A famous play written by Tennessee Williams, with the action set in New Orleans, in the French Quarter.
It was Marlon Brando’s big break as an actor, when it opened on Broadway in 1947.
In the play he was Stanley Kowalski, a Polish character. One of the critics wrote this about him: "a tiger on the loose, a sexual terrorist … Brando was a brute who bore the truth."
The fascinating female character was Blanche DuBois, a former teacher who fell on hard times. In the end Blanche suffers a mental breakdown and collapses to the floor. When the doctor helps her up she goes willingly with him delivering the famous line: "Whoever you are – I have always depended on the kindness of strangers."
As for the streetcar, Desire is the name of the street where the route ended; crisscrossing New Orleans it represents Blanche's own vagrancy and her inability to adjust and settle down.
A few years back I had my own Southern experience and it was a memorable one.
I was running a construction project down there, flying into Atlanta and then driving west to Chattanooga across the Smokey Mountains on the East Coast of the US.
The difference between these two states is that Georgia is mostly arid and Tennessee is green, so it’s more than just crossing the mountains, sometimes in heavy rain, it’s a different reality.
Tennessee is South pure, laid back and relaxed. One summer evening I was sitting on a restaurant patio sipping beer and looking at the row of big Harleys parked in front. At one point a shiny big fire truck with a crew passed me just cruising casually down the street, windows down and elbows out.
“Well,” I thought, “shouldn’t these guys be at the station on constant alert?”
It’s different here.
Several bloody battles took place in this area during the Civil War, which was the high conflict point for a split nation, and it took a lot of violence to sort out.
Not the last conflict of course - during 1967 Detroit riots, the US army 82th Airborne Division was called into the city to restore order. Over 40 people died.
So, the split today in American politics is nothing new, just different in intensity.
There is media frenzy now, criticizing president Trump for allowing Turkey to invade the Kurds.
Apparently there is still little understanding of which way the world is moving – as the Americans are reducing their presence in the Middle East, Turkey becomes the dominant power in the region. The Turks were a loyal ally to the USA since 1945; but in the recent years they’re pulling apart and tying their relationship with Russia.
It is crucial for the US to keep the relationship going, and so president Trump looks the other way as the Turkish army crushes the Kurds.
It’s not nice, but it’s geopolitics, and as the president he has to make decisions.
Brutal as it sounds, he is making the right one.
In those Chattanooga years, on the way back to Toronto I would stop in Atlanta in a club called “Cheetah” for a dinner, some drinks and entertainment.
The men’s room attendant was of Jamaican origin, impeccably dressed.
His name was Stanley.
“How do you like it here?” I asked after I put my tip in the jar.
“Let me put it that way,” he said with creole accent – “if I close tomorrow a lot of people would suffer. “
Coming back to the Streetcar Named Desire, it could be that Blanche DuBois’ character was based on Tennessee Williams himself, with his inability to adjust and settle.
He found an audience.
Tom Kubiak is the author of The Traveler