Chaos


Brass bands and trumpets.

Brass bands and trumpets.

A friend of mine, a musician to be precise, once said to me that he went out to listen to a brass band when they were touring. They happened to stop in Seattle, where he lives. He used one word to describe them.

Chaotic.

Yes. That’s right. But, they are from New Orleans. New Orleans is chaotic. That’s part of our charm. Our music is chaotic. So’s our culture. Our food used to be. But, there are so many craft-chef-speciality cooks around these days, that a lot of our “new” food tastes like it’s from Brooklyn. Nothing wrong with that, if it is the food I ate when I was young. But, it’s not. I can tell you why in one word. No, two words. Hipsters. Kale. Oh, and we are big on food trucks. So big, in fact, that one restaurant closed its doors without notice. A new restaurant is going into that space. The old restaurant is morphing into a food truck. Oh goodie. Food. Cooked on trucks. I especially like the spice called exhaust fumes. Very tasty. Once, I thought food trucks were cool. Then, I remembered. Back in my pre-salad days I used to eat from them when I worked in a factory. We had no other choice. The food was cooked and grease and cooked quickly. I don’t want to go back there again.

Oh. That’s not a rant. That’s just me being me.

The pictures. New Birth Brass Band. I’m not sure who the guy is playing the trumpet with the 1990s fade, but all the other musicians looked to him for direction. I’ll find out. I tell you when I do. If I remember.

Starting the parade.

Starting the parade.

Down The Ramp


Children's division.

Children’s division.

Famed war photographer, Robert Capa once said, “If the picture isn’t good enough you weren’t close enough.” An old friend pointed out that could mean different things. It could mean physically. Or, it could mean something a little more metaphysical. I think I have the physical part down cold. The metaphysical part, not so much.

I wish, I wish, I wish that I would have know that the queen and her court we preparing for the second line parade within the Eiffel Society. No, no, no. I wouldn’t have just invaded them. I would have reached out. Asked permission. Made a trade. Pictures for access. Something like that.

Why?

Two reasons.

That’s where the pictures really are. They are in quiet moments away from the street. Away from the performance. Behind the curtain. The pictures made on the street are easy. Know your location. Find a good angle. Dance. Bob. Weave. Sounds like a sporting match. Like football. Basketball. In many ways, that’s exactly what photographing a second line parade feels like. The real story telling pictures are not found on the street. They are found far from the maddening crowd. Where they should be.

Two. See the bottom picture. Just like so much of the world… too much. Too many. Too noisy. No signal.

Once again. This work is from Sunday. The Goodfella’s Annual Parade. A parade that was divided into two section. The children’s division. And the Goodfellas, themselves. I’m dividing it into four sections. Yesterday, I showed you some scenes that caught my eye. Today, The ladies and children making their way down the ramp at The Eiffel Society. If the women don’t look all that happy, you trying walking down a ramp in high stiletto heals. Tomorrow, I’ll show you the brass bands. And, finally, on Wednesday I’ll show you the chaos of a great second line parade.

The queen ... very sparkly

The queen … very sparkly

A quick pose.

A quick pose.

Too many photographers.

Too many photographers.

Sunday Second Line


Playing in the band.

Playing in the band.

If it’s Sunday in New Orleans there must be a second line. Or, a Saints game. (American football team for my foreign friends) At least as fall rolls around.

Today, there was both. The second line parade was huge. It’s a hard call to make, but in this neighborhood, the parade trumped the Saints who were playing just about a mile away. This parade was also really great for me. When I got tired and the parade sort of petered out, I just walked in the opposite direction and went home. Yeah. I know. Lazy and selfish.

This is the Goodfellas Annual Parade. It is divided into two parts. The children’s parade and the social club, itself.

That structure in the background? Hmmm… You won’t believe this. It is the Eiffel Society. A restaurant and a reconstructed relic. Very steampunk looking. It was the original restaurant on the Eiffel Tower. In Paris. France. Not, Texas. You don’t know how long I’ve been waiting to write that.

Yes. I made these pictures a couple of hours ago.

Leading the way.

Leading the way.

Dancing. It all begins.

Dancing. It all begins.

A Little Experiment


Something like Van Gogh

Something like Van Gogh

First, you’ve looked at all of these scenes. As photographs. Sure, I tinkered with them. Some. Usually, I would use software called OnOne. It just helps to complete my intent.

Yesterday I receive an email from another image manipulation software called Topaz. I played with their software many years ago before I finally settled on my present software. In both cases, they are simply packaging layers that can be created in Photoshop. I can do some of that. But… it’s really time-consuming. And, as an old friend of mine once said, “Photographers are painters in a hurry.” Who has time to keep building layers by hand? Sheesh.

Anyway, Topaz created some new software that supposedly recreates real brush strokes in all sorts of styles. You can use if for free, for a month. Cool. I thought. I’ll test it. Because… well, you never know.

It’s pretty easy to use. Pick a style and just push a button and the software reads and responds to whatever it “sees.” But, that got boring really quickly. Besides, I had absolutely no control over anything. That was, until I noticed this odd looking button that had a slider Icon. I pushed it. The whole world opened up. Or, something like the whole world. I pretty much could modify anything within a certain genre of painting. So, the first picture started out as a representation of Van Gogh’s style. Then I messed with it. Now it’s a Van Gogh-Laskowitz. Well. Mostly a Van Gogh.

