Omar Meets Omer
Today, there’s more proof that The Wire–the obscure HBO series about Baltimore’s drug dealers, cops, newspaper reporters that one day will get a lot of attention, mark my words, maybe even be called the greatest television series of its time (though some of us will always defend the superiority of a certain series set in New Jersey)–just won’t go away. The Tumblr “Counting the Omar” has combined Omar Little–the stick-up man who robs drug dealers and stole viewers’ hearts–with the Jewish tradition of counting the omer. Started by a Jewish day school art teacher in Ohio, “Counting the Omar” dutifully counts each day of the omer, adding a picture of Omar and a quote from the character. We talked with Amy (who asked that her last name be withheld), about the project.
Where did the idea for Counting the Omar come from?
My family and I were joking about it at our seder, and after the first two days of Pesach I did a Google search and didn’t find anything, so I just started the Tumblr page. My boyfriend was saying it was the geekiest thing he’d ever seen me do. I thought it would be something funny to share with my family and friends. I didn’t think it would be shared this much
What kind of response have you gotten?
I published it two days ago, and I installed Google Analytics yesterday morning. Since then I think I’m up to almost seven thousand page views. Yesterday it exploded—it was confusing and overwhelming. I was watching the numbers scroll in real time. I was like, “What’s happening?” I think it just got shared a lot on Facebook.
Do you normally count the omer?
I help lead a girls’ morning davening at my school, and so we count the omer every day. It wasn’t something that I did personally. Last year I remembered having to ask around and ask the girls, “What day is it again?” I’d always lose count, so this is a good way for me to remember because I’ll remember what I posted the night before
So I take it you’re a big Wire fan.
I’m now finishing up my second run through the whole series. It’s just so good. It’s got these characters that are really relatable even though I have nothing in common with any of them. Omar’s probably one of my favorite characters—it’s hard to pick. Despite him doing what he does, he has a code and he has certain things he knows he won’t do, and certain rules he follows. You’re always kind of rooting for him even though he’s not really a good guy
What about Maurice Levy, the Jewish lawyer?
I think they tossed around every stereotype they could with that one.
How do you choose which quotes to use?
I’ve been spending a lot of time on Wire Wikiquote pages. I’ve done about 90 percent of the back posting—I have posts reserved for the future with each different quote so that I don’t get overwhelmed with trying to find one that day.
Do you think The Wire has Jewish themes?
You could probably find some. Most of the themes have to do with questionable morality, but within that the fact that Omar says a man has to have a code—I think that that’s something that could be connected to Judaism. I was looking for some websites about this, but I couldn’t really find any. I think this is an untapped area of pop culture that studies The Wire and Judaism