SINGING TO THE RIVER - Harry Shearer: Politics

Uploaded by MyDamnChannel on Nov 6, 2007



HARRY SHEARER: We're back in New Orleans, where I'm
introducing you to some folks I know, telling stories about
the last couple of years of their lives.
And today we're meeting Phillip Manuel--
a writer, a singer, a native New Orleanian.
And at the time the city was being threatened by water, he
found solace in water.
PHILLIP MANUEL: I saw things that I don't
ever want to see again.
I first came back in on September the
15th to save my dogs.
They had been locked in my washroom for two weeks without
food or water.
We only imagine that perhaps for a day or so they may have
had to stand in about 20 inches of water.
I don't even like to think about what
they had to go through.
But anyway, it was the 15th of September.
It was two Dobermans, a mother and son.
And the son, who was only six months at the time, was
practically dead when I got back.
The mother, amazingly, was in great shape.
Kidneys were acting a little weird, but
she was in good shape.
So I spent the next few hours getting the puppy to triage
units, driving him to the LSU vet school in Baton Rouge,
where he stayed for seven weeks.
PHILLIP MANUEL: I have to tell you, the puppy was in such--
such condition, I mean, there were-- there were National
Guardsmen at the triage units just
standing over him weeping.
I found myself after Katrina just spending a lot of time
standing at the river's edge.
I'd do it almost every morning.
HARRY SHEARER: At this, at-- around here?
PHILLIP MANUEL: Where we are, yeah.
But I realized after a while that it was a
compulsion to come here.
And I'm--
I'm a pretty compulsive kind of guy.

But after I realized it was a compulsion, I began to want to
understand it and try and figure out why I--
I had this need to come here and stand by the water.
I kind of think what came out of it, this poem, which is
called "Today I Sang to the River," I think this poem kind
of is just a little bit of closure for me, on dealing
with the emotional side of Katrina.
It's kind of the point where I realized, OK, I can handle
what happened.
It was real.
It's not a dream.
You know, I can-- but I can make it now.
Today I sang to the river and she did hear my cry.
In the bosom of her waves, she held bits and
pieces of my sorrow.
She danced with my melody, and her ripples conversed with all
that I said.
And as sure as I would stand before her, she had been
calling me.
Today I sang to the river, because her heart,
overflowing, finally knew.
And only she was big enough to hold all the
tears, all the secrets.
My soul found a tender moment of release.
I exhaled, pinched myself, awoke from the dream, and she
carried me through.
Today I sang to the river as I had never sung before.
My tears met the rolling of her waves.
But there was no judgment, so deep and mighty she ruled.
Enough power that judgment need only the truth.
Today I sang to the river, and all the trees along the shore
quivered at the union.
For like me, they were not of water, and they had shared
their own sorrow.
The rocks echoed her refrain that her hedge
still protected me.
Because of me, in spite of me, it was with me.
Today I sang to the river and was reassured in the rush of
her tide that there is a God on high and a quiet voice deep
inside that loves and honors, protects and
comforts, listens and heals.
Today I sang to the river, and today she heard my cry.

HARRY SHEARER: I want to ask you one question that, uh, I
think people get asked a lot these days here.
Why are you still here?
PHILLIP MANUEL: Not only am I still here, but I will never,
ever leave here now.
It's like, oh, no, you didn't try to destroy my city.