ChickenBones: A Journal

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New Orleanians were displaced after the storm to 5,500 cities, spread across every US state.

Although the vast majority of former New Orleanians are in nearby cities like Houston, Dallas,

or Atlanta, many are still living in further locales from Utah to Maine. While she is sad to be

gone from the city, Patterson wants to see the positive in the loss.

   

 Fifth Anniversary of Katrina, Displacement Continues

By Jordan Flaherty

 

Poet Sunni Patterson is one of New Orleans’ most beloved artists. She has performed in nearly every venue in the city, toured the US, and frequently appears on television and radio, from Democracy Now to Def Poetry Jam. When she performs her poems in local venues, half the crowd recites the words along with her. But, like many who grew up here, she was forced to move away from the city she loves. She left as part of a wave of displacement that began with Katrina and still continues to this day. While hers is just one story, it is emblematic of the situation of many African Americans from New Orleanians, who no longer feel welcomed in the city they were born in.

Patterson comes from New Orleans’s Ninth Ward. Her family’s house was cut in half by the floodwaters and has since been demolished. Despite the loss of her home, she was soon back in the city, living in the Treme neighborhood. She spent much of the following years traveling the country, performing poetry and trying to raise awareness about the plight of New Orleans. But her income was not enough—her post-Katrina rent was twice what she had paid before the storm, and she was also putting up money to help her family rebuild as well as preparing for the birth of her son Jibril. “I wound up getting evicted from my apartment because we were still working on the house,” she said. “In the midst of it, you realize that you are not generating the amount of money you need to sustain a living.”

Just as the storm revealed racial inequalities, the recovery has also been shaped by systemic racism. According to a recent survey of New Orleanians by the Kaiser Foundation, forty-two percent of African Americans—versus just sixteen percent of whites—said they still have not recovered from Katrina. Thirty-one percent of African-American residents—versus eight percent of white respondents—said they had trouble paying for food or housing in the last year. Housing prices in New Orleans have gone up sixty-three percent just since 2009.

Eleven billion federal dollars went into Louisiana’s Road Home program, which was meant to help the city rebuild. The payouts from this program went exclusively to homeowners, which cut out renters from the primary source of federal aid.

Even among homeowners, the program treated different populations in different ways. US District Judge Henry Kennedy recently found that the program was racially discriminatory in the formula it used to disperse funds. By partially basing payouts on home values instead of on damage to homes, the program favored properties in wealthier—often whiter—neighborhoods. However, the same judge found that nothing in the law obligated the state to correct this discrimination for the 98% of applicants whose cases have been closed.

At approximately 355,000, the city’s population remains more than 100,000 lower than it’s pre-Katrina number, and many counted in the current population are among the tens of thousands who moved here post-Katrina. This puts the number of New Orleanians still displaced at well over 100,000—perhaps 150,000 or more. A survey by the Louisiana Family Recovery Corps found that seventy-five percent of African Americans who were displaced wanted to return but were being kept out. Like Patterson, most of those surveyed said economic forces kept them from returning.

A Changed City

As New Orleans approaches the fifth anniversary of Katrina and begins a long recovery from the BP drilling disaster, the media has been searching for an uplifting angle. Stories of the city’s rebirth are everywhere, and there are reasons to feel good about New Orleans. The Saints’ Superbowl victory was a turning point for the city, and the HBO series Treme has gone a long way towards helping the story of the city’s trauma and search for recovery get out to a wider audience. Music festivals like Jazz Fest and Essence Fest, which are so central to the city’s tourism-based economy, have brought in some of their largest crowds in recent years.

But despite positive developments in the city’s recovery, more than 100,000 New Orleanians received a one-way ticket out of town and still have received no help in coming back, and these voices are left out of most stories of the city. Many from this silenced population complain of post-Katrina decisions that placed obstacles in their path, such as the firing of nearly 7,000 public school employees and canceling of their union contract shortly after the storm, or the tearing down of nearly 5,000 public housing units—two post-Katrina decisions that disproportionately affected Black residents.

Advocates have also noted that among those who are not counted in the statistics on displacement are the New Orleanians who are in the city, but not home. They fall into the category that international human rights organizations call internally displaced. The guiding principles of internal displacement, as recognized by the international community, call for more than return. UN principles number 28 and 29 call for, in part, “the full participation of internally displaced persons in the planning and management of their return or resettlement and reintegration.” They also state that, “They shall have the right to participate fully and equally in public affairs at all levels and have equal access to public services,” as well as to have their property and possessions replaced, or receive “appropriate compensation or another form of just reparation.”

