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'Rox' offers its POV on Katrina evacuation

 

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From The Herald-Times
Bloomington, Indiana
Tuesday May 9, 2006

'Rox' offers its POV on Katrina evacuation

by Mike Leonard
H-T columnist

When Bart Everson and Christy Paxson looked at weather reports predicting that Hurricane Katrina would hit their city of residence, New Orleans, late last August, it didn't take them long to decide that they'd evacuate their home for the first time in the six years they'd lived there.

Most people would panic. Spend wasted hours deciding what to take and what to leave. Study maps to determine an escape route.

Bart did what Bart typically does. He picked up his video camera and started filming.

He captured Christy packing their cats into carriers. He filmed the strange sight of "contraflow," in which federal officials turned all of I-65 into a one-way Interstate headed north. He took time to shoot the funky little motel room in Mississippi where they stayed before deciding to head to Bloomington, their longtime home before moving to the Crescent City.

And as soon as Bart started making trips back to his flood-damaged home before the couple returned for good late in November, he resumed filming - his first look inside his Mid-City home, his neighborhood and other wind- and flood-ravaged parts of the city.

It's taken a while to put together, but the longtime co-host of "Rox" or "J&B on the Rox" recently finished production of Episode 93 of the cable/Internet video program. It's titled, appropriately, "After the Levees Failed," and it will air Friday and May 16 at 10 p.m. on community access station CATS, channel 3 on Bloomington's cable lineup.

"Rox" isn't for everyone. The program, launched in the television production facilities of the Monroe County Public Library in the summer of 1992, includes adult language, an abundance of irreverence and a de rigueur segment featuring the concoction of a mixed drink by co-host Joe Nickell, the "J" in J&B.

The newest installment of "Rox" provides a fascinating look at one couple's journey from evacuation to the many challenges of rebuilding homes and lives in post- Katrina New Orleans.

The episode probably could have done without J's segment in which he prepares the mixed drink called "hurricane." Sure, it's a Rox staple, but rarely has the program tackled anything so weighty as the Katrina damage and the ongoing recovery.

J&B got a lot of national attention in 1994 for smoking pot on the Monroe County Courthouse lawn and broadcasting it on CATS. More notice came in 1995 for being what both Time and Wired magazines called the first television series to be streamed over the Internet.

Then Bart moved to New Orleans and Joe, to Missoula, Mont. It took seven years before the two decided to resume production with Bart still in Louisiana and Joe in Montana.

"After the Levees Failed" is a valuable and strangely entertaining exercise in guerrilla, underground television. And it gives a perspective you're not going to see in any mainstream channels.

See it yourself

  • WHAT: Episode 93 of "Rox," titled "After the Levees Failed."
  • WHEN: 10 p.m. Friday and May 16
  • WHAT CHANNEL: Community Access Television Services (CATS) for Monroe County, channel 3.
  • INFO: See rox.com.

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