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Batiste’s wayward ‘bone

April 26, 2010

I have to keep this brief since I’m in another timezone (again) and off to work too soon (again).

I am a bit disappointed in the way Antoine Batiste is developing. His character seems to be flattening into caricature of the ne’er do well musician who can’t keep his pants zipped. Unless his (entirely too realistic) beat down by the police and the loss of his trombone are a turning point, he is turning into a clownish minstrel character. I expect Simon to surprise me at some point with him, but so far it’s purely hope. Even Bubbles in The Wire had his moment of attempted redemption rather than being just the clown junkie snitch. I don’t see the thread that leads Batiste anywhere but down, and not in a way I find particularly interesting.

Maybe I’m just being influenced by this post on Cliff’s Crib, which takes my earlier post quoting Cliff to give context to Lambreaux’s beat down of the copper miner and turns it upside down. I don’t expect Treme to be a Chamber of Commerce film on our triumph over adversity. I want the whole Zola truth in all its ugliness and beauty, but I hoped for more from a character who is clearly meant to be central.

Perhaps its a necessary character, but I will be disappointed if he follows that trajectory and there is no off setting character who represents the hard working musicians who fight and make it in this town, someone besides the naturally clownish Kermit Ruffins, someone that represents the Troy and James Andrews of New Orleans, all of the strong musical families who kept the brass/jazz tradition alive.

Another quick thought: I will have to think on who said ‘I don’t have a horn” (some minor character to Albert Lambreaux, but I suddenly don’t remember which minor character), but I hope the loss of Batiste’s ‘bone will get into the whole idea of how many musicians lost their instruments one way or another to the Federal Flood, and the efforts made to get them another. I haven’t thought about that for a while until I found myself standing in line outside Tipitina’s looking up at the Tipitina Foundation sign listing all the schools they purchase replacement instruments for. And although I am not a musician myself, the reunion of a player and his horn ended up having a rather dramatic impact on my own life, leading in part to my return home to New Orleans.

A final thought: the setup of Dr. John taking about Indian Red as the most sacred of the Indian songs, leading to the interruption by Katrina tourists of the memorial for Albert Lambreaux’s dead friend as they sing Indian Red was perfect and beautiful. Perhaps I didn’t appreciate it as much watching The Wire because I didn’t have the sort of background knowledge necessary to appreciate it, but the way Simon and his team are weaving this complex tapestry together is amazing artistic craftsmanship.

There was an amazing video made by local hip-hop artists mocking the Katrina disaster tourist trade but I seem to have lost the book-mark. If I can find it tonight after work I will refresh this and post it up here to close this post.

— wet bank guy

  1. wigatrisk permalink
    April 26, 2010 7:12 am

    I think the first “don’t have a horn” was said to Antoine in episode one byhis teacher Deacon John Moore at the Old Point. Does it seem too likely that Annie and Sonny picked up the horn and this will be a way to link those stories?

  2. wigatrisk permalink
    April 26, 2010 7:12 am

    Bah, I meant episode 2.

  3. April 26, 2010 7:24 am

    Yes, I can’t imagine they didn’t pick up his horn, but between his tooth and dropping his slide on the street after banging it into his car, I see plot lines building (but not necessarily character).

  4. wigatrisk permalink
    April 26, 2010 7:28 am

    Yep, the obvious TV plot would be to have Annie recover the horn while Sonny railed in disgust about the cops, and use it highlight her as more sympathetic and actually empathetic. But who knows.

  5. wigatrisk permalink
    April 26, 2010 7:29 am

    Crap, I need and edit button this morning.

    Your wise caution about character reminds me of that old saying that sports (or crisis or whatever) doesn’t build character, it reveals it.

  6. April 26, 2010 7:30 am

    And to bring up the issue of medical care for musicians (and everyone else) as well as all the lost instruments of the flood.

  7. greg p permalink
    April 26, 2010 7:48 am

    Let’s say Sonny stiffs the accordion player, opening up a spot for Antoine, who sings with the two of them as a street musician, before Sonny … nah, they would do that, would they?

    (PS not spoilers just me talking out of my ass)

  8. April 26, 2010 7:50 am

    You can read Sonny’s dangerous jealously plainly in the scene in front of Jackson square and especially in Annie’s face.

  9. greg p permalink
    April 26, 2010 8:01 am

    I dunno, he seemed to be getting into Antoine’s singing. i noted that he looked relaxed — well, more relaxed — in that scene. I think at the very least, it sets up Antoine as maybe being able to sing as well as play.

  10. wigatrisk permalink
    April 26, 2010 8:08 am

    I think greg has it, Sonny seemed to be into the moment. I thought that part was to remind us of Antoine as a basically decent, soulful gent to balance out the tomcatting.

  11. April 26, 2010 8:09 am

    I think Annie was more smitten with him. Trouble.

  12. April 26, 2010 9:00 am

    None of you think that the possibility Antoine may never play horn right again brings him to soul-searching redemption after which he quits stepping out on his girlfriend? Yeah, me neither.

    But, that he may not be able to play again bothers the living crap out of me. This whole episode does. Something’s gotta give. How? When?

    But, this is a show based on real-life events. Some things may never give, may never be resolved. Perhaps we learn to live with Treme dread much like we did Katrina/Flood dread.

  13. ferngrrl permalink
    April 26, 2010 9:03 am

    Yes, wigatrist, that’s right, Deacon John played that character. And it was a very special, valuable horn, one formerly owned by a musician whose name now eludes me. He lost the horn to Katrina; the horn was in his house.

