A force of nature.

To get here.

Even though we haven’t physically gone anywhere, it feels like we have traveled forever. We are burned out from exhaustion. We are tired of the trail. We miss our friends. Our family. We miss our colleagues. We miss our lives.

I’m not sure that we are ever going to get these things back.

A friend of mine attended a big wedding this weekend. There was hugging and kissing, singing and dancing. Not one mask in sight. Obviously, there was no social distancing. These people hadn’t seen each other in at least six months. What are they thinking? Better yet, were they thinking?

It’s depressing.

Meanwhile, the folks in Southwestern Louisiana are suffering. They likely won’t have power for a month, water for two weeks. Some are staying in hotels in New Orleans. That’s the least we could do. They took us in after Hurricane Katrina.

It’s depressing.

Meanwhile, there’s fighting in the streets. People are beating each other. People are getting shot. People are dying. Protests are turning into riots. Nobody is sure which side started the riots, the shooting, the burning.

It’s depressing.

Meanwhile, we have a president who lies as easy as he breathes. A president, who at best is incompetent. People are dying. Who at worst is a criminal. People are dying.

It’s depressing.

They tell you to vote. I don’t know if we can hang on that long. They say that if the president is re-elected democracy could come to an end. We are in the worst possible place that I’ve ever known us to be. I thought that I could continue working hard at what I do. I thought I could eventually leave this mortal coil peacefully. I doubt that is to be.

It’s depressing.

The Picture

I’ve been lucky with moon shots lately. I made this picture in the rain, under an awning and a bunch of tree branches. It’s a true Louisiana picture. The moon is shining. The rain is falling. That’s how it happens around here. That, or the rain follows you and only you.

It’s a little tricky making a picture like this. The moon is spinning. The earth is spinning. The rain is falling. What do focus on? I more or less picked the rain. It’s almost impossible to make a round moon in those conditions. That also made the clouds look weird. Like splatters of paint.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Don’t be like those folks at the wedding. Enjoy every sandwich.


Seriously spooky.

All in my head.

I saw one scene. I photographed it. I saw another scene. I photographed it. When the time came I combined them.

Oooh. Spooky.

The picture does have an eerie feeling to it. Like something out of H.P. Lovecraft. Can’t you just see Cthulhu lurking back in those trees? Lovecraft wrote in a number of themes. Threat to civilization was one. Another was fear of science. A third was the subject of race. And, finally religion and superstition.

Mix all of those together in a toxic stew and what do you get?

2020.

If we distill some of that into the “Era of the Rona,” as I heard a young guy call it, you start observing more than you did in the early days of sickness and death.

I think we are getting too comfortable with the virus. While we all seem to be following the rules of masking, at least in my limited world, we aren’t keeping our distances and I saw one guy shake another’s hand. I miss that too.

But…

We can’t do that right now.

On the other hand, we are wearing our masks. We went to make groceries — a New Orleans way of staying I’m going grocery shopping — I noticed that everyone was masked except for one guy. About four or five people ganged up on him and told him to get out. He didn’t know what to do. He knew that four or five is more than one so he left.

That’s good. We have to take care of each other. Making that guy leave was taking care of him. Think about it.

This is all hard to do.

I photographed Big Queens Kim’s funeral procession. Before I write further, everyone was masked. Our great NOPD street cops had cloth bags tied at their wastes. If they came upon somebody without a mask they reached into their bag and gave them one. They were new and sealed in plastic. Nothing else was said.

One of the hardest things about going was saying hello to other photographers. We are sort of tight knit. We haven’t seen each other in about six months. Normally, there would be hugs and talking closely. We couldn’t do that. We couldn’t shake hands. We tried elbow bumps, but that felt stupid.

I think I’ve also said about our cops, that if they were in any of the cities were protests turned to riots, the riots would never have happened. They know how to handle crowds. Down here, when one group was determined to destroy things, the cops isolated and arrested them. Everyone who came to protest, protested.

We don’t fear our cops. During Mardi Gras my routine is to find parking early, walk over to C.C’s. (Community Coffee) and have a cup before I go out to make pictures. I need the caffeine boost. Usually that means that I’m sitting at a four top — ooh, restaurant talk — by myself.

Often I’m joined by two or three NOPD. We talk about this and that as you do. After sitting with the same group on a couple of occasions, I asked them why they are so good at crowd control. They said, they try never to overreact, they talk with the citizens around them and they never ever draw their weapons unless a citizen’s life is in peril. Not their’s. One of them said that he thinks there is too much tactical gear on the streets which implies an aggressive approach.

There you have it.

