TAP Talks Treme: At the Foot of Canal Street

Tim Fernholz: I found this to be the most interesting week of Treme thus far -- these characters are starting to become a lot more interesting. Who else is excited about Davis' musically inspired Council bid?

In fact, to touch on a theme we've been developing, maybe we're starting to see some cracks in the nameless/faceless institutions versus Our Quirky Heroes narrative. It started with the insurance employee telling Albert that he drinks himself to sleep, and maybe it is continuing with Davis' new-found interest in politics. A nagging question since last episode has been about the New Orleans Police Department. I understand how Illinois National Guardsman are not going to have the best understanding of New Orleans traditions, but seeing these (presumably from New Orleans) police officers acting up makes me wonder about who they are -- are they from New Orleans? What's their take on what's happening to the city?

Joel Anderson: It'd be nice to meet more law-enforcement agents and get some sort of sense for how they grappled with the problems down there.

All of them weren't hassling musicians in the street, you know?

That's why it was a nice change to see that sheriff's deputy help out Toni as well. It should go without saying, but cops are not all bad guys. But it only takes a handful to make it appear that way.

Aminatou Sow: After watching this episode, I cannot believe I ever doubted this show would be anything but fantastic. Watching Antoine improvise words to "St. James Infirmary" put him back firmly on my good side. His speedy dental recovery is at the top of my wish list.

They handled that "insurance companies fuck over their policy holders" plotline sooner than I expected. But then again, it's almost Christmas. As far as Katrina-related tragedies, it's the insurance companies' behavior that is the most brutal and sadly predictable.

This episode is written by George Pelecanos, and of course even though the show is about New Orleans music, he can't help but give an R&B shout-out to Ollie and the Nightingales. It's refreshing to see LaDonna and Antoine finally agree on something and get along. She scores big when she convinces him to go to Baton Rouge to visit his boys and get some premium dental care from her dentist husband.

JA: I find it really amusing that Creighton is so infatuated with YouTube. And that he doesn't even begin to realize his reach.

But at that point, how many of us really did?

TF: True! When he first saw his daughter's YouTube rant and was so confused, it took me a second to remember that the show is set five years ago.

AS: Fingers crossed Kanye gets a Youtube shout-out in the next two episodes.

JA: You know, up until he went to help Davis out with his car, I sorta thought Creighton was almost entirely experiencing the city and the subsequent recovery from his home and through the Internet. Like maybe he was depressed.

It just kinda struck me that he hadn't been outside of his home much in the first three episodes.

JA: And back on Creighton for a second, we talked a week ago or so about how some of the natives were going to need to allow some of the "outsiders" in. If that makes sense.

I bring this up because there seems to be a lot of hostility directed toward anyone or anyplace outside of New Orleans. Baton Rouge. Houston. Atlanta. Clueless tourists.

AS: You're absolutely right, Joel. Do you think like our favorite Dutchman he is a New Orleans transplant?

His rant won't go over well with those who feel there's too much us versus the world going on.

JA: Maybe I'm sensitive to this since I lived in Houston following Katrina, but I'm hoping that we see a shift in the attitude toward outsiders in subsequent episodes. Of course, people should be given the space to grieve and recover. That's only fair and decent, right?

Then again, Houston -- for example -- opened its arms to tens of thousands of evacuees following the flood. I can understand Creighton's anger toward FEMA, the local government, Entergy, or the local sheriff's department. But a lot of his frustration with the "fucking fucks" who assisted some of the more desperate evacuees seems really out of bounds to me.

Eh. I think I'm being sensitive.

AS: Listen, when you're grieving, no matter what stage of the process you're in, listening to others pontificate on your problems is the last thing you want to hear. Most people meant well, but that's a moot point to someone who has lost their city.

Also I can understand how upset you'd be if the entire world were obsessed with whether or not it were appropriate for Mardi Gras to be held. Obviously there will be a Mardi Gras (season finale anyone?).

JA: Oh, no doubt, Mardi Gras has got to be the season finale. I can't wait until Albert has rebuilt his tribe. It'd be nice to see him have a genuine moment of pleasure, you know?

