Thursday, April 15, 2010


HBO's 'Treme' premiered Sunday night, after months and months of local anticipation. We don't have HBO at home, but as we had a wedding to attend that very night, we found ourselves temporarily child-free, so we ducked out early from the reception and found our way to the Mother-in-Law Lounge, where they had a screen set up across from the bar for patrons to take it all in.

I've been reading this blog lately, so felt a keen awareness of everything that seems to be at stake here. I'm also keenly aware that I can in no be way objective about this show--there is something about seeing the heart and soul and guts of your city spilled in front of a national audience that precludes any sort of objective appraisal. And so much has been said and written about the premiere already, here and here and here, and so many other places, so much more eloquently and knowledgably than I ever could manage. But what's been going through my mind the last few days is what a stark contrast this show is to the one that aired a couple of years ago. Both K-ville and Treme can be thought of as having a similar purpose--to pay homage to a town and its people, to tell the story and profess a set of feelings--but one is like bad, pre-pubescent poetry, while the other is an aria, or a sonnet or symphony. Both hope to obtain the same objective, but only one manages to do so effectively.

The other day someone--someone from out of town--asked me if I liked the show. What could I say? That I absolutely and ecstatically fucking loved it, that I stood rooted to my spot in the bar for 90 minutes and hardly blinked or breathed, except during the scenes when we all danced and sang along to our favorite riffs or when a little sob of grief and shock escaped me while I watched John Goodman bring a little piece of Ashley Morris to the national stage? That being in that room with all of those people and that energy and watching this act of love unfold, so reverently, with such grace and nuance, made me want to get down on my knees on the sidewalk on our way back to the car and thank whatever god I don't believe in for bringing me to this place, for letting me be a part of this place, for leading me to this city I call home.

Yes, I told her. I really, really loved it. But, I also cautioned, I'm probably not very objective.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Zest for Life

I read this article with great interest as I sipped my morning coffee, marveling yet again at the journalist prowess of our veteran T-P writers. Shelia Stroup never fails to capture that perfect, heartwarming story, writing incessantly and with seemingly unwavering enthusiasm about that person-who-seems-familiar-but-you've-never-actually-met-them--those stories that really make you want to clean off the front porch and plop down in that old rocking chair and pass the time with a tall glass o' lemonade. She writes about the Everyman with a style that is unmistakable, and the folks in her stories always tread that fine line between offbeat and just plain fucking nuts. Perhaps, given her penchant for these pieces, Ms. Stroup is just plain fucking nuts herself? Ah, but let's save that for another post.

That article really got me thinking, particularly this part:

One of their favorite chickens was a little bantam rooster named Que who walked into their lives in August 2008. His top beak had been clipped so far back that when he tried to drink, bubbles would come out of his eyes. His neck had been broken and he was covered with lice when they found him wandering a couple of blocks from their house.

They didn't think he'd live a week, but they just lost him three weeks ago.

"He was an inspiration to a lot of people," Katrina says. "He really, really had a zest for life."

My friend Holly called attention to the conundrum presented herein: that is, "how can one differentiate between a chicken with a zest for life and a chicken who thinks life sucks?" How, indeed. I've been thinking about this all day.*

The problem, of course, is not just that chickens cannot speak, and therefore pronounce their zest, nor the fact that they are not capable of exclamations of joy that might indicate zest--the problem is really that most chickens, by their very mannerisms, seem zestful. Have you ever watched a chicken? They strut, they squawk, they flutter their wings in a prelude to flight that seems, at least superficially, to indicate excitement. So how does one detect zest-for-life in these enigmatic creatures? May I offer a few suggestions?

* Gets invited to more parties (H/T mom)

* Caught reading Walt Whitman in the backyard

* Vigorous pecking

* 30 minutes of calisthenics every morning

* Enjoys the occasional cigarette

* Always has dessert first

* Seen leading other chickens in a rousing rendition of "Tomorrow"

What else? Anyone have any other suggestions of what to look for when trying to detect that chicken-in-the-rough?

* Yes, this is what I do with my mind on my days off.