David Simon & Ed Burns - The Corner

The Corner - David Simon, Edward Burns
"The Corner is rooted in human desire - crude and certain and immediate. And the hard truth is that all the law enforcement in the world can't mess with desire." 

I have this flaw in my character that I am extremely judgmental. I try to fight it. I try to tell myself I don't know the circumstances. I can't see the whole picture. But no matter how hard I try, there is always that voice in my head that keeps saying "why can't people just get their shit together". You know, go get a job, stop selling drugs, leave that abusive relationship, don't join a gang, don't do drugs. Just say 'no', right? 

I will tell you this - no one has managed to do more for my personal improvement than David Simon and Ed Burns with this book of theirs. I can almost feel I am a better person now. 'The Corner' is a documentary of one year of the Corner of West Fayette and Monroe in West Baltimore. People getting high, people selling drugs, people getting in trouble, people shooting each other, kids having kids - you know the statistics. Now, Simon and Burns show you the people behind the statistics. They don't patronize or infantilize their subjects. They humanize them. They tell you like it is, they don't try to justify them, or blame everything on the system. 

This is not an easy read because the portraits of Fran, DeAndre, Gary, Blue or Fat Curt hit a little close to home. Well, of course I like to think that if I were born in the ghetto I wouldn't let that happen to me, I would just work hard, and try hard, and I wouldn't get in trouble. 

Because I am so strong-willed, right? I can't fucking manage two days without chocolate but I would make it out the ghetto. 

As the authors say: "Yes, if we were down there, if we were the damned of the American cities, we would not fail. We would rise above the corner. And when we tell ourselves such things, we unthinkly assume that we would be consigned to places like Fayette Street fully equipped, with all the graces and disciplines, talents and training that we now possess." 

If this book doesn't bring you close to tears, I don't want to know you, you must be a bad person. 

Now, on the other hand, this book also made me want to become a dope fiend. Just a little bit, you know. Imagine I could swap all these conflicting desires and needs I have for just one need and desire - to get that blast. Just that. No other emotional and material needs. No need to find love or a more fulfilling job or start family or make more money, just get a blast. A simple goal, achievable on a daily basis. Yeah, fucks you up good in the end, but it doesn't matter because what matters is to get a blast. This is a very simple code: get a blast and never say never because you never know how far you will go to get a blast. 

Oh God, this book was great. Can David Simon go and live somewhere else for a year and write me another one like that? That's all I want for Christmas, thank you. The language was beautiful and literary, and full of slang at the same time and somehow it didn't sound like your dad trying to be hip. You might listen to a hundred rap songs, and you won't have a clue. You can watch all the 'urban movies' you can download in the whole wide internet and you still won't understand. Read this book and you might just begin to have an idea. 

This book deserves a song in the review: