Along the parade route.
Along the parade route.

This is normally a huge parade. It didn’t disappoint. The Original N.O. Lady and Men Buckjumpers Annual Parade is 31 years old. It is bold. Powerful. Loud.

It was bigger than huge on Sunday. I’m not sure if people were making a statement about last weekend’s events. Or, if an 80 degree Thanksgiving weekend brought everybody out on the street.

Second lines are happy, joyous and safe events. They are neighborhood events. Tell me that I shouldn’t go and guess what? I go. So did just about everybody else in Central City. The streets were packed. At one point, I was in the Stooges Brass Band. At another point, I was in Rebirth. I had no choice. What could be better? Two legendary brass bands. And, I got to walk with them. How cool is that?

As I wrote last week, this is my last second line for a while. I’m not sure if I’m retiring from the parades, but I’ve got other stuff to do. I’ll go out with a lot of visual noise. A big racket.

I had a helluva great shooting day. I’m not exactly sure why. I was very focused. No pun intended. I saw with eyes wide open. I don’t know why. I just did. If I could bottle that and sell it, I’d be a very rich man.

As I’ve said in the past, WordPress is a writer’s blog. That said, there are a lot of bloggers that discuss “getting in the mood to write.” I don’t know what to tell them. All I know is I have a pre-event routine. Doing the little things that I do may not guarantee that I’ll photograph well, but it sort of sets the mood. Opens the door. Helps me to get in the zone. Or, something like that.


You’ll see the pictures over the course of the week. Even then, I’m not sure that I can show you all — or, even — most of them. I’ll try my best.

The pictures. What is the heart and soul of a second line? Social Clubs? Brass bands? The neighborhood itself? The second line? For me, I suppose it really is about family. Joy. Reunion. Sort of a rolling party.


That’s what these pictures are about. These are the moments for which I look. The ones that I anticipate. The moments I to which I react.

They are also about just being there. Seeing. Situational awareness. Paying attention.  Constant motion. I wish I could tell you more than that. There’s no secret to taking these pictures.  Just a lot of practice and hard work.

Then there’s this. You know what’s coming. There’s only about a week or so to go in this funding campaign.

Good teeth.
Good teeth.
Last hug.
Last hug.

Details, Details, Doors
Details, Details, Doors.

A promise is a promise.

I wrote, yesterday, that I would show you what was across the street from the old car repair shop. This is it. A 1932 Ford Panel Delivery Truck. It’s for sale. There’s a bit of a funny story to be told. While I was researching this old thing of rusted beauty, I ran across an ad for one up in British, Columbia. The owner said it was the only unrestored one left in the world. Good Try. I certainly didn’t travel up to Canada to photograph it. I like old cars. But, traveling that far for this truck… sheesh.


This one is located in Algiers Point, just across the river from New Orleans. I have no idea if it’s running. Or, if it even starts. It actually looks pretty solid. It was last inspected and licensed in 2012. It might make a great project for somebody. Not me. In fact, I tried to talk a guy who was just passing by into buying it. I told him that he looked like he needed a project. He wasn’t having it. Smart guy. While I was researching around, I found out that a completely and properly restored version of this truck is worth about $30,000 – $35,000. The asking price for this hulk is $15,000. Ray’s rule of thumb says that, at a minimum, the price you paid is equal to the restoration cost. Unless, you restore this truck because you love this model, there is no return on investment.

The pictures.

This is an interesting neighborhood. The repair shop that I showed you yesterday is across the street. This lot used to have a building on it. It’s pretty easy just to walk around the neighborhood and take pictures. The neighbors seem friendly. My danger radar didn’t come on. The bells didn’t ring.

The pictures were made pretty much as you see them. With the bright overcast light, it was sort of like working with a big, huge soft box. I added a little more pop to the color. But, that’s about it.

Oh. Why four pictures? You know that I think less is more.

This post sort of needs them.

