I hate Baton Rouge for a number of reasons, but one of the largest ones is our lack of any sort of real culture. Sure, they try to create some with little festivals here and there and other “fun” things, but we all know the truth. This town is stationed between two huge cultural draws, and therefore, gets nothing. (Although, we did get David Sedaris last week and the Hold Steady is coming in August)

Shreveport was godawful in my youth, but is completely thriving now. (Oliver Stone! in my hometown!) Example: The Robinson Film Center. There is an INDEPENDENT MOVIE THEATER in Shreveport, but the capitol doesn’t have one?! I know, Siegan was totally gross, but I loved it and they got some great movies. I’m sorry, but the Happening and other craptastic movies don’t look appealing to me. Neither does seeing a movie with approximately 1000848 teenagers.

All I want is an independent movie theater. Or at least show some of those movies at obscure times on the weekend… but please don’t show them at Rave (the worst named movie theater chain in the universe).

Funny you mention that.  Baton Rouge has a culture, it’s just a very, very strange one.  When our dads were at LSU, Baton Rouge was the place that bands stopped and played, not New Orleans and certainly not Lafayette.  If you leaf through old Gumbos from the mid-late 70s, you’ll see that Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen (HA!), Cat Stevens, Elton John, the Who, and many others played at the PMAC.  The Rolling Stones opened their 1977 World Tour at the PMAC.  These bands would routinely play BR and skip New Orleans, for whatever reason.

I think that things are shifting.  Fact of the matter is, Baton Rouge is ginormous now, thanks to Katrina.  BR also gets far more bands than New Orleans, at least in terms of the types of shows that we go to.  (THS aren’t playing New Orleans, for instance, and neither did Band of Horses.  There are more but I can’t think of them off the top of my head).  Spanish Moon is becoming a bigger draw because there are so many kids at LSU willing to go to a show than there are in New Orleans, which has sorta always been the case but people are finally starting to admit it and book accordingly.

In terms of film, the Union Theatre used to book indie films.  I seem to remember that, at least, from when I was a kid.  Obviously that’s not happening any more, but it was there.

I think Baton Rouge is in the middle of a change.  I think it’s realizing the potential that it has to become some place like Colombus, OH, which is a college town (home to the team that LOST the National Championship last year).  Colombus is also the biggest city in Ohio (bigger than Cleveland, shockingly) and gets far more shows than Cleveland or Cincinatti.  Obviously it’s no cultural mecca (like New Orleans or Lafayette, which by virtue of their respective cultures are so unique that people will come from across the world to visit; true, people actually travel to Lafayette), but  Baton Rouge can very easily become a hip college town in the vein of Colombus, Lawrence, KS, etc.  All it takes is people willing to take the action, to find the people doing weird things around the city, to bring in films, to start up journals, etc.

Don’t worry, Liz.


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