Thursday, November 19, 2009

dual New Orleans post

Today my review of 'Ameriville' at Curious Theatre came out. Read it here--it's a 90-minute, spoken-word/hip hop melange of anecdotes with video accompaniment, with four actors playing a variety of roles all related to the Hurricane Katrina mess.

It was moving for me to see this, to hear some of the stories the group Universes tried to relate in the piece; it's been years since I've been back there, and I'm still a little scared to go visit, afraid that what i may find won't be the place i remember. (I mean, of course it won't be. 'You can't go home again' and all that. But I wonder how broken it is...)

Coincidentally, a ruling just came down from a federal court that found that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was indeed negligent in its upkeep of the city's levees and one canal in the Lower Ninth Ward in particular, for years prior to the storm.

The story is complicated, and there is much more to it than the paper of record reports here. (Go here to read Harry Shearer's latest on the ruling, but also go back and check out his earlier posts. He is a New Orleans resident and has been a forceful, relentless voice describing the myriad injustices that have taken place there since 2005.)

The gist of this latest ruling is that over the decades of obsession with cost-cutting and budget-trimming, infrastructure like the levees that is vital to the survival of American taxpayers has been critically neglected. And, paranoia aside, can anyone honestly say that they would not at least question whether a wealthier, whiter city would have been treated differently over the years?

These were Americans who drowned, who lost their homes, their history and their futures. They paid taxes and had a reasonable expectation that their government would do the work it is assigned in return.

As a character in 'Ameriville' says: 'Are we not citizens? Are we not you?'

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