Friday, September 22, 2006

I'm tired.

I'm tired of Katrina lit, to be exact.

My biggest beef in particular is with Douglas Brinkley's The Great Deluge. I have read other books by him and have read some that were edited by him. His "Majic Bus" approach to teaching his students about recent history and literature is an inspired approach that ought to be adopted by more instructors who have the resources and the wherewithal to mount similar tours across this country (and indeed, the world). But this last book of his is tarnished by the one thing that sticks out from his analyses of the happenings of the first five days of Katrina and its aftermath: the fact that Brinkley seems to have it in for Ray Nagin.

Granted, I am not a supporter of Mr Big Mouth either. Every time Nagin has the opportunity to speak, he puts his foot in a spectacularly idiotic manner. Public record will carry his stupidity through the ages. His reelection is a sad fact of life that we all have to make the best of, those of us who are here.

Maybe Brinkley's attitude is due to the fact that the book was rushed into publication. Lord knows there are a number of typos that should have been nipped in the bud before the book showed its cover in public. Perhaps subsequent editions of Deluge will work on the passages that dwell on the stuff Nagin did or did not do in such a way that shows the wrongheadedness of the mayor and not the vengeance of the author. I think about this book that I have in my home library now, though, and I have to question that impulse that Brinkley had to beat a dead horse in the way that he did.

I question that impulse because I myself have had that impulse many times as of late.

There is only so much I personally can take in terms of thinking about my current surroundings. And there's a lot to get down about. A few choice examples:

- traffic lights that are either not fixed yet, or have been fixed only to get run over by some drunkard or other ( OBJECTION! Speculation! sustained...) and then they remain broken for more long periods of time.

- nasty potholes. One in particular has gained a place in local infamy due to a mention by local columnist Chris Rose. This one at the corner of Tchoupitoulas and Calhoun streets is pretty darn deep, is surrounded by a few orange barrels to prevent car wrecks and pedestrian injuries, and has a huge shrub growing out of it, one that has the makings of a tree. Plus, it is right by Children's Hospital.

- school surroundings, supplies, what have you. My son's school faces onto a major thoroughfare that will have streetcars next year as well as regular car traffic running up and down it. A major issue at Open House was about the logistics of getting a class of twenty three- and four-year-olds to a bathroom that is located down the hall without their getting the temptation to go out the front door of the school and possibly through the open gate to the busy street beyond. There are major wish lists the teachers have compiled for their classrooms that have to do with basic furniture as well as teaching materials (not to mention basic stuff like a LOCK on said front gate), since they weren't relocated to their present school building until almost the last minute. Everyone is having to scramble.

I live with this a lot. As a result, I will be finishing Ivor van Heerden's book, The Storm, and then I will be swearing off the Katrina lit for some time. Maybe I should concentrate on some of my son's current reading material. Let's see:

The Runaway Bunny - A story about mother love. The little bunny of the title wants to get away from his mom, so he tells her he will become a number of things so that she won't find him: a fish, a crocus, a rock on a mountain. But mama's reach and imagination proves to be too much for her son. He decides to stay at home. Could this be an early psychological study into the mind of, say, Norman Bates?

Thomas the Tank Engine - Thomas is evereee-wheeere. His stories comes in parcels from Scholastic once a month. He resides in a coloring book and two push-button musical books my son has as gifts from others (I hope the batteries on the things run out soon). My son even has Thomas and Percy wooden trains and Bertie the bus, which are tres expensive and will not be joined by more wooden Thomas characters. What is Thomas representative of, really? I say OSHA's worst nightmare - there's always an accident on Sodor, or someone trying to push the envelope and getting slapped in the face by life, by gravity, by disaster. Sir Topham Hatt would have been hauled in to court long ago and either been fined out of business or locked away to rot in jail. Then again, I can't see Amtrak doing a better job of it...

Clifford the Big Red Dog - I love Clifford. Always have, always will. Though I do think it's sad to be seeing the PBS series and hearing the late John Ritter's voice coming from the big ol' pooch. Truth be told, though, Clifford is better off on the island - the Island of Doctor Moreau.

Allright, all right. I guess I should just swear off most books altogether. I've already sworn off the local paper. Harlequin romances, here I come...

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