Wendell Pierce is from New Orleans, left for many years to seek his fame and fortune as an actor, and has spent more time here since a certain event in 2005. His post-K track record is more mixed than the media would have you believe. He’s partnered in several enterprises with 2010 Mayoral candidate and developer Troy Henry including a grocery store “chain” that hasn’t lived up to the hype surrounding its launch.
Pierce has also engaged in an unseemly and inaccurate war of words with a neighborhood association that opposed one of his development plans. He threw around some buzz words such as “hipster” and “gentrification” that didn’t fit the circumstances. I think he spends too much time soaking up adulation on Twitter. Like many post-K do-gooders, Pierce is hyper sensitive to criticism and freaks out when his motives are questioned. Good intentions are never enough. Remember when I said that New Orleans is a tough town? Wendell Pierce would be well-advised to remember that.
That’s the back story to the quote of the day, which comes from an interview Pierce did with Salon whilst publicizing his memoir:
It’s a decade past the flood. In some ways New Orleans has bounced back, but some things have not been restored. How does it seem to you?
It’s a tale of two cities. We have this great recovery, but there are some still left behind. It’s moving into the future, but holding onto some of the ugly vestiges of the past. It’s created a schism between the haves and have-nots.
Created a schism? That schism has always existed and has always been close to the surface in New Orleans. Our politics have been dominated by racial and class conflict since, well, forever.The city wasn’t preserved in amber or under a snowglobe when Pierce was out-of-town. There was no schism to “create” because it has always been there.
Pierce is not the only person to talk about “two cities.” While his point is well-taken, it’s an oversimplification. The haves *have* prospered, including Pierce himself, and the have-nots, uh, have not. (That’s a lot of haves for one sentence. Better have a loaf than none at all, I suppose.) New Orleans is a complex, multi-layered place, and one could come up with dozens of sub-sets if one were so inclined. I am not. But two cities will never suffice unless you’re Sidney Carton…
I *briefly* considered making this a malaka of the week post but decided not to. In part, because Pierce means well. While good intentions shouldn’t count for everything, they shouldn’t count for nothing either. And as someone who watched The Wire from the first episode, I have a soft spot for the Bunk and his partner, the character who Bubbles called McNutty. And that is why Wendell Pierce is NOT malaka of the week.
Here’s one of my favorite Bunk-McNulty scenes from The Wire: