Day 3, Entry #4 with Andy Grace discussing the Tuscaloosa tornado relief.
Elliott, why does it not surprise me that you were in a gang called skull and crossbones?
Travis, it seems unfair that Elliott and I know one another and so I’ll try and keep the inside jokes to a minimum. Like the time he and I nearly died when a maniacal Spanish bus driver just about rammed into a huge truck on a freeway somewhere in either the UK or France. I don’t think you call it a “freeway” in France and the UK. But I digress.
Elliott, I think the greater congrats are in order to you – that job is just amazing and I’m so happy for you and Eva. As you well know, the reason I first embarked on filming the Dexateens (1) lo those many many years ago was that I was interested in telling a story about the intersection of punk rock and growing up – about where our dreams and ideals of youth converge into our responsibilities as adults. I was never a good enough musician–or I was too scared–to keep playing past college, so I never had to face the daunting idea of trying to make a living making rock and roll. But y’all were (are) talented and driven enough to try and make a go of it,m and that compelled me as a filmmaker. And I know over the years that it’s been difficult, and that the difficulty for you and your cabinet business has been a reliable income with benefits and health insurance. And so that’s why I’m so happy about your new job. There are so few jobs remaining in our country where a person can make a decent living, have decent health care, and have some kind of assurance about the future. These are the kinds of jobs that used to define our economy, the kind of jobs that bolstered our collective sense of American “Exceptionalism.” The kind of jobs that created the whole idea of the “middle class.” But nowadays, they’re the kind of job you mostly see in the movies and in history books. I feel damn lucky to have one, despite the fact that in order to do so I have to relegate myself to the soulless beast of the pagan worshipping liberal academia.
Travis, I’m sarcastic – and it usually works better in person than over email.
As for the upcoming show – I’m psyched. In recent months I’ve been involved to varying degrees with lots of conversations about the rebuilding and rebirth of Tuscaloosa. In fact, I’m working on an interactive documentary project about what happens after called, incidentally, “After the Storm.” You can see a few brief snippets of the evolving project here. I think these kinds of fundraisers and artistic attempts to make something positive from the storm–to use it as a galvanizing moment to bludgeon us into a stronger sense of community–have been one of the most rewarding elements of these difficult last 9 months.
I share your interest in the Shakes, Elliott. I think they’ve got a great sound (what little I’ve heard from them and the one time at Egan’s), but their meteoric rise is just amazing. That’s a kind of “old music business” story that you don’t usually hear about nowadays. And you’re right that they’re great to come back here. I credit that solely with the persistence of a one Bo Hicks.
Travis, just saw your email as I was about to send this off. You’re right that low-income housing will be the greatest challenge for Tuscaloosa. That’s why Habitat’s work is so important. But it’s also important for us to advocate through the City Council to insure that they have the political strength and support to make some necessary and difficult decisions in the months ahead. In a city like this–with a University growing by leaps and bounds–land is a scarce commodity, too often offered up to the highest bidder. That’s capitalism at work, I guess, but we need to make sure that there are protections put in place for the common good. Those low-income folks in Alberta who lost their homes and the insurance and FEMA money doesn’t come close to paying what it would cost to rebuild. We need to look out for their interests just as much, if not more, than the interests of the developer seeking to collect vacant lots together to build new student condos. The developer has a strong voice in the process: his money. But a democracy should speak loudly for the homeowner too.
(1) I started filming the Dexateens, promising to make a movie on them, back in 2006 or so. I’m a bastard, so I never finished the damn thing. But every now and again I pick the camera up and wander into their lives insisting I’m ready to pick up where I left off. I think I’m still trying to figure out the story. Hopefully Elliott and the boys will let me continue on that way for a few more free guest passes to shows…