George Pelecanos on 'The Wire' and D.C. pulp fiction

George Pelecanos on 'The Wire' and D.C. pulp fiction
George Pelecanos on 'The Wire' and D.C. pulp fiction

As a bonus to this week's City Pages interview with George P. Pelecanos, the D.C. crime novelist and writer-producer for HBO's The Wire, here are some of the questions and answers that didn't make the cut. (Check out links at the bottom.) The only thriller writer who really matters spoke with me over good food at Vicino Ristorante Italiano in Silver Spring, Maryland, on Martin Luther King Day, 2006.

After Hurricane Katrina, I wished there were a New Orleans equivalent to you and your writings about D.C.

It's funny you mention that, because, I don't know if I'm supposed to talk about this, but David Simon [co-creator of HBO's The Wire] just sold a pilot to HBO, and it's going to be in New Orleans. It's going to be about all these musicians after Katrina. Like, "How did they rebuild their lives and still play music?" In other words, the hook is going to be centered around the music of New Orleans post-Katrina. And this guy they brought in this year for The Wire, he has a house in New Orleans. And he's a playwright and a longtime television writer and stuff, and he's going to partner with David on this thing. It's coming, is what I'm saying. I think they're going to start on it after they shoot this season.

Did you know Peter Davis, by the way? The Your Flesh guy? [MySpace page] He's in L.A. now. I saw him out there on my last book tour. Back when he was publishing every month, I wrote a little bit for him. He got the word out on my books early on.

Did you ever play music?

Never. I'm just a fan.

What was your first concert?

I'm 48, so my concerts go back to seeing Thelonious Monk open for Blood, Sweat & Tears at Washington Coliseum in 1969, when I was 12 years old. That was my first concert. I saw Parliament Funkadelic in Park Barren Amphitheater, which is just an outdoor theater on 16th Street, and they played with the Manhattans. So the Manhattans come out in their suits doing the choreographed stuff, and the next thing you know some guy's coming out in a diaper. There actually were a lot of walkouts, because the crowd was mixed with a lot of older people and a lot of people like me, teenagers. Of course "Chocolate City" was written about D.C.

We had a couple radio stations, WGTB, which was Georgetown University. It was an underground station. And then 'HFS was a legendary alternative station. It was real alternative, not what they call alternative now. They brought the music to the public, and if somebody like [Bruce] Springsteen came down to the Child Herald, he had a packed house. Because back then, radio was the only way to find out.

By 1988, when I was living here [in the D.C. area], the Howard station was the college station that meant the most to me.

Right, 'HUR.

As far as alternative stuff, I didn't really remember anything.

'GTB was done by then and 'HFS had become sort of the new Top 40.

You mind if I try that [appetizer]?

Yeah, dig in, man.

George Pelecanos on 'The Wire' and D.C. pulp fiction

Were you ever a punk?

No, I wasn't. Honestly, I felt like dressing a certain way, cutting my hair a certain way, was just another act of conformity. So I never got into that.

Did you go see the Slickee Boys?

Oh, I saw them plenty of times. [Eating] There was that whole era of Tommy Keene [official site]. Tommy Keene was our power pop guy. The Nighthawks was the blues band. We used them in The Wire, because they're heroes around here. The season we did with the dockworkers. There's a scene where they're all drunk and there's a band up onstage. Those are the Nighthawks.

Fort Reno was the place in my youth. It's run by the park service. It's just a big field. And every summer they do this program where bands play out in the open. I've been doing that since I was a teenager, and to this day I still go see Fugazi [watch video at Youtube] play there every year. It's a free show. Thousands of kids show up every year.

You and Quentin Tarantino launched your careers around the same time, and you've since been compared to each other. You both dealt with violence in new ways. You were both big John Woo fans. And you were white guys writing in black American vernacular. Have you ever met Tarantino or talked to him?


Has there been any interest on his part in doing any of your books?

Not that I know of, no. Many years ago I got hired to write about him for a magazine, and his publicist wouldn't put me through.