  14. virgotex permalink*
    April 26, 2010 9:06 am

    Dunno, maybe I need to know a better class of musician, but I’ve known quite a few (not all) that act, or have spent a great deal of time in the past acting, pretty much just like Antoine.

  15. ferngrrl permalink
    April 26, 2010 9:20 am

    mf: I agree 100% with your 2nd-to-last paragraph, about Dr. John’s words. I watched with my neighbor, a friend of some of the real chiefs, and he gave the show the seal of approval again last night.

    BUT Watch out for Antoine’s tooth! He told toni, when she was getting him out, that the cop had knocked one of his teeth loose. Horn player + loose tooth = precarious musical future. So, we’ll see if a dentist shows up to help and how attending to the tooth will get paid for.

    My guess is that Sonny picked up the horn. Hmmm.

    Sonny fills me with dread. He was jealous of Tom McD, but not so much of Antoine, who he seemed to really want to play with them. His jealousy of his girlfriend is getting very large.

    The tour bus driver did seem genuinley sorry when he apologized. Maybe that’s my naivete.

    LOVE Albert meeting up with the kid and his mother! Perhaps a mentoring will follow.

    The scene with Davis and his gay neighbors was excellent, though not flashy, and raises yet one more of the Big Issues. Is Davis a homeowner? I had the sense he was renting, but just bec he’s such a slob (sorry, I know that’s biased of me). Zahn did a fine job of registering surprise when one of the gay neighbors knew all about Treme and its musical history and people.

    A scene many may forget about, but a very important one, IMO, bec it allows for potential commonality among two groups. And, of course, the preservationist vs. gentrification debate is always ongoing. Interesting to see how that plot goes.

    And, once again, my fellow-watchers and I hollered and stamped our feet that each episode is only one hour long.

    P.S. I think now that I was partly mistaken in my opinion about Albert’s beat down of Skinny. That is one cold dude, delivering justice.

  16. ferngrrl permalink
    April 26, 2010 9:24 am

    Me, too, virgotex. Seemed pretty much typical behavior to me and my neighbor, based on our own experiences and so on. Many, but not all, that’s right. Antoine hit on LaDonna, tried to get that going again, and then ended up in a strip joint where he got a little bit.

  17. virgotex permalink*
    April 26, 2010 9:25 am

    Ya’ll watched “The Wire,” right? Remember Ray’s post earlier

    Antoine, not having much self-determination and backbone, is even more vulnerable to the slings and arrows, but no one is safe.

    Bitches, meet Chessboard.

  18. April 26, 2010 9:27 am

    I think this is the video mf is thinking of:

  19. ferngrrl permalink
    April 26, 2010 9:31 am

    Annie may have picked up the horn, but maybe Sonny’s gonna try to sell it (I just don’t like that guy…). Too right, mf: Annie’s showing more and more fear in her face.

    Antoine’s tomcatting around may in some way balance something, but, uh, *how* many kids does he have? And how interested is he in them?

    A lot like friends and people in real life, I guess–complex and often contradictory, charming, frustrating, kind and also self-defeating, and so on.

  20. brueso permalink
    April 26, 2010 9:31 am

    the horn had been given to Antoine’s former teacher by Kid Ory, one of the founding fathers of jazz.

  21. April 26, 2010 9:36 am

    I think EJ put it well once: we all have something very like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, except there’s no Post. I believe that in Treme we won’t see a trail of the dead; rather, a trail of the broken.

  22. ferngrrl permalink
    April 26, 2010 10:13 am

    Yeah, Brueso, Kid Ory, thanks!! My cousin and I moaned long and low when Deac spoke those words in episode 2.

  23. ferngrrl permalink
    April 26, 2010 10:19 am

    Thinking now on the scene of Albert’s son talking with Shorty and other musicians after the Dr. John studio scene. Another endorsement that it’s okay to treat our musicians the way they’ve been treated, coupled with encouragement to leave, spread the music, and get treated well at the same time. “Tradition” has many dimensions.

    Louis Armstrong left.

    And Goodnman’s character reading “Rising Tide”–inspiration for his own novel perhaps, but a nice touch.

  24. April 26, 2010 10:27 am

    ferngrrl, gonna develop that musician klatch after the Dr John session later. Got some interesting thoughts about that.

    And as for musicians’ losses in the flood, the worst one I can think of is all the sheet music, memorabilia and instrument losses sustained by Dr Michael White, clarinetist extraordinaire and music historian.

  25. greg p permalink
    April 26, 2010 10:42 am

    “Watch out for Antoine’s tooth! He told toni, when she was getting him out, that the cop had knocked one of his teeth loose. Horn player + loose tooth = precarious musical future. So, we’ll see if a dentist shows up to help and how attending to the tooth will get paid for.”

    A dentist, you say. Hmmmmm…

  26. April 26, 2010 10:47 am

    Oh, boy. LaDonna better watch her heart and stay the hell away from that tsuris…but all we can do is wait and see.

  27. April 26, 2010 10:53 am

    I continue to like the little things best: The interplay between Kim Dickens and her chef, John Goodman’s daughter’s face lighting up as she learns Professor Longhair, the faces of the actual musicians. The scene in which Sonny drink Anna’s birthday gift after it finally dawns on him that she is about 5000 times more talented was heartbreaking. You could tell that he knows that they won’t last.

    The idea of a bus tour three months after the flood is macabre. But, in 2008, we took a tour in a small, unmarked van led by someone who had lost her home. We were in NOLA for JazzFest, but it didn’t seem right to spend several days there without bearing witness. We asked around and were encouraged to take a tour, so we looked for something discreet (i.e., not Gray Line). I have to say that it was a profound experience. Of course, it was a small, unmarked van and the driver stopped only three times: a restroom break at a mall, outside of her condemned house, and the musician’s village.

