When it rains around here, we often get some very pretty light as the clouds break and the sun peaks through the remaining clouds. Yes. The light is pretty. But, not as pretty as it is in — oh, say — New Mexico. But, that’s a whole other story. A better story is this one. Although I very rarely get lost, I completely misplaced my favorite street in New Orleans. Yeah. I know. Probably early onset something or other. But, this is amazing. Even to me. There is an old section of New Orleans that was once a heavy warehouse district. But, not THE warehouse district. For the most part, it stands alone and forgotten. One of the streets is still paved in cobblestones. The buildings on either side of it are made of brick. For the longest time, I was convinced that the cobblestones had been torn out and replaced by concrete. Well. That didn’t happen. The street moved. Well. That didn’t happen either. I just completely missed my mark. The cobblestone street is still there. The only thing that has changed is that someone either lives or works in a building I thought was abandoned and the brick building on the other side of the street is being restored. Slowly.
When I work in Central City, a lot of what I find is in the details. It means that I can’t just drive to an appointment. Or, drive around looking for things. I have walk around looking for little details that either function as a sort of point picture, or as something large as an icon that speaks to a much larger concept. I’m just thinking out loud, here. But one way signs pointing in two directions, with one pointing to a kind of stop sign, seems to be about life itself. I don’t remember if I thought that when I made the picture. The beads? Just Mardi Gras beads that have faded in a harsh Southeast Louisiana, summer sun. Fortunately, they faded into colors that blend with the signs on which they are draped. Ah. The wonders of nature.
First. In the interest of transparency, that title is an old song title, written by Hazel Dickens and popularized by the late Jerry Garcia. That’s a digression. I’m trying to think…
I’ve been working on a project in the Central City of New Orleans. It’s taking a lot of my free time. At one point I traveled many miles to get back for an event that is somewhat important to the collection of pictures. Every now and then I find a picture that sort of fits in the group of pictures, but can stand alone as a sort of kind of art. This is one of those pictures. The funny thing about this one is that I did a lot of post production using Snapseed. But, it came out looking about the same as it did when I started. I guess my first instinct was the best one. I should know that by now. That’s usually what happens.
So the title? And how does it tie to the picture? Central City is old and, sort of, in the way. It’s crime ridden. Only one in seven structures is habitable. Parts of it flooded during Hurricane Katrina and those areas still haven’t been rebuilt. But, after that storm many people learned two things. It is the only affordable land left in the city that is not below sea level. How affordable? You can probably buy a run down house for around US$20,000-40,000. By contrast, that same house in the Uptown area near the park would cost you about US$250,000. It would still cost about the same amount of money to restore it, but buying in is so much less expensive.
On the other hand, you can walk to The Superdome in about ten minutes. That puts you within minutes of the business district. So. The movers and shakers and the powers that be — you know, “them” — are making a big push to redevelop Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard. They think that if they put money into what was a business and one time shopping district in the area, the money will trickle down to the people who actually have lived there for most of their lives. But, we all know how that works, eh?
Okay. Now I’m back from my departure into the real world. Back to the world of experimentation and some kind of an attempt at art. So. This is Victoria Harbor which is a major shipping lane and separates Hong Kong Island and Kowloon and the rest of the New Territories. As you get closer to the heart of the Harbor, it is not so wide anymore as more and more land is reclaimed. I made this picture some time back when I was onboard the ferry to Lantau Island. In those days, the ferry was the only way to get to an island whose land mass is larger than Hong Kong Island. Today, the international airport is located there. So, you can drive or you can take an express MTR train to get there. It’s become all too civilized.
This picture. I’ve been building portfolios which will mostly live on my i-Pad. I’ve been going deep into my files to find hidden gems. Or, lumps of coal. This image was actually made on the old school media called film. It scanned it, uploaded it to my i-Pad and started playing with it. Most of the work was done using Snapseed.
I’ve been working a lot in New Orleans Central City on a large project. Every now and then, I just cruise through, taking a look to see what I missed in a more general sense. One night — the same night — that I made the picture I posted yesterday as “the dark end of the street “– I happened to stop by a building that I call the castle. I made a few pictures and then the building that you see in this post caught my eye. It is ramshackle and falling apart. But, something about the warm yellow light coming from the windows contrasted with the blue-green light of dusk on the building’s walls seemed to make an inviting picture. So I made the picture. Normally, I try to square it up; either by framing it when I push the button. Or, by cropping and tilting it. Not in this case. The odd angles seem to enhance the effect that I saw in my mind’s eye. Here’s a detail that I saw when I was there. On the second story there are five openings. From the left, one is a window. One is boarded up with a piece of plywood. The next opening is a door that is made from solid storm shutters. It appears to open onto a deck that wouldn’t hold much weight. To make matters worse, look at the railing. A lawsuit in progress.
I thought that I would give you a look at some of the places where I’m working on my Central City project. There are some pretty good overalls, but I really wanted to show you yet another person who lives in the area while combining that with the place. This is Harold. Working with him was sort of funny since we’d been eyeing each other from a distance before we actually started talking. I learned something from him that I’m not sure many New Orleans people know. Well, wait. I knew there were neighborhoods within the general area called Central City. But, I didn’t know that there were historical names as well. Some people call part of it Faubourg Lafayette. I knew that. That’s the closest area to the Central Business District. But, wait. There are two more that border St. Charles Avenue. They are Faubourg DeLassize and Faubourg Livavdais. These are old French names. I doubt very many people ever refer to them these days. Both DeLassize and Livavdais are areas that are a little more quiet and apparently a lot less violent. I made this picture in Faubourg Livavdais. It’s still not paradise, but my internal bells did not ring. So… this picture is just me taking some time to talk with my subject. I made some very tight portraits that I like as well. But, this one gives you a nice sense of place.
Everybody around me — myself included — was grumpy. So, we went to the French Quarter. I don’t know why. We just did. We ate at Maspero’s. The real one. The one that is supposed to be a tourist trap. Not the one on Decatur which is supposed to be good. Surprise. The food was good. The waiter was a good guy. And… they gave us 15% off for a locals discount. I’ve never gotten that in any French Quarter restaurant. But, this post isn’t about the food. It’s about the quarter. It was roaring on a hot early summer’s night. I mean 92 degrees at 9pm is hot, isn’t it? Every place was busy. We started down Bourbon Street, got bored, made a right turn on Orleans toward Royal and I stumbled into this picture. I wasn’t heavily armed, but I was carrying my semi-new Sony NEX5, which I think is a great little camera. A few minutes of post production later and here it is. Oh yeah. This is the back of the St Louis Cathedral. Looks a like like Paris to me. Someone told me the reason for the crowds is that there is a giant Baptist Convention in town. Yeah. Like the Baptists are going drinking on Bourbon Street. Good one.