We might not have Mardi Gras next year. It depends. Obviously, on this day of reflection about Hurricane Katrina, other traditions come into play. Mardi Gras was blamed for the rapid spread of the virus in early March. I’m not sure that’s fair. Unless, we do everything we can as a city to calm down the virus there is no way Carnival should happen.

That’ll be a horrible shame.

Aside from the long term planning and energy that everyone puts into the production, and all of us who celebrate it as something more than partying, the city needs the money. We’ve been shut down for so long that the tax base is almost non-existent.

The Picture

Wow! See what you get from one spooky looking picture? You get to see my mind wandering around through so bad neighborhoods. I told you about the picture, so…

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your masks. Keep your distance. Enjoy every po’boy.


Stormy.

Away in the weather.

I wasn’t driving in that place during the storms. But, before and after are good targets. The main idea is to give you a sense of our wonderful weather down here in Southeastern Louisiana. During this time of year we often get a short but violent storm about every other day.

This down time has got me thinking. That’s usually a dangerous proposition. A lot of folks are doing some kind of a review of their lives, right now. For many people it’s more along the lines of, “How the hell did this happen?”

I’m not sure what you can do about the past but learn from it. And, enjoy some of the memories. That’s probably enough. If you can take something away from whatever happened to you, you’ve done it.

The past is all different. Places are all different. We are all different. Our pasts are all different. We mix and match. Trying to understand. “How the hell did this happen?”

Until.

We are brought to this place in time. One moment in history. Our time. Right this minute. This minute. Right now. This one.

What are you going to do with this minute? What are going to do if you believe that there are no useless days?

Tell me. Tell the rest of us. Please.

The Picture

I didn’t even know what I had. If I hadn’t messed with this file, you’d have seen the usual things. Blue sky. A few clouds. A long road reaching out in a sort of brown-grayish color. Another detail or two.

But.

I went the other way. I made the picture look like you were out on some deserted highway, late at night. A storm is brewing. You hope to get there in time. The time before the clouds erupt into hard rain. You hope.

Just so you know, I didn’t use an app that is supposed to be a cinematic filter called, “Night for Day.” I made this one myself.

So. Yes. A lot of post production.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Enjoy every sandwich.

One more thing.

I didn’t forget. Fifteen years. Today. Fifteen years between Katrina and Lucy. This picture links the two. It leaves me wondering. “How the hell did I get here?”

You’d better have another sandwich.


Golden motion.

One drop.

Of sunlight.

The all seeing dog and I finally got outside around dusk. She won’t go out if rain is falling on her. The rain gave up earlier in the afternoon but she was doing the other thing she does best. Sleeping.

We walked the long way and saw these last few flowers of summer glistening in the sun. That wonderful all seeing dog kept tugging at me so she could go to her favorite place. I accidentally made this picture. Then I made the correct ones. I like this one better so there you have it. The dog was right again.

Sheesh.

My life is run by a dog.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Enjoy every tuna sandwich.


Tinkering around.

Leaving well enough alone.

I just can’t seem to do that. Have a look at the picture below this little bit of text and tell me why I just had to go further. Puleeese.

Better, best.

See?

It just seems like a lot of extra work for not much return.

The top image was layered three times. I used the same image and sort of stepped and repeated it. It’s interesting and experimental, but for pure colorful power, the bottom one is the picture. I wasn’t even going to show you the bottom version until I saw them side by side. I wanted you to see what I did.

What do y’all think?

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Stay on higher ground. Look after one and other. Speak your mind. Enjoy every bowl of homemade gumbo.


Not dead yet.

Not that late.

No. We aren’t under siege.

Hurricane Lucy will hit Lake Charles likely as a Category 4 storm. I haven’t been there for a long time. The city isn’t as little as I described it. Not anymore. They are bigger than we are. They are a city of 780,000 people. That makes them the largest city in the state without making a big deal about it. I’m hopeful and sad all at once.

We will likely get some storm surge which won’t bother us. And, some wind. The gusts are strong enough to make the spaniels look like they are flying as their ears fly up over their heads. They seem to like it.

The rest. We are good in practical terms. Because of the wind there is a chance that we might lose power. But, Entergy has reworked our lines so much that I feel pretty secure.

I’d like to say that we good emotionally. This storm passes through exactly three says until the 15th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina making landfall in Buras, Louisiana. Those of us who went through it get a little weird right now, showing a lot of PTSD symptoms. Me? I think I’m okay although my response time seems to have gotten quicker. And, I’m a little edgy.

The Picture

I told you, summer is starting to look like autumn around certain trees. The temperatures certainly aren’t fall-like, especially today. The ambient humidity has dropped way down because we have so much wind.

