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This Thin Space

July 8, 2011
by

We got a second season and it’s over.

What a journey this online space took with it. High-fives and many thanks to Back Of Town’s tremendous writing krewe, especially VirgoTex with her choice pictures and quotes for each week’s timely open thread. Mere seconds after the episode ended, y’all – I charge every last one of you with plying my girl with cocktails (and putting her in a cab after). Most of all, I thank the commenters for showing the internet how discussion is done. With honest and enthusiastic participation tempered by excellent moderation, the weblog is not dead.

I thought the season would end on another St. Joseph’s Day, but this time we got all the way through Jazzfest and ended on a somewhat upbeat, can-do note when contrasted with previous episodes and the feeling of the city at that time. Notice how the episodes span the duration between New Orleans’s high holy days; it’s almost as though the show’s creators noticed that’s what we set our clocks by. (Are you going to argue with me that Jazzfest is not a religious holiday? And I’ve never heard people invoke the name of God more than during hurricane season, so there you have it.) Treme has not explicitly brought up the role of religious thought during and after Katrina and The Flood. I understand that this is a difficult task with a city that is a theological peculiarity. Forget the obvious Catholicism, we are nothing if not soul, have an innate sense of the sacrosanct and know the importance of ritual in our daily lives. In other words, we practice religion, but do not use it to dictate thought and life. Or do we?

My season-opener post referenced a piece Dan Baum wrote about the life and death of TBC brass band member, Brandon Franklin. Our people kill their own as a way of settling beefs and, in the process, our talented perish as does our recovery with it. There’s another bit of that article that continues to gnaw at me, one that has a bigger hand in the future of New Orleans than any crime-reduction measure enacted by NOPD. It is apathy wrapped in religious fatalism.

“I loved Brandon, but God loved him more, that’s all,” [Kenneth Fields] said, pushing out his chin defiantly as though daring himself to cry. “I’m not sad this day. Brandon got called before us. This is God’s will and beyond our understanding … Something about Kenneth’s pious words and the very New Orleans way Brandon was being carried off sent an unexpected shot of irritation through me.

… I flashed on arguments I’d had with Christian missionaries when Margaret and I lived in Africa in the late 1980s. The poor need the comfort of Jesus to endure their miserable lives, they’d say, and I, as a good Commie atheist, would make the usual argument that if they weren’t putting so much energy and money into preparing for the next life, they might organize themselves to make this one more just and bearable.

God is an effective coping mechanism in times of extreme grief, I get it. My hands, too, clutched Hindu prayer beads in the days after the storm, hoping for everyone still in the city. It’s when the sense of helplessness aided along by religious piety justifies our rush to judgment and inaction that I get very concerned. It’s a very short trip from “God took our murdered child and we can’t do anything about it” to “Katrina was God’s punishments for homosexuality and legalized abortion,” “you can’t stop what God had in mind for this city” (someone said this to me who was visiting for Krewe du Vieux from Nashville) and “if you pray hard enough, the rains will come to Texas.”

Even fatalism carries with it some humility. This, on the other hand, is full-on indifference which is then shoved under the rug of self-aggrandizing predestination. Communities and infrastructures go bad over time, they go to pieces for various reasons. Even things built for the long-term will fail towards the end of those terms, and things built increasingly cheaper and maintained poorly fail over shorter periods of time. Things just fall apart and, unless, say, you spent money meant for the true security of our homeland on two foreign military boondoggles, there ought to be no shame in this because it’s the earth’s physical truth. How we respond to breakdown and try with all our might against it happening again is then the measure of our civilization, not that something broke.  But, we as a still growing country can’t seem to understand that and yearn for a time when everything was newer, cleaner, stronger because we, who were once those that built and fixed, have created those who can only consume and enjoy.

So, the next time someone pronounces that God wants for something to happen or not, understand that those words do not arise from the mysticism of an old and impenetrable faith or the coming Dark Age of inexplicable stupidity. This is simply the drawing of permission from a convenient collective not to care why. Why our economy failed, why the rains won’t come in Texas, why the levees failed, why our system of justice grows more crooked, why New Orleanians continue to kill and die at their own hands. And only from fully embracing why comes what to do about it.

New Orleanians are still chosen people. Infused with the spirit and surrounded by awe, we have something few other cultures can boast of. And, just so, apathy and corruption threaten to consume us from within, while greed and more apathy crush us from the outside. In that sliver of an interface between is home. Push, push outwards from this thin space.

Thank you for reading.

P.S. I’ve mentioned this before but in no way is BOT school out for the summer. There are posts by far better writers than me waiting in the wings. Y’all get back now.

