with the sub plots and dividing it into episodes comes later, and “it is not exactly rocket science”.vii They don’t care so much to be entertaining us by drawing attention to their craft, to the way the story is told, to the virtuosities and there are countless such in their creations executed with grace and precision by them. There is of course the cognitive workout aspect of trying to make sense of such a complicated narrative, with infinitely small amounts of exposition. Our understanding of the narrative would be better at the end but we would also have a firm grasp of the representational dimension of the narrative. We would be better off primarily as social creatures and secondarily as viewers. This is the pay off of the Simon game.

 

 

The why

 

The city according to Simon is perhaps the “only vehicle” to measure human achievement. Our ability as species to co exist, to live together. To thrive as a society. The present and future human civilisation lies definitively within the cities. In studying them and conversely the structure of American society and culture, Simon sees the existence of two Americas (an expression coined by former presidential candidate John Edwards) co existing like parallel universes. A horror show he argues not unique to the US. The same thing takes place everywhere in the world. One America, is the affluent one. The one which is keeping up with the capitalism drum beat. That is the only one with a plausible future. viii The other one, is essentially an ever expanding underclass, including parts of the middle class who have been left behind. With no job or the possibility of finding one, with barely an income and having to be deprived of its most basic services such as Health and Education. A bleak outlook.

 

In almost any lecture, talk or interview that Simon has given he describes in variable levels of detail this divide and he traces its origins back in the mutation of political thinking that took place in the 80’s and the gradual consolidation of the notion of the trickle down economy. The idea that if the rich get more money, the poor will benefit from it too. What we experience today is essentially the collapse of the social contract and the absolute victory of raw capitalism which has assigned meaning to existence by monetising it. Such a society which only measures human value by how much one is earning and no other assignment is deprived of the core of its social function. The ability of its citizens to share.ix Personal freedom and personal liberty (the mantras of modern political ideology and rhetoric) which would include the right of an individual to the limitless accumulation of personal wealth should only come hand in hand according to David Simon with collective responsibility.  Otherwise it is nothing but tyranny. It is brutal selfishness, bad citizenship. Nothing but a second rate society and we must solve this or we fail. The stake is self-governance. The future would be two Americas, and it won’t be pretty Simon asserts.x

 

What doesn’t work? Where do we start? The institutions themselves within our society are managed by trying to quantify progress. By presenting some sort of stats which subsequently become the holy scriptures of effecting policy. The minute this happens there will be willing individuals within these institutions who will try to manipulate these numbers as a means of advancing themselves within the institutions. xi The institutions are created to help individuals but they end up trapping those individuals they were created to help, and then the question becomes what does the individual will do for the institution, not the other way around. xii

 

What would be the likely fate of an individual within these failing institutions who would dare to go against the tide? David Simon has after all repeatedly joked about how in telling his stories it is the middle managements point of view that he loves. Well for those gifted, talented often defiant people, the decent folk who want to do their job, who are trying to navigate through the hierarchies, the incompetency of their superiors, the ass kissing, the authority, the bureaucracy against all odds, the way out is the quickest way. Our society has extremely low tolerance for talent let alone defiance. This is a recurring theme in David Simon’s work.

 

But it is also a testament to his belief in the human agency. The ability of a single individual to effect change, from inside the institutions or even outside of them. Or at least try. In Show Me A Hero, an ode to good governance as it has been described, it is some of the bureaucrats that saw through the public housing being built in the segregated Yonkers. People like Newman, Sussman and Sands. It is also the citizens that embraced the idea and went to live in the housing such as Catherine Keener, Carmen Feebles, or Norma O’ Neal. It is also people like Mary Dormant, initially a fierce opponent of the housing plan but with the ability to do the hardest thing there is, to change. And of course Nick Wassisko who fought to win the council member majority voting at great cost. It is McNulty, Lester Freeman, Howard Colvin, Terri Colson, Toni Bernette and countless others.xiii

 

Seen in this light, each Simon show is an insider’ s look into the workings of the American city and the American society’ s institutions. When they work and when they don’ t. They transport you to the corners of Baltimore, where a whole black underclass is being chased down in the name of a drug war and subsequently being left behind. They offer intimate tours of the inside workings and failings of gigantic institutions such as the police, local governance, the media, the US marine corps the education system. Of what policy by numbers means and what its real life consequences are? How has hyper segregation of communities been pursued consciously for decades proliferating the racism in America? How, by turning incarceration in a Wall Street commodity, a thriving industry has been created by packaging and marketing the destruction of a human life and nobody gives a damn? They try to answer very tough questions such us why is a society more interested in spending billions to saving unscrupulous speculative gamblers but sees no merit in preserving their legacy and past by saving the massively destroyed New Orleans, a living and breathing museum of american culture and heritage? They illustrate the effects of unchecked ignorance and intolerance in the communities.

 

And of course they tell you many human stories. Stories of people pretty and ugly, tough and frail, heroic and villainy, all at once, failing and succeeding. Simon dutifully strives to capture the essence of real life, not from the vantage point of a social scientist but as someone equal. Someone who feels, is keenly aware of and cares deeply about what it is to be a human being. Every now and then there is a story of some short lived success in the Simon oeuvre, in case we needed a paradigm, a good example on how to live our lives. “With the nuance and scope of novels, Simon’s recent series have explored the constraints that poverty, corruption, and broken social systems place on the lives of a compelling cast of characters, each vividly realized with complicated motives, frailties, and strengths” read the Mac Arthur Foundation statement, describing the reasons for awarding him a Mac Arthur Genius Award in 2010.xiv

 

 

Tales of collective responsibility and Sisiphus

 

This must be what drives Simon and his collaborators to create these shows and tell us these stories in the way they do. They reveal the potential force of storytelling and art in awakening us to the possibility of change. They show us how creative freedom combined with responsibility, integrity and thoroughness relieve the limitations of science and give us a glimpse of life itself and its intricate and layered workings. For the critics of the slow and complicated drama and Simon’s general non conformity to audience expectations, this has to be the answer. Almost any single narrative choice in the Simon oeuvre from structure to dialogue, from framing to editing is chosen for its representational semantics as much as for their dramaturgical function. The shows are complex, they have anti heroes, they lack exposition they have weird pace and they deny easy closure because they need to. Because life itself is complex.

