My Five Favorite Characters From “The Wire”

Hello, everyone. My name is Damon Young (aka “The Champ”), and I am the biggest fan of “The Wire” you’ll ever meet. Actually, let me rephrase that. Because “The Wire” is the best thing that’s ever happened, well, on Earth — yes, it’s better than bacon, democracy, sunsets, kittens, women who squirt, Mike Tomlin’s shape-ups, Mary Magdalene’s hugs, Aretha’s voice, NBA basketball, unlimited mimosas, the entire Renaissance, the moon, The Bluest Eye, snow days in school, the entire internet, bacon wrapped bacon, bougie Black girls, and everyone who’s ever been named “Michael” — it is likely that there are other people whose love for “The Wire” matches mine. Not surpasses, but matches.

Anyway, I’m bringing this up because today is going to be devoted to all things “The Wire,” and if you’re a person who hasn’t seen it, plans to see it but doesn’t want to get spoiled, saw it and didn’t care for it, couldn’t really care any less about it, or enjoyed “The Wire” but don’t see the need in spending an entire day discussing a f*cking TV show that ended four years ago, today is not the day for you at VSB, and I will not feel bad if you decide to u-turn when you see this paragraph. Happy motherf*cking trails.

For those of you who remain, today I’m going to attempt to do perhaps the hardest thing I’ve ever attempted to do. Narrow down and list my five favorite characters from “The Wire.” To understand how difficult this is, I’d probably have an easier time listing the top five most arrogant things God has ever done. I’m literally sweating right now, drinking a half gallon bottle of All Sport (yes, they still do make that), and I think I just stopped a nosebleed.

So, before my body breaks completely down, I should just go ahead with the list.

(In reverse order)

5. Francis “Frank” Sobotka

Like most other fans of “The Wire,” season two’s shift in focus from the streets to the ports initially caused a prevailing sense of “Wait. What the f*ck is this?”-ness that was more due to my own expectations than the quality of the season itself. When I watched it for the second time, I began to appreciate how this season turned “The Wire” from a show about cops and robbers to a sobering, deconstructionist take on the drug war and the city of Baltimore. Basically, in season two, the “The Wire” got real.

At the heart of all of this was Frank Sobotka, a man who just wanted to provide for his family and stand for his occupation and co-workers and just got waaaaay over his head. Also, like Wallace in season one, his death further pushed one of the prevailing themes of “The Wire” — that there was really no place in the game — and, well, America, really — for good-hearted people.

4. Lester Freamon

Makes the cut because, as a person who always thinks they’re the smartest person in the room (and is usually correct), I appreciate others who also always think they’re the smartest people in the room (and are also usually correct).

Also, more superficially, Lester’s awesomeness is at least partially due to the fact that he bagged the best-looking woman to appear on any of the seasons, and he kind of reminds me of my dad.

3. Howard “Bunny” Colvin

In lieu of explaining why he’s so high on my list, I’m going to ask you all a question that Bunny Colvin would probably ask you all if he were a blogger. Let’s say drugs — all drugs — were legalized next week. Do you think more people would use them?

(My answer? No, because I don’t think the criminality of drugs is really what makes people not use them. I’d bet a week’s pay that people who’ve never done crack, smack, or meth have never done it because of the effect it would have of their bodies, not because it was illegal.)

2. Michael Lee

I’ve already spoken extensively about my love for season four of “The Wire,” so there’s no need to revisit that now. What I haven’t spoken about before, though, is the fact that the two minute long scene where Michael first meets Marlo gives me chills every time I watch it. It’s that good. In that one short clip, you see everything you need to see about Michael —  his lack of fear, his single-mindedness, his contempt for authority, the deadness in his eyes — and you’re forced to wonder what a 13 year had to have gone through to make him that hard that young.

1. Preston “Bodie” Broadus

More than any other character, Bodie represented the heart of the show — the common man who’s too powerless, too engulfed by bureaucracy and station to do anything besides maintain a small portion of the universe, a portion of the universe that he doesn’t even own. I know it seems counterintuitive to refer to a murderous drug dealer a “common man,” but Bodie was Baltimore, and his life (and eventual death) showed the futility of being principled in an environment where principles are a valueless currency.

