"Right Place, Wrong Time"

This third episode of Treme drifted quite a bit.  As a stand-alone, it was a little disappointing (I watched it with one of my sister’s who hadn’t seen the show yet, and she was unimpressed, and I don’t blame her).  In this long, episodic form, there’s time spent on displaying characters and setting up situations, and it was easy to see this happening, but the consistently good shows do this while also being satisfying.  This episode was not satisfying in and of itself, but it did provide what is probably crucial information, and also showed some important features of the society it’s convering; African-American racial/social politics, the national shame of militarized police departments seeing citizens as enemies, especially in the context of the news media myths about the actual victims of both the hurricane and the complete inattention of the institutions that our tax dollars are paying for.  Batiste getting beaten by the police for pretty much no reason whatsoever is infuriating, but of course nothing like the police murdering citizens, which actually happened.

Davis continues to be an amusing, well-meaning oaf, although I have a feeling he’s going to find out that his neighbors are not the ones putting the kibosh on what he feels is the authenticity of the neighborhood, but the stripper he keeps glimpsing and obsessing over will.  Davis needs to find out who his real friends are and stop being jerks to them, perhaps he will and perhaps he won’t.  Sonny and Annie continue to be weak characters, and worse they seem to be developing into bohemian clichés, and David Simon should know better.  I found it curious, in a good way, that when Annie plays with Tom McDermott she sounds so much stronger, freer and more interesting than when she plays with Sonny on the street.  If that’s intentional, then I salute the show for doing something so subtle and meaningful, and the ears of the show are so good I have to think it’s intentional.  Music was less dense than before, but I especially enjoyed the obscure Coleman Hawkins tune, and the Indian’s ritual performance of “Hey Pocky Way” and “Indian Red” in the last scene was tremendous, and made for a powerful close that almost made up for the previous desultory quality.  The voices and percussion are something so fundamental to human experience, and sounded more like the songs of Genoese longshoremen or Rumanian Bear Tamer music than any American style I know.


I'm a composer and musician, and I write about music—I do that here, for the New York Classical Review, at the Brooklyn Rail (I edit the music section there) and any place else that will have me, like New Music Box and Music & Literature. I also wrote the Miles Davis' Bitches Brew book in the 33 1/3 series.