The Crescent City Connection and Mardi Gras World at dusk in New Orleans.
The Crescent City Connection and Mardi Gras World at dusk in New Orleans.

I showed you my experimental picture yesterday. The base picture was lucky and accidental. I made a turn and made another turn. There it was. A picture. Or, the beginnings of one.

Sometimes, I make a picture knowing that what I captured was not more than a foundation. A starting place. Sometimes I even know what my post production manipulation will be. Sometimes is a huge word. Often I start in one direction, see something that I like, turn left, push a button, move a slider and the picture emerges pretty much on its own. I’m just pushing the buttons. It’s a pretty organic way of working.

This is one of the three views for which I really returned to the scene of my latest crimes. Daylight and moving clouds was one thing. But, dusk is quite another. I knew the bridge has lights outlining its shape. I knew that Mardi Gras World has lights all over it. I had an idea of what the sky might look like, so off we went. I worked pretty quickly and efficiently. After all, dinner was waiting. And, nobody in my house was cooking.

A few words of explanation.

You can see that this is Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World. He’s Mister Mardi Gras. For people just coming to the city for Carnival, his publications are the ones that you want. After Carnival, many floats are stored here or across the river in Algiers. Big Mardi Gras celebrations are held here. Even the tractors that pull the floats are stored there. It’s a big place. The bridge spans The Mississippi River. It’s The Crescent City Connection. That’s one way to travel to The Westbank. The building at the very far left is the most downriver side of the convention center. Now THAT’S a huge building. It replaced a lot of docks and shipping in New Orleans proper. The interesting thing about this place as I said yesterday, is this is a world away from our neighborhood. Yet, it is maybe five minutes away by car.

Post production?Next to none. I sharpened it a bit and softened the edges. Subjects photographed in dusk light don’t need much help. It’s that blue hour thing.

 

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One Way
Religion Street. An alternative view.

I was going to call this, “One Way.” If you look closely you can see why.

But, this picture went through so many changes that I did it again. I borrowed a few words from a bit of a song. It’s a cover song has been newly released. I really like the new version. Here’s the line that I borrowed it from. “Trapped within the circle, time parade of changes.” If you can sort it out and tell me who wrote it and who covered it lately, I’ll give you something. I have no idea what. Maybe a print of this picture. Would y’all like that? Or, do you want money? Kidding about the money. You’re better than that.

Anyway.

We went out to photograph the scenes I photographed a couple of days ago.This time we did it around dusk. Much better light. You already know what I think about that. The last time out we didn’t cross Tchopitoulas Street down river. We did this time. I’m glad we did. Look what we found.

However.

This is “Experimental Sunday.” It used to mean that I published the experiment on Sunday. But, that stopped making sense. I want to go out on Saturday night. Eat someone else’s cooking. Listen to music. Hang out. Not work. I want play around on Sunday, not Saturday night. Sooooo… y’all can figure it out.

One more thing.

Something a little more serious. Nine people were shot early Sunday morning while they were walking on Bourbon Street. Two guys got into a fight. One guy turned his gun on the crowd. I don’t know why. Luckily — and this is certainly said with a sense of all things being relative — only one person was hurt critically. Nobody died.

No. We weren’t there. It was 2:45am. I can’t remember the last time I was out that late. Locals — me included — don’t go to Bourbon Street very often. It’s a tourist trap. It literally smells from, well, stuff. Yes. It’s a tourist dump. But, it’s our tourist dump.

Once again, there will be the calls for an end to gun violence. Unfortunately, nothing changes. Very much. The shooter will get caught. The area has more surveillance video cameras than many other places. You can Google around and see it if you’d like. But…


Old corner store and nothing more.
Old corner store and nothing more.
The level of demolishing is equal the depth of the water.
The level of demolishing is equal the depth of the water.

I guess by now it’s pretty obvious to you that I borrow bits of song lyrics or even song titles to write the headlines. This one comes from a song called, “The Neighborhood,” by Tom Waits. It sort of suits these pictures.

