The universe of 1970s New York City looked nothing like we know it today. I wasn't there but I heard about it. Before the 'ultramodern' days when terrorists were creepily jealous of it, before rent cost more per month than the entire net worth of your personal brand accumulated over a lifetime, and before its most precious alt styles became overabundant, packed up, and exported/mainstreamed...
(example: compare the Urban Outfitters catalog to JC Penny's 2009 'Back 2 School Sale')
... there was a time when NY's resources were fresh, new, and authentic.
In the old days it wasn't hard at all to find living quarters that fell along the cost spectrum of dirt cheap to pretty damn low. In many areas, its streets were buckling and abandoned buildings were crumbling. It resembled a war zone at times. It was not a place that your 'totally lame parents' would have chosen to migrate (via suburban sprawl).
But it was the people who WERE filling up the city during these unique times that made New York's magical relevance still echo decades later.
In the late 70s, punk had reached its apex and the mystique of the product attracted 'artistic bros/chicks' from all over the country to take part in the cheap, easy, rugged, real environment. This community coalesced and what happened was something to blog about. The output was bangin' (arguably), most importantly (also to argue) it gave rise to new wave, no wave, and post-punk, some relevant music aesthetics which can be easily Wikipedia'd. The aftershocks have lasted up to the current state of music today.
What can't be denied was the brute force and cohesiveness behind New York's art scene at the turn of the decade into the early 80s. Today, excellent/shit bands are still exported regularly and it is a chill dream of many to 'move to New York' to be a part of the big and relatively stable music/art scene. But that's why nothing TRULY groundbreaking is happening in the same sense that it did back then. Things are either gradually progressing or staying the same, because it is all indeed, pretty stable.
In order for something huge to happen that goes against the grain and gives those participating a feeling of exuberance for something groundbreaking, the ingredients must be mixed in the right place at the right time. Some place just as desolate yet promising as late 70s New York. Some place that is affordable and has a history that creative people will be inspired by. A place to chill and start a relevant, new community. And, yeah you guessed it by the title of this blog entry, New Orleans could be that place.
Hurricane Katrina booted a lot of the natives and left many chunks of the city empty. As a result, rent is lower than like every other major city in the country and it isn't hard to find a job in this bad economy world. It is already attracting people who, post college, can't find a job elsewhere.
New Orleans is cheap. There are hipsters aplenty and an American Apparel on Magazine street. There are tite ass clubs and empty warehouses dotting the city. Somehow, tourist guide books still think of New Orleans as a relevant music city even though the significance of jazz died a long time ago and most modern bands either skip Louisiana entirely on tour or go to Baton Rouge instead (due to better booking there). And the local scene feels loose and sporadic. But with all of the necessary ingredients there and the cultural consensus still leniently calling New Orleans a 'hotbed of music' in the absence of anything important (hint hint), I just have to ask:
New Orleans, where is your revolution?
You three tell me. Let's look at what could be in store.
New musical crossbreeding with styles already dormant in the city
1.) Jazz + experimental pop = something post-post-Animal Collective
2.) Sludge metal + your ideas to make a 'noise rock' band that sounds like the band HEALTH and/or Teenage Jesus and the Jerks = something bigger than yourself
3.) Bounce + electrodance bloghouse = who knows, sounds like a good party starter to me. 'what's the name of yr skewl?'
4.) Blues + meaningfulcore (via Postal Service/DCFC) = extremely meaningfulcore
5.) Music style from New Orleans + modern indie genres + any of the bands on noladiy.org = ______
Miscellaneous things that would happen in the Authentic New Orleans Renaissance
-NOLA.com would become the new Village Voice
-chill artists from around the country would sell their 'clunkers' and move into the Garden District in the 3rd quarter of 2k9
-gentrification of the 9th Ward
-the city's version of MSTRKRFT would feature 5th Ward Weebie on their second album
-in 2035, original members of the renaissance scene would report meeting at and being inspired by a 'seminal' Caddywhompus or Retarded Cobras show for the nostalgic DVD
-if you're a local, the kid you picked on in middle school could be the next David Byrne
-streetcars would get longer, service the entire city, and a map of the streetcar routes would be a permanent addition to the walls of on-campus housing common areas at UNO/Tulane
-Cox Cable public access networks would showcase modern versions of shows like 'TV Party' (shot amateurishly with an iPhone)
-Someone named Mike Pemdas would be more relevant than anybody that you know
-Peach's Records and Tapes would become the new Other Music, or a closed down predecessor to that business
-Your father: the next Woody Allen?
-One Eyed Jacks/ Howlin' Wolf/ The Republic: the next CBGBs/ Mudd Club/ Beat Kitchen (respectively)?
What about the cities surrounding New Orleans?
Once the Authentic New Orleans Renaissance causes the city to become overwhelmed with cheap imitations/the mainstreaming of the original, awesome, authentic bands and culture of the movement, New Orleans itself will become akin to a bulging and overcrowded Manhattan. The surrounding areas will become the other boroughs of New York to which the focus will then shift.
After New Orleans becomes a more expensive area to live and is no longer the actual birthplace of bands but an area with sweet ass relevant/classic venues for those bands to play and gauge how 'big they've become', authentic creation process itself will move to Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge will become the new Brooklyn a few years later. Actual Brooklyn became the new Actual Manhattan several decades later, but as we know from the book Future Shock, society will only keep speeding up and transience will increase by over 9000 times.
Spanish Moon/Chelsea's = the next Music Hall of Williamsburg/Bellhouse?
Smiley Anders = the new Robert Christgau?
The future Matt & Kim doing a press photo bungee jumping off the Port Allen bridge?
Lafayette will become Queens, the area which will 'never be cool' due to being the living space of many families who have no sense of what's hip (but instead traditional values of the area). But it will still export the occasional cool band attending college there, who has access to the Internet, into Baton Rouge/New Orleans. Like the current band GIVERS, who once upon a time opened in Baton Rouge for the band The Dirty Projectors. In the post-New Orleans world, no one will remember The Dirty Projectors and their Myspace account will be deleted.
The logical end of the Authentic New Orleans Renaissance: '90s revival' in the next decade -or- the 2015 Hurricane Season?
Well, if there is one quote that I could lift as advice for New Orleans, it would be 'Choose Yr Own Adventure, yall', the title of the debut release by the originally northwest-based band The Pharmacy, who moved to New Orleans earlier this year in order, intentionally or not, to get in on the impending AUTHENTIC RENAISSANCE before it really takes off. Go hard. Let this be the year that 'riverwave' begins, the Saints win the ALTbowl, and your band opens for 311 on 311 Day/ Memory Cassettes on Memory Cassette Day.
Oh and fuck natty disasters.