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Never Alone

June 8, 2010

I’ma do this in the style of a Galactica thread, because this show is starting to take over my soul the way that show did. For those of you who are curious, Janette is playing Starbuck.

Quick takes: That Sonny actually was a rescuer might have made me feel sorry for the creepy little fuck. How much slack does that get him? I was kind of rooting for Annie and Davis, because as much as I think Davis and Janette are fun, Annie needs a nice boy to remind her that not all men are jealous, grasping, angry greaseballs. I was also rooting for Delmond to put on the suit and go out in his father’s place, but I know less than nothing about Mardi Gras Indians; maybe that would be blasphemous? I don’t even really like cowboy boots but I covet Janette’s kicky red ones. And oh, LaDonna, I get it, but damn, isn’t enough of your life imploding already? You really gotta set fire to what’s left?

Yeah, come to think of it, I suppose you do.

Comments in the previous thread about Creighton reminded me of something I say all the time: Misery actually hates company. Misery hates somebody trying to help. Misery would rather punish you for being nice to me than deal with me being horrible. Misery wants to wrap itself up in its own specialness that no one else could possibly understand and not be bothered by comfort.

I keep flashing back to Janette, all by herself on the street in her fairy costume and cowboy boots, sprinkling fairy dust over the cars and singing. She’s alone for a moment, it seems dark and dangerous, and then she’s at the head of a parade. And that might be the whole show for me, right there, that turn, that shift, from alone to not. That might be the magic, for me, of why anybody would put up with what you have to put up with in order to live your life there: You’re never alone. You’re just at the head of a parade that hasn’t started yet.

I was talking to a friend a couple of weeks ago about living in a city, about why I live somewhere on top of 5 million other people with virtually no peace and quiet, not even at 3 a.m. The way I explained it was that I am never lonely here. There’s always the neighbor’s dulled TV sound through the window or the laughter of people walking by or the lady across the courtyard yelling at her cats and waving at me from her back porch or the restaurant down the street or something.

I tend towards introversion, also clinical depression. And sometimes I long for peace and silence and for the phone to fucking stop ringing, for everybody to just go the fuck away. I could be very solitary, if I let myself. But it’s not good for me. Collaboration, laughter, argument, society, these aren’t my natural state, but I push myself and when I can’t push myself I try to let others pull. I hate it, though, at the time, when I’m not eating or sleeping or working or taking my drugs, I hate it and I hate the people at the other end of the rope.

Misery hates company, so Creighton turns away from the parade, sure only he can see the decay beneath the festivity, pulling his alone-ness around himself and curling up on the porch. It’s infuriating, when you’re in the midst of mourning something, that life goes on. I know people who find it comforting; I find it obscene. When someone you love tells you they really want to be left alone, it’s a lot of work to say to them, fuck you, I’m not leaving you alone. Especially when, let’s face it, ain’t nobody exactly living an uncomplicated life. Toni’s doing the best she can, and she’s terrified, too.

And maybe that’s where New Orleans is falling down for Creighton right now: He shouldn’t be alone, but he wants to be, and the city, his family, his home, his place, won’t let him. There’s always a parade that hasn’t started yet. You’re always at the head.

A.

46 Comments
  1. June 8, 2010 10:02 am

    Sonny was a rescuer? I don’t think so. I think the guy thought he LOOKED like his rescuer, and Sonny was taking the man’s free drinks.

  2. June 8, 2010 10:14 am

    I dunno if he was or wasn’t, but if the guy was wrong, what a lovely irony: to be unmasked on Mardi Gras and still be mistaken for someone you’re not.

  3. June 8, 2010 10:19 am

    Whether Sonny is/was a rescuer or not is not really the point, and my guess is we’ll never find out definitively. One of the themes of the ep was “which is the face and which is the mask?” The Tourist over-enjoying the buskers turns out to be a pilgrim returned to his lost home, Janette is alone, she’s not alone, Davis is a pirate, he’s a gentlemen, Annie’s free, she’s not free. As for Sonny, who knows who he really is, what he’s really done. He doesn’t know himself.

  4. liprap permalink
    June 8, 2010 10:23 am

    Heh. I was thinking even an asshole’s internal ethical clock might be right at least once in his lifetime.

  5. June 8, 2010 10:28 am

    Sonny looked so confused when the guy recognized him. Then when he offered to buy him a drink, Sonny was all, “Yeah…yeah okay. That was me.” I thought it was yet another illustration of his amorality.

