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'Treme' - 'At the Foot of Canal Street' Recap

by Sandie Angulo Chen, posted May 3rd 2010 8:03AM
John Boutte in HBO's Treme
(S01E04) Antoine perfectly captures the theme of tonight's 'Treme' episode (and, OK, the entire series so far) when he sings the line "I have roamed this whole wide world over, but New Orleans is still my home" while waiting at the E.R. It's the first post-Katrina Christmastime in New Orleans, and everyone is far from jolly: Albert is denied his insurance claim; Davis's car gets busted into; Creighton gives the entire country a "F--k you"; Ladonna still doesn't know where her brother is; and Janette is screwed by the utility company.

What was most compelling about tonight's story was the three men -- Delmond, Sonny, and Antoine -- who find themselves away from New Orleans for very different reasons. While Delmond lives it up in New York City with his girlfriend Jill (how funny that both he and his father were chatting up ladies in this episode) and has no intention of returning home, Antoine, the native son, and Sonny, the Amsterdam expat, are desperate to make a living in the city they call home but venture to Baton Rouge and Houston, respectively.

Delmond is clearly Antoine's foil, with Sonny the foreigner hoping for New Orleans cred. Antoine is so tied to New Orleans it takes a lot of convincing for him to visit his boys (and get his teeth treated by his ex's decent second husband). His entire stay in Baton Rouge was awkward, and the scenes with his chain-restaurant-loving kids incredibly bittersweet ("Can't you bring our sister to meet us?").

Whereas Antoine wants only to play authentic New Orleans jazz, Delmond seems almost offended when his agent (Jim True-Frost, formerly 'Prez' on 'The Wire') proposes a New Orleans-themed concert tour. Then there's Sonny, who sums up his devotion to New Orleans when he tells the curious "Texican" bouncer: "I came all the way from Europe, and you can't even drive five hours of interstate?" I hope we'll see the compelling "little" bouncer again.

Music-wise, tonight spotlighted John Boutté (who sings the theme song) playing 'At the Foot of Canal Street' and to Steve Earle (another 'Wire' alum who played Bubbles' NA sponsor and sang the final season's theme) and his son Townes Earle, who play with Annie. There's also a bunch of New York glitterati and musicians at the posh party Delmond and Jill attend (Stanley Crouch, Renee Neufville, and McCoy Tyner).

Speaking of musicians, Lucia Micarelli (Annie) is an amazing violinist. She's not going to win any awards for her acting, but the screenwriters don't make her do any heavy lifting; she says a few lines and then goes back to the "fiddle." The classically trained Micarelli plays with passion and sensuality that contrasts nicely with all the male musicians highlighted on the show. Where are the female New Orleans musicians? Surely there must be some worth featuring.

How fantastic was Creighton's epic YouTube rant? You could just see the wheels spinning as he's watching President Bush's message. All those F-bombs directed at what he deemed lesser cities (Chicago, that "overpriced cesspool with hills" San Francisco, Houston, Atlanta and even New York) were brilliantly delivered. Didn't Creigh seem pleased with his comped latte.But what really warmed this viewer's heart is how Davis got Creighton to agree to schlep him back to his car and then home to the Treme. Keeping fingers crossed those two become friends and have some unforgettable, obscenity-laced dialogue.

What characters are you most attached to so far and which ones need more screen time before you pass judgment?

Best quotes of the episode:
"How do you get to sleep at night, man?"/"I drink" -- Albert and the insurance officer who's denied his insurance claim

"To New York: F--k you too. You get attacked by a few fundamentalist f--kin' ass---es, and the federal money comes raining down like rose-petals. Our whole f--kin' coast was destroyed, and we're still waiting for someone to give a good God-damned." -- Creighton in his YouTube message

"Portland, Oregon? I've played in Portland before -- nice folks. You know they clap on the 1 and 3?" -- Delmond to his agent

"It's like watching a rat back up a cat" -- Sonny, after the diminutive-but-imposing bouncer confronts a huge guy

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This series keeps getting richer and richer every week. Davis, Creighton, and Antoine are my favorite characters so far.. Ladonna gets more and more interesting as the series develops.. I still don't know Janette's character well enough yet to really feel any empathy for her situation. I don't really see the passion for food and cooking.. so many chefs came back to New Orleans after the federal levee failure to help feed the cities battered soul... and so far she doesnt embody that for me. I also remember the debate about Carnival that year. I went to that first carnival after the levee failure and let me tell you... that was one of the best experiences of my life. It was cathartic and healing and finally gave people a chance to let off some steam and indulge themselves after putting up with the hell that was the levee failure.

Wow.. didn't mean to go on a rant.. as a former resident of the New Orleans Im passionate about my adopted city.

May 03 2010 at 4:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The "little" bouncer was in the car with the group going back from Texas...in the back next to Delmond.

May 03 2010 at 12:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to elb1971's comment

Yeah he was in the car. Did the reviewer really miss that? Btw, he was sitting next to Sonny, not Delmond =)

May 03 2010 at 5:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Great episode. Pretty much sums up exactly the way we feel in New Orleans. To answer your question about female street musicians: there are a few, particularly Lisa the wash board player, but the guys far out number the women. Really love this show!!

May 03 2010 at 10:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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