Sunday, June 20, 2010

"treh-MAY" - Episode #10: "I'll Fly Away"

(All photos/general information can be found @ or Wikipedia.)

Two detectives are meeting with Toni (Melissa Leo) at her home to discuss the disappearance of her husband Creighton (John Goodman). A man fitting Creighton's description was described by a fellow ferry' passenger who gave him a cigarette. But since Creighton's jeep was not on the ferry--and he quit smoking years prior--it probably wasn't him, Toni thought out loud. They promised to return if they heard any news.

Unfortunately, they did indeed return to house with news that Creighton's body was found floating in the Mississippi River. As the two detectives left, we immediately hear a loud "NO" and crying from an emotionally devastated daughter Sofia.

Lt. Colson walks with Toni over to Creighton's empty car, still parked where he'd left it. He tells Toni to do a search of the vehicle and for Sofia's sake, grab anything that might suggest that his death was anything but accidental. As an emotional Toni rummages through Creighton's car, she opens the glove box and finds Creighton's wallet. In that wallet, she pulls out a note:

"I Love You, Cray."

Overcome with grief, Toni drives off soon after.

Toni's colleague at the law firm takes on many of her cases while she makes arrangements for Creighton's funeral. Although his will requests a second line parade, Toni instead opts for cremation and a small ceremony instead. When her colleague insists that Sofia would love to see a second line parade, Toni's anger over Creighton's suicide comes out: "Can't dance for them when they quit," she responds.

Davis (Steve Zahn) and Janette (Kim Dickens), as most of New Orleans, are shocked over news of Creighton's death in the morning paper. "This town," Janette says after having already made up her mind to leave for New York City since her restaurant has closed. Davis is on a mission to convince Janette not to leave New Orleans. His mission began earlier that morning when he arrived at Janette's house with a plate of beignets and the one and only John Boutté who serenades her with the Sam Cooke classic, "Bring It On Home To Me". They make many stops around the city, take a nap by the Mississippi River, catch the Soul Rebels Brass Brand and John Mooney perform "Drink A Little Poison (4 U Die)" at the Maple Leaf Bar, and end the night together at The Columns Hotel.

Meanwhile, Toni puts her energy back into her case load, going over every detail with her colleague as she will take over during Toni's time of bereavement. One of the essential cases for her has been the search for Daymo's body. She insists that her colleague convince LaDonna (Khandi Alexander) to perform a new autopsy on Daymo in light of possible evidence that suggests that he was probably murdered. LaDonna is firm in her refusal of a private autopsy--she says that regardless of what comes from it, it's still a horrible situation.

Trombone Shorty asks Antoine to meet him at a sushi restaurant because he has a conflict of gigs. He offers Antoine a gig to play with the great Allen Toussaint--the pay is $1,000 per man.

Rehearsal for Antoine and the other band members seems to go well and then shortly after, he asks to sit in on a poker game using the pay from his gig as an "IOU." When they warn him about going up against the great Irma Thomas, he laughs at that notion and continues to stay in the game. At the end of the gig, when the band members are getting their pay in cash, Antoine has to surrender most of his earnings to the rest of the band--the bulk of it going to Irma Thomas!! When he returns home to Desiree with what is left of his earnings, she complained and he made up a lie (the right thing to do) about his "paltry" pay for the gig.

Davis decides to put out a full-length CD since his four song epistle has done so well. He asks his mother to loan him the money. She instead decides to match what he's already earned and tells him to get a job in order to come up with the rest. This leaves Davis now choice but to beg his old boss at WWOZ for his deejay gig promising to adhere to the rules set by the station. Looks like DJ Davis McClary is back!

During his set, Davis puts on "My Indian Red," by Danny Barker & the Baby Dodds Trio in honor of St. Joseph's Day and he dedicates it to all of the Mardi Gras Indians out there who are sewing their costumes and are getting ready to look "pretty" for the big day.

That's exactly the scene at Poke's Tavern as Albert (Clarke Peters), his son Delmond (Rob Brown), his daughter Davina, and Albert's gang continue to work hard on the finishing touches of their costumes for St. Joseph's Day.

After fighting with Sonny over wanting to play with other people, Annie returns to gather more of things after he threw her out earlier. He said that he made a mistake and wants Annie to come back home, but when she did, she discovered that Sonny already had company--a girl that he met at Mardi Gras was lying naked in their bed. "Nice tattoos," Annie says to the girl and then storms out the house--hopefully for the last time! When Davis returns to his apartment, he finds Annie waiting outside, seeking a place to stay. "What did I do right?" he asks with joy. Looks like Davis has a new roommate.

