Sudhir Venkatesh recently sat down with some real gang members to watch some episodes of the The Wire.
The greatest uproar occurred when the upstart Marlo challenged the veteran Prop Joe in the co-op meeting. “If Prop Joe had balls, he’d be dead in 24 hours!” Orlando shouted. “But white folks [who write the series] always love to keep these uppity [characters] alive. No way he’d survive in East New York more than a minute!” A series of bets then took place. All told, roughly $8,000 was wagered on the timing of Marlo’s death. The bettors asked me — as the neutral party — to hold the money. I delicately replied that my piggy bank was filled up already.