  28. adrastosno permalink
    April 26, 2010 11:38 am

    Mark, you linked to EJ’s blog. The PTSD is his area, not Eli’s.

  29. April 26, 2010 11:59 am

    Davis could be in an old family property. Treme and the ridge were originally Creole in an older sense than is currently admitted. A white, Francophone ancestor fleeing the Haitian slave uprising built a house on Esplanade before returning to plantation life upriver. But then Davis’ parents reek of the Garden District.

    Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

  30. April 26, 2010 12:04 pm

    Which makes is about a piece of the cross on the reliquary scale.

  31. tim permalink
    April 26, 2010 12:05 pm

    Well, Davis is getting more annoying all the time. If he said some crap as he did to his neighbours to me, he would find himself the subject of a Lambreaux-style beatdown, with the nearest pipe, bottle or rock.

    Creighton’s aggravation with him probably stems from knowing who he is; his wife defended him so I’m thinking Creighton just thinks of him as bad news.

    Also, that was a mighty clean OPP! At that point after the storm it was like a third world jail hellhole, vomit and urine everywhere while people being processed were herded into tiny rooms with barely a place to stand.

  32. April 26, 2010 12:08 pm

    Pete Fountain lived in Bay St. Louis and lost everything to the tidal surge. Never forget the Hiroshima barreness our fellow sufferers returned to.

  33. April 26, 2010 12:10 pm

    I meant EJ. Sorry.

  34. brueso permalink
    April 26, 2010 12:16 pm

    since Wendell is talking about taking more lessons so he can play more next season, that’s a tipoff that Antoine will be playing again, but I think it would be a really strong storyline if they focused on ‘what does an artist do with himself/herself when they can’t do their art anymore?” He may hate playing Bourbon (side-benefits notwithstanding) but what if he couldn’t play at all? Spike Lee touched on that a bit in “Mo Better Blues” after the horn-playing Denzel character got his face busted up. It’s what athletes have to deal with when in their 40s they can no longer play the game.

  35. ferngrrl permalink
    April 26, 2010 12:19 pm

    Yep, a dentist. The plot thickens….!

    LaDonna and The Roof: that’s something that our chief-contractor could help with, right? 😉

  36. ferngrrl permalink
    April 26, 2010 12:28 pm

    Good point, I hadn’t remembered his antique shop owner mom and doctor father. But, hey, “reek” makes it sound like Garden District people are stinky.

  37. ferngrrl permalink
    April 26, 2010 12:32 pm

    Shortly after the storm, a friend whose mom had evacuated from Pontchatrain Park (but whose dad insisted on not leaving, well, he left but turned around at LaPlace…), anyway, she sent me a t-shirt that some locals were making. It had a big cresent and a star, (yes like the NOPD shield–her father had been a detective years ago).

    It said: New Olreans–Bent but not broken.

  38. April 26, 2010 12:33 pm

    Well, I grew up on the noveau sorta riche Lakefront (but am from an old Louisiana family but from out the country) so I carry a certain baggage about a certain class of Uptown folks picked up while in school with them at Christian Brothers and De La Salle in the sixties and seventies.

  39. ferngrrl permalink
    April 26, 2010 12:33 pm


  40. brueso permalink
    April 26, 2010 12:43 pm

    I don’t know whether I agree that Creighton might see Davis as bad news- I had the feeling on the porch that he was mainly just fucking with him for the fun of fucking with him- but I agree that Davis’s scene with the neighbor was very interesting. It’s always informative when someone says something like “I’m not anti-gay” but then makes a crack about dick-sucking. Also, I love that Davis probably would tell you he’s also not prejudiced, but he definitely learned that when it came to knowledge about the community and music, he shouldn’t just pre-judge his neighbor cause he doesn’t look like the kind of hipster Davis likes to run with.

  41. ferngrrl permalink
    April 26, 2010 12:51 pm

    Speaking of LaDonna, she speaks what is so often not treated or is treated badly in N.O. fiction. Scenes with her husband, then with the brother-in-law civil court judge, and then with Toni–where she lays it out in plain language–were righteous (I hate that word, but…).

    As much as I dislike most of Anne Rice’s fiction (post-“Interview”), “The Feast of All Saints” does a fair job, I think, presenting a version of the N.O. inhabited by creoles and free people of color in the mid-1800s. Focuses on the precarious life of placage. (But, lord, it is sooo adjective-heavy!)

    Some very good history is found in a collection of essays (more academic than mass market, thank goodness) called “Creole New Orleans: Race Americanization “, edited by Ed Hirsch and Joe Logsdon. The essays go from French & Spanish colonization (and their slavery policies) up to the administration of Dutch Morial.

    Logsdon’s daughter, I believe, worked with Lolis on his documentary (which i was sad to see didn’t go into much about the importance of education among free people of color, and European education that many Creoles of color got).

    One essayist, a former history prof at UNO (ditto for several of the editors, contributors), Dr. Johnson, lives in the Marigny (has for many many years); on his house is a placard that says something like “This house was built in [year] by [person], a free person of color and a [trade].”

    Back to LaDonna: so there she is telling a redheaded white woman who is helping her that her Creole in-laws don’t care about her people.

  42. jaffa permalink
    April 26, 2010 12:53 pm

    Sonny sitting drinking that wine was heartbreaking. I hope they stick to the who makes it, who doesn’t story, as opposed to the more horrific and graphic possibilities. ( i Too did my homework and read One dead in attic and Shake the devil off last week)

    The tour bus. This I understand more from the outside. I was in NY the first week in December after 9/11 at a work convention, and almost every New Yorker I saw asked me if i had been to the picture wall. It seemed expected, as if you needed to pay your respects. I see how people would want to see and make real such devastating loss by going and seeing it themselves.