 

With the Wire, Simon was offering a twisted view on capitalism but at the same time he was hoping perhaps to get the conversation going on drug war, one of the most “dystopic" in his own words policies he covered for years and years as a reporter.xv Barack Obama who sat down with him for an interview on the drug war confessed: “The fact that we‘ve got people talking about it in a smarter way, gets me a little encouraged”. xvi By his admission the president of the US acknowledges that change is too difficult and lofty an objective. Understanding and talking in a smarter way about our problems would be a much more reasonable expectation. Besides Simon deplores those who think they have the solution to a problem in a paragraph. But equally deplores all those who have lost all faith in the idea of good governance.

 

Simon tells stories of collective and individual responsibility. He speaks with clarity and emotional resonance about what we each could do as members of our society. To find something greater than ourselves, pick an area we think we could offer something, and do that. Offer. No chance of change? Sure, but not a problem either. This is for Simon (and Camus) the only option that offers dignity. This is the only way there is.xvii It is what he perhaps strives for with his chosen profession. For David Simon flight or fight is not a real dilemma. Nobody can really afford the lofty position of walking away and saying this is not bothering me. Democracy is only achieved by constant fight, “We are in the city for keeps” .

 

Admittedly a gloomy worldview but with a trojan horse in its ranks. It implies the profoundly optimistic belief that we have the capacity to change, to better ourselves and that we should strive for that, past the cynicism of the 21st century which has given up on the notion. It invites the elemental question: How do we live together? And what is worth living for? Treme radiates profound love about the good things in life. Music, food, camaraderie. African-American music, jazz, a gift of American culture to the rest of the world. “You know, flatting the third and seventh note, and sending it out into the world has probably been - you know, if America's remembered for anything, it'll be for thatxviii. It lacks none of the nuance, layers or artistry of The Wire, although it goes more unnoticed since it lacks in what are considered, according to Simon, the great currencies of TV entertainment. Sex, violence, sports or comedy. It is not an instantly gratifying experience for the viewer. The kind of viewer who would protest that they like Generation Kill (or even the Wire) but would prefer to watch something else because they find them to be too real. For the audience that does stick around until the end however -a wide and diverse audience that crosses American borders - the experience is immensely rewarding.

 

The rise of ISIS, the fracture of the Arab world and ensuing global refugee crisis may stem back to the first Iraq invasion 2003 chronicled in Generation Kill.xix Show Me a Hero depicts events that took place some 30 years ago. It highlights the corrosive nature of prevailing racism to the fibre of American society. The source book was published in 1999 and it was relevant then. The show is disturbingly relevant now. Ferguson and Baltimore events coincided with the production of the show. The Corner, the Wire, they remain relevant because they are true. Besides being extremely accomplished works of drama deserving praise merely for that, they are also stories we need to listen, stories which in discovering their truth, we feel gratified.

 

And even if you disagree with David Simon on an ideological or political level, there is no denying the truth of his methodological approach in creating them. His work process has demonstrated, granted with the creative liberties afforded by cable TV, a different and idiosyncratic way to use the medium and has offered us an alternative to what entertainment could be within it. His body of work is a poignant and relevant specimen of contemporary American art created to last. Together with George Pelecanos, David Simon and their collaborators are currently completing their new project about the rise of the sex industry in NYC's Time Square of the Seventies, the Deuce.

 

 

 

sources and further reading

 

The Audacity of Despair, http://davidsimon.com

Festival of Dangerous Ideas 2013: David Simon - Some People are More Equal than Others, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNttT7hDKsk

http://www.hbo.com

 

 

iii http://www.citylab.com/housing/2015/08/qa-with-lisa-belkin-author-of-show-me-a-hero/401444/

v https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRt46W3k-qw, The Audacity of Despair, lecture on Townsend Center for the Humanities' Forum on the Humanities and the Public World

vi http://www.salon.com/2015/09/03 no_white_savior_here_how_show_me_a_hero_subverts_an_obnoxious_hollywood_trope/

vii https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fq4-odZWi-Q, Masterclass de David Simon amb David Trueba al Serielizados Fest 2016

ix https://youtu.be/SL6Jv2Jpnpg Bill Moyers Interview, America as a Horror show

x https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYXNdELqCe4, The festival of Ideas in Barbican in 2014

xi http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=98494970, 'Glory,' 'Wild Bunch' Among David Simon's DVD Picks. He cites Stanley Kubricks film Paths of Glory, and source material, the 1935, Humprey Cobb’s novel as a key inspiration to this point, in that they describe perfectly that crucial , elemental shift in the nature of institutionalism.

xii https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRt46W3k-qw, The Audacity of Despair, lecture on Townsend Center for the Humanities' Forum on the Humanities and the Public World

xiv https://www.macfound.org/fellows/41/

xvi https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWY79JCfhjw, A Conversation with President Obama and The Wire Creator David Simon, The White House.

xvii https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRt46W3k-qw The Audacity of Despair, lecture on Townsend Center for the Humanities' Forum on the Humanities and the Public World

xviii http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=98494970, 'Glory,' 'Wild Bunch' Among David Simon's DVD Picks

 

 

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