Monday, April 12, 2010

Treme : Week One

I waited all day to give me take on the first Treme episode because I wanted to hear and read other people’s reaction to it. I was especially waiting for Jeffrey’s take since I shared some of his same concerns about it. After watching the show last night and getting opinions from people I realize that we are all too close to the situation either positively or negatively to judge it fairly. We all have personal issues that affect how we see the show.

If you moved here since the storm you are probably more likely to love it because new residents tend to be really into the music scene. If you lived here your whole life until the storm and haven’t returned you are probably so excited to see the hometown on the screen that everything was beautiful to you. Then you have the folks that hate the fact the city is reduced to being about music and food. This show may drive them crazy because it doesn’t reflect the depth and diversity of the people. My personal take is I want to love the show because nobody else had the nerve to put their credibility on the line to put the city in the spotlight besides David Simon and Spike Lee. You want to give those guys the benefit of the doubt. Spike’s view was more realistic and raw than Treme is because it was a documentary. David’s is fictional so it’s not going to be as real as ‘When the Levees Broke’ but he was in the ball park. You add an extra challenge when you set a show three months after the storm. There were some things going on in this city that were so deep and emotional that the life of musicians alone couldn’t capture it. Nevertheless I am glad the show is airing. Instead of ripping the show for things that didn’t look right to me, I thought I would tell you how I think some things would have gone in real life.

A lot of people’s favorite scene seems to be when Mardi Gras Indian chief Albert Lambreaux dresses in full costume and marches up a dark street to his friend’s house to get him to help clean out the bar for Indian practice. The scene was great from a television standpoint but the dialogue would have been much different in real life.

If there are any brothers from New Orleans reading this I need you to comment and back me up so I don't sound foolish when I say in real life the reception from his friend would have been much different because the closer black men in New Orleans are to one another the worst they talk to each other. If you are ever in a room full of brothers from New Orleans the two guys going at each other the most are the two closest people in the room. We don’t disrespect one another like that to talk trash to strangers or people we don’t really fool with it. The only men who could ever talk trash to my daddy were his brother, my grandfather and Nolan. Everyone else had to fight. That’s how we are. We love one another and will do anything for one another. We just talk trash while we are doing it.

If I had written that scene it would have went a little different. The brother would have came outside after hearing that noise, saw his boy dressed in full yellow Indian gear and said something like this….

“ Man…what the F#$k are you doing walking around looking like Big Bird on this dark ass street? …. <<>> ….Get your crazy ass inside before the National Guard come by and shoots all our asses. You done loss your rabbit ass mind out here acting like a one man parade. Hey Bay, I’ll be back. I’m going around here with Albert crazy ass and help him with the bar before we all get locked up.”

To people who don’t know any better that paragraph may seem crazy but there’s a lot of love in there. If that dialogue would have been on HBO last night I would have laughed and cried at the same time. They got it right when the cat hanging out in Kermit Ruffin’s yard called Antoine a broke ass horn player as they were laughing at him when he asked Kermit to pay his cab fare. There was a lot of love in that yard. That’s just how we communicate.

We’ll see what part two looks like. Judging from the preview I think that's the episode to send me over the edge. We shall see.


Anonymous said...

Oh, yeah, Cliff, your dialog is much better than the script. Hey, I'm white and from outa town; but thought the same thing about the Indian standing out there in the dark. (I was in NOLA 3 months after the storm, so I know the Guard would be flying past any minute. By the way, didn't they realize that 3 months after Katrina was "the Holidays?") I think there's a writer vacancy with the show, because of David Mills' passing. I wish they'd hire you.

Book said...

*Like Button* LOL.. yeah man.. I need to see it!

Leigh C. said...

The LOOK was already on the guy's face when he looked at Lanbreaux...he just needed your dialogue to complete it. Yo, David Simon, we got your scriptwriter RIGHT HERE.

Leigh C. said...

Whoops, that's Lambreaux. I need a new keyboard - the letters are wearing off.

Pistolette said...

Haha! So true. And sounds exactly how the guys I grew up with in da parish talk to each other too.

ali said...

So true, so true...I have 6 brothers and every last one of them are like that.

Editilla~New Orleans Ladder said...

Thanks Cliff.
That one scene really got me the most.
I mean, this may sound weird, but it made me think of Ice Cream, soft served. I don't know why. I have a real problem fitting in with people who think they know what it means, yet New Orleans is the first place I felt that that didn't matter --and that was 30 years ago!
I'm jus'sayin, you and Jefferey are blogging thoughts I haven't even come to grips with yet.
Y'all have read my story. I am not in this story. I just couldn't come back. Blood on the tracks.

However, I am planning to come home this year, hopefully this fall, and this portrayal frankly leaves me wretched. I mean... these gentrifiers just don't give a shit for us. That was happening before the Flood and this show seems so hipster... (Ordering Lemon Ice would be sacrilegious????)(I mean goddamn it come on!) like I need to move soon before the real estate gets like Portland or San Fransisco or I'll never be able to afford it.

And we have another Season of this to work with...I don't know man, I just don't want to live in a cliche anymore.

All that said, I also want to give Simon some room for the reasons you cited.
I guess I just expected more actuality.
That stupid scene with the Indian Chief really did make me want to puke though.
Leigh, I know you're blogging Treme and all, but if Simon had been doing his job on a deeper level, then we would not even have had that scene with the Chief. Cliff would already be writing for Treme.
It is one thing to visit this city and get Bit, but another thing entirely to invest a chunk of your life investing in the dream or nightmare whichever comes first so to speak.
If you're blogging this then tell Simon to drop the ostentatious references to Gelato and use more Cream.
I actually find Hipster Disneyland copying of a culture much more disgusting than the irreal thing: Disneyland.
I'm fucking sick of out-of-towners telling me about cool New Orleans.

Mark Folse said...

You're is hilarious and perfect, but it would have ended up on the floor because it wasn't supposed to be that kind of moment. Making it comic would have robbed it of its mystic power, the whole ghost thing I wrote about on my blog, not just of Montana but the ghost of New Orleans past stepping out to speak.

Superdeformed said...

I'm glad you're bringing up how we're all too close to it personally to get a clear judgment of it.

When I watched the Indian scene I got the whole "you a fucking crazy old man" from the looks his buddy was giving him. His wife was behind him laughing the whole time.

However they were members of different tribes and the old man is a chief, I don't see them as being close as your daddy and his brothers would be ya know?

I think Simon is walking in a minefield right now and we should be happy for what he gets right and keep in mind that it's a television drama.

The one thing that grated my nerves was the "Hubigs" scene. Everyone I know called them "Hubig Pies." But seriously it's not a big deal.

Red said...

I'm late to the party reading this post but Cliff baby - YOU NAILED IT! Brothers from New Orleans get down like that for real but ESPECIALLY musicians from the 6th Ward - they practically tear each other to shreds verbally and there is NEVER a fight over it. And women get in it too - calling the men all KINDS of "stank azz bytches!!" and the guys absolutely LOVE IT! Its like terms of endearment. The Dozens here in New Orleans is on a whole other level from any other city I've been in. We're only on episode two now but doesn't look like Simon's gonna touch that. I hope I'm wrong - that is so much a peculiar part of the culture, its really needs a showing

Anonymous said...

Brilliant. I hope you keep writing about the show. I find it a little too sentimental. And I agree completely that the city is more about music and food. I do like that the producers are focusing on the recovery of the tourism industry with the character and her restaurant. I think it's a little corny that her trusted employer has a Caribbean (Haitian? Jamaican?) accent, tho.