David Simon: “What I have found myself writing about is the end of empire: what happens when the affluent decide not to pay their share.”

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that David Simon has transformed the way many of us think about the interconnectedness of the social issues that plague our cities and communities in the C 21st. The Wire zoomed out, from the street corner to city hall, weaving an epic narrative on the political and economic pressures fracturing labor rights, hollowing-out education and crippling policing.

At the very least, he changed writing for television, and raised the bar for all comers.

So of course I was stupidly excited to hear that he’d be speaking at the BMW Guggenheim Lab on the LES. Simon took the mic and spoke honestly, angrily and informally, without notes, for two hours straight. I found myself agreeing with almost every point he raised. I stood on the edge of the crowd and took notes till my thumbs hurt.

Here’s all the quotes I managed to capture. They’re a bit random and disconnected, but you’ll get the general idea of the tone of his talk.

David Simon, NYC. August 31, 2011.

What I have found myself writing about is the end of empire: what happens when the affluent decide not to pay their share.

What we’re looking at now is the moral equivalent of a gated community…. I’ve got mine, so fuck him.

What we are looking at is the triumph of capital. I would date it to 1980: there has been a class war, and my class is winning.

Capitalism is the only way to build mass wealth: it is not a meaningful blueprint for a just society.

It’s a casino: if you mistake it for a mechanism that will build a just society, you do that at your peril. We’ve been doing that for 30 years.

The good news is that it’s going to get worse… It won’t be in NY, it’ll be in St Louis or another place like that… It’ll happen in places where the game is so rigged, where the crumbs that fall from the table are so small, that people will rise up.

The thing that made America great is organized labor… If you look at what labor gave us, it didn’t just give us a living wage. It created a consumer class, people who were willing to buy shit, that is the engine that drives the American economy.

If you come to NY you feel like the center of the universe, everything happens first here… It’s the triumph of NY that the rest of the world doesn’t matter that much. The problem is that whatever cancer the rest of the country is experiences, you don’t feel it here.

People are being thrown away, people that we dont need, people being trained for the corner. When you just don’t need 15-20% of your population anymore, economically, all you can do is make them chow for the system. It makes economic sense to make money off human misery.

Our prisons are publicly traded companies. How do you get 6 or 8% profits when you’re running prisons? You have to make it a growth industry: you have to send more people to jail.

We have more people in jail in America by sheer number and percentage than China, than any other state in the world…. Criminal justice is the largest growing lobbying group. The core chow is people trying to move to a better life, and low-level drug offenders.

Capital has not only achieved this for itself, it has also purchased the government that you might want to use to do something about it.

Two things: opt out for drug wars, acquit low level offenders.

Question time: usually 50% of questions about Omar

Question on the response to Obama’s healthcare plan: this is about the upper middle class, the middle class, and even the working class saying: if someone is below me, fuck em. What do you think the concept of group healthcare is? It’s socialistic. What they’re saying is I want socialism for me, for people who look like me, who work where I work. When people who are affluent do this, that’s a society in decline.

I’m not looking for moustache twirlers: I just think money routes itself. I think the collapse of high end media isn’t a conspiracy, I think that it’s just good luck for capital.

I took my buyout (from The Baltimore Sun) before the Internet, with 100 other reporters, when the Sun was making a 37% profit. This wasn’t a technological issue: only one thing makes society and people that stupid: money. They could make more money putting out a shittier product. All we have left is Barnum, putting our hand in the next guy’s pocket. If they can make money now, they don’t care if the industry survives the next three months.

I think things can change: I think the first good sign is the Times charging for content.

Question on whether is is better to make these points through art, than journalism: I get more attention: I get to do nice things like talk to you about cities tonight because I made a television show… I wouldn’t have been invited here if I was the police reporter for the Balitmore Sun.

It doesn’t work because it’s more expensive than journalism: it costs HBO $30 or 40 million to make a
season of the Wire or Treme… That’s too much money and it takes too long.

Question about filmmaking: I dont know anything about making a film. I have a general studies degree from the University of Maryland.

