07 January 2008

Monday's mp3: Marseille's multiculti masala

I spent a few days in France once as a starving student, though it didn't leave me with any strong impressions aside from some architectural and artistic wonders, a widespread linguistic snobbery, and some remarkably aggressive gay men ("Are you a stranger of the night?" one asked me with a leer as I took in the sights from a bridge over the Seine).

Perhaps the problem was Paris. Since then, I've learned much about the various immigrant populations in France, particularly about the multicultural melting pot of Marseille. I've heard a little of the music originating from there, including style-fusing groups like Massilia Sound System and Moussu T e Lei Jovents.

An article in the December 2007 Smithsonian magazine solidifies my curiosity about this Mediterranean port city, a place where ethnicities and religions co-exist relatively peacefully -- and did so a couple years ago even as ethnic-religious riots elsewhere shook the nation.

Globalization may bring new pressures as immigrant communities challenge established residents of neighborhood or nation, but we all have the choice of whether to resist, or to pursue positive change. Marseille, as one observer says in the article, is "a laboratory of the continent's future."

The experiment is still underway there; and here in the USA we have a chance to soon trade in eight years of Bush's "be afraid" approach to the world for something more productive and collaborative. But don't get me started on the presidential race, not yet. Instead, enjoy this crazy composition straight outta Marseille.

[mp3] Moussu T e Lei Jovents: Bolega Banjo
from the album Mademoiselle Marseille

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