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Not an emergency, I guess

May 23, 2010

I don’t know what was more awful: the lot full of trucks, or LaDonna’s face in the last scene.

45 Comments
  1. May 23, 2010 10:23 pm

    I think Mr. Rogan did a very solid job with this script.

  2. May 23, 2010 10:27 pm

    Dr. John, please call radiology.

  3. May 23, 2010 10:32 pm

    I thought this was the best episode yet. I loved them cooking out back at Bacchanal. So much happened. Where did we leave Albert, getting beat up?

  4. May 23, 2010 10:37 pm

    Show keeps getting better and better. Nice cameo of Herman Leonard in the airport

  5. May 23, 2010 10:42 pm

    Anyone else get a little Wire flashback as they took the boards off the door at the projects?

  6. May 23, 2010 10:52 pm

    I’m finding that although I love the show, watching it is kind of upsetting. I was leaning forward at the TV with a sick feeling in my stomach the whole hour tonight. Now I’m just kind of numb.

    Sam Jasper and I were talking after last week’s episode about them portraying how rough the storm was on old people, both Ladonna’s mother and Deacon John, and it seemed clear where that story was going to go, but I didn’t think he would die so soon. I also didn’t think they would resolve Daymo’s fate so early. Things are coming apart very fast now for multiple characters and it’s going to get worse before the season is up.

    That expression on Creighton’s face when Toni woke him up out in his man-cave…I know it’s coincidence, but that was a total Ashley look. (Plus the fact that Creighton even has a man-cave; Ash was putting the finishing touches on his own right before he died.)

  7. May 23, 2010 10:53 pm

    I flashed back to Dangerblond’s Brick Shithouses post. It’s hard for me to watch the whole public housing story line, since it’s what I do for a living, and, well, we know how that ends.

  8. May 23, 2010 10:59 pm

    Michael called me tonight after re-watching last week’s episode and asked if I thought that was what was going to happen with Creighton. I didn’t think about the man-cave until you mentioned it, but, yeah, you right.

  9. Virgotex permalink
    May 23, 2010 11:27 pm

    The scene by the graveside with the gospel singer tore me up- what got me was the traffic on the overpass in the background. Here’s a man who was a connection all the way back to Kid Ory, and he’s gone too soon, and life keeps goes on

  10. May 24, 2010 7:21 am

    Agreed. After hearing some of Mr. Rogan’s music on ‘OZ this weekend and seeing him at Bayou Boogaloo, I didn’t have high expectations. But damn if he didn’t write the best episode yet.

  11. May 24, 2010 7:42 am

    What does the beating of the big chief mean? Unlike the beating of Antoine, it didn’t feel like cops suffering from storm stress. There the cops were on edge and looking for a fight. Here, the show seems to be saying something about power. But what?

    On an absolute level, power means being the force with the right to impose violence. Albert understands that. His beat the copper thief, because civil authority had broken down. If the police wouldn’t or couldn’t impose order, then as a leader he had to step forward and use violence to rein in people preying on society.

    In the context of power relations, what does the beating in the housing complex mean? Is this civil authority reasserting its control? The beating of Albert was ruthless, but then again so was his beating of the copper thief.

    Was that scene making a larger statement about New Orleans? Was it saying that we’re a city relies too easily on brutal violence?

  12. May 24, 2010 7:45 am

    EDIT of last sentence: “Was it saying that we’re a city that turns too quickly to brutal violence?”

    (Sorry. Muddled it up when I was editing.)

  13. samjasper permalink
    May 24, 2010 10:34 am

    I have to admit to a huge knot in my stomach when Toni came home to the empty house, called his name, got no answer and continued through the house. It was a terrible moment for me until he got up from that couch.

  14. May 24, 2010 10:36 am

    Twice. Once when she came home to a darkened house only to find him in the man-cave buried in his writing. Once again when she realizes he never came to bed and went out to find him sleeping.

    Foreshadowing, no?

  15. samjasper permalink
    May 24, 2010 10:40 am

    When the judge says the the Sheriff’s office has 72 hours to deal with this, and talks about the appalling way the prisoners were handled during the storm, I wondered if Gusman was cringing a little bit. His decisions were what caused the mess with prisoners. He was the one who wanted to “keep our criminals locked up where they belong.” OUR prisoners. Many of whom hadn’t been charged with anything. Just the other day I got an email from James Perry, a local man running for State Rep Dist 93. He was proud to announce that Gusman had endorsed him. I just read it and shook my head wondering how many of their constituents had family in that hell hole during that time and don’t know it was THIS guy, Gusman, who made the decisions that impacted their families.

  16. May 24, 2010 10:53 am

    What does the beating of the big chief mean?

    It means the NOPD can pretty much do whatever they want and nobody’s gonna say shit about it. Anybody who has ever had a run-in with them can vouch for that. The only way the NOPD ever faces justice for their actions is if they fuck up and kill you and the FBI takes notice.

    Think this poor guy is getting any federal Civil Rights attention?

    http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2009/03/couple_says_police_beat_man_wh.html

    Think that for every one of these that gets videotaped, there aren’t another 100 that had no witnesses?

    To bring this back to the show, think Daymo really “fell off the top bunk”? Right. And Stephen Biko “fell down the stairs”.

    For all its wonderful qualities, New Orleans is also the closest thing to a banana republic police state than anywhere else in America.

  17. liprap permalink
    May 24, 2010 11:01 am

    That scene was turning the judge’s words at the beginning of the show upside down, only with the NOPD’s actions showing the lies behind his convictions that justice and law enforcement in New Orleans doesn’t resort to violence and tying the system in knots to solve its problems, rather than the sheriff’s office and the DA.

    Having just finished reading “Big Chief Harrison and the Mardi Gras Indians”, the thing that gets stuck in my mind is how much the folks masking Indian knew they were going to get beat, and not just by members of rival gangs, but by the police, even if it was just to make a point. Donald Harrison Sr. still carried a scar on his face from being beat like that by a policeman. Sending in a community relations guy to talk with Albert is such a sick joke in an atmosphere like the one the authorities have fostered over the decades here. You want to get in the way of politics for the needs of the people? In the projects, which aren’t ultimately owned by the people who reside there? You’re ultimately gonna get beat.

  18. virgotex permalink*
    May 24, 2010 11:10 am

    It means the NOPD can pretty much do whatever they want and nobody’s gonna say shit about it. Anybody who has ever had a run-in with them can vouch for that. The only way the NOPD ever faces justice for their actions is if they fuck up and kill you and the FBI takes notice.

    Which also points to more evidence of how well-written this script was. Because THAT is the subtext of Davis dropping his “campaign” for the offer of a get out of jail free card. Yeah, we know he’s selfish and not really in it for the issues but that’s not why he dropped it, or at least that’s the least important reason.

    The fucked-upness of the NOPD makes that card and the connection to the judge behind it a valuable item indeed.

  19. May 24, 2010 11:14 am

    I once heard a line in a local play calling New Orleans the northern-most island in the Caribbean. Very accurate.

    When I saw that scene, I thought, another good ole’ fashioned NOPD beatdown. Unnecessary? Yes. Excessive? Definitely.

    Typical? Hell yeah (sadly).

    On another note, I didn’t appreciate Davis’s easy sellout in the election. Even with his Greased Palm Sunday reference, I didn’t expect him to give in quite that quickly, given his furor about everything happening. I hope Jacques Morial personally kicks his ass.

  20. virgotex permalink*
    May 24, 2010 11:14 am

    Definite foreshadowing.

    Yeah, I had the same response. I watch the first time through with the CC on, and the caption was “Creighton’s voice in background” when Toni walks in and I thought- even then at the beginning of the scene- “oh that’s good. he’s still there” before I realized it was from the computer. And that was before she went looking for him.