P.P.S. This wasn’t really a post about religion and community as much as it was about the things we lead ourselves to believe when in a group. Observe New Orleans and the wars and the economy and now the debt ceiling “debate” – people were and are going to be fucked and the worst thing is that a significant number of them are going to think they deserved it.

41 Comments
  1. Virgotex permalink
    July 8, 2011 11:56 pm

    Slow clap.

  2. dpb732 permalink
    July 9, 2011 10:41 am

    Well said, Maitri.

  3. July 9, 2011 11:20 am

    Awesome piece, Ms. Maitri. Awesome. I have more to say, but can’t right now. Am overcome. Just beautiful.

  4. 3Suns permalink
    July 9, 2011 5:23 pm

    Great piece, Maitri. Thank you also for linking back (the intro) to your other article, which was equally edifying.

    I look forward to the not-dry season here at Back of Town. Cheers!

  5. July 9, 2011 5:28 pm

    Thank you, Maitri, for this post and the other wherein Brandon was referenced. I didn’t comment on the first when you posted it because I became so lost in thoughts of B and the “not wholeness” I still feel, but I’m grateful for things like this that keep him alive in our memories. He was too important to too many of us to be forgotten.

    It’s funny because the most memorable and special time he and I had together happened to be the weekend of the Treme’s premier. It had already been filled with music, dancing (he ditched a late-night TBC gig to stay at a Hot 8 show to dance with me🙂, and incredible conversation that demonstrated what a deep thinker he was, more so than most people ever knew or would get the chance to know. That Sunday afternoon, we went to the second line together and when it was over, started to consider how and where we would catch the season premier of Treme. We decided we didn’t want to be with a lot of other people where it might be loud and hard to hear. I got the brilliant idea of using some of my AMEX points to get a hotel room with HBO.

    When premiere time came, couldn’t figure out why Grand Torino was on and, long story short, it turned out the hotel only had HBO 2. We rushed out and scoured all the bars in the area trying to find some place showing it, but no one had it on. We finally gave up and decided to just enjoy the little getaway. It was quality time. I never imagined it possible that he would be gone a month later. Of all people, not him.

    Sometimes it’s mind-boggling when I think of 2010 and all the things that changed in so many of our lives because of the loss of Brandon. It definitely set mine on a weird spin. (My life in 2010, from beginning to end, really played out like a story someone wrote for me and not like any year of real life I’ve ever had.) I hope the Treme writers find some way to capture Brandon and his life and his spirit in a storyline. He was an extraordinary human being with a pretty amazing journey. Thanks for remembering him here on this blog and for letting me wax nostalgic.

  6. doctorj2u permalink
    July 9, 2011 6:45 pm

    I have held off commenting because I am so torn by this post. There is so much that is true about it, but then again, how much disappointment can people face and still live a life of hope without the tool of fatalism. I was born in a city of 600,000 plus. Now it is in the neighborhood of 300,000. The city is a gem if one values culture (which I do), but people need to make a living also. It breaks my heart that people who love the city (and Louisiana) need to leave to make a living. Our politicians have failed us, on the right and the left. We have tried electing every type and nothing changed. Louisiana has stayed a colony of the US, having her bountiful resources sucked dry while gettingnone of the benefits. In some ways Katrina has been a blessing because the complete abandonment has created a strong neighborhood grass roots movement. I have more hope for the city now than I have had in a very long time. That does not mean that huge problems don’t remain. Crime is a huge one. LisaPal, I am so sorry for your loss. Brandon seemed to be a huge loss for his community. He was loved by so many and his loss has left a hole in the city. I have no answers. I have looked for answers my entire life and none have worked. All I know is that this country needs New Orleans, if it knows it or not.

  7. July 9, 2011 8:31 pm

    doctorj2u: The answers aren’t to be had here either. And, as I said, what I find noxious is not so much the fatalism but people making policy and social decisions from very shaky philosophical ground. It’s easy and understandable to throw hands up but I’ve seen a lot of violence and utter crap go down (lost two homes) because of leaving things up to a higher power that we can and should fix.

  8. Anita permalink
    July 9, 2011 9:36 pm

    “In that sliver of an interface between is home. Push, push outwards from this thin space.”

    Home is what we’ve been fighting to save, to restore. This season ends with the promise of coming home. Larry is bringing LaDonna and all of them home. Antoine and Desiree have the keys now to make that new place their home. Delmond is coming home and Albert, despite himself, will have his family’s help to restore his home. Janette is saying “forever” and, even though she’s promising Jacques it’s a one-off for them, and even though she put up her wrecked shell of a house for the bond to spring Jacques from jail, we know she’s coming home. Even Davis costumed preppy for his swan song, conceding that his home is uptown and he’s willing to own that just as long as he’s in New Orleans and the music keeps playing.

    Some characters are not at home. Arnie knows how to make himself valuable by fixing roofs and breaking up fights and, like so many others who come here with a great work ethic, he earns his place at the table and the cily allows him to stay and sip the nectar. They earn a place with their work ethic. Nelson’s unfortunate association, on the other hand, has made him a useless tool, tainted now, so he must be sent home. Ligouri remains immaculate. That’s just the way the game is played.

    So the dominoes fall. Hidalgo loses favor and the hauling business goes down the drain for the man who was actually doing the work as well as the guys who worked for him. Antoine can’t handle the stress of running a band and just up and quits. Five people out of a job, and Cornell’s rein on Sonny is loosened. The rest of the band will land on their feet but it’s less certain for Sonny.

    Through Sonny’s eyes, we are given a look at the way Lihn’s community has made a home here. Hauling a shrimp net that weighs an impossible ton onto a tossing boat in the middle of darkness, doing it over again all day and night until you can go home with a catch. He will witness what it takes to make a family, what community is, what it costs a man just to sit at the table and hope. Days and months and years of unrelenting labor, pulling in unison, to make your way to a place where you can keep your people alive and safe–this effort is not spent to make easy pickings for the likes of Sonny. There’ll be no taking whatever you want in this place. Lihn knows what community and family are worth.

    Sonny was traded to Lihn’s father for “two air hoses, a crab trap and a player to be named later.” That’s what Sonny is worth. He doesn’t even have a gig to go back to. Who would bet on Sonny?

    Mimi tells Davis that she sold Lil Calliope for $30,000 but Davis should not worry; he can just do what he does again and she’ll do what she does and everything will be peaches and cream. Just find another promising young artist to buy and sell and we’ll make some more money. “I love the music business,” she says. We’re not told how far they are sitting from the very spot where people were routinely bought and sold for a lot less and, in truth, still are.

  9. July 9, 2011 10:49 pm

    I’d be curious as to how this perspective carries over to the anethesizing effect of willful complacency that allows us to simply avoid truth. The theological peculiarity / ritualistic facet here is also cultural (though rings true in other regions, as well).

    Look no further than NOPD corruption investigations since Katrina. In a normal world, no community would accept the rampant behavior. Yet what have we routinely witnessed? Acceptance by either justification (‘you don’t understand what it means to be a LEO”) or through historical perspective (“well, fuck it – that’s just how IT is…thats how its always been..”). Instead of acknowledging the event for what it is (without investing in a position) and digging in to do the hard work of bettering / advocating. I suppose it is part of the grief cycle and in part an instinctive coping mechanism to handle overwhelming emotions, but just like our instant-gratification culture conditions us, “lets just take a pill and ignore what got us into this mess (until the next time)”. The abuse and corruption has become the religion of New Orleans (and Louisiana as a whole) politics and power.

    The true delusion is to believe that things are as they always have been and will continue to be that way, despite what action is taken. The true crime would be inaction and burying our collective heads in the sand and not embracing that we’re all human (and no power structure is beyond reproach) and can change

  10. Anita permalink
    July 10, 2011 2:02 am

    Part of the heavy lifting done by religion is the communication and encouragement of shared values in the community. The rituals and the vocabulary help to bind people together and strengthen the group. The group can accomplish more than the family can, the family more than the individual.

    For most of my life I’ve followed the religion of the liberal, prizing reason and excellence, respecting the individual and the different, flirting with cynicism but secretly cherishing honor, justice and compassion. I like philosophers, mystics and artists but am myself a peasant. What I have never been is a joiner.

    I think now that I’ve been wrong about that, and that joining actually is important. We need to join together in order to be stronger, just as people have always done in churches and as the partisan voters do today. If we can take back one block, maybe we can take back a neighborhood, a school and a city. But we have to be here and we have to be together. And we have to be in it for the long haul. When Katrina happened I thought it would take fifteen years for New Orleans to get back to normal. Now, I think we can do better than that. It might take longer but it doesn’t have to be Louisiana normal. We can make it better.

    If New Orleans is sacred ground to us, let’s make it our creed to help this city nourish the people who belong here. We need to be fierce about our belief. We need to let it sink in that this is going to be a lot harder than we ever imagined and come to terms with that. I think we’re meant to be passionate about life and this is a place that calls that forth in people. There are a lot of people here doing work in many neighborhoods to make this recovery better than back to normal. Pick one to help and tell everybody else to pick one. Be passionate about it. What else is there to spend your life on that matters as much as the people you love and the place you belong?

