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Looking at the Scene


The Amelia Earhawts

The Amelia Earhawts

Where to start?

Like this. I suppose. For me, Mardi Gras has been good. I’m happy to be out there. I’m happy with my pictures. The neighborhood from which I like to work has been wonderful. People are happy. Celebrating. Smiling.

You can see that energy in my little portfolio of pictures.

But.

This has been a very rough season. There have been five shootings along the parade route. One guy got shot because someone had a gun in his pants, used the port-a-potty to do what he needed to do, pulled his pants down and accidentally shot someone standing nearby in the stomach.

This number does not count all the shootings in various parts of the city. If this keeps up, we are set to break the shooting and murder records since before I returned after the storm.

Huh?

Of course that’s not all. The incident that made international news occurred a few hours later. Some guy decided he needed to drink all the liquor that he could hold. He drove down the street, weaving all the way. A big street. To an even bigger intersection. Where the huge Endymion parade was rolling. He hit two cars and a dump truck. Thankfully, the dump truck stopped his forward motion because, by this time he was on the neutral ground where thousands of people were standing.

Twenty eight people were injured. Twenty one were injured badly enough to be transported to seven hospitals. Twelve are in critical condition. The injured included a police officer who was doing her job. And, a three-year old toddler.

I don’t know what to say. Except. Stupidity appears to be running rampant. How hard is to get along with your neighbor? How hard is it to show a little respect and common decency? I’ve seen more things in the past few days that just cause me to shake my head in wonder. There are four days of Mardi Gras left. The days get more and more intense as we get close to Mardi Gras Day. I hate to say this, but I can hardly wait for this year’s season to end. Sheesh. I’m almost afraid to go out there. Afraid to do my job. Afraid to be in crowds.

That ain’t good. That’s no way to live.

The day after Mardi Gras Day is Ash Wednesday. I think the whole city — Catholic or not — should go get ashes. And, get on their knees and beg for forgiveness. Me too.

That’s my thinking for this very pretty Sunday morning. It should not be confused with a rant. If I said what I really wanted to say…

The pictures. A mix of a couple of parades. What Mardi Gras is ** supposed ** to look like. To feel like. To be.

Clydesdales in motion.

Clydesdale in motion.

Bits of Bands


Reflections of Mardi Gras.

Reflections of Mardi Gras.

Marching bands.

Some say they are one of the best parts of a Mardi Gras parade. I’m not sure about that. But, you know how much I like them. I spend a lot of time making pictures of the bands. Their instruments. A lot of little details. In another life I might have been a musician. As it is, I can’t play a note.

Or, perhaps it’s just the bright and shiny objects. Like everybody else, I’m attracted to bling. As you know, I like reflections of stuff.

The pictures. This is why I go to the start of the parades. I can walk around and just make pictures. I can show you things that many people don’t ever get the chance to see. That’s one of my biggest jobs. To be a witness. Maybe I should go back to doing that a little more seriously. Seems like we are heading into interesting times. The worst Chinese curse.

A little housekeeping. Something weird happened yesterday. I managed to make a “butt” post. I have no idea why or how, but I managed to turn my phone on, press the WordPress app, type a few things in, and post it. All, without knowing it.

This is what I wrote in the title bar. “BBB…” No pictures, no text.

Here’s the telling and discouraging part. Twelve of you liked it. I had no idea that I accidentally posted until I saw the “like” notifications that said so-and-so liked “BBB…”

Wait, what?

I can’t speak for anybody but me. I read your posts before I like them. Even if I have to use Google Translator to do so. Just saying’.

Flag bearer, Krewe of Muses, Mardi Gras 2017, Uptown, New Orleans

Flag bearer, Krewe of Muses, Mardi Gras 2017, Uptown, New Orleans

Rattle and Hum


The smile.

The smile.

Ebb and flow.

A couple of the people who make Mardi Gras so much fun. And, a lot of colorful bling that makes Mardi Gras, well, so much fun.

I was going to group pictures by subject. But, I realized that wouldn’t give you the sense of it all. For instance, in the course of my parade work I make a lot of pretty good portraits that do not look like they have anything to do with Mardi Gras. You’ll see those later. After Mardi Gras. Throughout March.

For now, enjoy these. Open the small pictures. Plenty to see. Lots more to come. More and more and more.

The nose.

The nose.

 

The Spirit of Things


Father, son and the Krewe of Druids.

Father, son and the Krewe of Druids.

This is all you need to know. About anything.

This is Mardi Gras. In kind. And, in spirit. A son pushing has dad. A krewe reaching out to give them beads. A feeling of oneness. Togetherness.

This moment. This place. This time.

As you know, I don’t chimp. I never look at my pictures while I’m working in the field. With this moment, what would it have mattered if I looked and saw that I missed it? It’s never going to happen again. Luckily, I didn’t. I nailed it. I didn’t know that I actually made the picture until I opened up my downloads. There it was.

Enjoy it. I know I do. I won’t pass that way again. Ever.

You know about the picture. You don’t know about the entire shoot. I had a night for the ages.  I followed my usual routine. I arrived early. Had a coffee in a local shop. Started to look around. I was in my zone. For the entire time. I don’t know why. I just was. I don’t question these things. I just ride them.

Not to worry. I’ll show you as much of last night as I can over the next couple of weeks. I would have shown you more pictures today, but sometimes when I make a picture I really like, I want to call attention to it. It, and it alone.

Oh.

One more thing. Usually I’m pretty sore after walking about six miles on our streets. Not today. I’ve already recovered. I feel good and ready to go out again tonight.

Beads


Beads on a fence.