In other words, these principles call for a return that includes restoration and reparations. As civil rights attorney Tracie Washington has said, “I’m still displaced, until the conditions that caused my displacement have been alleviated. I’m still displaced as long as Charity Hospital remains closed. I’m still displaced as long as rents remain unaffordable. I’m still displaced as long as schools are in such bad shape.” In the US, Katrina recovery has fallen under the Stafford Act, a law that specifically excludes many of these rights that international law guarantees.

Among those who are back in New Orleans but still displaced are members of the city’s large homeless population. In a report this week, UNITY for the Homeless estimated from 3,000 to 6,000 persons are living in the city’s abandoned buildings. Seventy-five percent of these undercounted residents are Katrina survivors, most of whom had stable housing before the storm. Eighty-seven percent are disabled, and a disproportionate share are elderly.

Cultural Resistance

Sunni Patterson can’t remember a time when she wasn’t a poet. The words flow naturally and seemingly effortlessly from her. When she performs, it is like a divine presence speaking though her body. Her frame is small but she fills the room. Her voice conveys passion and love and pain and loss. Her words illuminate current events and history lessons—her topics ranging from the Black Panthers in the Desire housing projects to domestic violence.

You can hear Sunni Patterson’s influence in the performances of many young poets in New Orleans. And in the work of Patterson, you can hear the history of community elders passed along, the chants of Mardi Gras Indians, and the knowledge and embrace of neighbors and family and friends. And Patterson is part of a large and thriving community of socially conscious culture workers. Since the late ’90s, you could find spoken word poetry being performed somewhere in New Orleans almost any night of the week.  And many of these poets are also teachers, activists, and community organizers.

Although Patterson’s house had been in her family for generations, her relatives had difficulty presenting the proper paperwork for the Road Home Program—a problem shared by many New Orleanians. “We’re dealing with properties that have been passed down from generation to generation,” says Patterson. “The paperwork is not always available. A lot of elders are tired, they don’t know what to do.”

Now, like so many other former New Orleanians, she cannot afford to live in the city she loves. “I’m in Houston,” she says, seemingly stunned by her own words. “Houston. Houston. I can’t say that and make it sound right. It hurts me to my heart that my child’s birth certificate says Houston, Texas.”

One of the hardest aspects of leaving New Orleans has been the loss of her community. “In that same house that I grew up, my great grandmother and grandfather lived,” she says. “Everybody that lived around there, you knew. It was family. In New Orleans, even if you don’t know someone, you still speak and wave and say hello. In other cities, there’s something wrong with you if you speak to someone you don’t know.”

New Orleanians were displaced after the storm to 5,500 cities, spread across every US state. Although the vast majority of former New Orleanians are in nearby cities like Houston, Dallas, or Atlanta, many are still living in further locales from Utah to Maine. While she is sad to be gone from the city, Patterson wants to see the positive in the loss. “The good part is that New Orleans energy and culture is now dispersed all over the world,” she says. “You can’t kill it. Ain’t that something?  That’s what I love about it.  So we still gotta give thanks, even in the midst of the atrocity, that poetry is still being created.”


Jordan Flaherty is a journalist, an editor of Left Turn Magazine, and a staffer with the Louisiana Justice Institute. He was the first writer to bring the story of the Jena Six to a national audience, and his award-winning reporting from the Gulf Coast has been featured in a range of outlets including the New York Times, Mother Jones, and Argentina's Clarin newspaper. He has produced news segments for Al-Jazeera, TeleSur, and Democracy Now! and appeared as a guest on CNN Morning, Anderson Cooper 360, and Keep Hope Alive with the Reverend Jesse Jackson. Haymarket Books has just released his new book, FLOODLINES: Community and Resistance from Katrina to the Jena Six. He can be reached at neworleans@leftturn.org

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Capitalism and the Ideal State: Marcus Garvey  / Negroes and the Crisis of Capitalism (Du Bois)  / Economic Emancipation of Africa

Liberty and Empire  /  Money is Speech   /  On Capitalism: Noam Chomsky

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Steps: Sunni  / sunni patterson we know this place  / "Niggas" don't make it....

