Thursday, August 18, 2011

And the President said, "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."

Intro theme song by John Boutte (accent on the "e")

We just finished watching season one of the HBO series, Treme on DVDs from Netflix. The title is pronounced treh'may. On cable, the second season has finished, its ETA on DVD unknown. The story is set in New Orleans some six-months after Hurricane Katrina, beginning shortly before Mardi Gras. I have never been there but my heart broke then and I found that it is a long way from healed these several years later.

Trying hard for no spoilers, what I can say is: music, family, food, music, tradition, injustice.

Indifference as a life theme recently insinuated itself into my consciousness. We do, shockingly, perpetuate what we know. That is a flaccid segue to my continuing, reignited, fury at the response of government on every level to the catastrophe in Louisiana. We do not even possess instruments to measure a system's indifference to the city and people of New Orleans in Katrina's wake.

The show was recommended by a friend, kindred spirit and also great fan of The Wire, whose creators are responsible for Treme. When Angella shared her recent NO visits in narrative and photos, I hadn't seen all the episodes. I didn't know what was coming nor how I would weep. By the way, the link will take you to one day's post but if you go to the her main blog address and scroll down, you will find others, as well as additional subjects worth exploring.

I, in turn, recommend the show, which gathers force over time. Throughout, the music and musician characters seem to be surrogates for the place itself, which stands outside time, tragedy and bureaucracy in some respects. Mythic and misbegotten. The sound becomes richer with each episode, the stories deepen and darken. I soon recanted my wish for some unspecified sad fate to be visited upon Steve Zahn's scruffy DJ, Davis.

In other posts, I've said I am not a reviewer. When something get hold of me, I'll tell you about it. What's not to love about a show with all that brass? The trombone has as substantial a part as some of the actors.

The season's final episode includes an extended sequence of mourners taking part in the second line behind musicians who play - I could not find a comparable version on You Tube - "I'll Fly Away." But over the closing credits, Steve Earle, who appears in the series, sings "This City," composed for Treme.

Apropos of nothing I can point to, this quote turned up in my email today. It may become my mantra.

"Rilke said it best. 'We must assume our existence as broadly as we
in any way can; everything, even the unheard-of must be possible in
it. This is at bottom the only courage that is demanded of us: to
have courage for the most strange, the most inexplicable.'"


Sabine said...

Thank you for the Rilke quote, it is just what I needed to read.
I have tried Treme twice but for my European/Irish ears the accent is incredibly hard to follow. Would you think it gets easier or still worth watching without understanding a lot of what's being said?

Marylinn Kelly said...

Sabine - The quote was so apt, so choice, I'm glad it found you as well. I can't say that the accents would become easier to understand, I think that is a pretty consistent factor throughout the program. However, as one who has wished for subtitles for some English (including American) dialects, the fact of the music and the action being self-explanatory, as I recall, could still make it worth watching. The actors' faces tell much of the story and the paths they choose fill in a lot of the rest. I know I became more and more involved in the story as the episodes unfolded.

Antares Cryptos said...

Deep Sigh.

Thank goodness for Sartre, Rilke and countless more.

Angella Lister said...

Thank you Marylinn! I am about to watch the first season too! Nola really stuck to me, to us. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Antares - Thank goodness for the words we need coming to us just as it starts to feel (even more) confusing. And thank goodness that we can lean on the wisdom of others and not have to generate it all ourselves. :D

Marylinn Kelly said...

Angella - Thank you for your evocative posts, sharing the beauty and not the wreckage still so prevalent in the series. I think you will find much to treasure in the show. xo

beth coyote said...

Sometimes I can't watch stuff because my heart breaks too much. Katrina was what propelled me to go to Haiti after the earthquake. We rode through Port au Prince in May and the devastation was incredible. My 2 weeks there was as nothing...except to offer my love. And as a midwife, to catch a few babies.

X Beth

Marylinn Kelly said...

Beth - There are angels among us, I've always known it. What an experience Haiti must have been and what love and tender, needed support you brought. xo

RachelVB said...

I haven't seen Treme, but I watched a streaming episode of Frontline last night called "Law and Disorder" about the NOLA police department in the days after Katrina. Heartbreaking - the chaos, the lawlessness. But the fact that there are still people out there searching for the truth gives me a little hope for the human race.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Rachel - If you read Beth's comment, you have further proof that people ARE out there, searching for truth, bringing love and comfort. We can't give up on truth, either our own or that of the greater context. It is, or seems to be, slow work. So is water over stone. xo

Robert the Skeptic said...

My youngest daughter went to the University of New Orleans, graduated two years prior to the Katrina disaster. At it's founding, the French established the original (old) city center on the highest ground. That is what saved the main part of the city.

Even my short time there my daughter talked about the corruption in the place. She soon tired of the facade of Southern politeness and longed to return to Oregon.

We visited her in New Orleans, though, while she was there. It was an interesting visit and the place really grew on me. It will likely never be wholly the same again.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Robert - I can't imagine how it ever could be the same again. Even if all the necessary effort had gone into restoration, returning people to their homes, actively healing a disaster of such magnitude, it would be forever changed...I was glad that Angella's photos and posts gave us a view of unique beauty that endures.