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Oh, the Line Forms on the Right, Dears

May 10, 2011
by

LaDonna

This might run a little long. It will also contain some spoilers, at least if you are watching this as a TV show and not as a dramatization of actual historic events that have already taken place, events that anybody who lived in New Orleans in the winter of 2006-2007 has already burned way too starkly into their memories.

Season One of Treme dealt with the first year after the storm. It was a time where people were deciding whether to come back or stay away. Finding the things about New Orleans that mattered. Finding that the culture can sustain us, that the culture is worth fighting for, that the city is worth fighting for. It was hardcore survival mode, all propelled by adrenaline and rage and a serious dose of “FUCK y’all.” The questions were “Can we save this city? Should we save this city? How can we save this city” The answers being, respectively, “yes”, “HELL yes”, and “I don’t know but we’re gonna figure this shit out.”

Season Two deals with the year after that. The adrenaline is gone, the endorphins don’t work any more, the city is coming back, both good and the bad, and holy-shit-I-chose-to-come-back-here-what-the-fuck-was-I-thinking? The question people asked, and I mean everybody asked this question at some point, was “Have I made a terrible mistake? What price am I willing to pay to keep doing this?”

In June of 2006, five teenagers were gunned down in an SUV on Josephine Street in Central City. Executed is more like it. It was a huge wake-up call to the city that crime was back, as bad as before. We got more National Guard in response. And people told themselves, well, it must have been a drug killing, right? And it’s because the police are spread so thin, right? Between the officers fired for desertion or misconduct during the storm, and the officers who moved away and didn’t come back, the NOPD was a skeleton crew of a police department. And even though the population was also way down, all crammed into The Sliver by The River, NOPD had to patrol the entire geography of the old city. Even in neighborhoods where nobody lived, there were squatters and crackheads, and organized crime was coming in stripping whole blocks of new copper and new appliances and sending it all out by the truckload.

So we got National Guard, and that was gonna help. That was the story we all told ourselves, anyway. To convince ourselves that this was not the old New Orleans returning, that we were putting up with all this insanity because this city really was worth saving and not something that was gonna kill us.

And this is where the spoilers come in. The snare drummer for the Hot 8, Dinerral Shavers, has been featured in the last two episodes. He’s a real guy, not a character. He was also a band director at Rabouin High School. The spoiler is this, since it will probably happen on next week’s show: on December 28, 2006, with his family in the car, Dinerral went to pick up his stepson on Dumaine Street just outside the Treme. Some neighborhood kids who had a beef with his stepson gave chase and opened fire. They missed his stepson, but Dinerral himself was shot in the head and killed.

It was hugely upsetting, reverberating all over the city. Some early nola.com reports noted (erroneously, I think) that Shavers had been arrested on drug charges years back. This is the pattern, see? Because if you can put some distance between a crime victim and yourself, you can convince yourself that it can’t happen to you. If you can convince yourself that this musical icon and revered educator was actually maybe possibly killed in some drug dispute, you can rationalize that you’re not in danger simply by living here.

And then, only a week later, on January 7, 2007, local artist and filmmaker Helen Hill, a friend of many of the contributors to this blog, was shot and killed in a random home invasion on North Rampart Street, an invasion in which her husband was also wounded trying to protect their baby (who was unharmed). The perpetrator has never been found although it was believed to be a kid with a gun fleeing a botched robbery of a bed and breakfast down the street.

And this was serious gut-check time for many people. I wrote about it here at the time. I remember even stalwarts like Loki and Bart Everson were talking about moving away.

Everybody who was in New Orleans at the time had made a choice to be there. You chose to stay, or you chose to come back and rebuild, or you chose to come back to the hometown you had left years ago, or you came to help and decided to stay for good. And now there was no denying it: this city that you loved, the only city that ever loved you back, had a temper. This lovable beautiful creative city was also an abusive psycho, and regardless of whether you walked alone at night, regardless of whether you locked your doors, regardless of whether you sold drugs or avoided drug corners, at any moment somebody could put a gun to your head and take your stuff, or take your life, or take something unnameable.

And you had to convince yourself that it was worth the risk, that it wasn’t just a misguided culture fetish, that staying was really worth life-or-death because it really was life-or-death.

