Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Hamsterdam at Miller Park

The Reddess and I are huge fans of The Wire on HBO, a drama about cops and the drug trade in the inner city of Baltimore. The man on the right is Robert Wisdom who plays Major Howard "Bunny" Colvin, commander, of Baltimore's western district. In the third season of the show (now in reruns on Sunday nights at 7), he gives a little speech about the paper bag being a wonderful instrument of civic compromise. "The corner," he says, "has always been the poor man's lounge." Putting his fifth into a paper bag allowed him to drink on the streets and permitted the police to look the other way.

In the spirit of the paper bag, Colvin decides to direct all drug traffic in his distruct to an abandoned block of boarded up rowhouses. As long as it stayed on that block, drugs were legal "in the western." The gangs, mishearing Colvin's explanation of the new policy, refer to the "free zone" as "Hamsterdam."

Mike McGee, Jr., wants, in a sense, to bring Hamsterdam to Milwaukee. But rather than establish it in a part of town in which no one lives or for which there is no use, he proposes turning Miller Park into one big overnight tailgate party. He wants to let people cruise there.

There are two ways in which this would work (or, more accurately, not work). In the first scenario, the County, in order to prevent drinking, drugs, vandalism and violence, would have to maintain a presence of sheriff deputies so massive that no respectable cruiser would go there. In the second, Miller Park gets turns into a scene out of Escape from New York.

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