The Saints lost today – bad. All the more reason to sit back and watch HBO’s Treme and remember all the ways this city overcomes. This week’s episode covered the week following Christmas 2008 into New Year’s 2009. I happened to be in Louisiana that week in real life. I was visiting family for the holidays when I had an epiphany. I’d always meant to retire here, but I remember walking toward my cousins at their docked boat as the sun set over the Tchefuncte River and thinking, “What am I waiting for?” By December 2009, I was here.
During those 11 months of getting ready to leave Los Angeles, my home of 17 over years, I watched one movie over and over, The Lake House. In the movie, Sandra Bullock is separated from the life she should be living by 2 years. Keanu Reeves helps her keep the faith that they will somehow close that 2 year gap and be happy. It’s a leap-of-faith movie about waiting and it gave me comfort during all those months of reflecting on leaving my friends, the life I’d built and my career.
So watching this week’s episode reminded me of that week in 2008/2009 and this place calling me home to the land of my own family’s story. And watching the episode was like being in The Lake House, where the me of 2009 is waiting and preparing for the leap to New Orleans while the me of 2013 is watching a show (set in 2009) filled with people I now know, music I see live, food I eat and places I go.
I’ve talked a lot in this blog about how Treme is a time capsule of the city, preserving the people and the culture of this place in that moment. One of the city’s best funk-rock-jazz bands, Papa Grows Funk, played live in the show. I’ve seen their talent-laden fun-filled shows many times. Now the band has retired. I’m sure they’ll play together again, but on Treme they are captured in the time capsule to be watched together forever.
Rock City Morgue provided the song that played just before New Year’s. In real life, Rik Slave of Rock City Morgue is my neighbor so I get to hear his band rehearse sometimes. The high school band member, “Jennifer,” is played by Jazz Henry (daughter of Galactic’s Corey Henry who was on last week’s episode). In the show, she stands outside Maison on Frenchmen Street and dreams of playing with the Original Pinettes, the city’s only all-female brass band. In real life, I just watched Jazz win the Red Bull Street Kings battle of the bands with the Pinettes. For me, watching Treme is like watching life fold on itself.
I’m so glad the time capsule includes such an intimate look inside Mardi Gras Indian culture. Locals know that throughout the city there are alpha-males sewing tiny beads into beautiful tableaus while family and friends pitch in, but most of us never get to see it. Though we enjoy the results and the chants and “wars” at the Super Sunday Mardi Gras Indian Parade, most of us never see the tribes prepare. Treme offers a peek into so many of the corners of this city.
This week’s episode also introduced the idea of “Hollywood South” as Wendell Pierce’s “Antoine” was hired to help an actor portraying a Jazz musician. When I got to New Orleans, my first audition was for a new TV show – Treme. I didn’t get it but I so wanted to be part of that show and it’s telling of New Orleans’ post-Katrina story. It took 3 years, but I finally got the part of David Morse’s (Terry Colson) ex-wife, “Kay” in the 3rd season.
When they showed the trailer for next week’s episode, I was delighted to see “Kay” and once again be included in this story – this time capsule of a people, a culture, a place and a moment. Though there are only 2 episodes of HBO’s Treme left, the Saints game will be on at the same time next Sunday, so like most New Orleanians, I’ll be watching Treme on DVR. It’s fun to be in a time capsule and I love watching the show, but nothing beats real life in New Orleans and I’m not going to miss cheering on our team.
Here’s the trailer for next week’s episode. I’m at the :20sec mark.