Links to Build Treme On…
…or to at least prime us for season 2…
A couple of weeks ago, the incomparable DJ Poptart introduced some relevant Treme posting from a blog entitled Overthinking It. The following is entertaining, overthought to the maximum, and guaranteed to get some disagreements going:
The problems dealt with in The Wire and Treme — how institutions can steamroll over the underclass — are not explicitly black problems. Ending racism won’t necessarily solve them. But they are problems that affect black people more than any other race in this country (until you get further west). So to tell the true story of how institutions blunder through people’s lives and the wreckage left behind, you need a predominantly black cast.
Since these are problems that affect black people, even if they’re not “black problems,” the temptation must have been strong to create a Great White Hero who would swoop in and save the situation. But Simon, Overmyer and Mills ducked that temptation. The black residents of Baltimore and New Orleans rise or fall based on what they can pull together. And the White Men who show up to help are not noble. They’re comically ignoble.
More of John Perich’s Treme posts can be found here.
This month’s Offbeat magazine has some good Treme coverage in it, including an interview with David Simon, a feature on Aurora Nealand, who was in a few episodes of season 1 (think Annie’s roommate after she first leaves Sonny), and her new band, the Royal Roses, and the especially noteworthy “Touched By Treme“, all about how the featured musicians in season 1 are faring since having appeared in the series:
John Boutte is also one of the more obvious Treme success stories. His “Treme Song” was chosen as the show’s theme song, which means he gets royalties for each airing and “a generous signing bonus,” he says, one that goes up yearly. Still, he rides his bike around the French Quarter and the Treme, and has an old car that he only drives when he has to. He still rents his house and rarely buys new clothes. “I’m 5’2”,” he says. “It’s not like I can buy things off the shelf.”
“Money is what it does,” he says. “Maybe I can get a better bottle of wine, some lights for my bike so I don’t get hit, a better cut of meat at the store. Or I can cancel this gig to play a benefit.” After Katrina, his mother moved to the Northshore; she’s on a fixed income, but Treme money made it possible for him to move her home, where he pays her bills. Boutte has been “touched by Treme,” according to the show’s music supervisor, Blake Leyh. It’s a phrase attributed to Alex McMurray (who acknowledges his role in popularizing the phrase, though he gives Henry Griffin credit for the “touched by” riff) that describes the phenomenon of a musician suddenly coming into money as a result of the show. There are stories of musicians buying new countertops with Treme money, while others bought cars.
But Boutte got more than just money. The success of “Treme Song” has been good for his ego, “validating,” his friend Paul Sanchez says. Boutte recently heard the Roots of Music marching band perform the song, and “it freaks me out to see a two-year-old girl singing the ‘Treme Song’ on YouTube.”
But the biggest benefit is freedom. “I could be working every night of the week,” he says. “I’m in better voice now because I’m not working as much. I don’t have to sing three, four times a week, three or four days in a row. The show’s given me the opportunity to not have to say yes to any gig that popped up. Treme gave me a big ol’ stack of ‘Hmmmmm, I Don’t Think So’ cards.”
Update: Holley notes in the comments that the Pfister Sisters are also featured in this month’s Offbeat. At this rate, we’ll need to start linking to all these Treme musicians in the sidebar.
And finally, it looks like Lolis Eric Elie has begun a blog at HBO’s Treme site. Check the Nola Bloggers links in the sidebar, as there are some familiar sites there.