You've said that you want to give violence its due horror. He deals with the shock and humor of violence.

I'm not an across-the-board fan of his. I mean, that might explain why we've never hooked up. I think Jackie Brown is his best film, and is a great film. But there's things like, in Pulp Fiction, the guy getting shot accidentally in the back seat of a car, and everybody's laughing in the theater. I don't get it, you know? I mean, I shot somebody when I was a teenager, and it's nothing to laugh about. I shot somebody in the face point blank. And there's nothing to laugh about when you call somebody a nigger. There's just a lot of things that I disagree with. And it's partly the audience.

I remember, when I saw Reservoir Dogs, I saw it in pretty much a white audience. And I saw these young guys in their 20s laughing at "Cut it out, you guys are acting like a bunch of niggers." And everybody's laughing and stuff. And then, I was looking around, and I saw a middle-aged black guy and his son, probably innocently going to check out that crime film. And everybody's laughing at that. I could just see the guy slinking down in his seat. Like, "What are they laughing at? What's so funny about that?"

But Jackie Brown, oddly enough, when he was criticized for that picture because of the use of that word, I felt like for the first time it was completely organic to the Sam Jackson character. That guy absolutely would have been saying that. The question is, Why is Steve Buscemi saying it? Why is Tarantino saying it in Pulp Fiction? Why would that guy be saying it to the Sam Jackson character? Sam Jackson would beat his ass, and instead he just lets it go. Quentin is saying it because it sounds cool, because he thinks it sounds cool.

The argument has been made that he's trying to take some of the sting out of the word.

That's bullshit.

Another figure I wanted to ask you about was Christopher Hitchens [more here]. He's a longtime D.C. resident with roots in the Greek community. His first wife was Greek, and he's written about Cyprus for much of his life. Have you ever met him?

I saw him at a bar. We were both doing this thing. I think it was at the National Press Club, where they have a bunch of authors signing at Christmastime. And I went in there for a beer, and he'd already had a few, and he's sitting at the bar, and I was going to talk to him, and he gave me a look, like, "Don't do it, bud." I don't agree with a lot of what he writes, but it's coming from the heart.

He wrote one of the better articles about the "two Washingtons" back in the '80s.

He ain't never been to the other side of town.

George Pelecanos on 'The Wire' and D.C. pulp fiction

It's interesting that the current war comes up in both The Wire and Drama City as background noise getting louder. Why did you want to deal with the war?

There's this neighborhood that I keep writing about, Park View. You go down there, and it's typical. Everything's run down on the commercial strip. You have bars, liquor stores, urban markets that sell beer and wine, stuff like that. Then the only nice place is the Army recruiting office. The only place that's got clean lights and a clean window, and it's right there in the middle of it. That's pretty much all you got to say, man.

A lot of people were gung ho in the city when the Pentagon was attacked, because they knew people that worked there. People were pretty much on the same page there. The thing is, when there was a reason to fight, all the people in the city, no matter what their economic background, were behind it. And, a lot of guys signed up. One of my many people I've gotten to know--he was a drug dealer, and it's reflected in Drama City. A lot of what that book is about is that you get too old for it. He managed to escape jail, and he just grew past that window. It's a small window. And then you realize, well, what am I going to do now? It's a young man's game. So I knew one guy who enlisted. He was in his early '30s. And he's gone. I haven't heard from him. And he's over there somewhere.

There's a sense in both Soul Circus and Drama City that the war piles one more thing on top of everything else.

To spend all the money we're spending when we've got all these problems here is just disgraceful. I think Katrina is actually an opportunity to employ untold thousands of people who need work. If the government did something similar to the WPA program in the Great Depression, if the government put people to work down there, you're not just paying people to work, you're also getting them acclimated to the culture of work. And within that organization, you can start promoting people to management. They can learn how to be managers, and basically you're reeducating people how to go work. And you've got this need down there now to do something. It could be the biggest undertaking this country has ever done, to put people to work for this one specific cause, right? To rebuild that city. And you know, I'd love it if my tax money went to that. I'd write a bigger check. But it's infuriating that I'm writing checks for this war now.