  21. liprap permalink
    May 24, 2010 11:15 am

    Exactly, Virgo, and it is one of the perks of being an elected official ’round here – having that kind of authority to use that get out of jail, or even something as simple as a parking ticket, and then being able to use that effectively for one’s own ends. Davis was too damn easy. Albert couldn’t be bought off like that….hence the violence.

    The truer leaders always seem to suffer the most.

  22. May 24, 2010 11:17 am

    @ Virgotex. Good point about Davis; didn’t consider the comparison when watching the show.

  23. liprap permalink
    May 24, 2010 11:17 am

    It happened with Davis Rogan years ago when he was running for state rep. AND he co-wrote this ep. So there we have it.

  24. virgotex permalink*
    May 24, 2010 11:26 am

    Yeah, it was still a sell out. I just meant it was understandable, if not admirable.

  25. May 24, 2010 11:59 am

    But you don’t think “Treme” is trying to say something broader about the uses of violence?

    Sure, the NOPD can get away with a vicious beatdown. But so can Albert. And although he shows a flicker of concern when he hears the kid might have died, in general he seems untroubled by the violence he inflicted.

    There is no doubt (either in reality or in “Treme”) that the civil authorities abuse their authority. But I feel like the show is moving towards a larger argument about…I don’t know. Maybe society in general. Maybe New Orleans in general. We’ll see where it goes.

  26. May 24, 2010 12:18 pm

    It was understandable, and it’s admirable that Davis is faithful to his character, I guess, and that he knows how to hustle and look out for himself. I guess I expected too much of his “campaign”.

  27. Mike permalink
    May 24, 2010 1:44 pm

    Loved seeing Doreen Ketchens playing clarinet w/ Antoine at the airport, and she got some good lines in too.

    My wife and I got married in NOLA just a little over a month ago and we got the chance to see Doreen playing on Royal St. We were so blown away by her talent that we immediately bought a CD from her, even though it was double what any other street musician had been charging. Good thing we didn’t try and pay with a check!!!

  28. brueso permalink
    May 24, 2010 1:49 pm

    I think I have some video of her playing on Royal Street back in 1993 or so. Glad to put a name with a face.

  29. May 24, 2010 4:21 pm

    You knew there was going to be trouble when they closed the blinds.

  30. May 25, 2010 10:06 am

    The show enters that time in 2006 when I realized that New Orleans was going to be very different and simultaneously return to the same ol’, but definitely not head in the direction of more just and humane. All that optimism is coming off; PTSD is setting in finally along with the collective notion that we’re not going anywhere fast.

    That look on LaDonna’s face as she clutches the whiskey glass. Damn. She has years of shit ahead of her.

  31. greg p permalink
    May 25, 2010 10:56 pm

    Mr. Rogan was one of three people who worked on the script: David Mills and Eric Overmeyer wrote the story, and Mills and Rogan wrote the script itself. The T-P has an interview here.

    “I’ve been writing songs for 20 years. Writing dialogue — it doesn’t have to rhyme, there’s no melody, and you don’t need to put chord changes to it. It’s really pretty easy.”

    Yeah, that sounds like Davis, all right. (cough)

  32. greg p permalink
    May 25, 2010 11:07 pm

    Go back and watch that scene again, where the cops beat Albert.

    Now, I’m no friend of NOPD under any circumstance, and I’m fully able to believe just about any story I hear about them, considering what’s already out there already regarding the Danzinger bridge and Henry Glover. They’re out of control, unlikely to respond to any efforts to bring them under control, and in a world of their own.

    But Albert knew what was coming. He did indeed resist arrest, failing to respond to the (asshole) cop’s commands. And when he replies with “No Humba” — I won’t bow — he’s actively refusing to comply with a crude but probably lawful police order. When the cop lays into him, Albert *hits him back*, lays a nice right into the cop’s gut. He knows what’s coming and fights back. Again, I’m not saying the cops’ response was appropriate or measured or that Albert had it coming, but he had to know, and he made his decision.

