This week’s Treme episode was like a walk down memory lane for me. I guess it shouldn’t come as too big a surprise to me that David Simon, the show’s creator, notices many of the same things about this city that I do. We were both born in D.C. and grew up in Maryland. We both work in entertainment. And we both clearly LOVE this city and want to give the world an insight as to why.
After watching, I decided to include links to all my past posts that somehow came up in the episode. Each link includes history and other information and many of them have photos and even videos if you care to click on them.
The episode opened with Bush’s speech in Jackson Square. Like me, Goodman’s character really wants to believe that the promises will be fulfilled. It hurt all over again remembering what it felt like to watch everything unfolding on TV. I’m actually glad to be here for this disaster, for those of you who wonder if I have regrets about my move. I realized at French Quarter Fest that if this town were the Titanic, I’d want to be dancing on the deck with these folks and go down with the ship. To read more about that epiphany and what inspired it, click:
Goodman’s character decides to participate in the first sanctioned parade after the storm, Krewe de Vieux.
It’s a bawdy, satirical parade that pokes at local politicians mostly. The episode’s parade doesn’t sound very different from the one I witnessed (and photographed for you), insofar as the political names hadn’t much changed and sperm continues to be an important icon.
A word on Khandi Alexander who plays Ladonna Batiste-Williams, bar owner and ex-wife of Wendell Pierce’s trombone playing Antoine Batiste. I first fell in love with her considerable talent in Chris Rock’s hilarious mockumentary, CB4 (1993).
To view the trailer:
Alexander’s sexy, sassy and hilarious Sissy was an inspiration to me as an actor, showing me just how far you can bend a role without breaking it. I loved her again on NewsRadio as the smart, sharp-dressed, even sharper tongued Catherine Duke. I’m always glad to see her working and though I’m enjoying her bad-ass don’t-mess-with-me Ladonna on Treme, I hope she gets an opportunity, once in awhile, to show us her comic genius.
As a matter of trivia, the guy Steve Zahn’s character is based on was in this week’s episode. Like the character, his name is Davis and he was eating crawfish, corn and potatoes from a cardboard box on the porch in the montage of Zahn trying to enlist all his friends to play on his recording, “Shame, shame, shame.” I loved the lyrics in the song referring to the poor people of the city and explaining that New Orleans without poor people isn’t New Orleans. I’d go so far as to say that being poor is part of the American story and the American dream. As it says on the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
I hated reliving the story of the projects being closed. So many things about the way Katrina was handled are sickening. The decision to keep perfectly fine housing closed to discourage the return of the underprivileged was just… I just get so confused by what matters to people sometimes.
I’m a Top Chef fan so it was fun seeing all the renowned chefs eating at Kim Dickens’ restaurant and loving her down-home cooking. I couldn’t resist buying a Hubig’s pie after seeing it on the first episode of Treme. Dickin’s restauranteur serves it in lieu of a fresh made desert and tells her sous chef to “Drizzle somethin’ on it.” I bought the same flavor she served, apple and I’ll admit it was pretty tasty. It most resembles a hand held pie roll a la McDonald’s apple pie, but the pastry is far tastier and seems glaze dipped like a donut. Alas, I was told I still haven’t really had a Hubig’s pie until I taste the lemon.
I also enjoyed the well-meaning man from Japan who loved jazz enough to buy Batiste a new trombone. He may have been annoying and ill-informed, but he was kind, well-meaning. I identified with his desire to save something, anything, in the face of the disaster.
I don’t share much about my trip south during that time, but I was another stumbling, fumbling well-meaning person trying to fix anything, make anything better. I remember feeling embarrassed about having brought all the wrong food. The story is recorded in all its humiliation in this post.
Maybe I’ll talk about it more another time (especially if it’s something you’d want to hear), maybe I’ll just keep putting it behind me and conserve energy for our new disaster. I have a lot of memories from that trip, most as awkward and difficult as the one between Batiste and the Japanese man. The need was so great and our efforts were so very small in the face of it, I can only hope all of us fumblers made some sort of difference.
As always, I LOVED the second line scenes. I love chasing the parades as much as any local, catching up and joining in the celebration. You may recall the day I heard a parade passing and ran out to follow it, then ended up crossing a second line on the way home. If you haven’t already seen it, enjoy the video of both parades or skip to the 4:22 minute mark to see just the Silence is Violence second line.
The second line on Treme featured my new favorite women in town, the Original Lady Buckjumpers, who I fell in love with (and took photos of) during Jazz Fest.
And my favorite brass band, Rebirth. For my photos and some history and links:
I felt like David Simon must be following me around town when the next scene took place in Mother-in-Law’s. John Goodman even acknowledges the vote of Ernie K-Doe (his mannequin anyway). If you haven’t seen the eccentricity that is K-Doe’s mannequin riding in a carriage behind his wife’s horse drawn hearse, you can find the link here.
Parades are so important to this community. They allow us an outlet for joy and celebration, for praise, hope and healing. They bring us all together and allow us to find each other, meet each other. Who needs Facebook when you can just join a second line and find out what people are up to and who you’re sharing your world with?
It was sad, and I suspect accurate, that there was a shooting at the end. New Orleans, like D.C., Detroit, Baltimore, New York and many other cities, has more than its share of violence. But, I loved seeing Zahn wake up at his neighbors’, the ones he’d been such a jerk to, and have them care for him simply because he’s a neighbor. You may recall when I locked myself out in a torrential rain storm just after moving here and was rescued by a woman I’d waved to once, a neighbor.
That word really means something here. I’m not used to people knowing which car is mine, when I leave town for a weekend, who I’m dating, etc. I admit I was kind of scared to live like this, where we all pay attention to each other and take care of each other’s needs. This past Mother’s Day, I spent most of the day with that same neighbor, knowing it would be her first since her mother passed. I’ve always said that in Louisiana, there are no strangers, only friends you haven’t met yet.
Then there was the day I was running to an audition and found my car battery dead.
It took less than 10 minutes to get me on the road, because my next door neighbor, who is also my new landlord, took care of it, took care of me.
I’m so happy there’s a show that gives you all a glimpse into this unique culture and all its kooky characters. But, I’m also glad you get a window into the many ways people here come together as a community. This is no small town, but its values are like those of a place where everyone knows everyone. And the food and music beat any small town and most any city.
It’s sort of inspiring to watch a show about this city surviving a disaster as larger as Katrina as we are once again being asked to survive the incompetence greed breeds. It gives me hope that we will pull together and get through this somehow.
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