2015 Lucy Somerville Howorth Lecturer David Simon to deliver Isom Student Gender Conference Keynote on Friday

By Jaime Harker

 David Simon, Paul SchiraldiI came late to The Wire, but when the series came out on DVD, I sat down to watch the first episode. A young man explained to a homicide detective why “Snot Boogie” lay dead in the street. Every week, Snot came to the craps game and tried to steal the pot. “Let me get this straight,” asked McNulty, the homicide detective, “Every week he snatched the pot and ran? Why did you let him in the game? Why did you let him play?” “Got to,” answered the witness. “It’s America, man.”

From that moment, I was hooked. In my binge watching of The Wire over the next few weeks, I was immersed in a world that usually gets only self- righteous buzzwords on the nightly news, a world populated by characters full of rage, buffeted by injustice, often exploding in frightening violence, but characters who were nevertheless brave, funny, resourceful, and deeply invested in a code of conduct that was invisible to the mainstream but meaningful to members of the community. The Wire insisted on the flawed yet glorious humanity of all its urban dwellers: drug dealers, crackheads, corrupt cops, sleazy politicians, and snitches. Though much of its terminology continues to inform my own speech—“juking the stats,” for example, remains a depressingly relevant concept no matter what one’s station of life—it is The Wire’s embrace of people usually dismissed in pejoratives that still resonates. This gripping, complex, often hilarious world emerged from the distinctive genius of our 2014-2015 Howorth Lecturer David Simon.

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Provocateur and National Treasure John Waters to Visit

John Waters dropping off 16mm prints of his early works at the Film Society. Photo by Eugene Hernandez. (Borrowed from http://www.filmlinc.com/

To experience a John Waters movie is to experience the carnivalesque. No other filmmaker can make his audience laugh till their eyes water, cringe in their seats, and potentially throw up -- all in the same moment. To watch one of his films is to experience a delicious delirium that makes you realize that he has turned your world and expectations topsy-turvy.

Dennis Lim, the Film Society's Director of Programming at the Lincoln Center, says it best when he observes that John Waters is "a lifelong provocateur and by now a national treasure. John Waters is a singular, even prophetic figure within not only American cinema but also the broader landscape of American popular culture. From his early underground sensations to his subversive work within the mainstream, no filmmaker has done as much to blur and challenge the distinctions between high and low culture, and between good and bad taste.”

We are excited to welcome John Waters to our campus. This student-inspired event was made possible by generous support from the University Lecture Series, numerous university entities, and private donations.

Tickets will be free and available from the UM Box Office by mid February.

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