A trip to Louisiana, filtered through the TV show Treme, explains the relationship between culture and a vibrant community
You are looking at a photo of Congo Square, in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans, adjacent to and just northwest of the French Quarter. Slaves once gathered here on Sunday afternoons to dance and make music, and some say it is the birthplace of jazz. I'm certainly not going to romanticize slavery, but one has to admire the resilience of those forced to endure it, claiming a day and a place for themselves and their culture. More recently, Congo Square was the site of the annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, until Jazzfest outgrew the space and moved to the fairgrounds.
I'm headed to New Orleans today to take part in the annual convention of the American Institute of Architects. As a non-architect, I take a certain pride in being invited into their circle. I'm looking forward to being on a panel with my friends David Dixon and Laurie Volk. And I'm also looking forward to returning to New Orleans, for what I think will be the third time since Katrina.
In honor of this trip, I'm going to be running three posts about the city, which—speaking of resilience— is proving to be a remarkably resilient, if also remarkably challenged, community. In today's post, I'm going to look at New Orleans through the lens of the fabulous HBO dramatic series Treme, about the neighborhood and the post-Katrina lives of the musicians who live there. The show is infused with tons of authenticity--sometimes disturbing and sometimes uplifting—and incredible music.