Dr. John : The Gulf Needs Help
Although attention seems to have slowly drifted away from the BP oil spill and its effect on the Gulf Coast, musician Dr. John (also known as Mac Rebennack Jr.) is spearheading a coalition of artists hoping to redirect Washington’s interest back to the region (89 bands, including R.E.M., Ozzy Osbourne, OK Go, My Morning Jacket and Bonnie are on board).
“Everybody thinks that everything is fine here,” Rebennack told POLITICO. “I am outraged. … This is probably the biggest disaster that’s happened.” Rebennack and the other artists have sent a letter to the White House outlining five key demands, including that a portion of BP’s penalties to be steered toward Gulf coast recovery.
“I just pray that the president might listen to us and actually make a concerted effort towards giving us our wetlands back, our barrier islands back.” But Rebennack says he’s not hopeful.
“I’m not optimistic at all, I am a realist.” And he thinks President Obama could stand to benefit from taking a closer look at the fallout from the Gulf oil spill.
“If he came and would actually see the amount of oil that’s floating in the Gulf and not be hidden from his eyes, he’d be amazed.”
The issue is particularly personal for Rebennack, who’s a New Orleans native.
“We gave the world jazz, the blues came out of here,” said Rebennack. “And given everything else we gave this country and the rest of the world, if they don’t care about it, let the people here know so we can try to do something else.”
For Rebennack, much of his frustration has to do with the influence of special interests in Washington.
“It’s ridiculous the amount of pressure oil companies are putting on Washington,” said Rebennack. “It’s like having the criminals in charge of the crime site. … When you have enough money you can do that, but that makes it OK? I’m upset with that.”