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The Fleetingness of Things


Experimental Flower.

Sunday used to be the day that I experimented. I got away from that for a while. I resumed it yesterday. But, I played with pictures later in the day. Well after I posted for the day.

So.

You get to see it today.

I did so much work that you might not be able to tell what it is. What it was.

It’s a flower. It started off as a color capture. Somewhere along the line I converted it to black and white. I made it creamy and soft. Like something out of the early Twentieth Century. Then, I converted it back to an approximation of color. I made it as abstract as possible without losing too much shape. If you look carefully, you know it’s a flower.

It’s a quiet day. For a Monday. For any day. Even my Spotify curated playlist is quiet. Like the calm before the storm. Tuesday’s storm. The storm of voting. The storm of certain politicians yelling at each other… and us.

You’d think that we’d get a little break.

But, oh no.

After the votes are counted. And, the losers congratulate the winners,  the presidential race 2020 starts.

It never stops. It won’t stop. We’ve come to the never-ending news cycle. The never-ending political discussion. I read The New York Times online. For the past couple of weeks, they’ve been running “The State of The Midterms,” every day. Almost like a sports scorekeeping card. Today, if you looked the top of their report, it’s as if there is no other news.

Yes.

I agree. It’s news. But, this ought to do it. Vote, vote, vote, vote, vote, vote, vote, vote, vote, vote, vote.

That’s it. Go vote. If you haven’t done it by mail or via an early ballet, go vote.

For those of you in other countries — many of you are — have a good thought for us. The American drive towards Fascism must be stopped. Here. Now.

One more thing.

VOTE!

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Autumn Finally


Autumn morning.

Finally.

Fall looks and feels like fall. Golden light filtering through pine trees on a chilly morning makes it so.

Ahhhhhhhh.

It seemed like summer just wouldn’t let go. We’d have kind of cool day then a warm day. Then a violent storm blew through. Its winds were strong enough to break a lot of tree limbs. In some places there were tornados. But, not near us.

The storm brought cool, dry air. The dogs were excited. I am excited. I really needed a break from the warm soup that we call air.

Anyway.

The picture. I’m trying very hard not to repeat myself. I think this picture does it

If not, well, I made a Sunday picture for you

 

 

A Little Late


On Halloween.

This a little late.

I know. I know.

I posted this on Instagram and Facebook. I realized that most of you hadn’t seen it.

That was too bad because I really like this picture, especially in black and white. To be honest, I overlooked it. In color it didn’t do much for me. Given that any of us who work with digital files start with color, that’s understandable. Unless you are completely black and white oriented, it’s often hard to look at a color file and see the beauty of a possible monochromatic image. I certainly didn’t at first.

Then, I did.

I posted it on Instagram because I try to post only in black and white there, and not duplicate what I do here on Storyteller. I share from there to Facebook and Twitter.

If you only follow me here. You didn’t see it.

Sorry about that.

Now you do.

In the Treme


Symbol of slavery.

St. Augustine Catholic Church.

In the Treme.

Just a few hundred yards away from the church, in what is now Louis Armstrong Park, there is Congo Square. This was a place where slaves could congregate on Sunday.  At the time, this was called back of town since it was located across Rampart Street from The French Quarter. The slaves would set up a market, sing, dance and play music.

That occurred during the French era. Things changed for the worse when control passed to The United States and Louisiana became a state.

Don’t worry. I’m going some place with this.

Back to St. Augustine Catholic Church.

Wait. Wait. There is no pun intended.

On one side of the church there is a rusting cross made of thick chains. Medieval metal shackles hang from the length of it. This is the Tomb of the Unknown Slave.

There is nobody buried beneath the tomb, but it represents the many remains found in unknown graves around the city when modern construction revealed them.

The cross was installed in 2014. In July 2015 Tootie Montana passed. In August 2015 Hurricane Katrina made landfall at Buras, Louisiana.

I’m writing this on All Souls Eve. I think my own long passed family and friends are in my head a little. The spirits of the city are swirling around too.

New Orleans will do that to you.

Into the Sky


Freight train high above me.

On some days it looks like trains are flying.

They’re not.

They are crossing The Mississippi River over the railroad bridge that ties into the Huey P. Long bridge originally built in the 1930s. It was renovated and widened a few years ago. For trains it is the gateway to all points west. Or, to every traveler’s dreams.

