Monday, October 03, 2005

Mr. Bill Saves The Coastal Wetlands

The legendary Saturday Night Live clay hero (or more often, victim) Mr. Bill is part of a program to draw attention to the crisis of the disappearing wetlands in Louisiana. Of course that is all too obvious in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, but this project for American's Wetland Campaign to Save Coastal Louisiana began in 2004. Mr. Bill creator Walter Williams made nine additional clay figures representing the threatened biodiversity of the region and named them "the Estuarians."

Williams does more than play with clay. The filmmaker also has produced a great interactive DVD called "New Orleans - The Natural History." You can watch a low quality, 45-minute streaming video online. If you haven't learned a lot about the history and ecology of NOLA already in the past month, I highly recommend this fascinating program, even though Mr. Bill isn't in it.

Last month Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu gave a nod to Mr. Bill in her
criticism of the government's response to Katrina:
"We know the president said, quote, 'I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees,' " Ms. Landrieu said. "Everybody anticipated the breach of the levee, Mr. President, including computer simulations in which this administration participated."

The senator went on to describe how the creator of Mr. Bill, the clay figurine whose cry of "Ohh noooo!" was long a staple of "Saturday Night Live," had used the character in public service announcements to warn southern Louisianians of the dangers they would face in an extraordinary storm.

"How can it be," she asked, "that Mr. Bill was better informed than Mr. Bush?"
Come to think of it, there's a new nickname for our commander in chief: President Sluggo!

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