Tuesday, May 31, 2011

When The Levees Broke

Watching the documentary When The Levees Broke truly opened my eyes to everything that went down there when Katrina happened. There was so much that I didn't know and the way it was presented completely blew me away.

The most heartbreaking story to me probably would have to be the one's that involved FEMA looking for the dead bodies in the houses. One particular one was a fellow who left and his mom stayed. After the storm, the man couldn't contact or find out where his mom is at all. He still had hope that she was alive. Finally, the houses started to get searched, but his mom's house was marked that there were no dead bodies found it that house. They CLAIMED that the searched the house thoroughly enough to determine that no one died in that house. The man still could not  find away to find his mom so he goes to New Orleans and goes into the house. Next thing you know, he finds his mothers dead body underneath a refrigerator that fell on top of her. How horrible is that. Not only does he find his own mother's dead body, but he finds it after the government stated that there was no dead body in there. Were they being lazy and just didn't want to search the house? Did they truly not care? Were the searches just too dumb to find someone that a civilian found so simply? The whole time that segment was being shown I literally was jaw dropped. I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

There was so much in this movie that I now feel like a have a bigger idea of what was going on than before. I found this documentary to be exceptional and recommend it to anyone. My only thing about the film that I thought was a little heavy, was Spike Lee's one sided view on the subject. I felt he was too focused on making all of New Orleans the victim. Not to say I oppose to this view, but there is a little more to the story then just "Oh poor New Orleans." Like the fact that some stayed in New Orleans just because of their pride. I understand if you can't leave to possible money issues, but this city pride is a little much for me. I understand having pride in your city, but you can't get a warning like this and state "I'M NOT LEAVING, THIS PLACE IS MY HOME!" and then have the event happen and now be like "I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS HAPPENED AND NOW NO ONE IS COMING TO HELP ME!" without coming off as a whiner. I'm not saying this is how I viewed everyone from New Orleans who got affected, but in some cases I was just thinking to myself, "Well......maybe you should have left." Other than that, this film was well put together and well presented.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Story Updates

With the help of Colleen, I did a little more research on some possible story ideas. I decided to narrow it down to the subject of brass bands. Jazz is a big part of the New Orleans culture so I want to focus on the brass part. One band that I have emailed is the Hot 8 Brass Band. I am currently waiting on a reply from them. I am also looking into the Treme Brass Band, but I am having trouble finding much info on them. With that though, I feel I'm heading on the right path and will be working more to get this all coming together.

Zeitoun part 2

>REQUIRED)    Zeitoun has a vivid sense of setting ­ of place, time, and
>mood.  The city of New Orleans is almost a character itself.  Notice this
>quote describing New Orleans before Katrina hits:
>³It was this kind of willful, wildly romantic attention to beauty ­
>crumbling and fading beauty needing constant attention ­ that made this
>city so unlike any other and such an unparalleled sort of environment for
>a builder.² (31) 
>After Hurricane Katrina, many wondered if New Orleans should have even
>been rebuilt, considering the devastation of the storm and New Orlean¹s
>precarious topography.  Why is it so important for Zeitoun to rebuild
>after the storm ­ especially considering the treatment he received in his
>adopted city?
I feel that Zeitoun had a really strong connection with New Orleans in a way 
that a lot of people have with their family. They may not be perfect and also 
may have their hard times, but for the most part they are always there. They 
are there when you need them. You learn to grow from them. You bond with them.
They become a part of you. That is what I feel Zeitoun had with New Orleans, 
and so, being the caring man he is, he did what he could to stay and rebuild.
This city basically took him in and impacted a part of his life, so he did what 
he could to give back.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


1. Hurricane Katrina received a lot of media coverage.
 What was your experience with and reaction to the disaster?
 Does your perspective change by viewing the event through the Zeitoun family's eyes?
 If so, how?
I remember when Hurricane Katrina was happening, it was during a major part of my life.
I was in the process of moving from Grand Rapids ,for which I lived my whole life, down to the twin cities. This was pretty heart breaking to me. I was leaving the only people in my life that I knew to go to a place that seemed big, scary, and unwelcoming. Of course, by now i've adjusted and now love it here because I worked hard to become friends with some of the best people I know. I had good times with them, connected with them, and next thing you know, I'm off to college. That is what my focus was for those four years. Not one bit of it was watching the news or learning in depth about current events. I of course knew about Katrina, but only the basic synopsis of what was happening. Everything else I heard about was all the second-hand information from the others around me. "The government didn't react well enough." "Those people in New Orleans are never satisfied. All they want is more.' "George Bush doesn't care about black people. This is why he let it happen." These were all statements i've heard about the scenario from other people. None of it was actual fact-based knowledge that was any use to me. So when I say I knew nothing about Katrina, I mean I knew nothing. I didn't know how to react to it because everyone around me is giving different ideas about what is really happening and why it was happening that it all just became a big blur. I officially just did not care about what was going on down there, all I wanted to do was rebuild my social life that was taken from me. Now that I actually am doing research on the subject, however, everything about my feelings toward it is changing. Especially with the story of Zeitoun, it is opening my eyes to things I didn't know was actually going on down there. All the crimes and the imprisonments. Now that I experienced an actual personal story from one of the people who was in the storm, and didn't just sit and watch it on TV, changing my reactions on some of the things. It actually feels like an impacting event now, instead of something I grew up listening to other people talk about what they saw on TV.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The True Meaning of Pictures

I just finished watching the film "The True Meaning of Pictures" which I found to be a very well made and important film. It tells the story of photographer Shelby Lee Adams and his photographs of the Appalachian families. This photo explains Shelby's experience with the Appalachian people, the Appalachians lifestyle, and the controversy that Shelby experienced with his photos. 