Toni, Jacques (Janette's former sous chef), Antoine and a host of others pay their final respects to Daymo at the now restored family crypt. The emotions cause LaDonna to recall the morning of Hurricane Katrina and how she and her family continuously tried to contact Daymo.

Daymo, who worked at Janette's restaurant, Desautel's, gets a call from Jacques to remove the meat from the freezer locker. As he jumps in his car and rushes over to the restaurant, he gets pulled over by the police. He pleads with the officer to release him, but because of the warrant, the officer insists that he has to take him him--hurricane or no hurricane.

We ultimately see how the others reacted prior to the devastation of the storm: Desiree yelling at Antoine to hurry up as he tries to take classic vinyls with him before leaving; Creighton, Toni and Sofia staying in a hotel watching the news; Albert and Davina boarding up their home while Davina talks to Delmond who's watching The Weather Channel in New York City urging them to leave.

As Daymo's funeral comes to an end, you immediately hear the sounds of the Treme Brass Band as they sing and play "I'll Fly Away" for his second line parade. To see LaDonna strutting and dancing to honor her brother's memory was beyond moving.

"treh-MAY" - Episode #9: "Wish Someone Would Care"

(All photos/general information can be found @ or Wikipedia.)

Creighton (John Goodman) gives his class an assignment to read Kate Chopin's The Awakening, a novel that is perhaps one of the earliest examples of literary feminism. But Creighton as a professor urges his students to dig deeper than that, for as he explains, it's more about the search for "truth" and "peace." When his freshmen students asked about how they'll be graded for the course, based on his response, Creighton's mind has gone to an entirely different place: "Everyone of us will be tested and everyone one of us will be found lacking."

His mind has been in a different place for a long while. With the pressure of finishing his novel on the 1927 Flood looming and him not feeling able to turn out quality pages for his editor, he like so many people (especially New Orleaneans) are distracted by post-Katrina and the city's slow recovery. Instead, he continues to posts his rage (and ultimately, the insurmountable rage of a city) on YouTube. Instead of this serving as a cathartic release, it only drags Creighton deeper into a depression where he seeks solace in drinking.

The next morning, Creighton is wide awake and will head off to teach his freshmen lecture. His daughter Sofia begs him to take her to school, but he tells her that she must listen to her mother, Toni (Melissa Leo), and not ditch her first period class. Just as Toni and Sofia get ready to leave, Creighton gives Toni a very passionate kiss. And then he tells Sofia how beautiful she looks today. And as they both jump in the car, Creighton tells his wife to "kick a little ass."

Creighton continues with his lecture on Kate Chopin's The Awakening. Some students express to him how they find it depressing. He explains that not only there isn't "an end," but how it is more of her "embracing spiritual freedom." As Creighton utters these words, he looks at his students and sees nothing but a sea of blank and confused faces. This prompts him to dismiss class a bit early, telling them to go out and enjoy the day. And soon enough, he takes his own advice.

First, he grabs a hearty sampling with includes a shrimp po'boy (YUM!) at Liuzza's, waits on line for hot beignets at Cafe Du Monde on Decatur Street, and wanders over to Frenchmen Street and catches Annie (Lucia Micarelli) performing (with a new piano man) "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans" and drops a $20 into Annie's violin case and says to her, "Always for pleasure."

Creighton then boards the Canal Street Ferry (also known as the Algiers Ferry) and bums a cigarette from another passenger. He walks over to the front of the boat, stares out and then flicks his cigarette into the Mississippi River. The other passenger watches him for a while and when he turns around, he (along with the rest of us) notices that Creighton is no where to be found. Hours go by and Creighton's empty jeep is the last car in the parking lot.

"treh-MAY" - Episode #8: "All On a Mardi Gras Day"

(All photos/general information can be found @ or Wikipedia.)


This sign expresses one of the many sentiments felt by the people of New Orleans during the first Carnival since Hurricane Katrina. And everyone has their own traditions prior to the celebration:

LaDonna (Khandi Alexander) and her mom decide to light a candle at the cathedral for Daymo's safe return (LaDonna still hasn't told her about his death).

Sonny and Annie (Michiel Huisman and Lucia Micarelli) perform outside of the cathedral in Jackson Square and they comfort an emotional former New Orleanean who lost his home and some of his neighbors during Katrina and decided to come home for Mardi Gras.