When characters in your books talk about the war or the death penalty or guns, do they express the feelings of people you talk to in D.C., or are those your own?

I'm trying to, more and more I hope, keep myself out of these books. You can be just as misunderstood on both sides of the fence. Just let the characters speak as they would. Because I've been guilty of, in my earlier books, I've been guilty of people hearing my voice, and me getting up on a soapbox. And it's not good for your art. It's not good for your books. Which is why I'm sort of reticent to talk about politics. With Soul Circus, it's the double whammy of the death penalty and also the gun thing. I'm not that anti-gun. If I lived on a farm in the country or something, I'd definitely own guns.

I think you have one of your characters say, "I'm a man, I like to hold a gun."

Exactly, you can't deny it. But people in the city don't want guns, so that's what I was doing. I was, by larger extension, talking about how powerless the people in D.C. are against their government.

How's your food?

I'm enjoying it.

Another comparison made between you and Tarantino is your use of pop culture references. But your characters don't just bring up popular culture to bond with each other, it's more like something they can rely on it, and take comfort in it. What I remembered most from Drama City wasn't any cool pop culture references, but the fact that the main dogcatcher character and his parole officer both like the way they make tuna subs at this one Subway.

Again, doing the research in that book, I was writing with dog police for quite awhile. I also rode with a parole officer on all her routes. The funny thing was that the dog guy and the parole officer, they didn't know each other, but they went to the same Subway, mainly because his calls were in that part of town, and her calls were in that part of town. But I noticed that they both ordered the tuna fish. And it just came up. A lot of times, I don't really have a great imagination, which is why the books are so reality-based. And a lot of the stuff I write, I wish I could say it was me being creative, but a lot of it is just me sitting there and listening to people talk. And doing all this research that I do. The dialogue is something that I invent, and I'm good at that. But these little details, it's all reality-based. And again, I think early in my career, I would have had them go to a place that I wanted to promote, but I'm trying to get away from that.

George Pelecanos on 'The Wire' and D.C. pulp fiction

I disagree with something you said about Martin Luther King, that he would have given up nonviolence. Reading Taylor Branch's new book on King, you get the impression that he became more emphatically dedicated to nonviolent confrontation as the stakes were raised.

In Hard Revolution, when that kid Nick Stefanos, my alter-ego, when he comes out of that Greek Orthodox church, and he walks across to the National Cathedral and he hears King speak? That was me. The Sunday before he was killed in Memphis, he spoke to the cathedral. I came out of church. I heard his voice coming through of loudspeakers. And I walked across the street through the gardens when there was like thousands of people out there outside. They had mounted the speakers on the cathedral walls. I don't remember what he said, but when I looked at his speech, I'm paraphrasing, but he said if nothing is done between now and June to raise ghetto hope, I predict that there's going to be violence in the cities. He was warning people.

The thing that pisses me off in the op-ed pages is people who have an agenda will frequently say, "This is not what Doctor King would have wanted," talking about black people and how they react. Bullshit. How do they know what he would think today? Once people figured out the Voting Rights Act, and what good does that do when you can't put food on the table, once that sank in with people, that's when you have revolution coming. And I believe King would have been behind a more aggressive stance in the Civil Rights movements.

What happened here and in Detroit and a lot of cities was a good thing. It was unfortunate for what it did to a lot of businessmen, and it's unfortunate for what it did to a lot of the neighborhoods, but it speeded things up, there's no question about that.

But don't you think things were speeding up anyway? I guess the question on my mind is: What would have happened if you had that cultural transformation you're talking about, but also with King alive, or with a Democratic candidate keeping the Great Society alive...?

It was killed. When Bobby Kennedy died, that was the end. You had, obviously, Nixon elected because of that. And Nixon was elected for the same reason George W. Bush was reelected. Just making people afraid. And that's what Bush did. Stay the course against these terrorists. And people bought it.

