Monday, December 12, 2005

Land of the dreamy scenes

I'm worried about New Orleans. Despite what the experts say about modern cities returning from disaster, this one seems unprecedented. For one thing, the barrier islands are gone. For another, yesterday's NYT editorial says "the reconstruction is a rudderless ship."

A few weeks ago, Nick Spitzer, host of the "American Routes" radio show out of New Orleans, gave a talk here at UNC. "Many things are intact visually, but we are decentered in many ways," he said. From the time the storm hit, his show became a site of remembrance and community, a place where those exiled from the city could go to hear the music they needed to hear. And those songs included songs already about floods and disaster--like Randy Newman's "Louisiana 1927." Disaster has always been just around the corner in New Orleans, so when it really happened, there was an oddly comforting body of music to be found.

It struck me that Spitzer, who seemed so insistent that the cultural recovery of New Orleans had to come first, almost before red beans, rice, or housing, was just the right person to be there on the scene making it happen. But what I heard on the way out of the talk was that he was being wooed to relocate at UNC.

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