Visiting The New Orleans Of “Treme”

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

This week GoNomad heads way down south to New Orleans to check out the many locales and characters that crop up in HBO’s new drama, “Treme.” Watching “Treme,” as I’ve been doing the last couple of weeks, I’ve found myself thinking about how there’s very little that’s as an effective tool to sell a city than setting a show or movie there. (Come on, how many twenty-something girls have migrated to New York as a result of “Sex and the City”? Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

New Orleans, despite the constant bravado and glowing affection the city receives from its locals — especially since the hurricane — has not offered me much to make me want to visit. The fact that some of its most vocal supporters have been none other than Harry Connick Jr. and Angelie Jolie hasn’t helped, and the annoying commercialism and flocks of tourists that is the French Quarter has done little to change my mind.

"Get your hands off me!"

But “Treme” — named after the neighborhood that is considered to be the oldest African-American enclave in the country — dispenses with the niceties and gloss that the travel brochures are chock full of, and instead focuses on the grime that is (or was?) the Lower Ninth Ward, the sound that is the ratty jazz clubs of the Seventh Ward, and the disdain that is ever-present with the locals for the tourists that come in search for the “real” New Orleans among the street musicians of Bourbon Street. Instead the series focuses on the food, the people, and the traditions that have helped shape and create one of our country’s most unique cultures. In other words: all those things that make you fall in love with a city.

As the article points out, ” ‘Treme’ is not meant as a travelogue, but Simon has gone to great lengths to capture the spirit of the city. He revels in its complex traditions, from social and pleasure club parades to Mardi Gras Indians to jazz funerals, all of which are lovingly depicted.” My guess for the rest of the season? We won’t be watching Kermit Ruffins (pictured above) shopping for Manolo Blahniks. And I’m all the more thankful for that.

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