Valid ‘Til You’re Not
In my younger days, I went off to the Canal Place mall to drop some stuff off at the craft co-op there. I brought my ticket from the parking garage to the front counter of the shop and handed it over, tossing off an “I need to be validated” to the girl there.
“You’re so good,” she said as she reached for the ticket stamp. “Don’t ever change, hear me?”
Wow. I didn’t know how much I needed those words until I heard them. It was embarrassing at first when I realized what I’d said versus what I’d meant, but the outcome was a beautiful, unexpected thing.
This latest episode is full of those moments. LaDonna finding the roofer who stiffed her and making sure with her own eyes that he gets served, and throwing in a word of caution to his illegally-hired crew for good measure. The big chief finding his city councilman and putting him on the spot as to why the projects haven’t been reopened and when will it be happening. Creighton getting acknowledgment from no less a literary light than Roy Blount Jr that his YouTubed words of rage are of the moment and sorely needed. Janette elegantly, daringly “lowballing” the big-time chefs led to her establishment by John Besh and getting kudos – she can really cook. Antoine, in the process of getting a new ‘bone, forgetting himself and his troubles in sparring with his benefactor over the finer points of jazz history. Davis getting a bunch of local music’s finest into the studio for next to nothing to cut an EP of jumping protest songs to kick off his satirical campaign for mayor. These things are real, life-affirming, indicative of the mastery of one’s environment.
You’re so good. Don’t ever change.
They all do their best to carry those good feelings over – Creighton goes full-bore into Krewe du Vieux planning, Janette has to share her good news with Davis, LaDonna takes that confidence she lapped up from serving Riley the roofer into the hearing over who ultimately has responsibility for finding Daymo….when you’re in the mood to conquer the world, it’s a heady feeling, especially in post-flood New Orleans, when things have been down for so long people are near mistaking them for up. It makes the true highs that much more seductive…and, unfortunately, it makes things even more devastating when you hit some serious turbulence and come crashing down.
LaDonna is faced with a legal system insisting on legal procedure and precedent in the face of what she knows: she knows that’s Daymo on the overpass in that picture, she knows that that inmate who switched wristbands with him knew him when all the transferred inmates were being treated like wild animals in that fenced-in field, she knows OPP had him at the time of the storm – she sees him in her dreams. Why can’t the judge value mercy over records washed away by the flood?
Albert can’t get anything better than an “I’ll call you, Chief,” from the man who’s supposed to be serving constituents like himself and the people Albert is trying to help bring back home. It’s so easy for a pol these days to bask in the glow from a community helping pull itself out of tragedy, but damn hard for one to play a real, instrumental part in bringing them up.
Janette’s culinary triumph gets lost in Davis’ self-absorbed enthusiasm, which itself gets crushed in the wake of the shootings at the second line and his insensitivity towards a bar patron over his use of the n-word. The reality of a six-years-long writer’s block comes crashing in on Creighton when his publisher plans to come to town to get its advance back, as does the reality of Antoine discovering that the police that nearly beat him out of a living also pawned his instrument, a gesture hardly indicative of serving the public – indeed, it is symptomatic of a police force still in shock and unable to deal with the challenges of crime returning to the city and of the dysfunctionality of then-D.A. Eddie Jordan’s office in the face of it all.
Years ago, even I still had to pay for parking, albeit at a reduced rate.
We cannot all get by solely on the breaks we get from life. Those windows of joy that are glorious to experience? All too brief.
Well, shit. What fresh hell is next, then?
Only time, and the next episode, will tell.