Treme Wrap-Up: Time for Your Close-Up

HBO Treme Clark Peters
[SPOILER ALERT] “The process don’t matter if you don’t get no result”—appropriate words from Albert Lambreaux, who could have been speaking for the city in late 2006 as easily as about a Mardi Gras Indian suit. The scene with Lambreaux and the documentary filmmaker reminds me that, for a time, we were the most filmed people in America, and many of the filmmakers came by the office looking for quotes from Jan Ramsey or me. The do-gooder spirit of Lambreaux’s documentarian with her can-do language is as tone-deaf now as it was then. She seemed completely unaware—as many did then—that these were people’s lives that they were turning into art projects, and that as well-meant as their projects were, it was hard to get around the idea that people were trying to advance their careers by filming our misery and frustration. I wouldn’t suggest for a moment malign intentions, but she’s not as far removed from Nelson Hidalgo as it might seem at first.

Other notes on last night’s episode:

— This episode finally raises the question: Is Lambreaux short-tempered and angry or depressed? Clarke Peters doesn’t play the part in a way that makes the answer clear, partially because of David Simon’s method. Last year when I asked Wendell Pierce a similar character-related question, he said he wasn’t sure of the answer because the cast finishes shooting one script before it gets the next. That way, actors have to play the moment and can’t shape their performances with an awareness of something that will happen three episodes later. Lambreaux’s situation is also resonant because many people were probably clinically depressed but didn’t recognize it because they had so many reasons to be depressed.

— The recordings Delmond (Rob Brown) are listening to are Jelly Roll Morton’s Library of Congress Recordings, a massive treasure trove of Morton performances and memories recorded by folklorist Alan Lomax in 1938.

— Did anybody else see a moment when Jon Seda’s Nelson flinched when C.J. Ligouri tells him to take it easy over the holiday? Was that a moment of doubt? Of worry that if he doesn’t keep the train rolling full speed, the train might stop? That he’s not as self-assured as he seems? For me, he’s one of the best things about this season.

— I’m going to miss Janette’s New York chef. Brulard’s had more hysterical lines in a limited part than any leading actor in a comedy on television today. This week’s winner: “Break out the et cetera; don’t be fuckin’ shy with it.”

— I winced at the exposition-heavy introduction of Alan Richman’s GQ slam on New Orleans, but the payoff was worth it.

— Don, the producer working with Davis and Aunt Mimi, is Don Bartholomew, son of the New Orleans R&B legend and this year’s OffBeat Lifetime Achievement in Music recipient Dave Bartholomew. By the way, the scenes with Mimi and Davis in the music business will likely play as unlikely, fish-out-of-water comedy to people not connected to music, but that’s truer than you might expect at the lower levels of independent music (or film) business.

— In a piece I wrote before at OffBeat, Galactic’s Rob Mercurio remembered good advice from the Iguanas’ Joe Cabral: Decide on a lineup and only play when you can put that lineup on the stage. Antoine Batiste is quickly learning how hard it is to live by that advice.

— Although I haven’t seen the Saints bar in New York City phenomenon personally, Supagroup’s Chris Lee and Rock City Morgue’s Sean Yseult have told me about the Saints bar they go to when they’re in Manhattan.

— I thought I spotted the Times-Picayune‘s Chris Waddington at the table with Alan Richman. He wasn’t in the credits so I left him out when I first wrote this, but Dave Walker confirmed it this morning.

— Another great moment: father and son sharing a joint and a moment at the end of the episode. It was only on my third watching that the skeleton of the house across the street registered with me, adding poignance to the scene.

— The video associated with this episode is the Shawn Colvin/Annie Tee (Lucia Micarelli) performance of “I”m Gone,” available at iTunes now.

Alex Rawls