New Orleans truth: I hope to see Spike Lee’s documentary, When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts. I think anything that gets bloggers talking about Katrina again is a good thing. However, invoking the word truth when describing anything about Katrina can place one in a precarious predicament. I just spent 48 hours in New Orleans and talked with dozens of individuals who each shared with me their truths — everyone has his or her own “Katrina story.” And that’s what they seem to call it, “my Katrina story.” They all share some common “truths” — anger and disappointment with a complete lack of leadership, being one. That, along with commitment to rebuilding their individual homes and lives and neighborhoods and city.
Spike Lee’s documentary is stirring up lots of debate in New Orleans:
Times-Picayune’s Dave Walker’s review of the film. Spike Lee response Times-Picayune readers respond. A blogroll of New Orleans bloggers, many of whom are commenting on the documentary.
I think it will be one more sad chapter in the Katrina story if the first anniversary of the disaster and its aftermath becomes focused on debates about whose truth is the real truth vs. whose truths are not real.
At different times, Dave Winer and I have both gone to New Orleans and the gulf coast region during the past year. One thing I’ve tried to do is compare the “truth” I experience with my own senses with the “truth” I’ve seen and heard on TV and other media. Other than being overwhelmed, bewildered and gaining a bit more understanding of the scale of the disaster, I have gathered no “truth” beyond that which is better shared by those who live there. Like Dave, I know I won’t ever “understand” what it was like to be there during the flood.
While I don’t think I agree with Dave on his assertion that “a culture” died when New Orleans flooded — however, I often find I agree with Dave even when I start out in the direction of disagreeing — I believe in the absolute truth of his following statement:
“The tragedy is still here, today, in our hearts. Perhaps we think we’ve moved on, but I don’t think we have.”
(The Times-Picayune has an animated timeline map that helped me at least gain some understanding of the timing and geography of the flood.)