We're both speculating. It's an interesting thing, our mayor at the time of the riots was Walter Washington, the first black mayor. He was appointed by LBJ. And J. Edgar Hoover during the riots called Washington in and said [paraphrasing], "We're going to start firing on these people." And Washington said, "You can replace buildings, sir, but you can't replace people." Basically he said, "Over my dead body." And Hoover said, "Well, I guess this conversation's over." And Washington said, "I was already gone five minutes ago," and he walked out the door. When Marion Barry ran for mayor as a young man, he basically ran on a platform that Walter Washington was a tool of the white man. The irony is that Walter Washington was a great man who saved a lot of people's lives in this city. And Barry was Barry. He's back in the news again, you know. He tested positive for cocaine last week.

The expression you use in your books, and it's on The Wire, too, is: "Same soup, just reheated."

I heard an old guy say it in D.C., and I said, "I'm using that." That's the kind of shit you can't make up in your office. I mean, part of what I do is just going out and hanging out. And people that don't do that, they can't write these kind of books. They can make it up, but it sounds like it was made up.

It's funny, but I don't like the Nick Stefanos books as much because they seem to be more about you. Is that wrong?

No, I think I really started to become a real writer and get better at this after I got away from that. I was learning how to write. Don't forget, when I wrote my first book, I'd never ever tried to write anything before, not even short stories. I never took a writing class. That was me learning to write. But what I'm doing now is a hundred miles away from what I was doing then, and a lot of it is, I managed to put that behind me. Obviously, in Drama City, there's nothing of me in there. There's nothing of my life in there. I don't live in those neighborhoods. I don't have any of that background. It was 100 percent researched and imagination.

There's a little of the D.C. punk scene in the character of Lorenzo's dogcatcher partner, Mark.

You've hit on a good point, because the Humane Society here in Washington employs a lot of people who were at PETA. PETA left town, they moved to Richmond, and these people stayed. And they were pretty radical people about this animal thing, and a lot of them were also heavily involved in the punk movement. So if you go to the office, you see people, they look like punks. They've got tattoos on their faces. They've got piercings everywhere. These are the guys that are going out into Southeast and telling people, "I'm taking your fucking dog away." It's bizarre.

By the way, a lot of those people that came out of the Positive Force thing, the Straight Edge thing, I see now because they're getting up there, they're in their 40s like I am. I see them working for PEN/Faulkner--they're the people that contacted me. I do these programs in the schools, where I work with kids that want to become writers and stuff. And I see them in all walks of life. They've kept up the punk ethos, that what I'm going to do is devote my life to doing something for the community. And it's pretty cool, man. I've never lived anywhere else, so I don't know what happened to people who were into Husker Du back in the day. But these people here, they're actually doing this stuff that they committed themselves to doing when they were young.

Even if you're trying to take yourself out of your books, I think it's possible get few things about you from them. Like, you're a sports fan.


And I take it you don't own a Toyota Camry.

I had a lady at a book signing tell me that she sold her Camry after reading one of my books. I told her, "Don't do that. I could tell you to wear a banana peel on your head."

Have you had experiences with fighting?

For many years I kick-boxed here in the city. But that was just a sport to me. Matter of fact, after I trained for many years doing that, I never got in another fight in my life. Before that, I'd get in bar fights. So I don't want to project myself as really badass.

But you've been in bar fights?

Yeah, who hasn't?

I haven't. Well, I've tried to break up bar fights.

I did a lot of stupid things. It's all stupid stuff.

So how do you feel about your kids and violence? There's this whole spectrum, from shoving somebody to bullying, and then there's entertainment, playing Grand Theft Auto. And you wrote that World War II book when you were a eight years old...

