Katrina: Changing winds? (plus Mardi Gras MPLS)

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(from the Times-Picayune, 2007)

With Hurricane Katrina documentaries becoming a new genre (see "If you lived here, you'd be gone by now" in this week's City Pages) and Mardi Gras rolling through New Orleans, the failed reconstruction (and the plight of the diaspora) is once again in the news. Last Thursday, Joseph Bruno, one of the lawyers who appears in Spike Lee's epochal documentary When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Parts (now on DVD), filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the federal government and Army Corps of Engineers on behalf of seven residents of the Lakeview area, seeking class-action status and unspecified damages.

"The neighborhood was hard hit by flooding when a levee on the east side of the 17th Street Canal broke," writes Cain Burdeau of the Associated Press. The suit blames a 1984 permit issued by the corp allowing the city to dredge the canal. "If class-action status is granted, tens of thousands of New Orleans residents and claims in the tens of billions of dollars could be affected."

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The key issue is "whether the [canal] should be considered a navigable waterway or a flood control project." As Lee's documentary noted, flood control is protected from lawsuits by the 1928 Flood Control Act. "However," Burdeau continues, "if a judge decides it is a navigable waterway, then the corps, and by extension the federal government, may have to defend their actions at trial."

The suit, filed on the heels of a related and encouraging ruling, could mark a sea change in America policy towards the Gulf Coast. "The highest potential of these cases is to prompt a more generous and complete 9/11-like response to this disaster," says Tulane University's Oliver Houck in the same story. "Congress may be compelled to find a more generic solution than trying to settle thousands and thousands of individual claims."

Meanwhile, Lee's documentary is finding a mass audience during Mardi Gras/Carnival season (which ends February 20), amidst an activist tide that hasn't let up in the past year and a half, despite the president's broken promises. If you're in Minnesota, check out the events below, and keep up through the following websites and organizations, many of which spend your donations better than the government:


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(above: Circle Market in September, 2005, and on Mardi Gras, 2006)


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Monday, February 12

Nearly a year and a half after Hurricane Katrina, "a PBS documentary dares to ask 'What Would America Be Like Without New Orleans?'" American Experience: New Orleans is a two-hour program about the city's past, and how it relates to its present. It airs tonight (and re-runs on Tuesday) at 8:00 p.m. on TPT Channel 2.

Tuesday, February 13

The first part of Spike Lee's documentary When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts screens. Free. 7:00 p.m. in the third-floor lounge, followed by a discussion. Room 304, Murray-Herrick Campus Center, University of St. Thomas, 2115 Summit Avenue, 651.962.6404. Meanwhile, Cajun and Creole foods will be served in the Student Dining Room and the Grill in Murray-Herrick Campus Center, and in the Binz Refectory on the south campus. The foods can be purchased with meal-plan and flex dollars. Also: A jazz ensemble, led by St.Thomas student Dejen Tesfagiorgis, will perform over the dinner hour in the second-floor Student Dining Room in Murray-Herrick.

The two-hour PBS documentary American Experience: New Orleans airs again at 8:00 p.m. on TPT Channel 2.

Wednesday, February 14/Valentine's Day

The second part of Spike Lee's documentary When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts screens. Free. 7:00 p.m. in the third-floor lounge, followed by a discussion. Room 304, Murray-Herrick Campus Center, University of St. Thomas, 2115 Summit Avenue, 651.962.6404

Thursday, February 15

"Hurricane Katrina: Real Stories" features speakers from the Gulf Coast, plus the Dejen Tesfagiorgis ensemble playing New Orleans jazz, Cajun food, and a one-act play. Free. 6:30 p.m., O'Shaughnessy Educational Center auditorium, University of St. Thomas, 2115 Summit Avenue, 651.962.6404

Southside Aces (MySpace page) Mardi Gras Party. Free. 9:00 p.m., Clubhouse Jager, 923 Washington Avenue North, 612.332.2686

Mister Rolls. 8:00 p.m., the Eagles Club/the Nest, 2507 East 25th Street, 612.729.4469

Friday, February 16

The Iguanas, Molly Maher. $12/$14, 8:00 p.m., Turf Club, 1601 University Avenue West, 651.647.0486

Carnaval Brasiliero, with Beira Mar Brasil, Dandara, Edgar Oliveira, more. $15/$20. 9:00 p.m., Trocaderos, 107 3rd Avenue North, 612.465.0440

Twin City Playboys, the Cajun Hot Soles (CD-Release). $6/$5 with Mardi Gras costume, 8:00 p.m., Lee's Liquor Lounge, 101 Glenwood Avenue North (at 11th Street), 612.338.9491

