Treme, Season 3, Episode 5, “I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say”

Sam Wilkinson

According to a faithful reader, I'm Ordinary Times's "least thoughtful writer." So I've got that going for me, which is nice.

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7 Responses

  1. BlaiseP says:

    It’s bizarre, watching HBO Treme, having just moved here to NOLA. Fact is, I don’t know anything about this town yet. This much I do know, I work on one side of Canal Street and refuse to go into the French Quarter on the other side. I drive through Seventh Ward and on the edge of Treme along Rampart Street.

    Here’s the deal with Treme. For all this weeping and moaning about the destruction of Treme, the important bits are already gone. I-10 took out Claiborne Street, the femoral artery of Treme. The old market’s gone. The old homes along Esplanade are gone.

    The saddest line in last night’s show was “preservation by neglect”. The best line was “You hear that a lot in this city…’used to be'” Treme wasn’t destroyed by neglect but with the best of intentions. But it won’t be rescued with the best of intentions, either. Nothing lasts here. This place is wet and hot and what the storms don’t destroy the termites will. It all has to be replaced. Report

    • Sam in reply to BlaiseP says:


      Is it your position the city has done a reasonable/admirable/effective job of preserving its own heritage sites?Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to Sam says:

        Any pat answer to that question would only emerge from monumental hubris. I simply don’t know this city well enough to venture an opinion. I know Baton Rouge well enough, going south from that city and west of I-10 to the Texas line, Cajun country. I know Mamou and those environs as well.

        New Orleans, no. The good people of Baton Rouge told me plainly: get to know the rest of the state before approaching New Orleans and they were right. I have only been here a little more than a month, most of that in hotels. I’ve come to know a few refugees from Braithwaite, flooded out by Isaac. I’m probably going to live in Old Metairie if present trends continue.

        Since I’ve come here, I’ve seen a good deal of Gentilly and New Orleans East, terribly damaged by Katrina and disgracefully abandoned to their own devices. NO East has become a haven for the Vietnamese community, an enterprising people who make a delicious version of the classic Po’ Boy sandwich called banh my. But there isn’t one regular grocery store in NO East. The hospital which served that side of town has closed and will not reopen.

        I’ve driven through Desire and the Lower Ninth Ward quite a few times. The wreckage is gone but the streets are like an old man’s mouth, with weedy gaps where houses once stood. Though everyone hears about the Lower Ninth, Gentilly and Desire are in even worse shape. The do-gooders have come and gone.

        People change, and smile: but the agony abides.
        Time the destroyer is time the preserver,
        Like the river with its cargo of dead negroes, cows and chicken coops,
        The bitter apple and the bite in the apple.

        Heritage Sites are mostly bullshit in my opinion. Want to save a culture? Save its people. Let them save their heritage sites. It’s their heritage. Salvation from afar, well, too much of that sort of thing and the once-living thing is drowned in amber.Report

        • Sam in reply to BlaiseP says:

          I’m anxious for your take; please don’t think I’m quibbling. But what I’m getting from this seems to be a frustration toward the city and perhaps its residents? I thought the show was able trying to tackle that last night, wherein there is a divide between the people in the city and the people who think they know how/what the city should do with itself. It’s that latter group which seems to get all the time and attention (think of the news segments we constantly have to endure about big storms, “It’s their own fault for living there!”) with little concern for what the place’s residents think.Report

          • BlaiseP in reply to Sam says:

            This much I can tell you: I work in a faceless office building at the corner of St Charles and Gravier. It could be in any major city, this downtown area. The old Cotton Exchange has been turned into a chi-chi hotel, older buildings are being converted to condos and apartments.

            No preservation going on here, nossir. Seventeenth century streets trying to accommodate 21st century commerce. Getting to my parking spot means driving up four stories of corkscrew and five more stories of parking deck.

            Went outside for a bit of sunshine: it’s a perfect day here. Met up with an architect friend of mine, well, we know each other from the bar across the street. I approached him, on the strength of your questions, and proposed to interview him on the subject of the forces at work in New Orleans. I will put up the results here in a few days: tonight we’ll set out a series of questions, then work through them. Report

  2. brophy says:

    more and more, the thing that makes “Treme” work isn’t an episode but the collection of scenes that, through patchwork, deliver something so grand. If the writers are actually plotting this thing out so meticulously as to analogously speak to the state of EVERY American city, then they have to be some of the most intelligent artists we’ve seen in this new century.

    For all the ‘flaws’ of “Treme” (just drop in on a comment section), its documentary/commentary/theatre/historical record has an impact that is going to reverberate decades after the show reaches a conclusion.

    There are no easy answers or clear “right” decisions. To see Hildago’s character as some 2 dimensional representation of carpetbagging arrogance misses the mark. The story highlights the importance of being comfortable in your own skin and adapting to the tides. “Culture” preserved is a moving target. The city will ebb and flow with the changing times.

    On one hand you have the stalwarts of “the way its always been” and on the other the gentrifying, profit-seeking opportunists. You think Iberville stands a chance of last out another 2 years in the wake of the LSU / Veterans development downtown? Maybe this forces us to appreciate and push to preserve what little we have left outside of the economic thrusts of Canal street. The challenge is….where is the money going to come from, who is going to make a stand to see it through (typically IS an outsider)?

    As far as characters go…..Sonny has a huge story to tell with his internal conflict (both addiction and musician acceptance) and drawing in the Vietnamese community. Annie, IMO, is reaching the point of irritation in that her character just cannot pull-off /carry the story of being a musician on the cusp of success. A Meschiya Lake or Aurora Nealand could pull that off…..but not AnnieReport