Friday, September 05, 2008

Miss New Orleans (8 songs in the key of nola)

Miss New Orleans (8 songs in the key of nola)

Led Zeppelin - When The Levee Breaks
Kid Koala - Basin Street Blues
Professor Longhair - Go To The Mardi Gras
Johnny Cash - Big River
Janis Joplin - Me and Bobby McGee
Bob Dylan - House of the Rising Sun
Scarlett Johansson - I Wish I Was In New Orleans
Louis Armstrong - Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?

Monday, September 01, 2008

Twitter Tumblr Updates

I'm replacing the Twitter feed with my Tumblr, everything tagged "Gustav" here.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Three Years On

Happy Katrina Day, if you're reading this. I don't know why you would be, I've neglected it for so long, but it's still here, like a tree just waiting to be watered, and so here I am again today.

So much has happened since Katrina changed everything three years ago. And still so much is the same. I feel like a fraudulent reporter even touching on what's happened. It's ridiculous to come back here once every few months for updates, when the recovery is daily, and I'm so distant.

Every few weeks I resolve to recommit myself to this, and then disappoint myself by not. Sorry to the universe.

Facts: my mom is back on her property in a beautiful little home she's overjoyed to live in, built by successive waves of wonderful volunteers since the storm. She's just received some rebuilding money from the state of Mississippi which she's using to shore up the rough spots left over, and to elevate the house to new FEMA standards (which change frequently since the storm).

She recently received a creepy pre-recorded phone warning from Governor Haley Barbour telling her to evacuate in the path of Gustav, as if she wasn't planning on it already.

That's her on the left in the above picture. Next to her is her childhood friend Russell. Next to him is her sister, my aunt Lorraine, who's self conscious about her down-turned smile since the stroke, but who I think is just as beautiful and beaming as she's always been. The three of them grew up together first on Piety Street, then on McKain Street, in New Orleans.

Their dads worked together in the junkyard, chopping up cars for scrap using big hand axes. Russell had nineteen brothers and sisters, in a family poorer even than mine. Now he lives in a FEMA trailer on an abandoned lot with two dogs, a bunch of Katrina junk, a statue of the Virgin Mary he hand painted, and an old school bus backed up to a canal cruised by alligators, which he fishes out of for meals.

His sister was murdered in New Orleans last week. The New York Times wrote a piece about the crime in New Orleans, the crime that took Russell's sister.

It mentioned Piety Street. I don't know how any of this fits together on this day. But I know that it does.

I'll be back soon.

Monday, March 03, 2008

One House At A Time Update

"The recovery from Hurricane Katrina is far from the front pages these days. There were still 30,000 families (over 110,000 American individuals) still living in FEMA trailers earlier this month (feb 2008), when the "news" of deadly levels of formaldehyde in the trailers was finally reported.

I began filming this story one month after Katrina came ashore, and I recently returned to the devastated and impoverished town of Pearlington Mississippi. Even though its several miles from the actual coast, the storm surge and the wind brought this place to the brink of its very existence. The waves that came through this town and destroyed everything in their path first had to pass through a few Chemical Plants and Oil refineries out in the Gulf of Mexico. This was not merely sea water that carried these homes away, it was a deadly stew of unknown and unreported toxins.

This story follows the recovery efforts of one group that has been based in Pearlington as soon as the roads were clear enough to get in. One House At A Time is building homes for people of Pearlington who want to stay in the place where they call home. This video tells a little of their story, but anyone who has been there will tell you, there is no video that can be shot that can express the sort of devastation that has occurred on our own soil, to our own people. So go see it for yourself, and bring a hammer." -Kevin Leeser, March 2008
Link: One House At A Time project site
Link: This video on Current TV
Link: High-resolution Quicktime video

Previously on Operation Eden:
Hope, One House At A Time
Merry Christmas From Pearlington
Rebuilding Hope and Habitat