Sunday, February 25, 2007

I'm stuck, y'all, and the airlines stuck me.

This is the third time they've cancelled a flight on me, damn it. And yes, it was because of bad weather in Dallas, where I was supposed to be on a connecting flight in the afternoon yesterday, but they couldn't get me on a flight back to Jackson until Tuesday. So I ended up with my in-laws, once again. Had to call up the religious school where I teach on Sundays and the elementary school where I teach art to let 'em know I wouldn't be making an appearance, and then my son and I were whisked off to an IHOP and then to San Jose's Tech Museum.

First off, the Tech is super cool. And we didn't even make it through the whole place. Fear and trepidation on my mother-in-law's part that the place would be "too old" for the little guy proved unfounded. The kid was rocking every hands-on display on the second floor of the place, designing his own rollercoasters, seeing what rendered objects such as a space shuttle would look like with frog skin, and checking out some shadow displays.

Why were we only on the second floor, you ask? Because the IMax theater in the place spits everyone out of the theater onto the second floor of the Tech after each movie. What did we see? God help me, we saw Hurricane On The Bayou.

First off, I know we saw it largely because my father-in-law was curious about it. I figured, okay, I can make it through this. I might end up hating the thing, but I just need to see it as research...riiiiight...research...see what people across America will be seeing when they pays their money and takes their chances. Plus, he paid for it. What the hey.

Surprisingly, it lays out the environmental issues very well, in the guise of young fiddler Amanda Shaw researching the coastal erosion problem for a school project. I applaud this film for that. Three months into what was supposed to be a fairly straight educational film promoting wetlands restoration, Katrina hit, and, serendipitously, the cameras of MacGillivray Freeman were there to film scenes of water in New Orleans' streets, of Tad Gormley Stadium as a lake with stands poking in and around it, and of Buras, Louisiana, after the storm.

Maybe I'm being a pessimist, but I think the whole thing ended on too much of a happy note for me. A NOLA radio show host once said around a long-ago JazzFest time that it seemed like all the world's problems could be solved at the Gospel Tent at the Fest, and (quasi-spoiler here, folks - sorry) much as I would love for Marva Wright to sing our way out of this mess, it just ain't that easy. Hell, Ms Wright herself hasn't gotten back to her rebuilt home until fairly recently. There was too much of a neat little package of coastal erosion's devastating effects in Hurricane, and the bow to tie it all together and reverse the trend is supplied by the music and culture of south Louisiana, according to the filmmakers.

Uh-huh. I wish. I hope so. I'm not so sure, sometimes.

What I regret most of all was bringing my son in to see that movie. He enjoyed seeing the early scenes of alligators underwater, and, on seeing the aerial shots of New Orleans, he exclaimed, "Mom! It's the Superdome!" But then, they re-created some of the in-storm effects digitally - the collapse of Buras' water tower, storm winds peeling off pieces of the Dome's roof - and showed some of the immediate aftermath, and my son clutched his popcorn, aghast.

"Mom, is New Orleans okay? Is New Orleans all right?" he asked me.

I had to do it. I had to tell a four-year-old the straight truth in a way that he could understand.

"Some of it is," I told him, after a long pause. "Some of it is."


thordora said...

It must be so hard to parent in all that, to have to raise your son in the midst of destruction. But at the same time, it must be satisfying to show him that people CAN and DO bounce back from horror and ruins.

I watched When the Levees Broke, or whatever the name was, and that was hard for ME to watch. I should try again now that the hyperempathy is turned some of the way off.

Wendy said...

It really is hard to explain it to the kids, even the older ones. I remember when we were in Houston and watching CNN 24/7. The thought crossed my mind to change the channel, but I coudnt we needed info.

Amber knows that the hurricane did a lot of damage and was the reason we wont home for awhile. Although, I never did tell her that her MawMaw was trapped at OPP (she worked there as a nurse)wading through water. Finally, escaping by way of the interstate to Houma. The whole time we didnt know where she was.

I think I am going to pass on the movie. Did you see Spike Lee's film? It was a hard pill to swallow.

Leigh C. said...

For a long time, I couldn't even read any Katrina stuff, much less see any films about it. Within the space of a few days, however, I've seen an IMax film about it and a Frontline special on PBS about FEMA and Katrina entitled "The Storm", and I'm still sad about it, but I'm not as traumatized as I was...which kinda scares me in a different way.

Leigh C. said...

And Wendy, I only saw one part of the Spike Lee joint (it's what he calls all of his films) - the part that had Leah Chase on it going through her restaurant. When they showed the Spike Lee thing, it was on the storm anniversary, and I just did not want to see any of it. The only reason why we watched the Leah Chase segment is because we wanted to learn what was happening with Dooky Chase's restaurant on Orleans, which was one of our favorite restaurants. The woman has fought like hell to get the place back up and running, and if you watched the American Experience documentary that was on recently, you'd have seen Chase talking about the history that lies between the restaurant's flooded walls. It's a place that doesn't deserve to be stuck in the rebuilding morass that most of this city is in.

Then again, this entire CITY doesn't deserve to be stuck in that, either...

saintseester said...

You are sad, but no longer traumatized... Maybe you are healing, maybe scarring, but scars don't hurt as much as the original wound.

Keep at it, keep fighting. N.O. is lucky to have people like you who are willing to stay and press on.