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Dark End of the Quarter

In the dark end of the French Quarter.

In the dark end of the French Quarter.

Contrasts. The French Quarter is a study in contrasts. On one end, the upriver end, the French Quarter is bright, colorful and very bright. You know. Bourbon Street. Royal Street. Like that. As you head down river there are more residential streets. With that comes less of what I call the typical French Quarter light. It’s darker downriver. But, not foreboding.

If you read yesterday’s Storyteller, you kind of know where you are. See that little red spot? Way down the block? That’s one of the umbrellas at The Louisiana Pizza Kitchen. The French Market is just beyond that. Those big white clouds are lingering over the Gulf of Mexico. Way out there. A block away to the left is Esplanade Avenue and just beyond that is Frenchman Street, the once hip place to listen to music. Like many things, it got popular. It’s become an extension of the Quarter. Tourists found it. It’s not so hip anymore.

The picture. I made it sort of on the move. I braced myself up against a building support and pushed the button a couple of times. The street is glowing because it’s wet. From a storm. Of course, that little reflection helped a lot. It added quite a bit to what remained of the ambient light. I helped everything in post production, by slightly scrubbing the highlights that were hidden away in the shadows. That’s it.


French Quarter pizza.

French Quarter pizza.

I wish.

We aren’t going to have light anything like this until Wednesday. If we are lucky. The fairgrounds where Jazzfest was held is a sea of pooled water and mud. A good part of Southeastern Louisiana is flooded. As French government’s architect said in 1839 when he was asked to describe the land in and around New Orleans, “Mud, Mud, Mud.”

He was right.

We lost power at home for a while. And we are still under a flash flood watch. Yes. Happy spring.


I thought that I would publish a picture I made a little while back. Combined with the tamale picture it seems that I’m starting to hit my stride with some kinds of fast food. At least the buildings in which the food is made. Pizza and tamales. What could be better?

This is The Louisiana Pizza Kitchen. At least the ground floor. The second floor is abandoned and caving in. It is located across the street of the French Quarter Market.

Once it was part of the city market system. You could buy real groceries there. In fact, fruit coming from Central and South America was a fresh as you could ever want since the fruit boat docks were about five minutes away. Now that fairly historic market is chopped up in to distinct sub markets. Tacky, unneeded souvenirs that have supposedly come from every place on earth, but were mostly made in China can be purchased in one corner. There’s another section, just across the street, in which you can find  fruit, veggies, herbs, seafood, coffees, teas and some cooked food for tourists. It’s all fine. Maybe we are coming full circle. Wouldn’t that be nice?  If it doesn’t cost too much.


The pizza is well made and tastes pretty good. It is reasonably priced and there is plenty of good seating. Inside and out. Especially if it is not raining and muddy. And, everybody is not soaked and smelling like a wet dog.





Like Spring

Tree leaves glowing.

New leaves of spring glowing in late afternoon light.

I always talk about this.

During spring, we have huge storms. Then, they blow out and the sunlight just glows as it peeks through the clouds. Then, more storms. Then, more sun. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

The rain came down so hard and for so long that Saturday’s Jazzfest was cancelled just as the big  acts were getting ready to play. Stevie Wonder’s performance was cancelled. Too bad. I happen to know that during morning sound check he was working on Prince’s “Purple Rain.” This year’s Jazzfest has  featured a lot of bittersweet moments with a lot of musicians playing a song in Prince’s memory. And, in Merle’s memory. And, in Bowie’s memory. And, in Glenn Frey’s memory. And, in Allen Toussaint’s memory. And later today, in B.B King’s memory.

But, nobody is has the chops of Stevie Wonder to cover a Prince song. His version of “Purple Rain” would have brought the house down. Instead, a very strong rain storm brought him down.

Rain. Rain. Rain.

Nobody ever beats nature.

With that in mind, I thought that I’d publish the sunny side of spring. For you. On Sunday.

One more thing. Yes. I know Bruce Springsteen covered “Purple Rain” last week in Brooklyn. He and his band did a wonderful job. His band mate, Nils Lofgrin, played an incredible lead guitar solo.

But, Stevie Wonder…

Hot Tamales

Hot Tamales in St. Bernard Parish

Hot Tamales in St. Bernard Parish.

I should never have posted this picture.

Now I want a tamale. It’s not that I’m hungry. I just want one.

Just so you know, a tamale is Mesoamerican food. They originated in — wait for it — Mesoamerica somewhere around 8,000 to 5,000 BC. They were road food. Usually armies and travelers ate them while they were on the move.

Think about that.

There was something like a 10,000 year old 7-Eleven store out there. Before Jesus Christ was born.  Before there was motorized transportation. Before the dawn of politicians for life.

Armies — or travelers — pulled up and bought some food to go. Maybe they even drank something like a Big Gulp. Nah. Probably not. They were healthier than we are. However, if you buy some of that 7-Eleven food today — like a Twinkie — it might be 10,000 years old.

