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Monday, September 15, 2008

Down to The Wire: An Anthology of Black Thought on HBO's Greatest Show Ever

New Anthology celebrating HBO's The Wire Series

Let me begin with a much owed apology. I am sorry for the lack of content over the last week or so. There were a variety of things (including my dad being hospitalized, a MC that left me weak and weary (my own fault), a nosy boss who became increasingly interested with my 9 to 5 online surfing habits, and a much need vacation to see the s.o.) that kept me from posting as of late. But now that my life and schedule have returned to some semblance of normalcy, I promise that you can expect a bevy of interesting posts to keep your brains occupied.

I don't know how many of you were avid watchers of the HBO series The Wire, but you should have been. The series was arguably the most prolific dramatic programming ever to be broadcast. The magnitude of the show's significance is relatively impossible to explain to those who never watched. In five seasons the writers, directors, producers and actors of The Wire converged to create some of the most dynamic, accurate, and compelling depictions of basic social constructs and the flawed human condition, ever filmed.

For those of you who lucky enough to witness the show's brilliance, below you will find a unique opportunity to testify to the shows importance. I hope some of you take advantage...I intend to.
~Call for Submissions~
HBO's The Wire came out of left field and captured the attention of hundreds of thousands of devoted viewers in Black communities throughout the country. The question is, "Why?" On one level, the show gave numerous Black actors the opportunity to showcase their talents and to breathe life into nuanced, three-dimensional roles. "Stringer Bell" and "Michael Lee" are two of the most compelling characters in the history of American television. Another reason for the show's tremendous popularity amongst Black audiences is that we love to see ourselves excel, and The Wire gave us five seasons of stellar performances, a mirror in which to gaze and appreciate what we saw.

Yet, as excellent as those characters and performances were, The Wire did not always reflect back images black folks wanted to embrace. Many of the show's best characters were drug dealers. Filmed on location in the most blighted sections of Baltimore, Maryland, the show's storylines tackled the maladies of urban America head-on. The Wire's success was definitely not rooted in the feel-good, uplifting mode of The Cosby Show. Instead, The Wire appealed to Black people because it chose to tell the truth, warts and all, about urban life, and it did so deliberately, but rhythmically, like an extended blues song.

Down to The Wire will be a collection of essays exploring the cultural significance of The Wire, particularly to Black folks and our communities. The collection will explain why, contrary to popular belief, The Wire is indeed the greatest TV show ever produced by HBO.

The editor welcomes submissions from emerging and established Black writers, entertainers, cultural critics, and other observers. We seek well-constructed critical essays and creative nonfiction which address such topics as:

  • Getting Out of the Life: The vision of Stringer Bell
  • Gay Thugs: Omar and Snoop
  • The White Perspective Still Comes Through: The death of Proposition Joe and the skewering of Black Baltimore history
  • Crying Foul: White Characters and the Race Card
  • I'm Just a Gangster, I Suppose: Avon Barksdale, Marlo Stanfield and the New Day Co-op
  • Playing with the Boys: Snoop Pearson, Kima Greggs, Marla Daniels and Nerese Campbell
  • Real-Life Drama: How The Wire changed the lives of individual viewers and their contributions to the communities in which they live
  • The Wire as scholarship: What did the show teach us about American society, culture, racism, classism, economics, and public policy? Can these lessons translate into meaningful social change and exchange?
  • Why was The Wire so popular with black viewers, but less so with white viewers?
  • Does The Wire glorify drugs and violence? If so, why do we give it a pass?
  • Hopeful or Hopeless: Bubbles and Duquan
This is not, of course, an exhaustive list of possibilities. Generally speaking, we are interested in original, provocative musings and analyses which address what The Wire means to Black folks.

Take a position and defend it. Tell a well-crafted story. Make us laugh, cry, think, shout.

Submission deadline: December 17, 2008

Length: Up to 6,000 words

We will only consider submissions of previously unpublished works and those for which the author hold rights allowing for re-printing.

Please include your name, email address, mailing address, phone number, and a short bio (50 words or less) with your submission.

Email is the preferred method of submission. Send essays within the body of the email to:, with the subject heading: Down to "The Wire" submission. No attachments, please.

Submissions may also be postmarked by the above date and sent via regular U.S. mail to:

Down to "The Wire"
c/o Roland Laird
Posro Media LLC
PO Box 585
Trenton, NJ 08604

Unfortunately, we cannot acknowledge every submission. Authors of those essays selected for inclusion in the anthology will be notified via email by February 26, 2009.

About the Editor:
Roland Laird is both an author and entrepreneur. His book Still I Rise: A Cartoon History of African Americans was named "One of the Best Books in Print" by the New York Review of Books Readers Catalog when it was published by W.W. Norton in 1997. He recently completed an update of Still I Rise for a February 2009 release by Sterling Publishing. He is also the founder of Posro Media an entertainment company specializing in producing compelling African American images. Roland and Posro have been the subject of numerous media stories including in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and on NBC's Sunday Today Show and on MTV. In 2004, the US Mission to the United Nations recognized him as a global ambassador for his tireless devotion to his world community and heritage.

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