  6. June 8, 2010 10:52 am

    In an earlier episode, Sonny had claimed to be involved in some sort of flood rescue, telling someone about this experience at an inappropriate time for shock value. For the sake of the fictional storyline, I was assuming that he really did help in people survive in the flood. A traumatized person isn’t at their best… that can actually explain the behavior of many of these characters, and many in N.O. for August 2005 forward.

  7. June 8, 2010 11:16 am

    The first time I watched, I thought Sonny seemed surprised and maybe deceptive, but re-watching last night, he seemed more certain, only after determining the street. In fact, the fellow’s account of the rescue is similar to, if not exactly like, the story Sonny was telling on the balcony of Annie’s private party gig sitting in with Tom in the earlier episode. I’m tending to think that Sonny really did do at least some of that stuff.

  8. wigatrisk permalink
    June 8, 2010 11:21 am

    The curious reaction makes sense in the context of his self-important reaction to being tempted to betray Annie in the moment before the older gent confronts him with his (possible? probable?) compassionate act. Great scene the way it was played, and nicely ambiguous in the end. Well at least on that front…

  9. June 8, 2010 11:26 am

    “You’re just at the head of a parade that hasn’t started yet.” I love this notion. I also loved her drunken solo parading and waving of her wand. Wonderful post, A. I did come away from this last episode worrying if our girl got home safely, putting the “mom” in Sophmom ( ’cause it’s just what I do).

  10. liprap permalink
    June 8, 2010 11:44 am

    I don’t know how blasphemous it would have been for Delmond to wear Albert’s suit…I don’t think it would be all that much if Delmond were truly invested in the Guardians of the Flame like his father and his gang were, but he’s made it clear time and again that masking Indian ain’t his thing, and a chief’s mantle ain’t necessarily passed down from father to son anyhow.

    And LaDonna just needed somebody on Mardi Gras Day who wasn’t giving her and her psyche a hard time. If it isn’t her husband wanting her to sell Gigi’s and get her mama to move to Baton Rouge, it’s LaDonna holding the bad news about Daymo back from her mama, whose frail health and faith in his return are pretty formidable. Running into the prosecutor and the contractor on the street were the last straws that day. Everybody needs a freaking release. Shit, I need one just reading all this stuff I just wrote….

  11. June 8, 2010 12:03 pm

    …at the head of a parade that hasn’t started yet. -Brilliant.

  12. brueso permalink
    June 8, 2010 1:36 pm

    I was totally worrying about her. There was something about the way she was framed as she was doing that that made me nervous that we were just about to see someone jump her.

  13. zukeeper permalink
    June 8, 2010 1:47 pm

    lyric in the background during the Antoine/LaDonna kissy scene –
    ‘…let your conscience be your guide…’

  14. brueso permalink
    June 8, 2010 2:22 pm

    Interesting- you’re right. We may never know. He may actually have done some of it and then embellished the rest. I knew a gal who pretty regularly would take someone else’s story as having been an experience she’d had herself. As in “I walked down the street and there was a guy in a purple suit with gold sneakers”- and then she’d retell the story as though it had been something she’d done herself, and one of the times, someone said “Uh- no you didn’t. Because I was the one who told you that story of something I’d done.” Maybe that’s Sonny’s thing.

    I definitely felt like he was getting a drink for something he hadn’t actually done. He seemed to be somewhat noncomittal as though he wasn’t sure where the story was going.

  15. Katie permalink
    June 8, 2010 4:24 pm

    This is possibly the most touching post I have read in years. The way you weaved together fiction and the facts of your life made me reread it three times before I could go on to the comments.

  16. doctorj2u permalink
    June 8, 2010 7:21 pm

    I don’t know. As a native of the old New Orleans, I understand Creighton’s sense of loss. The city will never be what is was. It was the new normal and now it is the new New Orleans, different but the same. But don’t listen to me, because Momus was my favorite parade and I always thought the gas lit flambeauxs brought magic to the parades.

  17. brueso permalink
    June 8, 2010 8:36 pm

    when did they stop with the flambeauxs? They were still using them in 1996 when I was there.

  18. June 8, 2010 9:28 pm

    There were a lot of reflected images in this episode. Maybe they’ve been in all of them, but I noticed them more this time. It’s another form of alone-ness, or not, being there but also being a reflection.

