What with the five-year anniversary, there's plenty of media coverage this weekend of the Katrina disaster, sure to take you through the steps of how it unfolded.
Harry Shearer is more interested in getting at why it unfolded. The radio, movie and TV legend (he's 1/3 of Spinal Tap and the voice of Mr. Burns and Ned Flanders, for starters) finds the knee-jerk response - "well, there was a lot of water, and New Orleans is below sea level" - lacking, to put it mildly. And as someone who's adopted New Orleans as his hometown he has had a stake in finding better answers.
Shearer has devoted a few episodes of his weekly radio program Le Show (it's on WHYY at 4 p.m. Sundays) to interviews with people who understand New Orleans levees and who understand the Army Corps of Engineers (who built the levees), and he now has compiled their perspectives along with other relevant footage into a movie, The Big Uneasy, that will play just one night, Monday, August 30, nationwide. Here in Philly it will be at the Ritz East. (7 and 9:30 p.m.)
I talked to Shearer on Monday about how and why he made the film and what it might tell us about managing, or living in cooperation with, the environment. This 9-minute Earth to Philly podcast (MP3, 7 MB) is the result.