Warming Up to Treme

I finally got hooked on Treme last night; so far for me, the show about New Orleans' recovery process has moved slower than molasses in a cold cup of chicory. Maybe it's the expectation and the adrenalin level of David Simon's last series, The Wire. I was a latecomer to that show and then watched an entire season in a few days.

Treme has been like moving to a new city and not knowing whether you like your neighbors. But gradually, I've warmed up to Antoine Batiste, the slow moving, slow burning trombone player, who juggles girlfriend and music; Batiste's ex-wife LaDonna, who fights to control her permanent state of rage; Albert Lambreaux, whose passion in life is his Indian costume for Carnival; pothead and musician Davis McAlary and lawyer "Toni" Bernette, who seems to spend much of her time bailing out the cast from their various scrapes with the law.

They're not all likeable characters, too often lacking in ambition or purpose for my tastes. But I've warmed to them, like you get used to the regulars at your neighborhood bar. I wouldn't take them home with me, but they're interesting enough for the time I've invested — and it's always better not to drink alone.


More fascinating is the portrayal in the show of the city of New Orleans, one of the few major U.S. cities I regret not knowing better. I was there once before Katrina, for a conference, and just got a glimpse, or taste, of the city, but the wrought iron balconies, the easy style of people — even the taste of the red beans and rice - made me realize the close connection to my native Haiti.

Last night, watching the chanted wake for Jesse Hurd, I was reminded of similar ceremonies in Haiti and was reminded how New Orleans was the most Caribbean of American cities, and maybe why so many in America wanted to keep it at arm's length.

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