August 2022 Newsletter: A monument to bad behavior! 🐉🦹♂️🎭🥽🧤🎱💉⚗️🧪📽️🌵
One of my favorite television series of all time, Better Call Saul, has finished its run. The final episode of the sixth season dropped Monday night and that was (possibly) a wrap on the Breaking Bad universe.
BCS and its predecessor, Breaking Bad, were groundbreaking on so many levels, transforming an otherwise benign city like Albuquerque into a dark, drug-infested, cartel-dominated hellscape. Thousands of BB fans travel to the area each year to visit various landmarks associated with the show. The actual owners of the main character's residence (the one used for exterior shots) had problems with people tossing pizzas on the roof to reenact that infamous scene (spoiler alert)! Yeah, some fans tend to take things a little too far.
For those who watched these series: what was your impression, of Albuquerque before BB/BCS? I’m guessing that unless you happen to live in the region, you had little or no familiarity with the city, and certainly not enough to form an opinion about it.
Having BB/BCS take place in an “ordinary” city gave those series a unique dimension. Countless series and movies are set in major cities like New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Tokyo, Sydney, Chicago, Miami, etc., so watching disturbing events happen in large urban settings isn’t particularly surprising. But Albuquerque? Dark, disturbing things aren’t supposed to happen there, right?
I have similar thoughts about Sandusky, Ohio. I spent so many fun days vacationing there that my familiarity with the city made it a great setting for my novel, Sandusky Burning. However, the genre of my book required me to exaggerate the dangerous aspects of the city. If it was a safe and pleasant city, it would be an inappropriate setting for a dark story about a criminal syndicate preying on a quiet campground.
In all honesty, I was originally a little worried about Sandusky locals reading my book and taking exception to how I portrayed their city. That fear subsided a bit the other week when the city of Albuquerque dedicated statues to Jesse Pinkman and Walter White, two of the main characters in Breaking Bad. These guys ran wild in Albuquerque, cooking meth in mass quantities, enabling the addictions of countless people, killing many of their enemies, and otherwise behaving very badly. And the city that hosted their fictitious criminal rampage actually built them statues!
So, is there hope that someday statues of Sandusky Burning protagonists Brady Sullivan and Mike Clemmons will be erected in the town square in Sandusky? Probably not, BB/BCS were massive cultural phenomena that struck a chord with their audiences in a way that few series have. Short of inspiring the commissioning of statues, I will be thrilled if the people who live and visit Sandusky enjoy the familiar local references in Sandusky Burning, albeit a slightly warped, darker version of the area!
But if the city of Sandusky does find a little extra money in the budget for a couple of statues...
Bryan W. Conway