unnatural disasters

Anyone in New Orleans will offer stern correction should you refer to Katrina as a "natural disaster."

And anyone involved in the city's culture will point out the many unnatural barriers that have popped up in Katrina's wake.

You'd think that New Orleans would welcome back the communities and establishments that anchor its culture. But the message implicit in the post-Katrina skirmishes club owners, Mardi Gras Indians, and parade organizers have experienced with city officials is: "We don't want you back" -- or at the very least: "We're not going to make it easy."

Darryl Montana, son and successor of Big Chief Allison Montana of the Yellow Pocahontas "Hunters" Mardi Gras Indian Tribe, told me that he was pleased with the restraint shown by police at the recent St. Joseph's night gathering. He'd sent a letter to his councilman and to the police chief hoping to ease the tensions that have flared for the past few years. (And just in case, ACLU-sponsored "observers" were on hand, taking notes). But that positive note is drowned out by these sour ones:

• Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs such as the Original Pigeontown Steppers find their ability to parade threatened by police department security fees, which have more than tripled in the past year (supposedly in response to a rise in violent crime). As Katy Reckdahl reported in this Times-Picayune article, there is no evidence of a fair or even documented basis for these fees, nor are they consistently applied. As Reckdahl correctly states, this policy "in essence amounts to a tax for crimes [The Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs] don't commit and can't control."

The ACLU of Louisiana has filed suit on behalf of the Social Aid & Pleasure club task Force, arguing that the new fees amount an unconstitutional infringement of free speech: a hearing is set for Wednesday, April 4th.

• Meanwhile, a friend tipped me off to this report on the neworleanscitybusiness site, about how the North Rampart Street jazz club King Bolden's is fighting an uphill battle to renew its licenses, due to staunch opposition from neighborhood organizations. Consider this passage:

Carol Greve, president of the French Quarter Citizens for the Preservation of Residential Quality, said her group wants art galleries along Rampart as opposed to jazz clubs. She also said she is not convinced that Rampart Street ever played a historic role in the rise of New Orleans music and so there is no reason to restore it as a musical corridor.

Perhaps Greve has never walked across the street, to Louis Armstrong Park, which commemorates Congo Square, the point of origin for the rhythms underscoring all the city's jazz.

There are forces at work in New Orleans that wish to stop the forward flow of culture -- whether by taxing its future or erasing its history.

It's just not natural.

It's man-made.

March 29, 2007 1:09 PM | | Comments (0)


Leave a comment


Evan Christopher Django à la Créole (Lejazzetal) 

Clarinetist Evan Christopher, a California native, moved to New Orleans in 1994. In his frequent duets with Tom McDermott, and as a standout member of trumpeter Irvin Mayfield's New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, his erudite and personalized approach to traditional jazz commands attention.

Dr. Michael White Blue Crescent (Basin Street) 

Long before the floods that devastated his city, clarinetist Michael White wrestled with the challenge of preserving New Orleans traditional jazz without embalming it. He sought to write tunes built on time-honored local forms that spoke to the here-and-now. But Dr. White struggled to compose anything at all during the past three years--until late 2007, when original music began pouring forth.

Dee Dee Bridgewater
Red Earth: A Malian Journey (DDB Records/Emarcy/Universal) Despite her place in the top rank of American jazz vocalists and her crossover success, Dee Dee Bridgewater has often felt displaced. "I'm always trying to fit in somewhere," she once told me. This new disc, which finds Ms. Bridgewater and her band in collaboration with a cast of Malian musicians and singers, is no further pose:
David Murray Black Saint Quartet featuring Cassandra Wilson Sacred Ground (Justin Time) 
Long among the strongest, most adventurous reedmen in jazz,
Joe Zawinul Brown Street (Heads Up) 
The list of great Viennese composers must include Zawinul--same for the honor roll of jazz innovators.
more listengood


About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by ListenGood published on March 29, 2007 1:09 PM.

con clave was the previous entry in this blog.

brass bands: to be continued is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

AJ Ads

AJ Blogs

AJBlogCentral | rss

About Last Night
Terry Teachout on the arts in New York City
Artful Manager
Andrew Taylor on the business of arts & culture
blog riley
rock culture approximately
critical difference
Laura Collins-Hughes on arts, culture and coverage
Richard Kessler on arts education
Douglas McLennan's blog
Dog Days
Dalouge Smith advocates for the Arts
Art from the American Outback
Life's a Pitch
For immediate release: the arts are marketable
Mind the Gap
No genre is the new genre
Performance Monkey
David Jays on theatre and dance
Plain English
Paul Levy measures the Angles
Real Clear Arts
Judith H. Dobrzynski on Culture
Rockwell Matters
John Rockwell on the arts
Straight Up |
Jan Herman - arts, media & culture with 'tude

Foot in Mouth
Apollinaire Scherr talks about dance
Seeing Things
Tobi Tobias on dance et al...

Jazz Beyond Jazz
Howard Mandel's freelance Urban Improvisation
Focus on New Orleans. Jazz and Other Sounds
Doug Ramsey on Jazz and other matters...

Out There
Jeff Weinstein's Cultural Mixology
Serious Popcorn
Martha Bayles on Film...

classical music
Creative Destruction
Fresh ideas on building arts communities
The Future of Classical Music?
Greg Sandow performs a book-in-progress
On the Record
Exploring Orchestras w/ Henry Fogel
Harvey Sachs on music, and various digressions
Bruce Brubaker on all things Piano
Kyle Gann on music after the fact
Greg Sandow on the future of Classical Music
Slipped Disc
Norman Lebrecht on Shifting Sound Worlds

Jerome Weeks on Books
Quick Study
Scott McLemee on books, ideas & trash-culture ephemera

Drama Queen
Wendy Rosenfield: covering drama, onstage and off
lies like truth
Chloe Veltman on how culture will save the world

Aesthetic Grounds
Public Art, Public Space
Another Bouncing Ball
Regina Hackett takes her Art To Go
John Perreault's art diary
Lee Rosenbaum's Cultural Commentary
Modern Art Notes
Tyler Green's modern & contemporary art blog
Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.