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In which the author discusses parallels in the lives and work of two Charm City scribes.
Edgar Allan Poe, alcoholic inventor of Gothic literature, died in Baltimore on October 7, 1849. Charm City commemorates the 160th anniversary of his death this week. But what does Poe have in common with David Simon, Baltimore native and creator of HBO’s “The Wire?”
Edgar Allen Poe: Deliberately sought court-martial at West Point to pursue career as a visionary writer. “I have no energy left, nor health,” he wrote his guardian. “I shall neglect my studies and duties at the institution.” David Simon: Left the Baltimore Sun to pursue career as a visionary TV series creator. “I got out of journalism because some sons of bitches bought my newspaper and it stopped being fun,” he told the Baltimore City Paper.
EAP: Won acclaim for “MS. Found in a Bottle,” a sea-adventure tale that, according to biographer Kenneth Silverman, “creates a sustained crescendo of ever-building dread in the face of ever-stranger and ever-more-imminent catastrophe.” DS: Won acclaim for Homicide, a non-fiction book and television show that celebrates the human ability overcome the catastrophe that is murder. “[It’s] very much a celebration of the human spirit under pressure,” Simon told the Baltimore City Paper.
EAP: Set the standard for compelling Gothic literature with the poem “The Raven,” in which an unnamed narrator is tormented by an eerie bird. “Ghastly, grim, and ancient raven, wandering from the nightly shore,” Poe wrote. “Tell me what the lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore./Quoth the raven, ‘Nevermore.'” DS: Set the standard for compelling cable television on Season 4 of The Wire, in which serial murderers Chris and Snoop torment the enemies of druglord Marlo Stanfield with eerie apathy. “When you think of Chris and Snoop, think of John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, only smart,” Stephen King wrote. “And with a nail gun.”
EAP: Died in Baltimore after a bender with, according to onlookers, a look of “vacant stupidity.” DS: Concluded the final season of the The Wire with a bender of sloganeering against anti-corporate journalism that, according to some critics, was stupid.