    I also see how it could be really obnoxious and invasive for the people there.

    So far for me the best part is the Indian chanting. I love that type of vocals, and the simplicity is really beautiful. I’m looking forward to more here just for listening pleasure!

  43. brueso permalink
    April 26, 2010 1:01 pm

    I didn’t see Sonny drinking the wine as heart-breaking- I saw it as him just being selfish and prickish. “I bought this bottle of wine for you”- turns to “I’m so jealous to see you get more attention for your playing than I do, that I can’t stick around for it any more and I’m gonna go drink that wine I bought you.” You can imagine how cherished Annie’s gonna feel when she gets home and finds drunk boyfriend with empty gift wine bottle.

  44. ferngrrl permalink
    April 26, 2010 1:05 pm

    liprap: yes, yes! It seems to me to be almost a subset–an internal subset, that is, of the “why rebuild” discussion, maybe maybe.

    “Tradition” cuts both ways. Many ways. Blanket adoration of “tradition” and fear of change/loss is one reason Louisiana is still so backwards. “Because we’ve always done it this way.”

    So, what do you keep, what do you change, and what do you leave behind? So we ponder what has been pondered by dialecticians since before Adorno and Benjamin and Marcuse.

    Honestly, sometimes the wisdom to realize when it’s time to quit and move on, though a less-romanticized wisdom, is the hardest of all.

    I came back in 2008 (after a 20 year absence) and sometimes still wonder why I came b ack. then it hits me: It’s the music, stupid. But really, I know people who evaced, preferred to new place and the functionality and job market, and now come back to visit. Nothing wrong with that.

    DL Menard, one of my favorite Cajun musicians, says, at the end of gigs, “Mais, cha, I gotta leave now so I can come back!”

    Gawd, the sheet music. And the photographs, dear lord. The Historic New Orleans Collection and the CAC did a favulous show of White’s photography last summer. Some friends from Paris came, and they had never seen anything like it. Me, too, I might add. Made me cry.

  45. ferngrrl permalink
    April 26, 2010 1:15 pm

    I see what you mean. But I’m seeing something different.

    Davis, for the first time, seemed to look with concern on the chef (sorry, names elude me sometimes) for a few seconds during their dinner at Feelings, just after the Feelings chef left their table.

    Creighton is being a daddy, protecting his daughter from a randy young man-musician. Note that very quick shot from Creighton”s face (as he stands back watching) to a shot of the butts and thighs of Davis and Sophie sitting on the bench. Daddy measuring the distance there? 😉

    Creighton knows BS and brownnosing when he hears it; he’s a professor. I agree that he isn’t happy about Davis, and is even less h appy that a musician down and out is in a position to influence his daughter. At the same time, he loved Sophie’s Youtube vid, so he knows she’s fiesty.

    brueso: I agree about the porch scene.

  46. ferngrrl permalink
    April 26, 2010 1:20 pm

    That scene with Davis and his gay neighbors was gorgeous! I loved it as a demi-slap-down of Davis’ pretentious claims that he alone knows/understands/protects the Treme traditions, etc.

    Right on, brueso, about Davis and his own prejudices.

    And that song Davis wrote, being happy that strippers are moving into his neighborhood. Interesting.

  47. ferngrrl permalink
    April 26, 2010 1:25 pm

    Sonny is scary. And heartbreaking, too. His soliloquy at the formal party, saying during rescues he saw snakes crawling out of bodies [I wonder if they added that line so that we’d know for sure he was lying?] made me angry and also sad. He wasn’t one of the heroes, and that eats him up, I’m thinking.

    Maybe he’ll just beat Annie up, instead of kill her, and then he’ll vanish and Annie will have a better path with better musicians. hey, a girl can hope, can’t she!?

  48. tim permalink
    April 26, 2010 1:41 pm

    [This comment has been deleted by the moderator because BOT discourages the posting of spoilers and discussion of an episode before it has aired at least once on regular HBO.]

  49. ferngrrl permalink
    April 26, 2010 1:41 pm

    mf, I know what you mean (did a year at Ursuline then ran).

    But I also have some friends in the Garden District who work hard in their favorites project areas and do a lot of good. The Bultman funeral home was/in in the Garden District, and, though it’s all changed, Bethany does lots of good for the musician’s foundation. Anyway, I hear ya.

    On the other hand, the general snootiness of many members of some “upper classes” has always turned me off–when I happen to cross paths with snoots, that is, say, in Whole Foods or the hallways of Tulane.

    Sometimes groups of people insulate themselves,I tell myself, and that’s one group that has done that. Poor people do it, too, but perhaps less cushily.

    My parents were not from NO. They moved here, after moving to LSUBR where they met, to go to Tulane and Loyola Law School. Mom’s people way back got one of the 1st Spanish land grants; others fled from Haiti. So, I live in Carrollton, mixed-up Carrollton, bec I spent my first 10 years in Carrollton.

  50. April 26, 2010 1:44 pm

    You returned after the storm I presume (as I did and a couple of other members of this blog). I wonder when our characters appear?

  51. April 26, 2010 1:45 pm

    Central to last night’s narrative was Batiste’s bone. The episode begins with with his foolish focus on the little bone, and his thread concludes with the literal loss of his big ‘bone, his trombone.

    How will that play out? Typical narrative expectation is that Annie rescued his ‘bone, and then maybe Sonny sells it. But musicians like Bonnie Raitt provided immediately for musician relief, even prior to her other benefits soon after. She donated $200,000 outright for musician relief, and the relief wasn’t contingent on doing this or doing that. Maybe this is how Batiste gets a new ‘bone?

