Wednesday, May 21, 2014

"New Orleans Exposed" (or "NOX") is a gritty look at a corrupt pre-Katrina Crescent City through hip-hop


New Orleans Exposed: Before and After Katrina” (or “N.O.X.”) directed by Dwayne Morgan and “Video Wayne” (2006, from IL Mendez Productions, 63 min) is an independent documentary showing the underbelly of ghetto life in New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina. The film has many upfront comments by ordinary people talking in street language (often singing poetry in hip-hop, which pervades the film), as well as graphic scenes of poverty in the slums.  The city had tried to move 200 people away from the tourist areas before the hurricane.
   
The results of the violence are shown explicitly.  One man’s arm is scarred throughout with 22 pieces of shotgun shrapnel.  The film says that the public school system in New Orleans was (or is) one of the worst in the nation.

  
“If you can’t get in with the businesses, the next best thing is to hustle.”
  
The street language resembles what I heard in the barracks in the Reception Station when I was drafted in 1968.
  
The film reports that conditions in the African-American wards had deteriorated greatly with the crack epidemic of the 1980s.
  
The film also describes an incident in the 18th century where 250 slaves joined with local Indians to fight against the French.
  
  
Toward the end, there is a tribute to “Soulja Slim”, who was murdered in 2003.  (I was called “Slim” in Army Basic.)
   
The DVD is laid out in a way that is a little confusing it first.  If you click “Play”, you get a 4-minute hip-hop performance, accompanied by many street scenes.  The actual feature is “NOX”, the second link.

The extras appear to be previews of future installments, each about four or five minutes.  They are called "USA Kids", "Evacuated" and "Heart of the Street". The extras talk about life after the Hurricane, with the resettlement in Houston, through hip-hop. 
   
In September 2005, I did volunteer shifts (in Falls Church VA) for a while at the Red Cross, taking calls for people displaced by Katrina, but there was little we could do for most callers except tell them to call the 800 FEMA number, which had them wait on hold for hours. 
  
I visited New Orleans in Feb. 2006, over President’s Day.  

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