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Everything That Didn’t Rot, Rusted.

All that remains.

All that remains.


Booker T. Washington High School. At least what’s left of it. Students from the old B.W, Cooper Housing Projects in Central City attended classes here once. Probably from other nearby projects as well. Today, the old projects are gone.  The school is mostly gone. Eventually, mixed use housing will be built on the site of the old dwellings. Some already has been built. I read somewhere, almost in passing, that the school — at least of what’s left of it — will also be back sometime.

We’ll see.

I need to poke around in this neighborhood of Central City a little more. I will. I promise you that.

The picture. Taking the base picture was easy. See it. Shoot it. Tinkering with it was not so easy. Every time I got it near where I thought I wanted it, I’d add just one more thing. And, blammo. I went too far. Luckily, I work in layers. So, I just took a step back. But, still. It’s a little disconcerting to watch your work go south.  Especially, when you are almost done.

Never forget. Help a brother out. GO. FUND.ME.


Not Your Usual Thanksgiving Picture



Abandonment. No, not me. This place.

The building in the picture is abandoned. It’s tucked away in Central City, New Orleans.

I was thinking about posting some kind of Thanksgiving picture. But, I realized two things. Many of you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. And, I don’t shoot the usual holiday pictures. Besides, this picture could kick off the holiday season. After all, its dominant colors are red and green.


For those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving, Happy Thanksgiving. For those of you who don’t celebrate the US holiday, I’m sure that there is something for which you are thankful.

Then there is this. Again.

Saint Francis De Sales Catholic Church



Falling Apart

Falling Apart

The first time I saw this church it was for sale.

The Archdiocese of New Orleans decided to close 33 churches in the years immediately following Hurricane Katrina. They merged the parishes of this church — Saint Francis De Sales — with a neighboring church — The Church of The Holy Ghost. The parishioners were not happy about it. But, the years following the storm were bleak. Many churches of all religious denominations lost big portions of their congregations. Even though the Catholic Church as a whole is wealthy, many local regions are struggling. For all sorts of reasons. I’m not getting into that here. The purpose of these pictures is to tell you a little story. About this particular place.

This church is called a pioneering church. It was built around 1870. It is a city landmark. It is among one of the first churches in the nation to integrate Black-styled gospel music with Catholic ceremonies.

Unfortunately, in 2008 it was closed and eventually put up for sale. I first saw it in about late 2011. It was still for sale. The archdiocese asked too much money for it. However, it came with the main church building, a residence, a former school building and a pretty good-sized piece of land.

Now, four years later, it is abandoned. I suppose that the Catholic Church still owns it. But, they aren’t actively maintaining it. The buildings are locked up tightly. But, this is New Orleans. It hasn’t been tagged. But, it has been broken into. The top picture is evidence of that. There used to be a really nice wrought iron fence around it. Most of that is gone. The neighborhood? Some of it is back. Many of the houses near the church are not. Like the church, many sit abandoned. Some are boarded up. Some are not.

I’d like to photograph the interior of all the buildings. I’ll call the archdiocese for permission. I’m not sneaking in like I do when some buildings are sitting wide open. I want a key. To the locks. All of them.

That said, I’m shifting the focus of Storyteller. I’m going to back away a little from the Mardi Gras culture. Not because I’m worried about what happened on Sunday. Shootings and mass shootings seem to be part and parcel of the times in which we live. I can deal with that. In my way.

Instead, I came to it this way.  I was watching a short film called “Everybody Street.” It’s about street photographers. A lot of famous shooters. And, some not so well-known. One of them said that the main reason to document the things that he does is because his subjects won’t always be there. That really struck home.

Even here, in New Orleans, so much is changing rapidly. Gentrification is driving the old residents out. They can’t afford to live in the neighborhoods that they called home for years and years. Even when gentrification is a good thing, it isn’t. During the Katrina Ten Year Anniversary series I wrote about the St. Roch Market. What the neighborhood needed was a real live modern grocery store. What they got was a hipster food court. There’s nothing wrong with a food court, but from that neighborhood almost all the way to the St. Bernard Parish border is a food desert. No modern grocery stores. Just a few old-fashioned food stores.

