Saturday, September 15, 2007


I recently watched Spike Lee's "When the Levees Broke" on DVD, and then, masochistically, I went to the theater to see another post-Katrina documentary, called "Kamp Katrina." The first one is four hours of "what, when, who" and especially relentlessly "how and why" with numerous oral histories of ordinary people, experts, officials, celebrities. "Kamp Katrina" features none of the fore-mentioned categories of people. Instead, it's all about extraordinaries, starting from Ms. Pearl, a woman of many costumes, who sets up a camp for the homeless Katrina survivors in her backyard, fourteen of them at one point. The survivors are what Jon Dee Graham would describe as strugglers: seriously down-on-their-luck (even pre-Katrina) sufferers of addictions, mental illnesses, abusers and the abused... Later on, on the bus back to my place, the catalog of strugglers continued, this time up close: the beyond-tired proletariat in dirty work clothes filled up the seats, and the bus ride ended up with a monologue of a very troubled young guy straight out of Cook county jail, not wearing a shirt really, putting the laces back into his shoes while complaining about not having a girlfriend and being depressed.


Anonymous said...

tell us more... what happened?

snezana said...

In the movie, cameras stop rolling after less than a year. Most of the camp residents in the meantime end up fucking up and getting kicked out. Some, like the woman who almost gets strangled by her tent mate/boyfriend, or like the guy who sees disturbing visions and is dating Joan of Arc in his mind, leave. In other words, Ms. and Mr. Pearl's hospitality only postpones complete misery for a little while, plus the mayor and the city are actually cranking down on such grass roots relief efforts, for some strange reason.

On the Ashland bus, the Cook County Jailbird was talking to me and my boyfriend--seeing us together, he said, reminded him of how lonely he was. He had very intense eyes--maybe he's also dating Joan of Arc in his mind. My boyfriend and I didn't know what else to do but nod and say cliches like "it'll happen! things'll work out!" All the while, one of the proletarians that was sitting right next to us kept cracking up, seemingly at the things the jailbird was saying, but he wasn't making any comments, so who knows? The rest of the passengers just sat quietly. Then came my stop and that was it.