I can’t tell a story in a medium where you have to stop every 12 minutes to sell people shit. You need to keep eyeballs…. And you can’t tell a story that is dark, much less something that is tragic, because no one wants to watch that shit and then go out and buy iPads and Lincoln Continentals… Premium cable has taken that dynamic and shattered it…. Now that it’s about DVDs and on demand, the ratings mean even less. That economic model makes possible storytelling that is plausible.

I tend not to hire TV writers: I think it’s easier to bring journalists and novelists through the keyhole  into TV. If they make tv I don’t want them: I’m scared that it’ll end up too much like TV.

Next show: We can’t find anyone who is willing to do anything on organized labor. I’d love to do mini-series on key moments in organized labor, but no one is interested. It’s like talking about a museum piece for most people.

I see the American middle class as a person at a casino with the hand on a machine, not noticing everyone around them going bust. All they can see is the guy two rows over who is winning, and all the bells and whistles are going off… There is the secret notion among all these people who are getting creamed that one day I might be the guy on the machine that wins. It’s that level of perfect greed that our political demagoguery takes advantage of to get people to vote against their own interests.

What people forget when they bitch about welfare is that 99% of that money goes straight back into the economy. When rich people make money is goes into the bank.

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The Justine Clarke fanclub got its newest member! We had a wonderful time with @clovermoore at the City’s Pyrmont Christmas concert last night, and on Friday with Cr Robert Kok at the Rushcutters Bay concert. These events are just so lovely, if you can make it, come join us at Alexandria Oval on Friday or Green Square Plaza on Saturday.

The Justine Clarke fanclub got its newest member! We had a wonderful time with @clovermoore at the City’s Pyrmont Christmas concert last night, and on Friday with Cr Robert Kok at the Rushcutters Bay concert. These events are just so lovely, if you can make it, come join us at Alexandria Oval on Friday or Green Square Plaza on Saturday.

Ya gurl having some opinions in today’s SMH about the end of the lockouts. Let’s celebrate this win for a moment – it came about because Sydneysiders, particularly young ones, organised, made their voices heard and put the pressure on government – and it worked. Thank you to everyone who made this happen.But there’s still work to be done to rebuild what has been lost, and a need for investment from the state government to undo the damage to our creative and social culture, and to our reputation.The good news is, we have the opportunity to reimagine what we want after dark in our city. Let’s keep talking about the future we want, and how we can contribute to building it together.

Ya gurl having some opinions in today’s SMH about the end of the lockouts. Let’s celebrate this win for a moment - it came about because Sydneysiders, particularly young ones, organised, made their voices heard and put the pressure on government - and it worked. Thank you to everyone who made this happen.But there’s still work to be done to rebuild what has been lost, and a need for investment from the state government to undo the damage to our creative and social culture, and to our reputation.The good news is, we have the opportunity to reimagine what we want after dark in our city. Let’s keep talking about the future we want, and how we can contribute to building it together.

Thank you Haymarket Chamber of Commerce for a gorgeous evening sharing that @haymarketlove at the rooftop bar of the new Vibe Hotel on Sussex St (Above 319). It was lovely to see everyone and to talk about the exciting year ahead – stay tuned for a huge Haymarket-focused program during the Lunar Festival – kicking off on Jan 25. More on that soon!

Thank you Haymarket Chamber of Commerce for a gorgeous evening sharing that @haymarketlove at the rooftop bar of the new Vibe Hotel on Sussex St (Above 319). It was lovely to see everyone and to talk about the exciting year ahead - stay tuned for a huge Haymarket-focused program during the Lunar Festival - kicking off on Jan 25. More on that soon!

Today I found out about the delicious @heytigerco ethical chocolate company – and I met founder @cyanctaeed – and better yet, I ate some! Rave begins here: amazing flavours (I cannot wait to try Whisky & Smoke), vegan options, incredible packaging design AND most importantly, cocoa is sourced transparently with by in-country checks on child labour. They also support @thehungerprojectau Check them out!

Today I found out about the delicious @heytigerco ethical chocolate company - and I met founder @cyanctaeed - and better yet, I ate some! Rave begins here: amazing flavours (I cannot wait to try Whisky & Smoke), vegan options, incredible packaging design AND most importantly, cocoa is sourced transparently with by in-country checks on child labour. They also support @thehungerprojectau Check them out!

