Monday, June 21, 2010

Between Creighton and Albert

I am sitting here on the first day of summer thinking about last night’s episode of Treme. That was the best episode so far. Last night it was confirmed that Creighton Bernette did indeed jump from the ferry and into the river. There was a scene were his wife Toni told her friend that he quit. I think the line went something like “The whole city is on its ass and he quit!” What you have to do is take that scene and compare it with the scene where Chief Albert Lambreaux and his gang are trying to finish their Indian suits for St. Joseph’s night. Then you take the scene where they finally get to come out on the streets after all that hard work. Those are two different men from two different backgrounds and circumstances. It would appear that Creighton was the weaker of the two because he gave in to the pain while Albert defied everything to preserve his culture. I guess it would be easy to come to that conclusion seeing that Creighton had his home intact, his job, a book deal, and a hijacked public school for his daughter to attend while Albert was sleeping in a bar room that barely has electricity yet still managed to stage a housing protest and make an Indian suit. Those are two extremes of the post Katrina experience.

In the real world I think most of us are in the middle somewhere and swing back and forth depending on the day. On my birthday I feel more like Albert because after everything that happened I am still here and grinding through almost out of spite for all the people and obstacles that make it hard to be here. On my grandmother’s birthday I feel like Creighton. I look around at all the places where things I cared about used to be and wonder why in the hell are we dealing with this bullshit anyway. The New Orleans I know is dead and I just want to punch someone in the face. Everyone I know is somewhere on the line between Creighton and Albert. You have to lean on the ones that are close to Albert and hug the ones that are closer to Creighton. As far as the folks who are all over the place like I am, they can always start a blog or something and exchange rants with random people. It seems to help out a lot.


sussah said...

I admit I have enjoyed watching Treme. But there they have created a fairy tale post-Katrina, a world in which mental illness has logic to it. I understand why they created this fictional world; if it were truly realistic, nobody would tune in for more than 5 minutes.

bayoucreole said...

Well said Cliff. Blogging really does help a lot.

Anita said...

Yours was the first review I read this morning and now, dozens later, it is still the best.

Tim said...

Cliff, More than the levees burst on that day. Our dream burst wide open, our city was busted, our sense of safety destroyed, our feeling that we were special was popped. Right in front of our eyes. So it didn't matter if you lost your house or not. Didn't matter if you were unemployed or not. No one can sleep in this city now and not wonder what will happen next time.

Of course Treme is just a TV show. Even the finest documentary cannot capture the anger, the pain, the sadness, the hopelessness that flooded this city after the water was pumped away. It's just a TV show that can do no more than give us little peeks, fleeting looks through the knot-hole at what it looks like, what it feels like, what it means to be in New Orleans post-K.

I like the show a lot for what it does show. I like that it shows how fucked up we can be, when a man spends his last day enjoying all the city has to offer and then goes into the river. And how cops are pissed that Mardi Gras Indians are dancing on otherwise deserted streets. And how music and friendship and family hold it all together when nothing else can.

I'm glad your blogging is good therapy for you. You should know it's good therapy for we who read it, too.



K. said...

The Indian scenes were wonderful, and the "My Indian Red" montage was maybe the best single sequence in the show to date.

Thinking about your insights, it seems that Creighton lost a fantasy NOLA that he realized wasn't coming back. (There was a telling scene when Toni dismissed Creighton's krewe as a KKK relic.) Meanwhile, Albert was doing his absolute damndest to restore something meaningful and real. Creighton couldn't create because he didn't believe in it any more; Albert creates because it's what he has left and because it's how he can say "fuck you" to the forces arrayed against him and his friends and neighbors.

But, you're right: These are literary types; the real world veers back and forth uncertainty. We have to find within us Albert's persistence and determination to ward off the lure of what Churchill called the black dog. It takes more than dressing up in a sperm costume.