    We can analyze what goes down here, but it’s a different situation than the hair-trigger psycho cops beating Antoine for bumping their car.

  33. greg p permalink
    May 25, 2010 11:14 pm

    I’ve been hating on Davis a lot less recently, but if he drops his campaign for a handshake promise from a judge — such a cynical, condescending offer as well (“We both know there will be next time”), then I’m through having any sympathy for his worthless ass and through with any slack for the writers and I don’t give a good goddamn if It Really Happened or not.

    Develop a character or don’t. Having him slip back into major douchehood so quickly shows a lack of care and planning and a big “fuck you” to the whole notion of character. I’ve always said that one of my major gripes with the guy was how poorly the character was written compared with the others: if this is truly what they’re going to do with him, I’ll fucking double down on that statement.

  34. virgotex permalink*
    May 25, 2010 11:22 pm

    Thanks Greg. I realized that later. My bad

  35. May 25, 2010 11:42 pm

    Yeah, I saw all that the first time. It doesn’t change my opinion of either those cops or the NOPD in general. They went in there hoping for a beat-down and they got one.

  36. greg p permalink
    May 25, 2010 11:49 pm

    It doesn’t say much about the cops, but it says a whole lot about Albert.

  37. May 26, 2010 12:02 am

    Seems to me it says that when a white man tells him to get on his knees, he’s gonna say no. When he gets treated differently because he’s a chief (the squatter across the way came out under his own power on his own two feet, no handcuffs, yelling “fuck the police”) he’s gonna resist. And when somebody punches him in the gut he’s gonna punch back. I’m not sure what you’re getting at with “a whole lot about Albert”. That become something more than a “lawful arrest” when the guy said “oh yeah!” and closed the curtains to the TV cameras.

    For all we know Albert isn’t even alive any more. Last we saw him he had a baton across his windpipe.

  38. greg p permalink
    May 26, 2010 12:32 am

    Albert appeared in the teaser for next week. He’s not dead.

    Albert said he expected to be arrested. Several times. To the police. He was approached twice by the cops, had a sitdown with one. This was not a sudden attack from nowhere. He was given time, was told what the consequences would be, and invited them. It’s about *resistance*. Albert is showing his great strength by consciously resisting, forcibly, the injustice he sees.

    Put it another way: any group of cops in the country would have reacted the way those cops did. I’m not excusing the asshole who commanded him to get on his knees and swung the baton, or the “oh yeah” guy, but look at the situation: Albert is trespassing (in the law’s eyes, anyway). He’s been given an opportunity to leave. He’s been given time to make a point. He explicitly tells the community relations cop that he’ll be there when they come for him the next day. He won’t comply with their orders. He hits back. Do you really think piling on at that point is something only NOPD would do? I can guarantee that cops in any city that I’ve ever lived in would react the same way. Beating Antoine and stealing his horn? That’s NOPD. Losing Daymo? That says New Orleans too. But laying on someone forcibly resisting arrest? Even being “Oh yeah” assholes about it? Any fucking where. Try that around a New York cop, or a Chicago cop, or a Detroit cop, or an LA cop. Or even a Baltimore cop. Cops are cops and that’s how they fucking act.

    The point is that the scene is not about police brutality: the scene is about righteous resistance. The whole squatting arc is about righteous resistance. The roots of that scene are in the violence that met the Selma – Montgomery marches, or Ghandi’s satyagraha. To fix on the police response is to miss an important lesson about Albert: he’s serious enough to fight and suffer for his beliefs — contrast him, in this episode, with Davis giving up his campaign for a card and a promise, or Creighton putting aside his difficult novel work for another ego-boosting youtube rant.

