Our Sisterz of the Underground piece hit the airwaves on Current TV today.
For those of you who’ve been with us since the beginning, you might remember that we produced this piece in May… when we had just started the TeamJaded project and had recently left our jobs at Al Gore’s TV network.
We’re really happy that the Sisterz piece is finally on the air. While it is not technically part of Make It Happen, the Sisterz were definitely an inspiration to us. In fact, this piece functioned very much as a pilot for the Make It Happen Project.
It’s been two years since Katrina hit the Gulf Coast flattening parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, and causing the Levees around New Orleans to break completely obliterating the city. And despite what you’ll see on Yahoo! News with all the propaganda about how rad New Orleans is doing these days, the city is not rebuilt. The residents have not returned. And the combined forces of Hurricane Katrina, and the much under reported, and under exaggerated Hurricane Rita, wreaked a havoc on the Gulf Coast that remains today as if the flood waters just subsided. My home state of Louisiana is a mess, and the people of the Gulf Coast who lost their homes, their cities, and their families still need all of our help.
When Katrina blew in from the gulf I was glued to an iMac at Current TV cutting raw feeds for Google Current and pretty much freaking out about what I was watching unfold over the Reuters and Associated Press wires. I was so worried about my friends and family in the area that it was almost impossible for me to be a very productive employee. I felt like I was in the Clockwork Orange being conditioned to hate violence and I did hate the violence brought by the storm and the complete neglect of the federal government. Four days before the administration could scramble itself to help people on the ground there were Cajuns in boats on their way from Lafayette and Lake Charles to rescue people in the water. And that made me proud of my home state and my heritage and of all those fishing trips I took with my Dad and Grandpa in boats just like those when I was a kid.
I couldn’t deal with watching the feeds anymore so I told my boss that I was going back to Louisiana to help in any way that I could. He talked me into taking a camera for Current TV and shooting stories on the ground. I had never shot documentary style television before… Laura Ling who runs the Vanguard Journalism department at Current TV was kind enough to give me an eleventh hour tutorial on how to shoot pods the night that I left for a flight that she financed out of her production budget. So Current TV paid for me to fly back home with the hope that I would come back with something, although I don’t think they believed I would. For my own self I figured that putting another camera on what was going on down there was probably the most meaningful way I could help, especially since I had access to a national cable network.
I never got to New Orleans I spent most of my time at an evacuee camp in Sam Houston State Park just north of my hometown of Lake Charles. There where a few hundred people who had fled Orleans and St Bernard Parishes and they were camped on the banks of a bayou with their backs to a mosquito infested swamp. My friend Dan Robertson, who is now a producer for KPLC NBC in Lake Charles, spent several days there talking to the evacuees… And I was truly inspired. I expected to find a group of people devastated and in shock… and they were, they were, but they were hopeful, caring, and thankful to be alive. Their stories were heartbreaking, and everyday when we left the camp, Dan and I would drive back to Lake Charles in silence unable to fully grasp the magnitude of what was going on. The truly inspiring thing about the Sam Houston Camp was the local community in the Moss Bluff area who had come to the aid of the people in the park. There was no Red Cross and no FEMA. There was no large body helping the people at all. But when the locals found out people were camped at Sam Houston they were on it. Cajuns, Bikers, Church Groups, poor people, wonderful people from miles around mobilized everything they could and came to the aid of those in need. It was truly beautiful. There was live bands, huge cookouts everyday, the smell of gumbo and bbq was so thick that when we walked into the camp our mouths watered. There was a huge blow up bouncing castles for the kids and a large tent set up with electricity to power a television and Playstation… and there was more food and supplies than anybody there could use. The scene made me hopeful for the future of our civilization.
There was an elderly couple that Dan and I befriended that had lost everything in Chalmette. We spent most of our time with them recording their story and I am truly sorry that it never went to air. It was the first news doc I had ever attempted to shoot and I was learning how to do it while we were shooting. But I have the footage and actually plan to finish it soon. Current didn’t finish it because I came back with another piece and for some reason they weren’t willing to use both. I think that they didn’t expect me to come back with anything so they hadn’t allotted any edit time for me. When I came back with two, they scrambled and made a window for one, they chose the other.