Depending on where you buy tamales down here you can get two different base foods. South and Central Americans use masa, a kind of starchy dough. Or, something very kin to that. However, in the Mississippi Delta, African-Americans use cornmeal. They can be filled with other things, but masa or cornmeal is where a tamale starts. Usually.

There’s a lot more to the history of a tamale. How could there not be? It’s 10,000 year old food. But, I’ll leave that to you.

The picture. I just photographed what I saw. I did brighten the red up a bit to draw your eye to that building, which by the way, looks like an old railroad building. Repurposed.

Darkness on the Edge…

Storm and sugar.

Storm and sugar.

It’s spring.

For just about everywhere in the country that means wildly changing weather, often in the passing of an hour or less. Further north that means tornadoes and hail. Down here in the south that means bright and sunny one minute, darkness the next, and sideways rain just behind. For about ten minutes.

Yep. People see, feel and hear the hard rain. They seek shelter. Ten minutes later they stick their hands out to feel the strength of the rain and usually just go back about their business.

This place is Arabi. In St. Bernard Parish. For the most part, the neighborhood looks about like many places in New Orleans. 1800s houses. Victorian gingerbread. Shotgun houses. Doubles. Camelbacks. Smallish mansion-looking houses.

There is also some heavy industry. See that bright blue building and the brick building behind it?  That’s Domino Sugar Corporation. At least the plant the processes sugar almost directly from freighters. There’s one in the background on the right. And, that concrete fence that forms a nice leading line? That’s the levee. On the other side is the Mississippi River.

But, for me, those are just objects the help to establish the picture.The real picture is those layered storm clouds. And, the ominously colored yellow light. I didn’t make that light to suit the mood. It was the mood.

One of these days, I’ll have to walk the neighborhood. And, take pictures of whatever I see. Although it sits on the border of The Lower 9th ward and a completely different parish, it is fairly safe. That’s something these days.

A Little Light

A little French Quarter light.

A little French Quarter light.

French Quarter traffic. As the sun sets.

Luckily, for me, I got jammed up behind two pedicabs. And, a taxi. That allowed me to do my drive by shooting thing, stop in pretty heavy traffic and not get honked at for creating problems. Normally, I wouldn’t care about honking horns, but in New Orleans you could get shot. No. We aren’t quite the “wild west,” yet. But, we are something kin to the “wild south.” The mayor made a big speech about that, just yesterday. I like the mayor. But, I think he’s in denial on this one. He’s trying to protect our tourism business during Jazzfest. But…


The picture. You know me. I have no problem making a picture through the windshield of a car. I also have no problem shooting into the sun. These are things that you aren’t supposed to do. This is a picture in which I broke both rules. At the same time. How cool for me.

I suppose I might not have done it if there weren’t people riding in pedicabs in front of me. They kind of made the picture. They sort of appeared at the right time. The sun was setting right where I wanted it, but there was no subject in the picture. Or, even a hint of one. Then car in front of me dropped out of the lane because the driver parked it. And, there they were. Pedicabs impeding the flow of traffic. Heh, heh!

Photographer’s luck. Or, making my own luck. I don’t know which one.

On The Lake

This is why the houses are raised.

This is why the houses are raised.

A last look at the place in which the three lakes come together. And, a little look at how the houses are really raised above the water level. And, why.

The why is the most important part.

On the day that I made these pictures there was a slight storm surge which was mostly caused by wind. You can see where the water went. The storm was minor. Just a little rain. Imagine what it could be like with a really big storm. Or, a hurricane.

The idea is that the high surging lake or gulf water will just run underneath these houses. For the most part it probably will. For a big hurricane — Category 3 — or larger, these houses still might not be raised high enough. For an almost direct hit, like Hurricane Katrina, raising these houses won’t matter. In fact, it might make their odds of survival even worse. With 120 – 150 mph hour winds, pretty much all structures are destroyed. Being built on stilts just means the winds could blow parts of these houses into Mississippi. The state. Not the river.

This is probably it for this series of pictures. I’ve explored the end of the world. Or, at least, the end of New Orleans world enough for now. I could go north of New Orleans. Upriver. But, for the most part that just sort of peters out. After you cross for Orleans into Jefferson Parish, you are just back in the Deep South. You make a different kind of picture. I did a little of that yesterday.

These pictures were all made at blue hour and pretty much look that way. For me, the deal with blue hour is that the light is blue. It should look that way. Even if you have to help it in post production. After all, why miss your dinner and aggravate your companions if you aren’t going to use the light nature gave you?

I did some experimental post production on the bottom picture. I wanted to make the clouds look like cotton balls. I may have done that. Or, I may have made a mess. Oh well. I’m like that. Sometimes. No. Most times.

Slight water surge.

Slight water surge.

Study in Blue.

Study in Blue.