Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Random Flickr Blogging #3280: Katrina Memorial Edition

I apologize in advance for being in a dark mood today. The Katrina anniversary has me down, for one thing. We had a death in the family a year ago at about this time, for another. We have a tropical storm coming our way tomorrow, too—not a bad one, by the looks of it, but certainly a cause for concern. And to top things off, a friend tells me that she just put down an old cat named Karl—a friend of many years who I hope is head-butting St. Peter in Heaven as we speak. Harmless cat Karl dies; vile human servant of evil Karl continues to draw breath. That about sums up the world for me right now.

Anyway, I have no sense of humor today, so I thought I'd RFB about Katrina. A while back Bruce Springsteen updated the lyrics of an old blues song written at the beginning of the Great Depression by a man named Blind Alfred Reed: "How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live?" (Real Audio here; Quick Time here; Windows Media 56 here and 100 here; and here's a nifty YouTube version.) I've had this song running through my head since I woke up this morning. My sense of humor being hors de combat today, I decided to just let the song keep running as I went looking to see what IMG_3280 had to offer. The result is not funny; it just is. These images, of course, have no real connection to the tragedy of Katrina; they're nothing like, for example, the bodies floating through flooded neighborhoods or the starving, dehydrated people waving desperately from roofs and overpasses—or, God help us, the old lady in the wheelchair, who breathed her last in the chaos of the New Orleans Convention Center and was left behind, slumped and silent, when the rescuers finally arrived. I can't stand even thinking about that photograph, and what it represents, right now. What it represents just tears my fucking heart out.

For the curious, Quiddity has a very informative Katrina timeline up; other informative timelines may be found at Think Progress and Cooperative Research. Last year, in the aftermath of Katrina, Greg Palast used the occasion to remind us that a similar tragedy back in 1927 helped spur the ascent of Huey Long—whose populism and popularity in turn helped spawn the New Deal. Now Palast is back again with another reminder of the class-war dimensions of Katrina—and yet another sad tale of how corporatism and cronyism helped lead to the death and displacement of thousands of people and to the devastation of a great American city.

I'd like to dedicate today's Random Flickr Blogging to President Bystander, who made it possible necessary.

Well, the doctor comes 'round here with his face all bright
And he says "in a little while you'll be alright"
All he gives is a humbug pill, a dose of dope and a great big bill
Tell me, how can a poor man stand such times and live?
He says "me and my old school pals had some mighty high times down here
And what happened to you poor black folks, well it just ain't fair"
He took a look around gave a little pep talk, said "I'm with you" then he took a little walk
Tell me, how can a poor man stand such times and live?
There's bodies floatin' on Canal and the levees gone to Hell
Martha, get me my sixteen gauge and some dry shells
Them who's got got out of town
And them who ain't got left to drown
Tell me, how can a poor man stand such times and live?
I got family scattered from Texas all the way to Baltimore
And I ain't got no home in this world no more
Gonna be a judgment that's a fact, a righteous train rollin' down this track
Tell me, how can a poor man stand such times and live?

Random Flickr Blogging explained here; photos from here, here, here, and here.


Sorry to darken your already crepuscular mood, Nash. Thanks for eulogizing old Karl.
Nashy, you're doin' a heckuva job! ;-)

Good post, sir.
Outstanding marriage of images and lyrics. Good luck with your storms, both internal and external.
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