This is that story:
My Mom is in the pod and for all intents and purposes this was her pod. She’s a vegetarian and very much into animal rights. She belongs to a group in Lake Charles called La Paw and they rescue animals. People weren’t the only creatures displaced by the storm and there was an incredible amount of Katrina pets in Lake Charles. My mom was even fostering a bouncy little puppy. But she wanted to go to the heart of it all to see if she could help. So we drove two hours east of Lake Charles, but west of New Orleans, to Gonzales, Louisiana and the Lamar Dixon Expo Center which was the cross roads for all the animals coming out of the neighborhoods and the water. The hope was that they could remain there and be reunited with their owners but there were simply too many. The Expo Center was bursting with thousands of dogs, cats, and livestock. There were rescued animals being bused in, brought in on trailers, and even flown in on helicopters. Most of them were dogs. For reasons that I can’t explain, the scene in Gonzales hit me much harder than the camp in Sam Houston. The people in the camp were hopeful and ready to get their lives started again… But the animals were scared, helpless, and headed for very uncertain futures as many of them waited to be trucked towards destinations unknown where they had little to no hope of ever being reunited with the families who took care of them, and in all likelihood would probably be euthanized after miraculously surviving the storm that killed so many and destroyed so much. Thankfully there were organizations helping people reunite with their pets and helping pets find new homes all across the country, but the scene there on the ground was overwhelming. I often refer to it as dog hell. And the one thought that I can’t ever get out of my head after seeing what I saw that day is… where were all those people who belonged to those animals? Like thousands of people from all over the country that had descended on Gonzales, my mom volunteered her time that day and helped walk dogs.
I couldn’t find many people willing to talk on camera, because they were so busy saving animals, so I turned the camera on myself and narrated the scene. I came back to San Francisco, turned in my tapes, and a week later Pet Rescue was on the air and Sam Houston Katrina Camp went into the tape Library. I will never forget my experiences during those two weeks.
I returned to New Orleans over the Christmas holidays with my friends Ben Moore and Dave Mitchael. We went there to see what was left of our cultural capital, our New Orleans. Very few people were back in the city at that time and it was still totally devastated. Here is where the story takes an unexpected twist, and one would really have to understand the character of Ben Moore, his genius, and his ability to see things that others can not, and make light of horrible
situations… but when Ben was on his way back to Baton Rouge from San Francisco for the holidays he took a detour through Mississippi and drove through New Orleans with some friends. Instead of being horrified by what he saw he choose to look at in a way that only Ben could and he saw skate spots, D.I.Y. build your obstacle out of junk, skate spots. He decided right then that he would shoot a photo essay about New Orleans skateboarders after Katrina. He wanted me to come with him and write and article about it so that he could pitch it to Thrasher Magazine. Instead of that I decided to check out a Sony Z1 from Current and film the whole experience. However, I only committed one day to the project and on that day we had no guide from the New Orleans skate scene so we bumbled around until we found ourselves in Lakeview and then in the 9th Ward, and the St. Bernard Parish, wreckage, debris, mind numbing devastation. We were shocked to see the holes in peoples roofs where they had to hack their way out or drown, the waterlines near the tops of the few homes still standing, the piles of rubble. We found no skate spots only complete disbelief at the magnitude of the destruction. My heart sank thinking of all the people who belonged to those places and I wondered where they were. I did shoot this silly video of Dave and Ben trying hard to make the best of a bad situation:
That boat was one of several boats beached in the casino parking lot… the only skatable one. But that’s the only thing tangible that I took out of that experience. There was nothing inspiring about that trip to the Big Easy, nothing at all. Only questions in my heart about why months after Katrina, New Orleans still lay in ruins and why from the I-10 I could see parking lots full of FEMA trailers that had nobody living in them.
Ben however shot a series of amazing photos that later (June 2006) supplemented an article in Thrasher about skaters in New Orleans post Katrina.
Long before Thrasher published that story I returned to New Orleans in March to shoot the story I missed, about how street skating had adapted to the destruction of Katrina. I returned with my friends the VC Mafia: Keith Gluck and Angelo Hjelm. With the help of the amazing Todd Taylor who is a New Orleans institution in and of him self, and also with the help of Justin Vial, and Eric from Humidity Skate shop, we produced Skating the Aftermath, the pod that cemented my desire to shoot documentaries:
To reiterate and give credit where credit is due, Ben Moore was responsible for this pod. It was his idea. He inspired me, and later Thrasher Magazine to cover the aftermath, I’m just psyched that Thrasher used his photos.