What are you up to today? Come down to Jubilee Park in Glebe to be part of @seasidescavenge – meet people, help keep the park (& waterways) beautiful, & trade waste for vintage clothes & goodies! Find of the morning is @defyplasticwasteau – turn bottle caps into beautiful bowls right here in the park – check them out! It was lovely to open the event this morning, you can come be a part of it till 1pm today.

What are you up to today? Come down to Jubilee Park in Glebe to be part of @seasidescavenge - meet people, help keep the park (& waterways) beautiful, & trade waste for vintage clothes & goodies! Find of the morning is @defyplasticwasteau - turn bottle caps into beautiful bowls right here in the park - check them out! It was lovely to open the event this morning, you can come be a part of it till 1pm today.

It was a pleasure to MC @thesocialoutfit fifth birthday celebration tonight: what an extraordinary organisation, providing dozens of refugees and recent migrants with their first job in Australia, diverting 5 tonnes of fabric from landfill (so far), and producing beautiful and interesting clothes in collaboration with communities and some of our best fashion talent. Here I am interviewing Jehan and Shiva, two women who have been part of their success story, a big shout out to founder @iam_jgruddock & current CEO @camischippa too! You can be a part of this social and environmental solution: shop their spectacular collections or join their giving circle, link in my bio.

It was a pleasure to MC @thesocialoutfit fifth birthday celebration tonight: what an extraordinary organisation, providing dozens of refugees and recent migrants with their first job in Australia, diverting 5 tonnes of fabric from landfill (so far), and producing beautiful and interesting clothes in collaboration with communities and some of our best fashion talent. Here I am interviewing Jehan and Shiva, two women who have been part of their success story, a big shout out to founder @iam_jgruddock & current CEO @camischippa too! You can be a part of this social and environmental solution: shop their spectacular collections or join their giving circle, link in my bio.

The awesome #TheBigIssue are celebrating their 600th (!!!) issue! I hit the streets (okok Devonshire Street Tunnel) with vendor Drew today as part of #MayorSelling around the country: Drew taught me some sales tricks and shared his patch. You know I’m not shy, and I have to say I found it incredibly hard work. Huge props to vendors everywhere for their warm, friendly presence in our cities, for your chats (Drew gave lots of lost people directions while I was there), it’s not easy to stay positive in the face of so many headphones and rejections! If you can, pick up the 2020 Big Issue calendar and an issue from a vendor near you, 50% of the cover price stays with the vendor and helps people #ProudlyWorking #HelpingPeopleHelpThemselves

The awesome #TheBigIssue are celebrating their 600th (!!!) issue! I hit the streets (okok Devonshire Street Tunnel) with vendor Drew today as part of #MayorSelling around the country: Drew taught me some sales tricks and shared his patch. You know I’m not shy, and I have to say I found it incredibly hard work. Huge props to vendors everywhere for their warm, friendly presence in our cities, for your chats (Drew gave lots of lost people directions while I was there), it’s not easy to stay positive in the face of so many headphones and rejections! If you can, pick up the 2020 Big Issue calendar and an issue from a vendor near you, 50% of the cover price stays with the vendor and helps people #ProudlyWorking #HelpingPeopleHelpThemselves

It’s been a tough few years for nightlife in Sydney, which is why we need gatherings like #GlobalCitiesAfterDark, bringing world leaders in party & creative culture to town to help us regroup, strategise & work together to help Sydney reach it’s creative potential. It was awesome to join my Nightlife & Creative Sector Advisory Panel co-chair @kerriglasscock this morning to present an update on all the work the panel has done this year to help @cityofsydney be a good partner & better government for nightlife. A huge thank you to the panel members, who give their time & expertise to help us do better, we couldn’t do it without you.

It’s been a tough few years for nightlife in Sydney, which is why we need gatherings like #GlobalCitiesAfterDark, bringing world leaders in party & creative culture to town to help us regroup, strategise & work together to help Sydney reach it’s creative potential. It was awesome to join my Nightlife & Creative Sector Advisory Panel co-chair @kerriglasscock this morning to present an update on all the work the panel has done this year to help @cityofsydney be a good partner & better government for nightlife. A huge thank you to the panel members, who give their time & expertise to help us do better, we couldn’t do it without you.

