Monday, November 17, 2008

Culture11 Fails To Get Tulsa

Look, I really enjoy much of Culture11. Good articles, eccentric point of view. But their article "Pins On A Map: Tulsa" by Gary Lee is the kind of puffery that would not be out of place in any given issue of such outlets of Babbittry as Urban Tulsa, the Tulsa World, or propaganda mailers from the Mayor's Office. The notion of pushing Tulsa as the arts capital of, um, anything is just too ridiculous for words. He does visit the usual high points for an article like this....the hoary Cain's Ballroom, the Oklahoma Jazz Hall Of Fame and the Thomas Moran collection at Gilcrease Museum (the bane of many a childhood school field trip). Brookside gets a mention, as does Cherry Street and the Brady District....The kind of places he can imagine taking one of his Georgetown buddies.

Real Tulsa history - from our infamous race riot to Dwight Twilley to Bob Wills to Pretty Boy Floyd and Ma Barker (the cool stuff, in other words) - get nary a mention.

Fortunately, they are running an article at the same site which says more about real Oklahoma culture, albeit accidentally, than all of the travel section bullshit ever written. The article "Bluegrass Apoalypse" treats the complex and contradictory relationship between country music and culture, gospel, and the capitalistic ethic with no hint of condescension. The rich history of Tulsa lies in it's weird, unholy brew of evangelical passion, jazzy urban sophistication and sheer greed generously spiced with a seething blend of racial and class hatred. The best window on this world lies right there in that music, standing as it does with one foot in a folk tradition and the other in a burgeoning commercial sensibility.

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