It’s A Living Tradition
As I asked a year ago when the Chief appeared out of the darkness I wonder how many people outside the city caught the signature feature of this episode: the young boy with a horn who bookends the episode, the one the Chief observes with signature arched eyebrow walking past St. Louis No. 2 struggling to learn to play. That and Delmond’s jazz version of Second Line, so significant after his conversation with Donald Harrison, Jr. at the fundraiser in Season One, were for me the defining moments of Episode 11.
In the weeks just before All Saints Day 2006 I asked the same question the Chief asks all through Season One: what will it take to bring people home, and what might be lost if they do not return:
Until we solve the problems of bringing people home, it remains a critical question: if the overwhelmingly African-American working class of New Orleans cannot come home, will the culture be transmitted? Or will it merely be preserved by well-meaning fans as a thing under glass, taken out and paraded once a year around the Fairgrounds at Jazz Fest like the relics of a saint. What will happen to the children of New Orleans in Houston and Atlanta when there is no role model up the street to make them want to learn trombone, or the intricate rhythms of New Orleans funk? Will all the future Nevilles and Trombone Shorties be left to aspire to be, instead, 50 Cent?
The boy with the trumpet and Delmond’s impassioned answer are Treme’s response to that question. The unintentional irony of the Katrina morgue at St. Gabriel comes back to me, the archangel with the trumpet hosting our ghosts. When the crowd was cheering and aw-ing over Davis and Annie and the show was busying arranging the characters for the second act, I was thinking: blow that horn, son. Blow it for the memory of the ancestors at St. Gabriel. Blow it for the now. Blow it for the future, boy, blow it for that mother-fuckin’ future.
— Wet Bank Guy
(Screen shot captured from HBO GO under a Letter of Marque and Reprisal from the Duchy of Nonesuch.)