I’m a few days late in showing you Halloween. No worries. I’ve got it now.
New Orleans is the right place to celebrate ghouls, ghosts and witches. During normal times it’s a bewitching place. Ghosts seem to be floating around everywhere. Walk down a deserted French Quarter street at about midnight and you’ll likely scare yourself. It gets even worse when the fog rolls in. Somebody just passing by becomes a ghost in the fog.
Maybe he is a ghost. Maybe she isn’t.
So many weird things have happened during our history that somebody born in about 1810 must be wandering around today looking for his or her killer.
If you’ve never visited the city, this is a good time to do it. The air has finally cooled enough to open all the windows. And, Halloween is wonderful down in the swamp.
Pictures like this one are best made by looking. Maybe you’ll find a few. Maybe you won’t. But, the fun is in the chase, not always in the finding. It’s a really good way to discover parts of the city that you normally never visit.
The tree looked like something from one of his books. Maybe a new book. One that was tucked away in a drawer and was lost. And, found.
The Cat in the Hat came to New Orleans and got fat. Why not? People come here and eat our food and gain ten pounds in a weekend. It’s not that our food is bad. It’s good. Too good. We serve big portions. They drip with good tasting stuff. Fattening stuff.
This post isn’t about our food. It’s about the tree. It’s about The Cat in the Hat. It’s about Theodor Seuss Geisel. Most of us grew up with him. We learned from him. And, I got to photograph him.
You never know how making pictures of famous people is going to go. Sometimes, you get five or ten minutes, making it impossible to actually get to know the subject.
Not the good doctor. I spent the better part of the morning with him. His wife made coffee and later, lunch. We talked. We laughed. He liked my way of working. No posing. Very few instructions. Mostly letting him be him.
The tree made me think of those strange, but cool, illustrations in his books. I tried to compress them a little to help you see what I saw. I did some post production and you are looking at the result.
There are a lot of Doctor Seuss quotes. More than I can remember. But, I remember this one.
“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”
I often forget that once things start to cool off around this swamp, a second growing season appears out of nowhere. I was doing a little walking with that dog when I saw this wildflower. How could I not? So, I did.
The flower isn’t quite what it seems as you look at the picture. Even the already open flowers are about the size of my pinkie nail. Little, tiny things. Really beautiful things. Very yellow things.
Petty’s song? He wrote the entire album after his divorce. In “Wildflowers,” he was telling his ex-wife that even though he did love her, it was really time to move on. As far as he goes, I’m still sad at his passing. It happened so quickly.
This pretty little bright yellow wildflower goes a long way towards making me and — hopefully — everybody else feel good today.
Did you ever hear a song that liked, but weren’t in a place where you could learn the name or who the musician was who recorded it?
We were “making groceries.” There was a nice play list bouncing around the store. A song came on that we both liked. It made us smile. It made us want to dance. In a grocery store? Why not? This is New Orleans. We had no idea who or what it was. That’s saying something since between us we know a lot of music.
I started trying to find the song when we returned home. The only lyric that I could remember would seemingly be of no help. It was, “I love you, I love you, I love you. ” In the song it’s a really cool break, but how many tunes have lyrics like that? A thousand? One hundred thousand? A million?
It took me about fifteen minutes. It’s a song called “Say Hey (I love you),” by Michael Franti and Spearhead. Ahh, technology. And, music nerds.
There’s a good reason that we didn’t know it. Between us I think we’ve heard about one song of his. It wasn’t this one. One great song leads to another. Lots of new music to explore.
That’s a good thing.
I am photographing the Krewe of Boo parade tonight. It rolls from the Bywater into the French Quarter. As always, I want to work from the the start of the parade. Because of the evacuation zone for the big blast, I’m not quite sure how to get there. I suspect that I’ll just drive past it on the interstate and approach it from behind on the down river side of where I want to be.
The picture. Finally. I’m getting around to it. It’s an expressway that I photographed at the end of the day. At dusk. The low autumn light caught my eye. I helped it some for this rendition of the picture. Simple. See it. Photograph it.
