Even with two episodes left before it signs off for good and puts high school science teacher-turned-drug kingpin Walter White in prison, in the morgue, or on a spaceship (if anyone could make that work, it would be Vince Gilligan), Breaking Bad‘s final run of episodes has been so strong, so tightly plotted, so full of tension and panic, so artful in making inevitable events feel totally surprising, that people are already calling it the best show of all time, with the best ending of all time. As a huge fan of the show, I am feeling confident that, based on the last few episodes, the latter is likely and the former is more than up for discussion.
But it’s easy to forget, now that everyone is on board with this show, how unlikely it seemed to succeed back in 2008, when it premiered. I didn’t start watching it until the chorus of critical valentines reached a fever pitch, between the second and third season. I resisted it at first because it seemed to me that its premise — a law-abiding suburbanite is forced by dire circumstances to get into the drug business in order to provide for the family — had been done before.
As everyone is surely aware, the United States has been perched on the precipice of yet another war for the last few weeks, as our foreign policy apparatus wrestles with itself over whether to punish Syria for its use of chemical weapons against the rebels seeking to overthrow the present regime.
The whole thing has been kind of confusing, as President Obama was first being condemned (by the opposition party) for not bombing, then condemned (by the opposition party) for suggesting that he would.
The most strident advocate for a military strike has been Secretary of State John Kerry. (Yes, it’s certainly strange to see Republicans opposing a military action, particularly one against a foe of Israel — until you remember that the military action was proposed by Barack Obama.) Kerry has been on television more over the last few weeks than at any time since he lost the 2004 presidential election, and I understand that he (accidentally?) found a possible diplomatic solution to the problem the other day, but I don’t quite understand what he said, because every time I watch the clips I’m too busy staring at his weird, bloated, misshapen face.
After twelve years and three increasingly contentious terms as mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg will soon be replaced. The election is in November, but it’s generally assumed that since New York is full of liberals, queers, communists, and (worst of all) union labor, that the mayor will be chosen in next week’s Democratic primary.
Who’s going to win? I have no idea. It looked like Carlos Danger Anthony Weiner was going to make an unlikely comeback before he whipped it out again, and now the 29 candidates are scrapping it out for a plurality in the polls. As I write this, it looks like public advocate and beanstalk resident Bill De Blasio may not just come out ahead in the primary, but reach the 40% plurality that would allow him to avoid a runoff election with the runner-up.
Who am I going to vote for? I confess, I haven’t followed the election very closely, so I’m undecided. There are a few big issues at stake here: should Bloomberg’s “Stop and Frisk” police policy continue, and if not, who best to stop it? Who will best clean up the mess the public schools have become as Bloomberg has slashed their budgets? How best to address the city’s worsening fiscal crisis?
Those are all big issues. My wife, like a lot of people, is guided by one issue in particular: she’s for anyone but Council Speaker Christine Quinn, widely seen as Bloomberg’s enabler in his largely disastrous shakeup of the school system. (As she’s a high-school science teacher, it’s easy to understand why she feels this way.)
I am also a single-issue voter, and the fact that none of the candidates has mentioned that issue is the reason I haven’t committed to vote for any of them.
Audience video, recorded 8/26/13 at Jimmy’s no. 43, NYC, courtesy of Rick Rocker.