I’m still not sure about it. Whether I really like enough to pay for the software when my 30 days are up is questionable. Even if it is the greatest things since sliced bread, I’m not sure how much I’d use it besides to amuse myself. I’m pretty certain that I don’t have any professional applications for it.

So, what do you think?

A little impressionistic.

A little impressionistic.

Magical Impressionism.

Magical Impressionism.

Watercolor.

Watercolor.

Friday French Quarter


French Quarter Flowers

French Quarter Flowers

It’s Friday. It’s been a busy week. So, I’ll leave you with bookend pictures from the French Quarter. Pretty pictures. Pictures made at the ends of the day. Morning and evening.

I don’t know about you. It’s 1:30p here. I’m calling it a week. Especially since there are two cultural events to photograph this weekend. Another second line on Sunday. And, jazz funeral on Saturday. It’s time for a break.

Enjoy the pictures.

Dusky glow.

Dusky glow.

Falling Down


All fall down

All fall down

Conversations. Online and in the real world. Some can be pretty amusing. They make you chuckle. They bring back memories. They make you think. And, some just make you wonder what the…?

Let’s start with the bottom picture. All those rusted garden tools. I’d forgotten about that picture until an old buddy of mine started talking about bad lawn mowers on Facebook. Wow! “Bad Lawn Mowers.” There’s an indie band name if I ever heard it. I chimed in with the great backyard cement story. That’s a whole other story. I’ll tell you someday soon. Or not. It has to do with my dad. A big backyard and a lot of cement. And… a lawn mower.

Anyway… those rusty tools. They were lined up just as you see them in the side yard of an abandoned house. I started taking pictures of them. A guy wandered over from across the street. He told me not to steal his tools. Yeah. Right. Those are the tools of my dreams. Broken, rusted and mostly junk.

The top picture is of an old abandoned apartment building. It may have been a single family home once. Years ago. Many years ago. Now the roof is on the stoop and the stoop is covered with junk. Look closely. There’s mail in one of those mailboxes. I wish the US Post Office would put my mail in my box as well as that.

The bottom picture. You saw a more loosely cropped version of it. I thought you’d be interested in those two pieces of paper taped to the door with painter’s tape. Those are building permits. There is only one wall left to this building. Granted, it’s a two story wall, but that’s it. Somebody is living their dream. And, getting around New Orleans building codes. As long as there is one wall standing you are just doing interior work and rehabbing the building. If you tear the whole building down and start over, that’s a new building. Permits are more expensive. Taxes are higher. And, so on…

Speaking of stoops. That’s what they are called in inner city New Orleans. And, Brooklyn. When you get out of New Orleans and into the south, they are called porches. A little further out or into a slightly better neighborhood, they are verandahs. I have a verandah. I can’t afford it.

Rebirth in the Irish Channel

Rebirth in the Irish Channel

Rusted and broken tools.

Rusted and broken tools.

Another Season. Another Parade.


Leading the prayer prior to the second line.

Leading the prayer prior to the second line.

I changed my mind. I am publishing a few pictures from the first second line parade of the new season. This is the Young Men Olympian Junior Benevolent Association’s 130th Anniversary Parade. What do they do? As the president said, “These parades are just a little fun. Our real work is caring for our sick and burying our dead.”

1884. That’s when they started walking. Long time. Back then, this place was still “a land of strange design.” That’s one way of putting it. A lyrical way. In many ways, it’s been one long walk.

This is my third year of photographing this parade. For me, it was the first in a long string of parades. I photographed a couple of them way in the past, but not with such intent. My working desire hasn’t diminished. But, the final product changed. The images live here, on hard drives and in my various stock libraries. Friends say, “Oh, make a book.” I would. I’ve done that before. It’s a huge amount of work. Then, there is marketing and distribution. And, as we know with other arts — like music — big projects are pretty much dead. Book sales, like album sales have dropped through the basement floor into the sub-basement and even deeper.  Besides not wanting to pay for the work, the viewer or listener only wants the best. Whatever the best is to them. Or, whatever they are told the best might happen to be.

Because you keep asking. I might do this. I’ll make a Blurb Book. In most ways, you can’t tell them from a book produced by a big publisher and printed on a big commercial press. Sometimes, they are better quality. I could make it about 40 pages. Hard cover. Soft cover. As you want. Here’s the thing, books printed on demand are a little expensive. It might cost $30 or $40. Maybe less. Most of that is printing, binding and finishing costs. Blurb’s, not mine. I get paid nothing to select the pictures, write the copy, design the books and look after all the details. In case you are wondering, I’ll make about 10 to 15% of the retail price if I’m lucky.

Will you buy my Blurb Book?

Whatever.

The pictures. I started out trying to experiment. But, you really can’t plan anything with second lines parades. They start late. They start on time. They get cancelled with two drops of rain in the air. Or, they just keep gong in a sideways downpour. The paraders arrive on time. Or, late. The trumpet player in the middle picture — you’ve seen him in the past — was playing his notes as he was walking across a lot, through the crowd and as he took his place in the band. These parades are important. To the neighborhood. As a cultural statement. But, they are very loosely organized in a New Orleans way.

A couple of things are constants. There is always an opening prayer. There is always music. And now, everybody takes pictures.

The trumpet player was late.

The trumpet player was late.

Everybody takes pictures.

Everybody takes pictures.

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