Buffa's Bar & Restaurant On the Border of the Quarter since 1939

Deconstructing Treme: Carnival Time

From Nola Defender...
by Jeremy Ford

Once again, NoDef traveled to Buffa’s Restaurant and Lounge Sunday night to check out this week’s episode of Treme. With the episode's “Carnival Time" title and Mardi Gras season focus, the early June night felt a bit more like mid-Februrary. Not that we're complaining!
 
Adding to the transplanted seasonal vibes, several ladies from the
Krewe of Muses were in attendance in anticipation of their parade's appearance on the show. Tom McDermott was also in the house, playing some traditional jazz tunes with long time friend and clarinetist Tim Laughlin.  We were able to get some insight into the filming of the Muses scene from the ladies, and, between sets, McDermott opined some of his thoughts on the episode.
 
 
Krewe of Muses
The opening scene is set at the 2007 Muses parade, running down the Uptown side of St. Charles Ave. with parade-goers shouting for a coveted shoe. The Muses themselves felt that the episode captured the excitement of the crowd surrounding the parade, and the uncontrollable desire people have to acquire one of the famed extravagantly shoes. They also felt the sequence of events during the carnival weekend was accurately portrayed, as Muses does indeed kick of Carnival weekend.
 
The scene was filmed at this year's Muses parade, but the show's efforts to get every detail right forced life to make some changes for art. They said that the scene was filmed at this year’s parade on the neutral ground side of St. Charles Ave., so all the sidewalk side riders gave their 2007 throws to the neutral ground side, thus augmenting the scene’s authenticity. They pointed out that if you look closely at the boot Lt. Colson used later in the scene to catch the gun-toting teenager, it says 2007 on it.  The theme of the 2007 parade was Super Muses, and the women from the Krewe noted that the boot dated 2007 was Wonder Woman’s boot, as she was here to save the city. The subtlety was not lost on the Muses, and they were impressed by the portrayal.
 
They also pointed out that the tattoo on the shoe Annie caught was from the 2011 parade, but because it is not dated like the boot, it is not readily noticeable. Only riders would likely catch that detail, the Muses said. Rub it in, why don't they?
 
Tom McDermott
 
After playing a set to conclude the
Treme viewing, Tom McDermott offered a little of his opinion on the show.
 
“I thought it was more well-rounded than the first Mardi Gras episode, although I liked that one too,” he said.
 
He also said that he enjoyed the Cajun Mardi Gras portion of the episode, especially the fiddle playing. McDermott spoke about how many people from New Orleans have not even experienced the Cajun Mardi Gras tradition, the courir.
 
“I like that it kind of put New Orleanians in the same boat as out-of-towners,” he said. 
 
The episode featured some of the season's racier bits, with flashing breasts, booby tassels on Bourbon, and both Hidalgo’s and Albert’s hotel encounters. 
 
“I liked how sexual it was,” McDermott said. 
 
He said he thought that the episode captured that increased sexual intensity that surrounds the Carnival season, saying that during Mardi Gras, “People who never fuck, fuck and people who always fuck, fuck even more."
 
Tim Laughlin played clarinet alongside Tom after the show, and Tom pointed out that the clarinet heard in the background as Pete Fountain’s walking club made its brief appearance in the show was none other than his good friend Tim Laughlin.  They have known each other for many years as both played in the band “Dukes of Dixieland” throughout most of the 1990s.
 
Locations and Cameos
As always, the show featured some scenes at local establishments and cameos by some well known favorites.  Antoine takes the kids to Ernie K-Doe’s Mother-in-Law Lounge where Cyril Neville is singing “Hear that Mellow Saxophone.”  Al “Carnival Time” Johnson sings “Carnival Time” at Julius Kimbrough’s The Prime Example.  Steve Riley wears a Saints themed Cajun Mardi Costume at the courir.  Annie plays fiddle alongside Ryan Brunet and the Malfecteurs at the Fais Do Do.  Pete Fountain cruises by with his walking club.  The St. Augustine High School marching band is shown in Zulu.  And The Radiators play “Long Hard Journey Home” and “Where Was You At?” at Tipitina’s. 
 
As always, the crowd at Buffa’s lapped up the opportunity to see these places and faces that they know so well on TV. The appearance that got the biggest jolt this week was Al Johnson singing “Carnival Time,” as the crowd was practically on their feet dancing.