Saturday, August 21, 2010

Rust Belt Chic: Sacramento

Sacramento is home to at least one person who digs Rust Belt Chic:

I recently watched the Rust Belt episode you did, and I loved it. I like the gritty American city ones that you do probably even more than the wild tropical locales. What was it like eating lunch with Snoop? (actress Felicia "Snoop" Pearson, who played hit-woman and all around badass Snoop on "The Wire").
Oh, it was so awesome, she was really really really good to us. She was just a real joy to work with. She was really nice, funny as hell, her friends were great. I'm a huge fan of hers, I'm a huge fan of “The Wire.” She was just a delight from beginning to end: funny, warm, busted my balls in the best of possible ways. I'm a big fan of her work. (She’s) easily the most terrifying female villain in the history of television. It's one of the things that makes having my job a really good one is I get to say, hey, wouldn't it be cool if we could work with Snoop from "The Wire"? Lets see if we can do that.

For my money, no offense to “No Reservations,” “The Wire” is the best show on television, probably ever.
I would agree with you.

Another one of those, in that same ilk, which I liked was the Cleveland Episode. I wanted to say that that was a brilliant and touching eulogy that you wrote to Harvey Pekar.
Thank you.

I was wondering what you thought of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
I despise the whole idea. I hate it. Im waiting for somebody to be inducted into the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame and say fuck you, take your trophy and shove it up your ass. That would be Rock and Roll.

If you don't know, the interviewee is Anthony Bourdain, perhaps the greatest connoisseur of Rust Belt Chic. I don't know if the journalist hails from a shrinking city. Let's just say that Rust Belt culture has fans outside the region.

I bring up the exchange as a rejoinder to Ed Morrison's comments about branding Cleveland:

It’s never been quite clear why Cleveland has not embraced the Rock Hall in it’s branding and leveraged it to promote a younger, edgier entrepreneurial image (as clearly Youngstown and Akron are doing). Maybe this article signals a starting point. One barometer of how lost the Rock Hall is to Cleveland is the airport, where the Rock Hall reveals itself in a small corner store, one short hallway of posters (Concourse B) and a small wall poster with a microphone stuck in front (Concourse D).

Without a doubt, Bourdain is a rock and roll snob. I don't think he's talking about Cleveland cool in his response to the question. However, his disdain for the museum gets to the heart of the branding problems for all Rust Belt cities.

Quite frankly, most people don't get it. Youngstown's "younger, edgier entrepreneurial image" is all about Rust Belt Chic. I wouldn't be surprised if something similar was going on in Akron. As for the Rock Hall, I think of it as a symbol of Cleveland trying to be someplace else. Worth noting, Bourdain loves Harvey Pekar but hates the Hall.

A museum is a cosmopolitan artifact. Yes, it can appeal to any tourist. And perhaps I'm missing Ed's point. To me, the Rock Hall isn't what is cool about Cleveland. I'm not that kind of tourist. I'm not buying what most tourist boards are peddling. I'm definitely not interested in the "we aren't the Rust Belt" campaigns. I can find those things in Atlanta, or just about anywhere else.

The Cult of Bourdain is still there for the taking. People go where he goes. He has a huge following. Anyone could easily replicate his kind of foodie tour of their city. I wouldn't mind a taste of that while waiting for a plane at Cleveland's airport.

1 comment:

John Russell said...

Why hasn't Cleveland leveraged the Rock n Roll museum as part of a younger, edgier brand? Maybe it's because younger, edgier kids look at the Rock n Roll HoF as a mausoleum for the music their parents listen to?