J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Katrina—One Year Later

A year after Katrina ought to be a time for some reflection. Many, many people opened their hearts and wallets to ease the suffering of those affected. Inconceivably, many who jumped on Katrina as an opportunity for finger pointing and political gamesmanship have largely been rewarded for their efforts by the old media. Despite the heartfelt efforts of so many Americans, others seem to want to keep New Orleans in a perpetual state of martyrdom to use as a prop in their media propaganda campaigns.

There are good people who don’t participate in such vampirism. The Jazz Foundation of America has worked tirelessly to assist the musicians who nurture America’s musical legacy. Having volunteered coordinating their instrument donation drive, I’ve talked to many such musicians, and heard heartbreaking stories. I’ve also seen the generosity of ordinary Americans, who have donated wonderful instruments to artists in need, shipped at their own expense. Such donations go beyond temporary relief, providing the means for professional musicians to start gigging again. Instruments are still in need, particularly saxes, sousaphones, flugelhorns, and drum equipment. (Send me an e-mail at jb.feedback at yahoo if you can help.) The Foundation has also given out Hundreds of thousands of dollars in emergency grants for housing and living expenses. Go here to support their efforts.

Of course, NOLA was not the only city to be effected. The people of Mississippi have been overshadowed by New Orleans, arguably one of the few disadvantages of having a vastly more competent governor in charge of recovery efforts. One great way to help is by supporting efforts to rebuild their Library system. There is an excellent system set up here to help restock their collections.

Years from now, we’ll judge how we responded to this cataclysmic event. The old media may take pride now in their rumor-mongering, conspiracy-theory peddling, and frequently inaccurate reporting. Political advocacy groups may revel in the rhetorical points they chalked up. Yet those like Wendy at the Foundation, who took direct action to help other people in need, will be remembered more fondly.