This is a story about culture and how American urban culture defines how we live. New Orleans is an extraordinary and unusual culture, but it comes from the same primal forces in American society of immigration and assimilation and non-assimilation and racism and post-racialism that really are the defining characteristics of this melting pot society. What is it about Americans that makes us Americans? The one thing we have unarguably given the world is African-American music. If you walk into a shebeen in South Africa, or whatever version of a bar they have in Kathmandu, if they have a jukebox, you’re going to find some Michael Jackson, some Otis Redding, some John Coltrane. It has gone around the world. That is the essential American contribution to worldwide culture. The combination of African rhythms and the pentatonic scale and European instrumentation and arrangement. That collision of the two happened in a 12-square block area of a city called New Orleans that had a near-death experience in 2005.
I’m still not sure how I think Simon is going to do with Treme, though of course I’m reserving judgment until I get I get a chance to watch the pilot a couple of times. I’m just not sure how you replicate the knowledge of Baltimore that reporting gave Simon; reporting is part of what made Almost Famous great, too, when you think about it, Cameron Crowe knew his stuff. But I’m feeling a bit warmer and fuzzier towards the show knowing that despite his bitterness about journalism, which I’m not sure I always think is accurate or helpful, Simon and I see the power and diffusion of pop culture as important in some of the same ways.
Also, the news that Dominic West’ll probably get a role if there’s a second season is enough to make me commit to the first. What can I say? I’m weak.