Sunday, May 15, 2011


Treme No. 14: Santa Claus, Do You Ever Get the Blues?

BLOGGER'S NOTE: This recap contains spoilers, so if you haven't seen the episode yet, move along.

By Edward Copeland
Alas Enrico Brulard, we hardly knew ye. Victor Slezak's wonderful portrayal of the mad Manhattan chef likely will not be seen after this episode. From now on, we listen to our fish by ourselves. However, Treme fans can take comfort in the news reported by the great Dave Walker in the Times-Picayune on Friday that HBO has renewed the series for a third season. As far as tonight's particular episode, with a story by co-creator Eric Overmyer and story editor Lolis Eric Elie, a teleplay by Elie and direction by Alex Zakrzewski, I also can report positive developments: It is a resounding improvement over the disappointment of last week's episode with its collection of nothing but short scenes. This week's outing illustrates how much better the rhythm of a production plays when the length of its scenes vary widely. The pacing of last night's episode made it really engaging and more like the Treme I love. In the interest of full disclosure, Mr. Elie has once again helped me immeasurably with names of actors, characters, places and even an exact quote and he's become a valued resource for me and I'm quite grateful. However, don't view our email relationship as any sign of bias when I praise the writing of this episode. It's damn good, but I'd tell you if I thought otherwise. In the years when I used to do movie junkets, no matter how plush the hotel and goodies, they never skewed my reviews. I will, however, plug Mr. Elie's Inside Treme blog. It's the least I can do. By the way, he did write a great episode, my second favorite of the season. PERSONAL NOTE: You probably can't tell from this recap, but I've done my best to try to condense these posts because they grow so incredibly long, but I can't help myself. This week, I made some progress by not summarizing ALL scenes, but then I undermined myself by becoming obsessed with Internet sleuthing (probably a byproduct of my net-free hospital exile) and when I'd hear or see a name or place in the episode, I'd end up finding details and adding them as text, links, even art. To make matters worse, when I was nearly finished Thursday, after getting a late start because of last weekend's hospital stay, Blogger crashed. When it returned nearly 20 hours later, two-thirds of my recap was lost and I had to re-create the bulk of what I'd done. (Fortunately, while Blogger was down, I completed the remaining writing on Word so I could just copy and paste when Blogger returned.) I put A LOT of work into this week's recap (on antibiotics and pain killers and fighting the usual M.S. fatigue no less), so I hope the entire recap gets read closely and not skimmed. I don't usually brag on myself (in fact, I lean toward self-deprecation and tend to be overcritical of my work), but I think this is the best recap of any episode of any show I have ever done. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did constructing it. I would sleep now for three days, but I'm already behind working on the recap for the fifth episode of the season.

Despite the great sight gag of Antoine retreating to the safety of a cab in order to duck the interview for the assistant band director job at Theophile Jones Elie Elementary (named after this episode's writer's late grandfather), Desiree rescheduled it (citing his inability of a cab to get him there on time) and the musician reluctantly shows this time, trying his best to talk his way out of the job as the school's band director Darren LeCoeur (Keith Hart, a band director in real life) leads him through the halls in a long tracking shot. Antoine mentions his band and how they gig a lot could have road tours that would take precedence over this job. LeCoeur says he understands. Antoine asks when they start working on the marching, but the band director informs him there is no marching band because the students have neither uniforms nor instruments. LeCoeur says that will come eventually but for now it's just three classes a day assisting him. Antoine suggests making it part-time or if LeCoeur needs full-time, Antoine says he could give him names. LeCoeur says they'll make it work since the principal has already signed off on the paperwork and he can start work immediately. "You know about my criminal history, right?" Antoine mentions, getting desperate. "Misdemeanors or felonies?" LeCoeur responds. Antoine replies misdemeanors but the band director already is heading into the classroom and doesn't seem particularly interested in the answer. When they finally get to the class Antoine, apparently so preoccupied in the long walk that he didn't hear LeCouer tell him that they lacked instruments, asks why so few have horns. "We are on 'The instruments are coming' program," LeCouer tells him. LeCoeur says until then, they are working on reading rhythms. Antoine rolls his eyes. Wendell Pierce really provides the heart and soul of Treme and what a fun way to begin: a well-written, very well-directed scene that ran longer than all but one scene of last week's episode, an episode which had no touches as nice as Zakrzewski's tracking shot.

Davis tries out part of his "hip-hop opus" that he's composed for his friend Simply Red (Henry Griffin, who essentially is playing himself as he is a friend of Davis Rogan, the McAlary inspiration, and that's his real nickname). After sounding out the "hook" with his mouth and turning on the beat, McAlary starts reciting:

Four years at Radcliffe, that's all you know
A desire to do good and a four point oh
You're here to save us from our plight
You got the answer 'cause you're rich and white
On a two-year sojourn here to stay
Teach for America all the way
Got no idea what you're facin'
No clue just who you're displacin'
Old lady taught fathers, old lady taught sons
Old lady bought books for the little ones
Old lady put in 30 years
Sweat and toil, time and tears
Was that really your sad intention?
Help the state of Louisiana deny her pension

"Hell to the no. Turn it off," Simply Red interrupts. Davis asks what the problem is and Red informs him that, for one thing, it was the state of Louisiana that fired all the teachers not Teach for America. "A scab is a scab is a scab," Davis replies. "Track 3 of my hip-hop opus addresses the hidden social cost of education reform." Simply Red takes a sip of his beer and says, "Davis, we're white guys. Deal with it." McAlary tells him it's a work in progress.

The death of Joey Abreu has become for Toni Bernette like the proverbial bone to the dog: She's not letting this one go. She's managed to locate one of the so-called "looters" who witnessed the events in Robideaux's that day. "The fuckin' cops went buck wild for nothin'," the man (Stephen Lewis) tells her as they walk along a sidewalk. "I mean we was in there trying to get food and water to keep from fuckin' dyin'…All these cops come in there hollerin', 'Get out. Y'all All y'all, get your ass out' People lookin' at them like, 'Man, we tryin' to survive', know what I mean? And they just and went and gone upside motherfuckers' heads like it wasn't no thing." Always wanting her facts clarified and straight, Toni asks back if the man had just told her that cops went inside the store and were beating people. It seems every new person she meets changes the picture of what happened at Robideaux's. The man tells her the cops were inside and outside, chasing people down the street. Toni shows him the photo of Joey and asks if he saw him that day, but he doesn't recognize him. Toni then asks if he knew any of the officers and that gets the man quiet and fast. The most he offers is that "They looked like — cops." They stand within sight of the 1st District station house and she asks if he recognized any from there. He adamantly tells her he's not testifying against the police. "You remember that cop that kicked a man to death in Treme — in broad daylight — about a month before the storm — in front of witnesses? Yeah, he still around," the man says. Toni pleads that she's trying to find out what happened to Joey. "Someone shot him," she tells him. The man says he didn't hear any shots.