Sunni Patterson on 2cent TV  / Sunni Patterson Live at The Signature

Sunni Patterson at the 2010 US Social Forum  / Sunni Patterson  / Sunni Patterson What You Fightin For?

More than a poet, more than a singer, more than an emcee--it's not just what she says, it's how she says it.  Emerging from the musical womb that is New Orleans, artist and visionary Sunni Patterson combines the heritage and tradition of her Native town with an enlightened modern worldview to create music and poetry that is timeless in its groove. Sunni has been a featured performer at the many of Nation's premier spoken word venues, including HBO's Def Poetry Jam.  She has also had the privilege of speaking at the Panafest in Ghana, West Africa.

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African Revolutions

       By  Mukoma wa Ngugi

Her womb pressed against the desert to bear the parasite

that eats her insides like termites drill into dry wood. 

He is born into an empty bowl, fist choking umbilical cord. 

She dies sighing, child son at last.  He couldn't have known,

 

instinct told himalways raise your arm in defense of your 

ownStrike! Strike until they are all dead! Egg shells 

in your hands milk bottle held between your toes,

you have been anointed twice, you strong enough to kill

 

at birth and survive.  You will want to name the world

after yourself but you will have no namea collage of dead 

roots, tongues and other things.  You will point your sword

to the center of the earth, duel the world to split into perfect

 

mirrors after your imperfect  mutations but you will be

too weak having latched your self onto too many streams

straddling too many continents, pulling patches of a self

as one does fruits from an orchard, building a home

 

of planks with many faces. How does one look into a mirror

with a face that washes clean every rainy season? 

He has an identity for every occasionhere he is Lenin

 there Jesus and yesterday Marxinflexible truths inherited

 

without roots.  To be nothing to remain nothing, to kill 

at birthsuch love can only drink from our wrists.  We

storming from our past to Jo'Burg eating wisdom of others

building homes made of our grandparent's bones.  We

 

gathering momentum that eats out of our earth, We standing

pens and bullets hurled at you, your enemies.  Comrade, there

are many ways to die. A dog dies never having known

why it lived but a free death belongs to a life lived in roots,

 

roots not afraid of growing where they stand, roots tapped all over

the earth. Comrade, for a tree to grow, it must first own its earth.

Source: Zeleza

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The Slave Ship

By Marcus Rediker

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Wild Women Don’t Have the Blues

                                                         By Ida Cox


I hear these women raving 'bout their monkey men
About their fighting husbands and their no good friends
These poor women sit around all day and moan
Wondering why their wandering papas don't come home
But wild women don't worry, wild women don't have the blues.

Now when you've got a man, don't ever be on the square
'Cause if you do he'll have a woman everywhere
I never was known to treat no one man right
I keep 'em working hard both day and night
because wild women don't worry, wild women don't have no blues.

I've got a disposition and a way of my own
When my man starts kicking I let him find another home
I get full of good liquor, walk the streets all night
Go home and put my man out if he don't act right
Wild women don't worry, wild women don't have no blues

You never get nothing by being an angel child
You better change your ways and get real wild
I wanna tell you something, I wouldn't tell you no lie
Wild women are the only kind that ever get by
Wild women don't worry, wild women don't have no blues.

 Born Ida Prather,25 February 1896 in Toccoa, Habersham County, Georgia, United States. Died 10 November 1967 (aged 71) Genres Jazz, Blues Instruments Vocalist.

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Guarding the Flame of Life / Strange Fruit Lynching Report

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The State of African Education (April 200)

Attack On Africans Writing Their Own History Part 1 of 7

Dr Asa Hilliard III speaks on the assault of academia on Africans writing and accounting for their own history.

Dr Hilliard is A teacher, psychologist, and historian.

Part 2 of 7  /  Part 3 of 7  / Part 4 of 7  / Part 5 of 7 / Part 6 of 7  /  Part 7 of 7

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A thousand voices / agonizing in deep / water with no / relief in sight -- "Exodus"   Artwork by Charles Siler, N'awlins Survivor

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Bob Marley— Exodus

Bob Marley was a Jamaican singer-songwriter and musician. He was the lead singer, songwriter and guitarist for the ska, rocksteady and reggae bands The Wailers (19641974) and Bob Marley & the Wailers (19741981). Marley remains the most widely known and revered performer of reggae music, and is credited for helping spread both Jamaican music and the Rastafari movement (of which he was a committed member), to a worldwide audience.

