« Dog Day Afternoon | Main | The Racquetballer »

December 07, 2008

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Teeray in L.A.

Well, to be honest, most of the areas you document were run down and creepy even 25 years ago. The Broadmoor Theatre, which provoked so much nostalgia in your comments, was a notorious shithole by the mid 80's at least. I saw "Time Bandits" there and believe me it did not have a good reputation even then.

Louisiana is closer to the Caribbean in spirit than any other American state. It's poor, run down, hopelessly stratified, and half of the shit there is broken. But then again, that's where its spirit also lies. I lived in Louisiana most of my life and it's impossible for me to imagine it without some form of decay.

I see no point in being rueful about it. There is more effortless, genuine weirdness on some streets in Louisiana than in the entire state of California. Take it from me. A clean, organized, well-maintained Louisiana wouldn't have given us Jazz, the Blues, the plays of Tennessee Williams, or much of anything.

Decay and casual insanity are too much of our character.

The Mighty Favog

I certainly hope Teeray in L.A. isn't seriously serious here. If you carry his argument to its logical conclusion, we're going to end up reinstituting chattel slavery and importing us some fresh African captives so they can make merry one day a week in a reconstituted Congo Square in New Orleans.

Gawd knows what wunnerful new "original American artform" we might get out of that.

In essence, some Louisianians' twisted justification for the state's inability to govern itself for the benefit of the governed comes down to arguing that because God is capable of writing straight with crooked lines, we therefore ought to be as crooked as possible.

That's the *unvarnished* version of these apologists' argument. Viewed as such, it's patently nuts.

If you said as much about the 'hood -- "Let's keep the ghetto as f***ed up as possible so suburban white boys can have some good rap and hip-hop to jam to while cruising in daddy's SUV" -- you'd rightly be denounced as an exploitative racist bastard.

"Louisiana is closer to the Caribbean in spirit than any other American state," Teeray writes. "It's poor, run down, hopelessly stratified, and half of the shit there is broken. But then again, that's where its spirit also lies."

That's a flat-out paean to cultural parasitism -- exploiting others' suffering to get ones' aesthetic jollies. And there are real people suffering amid Louisiana's trendy "Caribbean spirit."

And they don't have the luxury of hopping a 727 to Los Angeles and marveling at how quaint it all is as they sip their vodka on the rocks.

Teeray in L.A.

That's the most hilarious thing I've read in eons.

Me: I've noticed A and B.
Mighty Favog: You've noticed A and B because you believe D, E, F. Moreover, because I like to rant about it, you also believe X,Y, and Z.

Or, more precisely...

Me: Poverty and decay are ever-present in Louisiana, have always been, and therefore exert a powerful influence on its art and culture, and by extension, the art and culture it has given to the world
Mighty Favog: That's because you secretly wish slavery would return on a one day per week basis, so that you could enjoy its artistic fruits while sipping on a crantini.

I made no racial qualifications whatsoever. Poverty in Louisiana is most certainly not riven entirely among racial lines. The entire state is poor compared to the rest of the United States, period. My family was some of the poorest white trash one will ever see.

I eagerly await this new opportunity for you to unleash another army of straw men and led them to drink from a poisoned well.

The Mighty Favog

Teeray wrote (originally):

"I see no point in being rueful about it. There is more effortless, genuine weirdness on some streets in Louisiana than in the entire state of California. Take it from me. A clean, organized, well-maintained Louisiana wouldn't have given us Jazz, the Blues, the plays of Tennessee Williams, or much of anything.

"Decay and casual insanity are too much of our character."

Exactly what the hell conclusion is one supposed to draw from that romanticization of poverty and dysfunction.

Louisianians love to look for excuses for maintaining a rotten status quo. Because "that's where its spirit lies."

Podna, if being hopelessly f***ed up is where one's spirit lies, *that's a problem*.

Do you suppose, for example, Flannery O'Connor wrote about human freak shows because she yearned for all people to get even freakier, because that would have been so much more artistic? Or do you suppose her art had another purpose?

"Noticing" is stating "Louisiana is closer to the Caribbean in spirit than any other American state. It's poor, run down, hopelessly stratified, and half of the s*** there is broken."

But when you got to the "spirit" talk and "A clean, organized, well-maintained Louisiana wouldn't have given us Jazz, the Blues, the plays of Tennessee Williams, or much of anything," you stopped noticing and waded straight into some serious B.S.

Again, what the hell were we to conclude from that?

You mentioned jazz. I alluded to where jazz was born and followed your "noticing" to its logical conclusion.

I'm not accusing you of being a racist. I'm accusing you of not being able to think straight.

Big difference.

FWIW, big bunches of my family are white trash, too. I probably could make great artistic hay out of that.

I'd just as soon they not be PWT, however.

Teeray in L.A.

Oh Mighty Favog. What are we to do with you?