  11. July 10, 2011 10:16 am

    Anita: Ever seen that demotivator poster about meetings: “None of us is as dumb as all of us.” Communities can accomplish more, but it’s important and very hard work to keep track of whether the outcome matches your goal at the outset. The mindset with which you come together and that you don’t absolve yourself of your own personal responsibility and values to that community is also important.

  12. CalliopeJane permalink
    July 10, 2011 10:56 am

    The main psychological benefit of churches/temples/mosques does appear to be the social support provided, but similar benefits can be achieved by affiliating with non-religious entities as well. I think it is a waste of our time and energy to try to solve our problems by praying about them; we would do better to focus on the connections with our here-and-now neighbors without expecting or waiting for intervention from supernatural entities. And the big problem with relying on religion to give us community is that it defines one’s community as those who hold the same beliefs as you. People of other beliefs or no belief are then seen as “other” and are not part of your change efforts (or can only be part if they are willing to go along with the religious talk and ritual). This fragments us as a city, as much as it unites smaller subgroups.

    However, we clearly have a sort of “religion of NOLA” – though I hesitate to call it religion since it doesn’t require belief in anything supernatural. It is a shared belief that there is something special and transcendent in our way of life. As we all know, it has its own icons of worship, its own holidays and events, its own special worldview (all of what we talk about here, happy to see it being captured by Treme). THIS sort of faith can indeed sustain us and bring us ALL together. This is the faith I want to encourage: Faith in our city and ourselves and our ability to make a difference.

  13. July 10, 2011 11:56 am

    I was always a person of some faith, faith in something greater than us, although not in the standard usage of organized religions. The closest I come to naming that energy is the Native American Great Spirit, a nice summation of my view. Spirit.

    After the storm I lost my faith in just about everything, and am still struggling through that all these years later. I do, however, have faith in community. I’ve seen what a group of people with a shared purpose can do. I am also still idealistic (at least on my non-cynical days) to believe that we can accomplish great things by working together. And, Maitri, you’re right, a group can’t lose sight of their original goals through ego driven power plays and one ups-manship. (sp?)

    I abhor the Christian right. I abhor zealots of any stripe, who in their zeal to proselytize, seem to become blind to the plight of the humans they believe they are leading to righteousness and glory. I, by the way, feel the same way about some animal activists. Anyone who knows me knows I love critters, but when people get so busy rescuing a cat without noticing the homeless person next to that cat, or worse, deriding that person, it makes my blood boil.

    What’s all this got to do with the price of tea?

    I had a good friend once, whose sister-in-law was murdered by her husband. The husband was acquitted through a technicality. It was a particularly grisly and heinous murder. As her sister-in-law was her own husband’s sister, she couldn’t understand how the family could accept that verdict and in fact, invite the acquitted guy to Thanksgiving dinner. The murder was senseless, sudden as they all are. She fell apart completely. She went to therapy, she went to grief counselling. After two years, she blew off all her friends and became a born again Christian. It was baffling. She was brilliant, savvy, thoughtful, well educated. Suddenly she was preaching the evils of drink and evolution. Her husband was as baffled as the rest of us, but explained that after all the therapy and other options, her inability to deal with this, her inability to find a rational explanation for what had happened had culminated in her finding a coping mechanism: it was God’s will. To her mind there had to be a reason for her pain and confusion. Finding none, the reason was God’s will. She settled for that.

    I have recently been reading a lot about the slave economy here in America pre-Civil War. I have been listening to prison work songs. I noticed an abiding faith in the next life, and given what this life was like for them, and most especially their total knowledge that there was nothing they could do about it, it made sense. When all else fails, we find a way to survive and sometimes that way is belief that if we just make it through this (whatever “this” is for us) things will be better on the other side.

    We all did that after Katrina in various ways.

    While Karl Marx has been famously misquoted, I think that his statement regarding all of this is very compassionate and shows great understanding of the human psyche: “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”

    Seems folks always leave out that first part and bastardize the second. But he’s correct, I think. For me, that coping mechanism doesn’t work. As a result some days I agonize over injustices that I can’t fix, I smoke too much, I stay up at night wondering how people can be so brutal to each other, I scream at the television in hopes that that obtuse mean spirited politician will look into the eyes of a hungry child in Detroit, or, in New Orleans. I cope by raging or alternately closing the shutters for a few days to reboot. That said, I often envy those who can accept the God’s will explanation. It’s gotta be easier than my way and I sure as shooting am not gonna fault them for choosing it.

    So now we’re full circle back to zealotry. Most of the problems come not from the God’s will idea, but the use of that as a weapon of bigotry. At that point it becomes absolutely counterproductive and will not contribute to our human drive to make things better here on our little marble, or our little island on the marble.

