One year down, three to go.
Season one of the Trump unreality show was a fire that wouldn’t stop burning, set against the apocalyptic backdrop of real California wildfires that consumed over a million acres in the fall. Huge tracts of psychic energy, funds of hope and goodwill, were consumed by the effort to make sense of what was happening to the nation, to respond meaningfully, and to maintain sanity. Millions ranted about the “arsonist in chief,” yelled at their televisions, at their laptops, yelled on Facebook and Twitter or at protests in the street. Some, it is true, retreated into permanent Cat Video Land. But almost everyone was looking for evidence of hope.
Twelve years ago, New Orleans was still on its knees after Katrina. I remember January 2006 well. Four months after the disaster, vast sections of the city were still mud logged and disfigured; citizens were still being pulled—soaked, bloated, dead, stinking—out of shipwrecked houses. The failure of the federally funded and constructed levee system, the Bush administration’s bungled, ineffectual response, and, in the background, the ongoing disaster in Iraq made it feel as if the country were going off the rails.
That spring, Bruce Springsteen played the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. It remains probably the single greatest performance that I’ve ever seen, by anyone. It wasn’t just the music itself but the way Springsteen and the band grasped the moment, understood what the city needed, and delivered it to an audience made up largely of people who had lived through, and were still living through, disaster. For years, I’ve wished for some kind of document of that afternoon, and now there is one. A company called Nugs.net—do you know these guys?—has just issued a two-disc set of the entire concert, Bruce Springsteen, Fair Grounds Race Course, New Orleans, April 30, 2006. Read More