The Post-Katrina Epoch

The first thing I saw this morning were images of flooding in Japan: water sweeping away everything in its path, people being rescued from rooftops. Coming so soon after the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, it nudged me to write a little something here. I hadn’t planned on noting the anniversary of Katrina on any blog post because ten years on it still feels too tragic to write about and the media coverage of the anniversary felt a bit like opening an old wound. Katrina was bad. When we evacuated for Hurricane Rita not too long after Katrina, we stayed in a hotel with Katrina evacuees. I got a first-hand look at the face of Katrina. They had food, water, their dogs, a place to stay, and each other. They had no idea when they’d go home or, in some cases, if there was a home to go back to. Have you ever lived in a refugee camp and watched as a pickup truck offloaded supplies to refugees? How many people have you met who have lost everything and just barely escaped with their lives? For most people Hurricane Katrina is a historical event, something that happened on the Gulf Coast, far away from their own lives. For other people Katrina is a political event, with lots of finger pointing, fingers that are ticking off the ways the system failed. For some Katrina is a media event; the subject of documentaries and news stories, the source of dramatic footage and photos. For the people of New Orleans and surrounding areas Hurricane Katrina was a life-altering event, and for some a life-taking event. The survivors, whether they returned to New Orleans or not, are living in a Post-Katrina epoch. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who survived it whose life didn’t have an altered trajectory as a result of that hurricane. Phrases like “picking up the pieces” and “rebuilding” are weak words that cannot even begin to convey the reality of the Post-Katrina era to those people who lost everything.

I was born and raised on the Texas Gulf Coast. I’ve been aware of hurricanes my whole life. I’ve ridden out storms, I’ve evacuated ahead of storms, I’ve been hip-deep in debris cleaning up after such storms. But I do not know what it’s like to be a Katrina survivor. Not even after having met some survivors when we evacuated ahead of Rita. Katrina isn’t just a hurricane or a bit of history; it’s a community of people. Real live human beings like your neighbors, like you. Let’s never lose sight of that.

Be kind to strangers. You don’t know what they may have been through just to be standing beside you.

I have a small album of music dedicated to the survivors and rescuers of Hurricane Katrina, as well as the survivors of the Indian Ocean tsunami. Proceeds go to the Red Cross, who are so often first on the scene of tragedies of all kinds. You can read my liner notes here: A Tropical Depression. You can get the album from iTunes, Amazon and other online stores.

Home After Ike

We’re home. *Hip-deep* in tree limbs, but the house is OK. We’ve lost the 2 big trees in the front…part of one is on the house, but surprisingly as we remove limbs it doesn’t look like the house is damaged (gutter crushed, but everything looks OK otherwise).  We didn’t flood or leak during the storm.

I’m exhausted from dragging tree limbs across the yard. We’ve got phone, net, water, electricity, cable. We’re set OK for food and water. We’ve just got a lot of work to do in the front and back yard to clean it up. Got trees that need to be taken out, hanging limbs, etc.  Already getting estimates and doing as much as we can ourselves.

We’re tired and I think we’re gonna be tired for a few more days. 🙂  But we’re safe, the house is OK and we’re glad to be home. 🙂

Hurricane Ike

We did evacuate ahead of Hurricane Ike. We’re safe, but not allowed to go back yet.  I don’t have internet access where we’re staying, so I’m only online via a hotspot for a very short time and not necessarily every day, though I’m hoping to get online briefly every day.  I appreciate all the messages of support. I’ll let everyone know if the house is OK after we go back…no idea when that will be. 97% of Harris County (eg Houston area) is without power. They were saying last night 4.5 million people were without power and today they’re saying 2 million people. There’s a lot of debris in the streets from what I’ve seen on TV, so our return home (assuming home is still there) depends on the streets being cleared, power restored and officials letting us in.

The important thing for you to know is that I’m safe. My family is safe and as far as I know all my friends who live in the area are safe. Nobody who evacuated knows what sort of shape their homes are in, though.:-(

Thank you for all your kind messages. I’m reading them all and will eventually reply, but I’ve got limited time right now.

Please give to the American Red Cross—and if you want to get something for your gift—all proceeds from the sale of the 3 tracks (“Whirlybirds”, “Hotel Me”, and “Katrina-Rita”) on my “A Tropical Depression” EP are donated to the Red Cross.

Gymshoes

A Tropical Depression Revisited

I’ve rearranged the music streaming in the sidebar. It’s now in chronological order, newest first, except, since we just passed the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina I’ve moved the “hurricane” songs from that project up to the top. I’ll probably leave the track order like this for a while. You can download the tracks and read the liner notes. Unfortunately, much of the damage to the Gulf Coast states (including areas in Texas hit by Rita, such as my hometown) has not been repaired. 🙁 I had thought that two years after Katrina and Rita that these songs would’ve been totally “yesterday” and outdated. It’s sad and disheartening that they aren’t.

Again, I can never thank Buzzingstrings (aka Rick Ellis) enough for his vocal on “Whirlybirds” and “Hotel Me”.

A Tropical Depression Released Today!

The 5 song EP, A Tropical Depression, is now available on the Download page. Liner notes have been up for about a week and a half now. They can be read here or saved as a text file in your folder with the music. Lyrics are included. Please comment on the new music here or in the thread in The Gym. 😎

New music to be released April 21st

That’s right, folks…A Tropical Depression will be released two weeks from today. I started mixing the last song yesterday evening. Based on the rough mix I’m listening to right now, there’s no doubt it will be ready by the 21st. There will be a total of five songs, thematically linked. Three of the songs deal directly with last year’s hurricane season and the aftermath. I’m joined by guest vocalist Buzzingstrings on two of these. There will also be two pieces of electronica: the first an ambient world music piece I composed in January ’05 shortly after the Indonesian tsunami. There’s also a bonus track of electronica, called “A Piece of Fiji” which I’ve posted as a video earlier. Between now and the 21st I’ll be adding the album art, wallpaper, liner notes and lyrics. This afternoon I’ve been scrambling to get the release date announcement out everywhere. Here, the homepage, myspace blog, myspace Bulletin, the newsletter, the newsletter archive etc. If you don’t see it everywhere yet it’s because I can’t click the Send button seven places silmultaneously. 😆 There’ll be further posts about A Tropical Depression here when it’s released, if not before.

Keep your eye on the sidebar: at the top is the countdown and further down where it says “What Does It All Mean” you’ll see “A Tropical Depression” when the liner notes and lyrics are available. 🙂

Working on new songs

This fall I’m working on a couple of new songs inspired by this year’s hurricane season. One is almost complete. I’ve got the backing track and a scratch vocal done. I’ve asked my MVB buddy, Buzzingstrings, to have a go at doing the vocal for me. I’ve heard his initial takes on it and it sounds really good. 🙂

I’m also working on a 12-bar blues thing right now which will also have vocals; I need a bit more work on the lyrics. Lest you think this is totally a rootsy, homespun project, I’m also thinking of throwing in a couple of totally digital pieces, too. I’m shooting for getting the whole thing done by the beginning of summer next year, specifically June 1st, which is the beginning of Hurricane Season. The working title of the EP is A Tropical Depression. It’s a play on the meteorological term, but I sometimes wonder if it sounds too…well…depressing. 😆