May 26, 2011

Making it through the water

I'm a lethargic person, not something that pleases me but I've learnt (as any lazy ass does) to get around it. Basically, I  trick myself into doing thing. This blog for example, I started because I wanted to practice and thus I told myself I'll try to write four posts a month. A normal person would have just maintained a journal, which by the way is a wiser decision because mostly journals are only read by parents and the people that are ill-mentioned in them (karmic law). I've decided it's decidedly worse when the whole world can see exactly what you're thinking - such is my plight right now because while I don't really want to talk about anything, I did want to a few days ago and now I feel the need for another post just to take that post off the first page of my blog. Please don't go looking now...! Not that I'm going to delete it, it should stay to remind me to shut the hell up on occasion. 

A lot has happened over this month, there's a lot I could talk about. Osama's death, Obama's stand up at the White House correspondents' dinner, The Arab Effect's full effect is finally being felt, Shane Warne's trial, Bob Dylan celebrating his 70th birthday. In India, we saw our state elections- typical wins, though it was nice to see the Congress results in the South wasn't it? Even if the right messages aren't getting across, some kind of a message is. But I don't want to talk about serious things, because I don't think anyone is taking things as seriously as they should. 

Instead, I'm going to do the equivalent of turning the television on to zone out; I'm going to talk about a television show that I recently watched called Treme. It's a docudrama that follows the lives of various key and non-key residents of in New Orleans, post hurricane Katrina. It's written and produced by a man who I think makes the only watchable shows on television - David E Simon. I'm not going to gush on about how he's a genius, but he is pretty fucking smart and I like how he thinks. His previous productions have included The Wire, Generation Kill, Homicide: Life on the streets (basically a list of my favorite shows). Treme is the latest addition to this enviable list of work.

The show is slow paced, as is most of David Simon's work (think the first season of The Wire). The storyline sort of saunters; and is deeply entangled, but in a manner that is so natural its the closest to real life that you can get on television. Why would you want to watch the real shit on television you ask? Because its nice to see intelligence reflected and even better, celebrated on television. It really is but I imagine that still isn't a good enough reason to watch this show- it does test your attention span at times - so I say if nothing else, watch it for the music - the old Jazz, the new southern hip-hop, the funk, the Marde Gras Indians, modern Jazz. There's tons of cameos from greats like Irma Thomas and new talent like Kermitt Ruffins. I promise you even if you don't like Jazz, by the end of the first season; you have an understanding with it.

Another reason to watch it  (apart from the above mentioned musical intelligence it's got) is that it, like all of David E Simon's work - is very very relevant. It asks hard hitting questions, it proposes logical theories, on matters that range from economic to emotional to simply social. It is a wide range I can tell you- in one hour you may witness a sixteen year old girl's teenage embarrassments along with a middle aged man's battle with life-weariness. It is like I said; like life- there's a lot going on. 

My thing is, I don't think that the show is only relevant for New Orleans, or even just the US. We in India would do well to have a few producers like David Simon, people who are telling the hard stories, asking the right questions and not taking the first easy to digest answer they're being given. 

All in all, if I haven't convinced you to watch it- just watch it because it teaches you a lot about people. David Simon's characters come in all shapes and sizes, all colours, all backgrounds. You have the broke trambone player whose juggling women, gigs and more women; you have the struggling but street wise, chef whose really just a soft hearted country girl; the smupid (that's a stupid smart person) deejay who comes from a rich family but thinks he's the white reincarnation of Sammy Davis Jr, there's the angry English professor, I don't want to go on and on about each character specifically but I could.

That's the beautiful thing about David Simon's characters; they're multi facted, real, to a large extent good hearted and relevant. The chef shows the audience the food, the DJ preaches about the music, the English teacher helps put things into perspective. Everyone is there for a reason and it all melts into a wonderfully rich multi-layered and fascinating watch. You can tell which ones he loves the most though; those characters come across as Randian delights- the old Indian chief who won't let anyone punk him, the single mother trying to juggle a family along with her civil activism and her legal career, the young uber-talented overly modest fiddle player. Just good people who want to go about their work without being harassed too much in the process. 

Anyway- as a parting try- here's some of the soundtrack: Made it through the water- Free Agent brass band

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