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Treme

April 23, 2010

As a current resident of New Orleans, I couldn’t help but be drawn to the new HBO Original Series Treme. My friends and I have been looking forward to this show since last year when it was first announced that they were going to make it. As a part of the group of Tulane students who actually care about the city of New Orleans, I was surprised to find that many people on Tulane’s campus hadn’t even heard about it. This is a very unfortunate occurrence in my opinion, and needs to be remedied as soon as possible. But I digress.

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Treme is a story of the rebuilding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina struck on August 29, 2005. It takes place three months after the storm, sharing the stories of people who lived-out the devastation or those who evacuated returning to houses that are utterly destroyed. The visions presented in the show are great representations of the post-Katrina NOLA. Some scenes are actually filmed in neighborhoods that have been abandoned and ignored since the storm because of the lack of funds and support to rebuild them. The images are very real.

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At the time, I was still living in Mobile, Alabama, just starting my sophomore year in High School. My family and I used to go to New Orleans all the time because I had three uncles living in the city for a while. I actually visited the July before the storm hit in order to celebrate my Uncle Ed’s birthday. I didn’t return to New Orleans until Spring 2007 to go to Jazz Fest and see The Allman Brothers and visit my friend Tina who was a current freshman at Tulane. Mobile wasn’t exactly in the hurricane line-of-fire, but we saw a bit of damage here and a bit of damage there. I was out of school for about two weeks or so until the power came back on. On the flip side, my Uncle Ed’s house was completely flooded (Happy Belated Birthday!), and he and my aunt ended up buying a house in Mobile instead of trying to fix their old one. My Uncle Dave (someone I see as a hardcore New Orleanian) wasn’t run off though. He and my aunt lived on the third floor (basically the attic) of an apartment house on State Street. I think the bottom floor flooded a bit, but my uncle’s place had lots of water damage due to a damaged roof. He and my aunt lived in Mobile at my Grandmother’s house for a while, but they moved back as soon as they patched up all the damage done to their apartment (and it was the coolest apartment ever too, up until they had to move out this past Christmas break).

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Treme is a great representation of everything that happened after the storm from what I know. I watched the behind the scenes special the other day, and it’s a great addition to the back-story of the show for someone who isn’t that familiar with New Orleans culture and history. So far, I’ve only seen the first episode (and I plan on watching the second very soon), but it was phenomenal. Usually HBO series are a little slow at the beginning in order to properly introduce all the characters and stories, but I was engrossed in the story of Treme from the very start: the first Second Line Parade in New Orleans after the storm. I was hooked as soon as Steve Zahn’s character Davis McAlary says he thinks he hears Rebirth playing in the streets (one of my favorite brass bands in the city). There are so many instances of name-dropping of people and places; I just get so excited when I recognize them! Kermit Ruffins is even in the first episode (and he’s phenomenal! If you’ve never heard him, you need to change that as soon as possible). The intro for the show is also really cool. Along with showing scenes from classic New Orleans, the back to back shots of the water lines on houses after all the flooding are such powerful images. There are just so many great things in the show: John Goodman (who plays a Tulane professor) going off on an ignorant reporter, the beginning of a Jazz Funeral featuring the Treme Brass Band, Kermit Ruffins playing and not caring about who Elvis Costello is, a Mardi Gras Indian chanting down the street in the middle of the night, awesome music, second lines, Budweiser, and depictions of one of the greatest cities in America. So do I recommend Treme as a must see? Absolutely.

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