Once a train crosses the river it passes through a little town called Westwego. Legend has it that the town was named by train conductors calling out, “West we go.” I suppose it could be true.

The picture. New smart phone. New techniques. The color rendition is nothing like my mirrorless cameras or my old iPhone. It’s taking some getting used to.

I made the picture after looking at this bridge for years. You may know it from a news story a couple of years ago. A strong storm blew in from seemingly nowhere and knocked about ten freight cars off the bridge. They crashed down to the ground below, making a giant racket. Luckily, nobody was hurt. A chain link fence was destroyed.

A few changes around this place.

Aside from haringing you to vote, I’m going to stay away from politics as much as humanly possible. I don’t just mean here, but on social network sites and even on traditional news sites like The New York Times. It’s all day, every day. And, that’s too much. The country isn’t just polarized. It’s pushed, pulled and torn in every direction. It’s as if instead of messing with our elections, the Russians dumped something in our water and made us all crazy.

That’s enough.

Vote.

 

Original Four


Leading them out.

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.

Always, a street portrait.

I Have A Question


Simplicity.

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 week, somebody was killing, or trying to kill, somebody who was different from them

Why?

Have we as a planet become some polarized that we want to hurt people who don’t think like us? Where does that come from? Why is it still among us? Why are people so damn angry at everything?

Why?

I read about Trump rallies and the people are still screaming, “Lock her up.” Hillary Clinton is barely a political force these days. She lost the election. They shout, “CNN sucks.” Huh? Is it because they cover the news differently from Fox? They don’t suck. They are doing their jobs. They aren’t evil.

Why?

I don’t understand it.

Where does this extreme hatred come from? I think that the word “hate” is a little word with big ramifications. Big enough to send you straight to hell when you die.

Given that so many of the haters also claim to be Christians, don’t they think about that? Don’t they think that taking another human being’s life can send your soul to hell for all eternity?

There are days when I don’t know what I believe when it come to spiritual thinking. But, I have a real clear idea of right and wrong. I must be praying to somewhere because I say that the work is the prayer.

I know. I’ve written a  lot. I’ve come to no conclusions. It’s well beyond my pay grade. Feel free to comment. Please. Maybe a discussion might clear it up a little. I dunno.

The picture.

I made this one at the same time that I made yesterday’s picture. A few steps away. Man, was stuff growing in Treme. I lightened the image and made it as simple as I could. I needed a little clarity.

I needed a little peace.

Peace to y’all.

 

The Return


Katrina Cross.

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” is called the cross. The number on top means it was searched on September 10th (2005). COM means it was completely searched and there were no bodies — not human, or animal. CA8 really tugs at my heart. It means California Highway Patrol. CHiPs, as they are sometimes called. I grew up with those guys. They were there for me growing up. They came for me in New Orleans.

The picture is also a good Sunday picture. It’s peaceful. It’s about trauma. It’s about rebirth. And, it is brand new. A good way to start the week.

New Orleans – First Things First


With all due respect.

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 his funeral, in the streets and in the church. Everything took place in the heart of Treme, at St. Augustine’s Catholic Church.

I decided to attend and to photograph.

Spyboys meet.

And, so I went.

I arrived a little early. I parked at friend’s house just around the corner and walked over. I was stunned. There was a massive crowd.  There were Mardi Gras Indians, friends, family, spectators and photographers.

I had no idea of what I was looking at.  I saw a legendary photographer, Syndey Byrd, who I knew a little and she pointed me in the right direction.

I sort of jumped into the fray and started making pictures. You know that I like to work close, so close I went. The Indians would toss my out of their scrum. Back in I went. Back out they tossed me. After about four or five times, they realized I was the real deal and let me stay. Even Syndey was shaking her head in laughter.

These are the pictures that I made. The very first ones. I think that I worked better back than.  These are the kinds of pictures that I should be making now. Looser, with more suit and scene in the pictures. Looking at them after thirteen years helps me to see that.

Big chiefs pay their respects to Tootie Montana.

This all happened in July 2005. In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall at Buras, Louisiana. The rest is history. I don’t know about you, but I truly believe that with the passing of Tootie Montana the city lost something. Call it whatever you like. Soul, heart, or juju. I like juju.

Even as we continue to heal thirteen years later, for those of us who went through the storm and early recover, something is missing. I can’t put my finger on it. The new people, who are gentrifying the city, don’t know or understand this. And, that’s really too bad.