In the hollowed-out shell of Albert's house, a documentary filmmaker named Dana Lyndsey (Yolanda Ross) examines Albert's Indian dress suit from last year, admiring the intricacy of the beadwork. "My film is all about rebuilding — the city and the culture — and you know 'em both." Albert turns from Dana, defiant that she can't film him working on his house or his new suit. Dana asks why. "You'll have to wait until I come out on Carnival day," Albert informs her, a slight growing tone of anger in his voice. "I don't reveal myself no sooner, no later, no nothing. Come Mardi Gras, take pictures of the street and get in line." Dana tells him that she's interested in the process, not the result. Albert's ire speaks fully throated now, "The process don't matter if you don't have no result. Process — shit. The process is just a lot of damn hard work."

In New York, Delmond and Jill are spending an evening in his apartment when he plays the "Tom Cat Blues" track off Milestone's Jelly Roll Morton 1923/24, which contains all of Morton's Gennett piano solos.* "I just can't see anyone listening to this — not this century," Jill admits to Delmond, riling Lambreuax. "Now that's fucked up. You take a classical orchestra. Anything from Bach to Stravinsky — 300 years of music — is standard repertoire, right? But in jazz, Jelly Roll Morton is considered prehistoric." Jill says Morton sounds prehistoric to her. "I'm sorry Del, I'm just not hearing it. Listening to this, I just see brothers toting barges and lifting bales," she says. Delmond defends the work because it once was popular music and he's just trying to figure out what elements made this music popular back then. "This is what I want to capture," he tells her. During season one, I didn't quite get the point of Del's character, but I wrote that I could imagine David Simon and Eric Overmeyer having a plan for him and I think that's become clearer early in season two. Delmond may come from New Orleans, but in a way he's the audience surrogate, serving as tour guide. He's also slowly losing his initial cynicism about his hometown and discovering its cultural worth just as hopefully those naysayers who said things like "Don't rebuild" after Katrina eyes might have opened as Del's have. In a later scene in the episode, we find Delmond alone in his apartment, listening to an old recording of Jelly Roll Morton talking about Indian history in Mardi Gras in New Orleans while he's sewing what appears to be the start of an Indian suit. Now, Del's also serving as a surrogate teacher for those unfamiliar with jazz and its history. Yes, Delmond Lambreaux belongs in the Treme ensemble and Rob Brown has played his slow transition so subtly and well, it's been easy to miss the essence of his acting accomplishment.

"Davis, I don't know the slightest thing about the music business." Aunt Mimi, that martini glass still soldered to her right hand, sits at a bar with her nephew, who is pitching her the idea of helping him launch a record label. "I do," Davis insists. (Of course, he would.) He suggest the label's first release should be a sampler with seven or eight artists, each contributing a track or two. The artists would represent a variety of New Orleans styles — rap, bounce, bands — and then "my thang," McAlary explains. "Your thing?" Mimi questions. That even raises the lovable lush's eyebrow. "When worlds collide. I'm gonna put a straight funk rhythm section together but then drop some brass on top and throw a little hip-hop flow into it," Davis enthuses before trying to give an example. "Kinda like Galactic has its way with the Hot 8's front line before sleeping around with Lil Wayne." Elizabeth Ashley's expressions as Mimi truly are priceless. Davis may as well be speaking Klingon. "Trust me," he tells her, "I'm going to take New Orleans music where it's never gone before." Mimi gets back to the simple part that she can fathom. "So we start a record label and we put out a sampler…and you, yourself are gonna be one of these hardcore nasties? You? My little uptown Newman-educated nephew," Mimi queries, pinching his cheek for good measure. "Don't mock the sad circumstances of my birth," Davis pleads. She finally asks how much she'd be in for and Davis says her stake would be $5,000. "With your money and my vision, we cannot help but become the big sleazy reincarnation of Def Jam Records," Davis predicts. Mimi sighs. "I must be out of my fucking mind," she declares before finishing off that martini.

At GiGi's, LaDonna sits at the bar smoking, her hair pulled back in a tight ponytail and staring as if she isn't there. Her new employee John (David Kency) carries a garbage bag full of trash and notices his boss' state and calls her name. "Sorry Johnny. Not sure where I was for a minute. I'm someplace else," LaDonna says with a crack in her voice. She tells him that she has to get out of there and starts gathering her things. When she stands up from the stool and looks around a second, she retreats to the bar. "Let me walk you to your car," John offers. LaDonna finds the strength to pick up her purse again.

At The House of Blues, Shawn Colvin finishes her performance of "Another Long One" and we see that Davis and Annie are watching from backstage — and Annie has her violin with her. Colvin takes the microphone. "Last night I was on Bourbon Street and I heard this fiddle player and she totally knocked me out," Colvin tells the audience. "I got her to come and give me a hand on this next tune. So will you please welcome New Orleans' own Annie Tee." I believe this is the first time in the series that Annie's last name has been mentioned. (Sonny still doesn't have one that I know of.) Annie joins Colvin on Colvin's song "I'm Gone." In one of the rare missteps of this otherwise great episode, the place they choose to cut away from the performance seems odd and abrupt. I almost wonder if somehow it was cut from last week's episode for length reasons, especially considering that Annie only appeared in 70 seconds of that installment. The rest of this episode's direction has been so good and assured, this sticks out.

Sonny gets his tryout for Antoine Batiste & His Soul Apostles. Antoine doesn't look particularly enthused, but he asks what times Sonny would be available and Sonny tells him anytime — he needs steady work. Antoine tells him he'll get his number and to wait outside and turns to the band for their input. Thaddeus Richard on keyboards has a constipated look similar to Antoine's while bass guitarist Cornell Williams comments, "He's no Freddy Green, but he'll do." Antoine suggests that there might be better guitar players out there. "Speaking of which," Antoine says, "what the hell happened to Raymond?" Cornell informs him that their drummer, Raymond Weber, got a steady gig with another band. Antoine takes off his cap and exclaims, "Oh, man! We ain't even popped our cherry and cats already jumping ship." Antoine asks Herman Jackson, who is sitting in on drums at the auditions, if he has time to learn the arrangements. "Arrangements? We doing a symphony?" Jackson responds. "How about I play 2/4 and you shut the fuck up." "Alright Herm," Antoine says. "I heard you were a contrary motherfucker."