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Exodus

           By Bob Marley


Exodus! Movement of Jah people! oh-oh-oh, yea-eah!
Well uh, oh. let me tell you this:

 

Men and people will fight ya down (tell me why!)
When ya see Jah light. (ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!)
Let me tell you if you're not wrong; (then, why? )
Everything is all right.
So we gonna walk
All right!through de roads of creation:
We the generation (tell me why!)
Trod through great tribulation
trod through great tribulation.

Exodus! All right! Movement of Jah people!
Oh, yeah! o-oo, yeah! All right!
Exodus! Movement of Jah people! oh, yeah!

Yeah-yeah-yeah, well!
Open your eyes and look within.
Are you satisfied with the life you're living? uh!
We know where we're going, uh!
We know where we're from.
We're leaving Babylon,
We're going to our father's land.

 

One, Two, Three, Four
Exodus! Movement of Jah people! oh, yeah!
Movement of Jah people!
send us another Brother Moses!
Movement of Jah people!
from across the Red Sea!
Movement of Jah people!
send us another Brother Moses!
Movement of Jah people!
from across the Red Sea!
Movement of Jah people!

Exodus! All right! oo-oo-ooh! oo-ooh!
Movement of Jah people! oh, yeah!
Exodus!
Exodus! All right!
Exodus! now, now, now, now!
Exodus!
Exodus! oh, yea-ea-ea-ea-ea-ea-eah!
Exodus!
Exodus! All right!
Exodus! uh-uh-uh-uh!

 

One, Two, Three, Four
Move! Move! Move! Move! Move! Move!

Open your eyes and look within.
Are you satisfied with the life you're living?
We know where we're going;
We know where we're from.
We're leaving Babylon, yall!
We're going to our father's land.

Exodus! All right! Movement of Jah people!
Exodus! Movement of Jah people!
Movement of Jah people!
Movement of Jah people!
Movement of Jah people!
Movement of Jah people!


Move! Move! Move! Move! Move! Move! Move!

Jah come to break downpression,
Rule equality.
Wipe away transgression.
Set the captives free!

Exodus! All right, all right!
Movement of Jah people! oh, yeah!
Exodus! Movement of Jah people! oh, now, now, now, now!
Movement of Jah people!
Movement of Jah people!
Movement of Jah people!
Movement of Jah people!
Movement of Jah people!
Movement of Jah people!

Move! Move! Move! Move! Move! Move! uh-uh-uh-uh!
Movement of Jah people!
Move!
Movement of Jah people!
Move!
Movement of Jah people)!
Move!
Movement of Jah people! Movement of Jah people!
Movement of Jah people)!
Movement of Jah people)!
Movement of Jah people!
Movement of Jah people!
Movement of Jah people!

*   *   *   *   *

John Henrik Clarke—A Great and Mighty Walk 

Africa Unite: A Celebration of Bob Marley’s Vision

Directed by Stephanie Black

In 2005, to celebrate what would have been Bob Marley’s 60th birthday, his widow, Rita Marley, and several of Marley’s offspring staged a gala concert in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in celebration of the iconic reggae singer’s commitment to African unity. In addition to the concert, a week of Unicef-sponsored workshops, discussions and debates took place, in which delegates such as actor and human-rights activist Danny Glover and controversial Jamaican politician Dudley Thompson contemplated what it means to be an African descendant outside Africa. Young people from all over the continent also gathered to discuss their own roles in Africa’s future.

Africa Unite: A Celebration of Bob Marley’s Vision is Stephanie Black’s documentary of the event. Black has already given us the hard-hitting Life and Debt, which explores the destructive impact of the IMF and the World Bank in Jamaica, and H-2 Worker, which exposed the unbelievably exploitative situation facing Jamaican sugarcane cutters in Florida. In Africa Unite, she makes efforts to keep a political-activist focus intact, which is difficult, because much of the movie is devoted to bland concert footage. But the film’s most heartening bits come in testimony from the young Africans who will themselves make up Africa’s next generation of leaders. Also captivating is the sub-plot provided by Bongo Tawney, a poor, elder Rasta who travels to Ethiopia for the first time and who is visibly moved by what he encounters there.