Saturday, February 17

Famous Dave's Barbeque and Blues Mardi Gras Celebration, with the Twin City Playboys, the Cajun Hot Soles, Dan Newton, the Rockin' Pinecones, and the Jack Brass Band. $5. 7:00 p.m., Famous Dave's Barbecue, 3001 Hennepin Avenue South (in Calhoun Square), 612.822.9900

Gumbo quartet live band (7:00 p.m.), with free Mardi Gras beads; carnival dance with Tropix (live band playing bossa and steel drum) (10:00 p.m.). Wear a Venetian mask and get a free caipirinha, Nochee, 500 Washington Avenue South, 612.344.7000.

Sunday, February 18

Twin City Playboys Mardi Gras Show, with Pop Wagner. $2. 9:00 p.m., Turf Club, 1601 University Avenue West, 651.647.0486

Tuesday, February 20/Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday

Fat Tuesday Benefit for the New Orleans Musicians Clinic (presented by Mercy Seat Lutheran Church), with the Brass Kings, Molly Maher and Her Disbelievers, Charlie Parr, and Jon Rodine. $4. 9:00 P.M., Turf Club, 1601 University Avenue West, 651.647.0486

J.J.'s Zydeco Paydirt. Free. 6:00 p.m., Dixie's on Grand, 695 Grand Avenue, 651.222.7345

KFAI's Mardi Gras at the Eagles, with the Faux Playboys, the Rockin' Pinecones, the TC Playboys, Dick and Jane's Big Brass Band, and Mister Rolls. Free. 7:30 p.m., the Eagles Club/the Nest, 2507 East 25th Street, 612.729.4469

Mardi Gras Party. Free. 9:00 p.m., Hexagon Bar, 2600 27th Avenue South, 612.722.3454

Copper Box, Brass Messengers. $5. 9:00 p.m., Nomad World pub, 501 Cedar Avenue South (at Riverside Avenue), 612.338.6424

Wednesday, February 21/Ash Wednesday

"New Orleans Revisited" at the Walker Art Center, 7:00 p.m.

JUST ADDED: Friday, February 23 (late Mardi Gras)

"Vox Medusa would like to invite you to a special Mardi Gras celebration at MYTH... Myth is going to be decked out in the Mardi Gras colors and Vox Medusa will be performing throughout the night. Anyone who went to New Year's Eve 2007 in Heaven should definitely check this party out! Also there are some great specials on VIP, cover and bottle service. So get your masks, beads and party on at Mardi Gras."

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American Experience: New Orleans
When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts
The Art of the Storm
New Orleans Music in Exile
Hurricane on the Bayou at the Science Museum of Minnesota
An Inconvenient Truth
Children of New Orleans: Still Weathering the Storm
Tim's Island
various Katrina documentaries

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(Machelle and Maitri in New Orleans, Mardi Gras, 2006)


Why Nagin beat Juvenile (Complicated Fun, June 12, 2006)
New Orleans: Putting liberals to sleep (Complicated Fun May 3, 2006)
A Platform for New Orleans (Complicated Fun, May 1, 2006)
Can't Go Home: Juvenile's New Orleans, the ghost town America made (City Pages, April 5, 2006), with more photos and audio here.
Livin' For the City: How could a local band help save New Orleans? You don't know Jack. (City Pages, February 1, 2006)
Local Music Yearbook '05 (City Pages, December 14, 2005)
Welcome to the Superdome: How Hurricane Katrina made Public Enemy relevant again (City Pages, November 2, 2005)
New Orleans: We Will Swing Again (Complicated Fun, Sept. 30, 2005)
New Orleans: Survivor Stories (City Pages, September 20, 2005)
List of links to a dozen or so Katrina posts (Complicated Fun, September 20, 2005)
Various Artists: Doctors, Professors, Kings & Queens: The Big Ol' Box of New Orleans (City Pages, December 22, 2004)
Master P's Ghetto D (City Pages, November 5, 1997)
Rediscovering the lost sound of the "other" New Orleans (this piece sucks, and has errors, but also some good quotes; City Pages, February 18, 1998)
Looking for the Heart of Tuesday Night: Sex, Saints, and Rock'n'Roll in the Mardi Gras City (with this missing introductory quote: "Well if you're going to New Orleans, you ought to go see the Mardi Gras/If you're going to New Orleans, you ought to go see the Mardi Gras/When you see the Mardi Gras, somebody'll tell you what's Carnival for" -- Professor Longhair, "Go to the Mardi Gras"; Minnesota Daily, March 5, 1998)

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