Sunday, February 18, 2007


The Corner is grittier and more painful even than Simon and Burns' latest project The Wire, which says a lot if you're familiar with that TV novel. This mini series will break your heart. A formerly middle-class family of dealers and junkies struggle through a year in Baltimore as they try to stabilize themselves in a marginal society. Scoring a blast occupies most of their time. The show doesn't deal in types, however. These are real people with dreams and hopes whose addiction destroys them slowly, and it's painful to watch.

I knew people in "the game" about 17 years ago, and wonder how they're doing today. When Fran gets clean and has to ride the bus to Hunt Valley for work every day I had to laugh; I thought of T and Chief and H-Man and Hawk and all those cats who used to work with me at Hunt Valley Mall and did the same--that's 2.5 hours on the bus every day. They were struggling to keep steady employment, to keep off the streets, but one by one they went from dealing to using to stealing in order to keep using. All of them but T fell to long prison terms last I'd heard. All of them were smart people in a terrible environment with few options, and I learned a lot about dignity from knowing those East Baltimore guys and gals. Last I saw T he was manning the register at the Timonium McDonald's, and he still had that big grin on his face. Some make it, many don't. The Corner strikes an occasional hopeful note but exposes the War on Drugs for the sham it is.

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