Back at The House of Blues, Shawn Colvin tells Annie, "Listen, there's somebody who needs to meet you." Colvin takes Annie's hand and leads her to a man whom she introduces Annie to as Marvin Frey (Michael Cerveris), who praises Annie's performance as Colvin suddenly excuses herself. Annie asks what he does and he tells her he's a manager representing up-and-coming artists in Austin. Annie blushes, realizing that Colvin sort of set her up, and tells Frey she didn't ask her to do that. He tells her not to worry. "Shawn is like that. She gets excited about new talent," he says. "And you don't?" Annie responds. He tells her that's why he's there. He asks who her rep is and she says she guesses that's the next step. "I'm sure you'll find someone suitable when the time's right," he predicts. Frey invites her to accompany him and Colvin to another establishment, commenting that she'd dress up the place. Annie, citing a long day, thanks him but declines. I wonder if that mention of Trilby and Svengali in "Everything I Do Gohn Be Funky" was more than just a colorful plant by Simon. Consider Michael Cerveris' Broadway work. He's a multiple Tony Award nominee, with one nomination for the title role in a revival of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd and a win for playing John Wilkes Booth in Sondheim's Assassins. Is there darkness lurking in Marvin Frey — if the character even reappears? A Facebook friend who would know informs me that we won't see Marvin again this season, but who knows what the future holds? They can't just make the Davis-Annie romance a variation on the Sonny-Annie story where the girlfriend's talent outshines the boyfriend's.

Documents that Davis is reading have him completely befuddled. Aunt Mimi may seem like a kook, but she gets serious when she needs to and since they are starting a record label, she's brought her lawyer Charles (Rodney Smith), who has drawn up papers for her nephew to sign. Davis asks Mimi to clarify some of the legalese, but she's busy playing around the kitchen cabinets. Charles though answers in a neutral monotone, "Standard boilerplate." Mimi turns and says to her nephew, "Oh Davis, just sign the damn papers already so we can open this damn bottle already." Davis finds himself stuck wondering what boilerplate means. "Charles just wants to get everything down on paper to protect us both," Mimi explains, patting her lawyer on his shoulder. "Don't ya, Charles?" In the same vocal timbre, he replies, "Very much so" and then reaches into his jacket pocket, pulls out a pen and hands it to McAlary. Davis doesn't know what the hell the words mean, but he grimaces and signs the papers anyway. Mimi pops the cork on the champagne. "And away we go!" She pours Charles a drink, and the lawyer, who has been all somber business until now, breaks out in a wide grin. Rodney Smith actually isn't an actor, but owns The Soniat House, a luxury hotel in the French Quarter that was formed by Smith nearly 25 years ago when he combined three historic Creole townhouses together, two of which were built in 1830 by plantation owner Joseph Soniat and a third, even larger house built by Soniat's son in 1834, and renovated them into the boutique hotel.

With curator Sylvester Francis as her guide, would-be documentary filmmaker Dana Lyndsey tours the Backstreet Cultural Museum — and surprisingly, Albert has tagged along. Dana finds herself quite taken with the large collection of Indian artifacts on display. "I'd love to film all the Indian suits you have with you explaining each one — what style it is, uptown, downtown," she tells Francis. "You know there's more to Indians than just suits," Albert speaks up. Dana asks to be enlightened. "The work we do in the community. Chief Howard teaching kids to sew. Jerome Smith over at Tambourine & Fan, now he been running a summer camp going on for about forty years," Albert looks to Francis for confirmation on the number of years that Smith has been running the camp and Francis backs up Albert's recollection. "Forty years, passing on the tradition," Albert says. Dana asks Albert if he could be her liaison and be in the film himself. Albert tells her that she doesn't need him, but Dana thought he might have changed his mind and that's why he came to the museum. Albert sighs, "I felt bad about yesterday. I didn't want you goin' away thinkin' that all New Orleans people was rude. I am, but I ain't typical." "I know you're not," Dana tells him and then lets him know that she is from New Orleans East. "She's really just learnin' about Indians," Sylvester informs Albert. Albert tells Dana to call him after Mardi Gras and he'll talk. She asks if she can film him on Mardi Gras Day. In a particularly nice (and uncommon for Albert) moment, he turns practically coquettish as he tells her, "You'll have to film me, girl. I'm gonna be the prettiest." Clarke Peters always turns in great work as Albert, but so far this season, it's mostly consisted of silences that spoke volumes. This episode really marks his first standout, as far as dialogue goes, this season. From beginning to end, Peters gets some great words to say from Elie and he really scores.

As I mentioned in the lead, I originally hoped to leave scenes out that didn't really have any details that seemed that important and this one would be an example of that, except that I'd admired director Alex Zakrzewski's opening shot. C.J. Liguori and Nelson are entering the worship center of St. Alphonsus. Zakrzewski opens with the camera down low, aiming up at the church's ornate ceiling through two pillars before the men even come into view. When they do, he stays there, so we are gazing up at Nelson and C.J. as if they're giants. Zakrzewski has directed a lot of episodic dramas for network and cable but, aside from four episodes of HBO's Oz, this marks only his fifth time in the director's chair of a pay cable drama. Earlier, most of his work was as a d.p., including being the cinematographer on a lot of episodes on a great network drama (back when there was such a thing) with a David Simon tie: Homicide: Life on the Street. As for the scene's content, here is all you really need to know:
  • Hidalgo, eager for more money, deposited another $500,000 in C.J.'s bank and wants to get started, but the devout Liguori suggests giving it a rest until the holidays are over.
  • C.J. invites Nelson to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and Nelson finally admits that he's not religious, having not attended Midnight Mass since he was 17. C.J. tells him that "doubt is a part of faith" and gets him to come anyway.
  • Nelson says he is the first member of his family to go to college and vote Republican.
  • My personal favorite detail: We learn the C in C.J. stands for Clete.

  • "Oh damn LaDonna," Antoine says as he brings presents for his sons to her at GiGi's and gets his first look at her bruised and swollen face. "They did a number on you." She tells her ex that the swelling has gone down a lot and he should have seen her a few days again, but her voice sounds odd and wispy, not like the LaDonna we know. Antoine tells her that he hopes she's not planning to work nights alone anymore. She says she has John working nights now and she's considering hiring a security guard for New Year's Eve. "You goin' ahead with live music?" Antoine says with a tone of scolding in his voice that triggers the old LaDonna to come out from wherever she'd been hiding. "I'm not going to let this stop me Antoine." There has been much debate across the web about LaDonna's rape last week, but one thing that can't be argued about is that Khandi Alexander, who was one of the strongest players of Treme's ensemble in season one, now has material that really displays the actress's talent after she didn't have much to do for this season's first two outings. Antoine starts to extend the discussion against live music, but LaDonna interrupts, "If you ever get your shit together, I'll give your band a tryout. See if you can fill a room." She laughs, but it's a strange laugh, almost a cackle and one that sounds as if some form of intoxication is involved. She asks him what he named the band and he tells her it's Antoine Batiste & His Soul Apostles. "Apostles?" She exhales some smoke. "Modest as usual."