My original, off the cuff musings were that Louisiana’s dysfunction has fueled its art, and the state has given us great art – and in my opinion, some of the last genuine weirdness left in America. Even this backhanded compliment was enough to get you to pounce like a rabid dog.

Because, you see, the real issue here is you.

You are like a man who has gone through a painful divorce and remarried. You extol the virtues of your new wife. You tell us she is far better than your ex in every way possible. You endlessly, and compulsively, point out every failing your ex ever had. The slightest positive words about your ex, even wrapped in overall negativity, provoke accusatory tirades in which you certainly aren’t above calling names. But.you.still.talk.about.your.ex.all.the.time. Your memories are too sharp; your words are too fanatical. One gets the impression that no matter how wonderful your new love is, all of your passion is with your ex. You even make video montages of her to Bruce Springsteen tunes, my man! Reading – what little I have read of your posts, I admit – your incessant and slightly sad fixation with your lost love really just makes me feel sorry for you.

You are, in short, simply not believable.

I’m sorry your wife made you move to Nebraska. I’m sorry she shoots you down when you bring up the idea of moving home (you admitted this, remember). I realize the next contribution Nebraska makes to global or even national culture will also be the first one. I’m sure the streets are clean and schools are first rate. But the fire is at home and you and I both know it. If a compulsive need to proclaim our (yes, our) home state’s imminent demise is what it takes to lay your head every night in a foreign land, I actually understand. But I also see right through your windy horseshit.

Louisiana is dirty. Louisiana is hopelessly poor. It has more problems than you, I, or the entire state collectively knows what to do with. But I love it anyway, and you do too. That state has given our nation more than it will ever get in return. My wife and I intend on moving back there someday. A pity you won’t be joining us.

I will await your follow-up rant with great anticipation. Good day to you, sir.

The Mighty Favog

Teeray:

I have no more "rants" for you. I have no more "rants" for Louisiana.

I do find it interesting, though, that any criticism of the state -- any call for it to improve itself, any mention that there might be things about other states worthy of emulation -- is neither met with counterarguments, nor even with pleas to cut the old gal some slack.

No, almost uniformly, folks like you launch right into personal attacks, armchair psychoanalysis and then jump to the conclusion that I no longer live there because I am a) henpecked or b) unhinged. Might that tendency itself be some sort of psychic coping mechanism on y'all's part?

When it comes to Louisiana, it seems even people like yourself -- who have gotten the hell out of Dodge just as I have -- still long to be in the crab bucket and, not only that, long to pull other escapees back into the bucket with them.

My God, it's just like trying to get out of the ghetto . . . or a street gang.

It's a sad thing when people can point out that they have, in fact, escaped a Third World enclave but savage others -- quite personally -- for in turn saying it's not good to be a Third World enclave. That people ought not want to remain Third World.

The Louisiana apologist crowd is like a North Korean sitting in a posh club in New York City, lecturing all the pig-dog capitalists about how superior is North F***ing Korea in every way, and that within the starvation of the comrades back home lies the proletarian soul of the people. You might buy that, and all the other offended multitudes might believe that . . . but the rest of America, it doesn't believe that.

Go ahead, make totally unsupported slurs against me and my Nebraska-born wife. Falsely say she "made" me leave, because you cannot accept that other people would gladly do what you yourself have willingly done -- hauled ass.

Then go ahead and insult Nebraska, too. You're free to do that, even when you have no idea what the hell you're talking about -- and you have *no* idea what you're talking about.

(Hints: Willa Cather, Mari Sandoz, Ted Kooser, Howard Hanson, Harold Lloyd, Dick Cavett, Johnny Carson, William Jennings Bryan, Fred Astaire, Marlon Brando, Henry Fonda, Ted Sorenson, Neal Hefti and Alexander Payne. To name just a few.)

We don't care, for the same reason the tony New York audience humors the stammering and spitting North Korean ideologue -- living well is its own revenge, and its just mean to shatter some people's illusions when illusions are the only damned thing they have left.

I guess I really ought to profusely thank you and those like you who have powerfully reminded me why I got the hell out, and why maybe I ought to, at long last, shake the dust of the place from my sandals for good.

In other words, why should I care if they don't?

Louisiana is going to do what Louisiana is going to do. And it won't be pretty.

ecs

Whoa whoa, let's break it up here!

Art does not come from the status quo or stability; that's what I got from what Teeray was saying.

I'm from Detroit, whose decay has accelerated to far surpass the slow breakdowns of Louisiana, and no one is saying that it's a good thing. But you can't deny that an authentic culture results from it.

The Mighty Favog

ecs:

Yes, an authentic culture can result from such. Yes, great art can be teased from profound pain and genuine weirdness.

