POSTED Fri. Feb 15, 2013

Creative Culture

Saying farewell to Treme
Adam Karlin
Written by ADAM KARLIN
SHARE

Offbeat bids a bittersweet farewell to Treme this week. From their story:

“We joked about Davis getting married next month and ruminated on which local musician received the biggest boost from Treme’s run. John Boutte was the consensus pick but it was a difficult choice because so many local musicians were cast into new relief by the international exposure the series has given them.”

If we pull back the camera above the city’s musicians, I’d say that sentiment represents one of the best things Treme provided for New Orleans as a whole: casting the entire city into new relief. Giving the whole of the greater New Orleans metropolitan area some international exposure.

Still, there were times said exposure was problematic, and I’m not talking about the depictions of violent crime and corruption, both of which I thought were well (excuse the term) executed. Rather, I got annoyed with Treme when it tried too hard to be local, when every episode felt like a NOLA-themed cameo parade — “Oh, hi Kermit Ruffins! Are you eating gumbo z’herbes from Dooky Chase Leah sure can cook!” I feel like this New York Review of Books piece nails those issues. If you don’t feel like going through the whole piece (I highly recommend you do; it’s an excellent analysis of both the show and the city’s relationship to the tourism industry), these are the grafs that stuck out to me:

_“Treme is tremendously concerned with being authentically New Orleanian, and also with distancing itself from whatever is inauthentically New Orleanian. Every distinctive pattern of speech (“What that is?” instead of “What is that?”), every bit of local nomenclature (“Lower Nine” for the Lower Ninth Ward), every native foodstuff, seems to appear somewhere in the [first season’s] ten episodes. Characters effortlessly pronounce place names that defeat newcomers, like Natchitoches and Tchoupitoulas. Conversely, Treme takes pains to make fun of “When the Saints Go Marching In,” Bourbon Street, Sazeracs, the most famous but least cool Mardi Gras parades, such as Rex and Endymion, and anything else that unschooled tourists associate with New Orleans.

The procession of New Orleans signs and signifiers is relentless to the point of being exhausting; I found myself longing for a character just once to sit down for a meal and have a hamburger and a Coke instead of mirlitons and a Barq’s. Also, the line between insider and general-public taste is difficult to maintain strictly; Treme has to note, and can hardly be against, red beans and rice and gumbo, Mardi Gras and jazz funerals, Jackson Square and the Mississippi River, but you can’t get ten yards down the airport concourse after deplaning without being made aware of these. Most of the classic artistic renderings of New Orleans—A Streetcar Named Desire, Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer (which John Goodman’s character is seen reading—in a first edition!), or John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces—didn’t work nearly so hard to be local, and neither did The Wire.”_

***

Of course, we at New Orleans & Me are also doing our damnedest to answer the question; what is ‘real’ New Orleans? What does that mean to a visitor? A local? Who draws the lines between insiders and outsiders?

There’s a rule of thumb when it comes to ‘knowing’ New Orleans that states your nativeness is measured by your knowledge of local joints. Clearly, as editors of a website devoted to local businesses, we espouse this point of view. To a degree. New Orleans, after all, is a city made of local joints, a city largely lacking in big chains that can be found just west or north or east of here in Metairie or Slidell or Mandeville. A newcomer can know those cities with a bit of ease because they consist, to a much larger degree, of Anywhere, America (McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, pre-fab, Target) than New Orleans. But you can’t just stroll into Orleans parish and order a Big Mac over a Port of Call. That’s a bloody travesty.

Then again…look, I’ll admit it: I’m pretty convinced the best fried chicken in this city comes out of a Popeye’s, and while that’s a local chain, it’s still a chain. It’s not Willie Mae’s. And while not all locals would agree with me, I know many who share this sentiment. Are we less New Orleanian for that? Or have we gone through a rabbit hole where we end up being a little more New Orleanian because, occasionally, we opt for the convenient chain over the shack-esque local business, like any real person?

The point is: New Orleans is a city made up of plenty of local signifiers. Knowing these signs is an important element when it comes to understanding the city, but it’s not the only facet of NOLA identity. I love listening to brass music, but I’ll pop on some Carly Rae Jepsen (I admit it!) when the mood strikes me.

That said, we salute Daivd Simon and Eric Overmeyer for bringing Treme, and our town’s native culture, as represented by priceless local symbols like Leah Chase and Kermit Ruffins, to the world. Our city is better for having its story shared, and while the storylines on Treme were occasionally a little clunky, we’ll miss watching new episodes in Buffa’s backroom (see how we did that little local knowledge drop right there? Ah, nevermind).

