Batiste’s wayward ‘bone
I have to keep this brief since I’m in another timezone (again) and off to work too soon (again).
I am a bit disappointed in the way Antoine Batiste is developing. His character seems to be flattening into caricature of the ne’er do well musician who can’t keep his pants zipped. Unless his (entirely too realistic) beat down by the police and the loss of his trombone are a turning point, he is turning into a clownish minstrel character. I expect Simon to surprise me at some point with him, but so far it’s purely hope. Even Bubbles in The Wire had his moment of attempted redemption rather than being just the clown junkie snitch. I don’t see the thread that leads Batiste anywhere but down, and not in a way I find particularly interesting.
Maybe I’m just being influenced by this post on Cliff’s Crib, which takes my earlier post quoting Cliff to give context to Lambreaux’s beat down of the copper miner and turns it upside down. I don’t expect Treme to be a Chamber of Commerce film on our triumph over adversity. I want the whole Zola truth in all its ugliness and beauty, but I hoped for more from a character who is clearly meant to be central.
Perhaps its a necessary character, but I will be disappointed if he follows that trajectory and there is no off setting character who represents the hard working musicians who fight and make it in this town, someone besides the naturally clownish Kermit Ruffins, someone that represents the Troy and James Andrews of New Orleans, all of the strong musical families who kept the brass/jazz tradition alive.
Another quick thought: I will have to think on who said ‘I don’t have a horn” (some minor character to Albert Lambreaux, but I suddenly don’t remember which minor character), but I hope the loss of Batiste’s ‘bone will get into the whole idea of how many musicians lost their instruments one way or another to the Federal Flood, and the efforts made to get them another. I haven’t thought about that for a while until I found myself standing in line outside Tipitina’s looking up at the Tipitina Foundation sign listing all the schools they purchase replacement instruments for. And although I am not a musician myself, the reunion of a player and his horn ended up having a rather dramatic impact on my own life, leading in part to my return home to New Orleans.
A final thought: the setup of Dr. John taking about Indian Red as the most sacred of the Indian songs, leading to the interruption by Katrina tourists of the memorial for Albert Lambreaux’s dead friend as they sing Indian Red was perfect and beautiful. Perhaps I didn’t appreciate it as much watching The Wire because I didn’t have the sort of background knowledge necessary to appreciate it, but the way Simon and his team are weaving this complex tapestry together is amazing artistic craftsmanship.
There was an amazing video made by local hip-hop artists mocking the Katrina disaster tourist trade but I seem to have lost the book-mark. If I can find it tonight after work I will refresh this and post it up here to close this post.
— wet bank guy