That's from being the son of a marine, so that's where that came from. I have two sons and a daughter, and I assume we're talking about my sons now. One of them's 15, the other's going to be a teenager soon. They're very street-smart young guys. They're tough. I don't have a problem with that. My youngest son is on the wrestling team. He's very tough. He can handle himself in the street. He wouldn't bully anybody, but there's people that don't even want their kids to know how to fight, and I don't think that's helping them any.

I'm a little different. I mean, for example, the word "fuck" to me is four letters randomly arranged. It doesn't bother me if I hear somebody say it. And I've told my kids that, too. People will look at you a certain way if you say it. They're going to judge you. But the fact is, just think about it, man. There's nothing wrong with it. They know everything that I've done, all the drugs I've used, and everything. I try to tell them, look, smoking pot, it's your choice, but personally, from my experience, as an older guy, I think it's a waste of time. It's not a moral thing. Just think about it. Why waste the time? I try to give them something from my experience. I've wasted a lot of time doing that kind of stuff. And the violent games, again, it's a game. It's not going to make you go outside and shoot anybody. I'd rather you go outside and shoot buckets.

The way your characters use drugs, it's a way of not dealing with what's going on in their lives.

So you know what I'm saying. As you get older and older, you see this is a great gift that we have to be sitting here enjoying this meal together and everything, just breathing the air and all that stuff. Why put something in between there to make it foggier? 'Cause you're not going to remember whether it was any fun or not.

Are you no longer a producer at The Wire?

I didn't do it this year because it was gonna interfere with my novel writing.* I had a new contract with Little, Brown, and it was very important that I fulfill it. And I wanted to write a book. Writing for television is rewarding on a lot of levels, but it's never as rewarding as writing a novel with your own pen, and creating it all yourself. And truthfully, a lot of what people like about writing for TV, I didn't like. I loved the writing part of it. I hated being on the set for 12 hours a day or 16 hours a day, just a lot of sitting in a chair watching other people work. You know, the guy's hauling cables around and lights and stuff, and here you are with your name on a stupid little chair. It's embarrassing to me. 'Cause I'm a guy who's worked my whole life. All of a sudden I'm sitting in a chair with my name on it.

But didn't you write your forthcoming book while doing The Wire?

I did, but it just caught up with me. It's basically seven months out of the year to write. And it's 12 to 16 hours a day, so you're not doing anything else.

And you would drive from D.C. to work on The Wire, right?

Yeah, I was commuting. It was a hundred miles a day. And I was well paid for it. But that leaves five months in a year, and I can write a book in five months, but on the front end I gotta do a bunch of research, and then there's the promotion of it, which is usually a month out of the year, I do a tour of the States and I go overseas. And that's like a 15-month year, which I don't have.

George Pelecanos on 'The Wire' and D.C. pulp fiction

What was the atmosphere like with other writers on The Wire? Was it like a bull session, or you come in with a finished script and then they go over it? How did you interact with them?

There's a couple parts to that. Before the season, we'd get together, usually we'd go away somewhere for a week.** And we'd brainstorm about the generalities of it in terms of what this seasons going to be about, what are we trying to say, the character arcs, where's he going to start, where's he going to end, who the characters are. Then you get back, you start meetings again, and you start what they call beating out the show, which is a scene-by-scene diagram of each show. Usually it's about between 30 and 35 scenes in 58 minutes, and that is just two or three days in a room with all the writers mapping it out on a board, with different colors for the police, the politicians, the drug boys, the corner kids, and you map the colors out, day one, day two, day three, and put them in order.

So when we're done, before the season starts, you've got four shows like that, so you could send the writers off to do four scripts before we start shooting. You can't knock out the whole season beforehand, because things change. Things aren't working, or they're working better than other things, and you don't know that until you start looking at dailies and things like that. What happens is that as the season progresses, it gets more and more intense, because you're trying to beat out these shows and give them to writers to write like a week before the show starts to shoot. The pressure mounts and mounts, and tempers flair, and there's a lot of arguing and things of that nature. But I believe that that's why the show's so good. A lot of the arguments were about the good of the show. And then you got other stuff, too. You've got egos.