    Flames fly in the kitchen of Brulard as something has gone out of control. "Apocalypse Now, baby!" shouts the poissonnier. You know, this episode may mark this character's last appearance and though it's a small role, I think the actor Paul Fitzgerald has done some fine things with it. Unfortunately, the poor poissonnier never received a first name, so I'm giving him one for this recap. Besides, it's too damn hard to check if I spelled poissonnier right all the time. For this post, I christen the poissonnier Paul. Take two. Flames fly in the kitchen of Brulard as something has gone out of control. "Apocalypse Now, baby!" Paul shouts. "Never get off the boat. Never get off the boat," Janette joins Paul in quoting the Coppola film. A woman comes in and whispers something to the kitchen staff's own version of Colonel Kurtz, though unfortunately for them, Enrico Brulard has not isolated himself in the jungle. "Ladies and gentlemen, listen up. We have a critic in the house," Brulard announces. "Do not fuck this up. A muse for Table 23 please. Three people, ultra ultra VIPs. Break out the etcetera. Don't be fucking childish. This is a big tuna." Paul mouths to a man at the other end of the kitchen, "Who is it?" He mouths back, "Alan Richman." Paul shares the news with Janette that the man who wrote the GQ article blasting New Orleans and its cuisine sits at Table 23. Janette bangs her tongs against her skillet. The horror, the horror.

    Antoine's expression certainly displays more enthusiasm through the next audition for a guitarist than it did during Sonny's tryout. Antoine's body seems to be grooving involuntarily to the riveting sounds emanating from June Yamagishi's guitar. Antoine merely listens and enjoys at this time, the rest of the Apostles are backing up the Japanese guitarist on their instruments and they look as if they're having a hard time sitting still as well. At times, Antoine winces, as if he can't believe he's found someone this good. Grinning widely, Antoine lets out a "June Yamagishi — motherfucker." Antoine stretches his arms wide, that smile seeming to reach an even bigger span across his face. "You just fuckin' with me to break my heart?" Antoine asks. It's often hard to decipher conversations on Treme, when two New Orleans natives speak to one another, but it gets more complicated — not just for fans but also for the characters — when a native seeks to communicate to someone for whom English isn't his first language, as is the case with Yamagishi. "No, buddies. I'm on the team," the guitarist replies according to the best of my ears' abilities. If only screeners were closed captioned. Antoine asks June if he'll be with them the next night for the band's debut and June says he'll be honored which starts a verbal Ping Pong match of sorts between the two men about who would be honored, only I think Antoine mishears what June says at one point because it sounds like, "No, I work" but Antoine responds again with "No, I would be honored." Batiste then queries what else June might have in his repertoire and Yamagishi starts fingering a slower tune which Antoine recognizes and begins to sing before it kicks into high gear. It's Al Green's "Love and Happiness."

    If you don't carry a handkerchief, make sure you have a box of tissues nearby. It's time to bid farewell to Enrico Brulard, that crazy bastard. Now I know I've spent a lot of time praising Victor Slezak's portrayal of the barking mad Manhattan chef, but indulge me — this probably marks my last chance to sing his praises. I also should raise a glass to Treme staff writer Anthony Bourdain, who Simon has said handled all the kitchen scenes and created this marvelous character for Slezak to play. Kim Dickens always excels as Janette no matter what she's given to do, but while Dickens works wonders with words, she's been great showing Janette suffer in near silence under the yoke of Brulard. I'm getting misty-eyed just thinking about having to write about our final moment with Enrico Brulard. The kitchen staff hustles in more of a frenzy than usual preparing to feed Alan Richman waiting out there in the dining room at Table 23. Whether or not it's paranoia, Janette tells Paul that Brulard keeps looking at her. (And what a glare he has!) Paul asks if he's looking at her or through her. "At me. He's been doing it all night," she says and, as if on cue, Brulard turns and stares again. It's a gaze too evil to be hypnotic and you have to wonder how any actor can summon something like that. "He's doing it again. He's doing it now. Fuck me. At me — definitely at me. I don't need this. I really don't need this. Not tonight." After another look and while Janette attempts to concentrate on her job, Paul tries to say without moving his lips that he's coming. Brulard looks at the counter behind Janette and there's a scattering of a black substance — perhaps pepper or some other kind of seasoning — and he takes the palm of this left hand and grinds it into it. He then turns and goes to Janette's side, holding his soiled palm to her face. "This is what the inside of your head looks like right now," he tells her before turning and walking away, presumably for the last time. Bravo, Mr. Slezak! You shall be missed. Janette has had enough. She hangs up her tongs and takes off her apron. Paul asks her what she's doing but all she says is "Sorry, man." As Janette walks out, when she exits the kitchen and reaches the dining area, it's as if her body moves more freely and nothing weighs on her any longer. She goes to the bar and orders a Sazerac. The bartender (Jon Michael Davis) asks if it's for her or Brulard. "Me. And do it the right way. Absinthe. Just coat the glass," she tells him.

    The bartender slides Janette her cocktail and she takes a sip. She gives him a motion to indicate that she'll be right back and marches deeper into the dining room. Hmmm. I wonder where she could be going. I bet she has a particular table in mind. (Hint: The table's number is one higher than the number on the roulette wheel that helps the young couple buy exit visas in Casablanca as well as one higher than the number Julie Hagerty fixates on in roulette in Lost in America.) Yes, Janette may only be armed with a drink, but she's hunting for critic. (As a critic, I wonder — do we taste like chicken? Nah. I bet it's something gamier.) As Janette approaches Alan Richman's dining party, we hear Richman tell his companions, "Journalism — it isn't cheerleading. If we are going to be true to what we believe…" Janette interrupts the conversation. "Excuse me," she says. Richman looks up with a friendly smile. "This is how the Creole fairy folk back home shed their three-day stubble," Janette tells him as she splashes the Sazerac across his face and walks away looking quite satisfied. "Sazerac!" Richman exclaims as staff rushes to tend to him. "You've got to be kidding. Nobody throws a Sazerac." Say what you will about Alan Richman, but he must be one helluva good sport. To be vilified over an article you wrote in GQ in a lengthy scene on a television drama with a staff of writers that includes a man who titled a chapter in a book he wrote "Alan Richman Is a Douchebag" and agree to play yourself on that series and have a drink thrown in your face — that's just very sporting as far as I'm concerned.