The top picture is a detail picture. It really needs to be huge. It could be a huge picture hung on the wall. You could call it fine art. You could. I won’t. But, there are some technical limitations to this WordPress format. Yes. I could tinker with the code to make bigger pictures. But, I don’t think anybody wants me to do that. After all, I’m a coding idiot.

The middle picture is probably the view I photographed first. A lot of my composing and framing is straight ahead. If I had to choose only one picture, this would be it even though isn’t my favorite picture.

The third picture is simply an establishing shot. You see the truck, the lot and the neighborhood.

The fourth picture is my favorite… AS A PHOTOGRAPH. Unfortunately, you can’t see enough of the truck, the lot or the location.

There you have it. That’s sort of how I think. Especially about little photo essays.

Oh. And one more thing. Help a brother out. Printing, mounting, matting, glazing and framing a gallery show doesn’t come cheaply. Please slide over to Storyteller for November 4 for details.

Ford front grill.
Ford front grill.
Just so you can see it
Just so you can see it.
In the weeds
In the weeds.

I can just hardly wait...
I can just hardly wait…

What a nice corrugated wall. Give it a couple of weeks and the taggers will find it. All that nice sliver will be covered in graffiti. Weeks? What am I saying? Weeks, sheesh. Days. Maybe hours. You know it. I know it. If you look towards the far left of the picture you can see a boarded up window. It’s already been tagged.

On the other hand, it doesn’t look like anybody has tried to break into the interior. Yet. Not even me. I just took the picture through what look bars in a jail cell. Not that I would know. But, I do watch movies. Heh, heh.

Anyway. It’s an old gas station and car repair shop. That’s what I thought. A neighbor confirmed it. Whoever owns it is doing a great job keep it clean and tidy. It is for sale. But what you see is what you get. Four walls. No roof. Except for what I’m guessing was the office.

The pictures. Yep. Lots of post production. Once again I’m trying to help you see what I felt. I did wander around for a bit. I was trying to find an easy way in. It don’t really think it mattered. Everything is as you see it.

Wait until you see what I found in the lot across the street from this place. I don’t know if they go together. But, both are from the same era. I’ll show you tomorrow.


Of course there is this, Again.

My poster. For the gallery show.
My poster. For the gallery show.

All that remains.
All that remains.


Booker T. Washington High School. At least what’s left of it. Students from the old B.W, Cooper Housing Projects in Central City attended classes here once. Probably from other nearby projects as well. Today, the old projects are gone.  The school is mostly gone. Eventually, mixed use housing will be built on the site of the old dwellings. Some already has been built. I read somewhere, almost in passing, that the school — at least of what’s left of it — will also be back sometime.

We’ll see.

I need to poke around in this neighborhood of Central City a little more. I will. I promise you that.

The picture. Taking the base picture was easy. See it. Shoot it. Tinkering with it was not so easy. Every time I got it near where I thought I wanted it, I’d add just one more thing. And, blammo. I went too far. Luckily, I work in layers. So, I just took a step back. But, still. It’s a little disconcerting to watch your work go south.  Especially, when you are almost done.

Never forget. Help a brother out. GO. FUND.ME.



Abandonment. No, not me. This place.

The building in the picture is abandoned. It’s tucked away in Central City, New Orleans.

I was thinking about posting some kind of Thanksgiving picture. But, I realized two things. Many of you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. And, I don’t shoot the usual holiday pictures. Besides, this picture could kick off the holiday season. After all, its dominant colors are red and green.


For those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving, Happy Thanksgiving. For those of you who don’t celebrate the US holiday, I’m sure that there is something for which you are thankful.

Then there is this. Again.

Falling Apart
Falling Apart

The first time I saw this church it was for sale.

The Archdiocese of New Orleans decided to close 33 churches in the years immediately following Hurricane Katrina. They merged the parishes of this church — Saint Francis De Sales — with a neighboring church — The Church of The Holy Ghost. The parishioners were not happy about it. But, the years following the storm were bleak. Many churches of all religious denominations lost big portions of their congregations. Even though the Catholic Church as a whole is wealthy, many local regions are struggling. For all sorts of reasons. I’m not getting into that here. The purpose of these pictures is to tell you a little story. About this particular place.