On the downside, the film is generally disjointed. It is sometimes difficult to get a sense of how the events unfolded, and of the exact significance of each segment, as there is so much concert footage interspersed. The concert footage itself does not translate particularly well to the small screen; you probably had to be there to understand the magnitude of the concert, which lasted 12 hours and drew over 350,000 people. And no disrespect to Marley’s children, but every time I’ve seen them live, I wish they would leave their father’s work alone and concentrate on their own talents. But needless to say, as this concert was in celebration of Daddy’s birthday, every one of the Marley boys presents a classic number from the 70s, and for some reason, each feels the need to remain on stage for the entirety of his siblings’ performances, which only adds to the dragging sense of what features here.

The bonus concert footage fares little better than that on the main DVD, though a duet by Rita and Marley’s mother is kind of sweet. In contrast, there are illuminating, though brief, interviews with Rita Marley and several of Bob’s sons, giving some context to the proceedings in terms of their own views on Africa in general and Ethiopia in particular. In summary, although it’s hardly essential viewing overall, Marley fans will probably find something of interest.

Source:MepPublishers

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Africa Unite

                       By Bob Marley

 

Africa, Unite
'Cause we're moving right out of Babylon
And we're going to our father's land

How good and how pleasant it would be
Before GOD and man, yeah
To see the unification of all Africans, yeah
As it's been said already let it be done, yeah
We are the children of the Rastaman
We are the children of the Higher Man

Africa, unite 'cause the children wanna come home
Africa, unite 'cause we're moving right out of Babylon
And we're grooving to our father's land

How good and how pleasant it would be
Before GOD and man
To see the unification of all Rastaman, yeah

As it's been said already let it be done
I tell you who we are under the sun
We are the children of the Rastaman
We are the children of the Higher Man

So, Africa, unite, Africa, unite
Unite for the benefit of your people
Unite for it's later than you think

Unite for the benefit of your children
Unite for it's later than you think
Africa awaits its creators, Africa awaiting its creators
Africa, you're my forefather cornerstone
Unite for the Africans abroad, unite for the Africans a yard
Africa, Unite

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Steps: Sunni  / sunni patterson we know this place  / "Niggas" don't make it....

Sunni Patterson on 2cent TV  / Sunni Patterson Live at The Signature

Sunni Patterson at the 2010 US Social Forum  / Sunni Patterson  / Sunni Patterson What You Fightin For?

More than a poet, more than a singer, more than an emcee--it's not just what she says, it's how she says it.  Emerging from the musical womb that is New Orleans, artist and visionary Sunni Patterson combines the heritage and tradition of her Native town with an enlightened modern worldview to create music and poetry that is timeless in its groove. Sunni has been a featured performer at the many of Nation's premier spoken word venues, including HBO's Def Poetry Jam.  She has also had the privilege of speaking at the Panafest in Ghana, West Africa.

Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America

By Eugene Robinson

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Floodlines

Community and Resistance from Katrina to the Jena Six

By Jordan Flaherty

Preface by Tracie Washington / Foreward by Amy Goodman

When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, it was a tragedy. What followed was a government-sanctioned travesty. Flaherty, a white New Orleans resident and journalist, interviews a number of locals about the recovery effort, outlining a systemic pattern that includes restrictions of service, human rights violations, and destruction of property targeting the city's African-American majority.

The behavior of the notorious New Orleans police department towards this community is appalling, but even more distressing is Flaherty's reporting on the failure of the federal government to respond to the needs of its citizens, and their use of paramilitary mercenaries to enforce a pattern of brutal occupation. To learn how profoundly the system failed (and continues to fail) will be extremely difficult for some readers, and Flaherty pulls no punches in his quest to uncover failures, highlighting how the systems in place for rebuilding (foundation support, non-profit groups, military intervention) remain woefully inadequate. Readers will be compelled, depressed, disturbed, and angered by what they find in this well-written report. Crucial readingPublishers Weekly

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Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake. She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—WashingtonPost

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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Enjoy!

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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posted 28 August 2010 

 

 

 

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Related files:  Obama Remarks at Xavier University   Fifth Anniversary of Katrina  Katrina . . . somethin' 'bout a storm   Beneath the Bridge