  19. June 8, 2010 10:00 pm

    They still have ’em, even in an integrated super krewe like Orpheus. Toni’s just a sourpuss.

  20. June 9, 2010 6:38 am

    The old Krewe she is talking about was men in pointy hoods, and a torchlight parade is a loaded context if you want to look back that far, although I doubt most New Orleanians of this day and age know what that implies (White Citizen’s Councils and the Klan). I expected a torrent of nasty comments when I wrote a piece about the float honoring Harry Lee in Bacchus as a torchlight parade down St. Charles but got hardly a peep out of anyone.

    She’s not just being a sour pus but being rather like a couple of ultra-liberal, activist attorney’s I’ve had the acquittance of, everyone as serious as Trotsky about everything.

  21. B'Rouge permalink
    June 9, 2010 8:00 am

    I think it was a bit of a verbal barb thrown at Creighton, coupled with her ‘you’re not from here’ remark. Creighton was lamenting the passing of the old ways, and she was in essense saying ‘you’re Not From Here, so please, you can’t possibly understand the old ways, and see there, you can’t even imagine the negative connotations associated with the old ways, MY town’s old ways, not yours…but I love you, honey…

    Sometimes we wrap barbs up in paper and bows. It’s easier to deny that way, later.

  22. June 9, 2010 8:34 am

    Yeah, as usual, there was definitely some repressed anger underneath Toni’s remark. They have a serious communication gap and the only way they can bridge it any more is through yelling and underhanded digs.

    What I find kind of ironic is that Toni would play the “you’re not from here” card *against* the old-line krewes, when in reality the real old money aristocracy are the very people who are members of Comus, Momus, etc. I bet if you polled the white Uptown born-and-raised-here population, they’d swing overwhelmingly to Creighton’s point of view.

    I think VirgoTex already said it, but it bears repeating: the funny thing about bonafides, there’s always somebody more bonafide than you.

    As for whether Creighton is really “from here” enough to have an opinion about the city, if he has a misty-eyed affection for the old krewes, that means he’s been here since well before 1992. Not enough for some people, maybe, but enough for me.

    And I kind of miss the old krewes myself. Not what they believe, not what they represent, but Mardi Gras day goes out with a whimper now, and I thought it was nicer when it had one last glittering parade to wrap things up.

  23. virgotex permalink*
    June 9, 2010 9:52 am

    I think VirgoTex already said it, but it bears repeating: the funny thing about bonafides, there’s always somebody more bonafide than you.

    I think I said that over at DBW or in an email, but yeah I said that. It gets back to the theme of the identities (see also SophMom’s comment re reflected images) we take on, or hide, or exaggerate.

    which, and this bears more thought, is correlated to culture and our relation to it

  24. June 9, 2010 2:10 pm

    The episode’s Mardi Gras in the streets aspect provoked an unexpected sense of flatness – or — well, it wasn’t our Mardi Gras 2006, was it? Still, it seemed that the sheer bizarreness of what you see — flickering now here, now not here, now over there! — was missing. The closest we got to that wasn’t in the street at all, but at the party with Tom McDermontt as the Horse’s Head — that was the indescribable absurd fun that Mardi Gras can be.

    Davis’s contribution was fundamental. He embodied the force of Mardi Gras’s delight and joy, who on this day was perfect wherever he went, because he is Mardi Gras 24/7.

    Davis guided Annie into her personally perfect Mardi Gras. Annie is at the crossroads of her lifepath: shall she stay with Sonny or should she go? Whether or not Sonny kills her as so many fear, if she stays with Sonny, she will be destroyed by the damming of her talent. This is why Annie found Eleggua-Eshu, i.e. Davis, on Mardi Gras. This is the time of her choice; he showed her the choice that isn’t Sonny, that without Sonny, can be, well, sunny. Horses play piano! A horse who Annie knows, a horse that is willing to ‘carry’ Annie, with or without a mask.

    Including the Davis character in the world of Treme was brilliant world building, a creative brilliance has nothing to do with basing the character in a true citizen of New Orleans. It’s not an easy thing to be a society’s energetic, 24/7 King of Absurdity — the clown in Shakespeare, the Fool in the Tarot, the rule of Mis-rule for feasts and Uncommon Days, Papa Legba in Haitian Vodún, Eleggua-Eshu of Ifá’s system of divination — the opener of the ways among the worlds, owner of the crossroads, the irresistable force of chaos, that turns all upside down and leaves behind a new order. Steve Zahn performs, inhabits Davis, splendidly. Without this figure of boundless energies and enthusiasms, Treme would be unremittingly grim, spiraling, without hope or joy, into unreconstructed, unredeemed destruction and malaise. It would be stuck in the past, like Creighton, who is still fobbing off the depression he’s suffering, his perception of himself as a failed writer, on the failure of the levees.

