Buffa's Bar & Restaurant On the Border of the Quarter since 1939

Deconstructing Treme: The Pfister Sisters Breakdown Episode 4

From Nola Defender...
by Stella Kowalski


m
The Pfister Sisters
With David Simon and Wendell Pierce in the house at Buffa's, NoDef watched Sunday's episode of the HBO show with the Pfister Sisters.
 
Once again, NoDef went down to Buffa's Lounge Sunday night to watch for the latest episode of HBO's Treme. For the viewing party, the bar seemed to be transformed into the off-camera area of a shoot, as show creator David Simon, lead actor Wendell Pierce and numerous crew members milled around and talked to locals during the episode. The crowd was also treated to a performance from the Pfister Sisters. When they weren't performing, we rolled the tape so Holley Bendtsen, Yvette Voelker, Karen Stoehr and pianist Amasa Miller could give us some insight into how the scenes of the show fit in with the events of the time.
 
Yvette Voelker What I love about these, and I’ve seen each and everyone of them, is that they really try to get it right, and most of the time they do, with each and every detail.
 
Amasa Miller Yeah, I’ve actually never seen an episode before, and I was able to catch on to lots of detils fast. Like, the crime scene, I knew instantly that it was going to be the filmmaker. I remember that time in our history very well. I went to the march and it was huge, it was thousands and thousands of people. We had never seen a gathering like that, and I was really glad they included it.
 
YV My only concern is that if you were not here, you wouldn’t understand it. Like Oliver Thomas plays himself.
 
Holley Bendtsen Isn’t he in a one man play?
 
YV Yes. He’s been busy since he was released from prison for corruption! New Orleans politicians have no shame.
 
(conjecture about Oliver Thomas)
 
YV No, you have to remember that after the storm, he was the Great Hope. He was the next mayor, he was on top of things, he was going to fix the city.
 
AM And, he was a nice guy.
 
HB Watch out! It’s going to be that carpetbagger from Dallas who gives him the money that puts him away. Just like life, he’s working on gutting schools. That is so accurate when they are throwing away untouched school stuff. They gutted 30 schools that were fine.
 
AM Oh yeah, and that scene with needing to get a permit to turn your utilities on. I paid off an electrician. It cost me two grand to get it turned back on. He just disconnected the circuits that might have be in danger, and then turned it all back on.
 
YV It’s another part of the show that might be hard to understand for outsiders. Even my own family who are from down here sometimes have trouble understanding what happened if they weren’t here. I remember my Aunt who has moved up North, she was affected by it, three weeks after Katrina she was back cleaning out her attic. But on the other hand, just two weeks ago, she was down here and said, “You know your uncle, after the storm, there was a period when he was drinking too much.”
 
(Laughter)
 
I said, “We all were, and I still am..” You cannot understand what is going on down here without experiencing it. They want to, they want to have the empathy, but they can’t.
 
HB We would definitely add more Fleur de Lis tattoos, more pins. We were all getting them about then.
 
The conversation changed courses when someone suggested the show should show more murders.
 
HB Yeah. After that girl got killed by her boyfriend who was the Spotted Cat bartender on our night, a couple weeks later, the other bartender on our night, he hung himself. My daughter’s pediatrician hung himself.
 
Karen Stoehr A lot of pediatricians killed themselves. Stephen [last name omitted] shot himself in the head the day they bought the FEMA trailer to his house, and then couldn’t fit it in his yard. He had been living in a trailer with his ex wife and was just at the end of his rope.
 
YV He was the amalgam. When they took away that trailer, they said, “It’s three feet over the property line," and he just went inside and shot himself.” There are so many stories like that. It was a time when if you were in the grocery store, you could have Katrina moments with everyone in line, all of you breaking down crying in line, then checkout, and leave.
 
KS We had a camper also, that we bought, and are still paying for it. My husband and I, and six kids lived in the camper for 8 months. It took FEMA 8 months before they bought us a trailer on site. When that happened it was really exciting. The refrigerator in the camper was like a small cube,  but the FEMA trailer because there were so many of us, we got a Park model with a full fridge. So, I didn’t have to buy milk every day, any more. We were the envy of an affluent neighborhood, because of the park model.
 
And, I’ll never forget the day the day that our refrigerator for the house arrived. I was so happy, and dancing literally. The delivery guy was so tickled, he said, “Lady, you ain’t the only one who be dancing in the street over a new refrigerator.” Dancing in the middle of Canal because we got a fridge, beautiful moment.
 
HB It’s hard to explain to those who were not here.
 
YV Because the pictures don’t smell!
 
HB Yeah! Pictures don’t smell, and without that smell, you can’t fully grasp it.
 
HB I’m a little worried about that girl (Sophie.) She’s at Lusher. Remember what happened at Lusher? That fifteen year old girl there overdosed on heroin after the storm, and then they had lots of heroin, lots of suicides. The girl was just 16 and it was given to her by an older boy who was a teacher’s aide, 21. I mean her parents were counselors at the school, they knew that she had problems, that lots of kids had problems. They never saw how...far it would go.
 
HB And, the rape business with the bar owner. That’s totally taken from the story of Charmaine Neville getting raped. She was hiding at Nichols School, across from her house. For days, there were guys going around in boats, the same thugs who do drive by shootings in cars, they moved onto boats. And, they were there, and would pull guns on people and take what they had left… I knew someone who ran into the same gang, and his wife left town, went to Houston, and would not come back… So, for a while, he worked two jobs in two cities, but eventually, he just gave up, and moved to Houston with his family. So, it’s hard to watch. The Aunt Mimi, though, the comic relief is great!
 
YV That’s what we said last year! We want more Aunt Mimi! She’s an LSU girl.
 
HB Every family in the South has one of those eccentric members. And, we’re proud of them!