    Albert’s actions aren’t just instinct or some fuck-you-white-man reflex: they’re the result of resolve and bravery and commitment, and maybe just a little foolhardiness. That’s why the scene shows so much about Albert: every single thing that happened happened on his terms — even the beating.

  39. May 26, 2010 9:21 am

    Greg: Interesting comments. That makes me reconsider Albert early brutality towards the copper thief. In your reading, he seems to be acutely aware of the symbolic value of violence.

    I had a hard time squaring the violence he inflicted on the copper thief with his otherwise sober and noble presence. Even though on a gut level the beating was satisfying, the punishment Albert inflicted seemed out of scale with the crime. Do we really think property crimes should be punished by near death beatings?

    Symbolically, though, it makes sense. The copper thief was beaten as a warning to others. It’s like the bodies of thieves there were hung from trees at the border of towns. Albert isn’t unbothered by his actions because he is ruthless. He didn’t lose his cool. He calculated how much violence would be necessary to send a warning to others and executed his plan.

    Ray: I know you don’t see a connection between these two events, but I feel like the show is really pushing us to think about this. Look at the visual symmetry between the two scenes. Albert beats the copper thief with an iron pipe, and then he gets beaten by the cops’ wooden batons.

  40. greg p permalink
    May 26, 2010 9:49 am

    Yeah, Frolic, that’s been on my mind as well, but I haven’t reconciled it yet, other than to think that maybe it just shows Albert is imperfect. Could also be written as PTSD, I suppose, and in contrast to the cops who beat Antoine. Maybe your notion of symbolic violence (nice phrase) is more on the mark — Albert beat the thief to send a message.

    And good point on the contrast between the beating Albert takes and the one he gives. Both take place in abandoned homes into which Albert has placed himself, and in both cases, he fights those who would take those homes away, either by legislation or by cannibalism.

  41. greg p permalink
    May 26, 2010 9:51 am

    I should say “empty homes”, not “abandoned”. Need more coffee.

  42. May 26, 2010 10:23 am

    I do see a connection between those scenes. Not just the pipe, but the fact that the beat-down takes place in a vacant house, that the aggressor is enforcing justice as he sees it to the interloper who is stealing what doesn’t belong to him. The symmetry is clear. As is the irony that Albert is the righteous enforcer in one scene and the righteous victim of enforcement in the other.

    The theme of non-violent resistance is also obvious (even though he hit back). Albert’s squatting is a classic lunch-counter sit-in protest, that’s why he called the media first. And the idea of black acts of resistance taking place in the projects has a long history going back to the 60’s; the Black Panthers episode in St. Bernard comes to mind.

    I just fucking hate cops to the max.

  43. May 26, 2010 11:07 am

    Greg: I haven’t reconciled it either. This last episode, though, really hooked me on the show. I’d been lukewarm up to this point. It was fun seeing local sets and the music scenes were great, but it felt like all the characters were a little too one-dimensional. Now, as these threads start to play out, I’m seeing complexities start to emerge and questions being raised.

    Never seen the Wire, so I didn’t go into this show giving Simon the benefit of the doubt. I’m quickly being won over.

  44. virgotex permalink*
    May 26, 2010 12:25 pm

    One of the things that was key in the Wire and I’d say to Simon-verse in general is not just the failure of the institution/infrastructure but specifically the exploitation of the resulting vacuum(s) created.

    A vacuum will always get exploited/filled.

    The ’empty’ houses (much like the boarded up row houses in bmore/wire are physical representations -literal empty spaces/vacuums – of the larger institutional vacuum created by post storm/flood breakdown of order. The NO cop shop was always bad, but descended even further during the worst part of the chaotic period. Albert was prolly always a badass (given that he probably spans the generation from when the Indians weren’t just sewing but busting heads) and wouldn’t stand being punked but especially during this critical time, that copper thief needed a ‘tune up’

    Empty spaces – always watch the empty space.

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