    He needs a dentist. Such professionals are pretty much MIA at this time, but there is one in Baton Rouge, Batiste’s ex-wife’s husband. Almost a part of the family, not to mention he lives with Batiste’s sons, who Batiste has been neglecting shamefully. Or maybe Batiste sees his ex-wife’s husband, receives some pro bono work, but still hasn’t got an instrument. Maybe his embouchure has suffered some long term damage.

    Maybe he’s gonna have to fly right, at least for a while, and maybe look long and deep into who he is — and isn’t? Maybe he’ll even have to get a job, maybe working with Albert? But that’s pretty typical tv narrative development, which isn’t necessarily true to life either, though sometimes we flawed and failed human beings do have a come to Jesus moment.

    Pierce has been doing a splendid acting job, though that opening scene of him humping the stripper looked less like sexual congress than anything seen on screen for quite some time. Naked women on screen as window dressing is kind of offensive, and this stupid strip club in Treme’s French Quarter always brings to mind the strip club in The Sopranos, as if the Treme team are making some sort of comment on the show that got all the emmys.

    Batiste’s ribbing from the other band members in the strip club was straight up though, and also sad, right after that convo in NYC among the musicians playing with Mac for the benefit concert, about whether to stay or go NO. But their conversation? never have any musicians expressed themselves like that among themselves. But then, the deal has to be made clear to us all who don’t hang out with musicians or in NO.

    Never had there been so many New Orleans musicians and New Orleans music in NYC as in those weeks after the Catastrophe. And that hasn’t changed. Regular gigs in NYC for Big Sam and a lot of other NO musicians. And, of course, now NYC is gonna play Mardi Gras whether or no it has a clue (part of that is all the students who came down to help, to intern with Spike, and all those rebuilding vacations — they all come back with cds and beads). The other day a jazz arts venue director had to be carefully talked through her not brilliant idea to hold a second line in downtown NYC because, well for starters, it just couldn’t work, for so many reasons.

    The motiveless beatdown of Batiste (and last week’s arrest of Delmond), plus the run-around Toni gets from the sheriff – we’re getting a picture here of law enforcement and ‘security’ that is not in control of itself or controlled from the outside either. It’s in this period that the mysterious murder of musician Hilton Ruiz took place. We drank some weeks back by chance with an NO homicide cop and he confirmed what we thought happened – that it was indeed a murder and covered up by the NO PD.

    This is the best episode of the three, or so it seems to me. But that’s how we want it, right — that the longer it goes on the better it gets.

  52. Anita permalink
    April 26, 2010 1:46 pm

    About Creighton and Davis, remember you could just hear Davis’s little wheels go clickety click when he introduced himself : (you teacher, me teacher, see we are equals and have so much in common, such as your daughter’s proper education) “I love teaching,” Davis volleyed and Creighton returned, “I love it so much I often shave before doing it.”

    So I think Creighton just took on the little brat, an all too familiar type to a professor teaching privileged kids, even before the piano bench thing. Afterwards, maybe he was playing daddy a bit but he was also messing with Davis.

    Creighton seems to be very proud of his wife and daughter, especially their spunkiness.
    I think he probably goes a lot further than most men in trusting their decision-making skills.

    Which brings us to Sonny, but I need a little more time for that.

  53. April 26, 2010 1:53 pm

    ferngrrl — Yes! Feast of All Saints.

    Another book of interest in this area is, an academic book, though not irredeemably jargon-y, is Exiles At Home: The Struggle to Become American in Creole New Orleans (2009 –Harvard Univ. Press). The author, Shirley Elizabeth Thompson got her Ph.D. at Tulane, I believe, and now teaches at UT-Austin.

    Isn’t the LaDonna character just getting better and better? Those were excellent scenes.

  54. brueso permalink
    April 26, 2010 2:01 pm

    I chuckled at the thought of Batiste possibly soliciting assistance from LaDonna’s current husband. There was an comedy in the mid-80’s called ‘Reuben, Reuben’ in which a poet who screws around with all the suburban wives in a patch of Connecticut then goes for an appointment to the dentist husband of one of them who was onto him about his screwing around and the dentist unnecessarily yanked some teeth that he knew would require the guy to get dentures. Be careful, Batiste!

  55. ferngrrl permalink
    April 26, 2010 2:05 pm

    P.S. I didn’t mean “just” beat her up, as if that’s nothing. I meant beat her up instead of taking her life.

  56. April 26, 2010 2:08 pm

    Batiste, when / if you see your ex-wife’s dentist husband, be on guard for your embouchure!

  57. jaffa permalink
    April 26, 2010 2:09 pm

    Yeah, I think not being a hero is cutting at him. The crabs and snake stuff def seemed to be a warning he was talking crap.

  58. ferngrrl permalink
    April 26, 2010 2:15 pm

    Excellent post, foxessa!

    And I almost forgot that Batiste goes back to the strip club and sends that stripper away.

    The chat among musicians at the strip club made me a little sad. I dunno that they’d not talk that way amongst themselves, but I haven’t hung with said crowd for about 20 years.

    About the Cajun sherrif: Now, half of my family lives in Evangeline and Acadiana Parishes, and I know a good Cajun accent when I hear one. That one was on the mark. Kudos and thanks, thanks, thanks, for that!!!

    Yep, the longer it goes, the better it gets.

  59. ferngrrl permalink
    April 26, 2010 2:19 pm

    Thanks, foxessa, I’ll hunt it down and get it.

