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Nature’s Glow


Backlight and weeds

Just another day. In nature.

These pictures are more about mood than documentation. Today’s light is drifting in and out. Sometime the light is and powerful. And, sometimes it looks about like it does as I am writing this. Soft and shadowless.

I there a political comment for today? Not really, except to say that I guess it would take a fake president to create the word fake. That’s what he’s claiming. He invented the word fake because he never heard it before. That’s what you get when you aren’t intellectually curious.

The pictures. Really just scenes that I saw as I was passing from one place to the next. I helped them some. But, not much. Nature did most of the work. It’s better that way.

Morning glow.

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Morning Comes


Baby, baby, baby.

Storm. No storm.

By 8 pm last night, the city curfew was ended.

Because?

Hurricane Nate turned slightly to the east. In New Orleans, we had about 35 mph gusts of wind and spitting rain. The storm did hit the Gulf Coast down around Biloxi, but even the damage there was slight. At least, relatively so.

Dodged a bullet? Got lucky? God’s will? A blessing? A quirk of nature?

Call it what you want. We are all very grateful.

By the time that I went to sleep, around 1:30am, I knew that we were safe. Amazingly, we still had power. The only thing left is to undo what we did in preparation. Open the storm shutters. Drain the bath tubs. Eat the Spam.

Seriously. No Spam here. That’s sort of a New Orleans inside joke. We only bought a couple of things in preparation for Hurricane Nate. Water. Soup. Crackers for the soup. Toilet paper.

The picture. While I was waiting and watching Treme on Amazon Prime, I decided to do my kind of prayer. The work. The original image is of an Irish baby, made in an Irish pub, in Ireland. It was made in black and white. On film. Not that long ago. I still shoot some film with a couple of bodies. Then I went to work. Tinkering. Playing. Adjusting. Fidgeting.

The process is better than playing with a fidget spinner. It’s productive. You have something to show for fidgeting. Best of all, I did it on a portable, meaning even if the power failed I wouldn’t lose my work.

Very happy Sunday to y’all.

 

 

The Long Game


Broken down and busted.

Still waiting.

The city is under curfew starting at 7pm tonight. The state’s curfew is 8pm.  Some areas outside of the levee system have been evacuated.

Hurricane Nate will make landfall at sometime near 1am and be gone well before 7am. We are only expecting 1 to 4 inches of rain. Now, the city official are calling it a wind event.

But.

The storm cone has shifted well to the east. It looks like Nate will make landfall somewhere between the Mississippi border and Mobile, Alabama. Bad for them. Good for us. I wish them no harm, but… I have to look after my own.

I expect very little damage since the wind strength is at its highest on the eastern edge of a hurricane. We are on the west. I do expect to lose power since two squirrels on a power line can cause a power failure. I do expect parts of New Orleans to flood. Our fragile water pumping system breaks down, or catches fire, every chance it gets.

So. That’s the story at noon. It could change. It will change.

The picture. A friend of mine keeps asking where this place is located. I told him. He won’t like it even if he finds it, which I’m sure he can since I gave him precise directions. “It’s behind my doctor’s office,” I said. What more could he possibly need?

These old trains aren’t stored — or, dumped — on railroad land. That makes breaking through the no trespassing fence a little less illegal. Not that I would ever do that. The difference between the penalties are federal and local. And, maybe getting shot. Apparently, there was a deal made between the medical and railroad folks for this little corner of track and surrounding land.

These trains have been moved around as the medical complex on which they are parked needs more land. I reckon they are safe for a long while because they are pushed into a corner of the land that is fairly unbuildable and well behind where the medical staff parks. But, you never know.

They are fairly rusty and abandoned. They’d be scrap except that they are sort of last in breed in this region. I just helped them along in post production.

 

The Bell…


Autumn, the second growing season at the train yard.

The bell.

You know the one. The one tolling. As in, “For whom it tolls. ”

It’s tolling for us. In Southeastern Louisiana.

I actually have been out and about a little. I went to one of my favorite places. An old train yard. Where there really are old trains. As in the one in the background. An old standard passenger car. This one is a baggage car.

Look at that day.

Bright. White puffy clouds. What you can’t know from the picture is that we have entered the “perfect weather” season. Temperatures in the very low eighties, with a slight breeze and low humidity. This is the weather that keeps a lot of us here.

But, there is that bell. Tolling away.

It’s our turn now. There have been hurricanes all around us. Texas. Florida. The Caribbean. Cuba. Puerto Rico. We have been counting our lucky stars. Praising The Lord. Singing hallelujah.

Now comes Hurricane Nate.

