Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Treme Brass Band's 'Uncle' Lionel Batiste takes Times Square

Keith Spera, The Times-Picayune Keith Spera, The Times-Picayune

If you can make it there…A much, much larger-than-life photograph of “Uncle” Lionel Batiste, the popular Treme Brass Band bass drummer, currently towers over a busy Times Square intersection in Manhattan.

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Batiste is the main image in a multi-story Times Square banner advertising “If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise,” Spike Lee’s follow-up to his 2006 Hurricane Katrina documentary “When the Levees Broke.” The banner sits above a Walgreens at the bustling corner of 7th Avenue and W. 42nd Street, just around the corner from an even more massive banner trumpeting the new Sylvester Stallone film “The Expendables,” which was shot largely in New Orleans. Many thousands of pedestrians and vehicles pass through the intersection daily, experiencing the media sensory overload that is contemporary Times Square.

“If God is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise” premieres on HBO in two parts on August 23 and 24. It revisits many of the people viewers met in “Levees.”

Segments recount the New Orleans Saints’ Super Bowl victory, examine efforts to overhaul New Orleans’ public housing and public schools, crime, the Make It Right Foundation’s work in the Lower 9th Ward and Mississippi Gulf Coast recovery. Most of the entire fourth hour of the film is dedicated to the BP oil spill and its aftermath.

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