    This week's episode wasn't devoid of scenes that run less than a minute, but that kind of scene in and of itself is not a bad thing. It's when an entire episode is comprised of them, such as in last week's, that it's a problem. There were a few brief ones this time out, but because the show mixed it up in terms of how long scenes were, it improved the flow and didn't make the short ones stick out with one or two exceptions. The first scene where Davis and Aunt Mimi hit the recording studio runs less than a minute but there's another scene later. I'm combining them into one section. Mimi and Davis sit at the sound board with Don B., son of the legendary Dave Bartholomew, the father of the New Orleans sound of the 1950s. They are listening to one of Davis' possible tracks and he keeps whispering to Don B. changes he expects to make such as getting someone who can "kill that guitar riff better than me." Mimi clasps her hands silently beneath a Saints cap as if in prayer. She opens them and says, "This is working, right?" Davis quickly and nervously utters, "Yeah" but Mimi would prefer confirmation from the professional. "Don?" He looks up and tells her, "Funny stuff, man." Davis defends the music by saying, "It's a relationship track. From the heart. It's my slow jam." When we return, it comes chronologically after Antoine's band debut. Things at the studio are out of control with the artist there to be recorded, Katey Red, busy texting in the booth while her backups dance vigorously to the bounce track and Aunt Mimi even twirls with them, though she has brought out a flask by now. "Ladies, can we please please please put down one track before midnight," Davis pleads from the soundboard. Mimi gives him a dismissive wave so her nephew addresses her directly. "Aunt Mimi, it's your nickel," he reminds her. Thoroughly soused by now, Mimi replies, "I'm not complainin.'" Davis begs his aunt for some help and she actually exits the booth to return to the board. Davis asks Katey if she wants to hear a beat again and she looks peeved as she looks up from her phone and says, "Damn Davis, I'll tell you when I'm ready. When I'm ready, I'll tell you." Davis' frustration overflows. "Katey, stop texting and start writing…" He can't even complete the thought. The pro in the room steps in to try to smooth things over and suggests a sound for Katey which Don B. plays. Mimi likes it as she lights a cigarette and it captures Katey Red's attention as well who raps what she had just said to Davis on top of it as a musical refrain. Davis cracks a big smile and Mimi says she loves it. "That's brilliant." Davis raises his arms in triumph.

    Toni and Sofia head for dinner at Mandina's Restaurant when Toni runs into 1st District Officer Charlie Cantone (David Maldanado). She sends Sofia ahead to get their name on the list for a table at the popular restaurant. The Creole-Italian landmark carries a fascinating history. Its origins date back 1898 when Italian immigrant Sebastian Mandina opened a grocery on the Mid-City site. His sons transitioned the store to a pool hall that served sandwiches and in 1932 turned it into the full-fledged restaurant it remains today. When Katrina struck, the area and the restaurant took six feet of water and after decades of continuous service, Mandina's had to close. Eighteen months later after a massive restoration, Mandina's reopened on Feb. 7, 2007. The online menu makes it look pretty appetizing and not outrageously priced. Wish I could have eaten there. Toni and Cantone exchange pleasantries and he asks what she's been doing. "Still dealing with the fallout from the storm," Toni tells him. "Time to move on," Cantone says. "Like the Danziger crap. What's done is done. That was the storm. Get over it." Now, have we known Toni Bernette to get over something or give up easily? She pushes on. "I'd like to if the First didn't stir up the shit at Robideaux's," she says, with a slightly mischievous grin. The store's mention obviously surprises Cantone, but he doesn't say anything until Toni tells him she has witnesses that say the 1st District cleared the place with billy clubs. "Looters — and we were turning a blind eye," Cantone tells her. "Then they started taking potshots at one of our guys." That's a new wrinkle for Toni. "They fired on the officers? At Robideaux's?" she says with surprise. "Even you would agree that's a line you've got to draw," the officer declares. "So we went over and swept out the undesirable element." Toni starts grinning and swaying, trying to coax Cantone to admit they just wanted to kick ass. "Sure as shit, Toni. O'Dell was taking rifle fire. They shot up his car. It was out of control. Governor said, 'Take back the city', we took back the city," Cantone states. Toni pats Cantone on the arm, "You sure did."

    It's finally come: The debut of Antoine Batiste & His Soul Apostles at Le Bon Temps Roule, a bar and restaurant in the Uptown area that opened in 1979. It only serves beer and liquor so if you want specialty drinks, you're out of luck and you'll have to go elsewhere if you're in a Sazerac-tossing mood. They do offer free oysters on Fridays and beers for a buck if the Saints are playing. You also can play pool. Most importantly, for bands such as Antoine's, they've dubbed their stage "The House of Dues" and use it as a place for local bands to get a start before they find greater success. The bar's name comes from the French phrase "Laissez les bons temps rouler" which roughly means "Let the good times roll" and things begin to roll as Wanda Rouzan and the band start rousing the crowd. "Ladies and gentlemen, you have been listening to the celestial sounds of Antoine Batiste and the (sic) Soul Apostles," Wanda speaks soothingly and rhythmically into the main microphone. She then tells the crowd, "Now welcome to the stage the man with the plan — the bone with the tone that makes it home — Mister Antoine Batiste." Antoine comes bouncing through the audience, pumping his trombone over his head to the crowd's cheers. When he reaches the mic, he plays a few triumphant notes on his horn before greeting the attendees himself. "So whatcha gonna play next, Bat?" Wanda asks in a rehearsed bit that some may recognize as a clue to what song they are about to hear. "Wanda, I don't know, but if Le Bon puttin' it on, it's gotta be funky." Antoine starts counting off and then sings and plays "Make It Funky," a big hit for James Brown.

    The band celebrates its first night's success after the show. "Damn, that shit sounds good," Antoine tells his members. "This is it. This is my main shit now. We got us a band. Already done got like five gigs." He tells them he's booked them for two nights running at The Bottom Line on Claiborne: Christmas Eve and Christmas night. "I'm talking about a holiday extravaganza," Antoine enthuses. June starts to speak. I told you something got lost in translation. Yamagishi tells Antoine that he already has a gig scheduled for Christmas Eve. "Shit. What happened to that 'I would be honored' and all that," Antoine asks. June apologizes but insists that he told Batiste about it. Thaddeus suggests they call Sonny, though Antoine is cold to that plan. The keyboard player tells him that on that short of notice, what choice do they have? Antoine relents and tells him to call Sonny tomorrow. Antoine turns and notices a young lady bending over to take her shot at the pool table. It's been awhile since we've seen the horndog side of Antoine. "I got an idea," he says.