A tropical storm that has already hit the Yucatan Peninsula and is speeding through The Gulf of Mexico. Currently, every possible computer model has it hitting us dead on, as a Category 1 or 2 hurricane. It could also settle down and make landfall as a tropical storm.

And, we thought we were going to skate through one of the most active storm years in recent memory. Ha! Besides, it’s been five years since we were hit by Hurricane Isaac. We need a good storm every few years, whether we want one or not.

I have to do a few things to prep. But, we are always prepared this time of year. The good news, during a week of mostly horrible news, is that it’s a late season storm. The gulf has cooled down some so there’s less water generated energy. And, when we lose power (not a matter of if), the temperature won’t be so brutally hot.

Hurricane Nate should make landfall around 1 am Sunday morning.

We’ll have rain throughout most of Saturday as it arrives. It is a fast-moving storm. By mid-afternoon on Sunday, it should have passed into Mississippi.

Electrical power. That’s another story. It could be a few hours or a few days or even a few weeks before that is restored. Or, maybe we’ll get lucky. Nah. That’s too much to expect. We’ll be BBQing breakfast.

The picture. Pretty much as you see it. It was a beautiful day when I was out and about. I made the finished picture look that way.

 

Not Exactly


Wildman John and masking.

I forgot what I was doing.

With all the sadness during the early part of the week I just lost my head. Well, you know… I started working on a photograph that I made of Wildman John at Super Sunday in Central City. Somewhere in the middle of that I realized I wasn’t working on a Halloween picture.

Doh!

Make no mistake. This is not a Halloween picture. It’s about culture. Perhaps one of the most important and deepest cultures in the city. This isn’t some guy putting on a costume and makeup for Halloween. This is part of this man’s life. Of our life.

No political commentary today. Although that fun never stops. Now Congress might see their way to banning bump stocks on semi-automatic weapons that mimic fully automatic weapons.  Gee. Ya think? I guess they got permission from the NRA to even talk about it.

The picture. It started it out in bright color. But, I’m seeing things differently these days. I tinkered sort of backwards into more monochrome. Works for me.

And, So It Seems


Four little skulls, all in a row.

I did a lot of writing yesterday.

That’s not my normal approach. It’s also not my normal approach to comment on political or world events. I’ve long thought that there are plenty of people doing it. Some who are very good at it. Some, not so much.

It also seems that you like what I’m writing. And, my thoughts on particular subjects. Or, I can’t reach and am fooling myself.

Let’s discuss something that really troubles me.

But, first. The picture. I made it in The French Quarter. I always thought it was sort of light-hearted. But, my mood must have gotten in the way when I was working with it. I made it dark and spooky. If you like Halloween, this picture is fine. If it’s not a big deal, you might not like this picture. It might be slipping to the side of evil. I get that. But, I’m influenced by my life experience and the issues of the day.

So.

The real discussion. The NRA. I wrote in reader comments, in The New York Times, that they should be disbanded. Sued by private citizens into oblivion.

Here’s why.

First, I am not anti-gun. The are perfectly good reasons for owning guns. We own two. But, I do not see any reason to own a semi-automatic long gun. They are designed for one purpose. And, one purpose only. To kill. They aren’t good hunting weapons. They aren’t great target weapons. And, unless you really know what you are doing, they are terrible self-defense weapons. They certainly don’t need to be silenced. And, you can modify them in minutes to be full automatic.

Yet, the NRA keeps pumping money into the defense of everything gun-oriented. No common sense idea passes their muster. And, they have so many politicians in their front and back pockets that they do nothing. That also means appointed judges too.

There is a direct correlation to the NRA’s activities and the rise of gun-related deaths. Quite frankly, there are too many high-powered weapons on the streets. Yeah, yeah. I know that criminals can and will get their hands on guns if they want them. I know a street corner in New Orleans where I can buy whatever gun I want. Then I can walk across the street and buy whichever drugs I need for false courage. For me, that equation is simple. Cut the volume of guns and their will be fewer illegal guns on the street. Cut the volume of easily modifiable semi-automatic weapons and there will be fewer mass shootings.

Yes, I know this latest mass shooter bought his guns legally. He flew under the radar. He was seemingly just another old guy living a quiet life. An old guy who bought 43 guns, many of them similar. They are not collectors guns. They are “work” guns.” Guns for killing. For shooting a lot of people at one time. Did anybody ever think to review his sales while he was being vetted and wonder, “what the hell is this guy doing?” We know the answer. Now.

But.

The NRA says no. And, the politicians agree.  They need the NRA’s money. They speak about Second Amendment rights. They say, after each mass shooting, this is not the right time to discuss this. They add that their thoughts and prayers are with the victims. They also mostly claim to be Christian. They should read their Bible more often. You know, “Prayers without work are meaningless.” And, something about Jesus Christ chasing the money changers out of the temple.