By the time I went to New Orleans to shoot Aftermath, I thought that I would be use to seeing the shocking destruction, but I wasn’t. I was still shocked and mournful to see such destruction overwhelming the city. However, unlike my trip over Christmas, in March I did find inspiration. We tracked down and shot a story with a large group of college students who had decided to spend their spring break gutting houses. We spent a full day with them on the job and at their camp near Chalmette. The reason that pod was never aired is because when I came back from Louisiana in March Current was only interested in my pods if I cut them myself, but not while I was on the clock. So I spent a weekend cutting Skating the Aftermath, then showed it to Laura Ling who was very excited about it and once again helped me by putting her weight behind it to get it to air. I will be forever thankful to her for that. But nobody was willing to help me out with the rebuilding pod because the company wasn’t that interested in Katrina stories at that point. If I had those tapes, I’d cut that story too. Overall, in March the city was bad, but people were returning and we spent many fun nights in the Quarter and the Marigny drinking with friends who were back in the city and just enjoying the carefree life that endeared New Orleans to the world. …I must confess that I felt a little guilty enjoying myself knowing that so many people’s lives were shattered… But I guess in the words of D-Mitch, we were just trying to bring a little life back into the city… somebody had to.
Two years later many parts of New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast are still in ruins. And we as a nation are not paying attention. New Orleans is not better. It is not fine. We all have a responsibility to our fellow Americans who lost everything there. We must rebuild the city with all of its neighborhoods intact. And we must build the levees strong like a fortress not just to pre-Katrina levels, cause uh, that didn’t work too well last time, did it fellas? We must rebuild what was lost. We cannot let this happen again.
Editors Note (5/06/08): It is insane how many hits this post gets compared to our other blogs and it has nothing to do with TeamJaed, just that photo. It’s funny to me, because I obsessively check our blog stats after we post anything so that I can see how many people have read the post. It’s a sickness, I admit it. So when I do that what I see is hit after hit from google images for this post, not our new posts. It’s been fun, but all good things must come to an end. I don’t want this post to be the first TeamJaded content most people see… but I also want to keep it up, so I’m taking out the name of the festival. Let’s hope that works.
Editors Note (2/16/08): This post gets a ton of hits from Google Image search because of this photo. Since this particular post was written in the early days of TeamJaded when like, we and our Mom’s were the only people who knew we had a blog, we just borrowed this image from Mr. Internet, ie some other persons obscure blog. To make a long story short, this picture is from B-roo 2006, not 2007. We have no idea who took it originally, and we don’t remember the url of the site we borrowed it from. Unfortunately Google Image search is staying tight lipped on this one and won’t even respond to waterboarding. So thanks to whoever originally posted this image. And now back to your regularly scheduled and sprawling Bonna ruined post.
I’m not sure if you know what B-roo is. I didn’t until a few weeks before I was on a plane to Tennessee as part of the Current TV A-Team that was going to do “some sort of live coverage.” That’s all I knew because I only work for Current part-time. So beyond the fact that Mr. Mark Rinehart one of the masterminds behind Current @ Bonna roo wanted me on his team in some capacity, “probably shooting and editing” I didn’t know much. Upon deeper inspection I found out that B-roo was some sort of southern Coachella, with kids in the middle of nowhere frying on mushrooms and listening to jam bands, you know that sort of thing.
Well that’s what I thought, but B-roo has developed over the years and now it would be more dryly defined as a four day music festival near Nashville, Tennessee that draws about a hundred thousand people and features a spectrum of music acts from DJ Shadow to the Flaming Lips, and has a crap load of art, and comedy, and theater, and is really quite a spectacle… (read a people in the middle of nowhere frying on mushrooms sort of thing.) So if you’re like me, and I doubt you are, then big music festivals full of dirty hippies frying on mushrooms is probably about the last place you’d want to be… and as rad as the 2 AM set that DJ Shadow put on was… and it was rad …what’s the big deal about B-roo really?