Shelby had a connection with the Appalachian people and felt that they were perceived in a wrong and negative way, especially with films like "Deliverance" giving them a perception as animals and low-life's. Shelby got a fascinating with photographing the Appalachians in their natural lifestyle and showing the world the true world of an Appalachian. He felt that these photos were eye opening and important, others, however, felt different. They felt his photos were demeaning and negative. One critic was criticizing one photo of a girl and man naturally posing in front of the very dirty and busted wall. The critic was going on questioning why it had to be in front of this unattractive wall. Why couldn't it be in front of a more appropriate wall with the people a little more cleaned up. She felt the way it was set up was extremely negative on the people. A lot of critics actually felt a big number of Shelby's photos were very negative and appalling. One stated how she wanted to go around and to all of Shelby's published books and rip out everyone of those photos.

Here's my personal reaction to these allegations. If you were to purposely aim on changing the setting so that the characters seem more attractive completely defeats the purpose of the photo in the first place and you're not getting the point. Shelby felt a fascination by these people because they lived dirty and rough and did not give a damn about what others felt. It was the lifestyle they wished to live and could care less to change it because someone else is standing in the corner telling them what the "correct" way of living is. Who are we to tell another what the correct way of living is. The point of Shelby's pictures isn't to show these characters in a demeaning fashion, but in a manor that presents us another way of living. The Appalachians were all for Shelby taking these photographs as well. They felt positive about these photos. They may be living in poverty and illiterate, but that doesn't mean that they are compromised of basic human emotions, and if they don't have a negative feeling against these photos, then why should we. Why you we tell them that this is wrong.

I feel Shelby should be applauded for his attempt to bring back honor to the Appalachians and try to show the outside world their lifestyle. It's a daring choice for his art, but that's what he feel is most important to show and that is what art should be there for. Not to make a buck but to make a difference and start discussions. This was a well-made documentary and I would recommend it to eveyone.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Story Ideas

Here are some of my ideas that may make an interesting story.

Expression through music.
Inspiration for music from tradegy.

Expression through guitar.
Famous guitarists.
The art of blues guitar.

History of blues in New Orleans.
Expression through blues.

The effects of comedy on those tragically effected.
Other effects from comedy.
Inspiration for comedy.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

American Experience: New Orleans

The PBS special "New Orleans" is a great introduction and study of New Orleans. Introducing it with the event of Hurricane Katrina, it opens our eyes to the devastation and negativity that Katrina has brought upon the city of New Orleans. After viewing this catastrophe, we are then transported back to the beginning of the city. From here on, we given what made New Orleans today.

New Orleans is a city of history, tradition, culture, and livelihood. New Orleans was originally the capitol of French Louisiana back in the 1700's, but eventually came to being sold as part of the Louisiana Purchase to the Americans in 1803. Although there were black slaves in New Orleans, there were free African Americans living with White Americans. In most places this may be uncommon, but in New Orleans it was very common. At around this time, most colored people weren't allowed to do things such as owning land or their own businesses. In New Orleans, however, this was possible and common. This city was, in my own eyes, one of the original cities of unity. Everyone lived side by side and built this city together without any disregard for the color of ones skin.

Diversity was strong in New Orleans, that was until English speaking Americans and change the culture of the city. The wanted everything French gone and transform it strictly into an American town. They wanted to spread their ways and culture and it was around this time that segregation started to take its toll in the city. The Americans settled in an business area known as the American Center.

One of the most powerful parts of the film was when it took a look at the broken city after the hurricane. It shows a local looking at the restaurant that she owned and noticing the damage that the storm has brought. The disappointment and uncertainty  could be heard in her voice. It then shows her and some others still getting together to make meal that was like how they use to make. It showed that the community is really strong in this city and also that there is determination to keep the traditions alive and rebuild it back to what it was.

There was a line at the beginning of the film that really stood out to me. It was one of the locals explaining his passion for the city and he goes on to say "I love the city. The sidewalks speak to me." That shows me that New Orleans has really left its mark. It was built with so much history and traditions. It has played a major part in the development of diversity in this country. It has been a city that is always alive and always open, and the devastation of the Hurricane is a true tragedy to hit this nation. It has hurt a major part of this great nation. It has hurt a truly historical landmark: New Orleans.