Treme captured the zeitgeist of the first year in Season One. But to accurately portray the winter of 2006-2007, they have to capture the zeitgeist of those months. They have to somehow dramatize the fact that the entire city lived under a shadow, that every single one of us was struggling with fear and despair and questioning whether we should be here.

Introducing Dinerral as a minor character helps. But in terms of the television drama, his and Helen’s deaths will not be felt by the television audience the way they were felt by New Orleanians at the time, because the audience is not invested enough in these two real human beings because they are minor characters in the show.

To really show what it meant, to really dramatize how horrific the crime felt and how much it impacted the very survival of the city, Treme had to show something horrendous and awful and life-changing happening to somebody we care about. Something bad enough that it would make them afraid to stay in the city, that it would make their family want them to move, that would make it hard for them to justify to themselves why they should stay. Because that’s where we all were at the time, whether we were direct victims of crime or not.

I need to talk about the rape, and this makes me nervous. I get squirmy when I see men writing about rape. I have never been raped, but it has affected me personally in ways that I’m not at liberty to describe here, and so it’s very important to me that I get this right. And it is hard to get this right. I don’t know that I can do it. But I know when I am reading something that does not get it right, and that’s what I was reading in Salon last night.

Salon called the rape scene a “cheap, ugly showstopper.” Said that a topic like this should have “put the other plots on hold.” The writer “wanted to to see more of her valiant struggle against her attackers,” and lamented that Ladonna had been reduced to a mere “punching bag.”

It’s hard to know where to start with this, but the crux of it for me is that it seems like the Salon writer wants this to be an epic battle of good and evil. Sir Gawain versus the dragon. David versus Goliath. Masada, or 300, or some shit.

Our strong and wonderful LaDonna, it seems, is too good for a mere violent rape. Too excellent of a character to be a mere victim. She needs to fight back. She needs to give as good as she gets. She needs to go down fighting, like a warrior, like Joan of Arc.

She needs a noble and heroic rape.

And the problem is this: there is no such thing.

We might want her to fight back, sure. But that’s us. That’s “redemption” and “character arc” and “justice” and all that other dramatic shit that those of us in the audience want to cling to, to feel better about the fact that LaDonna was raped on the same floor where she used to play as a child growing up in that bar.

And all of the physical and emotional destruction that she has suffered, and will suffer, will be compounded because it becomes part of that larger Katrina dynamic, that “why the hell am I here?” conundrum. This crime can take her home away from her in a way that the storm could not.

There is so much in the Salon article I disagree with. He goes on: “I can’t recall another act of violence on this show or The Wire that turned perpetrators of violent crime into wraithlike abstractions.” Seriously? Two anonymous hooded thugs emerge out of the darkness to brutally attack the strongest and most beloved female character in the ensemble, in a brief moment of defenselessness, leaving her bloodied and traumatized in the hospital? That does not sound familiar?

The whole scene was practically a homage to the shooting of Kima in Season One of The Wire.

Making the show all about LaDonna, making this “The Rape Episode” would have been the cheap thing, the sweeps-week thing to do. Showing how life goes on, for good or ill, during or in the aftermath of the rape: that’s proper storytelling. That Antoine was rehearsing when he could have been there will haunt Antoine for the rest of his life. That a dozen NOPD were available to serve a minor drug warrant on Sonny’s house at the same time that a Good Samaritan was carrying her into ER is a strong statement about how fucked up police priorities are, both in New Orleans and elsewhere.

Talking to a close friend tonight, who herself was raped years ago, she says, “Rape victims don’t get a moment of reverent fucking silence. We live in a world, and the world goes on and drags us with it. We watch while people have band rehearsals and look for jobs and fight with taxi drivers and all that mundane shit. The world doesn’t grind to a halt because we got raped.”

Everybody I know has seen Dinerral Shavers the past two episodes and have been on the edges of their seats. We know what’s coming. We know he’s going to die, just like some of us knew Creighton Bernette was going to die, and it hurts to watch. We watch the people at Road Home and think “man, that sucks.” We see the house break-ins and think, “man, that sucks.” And then out of left field, for no reason, no reason at all and no use thinking anybody could have done anything to stop it, LaDonna is raped.

This is how violent crime works. And this is why it was so traumatizing, and continues to be so traumatizing, for people in New Orleans.

