Skip to content

Careless Love

April 21, 2010

There’s been some chatter among the BOT commentariat (not to be confused with the proletariat) about whether the street musicians in this week’s episode were partially inspired by the story of Zack Bowen and Addie Hall the doomed couple about whom Ethan Brown wrote in his great true crime tome, Shake The Devil Off. Here’s a quick and dirty summary: Zack was an Iraq war vet who stayed in the Quarter during the aftermath of the storm. He had a tempestuous relationship with Addie and murdered her in a grisly fashion after he went bat shit crazy. A tragic story and a must read, albeit disturbing, book.

Neither Zack nor Addie were street musicians but they lived, worked, argued and died in the Quarter. And Zack had instant nostalgia for when it was empty during the NOLA diaspora. As did our surly street pianist, Sonny who seems to have been a veteran of our Iraqi misadventure like Zack. I was struck by the evil eye Sonny gave the voluntourists from Cheeseville whilst “interrogating” them about the Lower Ninth and such. This, however, is not the song that piqued my interest, when we first met Piano and Fiddle, he was singing Careless Love. It’s not exactly a murder ballad but it’s close: a menacing blues song about a doomed romance.

I’m not sure if I buy this theory but at least we’re not talking about a certain character. What do you think about the inspired by Zack and Addie angle, Ethan?

Anyway, this line of speculation gives me an excuse to post Bessie Smith belting out Careless Love with Louis Armstrong on trumpet:

  1. brueso permalink
    April 21, 2010 12:07 pm

    There’s another possibly interesting tie-in, too. I never read the book but just got it from the library yesterday- and there’s a blurb on the back from George Pelecanos, who most here know did some writing for “The Wire” besides his own work. Since Pelecanos is on board for “Treme”, too, he might have worked on the script if the story starts sending those characters in that direction.

  2. adrastosno permalink
    April 21, 2010 12:15 pm

    I love Pelecanos’ work. He’s also my countryman. So, George if you’re listening, you’ve got lots of fans here in Debrisville.

  3. April 21, 2010 12:21 pm

    Pelecanos has written at least one episode of Treme:

  4. April 21, 2010 12:22 pm

    And not to make everybody’s head explode, but so has Davis Rogan.

  5. adrastosno permalink
    April 21, 2010 12:36 pm

    That, that, that means that Davis had a j-o-b and not just a gig. Good for him.

  6. April 21, 2010 1:00 pm

    Actually, fictional representations aside, the real Davis was a teacher (at an actual school) until he quit that, er, gig to take up Treme full time.

  7. April 21, 2010 1:19 pm

    Weird. So far IMDB only has writing credits for Simon and Overmyer, except for eps. 3 and 7, which also credits David Mills.

    Also, guess who shows up in 7? Tim Reid.

  8. April 21, 2010 1:38 pm

    IMDB can be kind of unreliable when it comes to stuff that is still in production. Tom Piazza and Lolis Elie don’t show up anywhere in IMDB either, at least as far as Treme goes.

  9. April 21, 2010 1:56 pm

    Some other things to point out. Obviously there is a tie-in with the Zach/Addie story. I’m reciting all of this stuff from news stories and scuttlebutt that I’ve read online. I’m not a resident of NOLA and I haven’t read the book, but ever since I’ve heard about this gruesome news story, I’ve been doing light research out of curiosity of how this is going to play out. Some of this may or may not be completely accurate, but I think most of it is.

    1. Her name is Annie which can’t be a coincidence.

    2. She flashed people after the storm, another thing Addie was known to do.

    3. The foreboding song, Careless Love. Even before knowing about the Zach/Addie connection, this song kind of creeped me out.

    4. They were in the Spotted Cat, which supposedly Zach was involved with in some way. I assume he worked there, but I don’t know for sure.

    5. They rode out the storm.

    6. The “voodoo” scene at the beginning of the episode. Zach lived above a voodoo shop.

    7. The vet asked if they had a lot of sex. Kind of an odd question to ask, but from what I understand Addie was a fairly sexual person.

    There are more similarities, but it’s clear that this is probably not going to end well.

  10. April 21, 2010 4:59 pm

    I wonder if Simon will use the supposed NOPD quote: “Gives new meaning to the term ‘pothead.'”?
    I know, I know but…

  11. April 21, 2010 9:20 pm

    Thanks for the compliment about the book; hugely appreciated.