Because the politicians of the day are mostly spineless and mealy-mouthed, we have to act for them. Take down the NRA. Force them into bankruptcy. Take away the cash cow. The constantly flowing money. Without the cash, the politicians may actually be forced to do what their constituency wants them to do.

How?

My first thought is legally. What would happen if all of those people’s families who were shot, killed or hurt in Las Vegas — some 580 of them — filed individual lawsuits with individual legal theories attached to them? I don’t know.

But, it’s a start.

On Monday


Rain drops on the window.

There are days. And, there are days.

Yesterday started with a mass shooting in Las Vegas. The numbers kept growing. From two, to 20 to 50, to 58. Dead. And, the wounded. Somewhere well over 500 people. People. Human beings. Attending a concert. Listening to music.

Then there was me. I was right. I should have been a doctor. The osteoarthritis that cost me a hip eight years ago has migrated into my spine. In four places. And, it seems that caused a slight twist to my spine. Or, it is caused by age. I have been referred to an orthopod. My doctor upped my pain meds slightly. And, added one more drug to quiet the neuropathy which is caused by the nerves in my back being pressed by my spine.

Then.

I lead a weird life. I know a lot of musicians. The phone rang. Tom Petty suffered from complete cardiac arrest on Sunday night. Then the rumors started showing up on Facebook and Twitter. Another phone call. No brain activity. So, his life support was disconnected.

And, he died.

And, we cried. For the people in Las Vegas. For me. For Petty.

Funny thing, Petty just finished his 40th Anniversary Tour with three nights at the Hollywood Bowl. He got to play for his adopted hometown fans. He wanted to stop touring and just make music.

We tried to play his music. It just made us sadder. But, one song lead to another and it lead us to another Florida musician. Jimmy Buffett. His music always makes me smile. It did its job again. We are smiling through our tears.

The picture. I know. I promised you scary pictures. For Halloween. But, but, but… I made this picture about ten minutes after I learned that my back was slowly turning into hardened cement. I was walking across this glass enclosed bridge from my doctor’s office to the rest of the hospital, when I saw this picture. I thought, “Oh, what the hell” and pressed the button. I didn’t know that the sky was crying.

Peace.

And, then.

He rose from the dead. Sort of like Jesus Christ on Easter. Tom Petty is alive. Hanging on by a thread. CBS admitted their mistake. So did everybody else. I got my information from a member of his touring crew who was called by a reporter asking for comments. Even though he had no comment, the reporter went with the story. As did just about everybody else.

If you wonder why the media has such a bad reputation, why the clown who wants a crown can attack them and call everything fake news, this is an example. We’ve gotten to the point where legitimate media doesn’t bother to do their jobs. They just run with something an entertainment agency posted on their website.

You’ve got people like me, and like my musical miss, upset as we could be on what has already been a horrible day. Damn. Musicians like Sir Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan were expressing their condolences on Twitter, on Facebook and through Rolling Stone Magazine.

It’s gotten to the point that I have to ask. Who do you trust?

Meanwhile.

The pain meds are taking care of my back. They aren’t getting me high. That’s good. I don’t want to be nonfunctional. But, one of my legs hurts because of the nerve pressure. Trust me. If I have to buy a little scooter to get around, mine is coming with huge speakers. I’ll plug Spotify into them. You’ll hear me coming.

“And, I won’t Baaaack Down.”  — Words from Tom Petty.

And, finally.

At 8:24pm PDT.

Petty’s management announced what we knew was coming. Tom Petty had passed.  The tributes started flowing again. Bob Lefsetz, a long time music industry player and guru, wrote this.

“His death is like a death in the family.”

And, that he knew his post was too long — like this one — but if he kept writing Petty would still be alive to him.

And, that Petty’s music was infused in American life.  He is right. Even folks who are not fans of his music know it. It is just there. Everywhere. And, so…

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not slighting the people who died needlessly in Las Vegas. I cannot wrap my head around that. Why do people kill so many people for no reason we’ll ever know? I’m still trying to come to terms with that.

Storyteller has been updated three times. Usually, my updates are for editing reasons. Not this time. I started writing it after the first announcement of Petty’s passing. My final update was written this morning. It’s the post that never stops. I’m sorry for that. Normally, I’m a fairly concise writer. I guess the events of the day — yesterday and today — are really just too much for me. Or, maybe, anybody.

And so it goes.

RIP Tom Petty. 1950 – 2017.

RIP 59 people who were shot and killed in Las Vegas. I’m sorry that I don’t know all of your names. Eventually I will. We all will.

 

Skeleton Days


Bones in the window.

The scary season.

