The Lakeview School
The Lakeview School

I just drove spell check crazy. Skool Daze? What is Skool Daze?

Me? I just thought the alternative spelling was appropriate for this picture. Skool Daze is grungy. So is this picture.

You’ve visited this place before with me. It’s the Lakeview School. It’s a building located in an area of the city called — you guessed it — Lakeview. This neighborhood was truly built on a swamp. When the storm blew through, the entire neighborhood was flooded with around 15 feet of water. In some places, even higher. I have friends whose home had high water marks on the third floor. But, that’s not what is destroying this place. Demolition by neglect started about 30 years ago. I have my suspicions about what caused it. But, I can’t find any documentation. There isn’t even much history about this place. What I found, I posted a few weeks ago.

This picture is one more of those images that I worked on a lot in post production. It’s an attempt to get you to feel what I felt while I was there. I wish that I could tell you exactly how I got to this picture. But, I can’t. I once had a reader get kind of angry because I couldn’t tell him. I think he believed that couldn’t really meant wouldn’t. In one way, he was correct. Let’s just bring it back a few years. Unless we were working together, he wouldn’t see the contact sheets or the negatives. He’d see the finished print. The media may have changed, but the thinking hasn’t. More to the point, I couldn’t tell him. Mostly I tinker with stuff, at home, in the studio and sometimes in transit. When I get to a finished picture, it tells me. Not the other way around.

One more big point. A real big point. Even when I’m in the field working, I’m rarely sure of the final form. I may look at a scene and think, “Aha, this is a picture that I’ll turn into something else. “But, I don’t know exactly what. That usually takes some time between pushing the button and sitting down at the computer. The picture has to marinate a little. Then, it reveals itself.


Details. Looks like the fence alone could kill you.
Details. Looks like the fence alone could kill you.

I’ve always said that New Orleans is really just a third world Caribbean country. So, I borrowed the title from a Jimmy Buffett song. I know how some of you feel about his music. He has no gravitas. He writes drunken Caribbean rock and roll music. At least that’s what the musicians in my life tell me. They all seem to agree on that. They must be right. All I know is that I’d like to wander around the world; flying my own plane, going to work in shorts and playing music to thousands of people. I do a couple of those things. Working in shorts and traveling. But… let’s not go down that road.

Let’s go down this road instead.

I made these pictures taking the long way home from The Lower 9th Ward Katrina remembrance. That was upbeat and fun so I needed something to balance out my mood and drag it right into the gutter, where things are more interesting. Oh gee. I’m full of music stuff today. Neil Young said a version of the gutter thing. You didn’t think I was that creative, did you?

Anyway.

This is St. Vincent de Paul Cemetery. It’s also called Louisa Street Cemetery. It’s either Number 1, 2 or 3. I’m not sure which because I sort of discovered it while I was driving in circles. Of course, discovery is a relative word, given that the cemetery was built in 1840. It’s been there all along. It just took me a while to find it.

It doesn’t have a Wiki entry. But, it does have a Facebook page. Hmm… now that I look at Google maps, I’ve also come to realize that I wasn’t in the 7th Ward when I took these pictures. I was in the 9th Ward. Pretty well in, as it turns out. Shows what I know. Or, how little I know. It s a new neighborhood for me to photograph. That’s good.

I was just thinking. What a world we live in… even though it never occurs to me, think about what I just wrote. Wiki. Facebook. Google. There is absolutely no reason for someone who claims to be a journalist or writer to get anything wrong. Facts are facts. Sure, the entry could be wrong. But, we have multiple sources. At our fingers tips. Yeah. I know what you’re thinking. “Did he just wake up?” No. I use this stuff all the time. It’s just become ubiquitous. I just don’t think I’ve written it in one sentence.

The pictures. Oh sure. I stepped all over them. I’m always trying to get you to see what I felt. It’s gotten to the point that taking a picture of a thing doesn’t seem to matter that much. How many millions of pictures were just uploaded to something in the time it took me to write this? But, capturing “What it’s like to…” Or, how it felt at that very moment. Or, the sense of… Now that’s a great trick.

I’ll keep practicing.

Big storm coming.
Big storm coming.


Back to the 7th Ward.
Back to the 7th Ward.

For those of you who have been around for a while, you might recognize this place.

It’s falling down at a very rapid pace.

If you look between the two windows, you’ll see a giant rusted metal sheet. I think it covers a window. There used to be a painted of Our Lady of Guadalupe attached to it. She’s gone. The window to the right of that metal sheet used to be boarded up. The boards are broken. The window glass is broken. It’s gone. There used to be a formal dining room chair out there on the sidewalk too. It’s gone.

This building was a store at one time. Likely, a neighborhood “food store.” The diagonal door was the entrance to the store. Plywood covered the old original doors. Most of it is gone. I can’t even begin to say what’s going on upstairs. I’m trying to decide if the places where the wood siding has fallen away is brick or that kind of asphalt fake brick siding that was popular once upon a time. If it’s brick — it might be because there are bits of broken brick in the street and sidewalk — somebody is going to get hurt someday when a piece falls out of the sky.

This place is a great example of demolition by neglect. I imagine that one time when I pass by, some of the top floor while be on the bottom floor. Yes. This place was hurt by the flood waters of Katrina. But, it was headed down the road to ruin many years before that.

The picture. Well, I just had to tinker with it. I had to make you feel what I felt when I saw it again. I may have gone a little too far. That’s okay. You get the point.