    LaDonna is truly becoming more and more complex. She’s balancing so many of her personas so carefully. Khandi Alexander is perfect for the role, a real powerhouse. Glad she got some respite from “CSI Miami.” And she’s so tiny in person!

    Many people share her roof experience. But don’t get me started on that… 😉

  60. Anita permalink
    April 26, 2010 2:27 pm

    Couldn’t New Orleanians write the definitive volume on “How (not) to get your roof fixed?”

  61. April 26, 2010 2:27 pm

    That was definitely one of those “drinking to get back at people” acts. Angry drinking, not sad drinking. “I’ll drink at ’em, that’ll show ’em”. Addicts and alcoholics do it all the time, where drinking becomes not just a way to cope or to numb out, but becomes an act fraught with meaning in and of itself. He was drinking that wine to teach her a lesson, to show her how badly she treated him.

    The fact that the intended recipients hardly ever interpret the message the way it was intended is usually lost on the drinker.

  62. brueso permalink
    April 26, 2010 3:27 pm

    another part of “Davis and his neighbors” is once he heard that they were from Uptown and Mid-City, he probably realized that the ‘carpetbaggers’ taunt he was probably ready with vanished on him, and since he himself probably grew up Uptown, he probably had the sickening realization “we have met the enemy- and it is us!”

  63. April 26, 2010 4:12 pm

    Speaking of strippers as we sometimes do, are we certain those va-va-va-voomers moved into Davis’s neighborhood are not transvestites or transexuals?

    Would it not be fun if they were and very slowly Davis figures out that these neighbors he does approve of, unlike his gay neighbors, because they have money and he thinks they are destroying his neighborhood, are not who he thinks they are? As, perhaps, maybe his next-door-from-uptown neighbors aren’t what he sees them as either?

  64. April 26, 2010 4:17 pm

    Remembering what the population of 1300 blocl of Esplanade was like early 80s I think he may be in for just such a surprise.

  65. April 26, 2010 4:46 pm

    Re your earlier comment — which for some reason doesn’t have a Reply button — best of all would be if the neighbors turned out to be transexual lesbians. Seriously, I have a feeling that transvestite angle is a pretty shrewd guess. Or maybe they’ll be like Suzanne Sommers in American Grafitti: An ideal often glimpsed and always out of reach…

  66. virgotex permalink*
    April 26, 2010 5:12 pm

    I think you are assuming that by saying the scene is heartbreaking, it means that our hearts are breaking for Sonny. That’s a big oversimplification.

    Sonny’s just one wheel on a tragedy rolling forward, gaining speed. Addiction, poverty, squalor, inevitability of violence, in a larger environment of chaos and uncertainty. Those things are heartbreaking.

  67. April 26, 2010 5:25 pm

    All the trappings of Tragedy (damn, there’s that Lambeaux episode one Hamlet’s ghost though again) but no one who cares about NOLA wants it to end with a srage littered with the broken and the dead. Simon sees all the strings on the human heart like the lights of power in a Casteneda vision of Seeing, and knows just how to pull them. I may start calling him Don Simon. Or Yoda.

  68. April 26, 2010 5:34 pm

    K — We’ll find out who Davis’s va va va voom neighbors are before season 1 concludes.

    Won’t we?

  69. April 26, 2010 5:36 pm


    “I may start calling him Don Simon. Or Yoda.”

    O please, please, please don’t!

  70. jaffa permalink
    April 26, 2010 5:49 pm

    I’m a total wuss, watching someone deliberately doing stuff you drinking and the destruction that brings is also painful. It’s a deliberate trainwreak , and it seems like all his personal rebuilding hopes were in that bottle.

    You know the coke and chaos is coming.

  71. greg p permalink
    April 26, 2010 5:55 pm

    Really. Jiggle the balls a little while you’re down there.

    (Kidding, sort of. Kisses to MF, who was a boon companion this past weekend.)

  72. April 26, 2010 6:20 pm

    Maybe David Simon hasn’t made up his mind. Maybe he’s patrolling blog comments for ideas.

  73. April 26, 2010 6:24 pm

    K — I kinda get the idea that he’s too busy to troll blogs! 🙂

  74. April 26, 2010 6:26 pm

    Actually now that I look at the calendar — season 1’s all shot. They finished I think last week.

    Editing and music and stuff though.

  75. April 26, 2010 6:34 pm

    I’m not sure that there’s an absolute definition for heartbreak, and what moves one person can leave another cold. One of life’s great disappointments is to suddenly realize that someone close to you is better at something than you will ever be. When that person is your lover and the realization is hammered home casually by someone you admire (Tom McDermott, in this case), well..In terms of this, it doesn’t get much worse.

    So far, Sonny doesn’t seem like a bad guy — just a weak one with an inflated view of himself who tells people what they want to hear.

  76. April 26, 2010 6:45 pm

    Or maybe Don Yoda. “The music is an ally, Luke.”

  77. brueso permalink
    April 26, 2010 7:07 pm

    They did some filming today, but must be close. Actually, David Simon’s father passed away I think in the last week- the second big loss to him personally (after David Mills) while trying to finish up season 1. I would think that blogs is the last thing he’s thinking of (but if he had the time, I’m sure he’d enjoy this one).

  78. brueso permalink
    April 26, 2010 7:11 pm

    Sonny tells people what they want to hear? I’d say he tells people what HE wants them to hear. All the stories about him saving people are a way of making himself a hero.

  79. noladishu permalink
    April 26, 2010 10:20 pm

    Post-K OPP is the same as the old OPP, plus a nice new mold smell.