    Sorry, Maitri. Didn’t mean to be so long winded, but your post is extremely thought provoking and profound.

  14. Anita permalink
    July 10, 2011 1:34 pm

    @Maitri: “The mindset with which you come together and that you don’t absolve yourself of your own personal responsibility and values to that community is also important.”

    Yes, and this very fear drove me away from many groups when it became clear how ego-driven most people are. Being ego-driven myself, I withdrew; I wouldn’t be sullied with compromise and failure. I wrote an argumentative paper about the evils of community destroying individualism. I’d spent too many years being unjustly stifled and I wasn’t giving up my hard-won individuality. I had been Edith Bunker for so long that I stifled myself after a while until I just couldn’t do it anymore. So, yes, I fear the group, the will of the people, the vote of the majority, the voice from on high.

    But that fear, and the vigilance it engenders is the price of freedom because we are not strong enough alone and we must join together. What we can never do is leave the work up to our leaders. We have to do the work ourselves and, at the same time, ride herd on the spokespersons we elect.

    The enmity that has been promoted between religious conservatives and the godless liberals has been fueled by the myth force-fed by the media that liberals don’t want to do the work of family, community, and country and the equally false view that conservatives don’t care about individuals.

    It’s hard to change things. There are dangers in any move. The odds are against us. Nevertheless. . . and we live now in that nevertheless.

  15. July 10, 2011 2:21 pm

    New Orleans is one of the few places in the world I can be worshipful and it has nothing to do with God or science. This is why I want to shake the hell out of the city when things go wrong. Nevertheless, we stay, go back, never leave. Nevertheless would have been another great title for this post.

  16. Anita permalink
    July 10, 2011 3:13 pm

    No matter how implacably our reason forces us to accept the void, our spirit persists in seeking the numinous.

    When we find our sacred ground, we must build tabernacles there. There we are all guardians of the flame, We must keep the faith, always remembering the holy days, never neglect the burnt offerings, feasts and processions, the music, dancing and singing and the hospitality to strangers.

    We can work like hell and live for love. In fact, love is the only reason to ever get out of bed in the morning.

  17. July 10, 2011 5:04 pm

    Anita wrote:

    “imi tells Davis that she sold Lil Calliope for $30,000 but Davis should not worry; he can just do what he does again and she’ll do what she does and everything will be peaches and cream. Just find another promising young artist to buy and sell and we’ll make some more money. “I love the music business,” she says. We’re not told how far they are sitting from the very spot where people were routinely bought and sold for a lot less and, in truth, still are.”

    Whoa! That is truth. Partner in Viewing and I said to each other, “There’s a reason Uptown stays rich.”

    I’m still willing to bet on Sonny though.

    CalliopeJane wrote:

    “It is a shared belief that there is something special and transcendent in our way of life. As we all know, it has its own icons of worship, its own holidays and events, its own special worldview (all of what we talk about here, happy to see it being captured by Treme). THIS sort of faith can indeed sustain us and bring us ALL together. This is the faith I want to encourage: Faith in our city and ourselves and our ability to make a difference.”

    This is a spiritual relationship to time and space called by some ‘chronotope.’ I think scholar of Ancient Egypt characterize that culture this way — which works well for New Orleans which is also a civilization built on one of the Great Rivers of the World.

    This is a cyclic vision of time, plce religion that is non-Christian, non-jJewish, non-Islamic/ Theirs is an progressive vision of time, of history, or religion — starting somewhere and going somewhere, i.e. the end of the world, judgment day, the Messiah comes. Cyclic view means repetition, that what happens always happens — or as put in “The World That Made New Orleans,”New Orleans is the northen most part of the New World Catholic realm of saints and festivals,rather than the American protestant view imported down from protestant Virginian with the Purchase.

    Love, C.

  18. rickngentily permalink
    July 10, 2011 7:09 pm

    @sam per your post on: July 10, 2011 11:56 am

    sunday morning at work is a time of quite compilation for me and my saucier, our work stations are next to each other.

    it allways bugs us that most of the krewe come in still drunk from the night before and just babble bullshit for half the shift and than just bitch and moan for the second half because the hangover is just kicking in. it wouldnt be so bad if they wern’t still at full volume mode like most folks do when they are drunk.

    we usually listen to some gospel and smooth jazz on his radio and than i get to play the cajun/zydeco show after that.

    i guess the point is that we had this exact same debate / discussion today.

    almost note for note. it was like your post was teleported to our minds.

    the kicks part was after we got all this off our chest we looked at each other and proclaimed since we had solved all the worlds problems it was now time to go have a congratulary drink . than we had a good laugh and went back to work.

    thanks for your post, i really ejoyed it.