But…

It’s not as bad as it looks.

As I was wandering in around in this neighborhood which is called The Irish Channel — I think — I noticed that there was a lot or rehabbing and new construction going on. That figures. This is a fairly popular neighborhood with younger couples and families.

The reason I wrote that I think this is The Irish Channel is because like many neighborhoods in New Orleans, the neighborhood boundaries are flexible. Not only do they stretch and contract over the years, but they move around a little. For instance, my second house was located in The 7th Ward. Or, Esplanade Ridge. Or, the very edge of Treme. Or, District 1. Wait, wait, wait… that’s a police district.

Oh. In case you are wondering, The Irish Channel is located in the general area called Uptown. Even though it seems a world away from our house, it’s about five minutes away.

The pictures. Yes. I helped them out a little. I made them look like the things my eyes saw. So, I added a little color. A little contrast. And, blammo… these pictures.


The last of the original brick buildings left standing near the river.
The last of the original brick buildings left standing near the river.

This is it.

The last one. The last building on the lake side of the street. Yes, there are a couple of walls here and there, but the buildings are gone. I doubt this building is coming down anytime soon since people live and work in it. No. Not homeless people. People who have actually restored the inside. If you look at the bricks in the shadow you can see a lot of ghosts. Windows. Signs. A stairway — I think. This building was one of many that handled shipping through the Port of New Orleans. They’ve left a lot of it looking abandoned as sort of a kind of burglary protection.

The cement fence with the railroad crossing signs are part of the levee that controls possible flooding from the Mississippi River. You can see a flood gate at the far left. As I know it, this is a neighborhood in a section of town that was called, “The Sliver by the River,” but the media who reported on, and photographed, the storm. It did not flood following Hurricane Katrina.

I was going to call this post “Down By The River.” That’s too obvious. I would have borrowed the name of a song that is a classic in the rock n’ roll world.

Oh, and about this daytime thing. The clouds were outstanding. They moved from white puffs, to heavy storm clouds with great reflected light. And, they did it fairly quickly so the set of pictures from this day look as if they’d been made over the course of a few days. So, I broke one of my rules. Rules are made to be broken. Right?


There used to be a building on this site. It liked it. Now it "ain't der no mo'."
There used to be a building on this site. It liked it. Now it “ain’t der no mo’.”

Neil Young was right. Rust never sleeps.

You know this place.

I’ve shown it to you a few times. Well, not this scene. There are broken bricks and bits of glass in this picture. There used to be a graffiti covered building here; made of concrete, brick and iron. Homeless people took shelter here. Sometimes they lived here. They even cooked here. One of them offered me a meal. How’s that for irony? Me? I have stuff. A house. A car. A computer. Money to spend. That guy apparently had nothing, but a little bit of food. He wanted to share it with me.

That’s a whole other line of thought. Not for today.

There used to be a building here. As we say down in New Orleans, “It ain’t der no mo’.”

When I got to this location I was confused. I usually find my way around by local landmarks. Like buildings. When I realized where I was, I got a little bit angry. Then, I got a little bit sad. I liked that building. It could have been restored. Gentrified. Sheesh, hipsters could have turned it into expensive condos. Or, it could have be repurposed to give people living on the street a home.

But, no.

It’s gone.


Just a house in the Lower 9th Ward.
Just a house in the Lower 9th Ward.

The light is ugly. The rain has been heavy. Normally, you know what I say to that. “When the weather turns bad, the pictures get good.”

Normally.

But, not these past few days. The light has been beyond ugly. Flat. Dark. Heavy.

Heavy? Oh wait, that’s the very humid quality of the air.

It’s a typical Southeastern Louisiana summer. It’s to be expected. But, I get bored when I’m not doing something photographic, so I’ve been tinkering.

This is really just a picture of an abandoned house. When I took it, the light was low and ominous, but the subject wasn’t all the special.