  80. April 27, 2010 3:15 am

    MF, regarding your feelings about Antoine’s character being flattened into a caricature of the ne’er do well musician, I can understand your feelings, but I just can’t help but disagree. As you know, I’ve spent pretty much my entire adult life as a New Orleans musician’s (ex)wife, girlfriend, manager (including horn players like Antoine) and been on the road with these guys plenty of times. I laughed at the scene because I knew it was much more true than not. More than once I’ve played the role of Desiree, Antoine’s baby mama, his #1, while he’s got a #2, #3… out there that he’s playing with on the side. That’s not really any kind of secret. so I’m not telling tales out of school. I think the writers are doing their job to keep it real and are representing an archetype more than a caricature. This is really just how it is with this crowd. (Not saying all musicians are like this, of course, but I know more in this scene who are than are not.)

    I have a similar thing to say about this from Foxessa: “Batiste’s ribbing from the other band members in the strip club was straight up though, and also sad, right after that convo in NYC among the musicians playing with Mac for the benefit concert, about whether to stay or go NO. But their conversation? never have any musicians expressed themselves like that among themselves. But then, the deal has to be made clear to us all who don’t hang out with musicians or in NO.

    I keep thinking I must be decoding the part about musicians never having “expressed themselves like that among themselves” incorrectly, because I cannot tell you the number of times I have personally witnessed this very conversation, as much before The Storm as after, by the way. So much of this stuff has hit home for me. A very close friend, (another New Orleans horn player and artist– MF has one of his paintings), will probably never come home because he’s doing so much better where he landed after The Storm than he felt he’d be doing here. One thing that’s kept him away is the increased cost of living here without any real increase in pay. It was especially hard after the storm with the housing crunch and inflated rents. I suspect issues like these will be woven into the story.

    There’s a thin line between fiction and reality in this show. I’m blown away by how many friends I have who are in Treme and how many have speaking roles and are playing themselves, I’m very grateful to see locals involved as something other than extras. I just uploaded video to my YouTube channel (link below) of Mason (Davis’ friend in real life and on screen) dancing with some of my other Sunday second-line friends on stage with the Free Agents Brass Band at the Jazz Fest on Sunday. I’ll be posting more where Mason’s wearing his must-see Young Men Olympians garb, dancing with the Hot 8.

    Lots of second line and brass band video here for anyone who may be interested. Some Mardi Gras Indian video, too.

  81. noladishu permalink
    April 27, 2010 6:53 am

    Batiste’s character is so bad, up until halfway through this episode, he could have been a character on K-Ville…

  82. wigatrisk permalink
    April 27, 2010 7:19 am

    Thanks for providing those clips Lisa, that tent/drum scene is staggering. It’s snowing up here this morning in St John’s so that Free Agent sound is very welcome.

  83. April 27, 2010 8:52 am

    Lisa Palumbo

    The problem is that I expressed myself badly in that phrase. I heard and still hear those conversations all the time about going or staying in New Orleans. Shoot I’ve listened to Mac talk about going back to NO and leaving NO again after going back, even.

    What I was trying to say was in that scene, which was at a rehearsal I think, for a NO benefit concert at Lincoln Center, was that I’d never heard those musicians or any other musicians use language as it was depicted in the scene. In other words they were saying the right things, but they weren’t expressing them in dialogue with each other in the language manner in which you will hear these cats speak with each other about such a matter. Argh. I’m still not saying it right!

  84. virgotex permalink*
    April 27, 2010 9:01 am

    That scene was a klunker, the worst scene in the ep. It was telling, not showing.

  85. April 27, 2010 9:06 am

    The right thoughts, the wrong vernacular and dialogue. Is that about it L?

  86. April 27, 2010 9:35 am

    Citizen K: I’ve set the Reply functionality so the comments nest up to 3 deep. Beyond that, the reply columns get too narrow and look like poop.

  87. virgotex permalink*
    April 27, 2010 9:56 am

    As NuPac’ers remember well, Simon trolled blogs pretty often during the last season of The Wire.

  88. April 27, 2010 5:30 pm

    OK, I get what you’re saying, Foxessa. I’ll have to watch that scene again.

    Noladishu, and anyone else who thinks the character is lacking, all I can tell you is that I’ve heard from more than one of my brass band musician friends that they can totally relate to Antoine’s character. I’m not making the judgment call here, I’m just the messenger. I could show you FB posts from several where this thought has been expressed, so it must be resonating on some level with people who have lived this lifestyle. I know a lot of you are looking at this from a critical perspective (plot and character development, etc,) which is appropriate given that it’s a work of fiction. It’s just hard for me to take that perspective when so much of Treme is based on absolute reality, deals with a world I live in, (NOLA music, second lines, brass bands, etc.), and many of the characters are archetypes of people I know, and sometimes the actual people. If this is not a world you know or people you know, I can see how from the outside, some of these things look cliche, but remember, cliches are just truths that are repeated often. “Yeah you right” is a cliche to us when we see it on screen, but the fact is that people around here do actually say it all the time. (Or at least lots of the people I know do.) So, how do you reconcile this? Tell the truth and risk sounding cliche or make it more palatable with some alteration. I’m glad I’m not the one to have to make these decisions. You can’t please all the people all the time.

    As for telling rather than showing, I’m thinking maybe it was just the most expedient way to inform the viewer of an issue that local musicians have mulled over for decades and it is, in fact, something that’s often discussed or “told” (as I said, I’ve witnessed it more times than I can count), but is rarely played out such that it can be shown, but actually, we’ve already been shown through Delmonde Lambreaux. Until The Storm, very few of the many people who earn their livings in this city as musicians were ever in a position to do what they do elsewhere to “make it.” As I said, I’ll have to watch the scene again to evaluate the dialogue.

