Oklahoma City April 23, 2015

A most American city. And later today, a most American festival. As I reflect on this city, several things strike me. This is definitely the most American city that I have ever visited. It has NO history. This place was Indian Territory until the 20th century. After stealing all of the Native American land, culture, and (almost) identity, the USA took away their last refuge. A refuge that the same government had given them 70 years before. It opened the area to white settlement in 1889 and finally took the whole place as a state in 1907. Anyway, this very recent state became American with the 20th century. I also read somewhere that the population of Oklahoma City is 90% white and 8% black. There are over 1 million folk in Oklahoma City and there hasn’t been a shooting or murder here since we arrived last weekend.
Now this week there is a festival here-an art festival. It takes place in a park near our hotel. It is not called a park, but a garden (in the middle of the downtown business District) and what a beautiful garden it is! There are a lot of people at the festival, lots of noise, lots of beautiful art, lots of music. In this garden is an amphitheater to rival the classical amphitheaters of the Mediterranean. There is a huge pond next to the theater at the bottom of what I take to be an excavation between two natural hills. Around the pond are waterfalls, walkways, gardens (of course), benches, etc. Which make it a very people-friendly place.
Despite all of the beauty and convenience the place is also a bit too sanitized. A bit too nice. A bit too American. As with the Native Americans, the Oklahomans have tamed the garden, the forests, the ponds, the very plants themselves. It is beautiful – beautiful in the likeness of the “Enlightenment” Gardens of Versailles, etc. it is not very natural at all. So, am I making a value judgment here? Probably so. Does safety and convenience trump earthy, gritty, attractive, but a bit dangerous? In my heart of hearts I am afraid I would have to choose safety over danger. Although, I would like to believe that the French Quarter is better than Bricktown, more real, as it were, I have chosen to live in a rural countryside near New Orleans rather than New Orleans itself. So, what does that say about me? Am I, in the end, a Creole or a Kaintuck !?!?

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About Jerry Laiche

Jon (Jerry) Laiche, B.A., M.A. is a  working historian, writer, and co-author of “1718: The Petticoat Rebellion Cookbook.”  He is a twenty-year veteran teacher and scholar, having taught courses in Louisiana, American, and World History, and is a member of the Historic New Orleans Collection. In addition to his background as an historian, he has taught Religion in the High Schools of the Archdiocese of New Orleans and was adjunct professor of Computer Ethics and Internet Technology at Tulane University.  In addition to his academic duties, Jerry has served his schools as a technology coordinator, network administrator, librarian, and Internet guru.  During his teaching tenure, Jerry also was the recipient of two grants from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.  The grants enabled his school to establish the first High School Women’s Studies program in New Orleans.  He was the founding Director of the Archdiocesan Teacher Learning Center (Computers in the Classroom).  For three years, he owned and operated “The Philosopher’s Stone” a bookstore on the Northshore specializing in rare and antiquarian volumes.  With his smart and beautiful wife, Beth, he currently coordinates the “1718 Project” to commemorate the 2018 New Orleans Tri-Centennial.  He and his life partner currently live at Beltane Grove, one acre and a cottage, 30 miles north of New Orleans’ Lake Pontchartrain. (Rev. Samhain: Oct. 31, 2018) jlaiche@earthlink.net http://1718neworleans.com https://1718neworleans2018.wordpress.com/ Home Office: (985) 795-2372 Primum est Edare, diendi Philosophari