While I was working yesterday and thinking about the dual “Ks” — Kennedy and Katrina, I was listening to music. For those familiar with i-Tunes, you know what Genius is, and how it works. It selected an old Joe Cocker tune from the “Mad Dogs and Englishman” tour called Feeling Alright. That got me bouncing around a little and I decided it was time for a little New Orleans second line music. Second line parades are small neighborhood parades in which everyone joins in. Sometimes, they are part of a jazz funeral. This is the last meaningful picture I made in New Orleans before the storm. It was from the second line parade of the “Chief of Chiefs, Tootie Montana” of the Mardi Gras Indians. This man is a spyboy. Normally, he checks out the other tribes. On this day everybody marched and sang together. He sang, “Tootie Montana god a golden crown.”
Damned if I didn’t feel much better.
Today is a day for reflection and remembrance. We say goodbye to the senator and we reflect on the four year anniversary of a storm making landfall early in the morning — storm called Katrina which changed everything in a city and a region. While the senator’s passing did not change my life directly, I’ve realized that during my life there has never been a time when a Kennedy has not held an office of great power and influence. I think about my mom who was a child of the Great Depression. She was born in 1916. She cared deeply about the Kennedys because for her the held out a beacon of hope. She was able to see past the family’s sturm und drang and find the deeper message. Watching the Kennedy family greet the people as they came to pay their respects, reminded me of one of my most influential teachers at Ohio University; Chuck Scott. He is a legend. When I was there, his wife passed during spring break. We thought enough of him that we returned to Ohio early to attend the funeral. As we left, Chuck greeted each one of us, shook our hands and told us to keep smiling. This, from a man who had just buried his childhood sweetheart. Hope.
Then, there is the storm. I was just in New Orleans. What I saw was encouraging. The city is not yet “back.” It may never return as it was. But, there are “green shoots” everywhere. Make it Right is doing good work in The Lower Ninth Ward. The people who lost their homes to 15 feet of water in Lakeview are building again. Sure, there are plenty of boarded up houses and empty lots. But, it’s about progress, not perfection. But, on a day like today, I remember what it felt like to evacuate. I remember, closing the storm shutters, locking the doors and thinking, “we’ll be back in a week.” I never lived in that house again. I remember driving 50 miles in eight hours. I remember the storm passing through Baton Rouge and losing power. I remember thinking that we’d made it. I remember the power coming back on, turning on CNN and watching the flood waters pour into the city and thinking, “oh, my God.”
Do these two events — the senator’s passing and the storm making landfall link? Certainly. They are about government. They are about the best and the worst of our government. Government, at all levels failed during the aftermath of the storm. But, as the senator showed us, there can be great hope and compassion found the the halls of congress.
The picture. I had no idea what to publish. Then I stumbled upon this picture from The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Balloons always make me smile. They are bright. They are colorful. They are generally quiet as they float along high above the earth. Peaceful. Then there is the moment. This is dawn patrol. A new day. A new way. We carry on.
This is an essential piece on New Mexico summer wear. In fact, this is a top down look at a Mexican folk musician. In the background are his musical notes. Yes, yes. I realize they are unreadable, but what can I say? I just like the detail in the hat. That said, it’s getting top be time to go to my new gallery. Yeah. Against my better judgment, I bought a partnership in the gallery. More on that later. The good news, is that groups like this play in our little corner of the plaza which is a side plaza off the main part of Old Town called Poco y Poco.
Now, I did it. I thought I was joining a small cooper – ative art gallery as a photo – grapher. I applied. I was interviewed. My pictures were reviewed and they offered me the position. Well, well, well… it’s more then representation. It’s 1/10 ownership of Albuquerque Photographer’s Gallery. It’s a business. It’s located in a small plaza (Poco y Poco) in Albuquerque’s Old Town. Lot’s of tourist traffic, some locals traffic and a lot of repeat business. The price per month for my share can’t be beat, so I accept the offer. There’s lots to be done in phases of the business that I have to learn. I’m not much of a matte cutter, frame maker of glass cutter. But, I’m a pretty good photographic printer and I can help out a lot on their printed marketing pieces since I have a lot of experience in that end of the business. They’ve also asked me to help shape their photographic vision since probably 85% of their work looks like the image that I posted on this blog. That’s fine as far as it goes, but if they are serious about making sales they can’t be competing with each other. I have some experience with that as well.