To answer that, I’ve gotta share my insane experience. I’m talking 5 days sleeping on a tour bus, working for 16 hours a day cutting pods in a trailer with no air conditioning where the temperatures peaked at about a hundred and ten in the afternoon… and it was awesome. We turned around 20 minutes of doc style programming fed via satellite to Current TV every day, and all twenty minutes of that played on the jumbo-trons at the main stage in blocks. The coverage was sick. Our crew was entrenched, on top of their shit, and just blowing the minds of each other, everyone back at the office, and really the entire TV industry.
The best part was that we got free catered food, VIP passes, and the port-o-potties where cleaned twice daily. We had showers in trailers where I came up on mad sketchy soap left behind by god knows who. Yeah I forgot to bring soap, or a towel, or anything like that. Lucky for me, Current supplied us with these yellow crew t-shirts that were great for drying off with. I didn’t make it out to the fest much, but the couple of nights I did, I rolled with Current Crew on golf carts, got the VIP treatment backstage, and had a blast (i.e. had lots of free booze). You can check out the coverage here:
Since I’ve been back in the SFC the world hasn’t been so amazing, especially with things like this going down:
NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, pursuant to my powers under Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, do hereby commute the prison terms imposed by the sentence upon the said Lewis Libby to expire immediately, leaving intact and in effect the two-year term of supervised release, with all its conditions, and all other components of the sentence.
GEORGE W. BUSH”
If you don’t know the story then let me supply you with cliff notes:
Joe Wilson was a U.S. diplomat who dealt with African nations and Iraq. One of the premises for going to war with Iraq was that Saddam Hussein was trying to buy “yellow cake” from Niger which would have allowed him to make nuclear weapons and thus somehow attack the United States, even though his entire military had been destroyed in the first Gulf War and his country had been under sanctions and bomb attacks from the U.S. military ever since, leaving them virtually in ruins and defenseless, but I digress.
Joe Wilson went to Niger to find out about this mysterious “yellow cake” and what he found was nothing at all. Iraq wasn’t buying anything from Niger least of all “yellow cake.” So ole’ Joe decided for the benefit of the country that he would write an article professing as much and rightly accusing the Bush administration of exaggerating the threat of Iraq against the United States.
Well the Bushies didn’t like that too much so they went to war with Joe. His weak spot was that his wife, Valerie Plame happened to be an active CIA operative, a spy, yes an undercover agent specializing in… weapons of mass destruction… an expert on the topic that Bush was pushing as a reason for war. From the Bushies stand point Joe and his wife the undercover agent were fair game in their political war, so they outed Plame with the hope that it would cast doubt on Joe’s findings… I don’t really get that either she was an expert on the subject of weapons of mass destruction and would probably know more about weapons proliferation than the Bush White House.
Now where things get real ugly is that it turns out, revealing the identity of an undercover agent, especially in a time of war is illegal. In fact it’s treason because it threatens national security… so whoever was responsible for leaking Plames identity to the press had to pay. I mean we’re involved in a war, a war on terror, you can’t be outing CIA agents. That’s just not cool. Well as prosecutors climbed the ladder, first throwing reporters in jail to get them to talk (which stirred up a first amendment hornets nest) they eventually found their way to the White House and the office of Vice President Dick Cheney. The first White House staff member to go down was Mr. Scooter Libby, Chief of Staff to the Vice President. Libby was convicted of felony charges and sentenced to 30 months in jail for obstructing justice. However the investigation was not over…
…Until now. I mean the investigation will go on, but in name only. By commuting Scooter Libby’s sentence, Bush effectively set a precedent that his White House is untouchable. Anyone on his staff can freely break the law, even to the detriment of our national security and it doesn’t matter. So the prosecutors can indict more members of the White House staff, a jury can convict them, and a judge can sentence them to prison, but as long as King George is in power they will never face any real consequences. Say goodbye to everything you were ever taught about freedom and justice in America.
Perhaps the best words on this latest development were spoken by Keith Olbermann of MSNBC…
Also check out the Daily Kos article.
In other news an Arkansas kid was choked by a cop for skating on the sidewalk, and the cop got off.