Also related, you were right about little homie, Aminatou. Albert is definitely gonna be getting on with his mama.

AS: "Portland, Oregon? I've played Portland before ... nice folks but you know they clap on the 1 and 3?" That made me laugh out loud.

And yes, Albert and Lula is 100 percent ON!

JA: I do wonder where we're going with the Delmond storyline. His career seems to be taking off, he has a girlfriend (of sorts), and he's only a few shindigs away from running into Beyonce.

I'm assuming the conflict with him, of course, is going to be whether he can again love his hometown.

I think Tim talked about this last time, too. Mostly about whether we're going to have shallow introspection about the importance of New Orleans (Bourbon Street is awesome! I love crawfish etoufee! Who dat?!!!) or if some of these characters are really going to grapple with New Orleans for what it is and not what it can be again.

JA: As a hoops fan who grew up in the '80s and '90s, I wholeheartedly approve of any cameos by Kenny Anderson and Cliff Robinson.

AS: The whole Delmond and Jill party scene was hilarious. It's interesting to explore this question of what musicians want to play versus what they should play. Delmond knows New Orleans' musical tradition, but that's not what he's set on playing. Annie is also faced with her own musical dilemma when the faux Cajun band asks her to step in.

"Pot for Potholes!" -- a campaign I can get behind! Drug legalization campaigns are so au courant.

Of course Janette gets jealous when Davis flirts with Annie. Can't wait for Sonny to get back and make this even more interesting. With Sonny away, this week would have been the perfect time to get to know her character better. She seems so passive and trapped by the relationship.

TF: Am I the only one who didn't realize that our favorite moody musician is not American but in fact Dutch? The "you've read Jack Kerouac's books, now live the movie" line was hilarious.

Also I love the idea of a Lagniappe, which I had never heard of before but wish would play a larger role in my day-to-day business dealings.

JA: And you're right about Annie. She's got so much to offer, and I'm hoping against hope that Sonny doesn't hold her back anymore than he already has. If anything, she seems to stifle her talents to appease him.

I really don't get what she sees in him.

AS: An idealistic European musician with dirty hair who speaks perfect English? What's not to love? We have quite a few Sonnys in my hometown, Brussels.

But I want to give him a fair shake and not hate him too much. I don't want to label him abusive yet, but the warning signs are there. Also, he's a complete jerk for getting jealous when she got an awesome gig yet having no qualms about skipping town to pursue his own fame and glory sans Annie.

AS: Joel, I think last week you mentioned Antoine was becoming more likable. His storyline absolutely broke my heart this week. He is watching everything slip away: his music, women, his kids he gives crappy presents to ... but he still keeps it together to deliver this week's David Simon thesis "New Orleans, always a pleasure."

JA: Oh man. I meant to mention this about Antoine -- although he's a likable guy, he's really sort of a sad character. He's becoming a caricature of the shiftless, aimless musician.

He doesn't seem to have much, if any, relationship with his boys. Or his daughter or his girlfriend, for that matter. And if his mouth doesn't get better, he won't have music either.

The expression on his oldest son's face when he got that Deuce McAllister jersey said so much without saying a lot at all. Even they realize Antoine is full of shit.

I also think that's why LaDonna's husband doesn't seem to be threatened in the least by Antoine. In most of the ways that matter, Antoine doesn't really measure up. That said, he and LaDonna still appear to have some chemistry.

JA: And since I'm not familiar with The Wire or any of the popular police procedurals, I'm finding that I really like the way David Simon and Co. drop in all these inconspicuous details without bogging down the storyline.

I'm thinking in particular of the Latino man in the emergency room at the start of the show. Without going off on a crazy tangent, the scene reminds us of the post-flood surge of Latinos into New Orleans.

AS: Let's recap this episode's bad guys: insurance companies, Entergy, Mayor Nagin, the City Council, the Army Corps, FEMA, George W. Bush.

JA: Entergy was the bad guy of bad guys this go-round, no? It's definitely something upon which Janette and Davis can agree, even if she's a little pissed at him for showing Annie too much attention.

Not a good night for Entergy at all.

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