    We haven't seen any of Lt. Terry Colson in this episode and the few times we will, they are very quick scenes, but they do add some insight into this character we're still getting to know. We learned he has sons from his lunch with Toni and we see him wrapping gifts in his office, but Sgt. Bechet reminds him that it's Christmas Eve but it's also a Sunday so the Post Office is closed. The one son he talked about sounded like he was older, but it would seem all his boys live somewhere else. We also learn that he lives in a trailer home, but we can't tell for certain from the shot if it's one provided by FEMA after Katrina and means he lost his home.

    Since Officer Cantone slipped and gave the name of Officer O'Dell (Caleb Michaelson) to Toni, she calls him for an interview on his day off. He tells her he was fired on as soon as he pulled into Robideaux's parking lot and took shots in his passenger side door. "Charlie said you were scared," Toni tells him. "It freaked me. This shit, rifle fire," the cop says. He tells her he didn't stop, just pulled a U-turn and went back to the station house. "Could you tell where the shots came from?" Toni asks. O'Dell said they sounded like they were from someplace up high such as a roof, balcony or even the projects. "I get back to the station, guys see the bullet holes and flip out. About a half-dozen of us posse up and go back to Robideaux's to lay down the law," O'Dell informs her. Whereas Cantone's tone was hostile, O'Dell's seems pleasant and he seems eager to tell the story. Toni asks if he went in the store, but he says he stayed outside and chased "the looters" off as they came out. Toni seeks confirmation that some cops went inside. "Oh yeah," the officer says, "and they came out saying they recognized some assholes from the Iberville. Next thing I know, fuck if we're not headed over there." Toni asks if he went along. "We'd been through three days of hell by then. I didn't need me no more." Then Toni comes to that moment she gets to in every interview where she asks something that shuts her interviewee up. "So who led the charge over to Iberville?" O'Dell, friendly and talkative until then, slows. "You mean like names?" Toni confirms that's what she's asking and O'Dell's memory for details suddenly grows fuzzy and he claims not to remember, blaming the chaos of the storm. Toni thanks him for meeting her on his day off and, with an anxious tone, he tries to confirm that Cantone had said it was OK to talk with her. "He gave me your name," Toni says. A suddenly worried O'Dell mutters, "Shit" and takes off. With each new witness to the events at Robideaux's, the story Toni is trying to piece together about Joey Abreu changes and grows more complicated. Perhaps a better name for the store would have been Rashomon.

    Janette sits at a New York bar sipping a drink when Paul enters carrying her knife roll. She's as joyous as if she's been reunited with a long lost child. "Thank you, thank you, thank you. I don't know what I'd do without my babies," she says clutching them as Paul joins her at the bar. He tells Janette that her name will live in history. “In infamy, you mean,” Janette suspects he meant to say. “I’ve never done anything like that before in my life,” she admits. “Have you seen the website?” Paul asks. “You’re fucking famous.” Janette tells Paul that she doesn’t need that kind of fame. “I fucked up. Big time. Biggest ever. Like in the history of the world. Total disgrace. I’ll never work again,” Janette says, lamenting her actions. One thing that I always love to watch for is how talented performers such as Kim Dickens manipulate props and she’s great here, constantly playing with the straw in her drink, either lifting it up and down or spinning it in circles. “I don’t know about you opening a restaurant here in New York anytime soon,” Paul says before he leans in and continues, “but holy shit! You are a fuckin’ outlaw.” He mentions an ad that “Makes you sound like Bonnie and Clyde, only without the Clyde.” Paul grabs her shoulder. “You’re a fuckin’ hero!” Janette lets the straw fall into her mouth and says she wants to die. “Don’t die. Just change your name,” Paul suggests before clinking his glass against hers and hoarsely whispering, “Bonnie! Bonnie!”

    Antoine and his Apostles practice before their Christmas Eve show when Herman suggests, “Let’s wrap this bitch up and get out of here. The game’s on.” The group seems to be in agreement, since they have a quorum even minus their last-minute guitarist Sonny, who walks in just then. “Oh I see your boy’s shuttle from Amsterdam must have been late,” Antoine says. Sonny claims that he thought rehearsal was at noon. Antoine tells him that everyone else knew the right time. Sonny apologizes and tells Antoine he learned the tunes he told him to learn. Batiste lets Sonny know that they’ll see how things go at the performance that night. “Y’all make sure he knows what time the gig is for,” Antoine shouts past Sonny to the other members. “And wear something red.” Antoine exits with the rest as Sonny stands looking around, clueless as always.

    Chants of “Who Dat?” envelop a New York bar that’s filled with people wearing New Orleans Saints jerseys except for talent manager James Woodrow, who dons Giants gear and looks oddly out of place. Delmond sits at the bar joining in the chorus. “It’s like the Louisiana Purchase in reverse,” Woodrow tells Del. Woodrow asks if it’s always a New Orleans bar or only on Sundays in football season. “Twenty-four/seven, threesixtyfive — like New Orleans in exile,” Delmond tells him. “They are playing the Giants — in New York. It should be illegal,” Woodrow declares. Woodrow switches subjects to Jelly Roll Morton and Del discusses how they’ve lost what’s elemental and soulful about New Orleans music and New Orleans culture in contemporary jazz. He pitches his idea for a modern jazz album that will bring those along but also makes a statement. “If Picasso was modern, then Louis Armstrong and Papa Celestin, they modern, too,” Delmond states. Woodrow asks what most viewers of last week’s episode must be thinking. “Didn’t you fire me?” Delmond laughs and tells Woodrow not to worry about that. His manager reminds him that he told Delmond more than a year ago to make a New Orleans album. “That’s why I’m rehiring you Woodrow,” Del says, “because you so damn smart.”

    Director Alex Zakrzewski must love the slow pan from somewhere else where we can hear the characters who will be in the next scene before the camera actually finds them because he uses that technique a lot in this episode. Perhaps he’s too dependent on that directing move, but at least he has style and not a machete such as we endured in last week’s direction. Sofia, believe it or not, shares with her mother a tale of silly romantic machinations at her high school as she and Toni wrap Christmas presents in front of the tree. You see Toni trying to hide her giddy grin that her 16-year-old daughter has opened up to her and she asks what Sofia means by “going out.” Sofia shrugs. “Going out. It’s not a big deal or anything.” That brief thaw seems to have refrozen, especially when Sofia flips open her cell and Toni asks if they can have five or 10 minutes of mother-daughter time alone at Christmas without that phone. “Oh my God,” Sofia responds as she reads the text. “Mister Weyman committed suicide.” The last word hits Toni hard as she recognizes the name as a teacher at Lusher. Sofia tells her mom he taught honors chemistry. Melissa Leo always is great, but we mostly see her doggedly pursuing the truth. This shakes her as it takes her back to when she learned of Creighton’s suicide, which she still hides from Sofia, perputating the lie that his death was an accident. Toni stops wrapping and gets completely frazzled and on the verge of tears. “Sof, that’s terrible,” she says. “Did he have family?" Sofia tells her mom that he wasn’t one of her teachers so she doesn’t know. “They found him yesterday in house,” Sofia continues her report. “He shot himself.” Leo is great at subtly showing Toni nearly falling apart as she reaches for her daughter. “Baby, do you want to talk about this?” Toni asks. Sofia might be savvy enough to know that her mom needs the talk because she replies, “If you want. I didn’t really know him.”

