Flambeaux. Well this is curious. I Googled flambeaux to make sure I had the details correct. Guess what? My post from last year came up as number 10 on the page. The only difference is that I published it last year on Feb 10, which makes sense because I shot the pictures, posted them and left for Los Angeles the next day. From there I went to Australia. That was some year.
Anyway. At the risk of repeating myself, Flambeaux carry these lighted torches for the length of parade. They dance and swing around hoping to earn tips. I have a thing about that. I always tip them a dollar and I always give it directly to the man I photographed. Here’s why. In the old days — the way old days after the Civil War — many of these guys were former slaves. Since there wasn’t much street lighting back then, they lighted the way for the parades. Spectators tossed coins at them and Flambeaux stooped down to pick up the coins. Think this through and I won’t have to write the rest. Suffice it to say, it doesn’t feel right to me to make grown men carrying 70 pound propane tanks bend over to pick up a quarter. So, I hand them a dollar bill… from my hand to theirs.
So. Last year’s picture is a portrait of a flambeaux standing in the street. It is nothing like this one.This was made just prior to the parade after the torches were first lighted. It’s a 16mm lens picture. Pretty close, eh? Yes. The man looking at me, was given a tip. Those torches are hot. He earned it.
It’s very interesting for me and parades. I kept bouncing from flambeaux to The United States Marine Corps Marching Band. I’ll show you a couple of pictures of them later next week. I have a lot of pictures to process and I’m physically tired. I can’t recover as quickly as I used to. Certainly not in the 12 hours I had to rest between shoots.
I’ll tell you the back story now. I noticed that these Marines were pretty heavily decorated and the very lowest rank was Lance Corporal. Most were more senior sergeants. Photographers talk to each other while we are waiting, waiting and waiting. I was fortunate enough to talk to the USMC photographer. It turns out that even though these Marines’ MOS was band musician, once a Rifleman always a Rifleman. Many of these Marines saw some pretty heavy combat in Iraq or Afghanistan. Or both. Tonight they walked in New Orleans. They started with “The Star Spangled Banner” and then played “From the Halls of Montezuma.” What do you say to that?