As pretty much everyone in New Orleans knows, HBO's special series Treme is going to premier in about a week. Treme was created by David Simon, who was also responsible for creating the The Wire. The initial word is that the show will be very true in its portrayal of New Orleans (most movies and TV shows fail miserably in depicting the true feel of this city).
Anyway, one of the central characters in Treme is a militant professor played by John Goodman. That character is based on a real person named Ashley Morris, who was a local blogger here. He passed away suddenly about two years ago. To say Ashley was excitable would be an understatement. He was also a bit of a curmudgeon.
I got to know Ashley back in early 2006, mostly by dint of being a fellow New Orleans blogger. Recently it to occurred me that that Ashley and I had traded emails (usually it was him kvetching about corporate greed or government over-reaching, and me responding with some naive optimism). I found this gem from 2007, when Ashley sent me a LinkedIn invitation out of the blue:
”Ashley Morris to Ernest Svenson
Ashley requested to add you as a connection on LinkedIn:
Blah blah blah…linkedin…blah blah..myspace for adults….
Accept invitation from Ashley”
No actor could ever really capture the grumbly warmth of Ashley Morris. And as good as Treme is supposed to be, I doubt it can capture the unique aspects of New Orleans. Still, I'll be tuning in and hoping for a strong reception from the viewing public.
P.S. If you want a better practice, check out this Ultimate Guide.
Treme (the HBO series) may or may not be true to the heart and soul of New Orleans – at least as far as you-all who live there are concerned. But it brings back to me some of the power, pathos, guttiness and “suchness” of the place.
New Orleans is not a place in which I could live comfortably for more than a while – but there is much about it that I miss after returning to the Pacific Northwest subsequent to a two-year sojourn in NOLA.
The New Orleans blogging community will never be the same since Ashley passed. And right around that same time, there seemed to be a definitve shift away from the New Orleans blogging community being a Post-Katrina/Katrina-recovery blogging community into a more disparately focused group. My own blog — swampytad.livejournal.com — had devolved into a watchdog on Dan Baum, the former New Yorker staff writer on the post-Katrina beat, and then has frozen in time. I have not the heart to end it, but I don’t know what to write there anymore. Ashley, though, always knew what to write, and always remained focused. I hope John Goodman’s character in Treme does him some bit of justice.
He got in touch with me after I wrote a profanity-laden rant about Alan Richman’s piece in GQ a few years ago. I think he was impressed by the variety of ways I used the word “f*ck.” We corresponded intermittently thereafter, and while I never met him in person, I continue to find people whose lives were significantly impacted by him. I did not know about the connection with Treme; thanks for that.