Wednesday, December 03, 2008

My city . . . in ruins

Baby, if you ever wondered -- wondered whatever became of me -- I've been livin' in the past amid papers and stuff in Baton Rouge . . . back in better days.

Kind of.

So, what's kept me busy -- and away from this here blog -- is wading through old newspapers and through old yearbooks, and through new pictures, too. All this to make my first homegrown Revolution 21 video.

IF YOU'RE FROM my hometown, this likely will hit you where you live. That goes double if you're also a Louisiana expatriate like myself.

I did this video because, it seems to me, I can express through music and pictures what normally eludes words. Even good, well-chosen words.

Thus, I make no claim that this is anything other than a most subjective document. It represents my feelings.

My grief.

My loss.

My wistfulness.

My anger.

My memory.

My love.

IT'S MY VIEW of my hometown . . . from a distance that gives one perspective. My city: in ruins.

The concept -- and a good bit of the material for this look at Baton Rouge -- comes from Colleen Kane's excellent Abandoned Baton Rouge blog -- I owe Colleen a great debt of gratitude for doing that blog and thereby giving me the inspiration for this. Pay ABR a visit soon.

Colleen came to Baton Rouge -- and her new blog -- from Brooklyn. And when one is thrown into an alien land, and an alien culture, anthropology happens. In this case, it's the anthropology of thrown-away swaths of a middling-sized Southern city.

Abandoned Baton Rouge is still working on the "why" of a city that finds so much of itself (and its people) expendable. For that matter, so is this correspondent . . . who was born, raised and educated in Louisiana's capital city.

THE THING IS, every time I find a new ABR post, it's not just anthropology to me. Neither is it to a lot of folks like me, I'll wager.

To me, what it is, is a punch in the gut. To me, it is a document of loss. A document of dysfunction. A document of things and places I lived, knew or knew of that are dead or dying.

Of things once nice but now disgraceful.

ABR tells the story of a city that throws itself away on a regular basis. It shows the world a city that wastes itself daily and defiles itself daily. It shows God and everybody a city that seemingly lacks pride . . . self-respect.

SOMETIMES, little blogs stumble onto big stories. ABR shows us what happens to the folks -- and places -- left behind when the upper middle class moves on to something newer, more generic and farther out.

What it can't show, however, is the context behind whole swaths of a city going from ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Likewise, it can't show the holes in the souls of those who love it. Who remember it and the faded glory of all the now-broken -- and abandoned -- places.

There were -- there are -- lives entangled in the decay. There are feelings in there, too.

And souls.

I guess that's what I'm trying to give a voice with this little video. I'm trying to give a voice to the soul. It's seen happier days.


Anonymous said...

Good grief. You run away to Omaha but throw a self indulgent pity party about the decay of Baton Rouge. My outlook is 180 degrees the opposite. We moved to Georgia for a better job for my wife but plan to go back. Baton Rouge HAS changed but it is too crowded and full of Yats and new construction. It has boomed since Katrina and that is really not a good thing from my perspective but I think it is silly to call it a decaying city. Maybe you are depressed about getting older, that is the most rational explanation for your video.

Roux said...

There are large parts of BR that are getting bad and others that are growing. South BR is growing like crazy but anything North of Florida Blvd is looking pretty bad. It's kind of sad but this is what happens when you ignore your public school system.