Alex Rawls at OffBeat this morning wrote: “If it seems like piling on, having her go through this experience after losing her brother, it seemed like piling on then, too, and a lot of people felt that way.”

Where this whole episode hits me hard, other than all the obvious reasons, is one that only my friends know: crime is the reason that I had to move away from New Orleans. But not in the way that you think.

I got divorced in New Orleans in 2008, and my children’s mother was able to successfully argue to an officer of the court, in Orleans Parish, that New Orleans was not a fit place to raise children, because of the violence. That blog post of mine that I linked to up there was used against me in family court. I lost. If I chose to stay in New Orleans I would have had to give up custody of my children. I chose my kids.

This is one way that crime puts people into impossible positions. That you can be made to move away even if you don’t want to leave, because of the violence there, is a crime itself.

On top of everything else that LaDonna has had to bear, this being forced to choose, possibly forced to give up her home, is what is likely looming in her future.

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41 Comments
  1. brueso permalink
    May 10, 2011 12:36 am

    Thanks for sharing that, Ray. Adequate words fail me.

  2. May 10, 2011 12:44 am

    pretty much nailed that one.

  3. David Simon permalink
    May 10, 2011 7:33 am

    Exactly so.

  4. Tim permalink
    May 10, 2011 7:36 am

    “… take your stuff, or take your life, or take something unnameable.”

    Absolutely, Ray. Criminals take much more than the objects they steal. I sometimes repeat what I heard back then: Every day in New Orleans is 24 hours long and 48 hours hard. Crime was huge, but in many ways it was just another part of so much BS to deal with.

    Thanks for sharing your perspective here. Looking forward to getting you back in the 504.

    Peace,

    Tim

  5. May 10, 2011 8:23 am

    Outta da park Ray!

    As I was performing my morning ablutions and getting the suds out of my tresses – I was thinking about the attack on LaDonna. Particularly when the pierced Samaritan came by to see the shadow of her inert feet cast across the floor and the cut to his taking her INTO the ER. The fact he was the one that not only found her, but that he found a way to get her to the hospital…which we all know wasn’t Charity… So he either got a friend w/a car, his car, appropriated one or somehow got a cab to get her to the ER… That in all of the time since she phoned NOPD, they NEVER EVEN STOPPED BY…NEVER EVEN FOLLOWED UP…
    The humanity and tenderness of the ER staff was amazing. They accorded to LaDonna the attention (in a hospital stuffed to the GILLS w/trauma and general needs patients) that the NOPD couldn’t even see fit to give a courtesy drive-by as they made their rounds.
    I don’t know which way LaDonna’s character will move w/this recovery. There are many directions. She could just give up – lose herself in the overwhelming amount of loss she’s suffered in the last 18 months and become a shell living in BR. She could give in to the pills and just ease off this mortal coil rather than live w/the emotional pain.
    She could rally slightly, but give up on her New Orleans and throw herself into being a secretary or housewife or open a tea shop in BR.
    Or go through the depression, fight to get back to the surface and take the long but more pre-attack-LaDonna-type road back to NOLA and reestablishing her life there.
    I am intrigued to see where she will be.

    Mr. Simon/Mr. Overmeyer – please conduct our standing ovation Kudos to Ms Alexander – she is such a wonderful actor, there are no words suitable enough.

    Cheers
    W.

  6. May 10, 2011 9:19 am

    Ray –

    Nice writing, and I was thinking about some of the issues connected to males dealing with rape watching Larry’s well-meant, sincere and completely tone-deaf response to LaDonna’s in the hospital.

    Thanks as well for the citation. I’m banging out words at OffBeat, though, not Gambit.

  7. May 10, 2011 9:31 am

    Yes.

    What happened to LaDonna was my worst nightmare in 2006, the year I lived more or less by myself in NOLA.

    I almost could not leave the house last morning on considering a world that can prevent this while it’s still a non-fucking-emergency, but will not because it’s busy patrolling the tourist traps or busting guys selling weed. Gunshot, whatever. Rape, that’s different.

    And there were whole weeks in 2006, I would leave the house to run to the car, work, drive home and lock myself in until the next morning, because of crazy stuff going on in the neighborhood. Not sleeping, rock hammer and cellphone in hand, pondering the purchase of a gun. I want to write all about it, but the adrenaline dump each time I as much as begin to look back makes me nauseous.

