Leftovers.

I was going to close out the “big storm” series. I even made a new picture. It combines the extent of the damage around this place with water.

But.

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” — Dr. Martin Luther King

I’ve promised you this space would not be political. I believe we all need a break from the daily madness. I want this space to be about art in all its forms. But, art is driven by circumstances. By daily life. By our own histories.

When the president who shall not be named tweeted his racist bullshit yesterday. I was stunned. Most of the country responded righteously. Twitter lit up like a pinball machine. Facebook wasn’t much quieter. His ploy to drive a wedge between Speaker Pelosi and the women that he told to go back where they came from, failed.

It gets worse. He doubled down. Senator Graham defended him. The rest of the Republican Party was silent.

Now we know.

The President of The United States is an out and out racist. Oh, we knew it. We knew his red lining record as a real estate owner. We heard him defend white power groups after the violence at Charlottesville, Virginia. But, yesterday he said it. He said what racists have said to people of color for years and years. He confirmed it.

Enough.

Not only does Donald J. Trump (there, I said his name) have to go, but the Republican senators and representatives have to be voted out en masse. Gone. All gone.

I urge you in my country to run for something. Anything. It starts from the ground up. And, you must vote. We have to get these racist, mean, scared old white men out of power. I said it before Trump was elected, that we would leave the country if he won. We decided to stay and fight back. To resist. I can assure that that if he is re-elected, I won’t know my country, and we will leave. Even if we are strangers in a strange land it will be better than living in the country of my birth. That’s terribly sad.

One more note.

Before you think that everything was bad on Sunday, it wasn’t. Thanks to YouTube, I got to see Sir Paul McCartney play with Ringo Starr from Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. The last time that happened was when The Beatles played there over 50 years ago. Then, I got to see Neil Young sing with Bob Dylan for the first time since 1994. They played an old traditional tune. “Will the Circle Be Broken?’

Answer.

No. It won’t.

Peace.

 

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A little bit blue.

This comes under the heading of “what the hell?”

First, the thing to know is that there was a breakfast meeting this morning of some local political heavy weights to discuss the reprehensible coverage of New Orleans and tropical Storm Barry by the national news media. When Walter Issacson gets into the discussion you know something is wrong. He’s not a politician. He’s a heavyweight editor, author and thinker who ran the Aspen Institute. He lives here.

Call this a rant if you’d like.

But, before you do, please understand that I spent the early years of my career — roughly one third of it — working as a photojournalist. I’d like to believe that I was even handed and fair minded. I’d like to think that my pictures and my words told the truth. I’d like to believe that I didn’t pour fuel on any fire.

The national coverage as it relates to this storm has been terrible. From my admittedly limited viewpoint, it was designed to elicit clicks. It was done to sell advertising. And, it was done with no thought to the people they were impacting.

At the very least, it was misleading. At the very worst, it was fear mongering. And, it scared our friends and family who don’t live nearby. I am grateful for all of those people who reached out to me. Old high school mates, college mates, even people who I know only from Storyteller. Some offered their spare rooms and guest rooms as shelter.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Trust me, I’ll take you up on your offers if we have a big hurricane. Especially if New Orleans is in the bullseye.

This nonsense has got to stop. The president who shall not be named calls it “fake news.” In his case, that means anything with which he disagrees. In my case, I’m sorry to report that most of the coverage was fake news. For me, the distrust that it sows means that I question everything that they publish or broadcast.

So.

What’s the situation right now?

There is no wind. Rain is falling so softly that it isn’t pooling. It is so soft that the dogs who will not be rained on, didn’t realize that they were wet until we’d been out for ten minutes or so. Even then, when I asked “go home?”, they hesitated. Yeah. They know the word, “home.”

Of course, we knew that we’d get rain. Of course, we knew that we’d get a little wind. But, we weren’t scared. We weren’t fleeing. And, no. That wasn’t just our friends. When we went to the store to buy storm-related items as most of us do, there was no anxiety. I didn’t know the other shoppers. We all went about our business of preparing for a storm. Just as we always do. We  helped each other a little. Just as we always do.

The picture. A couple of Crape Myrtle blossoms on a car trunk. With a few water droplets. I saw it and did what I always do. I made a picture.

That’s it. That’s the entire story. For now.

It appears, from rereading this post, that I always do a lot of things. Hmmmm.

 


Strange light.

There came a storm. Until it didn’t.

By around 10:30 pm, the night before the big event, everything changed. No storm surge. The river would only rise to 17 feet. Well below flood level. And, the rain will average around 6 inches over 24 hours in New Orleans.

Yes. It’s windy. We may still lose power. So, I’m writing this around midnight just in case.

A grateful city is happy. I’m happy.

But.

I’m so disappointed in national news coverage. The Washington Post flat out printed fake news. NOLA Twitter responded as only we could. The same thing happened with national television stations. Worse, the gold standard, The BBC went beyond fake news.

As many of you know, I started my career as a photojournalist. I made pictures. I edited. I managed photo staffs. I built a chain of weekly newspapers within a daily newspaper. I would have never published the nonsense I read today.

Like what?

The Post said something about how fearful we were. And, that we were fleeing. Nobody that I know was fearful. Some people with children left. Family first. But, they weren’t panicked. We’ve been through this before.

The city, state, even the federal government got involved. We had emails, tweets and texts. There were the obligatory press conferences and so on. That was all good.

But.

I remember that prior to the evacuation for Hurricane Katrina, a lot of my neighbors said they weren’t leaving because the city always reacted to potential hurricanes extremely and nothing ever came of it.

The rest is history.

When do people start disregarding hurricane lead ups again? What happens when the real deal occurs again and people don’t take it seriously?

Beyond my pay grade. I guess the Mercedes Dome will be a place of last refuge again.

One more thing.

I’m speaking only about New Orleans. I’m sure it will be rough when Barry makes landfall, wherever it makes landfall.

Have a good thought for all of us.


Little or nothing.

“Baby, baby, take the long way home.”

Written about someone who wants to stay on the road and not go home. That’s us right about now.

The situation.

First, the good news.  It is very likely that the levees will not overtop. We are expecting 10 to 15 inches of rain in the next two days. If it’s steady it won’t overwhelm the pumps. It will add more water to the already high Mississippi River.

There is even better news. The Rolling Stones will not be denied. They are already in town. And, their stage crew is building their stage, lighting and video screens as we speak. They are playing on Sunday. Come hell (not likely) or high water (likely).

The predictable news. The storm’s outer bands are reaching us. There are winds of about 20 mph with light rainfall. It is not steady, it is more like spitting. It’s on and off as the cyclone spins.

There is no bad news. We are as prepared as I’ve ever seen. That’s the city. The parishes. And, us. The only possible bad news are power failures, which are unpredictable. Yesterday, I saw Entergy crews checking the likely weak links. But, storms are storms and you can’t know what will fail.

Have a good thought for us.

The picture. Red skies at morning, sailors take warning. Red skies at night, sailors delight. We’ll see about that. It looks like I’m a million miles away. Nah, Earhart Expressway. The back way to the airport.

Just remember, you thought you knew what the Tibetan word Nameste means. Around here, that’s Cajun for the answer to this question.

“Are you evacuating?”

“Nameste.” (Nah Imma Stay)


Shimmering tree.

Something like good vibrations.

The shimmering tree is an experiment that I’ve tried once or twice in the past. That’s about it. Point the lens at a tree and photograph it. Do some magic in post production and away we go.

That’s the picture.

The rest of today’s mumblings are about the weather situation.

We pretty much dried out after yesterday’s deluge. The city’s pumps actually worked about as well as they could. We got 9 inches of rain in in three hours. That overwhelmed them. There are two solutions going forward. Tear up every pipe in the city, install pipes that are about double in size and hope that works.