Tomorrow is #AusMusicTShirtDay – do you have your t-shirt picked out? It’s a day to support @supportact – a charity that truly rocks – helping musos out when hard times hit. It’s a day to wear your favourite band shirt while tipping in to support the people who write and perform the songs we love. Here’s me in my Total Control tee last year! ‪This year for the first time City of Sydney staff have been invited to form a team: if you can, please chip in and spread the word! ‬

Tomorrow is #AusMusicTShirtDay - do you have your t-shirt picked out? It’s a day to support @supportact - a charity that truly rocks - helping musos out when hard times hit. It’s a day to wear your favourite band shirt while tipping in to support the people who write and perform the songs we love. Here’s me in my Total Control tee last year! ‪This year for the first time City of Sydney staff have been invited to form a team: if you can, please chip in and spread the word! ‬

Have you explored #StepIntoParadise, the spectacular exhibition celebrating Jenny Kee & Linda Jackson’s contribution to Australian fashion & creative culture, @powerhousemuseum? I got a little glimpse of it last night (I’m definitely going back) just before I joined this amazing panel discussion moderated by @drsallygraynow – chatting with @williamyang51 & @janedeteliga about Sydney’s creative culture, then & now. We’re facing some big challenges at the moment, but I’m optimistic we can organise & find a way to sustain & grow Sydney’s creative essence… I hope you get to check out the show & draw some inspiration for creating the powerful, bold, engaged counter-culture we need.

Have you explored #StepIntoParadise, the spectacular exhibition celebrating Jenny Kee & Linda Jackson’s contribution to Australian fashion & creative culture, @powerhousemuseum? I got a little glimpse of it last night (I’m definitely going back) just before I joined this amazing panel discussion moderated by @drsallygraynow - chatting with @williamyang51 & @janedeteliga about Sydney’s creative culture, then & now. We’re facing some big challenges at the moment, but I’m optimistic we can organise & find a way to sustain & grow Sydney’s creative essence... I hope you get to check out the show & draw some inspiration for creating the powerful, bold, engaged counter-culture we need.

‪Enough is enough, chant the crowd outside NSW Parliament. ‬ ‪We don’t need #ThoughtsAndPrayers for #NSWfires: we need real #climateaction. It would be criminal to pass laws outlawing consideration of #climatechange in planning approvals for new gas-fields & mines: that’s what our elected officials are planning to do today, as the state burns. #HowDareYou #nswpol ‬

‪Enough is enough, chant the crowd outside NSW Parliament. ‬ ‪We don’t need #ThoughtsAndPrayers for #NSWfires: we need real #climateaction. It would be criminal to pass laws outlawing consideration of #climatechange in planning approvals for new gas-fields & mines: that’s what our elected officials are planning to do today, as the state burns. #HowDareYou #nswpol ‬

It’s #NewtownFestival day! Here’s part of #TeamClover rocking a stall last year. Whether you’re part of the early-in-the-day dog show-attending or pram-pushing crew, or the later arvo party people, there’s something for you (just like Newtown, really). Have an awesome time & dig deep to support the wonderful work of @newtowncentre. My gal @jessmillersydney will be there, working the gates, give her something that folds if you can!

It’s #NewtownFestival day! Here’s part of #TeamClover rocking a stall last year. Whether you’re part of the early-in-the-day dog show-attending or pram-pushing crew, or the later arvo party people, there’s something for you (just like Newtown, really). Have an awesome time & dig deep to support the wonderful work of @newtowncentre. My gal @jessmillersydney will be there, working the gates, give her something that folds if you can!