Davis (Steve Zahn) and Janette (Kim Dickens) both enjoy "king cake" for breakfast. Antoine (Wendell Pierce), Desiree and their daughter Honoré also partake of the delicious king cake, but Antoine is lucky enough to find the "Baby Jesus" in his piece. Traditionally, it is said that the one who finds the "Baby Jesus" must buy more king cake for the next Carnival. It is also said that one is entitled to certain "privileges" after finding one, but as we already know, Desiree is not having that!

As the Carnival parade officially begins, Creighton (John Goodman), Toni (Melissa Leo) and their daughter Sofia are all dressed in feather boas and masks in various shades of blue as a family. As they're leaving, Creighton pushes play (and repeat) on his stereo for a song he considers to be an anthem, "Go To The Mardi Gras," by the late, great Professor Longhair. If you haven't heard it, here's the perfect word to describe it: INFECTIOUS!! Check it out for yourself right here:

Creighton's spirits dropped down as the parade marched on--disappointed by the low turnout, he decides to leave the parade early and head for home. This leaves Toni and Sophia confused as they have never known Creighton to leave a Mardi Gras celebration early before.

The spirit of Professor Longhair's wonderful song has travelled throughout the whole of New Orleans.

Davis, dressed up as pirate (and slave trader) Jean Lafitte (a fact that was unbeknown to Davis) for Carnival. He once again runs into Annie, dressed in a similar costume, whom he affectionately refers to as his "pirate wench" and they spend the entire day together sifting through the madness and delightful mayhem that is Carnival. Meanwhile, where's Sonny? Well, shortly before Annie left, he decided that he wanted to spend Mardi Gras on his own, telling her how the Rebirth Brass Band's "Do Whatcha Wanna" should be her mantra. "F**kin A**hole," she mutters after he leaves suspecting that Sonny just wants an excuse to do drugs.

Although Delmond (Rob Brown) is upset to learn that his father, Albert (Clarke Peters), will have to spend Mardi Gras in jail for hitting an officer (see Episode #7) while having lunch at The Praline Connection, this "straight no chaser" jazz trumpeter does manage to loosen up when he's greeted by some, well let's say "blessed" women who greet him outside of his hotel in the French Quarter to get him to drop beads down on them. And of course he does! Soon after Delmond meets a lovely girl at a party and they run into another group of Mardi Gras Indians on their way to Delmond's gig with Big Sam at Le Bons Temps Roule. For him, this was the perfect day.

LaDonna's family comes in from Baton Rouge for the celebration and she continues to keep Daymo's death a secret throughout Carnival. While at the parade, Riley, her former contractor, accosts her because the police arrested him over her civil suit against him for not repairing her roof. "F**K YOU" he continues to shout at her and Antoine immediately steps in her defense and shouts the same words back at Riley.

As the celebration winds down, LaDonna's getting ready to close her bar and lounge, Gigi's Place, for the night. With "Tell It Like It Is" playing in the background, and Antoine massaging LaDonna's overly tense shoulders, the mood was all but set. After she ignored an incoming call from her current husband, Antoine, her ex-husband, gave LaDonna a long, intense kiss.

Mardi Gras comes to an end and LaDonna must now make funeral arrangements for Daymo at the Majestic Mortuary.

"treh-MAY" - Episode #7: "Smoke My Peace Pipe"

(All photos/general information can be found @ or Wikipedia.)

After Toni (Melissa Leo) offered new evidence to prove that OPP did indeed have David "Daymo" Brooks in custody during the storm, Judge Gatling (Tim Reid) orders the Department of Corrections to produce him within 72 hours. Judge Gatling gave Daymo's mother and his sister LaDonna (Khandi Alexander) a long overdue apology on behalf of both the state's screw-up and the ADA attorney's excuse of blaming this egregious error solely on the chaos of post-Katrina.

Toni and LaDonna's search for Daymo began almost immediately after the judge's ruling. They have no luck in finding him in the OPP prisoners' files. Toni reluctantly asks for the list of inmates who died while in custody. No luck in finding Daymo's name listed in there either, but LaDonna immediately recognizes her cousin's name on the list, who is very much alive. Toni suggests that Daymo may have used their cousin's name because he's doesn't have a police record and that she and LaDonna must go to the morgue immediately.

The "morgue" consists of long, climate-controlled trucks filled with dead bodies. Toni and LaDonna slowly enter one of the trucks and they stop in front of one of the many body bags lying around. When the bag is unzipped, it is indeed Daymo. His face is somewhat deformed and twisted with purplish bruises now covering his grey, lifeless form. This moment left me numb and I continued to pause the moment and just stare at his face.

