Thursday, September 01, 2005

Dark Days

I just put a link on the side to the Red Cross, and the number to call to donate to relief for Hurricane Katrina is 1-800-HELP-NOW. There’s nothing more to say right now. The scope of what’s happened is profound in it’s thorough devastation. Never have I felt so ridulously aware of what I have, both in terms of family, love, and friendship, but also in terms of just plain stuff, and I hope there will be an opportunity to give some of it away at some point in the future because I have a lot more of that than I do cash even though I know that’s what’s needed right this minute.

Took a break from obsessive news-watching last night to watch a surprisingly uplifting movie about homelessness called Dark Days as well as every last extra on the DVD. The movie itself, about a little shanty town underground Manhattan in the railroad system, is beautifully shot and essentially just a portrait of a group of by and large, delightful, capable, funny and incredibly resourceful people. It has an amazing, right on soundtrack by DJ Shadow, and as you find out by the end of the film, I’m going to give away the (mostly happy) ending here, it works out that homes are provided for these people and that the most recent update is that many of them are working and doing very well. I could go on and on about what I think it all means (but, um, solution?), but in any case, the extras were equally illuminating in terms of how the movie got made; the filmmaker, I guess wasn’t even a filmmaker, he just knew these people from his neighborhood, went down there and spent time with them, they decided they should make a film about it, and that he would give any proceeds from the film to get homes for them. So he does exactly this, with ZERO funds, and furthermore, uses all these homeless guys for his crew. When you hear him talking about how the whole thing came to be, you realize it’s not just an incredible, enlightening, moving portrait of homeless people, it’s also an incredibly inspiring example of how to be an artist, and what an artist is, because this guy put his heart and soul into getting this thing done, he had a total vision of it and just like, assumed that it would happen and had no interest in financial gain. And not in a cocky way – this guy comes across as extremely likable – just in that sort of way where it doesn’t seem to occur to him that he can’t get what he wants. He’s like, I’ll have DJ Shadow or I’ll have no music. We’ll get the film now and worry about developing later. And little by little it all came together because everyone they came across at each stage of production realized what a wonderful project it was. Anyway, one of the things that struck me was that these people, while they lived underground, like you often hear homeless people say, don’t want to go to the shelters because the shelters suck, so they devised this way of living for themselves that they felt was better, and that they didn’t complain about in spite of the obvious: no running water, no light, no a lot of stuff and rats, rats and more rats. But they did have TV, “toilets”, pets, food, some of them even had cabinets and more, and they weren’t in a rush to get out but when they did, I was really struck by the way this awesome guy Ralph lingered by his window as he was interviewed. Debra, was it you that recommended this film? It was sweet.

6 comments:

hutchie said...

can't talk. lost in freaks & geeks induced stupor...

must...hug...sam...

Betsy said...

Ah yes. I will have to post about that at some point. Watch this movie, tho, it will kill you.

jackie said...

Regarding stuff: I have lots of baby stuff, natch. There are some shelters and churches in Houston that are having drives for clothing and hygiene products. I have emailed one and will let you know if they are accepting shipped donations.

That is, of course, if the powers that be ever decide to get their shit together for a cohesive rescue effort out of NOLA and into TX.

ROAR.

kfoz said...

Beware of the Red Cross--they rarely use contributions for the catastrophe that is bringing in the money. In Mississippi they have no idea what is going on, no idea where to find water, and they have most of their shelters set up far from where people are homeless and without food or water.

The lack of organization among the Red Cross and the government is absurd. I want to hang them all.

kfoz said...

OK, maybe I was little harsh when I wrote that...but now that I've had food and sleep, I'm still not happy with what they are/aren't doing.

jackie said...

Kfoz, B and B told me of your plight. I don't know you but I am so glad you are okay.