I’d work today but there really isn’t much visually to tell the story of a hurricane. No rain. Leaden skies and wind. Unless the wind speed gets higher, wind is really hard to photograph. If I had any guts I’d drive down to Viloet which is almost at the mouth of the river. That’s where the river pilots take control of the big freighters heading upriver. That would be fun. And, really dangerous. The pilot houses look like broken down shacks on stilts. I’m sure the river would be well over the two lane road.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Take care of each other. Enjoy every sandwich.


Finding the right way home.

Days in between.

Marco fell apart. The tropical warnings came down. We got a little wind and even less rain. Dodged it.

Now comes Laura. She won’t even come close to New Orleans. She will make landfall as a Category 2 or 3 hurricane around Lake Charles. I have a fond spot in my heart for that little city. After a couple of weeks of living in nowhereville after Katrina, I set up a temporary base there. I was there about a month, then on to New Mexico.

I was reflecting about all of this last night and again early this morning. I am amazed by how much hurricanes have affected my life. Before I moved to New Orleans I never even gave them a second thought. I grew up in Southern California. We worried about earthquakes. Wildfires weren’t a thing back then.

But, now I track them. I prepare for them. I read weather reports from NOAA. I worry about outbound routes even though there is no place to evacuate to during the Age of Corona. So, we batten down the hatches and wait.

We were lucky this time. Eventually our luck will run out.

That’s for another day.

The Picture

The scene is the same old one. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve used this as a go to location. I made kind of the usual picture. When I started to process it, I thought enough of that. Let’s see where I can take this picture.

After a lot of false starts, I decided to move in an entirely new direction. I smoothed everything. I turned strong clouds into cotton candy. I sucked a lot of color out of the picture. If you look closely at the power poles — normally black looking — they look almost transparent.

Eventually I got there.

You will too.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Look after each other. Enjoy every cup of coffee.


The truth.

The truth about nature.

She does whatever she wants. You can’t control her and you can’t predict her. It seems to me that she is showing that in three ways. We can’t get our arms around a rampant virus. The west is burning. And, we are being threatened with two hurricanes at once.

We dodged a bullet with the first hurricane. Marco was downgraded to a tropical depression. All tropical storms warnings are removed. She glanced off the coast of Louisiana, making a kind of landfall well west of New Orleans. This, despite the exhortations of the big name weather people on The Weather Channel.

All I can say about that is I want one of their jobs. They are wrong 90% of the time. They act like idiots and yet they keep their jobs.

There is some question about Hurricane number two. Laura has not yet entered the gulf far enough to know where she is going. NOAA, who I trust way more than any weather channel, says that she is headed to the Texas-Louisiana border. She won’t come anywhere near us. With luck, that won’t change.

They say that if you talk about the weather you have nothing to say. They is wrong.

If you live down here you talk about how hot it is. You talk about how humid it is. You talk about how wet it is. You talk about hurricanes and tropical storms. And, for the few days when the weather turns cold, you complain loudly about that.

Anyway.

The Picture

The one thing that the storm brought is amazing skies. I couldn’t help but make a good picture. Or, twenty. Or, 391. I didn’t go that far, but you know what I mean. I know you know.

I did help this picture some. I added a little color to a very monochromatic picture. I did that in a surprisingly weird way. I used the fake bokeh tool. See that little thumb print looking thing on the left above the power pole? That’s bokeh. Supposedly.

Oh yeah. I added a border. I’ve been doing that lately as a way of finishing a picture.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Take care of each other. Enjoy every bowl of homemade soup.


The way it is.

Relaxation.

For most of us the water does it. We get heated up in the sunlight, cool off with a dip in the pool. And, if you are smart you just let yourself float and drift around like this guy. I’ve seen him in the past. I waited and watched, I showed some restraint and some patience. When the time was right, click, click, click.

That’s it. That’s the picture.

Hurricanes and other stuff.

The situation is changing.

Marco has slowed down some. He also appears to be headed to the Texas – Louisiana border at about the Sabine Pass. We may get some wind and rain in New Orleans. The early timing seems to be off as well.

Laura should pass by about Wednesday. The eastern edge of her cone seems to be just passing by the coast of Southeastern Louisiana while heading north somewhere well upriver of New Orleans.

That’s what I know now. At the next NOAA update everything could change. You never know. One thing I learned about is the myth of two hurricanes creating a super hurricane. That’s not true. They bounce off of each other creating a sort of repelling action. That’s a good thing.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Look after each other. Enjoy every turkey club sandwich.