  89. April 27, 2010 5:32 pm

    You’re very welcome. The tent scene does something to me every time I watch it. It was really something.

  90. greg p permalink
    April 27, 2010 7:50 pm

    Lisa’s mention of “absolute reality” made me remember something I wanted to say during the Davis arguments — and maybe I can get away with this before Free Speech Alley closes down for the week: The single most misunderstood piece of advice given to writers is “write about what you know.” It’s good advice, if you think about it hard enough, which beginners almost never do.

    In every writing workshop I have ever taken or given, the same scene plays out: a novice (fiction) writer will hear “write about what you know” and turn in a story about growing up on a dairy farm in Minnesota, let’s say. They’ll tell the story of the time some of the cows got loose through a hole in the fence that the neighbor’s son put there through carelessness, and how Uncle Joe went to talk to the neighbor and they worked it out even though Grandma was afraid there would be a fight.

    In discussing this story, someone will say, “You know, I didn’t feel like the scene where they talked it out rang true. Everything had been leading up to this confrontation, and it never happened.” And the author of the story will start to get prickly and object that “That’s how it really happened” and dig in his or her heels. They’re writing about what they know, and they know how this scene went down.

    Of course, writing about what you know means more than history: sure, it means don’t write a story about astronauts if you don’t know where up is, but it also should remind you that you know about pain, love, grief, longing, how it feels to disappoint a parent or win a lover, how it feels to win a game or lose a child.

    I’m not by any stretch criticizing Lisa’s post — this doesn’t even address Lisa’s post but was merely inspired by it — just making sure we get some air in this notion of authenticity: agreed that it’s better to have it than not have it, but authenticity does not substitute for story. A lot of the pushback from Davis fans seemed to stem from the idea that there are guys like this in every scene, Davis Rogan is really like that in some ways, etc — in short, that the character was authentic and so his actions must necessarily be authentic and therefore excusable. My objection (and I’ll arrogantly speak for Kevin here as well) was that the character was poorly written and poorly acted on top of that and was a detriment to the overall story, regardless of his authenticity. I still feel that way, that a portrait of a local scenester with a head full of himself, not necessarily likable, can be a great and useful character without being such a jittery, overacted douche.

    The primary reason for any scene in any drama is (or should be) to advance the story, either through developing character or through incident. In an ensemble drama, some things are necessarily going to be telescoped; in a David Simon enseble drama, a lot of things are going to be telescoped because he advances story through character development more often than action, which tends to be short and brutal, sometimes even offscreen. So, for me, the dialogue between the Bourbon street musicians served to advance the story and deepen Antoine’s character with a minimum of talk and in a minimum of screen time. It was as authentic as it needed to be. Simon and his people have been working over these three episodes — the only ones given to crtics before the show aired, if I’m not mistaken — to create a fictional but “authentic” New Orleans that reflects post-K reality as best it can. Having done that, the characters are free to go out and play and develop and start telling their stories. And while the verisimilitude of the setting has to be maintained and fed and brought to the attention of the audience throughout, it’s about as authentic as it’s going to get right now. The dialogue may or may not be how real NOLA musicians talk, but it’s how Tremé’s musicians talk, for good or ill. I think it’s close enough for jazz, myself; it may not perfectly fit Lisa’s reality, or mine, or Ray’s, but it’s a convincing reality within the context of the show.

    Simon is overseeing a drama about what he knows: the struggles of regular people against uncaring institutions, urban life and human resiliancy. Too much worry about the TV cows escaping escaping over the fence when they really went under it undermines the storyteller and our enjoyment of the story. If Davis/Zahn yanks me out with his ticks and bizarrely inconsistent dialogue, and the musicians yank others out of the spell because of theirs, we need to stop and give some thought as to whether we are responding to a failure of execution on the part of the drama, or a refusal on our part to relax our standards of authenticity and just let the story be.

  91. greg p permalink
    April 27, 2010 7:57 pm

    There’s currently a heated discussion on the forums about the cops beating Antoine, with the out-of-towners holding either that a) they were justified because he scratched up the patrol car with his horn and he could have just apologized and defused the whole thing, or b) cops wouldn’t do that.

    I laughed and laughed and laughed.

  92. April 27, 2010 8:28 pm

    Well said, i.e., non-important me agrees! 🙂 As, if I read right, does Lisa P.

    In the end this is FICTION.

    While we still are in New Orleans.

    We sure as hell ain’t in San Francisco or Kansas City, or Fargo, or Seattle, or Nashville, or Omaha, or Houston, or NYC either, despite scenes ostensibly set there. Nor do I have anything against any of those cities, some of which I know better than others, and I appreciate them all, and what they’ve given to music. (Well, maybe not Fargo and Omaha?)

  93. April 28, 2010 12:30 am

    Yes, Foxessa, is right; I do agree. Greg, your last two paragraphs express the point I was trying to make.

  94. April 28, 2010 5:30 am

    Our word for this week is verisimilitude.

    If you haven’t thought about it since English class, it’s important for all of us who know New Orleans well and are of course watching this show to keep that in mind.

    A second point: the ultimate importance of this show for many of us (for the NOLA Bloggers, who have for years made a point of getting the story out there) is: does it communicate the sense of our situation to the wider world? If it does that at the expense of detail, because Simon manages a compelling story with fully-fleshed and compelling carachters, all the better.

    As long as it’s true (in a literary sene) it need not be accurate.

    Mark Folse Toulouse Street — Odd Bits of Life in New Orleans “You got to be a spirit! You can’t be no ghost.” –Rastaman the Griot

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