Having watched the first three episodes of Treme, it seems to me that its relationship to The Wire is similar to that between “normal” neoliberalism and what Naomi Klein has called “disaster capitalism” — the excruciating yet cold violence of managerialism has been replaced with outright looting and brutality. It’s suitable, then, that the framing device is no longer the police, who must hold out some hope for maintaining order, but the city’s musicians. In a moment when New Orleans has become essentially an object of pity, looting, or both (as in the “Katrina tour” with which the third episode ends), the musicians and particularly the “Indians” are all concerned to maintain the continuity of New Orleans as a unique place — even as they struggle against the touristic way of doing that, which in its own way reduces New Orleans to no place at all.
An undeveloped final thought: For the first time, I’m starting to feel like I understand Mallarmé’s enigmatic line, “Rien n’aura eu lieu que le lieu” (nothing will have taken place but the place) — and I wonder if here we might contrast the idea of “place” with that of “space.” The musicians are trying to maintain New Orleans as a place where other people see it as a space: a space to clear to make way for developers, for example. (Think also of the weird HGTV jargon that designates every house as a “space.”)