Do YOU Know What It Means...

Oh, how I miss my city this morning.

Understand, of course, that I wasn't born there. I wasn't raised there and I only lived there three years, but New Orleans is my city like no other is or ever will be. I smell it in my dreams sometimes (and yes, I like the smell), its music is my soul's soundtrack, and while I'm a picky enough eater to not truly get to enjoy the food, taking others to its finer eateries is one of my favorite things to do.

God bless, New Orleans, and God bless HBO for reminding me how wonderful it is.

I'm talking particularly about "Treme" (pronounced Tre-may) from Executive producer and creator David Simon ("The Wire"). The premier episode was this past Sunday and I finally had a chance to see it last night. It's now my #1 appointment television.

"Play for that money, boys. Play for that motherf****** money, boys!" --??

Antoine Batiste

The episode and series start (after the intro headline: New Orleans, Three Months After) with a parade. Fitting if you know the spirit of the city. Revelers are preparing for the first Second Line since the hurricane, and Antoine Batiste is late. He's a horn player, perpetually broke (although, that may be only since the storm), he argues with the cabbie over the fare and then joins the parade. His call to his fellow musicians, "Play for that money, boys." rings so true, I laughed out loud.

I cried a bit during the episode too, not for the city that was lost, but for the city I left. In my life, at this time, New Orleans isn't right for me but watching these people struggle to rebuild their homes, lives and the perception of their city makes me ashamed that I couldn't make it work.

"Treme" gets a lot of things wrong, occasional urban geography, the weather in November 2005, the date of Hubig's Pies return, but it gets the important things right. The music, the food, the soul. The lust for life. And that, is the crux of New Orleans. She loves existing. Her people love her existence, they love their existence and cling to it even when it seems to be futile.

Thanks, David Simon. Thanks HBO. Thanks New Orleans, for reminding me what it means...