    There are some clear similarities to the Zack and Addie story (I think that GB pointed most–if not all–of them out) but it’s probably to early to tell how this will all play out. I did like a lot, however, that the Treme writers had the Sonny character exaggerating his role during the federal flood (rescuing people off rooftops, etc). Zack never did that but the many journalists who interviewed Zack and Addie post-flood seemed to transform them into heroes which was pretty ludicrous. I remember interviewing John Boutte (who lived in the same building on North Rampart as Zack and Addie–yet another Treme connection!) and he was deeply annoyed by Zack and Addie getting lionized in the press. I’m not sure I was entirely successful, but in Shake the Devil Off I tried to illustrate how Zack and Addie were at once prototypical “holdouts” but also far from heroes in the conventional sense–Zack, for example, was hugely irresponsible during the storm, essentially letting his wife (who he was separated from) and kids fend for themselves on the West Bank.

    Anyway, thanks again for the kind words on the book and like you all I am curious to see where the Sonny/Annie narrative goes…


  12. April 21, 2010 9:33 pm

    I can’t imagine they’ll do it straight down the line, matching incident to incident, but it seems inevitable that Bad Things will happen. Simon did say that he had to promise the HBO guys a murder somewhere along the way.

  13. adrastosno permalink
    April 21, 2010 10:02 pm

    Thanks for the comment, Ethan. My praise is sincere: I didn’t even find it depressing as some others did, I thought it was engrossing. Of course, my current reading is a recent book about Leopold and Loeb so…

  14. wev permalink
    April 21, 2010 10:32 pm

    I haven’t read the book (dutifully added to the list, now) and can’t remember reading the news stories at the time so my reaction to the introduction of Sonny and Annie is pretty much to what I saw. It seemed to broadly hint there is something dark about them. The song, of course, but also the interaction between them, the explicit glance at Sonny exactly where she joins in singing Careless Love and the way she follows Sonny’s direction to fire up Saints, as well as her obvious haste to smoothe over Sonny’s snarling at the tourists. Then, later at the club, that conversation with the vet was just bizarre. Sonny was drunk, of course, but the vet seemed to be just moving in on them. There is always the pure likelihood that I don’t know how people talk in clubs in this century, but it still seemed odd.

    Now, about the song. There are more than 350 listings in mp3 downloads and I am beyond confused. I really want the version from the episode. I loved Annie’s fiddle and their voices, especially hers. Next best would be a good blues singer especially with extended lyrics. Any suggestions?

  15. adrastosno permalink
    April 21, 2010 10:42 pm

    Wev: There are dozens of good versions around. I’m particularly partial to the one Dr. John cut for Going Back To New Orleans, which is one of his best albums. If you haven’t heard it, check it out.

  16. April 22, 2010 7:50 am

    They do seem out of place, but I think that is intentional if this is going the way it seems. I like seeing them on screen, especially now. Funny thing is that the actress is already a little concerned about being killed off…

    Here’s an excerpt from an Esquire interview:

    ESQ: Speaking of celebrating, the show just got picked up for a second season. Congrats. Think your character is going to stick around?

    Lucia: I just asked [the HBO rep.] that. I was like, “I’m not gonna die, right? They’re not killing me off, right?” I just hope this doesn’t turn out like the The Wire where you like some characters and then you’re saying, “Great, okay, they’re dead.”

  17. brueso permalink
    April 22, 2010 10:58 am

    You never can tell what’s going to happen, but if I was her, I wouldn’t be buying any real estate, etc. that depends on her getting a check from HBO for more than a season.

  18. April 22, 2010 11:46 am

    Addie worked at the Cat.

  19. adrastosno permalink
    April 22, 2010 3:07 pm

    I forgot the cat detail, Mark. Guess I lack proper cattitude.

  20. wev permalink
    April 22, 2010 6:46 pm

    If there are other consumers like me, books as well as music are doing well out of this series. I downloaded the kindle version of Brown’s book and sat up way too late reading; still not finished but have to say, I definitely fear for Annie.

    Another cat altogether, I loved that little cat crossing the dirty street at dusk in the pilot, I think, near the end. There were packs of feral dogs and some cats around here were killed so it was good to see her going about her errands.

  21. Darcy permalink
    May 5, 2010 6:43 am

    I can see the connection to Zack and Addie with the boosted rep post Katrina. They may also be using those stories to give him some kind of PTSD connection to give him the proper opportunity to go crazy and take Annie out. I don’t know if they will go as far into the gruesome details, but I can’t see things ending well there at all.


  1. “Treme,” Season 1, Episode 3 | Screen Grab| Movies & TV Blog

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: