The producers of HBO’s Treme have said that they are creating historical fiction of extremely recent vintage. Thus, while watching the first season of Treme last year, we were reliving the events of late 2005 and early 2006.
And I couldn’t help thinking of what the second season might bring. The focus would shift forward to late 2006 and early 2007. Violence returned to the city with a vengeance. Dinerral Shavers was killed just before the new year, Helen Hill just after, leading to the organization of what I believe was the largest public demonstration in the history of the city. It was, perhaps, a seminal moment in the history of our community, and certainly a key piece of the post-Katrina tale.
So, as I watched the first season of Treme, I wondered if the producers would soon be looking at video of that massive rally at City Hall. Of course, I spoke at that rally, and lots of people were listening.
I was not the best speaker there by a long shot, but I may have gotten the most attention. My words were literally sent round the world, and on the local news a soundbite of me was played ad nauseum for the next few years anytime a story dwelt with the political aspects of our criminal justice system.
And so I had to wonder if the producers of Treme would in fact be looking at video of me. It was kind of an eerie feeling.
Thus it was not a complete shock when my coworker Edwin B. walked into my office yesterday and said he was working with some people who were working with HBO. Could he pass my name along? I said yes, and that evening I got a call from someone a little closer to the creative team, confirming that my contact info will in fact be passed on to the writers.
As soon as I mentioned this development, a number of friends have had an immediate reaction that boils down to “Cool!” or “Awesome!” but with all due respect I don’t think it’s an unqualified “Cool!” We’re talking about a story of violence, murder, pain, grief, loss, outrage, injustice and many other things that are not exactly happy memories.
And yet, as anyone who knows me can attest, I am something of a media whore. I must be. Sometimes it seems like I’ve been featured in every print and broadcast medium known to man. So the notion of talking to these folks is greatly intriguing to me. I can’t deny that. But my glee is dampened quite quickly when I remember how this all got started. This is sad and serious stuff.
Many friends seemed to jump immediately to the conclusion that this means there will be a character in Treme based on yours truly. Slow down, folks. We don’t even know if the march and rally will be depicted directly. I assume the writers want to talk on background. Deep, deep background.
So now I’m very curious to see where this goes. I hope they do get in touch, because I’ve got a lot to say about what that whole event — that whole series of events — meant to the city and the recovery. I can point them to plenty of other people if they want to do further research. I could talk about how that speech changed my life. I don’t know if they are interested in the particular murderous acts that led to the march, or the political aftermath, or what they’re after really. This could go a lot of different directions.