That, however, is no reason to romanticize dysfunction -- or to give it the ol' Gallic shrug, which is how Teeray's comment struck me. And having been born and raised in Louisiana, I have heard my share of people a) romanticizing decay and sociological deviance instead of b) doing the hard civic and cultural work to preserve what is healthy, beautiful and unique while working against ignorance and striving to improve the lot of all the folks suffering under the weight of all Louisiana's "authenticity."

It's crucial, because what the state has now is not sustainable.

For example, I don't think many Detroiters would argue that the city's decay is a good thing, despite all the cultural hay that can be made from it. I mean, y'all aren't planning a Devil's Night Festival or anything, right?

And I doubt many Detroiters would think an "It is what it is, oh well" attitude about the city was optimal.

Tell me, would a Detroit expat end up being vilified for ripping the way things are there and contending things could -- and ought to -- be made better?

Because, frankly, to say such about Louisiana is a good way to be derided as some kind of Bayou State Uncle Tom.

Teeray in L.A.

“No, almost uniformly, folks like you launch right into personal attacks, armchair psychoanalysis and then jump to the conclusion that I no longer live there because I am a) henpecked or b) unhinged. Might that tendency itself be some sort of psychic coping mechanism on y'all's part?”

Would you listen to yourself? Exactly two posts ago you called me a racist and stated (in an unintentionally funny manner, granted) that I wished for the reinstitution of slavery. Doctor, heal thyself.

“Louisiana is going to do what Louisiana is going to do. And it won't be pretty.”

More apocalyptic ramblings from the Mighty Favog ™. Louisiana is just like North Korea, or the Third World, or the opening scene of Blade Runner, or whatever you’re going to write next. (I’ve been to the Third World. It isn’t really like the Bayou State, bud.) At least once per post you do this, and it is simply ineffectual. Louisiana will abide, without you or without me. If this is what you’ve forced yourself to believe, so be it. You have no justification for berating those who disagree, and believe me, I will bite back.

If you’re so over it, please tell me why you hover over blogs such as these like an angry vulture. Why so much of your thoughts are patently taken up with a state that has made you so very unhappy. I’ll be back in Louisiana to stay one day. You won’t. Why, then, do you care so much? Enjoy Nebraska. Buy Cornhusker season tickets. Create a NEBRASKA IS GREAT blog. Move on with your life. Why do you do this to yourself?

You and I both know the answer.

The Mighty Favog

You are unhinged. Get professional help.

Teeray in L.A.

I'll take that as a white flag

brrezz

I do too. From the get-go Teeray has OWNED you Mr. Not-so-Mighty Favog.

I do believe the kids today call it PWNED. (pronounced Powned for the uninitiated)

You sir, were PWNED!

Pwned HARD at that.

The Mighty Favog

Teeray and fellow nuts:

It's not a game, and you're more interested in insults than fact. Coupled with your problems with basic comprehension, there's just not much point to wasting any more time on you.

And if "brrezz" only had an inkling of exactly how stupid and juvenile he/she/but more likely "it" comes off. . . .

PWNED?

Good God. Now step away from the computer and go back to peeing your name in the snow.

Have a few more beers, too, because I know you probably won't spell it correctly the first couple of times.

That, bud, is "PWNED."

Teeray in L.A.

Not really.

Teeray in L.A.

Not really.

brrezz

And once again, Teeray sums it up masterfully:

"Not really"

kartek

Tee-ray in L.A.

I don't have the patience to read all the rants, but I will say that you can't judge California just by LA and the surrounding area. California has everything including that effortless genuine weirdness that you speak of. I urge you to open your mind and explore all of CA before passing judgements.

kartek

I forgot to mention that I think when you revisit a city that you once lived in, you rarely enjoy all the changes that occurred. That's at least how I feel.

Also, Hair We Are has been vacant for like 5+ years. I still think something major is planned for that area and the property owner is holding out until the last tenant vacates the adjacent strip mall.

LTBR

Next time you're in NY, try visiting the Rockaway's for some great abandoned buildings. Some were even people's dream homes just a couple years ago too!! Maybe you could put them on this site for everyone's amusement. You know, because that's what an edgy, cool, highly-educated, artsy person would do. The gut-wrenching memories will be awesome!! What a great thing you are doing for society!

FeelBetterPunkin'

Somebody woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

mew.

F'in Librul

"California has everything including that effortless genuine weirdness that you speak of."

Artists create art no matter where they're from. Ansel Adams might have made photographs of New Orleans or the swamps if he'd been born in Louisiana.

To dismiss criticisms of the poverty and cultural abuse that seem to be part and parcel of life in Louisiana as some sort of wellspring for artistic inspiration is to shout from the rooftops "hey - we're the Haiti of the United States - and we're proud!"

TF

All the foregoing arguments aside, as a Baton Rouge expat who lived there from 1964 until 1985, yes, the photos on this blog are a kick in the gut. Sad to see the decay and realise that much of the town I knew is now falling down and abandoned.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)