  19. Anita permalink
    July 10, 2011 7:09 pm

    @ Foxessa: “I’m still willing to bet on Sonny though.”

    I had hoped you might. All that catharsis feels so damned good.

  20. July 10, 2011 7:56 pm

    Anita — 2008 is when the National Guard came in and things started to feel safer and more possible, so a hopeful end of season 2 is plausible.

    Things have improved every year. At the same time things continue to be lost too. That crime thing is as awful and terrifying as ever. But, I swear, it’s that gd-ed BP Criminal Catastrophe that set us all back, emotionally, and every other which way but loose.

    Love, C.

  21. July 11, 2011 5:06 pm

    “I’m still willing to bet on Sonny though.”

    I’m always willing to bed on an addict like that. I wouldn’t loan them money, but worst thing that can happen, you lose a bet.

    Sonny reminds me of somebody I know in real life, somebody who has done way way worse things than what we’ve seen Sonny do, somebody who disappeared on me a year ago and I just ran into him last month. Working, clear-eyed, smiling.

    You can’t ever totally give up on a human being. Not on the show, not in real life. Maybe in politics.

  22. July 11, 2011 5:14 pm

    BTW, Maitri, way to put the pressure on us BOTers to produce. I’ve got a collection of random snarky one-liner retorts to Salon et al, but it’s not what you’d call literary analysis.

  23. July 11, 2011 10:04 pm

    Hey, it’s not like I’m asking for the Cliff’s Notes to Gravity’s Rainbow here. I was simply told by certain parties that they have upcoming words and didn’t want our readers to think this crack house is closed.

  24. Anita permalink
    July 11, 2011 10:51 pm

    @Ray – Please don’t even joke about not writing here. I love this show and BOT so much and will pay close attention to every post, I promise — I’ll post comments, I’ll thank you. You know I didn’t mean to diss your boy Sonny. I just felt foolish that yet another character I was sure I couldn’t like has once again become intriguing. This show is so magical.

  25. July 11, 2011 11:01 pm

    @Anita: Actually I’ve got a couple of posts in the works, but the writing part keeps getting all tangled up in the words. Stupid words.

  26. July 12, 2011 9:52 am

    Re Sonny — at a wakeful period last night I was considering potential futures for him within the context of New Orleans and Louisiana, based only upon what we’ve seen of him so far in organizers and activists we know in New Orleans, who keep the bases keeping on — and they themselves arrived either shortly before or after the levee catastrophe.

    Love, C.

  27. Delta permalink
    July 12, 2011 7:18 pm

    @Ray: Whatever contortions your words and writings go through to come out on the keyboard, keep doing it. They may feel tangled to you, but they aren’t to us.

  28. brueso permalink
    July 14, 2011 12:43 pm

    Tim Goodman rightfully slams the Emmys for nary a Treme nomination:

    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/emmys-revert-bad-form-211285

  29. July 14, 2011 1:51 pm

    Damn right! While the dreadfully scripted, acted and historically thin The Kennedys got how many nominations?

    So — these awards are all about logrolling and pay for play and are insignificant in terms of quality? If there were emmy categories for music — or maybe there are. I cannot claim any deep information about televison per se.

    Love, C.

  30. July 14, 2011 2:01 pm

    Hey, guys, I feel your pain, but can we do this by not smearing other shows (unless they involve Kardashians or Duggars)?

  31. July 14, 2011 5:35 pm

    I will quote Ray’s eloquent comment on LAST YEAR’s No-Emmy for Treme post:

    “Or as my friend Doxy pointed out: “It’s the Emmy’s. Dude, you’re complaining about the menu at Denny’s”.”

  32. racymind permalink
    July 14, 2011 5:49 pm

    Dennys! I just love the veal parmigiana there! While eating I can read USA Today and watch The Real Housewives of Uptown New Orleans on my iPad.

  33. doctorj2u permalink
    July 14, 2011 7:57 pm

    Come on you all. You know the people of Uptown love New Orleans as much as you do. I think this denigration is as sad as any prejudice. There is good and bad in Uptown, just like there is good and bad in Central City. It is not “the other”. It is part of the city.

  34. Anita permalink
    July 14, 2011 9:52 pm

    How soon can we buy the dvd’s, do you think?

  35. Anita permalink
    July 14, 2011 10:24 pm

    I do believe that my remark is meant to be snarky and passive-aggressive, or something. I am really pissed at the Emmy people. It’s like the time Sinead O’Connor was right and the pope was wrong and she got crucified.