Overcome with grief, LaDonna rushes out of the truck. Toni not only provides the officer with his true identity but also shares her outrage on how they've kept this person for five months under the wrong name. Immediately after, it cuts back to an emotional LaDonna just staring at all of the makeshift morgues around her--just lines of huge trucks filled with countless bodies since Katrina. You then ask yourself, "Like Daymo, how many others out there are lost in the system?"

Toni also learns from the officer that the cause of Daymo's death was a blow to the side of his head, possibly caused from a fall--suicide? REALLY? I ain't buying it!! And neither does Toni or LaDonna. However, LaDonna decides to keep the news of Daymo's death to herself until after Carnival, especially since her mother isn't in the best of health.

Albert (Clarke Peters) still continues the fight to reopen the projects so that people can come home, especially in time for Mardi Gras. He breaks into the housing complex and reopens the houses for his people. What's brilliant is that not only does he call the police, he also makes sure to call a TV crew at the same time to document the moment and hopefully put some pressure on the government to reopen the houses. "5,000 housing units shut down when the people want to come back," says Albert to reporters. They're not leaving!!! And when the "squatters" in the complex put out banners to also state that they are indeed home, Albert feels like a real stance against the Federal government, who shut down the houses, has been made.

Days into the protest, Albert is greeted by Sergeant Thompson, from the "Community Relations Division," to try and talk Albert into vacating before he's arrested for trespassing. Sergeant Thompson also throws out a rather "odd" statement": that the voters have not expressed a desire to open up the housing projects. Doesn't he mean the GOVERNMENT, aka the POLITICIANS who have most of the OPP in their back pockets? They're the ones who choose to keep the houses shut down. "Thank you for your visit, Sergeant...and come again!!" Albert is home, too!

The next day, the police arrive without fail and decide to arrest the squatters and Albert for criminal trespassing. He leaves the door open so that the officers will enter without the use of force. But they stormed in there anyway, cursing at him and demanding that he drop to his knees. Albert refuses to bow down before any man. One of the officers draws the blinds (clearly to avoid the cameras) and the other hits him with his nightstick. Albert hits back in self defense and they all jump on him, beating him for "resisting arrest." ALL OFF CAMERA!!

"treh-MAY" - Episode #6: "Shallow Water, Oh Mama"

(All photos/general information can be found @ or Wikipedia.)

Creighton (John Goodman) heads to the airport to meet his literary agent who travelled all the way from New York with very important news. It’s taken him nearly seven years to finish his novel about the 1927 Flood so it is only natural for him to be just a tad nervous about her visit. However we soon learn that his publisher would like Creighton to transform his “colorful” YouTube broadcasts, a newly discovered platform for sharing his outrage over President Bush and the New Orleans government's slow (almost non-existent) response to the devastation of Katrina, into a literary work—especially since Katrina is so “hot” right now (her sentiments). He’s very adamant about finishing his current novel ONLY and insists that he does just that. Creighton promises to turn in pages within 4-6 weeks, but it’s the aftermath of Katrina that has his attention at the moment, not the 1927 flood. He instead continues to use the Internet to deliver additional messages of rage over the government’s inaction. Creighton's rage is gradually turning into depression and self-despair.

He does manage to find some joy in the upcoming Krewe du Vieux parade, a politically biting celebration in which he, Toni (Melissa Leo) and their daughter Sofia dress up as "sperm," flying tails and all, and proudly march behind an "excited" Mayor Ray Nagin float entitled "Nagin's Wet Dream." And here's the kicker...the theme of the parade: C'EST LEVEE!!!

Toni heads to Texas to dig for more clues regarding Daymo's whereabouts. She arrives at the home of a former NOPD officer to question him about what exactly occurred over five months ago, the day that Katrina hit. He explains how he stopped Daymo for running a red light and then discovered an outstanding warrant in the system and told him that he had to be brought in. When Toni showed the ex-cop Daymo's picture, he couldn't give her a positive ID, quickly noting how Daymo "resembles" most of the people he's arrested. She ran through the questions once more and then realized that if he stopped Daymo for running a traffic light, there should be a record of it somewhere. Toni eventually tracked down the ex-cop's old squad car (pretending to pick it up) and found the citation which is the proof that Toni needs to show that Daymo was indeed arrested on that very day.

Albert (Clarke Peters) continues the fight to have the projects reopened so that people can come back home--especially for Mardi Gras. When an aide from Councilman Singleton's office visits Albert, there seems to be hope just yet that the houses will reopen. Instead, he offers Albert one FEMA trailer. "Get the hell out this bar," he quickly says.

