Federal concertina wire.
Federal concertina wire.

I generally return to the scene of the crime. Mostly just to see what happened since I was there.

There are two things to know.

First, the only thing that has changed in about six months is the graffiti. Oh, and it’s winter. Not summer. Second, normally the phrase “return to the scene of the crime,” is just a little saying. Not this time. If you dig into the Storyteller archives, or just go to http://wp.me/pN5ne-27  you can read my original reporting. The story is long and complicated. It involves the Federal government not following through or making good on the rules that govern an EPA Superfund site.

Yes. This place is horribly polluted. It’s the results of years of The City of New Orleans dumping garbage there, and then building a neighborhood and housing projects over it without really cleaning anything. We are talking about serious toxins. Junk from the late 1800s and most of the first 50 years of the next century that has been percolating underground and just waiting to surface.

Many people were forced to move. Or, were given just enough money to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina, but not enough money to make them whole if they bought property anywhere else in the city. Many had no choice but to stay on this land. The housing projects were even worse. By the time they were finally completed, he were already sinking into the ground because they were built without pilings or sub-floors. Black, gooey stuff seeped right into people’s living rooms. Dining rooms. Kitchens.

There are two end results. So far.

Every time a big storm blows through and dumps a lot of rain out there, black tarry, oily stuff comes bubbling out of the ground because the land was only scraped a few inches and then just covered with a thin layer of dirt. The second is less physically apparent. At least immediately. It emerges after a few years. It’s Cancer. Yep, the neighborhood has a very high incidence of various forms of Cancer. The link from the former junkyard site to resident’s illnesses has been established.

I took a friend of mine, who happens to be a very good photojournalist, on the usual “Ray’s Tour of Hell.” You know the one. The one where I show my visitor the really abandoned and ruined side of the city. I only take people who are interested in this sort of stuff because not everybody wants to see it. They come to New Orleans for other, more happy, reasons. Like music. Food. Festivals. Beer.


I think I scared him when we were there. I always feel creepy when I visit this neighborhood, or what remains of it. He seemed really spooked. I think it got confusing. Look at the brightness of the light. Listen to the story. It’s incongruous. It doesn’t make sense.

He suggested that I do a kind of art project in this place. He thinks I should interview the remaining people and just let their words, combined with my pictures, tell the story. He thinks that their words would be powerful if I just used giant quote blocks. Like a long caption.

I don’t know.

I’m not so big on long form projects. And, I need a real target… somebody who will actually publish my work in a place that a big audience can see it. Then it matters. Then it’s not a vanity project. It could actually help somebody.

Or, not.

It seems, these days, that there is so much noise that you can’t hear the signal.



8 Replies to “Desire Neighborhood”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Creative Attributes

Where creative art is appreciated

Child of the border

Short stories and poems about my experience with growing up near the U.S. Mexico border.

Halyna Viktoria


Karine Leroux Photography

Textures - Patterns - Minimalism - Abstraction




Don't let her be "The one that got away".

Relax with Bronte

Self care isn't self indulgence... Self care is self respect.

Sea Turnstone

Photography, Travelling, Wildlife


Photographer, Designer, Editor and Educator Ray Laskowitz talks about pictures and their back stories.

... le blog de Walter PASCOLI

Art contemporain , peintures et dessins ...

Vova Zinger's Photoblog

The world around through my camera's lens

The Bouquet

A collection of beautiful things and thoughts

The Trichordist

Artists For An Ethical and Sustainable Internet #StopArtistExploitation

Curious Appetites

Exploring the flavors of home, around town and nearby communities

Cumbria | The Lake District

An Eclectic Mix Of Revelation By Baldy. A Blog About Cumbria, Home Of The UNESCO Lake District National Park. Photographs, Paintings, Sketches & More. Mountains Are My Bones; Rivers My Veins; Forests My Thoughts.

Unpopular Judge

Exploring the Death of Storytelling in Movies


Through Photo, we speak our language

The Art of Blogging

For bloggers who aspire to inspire

%d bloggers like this: