I do not often cover TV shows on this blog but I do write a good bit on my home town, New Orleans. You can explore these posts through the New Orleans category in the right side bar of this blog. I really appreciate the coverage that HBO has recently brought to the city. I watched the series, Treme, three times. First I saw each episode twice as it appeared and then went back and watched the whole series over again. I think it is the best production I have seen that was originally produced for television but I may be biased on the subject matter. It showed the strengths and weaknesses of the city in a balanced way that made me want to move back. In my mind the strengths far out weight the flaws.
Now Spike Lee has returned to New Orleans to see how the ambitious plans to reinvent the Crescent City are playing out in the all-new, four-hour documentary, If God is Willing and da Creek Don’t Rise. He finds a “patchwork of hope and heartache in a story that is book-ended by a pair of momentous events — the historic 2010 Super Bowl victory and the disastrous British Petroleum oil spill — that changed the history of America’s most unique city once again.” The HBO film debuts in two parts on Monday, Aug. 23 (9:00-11:00 p.m. ET/PT) and Tuesday, Aug. 24 (9:00-11:00 p.m.).
The man in the poster is Lionel Batiste who is with the Treme Brass Band and was also featured in the HBO Treme series. My friend Paul Tamburello met him and the band in a recent trip to New Orleans. To see pictures of the 79 year Lionel dancing at the Candlelight Lounge see Paul's post: The Treme Brass Band Lights up The Candlelight Lounge.
I was in New Orleans at the time Spike arrived. See Men in Dresses Celebrate the New Orleans Saints Going to the Super Bowl, Brief Explorations in New Orleans Live Music 2010, and Images of Support for the New Orleans Saints in the Super Bowl Today for three posts about this trip.
This film continues the story of the rebirth of NOLA, begun in Lee’s epic, Emmy®- and Peabody-winning 2006 documentary “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts.” I really liked that first effort. In this second film, “Lee documents the successes and failures in the ongoing efforts to restore housing, healthcare, education, economic growth and law and order to a battered but unbowed community, alongside the city’s storied ability to celebrate life with unmatchable ebullience.
I will be sure to see this show more than once. I also heard that HBO has signed up for a second season of Treme, a wise move. Lee’s film shows that there remains much to do in the rebuilding of the city. “A lack of affordable housing is one of several serious ongoing problems faced by the city’s poor, especially the primarily African-American residents of the devastated Lower Ninth Ward and St. Bernard’s Parish. The four large public housing developments have been shuttered, and rents have soared, with the average fair-market value of an apartment rising from $578 in 2005 to $881 in 2009. Only 38 percent of the private homes destroyed in the hurricane have been rebuilt.” The Treme series showed this unnecessary closing of public housing that was done more for political reasons that any damage suffered by the projects.