I guess, despite my claims of making Albuquerque a temporary home, used to determine my next post-Katrina move, I seem to be growing roots. More importantly, I never thought that I would own a business with a store front, counters, cash registers and all that stuff.
Here you go. http://www.abqphotographersgallery.com
In days of old, when knights were bold… Camelot. It’s a sad day. It’s not just the passing of Ted Kennedy that saddens me. It’s the passing of a man who knew how to engage and negotiate for the benefit of the people of the United States. Today, it seems that too many politicians and pundits deal only in political ideology without thought to the people who they effect. Democrats, Republican, people on the left and right should join together to sing an old New Orleans second line, jazz funeral song; “Teddy Kennedy got a golden crown…”
Rest in Peace, Senator.
Well, I’m home again. The land of clear air, big skies and high altitudes. But, I miss the green, the waterways, the lakes, the old funky houses and; most importantly, the people. In New Orleans, I couldn’t buy a coffee without having a ten minute discussion about dis, dat and da udder. Here? Not so much. One place isn’t better or worse than the other. They are just different. I’ll be spending a huge amount of time this week on post production, meta data and uploading. I’m sure glad digital photography came along. Instead of one job, now we have three.
Sometimes when I live a place that has been home or feel like home I get sort of blue. mostly because I never know if I am going to return. It happened as I was making these last few pictures. The weather was almost fall-like in New Orleans today. Bright, warm sun light. Dry air. I’ve been riding the ferry to Algiers for the past couple of days to make a good skyline frame. It’s a free trip and you can stay on board for as many round trips as you’d like. After a couple of evening trips and no lighted skylines I asked around. Apparently, after the storm a lot of high rise business did not return so there is a pretty dark skyline. From my standpoint, that meant my alternative was using a low sun in the image as dusk arrived. This image was among my last. I certainly hope that my feeling is wrong and that I’ll be back. But, who knows.
I don’t know if this is a good or bad weekend to be in New Orleans. On one hand, The French Quarter is hopping with returning college students who are finally getting out from under the thumb of their parents which creates good business on Bourbon Street. On the other hand, the Sunday paper is filled with Katrina stories as we are less then a week away from the fourth anniversary of an event that changed our lives. No matter how much recovery has gone on, we live with a certain kind of feeling that was born of watching the flooding on CNN and then returning home to find most of your possessions or all of your home destroyed. I cannot even begin to describe the feeling I had when I finally walked in my door only to find water marks and mold two thirds of the way to the top of a 14 foot high ceiling. I was lucky. Art and some music and about 60% of my photography files survived. The people with whom I’m staying came home to find that everything was gone. The way that we live today is governed by what we learned. When late hurricane season approaches, everyone keeps a full tank of gas in their cars. I store my work in three places including a cloud somewhere on the internet, we always have extra canned food and water. And, gee, I live in New Mexico now. And yet, I would like to return. I’ve never felt more at home here then in any other places. I’ve lived in a lot of places. Too many.
So. I was walking down a street in the Big Easy and and I saw this guy wearing cook’s clothes sitting on a box of bottled water talking on his cell phone. I make few snaps and He asked what was doing so I told him. He asked me to wait a minute. He went inside and came out wearing his chef’s hat. Toque, a chef’s hat they tell me. First, he started posing for me using his hands to make funny gestures. I told him to be himself. This is him being himself. Typical. New Orleans. Happy. A lot of thinsg have made me smile in this city — especially its recovery.