(Honorable mentions: D’Angelo Barksdale, “Cutty” Wise, Weebay Brice, Avon Barksdale, Prop Joe, Bunk Moreland, Randy Wagstaff, Vondus, and Bill Rawls)

Anyway, people of VSB, that’s it for me today. I’m curious, though. Who were your five favorite characters from “The Wire”?

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

no!!!: the five worst on-screen deaths of all-time

***before we get started today, i’d like to officially welcome my homie panama, aka the panamanian, aka the arsonist, aka jiggaboo p, aka drake deez, aka giovanni eraser to the 30 club. happy birthday and sh*t, man***

mufasa

***flashback to 2000***

the champ and several teammates are visiting an elementary school as part of their perfunctory bi-weekly “community give back“, a program enacted by his head coach requiring them to spend a certain amount of hours each month performing community service.

download real genius dvd although mandatory volunteerism is a bit of an oxymoron, they enjoyed doing this, as it gave them more of a sense of community, helped to instill the value of altruism, and first exposed them to the fact that women in social and/or community service occupations tend to be unadulterated freaks¹.

anyway, this particular morning happened to be movie day for the 4th graders and their uber-banging 25 year old teacher, ms. nelson, so the champ and four of his teammates sat in with the kids in their tiny-ass chairs and watched “the lion king”.

as you all know (unless you’re completely soulless, or from atlanta), “the lion king” is a great movie, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the entire classroom was quickly immersed in the film. it also shouldnt come as a surprise that mufusa’s death scene was particularly hard for the nine and ten year olds to watch, as muffled sniffles were heard around the room.

but, it would probably surprise you to learn that each of the adults in the room refused to make eye contact with each other, afraid that someone else would see how truly verklempt they each were. this includes the uber-banging ms. nelson and the champ, who you all know can be a bit of a pussy sensitive and sh*t

any death scene that can make a roomful of dimepieces, prepubescent project kids, and 6’6′ athletes in tiny chairs cry deserves the number one spot on the champ’s five worst on-screen deaths of all-time, and, without further ado, here’s the rest of the list.

****SPOILER ALERT!!! THIS ENTRY AND THE COMMENTS CONTAIN NUMEROUS SPOILERS FOR DOZENS OF MOVIES AND TELEVISION SHOWS. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK AND SH*T****

2. preston “bodie” broadus, “the wire”

bodie

maybe stringer’s slaying carried more of a panoramic reverberation on the streets of baltimore and in the minds of and in-between the legs of hundreds of thousands of excessively thirsty female viewers. maybe wallace’s gut-wrenching murder pulled more at more heartstrings than lil kim’s face, and maybe omar’s unceremonious offing took the cake for sheer shock value and sentiment.

but, for a true wire fanatic, no ones death was as resonate as bodie’s, whose doggedness, cynicism, and world-weariness came to be a literal embodiment of the city of baltimore, and the show was never the same without him

3. adriana la cerva, “the sopranos”

adriana

last seen crawling through the woods in her filth mart jeans, begging her uncle not to shoot her, adriana’s last scene was a great reminder of how brutal the oft romanticized mob can really be and further cemented her status as the bangingest white chick on tv

4. gator purify, “jungle fever”

gator

eerily (and, probably intentionally) reminiscent of marvin gaye’s murder, seeing the death of the hopelessly strung out gator at the hands of his father, the good reverend doctor purify, made the young champ swear to himself to never, ever, ever sample crack and always carry chapstick

5. carolyn carmichael, “crooklyn”

alfre

lets put it this way: when a characters death makes you refuse to ever watch a movie again, it deserves placement on the list. i havent seen crooklyn in over 15 years, and its still filed in my mental rolodex as “mom dies. can’t watch

i’m sure i’m missing a few. people of vsb.com, what are the most heart-wrenching on-screen deaths you’ve seen?

¹no bullsh*t. i have no idea why though, but i think guilt has something to do with it.

—the champ