When I think of New Orleans, I have to take a second, catch my breath. I just love it. It makes me feel like myself. It's alive, loud, deeprooted, unashamed, forgiving. It feels both foreign and home. The city means more than a quick turn of phrase, though there've been some winners. I heard one writer call it the Soul of America, though Spirit may be a better word. The city is a treasure.
If you aren't sure what in Tchoupitoulas I am talking about, this dreamy blog muse, then I have two options for you: 1) Take three days, rent a room at the Soniat, eat too much at Besh's, or Spicer's, or Link's, and wash it down with something brassy at Vaughn's, or Snug's, or the Spotted Cat; if you don't have three days and Southwest points, then find a television with HBO and tune into Treme, the new series done by the cats who put out The Wire. It's an hour of the closest thing to the real thing you'll find this side of carrying Dizzy G's horn.
I just watched my first episode. It was so good. A quick run down:
John Goodman plays a Tulane Lit professor wrestling with the aftermath of Katrina and a long put-off novel in the works about, what else, a flood.
Wendell Pierce (a NOLA native and star in The Wire) plays a musician. As does Rob Brown (You might remember him as the young writer in that Good-Will-Hunting-like movie with Sean Connery as the cranky recluse novelist), and Brown's father, played by Clarke Peters, is a local Indian Chief – a NOLA tradition I am very unfamiliar with, yet intrigued. Other characters are a bar owner, a chef, more musicians, and a ton of real life Orleans folk.
Kermit Ruffins, trumpeter, stops in. As does Allen Toussaint, John Boutte, and Galactic. Bars like dba and the aforementioned Spotted Cat get some play. The whole deal is so authentic, it almost feels like a documentary, like we get to watch how this brave and beautiful city, which found itself in moments of ruin, breathed again and rose up.
I like it. You will too.