Los Angeles, CA
After two weeks on the East Coast, I returned to LA with a couple of shows to catch up on. Well, only one show really... Pacific. I had high hopes but was quickly disappointed. I fell into that category of hardcore Band of Brothers fans whose high expectations were not met. I'm told that it's a "different war" but that doesn't change the fact that some of the things that made Band of Brothers an epic are noticeably absent... like believable actors and characters that I actually give a shit about.
For some reason, I haven't abandoned the series. I don't watch too many programs which is why I get a little grumpy when I invest time into a specific program only to be disappointed. Luckily I came across Treme... and from the opening scene, it which captivated me. The new series is created by the folks from The Wire which is set in New Orleans three months after Katrina.
I'm a music enthusiast and many moons ago before I got into poker, New Orleans used to be my playground. In the 1990s, the Big Easy was my favorite destination, something that had gotten trumped in the 2000s when Las Vegas became the focal point of my deviancy.
Treme has an essential element that Pacific lacks... rich characters delving deep into social commentary. And yes, the element of music is an integral part of the series. In fact, if the city itself is the main character, than the sounds of music should be nominated for Best Supporting Role. Music is an integral character in Treme which is much soother on the soul than say the gratuitous violence of Pacific. Yes, war is hell and the battle scenes are sensationally shot, but by the fifth episode of Pacific, all of the battles have become derivatives of the same fucking scene that I saw in the opening episode. There comes a point when I become desensitized to the violence, gunning down of wave after wave of Japanese soldier, and sort of tune it out.
However, with Treme, the music digs deep into my soul. The jazz slam funk invigorates me and gets me shaking my ass. The music moves me. I was overloaded with emotions when I watched the first episode (and even the times I watched it for a second and third viewing). Yep, I found a new favorite series. At this point, I don't care if I miss the remainder of Pacific.
During the second episode, Galactic was featured and they jammed out Blackbird Special. Kinda cool to see my favorite drummer, Stanton Moore, get some face time. He's an alien, if you didn't know, and the most rhythmic white guy you'll ever come across.
Music is a gateway to the emotional side of my being. Melodies trigger so many memories which is why I constantly prefer to have music on in the background while I write. Good music puts me in a better head space when I write, which is why I like jamming out to a bunch of jazz mixes during my early morning writing sessions.
The funky sounds of New Orleans fires me up to live life. I can't explain it any other way. Maybe because all the times I spent in New Orleans, I was partying my tits off in someway or another with Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest.
I haven't been back to New Orleans since 2001 or pre-Katrina. I can't. It's hard for me to explain. I had no problems wandering the surrounding streets of Ground Zero in lower Manhattan often volunteering to take out-of-town friends on a sightseeing tour of the area. But for some reason, I can't go back to New Orleans. It's too painful. The closest thing I can describe to that peculiar behavior are two situations...
1. When Jerry Garcia died, I found it difficult to listen to music. It took me a good year or so before I could conjure up enough courage to see a live band. When Jerry OD'd, the music died for me. All music died for me. Jerry Garcia and the Dead meant so much to me at the time that thinking about a life without Jerry. I eventually got over it, but to this day, I struggle with seeing the rest of the members of the Dead play concerts without the fat man.I'm sure I'll be back to New Orleans. Seeing parts of the city in Treme is bringing back memories, both good and bad, but mostly good. If I didn't have a work assignment next month, I'd be tagging along with the Joker for Jazz Fest. Now that I have NOLA back on my radar, I want to make a conscious effort to return to Jazz Fest in 2011. After all, once I finished the final draft of Lost Vegas, I finally had closure on the city of Las Vegas. I feel as though I can move on with my (creative) life and focus on other projects, including a return to New Orleans (which at that point will be ten years).
2. After Phish broke up in 2004, I did not listen to Slave to the Traffic Light for almost five years. I might have been on the background at a friends place or in a friends car, but I never actively wanted to hear the song. Slave is my favorite Phish song and the next to last song performed before they broke up. I can't explain the devastating memories that would crush me if I sat down and gave it a listen. That was a path that I didn't want to journey down. I know that sounds strange, but I loved something so much that I refused to let it in my life because it would drown me with a flood of bad memories. The scars were deep.
If you want more info on Treme, you should read a Salon article by Billy Sothern.