Or, we can adopt the Dutch system which means that we embrace water and build holding ponds, greenways and water features that actually do something with extra water. We had that option once in the years following Hurricane Katrina. We should revisit that kind of thinking.

And, speaking of hurricanes. Hurricane Barry is still not formed as I write. There should be a NOAA update in a little bit.

Currently, it’s projected to make landfall near Lafayette, Louisiana, which means that it has moved to the east. In New Orleans, we should get some rain and some wind. Our fear is still overtopping levees. It looks like there are two places where the levee is built only to 20 feet. They are not near us. One is at the Industrial Canal near the Upper Ninth Ward. The other is at the Jefferson-Orleans Parish border. The people there have a double problem. Not only will the levee overtop, but they’ve built homes in the battature, which is the ground between the river and the levee. It is almost certain that their homes will be flooded and destroyed.

The Army Core of Engineers said that there is no chance that overtopped levees will be broken. From the moment they said that, I revised my estimate from 50-50% that we’ll be okay, to 20-80%. I don’t trust them as far as I can throw this house.

That’s it.

The storm should make landfall on Saturday, sometime in the afternoon. Unless the power fails, I’ll just keep going. Everybody has been shipped to safety. I’m hanging out until the storm passes. Somebody has to close the storm shutters. Then, it’s on the road again.


Drifting in the darkness.

A single cloud.

With the face of a dog. Drifting in the early evening.

As a prelude.

To the storm to come. There are two. The big one, that I mentioned yesterday.

And, the little one, which arrived in the early morning. Within three hours it managed to dump nine inches of rain in our neighborhood. The entire city, and outlying regions, is flooded with about two or three feet of water. Even our street, which never floods, is overwhelmed. Water is up to our porch and well into our driveway. The pool is overflowing.

We had a tornado warning, a flash flood warning, a high wind advisory and a lakefront overflow warning all at once. We are a very special place.

If this keeps up, and with the big storm arriving Friday, it is very likely that the levees holding back The Mississippi River will overtop. That’ll be something. Low lying streets along the river will be flooded with I don’t know how many feet of water.

The big storm is going to make landfall as Hurricane Barry, a Category 1 storm somewhere near Lake Charles Saturday morning in the daylight hours. It will dump anywhere from 6 to 12 inches of rain inland. I have a very soft spot for Lake Charles. That’s where we finally made our temporary shelter after we evacuated following Hurricane Katrina. The folks there took good care of us. I wish them well. And, prayers.

That’s our story.

Have a good thought for us.


Whew. It’s hot.

So hot.

So damn hot. There is a twitter tag called #neworleansheat. New Orleans heat doesn’t like us. And, we don’t like it.

I made this picture at about 7:00pm. The all seeing dog wanted a walk. I convinced her to wait until she couldn’t. Off we went. I made this picture at about our apex.

By the time we made it home, I was walking in a haze. Everything was shimmering. I felt like I was walking through water. I looked at little dogaroo. Her tongue was hanging out to the pavement. We made it home. We drank a couple of hundred gallons of cold water.

I was feeling a little weird. On one hand, I felt peaceful. On the other, I felt a little disoriented. I wasn’t hungry. I took a break. I laid down. Eventually, things cleared up.

Whew.

Be careful, you will suggest. I thought that I was. That’s why we walked so late. That is, until I  checked the temperature.

97 Degrees.

At 7:15 pm.

Oh, and that bad feeling?

It might be closer than I thought. We have a tropical depression in the gulf that is going to turn into a hurricane or one of those lingering heavy subtropical storms that flooded upriver Louisiana a year or so ago. Depending on which weather model you watch, we are in the middle of it. Or, not.

To make matters worse, the gulf water is hot. In the mid-to-high eighties. That fuels storms. And, in Mississippi gulf waters there is such a bad poisonous algae bloom that you can’t go in the water, you can’t eat anything caught in the water. Hell, you probably shouldn’t even look at the water.