Soooooo…

I started tinkering with stuff and layering color and shape. It took a while. There were a lot of mistakes. There was a lot of backing out of layers. I’m not entirely sure this pictures isn’t just one big mistake. That happens sometimes. Besides, it’s still raining.


A photo manipulation of a moment at the last second line of the season.
A photo manipulation of a moment at the last second line of the season.

You know it rained. I told you that my pictures were a little ragged. They are. Even my dancing friend’s pictures are soft and a little motion blurred. But, not in a good way.

So, I tinkered with them a little. Well, a lot. I tried to make this picture look old, like something faded from the 1950s. I tried to emphasize the rain. The motion. And, the bits of red, white and blue.

I’m not sure that it worked. What do you think? Assuming that you are somewhere around my age, does this picture look like it came out of the 1950s?


Dancing in the rain. One.
Dancing in the rain. One.
Dancing in the rain. Two.
Dancing in the rain. Two.
Dancing in the rain. Three.
Dancing in the rain. Three.
All smiles... and water.
All smiles… and water.

This is what we do. Especially when inconvenient stuff happens. We dance.

Rain… it’s just water. You get a little wet. Or, a lot wet. So what? The music doesn’t stop. The second liners don’t stop walking. They get wet. I walk with them. I get wet. Luckily, my cameras are sealed for this sort of thing. I’d hate to dunk them, but they are fine in heavy rain.

Who is this wonderful lady? I didn’t really know. We are at most of the second lines. We are always happy to see each other. We are pals on the scene.

We took refuge on the same stoop. So, we finally introduced ourselves. She was getting frustrated. She wanted to dance. She wanted to dance in the rain. When the police liaison finally said, “walk or cancel the second line,” the paraders hit the streets. The minute — no, make that the second — he said that, she put her hands on my shoulders and pretty much flew off the stoop and started doing what everybody does. Dance.

Dance. Dance. Dance.

A little backstory.

My “pal on the scene” was able to put her hands on my shoulders because I was sitting on the front of the stoop trying to make myself small. She was standing behind me. Her name is Yoni. She is older than you think. She has an eight year old son. The guy in the hot pink shirt is her husband.

The NOPD aren’t bad guys in this case. They close streets, use patrol cars to lead and follow the parade and generally keep everybody safe even though any open container law you ever heard of is being broken, people are technically trespassing and unprotected streets are “illegally” blocked. But, that can’t go on forever.

It rained like this again on Monday. The talking weather heads are wondering if it might happen on Tuesday. Probably. We are into our rainy season. This isn’t news. A hurricane building up near Africa is news. Not heavy rain. Heavy rain is an excuse to dance. And, take pictures. And, play music. And, smile.


The last second line parade of the season.
The last second line parade of the season.

Yeah. This place feels like home. My kind of home.

We had one of the longest days ever. Since today closed the second line season I wanted to be in New Orleans. But, we were in Brooklyn. What to do? What to do?

We knew what to do.

They say that if God wanted man to fly he’d have given us wings. That’s what they say. Instead, we just got on plane. We arrived in plenty of time for me to get to the second line. We wouldn’t have, if the parade would have begun at what is the usual starting time for noon or 1pm. For some reason this one started at 3:30p.

The starting time of any kind of parade in New Orleans is very fluid.

This one got fluid all right.

At about 3:28 p the skies parted, lightning flashed, thunder boomed and God’s own rain storm began. Heavy rain. Sideways rain. Upside down rain. Inside out rain. Within minutes the streets were flooded. We were all drenched in about two seconds.

We all headed to the stoops and porches. It didn’t matter. We were already soaked.

The brass band was across the street on another stoop blasting out walking tunes. Some of them crossed the street and came to the stoop where we were taking refuge. They split a song, playing a little call and response.

And, the rain poured down.

And, we laughed. And talked. And danced.

That’s it. My home.

I made a lot of pretty good, but a little ragged, collection of pictures. We are real tired tonight. I’ll work on them and post a bunch of them for Tuesday. I promise.