    The tender and the sweet again were provided by Antoine. He gave his Japanese patron a Mardi Gras Day perfect for him, not least by sharing the story of his donated trombone’s destination, which allowed Koichi Toyoma feel more personally connected to New Orleans, to New Orleans jazz, and the celebration, because the destiny of his gifted ‘bone, to Nelson’s grandson, respect for family tradition, is the Japanese way also.

    Then, the relief Antoine gave LaDonna (at the price of Desiree’s generosity — Newton’s Laws in action). What a sequence of scenes those were, that led up to her turning to him with her own need, her need to forget, to transcend, to release, for just however long it took, the terror, the grief, the outrage that she’s got held so tightly inside her skin. She knew he could, he would, he wanted to. He knows her in some ways as no one else ever will. Over here there was a small discussion as to whether or not LaDonna told Antoine that she’d found her brother. El V. says she didn’t. I thought maybe she did, but it could be that she didn’t either.

    Janette the Fairy Princess, turning old cars into taxis, leading her own parade, that was the magic, as others here have described so beautifully.and so well. The magic that is only New Orleans, unique in the world, all on a Mardi Gras Day.

    Love, C.

  25. June 9, 2010 4:26 pm

    LaDonna told Antoine about Daymo.

  26. brueso permalink
    June 9, 2010 4:31 pm

    that’s my guess also, Sophmom

  27. June 9, 2010 4:41 pm

    It’s what gave her the strength to be standing on the funeral home steps the next morning. *sigh*

  28. June 9, 2010 4:48 pm

    * You know, Davis pulling the Garden District into “The Battle of New Orleans” had a poignance that no way could the HBO Treme team have envisioned when it was written and shot. That’s what happens with great writing, great creativity, the true magic in the world.

    Love, c.

  29. June 9, 2010 4:53 pm

    I’m beginning to wonder … Ochun, and the various other glamors of romantic, erotic love, the sweetness of honey, the cleansing of the vortex … must they always wear the bodies of the female? Antoine …. A woman needs, and Antoine, he gives. Like Ochun, Erzulie (when she’s not Dantor!). Etc.

    Love, C.

  30. June 9, 2010 5:04 pm

    O my gosh. This is also why Treme opened with Davis — Eleggua, the opener of the ways.

    Sheeeeeeeee-IT! as another Davis would say.

    Love, C.

  31. rickngentilly permalink
    June 9, 2010 5:17 pm

    i’m with kalisa on this one.

  32. rickngentilly permalink
    June 9, 2010 5:47 pm

    i was so sure something really bad was going to happen to here.

    those side streets in the 1/4 are no place to be

    … late at night

    …..when you are in a vunarable state

    ….by your self.

    seeing her get her ashes on wednesday was a huge relief.

  33. rickngentilly permalink
    June 9, 2010 5:53 pm

    also i may have missed it but has anyone mentioned tiny bouncer hanging out with the the blue tarp only roofer from gigi’s on mardi gras day?

    it’s the scene where antoine steps in and runs him off with a “no fuck you”.

  34. June 9, 2010 7:16 pm

    Rick, I think it was mentioned briefly in the long discussion after “The prettiest little thing” post. We were all happy to see him. I find it odd that such a “small” character has such a screen presence.

  35. rickngentilly permalink
    June 9, 2010 7:27 pm

    thanks for the heads up.

    @ sophmom if it’s o.k. with you could i just call you mom in the future?

    i have one friend that i call mom and i call her that with pride and respect to the way she treats me and everyone else.

    here name is kathleen. i meet her when i started out cooking at coop’s in 1980.

    she always gave me good advice.

    you may have even met her.

  36. June 9, 2010 8:29 pm

    I get a really bad vibe off of him all of a sudden, like he’s muscle for hire. Why is he still hanging out with Reilly? Hmmmm.

