Monday, February 28, 2011
No Tunes for Oil
I came across an ad for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival recently. It looks to be a great lineup this year: Arcade Fire, Lupe Fiasco, Wilco, Trombone Shorty, Lauryn Hill, Mumford & Sons, Sonny Rollins, the list goes on. Then I spied the main sponsor: Shell Oil.
I thought it was a joke at first. True, it wasn't this particular oil giant who recently spilled millions of gallons of crude into the Gulf, devastating the ecosystem and taking an untold toll on the local economy. Still, this seems in poor taste.
But then, there is space in New Orleans for corporate takeovers like there is in few other cities. The Katrina aftermath essentially did away with what little public infrastructure there was left. Most schools in the Big Easy are charters--tax funded, but run by public money. An activist friend I have down there has told me that it's almost impossible to find a decent meeting space because most of the public libraries still have yet to reopen.
Little wonder then that an essential part of New Orleans' cultural face has been overtaken by as brazen a company as Shell. Meanwhile, here in Chicago, our own fests are being sold off bit-by-bit. And it didn't even take a hurricane; it took Daley.