This was caused by diverting Mississippi River waters from the north into Lake Ponchartrain. If that wasn’t done, we, in New Orleans, would have been flooded. The water from the lake flows down river until it arrivers near the Mississippi State border.

Meanwhile, the clown in the high tower was blabbering about how good the environment is doing. All the while, he is gutting environmental restrictions. Oh, he finally admits that there might be something going on. But, get this, Americans aren’t causing it. It’s a global thing, idiot in chief. Last I looked, America is part of the globe.

So.

No. There isn’t climate change.

If you believe that, I gotta a lotta junk that I’ll sell you. You’ll probably think it’s gold bullion.

And, about the cold water that dogaroo and I drank? I fill all the dogs’ bowls with cold water from the refrigerator because cold water directly from the tap is 84 degrees. How refreshing is that? It’s wet. That’s about it.

This just sucks.


Something in the air.

It’s in the air. Tonight. Today.

I’m not the only one.

Yesterday, I wrote about murky dreams. Dreams of the past. Dreams of people long forgotten. Of a time in the dim recesses of my mind.

Between online conversations and some in real life, I’ve learned that I’m not the only one. People of a certain age are going through this strange little time too. Before, we get all spooky and weird, it probably means nothing.

On the other hand.

What if?

What if we are marshalling our past resources for something to come? I’m not one who believes in all seeing third eyes, or understands why the hell WordPress doesn’t like marshalling in this usage, but something is brewing.

Since the usage of marshalling in this case, means ordering things in preparation for battle, what battle am I, are we, getting ready for?  As much as I dislike the current United States President — and, all that he stands for — and want him imprisoned, it’s not something as mundane as that. I think it’s bigger. I don’t know what it is. But, it’s coming.

As I used to say in the bad old helicopter days, “I got a bad feeling about this.” The last time I thought and felt that, a storm called Hurricane Katrina just about wiped New Orleans off the face of the earth. It’s a powerful feeling.

We’ll see.

The picture. My apologies. I went a little too far in post production. I should have reworked this picture. But, today is very, very busy. So, I moved it from my phone to OnOne and tried to make a few little repairs there. The mistakes were too imbedded for that.

Anyway.

I saw these blossoms and did the only thing that I could do. I photographed them. Then, I messed with them. I made the picture a little spooky. Then, as I wrote, I went too far. I tend to do that. I should have taken things a step or two backward. I’ll get back to it. I’ll fix it. I promise. I might even show you the revised picture.

One more thing about this bad feeling. (See how haunted I am by it?) There’s an old infantry saying, “If you can see the enemy, the enemy can see you.” The reverse is also true. I can’t see the enemy. But, I know…


Flowers in her hair.

The thoughts came to me in a dream.

The dream wasn’t clear. It was muddy. Murky. Like something dredged out of the middle of a brackish lake.

Somewhere in there I saw a lot of my life. Not like you do at the end of a life. Little flashes. Bits. Pieces. Parts. I saw people who I haven’t thought about in years. Sometimes we talked to each other. Sometimes, we didn’t. We just passed.

I awoke with this stuff swimming in my head. I couldn’t wrap my brain around it. I started thinking about anniversaries. Not like weddings or birthdays. Little things. Like the anniversary of our return to New Orleans. That’ll be eight years on July 8.

Or, the anniversary of scooping up the dog who sees stuff. She’s a rescue. When she came home with us, her person had just passed.  She was 85 and had been in poor health for a couple of years. Her person’s care givers didn’t like my dog. They treated her poorly. She was underweight. She was sick. She was scared.

Today, she is happy, healthy, and weighs what she should. She has dog friends, lots of people friends and she’s claimed me. What’s not to like? She’s a very pretty cocker spaniel. She kept the name she came home with — Sophie Rose.

There’s a lot more to write about. Changes. Anniversaries. More changes.  I suppose that I’m starting to look back with the wisdom of age. Or, just with age. Likely, that.

The picture. It’s two. The pink flowers are layered over some pure color.  You can see it here and there, in the background. I guess, I’m experimenting a little again.