  8. virgotex permalink*
    May 10, 2011 9:32 am

    Like I told you earlier, you broke my heart with this. Which is as it should be.

  9. May 10, 2011 9:33 am

    Gah! Sorry about that. This is what happens when I’m up posting after midnight. I fixed it.

  10. May 10, 2011 10:27 am

    Word.

  11. dpb732 permalink
    May 10, 2011 10:31 am

    Thank you for this. I started to read that Salon piece and it made me so mad I felt nauseated and couldn’t finish it. It was so completely off the mark, tone deaf, and disprespectful. Enough breath wasted on THAT…

    I too was here during that time,(still am) and your writing here absolutely nailed what it felt like, as have Simon and co. this season- the post adrenaline crash, the feeling that we were besieged on all fronts, the constant questioning “should I stay or should I go?” and the scary, scary, random violent crime- that after Dinerral and Hellen’s murders, really did seem like it could happen to any of us at any time and all Hell had broken lookse in town…

    I was a bartender then, and I tell you, closing down at night was routinely terrifying. Luckily most nights I had some regular or two stay with me while I closed and took out the trash, but there were some dead nights when I closed earlier than I normally would because there weren’t any customers and what happened to LaDonna was my worst nightmare. Luckily it never happened to me (though it has certainly happened to some) but it is with a sort of “there but by the grace of God go I” feeling that I watched that episode.

    Anyways, bravo on this piece.

  12. May 10, 2011 10:41 am

    Smart, spot on.

  13. May 10, 2011 11:20 am

    Beautiful piece, Ray.

    From the moment they introduced Dinerral I knew they’d use his death in the show and it’s been bringing back the sadness at the loss of such a fine young man, the memorial for him, seeing his young son with drumsticks everywhere after looking lost, yet seeing how it made his sister an activist and so strong was beautiful. Helen Hill lived two blocks from me, didn’t know her personally, had seen them around the neighborhood; just another bizarre utterly pointless murder, and the fact that murderer chased her husband who was holding the child into the house and shot him 3 times was even more bizarre and egregious.

    Makes me wonder if the stuff that happened after Dinerral was killed will be shown to show how utterly hopeless the crime and the criminal justice system seemed — David Bonds, the boy who killed Dinerral got off, shortly after that, the boy who was in the car, who with Dinerral’s stepson was the intended victim, and who refused to testify against Bonds (knowing it would be a death sentence) was gunned down and killed (pretty much assumed to be Bonds’s work), then a year or so later Bonds shot someone on Canal in view of a security camera, and he’s finally in prison. Nothing ever came of the Helen Hill murder, no one was ever caught for it.

    I could go on and on and I won’t. But you wrote a really beautiful piece.

  14. brueso permalink
    May 10, 2011 11:21 am

    I only lived in N.O. about a year and a half in the mid-90s but it was the first time in my life I had ever considered buying a gun, due to home invasion fears (wanting to let someone know “If you come back here, this is what’s waiting”). My only other experience living in a big city had been the pretty much street-jacking free San Francisco.

    It wasn’t even about being out and about that made me contemplate a gun though Lord knows there were times when I was scared walking around different parts of the city, too broke to hail a taxi or having to wait an hour cause the streetcar only ran infrequently at night. When LaDonna went out the front of the bar, she was in darkness and I remembered hating that darkness, thinking “Maybe if you shit-heads had more streetlights, it might cut down on the robberies!”.

  15. brueso permalink
    May 10, 2011 11:28 am

    One thing Ray mentioned about his friend who had been raped before: I haven’t had that experience, but I’ve had some other heavy things but still have had to go to my jobby job with a smile plastered on my face, regardless of the turmoil and wondering whether I could keep it together. (Which we’ve already seen LaDonna do when she decided to not let on to her mother when she knew her brother was dead). Putting on that ‘brave face’ kicks your ass on top of the initial ass-kicking. And I’m thinking we’ve just seen LaDonna dealing with her husband after the attack, and then she’s going to have to put on that brave face for those sons of hers.

  16. Anita permalink
    May 10, 2011 11:30 am

    What David Simon said. And, thank you.

