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Promotin’ the General Welfare

Well, we may have just gone and done it, finally. 


Not that the city hasn’t been up for sale before, but this time it’s a wholesale takeover.  These folks have come here and turned some of the most sacred N’Awlins traditions into a common cavalcade of quirky Americana.


Speculations on the day the music actually died in New Orleans have been greatly, and oft-prematurely, exaggerated in the past, but the most recent - and rather appalling - cultural appropriation by those persons gaudily masking as Irish Zulu - well, I do believe that has surely taken the pound cake and passed it off as bread pudding.


Was there not one reasonable, respectful soul amongst that wannabe clan to pause and wonder how green-and-orange-hued white folks donning afro-wigs and grass-skirts might be received? 


Was there not one decent soul who would call upon the real Zulu organization and ask its blessing to parody the time-honored parody of the old line upper-crust tradition itself? 


Is nothing sacred and everything just up for grabs?    


Of course, we’ve gotten to the point where folks are calling for second lines for famous rock stars, so I guess it’s time to hang up the heels and hand over the keys to the city’s culture.


I don’t decry change, and I certainly don’t bemoan how all the new folks have so kindly, if not recklessly, adopted our oh-so un-Americaness:  that is what makes us so blissfully badass in a nation where assimilation is as convenient as boxed mac-n-cheese – easily accessible everywhere, but maliciously bland.


And in a place where some of the most treasured traditions rose from once-shunned and shut-off neighborhoods, some folks have swooped in and rebranded these living cultural markers like their forebears claimed rock-n-roll for their King – but I digress…    


Maybe real New Orleans is done and it’s time to surrender.  It was fun while it lasted, and as so many of the new folks keep telling the out-of-town press, we didn’t really know what we were doing in the first place, and they’ve come to save our souls.  Seems like staving off progress in the name of remaining authentic is no longer, and succumb we must, wantonly or otherwise, to the ravages of commodification. 


And that’s okay, as long as New Orleans knows what’s next.  In fact, the “what’s next” is already in progress.  The question remains:  will it be another raunchy romp with quick money or will be for real this time?  It’s feeling very much like the latter, but whaddayasay we say we give it till the end of the decade before we issue a decision.


Once our conversion to full-blown Disney attraction is accomplished, complete with three-ring freak-shows, what’s made this small-town city so unique amongst America’s famous cities will have been laid to rest.  It is not the first time we have come face-to-face with our impending death.  In fact, we’ve been on this road for some time now, but whereas before, the pace was patient and the eyes keen and wary, we are now moving at a brisk, ever-quickening step toward complete assimilation. 


And on that day, we’ll finally be what those first Americans, so appalled by the cavalier spirit of New Orleans’s Creole culture, most desired: to remake us in that most American of images – their own.


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The text above expresses only the opinion of the author, not NOLA Defender or NOLA Defender’s Editorial Board.

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