This church is called a pioneering church. It was built around 1870. It is a city landmark. It is among one of the first churches in the nation to integrate Black-styled gospel music with Catholic ceremonies.

Unfortunately, in 2008 it was closed and eventually put up for sale. I first saw it in about late 2011. It was still for sale. The archdiocese asked too much money for it. However, it came with the main church building, a residence, a former school building and a pretty good-sized piece of land.

Now, four years later, it is abandoned. I suppose that the Catholic Church still owns it. But, they aren’t actively maintaining it. The buildings are locked up tightly. But, this is New Orleans. It hasn’t been tagged. But, it has been broken into. The top picture is evidence of that. There used to be a really nice wrought iron fence around it. Most of that is gone. The neighborhood? Some of it is back. Many of the houses near the church are not. Like the church, many sit abandoned. Some are boarded up. Some are not.

I’d like to photograph the interior of all the buildings. I’ll call the archdiocese for permission. I’m not sneaking in like I do when some buildings are sitting wide open. I want a key. To the locks. All of them.

That said, I’m shifting the focus of Storyteller. I’m going to back away a little from the Mardi Gras culture. Not because I’m worried about what happened on Sunday. Shootings and mass shootings seem to be part and parcel of the times in which we live. I can deal with that. In my way.

Instead, I came to it this way.  I was watching a short film called “Everybody Street.” It’s about street photographers. A lot of famous shooters. And, some not so well-known. One of them said that the main reason to document the things that he does is because his subjects won’t always be there. That really struck home.

Even here, in New Orleans, so much is changing rapidly. Gentrification is driving the old residents out. They can’t afford to live in the neighborhoods that they called home for years and years. Even when gentrification is a good thing, it isn’t. During the Katrina Ten Year Anniversary series I wrote about the St. Roch Market. What the neighborhood needed was a real live modern grocery store. What they got was a hipster food court. There’s nothing wrong with a food court, but from that neighborhood almost all the way to the St. Bernard Parish border is a food desert. No modern grocery stores. Just a few old-fashioned food stores.

That’s sort of an aside. But, it’s an example.

There is so much to document. To show coming generations. Yes. Second lines, Mardi Gras Indians and brass bands are a big part of that. But, there are plenty of people who want to document that. You’ve seen my pictures of people taking pictures on the scene. There are more and more photographers coming to the big events every year.


There aren’t so many people who want to poke around on side streets and broken neighborhoods. There aren’t many photographers who want to research the locations and tell their stories in words and in images.


I’ll do it. I’m happy to do it. It’s an honor. And, a pleasure.

The pictures. I looked and around and photographed what I saw. Then I tinkered with the pictures to help you to see what I felt.  You should have a point when you are messing around in Photoshop, or OnOne or whatever. My point is to get you there.

And, just so you don’t forget.

My poster. For the gallery show.
My poster. For the gallery show.

Big band, big crowds.
Big band, big crowds.

I just want to write for a minute.

By now, it’s been national news. By now it’s also probably almost forgotten outside of New Orleans. After all, we are a violent city. We get what we deserve. They say.

A quick recap for those of you who don’t know. As usual, there was a second line parade on Sunday. The Nine Times 9 second line. It’s a big, huge parade that meanders throughout the Upper 9th Ward. It’s been around for a long time. It was founded by guys who grew up in the old Desire Housing Projects. They left. Some don’t even live in the city. The projects were torn down. They come back for this second line. In many ways, for them it’s like a reunion.

On Sunday, after the second line ended there was a shooting in Bunny Friend Park. A mass shooting. 19 victims. Most were wounded and discharged. As of this writing, three are in the hospital, two are in critical condition. One young woman was shot three times in the lower back and will likely not walk again.