This year, it could be every season. Every season is scary.

I awoke to reading and then watching that over 50 people were killed and over 200 more were wounded in a mass shooting in Las Vegas. These were called conservative estimates by CBS. That’s a lot of shooting and a lot of unnecessary innocent deaths. I don’t believe this is politically motivated. Apparently the shooter was a 64-year-old man who lived in a group, or assisted living, home.

The week starts off with terrible news.I don’t want to deal with it yet.

So, I’ll get back to pictures. Day two of the Halloween season. The calendar says it is. The weatherman says it’s going to be 85 degrees today. Not very crisp. Not very fall-like. Oh well, we will all get by.

The picture. I made this in The French Quarter where people roam around in their skeletons all year around. I don’t mean in their costumes. I mean in their real skeletons. Come to think of it, so do I. You just can’t see it through my skin. This was a color file with which I tinkered. And, tinkered. Eventually, I came to a picture that I liked. And, went further. This image is the result.

I was watching Anthony Bourdain’s travel show while I was working on this picture. He was in a foreign country. The cook was cooking bones in a broth. I wonder… nah.

Thirty Days of Spook


The scary French Quarter.

Halloween and New Orleans.

They fit together like white on rice. Or, something like that. I thought that I would do a theme page for the thirty days leading up the big scare fest.

No. I’m not given up on political commentary… when it’s needed. I will point out the Pumpkin Head (see how nicely I fit that into the Halloween theme?) tweeted 18 times in 11 hours, mostly attacking Puerto Rico and the mayor. For good measure, he threw in the NFL (like the players are gonna listen to him) and attacked the media. To be sure, anybody that blogs is part of the “evil” media. I bet you never thought of that.

A friend of mine, Shawn who posts as Montana Rose,  accidentally reminded me of something with a long rant in the comments section of Storyteller. First, I have no problem with her rant. Have at it. She pretty much said what many of us are feeling. She even worked the Mayans into her comment. How cool is that?

Something else came up for me. I’ve long said that this is an artistic place. A blog about photographs, New Orleans and other more gentle things. One of the things Shawn said, like of all of us, is that she is reminded daily about the clown and his constant tweets, attacks and responses. And, about his lack of kindness, skills and general incompetence. Man, is she right.

We could all use a break.

That’s why today’s post is mostly about the holidays. Halloween. In New Orleans, that may be the most important one, following Mardi Gras. See what I’m saying? Our big holidays are different from the rest of The United States. Not better or worse. Just different. And, weirder.

The picture. I made the original picture in The French Quarter on a walk. Despite the spookiness of Halloween, sometimes the better pictures are made in daylight. It was also was made in color. I started tinkering as I usually do. Eventually, to my mind, it started looking like some very early pictures taken in France, in the 1830s and 40s. Before film was a thing.

Mattering


A little wood like glow.

What matters. This forest matters.

There was a political advertisement on television last night. I was watching the local news. That’s a whole other story.

The guy running for state treasurer wants to cut taxes. Huh? That how we got into this mess. The state of Louisiana can’t afford anything. We can’t pay much for education, healthcare or even rebuilding our ravaged coastline.  Meanwhile, the fine Republicans in Washington D.C. also want to cut taxes. And, raise military spending. And, build a wall. And, maybe work on the country’s crumbling infrastructure.

Where the hell do these people think this money is coming from?

I’m no fan of high taxes. But, I know enough that I have to pay some kind of fair share. The Federal tax cuts won’t help me. The likely won’t help you. They’ll only help the very rich. The ones who don’t need a tax cut. The one’s who barely pay taxes already because they exploit loopholes and write things off that most people can’t.

This tax cutting plan is just another scam. Let’s face it, the folks in the current administration think they are entitled. They want to bill you and me for private airplane rides. They want to fly to see the total eclipse or to go on their honeymoon. It’s not enough that their net worths are probably one hundred times our total net worths, but they want us to pay for their fun.

Drain the swamp, he said. That’s rich. He’s just dredging a deeper one.

The picture. What does it have to do with my words? Nothing. I just like it. And, I was tinkering around. I thought that you might like it too.

Oh. Yeah. There is some seriously fake news streaming around. People are falling for it. Supposedly, somebody wrote a really long post or email from the scene about how the U.S. Government and its rescue arms like FEMA are doing a really great job in Puerto Rico. That everything we have been reading is a lie. That all they need are truck drivers. And, to call a certain telephone number to volunteer. They claim that because things are so disorganized that you must leave a message and somebody will call you back.

I’ve seen the entire “email” in various places. It is exactly the same no matter what the source. Can you say scam? Even if it isn’t, it’s nothing more than a Trump-bot hoping to make the clown with a crown look good.