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May 06, 2008


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Though it sounds trivial, my visit to the John Varvatos store now occupying the old CBGBs location brought some of the same issues to mind. I wondered why the DIY punk aesthetic was being repackaged for the high-end consumption. I speculated that the consumers of ultra-pricey gutter duds were purchasing the illusion of danger, while risking only their dollars. But should we condemn all vicarious thrills out of hand? Need we disassemble all rollercoasters, or only those that exploit the experience of real people? One wonders where this would restrict the practice of fiction to pure invention, if indeed such a thing exists.


I agree with you that there are some uncomfortable implications in reading Random Family or viewing The Wire for entertainment purposes but they are strikingly different in at least one respect. In Random Family, LeBlanc's intent was quite clear--to document and humanize people who are often caricatured and ignored, to show her readers a world of inherited and cyclical poverty, a world devastated by drugs, broken families, and abuse. David Simon also does this to an extent, but the truths are blunted because The Wire also romanticizes and glorifies the world it portrays because it is ultimately intended as entertainment. Unlike Omar or McNulty, Jessica and Coco are all too real, all too human, and that's what makes Random Family so much more heartbreaking and harder to shake off than The Wire. I wonder, too, about the fate of Jessica and Coco and their children; I hope LeBlanc either updates her book or writes a follow-up.

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