Is New Orleans Taking Over the World?


New Orleans is having a major cultural moment — and we’re not just talking about the recent Super Bowl win. Be it music, television, film, or art, recently everything that the once-beleaguered city touches turns to gold. After the jump, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite cultural exports — ranging from a webcomic turned graphic novel to a contemporary art biennial. Add to our list with a comment.

1. Preservation Hall Benefit album

Andrew Bird, Tom Waits, Jim James, Paolo Nutini, and Ani DiFranco are among the diverse artists who joined the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in New Orleans for this album benefiting the group’s time-honored home. We’ve been listening to it on repeat since it dropped on Tuesday.

2. When the Levees Broke

Spike Lee’s 2006 documentary about the effects of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans inspired (and educated) a nation. HBO recently commissioned a follow-up film on the post-Katrina South that’s sure to be just as engaging. Note: Trouble the Water, another Katrina doc, is also worth a watch. It took home the Grand Jury Prize award for Best Documentary at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.

3. Prospect New Orleans

This international contemporary art biennial which was founded in 2008 by Dan Cameron is now the largest in the United States. As he explains it, “We are working to make Prospect New Orleans a model example of how art can promote social justice and be a catalyst for the revitalization of a historic American city.” Prospect.2, the second iteration, will open to the public on November 13, 2010.

4. A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge

Thanks to its combination of anthropological study with innovative nonfiction storytelling, Josh Neufield’s non-fiction webcomic turned graphic novel about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is still one of our favorites. It proudly sits on our bookshelf between Persepolis and Maus.

5. Treme

The Wire creator David Simon’s latest drama follows a group of about 10 people living in New Orleans three months after Hurricane Katrina. As he explains: “New Orleans, to me, represents a place where it’s a triumph of American urban culture. It’s what — it’s the best that an American city can be and also the worst in a lot of ways, as I said before, but it has created a culture that has gone around the world.”