He's an Indian Chief. Not the Native American kind, who have been living here for innumerable centuries, but the Mardi Gras kind, consisting of African Americans who march in great, colorful costumes in the Mardi Gras and on other holidays, and date back at least as far as the middle of the 1800s.
I confess to not fully understanding the Mardi Gras Indian culture, but that's sort of the point - or part of the point - of Albert's story in Treme. Certainly the filmmaker, who wants to make a documentary about what Albert is doing, doesn't get it. Even his son Delmond doesn't completely get it, and is still learning in his re-developing relationship with his father.
What's clear is how important the tradition and the costumes are to Albert - he spends most of the year working to make the parades as remarkable as possible. Katrina disrupted this, and last season we saw Albert struggling and succeeding despite the hurricane and its aftermaths.
This year his main obstacle is the government, and its slow processing of the vast amount of help all New Orleans needs. Delmond, in a powerful Christmas dinner scene in a restaurant, suggests to his father that he may clinically depressed. Albert responds, angrily, that he's angry.
Delmond later apologizes, but the truth, I'd say, is that they're both right, and Albert has every reason to feel both angry and depressed (psychologists will tell you that the two conditions are closely related).
But on the surface, most of our New Orleans people are acting more angry than depressed. Janette, in New York City, is justifiably furious at her dictatorial, insulting boss. Antoine would rather not be teaching. Desiree gets a nice piece of jewelry from Antoine, but my wife observed that she'd rather have received a ring.
One aspect of Treme, which usually makes most people happy, including me, is the music (the food, too, but you can't taste it through the screen). And my favorite song from episode 2.4 of Treme is ... Jelly Roll Morton's "Tom Cat Blues" - on a vinyl played by Delmond (don't know if it was an original 1923/1924 78-rpm record - but it was certainly derived from it).
Hey, I have old-fashioned as well as new-fashioned tastes ...
5-min podcast review of Treme
And here's a taste of Jelly Roll's Tom Cat Blues ...
See also Treme Is Back! ... Treme 2.2: Bounce and Jazz ... Treme 2.3: Crime and Music
And also Treme! ... Treme 1.2: "If you ain't been to heaven" ... Treme 1.3: Fine Sweet and Sour ... Treme 1.4: New Orleans, New York, Nashville ... Treme 1.5: Delicious! ... Treme 1.8: Passions and Dreams ... Treme 1.9: Creighton ... Treme Season One Finale: Happy Sad Life
And: My Favorite Moment in Treme (Season One)
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The Plot to Save Socrates
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