See it for yourself:
Check it out at the S.F. Gate
What is this country coming to? Cops and politicians don’t have to obey they law, but kids can get choked out for skating on the sidewalk. I’m so proud to be an American.
In effort to stand up for skaters rights Emerica sponsors an annual event called Wild in the Streets where thousands of skaters descend on one lucky metropolis and skate through the streets in solidarity with other skaters around the world. This year Wild in the Streets was in San Fran at the end of the Emerica Wild Ride Harley tour. Peep the website to read all about that adventure: Emerica Wild Ride
Team Jaded homie Shrewgs was on the tour and we caught up with him at the Phoenix Hotel in the tenderloin on the night of July 3rd. We drank beers with Shrewgy, and some of the other guys, and even Johnny Roughneck showed up. We had so much fun that we pretty much missed the entire Wild in the Streets event because we slept so late, but we did eventually make our way to Third and Yo for the very end of the barbeque. Luckily Youtube came correct for all the stuff we missed:
..but it was no Roughneck BART Tour:
And speaking of Roughneck their 55-day tour, Decade of Aggression starts Saturday in Mill Valley. Catch the crew somewhere across America in the next few months.
They’ll be in my home state in August… Maybe they’ll run into this dude:
Love you Vial.
Whatever your opinion on the war in Iraq is (or as Jon Stewart would say, the “Mess O’ Potamia”), one thing is certain: TeamJaded’s “San Francisco Die In” will be on Current TV. There’s no telling when this event will actually occur, but viewers around the world will someday be able to watch on TV hundreds of protestors lying dead in the middle of downtown San Francisco.
Sound exciting? We thought so. Which was why, on a whim, TeamJaded decided to shoot the spectacle. What came of it was the following video:
Uploaded to Current’s website (as a straight up network purchase was shied away from- Al Gore’s network doesn’t want to look too lefty) the video slowly but surely made it’s way to the top of the leaderboard. And thanks to the votes of friends, family, and random people from the Current Community, “SF Die In” won the #1 spot on June 11th.
It was nice to see so many people voicing their opinion after watching the pod. It started a discussion (or texting feud), and even though we shot this with no motive, it was cool to see the emotion it provoked. Thanks to everyone who voted for this pod!
So it’s crazy to think that in our mid-twenties we’ve started our own company. Now, this might not seem too crazy for anyone who knows Jeremey. He’s been Jaded for years. A skateboarder, DIY-er, “I made my own ‘zine” guy, it’s not too hard to imagine him going full-force with an independent venture. I, however, have been a corporate glom-on since I left college. Yes, I wasn’t going to ‘sell-out’ after I left college radio, but guess what? I worked for the Number 5 Fortune 500 Entertainment Industry company, Viacom… right next to Number 6: Clear Channel. And thanks to my University’s Writing Dept, anyone who has ever googled my name know’s I’ll never get a job there.
But even though the views from the 48th floor in Times Square were beautiful, there was something missing. Maybe it was a few of my brain cells, but I knew that I needed something more. I guess “more” meant flying across the country to go work for Al Gore… More appropriately, Current TV. It was here in San Francisco that I learned the world is changing; and not just because of Global Warming (thank you Inconvenient Truth). But the world in which we consume media is changing. From Cable to On Demand, from YouTube, AppleTV, and Milan… it’s all happening. Almost anyone can own an HD Camera (albeit you definitely need some funding), and Final Cut Pro is basically available to the masses.
TV production is no longer for the elite. It no longer is in the hands of the few. Those with the money may have the connections, but they don’t control the content and the distribution anymore. Things are changing and Jaded Multimedia will be apart of it.
In his blog “Video on the Net” on BuzzMachine.com, Jeff Jarvis says it best:
“The first and more important lesson: We now have the tools to control not just the consumption but the creation of media.”
So as we start this new adventure, we’ll continue to work with innovative TV companies (like Current TV), and foster new relationships with amazing IPTV stations (see the links!). Our hope is that we can create meaningful content, that’s fun to watch, and has a positive impact in the world.
Now I’m done being cheesy. It’s time to get crazy.
We’ll be updating this blog daily. Random stuff. We’ll discuss anything. From wack stats, to rad artists, and random news, we’ll be throwin it down. And we’d be pretty psyched if ya’ll joined in the conversation. Stay tuned.