Would, say, for Season 3, Dennis Lehane be in the room?

Yeah, we brought him down. We brought Richard Price down.

What would a specific argument be about?

It was different for different guys. Like Ed Burns, he knows the streets better than any of us do, and Baltimore specifically. So he would be the guy arguing, "This guy wouldn't do this. You're making him too soft. He's like a suburban kid." And I would go for consistency of character. "Why is he saying this now when in episode three he was talking totally different?" And David was the guy in charge, so he would often come in late in the process and say, "No, you guys gotta start all over again. You fucked it up. This isn't what I want."

But he's got a track record. The reason I came onto this thing was because of [HBO miniseries] The Corner. I enjoyed Homicide, but The Corner to me was something I've never seen done on television before.

How has Baltimore changed since The Wire began shooting parts of it?

The dock locations were literally disappearing as we were shooting. There is no working class anymore. The working class is a myth that people use to sell Ford trucks. There's no jobs for those people anymore. That's why you've got these cities with no industrial base for young people. It used to be, traditionally, in Baltimore, for example, if you work for U.S. steel or whatever, wherever your dad worked, and you weren't the type of person that's going to go on to college, your dad got you into the union. Whatever you think of it, it's a living, and then your kids go to college. There aren't those jobs, anymore. So those kids either did pull themselves up, or, you know, that's why you see these kids selling drugs openly. And Baltimore is a way tougher town than Washington in a lot of ways. We shoot in the neighborhoods. Those aren't sets. They're acres and acres of row houses with plywood in your doors, and people are living in these places. There's no work. And the school system, 75 percent of kids don't get past the tenth grade.

George Pelecanos on 'The Wire' and D.C. pulp fiction

You and David Simon and other people from the show are saying some of the more radical things in entertainment media about where the country is going. You're not just saying that the country has changed, you're saying people changed it for the worse.

That's David. David is more of an intellectual than I am. I'll go into a neighborhood and see kids on the corner selling drugs. What I want to do is I want to go home with them and find out, "Why?" in a microscopic way. David will say, "Well, what can we do about that?" I don't have that kind of head.

Do you think being a salesman helped you be a better reporter?

Yeah, I was a good listener on the sale floor. I was very quiet. I'd just listen to people, and I'd look for buying signs and then I'd go in for a kill.

So you really got it down.

Oh, yeah, I never understood when people would say, "You're just trying to sell me something." I'm like, "Yeah, that's what I'm doing here. That's my job, of course I am." But it's about being a good listener more than anything.

Former Howard University student Sean Combs bought the rights to your book King Suckerman for a while and took it to Miramax, but you've said the rights have been returned to you. What happened?

I wrote the script. I liked what I wrote and Bob Weinstein didn't like it, and we ended up parting ways.

Do you feel better about not adapting this new script, for Right as Rain?

At this point, time is moving faster. As a lot of writers are, I'm hyper-aware of my mortality, so to go and spend six months or eight months rewriting something that I've already written, I'm not going to do it anymore. I'd rather write a script for The Wire than adapt my books for the screen.

And what's the status Samuel L. Jackson starring in Right as Rain?

You never know what's going to happen, but it's all ready to go. It's not in pre-production yet, but the script's written.

Why were you drawn to this genre of fiction in the first place?

I wasn't much of a reader, and then I took this class, Hard-Boiled Detective Fiction at the University of Maryland. The reason that I wasn't a reader was that none of the books that were put in front of me in high school were relevant to my world. Because I do sort of come from a working-class background, and the books were about people like that. Crime novels, to me it's the people's literature. Not so much Chandler, 'cause that's really about a guy floatin' above everything and looking down on it. But Hammet, and then the pulp writers were really down there in the gutter with these people, and without judgment. It's not just them, but Steinbeck. That's the kind of book I want to write. Where crime comes into it for me is that I need a narrative engine to strap myself onto so I can write the book. 'Cause otherwise, I feel like, "Oh, fuck, where's this going." And then he's in the room thinking about things and the dust is blowing in the sunlight.

