maybe it's not so radical. i think everything is transformative whether we realize it or not. otherwise the world would actually stay the same same same. and i figure that's pretty unlikely. anyway -
i am finally attempting some actual live-journaling. now that's pretty friggin radical. if you know me.
and i'm excited to be here. so, everyone wins?
on to more useful? ramblings...
i finally sat down yesterday and read the article from the Baton Rouge Business Report, "The Elephant in the Room," by Stephanie Riegel. Riegel, now a reporter for WWL-TV, has also worked for the Gambit and New Orleans' City Business. i enjoyed reading the article. maybe too much. i delighted in lines like "Simply put, the [Baton Rouge] area is inbred and bereft of new life." without thinking too much, i savored the sting i imagined attached to Riegel's words, the cutting open, the exposing. i may have licked my lips just a little.
let me give you a little immediate context. the day before, i was at a bar with a friend complaining dramatically about the lack of good weeklies/monthlies in the BR. in truth, i may be contributing to the mess. but, these days, like any mindful, gadfly-ish budding Citizen, everything i read feels grossly disconnected and distorted from, well, myself. a link on 225's main page ask's "You say you want a REVOLUTION? Join now. Click here." i feel kind of surperbly un-revolutionary-like, but i click anyway. lo and behold, i've arrived at the main page of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber. huh? (at some point i must do some scribbling about the bric-a-brac that is BRAC/BREC.) when i pick up Country Roads, GrisGrisRouge, the Red Schtick, i find myself gritting my teeth. does this flurry of media translate to a return to culture? more culture? the sometimes powerful twist of an irreverence to Culture? i check www.brlagniappe.com daily. the ads aggravate me. "Ads by Pheedo - Advertise Here - Place your ads in RSS feeds and on websites!" repeat 20 times.
in this wasteland of people vying for an audience with some change in their pockets (not unlike the wasteland of non-profits - and here, yes, i wax hyperbolic), i stumbled on a story surrounded by few ads (the irony is emotionally taxing), a story aimed at critiquing the economic health of Baton Rouge as atrophied, full of injustices, precisely because culture (whatever that means) is in fact not cared for, and often neglected by many Baton Rouge institutions. "Simply put, the [Baton Rouge] area is inbred and bereft of new life."
i reread the article after talking with a friend. certainly, i was giving Riegel too much credit. sure enough, i found myself less excited the second time through. as i read, i began to wonder if the part of me that enjoyed this bold, accusatory statement, wasn't in part the me that routinely throws my hands up in the air when things get hairy. "that's crazy! can't you see how wrong this is?!" the idea that Baton Rouge is behind on the "diversity curve" is nothing new. Collis Temple's argument that diversifying people and ideas as well as markets to promote economic growth isn't particularly new either. but is it really simply a matter of bringing the right people in, as Riegel suggests? i moved to Baton Rouge almost four years ago. sure, more of me might help spin some stagnating braincells a little faster. but at some point more of me, is just more of me. i am not an institution (yet). and as such no matter how much i grind away at old ideas, Baton Rouge won't change until there is change on the institutional level. sure, some of the ideas in Riegel's essay may be new and - hm - a tad disconcerting? to a number of people living in the Red Stick. so, kudos, Riegel, for helping spread the word. but now what?
new orleans is touting a new exhibit, Femme, Femme, Femme, at the NOMA, a direct import from France, replete with the likes of Renoir, Degas, Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Picasso. awesome. but where's the media play for the Second Line, the heart of New Orleans' black cultural movement? Nick Spitzer, goes the mile on his NPR show American Routes: "Rebuilding the 'Land of Dreams.'" the point? (take a lesson Baton Rouge) we have got to find a way to include more voices, and no amount of publications coming out of south Baton Rouge is likely to change hundreds-of-years-old intolerant institutions.
i am terribly uneducated about north Baton Rouge. period. i have to accept that first. no pats on the back for recognizing that the system is sick. it's time to get out of the sickbed and start willing ourselves into a more equal life. the vision: i'm back at Glen Oaks high school for another afternoon of tutoring. it is my job to get the teens i work with to learn the difference between active and passive voice. it is my job to encourage interest in their own writing, to speak their stories. now, it is also my job to find out what they are reading, who they are following, what they are saying, and to listen up, to learn something in turn.
can you name a Baton Rouge publication predominantly popular in north Baton Rouge?