Last week I watched the movie Blackout that I rented from Netflix. You know how things just fall into place the movie just happened to up there on my que list so I watched I not really thinking the six year anniversary of the NYC Blackout was approaching.
The movie Blackout written and directed by Jerry Lamothe and was a little taken by surprise because yes the overall plot is the eruption New Yorkers suffered during the August 2003 blackout. The subplot here was how a particular community was affected on this very day that began like any ordinary day. The cast (Melvin Van Peebles, Zoe Salanda and Saul Rubinek) too much of my surprise were well known and others were some I’ve seen on HBO series. The cast did not make the film and could have been done with actors/actress’s who were less known and had the same effect. I say that because most of these events were just part of a daily routine and didn’t take any real dramatic effects. Some of the plot I was able to predict but that by no means took away from the film at all.
While I watched the film it brought me back to August 14 2003 , where I was fooling around at work on my computer and suddenly my computer shut off. I now only know the time was 4:19p from reports but then I would’ve said almost 4:30 because I had one foot out of the door. I was the only one in the office so I locked up. I walked down 5 flights of stairs and headed out the building. It was only there I was told by a passerby that the blackout affected more than my crappy office building but the entire east coast. I walked my same routine to the bus stop and boarded. Thankfully that was the first stop so I landed a seat by the window and watched how the South Bronx proceeded to crumble like a balled up loose-leaf. People crammed through the front and back doors of the bus simultaneously. The air was pulled in all directions and replaced by beads of sweat. The bus kept moving. People were moving everywhere. Finally, my stop - my neighborhood resembles the Brooklyn neighborhood in this film… more so with the various skin tones, store owners, and customers. I greeted the two older ladies who were standing in front of my building. I looked over to the young mother with the baby in her arms and the baby stroller at her side and ask her if she needed help. She said no and that she rather wait for the elevator. I held my keys in my hand as I pushed open the main door. I was slapped with the dry hot darkness. I took off my shoes and stuffed them my purse. My hands became my guides as I felt along the walls in search of the door to the stairwell. I remember counting every two flights is equal to one floor. I wasn’t really worried about stepping in urine or feces as I trailed up to the 4th floor but my feet were covered with dirt and dust. It could’ve been worse. I felt like I was playing a game of blind man bluff with no blindfold. I remember not being able to see my hands in front of me. I knocked on the door and called out “Ashanti’s name” “It’s me mommy”. She had no clue to what happen all she knew was that her program on Nickelodeon shut off. She thought I didn’t pay the cable bill until she realized the air conditioner went off.
It was about six o’clock then and lights were still light out. I explained to her the lights will be on soon and the entire west coast is affected. We grab our flashlights, candles and batteries and placed everything in the center of the living room. We went down the stairs to check on some family members who lived nearby.
Eight O’clock were back in our apartment to get ready for this delightful evening. To be honest we had everything we needed and our plans were to sleep on the living room floor. We had each other and this brings me to the movie after sunset…most people went home to their apartments to wait but some took this for an opportunity to loot and riot. That evening we were thrown in uncontrollable situation in which the only control we had was over ourselves. Fortunately the lights and power in my area was back on at 8:15 that evening. Unfortunately we did sleep together that evening and continued with our normal functions. I didn’t witness the looting or the riots or the hate the hovered some neighborhoods in my city. This film showed me and America what we didn’t see.
In NYC that day there were six fatalities reported. Two were deaths from carbon monoxide, two from fire, and one as a result of a fall from a roof while breaking into a shoe store, and one man died of a heart attack in his neighbor's apartment after climbing the 17 flights to their floor.