I’ve been photographing New Orleans events on and off for the past few weeks. I have’t been publishing them on Storyteller. Even though I’m not a big data guy, I’ve been looking at it when it comes to the kinds of pictures that move you. I’m not comparing picture to picture. I’m looking at the genres that you seem to like.
So, the question.
Do you want to see the Krewe of Boo, second lines, Mardi Gras Indians (Black Masking Indians — their preferred title), Mardi Gras and so on? You know, events.
Or, would you rather see my artistic explorations?
And, in another test, I’ve been cross posting. I’ve been sharing the same picture here and again on Instagram. My likes there aren’t high, but I really wanted to see what happens on other social media. On Twitter, bupkis. I really have to post the picture directly, not using a link.
Facebook is truly revealing. I might get a few likes from the image that was distributed from here. But, when it is distributed via Instagram, I get a lot of likes.
Let me be clear. I don’t care about likes in the strictest sense. That doesn’t impress me. But, I care about the data. I care about sales. If 25-50 people like a picture, it stands a better chance of being licensed or sold than one with three likes. Not to the people who hit the like button, but in the general marketplace.
A lot of sunlight to make the color explode off the page.
That’s what I saw as the day turned to dusk and beyond. The original picture didn’t quite do it, so I experimented. Then, I experimented some more. Then, I tinkered. I took it up a few notches. Then, I took it to notches unknown.
I added this. I added that. I did the reverse and subtracted some stuff. I got to a place where I actually liked the strangeness of the picture. So I went further. Beyond notches unknown. I was about to put a frame around it. Then, I thought, “nah.”
So, her it ’tis. A kind of art. Or, the work of a sick mind.
Speaking of sick minds. Remember, our falling down Hard Rock Hotel construction? It’s getting worse. The two giant cranes are shifting each day. In a true New Orleans moment, a fairly large tropical storm is brewing in the Gulf of Mexico. It won’t hit us head on, but we’ll get wind and rain. Water makes the cranes heavier and the parts more lubricated. Wind, well… you know what wind does.
The rocket surgeons who came from all over the country have come to a conclusion. The cranes must come down before the storm arrives so that they fall down in a controlled manner.
The cranes are going to be blown up. Yes, You read that right. Blown up. Small charges will be placed at crucial places along the two cranes infrastructure and…
In theory, they should fall straight down. Even so, there will be some horrific damage to the street. The street that has the main source of electrical power to the French Quarter and two major gas lines that run very near to the building itself.
I know this guy. He is an old school junk man. He drives around looking for stuff that is mostly made of metal. He sells some for scrap. He sells some stuff to repair men who restore old things that can be sold inexpensively.
His business is fairly active. He piles up his finds until he has a full truck and trailer. Then, off he goes to sell it. He has a wife and child. He supports all three of them doing this work. When the weather is cool, his work isn’t bad. But, those summer months. Whew.
He also counts on people like me, who go for walks, or walk their dogs. We tell him what we saw. I can’t speak for others, but I don’t want anything for that. If I see something I tell him.
That’s his story.
I may follow him around one day and tell his story in pictures. But, for now, I just photograph some of the stuff he collects. This picture was created from what looked and felt like aluminum sheets that may have been left over from a big project. Remnants.
The picture on its own is just fine. It’s sort of bluish-silver because I made it in shadows, You know me. I can never leave well enough alone. I tinkered with the color. I tinkered with sharpness. I layered another picture over it. I wasn’t sure that would work. But, it did.
This is a wall sized picture. I see it as an 8×10. That’s 8×10 feet. Could you imagine this on a wall in a large-sized room? The only art in it? Hmmm… we need some new art around this place.
A fall picture. It could be too simple, except that the leaves and the clouds form a nice bow-like shape in the upper middle of the image. To be honest, I’m not even sure that I saw it when I looked into the sky and thought, “yes, that’ll work just fine.”
It’s a kind of photographer’s luck, which is starting to mean if you put the work in, look for pictures, and practice a lot, you’ll make pictures.
I tell my traveling friends this all the time. I say that they should stop waiting for a trip to take a snap. I suggest that they should just walk around their neighborhood and photograph their world. That is, unless their world is made up of fast jets, massive cruise ships and cheap hotel rooms.