… then we went to #GreenSquare, to open the latest separated #cycleway (one which we’re hoping will connect up to UNSW and Randwick very soon) and our major drainage project, one which has facilitated the urban renewal of the whole area, and which is linked to the amazing water recycling facility here beside Joynton Ave Creative Centre. And it was my first time back on a bike since being pregnant – weekend goals achieved! #SydneyLocal

... then we went to #GreenSquare, to open the latest separated #cycleway (one which we’re hoping will connect up to UNSW and Randwick very soon) and our major drainage project, one which has facilitated the urban renewal of the whole area, and which is linked to the amazing water recycling facility here beside Joynton Ave Creative Centre. And it was my first time back on a bike since being pregnant - weekend goals achieved! #SydneyLocal

Such an epic day! First we went to the official opening of #DarlingSquare Library – the city’s latest addition to #publicSydney – at the heart of a bustling new neighbourhood (and foodie destination). I loved the huge maker space, the hardware library, and the fact that library fans kept studying throughout the launch, it’s clearly already well loved! #library #publicspace #socialinfrastructure #Sydney #SydneyLocal

Such an epic day! First we went to the official opening of #DarlingSquare Library - the city’s latest addition to #publicSydney - at the heart of a bustling new neighbourhood (and foodie destination). I loved the huge maker space, the hardware library, and the fact that library fans kept studying throughout the launch, it’s clearly already well loved! #library #publicspace #socialinfrastructure #Sydney #SydneyLocal

It was an honour to give the graduation speech for Sydney University’s School of Architecture, Design and Planning today, thanks to Dean Robyn Dowling for inviting me, and to Dallas Rogers for the first pic (which I totally lifted from his Twitter)… In my speech I asked the graduates to be generous translators of their skills, empowering non-experts in being active city-makers, to remain idealistic and engaged, and to be conscious of the spatial dimensions of justice. I might post the whole thing on my Facey if you want to read it. Thanks to @poisontofu for the vid from the rafters!

It was an honour to give the graduation speech for Sydney University’s School of Architecture, Design and Planning today, thanks to Dean Robyn Dowling for inviting me, and to Dallas Rogers for the first pic (which I totally lifted from his Twitter)... In my speech I asked the graduates to be generous translators of their skills, empowering non-experts in being active city-makers, to remain idealistic and engaged, and to be conscious of the spatial dimensions of justice. I might post the whole thing on my Facey if you want to read it. Thanks to @poisontofu for the vid from the rafters!

@happysadfilm begins it’s Sydney run this week! A beautiful Australian documentary exploring masculinity, the push to fit in and the urge to stand out, following some wonderful creative, passionate men as they carve their own path. I loved this film, big congrats to director Genevieve Bailey, I’d highly recommend it!

@happysadfilm begins it’s Sydney run this week! A beautiful Australian documentary exploring masculinity, the push to fit in and the urge to stand out, following some wonderful creative, passionate men as they carve their own path. I loved this film,  big congrats to director Genevieve Bailey, I’d highly recommend it!

Wow, such a wonderful poem, and very very good to keep in mind, thank you Rachel – if you’re heading to @crownstpublicschoolfete make sure you visit @typepolar

Wow, such a wonderful poem, and very very good to keep in mind, thank you Rachel - if you’re heading to @crownstpublicschoolfete make sure you visit @typepolar

Whatta wonderful day! There’s still time to check out @crownstpublicschoolfete @crownstreetcelebrates – a big thank you to all the parents and friends who made this magic happen, including wonderful @darlodarlings maestro & MC Mike Galvin. Great food, treats, rides & performances, & I got to hang with @jessmillersydney & take Elinor to her first fete!

Whatta wonderful day! There’s still time to check out @crownstpublicschoolfete @crownstreetcelebrates - a big thank you to all the parents and friends who made this magic happen, including wonderful @darlodarlings maestro & MC Mike Galvin. Great food, treats, rides & performances, & I got to hang with @jessmillersydney & take Elinor to her first fete!

It was delightful to help launch #SydneyIsOpen last night – and the first launch we’ve attended as a family! Rocking that pink carpet at six weeks, Elinor! Sydney Open is an invitation to everyone to explore our city, to learn its stories and how the built environment evolves – the battles people fought to save the buildings we love today – and the choices we can make to build a city that’s designed for a fairer, more sustainable and inclusive public realm.It’s also an amazing opportunity to have a stickybeak inside the buildings that intrigue you! There are still tickets for some focus tours today, including the After Dark series, and the main event flings doors open tomorrow, check it out @sydneyisopen