  17. Cait permalink
    May 10, 2011 1:22 pm

    I’m still boiling at the Salon.com review. I moved here in early 2007 – and immediately had to deal with violent crime, both on my front porch and in my backyard. That was the nature of the city at that time. It was scary and random – and watching Sunday night’s episode reminded me of that weird feeling of dread my husband and I felt when we heard automatic gunfire so frequently outside of our house (near the old Martin Wine Cellar).

    The Salon review cheapens LaDonna’s rape, actually – and the author’s pretentious, condescending responses in the comment section just about sent me over the edge. And I applaud David Simon and company for their restraint – I think Khandi Alexander’s face in the hospital as she silently begged the detective not to reveal the details of the rape told the whole story more eloquently than a “noble rape” ever could have. What is noble about rape? That it reduces the strongest of people to mere shells?

    And I’m dreading the Shavers murder.

    Thank you for this fantastic exploration.

  18. May 10, 2011 1:34 pm

    Tell it, brother.

  19. May 10, 2011 1:43 pm

    This is perfect. Thank you.

    LaDonna — she’s still thinking about others, caring for them, instead of herself, not wanting them to know the extent of the terror, the pain.

    But, maybe … the way she reaches again for Larry’s hand, there in the hospital, to have him to hang on to. She’s not asking for him to hold her hand, she’s hanging on to his. What moments, so filled with so much. Not dialog, but acting and camera work and directing. When Larry says, “I’m just glad you are all right,” what this viewer took it to mean, was that he was telling her how glad she’s not dead, that there’s no permanent physical injury.

    It was an incredible episode, whether you ‘know’ New Orleans and that time or not.

    That salon guy, it does come to mind that he and his sort are actually put off Treme because … it isn’t filled with buffed, polished, plastic perfect very young bodies and faces, but instead is filled with faces like LaDonna’s in the hospital bed, attended by what people working in trauma hospitals look like, loved by a husband that looks like Larry. And the musicians are maybe missing feet and they aren’t the polished lip syncher stadium global acts of strutting, puffing and digitized back-up, where the costume and ‘tude’ are the point, not music.

    Love, c.

  20. liprap permalink
    May 10, 2011 1:45 pm

    Reminds me so much of the time around the crime march, when people were horrified to learn I lived here, even people across the parish line who lumped all the neighborhoods in together. When I started to tell someone who feared for my safety that I lived nowhere near Helen Hill’s neighborhood, I had to stop myself. What happened to her and to Dinneral can happen to anybody at any time, anywhere here, and is still quite possible – it’s been a year since Brandon Franklin of the TBC Brass Band was shot. There are still random acts of violence that erupt here – and the rapes are more than likely still grossly underreported.

    I thank you so much for this post, Ray. We were between a rock and a damned hard place wrapped up in lots of mental and physical hurt. You have captured that so poignantly.

  21. Jay permalink
    May 10, 2011 2:27 pm

    Oh my, what a beautiful, straight to the heart post Ray.

    I got the impression that maybe LaDonna’s rape, although on the outside designed to show the harrowing crime problem, also served as a metaphore for all of our main character’s emotional f*ck over that we all had/have to deal with.

    As Cait said in a preceding post “What is noble about rape? That it reduces the strongest of people to mere shells?’

    Indeed.

  22. May 10, 2011 3:39 pm

    Haven’t read all these comments yet, but Ray, thank you. You nailed it all. I’ve been re-reading my blog posts from that period and the rage is palpable in them. You hit point by point every nail on its head.

  23. doctorj2u permalink
    May 10, 2011 7:46 pm

    Ray,
    You bring back so clearly the darkest of times. When I saw the people of New Orleans demonstrating on the streets against crime, I told my sister in California, also a native of New Orleans, that the people of America do not understand the significance. New Orleanians don’t do that. It was an “ENOUGH!” moment. I watch every episode of “Treme” knowing the complete story. America doesn’t know and hasn’t had the time to know the real story. I hope “Treme” can show those that care what really happened. I have asked myself so many times after posting a response against the city on the internet “Can they understand?” I don’t think they ever will. Invariably, the episodes of “Treme” that stike the closest to the heart to me, get the worst reviews. I don’t think they wil ever understand the truth. I am just thankful someone felt the story was important enough to tell. Beautiful post, Ray. Thank you.

