Archive for March, 2008

New Orleans

Originally Posted Here:

  • Mar. 31st, 2008 at 4:32 PM

Being a grown up is walking into a class, your chest still tight from a near sobbing fit invoked by the class before. Being a grown up is managing -not- to cry in that class because it won’t help the situation and you know that if you do and someone asks you might say something that -really- would be impolitic.

When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts by Spike Lee, even viewed in bits and pieces as we have the last two class sessions in my American Studies class is a very powerful and devastating video to watch. I had managed, both Wednesday and today, to keep myself together until it came to a scene with a funeral march. I -know- New Orleans funeral marches; I know how vivid they normally are, filled with life and celebration. This was somber, as eloquent in the lack of color and vibrancy as it was in the steady, slow tones of the approaching march. The brass band wore black and white, their major domo walking in a cadenced pattern. I kept catching on the notes of the song…it was slowed down, somber – it fit the procession. It hit me and I had a moment of wishing that I wasn’t so damned good at sorting songs. “Old Rugged Cross.” The step-slide cadence of the major domo took on a more ritualistic element than it had already held.

The screen shots are largely on the procession, largely on the band until the frame opens up and you see the horse-drawn, black funeral wagon with a coffin inside and a sign, on each side, that says “Katrina” in red letters. You can see the devastation around them but the focus is on the procession, on the band, on the major domo. And I was mostly all right…

On a hill far away…stood an old rugged cross…
The emblem of suff’ring and shame…

…until the trombone player began to sing. His face was red, his eyes tear-filled. His soul and heart came out as he sang the song, an eerie almost-wail at times.

It was moving; it was heartbreaking. My eyes burned and trying to take notes was very much…a difficult task. After two classes, I have a lot of questions, a lot of anger, and a lot of confusion about all of this. This entry is not about the politics, though there could be one for that. This entry is about the poetics, the step-slide cadence of a major domo leading a funeral procession, the echoing of haunted notes of a song that elocutes suffering so well, and the weary sadness that still lingers both within me and that city that I have always loved.

One thing that this has reminded me is that the city still lives. It may be wounded and it may be filled with despair…but it lives.

I will cling to that old rugged cross…
And exchange it someday for a crown…

“Old Rugged Cross” copyright George Bernard
Old Rugged Cross Lyrics

A Quick Note From Class

Originally Posted Here:

  • Mar. 10th, 2008 at 3:15 PM
Fountain Pen

I think that the irony of my class’s discussion of Rodriguez’s book is that the majority of the class is putting him in a box because his writing does not fall into the “accepted” essay format. One of the major themes and arguments in the book is about the “puritan” idea of wanting to deny the theatrical nature of life for the “authentic” even as there is a seeking for a new self, a seeking of re-invention. I think I will have to come back later and use a few quotes as well as a bit more about how I feel personally about the book as I obviously am in the “minority” here. For a bit more than this little bit, I’ll leave you with my favorite quote.

There is no shelf for bitterness. No shelf for redemption. […] There is no shelf for irony.