Make A Documentary [on Flawed Wednesday]

Skip suggested that I make a documentary film about our neighborhood. With the recent car explosion across the street, the Jacob Blake protests (martial law, riots, et.al), the mockery-of-a-trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, the retrial of the anti-freeze murder, and the most recent excitement: a water line repair crew accidentally cut the gas line to the house next door to the car-explosion-house. All of this and a pandemic, too!

I quipped that my documentary would be titled “Calamity Vortex.” Petticoat Junction. Green Acres. Black gold, Texas tea…

Perhaps it’s not a documentary but a sitcom that I should create! Including us, there are plenty of good characters in the neighborhood to exaggerate. I’d go with a reality t.v. program but I fear sitting around waiting for the next disaster might not make scintillating television. Although, doesn’t it seem that is what we are doing in the age of climate change. Kentucky is underwater. The west is on fire, setting new records established just last year. Britain and parts of India are baking. And what about those hurricanes and tornadoes? How many once-in-1000-year-events does it take before we acknowledge the new norm?

Where does one draw the defining line of “my neighborhood”?

When the gas line was cut and explosion seemed imminent, I was delighted that several firetrucks pulled up in a matter of minutes. They kept us safe. While sitting far enough away to clear the gas-headache, I marveled that we are very good at responding to disaster but not so great at preventing it. Some things are accidental, of course, but global warming is not. It is – or was – preventable.

Perhaps my documentary film – or tv series – or reality tv program – would attract more viewers if the conceit was a neighborhood of people causing their own problems and then, while racing to clean up the mess, they ask “How could this happen?”

It would be a comedy, of course.

read Kerri’s blogpost about FIRETRUCKS

Step Back And Realize [on Flawed Wednesday]

If you are like us, every day brings another report of a friend or loved one who has Covid. As someone recently said to me, “With Omicron, it’s only a half degree of separation between you and someone who’s carrying the virus.” I’d say, given the wave of people we know falling sick and reporting positive test results, it’s true. It’s no time to let down your guard.

On Saturday we watched a documentary film, The First Wave. It’s a film everyone should see. It chronicles the first few months of the pandemic in a New York hospital. It is shocking how, in a few short years, we’ve normalized hospitals being overrun. How removed we, the populace, are from the tangible horror of this pandemic. Refrigerator trucks used as temporary morgues. We stand today at 865,000 deaths and counting. People. By comparison, 620,000 people died in the Civil War. 418,500 US citizens, military and civilian, died in World War 2. We ought to be grieving instead of dividing. We ought to be reaching to help rather than peacocking our politics. This film will slap you awake. It will help you step back and realize what we – all of us – are passing through. It might help you grieve.

Kerri tells me that the woman in the next car thought she and 20 were doing a drug deal. He felt sick, needed a test and could find none. We had a few so they met in a parking lot to make a safe pass. While making the exchange, he handed her an envelope. Money for the phone bill but I’m sure it looked suspicious.

It reminded me of the time, many years ago, that Sam asked me to meet him in a parking lot. He rolled down his window and passed to me a sheaf of poems. The window went up. I was to tell no one. It was terribly vulnerable for him to share. I cried the day he published his first book of poetry. It was a titanic journey from fear-of-certain-shame to proudly publishing his beautiful work. He was transformed.

I imagine someday we will stand and look back at this titanic journey. I hope that I remember with fondness the story of Kerri and 20 making an exchange in the parking lot, the women one-car-over shocked by what she thought she was seeing, and we smile. Transformed. Remade as better people in a better community making better assumptions of each other. Stronger.

For now, as the credits rolled on The First Wave, we looked at each other and together said, “I’m exhausted.”

read Kerri’s blog post about THE EXCHANGE