    Back at the New York bar, all those Saints fans are cheering and, in case you didn’t notice before (I did, but I didn’t point it out) Janette celebrates the victory a few stools down from Delmond. Strangers throughout the bar hug, including Del and Janette, marking the second episode in a row where Janette has shared screentime with a Lambreaux. Delmond recognizes her from a place in New Orleans and asks if she still lives back home or if she’s in New York now. Janette tells him she’s relocated there and she likes New York. “There’s a lot to like about New York,” Del says. BLOGGER’S NOTE: Ain’t it the truth. Sigh…Janette says she especially enjoys not having to think about the federal flood all the time. The two new friends introduce themselves by name. She asks him if he’s New York or NOLA and Woodrow chimes in that he’s lived in Manhattan for three years. Del does mention that he’s flying home on Christmas to take his dad out for dinner. Delmond spots the satchel carrying her cutlery and asks what it is. When she tells him it's her knife roll, he asks if she’s a chef. “Or something. I walked out of my restaurant last night,” she tells him. “Oh. So you kinda like one of them ronin out of ancient Japan who wander the earth with a sword but got no master,” Delmond says. “That’s a nice way of saying I’m out of work,” Janette responds. She asks his vocation and Woodrow speaks up again, identifying him as a great musician. Delmond tells her he’s playing The Blue Note and he’ll put her on the guest list.

    “Hark! What’s that sound on my roof fucking up my shingles?” Herman Jackson asks while twirling his drumstick on the stage of The Bottom Line. “Must be Santa Claus and his reindeer,” Wanda Rouzan replies from the main microphone. Maybe Antoine didn’t have sex on his mind after all because those two young women are dressed as Christmas elves and dance their way into the scene ahead of Batiste who starts singing, “Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin,’” written by Albert King and even recorded by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Antoine and most of the band (even Sonny) wear Santa caps.

    We move from the exuberant sounds at The Bottom Line to the absolute silence at LaDonna’s house. It’s nearly dark and she sits in the center of the L-shaped sectional, a drink in her hand, staring at the Christmas tree. She raises the glass to take a sip and then looks startled, as if she heard something. She gulps, then returns to the booze.

    Some of the band and the elves are relaxing after the first set at The Bottom Line when Antoine and Cornell notice Sonny heading outside with someone. Antoine motions to Cornell to follow him. When the bass guitarist gets outside, he spots Sonny scoring some dope on the corner. He approaches Sonny, who looks embarrassed. Cornell rests his shades atop his head and tells Sonny, “I know what you’re dealing with and I know something else. You in no danger of being like no great musician.” Sonny tells him he knows. “So you might not want to blow this here gig,” Cornell suggests, “because how many more are you going to get? It’s a small town. Word gets around.” Listen to him Sonny. Time to ply your trade elsewhere. Please. Pretty please.

    The Williams family celebrates Christmas morning in Baton Rouge and few seem more pleased than Antoine’s sons Alcide (Renwick D. Scott II) and Randall (Sean-Michael Bruno) who really love the gifts the father they seldom see sent them. They have to explain them to Mrs. Brooks and, with a bit of contempt in his voice, Larry comments, “Looks like he really stepped up his game this year.”

    Delmond asks Albert how his filet is, but his dad says it’s a little pink. “It’s supposed to be,” Del says. “I know how you like it. Knock the bones off it, wipe its ass and send it on out. Not me. I like mine cooked,” Albert responds. Delmond asks his dad if he wants to send it back. “So they can mess it up again?” Albert replies. Delmond finally asks his father what his problem has been lately, telling him that he hasn’t been acting like himself and that nothing pleases him. “I’m the same as I always was. Nothing pleases me unless it’s right,” Albert insists. Delmond rattles off a list of things that haven’t been right for Albert of late: the food, going by Sherry’s in Atlanta or Davina’s in Houston for Thanksgiving…Albert interrupts to tell Del that he didn’t have to fly down to take him out for Christmas dinner — that was his idea. Delmond suggests to Albert that after all he’s been through, he might be depressed. “It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It ain’t no thing. They got medicine for that now,” the son says. “That’s what you think I need — medicine. You know how many applications they got for that Road Home money? Ninety thousand. Mine is one of them. You know how many they processed so far? Now, I read this in the paper the other day,” Albert tells his son who does ask how many. “Eighty two,” his father replies. “Now at that rate, when do you think I’m gonna get my money to fix up my house? Depressed, shit. I ain’t depressed. I’m so mad I can’t even see straight,” Albert declares before throwing his napkin on the table and walking out.

    Antoine comes out of The Bottom Line and finds Terrell Batiste on the phone on the sidewalk. Antoine tries to tell him it’s time to get back on stage, but Terrell motions for Antoine to be quiet. When Terrell ends the call, he tells Antoine that it was Bennie Pete, his other boss as the leader of The Hot 8 Brass Band. “Dinerral just got shot,” Terrell says. “He dead.” At last, before I go further, I can cleanse my soul and make my confession. For the past two weeks, I’ve been misleading you dear reader. While researching The Hot 8 Brass Band for the second episode to determine who the other member was talking to Antoine and Bennie Pete, I accidentally stumbled upon an interview with Pete where he discussed the December 2006 murder of their snare drummer Dinerral Shavers and how David Simon had asked permission to work his killing into the season’s story. Pete also mentioned that the actor they hired to play Dinerral (Reginal Varice) looked a lot like the real Shavers. Since I only promise that I will reveal spoilers for the episode I’m recapping, I didn’t want to give it away by naming the actor when he first appeared but I didn’t think it would be right either to omit his brief scenes, since I knew there would be a later payoff and readers needed to know who got killed. So I just wrote as if it were the real Dinerral, assuming that few Hot 8 aficionados would be reading my recap and know that it wasn’t really him or they’d just assume I wasn’t informed enough to know it wasn’t him. Shew. I can breathe easier now. Back to the scene. A stunned Antoine can only respond, “What the fuck?” Terrell explains (and this is how it actually happened) that at a stop sign, a kid aimed a gun on Shavers’ stepson in Dinerral’s car, but Dinerral got hit instead, making Shavers the fourth member of The Hot 8 Brass Band to die since its inception. “Damn,” Antoine says, shaking his head. “Damn. Shit.” As I wrote at the outset of this post, Wendell Pierce provides the heart and soul of Treme and while much of what he brings is light, comical or musical, he can bring it when the action gets heavier as well. Antoine asks Terrell how Bennie was holding up. “At first he like, ‘Dinerral gone. He dead.’ Then he got real quiet and I go, ‘Bennie. Bennie.’ Then he said we got a gig Thursday and wondered who we could use as a snare drummer. Then he started crying and hung up the phone,” Terrell recounts.