Beads on a fence.

Beads.

They are everywhere. This time of year. And, most times of the year. These are fresh. Bright. Shiny. New. As the year rolls on they will begin to fade. If they manage to hang around for a couple of years they will show their true colors. Black. Gray. White.

For now, they sparkle in the sunlight. Gleam at dusk. Reflect light in the dark.

They are ubiquitous. Parade goers fight for them. In the Quarter some people — tourists — display body parts. Some people — locals — hoard them from year to year. It’s amazing what some people will do for a string of beads that costs about 8 cents to produce and that can be bought at any shop that sells Mardi Gras stuff for about $3.00 a dozen. After, retail pricing and seasonal markups.

These pictures. As I do often, I made them on the way to some place else. One the way to the parades, to be specific. In low afternoon light. The beads hanging from the tree branches are on their way to becoming part of another unique New Orleans thing, a bead tree. A few years back, there was one or two of them located along St. Charles Avenue. As usual, that number grew and grew and grew. I suppose that’s a fun thing. But, we seem to be a city of copycats. Just ask people who make their livings in the restaurant industry. Sheesh.

Starting a bead tree.

Starting a bead tree.

Mostly Music


Trumpeteria.

Trumpeteria.

More Mardi Gras. Forever. Or, so it may seem.

I thought that on off days I would organize posts by category. So. Music. Floats. Spectators. Details. And, so on. There still isn’t enough time in the week to show you everything, so I’ll do a wrapper during the week after Mardi Gras Day.

These are a few moments from the music category. A guy I know says that the bands are the best part of the parade. I’m pretty sure that he’s right. Everything is photogenic at one of these things, but the marching bands always draw my eye. As we move into the high point of parade season, the big schools start coming out. Photographing them while they are rehearsing is something I’ve been doing for a long time. It gets really good when two bands face off and challenge each other. A battle of the bands. On the street. In full dress.

That’s one big, huge reason why I work the start of a parade. You will not see this along the parade route as the bands roll. Many people who have been going to the parades for years don’t know this happens.

These pictures. Bands. And support. I made all of them by walking around and looking. Looking. Always looking. This is sort of a triple brain thing. You have to see the big picture. Look for details. And, watch the ground. With our terrible streets, one false step and you could be flat on your face.

Oh yeah. One more thing. Most parades use a lot of horses to lead. Where there are horses there is…

Recovery time. Four parades over two nights and days equalled about 12 miles. That doesn’t count the dog walks, the walks in parking lots to run errands. And, so on. I spent most of yesterday hurting. You would be right to ask if I shouldn’t train for this sort of thing. You would be wrong to assume that I don’t.

I walk between three to five miles a day. Every day. The dogs won’t allow me not to. I stretch every day. Twice actually. Morning and night. And, I lift light weights every other day. I also watch my caloric intake. And, what’s in those calories.

In my case, aches and pains and recovery time are more about age than anything. I’m not comparing myself to professional athletes, but recovery time and increased training are two reasons why they usual retire before age 40. Many, much earlier than that. That doesn’t count the ones who get injured and are forced to call it quits.

Because of that, I always say that I’m not going to photograph Mardi Gras next year. And, then I do. Imagine that.

Krewe of Barkus. Woof.


 

Hey mister.

Hey mister.

The Krewe of Barkus.

This post wrote itself. Woof, woof, woof, bark, bark, bark, growl, growl, growl, grrr, grrr, grr.

See what I mean?

Anyway.

The Krewe of Barkus. It’s about dogs. It’s their parade. But, it’s also about their humans. It’s also our parade too. It’s hard to know who is masked better. The dogs? Or, the humans? Like everything in New Orleans, this parade has grown. I remember when it was a small walk, sparsely attended and you could pretty much walk with the parade. Now? Huge crowds everywhere. Pick a spot and you are pretty much stuck. It’s all in good fun. No. Strike that. All in great fun. Best of all. Nobody got shot. Which is something I’ll get to in a minute. After I talk about the pictures.

The pictures. This is about me as much as anything. Dogs are hard to photograph. The dogs around this place move when they know that the shutter button is being pressed. But, despite my rapidly advancing age, I still have pretty good hand — eye coordination. And, my instincts are still pretty good. So, that’s what these picture are about. Wait a minute. I have to be careful here. The pictures are about the dogs, their humans and… me. Especially the top one.

My favorite? It’s a bit of a sleeper.  The bottom picture. Pretty in Pink. I did my best Elliot Erwitt. Heh!

About that nobody got shot thing.

When you open the morning paper or morning website and the headline says, “Nobody Shot On Bourbon Street Saturday Night,” you have to wonder if it is such big news that nobody got shot? A look that story reveals that part of the crowd on Bourbon Street stampeded because they *thought* they heard shots fired.  Their descriptions are vivid. The NOPD couldn’t find any data to support that. I don’t know if I believe them or city hall. They’ve made a big deal out of increasing all sorts of protections and adding officers from various state agencies to patrol the crowd. What if shots were fired? Hmmmm…

After all, on this first Mardi Gras weekend, which was combined with the NBA All Star weekend, there were five shooting and one stabbing, resulting in two deaths. Two of the shootings were along the parade route.

That said, for anyone visiting don’t be denied. Be aware.

The downside is that once upon a time the violent areas were predictable by time and location. Now, it seems, violent crime is everywhere at any time of day.  If you read Storyteller and plan on coming to NOLA, don’t just read the local websites or the tourist sites. Reach out. To me. I work on the streets more than most those sources do. Sometimes, it’s matter of a block or so in the wrong direction…

Pretty in pink.

Pretty in pink.