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Heckuva Job, Beyonce


Just seven years after the very halls of the Superdome were a national symbol of abandonment, the failure of government, and the disproportionality of society's response when it is so clearly divided by race and money, the National Football League turned its back on the people of New Orleans with a mammoth expression of glitz and electronics - a display every bit as pompous and crass as Air Force One tilting its wings so that George W. Bush could catch of a fleeting glance of flooded glory.

I don't blame Beyonce, really. She did the job she was contracted for, donned the latex and leather corset, and slunk professionally around a stage drunken with LED lighting and dozens of dancers who mimmicked her moves. Yeah call me a geezer, kiddies, but I thought the idea was that what happened in Las Vegas stayed in Las Vegas. Or is that just a slogan?

The NFL itself didn't even lip sync a concern for New Orleans, or the recognition that a national tragedy unfolded in the Dome, in the streets outside, and in the parishes to the south and east, where hundreds died waiting for help that never came. Last night's gaudy casino fest could have been in any dome, from Tampa to Minneapolis, Seattle to Indianapolis. It spoke not at all of the incredible city of culture that is New Orleans, one of the rare large-scale urban places in the United States that has heroically resisted the pull of social and cultural homogeneity.

What a disgrace. Where was the music? Where was the glorious sound of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and its deeply emotional tradition of New Orleans jazz, a form that to this day thrills the tendons, muscles and bones that lead human beings to move and dance and sway. Where were the modern jazz artists who call New Orleans home? Where were the blues artists who find NOLA to be one of the few places in the U.S. with enough venues to play two shows a day and sleep till noon? And where were the marching bands? Man, the halftime of any Ole Miss-Tulane game has better, more authentic music.

There was blackout in the third quarter last night. Perhaps it represented the still fragile state of New Orleans' recovery, and the city's delicate infrastructure. Or maybe the stadium simply blew a fuse with the technological schock-o-thon at halftime. The game itself was pretty good. But the blackout had another meaning to me. It may have featured Destiny's Child - but it most surely lacked destiny's children.

Shame on the NFL (and their sponsoring Pepsi overlords) for ignoring one of the great seats of American culture. Heckuva job, Beyonce.

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