It’s a dream house built by an artist for a man in a cage…
Isn’t it just when you find something you want to record that you encounter holes in your cable package? This became an issue for me when I attempted to DVR “Herman’s House,” a documentary airing tonight on the PBS series “POV.”
Turns out AT&T U-verse, my provider, isn’t much of a friend to public television; they don’t actually carry the non-profit public broadcast network, PBS. I find that unfortunate and insulting, since they carry loads of useless crap.
At any rate, Herman Wallace is an imprisoned member of the Angola 3 who has been living his life – 41 years and counting – in solitary confinement. He’s maintained correspondence with artist Jackie Sumell for many years; it’s with her help (and at her urging) that Wallace has conjured his “dream house.” The journey began when Sumell asked Wallace in a letter, “What kind of house does a man who has lived in a six-foot-by-nine-foot box for over 30 years dream of?”
I was immediately pulled into the story of Herman Wallace and Jackie Sumell, in part because of a question I once asked: “What’s left of a man after seventeen years in a box?”
What began as a remarkable psychic survival tool in their written exchanges took on a life of its own when Sumell decided to build the house for real – though Herman may never step through its front door. It has since progressed into a fight for Wallace’s release and a call to address growing questions about the dubious manner in which he was convicted back in 1972.
Should “Herman’s House” be airing on your local PBS station – and it damn well should be – you won’t regret tuning in or recording it.
Personally, I was scratching my head over what AT&T’s excuse might be for neglecting programming of such quality and dimension, so of course I called. AT&T U-verse does offer PBS for kids, I was told, aka “Sprout,” but further inquiry confused the young phone rep to whom my call was directed. Soon it was he who scratching his head over how I could persist. After all, he’d just shared with me his discovery of “PBS” in his service directory. I had asked, and he had triumphed – what was the problem?
I said, “That isn’t the one. I’m looking for the PBS station for those of us old enough to drive.”
“Sir, AT&T does carry PBS,” he countered – twice. “I have it right here. It’s called Sprout.”
I hung up. His grandfather was probably on Herman Wallace’s jury.
Thankfully, “Herman’s House” will also be available online July 9, 2013 – Aug. 7, 2013. So again, try to check it out.
Why? ‘Cause it’s a story about people, and that’s all it should need to sell you.