  36. doctorj2u permalink
    July 15, 2011 5:49 pm

    I just found out the neatest thing. I reconnected with a group from my old neighborhood Gentilly Woods. One of my friends was Jan Jansen. I remember her father played trumpet for the New Orleans Symphony and he taught the instrument. What I did not remember was that two of his students were Wynton Marsales and Terrence Blanchard! Seems he was the ONLY trumpet teacher in New Orleans to teach both white and black students. Kudos to you George Jansen! You were a man ahead of your times. This is within my lifetime. Appreciate how far we have come, even if it is not far enough.

  37. 3Suns permalink
    July 21, 2011 6:22 pm

    Bump! I didn’t do this on purpose. I had a whole wonderful family of visitors here for the past week, and the preparations before and the recovery afterward has kept me away. In the meantime, I see that Sam has already written another must-read/must-reply post so I am busy just catching up.

    I really appreciate the openness here. I have enjoyed each and every post, with Rick’s comment about work with Saucier being an especially visual and memorable anecdote.

    At the risk of sounding offended or defensive, though I am neither, I would like to offer an additional perspective on the religion/community discussion.

    There is a common assumption that the qualities (and benefits) of religion or faith are comprehensible or explainable through the hard or soft sciences. Phrases like “I understand the psychological….”. While I am sure that that is true especially for the ritualistic aspects of religion, it disregards experience and relationship which cannot be immediately demonstrated or proven, or even necessarily described in a way that would sound anything other than “off one’s rocker”.

    Speaking with a martial arts master, you will find they will often talk of things that you cannot understand (or visually recognize) unless you have studied and practiced the art for some years. When I joined a Tai Chi club back in my university days, the senior members talked about various incredible physical changes to their bodies and awareness of their internal systems. It was nothing that they could show me, because it was all personal, experiential, and all inside their bodies. Fascinated, I listened to their stories, but ultimately I had to just take everything they said on faith. Sure enough, after 3 years, I could relax individual muscles at will, including ones I had not even known I had, and I could stretch and feel my spine expand and contract (to provide one specific example). It was a profound baby step in faith. I had believed, practiced, and then I experienced first hand. Later, when I met a doctor in a medical bookstore and explained to him that I was interested in learning some basic physiology to better understand the changes I was experiencing, he literally stepped wide of me like I might give him an infectious disease. It was laughable. Yet, I haven’t done Tai Chi for 20 years, but I can still touch the ground with open palms while keeping my legs straight.

    Imagine spending one or two afternoons learning and practicing Tai Chi until you are so sore you can hardly move, and then expecting to be able to discern feeling in your internal organs or make your spine expand and contract. It won’t happen and you might walk away dissing it.

    So it is with faith and prayer. And here I get into an area where I may easily be putting myself in the realm of “off my rocker”. In order to practice prayer enough to see results (in order to stick with it long enough to understand it), you have to have faith. In order to have faith, you have to “know” what you believe; you have to have relationship. Prayer not only changes the pray-er, but it has effect. That is my experience.

    Tying this in to our favorite shows, I think even Mr. Simon would agree, “good” has to be invited in. It never forces itself on you, or your neighborhood. It has to be invited, and aggressively but humbly and often with sacrifice, courted. “Evil” on the other hand, tries to take what it wants and never gives up.

    Specifically to Maitri, with the exception of what I have written above for the purpose of expanding (not contradicting) on the topic of prayer and faith, I find your observations and interpretations insightful and without fault or exaggeration. And that leads to my final point, community.

    While I abhor meetings and committees, I have come to realize that I need community. Being part of a church community for me, is a beneficial exercise in patience, tolerance, and humility. Unless I keep my ego in check, things won’t go well – and were I not submitting myself and interpretations to a larger community, I might well be serving my own koolaid were I given the chance. I have also gained close, lifetime friends.

    As regards labels and associations, I have come to terms with being called by a group label, even though some individuals in the group may hold and practice completely different values. I used to feel that I needed to provide caveat for any label by which I called myself, so as not to be identified with the people under the same banner but who behaved/believed in such a way as to make my skin crawl (and there are those in almost any group). I no longer explain, or apologize for others. That is them, I am me.

    And I really like it in here. 🙂

  38. July 25, 2011 5:39 pm

    3Suns, sorry it took me so long to get back to you but every time I started to say something in response, someone religious would say or do something decent or really bad _in the name of that religion_ that changed what I was going to say.

    I think you went into your religious community with a purpose and to grow with that purpose. In my ripe old mid-30s, I’ve come to understand that self-awareness is a good thing but that “knowing who you are” is a crock. What’s the point if you can’t learn and change from the rest of your life? That said, it’s the folks who seek community for a purpose or join an existing community with a pre-existing and immutable purpose who bother me.