Photo Credit: Treme

POSTED Dec 14, 2018

Atmosphere

Breaking Down the Best New Orleans & Louisiana Holiday Music

Breaking Down the Best New Orleans & Louisiana Holiday Music

Hey, the weather outside is kind of frightful! About as frightful as it gets down here anyways (also, note that next week temperatures will be back in the…....
CONTINUE

Written by ADAM KARLIN
POSTED May 10, 2017

Creative Culture

Carnival Redux at the New Orleans Museum of Art

Carnival Redux at the New Orleans Museum of Art

On May 12 the New Orleans Museum of Art will fling open its doors for Masquerade: Late Night at NOMA, a costume party replete with float builders, mask-makers,…....
CONTINUE

Written by DAVID JOHNSON
POSTED Dec 23, 2016

Atmosphere

Some Holiday Music for the Weekend

Some Holiday Music for the Weekend

Happy holidays, y’all. We hope you find plenty to occupy you during this busy Christmas weekend, but if you find yourself having a small, quiet moment, or just…....
CONTINUE

Written by ADAM KARLIN
POSTED Dec 21, 2016

Creative Culture

A Native New Orleanian's Retrospective at NOMA

A Native New Orleanian's Retrospective at NOMA

Imagine doing something you love for seventy years. Many people aren’t lucky enough to live that long, much less put their heart and soul into their passion projects…....
CONTINUE

Written by FRITZ ESKER
PAGE

    Our Local Publisher Partners

    • The Arts Council of New Orleans
    • WWNO
    • WWOZ
    • PRC
    • NOMA
    • The Historic New Orleans Collection
    • Southern Food
    • Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities
    The Arts Council of New Orleans

    The Arts Council of New Orleans is a private, non-profit organization designated as the City’s official arts agency. The Arts Council serves as one of eight regional distributing agencies for state arts funds and administers available municipal arts grants and the Percent For Art program for the City of New Orleans. The Arts Council works in partnership with the City of New Orleans, community groups, local, state, and national governmental agencies, and other nonprofit arts organizations to meet the arts and cultural needs of the New Orleans community through a diversity of initiatives and services.

    WWNO

    WWNO, the NPR member station for New Orleans, serves southeast Louisiana and parts of southwest Mississippi by broadcasting balanced news, thought provoking analysis, classical music, jazz and other musical styles, intelligent entertainment, and unique local content. We broadcast on 89.9 FM, and KTLN 90.5 FM in the Houma-Thibodaux area as a public service of the University of New Orleans. All of WWNO’s programs, including its growing local news coverage, are available online at WWNO.org.

    WWOZ

    WWOZ 90.7 FM is the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Station offering listener-supported, volunteer-programmed community radio. WWOZ covers many events live in and around the city and across the United States, and broadcasts live from the famed New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival annually. WWOZ’s mission is to be the worldwide voice, archive, and flag-bearer of New Orleans culture and musical heritage.

    PRC

    Preservation Resource Center (PRC) has been preserving, restoring, and revitalizing New Orleans’ historic architecture and neighborhoods since 1974. Throughout its history, PRC has acted as an advocacy agent on a local, regional, and national scale, spreading the word about the city’s rich architectural heritage and the economic importance of preserving this heritage. PRC also takes a hands-on approach to preservation, with a history of successfully restoring over 1,400 properties. The center strengthens and revitalizes New Orleans in a way that is forward-looking and sustainable, yet sensitive to the city’s past and its heritage.

    NOMA

    As a nexus for the arts in New Orleans, NOMA is committed to preserving, interpreting, and enriching its collections and renowned sculpture garden; offering innovative experiences for learning and interpretation; and uniting, inspiring, and engaging diverse communities and cultures.

    The Historic New Orleans Collection

    The Historic New Orleans Collection (THNOC) is a museum, research center, and publisher dedicated to preserving the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South. Its holdings comprise more than one million items from more than three centuries, documenting moments both major and minor. Its four exhibition spaces–the Williams Gallery, the Louisiana History Galleries, the Boyd Cruise Gallery, and the Laura Simon Nelson Galleries for Louisiana Art–faithfully depict the multicultural stories of the region, from permanent displays exploring the evolution of Louisiana to rotating exhibitions showcasing history and fine art.

    Southern Food

    The Southern Food and Beverage Museum is a nonprofit living history organization dedicated to the discovery, understanding and celebration of the food, drink and the related culture of the South. While based in New Orleans, the Museum examines and celebrates all the cultures that have come together through the centuries to create the South’s unique culinary heritage. The Museum is also home to the collections of the Museum of the American Cocktail, the Galerie d’Absinthe, and a demonstration kitchen.

    Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities

    The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities to all Louisianans.

    The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities’ mission is to provide all Louisianans with access to and an appreciation of their own rich, shared and diverse historical, literary and cultural heritage through grant-supported outreach programs, family literacy and adult reading initiatives, teacher professional development institutes, publications, film and radio documentaries, museum exhibitions, cultural tourism, public lectures, library projects, and other public humanities programming.

    X

    Thanks.

    was added to your favorites.

    VIEW YOUR PROFILE

     


    Share On Twitter Share On Facebook