John Goodman as Creighton Bernette in the HBO series "Treme." I was depressed by professors like this back in high school and college.
Wendell Pierce as Antoine Baptiste. I hung out with guys like this in blues bars and boozed it up with 'em.
Kim Dickens as Janette Desautel. I dated New Orleans transplants like this in high school and college.
Steve Zahn as Davis McAlary. I grew up with guys like this in high school and college. They always seemed to get me in trouble while managing to get off scot-free.
I'm a New Orleans expatriate, but don't blame Katrina or British Petroleum for my absence; I left the city for economic opportunities decades before either disaster.
This doesn't mean that Katrina's deadly tantrum across the area didn't affect me personally. I ventured in on Day 2 to help family, and got to see it all first hand. Humvees, helicopters, heartbreak.
I avoided watching the HBO series Tremé, not just out of sadness for the wounds inflicted upon the city, but, (as it is with so many NOLA expats), from the prevailing wind of homesickness. Food, music, crazy people, crazy accents, over-arching trees and iron-wrought architecture. There is no town like New Orleans in the United States, and its ghost tasks many.
Why is New Orleans better than provincial Los Angeles, Houston, D.C., New York, Boston, or any other U.S. metropolis? I could go on for many virtual pages, but why bother? If you've had a chance to live in and compare it to other cities in our nation, the answer is self-evident. If you haven't, then no words will describe it properly.
Which, I suppose, is another reason why I avoided Tremé; Hollywood has always been lame in its portrayal of the Crescent City. Some provincial denizens of California seem to think NOLA consists mostly of men saying "cher" all the time, accompanied by shadowy voodoo women wiping sweat from their cleavage. Once, during a meeting with California Producer Mr. X, I was asked derisively, "What the hell do you guys do there in the South?" as if night life outside of the execrable L.A. Viper Room was non-existent.
I furiously blurted out, "Just what you think. We fuck cows."
He laughed, thinking I was making fun of New Orleans, when in fact, I was making fun of a backwater Londinium citizen cackling like an ignorant hyena at the Rome of nightlife.
So no, I haven't been in the mood for something produced by a Producer X clone. Not after Katrina and then the B.P. disaster, and I certainly haven't been in the mood to put up with any shallow, cretinous "punditry" as was evidenced before, during, and after Katrina, such as was spewed from the haughty halls of Washington, D.C.
If Hurricane Irene had wiped out Washington, D.C., does anyone doubt that the D.C. media hyenas would've been all for rebuilding that atrocious city, even though it was built on a swamp, and never should have been built there in the first place?
D.C. is no stranger to hurricane wrath. Those who try to blame the limp Irene on global warming should remember the War of 1812. It was, in part, won because of a hurricane. On August 25, 1814, the British had already burned the White House, and had occupied the city for two full nights, when suddenly "The Hurricane of Providence" made landfall. The British abandoned D.C. the very next night. If it weren't for that hurricane, why, we might all be speaking English today.
Now, I'm a conservative-ish libertarian, especially when it comes to fiscal matters. The conservative oral diarrhea all over a subject they knew (and still only know) the bare surface of, and the liberals were just as bad -- only trying to score points on the backs of the floating dead.
Neither side wanted to discuss the real truth: that various companies throughout the years have partnered with local, state, and federal politicians and bureaucrats to practice a treasonous form of crony socialism for the better part of fifty years, making it impossible for the government to perform its basic duties.
And yes! As a conservative-ish libertarian, I firmly believe that there are, indeed, some (very few!) legitimate functions for government to serve. One of them is the protection of life and property. This involves such infrastructures as roads, levees, drainage, pumps, and other miscellanea.
While certainly, in an ideal world, everyone would live in a spot that isn't prone to disaster, you deal with the land you've been dealt, and let's face it, the continental United States is not exactly a friendly place. Which means government must do what it can to protect its citizenry from nature. Sure, maybe you can build a toll road. Good luck building a damned "toll levee."
The flooding in New Orleans was the result of a systemic failure of government on local, state, and federal levels. From the Corps of Engineers to the Orleans Levee Board, from the U.S. Congress and Senate and Presidency, flood control has been massively mishandled. Preventing floods is not rocket science. If it were, then how the hell do the Dutch do it so well? Boil it all down, and what does government flood control take? Just one thing.
Levees were knowingly built for decades that its designers, builders, and financiers knew wouldn't do the job. Pump stations were installed that would fail at the first sign of flooding. Legitimate functions of government were turned into contracts for cronies. Ever driven past the acres of unused FEMA trailers parked uselessly along the I-59 in Mississippi? Then you know exactly to what I refer.
It wasn't just a matter of Bush screwing things up in his handling of the aftermath of Katrina; it was a matter of Governor Kathleen Blanco, Mayor Nagin, and every other politician from Alaska to Florida ignoring their duty to protect private property and the lives of their citizens.
Let me ask you this: had those levees been built by competent engineers and contractors to withstand a hurricane of Katrina proportions, how much of the loss of life and property damage could have been alleviated?
Further: what is the government's responsibility when it abysmally fails in its legitimate duties? Is it okay for it to just "walk away" and tell all of the dead to rot in the canal?
There are people at the Corps Of Engineers (along with various Levee Boards) who should be sitting in jail, on trail for murder, for knowingly building sub-standard structures. Instead, their pensions are safe.
Anyway. Who wants to watch a series set in New Orleans, about the aftermath of Katrina, when you're certain the producers won't know their subject and will just give us more of the same old same old, some crappy combination of liberal talking points, conservative talking points, and a bunch of bad accents from Dennis Quaid in "The Big Easy?"
I was wrong. Tremé is none of that, and I am sorry I passed judgement before giving it a try.
I generally dislike television, but have always been impressed by the episodic form that HBO has financed and produced; from The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, Deadwood Rome, Carnivale (the latter two killed far before their time), there is a consistent quality to these series that is impressive. Tremé falls into this category.
Certainly Tremé can be difficult for some audiences across the nation to "get into." They've never met such people as the always-in-financial-disarray Antione Baptiste, played so brilliantly by Wendell Pierce), or Big Chief Albert Lambreaux (also played brilliantly
I know the character that Tremé
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