Delmond (Rob Brown) and saxophonist Donald Harrison, Jr., both native New Orleanians, play at the famous Snug Harbor during their multi-city tour. As evident from their powerful performance, they also share a passion for "straight, no chaser" jazz (Bud Powell, Dizzy, Bird, Mingus). But when Albert arrives at Snug Harbor to watch his son Delmond perform, he and Donald share a little competition over the idea of running into each other in their respective Indian costumes at Mardi Gras. Like his father, Donald Harrison, Jr. is also a Big Chief. This and other events that evening perhaps show Delmond that he should embrace his New Orleans' musical roots a bit more. While Albert and his gang are rehearsing, Delmond walks in. At first, he just stands back and observes. Then soon enough, Delmond, the "straight ahead, strive for tone" jazz musician, is clapping and singing along as they chant, "Shallow Water, Oh Mama"

"treh-MAY" - Episode #5: "Shame, Shame, Shame"

(All photos/general information can be found @ or Wikipedia.)

Davis (Steve Zahn) enlists the help of local musicians (for very little money) including the phenomenal Kermit Ruffins to help him create his 4-song epistle "against all that is unholy and corrupt in the government of New Orleans." Just check out his reworking of the classic "Shame, Shame, Shame," by late, great blues musician Smiley Lewis.

Toni (Melissa Leo) smiles at LaDonna (Khandi Alexander) as she walks into David's prison cell. For the very first time, we are FINALLY going to meet the REAL David (Daymo) Brooks! Relieved to see her brother, Daymo pleads with his sister to help him get out of there, while fellow inmate Keevon White sits on the top bunk laughing. LaDonna grows speechless as the dirty, muddy water begins to flood the entire cell coming up to her legs. It's not until she stares down her feet that we soon realize that it's just LaDonna's horrible nightmare. Although her brother is still lost in the system, LaDonna does get a very small dose of justice: she happily filed a civil suit against Riley, her "shady" contractor who never made good on his promise to repair her bar's roof.

Toni meets with Lt. Colson (David Morse) to help recover Antoine's trombone, which is still missing since the horrible beating he suffered at the hands of "NOLA's finest." (See Episodes 3 & 4). Meanwhile, she puts Antoine (Wendell Pierce) in touch with Mr. Toyama, one of the many Japanese jazz fans, who is willing to donate money to help out many of New Orleans' fine musicians. A bit overzealous, he impresses (maybe even overwhelms) Antoine with his detailed knowledge of jazz, and ultimately, of black musicians. As Antoine walks with Mr. Toyama to the pawn shop to buy a new trombone, Mr. Toyama insists on buying him a brand new horn. Antoine immediately puts his arm around Mr. Toyama as they head to an instrument shop.

When they arrive at the store, Mr. Toyama's knowledge is finally challenged when he and Antoine bump heads over two great jazz trombonists--Kid Ory and Honoré Dutrey. Antoine may have proved Mr. Toyama wrong. [WE KNOW OUR HISTORY BECAUSE IT'S OUR HISTORY TO KNOW!] Their argument grows so intense that the music store manager asks them if they want to take it outside. In that moment, I thought that Mr. Toyama was going to change his mind about purchasing the trombone but gladly he didn't. After a long, uncomfortable silence, they apologize to one another and Antoine insists on playing for Mr. Toyama to show his appreciation. After he finishes playing a beautiful song just outside of his home (with Desiree happily watching) Mr. Toyama hands Antoine a wad of cash.

Antoine returns to the pawn shop to buy a trombone for a friend and fellow musician who lost his during Katrina. When the owner brings him the trombone, Antoine cannot believe that he sees his own "missing" horn in a pawn shop. He looks at the shop owner and reads the inscription: "AB 1979," his initials!

Toni brings it to Lt. Colson, who in turn tries to give her money for the trombone. She insists that those arresting officers need to be held responsible for this, but Lt. Colson explains how the officers are still emotionally ravaged by the effects of Katrina. "The wheels are off the cart," says Lt. Colson. "The CRIME's coming back and we ain't ready."

"New Orleans is coming home," random people shouted out during one of the proud city's parades. It reminds me of summer block parties in Bed-Stuy--smoky grills overflowing with food for everybody, dancing, great music, and more importantly the people. People were overcome with joy to see their friends and family still alive after Katrina. "ReNew Orleans" t-shirts were everywhere and for a while, it really did feel like a renewal. But then suddenly, gun shots fired out, leaving a handful of people injured.

An unfortunate incident yes, but there isn't one city in this entire country that hasn't experienced crime in one form or another. New Orleans shouldn't be singled out as some sort of haven for violence. And I'm sure if the government actually put more money into the ENTIRE city--not just Bourbon Street--the crime would go WAY DOWN!