Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Why are actors from The Wire in a Detroit park rendering?

Posted By on Wed, Feb 14, 2018 at 3:28 PM

In case you blinked and missed a tweet from Crain's Detroit Business writer Kirk Pinho, take a gander right now. We'll fill you in on the details.


OK, details: The rendering is one of many provided by design firms competing for the job of designing a new riverfront park west of downtown Detroit. Four different design teams presented renderings that are on view until Feb. 22 at 1001 Woodward Ave.

This rendering is part of a series called "Detroit riveryards." It's from New York-based James Corner Field Operations in collaboration with more than a dozen other firms. The designer's notable projects include the High Line in New York.

The image, "The Fitness Factory," features a group of people watching as a few men play basketball. One of the men appears to be Wood Harris, the actor who portrayed drug kingpin Avon Randolph Barksdale on The Wire. One of the spectators appears to be Idris Elba, who played narcotics capitalist Stringer Bell on the same show.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY VIOLET IKONOMOVA
  • Photo by Violet Ikonomova

Is that Wee-Bey Brice? - VIOLET IKONOMOVA
  • Violet Ikonomova
  • Is that Wee-Bey Brice?
Our eagle-eyed reporter Violet Ikonomova also spotted Hassan Johnson, the actor who plays cartel soldier Wee-Bey Brice on the HBO crime drama.

Needless to say, Pinho was tactful in the extreme to present the inclusion of these well-known faces from The Wire as some sort of "easter egg" there to reward fans of the television show. In fact, one didn't need to venture far from this tweet to find some whose tone was less gentle confronting this appropriation of characters from a gritty crime drama. Take a peek at this tweet from Detroit journalist James David Dickson:


The reference to a Purple Gang Barge is an in-joke for some of Dickson's followers. The "crack fries" reference hits about the same note, given the flap over the way Hopcat touts how addictive its seasoned fries are by naming them after the epidemic that decimated urban America in the 1980s. In fact, it prompts a deeper question about these design firms, staffed with upper-income professionals, often from out of state: Who's visioning who?

The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy left pads seeking comments on which designs leave "top impressions" with Detroiters, and has promised to share comments with the winning team. Therefore, it might be overkill to share your thoughts with James Corner Field Operations. Just a thought ...

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