Ice Divas. They walked with Keeping’ It Real.
They are a neighborhood krewe. Some have left the city. Some came back. Came home. From places like Portland. Oregon. They came to be part of this. I suppose that’s what we do. Because this stuff gets in our blood. We come back. Even if we live some place else.
Truth be told, I’ve been thinking about leaving New Orleans. As I get older, I’m less willing to deal with “New Orleans Stuff.”
The out of control violent crime rate scares the hell out of me. I’m pretty good on the streets. I have a good set inner alarm bells. I can defend myself. To a point. But, you can’t defend yourself from the randomness of the crimes that are happening here. It’s hard to defend yourself from a 12-year-old boy holding a gun. A kid who has no idea of what it means to take a life. Or, who has had a long enough life to value his own life. Or, anybody else’s.
There is the gentrification. The things I like most about the city may not be sustainable. Housing costs are rising as fast as they possibly can. Many of the people you see in these pictures — social clubs, musicians, Mardi Gras Indians — can no longer afford to live here. Often, they live some place else and come back for their event. Or, for Mardi Gras.
Our roads. Our streets. Sheesh. I laugh when somebody posts a picture of a pot hole in Los Angeles or San Francisco and complains about it. I think to myself, “You call THAT a pot hole?” I thought about doing a book called “The Potholes of New Orleans.” I realized it would never be completed. I could work on it every day of my life and the potholes would go on forever. FEMA finally offered the city billions of dollars to repair all the streets. Sounds good, yes? If this current presidential administration allows the repairs to continue, my neighborhood streets won’t even be started until 2035. Right.
The last straw. After almost four years of construction on our Uptown main cross streets, some of it is coming to an end. Mardi Gras parades actually rolled were they were supposed to go this year.
That’s good. Yeah. For about a minute.
Now the streets around my neighborhood are being closed for the same kind of construction. Aside from the normal inconveniences, that means additional dust, mud, pooled water, traffic.
I give up.
I bet you didn’t think such a happy picture was going to bring up such a miserable topic.
It’s because I realized that I’m going to miss this stuff. I’m going to miss almost weekly second line parades. I’m going to miss my brother and sister photographers. I’ll miss our brand of music. I’ll miss the food. I’ll miss the chaos. And, as much as I hate to admit it, I’ll miss the ability to say, “I think I’ll go to the Quarter tonight and make a few pictures.” You know, people pay a lot of money to travel here, to stay in a hotel and eat our food. To wander around the French Quarter…
The picture. As usual, it’s pretty much just f 5.6 and be there. Being there is the thing. As National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson once said, “If you want better pictures stand in front of better stuff.” After many, many years of photography I have a sense of where to be. Where to stand. How to be. And, most importantly, when to get out-of-the-way.