That’s sort of an aside. But, it’s an example.

There is so much to document. To show coming generations. Yes. Second lines, Mardi Gras Indians and brass bands are a big part of that. But, there are plenty of people who want to document that. You’ve seen my pictures of people taking pictures on the scene. There are more and more photographers coming to the big events every year.


There aren’t so many people who want to poke around on side streets and broken neighborhoods. There aren’t many photographers who want to research the locations and tell their stories in words and in images.


I’ll do it. I’m happy to do it. It’s an honor. And, a pleasure.

The pictures. I looked and around and photographed what I saw. Then I tinkered with the pictures to help you to see what I felt.  You should have a point when you are messing around in Photoshop, or OnOne or whatever. My point is to get you there.

And, just so you don’t forget.

My poster. For the gallery show.

My poster. For the gallery show.

How I See It

Big band, big crowds.

Big band, big crowds.

I just want to write for a minute.

By now, it’s been national news. By now it’s also probably almost forgotten outside of New Orleans. After all, we are a violent city. We get what we deserve. They say.

A quick recap for those of you who don’t know. As usual, there was a second line parade on Sunday. The Nine Times 9 second line. It’s a big, huge parade that meanders throughout the Upper 9th Ward. It’s been around for a long time. It was founded by guys who grew up in the old Desire Housing Projects. They left. Some don’t even live in the city. The projects were torn down. They come back for this second line. In many ways, for them it’s like a reunion.

On Sunday, after the second line ended there was a shooting in Bunny Friend Park. A mass shooting. 19 victims. Most were wounded and discharged. As of this writing, three are in the hospital, two are in critical condition. One young woman was shot three times in the lower back and will likely not walk again.

Early media coverage got some of it wrong. They related the second line to the shooting. It sort of looked that way. Later reporting revealed newer, better, facts. The parade actually did end at 4pm as planned. It passed by the park at 3pm. The shooting occurred a little after 6pm. It appears that it was a gunfight between two rival gangs. With some 500 people between them. Investigators found some 70 spent brass casings. Houses, and cars parked the street, were shot up. The city is enraged. The mayor called it domestic terrorism. By the FBI’s definitions, it is. There was a prayer meeting on the site tonight. Everybody held hands. A Catholic priest blessed the park.

I don’t know what more to say. Those are the facts as we know them today. Not only am I discouraged by this third mass shooting in New Orleans since I returned home, but I’m discouraged by some of the public’s reactions. First, they say that you are crazy if you go to a second line. Then they attacked some of the statements given by the hosting social club. When all else failed, they attacked the media. Just as they always do.


Identify the root cause of the problem. Take the time. Fix the problem correctly. Do not over react and do something stupid for the short-term. Fix it for the long-term. And, for gosh sakes, think before you speak. After all, a Texas congressman said that the reason he wanted to ban Syrian refugees from entering into MY country is because guns are too easy to get. Gimme a break. He is one of the very people who does nothing to control gun sales in any way. Yeah. Like people need automatic long guns to defend themselves.

Oh yeah. This. Don’t forget me.


The King and Eye

The king and his sunglasses.

The king and his sunglasses.

Yes. The King — Mr. Woodrow “Woody” Randall.

And. My eye.

The one I use to focus and frame when I take a picture.

So. This post isn’t about “The King and I,” a musical about the King of Siam. Or, as we know it today, Thailand. This is about a second line parade. The Nine Times 9 second line to be precise. It was a huge parade, which wove its way through a pretty big chink of real estate in the 9th Ward. I managed to photograph it at a couple of locations. It took little hustle, but it was achievable. We probably could have driven to a couple more places, but these days I’m pretty much after specific kinds of pictures. I’m not looking to document the entire parade. Just as well. You’ll see why below.

The picture. Because I’ve photographed this second line a couple of times over the years, I pretty much knew the route and how big it would be. Unfortunately, that meant I couldn’t work as closely as I have been. Nor, could I work with one camera and a short lens. This picture was made with a 200mm lens while the king rode on a float. It’s an example of one of my kind of street portraits.

There is more news about this parade. Terrible news. I’m backing into it. Can you tell?

There was an after-party at one of the neighborhood parks. In the Upper 9th Ward. I have no idea what time the parade actually came to an end. The parade route sheet said 4pm. But, since second lines rarely start on time, they never end on time. We were gone by around 2pm. Some time around 6pm, there was a shooting at the park. A mass shooting. Ten people were shot. Or more. Some people were taken to local hospitals in private vehicles. I am not aware that anybody was killed. I don’t know what to say. Well, I do.


I sort of hate adding this today, but… well, you know. Help a guy out.

By the way, the police commissioner is trying to say that the party and the second line were unrelated. I wish he wouldn’t lie. I’m pretty sure most of us know the truth.

Here’s Another Way

One way of boarding up an abandoned house.

One way of boarding up an abandoned house.

This is one way.

There are many other ways to board up windows on an abandoned building. I think I’ve just about documented most of them. But, this one is new to me. Cover the windows with brightly painted boards. I didn’t get close enough to see what these coverings are made of; I thought plywood. But, I’m not sure.

No matter what.

They are certainly better looking then the aging and rotten bare plywood that normally covers windows in most abandoned buildings. True, the color is fading from rain and bright sun. But, still…

The picture. I was driving by. I saw the colors almost before I saw the building itself. It was one of those WTH moments. I stopped. I got out of the car. Took a few pictures. And that was it. F 8 and be there. Or, something like that. More likely, F 5.6 and be there. That’s it on the scene. I also didn’t do much in post production. I brightened the color and added a little glow to help you see what I felt.

Oh. What did I feel? Mostly surprise. Right there in a neighborhood that is mostly abandoned and torn down, there was this house. Blammo.

Then there is this, Please help a guy out. By now, you know the rest.

Southern Knight

Jennifer Jones, dancing woman.

Jennifer Jones, New Orleans dancing woman.

I think everybody is still in shock. I’m pretty sure that I am.

You know the story. Allen Toussaint passed in Spain after playing what would be his final concert. By all accounts, he was healthy, happy and enjoying himself while he played his songs for his fans. I wrote most of this on the day after he died.

To my mind, and to the minds of most of us, he was one of the most important people in the New Orleans musical world, along with Louis Armstrong and Fats Domino. They all changed music. His work transcended genre. The memorial sort of proved that. After all, how often do you see Trombone Shorty, Elvis Costello and Jimmy Buffett on the same stage? At the same time?

Sheesh. How often do you see Jimmy Buffett wearing long pants?

But, this post isn’t about big name international level musicians. It’s about a little of what I saw. It’s also about my attempt to honor a man — two men, you’ll see in a few lines — with my way of seeing. After all, every possible local and regional visual media was on the scene. They can out gear me, but I’ll be damned if they are going to out shoot me. You know that normally I’m not competitive with other photographers, but when I feel outnumbered by like — oh, let’s say 30 to 1 — my old competitive nature  sort of pops up again.

So, I hung with them until it was time. Then… when they turned left, I turned right. Besides, as I was preparing to go out for this, I received word that Chuck Scott — a legendary professor at Ohio University had just passed. He was directly responsible for how I think photographically. Maybe how I try to live a balanced life between work and home life. I’m not the only one. I can’t even begin to count how many young photojournalists he influenced over the years. I will add that he had been ill for a long time and still he was 91 years old when he passed. He didn’t die out on the road in some hotel room. He passed quietly at home with family and friends who were there for him.

The pictures. They don’t need explanation. They are what I saw. Except for the blue Rolls Royce. That might need a few words. That was Allen Toussaint’s car. Well, one of two. They were matching cars. One blue. One deep red. They were older models. He loved driving around the city in them.

So. That’s it. Well, except for two things.

And, the most important.

RIP Allen Toussaint.

RIP Chuck Scott.

Final Walk.

Final Walk.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Trombone Shorty and Mayor Mitch Landrieu

Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Trombone Shorty and Mayor Mitch Landrieu

Never alone.

Never alone.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Last ride.

Last ride.