You’ve heard of Cadillac Ranch, yes?
If not, it’s a group of Cadillacs half buried along Interstate 40 located in West Texas. Just west of Amarillo. You can also say located on Route 66, if you prefer. They are placed in a straight line that some say are pointed in the same angle as the Great Pyramid at Giza, Egypt. The cars range in age from 1949 to 1963. The burying was done in 1974. They are spray painted, coated in graffiti by passersby, and are probably one of the most photographed road side attractions in the country.
That’s it for Cadillac Ranch.
I found Cadillac Farm. At least, that’s what I’m calling it. It’s in the neighborhood back behind what used to be the St. Bernard Housing Projects. The projects were torn down after the levee failure that occurred during Hurricane Katrina. They were flooded. The surrounding neighborhoods were as well. Like a phoenix the projects rose from the ashes, er, mud and were rebuilt as Columbia Parc in what is now called the St. Bernard Bayou District.
The surrounding neighborhoods are coming back, at least along the street that gave the original projects their name. St. Bernard Avenue. But, once you start poking around the back streets, recovery is hit and miss, like many areas of New Orleans. That’s where all these Cadillacs were parked.
So. How did I find this place?
The story jumps below this picture. Because, it’s long.
I was going to a church that is located between the interstate and the new Columbia Parc complex. To photograph a jazz funeral.
However, I didn’t do that because it was very formal. No big brass bands. No outdoor crowds. None of the usual jazz funeral stuff. Many mourners dressed in black instead of white or bright colors. Even though the community was invited, it seemed very private. So. I paid my respects, didn’t make pictures, left and looked around the neighborhood.
This confused me a little, because…
The man who passed was Smokey Johnson. A musician. Even though he was local, he wasn’t. He was bigger than that. He was Fats Domino’s drummer for something like forty years. And, he wrote one song called “It Ain’t My Fault” that became sort of the anthem for brass bands walking in second lines. The song is an icon. So is Fats Domino. And, the musicians who played with him. After all, Fats did nothing less than invent rock n’ roll. In 1947. In Cosmo Matissa’s studio in the French Quarter. During an unnamed hurricane. No disrespect to Elvis Presley, but even he said that without Fats, he wouldn’t have played and sang the way that he did.
These cars. All Cadillacs. All black and white. Varying ages. I have no idea who owns them. Or, why they are there. A couple of them are hearses. Most are not. There’s even a convertible. Unlike just about everything else in New Orleans that looks remotely abandoned, they are untagged. No graffiti.
I photographed them in the morning, which is why they have a nice golden glow. Nobody was around. But, I had a feeling that somebody was watching. I’m willing to bet that if I had done anything else other than wander around with a camera in my hand, somebody would have appeared with a shotgun is his hand.
The pictures. The cars are as you see them. The light was right. The subjects were right. The scene was right. I cleaned and sharpened them up a touch because you have to do that in the digital era. The pictures. Not the cars. They look like they have to be restored just to get to the point where you can really start restoring them. The cars. Not the pictures.