Month: October 2018

Original Four


You know me. On most Sundays, you can find me at a second line. This one was important to me. Because, the work is the prayer. The whole world seems to need a whole lot of prayer right now. You know what I wrote yesterday. That’s what this work was for. Second lines are joyous. They are happy events. The are celebratory. That’s what I needed. Probably, you did too. The pictures. The actual making of them is easy. See them, press the button. Done. Oh, and a little work in post production. Very little work. Mostly, it’s a question of getting there. And, staying there.

I Have A Question


I have questions. A question. Black people hunted and killed, pipe bombs sent to liberal people, a murderous mass shooting of Jewish people in their house of God. Last week was just horrible. In a year of terrible things. A good friend of mine suggested that I not publish anything overtly political because he thinks that Storyteller is a place where people come to get away from the daily news. Fair enough. But, this post isn’t political. I’m not taking the usual approach discussing our leaders. That really doesn’t matter right now because the whole world seems to be tilting extremely rightward. We are becoming nativist. We are extremely angry and mean. The leaders we all elect represent us. You know, “We the People.” We are electing populist right wing extremists. There, I said it. My quest is a simple question. A toddler’s question. Why? I’m not asking why about the events of last week. I’m asking why is there so much hatred. Hatred of people who are not like ourselves. In every evil act last …

The Return


The return. To the scene. If you read yesterday’s Storyteller you might have an idea of what I mean. Those first pictures of Mardi Gras Indians were made right here, at this place. In a very different time. I made this picture yesterday. I had some business in Treme and other errands around downtown. The dog who sees stuff hopped into the car wanting to go for a ride. I got her leash and off we went. I did what I needed to and took her for a walk around a very long block. She had a great time. All those brand new smells, and sights. When we made the turn on the corner at St. Augustine’s Catholic Church — and jazz church — I saw this. An original Katrina cross. And, some new growth coming right out of the church wall. I made the picture. I had to. It is the perfect bookend to yesterday’s post. I didn’t even know that the church had been searched in the days following the storm. The “X” …

New Orleans – First Things First


It seems that y’all are getting to see my firsts. First picture in New Orleans. First Mardi Gras. And, now first pictures of Mardi Gras Indians. Even though I was living in New Orleans for about 5 years, I wasn’t out on the streets. In July 2005 that changed. Looking back, it seemed like everything changed in about six weeks. In mid-July Mardi Gras Indians Chief of Chiefs Tootie Montana, made a dramatic plea to the New Orleans City Council to live and let live. The New Orleans Police were cracking down on the Indians. They broke up two Super Sundays for no real reason except they thought the crowds could get out of hand. That word, “could.” They didn’t. So, Tootie spoke before the City Council live on all the local television stations. As he spoke, he suffered a massive heart and died right there. Anybody watching the news was horrified. Word passed around the city in sort of a coconut telegraph, well before the advent of social media. It was time to plan …

New Orleans – A Few Weeks Later


Like a moth to a flame. I kept going back. At first, every week or so. I had to know what would become of a once vibrant neighborhood of blue-collar people. While it is true that many people lost their lives out here, many more didn’t. It is still sacred ground. It always will be. They were the rebuilders. The ones whose sense of pride and ownership brought them back to almost nothing day after day. They emptied their houses out. They removed pews from churches in hopes that they would dry out under our hot Louisiana sun. Some even scraped away what remained of their houses in hopes that they could started rebuilding soon. Dump truck after dump truck helped them remove the remains and the debris. The home owners hoped to rebuild soon. It was not to be. So many of the home owners lived in houses that were built by their grandfathers or their great grandfathers. When one generation passed, the next generation simply moved into the family home.  There was no …

New Orleans — What Once Was


What was once.  What isn’t is a distant memory. These are things that I found during the early days of recovery following Hurricane Katrina’s destructive path. Or more precisely, the Federal Flood, given that the levees broke because of catastrophic failure. I saw things. Terrible things. I’ll show you some of the more publishable things over the past few days. So terrible that when I finally returned to my own flooded house after photographing what remained of the Lower 9th Ward, I sat on my old friend Uncle Joe’s porch with him. I held my head in my hands. He put his arm on my shoulder. He said, “I told you not to go, but like a moth drawn to a flame you had to.” He was right. He is usually right. Uncle Joe is now 83 years old. He lost his house, but the Feds replaced it with a factory made house that looks just like his old house, but a little better. He’s a Creole man. He’s lived in Mississippi and New Orleans all …

Back To It


A lot of firsts. As I work through my archives and share newly “found” images with you, I realized that you are seeing a lot of firsts. A few days ago, you saw my first New Orleans picture. Today you are seeing my first Mardi Gras picture. I made this picture in 1999. On film. Fuji Velvia to be exact. The film was slow, even for its time. I usually worked at ISO 32. That explains the total movement in this picture. Even at f2.8, the shutter speed would likely be around 1/4 of a second. Way too slow to stop motion, especially in the darkness in which I worked. I made it even harder, by liking to work at F 5.6. That meant the shutter speed would be around one second. You can stop no motion with that shutter speed. Working this way, at night, meant you either failed entirely or you made something dreamy and moving. The images could look like a watercolor painting, or they could be a mess. Even with all …

Good Fellas Part Two


It’s the energy. In hot or cool weather, it’s the energy that drives second lines. It’s the energy that creates minor miracles for me. If you hear the music, smell the cooking, get pulled into the din, there is no way that you won’t come alive.  You’ll sway to the music.  You’ll dance. You will feel better than when you arrived. Eventually, you’ll feel tired. But, it’s a good tired. It’s a funny thing. When I first started coming out, I had no idea of what I was looking at. I just liked the color. The energy. The people. Eventually I learned a few things. I met a few of the people who make second lines go.  Even so, I don’t know everything. I will always still be learning and meeting new people. I do know the customs and traditions. At least I know them enough not to get in trouble. As I was told many years ago, if you are new on the scene present yourself. You have to know to tradition. You have …

Waiting for the Big Show


If it’s Sunday there is a second line being walked somewhere in New Orleans.This one was Good Fellas. The King of Kings division was walking for cancer awareness. Even though they didn’t say it, I’m pretty sure that they lost a member to cancer. I know. I said that I was dropping out of the second line business. I said it was not for any reason other than time allotment. That’s true. I forgot that it is my time. I can use it any way that I like. More importantly, as a friend of mine says, it is like going to church. Miracles do occur out on the street. My hip and back stop hurting. I move freely. I dance to the music. I can keep up with the parades, which are usually moving pretty fast. I have no idea why. But, it happens every time. So why shouldn’t I go out? They didn’t exactly trust me. I’m not going to stretch this out. Maybe two days. This one, featuring the children waiting. And tomorrow, …