    So, I get what you are saying about personal “experience and relationship which cannot be immediately demonstrated or proven.” You have to grow with it and give it time, but your experience with your back can just as easily be explained by years of physical practice along with the fact that you put your mind to it.

    But, through all of this, the focus is bettering yourself. Right?

    Re: community – NOLA is my community (no problem being labeled with it) and within that community are many sub-communities. Over the years, I have witnessed a few of these groups completely destroy the focus of their initial vision, vehemently exclude those who disagree and/or implode. The individual people are still amazing and I still love hanging out with them when they are not in these groups. This is one of the reasons I have been asking questions lately about the difference between who you are and what you do. If you’re an awesome person individually but a total shitheel when in a group, what does it say about you? What does it say about that group? So, it’s not about community destroying individualism (we all have to give at some point in this shared world), but trying to find identity in the first place in community, which is a dicier proposition.

    Hope that made an ounce of sense.

    And I am really glad you like it in here.

  39. 3Suns permalink
    July 26, 2011 9:16 am

    Maitri, I think I understand what you are saying.

    I have several not random, but mutually exclusive comments in response.

    *Your point about the the benefits of Tai Chi being explainable is right, but for me at the time, they may as well have been talking about lightning bolts coming out of their navels (and I even heard a little of that, too), for all the sense it made to me. Yet their enthusiasm, and my friend’s assurance, a handle for trust, made what was obvious after the fact, worthy of blind attempt. While it was rational, I didn’t know it was rational when I attempted it. lol

    *I think in my effort to be inert, my vagueness caused misinterpretation. I didn’t mentioned self-awareness or knowing oneself, though it is a part of Tai Chi. When I mentioned prayer, I was thinking of it in the western, Christian sense, turning outward, not in the eastern sense of turning inward.

    *Now that you mention it, however, I would think that Omar is an example of a person who knows/knew himself. Or at least, that is what I would define as a person who “knew himself”. Nobody in Treme has impressed me that in that way, yet. (Actually, I don’t think that that kind of character will be developed or introduced Treme.)

    *If I have given the impression that I am on a lifetime journey of self-improvement, then the opportunity to take hours to say what I would be forced to say in minutes were we lucky enough to have this kind of conversation face to face, has afforded me too much crafting. I thoroughly enjoyed and could profoundly relate to Creighton’s “always for pleasure” line, even within the inherently dangerous context in which it was delivered. Life is for growing, learning, bettering yourself, helping others, but it is also for enjoying. Though I do sometimes think that “life is a bitch and then you die”, for the most part, I love it…even when I am doing nothing with it. lol

    *It seems to me that the appreciation at BoT for New Orleans (and Treme to the extent that it replicates NO) transcends the explainable. It is more that the sum of its parts, (e.g., love for the architecture including the street cars, the music, the food, the people, and the friends). You have a knowledge of New Orleans, a relationship with it, to the point where it is almost “spiritual”, or as Woody Allen might phrase it “a religious experience”. I write that with delight and respect. If I wanted to hate on love for New Orleans, I would be joining a different community. 😉

    Thank you for reading and replying. I hope you are having an awesome summer, because in the middle of mine, BoT is putting a grin on my face, and skip in my step.

    P.S. “shitheel” Great word!

  40. July 26, 2011 6:53 pm

    Epilogue added to post above.

  41. Mary permalink
    September 10, 2011 7:03 pm

    I think Sam, Anita and I must be secret soulmates, because I agree 100% with what they both wrote. That being said I consider myself a liberal Catholic. I really love the teachings of the Catholic church when it comes to social justice, especially where the least of these is concerned. Although I believe there are a great many more teachings of the Catholic church that leave a lot to be desired. I think Maitri really hit on a good point here and I really experienced it this summer when I visited NOLA. I went to the Backstreet Cultural Museum, which really explains the Mardi Gras Indian experience as well as jazz funerals and second lines. There was a display there about a jazz funeral for a person who was very young when he died. I asked the “curator” of the museum how he died and his reply was that “they” didn’t talk about how the people died, only how they lived. I had a feeling that the young man met a violent end. I may be completely wrong in making gigantic leaps here. When the curator said that I thought to myself, “What a great learning opportunity this could be for any young person who comes in this museum and yet, the curator won’t talk about it.” It flat out annoyed me. I made peace with it later. I just think if the status quo is really bad and we won’t challenge it then there’s something wrong with us. Is there a need to cover-up when a person is doing really bad things and gets killed because of it? But I don’t think it’s that. I think it’s more of the pre-determined thing that Maitri talked about above. This is an excellent post Maitri and after my visit to NOLA, I thought about this so much and I continue to think about it today.

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