Early media coverage got some of it wrong. They related the second line to the shooting. It sort of looked that way. Later reporting revealed newer, better, facts. The parade actually did end at 4pm as planned. It passed by the park at 3pm. The shooting occurred a little after 6pm. It appears that it was a gunfight between two rival gangs. With some 500 people between them. Investigators found some 70 spent brass casings. Houses, and cars parked the street, were shot up. The city is enraged. The mayor called it domestic terrorism. By the FBI’s definitions, it is. There was a prayer meeting on the site tonight. Everybody held hands. A Catholic priest blessed the park.

I don’t know what more to say. Those are the facts as we know them today. Not only am I discouraged by this third mass shooting in New Orleans since I returned home, but I’m discouraged by some of the public’s reactions. First, they say that you are crazy if you go to a second line. Then they attacked some of the statements given by the hosting social club. When all else failed, they attacked the media. Just as they always do.


Identify the root cause of the problem. Take the time. Fix the problem correctly. Do not over react and do something stupid for the short-term. Fix it for the long-term. And, for gosh sakes, think before you speak. After all, a Texas congressman said that the reason he wanted to ban Syrian refugees from entering into MY country is because guns are too easy to get. Gimme a break. He is one of the very people who does nothing to control gun sales in any way. Yeah. Like people need automatic long guns to defend themselves.

Oh yeah. This. Don’t forget me.


The king and his sunglasses.
The king and his sunglasses.

Yes. The King — Mr. Woodrow “Woody” Randall.

And. My eye.

The one I use to focus and frame when I take a picture.

So. This post isn’t about “The King and I,” a musical about the King of Siam. Or, as we know it today, Thailand. This is about a second line parade. The Nine Times 9 second line to be precise. It was a huge parade, which wove its way through a pretty big chink of real estate in the 9th Ward. I managed to photograph it at a couple of locations. It took little hustle, but it was achievable. We probably could have driven to a couple more places, but these days I’m pretty much after specific kinds of pictures. I’m not looking to document the entire parade. Just as well. You’ll see why below.

The picture. Because I’ve photographed this second line a couple of times over the years, I pretty much knew the route and how big it would be. Unfortunately, that meant I couldn’t work as closely as I have been. Nor, could I work with one camera and a short lens. This picture was made with a 200mm lens while the king rode on a float. It’s an example of one of my kind of street portraits.

There is more news about this parade. Terrible news. I’m backing into it. Can you tell?

There was an after-party at one of the neighborhood parks. In the Upper 9th Ward. I have no idea what time the parade actually came to an end. The parade route sheet said 4pm. But, since second lines rarely start on time, they never end on time. We were gone by around 2pm. Some time around 6pm, there was a shooting at the park. A mass shooting. Ten people were shot. Or more. Some people were taken to local hospitals in private vehicles. I am not aware that anybody was killed. I don’t know what to say. Well, I do.


I sort of hate adding this today, but… well, you know. Help a guy out.

By the way, the police commissioner is trying to say that the party and the second line were unrelated. I wish he wouldn’t lie. I’m pretty sure most of us know the truth.

One way of boarding up an abandoned house.
One way of boarding up an abandoned house.

This is one way.

There are many other ways to board up windows on an abandoned building. I think I’ve just about documented most of them. But, this one is new to me. Cover the windows with brightly painted boards. I didn’t get close enough to see what these coverings are made of; I thought plywood. But, I’m not sure.

No matter what.

They are certainly better looking then the aging and rotten bare plywood that normally covers windows in most abandoned buildings. True, the color is fading from rain and bright sun. But, still…

The picture. I was driving by. I saw the colors almost before I saw the building itself. It was one of those WTH moments. I stopped. I got out of the car. Took a few pictures. And that was it. F 8 and be there. Or, something like that. More likely, F 5.6 and be there. That’s it on the scene. I also didn’t do much in post production. I brightened the color and added a little glow to help you see what I felt.

Oh. What did I feel? Mostly surprise. Right there in a neighborhood that is mostly abandoned and torn down, there was this house. Blammo.

Then there is this, Please help a guy out. By now, you know the rest.