Tuesday, August 22, 2006

When the Levees Broke

I finagled a free month of HBO from my cable company so I could watch When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts. This four-part documentary, directed by Spike Lee, aims to be the “documentary of record” for the horrific events of August 29, 2005, and the days and weeks and months thereafter.

What can I say? It’s an amazing television event that shouldn’t be missed. Acts I and II aired last night. Tonight you can see Acts III and IV. And all four acts will be seen Tuesday, Aug. 29 (8 p.m.—midnight), the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

I wasn’t blogging a year ago, but I can only imagine what was being said in the blogosphere. Last year, I was at home with my then newborn daughter as she recovered from heart surgery, gripped to the TV watching the so-called rescue efforts in the Gulf Coast region. And all the while, I was thinking how thankful I was that I did not have this baby in New Orleans considering how much medical attention she needed in her first three weeks of life. Selfish as that may sound, not a day goes by that I don’t think about all the people—mostly black, mostly low income—who lost everything and are still displaced.

So as the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina rolls around, I find it ironic I had completely forgotten that Ella had her surgery a year ago. Maybe that’s a blessing, and a testament to how well she’s doing. My mother’s birthday was also on the same day—I barely managed to get a gift in the mail. She said something about Ella’s surgery two days after and I was taken aback. In some small way, I’m glad that I didn’t spend the anniversary of Ella’s surgery in mourning. As my husband says, “She lived, you know,” which is his code for not dwelling on what might have been.

Both events, which seem worlds apart to me, are reminders that no day is promised. But I hope that with the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, I can put my anxiety into action: make a donation, see what I can do in my area, get involved, vote our current set of knuckleheads out of office, and as always, write-write-write about it.

Watch the documentary. Never forget, but always honor.

12 comments:

Jennifer said...

husbands are so good for keeping the balance. so glad your daughter is doing well this year.

sounds like a "must see" documentary.

deirdre said...

I was sitting in a hospital last year too, with my sister. It took a few days for the news about the hurricane to sink in - there was a kind of wall around my sense of awareness. Now, with this anniversary of disaster I see how disconnected I was then. I've read your posts about Ella and am swept up in your gratitude and love for this child.

January said...

Jennifer and Deirdre: Thanks for the kind words. Ella is a hurricane in her own right now that she's walking!

Hope you get a chance to see the documentary. I was impressed by the people who their gave commentary. And there's certainly enough blame to go around in New Orleans.

Deb R said...

W don't subscribe to HBO so I hadn't even heard about this documentary. Maybe they'll syndicate it to another station in a few months.(How the heck did you talk your company into a month of free HBO??)

I've so glad for you that Ella is doing so well. She looks adorable in the pics you've posted. :-)

January said...

Deb: I called my cable company and asked questions about getting HBO. At the end of the customer service rep's spiel, when I said, thanks but no thanks, he told me I could get HBO for free for a month. I just have to stop the service before the end of my 30 days.

We have Comcast, so I have access to HBO on Demand and all of their programming...well...on demand.

So, I get to see Spike Lee’s documentary and the third season of Entourage—my husband and I are hooked on that show!

Bug said...

I discovered that cable trick when I called to ask about getting TLC. When I realized it was like $40 more a month, I said no thanks, and then miraculously it appeared along with a few other channels for about a month. I'm sure they were trying to get me hooked...

I was away in ME during Katrina, and we were totally isolated from news. We knew there was a hurricane that was causing lots of rain on the east coast, and we knew that gas prices had practically doubled overnight, but we had NO IDEA the extent of it. We were shocked when we got home.

And I am SO glad that you will get to spend your August in a much better place than you were last year!

paris parfait said...

Thank goodness little Ella is well. As for New Orleans, it breaks my heart what has happened to that city. Just back from England, where I saw an interview w/ Spike Lee and an excerpt from his production. Can't wait to see it in full! The newspapers in England were filled with news about New Orleans, the ineptitude of the rebuilding efforts and how at least 50 percent of the musicians haven't returned and are commuting for occasional gigs, but expanding their horizons. A true American tragedy...Sigh.

ecm said...

I've been reading about the documentary and am hoping it makes it to DVD. I am so glad that in a time of such disaster, you received the blessings of a healthy daughter. How interesting to have two such events correspond together.

bb said...

*Never forget, but always honor*

wise words indeed, january.

i wonder if the documentary will get an airing on this side of the pond? i'll watch out for it.

bostonerin said...

I think both New Orleans and little Ella speak to the resiliency of the human spirit. In both situations, the healing takes time, the effects and fears can last forever, but we find a way to laugh and love and enjoy in the spaces in between.

Kristine said...

I'm with you - not a day passes when I don't think about the victims of Katrina. I was so troubled when it happened. I felt completely shaken and disturbed to the core of my being. I dont have HBO so I have my mom taping it for me. Maybe I'll see if I can swing a free month of HBO so she doesn't have to tape it. We'll see. In any case I find it important to watch and I can't imagine this NOT being a part of history...
( Well, then again - black history has been left out of history books, and slavery in any detail, and many contributions of non-europeans...)

GoGo said...

thanks for the info on the documentary. Glad your daughter is doing fine.

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