It was delightful to help launch #SydneyIsOpen last night - and the first launch we’ve attended as a family! Rocking that pink carpet at six weeks, Elinor! Sydney Open is an invitation to everyone to explore our city, to learn its stories and how the built environment evolves - the battles people fought to save the buildings we love today - and the choices we can make to build a city that’s designed for a fairer, more sustainable and inclusive public realm.It’s also an amazing opportunity to have a stickybeak inside the buildings that intrigue you! There are still tickets for some focus tours today, including the After Dark series, and the main event flings doors open tomorrow, check it out @sydneyisopen

Looking for something cool to do today? @woolloomoolivin will rock the Woo with hip hop & rnb DJs, performances from incredible local dance crews, street art displays and more. It’s happening 11-4 today at the basketball courts next to Woolloomooloo PCYC: it’s an awesome day out, especially for kids with energy who love learning new moves…

Looking for something cool to do today? @woolloomoolivin will rock the Woo with hip hop & rnb DJs, performances from incredible local dance crews, street art displays and more. It’s happening 11-4 today at the basketball courts next to Woolloomooloo PCYC: it’s an awesome day out, especially for kids with energy who love learning new moves...

This Sunday, come celebrate 170 years of Crown Street Public School! There’ll be games, rides, food and entertainment from 10am till 3pm, and it’s a great chance to meet your neighbours while supporting a local institution. The whole community is getting behind it: a big shout out to all the local businesses pitching in and donating, and to the parents and kids working hard on delivering a big day of fun. See you there!

This Sunday, come celebrate 170 years of Crown Street Public School! There’ll be games, rides, food and entertainment from 10am till 3pm, and it’s a great chance to meet your neighbours while supporting a local institution. The whole community is getting behind it: a big shout out to all the local businesses pitching in and donating, and to the parents and kids working hard on delivering a big day of fun. See you there!

#SydneyIsOpen happens this weekend! There are still tickets left for a few of the new After Dark tours, giving you one-of-a-kind tours and access to unique buildings and sites. For history buffs, there’s the tunnels of Newington Armory, for mystery lovers, the stories of the Justice & Police Museum, and for design lovers, a soirée at Stylecraft’s showroom in the sky… others have booked out, nab a spot now!

#SydneyIsOpen happens this weekend! There are still tickets left for a few of the new After Dark tours, giving you one-of-a-kind tours and access to unique buildings and sites. For history buffs, there’s the tunnels of Newington Armory, for mystery lovers, the stories of the Justice & Police Museum, and for design lovers, a soirée at Stylecraft’s showroom in the sky... others have booked out, nab a spot now!

Nothing brings people together like a community garden: it was wonderful to join the Kings Cross community yesterday at the launch of 12 Fine Oranges, a beautiful new garden they’ve created at Lawrence Hargraves Reserve. Clover and I visited in May 2018 when the garden was just a dream, and thanks to the hard work of a few motivated green thumbs, and a City grant, the reality is flourishing today. It’s not too late to be a part of it: sign up here https://www.kingscrossgarden.org/becomeamember

Nothing brings people together like a community garden: it was wonderful to join the Kings Cross community yesterday at the launch of 12 Fine Oranges, a beautiful new garden they’ve created at Lawrence Hargraves Reserve. Clover and I visited in May 2018 when the garden was just a dream, and thanks to the hard work of a few motivated green thumbs, and a City grant, the reality is flourishing today. It’s not too late to be a part of it: sign up here https://www.kingscrossgarden.org/becomeamember

I’ve got to plug @bloommountainsdesigns – my super talented sister Cass – for these spectacular floral extravaganza arrangements she brought over on the weekend. I can’t stop looking at them! (Every house looks 400% less overwhelmed by nappies when styled with sisterly assistance. Thank you Shorty!) Book her, you guys!

I’ve got to plug @bloommountainsdesigns - my super talented sister Cass - for these spectacular floral extravaganza arrangements she brought over on the weekend. I can’t stop looking at them! (Every house looks 400% less overwhelmed by nappies when styled with sisterly assistance. Thank you Shorty!) Book her, you guys!

A live video recap of #Emergent2050 from @jessmillersydney & I… #Sydney2050 #cities #sparkfestival #startup

A live video recap of #Emergent2050 from @jessmillersydney & I... #Sydney2050 #cities #sparkfestival #startup