    The Lambreauxs lean against the car parked in the driveway of Albert’s house when the father asks his son if he brought his steak. “You said you didn’t like it,” Del says. Raising his voice slightly, Albert clarifies. “I said I didn’t want them to mess it up again.” Delmond lights up, though it doesn’t appear that it’s your over-the-counter cigarette that he’s smoking. “By the time I put that in my black skillet, you gonna have a piece of meat,” Albert insists. “It’s a good thing I know your crazy ass like I do,” Delmond tells Albert. “It’s in the car.” Del passes his father his smoke. “There’s something I want to tell you. I was out of line at dinner. I didn’t mean to come at ya like that.” Albert exhales a long puff of smoke. “I’m glad you realize that because I know I ain’t crazy,” his father replies. “I’ve got plenty of sense I ain’t even used yet.” Del laughs and takes another hit. “You a sick man,” he coughs. “Just leave that medicine when you go,” Albert says, prompting another half laughing/half coughing spell in Delmond as Albert pats his back.

    *information courtesy of AllMusic

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    Le Bon Temps is Uptown, not the Garden District. Not even close...

    The description I found (which is on the link) describes it as Uptown/Garden District. That's how I had it, but that was part I had to re-create after the Blogger crash and I just remembered the Garden District part of the description and when I re-linked it and didn't notice the Uptown/ the 2nd time to add. That site could be wrong. I don't know. It was the most descriptive site of the club I found which is why I used it, but having never been to New Orleans (unfortunately) I'm not familiar with the regions, though I would think a website about New Orleans sites that links Uptown/Garden District like that would mean the areas are in close proximity.
    Seventeen blocks.

    My compliments on your excellent synopsis. It is very pleasing to know someone out there is watching this amazing show very attentively and digging for all the richness that is contained in it. You're the reviewer I'd most like to have a conversation with.

    I cannot speak about camera angles, panning, tracking shots, etc., and I take your word for it that this episode is better in those regards than the last. Nothing at all, however, will rehabilitate Seitz's sophomoric critique of that episode. I hope you're not obliquely trying to defend him by commenting on the scene length differential. I have to stand with Albert on this in saying that process doesn't matter if you don't have the result. Seitz didn't have much of either and you seem to have both. You don't even have to tell us about the hard work! It shows.

    The phrase Delmond probably used was "your crazy ass" and the phrase Albert used when retorting that he wasn't crazy was he had "sense I haven't even used yet." On the other hand, Liguori makes me think of sins with every scene he's in, all stained glass behind him and pearl rosary in his hand while he steals from people like Albert, Desiree and the families of those kids in that classroom, terrified now by a clap of thunder because they know what can happen. Do they go home to a FEMA trailer?

    I especially commend you for how much of the dialog you get right. I know you have to work at it. I've lived here thirty years and some of this just flies past me. I still don't know what Katey Red replied when Aunt Mimi complimented her shoes in the last episode,

    This episode introduced me to the joy of June Yamagishi. Being a bit of a Japanophile, I have enjoyed the show's previous homage to Japanese jazz fans. If Yamagishi did say he was 'on the team' it might suggest a baseball reference, another passion Japan has adopted.

    Antoine singing along to 'Love and Happiness' has to be included as one of my top favorite moments, nearly as good as the 'Buena Sera' montage in the first episode of the first season. That scene was so dramatically wonderful, in part because we all were relieved to realize that this was not going to be one more public butchering of everything New Orleans the way every other show in the past had been (with the single exception of Frank's Place.) Instead, Treme is turning out to be the best show television has ever done in or about New Orleans.

    Thank you again for your attention to detail and for sharing your knowledge and research. Again, with Albert, I'm not pleased unless it's right. I hope you will visit New Orleans one day. I think you'd like it here. Even though many things are still not right, some things are so very right and they make it all worthwhile. You should come to New Orleans.
    Thanks so much Anita for your kind words. I freely admit that sometimes it is hard to get the dialogue exactly right. If I'm not certain enough, I'll just not put it in quotes or stick some ellipsis in for parts I can't understand, such as in the case of Wanda's introduction of Antoine at their debut. After several tries, I gave up trying to guess what she said between "The man with the plan" and his name. I had to consult others to finally figure out the second half of what Janette said when she through the Sazerac at Alan Richman. Sense would make more sense than sins coming from Albert. Not that Davis' has a difficult accent to decipher, but I actually had the show's story editor tell me exactly what his description was of his proposed sound to Aunt Mimi because he spoke so fast (when he said "Kinda like Galactic having its way with the Hot 8 front line while sleeping with Lil Wayne" or however it went). I didn't have Matt's objection about the staging so much. I figured that with this season's growing emphasis on rising crime, eventually one of the main characters would have to be hurt worse than just being a witness to violence or having their stuff stolen. I just hated the way they strung together all those short scenes, especially to keep cutting away from the LaDonna story we cared about to Sonny stuff we didn't. I think I tend to be so detailed in my recaps because even though this isn't The Wire, I know how David Simon likes to insert things that might seem insignificant at the time that will come back into play later. That's how I accidentally stumbled on the real-life death of Dinneral Shavers and realized that it was important to point out the scenes in which he appeared played by an actor (yet I didn't want to say it was an actor for people like me who didn't know the man was murdered in real life so it would be a shock when it happened). So many other recaps either didn't know or didn't bother to note the previous Dinneral scenes so a lot of their readers were confused as to who they were saying was killed at the end of the episode. As for Matt's critique though, I wouldn't call it sophomoric, it's just that rape is a subject that hits close to home for him so it's hard for him to separate himself from it. I do think he had a valid point though when he said that not all the characters' stories really always can be equal all the time and that part upset me with the cutaways to Sonny.

    As for me coming to New Orleans, I've always wanted to. When I was in college, a friend and I planned a trip but it got called off and I never got to go. Unfortunately, now I'm bedridden, so I can't really travel anywhere farther than a doctor's office. I can't even go see movies in my hometown anymore because of the logistics involved. All my travels occur through my mind and cyberspace.
    I'll fix that Albert quote.
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