I doubt that’s right.
But, I really dislike taking pictures on a trip or assignment and starting out cold. Or, a little rusty. I do best when I’ve been practicing, which is kin to music practice. Would you enjoy listening to a concert when the musicians weren’t well rehearsed? Or, rooting for a sports team that didn’t practice before they took to the field?
It’s the same thing with pictures. You must practice to get to the good stuff. That takes time. As it should. It’s also why I’ve been critiquing myself. I haven’t been wandering around looking for pictures. I write some of that off to the heat. It’s no fun dripping into the lens. I also write some more of that off to physical issues. I don’t always trust myself not to fall down. On a good day I’m great, but sometimes a good day turns marginal.
I find ways to work around both of those. It’s just not as frequently as I’d like.
I had a sort of half awake dream a couple of nights ago. I had a little trouble falling asleep. When I finally did, I had a kind of dream almost immediately. Or, I thought that I did.
There was someone standing next to the bed. He was dressed in old fashioned house painters clothes. White pants. White t-shirt. He may not have been a painter. That was just my impression of him.
He was just there, next to the nightstand. All I could see was his body. His head was behind the lamp. His feet were out of my line of sight. It was so real that I reached out to touch him. I couldn’t. Either my hand went through him or he backed up, out of my way. I decided to look down at his legs. There was just a sort of mist. When I looked up again, he was gone.
I have no idea if I was dreaming in deep REM state, or if I was half awake and seeing things. Eventually, I fell back asleep. Or, dreamed that I did. That was it for the dreams.
I have no idea what it means. There are different definitions of what dreams mean. I believe in the one that says a dream is an answer to a question that hasn’t been formed yet.
If the guy was really a house painter, what is the question?
Was he something else? Just because he was dressed in white pants and a t-shirt doesn’t mean that he was a painter. Maybe he was a milkman. Or, a donut delivery guy. You had to grow up in Southern California to understand that. Once there was a company called Helms Bakery. They sent their trucks far and wide to bring donuts to your door.
The picture. It’s layered. It started with a building structure. I added all sorts of layers to it. It feels a little bit like Halloween because the lamp in the window turned into a spooky red ghost.
This picture was made on the day of the “big” temperature drop. The changing weather was pushing the clouds from white puffy to whatever these are called. It looks like they were broken apart, stirred by some giant with a big spoon.
That’s how I see them.
I needed some kind of point of reference, so I added a parking lot light. Its leading lines re-enforce the direction in which your eyes move. Or, at least, in the direction I want your eyes to move. Up.
This is going to turn into a little political commentary. It won’t be a rant. But, you can stop now and enjoy the picture.
Our wise and stabile genius decided, on a whim and after a telephone call, to abandon our long time allies. The Kurds. They fought along side of U.S. troops for a long time. Almost a decade. By doing that, he put our troops in harms way. He allowed Turkish troops to brazenly kill Kurdish fighters and civilians. The Kurds, in order not to be slaughtered, made a deal with Syrian national forces. By the way, the Syrian government is supported by Russia.
From day to night in a weekend.
That’s the abridged version of the past week.
U.S. troops are cut off on every side. It’s likely they’ll have to be extracted by air. This, after being shelled by Turkish forces and being ordered to retreat.
Where I come from, you never leave anybody behind, including your allies. You return fire if you are being attacked for no reason. And, you make damn sure that you have the support to retreat in an orderly manner.
How did all this happen?
The U.S President who shall not be named made a gut decision. You know, the chosen one. He consulted no expert counsel. He relied on just his gut, which he says knows more than expert’s brains.
And, what a gut it is.
Fueled by a steady diet of fast food, it’s ballooned up to at least ten normal guts. It’s flabby, fat and flaccid. It doesn’t think. It just reacts.
Between this, and all the issues being investigated in congress, the steady rolling back of laws that protect us, and the denial of climate change, we — in the U.S. — live in hell right now.
In the old days, just three years ago, I didn’t think about the president on a daily basis. But, today there is the steady sound of boots on our ground. I hear trump, trump, trump.