  24. May 10, 2011 9:49 pm

    This was one hell of a post. Thanks.

    Not to defend NOPD, but I watched the first few minutes of the episode again and noticed that the call LaDonna made was cut short when she thought they had all the information they needed to respond. As she was hanging up, they asked, “What was that address again?” Seems like one of those Wire conundrums where someone just gets lost in the system on complete accident. Everyone tried to do the right thing and because of a small slip, someone’s life changes forever. Someone did point out the absurdity of having multiple police respond to a simple drug bust at Sonny’s house while everything else was happening.

    I also noticed that the lyrics to the song playing on the jukebox really fit the scene.

    Great post, great episode, bleak as it was.

  25. Anita permalink
    May 10, 2011 10:25 pm

    So much truth and insight there, Foxessa. I think you’re right about her reaching for Larry’s hand– wasn’t that beautiful? I just wonder if that gesture came from the actor, the writer or someone else; it’s so flawless that I can only imagine it originating with LaDonna herself (she seems that real).

    It is a joy to me that this show is profound in all the ways you point out and deeply layered so that we can keep on finding treasure in it. I love also that it is a bit veiled, large and complex. It’s challenging but richly rewards our careful attention. Today, I’m a little less angry with the Salon guy; I fear he really is a superficial reviewer, although he’s young, so–if he’s bright–maybe time will teach him.

  26. adrastosno permalink
    May 10, 2011 10:34 pm

    Great post, mon frere. Crime has been the dark underbelly of New Orleans at least since the crack epidemic of the 80’s. It ebbs and flows and the fall of 2006 was one of those terrible spikes. The car wash shooting you described was reminiscent of the Louisiana Pizza Kitchen murders in the 1990’s, which inspired a smaller march on City Hall.

    The more things change the more they stay the same.

  27. Anita permalink
    May 10, 2011 10:56 pm

    There is a very strong thread in our social discourse that uses the word ‘rape’ as a metaphor. I see the many wrongs that are inflicted on these characters, the same violations that affect so many of us from systemic corruption and inefficiency, poverty, greed and indifference, from the fact that life here can be very hard. I know the impulse to protest our treatment in the strongest possible terms but we are sometimes too quick to seize the convenient meme.

    Rape is not the only violation that leaves you crumpled, that breaks something in you. I would like to suggest that we not go for the easy assumption that rape is a metaphor. These other violations are unjust and wicked enough to merit their own spotlight. Let us examine them all, with the creators of Treme, as we have examined them in our own lives, and call each violent affront and violation by its own name. These things are not ‘like’ rape. Rape is like rape. Schoolboys who don’t know any better and think it’s edgy might think it an acceptable metaphor, but I don’t, and I don’t think David Simon is offering us a metaphor.

  28. Linda permalink
    May 11, 2011 12:07 am

    Nice post, and it nailed what I was at a loss to express in my response to that guy at salon. I couldn’t really figure out what he wanted to happen to that storyline or what his complaint was. It pissed me off though because I inferred he was annoyed that the “strong” female” was made victim. But honey that’s how it goes in real life in a rape. That’s the whole point for the rapist. Bring the bitch to her knees. Power.

    And it kind of brought back the “you shoulda” fill in the blanks here, “kicked that motherfucker in the balls,” “Scratched his eyes out,” “Had a gun” with the “you shouldn’t have,” “been out that late,” “in that neighborhood,” “trusted him,” “let him in,” etc etc etc, that family close friends and strangers feel is their right to attack the victim, once again. We’ve all heard it, the army of women who have been raped in our lives. We’ve all heard it, at least from one person we’ve dared to confide in.

    The salon writer sounds like he is one of them, the image of his “perfect strong woman” forever tarnished, and this made him mad on so many levels he cannot articulate. And that’s exactly why Alexander can’t tell her husband.

    I imagine this strong woman will get back on her feet, although she will never be the same. And how the people in her life respond to it decides if they will be allowed by her to stay in it. You don’t have much patience with bull shit after something like that, even if it comes from people you cherish.

    But as your friend pointed out, “The world doesn’t grind to a halt because we got raped.”

  29. May 11, 2011 1:25 am

    Never believe your own press – Never read the reviews.

    If you give credence to some Salon wonk what next, do we listen to Alan Richman’s dribble? Has that Salon wonk ever lived in New Orleans or has Richman ever worked in a kitchen? No. Critics are like 13 year old virginal masturbators who only fantasize and babble on about something they’ve never done.

    If “Treme” is trying to represent what it was like to be in New Orleans at that time it certainly rang shockingly true to us. For my wife and I this episode felt like a PTSD exercise.

    I don’t need a “Treme” version of “Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl” to feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach, I just needed the look on LaDonna’s face at minute 58.

  30. Sender permalink
    May 11, 2011 5:20 am

    Rape is taboo, and it’s the nature of taboo that people feel guilty for speaking of it, or even thinking of it, in the wrong way. It’s right that people should feel uncomfortable about rape, such is the horror of it; what I find irritating is that Salon, and others specializing in similarly shallow commentary, can score points jerking people around by their feeling of horror.

  31. May 11, 2011 11:39 am

    Dark Brown Waffles has a nice take down of the Salon reviewer, referencing this post.

    http://www.darkbrownwaffles.com/post/5363056674/treme-responding-to-salons-nonsense

  32. Dexter permalink
    May 11, 2011 12:33 pm

    I watch Treme / HBO to be entertained and to get a feel for your city.
    Today, I learned much more by reading Ray’s blog entry.
    Thanks, Ray.

  33. racymind permalink
    May 11, 2011 1:20 pm

    Ray, you said it so well. Nothing to add right now, just wanted to add my ‘wow’ to the others.

  34. May 11, 2011 2:02 pm

    Thanks, everybody.

    There is so much more I could say on this topic, but I had to edit for length.

    One thing I want to add, though, is my reaction to the Vicodin scene. When Larry told her she could have all the Vicodin she wanted, I was so torn. I’m thinking, “yes, yes, girl, you need to disconnect for a while”. And then I thought of friends I know who have been raped. One woman I know disappeared into a Vicodin bottle for 15 years after being raped. Another chose heroin, and then was raped a second time while trying to get clean.

    There is so much piling-on after the initial event.

    One more thing, this here is really excellent, reminds me of VirgoTex’s post from last week:

    http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2011/05/11/the-rhythm-of-a-city-out-of-sync-the-disrupted-spaces-of-treme/

  35. Exiled in New Jersey permalink
    May 13, 2011 8:54 am

    Would be fun if Aunt Mimi and Desiree got to share a scene.

  36. doctorj2u permalink
    May 13, 2011 5:28 pm

    Thank YOU Dexter for listening.

  37. May 15, 2011 12:52 pm

    That was great, Ray.

    I just watched that episode last night – harrowing, obviously. But it’s a classic case of critics who don’t understand the piece as a whole.

    Giving more focus to the rape and less to it’s horrific aftermath is antithesis of everything Treme is about. This isn’t about the storm, it’s about lie after; it’s not about the horrible things, it’s about how the horrible things leave endless ripples behind.

    I cringe at the image of LaDonna and her family dealing with this in coming weeks.

  38. May 15, 2011 11:05 pm

    I read this last week. I read the Salon article. It made me so angry i was afraid to speak. Thank you for nailing this idiots dick to the wall. He deserved it.

  39. doctorj2u permalink
    May 17, 2011 8:48 pm

    Never be afraid to speak, Me. You may be the one voice that makes a difference, even if it is in one person’s life. I have a story for you. I grew up in the 1950’s. In the 5th grade I signed a petition to the teacher that the girls deserved the same recreation equipment as the boys got for recess. I was a “good” girl. My teacher, Mrs. Landry, signaled me out saying how disappointed she was in me for doing such a horrible thing. It affected me for years, in good ways and bad. The good was that I knew women were the equal of men and I fought for that in the actions of my life. I am a dentist now. I was one of 12 women in my dental school class of 120. My life’s work was to show the way to equality for young girls. The bad was I kept my voice to myself. Mrs. Landry taught me well. You will be punished for speaking up. Katrina showed me the error of that. Each and every voice is important. I will never be silenced again. As I said, it may be your voice that is the tipping point. There is power in each and every voice. Let it be heard.

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