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That’ll work

April 12, 2010

“I thought it would be much harder to watch,” the friend sitting next to me said at the end, and he was right. Simon is coming on as slow as Ken Burns on a first date, carefully establishing place and character and the ways they interlock, and giving us heavy doses of the clownish Davis McAlary and Antoine Batiste (both faithful portrayals and by no stretch caricature clowns) that made it an experience completely unlike When the Levees Broke or Trouble the Water.

I have to wonder how well some of the subtlety will play in Peoria. Who in the room under 50 will understand the segue from talking about the Mafia to Louis Prima? How many will know who how big he was, that he was a New Orleans boy and the white Louis Armstrong in the profoundly segregated world of jazz music? Or, as Ray points out, who outside of New Orleans is going to understand the missing prisoner plot is not contrived cop show nonsense but one of the many ways people were still missing three month’s later? Sadly, more Americans know something of the drug culture of the streets than they do about one of America’s cultural jewels.

What will they make of Albert Lambreaux in places where they have no idea what a Mardi Gras Indian is? How many understood him when he spoke through his grim mask the episode’s title? But his spectral appearance had magical power, like the angels appearing to Joseph pre-Nativity. Simon is being very ballsy in the first episode, playing to an inside straight everyone in this city can see and is cheering him to draw to. I hope everyone in the rest of the country who watched comes back in part to understand that scene, just as people hung around to figure out what Hamlet would do once the ghost told him how his father died.

Ray got some important details out already, such as how clean the houses were, how little debris there was in the streets and how green the lawns were but those are small things. Lambreaux entering the house and bar were enough to re-establish for America what we are talking about. Simon had other details dead to rights, such as the constant interruption of helicopters.

And yes, Virgotex, everyone one of those lazy, shiftless, party-town mo-fos is killing themselves to just make it through the next day. Somebody in our room remarked when Toni Bernette came in with all those groceries, “where they hell did she get all that?”

Ray, this episode was my magic Hubig’s Pie, and magic may be my new favorite flavor.

— wet bank guy

  1. April 12, 2010 4:57 am

    How soon before it all happens again?

  2. April 12, 2010 8:24 am

    I had a little trouble understanding some talk at first. Once I caught the rhythmic tick then I was ok. I thought the Louis Prima segue was a magically unifying dance, a whirling movement that grew and lit up everyone’s smiling face. The Cosimo Matassa, Marcello family references I got. The Mardi Gras Indian’s appearance was something else. The first twinklings of rhinestone out of the darkness was eerie.
    The magical pie is only available to those who seek it out. If I hadn’t read you, Ashley, YRHT, Traveling Mermaid, LisaP, Library Chronicles, PZB, Mr. Clio, Bayou St. John et al, I would have been lost. In Peoria, I don’t think so, unless one is a rare devotee of New Orleans music, food, scribbling and your unique joie de vivre. But then again, was Treme made for Peorians?

  3. April 12, 2010 8:39 am

    Everyday down here, my friend, every day.

  4. April 12, 2010 9:30 am

    I think if Peoria is patient, it’ll come clear. Either they’ll seek out the info on their own, or they’ll relax and not worry too much about what they don’t get and ride the story, the people, the characters. I didn’t know shit about Baltimore before The Wire and I can’t say I know everything about it now, but I’m sure if you’re from there some things are like secret love letters, and it’s okay that they’re not addressed to me.


  5. April 12, 2010 9:59 am

    The only thing that my friend who is not immersed in all this asked about was Clarke Peters as the Indian. “What was that about?” It worked for her as images, even if she didn’t understand the profundity. I loved the people watching. Hey, that’s the real Davis! Hey, that’s Tosha! Hey, that’s Blake Leyh!
    Even if we outside the city don’t get all that’s packed into the names Matassa and Marcello, but we get the sense of why that’s important. I think that’s true of any of the insider trading-we may not get it entirely, but we’ll get the sense of it.

  6. April 12, 2010 11:03 am

    She got the groceries in Metry. 😉

    Like Ray, I thought things were a little too green for Nov 2005 but that is really picking nits. The Jockamo IPA sign at Vaughn’s too. I’m pretty sure Abita didn’t release that until well after K but perhaps that was a deliberate plug for a local brand.

    The tone overall was a bit lighter than you might expect. All the music and the comedy aspects did that I guess. And to a certain degree, you don’t need to beat viewers over the head with how grim things were at the time. And, after all, this is the broad brush of the first 80 minutes of pilot.

    I liked the scene where the second line gets under the underpass and the camera pans up to show all the muddy cars dumped behind them.

  7. April 12, 2010 11:31 am

    I think Simon will get into the ugly but couldn’t start there or he’d lose the outside audience real quick.

    And I hope he has access to HQ stock because I think he needs to pull the camera back a bit. He needs to roll through Gentilly 2005 with the focus out the window.

  8. April 12, 2010 11:34 am

    There are probably still big parts of Gentilly he could roll through in 2010 and get pretty similar footage.

  9. April 12, 2010 11:47 am

    I know they paint lawns green in Phoenix. He’ll need a drum of roundup to do it right. Too bad he didn’t shoot some stock after the big freeze when everything was eerily brown again.

  10. liprap permalink
    April 12, 2010 12:11 pm

    All I could think when there was a closeup of the Old New Orleans Rum bottle one of the musicians was pouring from at the start was “Product placement! Product placement!” Wouldn’t surprise me if the Jockamo stayed up for that reason. Details, details…

  11. April 12, 2010 12:11 pm

    Still getting chills every time one of y’all mentions the Indian coming out of the dark. Wish I could take today off just to read/write/rewatch. Big Bid Due. Wonder if they’ll fire me? 😉

    Feel like the drunk frat boy who just needs to say, “I LOVE you guys!”

  12. April 12, 2010 12:29 pm

    I’d have to check with Lisa, but I think that you’d be more likely to see NOLA Rum bottles lying on the floor of Davis McAlery’s apartment than out on a second line. If you need a pint in a hurry in what I call my local Sketchy Store (the one my wife hates for me to go to late at night for cigs but which I love to visit), it’s probably Captain Morgans or Bacardi.

    You can’t quibble over product placement, whether it’s the wrong place or the wrong time. It’s just part of what pays the pleasure of watching the show. If it were a documentary, I”m sure they kept the Miller High Life sign it replaced somewhere.

  13. April 12, 2010 12:45 pm

    D and I noticed that they got the Zapp’s, Hubig’s Pies and Old NOLA Rum product placements out of the way in the first episode. We’re taking bets on Aunt Sally’s pralines and Abita Restoration Ale for next week.

  14. April 12, 2010 1:00 pm

    I call Zatarains and Crystal. No later than 3d episode.

  15. April 12, 2010 2:02 pm

    @Athenae, well put. You make an important point about patience and to whom what is addressed. I was a little allergized so I was concerned that what I wrote was a little off kilter.
    @Watching Treme I hear you about the sense being made and feeling that in your heart.


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