  37. rickngentilly permalink
    June 9, 2010 9:37 pm

    @ greg p. and “mom”

    thats what im talkin about , he was so freaked out by the 2nd line shooting that i was sure he was hauling ass back to tejas.

    thanks for reminding me of reileys name.

    does tiny bouncer have a name yet?

  38. wigatrisk permalink
    June 10, 2010 7:08 am

    I think he was there mostly to provide the foil to Reilly’s claim that he had in fact paid his workers on time, which the bouncer didn’t deny when turned to and which he affirmed more or less by still being with Reilly. All complicating LaDonna’s sometimes too single-minded righteousness. But deliciously rich too in that Reilly in getting his own turn at self-righteous anger, of course doesn’t address not fixing her roof in the first place. Why the bouncer is with Reilly probably doesn’t matter much, and is just related to his being from elsewhere looking for a local introduction to Mardi Gras. Nice play on the whole masked/unmasked story going on in the episode – what is real – and the reversals – Antoine as (unnecessary?) rescuer, with that great puppy-dog look when he says “I’m going with you.” Plays too on the fragility of the roles we perform – the father handcuffed in front of his kids for crimes he in part did do (contract) and in part didn’t do (pay).

    Got to say though, I don’t see why people think the bouncer seems either menacing or interesting on screen.

  39. wigatrisk permalink
    June 10, 2010 7:16 am

    awesome riff on Davis, Foxessa, I’m convinced. Eshu makes sense too of his red/black costume this past (can’t really picture it this morning, maybe it wasn’t)

  40. wigatrisk permalink
    June 10, 2010 7:24 am

    I like the ambiguity left in this scene, and Greg’s clever twist, but I still think Sonny’s curious reaction was really intended to highlight not that particular ambiguity which likely wouldn’t be that interesting to resolve anyway. Instead the key is the contrast between his eagerness to be tempted by batgirl (and betray what ever is left of his relationship with Annie) and then suddenly the next moment being confronted with the older gent’s reminder of Sonny’s potential for compassionate humanity. The startled reaction was well played.

    (but then I’ve never been a proficient barroom lip reader)

  41. June 10, 2010 9:07 am

    In any case, it looks to me like Sonny couldn’t care less about the guy, but got a little ego inflation from his words, which gave him the push to pick up Batgirl. “Why, yes — I am a Rescue Hero. Yes I am.”

  42. virgotex permalink*
    June 10, 2010 9:41 am

    I was assuming that he really did help in people survive in the flood. A traumatized person isn’t at their best… that can actually explain the behavior of many of these characters, and many in N.O. for August 2005 forward.

    Susanna’s touched something the rest of us haven’t seen, or at least haven’t commented on. I know I didn’t once even consider it.

    Sonny hasn’t always been the way he is now, or at least not for a long time. He slid down, or back, to this level after/because of the storm.

    No it doesn’t excuse his personal responsibility but it’s a different story than what I presumed.

    If he’s always been this way, and Annie either knew it or didn’t, but got together with him, that’s one story. If he wasn’t, and she got together with him, and they followed his dream of coming to NOLA, only to have it destroy him, that would be quite another story.

    Or even something in the middle would be a good story. I hope it’s there’s more shades of gray here.

  43. June 10, 2010 10:30 am

    virgotex, thanks for reading closely. I keep forgetting this blog is on an international stage. Before the first episode of Treme was shown, the production of the series was a huge controversy locally in New Orleans. To most of the bloggers I read, the project was sacrosanct, and to a minority it was maddening… during that time period, once I expressed that I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to watch Treme, because it might make me angry. For this comment, I was blasted as having idological blinders, the phrase went. But my thinking was, if this show is bad, we’ll get upset, and if this show is good, we’ll get upset. As it turns out, I find it to be excellent and never want to miss an episode when it first airs. Back to the fictional Sonny, I see truth in the writing. There’s no explaining love, but if Annie loved him, perhaps he was pre-Katrina a happier version of his current self. Anybody who retained marriages and friendships through the trauma of Katrina is very fortunate. sp

  44. wigatrisk permalink
    June 10, 2010 10:33 am

    yep, he’s a condescending fucker

  45. June 10, 2010 2:01 pm

    wigatrisk — red and black for a pirate, you bet, with the white fluffy shirt, of course. Black hat, white feather. But surely there was red around his waist?

    In Cuba both Ogun and Chango are often played in patikin in costumes (their colors, of course) that are reminiscent of the classic pirate.

    Love, c.

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