Well, one of my favorite parts in a couple of your books is that you take long breaks from the action so that your characters can go visit parents. Do you worry about leaving the narrative too much sometimes?

I'm not a hugely successful writer, and there's probably a reason for that. I certainly don't think of these things as mysteries. I mean, the book that I just turned in that's coming out later this year [The Night Gardener, on August 8] is really about this cop's family, like what happens when he goes home at night, and what it's like to be a father of a teenage son, with all these challenges out there in the world. It's certainly not a traditional crime novel.

George Pelecanos on 'The Wire' and D.C. pulp fiction

(Center: Anwan "Big G" Glover of the Backyard Band as Slim Charles on the third season of The Wire; watch video of the Backyard Band here) ______________________________________

*[first follow-up question via email:]

What's your job title on the fourth season of the Wire now that you aren't a producer?

I'm writing episode 12. No producer title this year. I was involved in the story meetings before the season began, where we figured out the arcs, but pulled back from the other duties. When I was a producer I was in charge of a little bit of everything. Now I'm just a lowly writer again, in charge of nothing.

**[second follow-up question via email:]

Where did the writer-producer meetings where you hashed out stories physically take place during work on season three?

A couple of months before we shot we went up to a kind of inn in upstate New York (I think it was Tarrytown; I sorta remember that because of the Steely Dan tune off Pretzel Logic) and spent the better part of a week discussing/planning the story lines and arcs of Season 3. The place was empty. It was me, David Simon, Ed Burns, Richard Price, and Robert Colesberry, who passed away a few weeks before we began to shoot. For the record, Bob was more than a nuts and bolts producer, he was a creative guy as well. And a good friend to us all and the show. Anyway, the inn was kinda empty, and remote, so there wasn't much to do but work, which I suppose was the idea. But they had a bar, and I did manage to take some money from those guys at the house pool table. We also played racquetball. Price had game, and so did Burns.


George Pelecanos

Audio: Pelecanos and David Simon on NPR in 2004

Audio: Pelecanos on Tavis Smiley in 2005

Pelecanos wrote the lyrics for a recent Steve Wynn song, "Cindy, It Was Always You"

Pelecanos Wikipedia entry

Pelecanos interview in City Pages: "Ten Thousand Bullets: D.C. lifer George Pelecanos writes about murder, drug feuds, riots, dog-fighting--and also a little violence" (link fixed 3/25/09)

Pelecanos interview with Robert Birnbaum in 2004

Pelecanos conversation with Dennis Lehane in 1999

Link Wray: Armed to the Teeth (in fact and fiction)

More on Katrina's aftermath in City Pages: "Juvenile's New Orleans, the ghost town America made"

HBO's The Wire

HBO's message board for The Wire

The Wire Wikipedia entry

Ed Burns interview at The Wire's site in 2006

David Simon interview in the Baltimore City Paper in 2003

David Simon interview in Salon in 2002

Book: Hey Cabbie! by Thaddeus Logan

Book: Samaritan by Richard Price

Richard Price interview at Identity Theory

Book: Homicide by David Simon

Book: Lost in the City by Edward P. Jones

Edward P. Jones Wikipedia entry

NYT: "Baltimore Streets Meaner, but Message Is Mixed"

Baltimore City Paper: "A Guided Tour Of The Wire's East Baltimore"

Links page for Homicide and The Wire

City Pages review of The Wire: The Complete First Season

Video: Omar on The Wire at Youtube

Video: Backyard band from 2001 on Youtube

Take Me Out to the Go-Go

Online book: Caroline Street, NW Washington, District of Columbia: The first 125 years, 1879-2005

Baltimore City Paper: Top 10 Reasons to Not Cancel The Wire

The Wire discussion at ILX

Positive Force D.C.

Dischord Records

Washington City Paper

Baltimore City Paper

Republic Gardens

Book: A Flag for Sunrise by Robert Stone

Baltimore hip-hop trading cards

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