Tia Lessin and Carl Deal’s documentary Trouble the Water is a devastatingly effective depiction of the experience and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It isn’t the first: Spike Lee’s exhaustive, four-hour When the Levees Broke ran on HBO in 2006.
Autumn arrives September 22 (in the Northern Hemisphere). If you are like me, you depart reluctantly from summer, the season of light. Fall carries intimations of death—leaves dry and shrivel, grass bleaches corpse-pale, insects perish, squirrels batten down their nests and fatten up for a long season of lethargy.
The late Curtis Mayfield integrated music and message in a way that changed history. Four-plus decades after achieving renown, his talent shines in the film Movin’ On Up: The Music and Message of Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions (Reelin’ in the Years Productions). More than a documentary, Movin’ On Up presents 22 complete songs, along with interviews.
On August 7, 1974, around 7:15 A.M., just as New York City was waking up and trudging off to work, a 24-year-old Frenchman was taking a walk on a metal cable that was strung between the twin towers of the still-uncompleted World Trade Center.
My neighbor scrapes old paint from the fence around his pasture, an annual chore he attends to, for he knows the white he applies revives each slat. I think of his recent essay, peeling back the layers, as he said, of online education, revealing a barren base devoid of the body’s subtle gestures— how a screen cannot replicate confusion written on a brow, engagement flashing in the eyes, or a hand touching a shoulder. How a cursor cannot translate the voice’s inflections, nuanced as the nod of his head, greeting me, while he lays down his tool to rub my dog’s ears, while he motions toward the remaining wood, tells how he’ll finish the job before winter.
Nathan Eckstrom teaches English in the Boston Public Schools, one of the most diverse school systems in the country. Its more than 9,000 students come from about 100 countries, and they speak more than 80 languages. Instead of taking a vacation this past summer, Eckstrom went to Haiti to find the places where several of his students live and to visit their extended families. He knows that he will be able to make better connections with his Haitian students after learning about their culture and country. Over the past ten years, Boston teachers have made similar trips to Cape Verde, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, and other countries. Fund for Teachers, a Houston-based nonprofit, helps fund these trips (Boston Globe, September 12).